5/4/2018

Things We’ve Learned Going iPad Only

This week on A Slab of Glass Christopher and I dive deep into the things we have learned going iPad only, tips and tricks for people looking to do the same, and we discuss Drafts 5.

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5/4/2018

Jison Leather Pouch Bag Review

When Apple announced they were making sleeves for the iPad Pro I was excited. That excitement was then promptly squashed when I saw the price. I understand Apple wants to be seen as a luxury tech company, but spending over $100 on a sleeve for an iPad is a little much if you ask me (and most likely everyone else).

Soon after the announcement, and disappointment with the pricing of them, the idea of having something to put my iPad in besides a backpack left my brain. That was until Jison Cases reached out to me and offered to send me a case of theirs to try. I immediately wanted to try their iPad Pro sleeves with built in Apple Pencil pouch. It reminded me of the sleeves Apple released last year, except for a minor fraction of the cost.

This microfiber leather sleeve feels of supreme quality. I wasn’t expecting such a premium case from Jison since the price point was so low, but it is a welcome change to the lower-priced cases and sleeves I see on Amazon’s best-selling list.

The sleeve is made specifically for the iPads they advertise for, and it is perfectly snug if you put it in there naked.” I had a Smart Cover on my iPad Pro and it fit in there okay with a little force, but when I took the cover off it was clear that this was made with the exact specifications of the iPad in mind, with little room for more. So if you want to use the sleeve with your Smart Keyboard or a case it will have to be stored elsewhere in your bag.

I hope that Jison does make a case with a little more room in the future to accommodate for those people, but honestly I am more than happy to use mine as is since I use the Apple Magic Keyboard as my keyboard of choice.

But Jeff,” you may be asking, how do you prop it up without a Smart Cover?!” The answer comes from the Jison case, it is also a stand.

That’s right, this case has the ability to fold up, similarly to the Apple Smart Cover, and be used as a way to prop up your iPad. This can allow your iPad to sit up at a great viewing angle in both landscape and portrait mode if you so choose.

The best part? It has a magnetic connection when folded up so you don’t have to worry about it unfurling or collapsing on itself when you are using it to write, draw, or play games on. You can press on the screen without being a gentle giant with it.

The slot where the Apple Pencil goes acts as a bracer for the bottom of the iPad to push onto to prevent from slipping. Honestly, this sleeve’s versatility and functionality is impressive.

The Apple Pencil slot is also of great design as it holds on to the Pencil fairly securely but it has enough give to allow for the Pencil to be removed without much fight. It has a plastic topper to act as a barrier for the Pencil to prevent from sliding out of the sleeve. I did some testing with my Apple Pencil in the sleeve giving it a really good shake and the Pencil didn’t budge at all. It isn’t going anywhere unless you want it to.

This sleeve by Jison has a lot going for it and I am extremely happy to have one of my own to use. Everything about this has both form and function and that is something that it rare at the $20 price point it will cost you.

You can get you hands on a sleeve like this one over at Amazon, Aliexpress, or their official website.

4/24/2018

How a Talk at SXSW From 2009 Helped Me Be a Better Blogger

I listened to a talk from 2009 by John Gruber and Merlin Mann from SXSW about blogging, and it caused a carnival of thoughts to swirl in my mind. This is me trying to articulate them. I had never listened to this talk before, but because I started listening to the podcast Back To Work it made me want to listen to it as after being brought up so much in the first few episodes. I wanted to know if it still holds up, to see if the blogging platform is a shell of its former self. This talk couldn’t be more true today than it was then.

The talk, titled How To: 149 Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog with Credibility, was about an hour in length. Which made me sad because an episode of the The Talk Show can run twice that on average. I wanted more, I felt like there was a great deal more to learn from.

Why You Should Blog

It started with John and Merlin explaining one of the main points: to write about what delights you. To write about what you’re obsessed with. This main point would come up again and again throughout the talk. At one point Merlin would say:

How do you know that you should start a blog? People keep telling you to shut up.” - Merlin Mann

I can’t say I am not part of this group. My fiancé is tired of me talking about Apple news, working on my iPad, and my feelings on productivity. It is something I have obsessed on in some capacity for years.

