Posts Tagged ‘apple’

What I did today and what’s in my bag

What's in my bag: iphone 6

Today didn’t really go according to plan. I had planned to spend all day working on the blog, prepping for the Thanksgiving week. However, a couple errands took us out of the house, which lead to the AT&T store, and we  finally upgraded our phones and VOILA! I am now the proud owner of a new iPhone 6. In gold, if you can believe it. Surprisingly, the gold color is quite pale and not nearly as bling-y as I thought it would be.

iphone 6 and Pentel i+ pen

I picked out a ridiculously girly, floral hardshell case for my new treasure, a Lenntek Sonix Inlay case with a Rifle Paper Co. floral design which just happens to match the new Pentel i+ 3 multi-pen I got. It all matched nicely with my EDC bag, a pink Coach leather clutch, my Pantone lime business card case and my Miro pocket notebook with pink edge painting.

iphone 6 and Pentel i+ pen

Lots of people have reviewed and re-reviewed the new iPhone 6 so I’ll spare you suffering any additional commentary. Suffice it to say, its not uncomfortably large, even with my munchkin hands, and its nice to have a bigger drive, faster service, better camera and better battery life. So its all good. And damned girly.

What’s on my Desk(top)?

apps on my desktop

Strangely, for a fan of all things paper-and-pen/cil, I’ve been thinking a lot about my digital tools recently. I’ve been fiddling with which music player is best for me, what task manager can get me off the panic precipice as well as all the other digital tools I need to stay organized and productive like text input, calendar management and getting all this stuff to synchronize together.

I can’t be the only one who worries about the best way to stay on top of everything, can I? The to-do lists, grocery lists, ideas for blog posts, things to read now, things to share, things to read later, work projects, events in my life and everything else?

A lot of this fussing has come as a result of upgrading to Yosemite (OS X 10.10). Many of my standby tools required upgrading and some fell by the wayside. Other issues had never been thoroughly dealt with in the past so I used the growing pains of Yosemite as my chance to re-evaluate my whole digital tool library.

The first aspect to my organization is that I work on Mac and Apple products exclusively. I have an iMac 27″ at work (behind a big SERIOUS firewall), a personal 13″ MacBook Pro, an iPad Mini (the original incarnation, no retina, no data) and an iPhone 4s (seriously needing to be updated). As a result of my office firewall and absence of wi-fi for my iPad at work, I need most of my tools to be accessible without installing an app or feature a browser-accessible interface.

Music Player:

Luckily, most music players and streaming music tools are now accessible via web interface so I’ve been able to test and play with Spotify, Rdio and Pandora. The first one I ever tried was Rdio and I’ve built a lot of playlists on it. I abandoned it when everyone went to Spotify and played with that for awhile and finally went to Pandora for the ability to say, “I like English Beat. Play stuff like that,” without having to build all the playlists myself. But in the end, there was just as much work involved in grooming Pandora to my tastes that I might as well have built my own playlist.

So, I’ve come full circle and gone back to Rdio. The web interface is vastly improved over the last few years and includes a free streaming option (with ads) as well as paid subscriptions that allows users to download content to a mobile device. If you don’t pay for the premium subscription, the only mobile option is a “radio” option. The radio option let’s you select a song and the app builds a playlist based on it. I think Spotify free works the same way.

Podcast App:

Overcast has become my go-to for podcast listening. For me, the web interface means I can tether myself to my desk at work and access my podcasts without using up my mobile phone data plan. Sure, I don’t get the benefits of some of the iPhone app features (like speeding up the podcast or skipping pausese) but I can easily bounce back and forth from my phone at home to the browser at work and stay current.

Task Manager:

I’ve tried to keep daily lists on paper using a modification of the Bullet Journal system which is fine for personal projects and home stuff but work projects needed a digital option that would allow me to copy and paste text and rearrange and update a lot. I tried both Todoist and Wunderlist and have bounced back and forth, depending on the types of projects I’ve been working on. This week, I decided I needed to embrace ONE and make it work. So I chose Wunderlist because the Todoist site locked up on me and I could not use the web interface. Wunderlist provides web interface through a browser and a mac desktop app as well as iPad and iPhone versions. In other words, I can have all my lists wherever I am. I can add sub-lists and images to each “task” which, in my case, is a card collection or individual card design. I can snap a pic of the sketch to store with the task item. I don’t know why I didn’t figure this system out ages ago. Now I wish I could copy multiple sub-tasks from one task to the other because every card I do has to pass through the same series of tasks. Sometimes there’s additional task but it would be so helpful.

