Leaving Medium

A little over a year ago, I switched my site to Medium. I read Marius Maslar and Drew Coffman and understood that Medium was a platform that focused on writing and exposing that writing to others. And while I think that is still true, I find Medium's changes to be at odds with that ethos.

If Medium is focused on having people read what is written, why do they adorn their web versions with John Gruber coined "dickbars"? The mobile reading experience has become very hostile, forcing readers to become users. This sounds more like Silicon Valley venture-funded thinking than the mission of a company focused on connecting writers and readers. It is focusing on "user engagement" instead of being a platform for writing.

I have switched away from Medium. Why? Because of the reader-hostile nature of their changes, for a company that is focused on writing and reading. Because of the company’s ridiculous release notes on their iOS app. Because of the company's need to change things just for change’s sake. Because of their lack of an explicit business model.

I have switched to Squarespace. Not because it is the most popular blogging platform. Plenty of people have complained about that. Not because it has the best API support. Because it has a business model that makes sense. And I am in control of my content without having to do a lot of work to keep the platform that I write on up to date. No patching, minimal security risks. It is in line with the belief that when working in IT, I don't need to use all of my IT knowledge on personal or home projects. Sometimes simpler is better.

Presenting from an iPad

Earlier this year, I was at the Cascade Users Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, not just as an attendee, but a presenter. This was my first professional presentation in front of an audience of technically oriented people. I was very concerned about how I was going to present. Not what I was going to present, but how. In previous years, I would have brought my laptop to take notes and present from. This year, being the year of the iPad, I decided to do my entire presentation from my iPad.

I used Keynote to develop the presentation. Given the multitasking and drag-and-drop opportunities, building the presentation was easy. Displaying it was still a question though.

Hannon Hill, the conference host sent details about the presentation environment, but I was not going to take any chances. Two is one and one is none. I wanted to do the presentation without being tethered to the podium. I have seen many presentation where the presenter was standing behind the podium, which I find boring. Additionally, I did not want to use a “clicker”. I figured there had to be away to just use iOS to complete the entire presentation.

It turns out that an iPhone can be used as a remote. I tested it at home and it worked perfectly, giving me a preview of my next slide and any notes I had. It seemed very natural to present with a phone in my hand. But, given the nature of my presentation environment, I could not be sure it would work.

Here is what I brought:

  1. Apple TV and HDMI cable
  2. Lighting to HDMI adapter
  3. PDF, Powerpoint, and Keynote versions of my presentation stored in iCloud
  4. A colleague who brought their laptop

As a last resort, I could commandeer my colleague’s laptop and use it to get my presentation done. This was the absolute last resort.

At the beginning of my presentation day, I scoped out the podium, the connections available, and watched how others presented. The venue had a technical crew which was very good, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. When it came time to setup for my presentation, I came armed with what I thought would do the trick, my 12.9 iPad Pro, a Lightning to HDMI adapter, an Amazon battery brick and Lightning cable, and my iPhone.

The setup was simple: iPad with HDMI adapter plugged in both to the battery pack and the HDMI in the podium. The phone was able to connect to the iPad via the conference wifi, but I was ready to setup my phone as a hotspot and have the iPad connect to my phone if the wifi was terrible. Luckily it was not.

My setup worked without a hitch.

Ultimately, I gave my presentation. Probably a little faster than I should have, but on the whole it was very well received. When I was done with my presentation, the venue’s tech crew came up and started asking me questions about how I had set up my presentation. They were impressed and took down some notes for future presenters. While I definitely saw more iPads being used for note taking and email, I’m pretty sure I was the only one using just iOS to present.

The Firstest of World Problems

I have been an original Apple Watch user since my lovely wife bought me one for Christmas 2015. While the Apple Watch Series 0 was too slow and too reliant on the phone, it was very close to the Dick Tracy watch or a James Bond gadget. When the Apple Watch Series 3 was announced, my wife said she wanted it. For her the addition of LTE connectivity was the piece that the Apple Watch had been missing all along. She wanted to be able to leave the house for a walk and still be reached, but without the temptation of walking with her nose pointed at her phone. For me, the Apple Watch went from being almost the Dick Tracy watch to the Dick Tracy watch, plus many of the gadgets that James Bond used.