After this, they talk about how you can’t, and probably shouldn’t, make everyone happy. Merlin says it best when he explains how he admires John because John’s voice and passion outweighs any obligation to make people happy. He doesn’t go out of his way to upset anyone but he also is steadfast to continue the path he feels is right. This is something I think I lack, and that I should be more assertive at times. Too often I try and be a cheerleader and suppress my negative feelings on certain things, and I think they are valid concerns I should be addressing. I don’t plan on making this blog a place to gripe and complain all the time, but there is a place for that concern and the feelings I have.

Finding Your Audience

Next on their list is finding an audience. Gruber explains his ideal reader is another version of me.” The crowd laughs, almost as if to say he can’t be serious,” but I feel the same way as John. I write on Tablet Habit because I imagine myself reading a blog like this that I never started. I imagine myself looking for a place that has similar feelings on Apple, iOS, and using an iPad as a main computer. That is my main motivator for writing here. There are other factors at play, but they are all distant seconds to the strong feelings I have to write about what delights and, at times, upsets me.

Make something really kickass and try to impress the people you really love.” - Merlin Mann

When Merlin said this, I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement. This is something I have felt for as long as I started podcasting back in 2009. Find someone you want to impress, and ask yourself every time you hit publish if that person will like it or think it’s garbage. If it’s the latter, do better. If it’s the former, send that thing to everywhere you can.

With that said, it is important, they say, to not try and piggyback off someone else’s success. A great example they provide with this is Ted Koppel, who found success as a broadcaster during the Iran hostage crisis. It caused the ABC show Nightline to be made, and it elevated Koppel to be one of the most well know journalists in that era. Side note: Nightline continues to be a great program of long-form news that I find to be more digestible than anything local or national news programs make today.

But the point they bring up, originallly made by Ira Glass from NPRs This American Life, is that you can’t be Ted Koppel, he already exists. I can’t be John Gruber, or Merlin Mann, or Federico Viticci, those people already exist. What I can do, as they explain, is to learn from their work and try the things they did to get success. This goes for anyone looking to have success in a creative field, whatever your definition of that may be. Learn, but don’t emulate. Take their work and learn how they do the things they do.

The New Printing Press

Gruber then mentions an old saying:

It is great that we have freedom of the press, but the only people that really have freedom of the press are people with a printing press.”

He goes on to say that everyone has a printing press now thanks to the internet.” This is a point that especially made me think.

I worry that the golden age” of blogging is behind us. I feel that it was great to have this ease of disseminating information when the internet was more in its adolescence back on 2009. The internet is now a giant gorilla dwarfing every other piece of media day in and day out. The internet is no longer where the cool kids are. It’s where corporations, national news, and conglomerates come to spread their message. Is the internet killing the little guys like the printing press did so long ago? I thought so at this point in the talk, but that soon changed.

When to Get Serious About Your Work

All of these pieces of advice and truth are great, but the most poignant point made throughout this was when Gruber took out a sheet of paper and explained that this was an email that Merlin Mann forwarded to him just before the talk. It was an email from a 20 year old kid” asking Merlin what he can to to get serious with his blog. What Merlin said came down to 3 short and direct pieces of advice:

  1. Give away more stuff than you think you should, and make it easy for people to get.
  2. Focus on diverse secondary revenue streams and always have your new and replacement ones.
  3. Don’t do stuff that seems profitable, but potentially messes up the reason people like you.

Not only is this advice sound, it is timeless. You could tell someone today these three things and they would all still be worthwhile. This isn’t just for bloggers. Artists, writers, journalists, painters, photographers, and YouTubers can take this advice and go a long way with it. Then John said something.

The internet is awesome, it is totally fucking awesome. It is not just that we all have a printing press now … it is that we can do it better.” - John Gruber

This is what made my worries of corporations on the internet go away. Both Merlin and Gruber explained that corporations and big business are still failing to be anything other than giant billboards on a small screen. They don’t give anything away, they don’t offer the value indie bloggers give on a daily basis.

