Support SaysBrad
  • (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    Anker

    This thing, you need. Run your smartphone for days.

  • Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen

    I use this cleaner for my iPhone, iPad 3, iPad mini and MacBook Pro. It’s great all-around and won’t mess up the oleophobic coating on iOS device screens.

  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Artic Silver

    If you’re having problems with your Adonit Jot capacitive touch stylus or Hex3 Jaja, you can improve its performance and reliability with careful application of thermal paste! For more on this, check out my capacitive touch stylus how-to fix-it guide. Months later (Sep 2013), my styli are still performing great!

  • Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot with Pixelpoint, works with a lot of new drawing apps on iPad.

  • Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen

    The stuff I use to keep my iPad screen nice and clean!

  • Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Studio Neat

    Awesome capacitive touch stylus created by Studio Neat. Great guys, great product. I use mine every day! Bradtastic Approved.

  • Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot Pro is an awesome capacitive touch stylus for iPad & other tablets.

  • Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    FiftyThree

    Even if you consider yourself a casual doodler or note-taker, you’ll love this well designed stylus. Built for Paper by FiftyThree, the iPad app — however, many other apps support Pencil.

  • Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Sportsman Supply Inc.

    Playing Cards for your password creation or poker game!

My Amazon.com Wish List
If you’re looking for an app, need personal or corporate branding, marketing material, an illustration, logo, sketch or design — there’s a Brad for that!

Entries in productivity (5)

Tuesday
Dec162014

iCloud Drive Sucks: Apple is Screwing Up

Presently, iCloud Drive is unreliable crap.

If it’s working for you, I’m happy for you and hope that it continues to work well. For me and probably tens of thousands of other people, files appear, disappear, appear but won’t open, take days or weeks to sync…

It’s a mess.

I’ve been working on more substantial, long-form content for this site and other things, but since iOS 8 and Yosemite, I haven’t been able to reliably work on documents on my various devices.

I prefer to work in Ulysses III/Daedalus Touch, iA Writer Pro and Day One, and all three worked great before the switch to iCloud Drive. Now I’m having issues with all three.

  • Ulysses/Daedalus — None of my documents from Ulysses III show up in Daedalus on iPhone/iPad. Waiting for a sync to spontaneously occur yields nothing. Tried the reset troubleshooting instructions; nothing.

  • iA Writer Pro — Numerous documents aren’t listed on iOS. They are viewable when using the iCloud Drive folder feature, but are gray and won’t open. New documents take over 20 hours to sync — some have failed to sync entirely.

  • Day One — After waiting weeks and trying the troubleshooting methods repeatedly, the majority of the entries have synced across the various devices. However, 14 entries from my iPhone 5S wouldn’t upload for another few weeks, and finally synced today. During this time, entries would appear synced and then disappear a day later.

To be fair, a lot of the first-party iCloud Drive features are working okay. Photos enter the stream much quicker, and that’s nice.

Additionally, iOS 8 is problematic in general.

Shame on you, Apple. I’m really glad that I never moved beyond iOS 6 on my old iPad 2, because iOS7 ran and iOS8 runs so poorly on the iPad mini (first gen). My iPad 3 has issues with iOS8 as well; random lag and crashes. For the most part, the iPhone 5S handles iOS 8, but there are still random crashes and occasional device restarts.

In an attempt to beautify the OS, you’ve made it slower and glitchier. Turning off the fancy visual effects makes for a minor stability improvement, but overall, iOS devices haven’t seemed faster than iOS 6. When I first received the iPad 2, I was impressed by the lack of slowdown and minimal (if any) wait times. Now, idling has become the standard. In many ways, it feels like devices have taken a step back. I really miss Steve Jobs.

It’s as if these new iOS iterations are designed this way to force people to upgrade to the newest devices every year — and yet most of their phone deals with the major carriers are based on two-year contracts and upgrade cycles.

While it’s a nice idea to have synchronicity across devices with iOS 8, I’d prefer speed and reliability. Ideally both is best, but right now, that’s not reality. Also, Apple removed the Camera Roll in favor of a new organization system; while some may prefer it, it’s not optional. This seemingly small change has serious consequences for many apps and is far less usable for me.

Apple, please don’t be like Microsoft. Put your customers first and you’ll continue to stay on top.

If you try to put short term gains in profit and market penetration ahead of the user experience, put the desires of shareholders ahead of the needs of the consumer, your supporters will begin looking elsewhere. As I’m sure many already have.

Friday
Oct182013

Notes Plus Review - iPad Handwriting Apps

An inkblog Bluetooth pressure sensitive capacitive touch stylus written response to a comment!
 

Yesterday October 17, 2013 was a pretty big day here in America — our lackluster government has resumed spending ten billion dollars per day and the default crisis has been averted postponed until mid-January.

But I also got a comment on my blog entry iPad mini note taking problems. I decided to write a reply in atypical, inkblogging fashion. Here's the comment by Jeremy.

What did you think of the Notes Plus IOS App? I've used quite a few low and high end stylus' with the app and have not been disappointed with the results. www.notesplusapp.com

 

Here's my handwritten 'ink' reply, with text transcript.

