Dictating Blog Posts on an iPad Air 2

I’m writing this blog post on my new iPad Air 2, using the WordPress iPad app and iOS 8.1’s native dictation feature.

The dictation feature is much improved. I love the way I can now see my words typed in real-time, as opposed to having to wait until I’m finished talking, click the “Done” button and wait for the iPad to process a lot of dictation at one time. I also like the way autocorrect suggests words when you tap an incorrect word. It’s still cumbersome to add links and images via the WordPress app, but blogging on a tablet is definitely getting a little easier. [Note- there was no way to search for and link to that prior post via the iPad app.  I had to save this post as a draft and add the link via my desktop computer.]

One nit I wish they would fix in the WordPress app is to add an option to insert two spaces between sentences. Like a lot of people, I learned to type that way, I think it looks better, and that’s the way I want to do it.

Photos are still hard. [Note- when you add photos via the app, it links them to the full-sized copy.  If, like me, you want no link, you have to edit the photo via the desktop, which breaks the photo embed and puts a huge, full-size photo in the post.  You have to delete it and reinsert it in the desired, unlinked size, from the desktop.]

Photos By Trail Camera

It’s getting easier to do some heavy lifting on your iPad, but we’re not quite there yet. Some of it falls on developers to take full advantage of the increased flexibility available in iOS 8. Apple needs to continue to make it easier for developers to write apps for complicated workflows and power users.

Microsoft Office (Sort of) Comes to the iPad



To much, too late?

As I noted last night, Office should have been on the iPad years ago. I suspect Microsoft was mired down in some combination of failed strategies: trying to force people to buy a (horrible) Surface tablet, trying to force people to use its online services (which even if we wanted to, we couldn’t find them because their names change every other week), and trying to drag people to its online suite of Office products, Office365.

They seem to have given up on some of those strategies, but Meatloaf was wrong. 2 out of 3 is not enough.

I’m simply not going to pay Microsoft $70 a year, forever, to use Word (the only Office app I really need on my iPad). Rather, I’ll continue to use Word on my desktop until someone completes the ongoing process of making Office completely irrelevant. Yes, Word has a stranglehold on corporate America, but Microsoft seems to have either ignored or given up on the rest of the potential user base. And here’s the other thing: the exodus from traditional computers to tablets isn’t going to stop just because Microsoft makes an offer that everyone can refuse. Having Word on our iPads would be good. But not $70/year good.

officeipadSure, you can look at Office documents without a subscription, but hacking up features like that is as unnecessary and disjointed as, you know, having a tablet with two different versions of Windows on it. If they want to require us to use OneDrive (NOTE: by the time you read this, its name will likely have changed again) to sync and store documents, OK. But you can do that without making us pay a never-ending subscription charge.

I’m not saying Office for iPad should be free. Charge for it. $10, $20, whatever. If people will pay 3 figures for the various iterations of OmniFocus, people will probably sell their kids to buy Word.

Even if I was willing to pay $70/year for Office365, that only allows Office to be used on 1 PC (don’t own one) or Mac (I use three regularly). Sigh.

I guess I’m glad Office is closer to being available on iPads. But it’s not close enough for me to jump.

Blogsy Breakfast

Since the day I got my iPad, I have been frustrated by how hard it is to write and publish a blog with it. The WordPress app is an exercise in frustration. Recently I have read a number of positive articles about Blogsy. So I’m giving it a try.

Initial impressions are very positive. Clearly it handles photos and videos well, accessing them via your Flickr, Picasa or YouTube accounts.

The holy grail of mobile blogging applications will always be adding links. Blogsy has a promising approach:

Select the text you want to use for your link on the ‘Rich Side’
Open the browser and find the site/image you wish to link to
Place your finger on the ‘Blogsy Link Button’ (the button to the left of the address bar)
Drag it to the text you selected.

Links will always be a challenge on a handheld, but Blogsy makes it about as easy as possible. Assuming this post shows up the way I intend it to, Blogsy will definitely become my mobile blogging tool of choice.

Snoozing Through the Xoom and iPad 2 Hype

I’m a regular of my iPad and used my Galaxy Tab a few times before concluding that it sucks.  As such, I keep an eye on the waves of new and updated tablets that crash, in varying levels of completeness, onto our shores almost daily.

I like the Galaxy Tab’s pocket-appropriate size

The two new tablets I’ve been most interested learning about are the new Motorola Xoom, because it comes with Honeycomb,  the tablet-centric version 3.0 of Google’s Android OS, and the iPad 2, because, well,  it comes from Apple.

