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.

Annotate images on iOS like a Pro

How to annotate images on iOS

As part of what I do for the NoStylus website I need to show screenshots of applications. I used to do this on the Mac using the application Sketch. With having nearly 2 weeks of using just the iPhone and iPad I needed an application to annotate images on iOS. Let’s look at Annotable.

What do we need an annotation application to do

  • Adding arrows to point to specific areas in the image.
  • Add text for titles and explanations.
  • Blurring or pixelating of areas.
  • A way to highlight an area.
  • A choice of colours and sizes.
  • Free drawing capability.
  • Shapes and lines.
  • Magnifying loupe.

After the Crop

During the two weeks of using iOS and being iOS champion I didn’t have these capabilities in an application. All I was doing was to take screenshots and to do a little bit of cropping. I like to take the top menu away from the screenshot to tidy it up. Occasionally I didn’t want the whole image, I only wanted a part of it. Handy in Blogo to crop images when you put them on the page. Yesterday I saw a tweet from Federico @Viticci with a recommendation for application called Annotable. It was a little bit late for my iOS warrior experiment, but at least I have it now and can get a lot of use out of it. The price of the application was €7.99 although there is a free option. This allows you to give the application a good proper try with the basic tools. You can either upgrade with in app purchases on a colour by colour or tool by tool basis or upgrade the whole thing. I went for the complete package and I’m very happy with what the app can do.

annotate images on iOS

Using Annotable for annotations on iOS

The first thing to do so you can annotate images on iOS is to allow the application to access your Photos Library. You can then get access to any screenshots or photos to do your annotations. In the bottom left-hand corner you have your choice of eight colours. For this sort of work eight colours is sufficient, all you need is to have a colour which is in contrast to the background on which it’s going. Over on the bottom right-hand corner is your toolbox. Here you have a choice of seven tools.

iOS annotation tools in Annotable

  • Highlight for a rectangular area
  • Pixelation tool
  • Text tool
  • Straight-line tool
  • Arrows
  • Shape creator
  • Magnification loupe

Highlight it

The first tool gives you a rectangular area as a highlighted part of the image. The rest of the image is made partly opaque. This is handy when you want to show the whole of the image but bring specific attention to one area. After you’ve placed your rectangle you can use the corner dots to change the size. You can also move the rectangle to another place in the image if you want to. The only other option is to delete the rectangle.

Pixelate and hide private info

When you’re using Annotable to annotate images on iOS there are times when you need to hide something within the image. Without this application I would resort to using Pixelmator for iPad and use the blur tool. With Annotable it’s easy to create rectangular areas and whatever is underneath is obscured by pixelation. It is possible to change the size of the pixels and the shape of the pixels. You either have your regular square pixels, distorted squares or hexagons. It doesn’t really matter which one you use. You’re only affecting the look and whatever is underneath remains hidden whichever you use.

Annotable Text Tool

Tap on the screen where you want the text to appear. The text is inside a rectangle which does not have a background colour. Choose a colour of text which allows it to show up on the background of the image. You may need to change the size of the text box rectangle. You’ll do this if you need to change it so that the text is all on one line. Other occasions you might want to have the text in a paragraph format. In the centre of the box you’ll see a small blue dot. Drag this blue dot to the outside of the rectangle and you’ll have a pointer line. Put the end of this line next to the part of the image you want to refer to with the text. In the bottom left-hand corner you can choose the size of the text. There’s only two different sizes available. You may also choose to have an outline around the text. With any other colours apart from white you get a white outline. When the text is coloured white, you get a grey outline. This helps the text to stand out from the image.

annotate images on iOS

Straight lines and free drawing

This is one tool split into two and you choose one or the other in the bottom right-hand corner of the application. So when you’re going to annotate images on iOS with either your Apple pencil or your finger you can draw lines with or without an outline. When using the white line with a black outline, the outline is soft like it was a shadow. You get two thicknesses of line to choose from. After you draw a line, same as with any of the other tools you can select it and change the look of it.

Using the shape tool in Annotable

Annotable gives you three different shapes you can draw. You have rectangles, rounded rectangles and circles. You have the same sorts of permutations of colour, outline and thickness as you do with free drawing and straight lines.

Pointing with arrows in Annotable

Annotate images on iOS with arrows. In this application you have two different types of arrow. The simple arrow is just made of lines while the other arrow is a filled in arrow. It’s a better looking arrow when it has the fill and it tapers to the rear of the arrow. You may change the size, colour and outline of your arrows as you annotate images on iOS.