Photo Editing and Management:

I was one of those suckers who bought Aperture as my go-to photo editing and cataloging. So, with Apple’s announcement that they’ll no longer be supporting the app, I had to switch to Adobe Lightroom CC. Its been a slow process. It took about 8 hours to migrate my Aperture library to Lightroom. I can see why it is the preferred application. Even after just an hour using it, I think my photos look better and the interface is intuitively Adobe.

If photos need more manipulation, I use Adobe Photoshop CC. The weekly Fashionable Friday is built entirely in Photoshop and I design logos, icons and the like in Illustrator CC.

Text Input:

I still use paper for most list-making and taking notes in meetings. I need some excuse to use up all those notebooks and inks I buy. When I have to write on the computer, either to prepare blog posts, work documentation or brain musings, I still have a gap.

I’ve heard lots of recommendations for DayOne as a place to dump ideas but I’m not sure how easy it is to access individual pieces and how much formatting it allows.

I’m taking recommendations now!

Calendar Management:

I still use iCal (or whatever Apple is calling it these days). I use Fanstastical on my iPhone which makes adding events on the go super easy. Wunderlist automatically adds tasks to a special calendar on iCal and provide alerts to keep me on task as well so that all my calendar activites sync. Sadly, my work calendar is the cheese that stand alone. My company uses Outlook and the calendar cannot be linked or synced to my iCal for whatever reason. So I have to manually add events. If anyone has a workaround for syncing Outlook to iCal let me know.

Other tools:

I use 1Password to keep all my passwords sorted. I use Suitcase Fusion to keep my massive font collection together. I build some of my photo collages with PicFrame (like the one at the top of this post). I live and die at the hands of Alfred who helps me find my apps, my files, helps me add, spell and even defines words for me in a pinch. I use Firefox almost exclusively for web browsing and have plugins for some of my favorite utilities like Pinterest, Evernote, Twitbin, 1Password and Wunderlist. Most of my email is now managed by Gmail.

Do you use any of these tools to keep organized? Have any recommendations for me?

Curious iApp Discoveries

my iPhone home page

I started this post because I found some unusual iPhone apps recently but then I got to thinking about it and decided maybe folks would like to see some of the apps I use regularly as well. So, here are the highlights of the apps I use almost daily as well as some funky little tidbits I’ve found recently. (The screenshot is my home page as of this morning, truth.)

  • Dots: Dots is a beautiful time-waster game in chunks of 30 seconds. Its free and its addictive. You’ve been warned.
  • Device 6: This looks like a game made for me. Its a thriller/puzzle/mystery game wrapped in beautiful design and a mysterious man in a hat. I just got an iTunes gift card so I’ll be downloading this ASAP. $3.99
  • Connor: Connor NYC is a high-end bespoke stationery company that produced an iPad app to create e-stationery
  • Squarespace apps: I’m familiar with Squarespace as a blog/commerce/website venue but did not know that they offer several apps to create on-the-go notes, portfolio viewer from content on their Squarespace site and a sleek site controller. Squarespace Note app does not require an account and its free.
  • Dictionary.com: I love the Word of The Day feature and being able to look up words on the go. Free.
  • Gmail: I have tried lots of email apps for the iPhone including Sparrow and the default Apple Mail app and I am stuck on Gmail. The new divided tabs that separate updates from social from pormotions and your actual email is genius. It saves me tons of time and lets me see my mail from all the spam, newsletters and miscellany. Genius.
  • Cardstar: This app has the ugliest icon ever and it makes me cringe when I look at it but it is the wallet-lightening joy of an app. It will scan the bar codes off all those frequent shopper cards, hotel/airline points accounts, etc and store them in your iPhone complete with the scanner-readable bar code. Other apps have better icons but THIS one works. And its FREE.
  • Fantastical: Why do I need another calendar app? Because Fantastical lets me type “Meet with Stephanie at 3pm today” and voila! It places a meeting in the right time without having to remember that today is the 15th. I thought it would be more cumbersome to type out a whole sentence to schedule a meeting but its not. I like it so much, I just paid $2.99 to upgrade to the new iOS 7 version.

