First Apple watch in Spain

Possibly the first Apple watch in Spain


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There is the possibility that other people living in Spain have done similar to myself. Having connections in one of the first waves of countries that Apple debuted the watch, I was able to put in my order and even get it on day one. Getting the watch on 24th April was pure luck after having initially I was given a date window between the 12th and 26th of May. It was also very handy that it coincided with my trip to England for a wedding or I would have had to wait longer. I would have had to use one of the parcel services to redirect the watch to my home in Catalonia. I had my mom put the watch on charge for me the day before I was due in England. As soon as I arrived I was able to put the watch on and start the setup process. It takes a few minutes to get it ready with the pairing to the iPhone, which is done by photographing a moving image on the watch. This process was fancy in the extreme and as pretty as you would expect from Good and Geeky Apple Watch.

Setting up the Apple watch

I took the advice of other Apple watch users not to set up all of the applications available at set up. It is far better to get the setup done quickly and then to choose just the applications you really want at a later stage. If you set them all up at the initial stage, you end up with too many beeps and buzzes on your wrist with all of the notifications. There are enough things to consider and to work out. Enough things to get used to with the operating system of the watch and it is better to do without too many distractions. I was in a bit of a rush anyway as I had to go out and meet somebody. I was still delighted with my Apple Watch first impressions using just the pre-installed applications.

Nymeria 2015 05 08 21

I like to have a digital readout on a watch and so I chose the modular watch face as it gives me the most information in one small digital screen. I use the timer quite often so I have the bottom left-hand corner to give me a readout for the timer. The one in the lower centre, I use to show my health application stats so I get quick access to how much I am moving, exercising or standing during the day. The bottom right complication I have set to show me the battery level. In the centre of the display it shows me the calendar, which is handy to see the next item coming up for the day. The top left corner is where I have the date and day showing. I have just about everything on the watch I need. I might change the battery level indicator at some point, now I know I don’t need to monitor it quite so much.

The best things about the Apple Watch

Apple Watch health and fitness

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After being a Fitbit user for a few weeks prior to getting the watch, I knew I would be making good use of the health and fitness facilities of the watch. I like that I can quickly check my pulse rate and it is marvellous I’m able to make a game of using calories, exercising and not sitting down too much during the day. Initially I set the goal for the calories too high and I’ve had to reduce it to something more manageable. It is pretty easy for me to be standing for the one-minute of each of 12 hours. It is not too difficult either for me to hit the exercise mark for the day. For example, this morning with a normal walk of the dog I have racked up 22 of the 30 minutes required of the daily exercise. I like to see the colourful rings on the fitness application spinning around as the hours pass to make up the completed circles.

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Sending and receiving messages on the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Messages

Apple Watch Emoticons

It is extremely useful to quickly see a message arrive on the watch and to respond even quicker. I don’t tend to use the canned messages too much at the moment, although I might if I set up some new, more personalised messages of my own. When using Siri to reply to a message I’m finding it is very accurate with the speech to text. It really isn’t necessary to have any sort of keyboard and if I wanted to create a more complicated message then I can hand off to the iPhone. If the message is correctly interpreted or good enough to send (perhaps just one small mistake) I can choose to send it off as it is. If Siri hasn’t done a good job with the conversion of my voice into text, the best thing to do is to send it off as an audio. With Apple giving us that option messaging on the Apple watch works just right. As of now, I have only used the emojis just once, sending a smiley face to my mother. When my wife gets an Apple Watch then I will be able to send her the hearts as well as being able to send little drawings. At the moment, I don’t know anybody else with an Apple Watch to whom I can send any drawings. I can’t imagine any instances either when I will be sending my heartbeat to any other person.

Controlling Overcast

Apple Watch Overcast

With my initial try of using the Overcast application on my Apple Watch, I didn’t think it was going to work out too well for me. This is because when I wanted to get to Overcast I would have to find it in the glances or to have the application already open. I would have to make a number of presses or gestures on the screen to get into the application. It wasn’t really going to do what I wanted it to do. I have recently found that it is possible for me to set the watch so instead of opening up to the watch face when I lift my wrist, it will open up to my last used application. It is working out okay with Overcast if I set it as the application presently being used. I can then lift my wrist and press the pause or play button. I still have the option of controlling Overcast from the iPhone as I often have to reduce the volume quickly, for example if I need to answer a phone call.

Looking at photos

You would think with it being such a small screen, it wouldn’t be very useful for showing photos. On account of the fact I have a grandson who is as cute as a box of kittens, I do like to have one or two photos available if I get the need to have a quick look.

Other applications on my Apple Watch

Apple Watch Heyday

Some of the applications are quite slow to operate. An application I use for automatic life logging is Heyday. Is quick enough on the Apple Watch. It is quite simple and gives me the opportunity to add a quick note which is useful. Or I can have a look at the Heyday for the day. A good application and it will be staying on the watch.

