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Category: Life and Lessons

A Mini-Review of the new 10.5” iPad Pro

I picked up a new 10.5” iPad Pro last weekend and I figured it might be fun to put some thoughts on virtual paper now that I’ve spent almost a week with the device.

The tl;dr is that this is the best Apple device out there. Period. It’s really quite amazing and (for me) pretty much replaces a laptop for everything I want to do outside of work, and also some of the stuff I do at work too.

The Hardware

The 10.5” model is a new screen size for the iPad, sitting between the 9.7” regular iPad and the 12.9” iPad Pro. Truthfully, I considered the larger iPad Pro and really thought it would be the one I would choose. But some time with both at the Apple Store left me thinking the big one was just too big for what I was after.

If I didn’t have a work laptop, I would probably opt for the bigger one, but since they provide me with a 13” MacBook Pro, I have that power and screen size when I need it. Holding the larger iPad feels just a bit too big for things like couch surfing or writing a blog post in bed.

The Apple Pencil is an amazing device, especially paired with the new 120Hz ProMotion screen on the iPad Pro. It’s really uncanny how much it feels like you are literally writing with a marker on the screen. I don’t think I’ll use the Pencil a ton, but I’ve been grabbing it to make some quick notes in meetings, and for annotating pictures and screenshots. It’s excellent.

The Smart Keyboard is my favourite accessory. It takes a consumption device and turns it into a creation device. The keyboard is a bit small, compared to the MacBook Pro, but it’s big enough and I am able to type quickly and accurately on it. In fact, I’m writing this post using the iPad Pro, the Smart Keyboard and the WordPress app for iPad.

iOS 11

I upgraded both my iPad and my iPhone 6S to Developer Beta 2 on Friday and the new multi-tasking features and dock really extend the iPad’s capabilities as a laptop replacement. Being able to flick up from the bottom of the screen to show the Dock, and then touch and hold to drag a Safari window into split screen is pretty slick.

I haven’t done much with the new Files app yet, but taking screenshots (like the ones in this post) and dragging them in is intuitive. The old way of adding photos from the camera roll was okay, but this is much more like macOS.

It’s a Laptop

Using the iPad Pro like a laptop makes you realize it’s a laptop. Keyboard shortcuts like Command-Tab do what you expect. Command-Space brings up Spotlight which works like Alfred or Spotlight on the Mac does (a quick launcher). In fact, most of your favourite keyboard shortcuts like cut/copy/paste just work. You can even go back to the home screen with Command-H.

The Upsides

Battery life is amazing. It goes for hours and hours and hours. It’s super light and portable, especially with the keyboard cover removed. Even with the cover on, it’s quite light and slides into my bag and feels “barely there”. The Smart Keyboard is more than usable on my lap or on a desk, table or counter.

The screen is…amazing. Bright, crisp and clear. It’s an incredible display that’s readable in sunshine, or indoors at night.

The Downsides

Coming from a 13” MacBook Pro (late 2016) to the iPad, I did run into a few things that get in the way of being able to say it’s a full laptop replacement.

Safari sometimes gives you the mobile version of a website, and things like pop up seat checkers on the Blue Jays website sometimes don’t load properly. Occasionally I find the 10.5” screen a little small and wish I hade just a bit more size to work with. Split screen apps give you a pair of iPhone-sized interfaces vs. getting two iPad mini versions of the app.

Final Thoughts

The iPad used to be the computer for people who didn’t need a computer. It was perfect for email, light web surfing, and games. My parent’s love theirs and Ginny gets by with her 9.7” iPad fairly well. But the new 10.5” iPad Pro, with the Smart Keyboard and iOS 11 takes the iPad and brings it much closer to being a “real” computer.

Most people will find the iPad Pro to be a very capable small laptop. While there are a few things that might have you wishing you had a full laptop, the portability and flexibility of the iPad easily makes up for that the rest of the time.

I’m super happy with mine and expect to get a ton of use out of it.

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The End of Social Media

Crazy prediction time: I think 2017 will mark the year that social media began a significant decline.

I’m seeing many blog posts and stories on the mainstream media about people checking out of Twitter, Facebook and other services. Millennials already don’t use them in a lot of cases and Generation X is getting a clue as to why. It’s a waste of time, energy and it’s terrible for your mental health.

My own experience with quitting recently has been positive. I don’t miss Twitter, and I never really cared for Facebook anyways. Instagram is still enjoyable, but that’s a carefully curated stream of photos of things I want to see and nothing else.

Imagine if Twitter declined to the point that it was no longer relevant. Would you miss it? I think the only thing I thought I was giving up was the ability to get news updates and real-time information about services I use like the TTC and some web services.

It turns out that most of that was noise. It seemed useful, but in reality it was a stream that contained far too much useless and unimportant information to be really useful. I thought I needed to know, but the truth is, I didn’t.

Here’s a challenge for you: go a week without using Twitter and/or Facebook. After seven days, honestly assess whether you’ve gained or lost from the experience.

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I’m Out

I think I’m done with social media.

I don’t check Facebook anymore. The app is gone from my phone and the bookmark is gone from my browser favourites. Every one of my “friends” has been unfollowed. In Facebook parlance, that we are still “friends”, but I don’t see any of their posts, likes, and other Facebook activity like article shares.

