IPad Pro 10.5 – More Thoughts

Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure to learn a lot more about the Apple iPad Pro 10.5 and wanted to share a few of the things that I have found work for me while using it.

It really is a great little computer and just the right size for a tablet – much larger and it would be unwieldy when not attached to a keyboard and any smaller having two apps open at once on the screen would be very hard to use. The 10.5 to 11.0 inch form factor seems about right for a tablet, especially when it has a detachable keyboard which can be used with it. I also know that I would not have been as happy with the 12.9 iPad Pro – it is just too big for what I or how I will use one.

Some of the things that I have learned during my first month with my iPad Pro 10.5:

1. I have to have an external keyboard to do lots of typing.

The other day I screwed up and haven’t ever fully charged my Zagg Bluetooth keyboard and of course while I was at the car dealership, it stopped working. I had planned on doing a blog post while I was there and figured that this would be a great opportunity to use the iPad’s on screen keyboard for more than a line or two.

It didn’t suck nearly as bad as thought it would, but it using the on screen keyboard is not something that I would want to have to use exclusively. One thing I had to change was my right index fingernail was just a touch too long and I kept missing keystrokes with that finger when I touched the screen key using only my fingernail. That got just a tad bit frustrating.

Which meant going and finding a pair of scissors to make it so I could type correctly. Before I cut the fingernail down to size, it caused a lot of misspelled words that I had to go back and correct.

I will definitely keep my Zagg keyboard or something similar over the onboard keyboard – the onboard keyboard doesn’t work all that well for me.

2. Moving exclusively to the Apple software/app silo only, probably will not happen.

I could probably get by with most of Apple’s offerings, but there are apps that seem to work better for me from other brands, which is not what I really expected. However, I want to work with what works best for how I work, so I have chosen a few surprises to keep moving forward.

Email – I will keep my gmail.com email account as my primary account, even though I will use Apple’s mail as the default email app, since it syncs well with iCloud. I just don’t like the .icloud.com identifier as my email provider at this time, it identifies too much what kind of computer equipment/stuff I probably own, while the gmail.com is more generic. Perhaps I am being a bit too paranoid, especially since here I am writing about my experience with Apple’s products on my blog, but sometimes being a little paranoid online is not a bad thing. Maybe down the road I will change my opinion, but for now I will keep using my gmail.com for emails. Although for certain things I can foresee moving more to iCloud.com

Notes – I like Apple’s Notes for the most part, but after all these years of doing things a certain way, I keep finding myself going back to Microsoft OneNote no matter which operating system I am using – when I can. The idea of different Notebooks for different interests is a level of organization that I prefer. I gotta admit that I liked Evernote back in the day, but some of the changes and pricing strategies moved me away from using it.

OneNote does everything that I want from a notes app, although I can’t use it directly in iCloud and I have to use Microsoft’s SkyDrive to sync things. Not really what I want, but if I want to use OneNote, something I will have to deal with.

What will probably happen is that I will initially use Apple Notes to create a note or capture something, think about how much I really need to keep it. Then if I decide that it is something I want to have permanently move the Note to OneNote in the appropriate Notebook. A bit of a convoluted way to do things, but I like both apps for different reasons and I do wish Apple Notes had a Notebook or whatever Apple would call it versus the one big pile of notes without any way to organize them the way I would like.

Photos – This is my biggest complaint right now. Moving my photo library from Google to iCloud and onto my iPad Pro is a mess and damn near impossible to do without a lot of manual input. Which is not how I am going to do things. So unless I find a different solution, I plan to keep what is in Google Photos as my archive for pre iPad Pro (keep adding stuff until I reach my limit), move individual photos to iCloud as I need them and use Apple Photos for my images going forward. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination and goes against something that I thought Apple was big on – it should just work.

iCloud – I really would like to eventually be able to move all of my online storage to here at some point. However, if I want to use OneNote, I have to use SkyDrive and the issue with moving my archive photos to my iPad/iCloud is a pain in the arse, means I have to keep Google Drive updated as well. It would be nice to have just iCloud, but where I am moving in from other providers, there doesn’t seem to be easy answers to getting my data from them to my iPad/iCloud account. At some point maybe a dongle and SD cards would help?

Productivity – It really doesn’t matter to me which Word Processor, Spreadsheet or Presentation software I use. They all do about the same things, it is just a matter of learning where the commands are hidden more than anything else. Apple’s offerings are more than adequate for what I do now and actually for personal use, I remember how much I preferred Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet to the others, now that I have been back to using it a bit. Plus I don’t see me making any presentations anytime soon.

Calendar/todo – I am not that crazy about Calendar or Reminders, they do enough, but…getting them to do what I want is not always shall we say simple. Subscribing to a different calendar in IOS can be a bit of a chore and getting reminders to be in order by date, well I haven’t figured it out yet, without having to manually move things around. I have been sort of looking at other options, but in the end will probably end up sticking to Apple’s calendar and reminders more because they are the default app than anything else.