Annotable for iOS review

This is a capable application that in some ways work similar to the way Skitch worked. If you add more than one item onto the picture and they are overlapping you have to start a new item from point that doesn’t overlap. So occasionally you will have to add your annotation and then reposition it. It’s possible to delete any of the items you’ve added to your image using Annotable. There is no function to select all of the items and delete in one go. Neither is there a way to do a marquee select to select some of them. This means that if you want to make changes or a deletion to a selection of annotations you’ll have to do them one at a time. If you want to get rid of all of them, the best thing to do is to close the image and to start again fresh.

Overall, this application gets a big thumbs up from NoStylus. If you do a lot of annotations on iOS it’s well worth having. The ease of pixelating an area and the magnification tool are particularly worthwhile regards spending the money to buy the full application. I’m happy to have Annotable to use on my iPhone and my iPad.


Posted in iPad.

iPad work efficiency – Make a gesture

iPad work efficiency using gestures

With the amazing range of applications we have available now for using with our iPad we can get fantastic iPad work efficiency. It doesn’t matter what it is you want to do, there’s going to be an app for that. One of the ways to increase your iPad work efficiency is to make full use of the control gestures. I often use the four finger swipe to moving between applications. Then there is the five digit pinch. With this you can quickly get back to your home screen from whatever application you’re usinf. If you’re already on the iPad home screen and you do the four digit pinch, I found it will take you to the iOS search. It is easier to use the single finger swipe downwards on the home screen to get to your iOS search, but at least you have another option. If you have a lot of applications open and the app you require is going to be a few wipes away don’t forget you can double-click on the home button. Instead of double-clicking on the home button you can also do a four finger swipe upwards. It’s a good idea to use this rather than the button as it will save the wear and tear on a mechanical switch. This will take you to a view showing you all of the open applications on your iPad. If you feel the need to close down background applications this is where you go. With a swipe upwards you can completely closedown an application on your iPad. Because of the way the iPad works with the sand boxing it isn’t usually necessary to close down background applications. Having these applications sitting there in the background shouldn’t have any effect upon how well your iPad is working. So you shouldn’t notice your iPad slowing down just because you have a lot of background applications.

Moving around quickly and efficiently in Safari

I often find it very useful to have a look things are closer on a webpage. For this you have the pinch to zoom gesture. With two fingers or a finger and a thumb on the screen moving them either closer together or further apart you will be able to zoom in and out of the page view. If you’re having difficulty selecting something small on the screen uses pinch to zoom to get yourself in closer. There are times when we find ourselves on a very long webpage and we need to get back to the beginning. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to tap on the top menu. This is the menu at the very top which includes the time in the centre and the status of the battery over in the top right-hand corner.

iPad work efficiency with widgets and notifications

There are some handy widgets and notifications to use on your iPad. Swapping down with one finger from the very top of the screen will open up the view of the widgets and notifications. So if you want to get a quick view of a weather forecast or whatever you might have in your calendar for the day this is the place to look. You can get some marvellous iPad work efficiency if you’ve set up some of the widgets for the applications you use. I make a lot of use of the Day One application for journalling and that is at the top of my list for iPad widgets. The application Copied has a useful widget allowing you to have a look at whatever you save to your clipboard. I recommend that you should be using two factor authentication 2FA. To do two factor authentication recommend the use of the application Authy which has a widget given you quick access to the time sensitive one-off codes.

iPad work efficiency

Swiping up from the bottom of the screen

This gives you quick access to a few of the basic features of your iPad in the control panel. If you need to adjust the brightness of the screen or turn on the orientation lock this is the place to go. I sometimes use this to get access to Airplay if I want to send a video on watching on the iPad to my TV. From this small screen you can gain quick access to your camera turn night mode on or off and access a timer. For me, I find the quickest way to set a timer is to use Siri.

iPad work efficiency

Swapping in other applications

In Photos you can swipe between photos in your albums. There are photomanipulation applications which use gestures to apply effects. In some will move up and down on the screen with your finger to change between the effect available. Then you move to the left or to the right to apply the amount of that effect to the image. Generally the gestures used within an application have to be fairly simple or have to be well explained within help files. If the gesture is too complicated or unusual then is not going to use because people either won’t know about it or won’t remember it. Something for developers to remember when designing their applications with gestures to help us with our iPad work efficiency.

