Apps to do one specialist job well

There are benefits to having an app that does one thing and performs that one purpose very well. The advantage is found in the level of detail given to performing that one specialist task. The developer of the application has considered in depth what’s needed to do a good job of that particular process. You’ll often find facilities and capabilities within these type of applications that you wouldn’t have thought were possible. When you’re working with applications in this way on your iPad or iPhone you have to consider your device as the one single tool box. Within that toolbox you can pick up and put down whichever tool to complete a series of actions to get the larger job done.

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Tools in the toolbox

There will be occasions with some tasks where it’s nice to have everything all in one place. This saves you from having to remember what tool does which job. Sometimes it’s good to have everything in one application so processes can be done in the proper order to be the most effective. Sometimes one action will have an effect on other actions depending on which one is done first. This can be particularly true when working with images and you have a particular endpoint in mind. It is like when working on a photo with a filter and you put another filter on top. The second filter affects the photo as it was changed by the first filter. swap the two filters around and you get another finished version of your photo. If you do need to work with more than one of the tools from your iOS toolbox you might want to consider making notes as you go. This way if you have to repeat a process you will remember what it was you did the first time around.

Making use of the share menu

Using the share menu is the trick to using more than one application to get your job done. Do whatever you need to do in application number one and then use the share menu to send it to the next application to complete the next task. You can save things as you go which will be great if you need to go back a step or two. This is most definitely a good idea when working with photos in order to create a finished piece of art. Part of the process involves experimentation and seeing what happens if you do this or that to the image. Many applications have an undo button. So you can go back a couple of steps or more if necessary. If you’ve been working with more than one application then go back to the previous stage of the art process. It’s easy to make more than one version at any point in the creative process. For example, you could find it better to go back and use a darker version of whatever you’re working with because it blends better with the next process.

Comparison of Fused with other general art applications

The application Fused has a trick up its sleeve which makes it worth including in your iOS art creation toolbox. The best thing it does is to let you combine video and still photos to create something similar to a cinema graph. This is a bit like those photos you see in the Harry Potter movies where the subjects are alive within the photograph. When you’re looking at a photograph and some part of it moves and you weren’t expecting it, it makes it a lot more interesting. A video made in Fused on Instagram.

Which app do you use?

I like the watercolour brushes in Tayasui Sketchbook. Using Pixelmator for iPad is great for the fine detail when you zoom right in. The apps like Pixelmator and Procreate are brilliant because of the support for the Apple Pencil. I could use an app just because it has the blend mode I need for the artwork in progress. The App Over is just the job for adding text on top of photos. Fused has a good mix of blend modes and controls along with the video capabilities, but doesn’t have the Apple Pencil. When I want to erase a section of the image I can do that better in ProCreate or Pixelmator.

iColorama – Swiss Army Knife of Art Apps

iColorama art app

iColorama has a huge set of tools and doesn’t do multiple layers. You could do most of what you want to do in this Swiss Army Knife of the iOS art applications. I am not so keen on the drawing tools or the slightly cramped interface. You have to have all the menus to get at the power of the application, maybe they could be made smaller to get out of the way. iColorama does so much that I often forget where all the tools are and what they all can do. It has good masking controls and it is also possible to zoom into your drawing or painting. To discover the range of what you can do it’s a good idea to check out some of the recipes artists have used to achieve various effects. The Facebook group is busy trying techniques out and spreading the information on how they got to the finished art product. It is one way to quickly learn iColorma.

What are the problems you might run into?

The biggest problem you might run into is the size of the image you can work with. Maybe with one of the application do you want to use the maximum size is smaller than the size you’re working with on the other applications. This means it won’t be good if you want to blend two images together of different sizes. Generally you want to keep the image you’re working on at the highest resolution available.

There are so many different applications for doing a specific task that you might forget which one is the best for the job you want to do. I imagine most artists will have a set of favourites of apps to complete tasks in just the same way as they might have a favourite painting brush.


Nebo  is a super app for converting handwriting to text and I love the diagramming tool.


Posted in iPad.

Improve learning techniques with technology

I’m still learning things because I am a lifelong learner. I’m looking to improve learning techniques with technology because that’s the way I roll. Diving deep in the subject is one way of making sure you learn things fully. So if you’re learning to speak a new language then you should go to that country and be fully immersed. This means you go there without a friend so you have to make new friends who speak the new language your learning. No falling back onto using your present language for any of the time while you are in your new home. I’ve done this in Germany, France and Spain and when the need is there to communicate you do really want to work harder and improve. The deep dive into a subject like coding and programming you immerse yourself by committing to a specific amount of time per day. You can do the same sort of thing with your language learning when you’re back in your home country. Set a reminder in your Calendar application or in the Reminders application. This way you can create a habit and a daily learning streak. This is another way to improve learning techniques with technology. There are applications available to implicitly create habits and to count your daily streak for your habit. You’d be amazed in what you can accomplish by setting up such a system.

Memrise App

Cool app for learning new languages. I started with the web version of this service but it’s always nice to have it packaged into an application.


Improved learning – you’re a student and it is a basic requirement

When I was a student in school and even when I was a teacher in schools it seems to me the how-to of learning is not covered. Teachers have expectations of students just following the instructions and doing the work. Students are expected to have a muscle memory or kind of just know what is needed to be a good student. I sometimes think it would be great for students to be taught how to make the best of their talents as learners. When learning something new pupils of the class would know it’s necessary to review material in class. This is the point of the homework. The tasks set is not just for testing purposes to see if something was learned. Homework tasks are for providing a repetition of the content. This is to make sure the content goes towards long-term memory rather than being immediately forgotten. This sort of repetition need to be done at intervals such as one day later, a week later and a couple of weeks later or maybe a month. We can improve learning techniques with technology, using it to schedule subject matter reviews. It will be possible with an application like OmniFocus to set a timetable whenever you have a new set of information to be learned. If students were to know why and how these methods would work they might be inclined to try them. Teachers just setting homework and going over things in class is just kind of hoping for the best. Maybe some schools do tell the students about the learning process and how to be successful as a student.

Lifelong learner – Always improving the mind

Many people when they finish school vow they will never ever read another book. Being forced to do it for so many years while being in education has the possibility of turning you off learning. I have spoken to people who are delighted to tell me that they can’t remember the last time they read a book. The most reading they would do would be to perhaps read a newspaper or more likely these days read something on Facebook or Twitter. These people probably don’t even like to read the operating instructions for a new device or machine like a washing machine in the home. This is why some technology has to be made idiot proof.

The world has changed and the job market has changed with it it is now necessary to be a lifelong learner. Being able to learn new things is absolutely vital to keep yourself relevant in the job market. It doesn’t have to be that difficult now we can improve learning techniques with technology. I’m learning how to code, do Swift programming with an application called Tapcoding. It has made a game of the learning process. You get access to further modules by completing a streak of a certain number of days. This way the application knows you are ready to move onto the next module in the coding process. I’m surprised it doesn’t also have a way of not letting you move onto the next stage unless you get a level of competency. A minimum number of questions right in the tests. What I do is to repeat the module if I get too many questions wrong. Or I will repeat the module if I get a question wrong and I don’t understand why my answers were incorrect. I also go back and repeat modules if when I’m working in a subsequent section I can’t remember one of the previous concepts from the lessons. It seems to be a plan is working finally on the way my brain works and it’s starting to make some sense in my head.

Posted in iPad.

Scrivener versus Ulysses Part Two – Which one to choose?

