iPad Pro 12.9″ + Pencil + Keyboard Cover

Looks like any other iPad from any distance

So I’m an iPad Pro user of the 12.9″ kind and I bought the pencil at the same time.  I have been happy with the combo from the first but it has only gotten better with each update of the software.  I take notes on it with penultimate and use various drawing even engineering aps with it. I have to say that for engineering CAD I still like a mouse better but I think that could change with an even bigger pad with the Pro+Pencile experience.

the miraculous Apple pencil (usage will vary)

Recently I started to work on upping my game by learning more about modern programming languages and techniques. I find that the explosion of on line learning assets is mind boggling and the LinkedInLearning (was Lynda.com) is an endless source of nerdly enjoyment. Along with SoloLearn and other toools the world is my oyster. Except that I still don’t like the on screen keyboard, especially when I have a lesson video and programming window open.

The nice if not perfect keyboard cover

I read all the horror stories and kudos and tend to side with the latter. The keyboard is actually pretty good for touch typing (and I know my stuff I write novels, several million words worth, on ThinkPads, sometimes Dell, I buy Leonovo because the keyboards are great and the chassis rugged.) THe package is short enough to sit easily on a tray or on my lapdesk. It’s not awfully heavy (just a awkwardly heavy) and I do in fact change covers frequently, using the plain one when I’m not planning on doing education or writing.

While the combo is not a laptop replacment it is a surrogate of sorts. I’m an addict I know it, I use up 50-80% of the battery almost every day I read fiction and history as well as watch/listen to educational stuff, I spend way too much time on Verge, Wired, Space101, Phys.org, Instapundit and others. With the pencil and the keyboard its essentially a library equivalent briefcase about the size of a thick magazine.

Macworld and others are saying that Pro2 is coming out in the next year, along with a 10.N” and mini 7.N.”, also rumors of a cheap seat. I have to wonder if this is really a refresh of the line, three or four sizes across that range makes sense and I think having the capability to use the pencil and a keyboard cover make a great deal of sense for the line. Not sure about the entry level rumor, does not seem very Apple to me.

Macworld also mentions that in 2018, when the iPhone is probably going AMOLED and possibly bezzless, the Pro line will as well. My question is why not the whole line though the potential for a staged role out of the technology like the alternate year tempo with the iPhone makes sense.

All I can say is that if there is a a New Pro in 2018 with AMOLED flex panel probably smaller overall dimensions and lighter…please keep the battery life the same or make it better…hear me Apple, please!?

iPad Next

Still waiting for the next iPad. Having used an iPad from its second year on I have decided that it really, really needs an update in the usage department.

What do I mean?
I really have tried to use my iPad to take notes and to do real work, I have a blue tooth keyboard but it requires a table for me to use and is one more item to carry.  Really one needs pen, audio as well as keyboard input, and to be honest I would like keyboard and mouse input because the damn screen is not as easy to interact with as a mouse for heavy writing/editing.

For note taking I worked with just a stylus with several note taker apps but the poor wrist rejection and poor accuracy of the stylus make the payoff poor given the effort it takes to use well.  I bought the Jot blue tooth stylus and its accuracy is absolutely abysmal and the ‘feel’ of the hard nib on glass just sucks.

My little Moleskin note-book is better than the iPad.  It would seem to me that one could create a very useful iPhone size note pad if the screen were a little draggy like pen on paper and the accuracy of the stylus was as good a pen on paper.

There has been commentary about tablet sales topping out, especially iPad sales.  I think that’s because a lot of people who thought they could use the iPad or equivalent as a more general computing tool have slid back to using it as a consumption device and that makes the cost of these high-end devices too high.

To pick up more users and re-energize those of us who have found ourselves slipping into a reader only mode the iPad needs to replace the note pad.  That means the useable surface needs to expand to something more like 8.5 x 11 and it needs to have a high accuracy high feel-quality stylus. Letting the Surface Pro 3 and the Galaxy Tab S go without a strong response will slide the iPad into a lesser position and let MS retain and perhaps expand its Business core. It could even kill the iPad Air sales entirely since for a pure reader the iPad mini is a better deal.

So I hope the rumour of a larger iPad is right and that it has the technology required for a high accuracy high  ‘feel-quality’ stylus.  Even better if they can do this on the iPad mini and iPhone I would expect them to be leading the pack again.

This is not to say that the non stylus start of the iPad was wrong or that the capacitive touch interface should fade.  You do not always have or want the stylus or pen, and learning the new touch interface was important but as the market matures and the users understand how they do and could use devices their wants/needs expand.  And as the Galaxy and the Surface demonstrate to some degree the stylus/pen is a needed adjunct.

One thought here, sapphire might be a very good material for the right type of ‘pen’ sensor, hard enough to allow one to use a metallic tip perhaps?


I gotta say it: The iPhamily refresh I want…

Have to say that the finger print sensor on the iPhone 5s is really a great idea and somewhat unobvious.   As always it was the quality of integration and superior tech selection that gave it the Apple imprimatur.20130911-121516.jpgNow we have a projected 4.5 – 4. 9 in iPhone 6 and possibly an iPhone max at 6 in, and iPad max (Pro?) at 12.9 in.  This is the Samsung version of innovation not Apples.

One of the things about the Apple sparked smartphone race is the well noted but sometimes missed integration of an absolutely crazy (by standards of 6 years ago) set of sensors in every unit.  The iPhone and its genetic descendants are sensor rich platforms that software, skins and blivets modify for an uncountable number of applications.