I held onto the Facebook Messenger app since some friends use that to contact me now and then. I’ll check a lone Facebook group now and then for the Sunday running routes.

On Twitter, I’ve unfollowed pretty much everyone. My timeline consists of TTC notices, and tweets from a few select people and services whose tweets I find interesting. If the TTC provided those notices some other way, I’d probably kick Tweetbot to the curb as well. I’ll see if I still check those updates. I think I probably won’t.

What I used to see on Facebook years ago is vacation photos, some updates on friends lives, a birthday, some pics of a dog or cat, maybe a Dailymile run or two. You know, actual stuff that I’m interested in hearing about so I can get a glimpse into the lives of people I care about.

What I get now is endless shared articles, mostly political, hurled into a vast echo chamber. For years I’ve been carefully pruning my Facebook feed through the “hide all from website” feature. Hide all from BuzzFeed. Hide all from Huffington Post. Hide all from OMG Facts. You get the idea.

It’s become too much. Despite my constant pruning, Facebook insists on showing me article after article about how the world is ending, and how society is breaking down around me.

Do I blame Facebook? No. Because that is literally all it has to show me. That’s all people post these days. See an article, share on Facebook. Comment. Like. Shake head. Rant and rave. #whatever.

Twitter is the same thing.

OMG, this is INSANE! Retweet some celebrity going on about some cause. Someone died. RIP. So sad. Some company gave me bad service. Call them out with “Hey @starbucks…” so everybody knows that Starbucks messed up my latte in some awful way. RT to try to win some contest.

I’ve been guilty of some of this over the years. It’s too easy to just type out 140 characters and send it out into the world without thinking whether a) it needed to be said, or b) anyone either read it, or cared.

I write a blog post, link to it on Twitter, see a few likes, and when I check analytics, it turns out that nobody actually read the post. What’s the point? There isn’t one.

No time to actually read or learn or investigate or come to your own conclusions. Read clickbait headline, retweet and like. Repeat.

The value of these social networks to me has been diminishing and a tipping was reached where I don’t think the value I get out of being a part of it is greater than the cost I’m paying in time and mental health. Ironically it was #BellLetsTalk that really pushed me over the edge and got me thinking about quitting.

I’ll keep my accounts for now, but don’t expect any posts on Facebook or Twitter from me. If you need to reach me, Twitter direct messages aren’t a good way anymore. I’ll be on Signal, iMessage or Facebook Messenger (if you must).

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Ignorance is Bliss

If something really upsets you and there’s nothing you can do to effect change, then ignore it. Seriously.

Refugees in Europe, gay marriage hating clerks in Kentucky, Donald Trump, Cecil the Lion. The list of things we’re supposed to get outraged about on social media is never-ending.

It’s making you sick

Here’s the thing. This stuff is making us sick. Sick with worry, sick with outrage, sick with concern.

But in most cases, there’s literally not a damn thing you can do about it.

The refugees will keep coming to Europe (and more will die trying), and it sucks and it’s terrible. That clerk in Kentucky will probably never get it and stupid politicians will raise her up like some sort of hero for Christians everywhere. Donald Trump might become President of the USA. And Cecil the Lion is dead and never coming back.

A simple choice

The choice you have is pretty simple. Continue to make yourself angry about things you can’t change, or filter out that crap from your life so you can focus on the things you can change.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about refugees, or equality, or politics, or animals. I’m saying focus your energies on the things around you that you can impact.

Can you change the plight of refugees trying to get to Europe? Probably not from where you sit right now. Tweeting about it, or sending an email to some government leader does nothing. So either get off your butt and go over there and actually do something, or expend your energy on something you can change.

Being outraged about something you are helpless to change is simply not good for you. If you can’t help but get outraged, then go step away from the news and from social media or filter that topic out.

You’ll be a happier person, and more able to effect change around you to really have an impact.

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T-Minus 7 days

This time next week I’ll be in Portland, Oregon for my second XOXO Festival.

It’s an experimental festival celebrating independently produced art and technology. Their words, not mine. I’d call it an eclectic and thoroughly enjoyable mix of people, tech, arts and culture.

Hover, where I work, is again a patron of XOXO which means we get to give them a small pile of money to help them put on the festival, and in return we get brand awareness, and some free passes. I think the free passes are the best part.

LowerRaise your expectations

15033972729_e122c3a177_zLast year I didn’t really know what to expect, and came away blown away by all the people I met, and the great talks I attended.

The XOXO Fest YouTube channel has many of them if you want to get a taste for the experience. That said, the videos fail to show all the stuff that happens when everyone isn’t sitting in a big auditorium (or the abandoned factory that was the home of XOXO 2014) listening to one person talk.

This year, I’m going in with higher expectations (sorry Andys, I know that’s heavily discouraged). Thanks to a very active XOXO Slack chat, I know a ton more people than last year. And the #toronto group in the aforementioned Slack has already met in meatspace at Nuvango‘s HQ in the Junction.

Things I’m looking forward to, in no particular order:

I’ll try and write daily here, while I’m there.

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