I had to buy Scrivener for iOS

For the last six or seven months of been using Ulysses as my go to application for writing. I love using the application especially after the last main update which made great what was already good. Now I’m looking forward to the next update which is in beta at the moment which will give me direct access to my WordPress blogging platform. I got Ulysses because it took so long for Literature and Latte to come up with the Scrivener for iOS. Initially I found Scrivener was better for its huge arsenal of capabilities for writers and authors. Then I found Ulysses to be deceptive in terms of the amount of power hidden underneath a simple interface. I could do all of the things I wanted to do with my writing in Ulysses. I just had to organise myself in a different way and I was happy whether I was writing for a novel or for a non-fiction book. I also found it great for my blogging needs. So I had to buy Scrivener for iOS to make a comparison with Ulysses. Scrivener versus Ulysses.

First impressions of Scrivener for iOS

The application looks good and works well and I like it. The interface and controls are easy to use and I has good synchronisation with projects in the Scrivener for Mac. The synchronisation works through Dropbox and does its job so I shouldn’t really complain. On the other hand I still prefer the synchronisation through iCloud as with Ulysses. What you get extra for using Scrivener is the definition of areas within it for the draft or manuscript and research. There is also the corkboard metaphor which is a great way to organise portions of your text within a main document. I like the viewer of the complete document within Scrivener for iOS. It’s a good way to move quickly through your collection of sub-documents as well as giving you an idea of what it will look like when compiled.

Scrivener versus Ulysses

Compiling documents in Scrivener for iOS

There’s not much choice at the moment for compiling documents. You have PDF, Word, RTF and plain text. You do get some variations by using templates and with the plaintext you can export out to markdown. At least if I do some work within Scrivener I’ll be able to export it out to markdown to use in Ulysses. I would have thought that Scrivener for iOS would have given us an export out to the EPUB format. I get that with Ulysses and I think it’s great I can make e-books directly from my iOS device. I suppose in time extra capabilities will be added to Scrivener and in the meantime it’s possible to just go and open the Scrivener document on the Mac to create the e-book.

Editing text in Scrivener

There is an extra row above the keyboard giving access to some extra commands. The first one of these to the left side is useful in that it gives a list of things you can add to your text.

  • Add link
  • Add Comment
  • Add Footnote
  • In-Line Footnote
  • In-Line Annotation
  • Insert Image

This is a handy set of commands for whatever sort of document you’re working on. The next button goes directly to creating a link and I wonder why there is duplication of that command. It’s already in the list of commands in the previous button. The third button along in this group is only available when you have some text selected. It looks like an S with a line through it and that’s just what does, it just puts a line through the words selected. The last button in this set of four gives you access to alignment for the text. On the other side of the toolbar the first button gives you access to a highlighter. If you have text selected it will highlight that text. If you don’t have text selected and you choose a colour it will put a highlight behind any text you type after that. The next button to the right gives you access to the text colour. There is a set of five colours you can choose from at the top quickly with the icons being larger. Then you have a whole grid of colours underneath that. You could use this facility for making certain words more visible within the text so you can find them later. Perhaps you have a section where you not sure if you want to keep it in or not and this will help you to find that section of text. The next button to the right is only available when there is text selected and it allows you to add a footnote to the selected text. A square dialogue box pops up and you can put your footnote into it. The text with the footnote has a grey marker around it – double tap on it to see the footnote. The button to the right of the footnotes button is for making comments. It works just the same as for the footnotes and your little square that pops up is like a post-it note. This one has a date and time to the comment by default and then you can add the rest the comment below that.

There are three of these toolbars you can slide across from one to the next. One of these toolbars is of little use to me because I access to things like quotation marks, question marks et cetera easy enough on the iPad Pro default keyboard. The other extra row on this toolbar gives access to selection tools and buttons for moving the cursor around. This can be handy if you’re having difficulty using the standard word selection tools on your device. There is also a delete forwards button which can also be useful from time to time.

No Stylus verdict on Scrivener for iOS

As a first iteration of the application, it’s pretty good and so it should be after taking so long to come to fruition. Finally we have an application dedicated to synchronisation with our writing in Scrivener for the Mac available on iOS. I don’t much like the synchronisation through Dropbox compared to other applications which uses iCloud. Something to consider in the Scrivener versus Ulysses decision.

Scrivener versus Ulysses

In the editing portion of the application I don’t think there needs to be so much duplication of the commands. I think there should be just one button for adding a link and it is messy having more than one. It seems a little weird to have the formatting possibilities for the writing. When I’m writing I prefer to concentrate on the words and I don’t want to think about how it looks until it’s time to compile or export out to another format. Do you have to choose just one app in the Scrivener versus Ulysses debate?

Scrivener versus Ulysses

Scrivener has several useful tools and certainly could be the best tool for a novel writer. There are such a lot of organisational tasks when writing a book and Scrivener gives you so many ways to control the process. The labels and the colours also work in the corkboard as well as the binder. You can also set a status such as it being a first draft, a revised draft or a final draft. This makes it easy to see at a glance within your binder or on the corkboard what job needs to be done next. I like the way you can easily change the viewing size of the text with a pinch gesture. Same thing in the corkboard where you can change the size of the cards with a pinch.

Scrivener Corkboard

With regards Scrivener versus Ulysses, I don’t regret buying the Scrivener for iOS application and I’m pleased to have it in my arsenal of writers tools. I’m not going to move wholesale from Ulysses for my writing because I like the way Ulysses works. I’ll probably continue using Ulysses for most of my stuff and I’ll have one or two projects for novels I’ll work with in Scrivener. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t use both applications although it would be nice to have one app that would do everything. I would like to have one application that would let me keep all of my writing in one place. I know I could do that with Ulysses or I could do that just using Scrivener. As it stands at the moment if I was to use Scrivener for everything I would miss some of the things from Ulysses. It also works the other way round too. It is good to see two top-quality applications fighting it out and there being a bit of an arms race between them. Writers and authors will probably just choose one or the other and stick with it. The organisational features you get with Scrivener could be the thing which turns your head towards using that application. Or the minimalistic good design and the ability to export out to e-books format directly from Ulysses could be your sweet spot. In the end you know what sort of writer you are and what facilities you want to use and you’ll make your choice.

Posted in iPad.

iPad Educational Strategies and Life Long Learning

Lifelong learning with iPad education strategies

There are some people in this world who believe when you’ve left school it’s not necessary to learn anything else. There are those people who didn’t like reading books at school and never picked up a book after they’d left. People like that we can generalise as being of low ambition. It takes all sorts to make up this world of humanity some are go-getters some are not. To some extent it runs in families and if you have parents who read, the children will also be avid readers. My mother was never much for encouraging me to further my education, but she did like reading. I often saw her ensconced in a book. Even now she’s not far off 80 years old she still likes reading. Reading is one thing, but there’s more to learning than just hitting the books. In some respects it’s a way of thinking and a mindset. I always love learning new things and I believe in lifelong learning. Now we have the fantastic iPad there are iPad educational strategies we can use to learn new things easily.

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Use the iPad to be a lifelong learner

The iPad is a perfect tool to help you be a lifelong learner. There are a huge number of applications available for educational purposes. This can mean using standard productivity tools to do educational things. Such as using writing applications, spreadsheets, various presentation tools and the excellent art creation applications. There are also a huge number of applications created specifically for the iPad education strategies. There are applications designed for you to learn a language. I have applications for learning Spanish verbs, how to speak Estonian. I also have applications for learning mathematics. There is an application called Mathemagics which is a fun way to learn how to do mental arithmetic.

