Friday, May 04, 2012

Three weeks with the new iPad

Awhile back I posted about being a freelance tech worker. Here's another tech related post, originally posted at my MacProductive Blog. For anyone living remotely in a small space the iPad is a perfect choice for computing and for many it may be the best Internet access available.

It's been three weeks with the iPad 3. By necessity it has been my primary work machine. Due to the remote location of my cabin/office my internet choices are limited. My first generation iPad was jail broken and I used it as a hotspot for my MacBook Air, my primary tool for web design projects. To be honest most days that first-generation iPad was used primarily as a hotspot. When my workday was finished I would use the iPad for reading books, RSS feeds via Reeder or browsing the web with Safari but that was about it. With the new iPad I have not been able to jailbreak and so it has become my main tool for getting things done and I am happy to report that it has held up well in this role.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago in my iPad 3 Mini Review the increased RAM in the new iPad has made it a much more functional device and I don't hesitate to switch apps as I work. In fact, thanks to the increased memory, switching between multiple apps is instantaneous. Unlike the first generation iPad, this new iPad truly feels like a powerful computing device.

I've compiled a list of my most used apps thus far. A typical day includes the following tasks:

  • Client website updates
  • Website design, ie, coding CSS and HTML
  • Correspondence via texts and email
  • Project and task tracking
  • Writing
  • Invoicing and basic banking
My most often used apps:

  • Safari and Reeder
  • Textastic
  • Mail and Messages
  • CloudConnect
  • Wunderkit and Calendar
  • Blogsy, Wordpress, and Writing Kit
  • FileMaker and PocketMoney
A few notes

One area I'm still not settled on is task and project tracking. I had been using Wunderlist but switched to Wunderkit in the hopes that some of our community projects might be better coordinated with shared projects. Unfortunately I’ve not had a lot of success getting folks on board with it. As of now there is no app for the iPad so I do most of my Wunderkit tracking via the web app which is not too great on the iPad. The iPhone Wunderkit app is actually pretty good and I may begin using it more.

Another part of my workflow that is a bit clumsy is image creation and editing which still requires that I go to my Mac for Pixelmator or Photoshop. Once I've got the image set there I turn on the iPad's wifi and get the file via CloudConnect. Then I turn off the wifi and upload the file to the server via 4G and CloudConnect. Photoshop Touch has very good reviews so I'll likely give that a try soon.

Other work related apps that I have but don't use very often include Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. I can't imagine not having them and I do expect that they will get a good bit of use.

Dictation

Though it's technically not an app I have to mention the importance of the new dictation feature. With the original iPad I felt I had to have an external keyboard. I am a very fast typist and using the software keyboard frustrated me. To be fair, I didn't really give it a chance. The dictation feature in the new iPad has been an amazing benefit to my productivity. It makes sending emails, texting, and even writing articles much easier.

Conclusion

As much as I enjoyed my first generation iPad for reading and casual email, it was never a work tool for me. With so little memory it felt more like a casual device. On the few occasions I tried to use it to get things done I often ended up frustrated. Not so with the new iPad! This is a very capable device easily up to the task of getting actual work done.

 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Video Tour

In celebration of my four years here at the homestead I thought I would share a little video!

Four years at the Homestead

It has been almost 4 years to the day since we began work here at the lake. In fact my first post was made on May 5, 2008 just after completion of our outhouse! It has been an amazing four years and we have come a long way. We built my cabin by mid May 2008 and I moved in on the 24th though the cabin wasn't finished until the end of the summer. That first summer was spent cleaning up damage from a tornado that happened two years earlier, putting in 12 fruit trees, and the first garden. Because we had not hooked up the electricity I spent the first couple of months hauling water from the lake for the fruit trees and the young garden. In the late fall we hold in another cabin.

The following spring we built the chicken coop greenhouse and in early summer we built the kids' cabin. The garden was expanded and more fruit trees were planted. The chickens arrived!! I also began work on the native wildflower Garden in front of my cabin. By the fall of 2009 I had begun to design and implement the various food forests. In addition to the fruit trees I added currants, gooseberries, paw paws, and a fairly large blueberry patch.

In May 2010 we added onto my cabin with a covered front porch and I finished my rain barrel installation. It was another hot, dry summer and I struggled to keep my garden alive. In the fall I began construction of my hugelculture beds. Another big fall project was trenching in our water line from the well house to our two main cabins. We also added onto our well house with a shower house and sleeping loft. Kerry and Greg's cabin was redesigned and the interior nearly finished.

2011 was a summer of refinements and revisions. We finished the interior of the shower house and out house. The interior if Kerry and Greg's cabin was finally finished as well. This was a laid-back summer, we swam a lot and I tried to keep the garden alive! The hugelculture beds performed fantastically.

That about sums it up. It has been a fantastic four years and this place is now my home, sweet home. I am looking forward to many more years here!