Browser – Safari is here by default and for the most part seems to work well enough. Well except on the Garmin Connect and Strava sites, it doesn’t work correctly???? I don’t really think it is Apple’s fault, but…still they are sites I do like to visit every so often (yes, I have attempted to use the Desktop mode). Which means that I have to use Chrome when I want to visit those or some other sites. Plus I do like that I can Chromecast from the iPad too when I use Chrome on certain sites.

Firefox I have it on my iPad Pro because I wanted to see how the “new” Firefox worked. For me it is okay, but nothing about it makes me jump up and use it as my primary browser yet. I will stick with Safari as my primary browser and use Chrome as my back-up until things change. Although I did like the Brave browser when I was on Linux and just realized that it is available for IOS, I will play with it a little going forward.

Music – Let’s be real, I am not a big music guy, I like my collection (mostly older stuff) and have simple wants. A workout playlist and maybe an easy listening one. I am not crazy about the Apple Music app and while it works, it just doesn’t seem all that intuitive to me and iTunes for IOS is more about parting me from my money than anything else.

Getting my music library to my iPad still required me to install iTunes on my wife’s Windows desktop, import my music library and then sync my iPad Pro. Not what I consider ideal either, but it worked, I tried the photo thing, but that didn’t work. For the past few years I have had my music library in Google Music and that is okay, but it is not where I want it to be, but Apple doesn’t really want me to have an pre-existing library outside their silo. At least it seems that way when I want to put something on my iPad Pro, nothing seems very straight-forward, unless it is coming from the Apple silo.

To be honest, despite all of the advertising and free offers from Apple Music, I still tend to listen mostly to Pandora.com in the background when I am working on the iPad and want music. It is simple and I don’t have to screw around with it.

News Aggregator – I can’t quite wrap my head around how to get the app to work for me the way I want to see news stories. Even when I check the dislike box, I still seem to get “Just for you” stories on things I don’t like i.e. Soccer, NFL, Entertainment and so on. I do prefer to get various views on what is going going from liberal to conservative with big city and rural newspapers that have local news too. Maybe my eclectic view on things screws up what they think I want to see.

Yeah, the Apple News app is a strange beast, who’s machine learning or AI doesn’t seem to be working for me all that well. I am tempted to use Google News again, but at the same time, not really wanting to. So I have a bit of a conundrum about which way I want to go for this one.

Split Screen – One thing that I have noticed is that I very seldom use the split screen capability that iPads now enjoy. I tend to work in one app and then switch to another when I need to do something else or use my iPhone as my other screen. About the only time I really use the split screen is putting events from Facebook to calendar (which in my opinion, should be done with a click versus me having to do data entry), but different silos, so I shouldn’t expect them to work easily together or copying my run information data to my running log spreadsheet.

I actually have found that I prefer to only have one app open at a time, it does make me focus and think about what I am doing. However, I do like having the option when I need the split screen for it to be there. The best of both worlds.

The reality is that

My iPad Pro 10.5 takes the place of how I would use a MacBook or other laptop (Windows, Chromebook or Linux) and in just the short time I have had it, I am getting pretty damned comfortable with how it works too.

Even so, there was still a bit of a learning curve, transitioning my muscle memory and wrapping my brain around how the iPad works with IOS. Some things are much more intuitive, while others leave me scratching my head wondering why Apple chose to make things this way. I sort of think that even Apple is learning what users want, with the newer capabilities that the iPad Pro’s bring to the conversation.

Who knows maybe even some of the things that I am whining about now, will not be an issue.

At some point Apple will have to let iPads and IOS stand on their own, as their own computing system and not require them to plug into a “real” computer to do some things that should be easily accomplished on my iPad. I know, not all iPads are iPad Pros, and I know that IOS is designed for the iPhone first and iPads second. As iPhones and iPads become more and more powerful Apple will have to make changes that allow us to use them as our primary and in many cases only computer – not just an auxiliary device.

It was my experience of moving primarily from Google products to only using Apple’s IOS offerings was a bit of challenge and more of a chore than it should have been. Apple doesn’t always make things easy to move your data to their silo from other places and to be honest some of their software/apps are not as good as the other brand’s. I know that is heresy to many Apple fans out there, but from where I sit, it is how I see things.

Luckily, my iPad Pro has enough flexibility in the apps it can use that I can have my cake and eat it too.

Unfortunately, it also means that my computing experience will continue to be a blended approach between Microsoft, Google and Apple, with a few independent choices along the way. Perhaps that is how computing is meant to be, not wedded to any one silo and using what works best for you.

That might be a pretty novel approach. (Did you detect any sarcasm there?)

Either way, I am happy with my iPad Pro 10.5 and my iPhone 7 and yes, I will keep attempting to put more of my “stuff” into the Apple silo.

Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5 – A Week Later

All the experts seem to have written “a week later” post on their experiences with Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5 and while I am definitely not an expert by anyone’s stretch of imagination – I think I have a pretty good idea of how to use and what I want from my computers. This is the observations from a new to the iPad universe user, but not new to computers, having used them for way too many years

First of all the my iPad Pro 10.5 is a “real” computer.

It has plenty of onboard memory at 256gb and 4gb RAM, there are lots of software (yes, I know they are now called apps) that can do almost everything that you need to do.

While iPads have a reputation as being primarily a digital consumption device, using my iPad Pro over the past week has wiped that stereotype completely from my view of iPads at least at my iPad Pro 10.5 level. It can do pretty much anything that most computer users need to get done and do it well enough for most people who are not power users or required to use particular software where they work.

Differences

The biggest change for me is that I had to shift my mindset and accept that I had to create new work flows or look differently at how I accomplished a task. The iPad Pro is not a Windows machine, not a Chromebook clone, it is not a Mac (although it shares some abilities) and it is not a Linux distro – it has its own operating system.

I just have to embrace the differences.

They are real.

  • No support for a mouse or trackpad
  • Differences in how apps may look versus their legacy counterparts
  • Changes to where software commands are found/implemented
  • No integrated keyboard – I will not and do not classify their onscreen keyboard as a “real” keyboard – I don’t like it all that much
  • The desktop is just for apps, not files, you can get them there, but it is not what I would call intuitive.
  • The iPad is primarily a touch interface
  • The file management system is purposely limited by Apple
  • You still have to sync your old music collection with iTunes on a different computer
  • And others that are more subtle. Those ones that I only notice when they happen, but do not really pay much attention to because they are not that different, but there is a difference

The differences are there.

Some I really like and some well they are just different from what I am used to.

However, let me be totally honest – I would not like my iPad Pro if I did not have a keyboard paired with it. Typing on the screen keyboard sucks and I would not have gotten it. I would have gone with as new a 11.0″ MacBook Air as I could find.

What I Like

The portability is amazing compared to the other laptops I have had. I can move it around the house or take it on trips with me and it sits nicely on a flat surface or my lap with the Zagg keyboard combo that I got. I really like that I can quickly remove it from the keyboard and just use it for reading or viewing a video/movie or TV show without any issues. When I go to have a vehicle worked on, if I don’t go for a run, I don’t hesitate to bring my iPad, whereas I hardly ever brought my laptop – it just wasn’t convenient.

I thought that I would really miss the mouse, trackball, trackpad method of moving the cursor around – after the initial WTFO how do I live without those things, I am getting acclimated to using keyboard shortcuts, my finger on the screen or my cheap $5.00 stylus to move the cursor around or to select icons. Enough so that when I had to use my wife’s Windows machine I found myself using her touchscreen more than the mouse – you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Speaking of the stylus. No I didn’t get the Apple Stylus – I have no doubt that it is a quality piece of equipment, but for the way that I am going to use a stylus, it is overkill. If I need to take a note I will use the keyboard or ask Siri to create one. I do not draw and am not a graphic artist, plus since I retired I don’t think that I going to be correcting/editing other people’s work anytime soon – so my cheap $5.00 stylus works quite nicely and I know that I have a couple more laying around the house. Yeah, I was a little worried that I would need that $100 Apple stylus too – I don’t.

Siri – Yes, I am using her more and more, as I learn how to use that technology, within the limitations that it still has. Although I gotta admit it is weird talking to the computer, it is the way of the future as predicted all those years ago in Star Trek or Hello Hal.

I am finding myself creating my own hybrid method of typing that is a combination of touch typing, using my stylus and fingers on the screen (the word prediction) and keyboard. It is weird, but the more I use it the more natural it is becoming.

Having a camera to create .pdf documents in Notes or simply to quickly an easily take a photo of something that I want to write about is convenient and a feature that I didn’t think that I would use as much as I have. Like taking the photo of the stylus after I got through writing about it. In the past I would have to get my phone, take the picture, wait for it to upload, then add it to a post. With the iPad’s camera I set the stylus on the table opened the photo app, took the picture, added a space in my post and added the photo. No fuss, no mess.

Which brings up another use where I couldn’t conveniently use my laptop. While using the elliptical, I can watch TV on the iPad, it fit well into the into the notch on the machine’s screen, so it is another option to distract me when working out on it or if I go to the gym and run on the treadmill, I can actually read a book or watch something I want, not necessarily what is on the TV.

I got the Zagg Rugged Messenger case/keyboard combo and have been extremely pleased with the protection it gives and also the keyboard itself.

I can type without worrying about whether it will keep up with me and I wonder how many people who actually use the Bluetooth connection keyboard type 90-100 WPM, like some of the reviewers do who complained about the keyboard not keeping up with them? I know that I don’t have that issues and while I touch type without looking at the keyboard pretty well, I certainly don’t have that kind of speed. So can I make a small prediction – I have a feeling for most mere mortal typists the Zagg Bluetooth keyboard and many others will keep up with us. I will probably do a review of that at some point in the next couple of weeks.