At the end of a fully post-PC experience

It’s been a better experience to write this application in Ulysses on my iMac. This is because of the speed and efficiency I get from using DragonDictate. It is good to know that because I’m short of time before going to work all of this document will be available to me to use on my iPad. I expect when I get a break at work to connect to the Internet via the iPhone personal hotspot and to publish this blog post. It’s great to have the best of both worlds with a full Apple system! Now I have iPad work efficiency combined with my Mac OS X desktop efficiency.

Posted in iPad.

iOS Multitasking – Getting Work done

iOS Multitasking

What exactly is iOS multitasking? Is it possible to do this successfully with our iPad and do we really need to? One of the best things about using computers whether they are laptop computers, desktop computers, tablets or the phones in our pockets is that you can set them to do a task and let them get on with it. So while the computer is doing one thing you can be doing something else with another application. That is not necessarily what most people think of when they think of iOS multitasking. What comes to mind usually is the ability to see more than one thing on screen at the same time. This would be something like watching a movie in a small window, picture in picture, while working on something else in the rest of the screen. You do have to wonder whether not concentrating on the main item is detrimental to the job you’re doing at the time. If your mind is working fully with the job in hand in a spreadsheet or a text document, how much information is going into your head from the video playing on the side. Which ever portion of your computing experience is getting the attention of your brain then the extra visual input is just going to be distracting. We all know plenty of people, often women, who like to say they are good at multitasking. Realistically I think I would like to say it is better to concentrate on one single job and do it properly. Get that project finished and then move onto the next thing.

Split screen view on iOS

There is justifiably a good reason for having a split view on your iOS screen. That’s when one single task you are working on requires two applications at the same time. Typically this will be one side of the screen is for the input of your information, thoughts and ideas. The other side of the screen is for reference purposes and that could be various types of document including video, text documents with information such as PDFs and so on. You could be looking at some notes you’ve taken earlier using the iOS Notes application. This really is what we mean by iOS multitasking. It would work out well to use the application Ulysses on either the left or the right of screen. On the other side you can choose from a number of options. You might open an application looking into Reddit in order to get the information from the questions and from the answers found on that website. Another possibility would be to have an RSS reader open in which you could read from various news sources.

iOS multitasking

You have a couple of choices with the split screen view. Drag your finger in from the right-hand side and the split between applications will first all go to about a third of the way across. Sometimes you can leave it like this and have the larger part of the screen just for your main application. Seeing whatever is in that smaller section is enough for gathering the information or reminders. If that type of split doesn’t work for you then pull the dividing line across to the centre of the screen. When you want to do some typing on either side of the split screen view the keyboard comes up and fills the bottom part of the screen. Whatever you type in goes to the area on the screen where the cursor is situated. Just move the cursor over to the side if you want to input data into the other application. That’s about it, it’s really easy to do iOS multitasking. When you have finished with your second application just put your finger on the split and drag it over to the right side of the screen. There does need to be some improvement in the way you choose the secondary application you want to use. What you have now is the option to drag from the top of the screen downwards to show all of the applications available to use for your iOS multitasking. This isn’t a good way of doing it because you may have to scroll through a large number of applications to get to the one you want. I’m really hoping that in iOS 10 this selection of application for the iOS multitasking will improve. What it needs is to have smaller icons to choose from and a way to do a search for the one you want. I have a lot of applications that will work on this iOS split screen and it takes a long time to scroll through all of the apps available.

IOS split screen

iOS multitasking on the iPad Pro

When using the larger version of the iPad Pro, the split screen multitasking works very well in terms of space. I haven’t tried it yet on the smaller, baby iPad Pro. Maybe I should have given it a try when I was in the Apple Store in Barcelona on Tuesday. Another improvement we may see at some point in time with a version of the iOS operating system is the ability to drag-and-drop. Wouldn’t it be nice to select an area of text on one side of the split screen and to drag it and drop it onto the application on the other side. Because of the sandboxing of the iOS applications this may not be in any way possible. Are there any improvements you’d like to see from Apple with regards iOS multitasking? Send me an email tell me what you think about this way of working on the iPad. Are you a big user of the split screen view or the picture in picture you can do with a video? What sort of improvements would you like to see to make your iOS workflow better and more efficient?

IOS split screen

iOS apps side by side

Doing work on your iPhone

You don’t get the split screen view on the iPhone and to change from one application to another you need to do a double-click on the home button. Then you can swipe through open applications. There are the limitations of the smaller screen which can’t be got around as yet. I don’t think much happens within an application when it is in the background. This is why we need a choice in the size of device and working area. Sometimes it’s better to have the ultra portability of a computer that is your iPhone. Other times the best way to do your work is to grab the iPad and take advantage of the larger screen space.