Other apps I use all the time are Tweetbot, WordPress, IFTTT, USPS Mobile, Delivery Status, Wake, Riposte and Evernote. I’ve tried lots of photo editing apps and use AfterLight most often. What are your favorites?

Plugging the Firm: Soundpic

I’ve been implying to folks that I’ve been working on a “secret project” at work. Well, its not so secret anymore. Its a little app called Soundpic that turns your video into a still image and a sound clip in one neat package.

Not only was I actively involved in the design of the user interface, I designed the logo, art directed the promo video and even let them use my largely-unused Facebook page for the video! I am amazed what we could do with just a handful of people and some wishful thinking.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfy-PbadD8A?rel=0

We’ve been running around looking for cool sounds to capture with our images: from rustling leaves to steaks on the grill. I’m still on the hunt for one of those old school sprinklers to add to my “summer sounds” collection.

Soundpic is available on the Apple iTunes store for iPhone. And its free. If you like the app, please let me know or leave feedback on the app store. Thanks!

Macally iPad Mini Cover/Case in Avocado (of course!)

Macally iPad Mini cover

Do you know how challenging it can be to find just the right iPad Mini cover/case? Let’s just say I’ve been looking for awhile. Fnally, I found one that met all my criteria which really… was I asking for so much?

What I wanted:

  • slim line case that could be used to prop iPad Mini up in a position comfortable to type or to view video
  • not to be black or bubblegum pink (not too stodgy, not too tweeny)
  • it would be nice if it had the magnetic on/off but that wouldn’t be a make or break

Macally iPad Mini cover

Well, hello Macally Case in avocado green!

It took some pretty extensive searching to find this case which is a bit of a story onto itself. I decided that I would rather shop locally than making a purchase from an online retailer just because I wanted to be able to touch the cases, feel the materials and the build quality and see the actual colors. So I went to a local computer supply shop with an Apple section that I knew to carry a large selection of accessories. I found this lovely green case for $49 as well as an identical model in a soft orchid lavender for $39. No difference in the specs at all except the price. So I asked the clerk to check on the price and see if there was some reason one case (the one I wanted) was $10 more. The hugely unhelpful and color-prejudice clerk said, “Its probably because the green is a better color”. Really? That’s your idea of customer service? He would neither offer a price match or get a manager who might be able to adjust the price. I was so furious at the lack of care that I walked away, scanned the bar code on the package with the Amazon app, found it for the $30-ish price listed and hit 1-Click purchase. I would have gladly paid the slightly higher $39 price point in the store if someone had been willing to price match their own flipping products!

Macally iPad Mini cover

Now, back to the review.

The cover is a textured PU on the exterior, with a black interior. The cover has a magnetic lock auto on/off and places on the cover where it easily folds. Inside is a matching avocado green plastic case that the iPad Mini snaps into for extra protection. The case does not block any of the screen and is quite discreet.

Macally iPad Mini cover

Macally iPad Mini cover

To get the iPad Mini to stand tall, the cover needs to be folded inwards and tucked into the tab on the back cover. This makes the whole cover very stable and unlikely to slide or tip over.

Macally iPad Mini cover

The big surprise is that there is a hinge built into the plastic case and the back cover that allows the iPad Mini to rotate into portrait mode while still being able to utilize the cover. It can be used in the low profile propping-up like this as well, perfect for blog reading.

There is a hole cut out in the back cover to allow the camera lens to peek out but if the case is not aligned perfectly with the cover, it can block the camera lens. Being able to rotate the iPad case allows the camera an unhampered angle if you do use the camera on your iPad often.

All-in-all I am quite pleased with this case. It did not increase the weight or bulk of the iPad Mini too much, the color is fabulous and its very functional. Do I wish it was made of more luxurious materials? Sure, but since I was fussing about a $10 price difference, I don’t think I would have been willing to pay for much more luxury.