Tactile learning with the iPad education strategies

I could never quite get my head around algebra. Despite this, I still managed to pass one or two mathematics exams while in school. There’s an application called Algebra Touch and with being able to move things around using my fingers on the screen algebra finally starts to make sense. You begin with simplify and move on to the addition of like terms. Then it educates you in the order in which you process the operators. So you start with multiplication and follow that with the addition operator. It makes algebra all look very easy when you can move numbers around the screen with touch. You only have to touch on the multiplication, division, addition and subtraction operators to make it work. It’s quick and you might not want to go back to using pencil and paper. The application even has plenty of little help videos to show you how to do the sums. It doesn’t take long to get through the first couple of lessons and you’ll find yourself going to factors and more complicated maths. There is no reason at all why maths has to be difficult when you can get a good grounding in the basics using an app like Algebra Touch. The application will not let you break the rules of mathematics which in one way is a good thing or maybe not. Sometimes you can learn more by making mistakes and having an extra lesson because you got things wrong. If you feel you haven’t got the concept quite right in your head yet you can also elect to do more practice.

Using Algebra Touch

iPad education strategies

Native applications or web applications

Web applications can be just as good as using a native iPad application for learning. I’ve been using an application on the web at a website called Memrise. It works on your learning of vocabulary for language using repetition. You get to hear the foreign word and you match it to the text. Also you have to type in the correct word. Sometimes there are multiple choices and all of these learning strategies are mixed and matched, going backwards and forwards between the two languages. It’s the repetition which helps move things from the short term memory into the long-term memory.

Learning is more than just filling your heads with facts

We have information at our fingertips now. Sometimes we might think it’s not necessary to throw things inside our brain and to remember them. That was the educational process of the past. There was an exam at the end of it to test how much you had remembered. To a certain extent now what we need is the intelligence of how to find information and to how to use it. I’d favour tests or examinations where you had to creatively show what you knew how to do. You find information and then know what to do with it when you found it.




Problems in a school educational setting

Students are lazy and if they think they can get away with using copy and paste without doing any thinking, then that’s what they’ll do. When children spend so much time in schools is no wonder they get fed up with the learning process. It’s a long time to keep focused on your education. Children seem to have shorter attention spans and maybe iPad education strategies will be the way to push past this. The way to make it better is to make the lessons more interactive and engaging. Immersion in the educational topic can be made entertaining and interesting with iPad education strategies. The touching of the screen makes it a more personal process. The sheer number of applications available gives lifelong learners a chance of finding the right way to learn. Some people are more tactile, kinetic learners while others are visual or maybe audible in the way the brain works. I’m of the opinion that a mix of a variety of learning processes will work the best to enhance intelligence.

You can learn anything watching videos.

If you need to learn how to do anything at all, just do a search on YouTube and someone will have the answer. Having somebody showing you how to do something in a video is perfect. You can stop the video at any point and do whatever you need to do to reinforce the learning physically or complete the task you are learning how to do. If you need to see something more than once then there’s nothing stopping you from going back to the start and watching it over again. For certain tricky operations it’s even possible to slow the video down and watch in slow motion detail. Using YouTube you can find out how to do tasks around the house or learn how to make things. You might watch a video in which an expert explains something so the penny finally drops for you and you understand. YouTube isn’t just about silly cat videos or the stupid entertainment videos where somebody falls over and gets hurt. There is a YouTube application for the iPad and so can be part of your iPad education strategies.

Making videos to show how to do something in the app Explain Everything



Learning to code on the iPad

400x40000bbThe new application from Apple called Swift Playgrounds looks like it’s going to be brilliant for learning how to code. I’ve seen posts from people who have had no interest in coding before, saying now they would love to give it a go. I’ve been using application called TapCoding which is a great way to learn Swift and your basic concepts of programming. I’ve enjoyed it so much that when given the opportunity to pay for all of the application to be unlocked, I did so in a heartbeat. I paid €10 to get the full course and any extra modules they add to the course. I’m sure more will be added as time goes by. You don’t have to pay for the course, you can get access to all that’s there so far, just by logging in daily and completing a module. Each time you hit a milestone with a streak of learning you get access to the next stage. There are many people in education and in business who are of the firm opinion that everyone should learn how to code. TapCoding and Swift Playgrounds are a step in the right direction to encourage more people to take part using iPad educational strategies. Swift Playgrounds will not be available until the autumn when iOS 10 becomes available. I’m almost tempted to try the beta version of iOS 10 on my iPad, but after my last experience of using beta operating system software I think maybe not. I’ll just have to be patient.

iPad educational strategies

iPad educational strategies for students

If I was a young student now, I’d love to be in a school where there was a one-to-one iPad educational strategy. I can imagine using the iPad for all lessons to take notes and create content as part of my education. Children have a mountain of information to learn and the ability to store all of the learning process in one place would be fabulous. No more carrying around big heavy schoolbooks from class to class and back home again. All the necessary information could come in electronically and it would be possible to create a single log of the whole educational procedure. One day perhaps there’ll be a single computer system where students could pick up any iPad and login with a fingerprint. They’ll say to the computer something like “Show me the lesson from last Tuesday we did in the maths class” and they’ll get the required information. The computer could even suggest extra learning materials if the system sees that student hasn’t quite grasped the concept from one of the lessons. This could mean all students will be able to learn at their own pace. Teachers will only need to be there to be facilitators and to give personalised encouragement to learn. Teachers will still perform the important task of providing pastoral and social care alongside the nitty-gritty of teaching subject specific information.

I often get the feeling that the educational system is slower to pick up on technological changes. Time and again it’s due to financial constraints, sometimes it’s due to teachers expecting to teach with the same methods they learned with themselves. I’d like to see education arrive in the 21st-century with the materials for learning matching the possibilities of technology. I’d like to see classes where the teachers use modern, up-to-date teaching methods. That would have to be matched with examination, testing procedures to reflect the new modes of learning. It could happen and there is the possibility of a slow revolution towards something better. The educational system could still specify the basics to be learned, but as a student progresses the lessons could be tailor-made to each individual person. I could certainly see iPad educational strategies using the fantastic apps available as part of that system.

Going further than iPad educational strategies

iPad educational strategies

Learn to code Javascript

When my three boys were at school I was concerned that their education was to a certain extent a lottery. The lottery came down to which school they were able to go to, which classes they were able to take either due to time constraints or what was offered. There is also the lottery of getting a teacher who is good and inspirational as opposed to getting one that is marking time and is burned out. This makes me wonder how education could be improved in the future. Will somebody in a single school work out a system where technology is used to give a student centred education? Will a government of a country put in the money and resources to create a futuristic education system? Modules could be put in place that students are required to study. These could be worked in alongside various options for other information. Students could choose what they want to learn and the system could give suggestions of which areas of study they maybe should concentrate on. The system would make these suggestions of study based upon the talents of the student. There would be checks and balances to make sure that the students got a balanced education that would be guaranteed to help them fit into society. Professional educators would have a say in creating the system and providing the modules. All of the educational materials would be put online in the form of videos, audio, application-based learning as well as other documents. This would work in the form of a flipped classroom strategy. This is where the student goes and follows the online information to get the basics and then the detail of the subject. Then in the classroom they spend the time putting that information into practice and reviewing what they’ve learned. This is where the professional educators, the teachers, give guidance and assistance to make the best use of the educational materials. This would fit in well with iPad educational strategies.

There could be a system of rewards and it could be made into some sort of game to encourage children to immerse themselves into their own education. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be completely individualistic and there would be a requirement for some of the modules to be completed by teams of children. The system could put together children based upon specific abilities to work together as a team. Other tasks could be available as part of your iPad educational strategies where children make up teams with their friends or even family.

