Tag Archives: iPad

Where’s the iPad fit in?

I saw this post, and it really echo’d thoughts and conversations I’ve had lately about the iPad.

There’s been a lot of “You shouldn’t upgrade”, “You need to upgrade” articles about the iPad Air 2. I’ll say this, moving from an iPad 3, to a Air 2… WOW. Money well spent. Will I move to an Air 3? No. 4? probably not. 5 or whatever is next? Likely. But that’s the cycle the iPad fits in for me.

I’ve talked to a few folks (friends) that almost never touch their iPads. Their iPhone 6/6+ or Macbook Air do the trick. Each is light, sufficiently large to do things, sufficiently small to not be a burden.

I use my iPad several times a day. Whether it’s catching up on interesting things to read at night, playing a quick(ish) game of Tower Madness or Blockheads, or remotely managing the various Macs around the house, i use it quite often. When I travel, add in watching movies/TV and reading comics. I take meeting notes, do some writing all on my iPad. It’s invaluable to me.

I’d leave my laptop at home before I’d leave the iPad. There have been a few trips, including my trip to Amsterdam, where i left my laptop home, and just used my iPad with a keyboard.

After I got my iPad Air 2, Nicole inherited my iPad 3, which put her iPad 2 up in the air. I thought, “You know what, I bet it’d make an awesome appliance. Find a place to mount it and i bet there’s something cool i can do with it around that house”

I see now, one major issue in the “Where’s the iPad fit?” question. 

I couldn’t find (haven’t given up yet) a single awesome use for the iPad 2 in our house.

  • Nicole uses her iPad as a cook book, so that’s out, it’s the most obvious, but she has no need for a dedicated cookbook iPad
  • I thought, you know it’d be cool to mount it near the TV running Apple’s remote app. Control my library and AppleTV. Especially for parties and such, or just geekiness. Apple’s remote app is ass. When it connects, it’s slow. Usually it doesn’t connect. When connected to the AppleTV, it can’t see home shares, the only media it has access to are TV/Movies in the cloud, and iTunes radio and Match. Not as awesome.
  • Big ass Nest control for the upstairs. Doable, but silly beyond believe.
  • Picture frame, also doable, though i could buy a single purpose device for less money.
  • Home Automation is another obvious answer, and one that is still in the maybe category. Mainly because we just don’t have that much HA gear, so other than the nest, not a lot to manage right now.
  • Security monitor, I have toyed with cameras and apps, for both in and out of the house monitoring, but not sure that warrants a dedicated device
  • Weather/news station in the bathroom. We have a little RF driven weather station, an iPad seems a bit much.

I will say my biggest disappointment is with Panic’s Status Board. (I’d link to it, but don’t waste your money at this point) I bought it, i even bought the HD TV upgrade. I assume it flopped because while Panic makes awesome products, i don’t think they’re set up for product evangelism. Status Board needed a thriving community of panel makers, and to the best of my knowledge they never supported that. Plenty of sites aggregated panels, but without the “love and support” of the mothership those efforts quickly fade. Status Board would be the perfect tool for an iPad on a wall somewhere, but I don’t see that happening. I may start looking into pulling together data sources of my own to wrap in Status Board panels, but won’t lie, i was hoping for a little more out of the box.

Do you have an iPad that lives as a device in the home? What do you do with it?

I like this stylus! My Review of the TrueGlide Apex

I’ve been on a hunt for a stylus i like for a while now.

I tried the O-Stylus, but was afraid I’d break it, but it is beautiful and I’m excited to own one of the first.

I tried the Lunatik Pen, it’s great, but more a typical sausage stylus, squishy tip, kinda looks like a penis. BUT, it’s a great pen!

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I backed the Trueglide stylus on kickstarter and it arrived a few weeks ago. LOVE IT. It’s nice to hold, and easy to use. Best of all since it’s not Bluetooth (more on that later) it works with any app, no API needed.

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Click for larger

What i like is that the tip is actually the size of a pen tip, it’s not a big bulky finger sized tip that obscures the screen. The creators came up with a cool solution. The Trueglide generates a field that the capacitive screen reads as a finger, despite the size of the tip that’s actually touching the screen. Therefore I can see where I’m

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working. Pretty inventive, and it works damn well. I use Paper to doodle, and you can see it works quite well.

There’s a lot to like about this stylus. It’s lightweight, easy to use and not at all hard on the eyes. There’s even a nice little hump on the top pieces that’s there to keep the stylus from rolling away, great idea. While it is light, it’s durable. I’m much less worried about carrying it around in my bag. I might use the pouch it came with, but wouldn’t freak out if it was just in a pen slot in my bag.

