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

IPGMail

Authy

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

Email Privacy Cheatsheet

Check your Mail and confirm your membership of Good and Geeky and I’ll send you another Free Book.

Hidden Content

Posted in iPad.

iOS OCR apps

Collecting photos into Day One

As part of my daily journaling practice I like to collect photos from Messages I have received from the family during the day. For example, today I got a photo of the new member of the family, the son of Tamsin my niece. He’s going to be called Kenzo. The picture came to me through the application Whats App. It’s quite easy to press and hold on the picture and get to the dialogue where are you can choose to save the image. The images are saved to the Photo App. I did this on my iPhone and I also have a messages application which lets me look at What’s App messages on my iPad. Same thing with that application, the pictures go in the Photos app where I can use them. Now to go deeper with iOS OCR apps

Using iOS OCR apps to take it a stage further

I wanted to get a record of the messages of the conversation about the baby’s name I’d had with my mother. Looking for iOS OCR apps. So I had to try and remember which application I had to do OCR. At first I thought it was the PDF application I have, PDF Expert. It was not that one, so I had to go and look again, maybe one of the scanner applications was what I was looking for. I wondered if it was the Scanner Pro I use to turn all bits of paper into digital bits. I don’t like keeping paper around – Prefer being paperless. While I was looking for that the PDF Pen Scan+ app came into my field of view and it had OCR in the icon for it. So I opened it up and gave it a try. Turns out that Scanner Pro by Readdle will also do OCR.

Using Scan + from Smile Software

iOS OCR Apps
I opened the app and it’s a really simple interface. I imported the image which I got as a screen capture and cropped in Photos app. All you have to do is to hit the OCR button, wait a while and watch it as it does its job. I got mixed results because a part of the text was reversed – white text on a blue background. The app didn’t catch any of that text. The rest of the text worked well and I didn’t have to make too many alterations to fix the OCR.

So I went back to the photos app and converted the picture to mono, black and white. Scan+ did a better job and a large portion of the text it missed before got OCR’ed. This would not be good enough to do a large job of text but for what I wanted it was OK. There is a button in the top right corner – OCR and it gives you a choice to copy the text of the image. One Click and I had all of it on the clipboard. Good result for iOS OCR apps!

Using Scanner Pro for the OCR

I used the same image which I’d converted to black and white and imported it into Scanner Pro easily. It is a more professional looking interface.The OCR works fast and it seemed to do a better job. One problem is that it takes it section by section. I wanted to select all of the text and paste it elsewhere same as I did in Scan + but it has to be selected bit by bit. Not so good for the text I was using. It would be tedious to collect all of it to use elsewhere. So it kind of worked, but had limitations. One section of the text was accurately scanned but it forgot to put spaces in between the words. You have a button at the top allowing you to switch between the image and the text. I looked in the settings and all you can do is to change the language of the text being scanned.

IOS OCR Apps
There are tools in the app to crop the image and to alter the contrast and lighting of the image. It will even find the edges of the document automatically if you have a shot of a piece of paper on a dark background. That works great when you are doing the paperless thing.

Which app will I use to perform this task in the future?

Which is the best of the iOS OCR apps? Neither app is perfect but the Scan+ app came out slightly on top. The ability to copy all of the text in one go gives it the edge. I need to test it some more with different types of text. I think if I was scanning a full page of black text on a white page either app would be good for the job.

Posted in iPad, Uncategorized.

Happy Birthday My Apple Watch

img-alternative-textIt was exactly 1 year ago that I picked up my Apple Watch. 366 days, don’t forget it was a leap year and I’ve been using it every day since. I had to have the watch is delivered to my moms house in England because they weren’t delivering yet here in Spain. It worked out pretty well because it was arriving just exactly for the weekend when I was there for a wedding.

I loved the watch as soon as I took it out of the box. Even the box was kind of impressive. It was so well made and quite heavy for a cardboard box. The watch drew some admiring glances during the weekend of the wedding. Even one year later and Apple has sold 12 million of them people still say “Oh look! An Apple Watch. “

I did buy one extra watchstrap during the year to use with it. I got a dark blue strap because the light blue one that came with it is quite distinctive. I have been tempted a couple of times to buy one of the Milanese metal straps, but not from Apple because they are too expensive.