Posted in iPad.

Day 12 – Working with a full Apple system

I’ve got the iMac Back

I did take a trip to Barcelona in the afternoon yesterday to go and collect the iMac from the Apple Store and I’m back to a full Apple system. This morning I have to admit that it is nice to have two large 27 inch screens in front of me on my desk in my office. There’s just something about having it all large and spread out in front of me that I quite like. I’m loving being able to get back into using DragonDictate for my writing. I did some Siri dictations this morning and it was pretty terrible. It just kind of goes like that sometimes. During the past 11 days I have written an awful lot and used Siri dictation extensively. Many times while using Siri dictation it has been almost as accurate as using DragonDictate. The other thing with DragonDictate apart from the accuracies is the fact I can go back to make changes with text using my voice. It’s just not possible to do that with Siri dictation.

Full Apple Sysytem

When I got back home from Barcelona I didn’t immediately set up the iMac. I sat on the sofa and I got out the iPad Pro to do the publishing part of an article I wrote earlier during the day on the iPhone and iPad. I still enjoy working with my iOS devices. This morning I’ve set up the iMac and apart from a couple of minor problems it all went well. This was because I had the operating system on an SSD connected to the computer via Thunderbolt. If I’d been able to put an SSD into the iMac itself then perhaps I would have done a complete reinstall of El Capitan including a fresh install of the applications. There’s nothing quite like having a clean and fresh machine! So it’s been great to work with a full Apple system which includes Mac OS X as well as using iOS. I love the way it all hangs together with iCloud. It doesn’t really matter which part of the full Apple system I’m using, on account of it all being perfectly integrated. It’s just one big spreadout computer as far as I’m concerned.

What comes next?

I’ve been an iOS warrior and an iOS champion and I’ve enjoyed the more personal computing experience you get using the tablet as a primary device. There is the tactile advantage you have from being able to touch your computing. Often times selecting and manipulating things on screen is much easier using your fingers. There is a certain amount of irony in that sentence considering I’m dictating using DragonDictate into Ulysses on my Mac, leaning back in my chair and my hands behind my head. That’s just the way I roll.

This morning I shot some video using the iPhone with the Camera Plus application. I’m going to deal with that in iMovie on the iPad Pro because I still want to make a comparison with the video editing I did using Pinnacle. I still have a pile of apps on the iPad and the iPhone to try out and see what I can do with them. So I can say there will be a lot more posts appearing here on NoStylus about my Good and Geeky ways.

The way we think about computing

During the period of uncertainty with the iMac I was considering the possibility of upgrading to a later model. The one I’m using now is nearly 5 years old, but it’s still an excellent machine. It would be nice to have the later model with the absolutely gorgeous and impressive screen resolution. The later model also has a newer version of Bluetooth so I’d be able to use the latest Magic trackpad which is larger than the one I have. I particularly like having a trackpad rather than a mouse to the point where it actually feels quite weird using a mouse now. I have been thinking about what I do with my computer and what I need. It’s very easy for me to think I should just have the fastest and most amazing computer available. If price wasn’t an option then I would just go for the latest 27 inch iMac and load it up with the fastest processor along with the largest SSD drive I could put into it. I also have 32 GB of memory even though the 16 GB I’m working with now is pretty good. On the other hand, after seeing what I can do using iOS with my iPad and my iPhone I think I’m going to hold back. I’m going to start putting some money aside for a new computer device. I’m going to think about it more long-term and expect this iMac to keep on working for another two years. I’ll have a fund waiting for me to make a decision about what to get next. They could be something new around the corner even better for me to use. Perhaps even a Mac Mini connected to one of those larger extrawide computer screens. Another possibility is that they could be changes when iOS 10 comes out, making the platform even more compelling to use.

Mac and iPad desktop - full apple system

Full Apple System

Most of what been doing while not having a full Apple system, using just iOS was about using the iPad as much as possible. I have also bumped up the amount of computing done using the iPhone. Some of the posts during the last week were completed iPhone only. More of the work done has been a combination of both the iPhone and the iPad Pro. I can say without any fear of contradiction it has been an excellent learning experience. It has changed the way I’ll be working with my digital media content creation across the full Apple system and platform.

Would you go iOS only?

Have you had a similar experience with using iOS? Would you be tempted to never buy another laptop or desktop computer again and only work with tablets and phones? Is there anything you’d like to ask regards being an iOS warrior? Leave something in the comments or send me an email, I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

Posted in iPad.