Another application I use all the time on both my iPhone and on my Mac is Day One. I have just set up Day One so it can access my location and show it on the Apple watch. I can do a one touch for a simple post such as if I am working. DayOne App on the Apple Watch gave me the opportunity to add a photo, but you have to be really quick in choosing before the screen goes blank. Same with adding any text using Siri, you have to be quick or the screen goes blank and you lose the text you put in. The application Day One on the Apple Watch is not perfect, but is moderately helpful for the moment. We are only on version 1 and I do expect it to get better.

It’s a good start for the Apple Watch

Messages Apple Watch

I do love technology and part of using the Apple Watch is about living like I’m already in the future. It seems fantastic to be making phone calls using a watch or sending messages from the wrist. It is, as Apple says, a very personal device. It is a computer you wear. I like it and I am very pleased that I have got it. Although the Apple Watch is quite expensive, I feel that I am getting good value from the money spent considering what the device can do. I don’t have to be playing with the watch all the time and I can leave my phone in my pocket more often. That is a good thing and may result in better battery life in the phone. I can certainly see the Apple Watch is going to play a big part in my techno inspired life. I love my tech having an influence upon my life in terms of organising myself and being healthy. Something like this might not be for everybody, but I think it is totally bloody brilliant.

Posted in Apple Watch.

Not being in the first wave of countries for the Apple Watch

Cross Border Ordering the Apple Watch

I can’t help it, but every now and then I check the order on the Apple site for my new watch. Yesterday I saw that there had been some changes and I wasn’t too happy about it. They were checking the credit card, which had already been checked when I placed the order 12 days ago. They said that the bank had declined, but that was a load of rubbish. What they had done was to flag the order because it was what they called cross-border ordering. This is because I live in Spain so I have a Spanish bank account and I have put my order in on the UK site. I have ordered products from the UK Apple Store in this exact same way before and I wasn’t expecting any problems. Apple must be having problems with people from various countries making orders on the country sites that are in the first wave for the Apple Watch. We have no idea when countries like Spain will be getting the Apple watch so that people like me can make the purchase. Same with Italy and people like the Federico Viticci who has made his order through the German website. On account of the fact that I am British, I declare that I have a right to be able to order from the United Kingdom website.

Apple Apple Watch

Sorting the problem out

I was unable to change the details on the website or the page for the credit card. I clicked in a good few places and was unable to find anywhere I could do it. This was the case when I was first of all trying to get them to reauthorise using my own credit card and also later when I was trying to change to a different credit card. At first I thought it was due to the exchange rates and I put extra money into my bank account to make sure there was plenty of wiggle room. It didn’t make any difference anyway, because that wasn’t where the problem lay. Finally the account gave me a number to ring in the UK and that’s what I did. I got speaking to a nice young man who was pretty helpful even though he didn’t have all of the answers. He left me waiting for a couple of times while he asked to his supervisor for answers. He was polite and useful and was confident in what he was doing. Eventually it was decided that I needed to add a UK-based credit card to the order and so I needed to ring up my mother. My mom said she would be able to put it through on her credit card and I can give her the cash when I see her next week at the wedding of my nephew. I did explore the possibilities of me buying myself Apple gift cards to put on the account and paying for the watch that way. The Apple guy had to ask his supervisor about that one and the answer came back in the negative.

Talking to a different operative at Apple

It would have been great to get the same person again when ringing back, especially as this second person was a bit wishy-washy and useless. She spent more time making me wait and asking her supervisors and was generally not too confident when speaking to me. You wouldn’t want to be asking her any questions beyond the very easy ones. Eventually she was able to add my mother’s credit card to the account and I’m still not sure if she got that completely correct. She had the name, the credit card number and expiry date. I would have expected her to need the security number that is the 3 digit number off the back of the card, but she didn’t want it. I am expecting to have to do more working out at a later stage to make sure this Apple watch order works out properly. I went back to my order and it is still showing as being paid for on my own credit card. It is not showing me anyway where I can change it to the other credit card on the account now. I will have to keep an eye on this for the next few days and I’m hoping I don’t have to go into complaining mode if they cancel the order or something stupid like that. The next option would be to ask my mother to start a new order in her own name. With the backlog of orders for the Apple Watch that would mean an extra couple of months waiting for the watch. That would be very annoying and I’m not going to let it come to that.

Posted in Apple Watch.

Voice Dream iOS text to speech


I have to say that I am really pleased with the application called Voice Dream. I got this application because I wanted to have something to listen to when I’d run out of downloaded podcasts. VoiceDream is a useful tool to have when I am out of podcasts in my podcast listing application Overcast. What I do is to load up some PDF documents or I can load up a webpage and have a really nice voice talking to me. I can bring documents in from Dropbox and one or two other places as well. I am still testing out all the different ways I can use this application and I love what I see and hear so far. I also got this application so that I could have it read my writing to me so that I could listen for where I have made mistakes and I can perhaps change things.