One of the reasons that I did get the iPad versus going the Mac route, it is the same operating system as my iPhone 7. Which has meant that things that I learn for one is usually applicable to the other and vice versa. Whereas if I was using a Mac or Windows machine, I am using two separate operating systems that do things differently. I wanted to simplify my computing experience and after only a week on the iPad, I can see how important this will be going forward. Especially, as IOS continues to improve and the other operating systems make changes also that I no longer have to really worry about.

Another thing that I did was buy the 200gb iCloud plan for $2.99 a month. I figure that should be enough to keep my iPad Pro backed up and have all of my files in one place versus in Google, Box, SkyDrive, DropBox or all the other places I have squirreled away data/files. I am tired of things being scattered across the Internet and moving to the iPad Pro has been a good impetus to consolidate things (once I figure out the file system to get the data into iCloud and on my iPad). This will take a while to sort through, but once it is done, I have a feeling that I will be happier.

That doesn’t mean it is perfect, because it is not.

The same software name may be the same, but it doesn’t mean that how the software may look, works or interacts with users is the same. Let’s use Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet – it works slightly differently in IOS than OS-X, how we access commands are different. Not enough to be all that bad, but enough to be a pain in the rear. Websites might not render the same in IOSand while some can be changed manually in IOS back to legacy views, I tend to forget that it does that.

Some apps for the iPhone do not work well (if at all) on the iPad – like Garmin Connect or Strava and I have to use the web versions.

Unfortunately, the biggest impediment for a lot of people and one that made me think long and hard before getting it, is the cost of getting into the iPad Pro 10.5 256gb edition. You do have to have a keyboard, which I know that I factored into the cost of getting it. However, when you buy Apple products that extra cost you pay for this brand is a known factor.

Dongles – enough said – everyone bitches about having to have a dongle to do stuff – I knew it would be an issue when I got it. I can see it becoming one down the road when I know that I will want/need them.

The biggest thing that I do not like is:

The file system limitations and it is not the iPad Pro’s issue that it cannot do something – it is more the choices Apple has made.

I want all of my files on my iPad and synced in iCloud since there is ample space for them there – especially my photos and .pdf files. Unfortunately, after a week I am still working on getting my photo library copied from Google Photos to my Photo library on the iPad Pro, there was no direct way to bulk move those files from Google to my iPad that I have found. I am not going the single download file route – 60gb of photos would make that a bit time consuming.

The best method I could come up with was to put iCloud on my wife’s Window’s computer, then do a Google take-out, unzipping the files, and now I have to figure out how to upload the mess to actually get in iCloud and then sync to my iPad. Sure does seem like a convoluted mess to simply transfer my data from Google’s silo to Apple’s.

Once I get it in there it will be fine, but getting stuff moved in has proved to be more difficult than it should be.

Although I have a feeling might be simpler to just keep everything in Google that is there and move forward from this point on in the Apple ecosystem. Naw that would be way too easy, I will find the solution, not because I have to, but because I am a stubborn old fart who has his mind set on having as much of my data on the iPad as possible.

Yeah, a stubborn old fart.

There – that short rant is over.

The reality is that

After only a week, I really don’t need anything else but the iPad Pro 10.5.

Yes, the file system stuff is a pain in the ass, but will not really be that big of a deal once I get things where I want them and going forward the file system is good enough once you have your data in Apple’s silo. Now I just have to get it there.

I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I am adapting to not using a mouse/trackpad to get stuff done.

Do I foresee it not doing anything that I need to do with my computer…not really. However, that is part of the fun of owning something different from what most folk have – is finding out what works for you and what does not.

I am sure there will be a few annoyances, having to re-learn how to accomplish tasks and tweaking the iPad to make it Harold’s iPad. I am still playing with what Apps are actually useful and eliminating the ones are not. Eventually, I would like to be able to retire my legacy accounts at Microsoft and Google or other places. Kind of clean up my stuff online, but I hate having an email that ends in .iCloud.com it just tells too many out there what kind of system you are using – which may or may not be a good thing in today’s world.

What I can say today about using my iPad Pro 10.5 is something that I haven’t said about a computer in a long time is that I am having fun with it and I am getting what what I want to do – done.

It is just that I have to do some thing differently than I used to.

A Pretty Boring Week – RunLog 11-26-17

How do you describe a week that was, well boring.

Wonderful.

After a summer and fall of so much going on, it was nice to have a week that was pretty uneventful and except for the trip to Lancaster on Tuesday, I was able to just get into a fairly regular schedule – even with it being Thanksgiving week. That is the biggest benefit of being retired – my time is my own (for the most part), so having a holiday doesn’t really make all that much difference to me.