Redress Your Desktop

Whether you spend all day staring at a computer or a mobile device, eventually the urge to “redecorate” hits. I’ve found some lovely wallpaper patterns for both.

floating

For your desktop, check out the array of wallpapers from Design Love Fest.

From Fellow Fellow are some lovely iPhone (and various mobile devices) wallpapers like these:

FF_IPhone031 FF_IPhone013 Ikat5

(click on each pattern above to find more from Fellow Fellow)

andrea-kalfas-blog

For other GUI goodies, check out:

Got a good source for great wallpapers or do you make your own? Leave a note in the comments. Thanks!

Link Love: Lifehacking

original

There are two excellent websites for lifehacks: Lifehack and Lifehacker. In amongst general information on how to get fit, eat better and be more productive are recommendations for work-related topics, zero-ing out your email inbox and app recommendations.

This week I decided to cherry pick a few of my favorite recent articles from these sites and share them here.

Workspaces:

Mobile apps:

Productivity:

Misc:

iPad Mini Keyboard Options

If its been a touch quieter around here this week than usual, please bear with me. I started a new job (within the same company) so I’ve been a bit busier and more distracted than usual. This new gig has also opened me up to meeting new people and being inspired by new office supply goodies.

I was in a meeting when someone whipped out an iPad Mini wrapped up in a traditional black leatherette case. When she opened it up though, it revealed a  keyboard! All I could do was stare at it rapturously…”Meeting? What meeting? Must find out more about her iPad Mini case.”

Kensignton Keyfolio Pro 2

I did get to ask her about the case and it turned out that the keyboard was a removable Bluetooth keyboard held in the case by magnets. The back of the case had a flip out leg to prop up the iPad Mini in the traditional laptop configuration. The fact that the keyboard came out would let the user reconfigure the arrangement for a vertical format when necessary. Quite clever. I did not get manufacturer information from Anna but I was able to commit the design details to memory and establish that she was using the Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 Case and Stand (about $55 on Amazon). reading through the reviews on Amazon, the biggest issue discussed regarding this case is that the hole on the back for the camera is a bit too small and can potentially block the lens.

Sharkk iPad Mini Case

I went ahead and did a little research and found a few other options as well.The SHARKK Keyboard/Case/Cover/Stand (about $32 on Amazon) is more streamlined being only one piece. When opened, the iPad Mini sits in the slot provided in the keyboard. To close, the keyboard snaps to the face of the iPad Mini. This case is definitely the least bulky option I found. The reviews for the Sharkk focus on the reduced keyboard size and the quality of the materials and construction. As the cheapest option I found, some compromises can be expected.

Belkin Wireless iPad Mini keyboard and case

The other strong contender is the Belkin Wireless Keyboard and Case (about $75 on Amazon). From the description details, I cannot determine if the keyboard can be removed from the case but this is a very elegant, streamlined package. The iPad Mini is held into the case along the spine-edge with plastic clips on the corners but this leaves the other edges, speaker and buttons accesbible. There are some reviews that suggest that some compromises were made in the design including the material feeling more rubbery than leather-like.

Logictech has an Ultrathin Keyboard Case on the horizon but it is only available for pre-order at the moment (at approx. $80) but it sounds like it will also be a good option if you are looking for a better way to type on an iPad Mini.

All-in-all, a keyboard small enough to match the diminutive dimensions of an iPad Mini will require compromises. A full-sized Qwerty keyboard is larger than the device and will not make for a convenient, aesthetic object if your goal is to have the smallest typing machine. Going to a reduced-sized keyboard to match the dimensions of an iPad Mini will make for a small keyboard. If you have large hands, this may be awkward but it begs the question, is it less awkward than trying to type on the virtual keyboard that covers most of your screen real estate? Optimally, I’d rather write with paper and pen but when it comes to email and work documents, sometimes the most efficient option is to work digitally so data can be shared quickly.

Poetic KeyBook

Update: It seems that the model case that my friend was using is the Poetic KeyBook Bluetooth Keyboard Case which is also a pleather case like the Kensington but at a lower price (about $30). It is listed to have a magnetic closure that is supposed to automatically turn the iPad Mini on and off but its a little finicky according to reviews. The materials are given praise but the closure is not as secure as other options.