Voice Dream

The application comes with some default voices which are okay and I bought one for two €2.99 to see if it was any better. In the trial in the app it sounded a little bit better. I bought another voice for €4.99 which is even better again.



There are a few different voices you can choose from based on different places in the world. So you can use an American voice or British English voice or Australian voice even. I have chosen a voice which goes by the name of Amy and is sounds very good indeed. I also bought a male voice called Hugh. I also like the voice called Rachel which sounds a little more soothing.

Tried using Voice Dream reading a longer piece of text, a public document domain book as I want to be able to listen to stories while I am working. It is much better than listening to music because I can’t plug any headphones in and music is better in stereo.

It did take me a little while to work out how to get the text from the webpage into the document for it to start reading. I had to choose a button to do some sort of smart save. Then the app was able to do a good job of bringing in just the part I wanted to listen to from the webpage. It brought in just the main body of text and didn’t bring in the extra bits you find around the edges in the sidebars et cetera.

There is an editor so I can put my own words into the application. I can also bring in words through iTunes. I see there is an option to bring in books from the Guttenberg project. These are full-length books which are in the public domain.

So can I recommend Voice Dream to use for generating voice from text? Absolutely, it is well worth getting the free version to try out. It only reads a short piece and stops in the free version. The standard voices are useable but sound a little robotic compared to the extras available as in-app purchases.

Posted in iOS apps.

What’s new in Pixelmator for iPad 1.1 Aquarelle

What’s new in Pixelmator for iPad 1.1 Aquarelle

The biggest change in the new version of Pixelmator for iPad version 1.1 is the addition of 12 really cool watercolour brushes. Pixelmator for iPad was already quite brilliant in the first version and now it has got even better. The main thing with these new watercolour brushes is that you get blending effects similar to the way wet paint would blend on watercolour paper in real life painting. When I was an art student one of my favourite types of painting was watercolour. I can tell you watercolour painting isn’t as easy as it looks. You have to think about the areas of the painting you want to leave white. You don’t want to put any paint on to those areas unless you are prepared to use some gouache opaque white paint afterwards to put in your highlights. There will always be some sort of serendipity in the way that the paint colour will gather in certain places. This is what gives watercolours the extra bit of creative spark to make them more interesting. In Pixelmator for iPad, the watercolour brushes have been designed to give you various watercolour effects. There is the Scatter Wash brush which gives you an effect similar to putting random spots of paint onto the paper which is already wet. The brush called Fan Wash is going to be based upon using a wider splayed out type of brush with your paint. Not all of the brushes are for the wash type of effect, there is also the Watercolour Pencil, Neptune Brush and Onion Tip.

Brushes pixelmator for iPad

I’ve just been using the application and testing out these brushes and they are a delight to use. I love the way it is easier to change quickly from painting to the eraser. In the top left-hand corner next to the undo button if you are using the eraser you tap the word paint so you can start applying colour again. If you are painting then you tap the word erase so you can rub things out.

Working well with the new version of the Wacom Creative Stylus

In the full list of details of the update I have noticed that my Wacom Creative Stylus has been improved for use with Pixelmator for iPad. It is possible to get some really nice creative lines by using the pressure sensitivity. When you press harder with the stylus on the screen of the iPad you get more colour or a wider line. You can see this clearly when you’re using some of the marker brushes and you get a lot of control. I particularly liked using the Manga Brush. You can control the width of the brush and the opacity of the brush too. When you’re using the eraser the controls let you change the size and the strength. On a couple of the lines I was drawing the lines were little harder or more defined than I wanted. It was easy to apply some delicate use of the eraser to make the line softer and lighter.

Locking the Alpha

Pixelmator lock apha

This is a useful way of having a protected part of your drawing. When you have set the alpha lock on a layer it means that you can no longer draw and any part that is transparent. So for example, you might have done some drawing in a few different colours onto a transparent layer. You then decide that you want to have everything you’ve drawn so far to be just one colour. You don’t want to alter or destroy any of the lines you have already, but you do need to make changes. It would be tedious to use the selection tool and select all of the nontransparent parts. All you need to do is to lock the alpha for that layer and you can use one of the brushes to draw over anything you have in that layer. The paint will not go on to the transparent part of the drawing. It’s kind of handy way to select everything in the drawing and not miss any small part of it, right down to single pixels. This could be more useful where you have small dots or parts of drawing that would be absolute murder to select. Good for gradients colour to transparent.

What else is new?