We won’t have to worry that children or adults are spending too much time with their devices and getting square eyes. Thats what the old folks used to say when we watched too much television. The educational system will have life balance built in. We know we learn better if our bodies are in tip top condition too. The marvellous iPad educational strategies system will assign time for exercise and human interaction in the perfect amount for each individual. Groups of users will be brought together and given the opportunity to play a game on an old fashioned board and the devices will go dark for a couple of hours. Maybe there will be activities like Pokemon Go where the system encourages the users to go out and interact with the real world and other people by using AR (Augmented Reality).

What sort of educational future is possible?

iPad educational strategies

A paperless classroom

There will have to be a huge amount of belief in a computer system to put something like this into practice. Some teachers would be against it because it might seem like they wouldn’t be needed any more. The job of the teacher might change to a certain extent, but teachers will always be necessary in the classroom. It would certainly be great to see schools move away from a paper-based educational system. It would be brilliant for education to move away from the memory bucket system of learning. I don’t think it’s much of an education where children have to just prove how much they’ve remembered over a period of time by regurgitating it in an exam. It will be much better to have a complete system which had a built-in guarantee of an all-round education, but with flexibility to the talents of individual children. It might take another hundred years before something like this happens. However long it takes, I think we can be sure education is changing to reflect our technological advances. The educational system will have to change to reflect the modern work practices and requirements. For the moment we can start by educating ourselves using iPad educational strategies and being lifelong learners. There are excellent educational apps available for both children and adults. Make use of the online academies to educate yourself. Become more employable or sufficiently knowledgeable to run your own business and be an entrepreneur – employ iPad educational strategies.

Posted in iPad.

TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons

Learning to code with the application TapCoding

TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons – This application was recommended by the Canvas podcast. So far I’ve completed the first module and I am very impressed. I covered some of the ground I’d already covered by following an Xcode playground tutorial. It was useful in any case as this went into a little extra detail. In the previous tutorial the variables were being declared by inference and the new tutorial showed that it was possible to make your variable declaration and specifically state its type. There is a gamification element to this learning code application as it encourages you to have a streak of learning. It will also remind you to open the application daily to complete the next section of the tutorial. After completing Basics 1 I can move on to Basics 2 if I have a two day streak. I’m old enough to remember that streaking is when you take off all of your clothes and run around naked in public. To do a two day streak you can do a section over two days. If you finish a single session in one day then you can go back the next day and redo some of it to complete your daily streak.

TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons

TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons

The application gives you information in small bites. It then tests you on that information. The tests take the form of multiple choice questions. You are shown three things and asked which are correct or true. There are also tests for typing in the code where you just copy what is already there. The more interesting tests are where you choose elements of code to put into a line of code to complete the task. Obviously you have to choose the correct elements and put them in the right order. So far it’s all been pretty easy and I feel I’m learning some important lessons about programming. TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons is a great way to learn Swift. It’s much better and more interesting than following a book on how to code.

TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons

Latest news from NoStylus

During the summertime I’m usually hot and bothered because of living in Spain with all the sunshine. The weather and the summertime work makes me tired and lazy. I’m using my iOS devices nearly as much and I’m using them more than I get to use my iMac. This makes sense as I am out of the house more during the summertime. Using the Editorial app daily while I’m at work. I have my iPhone remind me of tasks I need to do using the app called Due. I have notifications coming into me from an application for the Euro 2016 football. I can know the latest scores in games even if I’m working. The Omnifocus app is also reminding me to create web posts although I think it’s fairly safe to say that I’m ignoring a good few of those reminders. I am making reminders for myself using Siri and I think it’s fun to do this while the phone is in my pocket so I can’t see the screen. It’s amusing at a later stage to see how my voice and my words have been translated into text. Most times it works very well because I’m using a 4G connection which is very fast but sometimes the results are hilarious.

Apple Watch – Watch OS 3 coming soon

There are some big changes coming to the operating system for the watch and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m not brave enough to choose to use the beta, especially as I would have to also use the beta of iOS 10 on my iPhone as well. I’m really not that daft and mad in the head. Even so, I’m still getting a lot of use from the Apple watch notifications in the present OS. These are mostly for the get things done applications I’m using. The thing I’m mostly using the Apple watch for is to control the Now Playing audio from the iPhone. I love being able to quickly turn the audio off or reduce the volume. The digital crown on the watch is a great way to alter the volume from my iPhone.

I’m not using the health features of the phone quite as much as I was. I do like to see that the health rings are completed. I’m not so worried about the exercise ring as before. I am doing a little bit less exercise than I was, but I’m taking account of that by eating less. I’ll be getting more exercise quite soon as I have spent the money necessary to fix my electric bike. I had to buy a new controller and the cable going to the motor. Fingers crossed it will work when I put it back together again. If I can take time off from the TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons

Applications being used on the iPad Pro

Today I used iThoughts to create a mind map of all of the recipes I’m using in If This Then That (IFTTT). I had to do this because there was some duplication in the automation I was using to have pictures posted from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I’m having these photos and posts from the social networks going into my Day One journalling application and I don’t like to see duplicates. I also have the Jet Pack feature set up in WordPress to publicise posts to the social networks. This was another source of duplicates going into Day One. I am a visual sort of person and so seeing all of these connections in a visual way in a mind map helped me make sense of where everything is going. There was even automation in place I’d forgotten about, such as where I can post a photo to Flickr and to 500 PX just by moving the photo into a folder in Dropbox. It’s nice to now have everything working as it’s supposed. Now I got the basic sorted out I could probably add a few more automations is to my workflows. Maybe my TapCoding iPad Swift Lessons will help me setup the automations in my computer system.

Posted in iPad.

Swift Coding on the Mac and iPad

Learning to do some Swift coding. I got a book from the Apple website which gives a starter into app development with Swift. It’s fairly simple stuff, but it comes with a Playground which can be opened up in Xcode. Within the Xcode there are instructions for what to do to create some simple coding examples. I’m enjoying using the Playground as a way of immediately seeing what happens with the code I’m creating. Within these lessons you write your code after being given some hints and help to get started. Then you have a chance to work it out for yourself. It’s a good way of doing it because you learn more by doing.

xcode swift playground

Learning by making mistakes

There was a point within these Swift coding lessons I was trying to do something and I’d forgotten something from one of the previous lessons. After a certain amount of head scratching and working things out was able to get past the problem. I was working with strings and I wanted to use a constant I’d already set up previously in the programming. I was trying to do String Interpolation and I’de forgotten exactly which characters I needed to use to make it happen. This was all about solving a problem within the larger problem which was working out how to do some maths. I was quite pleased with myself when I got to the end of the three lessons and I’m interested in taking it further.

First app: Single photo – Lesson 4

This is the chapter 4 of the book o n Swift Coding and I’m going to be able to make an application that displays a photo. This is just a starting point to get a photo showing within an application. The next part of the job will be to get a reaction when the user taps the screen. I can’t wait to get started!

swift coding iPad

Making something useful with Swift Coding

I’ve been doing some simple coding using the application Editorial. I’ve created a number of coded workflows to get things done quickly as part of my job. I’d like to create the same processes, but within an application of my own making for my iPhone. I’d like to use some computer logic – if this then that – type of scenarios. So if I press one button it takes me to one view allowing me to only enter certain information. This is so I don’t have items on screen I don’t need to look at, making it simpler to use and more efficient. I think the hardest part of this will be to connect this up to a receptacle for storing the information collected. With what I done so far as been easy because it’s part of a text based application. It’s going to be more difficult if I need to set up a database, add data to it and maintain what is collected. The other part of that work will be to have ways to display the data. I will need to look at data and get meaning from it at a later stage.

