Friday, December 2, 2016

Netflix now unplugged

I really like that with the new Netflix app for iOS you can download shows or movies and watch them later where you don't have any broadband connection.  (It is not permitted for all their materials, but a decent portion.)   OK, I could, and have done, do that with iTunes before, but getting my video appetite subdued that way gets costly quick.

 This is great for taking my iPad Mini to the cafe over lunch, pull out the keyboard and pretend I'm Iain M. Banks for a while, and then kick back with Arrested Development or Gilmore Girls over coffee.

And then read some articles in Pocket or Zinio on the 'pad, or continue my book in the Kindle app. Or audiobook in the Audible app.

Update: it seems downloaded films are SD (Standard Definition, old TV standard) rather than HD (High Definition), so if you watch them on a large device and plan to watch while you *do* have wifi, you'll get a slightly more detailed image by *not* downloading them before watching.
Me, I find the difference barely noticable, although more so with CGI movies (like Pixar's) where everything is so sharp and detailed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why write in cafes?

I was challenged by a commenter on the last post to explain why writing in a cafe helps some people to be productive. (I wrote most of a course in art in cafes once.)

My best take on it right now is that it helps your mind relax. At home or at office you're surrounded by a lot of objects and factors which are constant reminders of things daily duties and such, and that lowers your level of free attention. At home there are also too many opportunities for procrastination.

 And on the other hand if you were sitting in a hotel room (though this works for some people), the isolation and bland walls gives you too little stimulation, and your woolly subconscious start acting up and playing games with you.

I think the cafe or park or such places are a good in-between place where you're away from a lot of your stressors, and yet you have a bit of semi-interesting things and activities going on around you which you can look at while the mental wheels are free-spinning, but are not too hard to look away from when the machine works.

Friday, November 25, 2016

New portable keyboards, hurrah

It has been a disappointment to me (see this article and this article) how even years after the iPad became a fact, portable keyboards were still rare and not of good design. I kept buying them and dismissing them.

But again it's proven how *much* more popular smartphones are than tablets (sigh); after the 5.5-inch smartphone became popular (like the Samsung Note and iPhone 6+) it seems this market has really flowered: a quick search for Portable Keyboards yielded lots of results, and even better: they generelly have good reviews and very reasonable prices (less than half of what they cost a couple of years ago). And there are many shapes to choose between.

I've ordered one (EC, wireless for iOS, Android and Win) which when folded is admittedly thicker, but barely larger than the big iPhone! A big-phone screen is eminently usable for writing, even serious writing, and if the keyboard works as well as a classic one I have of similar size (the old Think Outside), it is very usable even for touch-typing (folded out it's close to Full Size). So with large pockets, look out, the writer is in town.

UPDATE: sadly it turns out that the keyboard below is a bit heavy in real life, and also it has that unfortunate/idiotic design where they have put an arrow key where you're used to hit the shift key...

(This is even the smaller iPhone.)

And of course what with modern smartphones having excellent still- and video cameras, it's a journalist-studio-in-a-pocket. Hell, it even includes the publishing- or broadcast studio!

I've had a love affair with writing in cafes since reading an article about it in 1992, years before I ever got a laptop!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

IPhone seven reviews

If you need help, and we all do, in deciding whether to upgrade to the iPhone Seven, here is a deep, slightly technical review from the Verge, and here is a simple, direct review from David Pogue.

Monday, September 12, 2016

iPad upgrades?

Apple has just doubled the memory of various iPad models, while keeping the prices the same.
This is of course in itself good news, because I use my iPad a lot for video, so unlike my iPhone, I'm always having to delete stuff on my iPad to make space for new ones.

But on the other hand it may be bad news, because when the do this is September, it looks like a signal that for the first time we are not getting any new iPad models this year!
This makes me a little sad, not because I really need a new one, but because I love the iPad beyond all reason. 

It also makes me a little sad that the iPad is being ignored a bit. Sales are flat, and so many important apps (take Amazon Prime NOW for example) only come in iPhone format, not optimised for the iPad. There is no reason it should not come in iPad format, the bigger screen would make it a lot more user-friendly, just as with most apps.

I really hope this is just a lull, because while the tablet may not soon replace the computer, I still think it's a fantastic device, to me it's just the most useful and flexible computing platform in existence. I have a 13-inch iPad Pro, and it's amazing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Opinion on the Kindle Oasis

General opinion on the Kindle Oasis ereader is that it is a really nice ereader and nicely light and compact, but too expensive.