Thanksgiving was a good day and I enjoyed being around family, but all the other consumer driven drivel and marketing that comes after it…well I just ignore for the most part. It just gets obnoxious after a while.

My favorite photo from the week is one from days gone by. I have been going through and cleaning up my Google Photos, when I came across this one. Although it looks a lot like Christmas with my Mom, she had decorations up well before, so looking at how we are dressed, I have a feeling this might have been a Thanksgiving Day – not sure, but it seems to fit.

iPad Pro 10.5

I did get a chance to get to know my iPad Pro 10.5 and while it is doing everything I want (I love it). Apple’s continued reluctance to open up the file system completely has made putting my document files, photo and music libraries on the iPad more difficult than it needs to be. I can see making it more difficult to move data from the Apple silo, but to make it difficult to move data in so that you don’t use other brands seems to be rather counter-intuitive. More on that in a different post, but the iPad Pro 10.5 is an amazing computer that will do everything that I want going forward. All I have to do now is get my photos on the iPad and out of Google Photos.

Yeah, that is the kind of stuff that I consider fun…learning how to use something new to me. I just wish that Apple would let the iPad be the computer that it could be and not make it be or remain an ancillary device, which with the iPad Pro series it no longer is.

It is ready to be a primary computer and I don’t want to have to plug it into any other computer to be able to move files onto it.

Running

I had the most miles in a week since mid-September on 5 days of running. I would have had more, but I have been fighting a cold an today it finally kicked my arse and I took the day off, walked Bennie and did the elliptical. Still not 100%, but definitely needed the rest. Running-wise I did a couple of 6+ runs and actually ran in Waterville an Augusta versus only running around the neighborhood.

Moving to incorporating Chi Running into Harold’s running continues to go well and is paying dividends on how well I am doing physically. No major aches or pains and I think that some parts of the old body are starting to — dare I say it — feel like some healing is going on in there. I am sticking pretty much to the plan – only doing a little more mileage than it calls for, which is pretty good for me. I also have a feeling that not having the pressure to run 7 days a week like I used to all too often is probably helping a lot too.

The Kismet 2’s were my only running shoes again this week and continue to totally impress me. I know that running shoes do not really play that big a part of how a runner runs, but I also know that the wrong shoes can make running pretty damn miserable. The Newton Kismet 2’s are definitely the most right running shoes I have run in for a while.

Now to finish up my Christmas shopping and figure out how to transfer my running spreadsheet from Google over to Apple’s Numbers Mobile. Something that when I first opened it, seemed to be one of those weird programs that you just walk away from and keep using something a lot more familiar.

However, I have been “playing” around with Numbers a lot and if you put your mind in the right place, the logic does seem to make more sense after a while. So while the learning curve is real, I have been learning how to use Numbers, by re-creating my 2018 running log in it. It will be a lot more simple than my 2017 spreadsheet, more because I want it simpler than because I Numbers can’t do what I want – since it very easily can, now that I have an idea of how it works in my mind.

Overall, a nice week, where now I have to get rid of this runny nose/eyes, sneezing, snuffling kind of stuff that is going on. I just hope that things continue to be boring.

Initial Thoughts on Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5

I have been using the iPad Pro 10.5 for about a day now and have a few initial thoughts about it.

First and foremost – I like it — a lot.

Secondly – There is a learning curve.

Thirdly – I am really glad that I got the keyboard.

Let’s be real, I have learned in the last 24 hours that using an iPad is a different beast than any laptop that I have ever owned! While it is simple to operate/use, it works differently than a laptop does – just the way it is. You have to either embrace the differences or you will never adjust to how it works.

The biggest difference for me is the lack of a mouse or trackpad, I find myself attempting to figure out the keyboard shortcuts (all new muscle memory kind of thing), reaching up to touch the screen which sort of, but not really interrupts my workflow. Huh, when I first started to reach for the screen it felt a bit odd last night, but this morning it feels more dare I say “normal”.

I don’t find myself searching for the trackpad with my thumb nearly as often. I find myself touching the screen to get the pointer close to where I want to be onscreen and then using the arrow keys to get the rest of the way there – a bit awkward, but as I get more comfortable with things I am sure it will improve.

One thing that I found helped me with the transition was finding an old cheap stylus that I had for something else and finding that in many instances it works quite nicely as a mouse/trackpad and for somethings even better i.e. turning pages or quickly moving somewhere on the screen. It even takes decent notes. So while it is not the Apple stylus, it seems to be working for how I will use a stylus as a non-artist. It was definitely a LOT cheaper and doesn’t need to be re-charged.

Software or I should call them apps going forward, do not work or often look quite the same in IOS as in other operating systems. Getting used to those differences will be a part of the learning curve as I move away from legacy software and move back to Apple’s offerings. I have a feeling that I will probably keep my running log spreadsheet in Google Spreadsheet until next year, just to give me time to acquaint myself with the IOS version of Numbers. There are enough differences to make using Numbers, not as intuitive as other Spreadsheets.

