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This is the personal blog of Don McAllister, the host and producer of ScreenCastsOnline.

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Is this Still On?

It's been a while since I posted but I thought I'd best check back in. I've found myself with a hour or so after rescuing my Mac from not booting. Ended up having to re-install Mavericks from the recovery partition, but that's a story for another time. Thought it best to do a quick clone of the boot drive now that the machine is back up!

I had considered changing the blog to more of a link blog, but I think the new Google+ community page seems to be the best place for that.

So this really should be the place for my longer posts? I think?

I might take the opportunity to upgrade to the latest version of SquareSpace and see what the new iPad tools are like. The current older SquareSpace client isn't really up to much, so it will be interesting to see how they've improved things.

Anyhow, if you're subscribed to the blog, hopefully you'll see a few more posts from me in the near future. It would be difficult to post any less :)

Stay tuned!


New iWork and iLife Apps

Time to bite the bullet.

There are certain things I need to use the older versions of Pages and Numbers for, but as of today, I'm going to make a concerted effort to switch over to the newer versions of the applications. I'm also going to seriously start using the iCloud storage capabilities of each app and see how I fare. 

Some of the changes in Pages I can't live without for specific reasons. The main ones being the ability to create merge fields and linked text boxes, two features I use extensively when creating the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly magazine. But I still have Pages 08 on my machine, so I'll revert back to that when doing magazine production work. 

I noticed a few issues with copying and pasting in the latest version of Numbers but I'll need to re-visit to test it properly. I use Numbers very infrequently and not for anything too complex. 

I only use Keynote sparingly and only when I need to deliver a presentation, so I don't envisiage any major issues adopting it. I have seen some complaints about a lack of customisation in the Presenter Display options, but they should not affect me.

As time goes on, I'm seeing less and less complaints about the new versions of the apps, and seeing more comments on how people are finding them easier to use, once any functionality issues are worked around.

It will be interesting to see how it goes, epsecially as I need to start formulating my approach to covering all the new apps on ScreenCastsOnline tutorials.

My current thinking is to tackle each application on a weekly basis in both the Mac and iOS show. So one week, cover say Pages for Mac on the Mac show, and in the same week, Pages for iOS on the iOS show.

Seems reasonable, but I will probably throw in some none iWork and iLife shows over the next month or two to break things up. 

I'd better get working.





Syncing iPads?

So now I have a new iPad Air and a new iPad mini. All in the name of research of course!

Both machines are wonderful, but each has a specific role for me:

The iPad Air tends to be my main iPad when at my desk, or when I need to use the keyboard for extended periods of time. 

The iPad mini is my travel iPad and the one I turn to when away from my desk. 

I could use one quite easily for both roles, but hey, I need to keep up with the latest and greatest. 

So my first world problem is how to keep them in sync. 

Yes, I know I can sync new apps quite easily. That's built into iOS. I just switch on automatic downloads for Music, Apps, Books and Updates and everything new will be pushed to both iPads. However, if I delete an app off one of the iPads, it will remain on the second iPad.

I'd also like to sync my home screen layouts - re-arrange on 1 iPad and the changes in icon positioning and layout are reflected on the other. 

A current Twitter stream suggests that Apple Configurator could be the answer, but I'm not sure it would acheive what I really want - it may be a half way house though. 

iCloud backup/restore is also a potential half way house solution - Configure one of the iPadsd as I want it, do an iCloud backup and restore to the second device. Again, it will establish a common starting position, but over time, things will drift. There is also the issue of user data. It can take quite a while to restore data and there's always the issue of re-entering some passwords and re-authorising apps in the restored version. 

I just want changes on one to be reflected on the other in real time and automatically. 

Not a major problem, but as iPads start to become more popular, I'm sure others will have the same (nice to have) problem!

iOS8 perhaps?





The iPad Pro?

The iPad Pro, when it inevitably arrives, might be defined by a larger screen, TouchID and other hardware enhancements we may not yet be aware of.

However, it shouldn't be the hardware that defines it, it should be defined by the software, and what the software allows you to do on the new device.

Much as I love my new iPad Air, and am in awe of the tremendous power under the hood, the constraints of the current single application mode of working in iOS stops me from using the iPad as a primary personal computer. The compromises and effort required to do anything but the simplest of tasks, relegates the current iPad to a secondary device.

A very useful one, but for my workflows, I could never use the iPad as my primary device.

This post by Kyle Baxter nails it...

...iOS still hews closely to the one-app-at-a-time, app-as-silo concept that began with the iPhone in 2007. For some purposes, this actually makes the iPad a better tool than the PC; the iPad’s limited ability to multitask makes it easier to focus on writing or other focused tasks like sketching. But it also significantly constrains what’s possible on the device. Writing an email or article that references a website or note, or doing any work that requires looking at one application’s content while working in another, requires flipping back and forth between applications, which makes for an excellent test of patience. And there is virtually no support for allowing two applications to work together on a single task by passing data between them.

Where Does The iPad Go From Here

Hopefully iOS8 will bring the necessary features required to elevate a future variant of the iPad to a true Pro machine.


EverPix Noooo!!!!!

Is it me?

First Zang Zing and now Everpix. 

Zang Zing was a great web based photo sharing service that I subscribed to and covered on ScreenCastsOnline. It had great integration with various services and allowed you consolidate all your photos in a single service. It was great!

It closed down in 2012 and I was bitterly disappointed. 

Then Everpix came onto the scene. Similar to Zang Zing but much better. It allowed you to consolidate all your photos from many different sources and de-duplicated them for you. No more worrying if you had uploaded this picture or that picture in Aperture or Flickr, Everpix took them all and sorted them for you. Heck, it even allowed you to send photos directly from your iOS device camera roll.

It had a great iOS App that enabled you to access all the de-duplicated photos from your iPhone and a really neat "highlights" feature that emailed you every day. 

It wasn't perfect but it was headed in the right direction and had huge potential. I was more than happy to pay from an Annual subscription. 

Yesterday they announced they were closing down. 


Such a brilliant service was unsustainable using the business model they had. Basically, they weren't getting enough paying subscribers to maintain the business and to pay for the hosting. In effect, you could get unlimited photo storage for a single annual payment or just $50 or pay nothing and get unlimited storage of all you photos for the past 12 months. 

In hindsight, the pricing was completely bonkers!

Such a shame as it really was a fantastic service. 

The failure wasn't the tech, it was the unsustainable business model. 

I wish that startups would figure this out at the beginning. When the writing was on the wall with Everpix, they should have approached the existing customer base. I would have been happy to pay significantly more than I was paying to keep the service alive. I would have happily paid pro rate based on the amount of storage I was using.

Stop expecting the paying users to subsidise the free accounts, or if you do, price it so it's sustainable. 

Dropbox did it for goodness sake.

Now the search for an alternative - I don't think I have the stomach for another small player, I think I'll just have to put up with Flickr for now. 

Absolutley gutted!