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While note taking on the iPad is still not quite there (writing notes, not typing them) the Trueglide definitely has gotten close. The note to the left was written pretty slowly, I’d never be able to make notes in a lecture or meeting or anything. Maybe i need to start doing sketch notes, that’d probably work better.

I only two complaints with it and neither are huge or deal breakers at all.

1. I’d rather some type of push button to turn it on. To turn it on/off you twist the top, which is also how you change the battery. Kinda like a maglite. Not a big deal but can be annoying, one review i read, the user twisted the wrong way too tight (PEBKAC for sure, but still) and broke it.

2. I love the price point of this unit, but would probably have paid more to have BTLE, and an API. Kinda like how Paper (IIRC) can tell Pencil from finger, so you could erase with a finger, draw with the Pencil, etc. I think there’s some cool stuff that could be done with something like that. Again, not a deal breaker and it certainly hasn’t hampered my use of it.

If you’re looking for a stylus for your iPad, I’d definitely take a look at the Trueglide Apex, it’s pretty damn nice. No squishy tip, doesn’t block out the point of contact on the screen, I’m still on the original AAAA battery with moderate use most days.

My kingdom for a Stylus

Well maybe a sub-kingdom, or duchy i don’t care about. My pal Terry wrote up a review of the Pencil by 53, which got me thinking about my next stylus. Terry did an awesome job and even did a tl;dr; flowchart for deciding if Pencil is right for you. In his view (and I agree after playing with his for 5 minutes) unless you use only Paper, and don’t care about exact precision, and have money to burn, don’t bother.

Next, yes. I have more than one.

I’ve tried the shit ones, with the nub made of foam.. they’re all crap. Squishy, weird, not remotely precise and of course not “smart”.

touch_pen_square_silveralloy_400x400_db_120516.mediumI have a Touch Pen that i like quite a bit. It’s also not “smart” but it’s capable. For one it’s just a nice pen, and I love me some pens. It’s my go to pen, i cary it everywhere, even when I’m not carrying my iPad. It’s just a damn nice pen.

As a stylus, it’s ok. It’s not as squishy as those foam jobs, but definitely very squishy still. It’s a rubber tip that works the same as the foam crap. It has a large tip (he he) so precision is nonexistent. I kickstarted it, because the makers are cool and I know they don’t make crappy stuff. I doubt I’d pay retail, but right now they appear to be on sale for $20, I’d pay that. If nothing else it’s an awesome pen, and a usable stylus.

a0367e31ec3e734e486187410995e957_largeMy ‘next’ stylus has me really excited. It might even arrive this week, who knows. It’s another kickstarter project, the TruGlide Apex. As with all kickstarter projects there’s a fair bit of hope involved. What i liked about this was that it’s “smart” in the sense that it’s BT and powered. It’s not made by an app maker and they’re working with app makers to add support. My hope is that they continue working with app makers, and that the apps I love (and those that don’t exist yet) leverage this tool. I also like that the tip isn’t huge and foamy. The site explains how it works, but basically it generates a field that mimics a finger, while having a foot print much smaller. My biggest gripe is that I can’t write with other stylii because the tip is so big it obscures what I’m doing and makes me have to write much larger than i should.

When Pencil was announced i had two reactions; 1. that’s pretty 2. Shit, that means they likely won’t support many if any other ‘smart’ stylii. It’s also unlikely other apps would support Pencil, though who knows, maybe 53 will release (or have they and I don’t know) an API.

So yeah, having seen Terry’s Pencil, I’m really excited to try out my TruGlide (why does it have to sound like it’s lube??!) when it arrives.

I’ll post an update once it arrives and I play with it, in the meantime, what’s everyone else using for stylii? Please don’t waste anyone’s time with “If apple wanted you to use a stylus they’d sell one, your finger is just fine” posts. If stylii aren’t for you, great.

Two things I’m very proud of

The other day I had the opportunity to take part in something super awesome. I’m almost embarrassed it took me this long to get involved.

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House of Genius, is to be blunt, awesome. I had the opportunity to present at the last gathering/meeting/whatever it’s called. I like Assemblage of awesome myself.

Anyhow, the basic idea is a small group of people, all anonymous beyond just a first name. Those selected to present their idea have 5 minutes to present it. There’s some Q&A, then some “Sit and listen to what we say without responding” and at the end of the presentations, (usually only 2-3 I think) there’s the “reveal” where everyone introduces themselves; who they are, what they do, etc.

It’s really awesome. I presented something I’m working on and got tons of feedback and introductions. It was very valuable. If they’ll have me, I’ll be happy to be back, it was that awesome of an experience.