If you have any experience with the devices listed above or one of the many other options available on the market, please leave your recommendations in the comments.

Link Love: Write it down now

This is what happens when I don’t do a Link Love for over two weeks: it becomes epic! Sorry its so long but I didn’t want anything to get overlooked or skipped.

Artwork by Donovan Beeson

Artwork by Donovan Beeson

Handwriting Month:

Pilot Petball (AKA B2P or BeGreen) pensin various colors coming out soon. Photo by Patrick Ng.

Pilot Petball (AKA B2P or BeGreen) pensin various colors coming out soon. Photo by Patrick Ng.

Pens:

photo by Lamy 2000

photo by Lamy 2000

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Paper:

Field-StampsForever-Stamps

Digital:

Miscellaneous:

iPhone Gadgets

I do a lot of rethinking at the new year of how to organize my desk, both home and office, and things I have that I don’t use and things that I wish I had. One of the things I use more than I want to admit is my iPhone. I use the camera a lot more often than I ever thought I would and it acts as an iPod for listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks throughout the day as well. So, I would like a few things to “plus up” my iPhone. Here’s a couple cool things I’ve found:

Milo iPhone stand

First, is the Milo iPhone stand. It uses a micro suction pad to hold the phone either vertically or horizontally and since its suction-mounted rather than a clip, it will work with a new iPhone, 4G, iPod Touch or even a non-Apple product. For $14.95, its a reasonably priced and aesthetically appealing to having a nice place to park your phone/pod on your desk.

Gizmon Clip-On Lenses

photojojo-lenses

I’d also like to get a set of lens attachments for my iPhone. Shown above are the Gizmon Clip-On lenses and the PhotoJojo lens sets. Gizmon offers individual lenses for $25 each in fisheye, center focus, cross screen, 3-image mirage and a polarizing lens. The PhotoJojo lenses are available in fisheye, wide angle/macro, and telephoto and can be purchased in a set of three for $49 or each for $20 (wide/macro and telephoto) and $25 (fisheye).

Is there any other gadgets I might need for my iPhone or are there any stand or lenses you are using?

Favorite Tools of 2012

Top 10 Favorites Part 1Top 10 Favorites Part 2

I’ve reviewed, purchased and drooled over hundreds of products in 2012 so I thought I’d share with you my favorites of the year, in no specific order:

  1. Tie for Favorite Fountain Pen: Kaweco Guilloch 1930 EF Fountain Pen
  2. Tie for Favorite Fountain Pen: TWSBI Diamond 540 EF Demonstrator
  3. Favorite Highlighter: Pilot Preppy Highlighter
  4. Favorite Lefty-centric Tool:  Lefty Sharpener
  5. Favorite Notebook: Quo Vadis Habana Notebook
  6. Most Useful Tools: Gel Multi-Pens (UniBall Style Fit, Zebra Sarasa Pre-Fill, Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto Me)
  7. Biggest Surprise: UniBall Jetstream Ballpoint Pens (Jetstream F*Series Multi-Pen and the 0.5 Ash Green
  8. Best Mac Utility: Alfred App
  9. Favorite Ink: Scribal Workshop Cryptid series, especially Nessie and Leviathan
  10. Favorite Vintage Find: Arrow Plier-Style Hand Stapler

There are a few items I love but never got a review posted and a few things I’ve wanted to try but haven’t gotten yet so there will be more to love in 2013, I’m sure!

What are the best tools you found this year?

Link Love: Snow Day Edition

Pencil Lead Sculpture by Peter Trevelyan (via Present & Correct)

Pencil Lead Sculpture by Peter Trevelyan (via Present & Correct)

Pens and Pencils

Paper and Notebooks

Cartolina MailRoom

Screenshot from the Mailroom App from Cartolina

Digital: Apps for iOS

Other News:

Clear-ly, A Digital To-Do List

RealMac has created a desktop and iOS to-do list app called Clear that is simple and easy to use. I have tried just about every to-do app I can find and this one seems simple and not too annoying. I have had a couple to-do apps I had to delete because I couldn’t get them to stop yelling at me.This app never seems to yell or alert so you’ll have to open the app to see your list.