Now that I’ve seen both, I’m a little underwhelmed.  There are things to like about both devices, but I’m not going to buy either one.  Here’s why.

But the iPad is more elegant and has better apps.

The Xoom looks really nice, and Honeycomb is a significant improvement over the current versions of Android.  But it’s too expensive, too big (I really like the smaller size of the Galaxy Tab) and, inexplicably, it has to be sent back to the manufacturer in a few months to be updated to the new 4G network.  Maybe it would have been better to wait a little longer and release a mature product.  There’s simply no way I’m going to buy some device, put all my stuff on it, become dependent on it, and then mail it somewhere to be upgraded.

The iPad 2 has some nice new features, like a faster chip and cameras, but it only added one item from my wish list.  I view it as a minor step in the upgrade path, and expect the next version, likely to be out next year, to have more material improvements to offer.  Like a better display, wireless syncing, etc.

So for the time being, I’m going to keep on using the tablets I have and wait for a more compelling reason to upgrade.

Why You Should Dump Your iPad

And why I’m not.

Vivek Wadhwa at TechCrunch sets forth the best argument I’ve ever read for dumping your iPad.  He sets forth various reasons, but it really comes down to three.  No useful way to use Microsoft Office, reliance on the outdated, ugly and unnecessary iTunes, and the lack of a camera.

As it turns out, I just returned from vacation.  10 days in God’s country (that would be South Carolina for you geographic heathens).  My job requires that I be generally accessible and have the capability to review and approve Word documents (for those who haven’t read Newsome.Org in a few days, no one in corporate America uses or in my lifetime will use any of the so-called Office alternatives, and any argument to the contrary is naive).

All of this left me with a packing dilemma.  I love my iPad and use it all the time.  I haven’t carried a laptop since I bought my iPad, and I haven’t needed one.  But I also hadn’t been away from home and the office for 10 straight days.

So I got nervous, pussed out and, along with my iPad, toted a laptop and all the related gear all the way to Pawley’s Island.  I felt more comfortable knowing that I could review and revise Word documents from the beach.

The thing is, I never used it.

image Sure, I was in contact with my office and clients every day.  But I did it all via email, on my iPad.  While the lack of Office is a big issue for iPads, there’s no denying that you can easily read Word documents.  It’s only when you want to revise or create one that the frustration level skyrockets.

And the fact is that at this point in my career, I’m much more likely to be reading, commenting on and approving Word documents than writing them from whole cloth.  And I found it to be easy enough (enough being the operative word) to copy and past portions of a document into an email, then paste such portion again below and revise it the way I wanted.

At the end of the day, many of my vacation emails read something like this:

“Change this part:

‘The problem with the iPhone 4 antenna is massive and should be the subject of a massive recall.’

to this:

“‘The problem with the iPhone 4 antenna is a partially a common cell phone issue exacerbated by an Apple design choice and largely bad editorial choices by lazy media.’

It’s not perfect, but it worked well enough for me.

So while the iPad most certainly needs a better way to work with Office documents (Microsoft being the only solution), and a camera or two and while iTunes is perhaps the worst application ever, I’m keeping my iPad.

But you’ll probably see my laptops on Craigslist before long.

Compression Depression & the iPhone 4 (Updated)

Yes, I stood in line for hours.  Yes, I’m a nerd.  And yes, the new iPhone is awesome.

One of the biggest reasons I was willing to get up at 5:00 a.m. and trek off to the dreaded mall is the new camera features.  Front and back, flash and high definition.

Which is all great.  In theory.  Unfortunately, I have run into two hurdles that are all but killing my iPhone video buzz.

Buzz Kill 1: Too Much Compression.

Videos shot on the new  iPhone look great, on the iPhone.  And it simply could not be easier to upload video from the iPhone to YouTube.  The big, massive, honking problem is that somewhere between the iPhone and YouTube the video is compressed so much, it looks like something from the nineties.  As in the 1890’s.

Here’s the way my test clip looks on YouTube.


Now on Vimeo

That’s a lot better, although it still looks a little grainy when you view it full screen (see the little icon with four arrows).  Why in this age of infinite cloud storage and broadband do we compress video at all?

There’s no excuse for over-compressing it the way the YouTube process does.  In a few years we’re all going to have the same dilemma we faced after initially ripping our CDs at 128 Kbps.  Those who forget history, and all that.

All of this makes the iPhone largely unworkable as a camcorder substitute, particularly if you aren’t near your computer, because. . .