The IOS version of WordPress is different and I can’t really say it is as good as the web version or even the Linux one that I had been using. There are less tools available to use, but the basic ones are there and I will get used to how it does things.

Speaking of Apps – that is a big change. I had become primarily cloud-based for most of my productivity software (Google’s Drive or G-Suite stuff) that I lived most of the time in the browser. Now I have to get used to being App based on the iPad. Which is not a bad thing, but it does make me have to twirl my head around a bit to used to looking at things differently – yet again.

I am loving the size and portability around the house, although on the spreadsheet having the smaller screen is going to take some getting used to or maybe I just need to simplify things and not worry about stuff that I can see on Strava or Garmin Connect.

The reality is that

Moving from a traditional laptop with Windows, OS-X or even one of the Linux flavors, there is a significant difference in how I will be doing things moving forward. After 24 hours I am seeing the potential and possibilities that using the iPad Pro 10.5 has, but the work flow and yes, muscle memory makes things feel pretty damn awkward – for now.

It will take a couple of weeks to figure out which apps work best for the way that I do things and how the body/head will embrace the iPad way of doing things.

Whether they are more efficient or simply different remains to be seen.

All-in-all though I am very happy with the progress I have made in moving to my new computer. Notice that I didn’t say replacing my laptop – the iPad is not a laptop, it is a different computer system and there is always learning curve to any new computer.

Will it replace what and how I did things on a laptop – from the short-time I have used it, I believe with maybe one or two exceptions that it will quite easily. I am already more comfortable with how it does things than I was on the Chromebooks that I had, so that is saying something already.

Let’s see where I am in a month. 🙂

Why the iPad Pro 10.5?

First and foremost my old ASUS TP300L, which is now using Linux Elementary OS is starting to have hardware issues that are at some point going make it into a brick — probably sooner rather than later. Which meant that I had to start really thinking about what I wanted from my next computer.

I have used several different styles and configurations of computers and operating systems over the years, so I am comfortable looking at how I (not anyone else) would use a new computer going forward. Also I have to be realistic in what I want from a computer now that I am retired – not how I used to use my computers in a more professional environment.

What are the differences?

There are some pretty significant differences.

  • I don’t have to worry about knowing a specific program or OS for work,
  • There is no need for me to program,
  • I never did much with music (except to listen to it),
  • I do not plan on needing Photoshop quality photo tools,
  • I do not foresee any serious video editing,
  • I don’t play any high-end computer games.

After looking at how my computer use has been for the last six month — my needs are actually becoming more and more consumption oriented than creation. Other than being able to write and add images or an occasional video to this blog.

Knowing all that does give me the freedom to look beyond the usual suspects or platforms that I have used in the past.

So what is important to me now?

Some things that I do want from my next computer are:

  • Portability is important, while I don’t go on business trips or long vacations, I still move around the house with my computer and from time-to-time make trips where I want my computer with me.
  • Size is another major consideration, I do a lot of stuff with my computer in my lap on the couch or at the kitchen table. Gone are the days of having a specific desk in the house where I go to do my computer stuff – I use the computer pretty much wherever in the house I happen to be and I am finding that even my 13″ ASUS is too bulky for me. If I want a big screen, I can cast to the TV.
  •  Whatever computer I get, needs to connect easily to the Internet (almost all do), plus it needs to work well offline and have enough storage that if I don’t want everything I have in Cloud or if the Internet is not available my computer is still functioning and I have access to my data or games that I want to play. Like when we go to Lancaster, there is no Internet, but there is plenty of power.
  • Longer battery life – I am almost always close to an outlet, but the idea that the computer can last more 8 hours on a regular basis is something that I want going forward. There are going to be times when I will need this I have a feeling.
  • Easily talk with my daughter and grandchildren i.e. Facetime, Skype or something similar, without having to jump through multiple hoops to get the app to work well.
  • Having a good selection of quality software (or apps) and the ability to play some of the old Blizzard RPG games based on AD&D.
  •  Integrates easily with my phone.

There is nothing really earth-shattering on any of those items and many different platforms can do exactly what I want.

I don’t want

While I do know what I want, I also have a pretty good idea of what I do not want also:

  • A Windows machine – I am purposely chosing to move in a different direction. Although the Microsoft Surface is a form factor that is close to what I want.
  • Another Chromebook – There is something missing with Chromebooks and how I do things – it might just be that I am old-fashioned about wanting more offline storage than most of them have. Whatever the reason each one that I have had, ends up in the end table beside the couch and I go back to using something else after the newness wears off.
  • Linux – my experience is that most of the distros are better than I expected or most people believe. However, at this point in my life I don’t want to mess around with the Command line anymore. I had to do too much of it to get the ASUS to the point where I wanted it and to be honest I don’t really want to do it again.
  •  Android – If I had stayed with my Android phone, I probably would have looked closer at moving to a high-end Android tablet, however once I moved back to an iPhone, doing more with Android wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.