I downloaded the iOS version and it works really well. The quick tutorial makes most of the gestures intuitive before you know it. The only difficulty I had was squeezing a list closed to reveal the group list view if a list only had two items in it. If you intend to just use one big laundry list, then there should be no issues. Its very quick and easy to add, move, delete or check-off items. If you need timed alerts or repeating alerts you’ll need to use a different app.

The NORAD color view is nice: things at the top of the list are marked in red and then they fade to orange and yellow but it doesn’t seem to ever fade to green or blue. I guess its always at a  state of alert.

It appears that by using iCloud you can sync lists between the desktop Clear app and your iOS device. At $9.99 for the desktop app though, I am a bit hesitant.

Currently, I use SimpleNote on my iOS devices with Notational Velocity on my laptop which is a free list/text solution but slightly limited. A full “premium” version of SimpleNote is $19.99/year. SimpleNote and Notational Velocity act as more of a text receptacle than a list-maker and I would say the same thing about Evernote as well. Clear is definitely a DO THIS task list-maker rather than a great big catch-all.

The iOS version of Clear is $1.99 and the desktop app is $9.99.

VSCO Camera App

Sample Images by Pugly Pixel

I don’t post much about iPhone apps as there are 100s of places to get recommendations and lists out there on the web. Occasionally, though, something crosses my path that seems good but not-so-well-known so I thought I’d share one such find. The app is called VSCOCam by Visual Supply Co. and it costs a whopping 99¢. It is a much more subtle camera adjustment app than Instagram or Hipstamatic with simple tools to adjust the intensity of the effect as well.

“Where are my keys?” “Where is my phone?”

If you have trouble locating your keys and/or your phone, this package from Bikn made up of sensor tags and iPhone case/app might just be the saving grace for your sanity. The sensors can attach to objects like keys, a camera, tossed in the bottom of a handbag, your work ID, etc. If you misplace an item with a sensor attached, you can use your iPhone and app to trigger the radio wave sensor that will beep. If you misplace your phone, the tags can “page” your phone. There is even an option for the sensors to beep if an item is outside of a predetermined range from 100 to 500 feet (great if you have a tendency to leave your phone on the bar).

The case and fobs can be color coordinated to match your iPhone 4 or 4s (no iPhone 5 version is available yet) and then custom color the trim on the case and fobs to your personal taste with a selection of six trim colors. The case does add bulk to the phone but not much more than the add-on battery cases.

This kind of peace of mind doesn’t come cheaply, the base sets sell for $99 to $129 but if you’ve spent 45 minutes running around trying to locate one or more of these items, the price tag might seem worth it.

(via PureWow)

Dodo Book-alike iPad Covers

This Dodo case with bamboo interior and classic bookbinding on the spine for the iPad is gorgeous but a bit pricey at $85. It will make your iPad look like the hardcover book you’re now reading digitally. Other colors and patterns available.

(via J.Crew)

I Drank the Kool-Aid: A quick review of the iPad Mini

ipad mini on

For as much as I love pen and paper, I am also a lover of gadgets and Apple has pretty much had my heart in its back pocket since the 80s. When Apple finally annonced the iPad Mini, I was on the fence. The starting price of $329 is likely to be a stopping point for many people. But I have invested in dozens of iOS apps, I have used the iTunes store for years and I’m fairly invested in the Apple ecosystem. But I was still torn… I’ve wanted a good multi-purpose ereader but wondered if I could “get by” with a Kindle HD or the new Nook HD with the considerably smaller price tag.

On Thursday night, I went to bed still debating whether or not the iPad Mini was a good investment or not. Then I woke up early on Friday and decided I’d go down to the Apple store and see if it was worth the hullaballoo.

There was not nearly the line at the Apple store at 8 AM that I thought there would be. After a ten minute wait, I was handed a “ticket” to purchase whichever iPad Mini I would like. I chose the black model 64gb. I’m tired of having to scrounge for space and since this is the wifi only model, I’d rather have more downloaded content available. If I was able to wait for the 4G LTE model, then a small flash drive would be acceptable. I made my purchase and ten minutes later, I was back in my car on the way to work — early even.

