The Friction-free iPad

I’ve owned an iPad since shortly after the device debuted, and I swore that I’d never use a keyboard case. I had a MacBook Air to use when I wanted a portable device with a full keyboard. I also didn’t like the idea of turning my iPad into a Frankenstein device, with accessories bolted onto it. My thinking on this has recently turned 180 degrees, though – I’m now sporting a new Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case on my iPad.

What caused the change was a reevaluation of my priorities, and a change in my gear. Previously, I was all about portability. I wanted my iPad to be thin and light. Lately, though, I realized that I wasn’t using my iPad as much as I could have been, because I have an unhealthy aversion to using onscreen keyboards.

I also have gradually upgraded from an 11 inch MacBook Air to a 13 inch Air, to my current 15 inch MacBook Pro. With a three year-old in the house, I don’t just grab my MacBook at a whim. There’s something about that glowing Apple logo that draws my daughter to it, with her little hands grabbing for the screen and the keys.

The iPad, on the other hand, was something I could open up and use for a few minutes here and there. That’s become even more common now that I have a bluetooth keyboard case on the iPad. I had a document to work on over the weekend, and did most of it in 10 minute spurts several times over the course of the weekend. That wouldn’t have been possible for me before.

There are compromises with having a keyboard case on the iPad. The most notable compromise is that the iPad is heavier, and not as comfortable to use in bed. I’ve found, though, that if I keep it open in landscape mode, with the keyboard on my lap or chest, I can use it without even noticing it. Another issue is that the iPad doesn’t stay on the stand that I use when eating breakfast in the morning. My solution is to just open the iPad up in landscape mode now.

I’ll see if this setup sticks for me. Right now, though, I like be able to use the full power of my iPad, wherever I go.

Mac Clean Install Checklist

With about every other OS X release, I perform a clean install on my main Mac. There’s a good overview on how to perform a clean install at OS X Daily. I’ve gradually worked up a checklist in Evernote for what I need to remember to do both before and after the install is complete. Here is my checklist.

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Open Safari Pages in Chrome With a Keystroke

Adobe Flash is a notorious resource and battery hog. I’m currently seeing if I can get by in Safari on my MacBook without it. I had been using an extension to selectively enable Flash in Safari, but I wanted to see if I could live without Flash in Safari entirely, and just jump over to Chrome (which comes packaged with Flash) when I absolutely needed to see a page that used Flash. All of the solutions that I found online involved Applescripts that were throwing errors for me, until I jumped into the Keyboard Maestro Yahoo Group and found a script that worked. I’ve paired that with Keyboard Maestro, and can now use a keystroke to open the currently active Safari tab in Chrome.

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OmniFocus 2 for iPad – First Screenshots and Release Date

Yep, that image you see above is a screenshot of OmniFocus 2 for iPad. OmniFocus has been my task management app of choice since early 2012. I use it on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The Mac and iPhone versions have both received updates since I started using them, while the iPad version has been stuck with the “old look.” The bigger drawback of the current iPad version, aside from the look, is the lack of background sync. That means that the app currently only updates when it is active.

All of that should change soon. Ken Case, the Omni Group’s CEO, recently tweeted the above screenshot. In a tweet containing another screenshot (see below), he also announced that the Pro version will let you customize your sidebar with your own perspectives. Finally, he also announced via Twitter that the Omni Group is hoping to launch the app on September 17, if iOS 8 launches on that date.

Now I’m really looking forward to iOS 8. How about you?

Here is the second screenshot, showing a settings page:

PopClip – iOS-style Text Manipulation on Your Mac

PopClip sample

Mention the convergence of iOS and OS X, and many Mac users contort with rage. The thought of OS X moving toward iOS is viewed by many as “dumbing down” the desktop system. There are ways in which OS X can become more efficient by borrowing from iOS, however. One way is through text manipulation, via an app called PopClip. On iOS, if you select text, a little box pops up above the text, with options that are dependent on the context in which the box was invoked. Choices could include Cut, Copy, Paste, text formatting (bold, italics, etc.), or more.