Pixelmator for iPad color picker

There is a new colour picker and it has little palettes that you can add colours to nice and easily. The eyedropper tool you can use to select a colour from your picture seems to work better as well. In the new version of Pixelmator for iPad you can put in a photo from iCloud Drive as a new layer. In the list of new things you also have enhanced stylus pressure sensitivity and that’s what might account for me getting better lines while using the Wacom Creative Stylus. Overall there are quite a lot of new and optimised settings and facilities within the application to make it better all around. A good upgrade to a super app for iPad drawing and painting.

Pixelmator for iPhone

There is now a version of Pixelmator for iPhone. I only installed it this morning so I need a bit of time to play with it to see what it can do. Certainly it will be great to have such good photo editing available on my iPhone 6. iPhone 6 Plus owners will be happier now also. I have downloaded one of the templates in the app and I’ll be posting something soon.


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Posted in iPad.

How to have email privacy on iOS

So you have spent some time in setting up Open PGP on your Mac. You are happy now you can send secure emails from your desktop or laptop computer. The only trouble is, sometimes you are away from your OS X computer and you receive an email that has been sent to you encrypted. Or maybe you would like to send an encrypted email from your iPad or your iPhone. You’re left wondering whether it is possible and if it is possible, is it going to be annoying to do. In any case, if you have decided it is worthwhile encrypting your emails for your own personal privacy you are going to have to set up something or other. You’ll need to read messages that come in to your iPad or iPhone. The good news is, it’s not too difficult to set up and to use applications with OpenPGP on your iOS devices. Find out more in the Good and Geeky Email Privacy Book.

Another way to deal with encryption on iOS and Mac

It is a good idea to have something set up so you can read incoming emails encrypted with PGP on your iPad and iPhone. It is still going to be necessary even if you have set up encryption certificates that you’ve got from either StartSSL or Commodo. The certificate-based security works well for decrypting those encrypted emails coming into your iOS devices. This system doesn’t work so well if you need to send an encrypted email. It also will be true that some people will want to send you PGP encrypted emails and others will prefer to use S/Mime protected emails. So if you are serious about having email privacy on iOS, I suggest you set up both encryption systems.

Suggested applications for iOS Pretty Good Privacy

I have tried two applications that work well and I keep both of them available on my iPad and iPhone. I use iPGMail and oPenGPG Lite. If you are using oPenGPG Lite, you will need to use a desktop Pretty Good Privacy application to create your key pairs. It is easy to do this and to export from GPG Tools Keychain to create a file, you can import and use on your iPad and iPhone. All you have to do is to select the key and use the context sensitive menu to export. Choose to export the private key as well as the public key and move the .ASC file to your iOS device. It is recommended you use iTunes file sharing if you are sending your secret key. You could send it by Dropbox, although it is not recommended. It would be okay so long as you remembered to securely delete the file after you had imported it into your iOS application. I suggest you choose the route for maximum security and only use a different way of doing it if you have to. If you have already collected public keys from other people, you can move all these keys in one export and import process.

Openpgp lite

iPGMail or oPenGPG Lite

The application iPGMail has the ability to create a PGP key pair and this is useful if you are just working from your iOS devices. You could export the key pair you create in this application to use in GPG tools. The key you create within the application is just as good as a key you create on your desktop computer in terms of security. You do get a few more options in the desktop application. It is easier to send your key to the public keyserver in GPG Tools OSX Keychain. You also can create your revocation certificate at the same time as creating the key, when using GPG Tools on OS X.

Encrypt your emails on iOS with oPenGPG Lite

Even if you haven’t used either of the applications before, you will find it easy to use them to send your secure emails. In oPenGPG Lite you write your text or paste it into the application. You tap on the button to encrypt the text, which it does the encryption quickly. You are then given the option to copy the PGP message to the clipboard and use wherever you like. You can choose to send as email or send as message. You may upload the encryption to dropbox or Store in My Files. When you choose send as email, it opens up an email message with it already populated with the addresses connected to the public keys you have chosen belonging to your recipients. All you have to do is to add a subject title and tap on send.

Ready to send

Encrypt with iPGMail

When you are using iPGMail you choose the Compose icon from the menu bar at the bottom of screen. From there you have all the choices you need to create an encrypted email on iOS. You can sign, encrypt, or sign and encrypt. You choose the signing key and the public key of the recipient, add the subject for the email and you have a space to write your message. If you choose to send an attachment you get access to your photos and also to local files connected to the application. If you choose to sign the email you will be asked to provide the password/pass phrase for the key you are going to use. You will of course, have that password available to you in the application 1Password.

Decrypt an encrypted email in iOS

In the encrypted email, select all the PGP message. Open up the PGP application and both of the apps I have tried recognise the encrypted text on the clipboard. Choose the option to decrypt and hey presto you can see your decrypted message. It is as easy as that!

You can get all the juicy details in a book about using encryption. Get Good and Geeky Email Security and Privacy available now on Amazon. It is an easy book to read and to follow the step-by-step guides to set up on both your Mac and also on iOS.