Thanks to iCloud, all I needed was a wifi connection to sync my new iPad Mini with the content that lived on the iPad I already own. The iCloud sync even replaced the wallpapers and moved all the apps into the exact same order as iPad. Wow. Its the automagical thing that Apple does when you update your desktop or laptop and all the content just gets moved to the new machine without the owner having to do anything. Its one of the things I love about Apple.

Once I got going, I was able to quickly overlook the lack of HD screen which is really the only downside of this device. Its easy to hold and easy to use to do whatever it is you want to do. I’ve already read a book and a half, read an issue of The New Yorker, gotten pummeled by friend in Scrabble and Letterpress, paid bills, checked email, caught up on Twitter and just got on with it…”it” being the daily grind of the digerati, as it were.

My case for the iPad Mini as an ereader is that I can use the Nook app, the Kindle app, library-lending apps, iBooks store and dozens of other options to get my book content. I can find the best price or the biggest selection without having to jailbreak my device. As for all the other apps and things I can do with the iPad Mini versus the other 7″ tablets, its hard to make a case. The Apple iTunes store has ALL THE APPS. Other platforms are adding apps all the time but the iOS has already become an established platform.

ipad mini and original nook

I photographed the new iPad Mini with my first generation Nook e-ink tablet for size comparison. The Nook is a smidgen wider but otherwise they are virtually the same size. The iPad Mini is thinner and lighter. Technology sure has come a long way in a the two-ish years since I got the Nook.

The size of the iPad Mini is also comparable to a large Moleskine Cahier — the A5-ish size. It fits easily under my arm on the way to a meeting without looking too ostentatious. I added my Targus stylus to test some drawing and writing apps and will report back if anyone is curious. So far, I have not run into any issues typing or touch-highlighting text. Thumb typing works well in portrait mode while setting the device down to type in landscape gives more space and a more traditional Qwerty typing style. I’m still faster on an actual keyboard but I can bang out an email, tweet or text messages more easily on the iPad Mini than on my phone.

So, my advice is, if you can afford the iPad Mini and have been waffling about the smaller tablets, just buy it. Buy once, cry once. If you can wait the alleged six month to a year for an iPad Mini HD (which everyone assumes will be coming), then do that as the screen is the only thing that holds the iPad Mini back from being utterly perfect.

Sensu Artist Brush & Stylus for Touch Devices

I was snooping around JetPens I stumbled across this unique item: the Sensu Artist Brush and Stylus for touch-sensitive devices. Using the brush end, it’s supposed to better simulate brush strokes in drawing and painting apps and then the other end is a rubberized stylus for drawing and tapping. I know a lot of artists are integrating the iPad and other touch devices into their creative process and I think this might be a cool way to expand the types of marks that can be created. $39.99.

Holler if you’ve used one and let me know how well it works!

Tech Accessories from Kate Spade

I know a lot of people think its ridiculous to spend a lot of money on a cell phone case or an iPad cover but, if you read this blog regularly, you may agree that sometimes its worth it to spend more for good quality and great aesthetics. It just makes the day-to-day dradgery a little more bearable.

A good example of this is the tech products available from Kate Spade. Sure, they are a little more expensive than products directly from Apple but not by much. The silicone Exclamation Point case for the iPhone 4/4s is $35 and the glossy, hard plastic 2-layer iPhone 4/4s cases are $40. I recently purchased the mulit-colored, polka dot  La Pavillion case which I really like and is aesthetically a step-up from my dingy Apple bumper that I had been using.

This USB ring is a fun little trinket for the chic-and-geeky girl. Its a mere 4gb for $50 but let’s think holiday stocking stuffers, gentlemen!

The “Notes to Self” iPad cover is a fun alternative to protecting your iPad and is not overly girly. Its pricey at $85 though. There is also a coordinating iPhone case at $40.