Making Money

Finally, the two talk abut money and making a living on what you create.

Don’t become too obsessed with the thing you want to make money on.” - Merlin Mann

This is probably the best quote to summarize this section. Money is important, but if you first think about wanting to make money and then start a blog, podcast, or something else creative it will almost always fail to meet your expectations in the time frame you set. If you instead flip it around and make something you love and then think about how you can make money with it your odds of success dramatically increase. There is no guarantee that you will make a living, or even a nickel, doing what you love but if you have a solid foundation the chances that house you build collapses on you decreases exponentially.

Final Thoughts

This talk, 9 years after it was first given, is still timeless and something I think anyone looking to seriously create a blog, podcast, portfolio, or YouTube channel. It manages to give you actionable advice while also providing the higher level of thinking necessary to make sure you are doing things the right way with the right reasons.

If you want to listen to it you can do so on 43 Folders, or just download the file directly here.

4/19/2018

Link Blogging and Me

Matt Birchler of BirchTree.me talked about using block quotes and link posts recently and it got me thinking.

Why I Love Link Blogging - BirchTree

The web allows us to create content that is connected with the rest of the web. Everything we do, especially us writers, is kicked off by something someone else said, and we should embrace that. Make your blog a part of a conversation, not an island that feels like you’re just doing this all on your own. None of us are, and we should be proud of that.

Honestly, Matt hits the nail on the head with this one. Link blogging is a very standard way to build off of other bloggers and cite them as you expand your own thoughts. It also allows you to make internet friends with other awesome writers, and when you have people to work with and bounce ideas off of, they can be there to help you out.

I have decided to start posting more link posts on Tablet Habit because there are so many awesome bloggers out there, and I want to join their conversations and join this community rather than be an island” all alone.

Blogging was something I did as a side-project to step away from podcasting. Since then I have started 2 podcasts (Getting Caught Up and A Slab of Glass), which is a story in itself, but writing here on Tablet Habit has become my favorite outlet for my creativity and continues to push me to do bigger and better things. For instance, I am publishing a free ebook of my favorite apps to get work done on an iPad at the end of the month. This is something I never would have done if I hadn’t started Tablet Habit.

Matt is a blogger I found through someone else’s blog and/or Twitter, and I am happy I did. I hope to find more awesome writers in the near future as well, which is where you can help.

If you know any other bloggers feel free to let me know in the comments below, or over on Twitter. You can also email me if that is your preferred method of contact.

I want to build up my RSS list with more awesome bloggers, so feel free to send as many as you want!

If you want to read the rest of Matt Birchler’s post, you can do so here. Check out the rest of his stuff too if you like it. His daily podcast is a delightful way to start your day off right!

4/18/2018

Cool Things You Can Do On Drafts 5

This week’s Workflow Wednesday is kind of an audible, but Drafts 5 was released today and I wanted to share some of the cool things you can do with it. There are a slew of great reviews of this out there (like MacStories by nahumck, and Christopher Lawley’s video). So I am going to let those fantastic people share their reviews and thoughts on what the app has to offer while I show you some really cool things Drafts in their Drafts 5 directory.

Send List to Things

I recently hopped on the Things 3 bandwagon, and so far I am loving it. However, I am not a huge fan of not having native multiple task input support. Meaning I want to be able to add a ton of tasks without having to input them one by one. This is where Drafts comes in.

With this handy action you can make a list and each new line is seen as a new task. So if I have a ton of things on my mind I want out and captured in Things 3 I can do so with just a single swipe and tap!

Run Workflow

I have spent a ton of time in Workflow, and I love the things I have built. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, Drafts has a handy action built in that you can simply have it run a previously built workflow. All you need to do is edit the action and put in the name of the Workflow. Make sure it is exactly the same, otherwise it will error out, this is one of those times where it is case-sensitive.

One workflow I have is to post Markdown text I’ve written as a Wordpress article. So with a quick tap Drafts takes the work I have written and takes it to Workflow to send to my blog. Super handy for the quick linked-posts I do from time to time.