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LastPass Security Flaws Disclosed

The link below takes you to the best explanation I've seen on two recently disclosed LastPass security flaws. A few thoughts:

  1. The Bookmarklet vulnerability is the more serious of the two problems, but its exploitation would be difficult – you'd have to be on a rogue or compromised site, and then use the bookmarklet to try to log into that site. Less than 1% of LastPass users use the bookmarklet. Still, I'd venture a guess that most exploits come via compromised sites, so maybe this is a bigger problem than it seems.

  2. The One Time Password vulnerability would be unlikely to cause a problem, as someone would need to target you with your username, and even then the person would only have access to your encrypted data.

  3. Most concerning is how long it took LastPass to disclose these vulnerabilities after they were patched- about 10 months. The LastPass blog post made it sound like the company was giving the researcher a chance to publish his findings first. Sounds like PR spin to me, with the company having no choice but to discuss the fixed problem after the researcher disclosed it publicly.

I've been using 1Password since the start of the year, but I was a devoted LastPass user prior to that. I fell into the “less than 1%” of users who used the bookmarklet. In fact, the bookmarklet is what I miss the most in 1Password, as it made browsing in Safari on iOS much easier.

Despite the way LastPass seems to be downplaying this, this one is a serious stumble that should give users pause. Still, I think a password manager like LastPass is a much better alternative to the way that most people handle passwords.

LastPass security holes found by researcher, says password management firm – but no need to panic | ESET Welivesecurity Blog

The Death of Aperture. Good news?

If you didn’t see the news today, Apple will be ceasing development of Aperture when the new OS X Photos app is released next year. At first blush, this seems like bad news for Aperture users. ApertureExpert has an interesting take on the news, however, that actually has me feeling hopeful for the future of the Photos app. The Photos app as a hub for your photos, with iOS-like extensions allowing any other app, including Lightroom, to interact with it? Count me in, if it comes to pass.

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Easy Paragraph Selection in iOS

This is one if those tips that makes you wonder what else about iOS you don’t know. I had been doing this the hard way – tap and drag those tiny handles. Two finger tap doesn’t seem to work in all apps that I tried, and certainly is easier on an iPad.

Use a two-finger tap directly onto the paragraph to instantly select the entire paragraph or group of contiguous words.

 

Thanks to OS X Daily for another handy tip.

Select Paragraphs & Large Text Block Easily in iOS with a Two-Finger Tap | OS X Daily

Universal Search In OmniFocus

Sometimes I complete tasks almost unintentionally, in a reactive manner. Someone might call me on the phone, for example, and the conversation takes care of a task that I had previously set up as an action in OmniFocus. I then need to hunt down the action to mark it as complete. If you use the OmniFocus search box, your search would only search the Perspective currently in focus. I wanted to create a quick and easy way to perform a universal search, so I could find my tasks more easily.

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1Password for Windows Version 4 Is Here – First Impressions

1Password for Windows Chrome browser extension

AgileBits released 1Password for Windows version 4 today. Some quick first impressions:

  • The browser extensions are the real sweet part of this update. As the AgileBits blog summarizes, “[y]ou can drill down to view vault items, search your vault, access your Favorites, change extension settings, and, of course, it’s still just a single click to open a new site, fill your credentials, and login.”
  • Folders and favorites now sync between platforms. If this was present in version 3, I missed it. I noticed for the first time today that folders created on my iPad and Mac were showing up in the Windows app. In the past, my Windows install sort of sat on an island of its own with respect to folders and favorites. No longer.
  • Multiple vaults. For some time, I’ve wanted to cull out rarely used passwords, and put them into a separate vault. I’ve held off, since using multiple vaults was cumbersome, if not impossible, on Windows. It’s easy now.
  • Watchtower support. On the Mac version, AgileBits introduced a feature that alerted you to sites where you had a login, and where the site had a security issue. That is now in the Windows app. Unfortunately (through no fault of 1Password), the list of sites is pretty long.
  • The Windows app still isn’t as visually appealing as the Mac or iOS apps.
  • I still can’t get universal unlock to work. Even if the Windows desktop app is open, I still need to login via the browser extension. This has been a problem for me going back to when I started with 1Password at version 3.
  • If you purchased 1Password for Windows in 2013 or later, the upgrade to version 4 is free.

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