A problem to be solved – Swift Coding iPad

I’m hoping I can think of a few other things needing solutions. Solutions to be worked out and implemented by use of coding. Maybe if I need to, I can look at one or two applications I use already and find better ways or more personalised solutions to what the app already provides.

Swift coding much better than Objective-C

I tried learning programming before and it was Objective-C-based coding. It seemed complicated and difficult to implement. I just had a hard job of getting my head around how it operated. I have only just started with using Swift, but with it being such a new language it seems more organised and much easier to use.

I’m really looking forward to the Playground application available for the iPad when it becomes available later in the year. It seems will be able to do some proper coding on the iPad at long last. There are other applications such as Pythonista and Coda for writing code. Coda seems to be mainly for writing HTML for websites. I have just looked at the website for Panic Software who make this application to see what else it can do. It has syntax modes for a large variety of computer languages. It will do Swift as well as Python, Ruby, JavaScript and Markdown as well as a whole lot of others. I can see all have to spend some time with this application and see what I can do with it.

Posted in iPad.

A day in the life of my daily iOS routine

Apple WatchThe first thing I do when I get up in the morning is to put on my Apple Watch. It’s a part of my daily iOS routine. I love my Apple Watch and I wear it all the time. I’ve been using it now for one year and one month approximately and I wouldn’t like to be without it. For the first nine months when I used it I used mostly for the health features. I always made sure that I completed each of the three rings for the activity. Getting my 30 minutes of exercise in per day and usually more. I would also have my 12 hours of enough time standing up during each hour every single day. Same thing with the calorie counter I had it set at a good level and it was going up each week. So I was continually doing more and more exercise during the months as they passed. During the last six months, I have dialled back on those numbers due to having some pain in my hip. In my daily iOS routine, I still like to keep those circles filled even so! I also used the exercise monitor to record my walks with the dog and my cycling activities. I’m looking forward to being able to crank out more kilometres and get more exercise both walking and also with my bicycle.

Controlling the Now Playing audio with the Apple Watch

The other main thing I use the watch for is to control the playback of sound from my iPhone. I listen to podcasts while I’m at work and I often need to reduce the volume or turn off completely when there are things to be done. It works with Overcast, my preferred podcatcher. If I have music playing it will control that too. Kind of sweet to use the Crown on the watch to adjust the volume. Whatever I have playing I have the control. It makes a big difference to my daily iOS routine being able to look after my audio listening activities.

Talking to my watch and my phone

They say talking to inanimate objects is the first sign of madness. Or is it talking to yourself – much the same thing really? I use Siri to create appointments and reminders. I can either do this with the watch or with the phone. When I use the phone I like to leave it in my top pocket and press the home button to start Siri. I dictate into it whatever it is I want Siri to do for me! She is my digital assistant. I think I prefer to do these sort of things on the iPhone because I get an audible feedback from the phone to tell me how it’s going. With the Apple Watch you just get a message on the watch face to say what has been done. I will remind myself of films I want to watch and I can send reminders to a specific list. I also have a shopping list which is shared with my wife. If only I could persuade her to use it, she still likes using pieces of paper clipped to the side of the fridge with a magnet. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could read her writing! With Reminders app, you have to put in the items one at a time. I’ve found it works better to use the app Drafts to make the list. Especially if you want to Siri dictate the items onto the list. Make sure it goes to the right list by having the list name with a hash in front on the first line. Use an action to send the text as separate items in the list. Drafts is a great app for your daily iOS routine of putting whatever text into the Apple computer system and service.

Starting the day – A daily iOS routine

After putting on the Apple Watch my next trick is to pick up the iPad. I like to carry the iPad Pro round the house with me wherever I go!. First thing in the morning I will check all of my emails. I get an email from the Guardian newspaper every day and I will see what is in the news headlines. I like to avoid the bad news and have a look at the articles about technology or things that are funny or interesting. I use the application called Spark in my daily iOS routine because it is the best way to deal with emails. I did try going back to the Apple Mail application. I just prefer using Spark although I was using Dispatch. The only time I would now use the Apple Mail application would be when I get a mail comes in and it has been MIME encrypted. If it is encrypted with PGP or GPG it doesn’t matter which app I use. Spark has a smart inbox and it’s easy to snooze an email to another time. I like to have inbox zero. I read them or archive them. No clutter in my email inbox. Learn how to use encryption on your emails.

Breakfast with Twitter and Facebook

twitterificAs I sit and eat my muesli and yoghurt I have a look at what’s going on in the social networks. For Twitter, I like Twitterific on all my devices. In the past I have used Tweetbot, but when the developer couldn’t be bothered to update to the iPad version for a long time I changed and I’m not going to change back. Twitterrific works very well indeed and gives me all of the capabilities I need from a Twitter client. I like to be able to muffle users from time to time. This means I can still follow them, but to not see everything they put onto the timeline. It can set to be for a longer period of time or just muffle for a day or two. The Twitter user could be at a conference and tweeting a lot over a couple of days and I don’t want to hear that specific conversation. The other possibility is that the Twitter user I’m following has gone on a rant and I just want to have a rest from it for a while.

In any case, I am entertained while having my breakfast with the daily iOS routine goings on from the social networks. I quite often follow the links one or two of the tweets to read the story behind them. It’s a bit like the old days really, when people used to have a newspaper when having breakfast in the morning.

What happens next in the life of a mobile computer user?

Dragon AnywhereNot every day is the same, some days I work in the afternoon and some days I work in the morning. Whatever is my daily iOS routine I have my free time before I go into work I will sit in front of my iMac and do some stuff. I know that after my two weeks of being a post-PC computer user I could do a lot more of what I do on my mobile Apple devices. If I’m going to be doing some writing, the best option for me is to use DragonDictate for dictation. It is so much faster and more accurate than using the dictation built into the Mac or Siri dictation on the iPad or iPhone. By the way, this article has been dictated into my iPhone and iPad using Siri dictate, so you can see it’s quite possible to do articles of over 1000 words quickly and fairly easily when you are mobile. When I’m using the iPad for the dictation I have to connect using the mobile hotspot to my iPhone. Unless I am connected by WiFi, that is. It works pretty well when I have access to a 4G mobile data. Even though Siri is not perfect for the dictation compared to using DragonDictate, often times it’s good enough. With this blog post, I have only dictated one paragraph using the dictation on my iMac. I’m thinking about giving Dragon Anywhere I try to see how that compares and whether it is worth the €15 per month. Up until now it hasn’t been available in the Spanish App Store, but I’ve managed to download it with my UK Apple ID account. It is supposed to come with one week’s trial but it looks like you have to opt for either a monthly or annual account in the app. I suppose you have to cancel within a week if you don’t want to continue. I’m not sure when it is when the money goes out of the iTunes connected bank account. I’ll let you know how I get on with that! I don’t really want to spend the money on it because I have spent out already for the desktop version of Dragon dictate. But I will give it a try just so I can write about it.

I found the way to get the one week trial is to go to the web site for Nuance and pay outside of the Apple in App purchases. Definitely have to add Dragon Anywhere to my daily iOS routine.

What else takes me away from using my mobile devices and back to my iMac?