I can only agree. They should at least sell a version without the extra-battery cover, a week or two of battery life would be plenty for most.

But: it is nicely light, and the form with most of the bulk sitting in your hand is very nice. I only wish it had a more rubbery surface to improve the grip, but that's something I've harped on about regarding most ereaders and tablets.

Personally I prefer an iPad for multi-app reading. Or the Amazon Fire for audiobooks and its really nice computer voice reading ebooks aloud. I can do other stuff, walk, or rest my eyes that way. But if push comes to shove, the Oasis is probably the best portable reader of e-ink type one can find.

Hard restart on iPad

Today, for the first time ever, an iPad completely froze on me.

Usually, if one holds down the Wake/sleep button (on the edge), one will first get a slide option to shut down the iPad... and if one continues to hold down the button, the iPad will shut down regardless.
I thought that was a "hard reboot", meaning it bypasses the software. But this time it didn't even respond to that.

But then I thought of trying something which has worked on similar devices: holding down the Sleep button and the Home button at the same time for a few seconds. Boom, that worked, it shut down, and worked again when I started it.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Shortcut for forward-delete on iPad

I just now finally found an keyboard shortcut for forward-delete when writing on the iPad with an external keyboard: it is control-delete.

Took me only four years to think of sniffing around for this. They call me Speedy Gon-4-lunch.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Most books are bought by non-readers!

On the latest The Kindle Chronicles, guest Bufo Calvin made the wonderful point:

Most books are bought by people who only buy a couple a year, and mostly as gifts, and they don't have book shelves. 
Why didn't we know that??? Seriously.

Just for one thing: That's why the ebook revolution slowed down and changed to an evolution... An ereader only makes sense for heavy readers. I grew up with bookshelves, and I have them in every room. It's spooky to me to visit homes without bookshelves, but that is most homes! (Especially now, with video games and TV and home cinemas.)

It also, by the way, explains why the world sometimes seems a bit ignorant: I try to learn a lot and expand my horizon... How? By reading books! And if 97% of people don't do that, what do you expect? Do you expect Vogue or The Sun to educate people?

Glowing review of iPad Pro

Read this Glowing review of iPad Pro.

It's just how I feel. It's the iPad done right.

First and foremost, it’s the fastest and most powerful iPad to date. Everything feels faster than on any other iPad I own or have used. For example, editing photos and videos is virtually lag-free, and opening and working with large documents is noticeably faster, too. 
 Moving right along, its 12.9-inch Retina display is not just stunning, it also boosts productivity by displaying 78% more than an iPad Air’s 9.7-inch Retina display. This makes the iPad Pro great for just about everything you like using an iPad for — reading, videos, games, web surfing, and almost everything else. They say more is better and in this case it’s definitely true (unless you fly coach; I'll tell you more about that in a moment). 
 Speaking of videos and games, the iPad Pro is the first iPad to include four separate speakers and it makes a big difference. It’s much (much) louder, with a wider frequency range and significantly better stereo separation than other iPads. I was a little surprised — it's the first iPad that actually sounds OK without attaching (or connecting wirelessly to) an external speaker.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Publishers beginning to go ebook-only?

I think it's a clear sign of the economic advantages of ebooks over paper-books when publishers are giving up the latter and going all digital. The latest is Foundation For A Course In Miracles, a publisher of spiritual (non-religious) books. They say:

The world is going digital and so are we! February marks the beginning of our "Going Digital Warehouse Sale." We are clearing out the warehouse of all printed books as we make the transition to electronic books. After the current supply of books is sold, the books will not be reprinted, and will be available only in digital download format.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

What difference does it make to e-read?

Prompted by a question by The Kindle Chronicles about how my reading has changed after ebooks, I wrote: 

Surprisingly difficult question. It feels obvious. 
After a lot of thought, I conclude, for now, that all the little advantages (text size choices, no light needed, 900 books in a handbag, etc) makes it a lot more FUN to read. 

Similar to when I was young and got a quality racing bike. Compared to my old heavy bike, distances felt cut down to nearly half of what they used to be. And it was just great fun zipping through the landscape. 
But if you tried to tell that to me before I got it (and before I could afford it), I would have poo-poo'd it; "Yeah, it's 'More fun'. Zippidy. Big deal..." 

But it is a big deal. If you have to do a one-hour task every day, and doing it one way it's slightly tiresome, and done another way it is fun, that makes a hell of a difference.