Day 11 – iOS Champion

How much longer can I be an iOS Champion

There is a possibility that today I will go and collect my iMac from the store. During the last week and a half I have used iOS almost exclusively. That makes me an iOS champion! I say almost exclusive because I did switch on and have a look at my Raspberry Pi briefly. Maybe that doesn’t count because it was only for a few minutes and I only entered a few commands into the terminal and that was that. It’s nice to know that Apple was able to get my computer fixed within four days after initially telling me it could take 10 days to get the job done. To underpromise and over deliver is the best way to deal with customers for any company! So now I have to make another trip to the Barcelona Apple Store to collect my iMac. Whether or not I go and collect it today will depend upon how tired I am this afternoon. I have a very early start to the day having to get out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning. If I’m feeling wrecked, then I’d rather wait until tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to have a good nights sleep. During this time with my iOS devices I have done more writing for my blogs and I have before. It’s been easy to create blog posts of between 700 to 2,000 words using Siri dictation and a little bit of typing. Using the Ulysses application on the iPad and also on the iPhone has worked out really well. It’s a really good interface for working on the posts. It’s been easy to add links while still working in Ulysses. I experimented with using the application Blogo and it wasn’t too bad. Great to be able to use that application for adding images and to have the option to crop them at the time of adding. It’s a little bit fiddly for adding the headlines in the post. I had a similar problem using the WordPress app for blogging. I had to go to The HTML view in the application in order to convert paragraph text into headline text. That was if I was writing directly into the application. It was easier to have your blog post with the formatting already done before sending from Ulysses. The most successful way of working with the blog posts was to open up Safari and to login to WordPress directly.

iOS Champion

Using Ulysses

No time to do everything in iOS

I almost wish that the Apple Store was keeping my computer for another week. It would give me another week of being an exclusive iOS champion. During this last 10 days I have created audio and video as well as dealing with photos on iOS. Doing the writing work on iOS has been pretty good, even with using Siri dictation. Obviously, I do miss having the use of DragonDictate. It’s worked out well to pair up the Bluetooth keyboard from my Mac up to the iOS devices and do some typing as well. There are some times when it’s not a good idea to try doing dictation. If I’m not alone in the room or there is TV on in the background I can think and type better than I can dictate. Even after this post PC experiment has officially ended I’m going to continue using the iPad and iPhone as much as possible. I’m going to make a video using iMovie on iPad and iPhone. I want to compare that with the experience I had using the application Pinnacle. I’ll be able to keep up with my daily blog posts about being an iOS champion!

iOS champion uses iMovie

Privacy and security with iOS devices

I was really happy when I upgraded to the latest version is of the iOS devices with the fingerprint recognition. Apple have done a good job of integrating security measures to keep our data safe. If you want another opinion on that you could ask the FBI in America. I also have it set up on the iPad and iPhone so I can use PGP encryption. With encryption I can encrypt sections of text or whole files in order to send them safely and privately to anybody else using PGP. I have also set up within my Mail application to use SSL certificates. I now have a choice of sending emails using the certificate or using PGP. Receiving encrypted emails this way on the iOS devices is really easy and works automatically. I’m not sure if it is possible to use the method with a certificate for sending encrypted emails from iOS. For this reason when you’re sending private emails from any iOS devices, it’s best to use PGP encryption. Unlock the section below to get a FREE Cheatsheet to help you get started with PGP. If you want to find out more and really go in to depth, you can buy the book about how to keep your email private. Good and Geeky Private Emails

Who needs email these days

Email isn’t as popular as it used to be. An iOS champion these days will rely upon sending messages through the messaging apps or through social networks rather than using email. The messaging apps are great because many of them now have end to end encryption. While the message is protected during its transmission from place to place, you do have to remember that it is unencrypted on the device. This is why it is a good idea to have the fingerprint recognition and a good password protecting your mobile devices. We need to do this because there are bad people who would like to steal your identity and your money. You have to protect all of your data in all of your places. This is because the bad guys have ways of putting together bits of information from various places and using the whole sum of it to steal your identity.

Two factor authentication

With your important accounts like your email account I fully recommend that you use two factor authentication. You can use the Google authenticator app or the application called Authy to receive the one time codes allowing you to access your account. These codes only last for 30 seconds for being replaced with a new one. Best to use 2FA if you want to be an iOS Champion.

Two factor authentication

Two factor authentication with Authy


I use for these apps for iOS security:-

oPenGP Lite



Here is your Private Emails Cheatsheet to get you started with Encryption

Email Privacy Cheatsheet

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Posted in iPad.