I am an iPad artist yet at the same time, I also have some excellent applications to use on my iMac for working with photos. I particularly like the applications Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Making art and art photography is part of my daily iOS routine. These are top quality professional applications for working with photos and they have facilities not available in even the best of the iOS apps. It is possible to do some amazing things with the art applications on the iPad and I particularly like using iColorama! It’s just that sometimes you have to have a full Mac application and a 27-inch screen to do the best job you can possibly do. There are even times when what I want to do is going to be best done on the iPad in one of my iPad artist application such as Procreate or Pixelmator for iPad. Sometimes it is better to have the more tactile experience of touching the actual screen and virtually touching the image you’re working with. With a pinch action on the screen you can quickly zoom in or out. Then there is the joy of using the Apple Pencil. There is nothing stopping us from doing some of the work on an image on the Mac and finishing off on the iPad or the other way round.

Writing Software for authors

UlyssesThe application I’m using for my writing is Ulysses. The best thing about this is that it is available on all of my devices. The synchronisation of the documents works a treat through iCloud. This particular set of words started off being dictated using Siri dictation on the iPhone. I changed to continue on the iPad and at the moment I’m back with the iPhone. There is a possibility I might finish off the editing of this article on the Mac. (I did that editing later that evening and finishing off next morning) There I’ll be able to use the excellent application, Hemingway. I use that for checking the grammar and structure of the writing. It kind of depends upon how its reads when I go through it after doing the first draft. It may well be I’ll be happy enough to do all the editing on the mobile device. Editing is a bit fiddly on the iPhone but possible. I can then use either Blogo or WordPress application on the iPhone or iPad to publish. I’m looking forward to the next version of Ulysses which will allow us to publish directly to WordPress from the app. Another option I sometimes use to go to the web page for the WordPress installation and do it that way. I have a plug-in for WordPress which helps me get the SEO for the blog set up correctly. If I want to use that I have to use the web page to access the plug in.


Keeping a track of my life with Day One

I like to keep a track of my life in the daily iOS routine using the Day One journaling application. I do a Day One post every day directly into the application and I also have IFTTT, If This Then That automated posts going into the journal as well. This means that on many days I would have between three and six new posts going into my journal. I’m not too introverted with what I write in my journal. I like to comment upon what’s going on in the world as well as what’s going on in my own life. So this morning I was writing about looking forward to seeing my sister in August when she comes to visit. Later in the day I was writing about things to do with the European referendum in Britain. With me being an immigrant or expat in Spain it’s going to make some sort of difference to me if Britain does decide to leave the Economic Union. If England or Britain do decide to leave the European Union then it’s almost certain that I will decide on taking Spanish nationality. This is the country where I live after all. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good as a place to live!

Daily iOS routine

Looking after the money

This isn’t something I have to do on a daily basis, but every now and again I need to have a look and see what’s happening with the bank. I have the application from my bank on my iPad and it works easier than using it on the desktop computer in the browser. I haven’t used it yet on the iPhone but I’ll have to give it a try soon. I was using MoneyWiz but I found it tedious to put the data in. If you can do it bit by bit, it’s great. If not then you will get fed up of using it.

Bitcoin chart

I have a couple of bitcoin applications on my phone. I could use one of them for a Wallet for some bitcoin but I don’t. I have all my bitcoin in one place and that’s on the desktop. It is useful however to use the Bitcoin ticker that I have to tell me the price of the bitcoin as it stands at the moment. It gives the price from a number of different bit coin trading websites.

Reading on the iPad

Once again the iPad being used as a consumption device. Apart from the reading I do on the social networks, it’s good to read books. Lately I have been reading a book a week and most times I use the Kindle application for this. I do sometimes also read stories in Wattpad and of course, I also have the Apple iBooks application. I do have some books in there ready waiting for me to read them. What often happens though is that I finish one book on the Kindle and I go to the library within the application and look for the next one to read. Next time, I must for myself to think “Hang on a minute go and have a look in iBooks for the next book”. I often end the daily iOS routine with my iPad in bed reading a book.

Creating audio on iOS

I have a grouping of audio applications on the iPad and most of them are for creating audio. My favourite for recording audio is Twistedwave. I will use this to record a piece of audio ongoing to send to Audio Boom or for a podcast. If it’s just a short piece and I don’t plan to do any editing then I might record audio into Audio Boom. If I feel like I know what I’m doing with recording audio then I have Boss Jock. With this I can add extra audio bumpers, stingers, and jingles. This does make editing the audio afterwards available or difficult because of the adding of sounds which will play behind the voice-over. So I have to feel I can really to do a performance in one take when I’m using this application. I have two multitrack audio editors available which I could use to put a podcast together with the extra sounds after the fact. I have Auria LE and the Multitrack DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). To use these I would have to learn how and spend quite a lot of time getting used to how they work. Both of these applications are quite complicated. I also have other application such as Just Press Record which goes in the other direction and are as simple as can be. So sometimes I record directly into the application or service I’m aiming for. Then other times I’ll record in an audio application so I can do some editing before I upload to the social network or audio network. Another audio-based social network I like to use is called Anchor. It works like a timelapse conversation. You can ask questions and you might get some answers and you can reply to those found go back and forth if you wish. It just doesn’t happen in real-time but it’s OK. I often create audio as part of my daily iOS routine.


At work with iOS

When I’m at work I use iOS constantly in my daily iOS routine. In this article, I describe how I use Launch Centre Pro and Editorial to record what I do at work. I like to use editorial it because it has the task integration which means I can quickly create lists with checkboxes. I’ve put a tick in the box when the job has been done. It’s also good to forward text into headlines which make it easier to read and get an overall picture of what’s been done during the day.

Other interests during the day

There are the basic things I do every day using my iOS devices. Then there are some things which happen just now and then. I’m always looking for interesting new applications to tryout and I often get drawn into spending time playing with something new. Quite often this will be applications to give a different type of effect in my art. Lately, I have been playing with the application called Dreamscope. This has some crazy filters which will turn a photo into a piece of art. The problem I have with it is that it doesn’t give any way to alter the effect or combine affects. You choose the filter and there’s not much more you can do with it. Some of the filters you don’t even get to see a preview before the filters applied. There isn’t the option to save the pictures to your camera roll directly, you have to have your fingers crossed and hope that it’s going to work out when you publish it. At least it is possible to publish it and keep it private. Then you need to go into the gallery view to save the image to your photo roll you want to. It also seems kind of weird that it doesn’t take the whole of the picture and it crops to a small size. It’s quite annoying that you don’t even get the chance to choose where the crop is going to happen either. Despite the problems with the application, I enjoy using it for the variety of effects available. The thing to do to get a better use of Dreamscope is to export pictures to your photo library. Then bring images into another artists applications to make a better use of the image given by Dreamscope.


Matter is a fantastic app for adding 3D objects to your images. The surfaces of the objects reflect the images below it and you can even have the objects rotate in space. Easy to change the size and position the various objects in the image. Go completely multi media with it and add music to your videos too. Loads of fun using the Matter application. I post some of the videos I make with this app to Facebook.

Matter iOS art

iOS All Day Long

So as you can see I have an iOS device with me all day long, every single day. In days of old, the first thing I always did in the morning was to go to my computer to turn it on and have a look at the basic computer stuff. The way I work now is that it could be anything between one hour and two hours before I feel the need to sit down at a desk. There are many things I actually prefer to do with my iOS devices rather than using a big old computer. Sometimes I just prefer to sit on the sofa in a more relaxed position to do whatever is I want to do with a daily iOS routine.