When I look at my past experiences with all the operating systems and what I am looking for now, it become pretty clear that moving to Apple was the choice that I would be making.

Why Apple?

Even though I haven’t been in the Apple silo for a while, I do still read the technology blogs, magazines, etc., and attempt to stay somewhat current on what is going on in the world of technology.

Apple – Their products are Expensive as hell, but in my opinion the best designed hardware out there, although they have had a few duds lately and seem to be confused about whether to stay in the laptop business (by their minimal updates to the Mac lines) or make the iPad their professional portable computer and force their customers in that direction.

My decision was influenced even more when I moved to an iPhone 7 a few weeks ago and after using it for only a very short time, it reminded me how much I enjoyed using Apple’s product lines.

It is easier to stay in the Apple silo, especially if I am not going to use Windows, since the other operating systems do not play well with iPhones.

Form Factor

The next thing was to figure out which form factor to move to in the Apple lines:

  • iMac – Would love to have one, but I do not have a need for it, it is huge and it is stationary – therefore not what I am looking for
  • Mac – I loved my 2009 MacBook Pro and unfortunately, as much as I would love to have a MacBook or MacBook Pro the price tag was just too much outside the budget. That and Apple discontinued the MacBook Air 11″, which is the model I would have preferred. I did look at refurbished models and while those are a bit easier on the budget, it means that they either had a previous problem or they have been used by someone else. Apple refurbished I would trust, but others I would always question the how long it would last.
  • iPad – Which left the iPads which have always interested me, but in all honesty, I didn’t see them as a replacement for a full-fledged laptop. Based on how I used my laptops before, I  was fairly certain I wouldn’t have been happy with one as my primary daily driver before now.
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Screen shot from Apple.com

With all the improvements in the iPad Pro line this year, the 10.5 size and the release of IOS11. I decided to give the iPad line another look, even though they still didn’t support a mouse or trackpad, which have been an important part of my computing for many years.

While I was at the Apple store in early November and actually got to look at, use, talk with one of the Apple Instructors about how it could be used and play around with the iPad Pro 10.5 – I came away impressed.

Very Impressed.

Tinkerer

Let’s face it I am also an inveterate tinkerer who loves to learn new things and I don’t always end up doing things the same way as everyone else. Yeah, I could easily go back to Window or find a reconditioned 11″ MacBook Air with the stats I want, hell I could probably do quite nicely with a Chromebook or pick up a nice pre-owned, but lightly used Mac or Windows machine and keep playing with Linux. Yes, I could do any those things without too many issues.

However, I enjoy challenges and one type of hardware that I really haven’t done anything with – is an iPad. With all the improvements that Apple has made to them over the years, I have always wanted to see what all the fuss is about, but they never seemed quite enough computer for how I would use it.
Until now.

The reality is that

After actually playing around with and using an iPad Pro 10.5, doing all that research, I made my mind up that I wanted one.

Badly.

It seemed as though Apple had taken many of my personal  requirements for a computer and designed a laptop replacement iPad just for me. After that experience, I did a ton of research and the more I read or watched, the more I became certain that the iPad Pro 10.5 was the right computer for how I use a computer now.

So now is the time to try the iPad.

The next part of the story is what happened next – a few surprises and a trip to Portland.

 

Finding An iPad Pro 10.5 And More

If you want to know why I decided to get an Apple iPad Pro 10.5, you can read that here. This post is about the adventure we had getting the iPad Pro 10.5

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I hadn’t expected to write this post today, but something unforeseen happened at lunch and necessitated a change in plans.

My old ASUS has been acting up a bit more and a couple of weeks ago I finally sat and talked with the wife about it. I had that hung dog look/feeling when I let her know that I was probably going to need a new computer fairly soon. She didn’t seem to phased or surprised by this, she had heard me whining, complaining and swearing at the ASUS more than a few times. I told her about the Apple iPad Pro 10.5 and she just rolled her eyes a little, but…

Mary said I could have it as my Christmas present.
With the Christmas season coming, I knew that this would be one of those high demand items and if I waited to get one later, I might not get one or the one that I wanted. However, all I could do was wait until the wife and I could get someplace that had them and go from there.

Fortunately, we had to go to the Apple Store in Portland to get SD1’s new iPhone, last weekend. Which gave me a chance to really look at the iPad Pro 10.5 one more time and Mary got to look at what I wanted. We talked about it while SD1 got her phone setup.

The big question we both was whether it would still be in stock in December or not. When I told her that Best Buy had the iPad Pro 10.5 for $125.00 off, as one of their Black Friday deals, she said let’s go get it.

I didn’t argue.

Now I would have preferred to get it at the Apple Store, but for $125.00 off list price, we had to take advantage of that kind of savings.