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! This is written in Notes Plus on my iPad3 (retina) w/ Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus. I've had the app for quite awhile, but never spent much time with it until recently. I really like the recent app enhancements and the close-up writing mode — its method for adjusting the writing box is probably the best I've used. [Note: referencing the app itself] I wish that it was either raster-based, or had cleaner line creation, more adjustability, more color options (or better colors), and finally, Bluetooth capacitive touch stylus support (for line thickness — pressure sensitivity). Jeremy, you've inspired me to work on a full Notes Plus review. Question: which stylus is your favorite, or what type of styli do you like, the soft tip, disc shaped [tip], Bluetooth, etc? Last, what iPad version are you using, and are you using iOS7? I prefer iOS6. I think that iOS7 slowed down my iPad mini substantially. I hope that you have a great weekend and I look forward to hearing from you!

 

It's difficult to simultaneously compose beautiful sentences and fiddle with legible handwriting, spacing and color, but it was an interesting exercise. I think that my quasi-cursive writing style looks pretty good; quality that I think would be impossible in either Penultimate or Bamboo Paper and probably many of the handwritten notes apps, with the exception of Noteshelf and Remarks.

The image at the top of this post was edited (just for fun) using Repix and Distressed FX — both apps downloaded free. I'm not very familiar with either yet, so I decided to combine the effects of each to gauge the results. Distressed FX is particularly cool; I think I'm going to use it more, likely in combination and conjunction with other apps such as Tangent and Over, for photos and designs.

If you're looking for a great app to use with a capacitive touch stylus and don't mind a vector-based app, check out Notes Plus. It has a great deal of features and a lot of options, but remains usable and straightforward.

 

Friday
Nov162012

3 Best iPad Notes Apps

I forgot that I wrote this last month for Halloween. I guess the colors are appropriate for Thanksgiving, too. Anyway, the information is still valid.

The three best note taking apps for iPad

  1. Noteshelf – Ramki
  2. Remarks - Write notes and Annotate PDFs – Readdle
  3. Infinite Sketchpad – AllTom

Noteshelf and Remarks are similar, but there are notable differences. Remarks uses some kind of vector line technology for its ink, while Noteshelf is raster. Both can export and notes in multiple formats (image and PDF) and both can backup to Evernote and Dropbox, albeit in different ways. Both Noteshelf and Remarks have a selection of paper types (grid, lined, dot grid, blank, etc) and zoom. Many users will likely choose one over the other, but there are distinct uses for both.

  • Noteshelf can send individual pages and export them, and has pressure sensitivity support — Adonit Jot Touch, HEX3 Jaja and Pogo Connect. Noteshelf has extensive color and line shape options (pencil, pen and calligraphy lines) as well as highlighter colors.
  • Remarks can automatically backup pages in a specific Dropbox notebook, a very handy feature. Documents can also be saved as annotated or flattened PDFs and opened in a myriad of other iOS apps, including Evernote, iBooks, Kindle reader, GoodReader and other backup services such as SkyDrive and Box.

If you're mostly drawing, sketching, and note taking by hand, pick Noteshelf. If you work with PDFs and want to insert images and audio recordings, choose Remarks.

Saving (perhaps) the best for last...

Infinite Sketchpad is a creative's dream canvas. This unique app is a must-have for sketchers, doodlers and planners; as its name implies, with Infinite Sketchpad, you can draw and write on a near infinite workspace with single-color vector pen tools. Incredibly simple, straightforward and intuitive, the incredible zoom levels, undo/redo, and lightning fast UI make Infinite Sketchpad the ultimate blank sheet for ideas. Files can be sent as images or published on the web as a scalable format that allows viewers to zoom in and out, exploring the document they would from the iPad itself.

If you do any kind of work on the iPad, consider these apps if you haven't already. These three are amongst the best notes and planning software for any platform, and should work wonderfully on the new iPad mini. Let me know if you have a different favorite note-taking tool!

Monday
Aug222011

Tablets... Game, yes. Work? Not so much.

Mo' blogging options, writing on the run

Even though the iPad market alone is worth like $20B (USD) and tablets are finally being taken seriously, even with millions of apps available on the App Store and Android Marketplace — with millions of people buying apps and downloads every second, still no one has released a decent (or better than) blogging app. There are serious gaps in mobile software.

Mobile gaming is different; there, there's at least six of everything. Anyone know exactly how many tower defense games are available for iOS? I've seen hundreds; maybe a few dozen great ones, twice as many good rip-offs of those great ones, and a plethora of crap. How many versions of Angry Birds do we need? Ten different racing games with the same cars, a dozen FPS offerings, hundreds of sudoku apps... seriously?!

Also, this micro-transaction, in-app purchases (IAP) business is frankly ridiculous — especially the pay-to-pwn model in certain games, such as Glu's Gun Bros. and its clones. The best items cost around $200 USD, and there's really no other way of getting those items other than spending cash. I understand the freemium model; make a game, offer it free, and people can pay for it in increments based on how much they enjoy it. Often, these games have no end, much like MMORPGs — the game is updated to add more, so to continue enjoying the game, players need to spend a few more dollars. Time management freemium games (farming games, building games, restaurant sims) usually offer some IAP that speeds up the process by offering instant gratification. "This plant will take 48 hours to grow, but for $2.50, you can have it now!" This is how hard-earned money is being blown spent.

