Bit Review

by Shawn McCullough

Collecting Dust

I love the iPad. I preordered one the day it went on sale and eagerly awaited its delivery. Now it sits in a drawer collecting dust and most of the time the battery is dead. The only time it leaves that drawer is when I have company over and they want to use it.

All because of the iPad mini.

The iPad changed my computing habits, my laptop is now used only for work and class. My monitor and home office are now only used exclusively when I’m working from home. The rest of my time at home is spent on the iPad. My first instinct when I need the internet is to grab the iPad.

When the mini was announced I was a little skeptical. I believed that I would still stick with the larger form factor because I can touch type on it and easily larger documents. The iPad mini didn’t even have a retina display. The day they went on sale I went to the Apple Store to play around with one and was immediately sold on the weight.

The iPad mini is significantly lighter than the regular iPad. It is so much easier to hold and a better experience overall. I use the mini more than I ever used the regular iPad (which was not a low bar).

Every few weeks I think that I should give the full size iPad another chance. I’ll bring it with to work and school with the intention to use it. But again it just sits there in my bag and I grab the mini instead. I can ten-finger touch type on the iPad with fairly good speed, where on the mini I can only type with my thumbs. However, that has turned out to be a benefit. When I meet with a colleague or am on the train there isn’t room to set down the iPad and I end up having to thumb type anyway. Now instead of bringing a pad of paper to meet with colleagues I bring the mini and jot down notes in Drafts.

The iPad mini has far surpassed the device that changed this geeks computing habits.

What Book Publishers Should Learn from Harry Potter

What Book Publishers Should Learn from Harry Potter

if book publishers could only learn one thing from the Pottermore launch, it should be this: that one of the biggest drivers of piracy is the inability to find or consume the content that a user wants in the format or on the platform or at a time they wish to consume it

The release of the Harry Potter eBooks is better than I expected. It is good to see someone with power in the industry doing the right thing with digital distribution.

Photo Stream

Photo Stream is a great feature of iOS 5 that pushes photos to all of your computers and devices. It is somewhat magical to snap/import a photo on your iPhone or iPad and have it show up everywhere else.

A couple people on Twitter have been complaining that you can’t delete photos from Photo Stream. This isn’t a problem if you think of Photo Stream as an invisible sync cable. The purpose is to give you access to your recent photos on all devices so you can import them. It is like a river (maybe that’s where the stream comes from) of photos passing by where you can reach in and take one out. One argument is that without the ability to delete, your Photo Stream fills up with iOS screenshots. I actually like that I can easily grab the screenshot out of iPhoto. Your Photo Stream isn’t shared with anyone or permanent so it doesn’t matter if a screenshot passes by.

The one downside is that you can have your Photo Stream pushed to the Apple TV as a screensaver. I think the problem here is that Photo Stream shouldn’t be used for this purpose. It should only be a collection of recent photos stored for the purpose of importing to any device. Apple should instead implement album sharing.

With album sharing you can share collections of photos with family and friends. The photos will gain more meaning as they are put into titled albums. Now you can share different albums with different people, the photos of SXSW will go out to your friends and your child’s first birthday will be sent to your parents. The Photo Stream will only be a utility.

This can solve the problem with Photo Stream and the Apple TV. You can check an option on an album to have it pushed to your Apple TV as a screensaver. This gives everyone the control they want and adds the great feature of sharing your photos.

Steve Jobs

I was devastated after reading about Steve’s death on Wednesday. It felt like I had lost a close friend or relative even though I’d never met him.

To understand why, I dug up a post I wrote back in 2008 called Why I Use a Mac. That post is poorly written (look at all those commas and fragmented sentences), but I think it does a good job of summarizing my feelings. That post ends with this line:

My beginnings with the Mac weren’t the same typical arguments you hear again and again. Mine was much deeper and connected with a part of my life that defines me.

A Mac wasn’t the first computer I owned or even used, but it was the computer that made me fall in love with technology. Every year since 2003 I’d spend hours reading about Apple and tinkering with technology. I read the liveblogs of events and watched the keynotes when they were posted. While other people were enjoying sports or celebrity gossip I was learning about technology and watching Steve perform.

Steve Jobs has changed the world in a way that few have before. He was a visionary who made the world better and will continue to be an inspiration for many more generations to come.

Thanks to all of my family and friends that called to ask if I was OK. It is hard to lose a person that created the things that helped define you as a person.

Thank you Steve and rest in peace.

The Macalope Weekly: Busted businesses

The Macalope Weekly: Busted businesses:

Don says consumers want bigger displays not once, but three times. Three times in a 91-word list item. Yet, he provides no links to back up that assertion. It’s just obvious, right?! Duh! Consumers want to lug around larger screens! They’d love to lug around gigantic 42-inch screens, but Apple doesn’t offer the breadth of options that other OEMs do! Dur-hey! So obvious! Dur-hickey!

If you don’t read the Macalope then you’re really missing out. Last weeks piece is definitely worth your time.

Assistant on the Next iPhone

Assistant on the Next iPhone


Another interesting Assistant feature is the ability to create and send an SMS or iMessage with just your voice. For example, you can say “send a text to Mark saying I’ll be running late to lunch!” – and it will send.

I had a feeling the next iPhone’s flagship feature would be voice control. Be sure to read the whole article to get an idea of what it can do. The Wolfram Alpha integration will be great.

/via MacStories

Digital Due Process Coalition

Digital Due Process Coalition

Mac Rumors:

The EFF has announced that both Apple and Dropbox have joined the Digital Due Process (DDP) coalition which is focused on pressing Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

This is the first time I’ve heard of the Digital Due Process Coalition. It’s good to see high profile companies like Intel, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, and Google supporting an important movement.

Labeling the Back Button

Labeling the Back Button

Neven Mrgan on iOS navigation:

The title of the entire bar is the title of this view; the Back button shows the previous, parent view’s title. Here’s, then, is a piece of advice for app designers: The Back button should never show the text “Back”.

The Task at Hand

Ben Brooks discussing monitors at The Brooks Review:

At some point in 2008–9 I started just using one display — this only after I measured my use of the second display finding that I rarely used it.

Since that time I have held the opinion that one, large, monitor is the best action to take in the name of productivity.

Now I am even questioning just how large of a monitor you need.

I had a similar realization with my home computing workflow. At home I enjoy the simplicity of a single large monitor. Over time I found that the second monitor is often neglected. Too much time is wasted managing windows and setting up the workspace. It is easier to let them land where they may and use cmd-tab or mission control to manage windows. People can’t multitask so I don’t need to see two applications at once. This is great for things like writing and photo editing.

At the office it is a different story; I need to have a second display. It is helpful when preparing tax returns and putting together financial statements. I can have the source documents on one screen and the current years return on the second. I don’t need to switch back and forth just to get information. During my final reviews, I have prior year tax returns open along with the current year to help explain any changes. A second monitor is useful when it holds reference material.

Like most things in computing, the monitor setup depends a lot on the workflow. I love the simplicity of writing on my 13" MacBook Air, but find it cumbersome to prepare tax returns.

Windows 8: The Verdict Isn’t In!

Windows 8: The Verdict Isn’t In!

Harry McCracken has the best article about what we saw from Windows 8 yesterday.