Whatever some people say about the iPad for not being a device for creation, it isn’t true. iOS devices aren’t just a passive mobile computers for content consumption. Sure, there are some days when I will be creating a more than other days. That’s okay every day is different. Sometimes I could be making pictures with iColorama and working on photos as well as creating audio clips for podcasts or whatever. Other days all I get to do is consume stuff. Whatever happens, I have my iOS devices with me at all times and the whole Apple system including the iMac is my personal assistant. It all works together.

How does the future look for our daily iOS routine?

I’m looking forward to Siri being improved and becoming more intelligent and therefore more useful. When I need something to get done, the first thought will be to ask my iOS devices to do it for me or at least help me get it done. There is always talk of Siri benefiting from the artificial intelligence companies Apple are buying. Apple bought VocalIQ recently for something between 50 and 100 million. There have been others too. I’d like to see them get the company who recently told the world about Viv. Then I’d be wishing Apple would keep it going and have a commitment to continual improvement. Surely Apple realises that’s what needs to happen so they don’t get left behind by the advances by Amazon with the Echo and Google with the Home device. Our daily iOS routine will include conversations with our artificial intelligence in the form of an enhanced Siri.



Posted in iPad.

Using the Adobe Spark Apps

Geeking out with photos in Adobe Spark apps

I have in the past taken a bit of a dislike to Adobe and its products due to the price of them. Back in the day when I was using a PC I used to prefer using CorelDraw rather than using Adobe Photo Shop. In fairness, CorelDraw was and probably still is a very good application for vector artwork and also for bitmap artwork. Ever since changing over to the Mac I had been wishing for a version that would work on OS X. After a number of years I found good applications at a reasonable price allowing me to work with my photos and to create vector style drawings too. It’s got to the stage now where I have a choice of a number of really good applications both on the Mac and also on iOS to do things I need to do. Affinity Photo and Affinity Design are a fantastic pair of applications and a real, solid competitor to anything that Adobe can produce. The best part about it is that you don’t have to payout monthly to get really good tools for the digital artist. There is also Pixelmator for iPad as well as Procreate, which in conjunction with the iPad and the Apple pencil allow you to be creative on the iPad. Enter Adobe Spark Apps to work with photos in iOS and in the web service.

But now I have found Adobe Spark for making web graphics, web pages and video/slide shows. The results from these Adobe Spark Apps/web services are fantastic and I enjoy using them.

Presenting photos online

I love the effects you can get using Adobe Spark products for creating images with text, dynamic webpages for photos and videos. The three sections within the application are called Spark Post, Spark Page and Spark Video. You can work with these within a web page on your Mac or you can use the iOS applications on your iPad or iPhone.

Using Adobe Spark Post

Adobe Spark AppsThis application in the set of Adobe Spark Apps for creating web graphics where you combine images and text. Start by choosing the size of the image you want to work with. There are the shapes and sizes best used for whichever social network. Square for Instagram, different landscape shapes for Facebook and Twitter, Portrait for Pinterest. There are also specific sizes for things like Etsy Cover or YouTube Thumbnail. It’s really easy to create web memes and you have a plenty of choices for photos and text. Lots of different fonts to use and it’s easy to change them. They have something called Magic Text which is a resize tool to fit your text within the shapes available within the application. I like to use my own photos but you can take the photos available and do a remix to make it your own. The themes change the arrangement of the text and also some apply filters to the photo in the background. There is a palette button giving you another quick way to change the look of your photo story. Not only that, you can also make it more dynamic by adding an animation. You may fade the text in or have it slide in from the side. Or you can have the text grow to appear on the screen. Some of the animations, such as the zoom, pan, grey, blur, colour and fill work on the background rather than on the text. It would be nice if it would be possible to choose two animations to work on one image. This way you could have something happening in the background with the photo you’ve chosen and something else going on with the text. When you finish making all your changes you can then save the post as either a video, Live Photo or as a simple image. Whichever one of these you choose depends upon where you plan on using whatever you have created.

Using Adobe Spark Page

Adobe Spark AppsIt should be possible to create webpages in whatever software you use for that purpose, similar to the pages you get from Spark Page. I could do it in the app Hype on my Mac, but this way is much easier. I like the way Page works with putting images filling the screen. Or you can set it to go to the screen width which is slightly different from filling the page. You don’t get much choice in terms of the font, fact you don’t get any choice at all. It doesn’t make much difference to me as I quite like the pages as created by either this web application or by the iOS application. When you scroll down through the live page you get a nice parallax type effect with the images moving at a different speed than the text does. There are also zooms in and out which makes the page look more dynamic as you are scrolling through. Here is the Spark Page I made today with my photos. St. Feliu Harbour Boats

Creating the Web page in Spark Page

So you click on the button to add things and that can be photos, text, links, video, photo grid and a glideshow. Glideshow pictures are in a stack and you add text to sit on top as they appear on screen as a sort of fancy slideshow. The photo grid is okay but you don’t get many controls for the arrangement of the images in the grid. If you need to be specific on how the photos are organised and you need a particular look it might be better to use a different application first of all. Get the photo grid looking as you want it in terms of the colours of the background, the width of the spacing between the photos and the sizes within the grid beforehand. Work it all out in the other app and then add as a single photo. When you add a link in Spark Page it appears as a button and is minimalistic in design. No problem as this fits in with the rest of the luck of the page.

For the headers of the text you get a choice of header one or header two and that’s okay, it’s enough. You can do the basics with the text and use bold and italics. You have lists, quotes and the alignment of the text to play with. The areas where you put the text are on the first part of the webpage with the headline and subhead over the top of the first photo, in between photos and with captions.

Using Spark Video

Adobe Spark VideoThis application used to be called Adobe Voice and basically it’s a slideshow with a voice-over. Now in the Adobe Spark Apps it is Spark Video.  When you start using the application on your iPad the first page invites you to add a title. The next page allows you to choose a structure although you can make up your own if you wish. The structures are setup for example as ‘Promote an Idea’, Show and Tell, Teach a Lesson and so on. The app will ask you to confirm it can use your microphone and then you move on to making your story. When you first use the application there is a tutorial even though it is already quite simple to use.

There are just three steps:

  • Record a line of your story
  • Pick an icon or photo
  • Add pages to tell more

To get started you press and hold on the microphone button in the application to record the first line of your story. You then get to choose whether you want to add an icon, a photo or text. If you want to, add whatever the slide is going to show before you add the voice-over. When you create the voice-over you will also get some background music added underneath your voice. In the iOS application you can choose from a number of different musical sounds provided or you can use something of your own on your device. There are also a number of themes you can choose from. Everything is kept incredibly simple so if you have just One Thing on the slide you’ll get that and you’ll see some of the background. It works the same when you’re using the option of Two Things. Sometimes what you want though is to have the whole of the slide taken up with a single photo and that is possible too. You may also combine a full photo with a thing on top. That thing on top could be an icon, another photo or some text. If you need the text to be in a specific place on top of the photo then you have to do that another application first. Within Spark Video the text goes dead centre.

Spark Video

It’s easy to add new slides and at the bottom of the screen you’ll see all the slides in your slideshow. Click on the play button to the left hand side if you want to play what you have done so far. Tap and hold if you want to move one of the slides in the order. Sometimes when you’re making one of these Spark Videos you’ll do all of your audio first and then add the pictures to go with it. Other times you can do it at the other way around, whichever works the best for you.

music in Spark Video

All in all it’s a useful application for making a slideshow. Quick and easy to use with a way to quickly change the whole look by using themes. These themes can also be manipulated – Tap on the button for a customised theme and make whatever changes you need to. Change the colour for the background, icon, main text and the secondary text. You only get 12 fonts to choose from, but the ones you have in the app are okay and will suit the purpose.

themes in Spark Video

When you’ve finished, share your video/slideshow. Choose the category, edit the credits and the author info. Choose whether the video is going to be public or private and then share. The final result can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, email, messages or to your photo roll.