Buzz Kill 2: No Easy Way to Move Videos

Even if I was willing to forego the convenience of an immediate upload and work with the native video files, there is no way to easily move video files off of the iPhone when you aren’t in front of your computer.  Sure, Dropbox lets you upload video files easily, but they are over-compressed before they are uploaded, even if you select the highest quality in the app settings.

32GB is a lot of space when you’re near home, but not when you go on a vacation.  And plan to take your iPad in lieu of a laptop.

There may be a workaround for this series of problems, but I haven’t found it yet.

I’m still mourning my buzz.


It looks like the inability to upload videos in HD over the air is a known and much bemoaned feature deficit with the new iPhones.  The man himself says we’ll be able to upload in HD “in the future.”

A commenter on the post above says that the Pixelpipe app will upload HD video to YouTube now, but I don’t have that app so I can’t verify it.

5 Features that Would Make the iPad Perfect

I’m now over a week into the iPad era, and I’ve figured out how to implement it into my work flow, which, as elegant as the iPad is, takes a little work.

But I’ve made a lot of progress.  My current mobile toolbox consists of my iPad, an Incase iPad Travel Kit Plus, my iPhone,  a small legal pad, one ink pen, some sticky notes and some business cards.


Overall, I think it is reasonable to believe that Apple has changed the portable computer game, the way it changed the mobile phone game.  For the better, and forever.

But It Can Get Better

Much like the iPhone, we can expect the iPad to get even better over time.

Here are 5 things Apple could do that would make the iPad absolutely perfect.  If these things were to happen, I would almost certainly never buy another laptop.  I may not anyway, but here’s how Apple can seal the deal.

1. Add a Phone

You read that right, and I am serious.  Now that I’m used to the iPad, working with my iPhone is very unfulfilling.  In fact, other than making and taking calls, I hardly ever do it.  Why not add a phone, at least as an option, so I could pair a bluetooth headset, and not have to tote my “iPad mini” around with me?

I would happily use my iPad as a phone.  I take it with me most of the time anyway.

In the absence of this feature, we can take another route, via VOIP, once the 3G iPads come out later this month.  And assuming Skype eventually assembles its widely disbursed ducks, takes advantage of the gift given by ATT and allows for calls over 3G.

2. Add Two Cameras

One on the back for photo taking, and one on the front for video chat.

I think this will happen, probably in the next iPad model (not counting the forthcoming 3G version).  The need for two giant batteries to ensure the all-day battery life is an obstacle to new hardware features, but technology will make all of this possible.

In the absence of this feature, developers can create workarounds.  I think Camera A&B is a neat idea, but if I have to do it the hard way, I’d actually prefer a bluetooth enabled hardware solution, that lets you take higher resolution photos and videos that get wirelessly transmitted to the iPad.

Paging Eye-Fi, maybe?

3. Add an Accessible File System

The biggest hassle with the iPad is the inability to move items to and from the hard drive, and to access, manipulate and save documents.  This is a massive impediment to Apple’s enterprise aspirations.  iPads need a better file system.

iPads, particularly my 64 GB model, have plenty of space for document management.  With the emergence of the cloud, there’s no reason iPads can’t be document masters.  Heck, I can already see anything I need via the most excellent SugarSync (sign up for an account through this link and I get some additional storage space).  I just can’t easily manage documents.

This is a software issue that needs to be addressed in the OS.  I don’t know if Apple has plans to do so, but it should be job number 1.

In the inexplicable absence of this feature, we’ll have to hope Google Docs continues to improve, and eventually gives us the ability to edit files from the iPad.  Why hasn’t this already happened?

4. Add Three More Speakers

musicnoteI almost never use headphones, but I love music.  Which means I need two speakers on two sides of my iPad, so I can have stereo in both landscape and portrait modes.  The sound and volume are acceptable now, so all we need is to make it come from more places.

Space, weight and price may be perceived as a problem, but some combination of technology and engineering should make this possible.

I’d pay double the current price for a more robust iPad.  And it’s not like Apple is afraid to charge a lot for its hardware, right?

5.  Add an SD Card Slot

I have decided I can live without a USB port, but I really want an SD card slot, to give me more storage space, and to help move documents back and forth.  Of course, this requires a better file system, which may be why we don’t have it now.

Bonus Dream

And now for fantasy moment.  How about tethering?

It doesn’t look like ATT is ever going to enable tethering via the iPhone (which is absurd on its face), so let’s go at it from the other direction.  Apple should require that all carriers who want to sell 3G service for iPads throw tethering in the mix.  Imagine an iPad with the five features described above, plus the ability to serve as a wireless hotspot for those instances where you have to use a laptop.

Five little things.  Maybe six.  That’s all I want.