 We waited for about 10 minutes at Best Buy to get waited on and when I told the salesperson what we wanted, he smiled and said good choice and started to go on about its many attributes. I interrupted him and asked if the Portland Store was honoring the Black Friday deal that was on the website and that I had gotten an email about. His eyes got big, because they still had it as full-price on the floor and I flashed the email from iPhone
They gave us the Black Friday sale price.
Score!!!
Unfortunately, all Best Buy Portland had in stock was the Rose Gold iPad Pro 10.5 – the one color that I had told Mary before we left the Apple Store that was the only color I wasn’t crazy about. The salesperson  stated they could send it to us in a different color, but I am a big believer in one in hand is better than one that will be coming. I am not too worried about color since it will be in a case most of the time anyways.
I have a feeling that the color will grow on me. It was the same color as what SD1 got her phone in and actually it wasn’t as bad as the photos online make it out to be.
I purposely didn’t get a keyboard when we got the iPad. I knew that if I did, I would beg, snivel, whine and try to get Mary to let me open it early. Plus I wanted to research the keyboard options available, because I wasn’t sure which one was going to be the best one for the way that I see myself using the iPad.
I had to answer the following question…
Am I going to use it more as an iPad with the ability to use a keyboard or turn it into a mini Mac that uses IOS?
I still haven’t decided on that, but I have had laptops since they first came out all those many years ago and never really used a tablet all that much. So do I go for the familiar look and feel or do I try something new to see if works or not.
However, there have been a lot of negative comments about the Smart Connection loosing connection too easily and that some people have to constantly reset the iPad to get it to work.
This seems to be a weak point in the whole setup for me – attaching a keyboard that will just work and you don’t have to frig, fart around with things to get it to do what you want – type and keep up with my typing ability.

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After a LOT of research, I finally decided on the Zagg Rugged Messenger Case and Keyboard combination. Yes, it is Bluetooth, but it seemed to have a great track record regarding keeping connectivity to iPads, so I wasn’t as concerned about it as I was with other brands/styles. Getting it for $20 off helped too. Although the Brydge keyboard was in it to the end, but there were too many negative comments regarding how it had problems with missing keystrokes too often – not something I want to deal with.

So I had the combo that seemed like it was going to work the best for me, until some other accessories are available for the iPad Pro 10.5 or Brydge solves their perceived problems with Bluetooth.

All I had to do was hope that the ASUS made it to Christmas and then be able to enjoy learning something new.

Unfortunately today at lunch I was surfing the web and we heard a loud “pop” come from the ASUS. Then it some squirrelly stuff as far as showing characters, then went to black. Umm not good. When I attempted to do a hard re-start — nothing. So whatever was going on — happened. The ASUS has become a brick.

Which means that I needed a computer.

Mary graciously said I could use the iPad early, but that she would still wrap the boxes, to remind me that it was supposed to be a Christmas present.

So I have been setting it up and getting used to the quirks and differences an iPad has from a typical laptop. The biggest thing that I have to get used to is the lack of trackpad or a mouse to get things done, but I am adapting to the touchscreen. I can tell you that if I didn’t have the keyboard, this would not be a fun transition for me. I ain’t too crazy about that on-screen  keyboard. The Zagg keyboard is doing everything I wanted and was easy to connect. Although there are some things that I have to get used to.

I am pretty excited about getting to use it early and while there are a few differences or different ways of doing things, it is still a computer and I am confident a week from now I will be flying right along with my new iPad Pro 10.5.

Actually I wrote this post on the iPad Pro and while it took a little longer than usual with differences, it wasn’t all that bad either. I think that this is going to be a lot of fun!

Now to find out if the iPad Pro 10.5 can replace a “real” PC for me.

Moving Back to iPhone

Yes, I have moved back to an iPhone. No, it is not their newest and greatest, but it is still a very current and dare I say fabulous cell phone – the iPhone 7. Say what you will about Apple, the high price of their products and all the other stuff, they do have beautiful and well made products that usually set the standard for those niches.

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Apple iPhone 7 – Screenshot from Apple.com 11/9/17

This post is not really about the technical aspects of the iPhone that I am now using (it is old news and a lot has been written about it), it is more about my experience moving back to using an iPhone after a couple of years of using Android phones and how it has made me look at things a LOT differently than I did a week ago. Continue reading

May 2017 is Over and I am Still Running

My favorite photo from May 2017.

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Bennie warming up after a cold-rain soaked run

May is usually the month that I injure, re-injure, screw something up and all the words that I can and can’t use in polite company to describe me doing something stoopid and hurting some part of my body, so it is in recovery mode for the rest of the summer.

You know that time of year, when I get so caught up in the idea of running faster, after a fairly successful 5K race or two in April that delusions of grandeur start dancing around in my head – yet again.

Guess what!!!!

I survived May. Continue reading