Apple has identified a key (and missed it with the 5c) people want ease of use, ruggedness, power and flexibility so they can personalize their technological jewel and use it to enhance their life.


Follow the logic:  Make it more general purpose, more flexibile, more rugged, more capable, easier to skin, easier to add plivets to, while staying bullet proof.

Sizes:   I would think about the iPhone/pad Family:  4″, 4.5″, 6″, 7.9″, 9.8″ and 12.8

Screen size:  I think apple needs to push the screen to the edge and around the edges of the frame [on the smaller models] at least on one side, to enable side scan and programmable side switches.

Physical buttons: Minimize, three in total all programmable though one will need a hard wired on/off/reset function.

Physical buttons, the center finger print sensor [an iconic item that got its start with the iPod. ] :  Bury it under the face and make it part of the functional screen, or make a cutout in the screen for it   [that would be a real game changer style wise and make the tech maximalists scream bloody murder. [Do it for the front camera and speakers and some would go up in spontaneous fireballs.]

Radio:  Every unit should have WiFi and Phone / Data functionality built in.  Work with the pipe suppliers to get them to do what they should want to do, enable the use of Phone/Data flexibly so people get hooked.

Protection:  The smaller units should have a sapphire screen to add even more ruggedness.

Cameras:  Apple, keep up the good work, quality over quantity and work with the guys who want to add specialist lenses to provide more and more camera functionality. The two cameras in the iPhone are key, critical tools in its bag.  I love photos, love cameras but they are doomed to become a relatively rare specialist device.

Speakers: Need to be better, stereo, along with stereo microphones to add acoustic sensing to the repertoire.  Maybe one should put the speakers on the face?

Inductive charging: not in already, really?  Understood its bulky but its needed for the next level of rugged etc.

Waterproof….ehe…the question is how to do the speaker connection (assuming inductive charging) I think one can make the connector waterproof and I don’t think its a problem unless you get salt water in it, in which case some kind of sensor to make sure its not leaking current. [I think that the audio jack is going to last a lot longer than maybe it should.  But I will hope Blue Tooth makes cable-less headphones the standard in 5 years or less.]

Oh well, guess I will wait to see where Apple goes, I hope they see their premier post PC tool the way I do.  Maybe they have even better ideas, we can always hope.


It’s a flavor of Linux, Ubuntu one of the big cat’s in the Linux pride these days with a little mousy desktop called xfce as the front end. It’s not exactly Windows or MAC OS but it’s a bit like both in some ways and different in others.

So why do I care? Well I have this old Thinkpad T42 I have done millions of words on (the A key is etched down into the plastic the S and D are mostly gone and the backspace is a bit finicky these days.  The Battery is long gone.  It’s run Window’s XP its whole life up till now.  But it and Office 03 ran slower and slower and slower as time progressed.  Around six months ago I got so fed up that I shut down the WiFi and stripped out all the superflous software anti virus, firewalls etc, etc.

This brought the T42 back up to being a very nice writing tool. But I had to sneaker net it and use my iPad as my web research link. This worked but I found that I was doing less writing since I have a life and getting into the frame of mind to write and keep at it can be a chore.  Any (even trivial) bump tends to make it feel less worthwhile which starts a viscous cycle.  Any one who has followed this log will have noticed my blogging has decreased over the past half year or so…this is the reason for that tapering off since the T42 is where 90% of my blogging got done (it’s where this is being written.)

I love computers but hate having to fiddle any more than I want to (ego centric I know) so have read about and wondered about converting to Linux for years.  So with a machine I love but was about to become a brick, I finally figured I would give it a hack.

Tried Ubuntu straight up but my processor is so old it is no longer compatible with the loader.  Saw some suggestions about XUBUNTU and gave it a wack.  Worked first time out of the box, even handles my beloved trackpoint mouse knob in the keyboard.

XUBUNTU loads a working computer’s tool set aboard as part of the install (this is actually part of xfce desktop) the choices come from the UBUNTU ‘app’ store.  Which also loads.   The Software Center looks a lot like the old Windows Software load/remove utility but its remote + local, tracking what is available as well as what you have loaded.  Really clean interface and the load of programs are useful full function tools.
xubuntu-logoIn fact I have only loaded a couple of other pieces of software.  One was CaligraWords to see if it was better at editing huge Word03 documents than AbiWord (it isn’t as far as I can see.) As well as a mind mapping tool, Feeplane, I want to try out for organizing some of my thoughts and ideas for my novels and posts.  But the best things so far is Variety, a live desktop picture system, it pulls photos off free sites on the Web and displays them as the background.  You can do all sorts of things, from leaving them as found to making them line drawings, but what I have found is that setting it as ‘oil’ brush stroke provides a remarkably pleasant but non-distracting background.  I contributed a bit to the jar on that one (and will be doing the same for xubuntu, AbiWord and others.)

I am not totally sold on Linux yet, but I have to admit that it has been a far simpler quicker and fun process than I had expected so far.  I hope it keep up.

Build your own device Motorola’s (Google’s) next cell phone play

Motorola Announces “Project Ara,” a modular phone hardware platform20131030-225519.jpg20131030-225530.jpg

Motorola has announced a free open hardware platform for smartphones called “Project Ara.” The goal is to create a modular smartphone that would allow users to swap hardware components at will. Motorola says it wants to “do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”

looks cool seems reasonable for the large geek, nerd, techie, metro, hip, individualist, contingents out there. Making it rugged and relatively ‘duh’ proof will be a challenge.