The thing I’ve used the Apple Watch for mostly during the year has been for the health benefits. It has done a reasonable job of getting me out of my chair and not sitting so much. The Apple Watch has been pretty good for recording the number of steps I take during the day. The amount of exercise I’ve taken per day has overall increased during the year.

I particularly like to use the Apple Watch to control what ever Audio is playing on my iPhone. I can keep the iPhone in a shirt pocket and not have to get it out to change tracks or the volume.

Posted in iPad.

Post PC Day 9 – iPad Artist

How to be an iPad Artist

I am an iPad artist. The creativity comes through me mostly through writing these days but I still often have the times when all I want to do is create visual art. When I was at art college I was into the drawing, painting and print making. I really did say to a girl “Would you like to come upstairs to see my etchings?” You should have seen her face when I showed her some…. Now I have the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil to go with it. I find I will have a month when I spend more time making images than doing the writing. Variety is the spice of life they say.

iPad artist

Kaleidoscope with Pixelmator

iPad art apps I like to use

Pixelmator for iPad is fantastic. It’s great for doing the basics of image management such as resizing, adding text on top of an image and working with photos. I wouldn’t have an iPad without it. Pixelmator does have drawing and painting tools for the iPad artist, but for some reason I often find myself going to Procreate for that activity. I’ll also swap into Tayasui Sketch when I want to do watercolour because I particularly love the watercolour brushes there. For unlimited creativity for image manipulation then it has to be iColorama. The range of tools in iColorama is amazing in its breadth and depth. I usually prefer iPad artist apps with layers and iColorama doesn’t do layers as such. You can put one layer of image on top of another and change blend modes, masking and do those sorts of adjustments. That’s it though – It isn’t a persistent layer to work with later in your artistic process. The app gets around this limitation with it saving states of progress as you go and saving out to the storage. So what you would do is to save something out to disk and bring it back in again to work two images together again. The best thing is to consider the iPad as one iPad artist application and move images in between apps as you need certain tools. It works great for me to do that when making artistic images with my iPad.

iPad artist iColorama

iPad artist iColorama

iPad artist – iPhone artist

The iPhone for me is too small for the sort of work I am able to do as an iPad artist. It is possible, there is a version of iColorama for the iPhone too. It is only €2.99 and I will probably buy it at some point in time. You also get Pixelmator on the iPhone as well as Paper by 53, ArtStudio, Sketches II, Artistic Studio, PS Express and Waterlogue. Many of the features are the same, just limited by the smaller screen. I look upon these as apps worth having in case you have that moment when you have to create something and all you have with you is your iPhone.

iPad Artist Book

I have written a book on this topic which is available in the Apple Book Store. It is a look at how to be an iPad artist and covers topics such as which is the best stylus to use. If you have an iPad Pro of either size then the answer is the Apple Pencil. In the book there are videos including one in which I show how I made a caricature image using Pixelmator for iPad and iColorama. Pixelmator has excellent tools for pushing pixels around. There is the warp tool and you can also twirl either left or right. When you use the bump tool it is as if you are making a lump sticking out of the canvas.

iPad artist

Good and Geeky iPad art book

Using the Apple Pencil

The iPad knows when you are using it and automatically gives you palm protection. Get better lines drawn because you have increased control of the Apple Pencil. There is pressure sensitivity in the Pencil so you get either darker lines or wider lines depending on the tool you’re using. When you use the pencil at an angle you’ll get a shading effect. The line spreads out and works like it would if you were using a real analogue pencil. Digital drawing and painting is just brilliant because you can work on your art at many levels. With the layers you are building up the drawing from blocking in shapes to getting into detail and not messing up what you have done already. Putting in backgrounds can be done after the line drawing has been done so you don’t lose lines. The you also have the zoom so getting into the fiddly detail is so much easier and like having another type of layer. The iPad artist doesn’t have to mess around with cleaning brushes and changing between tools and colours can be done in a snap. I love the digital way of working and being an iPad artist.

It’s not just about visual art

Don’t forget you also have audio and video creation available to you. Garageband on iPad is fun and there is the podcast making app BossJock. Some of these audio apps let you make music even if you don’t have a huge musical talent. Making video as an iPad artist is simplicity itself. Some video editing apps will do half the job for you. While there are apps like iMovie on iPad and Pinnacle which give you a ton of control over the video clips and the audio to go with it. My favourite is Pinnacle video editor.

 

Posted in iPad.