 

vis_1The other thing I’m currently really proud of is 360|intersect. It’s an event I’m organizing that’s 100% different than I’ve ever done before. It’s not a technical event, not a hackathon, or summit. They easiest way to describe it, is TED minus the Douche baggery. It’s a group of awesome speakers, from across the events I’ve done and beyond, talking about what they’re passionate about, what makes them awesome technologists.

It’s coming up the end of this month, if you’re in Seattle or just want to spend a weekend being inspired, riding WWII Amphibious vehicles and nerding out with folks from all different technical circles, use “johnsblog” to save 20% when you register.

I can’t wait. Seattle is awesome in the spring, I’ve got lots of friends there, and we’ll be right downtown at an awesome venue, nerding out indoors and out.

 

Hope you can make it! It’s gonna be fun.

The One Downside of the Hardware Kindle

Ok let’s get a few things out of the way first, since these posts always illicit “I read on my iPad just fine, neener neener.”

  1. Reading on a backlight bugs my eyes.
  2. Reading on my iPad is one distraction after another. Bam new push about a tweet. Bam new article just downloaded. Bam another tweet. Now a message from a friend, why what did so and so post recently? etc. etc.
  3. Kindles are light. I read on the elliptical and hold it when i read. You spend an hour on a machine holding your iPad up and tell me how your arms feel.

Ok now to my point. I recently decided to hijack my wife’s Kindle Touch. She wasn’t using it. I’ve long had and loved what’s now called the Kindle Keyboard. But over the weekend really thought about how often I type on my Kindle. Not often. I highlight a lot of things, and when I make an annotation, it’s usually only a few words. So why lug around a larger kindle that’s a bit heavier? Also Amazon scraps old model support faster than Apple, so the Kindle Keyboard won’t get any new features. Heck the touch might not either but it’s got a few newer ones already.

De registering her account on the Touch, easy. Resetting to clear her data out, easy. Even registering my account on it, easy. Here’s where the process takes a dump. The reason it sucks… because of (shocker) DRM.

I use collections on my Kindle; Sci Fi, Fantasy, Fiction, Business, a few others. I’ve taken to simply storing my books on the kindle vs. removing from device when I finish reading. It’s nice to have all the books there, especially if I want to look something up I know i read a while back. The Kindle indexes all the books on it.

Now you might think it’s as easy as when you get a new iDevice. Restore from back up, etc. You’d be wrong.

And my library isn't as big as many others.

And my library isn’t as big as many others.

Instead what you have to do (Found on the kindle support forums) is manually (via the devices archived items view or the Manage my kindle website) bring each book down to the new device. One at a time. For me that meant picking from all but a few of my 202 books, clicking “send to” then the device I wanted them to show up on.

Then once that was complete, wait while the Kindle indexes all the books.

Then (yeah there’s a lot of “thens”) go into archived items -> Menu -> retrieve collections. Viola, your other registered kindles show up, and with a tap you select the kindle you want to import collections from. Unfortunately the collections are really just meta data, so the books have to be on the device first, and fully indexed. A few while later, you’re all set, new device, collections from your other device.

What a waste of time and effort. Why? From what I’ve read it’s a DRM thing, each device you download the book onto imprints it’s PID on it (The unique ID of the device). so simply copying over the entire library from one device to another can’t work, because the books need to be associated to this new devices PID.  What a bunch of shit. There’s at least a few easier solutions I can think of off the top of my head. One would be…

I already have to associate a kindle with my Amazon account, logging in on the device. Why not associate the books with my account (maybe a unique ID based on my account) vs. the device I’m keeping them on. That would enable a new kindle to simply import from another so long as it’s tied to the same account. You can limit the number of devices just like Apple does, etc.

Why punish the consumer who buys a new device? It was a 30 minute(ish) problem this weekend with 202 books, what about when I own 500 books? 1000 books? Amazon (and publishers) expect me to grab a snack, a cup of coffee and sit down to start manually downloading each book i own, all over again.

Talk about an incentive to not buy a new Kindle very often.

Of course I could take the time to strip the DRM out of each book i buy, up until now I was happy to play along with Amazon’s DRM solution, but I’m re-thinking that now.

Life with Nest

So My friend Tom gave me a Nest. Which is good because no matter how much I tried, Nicole wasn’t that keen on the idea… actually the expense. A Nest ain’t cheap. I definitely think it’s one of those products that once installed and in use for 6 months to a year pays for itself or at least shows the potential to, but until then it’s an expensive thermostat.

Photo Nov 03, 10 18 08 AMInstallation was pretty easy, though I did end up having to give in and call Nest support (which was awesome!) because my homebuilder was a moron. For whatever reason there was an entire extra wire bundle connected to the old thermostat. Nest support was great, I’d email them a pic and he’d immediately know what to do. Once he and I got that part tackled, viola!