Posted in iOS apps.

AstroPad Mac and iPad app Combo for Drawing on the Mac

Astro and Affinity Photo

In the past I have used both the professional size of the Wacom tablet and also the Wacom Cintiq with PhotoShop and with Adobe Illustrator. I like to use Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo these days. You use these devices if you are looking to have better control for more accurate drawing ability with the technology. You will also be likely to use these because of being able to work faster. Time is money after all, even for artists. The professional drawing tablet which is a kind of slate in which you use an electronic pen/brush works very well indeed. It does take a little while to get used to moving your hand around in one place while looking at the screen in front of you. With that in mind, it is no wonder that you might think the Wacom Cintiq would be better, as you can see what you drawing underneath the nib of the electronic pen. I was only able to afford the 12 inch version of the Cintiq and it felt a little bit constrained in terms of size. In some ways, it felt harder to get used to the way the drawing appeared underneath the pen on that than it did with using the standard Wacom tablet. One thing that was always really nice about using these tablets is the addition of pressure sensitivity to your drawing. That was the main thing that made it seem a little bit more like the old ways of pen and paper. Artists are used to getting a varying line dependent on how hard you press. The latest technology to come out in this arena is called Astro. Astro has been developed by ex-Apple software engineers and it gives you a way to use your iPad in the same way as you would use the Cintiq.

Astro pad

AstroPad in use

There is an application for the iPad which you download for free and you can also download a trial version of the partner application for the Mac. You get seven days to try it out. If you really jump into using the Astro software seven days would probably be enough. After the seven days in order to continue you have to buy the application from the Mac app store and it costs $50. This is not terribly expensive when you consider the cost of buying one of those Wacom Cintiq’s. You do have to temper that with the fact that the iPad is smaller and so you do get a smaller drawing area to work with.

It is fairly easy to set up and connect. You have a choice of connecting over Wi-Fi or you can also connect using USB. I had a USB cable sitting on the desk and ready and waiting, so I gave that a go first of all. I only had to start up the two applications, one on the Mac and the other on the iPad and I could see the connection was working. I suggest it would be a good idea to watch the videos first of all showing you how to use the Astro application so you can draw on your Mac. You can use your finger to draw with or an ordinary stylus, but you will get better use out of this if you have one of the better styli that also gives you pressure sensitivity. I have the Wacom Creative Pen, version 2 and in less than a minute I was able to use this with the application. If you have more than one computer screen set up with your computer it is easy to change from one to the other for the mirroring to your iPad.

Gimme the FREE PDF eBook – iPad Art Apps

Feeling a little bit cramped

I have only spent a short time using this application and I think it is worth devoting a little bit more time to try it out. Even so, the first impressions would be that the experience was a little cramped. There is a control bar which appears on the left side of the screen and on this you can change the size of the brush. At the top is where you choose whether you are using your fingers or your stylus. From that area you get the controls to change the size of the brush, choose the eraser, brush, undo, redo and to do a zoom in or a zoom out. There is also a white circle which appears on your iPad screen and if you press down on that you see the whole screen as if it is being selected. At the top there are two buttons which allow you to choose either 100% or full-screen. Going full screen will give you the whole of your Mac screen in front of you, which will be letterboxed due to the different shape of the iPad compared to the Mac. If you go with 100% that gives you an iPad sized view into your Mac desktop. This small circle on your screen when you press and hold on it when you’re working at 100% gives you the opportunity to move the screen around. So if you have a drawing on your screen you can move the small window around to see the bits you want to see.

AstroPad with Affinity Photo

Controls in the software

When first started using the application I got a little bit frustrated with having the control bar over on the left hand side of the screen, hiding things I wanted to see underneath. I was happy when I found I could move that control bar over to the right-hand side if I needed to. You have two buttons at the bottom of the control bar which give you access to the settings for the application. There are only three settings available in there and they don’t really do much. I was able to click through to some settings available on the Mac that was only the settings available for the stylus. The other button on this control bar gives you access to a shift key, control key, option and command. There will be times when you need to use these modifier keys to do certain tasks within your drawing. There is one last button on this control bar which is the choice to go from draw mode to move and zoom mode. The move and zoom mode is the same as you get by putting a finger onto the white circle on-screen and you get to move things around using the standard iPad gestures. So you pan and pinch to move and zoom the visible screen area.

Will I be tempted to buy the full version?