Freemium is one thing, and some are fair enough that you can play without spending any money. But now there are premium games offering IAP "cheats." Example: Angry Birds offers an instant-win item for $0.99 — an Eagle that automatically clears any level. EA's Dead Space has a in-game store offering power node and credit pack IAPs.

The iPad is clearly a fantastic portable game console; dual processors, large multi-touch screen... there are Android devices with NVIDIA Tegra2 chips that have similar power. Beyond the toy factor, there are a lot of cool utilities and productivity apps. Also, mobile blogging has changed; people use the Facebook wall, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr to share media. That is blogging, though people might not realize it.

There's a market for and a demand beyond casual, social network blogging, however. There are some decent writing utilities for the iPad and some blogging services have released apps (WordPress, Squarespace, LiveJournal), but many of these apps are problematic and lackluster. The Squarespace app is the most complete that I've used (for blogging), but still far from perfect. None of the apps take full advantage of the capabilities of the services and formats. For writing/word processing, Apple's Pages comes close. I could've used it for work far more often if the app supported vector graphics.

I was on the fringes of the Tablet PC community that existed prior to multitouch displays, iOS, Android, Vista and Windows 7. People had inkblogs and used slate and convertible Tablet PCs as primary work machines. On the few occasions that I interacted with some of the GottaBeMobile guys and other tablet enthusiasts, I got the distinct impression that for some, the slate wasn't a passing trend, it was the Grail.

The iPad is my primary computing device. The iPhone 4 has filled my portable point-and-shoot camera desire. With the right software, the iPad could replace notebook computers; it's fast, has front and rear-facing cameras, wireless internet, decent memory and capacity, a good screen and keyboard support. Of all things, it's the apps (and lack of) that retard it.

Mail supports HTML, but it's only usable via copy/paste. The email editor is weak. Safari is restricted to nine windows as a form of tabbed browsing; this might have something to do with memory, but the iPad can run Infinity Blade and Safari with nine pages.

There are some great iOS apps; I've shared and reviewed a few, and with time, I hope this rant becomes irrelevant. ThinkBook is phenomenal, and I'm enjoying Writing Kit, Daedalus, Day One, iA Writer, Penultimate, Wunderlist and Idea Store. Evernote and Dropbox also work well, despite iOS limitations. I can do just about everything on the iPad... but where's Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator for iPad? Where's ecto or MarsEdit, Scrivener or Storymill? Where are the programming tools and font designers? Where's Firefox?!

It's great that the tablet market has made it possible for two-man teams to create and sell apps... I just hope some established developers start taking these devices seriously for something other than gaming.

Thursday
Jul212011

ThinkBook app for iPad Review

ThinkBook - Write, Plan, Outline and Take Notes ($4.99) is an iPad app by bitolithic that I’ve recently spent some time using, and I must say, ThinkBook IS AWESOME. I will get into app specifics, but first, I want to comment on the wonderful developer, @bitolithic. Emiliano Molina’s responsiveness, support, and attitude has been exemplary, and he is a developer that should be supported. bitolithic is also responsible for Comic Zeal, a universal comic app with great reviews.

Now, to the meat of the ThinkBook quick review!

 

ThinkBook has custom keys that are extremely usable; adding notes and navigating the app is a breeze.

ThinkBook is productivity application designed to organize large amounts of information (text) into usable chunks. The beauty of this software is that, by design, it’s as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be. You could use this app to organize classes, schoolwork, research, or your entire life.

If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward to-do list application, this app is probably overkill. It could be used to keep track of tasks, but task management isn’t its main strength. (Information on “Wunderlist” at the end of entry)

However, if you are working on a complex project, ThinkBook is perfect.

From the onset, ThinkBook can seem daunting. The learning curve seems steep. Fortunately, after spending about ten minutes with the app, I realized that it is a lot more intuitive than I’d first thought, and quickly fell into a productive rhythm with the program. Still, I recommend reading the built-in manual — to get the most out of the app. 

ThinkBook has a simple, powerful structure, built around a homepage called “Contents.” This overview page is just like the table of contents in an ebook — from here, you can jump to various pages and books within the app. ThinkBook organizes text on individual pages, and books are simply collections of pages. 

All of your text inside of the application can be found using the search tool on the sidebar. Further, ease of use is provided by a cursor on the righthand side of the screen; this tool allows notes to be moved around freely, and can be used to move entire pages as well.

 

ThinkBook is only going to get better. I have no doubt that Emiliano will continue to support his apps; bitolithic won’t disappear. Also, if you do end up getting this app, don’t hesitate to give your honest feedback — your concerns or criticisms will only help to make the app better!

You could also let bitolithic know that you read this blog entry ^_^

(For a wonderful FREE task manager, check out Wunderlist — available on all iOS devices, iPhone, iPad, as well as Android, Mac OS X and Windows PC. 6 Wunderkinder GmbH has also released a web app version. Wunderlist stays synced across all devices. Definitely Bradtastic Approved!)