February 9, 2020
Three weeks using the iPad for work
It has now been slightly more than 3 weeks since I managed to destroy my work laptop (pro tip: laptop + water => no laptop). Instead of spending a couple of days in getting an old laptop in “working condition”, I decided to go iPad-only while waiting for a new laptop.
Fortunately, during the autumn I’ve been trying to set up my laptop/iPad/iPhone so that I would be able to do as much as possible from any device, so much of the work was already done. But I hadn’t expect that I would have to actually use it that way.
What have I learned during these weeks? The first and perhaps most important thing is that yes, I’ve been able to most of my work using the iPad (sometimes together with the iPhone). But I haven’t been able to do everything.
Before going into details I better describe what I typically do during a workday:
- Read and answer email
- Write notes
- Prepare lectures and presentations which consists of
- Writing small pieces of code and test them
- Make drawings/diagrams in order to explain stuff
- Generate PDFs from presentations/documents
- Generate HTML from presentations/documents
- Do some planning
- Reading papers
- Writing longer stuff
- Calendar stuff
It’s pretty easy to handle emails on the iPad. While Mail isn’t my favorite mail client it does work, I do miss MailMate but for a few weeks Mail is just fine. However, if I was going to have to use Mail for an extended time I would become really frustrated.
Also not a problem, much of my note writing happens in Bear and since it’s works the same on Mac/iPhone/iPad nothing has really changed. I also use DevonThink and it also syncs between my devices, but the Mac version is nicer for “serious” work.
Writing code and test it
This is slightly more difficult using the iPad. I’m used to using BBEdit (my favorite text editor and probably my most used program) to edit my files, then depending on the language I run the code using iTerm either on my Mac or one of the departments Linux boxes. Well, it does work fairly well on the iPad using Textastic as the editor and then use Working Copy and Secure Shellfish to connect with the Linux boxes. To access the servers I use Prompt . It works well but it’s not as smooth as I’m used to.
Well, here comes one problem. As long as I use my old Keynote presentations everything is just fine. However, I tend to prefer to write new presentations in Markdown using Deckset to make my presentations. But … Deckset is macOS only!!! My solution has been to access a Mac, convert the presentations to PDF and then use GoodReader to make the actual presentation. So this is a significant problem but there is another more important problem, but more about that later.
I use OmniGraffle for all my drawings and it’s a really fantastic program that handles everything I need. And yes, it’s available both on macOS and the iPad … but I don’t have the iPad version. Fortunately I haven’t had any reason to make any illustrations yet and hopefully the new laptop will arrive before I need to make one.
My usual combo here is writing in BBEdit and preview/convert using Marked. Textastic can generate HTML but I like the BBEdit-Marked combo better, so I usually save these documents until I get home and can convert them on my old Mini at home. So it works but …
I use OmniFocus and since it works “everywhere” it’s not a problem.
This is kind of fun, here I normally use my iPad so being forced to use the iPad doesn’t change anything. I use Bookends to keep references and papers in sync between iPad and Mac.
Writing longer texts
On my Mac I use BBEdit and Ulysses so this also works fairly well using my iPad. I’m actually using Ulysses for writing this. But if the text contains a lot of code snippets I really, really prefer BBEdit.
I have all my Calendars on iCloud so everything already worked. On my Mac I use BusyCal and on iPhone/iPad Fantastical.
The biggest problem
So while I’ve been able to find apps that makes it possible to do most of the stuff I need on the iPad, I haven’t mentioned the biggest problem. The problem that really irritates me is the screen, it’s too small for how I work. Hey, I think that the 15” screen on my now dead laptop is too small - I want my 28” screen back !!!
I quickly noticed that I’m used to have many windows open at the same time. Here is what I’m using when I prepare lectures:
- BBEdit with several files open
- OmniGraffle with one window open
- iTerm with at least one session active
- Browser usually with a couple of windows open, usually several tabs in each window.
- Marked (preview)
- Deskset (preview)
- Transmit for file transfers
In addition to this I usually have Mailmate and BusyCal running also and sometimes use them as reference for questions to be answered.
In other words I find it quite frustrating to use such a small screen as the iPad screen (I love it for photo editing, concentrated writing/reading, etc) for doing my daily work. Transferring data from one app to another is quite frustrating with only 2.5 windows available.
Files app - hmmm
I have also noted that sometimes the Files app doesn’t really want to copy/move files. So I’m never sure that I’ll be able to move files to the place I want.
It works, I can do most of my work on the iPad (sometimes I use the iPhone to get more windows) but I really want a working Mac again … soon. I really miss BBEdit, Marked, MailMate, OmniGraffle and Marked, and I look forward to use them again. Soon I also need to run LaTeX with some custom Python scripts and there are some command line programs I would like to run locally.
So while going iPad only isn’t realistic for me at work I would have no problems using it on extended business trips or vacations. I would actually prefer the iPad then.