I was pleased to see this software solution to the drawing tablet making the iPad extra useful. I doubt if I’m likely to spend the money to get the full version. I use a Magic TrackPad on the Mac and is OK for the amount of drawing I do on the Mac. Besides I also have the Wacom Bamboo to use for that sort of thing too. Technically it is a cool trick and there may be some artists that can really make use of such a system. I think I prefer to use an app like Procreate on the iPad that will give me quicker access to the tools I want to use when making a drawing. I need to be near to my main computer to be able to use the AstroPad solution and in that situation I would rather work directly with the larger screen in front of me. I ended up going back and forth between the Mac and the iPad so I could change tools and colour and it wasn’t helpful top have AstroPad. It was more of a hindrance.

Could be better using Procreate

Use Procreate



Posted in iPad.

Game of Threes and Finding Aeroplanes

The Game Of Threes

Threes game

I don’t often get drawn into playing games on my iOS devices, as I prefer to make use of them for creating content and being productive. There are occasions now and then when having something to fill a couple of minutes that are not otherwise going to productive, where a game can be useful. The last game that I got really into was Temple Run and I ended up spending quite a lot of time running across the walls trying to avoid the pitfalls and tree trunks. The game that has me hooked at the moment is the one called Threes. It is a really simple game where you join the ones and twos together to make three. After that you add the threes together and the sixes together, continually doubling them up to get the highest number you can. The board is a 4×4 square that you play on. It starts off very easy, but it obviously gets a little bit more difficult as it fills up. There is a strategy that you can use because you can see the next colour or number that is coming next. You plan your move based upon what you have already on your board. It is also a game of luck, because you can never be sure exactly where the new tile will be coming in. It is an enjoyable game and my wife has also got hooked to it and I think my mum is going the same way. My best score so far is 7746 and a couple of times lately, the best I could manage was around 500!

Finding aeroplanes

In the latest podcast for Mac 20 Questions I was talking to Allister Jenks from New Zealand who likes to use an application to track aeroplanes. The one he used was called FlightRadar24 and from what he was saying about it, it seems that it is fairly accurate. I have been using a similar application called PlaneFinder HD and I have been trying it out again. It doesn’t seem to be very good in terms of accuracy. You can use one view where you point the camera out at the aeroplanes in the sky. It gives you a pop-up banner where the aeroplane is, with the information. The thing is, when you change to the other view where it looks like a map, the information seems to be different. I was also looking at aeroplanes in the sky and there was one going north nearly overhead and I couldn’t see it on the map view. Maybe I will have to give the other application that Alistair Jenks has been using and seems to be happy with.


Posted in iPad Apps.

Workflow the app to make things happen on iOS

Automation on the iPad and iPhone

The application Workflow has only been released for about a week or two and it came right at the end of 2014 and it has taken the Apple world by storm. Despite its late entry it has been chosen by many as one of the apps of the year. It is a very geeky application and it appeals to us nerds because we like to get our computers to do our work for us automagically. We love it when we can spend between five minutes and five hours on something that will save us huge amounts of time over the long term. This is why we really like applications such as TextExpander which is great on both the Mac and IOS. On my Mac I run with Hazel which is excellent for folder-based automations. I have Keyboard Maestro which is used for a variety of tricks which I can trigger from keyboard shortcuts either for specific applications or globally. I also combine the BetterTouchTool as a way to trigger the automations I have created with a mere special tap on my Magic trackpad. Now we are getting some of this automation goodness on iOS. How cool is that?

Workflow automation

Getting started with WorkFlow on my iPad

Once you have the application on your device the first thing to do is to follow the tutorial to create your first Workflow. The tutorial shows you how to make an animated gif from three photos or more. What this does is to have you taken three photos and to turn that into an animation that you can send off to wherever, such as social networks. It is extremely easy to make this workflow using the drag-and-drop of actions into your workflow panel.

One of the things that you have to work out when you get an application like this is to decide what it is that you want it to do. You have two think of something that you do often, you would like to make easier, quicker or both. Sometimes finding something is not terribly easy and you might just have keep an eye out for what you do over a couple of days to get something worthy. One of the processes that I often do is to take screenshots on my iPad or iPhone and I want to send them to my Mac as quick as possible. I could do this using Air Drop or I could open up my photos application, Aperture to get them from the PhotoStream. I would rather have something quicker than that though. Lately I have been using an application called DeskConnect and I like it because it quickly and directly sends whatever I want between any of my devices. I find it does it much more efficiently than using AirDrop. The problem that I ran into was that even though WorkFlow and DeskConnect are made by the same company, they don’t yet work with each other. I had to send an email to the developers of WorkFlow to find out what was going on. It seems that I will have to wait until the DeskConnect version 2 is available to get them to play nice. Until that happens it is a time for making workarounds.