(please ignore the gouges above the Nest, they were there already hidden behind the old thermostat.

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Once installed it walked me through the set up process on screen. Downloaded a new firmware update that was waiting, and showed me what I needed to know to get going. You can do all the programming and such on the device, but I found it quite a bit easier to do via the mobile app. (see the pics below)

 

Once you get things like a basic schedule setup (I set ours just like the old thermostat) you can start letting it learn. Since our Nest is located in the dining rom, I’m not using the auto-away feature.  We rarely eat in the dining room and since it’s a nook, we don’t pass thru it. So I don’t want the Nest trying to learn our patterns that way. I’d rather it learn from our adjustments.

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Our basic schedule. This was the starting point I wanted the Nest to work from.

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The main screen of the iOS app. Super simple and easy to use.

We’ve only had it about a month and a half or so, so I’m excited to see the results on our energy bill down the road. Especially in the use case of vacations. Before we’d have to remember to turn the old thermostat off or heat or cool the house when we’re not home. Now with the push of a button on our iPhones we can tell it we’re not there.

The other feature I really like is the leaf. There’s the training we’re giving the Nest, and then there’s the training it’s giving us. Now when I crank up the heat it tells me that it’ll be 25 minutes before I get there. I grab a sweater.

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The energy report. Over time this will be more insightful to me, but even now it’s cool to see how we’re doing.

All in all, i’m happy to have a Nest. For one thing it’s much more attractive than our crappy looking honeywell dumb thermostat. And since we’re always looking for ways to save a buck, i think in the long run the Nest will be more helpful in that goal.

 

 

 

Stop comparing everything to an iPad

WiiU controller as a helper for game play

I get it, we all love our iPads, i love mine. I’ve tried Blackberries, droids and such, and am back with an iPad.

But, that doesn’t mean every consumer device with a screen should be compared to one!

I was at a Nintendo event last week, for a sneak preview of their new WiiU. (Pronounced, I think. We you).

The big new feature of the WiiU is the game pad controller dealy. Which has a large screen (Which seems to be enough to warrant a comparison to the iPad).

During the event I asked a lot of questions of the demo wranglers, to make sure I knew exactly what the WiiU was, and how it was gonna fit into my life. Doing so made it clear, that much like the Wii before it, it’s less about whiz bang look at my pixels and more about, let’s make games fun and engaging for everyone in the room. However the WiiU is HD now!!!

The Game Pad (I honestly don’t know what it’s name is) is often not the primary game play device. That’s still the realm of the Wiimote (kinda nice to upgrade console and not need new controllers). I’d say about 75% of the games being demo’ed used the game pad as a helper device. In Rayman, the person with Game Pad, destroyed obstacles, and created platforms for the player to use in getting through the level. (see above)

In Super Mario (world, 2, something) the game pad player, gave Mario platforms to jump on, to cross large areas, bopped kupas to keep them off Mario as he moved, etc.

This type of game play really makes the games more collaborative. The Game Pad has a touch screen, so you just tap around, making controlling things easy. It did also have two joysticks, a + controller, and a bunch of buttons like a PS3 controller. Many games were like that, using the Game Pad as an assist to the game.

The other type of game I got to play used the Game pad as the main controller in 1 person at a time games. Obviously it’ll be up the the game studios, but the games I played made excellent use of the game pad screen. In in one game (below) when your character entered a building, you had to use the game pad screen to navigate until you got back outside. It made the game more engaging.

Having a touch screen right there in your hands also opened the game up to cool gestures. Need a gun in a game, draw a sideways “L” and your gun was available. No menus, no toggling, etc.

One game took the game pad in a weird place. It was a skiing game. If you were playing it, you had to look at the game pad in portrait mode and use it’s acceleromter to steer your skier. I guess everyone else would watch the TV, but the player never did. It was kinda weird. Most games leveraged the game pad really well to enhance game play.

So yeah it has a screen and an accelerometer, so I guess a comparison to the iPad is fair? Course, my guess is if you sat an iPad on a coffee table, AirDisplayed it to an AppleTV and used iPhones as controllers, all over Wifi or Bluetooth, (sarcasm warning) it’d be the same fun family/friends gaming experience, until a push notification made your controller disconnect, or a phone call comes in, etc. Course it would cost a lot more too.

I understand we love our iDevices, but not everything is trying to be an iDevice killer, or even a competitor.

Disclaimer: The games I played were almost all prototypes. They said we could post pics so long as they weren’t close ups, and included the game pad as well as the TV screen.

My thanks to Nintendo for a fun time, and an informative event, I can’t wait to add a WiiU to the house, or maybe Uncubed Coworking