February 2, 2020
It has now been almost two months since my cataract surgery, two months of having one eye that can focus in the range 4-8 cm and the other can who can “focus” on about 20-30 cm (details about this in another post). There have been several interesting experiences during this time, most of them expected but one that I didn’t expect was how hard old habits die.
I’ve had glasses for about 45 years now but these two months I’ve had one contact lens and no glasses at all. And every time I want to scratch my eye I behave like I still have glasses on, when I get irritated that I don’t see clearly I try to push up the non-existing glasses, after showering I’m looking for the glasses, etc. It’s kind of comical.
But I also need to learn some new habits, for example how to avoid getting snow in my eyes, wear eye protectors when I’m doing various things, etc.
These are of course minor issues, things could be much, much worse but I find it interesting to see how strong old habits are.
November 30, 2019
Since it’s the end of the year everybody have to publish their top-list of something. So here are my top podcasts and youtube channels
For podcasts I have only one “you should really, really listen to this” recommendation:
- He shoots, he draws - it’s a really fun and interesting podcast by Glyn Dewis (photographer) and Dave Clayton (designer). Most episodes are conversations (or “chit chats”) between the hosts where they talk about photography, design and other things. A number of guests have also appeared, some who are well known like Joe McNally while others are unknown to most people.
I also listen to these:
Before going into YouTube I want to give a recommendation: if you see anything that includes Joe McNally (wikipedia), David Hobby - The Strobist (wikipedia), Steve Simon or Zack Arias you should really watch/read it - you will learn something new !! There is a huge number of photo channels on YouTube, I have probably only seen a very small percentage of them but my three favorites are:
November 26, 2019
Sometimes I get the question what app I use to edit and manage my photos and what I recommend … an almost hopeless question to answer. Or at least answer quickly. But I’ll make an attempt and describe what I use together with a very short motivation, hopefully I’ll get the time to write a few longer posts that better describe why I’m currently using Lightroom and Photos (macOS).
Yep, the answer is Lightroom Classic and Photos and the main reason I use them is convenience. The major reasons why I use Lightroom are
I started to use Lightroom when Apple declared that they were stopping the development of Aperture. That move was rather painful despite not having that many photos and I don’t really want to spend the time moving to another app right now.
Lightroom can do most of the things I want to do. It might not be the best or have best user experience but it can do it.
Lightroom has a decent iOS app that make it fairly painless to work on my iPad. And I do enjoy editing photos on my iPad.
The DAM (digital assets management) feature of Lightroom Classic is adequate, it’s better than the other programs I’ve tried but not as great as remember Aperture.
The ability to directly upload and synchronize my photos with Smugmug
The reasons I use Photos are
I’m all in the Apple eco-system which makes it really convenient and get access to them everywhere.
Photos just keep getting better, the editing capabilities are becoming really good and the integration with external apps are also good.
I mainly use Photos as a first destination for my iPhone shots but also for keeping a copy of some photos from my bigger cameras.
Photos have these automatic stuff that I think is fun to have, things like automatic album generation etc.
But I should add that I’m highly skeptical of the future of Adobe Classic and have several things I dislike about how Lightroom works (some later post). I also think that Photos severely lacks organization functionality or perhaps more correctly: it doesn’t really have the organizational functionality that I would like to have.
November 14, 2019
I’m severely tempted to switch from Lightroom Classes to Capture One … tempted but I know it will not happen. Why? I’m pretty sure that it will take too much time to move my library from LR to CO, I moved from Aperture to Lightroom in 2014 when Apple first announced that had stopped the development … and I have still not completed that move. And I don’t want my photos managed by two different apps.
So, unless some drastic happens, like Adobe shutting down LR Classic and go all CC … which I assume will happen in the not too distant future, I’m going to stay with LR Classic.
Yes, I know that the last paragraph really says that I should move away from LR.
August 29, 2019
I assume that everybody except me had figured this out by now … but just in case.
I know that some people strongly suggests that you shouldn’t organize your photos by date. I disagree with that and use some kind of hybrid system that basically looks like this:
My idea was that this would allow me to neatly organize my photos without the need to figure out som kind of tagging/grouping scheme, simple and fast … and it has actually proven to work just fine. Except for one single thing: the list of years has become so long that it makes it difficult to efficiently using some software (too much scrolling).
I have been sighing over this for several years but I haven’t had the energy to move around the photos to make it better. Don’t get me wrong, dragging around a couple of folders isn’t that much work but it has effects on things like backup etc.
However, I’ve been filling up my disks and I needed to move to a larger storage, so I took the chance of making a small but important change. I now have this organization:
And suddenly I don’t have to scroll as much. Lesson learned, even if it looks silly when you start organizing, for example with only one month of photos, it pays off to think a bit further. I thought I had done that but I didn’t take bad user interfaces into consideration.