On episode 41 of Cortex, CGP Grey spoke about having a day watch and a night watch. Using the older Apple Watch in a permanent night time setup, and the newer watch in a daytime configuration. So, when I recently upgraded to a Apple Watch Series 3, I wanted to do a similar thing. The Apple Watch Series 0 would be the sleep tracker and a silent alarm, the Series 3 would be my every day watch.

I have been having the firstest of first world problems.

When Apple has announced more frequent activity challenges, I was stoked. I had already started my “multi-watch lifestyle” configuration when the Veteran’s Day challenge arrived. Eleven minutes of exercise on November 11, was an easy challenge. I completed many multiples of 11 minutes of exercise and my achievement had not appeared, I was concerned. My wife had her achievement, my Apple Watch friends had their’s, but by 9 o’clock I still didn’t have mine.

I took off my day watch and put on my night watch. I started an “Other” workout, for 12 minutes, after which my achievement appeared immediately. My initial thought was that because the nighttime Apple Watch Series 0 was the first watch paired with the phone that it had some sort of primacy. This primacy didn’t impact the daily challenge of closing the move, exercise and stand rings, but some how didn’t allow for activity challenges to be accounted for.

Today’s Thanksgiving Day activity challenge proved to be no different. I dutifully completed my 5 km walk with my wife, after which her achievement appeared immediately. My phone didn’t show my achievement recorded. My day Apple Watch Series 3 didn’t show my achievement recorded. The Series 0 primacy was still in effect, even after migrating to a new phone, with the Apple Watch Series 3 being the first paired Apple Watch. That’s was the last straw. With the prospect of having to walk another 5 km, I was done with the “multi watch lifestyle”. I unpaired the Series 0 Watch, and handed it over to my brother-in-law. While he was getting the Apple Watch paired to his phone, I checked my achievements.

I am wondering if CGP Grey is still living the multi watch lifestyle, and if so, do his activity challenges get counted?

I am wondering if CGP Grey is still living the multi watch lifestyle, and if so, do his activity challenges get counted?

There it was. The firstest of first world problems solved. 

The Shelf

In his article iOS 11: iPad Wishes and Concept Video Federico Viticci wrote about an hopeful addition to iOS 11 which he called the “Shelf”.

There are times when you want to save something without necessarily dropping it into an app or sharing it with the clipboard or extensions. For better or worse5, macOS users can drag anything they want to reference later on the desktop (or any other Finder window); iOS has no such area that serves as a holding place for bits of content without an immediate destination. I'd like iOS 11 to bring a Shelf feature to the iPad that would let users clip anything with drag & drop.

More succinctly:

Think of it as a transient dock for temporary clippings, or, even better, as a multi-slot clipboard that can hold a variety of items and be consistently available across apps.

Having worked exclusively on iOS 11 for a few weeks, I agree with the need for this feature. Federico made a very specific assertion in his wishes for the Shelf: “The Shelf would be local to each iPad”. This is fundamentally wrong for someone who moves back and forth between iOS devices through out the day. I use a 12.9 inch iPad, a 9.7 inch iPad and an iPhone for everything, but I move between them constantly. Some tasks are better suited for the smaller iPad, most tasks are suited for the large iPad, but the device that I use the most is my iPhone. I need to be able to move fluidly between these devices so having the Shelf’s content locked to a single device is a non-starter.

With the official release of iOS 11 this week, developers making Shelf inspired apps have had their work released and reviewed. Ryan Christoffel wrote a roundup of the first Shelf inspired apps noting how each works. Some have more ability to filter and search, while others have a design aesthetic that mimic Apple’s design language very closely. The four apps that were included in the roundup follow Federico’s suggestion. I have tried almost all of them and they all have their own merits, but all lack of sync.

Today, the developer of Copied, a clipboard manager for iOS and mac OS, released version 3, which incorporates many of the features of iOS 11, including drag and drop to move items into the app. Depending on the type of item, drag and drop out of the app is possible, although files are not supported. It is not perfect, but I believe that Copied’s ability to sync may make it the right Shelf for me.

Download Copied for iOS