A workflow to send iPad screenshots to my Mac

  1. The first action I dragged in was Get Latest Screenshots and with this it is possible to set how many screenshots I want to work with. I have this set at one screenshot.
  2. The second action I require is Resize Image – With this action I can set the width and the height that I want to have the new image set to. It would have been nice to have a setting for keeping the aspect ratio of the picture so that I could just set the maximum width of the picture. Seeing as it doesn’t, I have to have two workflows. One of these is for landscape shots and the other is for portrait. I set the width to 550 pixels and with a landscape image. I set the height at 412 pixels. This is so that the image doesn’t get stretched or squashed. It is possible to set a crop, but I’m not sure how useful this is, as we don’t know where the crop is going to work from. There is no way to set that you want to have the crop from the top left-hand corner or maybe you want to have it cropped from the centre of the image.
  3. The third action is Open In – This allows me to send the resized image from the workflow to whichever application I like.

When you have made your workflow you have a couple of options. You can have an icon on your desktop of your iPad or iPhone. It will run like any other application. So for this you would have just a normal workflow. You can also set your workflow to be an action extension. This means that you can run the workflow from a share sheet in other applications. To get to the workflow you can tap on the icon that is a square with an arrow pointing out on top of it and then choose the icon which says Run Workflow. Another possibility is to put your workflow into Launch Centre Pro. Launch Centre pro is a another good place to do automation on your iPad or iPhone. I quite like the combination of these two applications together.

Launch Centre Pro

Using My New Workflow To Send Screenshots To My Mac

Like I said, I did want to use DeskConnect which the developers actually showed being used in one of their videos. So it must have worked at some point in time! On account of the fact that this no longer works, I had to find a different way of doing it. So after the image has been resized and I get to the Open In dialog my choice at the moment is to use the application Bit Torrent Sync. This is a very handy application which I also use on my Mac. I do have two extra clicks to make within the iPad application, but once I have done that, the file is very quickly and automatically sent to my Mac. What makes this quite easy is the fact that I have the folder for BT Sync in the sidebar of the Finder. Usually I use these photos for my blogging. It is very easy for me to drag the image from the Finder into MarsEdit blogging software.

Improvements I need to make to my Workflow

The problem with the workflow is that every image that is sent is called Image.png. So what I need to do is to add to the workflow an action to change the file name before it goes to BT Sync. If I don’t do this each time I send an image, the old one gets overwritten. It would be nice if it was to automatically update and add a number in the way that Finder normally works when you copy a file into a folder and inadvertently make a duplicate.

It is slightly annoying that when I get into the application BT Sync I have to choose the folder and then tap on the button to save. Maybe it would be worthwhile to contact the developers of both of these applications to ask them if they have plans to make them work more seamlessly together.

Please leave a message below to tell me about the workflows that you have created.

Posted in iPad.

This week with my iOS device – Automation

What have I been doing with my iPad and iPhone?

This week has been a week of trying out automation on my iOS devices using the new application called Workflow. I have been downloading workflows created by other people and I have made small attempts at making my own workflows within the app. I haven’t had an awful lot of success so far, but I haven’t given up yet. I love all this stuff when you have the computer working for you. It is especially good when you can get things happening by talking to the computer as I demonstrated in the last Mac 20 Questions podcast. I start my day by talking to Siri on my iPad before I have even opened my eyes to the world. How’s that for iPad Productivity?

I was quite excited to get my hands on the Workflow app so that I could do some automation on my iPad. It takes a little while to get your head around how it works. You can run the workflows from within the application, which is what you do when you want to test them. You can also make these workflows work as an extension. Then the other thing you might do is to create an application by having it run from an Icon that you have on your home screen. My favourite thing with this so far as to put the workflows into Launch Centre Pro. Up until now, I haven’t been using Launch Centre Pro as much as I would have liked. Now I have Workflow to use on my iOS devices I have the perfect opportunity to get more use out of it.

Workflow app pic

Making My Own Workflow

A workflow that would be useful for me would be to have a screenshot that I make on the iPad or iPhone be immediately sent into DeskConnect. So I would have that picture moved magically over to my Mac or another iOS device. There is a bug in the software though because the application Workflow doesn’t seem to recognise the application DeskConnect is actually available on my devices. This is an extra big surprise because both of these applications are made by the same company and you would think that they would definitely not have any problems working together. All I can do is to wait for an updated version of either one of these applications and maybe then they will start working together. I will contact the company and send in a support request. I don’t expect that this support will come back very quickly because it seems they are a small company and this new application Workflow has been very popular over the last couple of days on the Internet. It seems that every man and his dog has got their hands on this application to try out using on their iPads and iPhones.

Workflow creation

Popular Post – Blogging on the move with iOS

Downloading Ready-made Workflows

The developers made available a number of workflows ready to be downloaded and installed. Some of these look like they could be useful to me and I have downloaded them to try out. It would be nice if somebody had created the workflow that I wanted to use so that I could install it without any messing about.

So you can use this new Workflow application even if you don’t know anything about iOS coding or automation. It is a simple process of dragging and dropping in actions which are building blocks for making a complete workflow. In the future versions of the application, there will be more actions that will be ready for us to use.

