Late to the party
Since I bought my first iPad this week, the new iPad Air to be precise, this weeks post basically wrote itself. Actually two blog post would be rather foreseeable. One which has me raving about how much I like my newest gadget. This I’d like to postpone a little to have a fair chance of disliking something. And one about what applications made their way into my daily workflow within one week (3 days actually) and could therefor very well be must haves. To be fair I like to postpone the first of these a bit, to give myself the fair chance to dislike something, at the moment the “New-Gadget-High” is still present, so it wouldn’t be a very good review.
Let’s go with what made it into my workflow within a week.
I presume everybody has heard of Evernote. If not, it’s basically your long term memory in the cloud. Thanks to ifttt, browser extensions and several applications, I use, almost every text I produce or consume finds its way into Evernote for later recollection. I am by now probably way to dependent on it and wouldn’t be able to work without it. So at least for me the iPad version was a must have. The larger screen, compared to the iPhone, makes it much easier to work on notes.
Minor dent, I think the iPad version is not as well thought out as the iPhone version, which was specially designed to cope with the limited space on the device. Most annoying for me: To be able to read some of the clippings I took of websites, I have to tab once for the notebook, once for the note and once more to put the note in full screen mode. But I thinks future updates will fix such things.
Since annotating PDF, for example for students theses or for my own research was part of the reason to finally get an iPad, I had to get an Annotation software. Lucky for me in the last episode of the Raummaschine iAnnotate was mentioned so I thought I give it a spin. And it seems that this was the right decision. Even if I would just use it as a PDF viewer it would be a recommendation, one that is a little expensive but nevertheless. Annotating is easy and fast. What I like even more is that the Interface get’s out of your way and you can concentrate completely on the text. What I at least haven’t found yet and would really like is a read mode, where the current column is zoomed and by some gesture I scroll “along” the flow of the text.
I have to admit I have somewhat of a problem with news readers the problem isn’t that much that I don’t like them, but since Reeder on the Mac has currently no syncing back end. Due to the demise of Google Reader, I have to go to Feedbin myself and to be honest I forgot to do so several times for a week. Coming back to 5000 unread articles leaves you only one choice, declaring defeat and marking everything as read.
My workflow was: In the morning, a little before my alarm rings my Mac wakes up from sleep mode automatically, opens several Applications like MailMate and Reeder and when I get to the Computer everything is preloaded. When I’m done I close the Applications and they open again when I open my Mac again, when I’m home. This still works for MailMate, but completely falls apart for Feedbin. The reason being, that I simply don’t close Safari all the time. There are usually some tabs I keep around for various reasons. So if I open Feedbin it opens on a random screens, which I’m not currently seeing and so I easyly forget about it.
Since Reeder on iOS already has support for Feedbin my routine changed. In the morning I grab the iPad start by opening Reeder which is on the first page of the iPad while I walk into the kitchen for breakfast. It’s almost like my father who was always reading the morning newspaper while preparing breakfast. So I can picture myself remaining with reading on the iPad even when Reeder on the Mac gets updated.
In the end I’m still a nerd and like the command line for it’s simplicity to add to that I really like EMACS on the command line. Which for some strange reason seems not be a standard use case for the iPad. Thankfully there is iSSH, which nomen est omen allows you to make SSH connections. This puts my tmux sessions on my Mac, my work machine and on my servers on my fingertips and not even just the proverbial ones. One nice feature of iSSH is that it supports mosh which allows faster re-connection and keeps a session even if it is disconnected due to you losing reception for some time.
Minor dent: The mosh support is hidden a little to good for my taste, I actually couldn’t tell you where to find it off the top of my head.
Now to some relaxing stuff. For me the iPad is perfect for sitting around watching videos and AirVideo allows me to do just that. After downloading the server to my Mac and telling it which folder to publish on my home network I can select and watch videos anywhere I go. Actually with a little more configuration I could even do that from outside of my home given that the internet connection is fast enough. As an added bonus if your video is not in h264 format you can selects to convert it (on the fly) directly from the iPad. And as I just found out there is a Linux version of the server too. Working installations on an Raspberry Pi have also been spotted in the wild google tells me, so I will probably set this up later. As I said: I am a Nerd.
Last but not least: iAWriter. Contrary to popular believe you are very well able to produce content on your iPad even without having a bluetooth keyboard paired with it. This whole blog post, for example, was written with the split on screen keyboard of the iPad in iAWriter. Despite some getting use to the keyboard positions of the return key which is a little unusual for the German keyboard, I was not that much slower than I could have been. Especially since I like to do this thinking in between typing random characters into my keyboard. The need for thinking makes the iPad with iAWriter perfect. iAWriter is a distraction free writing tool, which is to say while you are writing there is nothing more than your text and the keyboard on screen. If you switch to the integrated focus mode even just the current sentence is highlighted and centred on the screen. No auto correction bubbles and no lines under supposedly misspelled words. And even though this is quite dangerous for a dyslexic it keeps me focused on the content. So if you like me write your blog posts in markdown this might be the tool for you.
I hope that I have suggested at last on application you didn’t know about or at least not use before. But actually this post for me is more interesting for the comments. Since if you have any suggestions on what I should definitely try, I would be very interested. So please leave me a comment with what you think are must have Apps on the iPad.