Recommendations for using Adobe Spark Apps

I recommend using a decent microphone external to your device to get the best audio for your Spark Video – slideshow. This is important so that you have the best quality in the overall finished product.

The Adobe Spark Apps are free and what you do on your iPad or iPhone are available for you to work on and finish off on the web page also. Have a look at what other people have already done with the Spark apps and with Spark Post you are invited to do a remix. Nice to get some inspiration if you need it in Adobe Spark Apps.

The only thing I might have against Adobe Spark Apps is with the web pages you create are hosted on Adobe Spark web site. You don’t get to have a back up of them and what happens if Adobe decide they are not going to do the service any more. Or if they change so you have to pay to use it. Despite this I still recommend Adobe Spark apps for what it offers us creative types.

Posted in iPad.

Launch Center Pro Automation Revisited

Once again messing with the automation on my iPhone

During my free time this morning I’ve been fiddling about with Launch Center Pro automation. I don’t particularly want to do things to do with work during my free time, but I don’t get the opportunity while at work to set things up like this. I didn’t really mind too much because it was fun to mess about with the automation available within Launch Center Pro. I use the application Editorial to do the recording of data for work purposes. Within the application I have workflows which prompt me for input I either type in or choose from lists created in the workflow. I can start the workflow within Editorial by typing in just two letters of the shortcut combination. It works pretty fast but I do have to remember what those shortcut letters are. I wondered if it would be possible to instead of using the shortcut letters to use the application Launch Center Pro to make the first move of recording the data. I can set up a workflow in Launch Center Pro (LCP) so I only have two press one button to get directly into the data capture. The LCP action will open up Editorial and start the workflow inside that application. (It can be confusing with all of these things called workflows – workflows in the Workflow app and workflows in Editorial)

A Workflow I made in Editorial

Editorial Workflow

Snippets to Actions in Launch Center Pro Automation

The way I’d been doing it up until now is to create a new Editorial document for each workday. I recently set something up in Launch Center Pro automation to give me a one button solution to opening a new file at the beginning of a workday. Seemed like a good idea but I could still make some improvements if I set to do some thinking. This LCP action gave me a file with a file name including the date and day. The thing is that with Launch Center Pro I need to have the name of the file within the action so it knows where to do its stuff. By having a different file name every single day it wasn’t going to work very well for the rest of the automation. I would need to have some way of automating the change in the name of the file within the automation on a daily basis. As you can imagine that would get confusing and possibly be difficult to set up.

Setting up the Action in Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro action composer

Changing the file name at the end of the day instead of the beginning

So the solution I’ve come up with this to have a file which is the same for every workday and to have a Launch Center Pro action to move all of the data captured from that file into a new file which has the file name including the date. So now what I can do is to have a button within the Launch Center Pro automation for each of the tasks I want to automate. I work as a receptionist in a camping site and I have to complete a number of steps to do a successful check-in. So I don’t forget each of the items I have a checklist and the workflow will also ask me for the reference number of the customer to add to the data. What I end up with is a set of data in a Taskpaper document which I can refer back to if the boss or anybody else accuses me of missing out a step of the process. It has been useful a couple of times already.

Taking the automation up a notch in Launch Center Pro Automation

What I have now is a handy little grid of icons in Launch Center Pro.

Launch Center Pro Automation

Each of these icons have little pictures to help me quickly choose which one to use. I have also set these icons up with different colours. Two of these icons go to Launch Center Pro actions which have scheduling. The main one of these scheduled actions is for the end of the day. At 22:30 each day the action will run to select all of the text within the days working document in Editorial. It will then copy it to the clipboard, open up a new document and give that document a name based on today’s date. The Editorial workflow then pastes whatever is in the clipboard. I gave it lots of testing and with some minor adjustments to the settings I have it so it works every time without fail. There was one point when I had something wrong in the settings and it only pasted one line of the copied text into the new file. With a little bit of fiddling around with the settings I was able to sort that out.

Scheduling and geofencing to automate

Within the application Editorial, apart from the workflows you also have snippets. For a couple of the things I did during the day I used snippets to input text into the taskpaper document. This gave me a set of checkboxes so I could take a note of when things were done during the work session. Things such as doing the totalisation of the Visa machine and making sure the cupboards were all locked before locking up the reception. I moved those things from snippets into a workflow because I can get the workflows to run from Launch Center Pro. I have one of these workflows scheduled to run at a specific time on a Tuesday because that’s the only day I need it. Launch Center Pro is not bad with its scheduling and it can also be set to trigger based upon location. Within the location triggers you can set whether it is when you arrive at a place or when you leave. You do this with a geo-fence trigger. There are options such as the time range for when this location-based trigger will operate, based on the hour of the day and also the days of the week. There is also a setting to suppress duplicates so the Launch Center Pro action doesn’t get confused.

Scheduling in Launch Center pro

Extra tweaks during the first day of using the Automation

Sometimes it would put the text in the middle of the data already there. So I had to add another action in the workflow in Editorial to send the insertion carat to the end of the document before pasting the text in. The only other problem was with one of the workflows I made a mistake and sent the insertion point to the beginning of the document instead of the end. It was an easy tweak to sort that out. I will probably refine the automations a little more but as things stand I am pleased with the set up I created today. Maybe another time I’ll have a look and see if I can do any of this with Python programming language. Now that would be proper Good and Geeky Launch Center Pro automation.


So What Are you going to automate today?

Posted in iPad.

Image size reduction iOS

Reducing the size of an image in iOS

There are times when you don’t have much bandwidth and you want to upload some pictures. It would seem like a good idea to reduce the size of these images in terms of megabytes before you upload them. There are a couple of options for making these images smaller in size. One option would be to use an application which has the sole purpose of image size reduction by crunching them with an algorithm. another possibility would be to reduce the dimensions of the image in terms of the pixels. This would also have the effect of reducing the image size in kb or mb.

Image size reduction

I thought I had found an application that would do this job of reducing image sizes by crunching them. The application is called ImageDiet and while it did crunch images, it was necessary to send the file to the server first and then it would have to be downloaded again reduced in size. That kind of defeated the point of such an application for the purposes of reducing the use of bandwidth when uploading files.

iOS image size reduction

Using Pixelmator to reduce the size of image files.

Using Pixelmator has been the most successful way of doing image file size reduction so far, for me. It’s easy to go in to the settings of the image and to change the pixel size. You set the app to constrain the image size so the height changes to reflect what you did with the width. Or the other way around. When I’m sending an image to the blog the maximum with only needs to be around 600 pixels. If I’m starting off with an image that is 3000 pixels wide, then I’m going to get a good saving.

image size reduction

Another good reason to have smaller images on the blog site is that viewers will experience a faster working site. There you go, you are now an iOS champion of image size reduction. Do you have any apps you like to use to do image file size reduction  that will work better than what I am using? Send me an email, I’d love to hear from you.

Tried out a couple of image resizers

Resize Image is an iPhone App but works Ok on the iPad Pro. Fits the screen well. Easy to use and works on the picture pixel size to change the file size.  You work it with a slider or by putting in the numbers. There are also presets which can be set in the settings of the app. If you want to make the image larger, that’s OK too.

Using the slider

Image resizer

Image resizer

Changing the app settings in Resize Image

image resize settings

Putting in the numbers

image size by numbers

I tried another called SimpleResizer and I didn’t like it on the iPad.

Posted in iPad.