Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pho.to Lab Fun

Phot.to Lab PRO was free one day a couple of weeks ago.

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Documents by Readdle Solves the Upload Problem

A few months back, I wrote up a simple guide to the iPad and touted the powers of the app Documents by Readdle. My major beef with the iPad was the inability to upload and download files. Documents solved this problem, but only for documents transferred to the cloud. I wrote about the utter lack of local file sharing on the iPad. I was wrong. 

Documents includes local file sharing, as I learned by accident. I was trying a few other apps (unsuccessfuly) and followed their instructions to set up remote login and file sharing on my wife’s iMac. Both settings are in System Preferences and it did not take me more than 5 minutes to hunt down the checkboxes. The other apps could see the iMac for downloading files. None could upload files. I started up Documents to see if it too could download files, and to my great surprise, when I hit the “edit” button, I saw an upload “button”. It’s real. 

The only files available for upload are files in the Documents app. For photos and videos, this means first copying over content from the iPad’s built in photo library. There seems to be no way to copy over songs and podcasts from iTunes on the iPad. All other files must be opened in and saved to Documents. 

To test the upload, I used a 370mb video file. On our 802.11n wireless network, the transfer should have taken about 3 seconds at full speed. (My wife’s iMac is wired into ethernet). The actual transfer took about 10 minutes. At least it worked. None of the cloud storage services (not Dropbox, G-Drive, Skydrive, or Box) would take a file that big. Slowly and steadily, the days of tethering the iPad to a Mac or PC are ending. The next feature I would love to see is an app that will send uploads over WiFi to my Western Digital MyBook Live NAS. 

Pokey Card

My son wanted to buy more Pokémon cards. He has one now. I told him we should make our own. He said we cannot do that because they would not count. Then he slept on it and Saturday morning was dedicated to making our own cards. My son is on his second series already.

Pokey Cards

What Would Jimdo.com?

The limitations of the Jimdo iOS app are considerable. The alternatives to Jimdo, however, are similarly limited. With it’s one simple to use app, Jimdo.com has instantly become a leader in iOS web publishing. 

The Jimdo app connects to Jimdo.com, a website hosting service similar to WordPress.com or Apple’s old me.com (more on that below). First thing I tried when signing up was choosing “whatwould” as the site name. It was taken. The Jimdo.com site is fully featured and I can recommend it for anyone who does not want to deal with domain name registration and FTP uploads. 

error message

Though the desktop browser based editing of Jimdo.com is robust, the iOS app is not. On the iPhone, website posting and editing is limited to text, images, and image galleries. The iPhone app is completely shut out of blog or news style posting and widgets. Fortunately, the limited functions work very well. Photos are extremely easy to post and I could see Jimdo.com replacing sites touted as photo warehouses. Gallery posting is as easy as creating a new Photostream. Start a new gallery page, select the photos, and then wait for the upload. Unfortunately, like the ancient MobileMe galleries of long ago, photos can only be re-ordered from the Jimdo.com website. For once, I would like to see a service start out as full featured on iOS. In case developers didn’t know, there is a whole computer in those iDevices.

My standard for comparison is perhaps too high, as I will never be impressed with anything less than an iWeb like WYSIWYG website creator and full featured and super simply MobileMe like web hosting. For $99 a year, Apple once provided e-mail, web hosting, bookmark and keychain syncing, gorgeous web galleries, and 20GB of web storage on an internet drive you could actually mount on your PC or Mac. Because no good deed goes unpunished, folks called MobileMe a failure and Apple killed it. I dare you to find a service as robust as MobileMe. We like to think of the future as more advanced than the past and newer as always better. This is only true if we make it true.

You can see for yourself how the results can look at my Jimdo website here. And for a bit of nostalgia, below is a screen capture of the now defunct MobileMe galleries:

Maxthon, Messing up a Good Thing

maxthonThe Maxthon browser has many touted cloud features that I did not care about. My sole purpose for downloading the app was to use the screenshot tool. The only way to take a screenshot on the iPad is to either capture the entire screen or use an app that supports selective clipping. The app Scrapnote, for instance, has a selective screenshot tool. This app is not a dedicated browser so you can forget about syncing bookmarks. Taking a screenshot of the entire page creates added workflow steps of opening the photo library, editing the photo, cropping, saving, and then deleting the duplicate in photo stream. What is missing, then, is a dedicated browser that supports selective screenshots. 

The Maxthon folks almost got this right. For such a useful tool, the screenshot button is hidden in a drop down menu. Then you have to select either full screen or selective capture. There is no default setting.

The selective capture lets you resize a rectangle down to a minimum size, and this minimum size is more often than not larger than the image I am trying to capture. The whole point of using Maxthon is to clean up my workflow, and if I have to crop the image in the photo library, then the whole Maxthon experience is a waste. As the plethora of cats show, the minimum capture size is 4 cats too many.

As for the other features of Maxthon, the cloud syncing and sharing features, many of those tools are better implemented in other browsers.

Dolphin has integration with Box and Evernote. Mercury Browser has Dropbox.  Both support downloading. Both have bookmark syncing with popular services. And both are better looking and more functional than Maxthon. The funny thing is, nearly all the browsers on the iPad are really just front ends for Safari. The only difference is the features they present. All Maxthon needs is one good distinguishing feature. It does not have it.

EverClip, Making Evernote Work on the iPad

The problem is copying and pasting multiple items into Evernote on the iPad. This app solves the problem. For anyone who uses Evernote, EverClip is a must buy.

Plenty of apps, browsers, and bookmarklets support Evernote clipping. But these only let you clip one thing to one note. There are also the apps like Scrapnote and EleEditor that support clipping and arranging various things into one note, but the resulting note is a non-editable PDF. Then there is the cumbersome fall-back of switching between the Evernote and a browser. All of these solutions are terrible in their own way.

EverClip solves the basic problem in an elegant manner. Even on the PC, with a larger monitor and multiple window support, dragging and dropping is archaic. How much easier would Evernote be if it had it’s own web browser and clipping to support multiple items in the same note? The Evernote folks imagine the service as a replacement for scraps of paper. We users create tomes, replete with images, text, charts, tables, and links. The innovation that is EverClip is the support for combining massive amounts of information from disparate sources into one editable note. It works, just not without drawbacks.

Everclip takes EVERYTHING from the clipboard and saves it as little notes. The app runs for 10 minutes in the background before it must be restarted. There is a helpful notification when the 10 minutes are up. Tags can be set but the notebook destination is static, and I recommend creating a notebook just for Everclip. A minor limitation is not one of Everclip but of the tools for finding information to clip. As far as I know, there is no easy way to clip a portion of an image from a browser to copy and save in Everclip. PDFs, for example, are difficult to work with and require a combination of screenshots, cropping, and then copying form the Camera Roll. This is not the fault of Everclip but does show the continuing need for a comprehensive note taking program on the iPad that supports Evernote.

Though I will not knock an app’s rating based on price, I do have issue with the price here. Everclip does very little and is little more than a plug-in or helper program for Evernote. The iPhone version also seems to differ little from the iPad version, and the lack of a universal version seems more of a money grab than a technical limitation. Just sayin’.

Coolest Weapon Ever

My daughter played with K’NEX and my wife transcribed her soliloquy (I spelled that right on the first try).

I love how she has realistic expectations of success in her fantasy.

Coolest weapon ever