August 15, 2017

Surprise! The iPad is a Content Creation Device

A few quick thoughts on using the iPad in anger this week.

Contrary to everything I’ve ever believed, I’m starting to think of the iPad as a content creation device. I look at the screen and see Affinity Photo and Ulysses and Procreate and Linea and it makes me want to pick one and just make something. I would not have believed it had I not dove in and given it a fair shot.

I’ve been using the iPad exclusively while at home for more than a week and I have been continually surprised by how much I enjoy it. I’ve been emailing, managing projects, editing photos, drawing, tweeting, and generally carrying on like it’s actually normal doing stuff on an iPad other than reading social media sites and playing games. Who knew?

Once my iMac is fixed I plan to go all-in with Photos and I’ll be benching Lightroom/Photoshop for the time being. That’s crazy talk, but I’m finding it pretty great just snapping and editing and having everything update everywhere with zero effort on my part. Affinity Photo is more than I’ll ever need for editing photos. Sharing is a zero-friction thing.

I’ve been doodling with the Pencil using Linea and that’s been a lot of fun. I love paper and art supplies” but I’m not serious about art so who cares how I make it?

I’ve been writing blog posts (like this one), project notes and documentation, journal entries, and everything else using Ulysses and it’s still great. Everything syncs flawlessly and quickly to every device. I can easily export to whatever format is required. There’s something to be said about using the same editor, everywhere, which is something I’ve never done.

I know, much of this is obvious to many of you, but it’s been a revelation to me. I’m having so much fun living (part-time, for now) on the iPad I can’t stand it. Life’s weird.

ios workflow ipad
August 11, 2017

Culling Apps Because of the iPad

The more I use my iPad for work” the more I like it. This is unexpected, and the trend does not seem to be slowing. In other words, maybe it’s not just novelty.

This means that in order to work easily in both desktop and mobile environments, I must rely on apps that work well in both. Taking that further, it means that I want to use the same app everywhere. My love for plain text files remains. It’s great being able to edit my files using any number of Dropbox-compatible apps, but using one app to edit Markdown on the Mac and a different one on iOS is beginning to feel like overhead I don’t need.

The drawback here, and it’s a big one, is that I may need to abandon some of my favorite things. At least the ones I live in, now that I live in different places. A few examples:

Tinderbox. God, I love Tinderbox, but there’s really no easy way to take advantage of it on iOS.

Curio. Curio is a wonder. There’s nothing like laying text, images, files, notes and what-have-you out on Curio’s big, beautiful canvas. But, no iPad version. I could export things as PDF or images so I can access them on the iPad, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I want to continue to work on the iPad, not just look stuff up.

Emacs/Org Mode. Ah, Org Mode. Org Mode does everything one would ever need. Tasks, project management, writing, publishing, outlining, and so on. But, with no good way to use Org Mode on iOS, it’s a non-starter. Plain-text as it is, it’s useless outside of Emacs.

So where does this leave me, app-wise? I have a lot to learn, but for the things I do most, here is what I’m using:

Ulysses for any writing. I can blog with it, take notes, write and publish documentation, you name it. It’s really good at what it does. I still need to get over the but it’s in a proprietary database!” problem and run with it.

Day One. All journaling and life logging” is going in Day One. I’ll miss my Tinderbox Daybook and Org Journal but Day One is great, seamlessly cross-platform, and meant for exactly these things.

Things The new version of Things works great. When not in my text-only mood and using Taskwarrior or Org Mode, I’ve always used OmniFocus, but I’m giving Things a try. So far it feels nice and strikes a good balance between complexity and ease of use.

There are a number of things still up in the air. Photo management is the big one. I’ve repeatedly tried using Photos and it’s never stuck. I’m addicted to a well-organized system of date-based folders for my images and it’s going to be tough getting over that. On the other hand, the seamless sharing and editing of photos using iCloud Photos is pretty compelling. I’m about to try an all-in experiment to see how it goes. The updates in High Sierra look good, too.

I’m just now digging into Workflow, which opens up a bunch of possibilities. I’m coming around to the possibility of not only making the iPad a part of my process, but making it my primary device, which is a complete reversal from my feelings about it less than a year ago.

Lots of new tricks for this old dog to learn.

apps workflow
August 7, 2017

Reconsidering TextExpander

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I bailed on TextExpander and moved my text snippets to Alfred. It felt good to be rid of a monthly subscription and to run one fewer app on my machines.

But, and Dr. Drang nailed it, I miss having text expansion on my iPad. I’m writing this in Ulysses on the iPad and just wanted enter the date and time for the post. Instead of typing ,dt and getting 2017-08-07 08:05 PM, I had to type it all out like an animal. I don’t know of any reliable, integrated, and easy-to-use expansion utilities on iOS other than TextExpander, so, like Dr. Drang, I’m going back. I’ll just pay for a year up front so I’m not reminded that it’s a subscription for a while.

app workflow
August 7, 2017

Followers on Micro.blog - Ron Chester

Ron Chester

There are no visible scores on Microblog. This is a very good thing. It means I can just concentrate on posting things others might find interesting and then being interested in things I might find posted by others. There’s no way to tell who’s popular, nor a way to game a system to look more popular. I hope that doesn’t change.

Social networks benefit greatly from encouraging users to game the system” any way they can in order to bump their score”. I’m in full agreement with Ron that hiding any sort of popularity metric is a great feature of Micro.blog. I hope Manton and Co. can resist the urge to change it.

microblog social
August 6, 2017 Photo Aug 06, 8 48 38 PMPhoto Aug 06, 8 48 38 PM
August 6, 2017

Dead iMac forces an iPad-only experiment

I spent the morning trying to make it easier to get things done using my iPad. It went pretty well. I now have a workable Vim setup using Blink Shell. I have Bear all synced and organized. Tasks are back in OmniFocus. And so on.

In a stroke of ironic misfortune, the hard drive in my iMac died shortly after doing all of the above. This left me with the better part of a Sunday having no desktop machine, so I went for a walk. I played with the dog. I even rearranged my records.

It’s good to be offline, for a while, but I had my heart set on catching up on email, RSS feeds, GTD stuff, and just generally tinkering on the internet. So that’s what I’ve been doing, on the 10.5” iPad Pro with keyboard.

You know what? It’s not terrible. I think maybe if I learned to approach things differently, and added a dash of Workflow, this could become an acceptable way to get things done.

ios workflow