Posted in iOS apps.

iPad Air 2 – Change is in the air

All that you can do with the Amazing iPad

SketchUp Mobile Viewer on the App Store on iTunesAn excellent video from Apple to show what can be done using the iPad Air 2. It is very fast and exciting in the way that it portrays people using the iPad and you really need to spend time afterwards looking at the website to see all of the applications that were portrayed in the video. There are a huge number of applications to choose from in the App Store and sometimes it can be hard to know which ones are the best ones to buy. It can be necessary to have more than one application of the same type due to the fact that you need the overlap of functionality from one app to another. Certainly I find this to be the case with drawing and painting applications for the iPad. There are things that I can do with ease in Pixelmator for iPad app, but then there are other things that I would like to do with it but I can’t. So I need to have other apps like Sketchbook, Art Studio and ArtRage loaded up too. Pixelmator is a very good application, but it still has some way to go in terms of offering all of the functionality that I would like to see for my drawing and painting on the iPad. I find that I’m moving from Pixelmator to Procreate and also to Sketchbook when it would be good to have all of the stuff I need in one application. Remembering all the interface details of each application isn’t easy when constantly swapping.

Post-it notes captured

The company that sells Post-it-Notes want you to buy the pieces of paper that you stick onto boards. What they are doing now is to allow you to make a photo of these post-it notes and you can then organise them within the application. When you’ve done that, you can share your organised post it notes board with any people that you might have been collaborating with. You can also send it off to office applications. Obviously these people are fans of Microsoft products because they say that you can send it to PowerPoint, Excel as well as Dropbox and plenty more. You can also edit notes and use a digital note feature to add to the notes you’ve captured. You have to take into account that there are still some people that like to do things in the analogue way and to write things on bits of paper. At least with this application you do have the option of bringing it into digital. So when those bits of paper are thrown away into the bin you will have some record of what you’ve done.

Getting sketchy with it – Tayasui

I have a lot of different sketching and drawing apps for my iPad. My favourite would be Procreate, I really like Art Studio and Pixelmator for iPad. I have another more recent favourite and that would be Sketchbook which is made by Autodesk who are famous for making the CAD programs. However it is always nice to have a look at other sketching applications and so I’ve looked at Tayasui which featured in this video by Apple. I quite often find that some of these sketching applications that are given special attention by the App Store editors are quite simple and don’t have the facilities of the apps that are already my favourites. I expect this is because these people making the choices are not artists and only really need the bare minimum to suit their level of artistic expertise.

Tayasui is a free application with in app purchases and would be on a similar level to the application called Paper by Fifty Three. You can only have four layers of drawing even after the purchasing of the extras and this is certainly not enough. Within the extra tools I’m impressed that there is a brushes editor seeing as with Pixelmator for iPad you don’t get this sort of functionality. The application does support pressure sensitive stylus usage, but this is only in the paid version and also only on the iPad. I notice that it is possible to try out the ProTools, free for one hour That would be probably long enough to you to decide whether you want to upgrade or not.

CAD on your iPad with AutoCAD 360

AutoCAD 360CAD applications have traditionally been quite expensive on desktop computers due to them being quite specialised. We now have an application to do Computer Aided Design on the iPad with AutoCAD 360. Once again this is from the Autodesk company that is known for creating this sort of application. You can get this app for free, but then to get the full functionality you need to buy a subscription. If you are a professional using this type of application on a daily basis maybe you would be inclined to lash out the hundred dollars annual subscription for the Pro Plus version. I suppose if you were working on a single project, that a month’s subscription of five dollars might be all that you would need. According to the reviews on iTunes many are finding that the free version is insufficient for most things and one person suggested that she would be better off using Paint on Windows 95. I will have a look at this and make a longer review on NoStylus at some point in time.

Variety is the spice of life with the iPad

The Change video, advertising the iPad for Apple is fast and as bold as you would expect from this type of video. Only a couple of seconds are spent on each application and obviously everything is totally cool. So you have the education angle with the app called Molecules, there is OBD Fusion for looking at your car’s performance and Animation Creator HD which tells you that you can easily create awesome animations any time. I would be quite tempted to have a look at this one as it is only four dollars to buy. I will do a little bit more research about this application to see what it can do.

Other applications mentioned were Inventory Control with Barcode Scanner, The Human Body, 123D Catch, Whale Alert, WunderStation and Garden Plan Pro. So with these applications you can sit in your garden that you have designed and be alerted in case any whales are nearby. You will have all of the weather information so that you don’t get caught in the rain while you are creating your 3-D models, perhaps of the human body. Once you have used your 3-D printer you will be able to make sure nothing is lost as everything will be barcoded and scanned. All in all – Everything is taken care of with the Amazing iPad and the brilliant apps you can buy.

Posted in iPad.