Micro.blog

I have spent more and more time on the up-and-coming IndieWeb social media service Micro.blog. It has become a safe-haven for me to turn to when I wanted to leave Facebook and spend less time on Twitter. I find the community great and it has functions to send out my posts in Micro.blog to Twitter so I can kill two birds with one stone.

Drafts makes it even easier for me. Now, I don’t even need to open the app to send out a quick post. I can just type it out and then send it through the action and the rest is taken care of. This is why I love Drafts, I can quickly send out a post, a tweet, or a message to someone, and then keep right on trucking with my work.

Event in Fantastical

I love Fantastical and their amazing natural language input they have, it makes adding calendar events fun again. But what is even easier is typing it out in Drafts and sending it to Fantastical 2 to sort out for me.

All I do is write something like Coffee with Jim next Thursday at 9am /p” and it sends it to Fantastical with the name Coffee with Jim” scheduled for next Thursday at 9am in my Personal calendar. Boom, event added. The /p” portion is part of Fantastical syntax that takes the /“ icon and a letter or two written out

Save to File as

Drafts 5 has cloud syncing and auto-saving feature with this app, but sometimes I want to keep a backup of the long posts I write in it, and plain text is my preferred method.

So, I have an action that takes the text I wrote in Drafts, it then prompts me to enter the file name I want. It defaults to a .txt but you can change the filetype to .md or .rtf if you so choose. For me .txt is fine so I leave it. From there it opens up the Files document picker and allows you to save it to any folder in iCloud, or other 3rd party cloud services you have turned on in the Files App, and save it. Now you have a backup of all your hard work!

Conclusion

Drafts 5 is an app I have tried out for testing purposes, but it has easily become one of my absolute favorite apps on iOS. It allows me to get things out of my head and send them out when I want to. I no longer spend my mental RAM trying to figure out what I want to do first, the n what to say.

Drafts makes the process a complete 180 from what it was. Instead of trying to find the app to use, then working on what I want to say, I now can work on getting my ideas and writing out of my head first then send it wherever it needs to. I just tap the app in my dock and dump what’s on my mind out of my head and it’s saved for later organization.

For me, this is how things should be when you have ideas and creativity: a frictionless workspace.

If you want to get Drafts 5, you can download it on the App Store. It is free, but if you want all the features you’ll have to go Pro. It is either $19.99 a year or 1.99 a month. For me, I am paying the $1.99 a month because it allows me to pay Greg more money then $19.99 a year. That is how much I love this app.

4/12/2018

How To Clean iPad Smart Keyboard

When you are working hard and doing the important things in your day you can find that your iPad Smart Cover might not be in the pristine condition as you would hope. Things like crumbs, dust, cat hair, and other residue on your keyboard can make the typing experience less than ideal. This can be easily fixed with some water and a couple of paper towels. So let’s make a clean iPad Smart Keyboard.

How to Clean Your iPad Smart Keyboard

One thing you can do, according to Apple, is get a damp cloth (or in my case a paper towel) and wipe the Smart Cover to get any residue or dust off the device. Once you do that you will want to get a dry cloth or paper towel and wipe away any water off the devices before they cause any damage.

Make sure your iPad is not connected to the keyboard. Once you start cleaning the keyboard don’t be shy with getting in between the keys. I found using some elbow grease really made the difference. Don’t use all your might to clean this but don’t be afraid to press down on the keys to scrub off whatever is on the keyboard.

I also found that having a clean microfiber cloth also helped get those pesky pieces of dust and cat hair off the keyboard. In my case, I had a microfiber cloth I got at my local Dollar Store. If that doesn’t work the first time around I would give it another go with just a little more water.

One thing I cannot stress enough is that the cloth or paper towel you use only needs to be a bit damp. It doesn’t need to be sopping wet, a dab will do you. While the Smart Keyboard is water resistant, there are small holes on the back of the keyboard to vent air out of the keyboard every time you press a key.

So if you can’t stand the dust and hair stuck to your keyboard, give it a quick once over and make it shine like new again.

Tablet Habit is a website created by Jeff Perry