And I saved my favorite product for last. I have had a challenge finding earbuds that fit comfortably in my ears. The stock Apple buds do not work and the new earpods are also not in my future. I have been suing a pair of small Sony ear buds for about five years and have really wanted a new pair. Then I found these Kate Spade La Pavilion ear buds in a cute but understated polka dot pattern. They come with three sizes of silicone ear pieces (small, medium and large) and feature a fabric wrapped cord instead of the silicone plastic-coated cords found on most ear buds. The connector is designed to fit in an array of products and will work with any of the iPhone covers I’ve tried. Is it fabulous sound quality for $40? No, probably not but if you use ear buds to listen to podcasts, audiobooks or just to drown out the grating sounds of your office, then these will work just fine. They cost $40 and there are also two other color combinations available: pink/orange and purple/red which both have black-and-white colored cords.

Rubber-banded (iPhone) Bumper

Photo and idea by Tim Wikander

I’ve heard that the new iPhone 5 does not have much in the way of protective coverings yet. While you’re waiting to drop $30 on a case, why not try this simple hack to create a grippy little bumper with nothing more than a rubber band?

Photo and idea by Tim Wikander

(via Wired and Instructables)

Tired of the cable soup

As a bit of a neat freak, the swarm of white spaghetti on my desk everyday is making me twitchy. All the cables required to hook my laptop into  the ethernet, external monitor, power and wacom tablet are more than I can stomach any longer. So this morning I went in search of a tidier solution. Behold, the Henge Dock. It mounts your laptop vertically so all the spaghetti comes out of one hole in the back. The docking station for a 15″ MacBook Pro is $69.95. I found a review on MacWorld that suggested that the initial set-up is a little fussy but once all the cables are set into place, day-to-day usage is a breeze. The weight of the machine keeps the cables docked securely and the vertical positioning keep the machine better ventilated.

Is anyone using a docking station for their computer? Was it a good investment?

When bad things happen to good iPhones

Tuesday while I was walking to my car, precariously balancing a travel mug, my bag and trying to read Twitter all at the same time, my hand slipped and my precious communication device ended up flat on its back on the concrete parking lot floor. As it hit, I heard a distinctly crunchy sound. When I leaned to pick it up, I felt the results. Shattered. Crap.

So, I got in my car and drove directly to the Apple store. I did not pass go. I did not collect $200. When I got there, I was informed it would be a 30 minute wait before a “genius” could see me.

I looked at the bright-eyed young clerk and said, “Can you just give it to me straight? Can this be fixed and will it cost me $600?” She said, “Oh, yeah. it can be fixed while you wait and if everything is still working properly, replacing the back costs about $30.”

“Okay, fine. I’ll wait.”

About 15 minutes later, a young genius came over and asked me what I needed. I flipped my phone over. He said, “Okay. No problem.” He noodled with a couple settings and then disappered with my phone for 10 minutes. When he returned, I had a shiny new back and he even wiped all the dirt of the edge of my bumper. $28 plus tax and all was well in the world.

I was informed that, had I broken the front of the phone, the price would have been $150 to repair as all the delicate electronics are soldered to the touchscreen and the fonr glass. So, once again, dear readers, learn from my mistakes. If you don’t have a cover or some sort of protection on your phone, get some. Handle it gently or make sure you applied for the insurance policy. I managed to escape with the equivalent of the cost of dinner. I’d hate for you to suffer the same fate.

Photography Apps for your iPhone

Wired 20.06 photo app article

The newest issue of Wired (June 2012, AKA 20.06) arrived in the mail this weekend and I immediately scoured the “Our Guide to Photography in the Instagram Age” article (this content is so fresh, its not even up on the Wired web site yet but I’ll link to the article as soon as it does).

Photo Editing Apps: Wired 20.06

What I can do though is provide a list of the favorite camera/photography apps featured in the special section that also included some short reviews of various mobile phones based on the quality of their cameras as well as recommendations for higher-end cameras too. So, here goes:

Recommended by Cole Rise who created several of the most frequently used Instagram filters:

Recommended by Doctor Popular of Objective Scenes:

And just to throw in my two cents, here are a few of my favorites:

Also mentioned in the article was a company called Taplayer that has created several apps that utilize a Kodak Brownie-like look as well as TtV (through the viewfinder)-style filters.

Go forth and phone-agraph!

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