🔗 iMessage and Outrage Theater

Matt Birchler: … anyone who is shocked by these “revelations” is either not paying attention or is pretending to be shocked. I agree with every word in Matt’s post here and, of the above statement, I’d definitely say it’s the latter option. There’s a strange aura around Apple and it’s fandom where people faint like a Victorian in too tight a bodice when they read a statement that reminds them that Apple are a business.


Solving a Problem That Doesn’t Exist

Isn’t it amazing what our brain decides is important sometimes? Instead of laying here at gone midnight getting some much needed sleep, I’m instead thinking about email. Or, more specifically, email services. Yes, I’ve hit peak exciting …

If my timeline is anything to go by over the last few days, I’m not alone. It sounds like quite a few people are considering dropping Hey and switching back to other alternatives. I’ve blown hot and cold on Hey since signing up almost a year ago and, seeing as my renewal is fast approaching, I’m back to considering if I get any benefits from using the system.


Change for Change Sake

A few months ago I switched from using Google as my default search engine to Bing. I’ve been surprised by the results, and have stuck with it ever since. While I value privacy and advocate for people to have more control over what data is collected from them and in turn used on them, this wasn’t the reason for the switch.

I also fairly recently switched my main email account from Gmail to HEY. Again, privacy was not really a factor here. Gmail worked really well for me and, to be honest, email gave me zero issues or anxiety before switching so Hey, for me, is not really filling any niche I needed filling. So why change it up? Well, I’ve come to realise that I just like change for change sake. I find myself changing from service to service, not for any real perceived value, but just to try something new. Even if that new thing is inferior to the thing I was already using.


What I’m Playing - iOS Edition

I’ve always been a big fan of games and gaming, ever since my family had an Atari ST back in the day. I built a gaming PC last summer and have been enjoying the Switch and Xbox Series X since launch. One area of gaming I’ve been dabbling in, to one extent or another, has been on iOS, however.

The iOS ecosystem is absolutely chocker block full of a huge swath of games, with varying degrees of quality. It’s often difficult to find the gems, or games that haven’t been completely crippled with in-app purchases (IAPs). Because I’ve been having a lot of fun gaming on my iOS / iPadOS devices recently I just wanted to share a few highlights of some particular current favourites. I emphasise current because this is not a ‘Top 10 iOS games’ list, simply some games that I’ve been enjoying a lot of recently. So without further waffle, on with my Now Playing list for iOS.


Make All Your Books an Audiobook For Free

I’ve written about this before, but given the amount of times I’ve moved my blog around, I think the post has now been lost. Some recent changes in the latest iOS 14.5 reminded me about it, however, so I thought it was worth revisiting.


🔗 Greg Morris - The value of your words

Greg, writing on gr36.com: They don’t deserve to die and fade away once the newsfeed scrolls over them. Tweets don’t last, that’s part of why they feel so easy to write out. It’s why you feel so comfortable. Twitter is “just heading to yoga” it’s not for passing on your ideas. Place some value on your words, please. I’ve been debating internally about whether to write this post or not.


Stadia’s Death is Greatly Exaggerated, Sort of!

It looks like Google Stadia is not long for this world.. I’d like to be wrong, it’s an interesting idea, but stories circulating like this end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. The seeds of doubt are sown, and then Google is left with an even greater uphill struggle to encourage people to still invest in the platform.


Blogging with Hey.com

Love it or loathe it, the team behind Hey have some very interesting ideas and, now that Hey for Work has shipped, they seem to be pushing out a lot of updates again. While this isn’t a shipping feature, as yet, this post from the co-founder Jason Fried sounds really intriguing:

One of the guiding principles of Hey, to me, seemed to be some simplicity and relaxing of email norms such as inbox zero and the like, so a blogging platform in an email service does, at first glance, seem a bit odd. It is, however, as I said a really interesting approach and idea and it’s something I’d definitely jump on trying if it does every become a shipping product. How well something like this fits inside of an email service aside, it does feel like it could remove quite a lot of friction from the writing / posting process.


Know When to Fold ‘em

I’ve had my blog for a few years now, and it started off fairly well. I posted reasonably regularly and was enjoying myself. As time passed, and COVID hit us all like a freight train, my interest has waned and I’ve not posted for over 6 months.

All things considered, I think I’ve personally coped quite well with the seismic shift this world event has thrust upon me, my family, and everyone. That being said, with a day job, being a teacher for my little girl, and having no outlets outside of the home for over a year, things eventually start to take their toll. I’m getting to the point where the four walls of my home are starting to feel like a prison and breaking point is creeping up to me, both mentally nd physically, like a praying mantis ready to strike. Right now, as with many people, getting through each day is an achievement in its own right.


Hey, It’s Not All Bad

I wrote a short post about some of my impressions of the Hey email service after a few months of use. While the post was relatively well received I felt like I may have been unduly negative about Hey, and wanted to add a little more detail to perhaps balance the discussion somewhat.

One of the risks with my concerted efforts to post more, with less planning, is that I tend to start a post with a clear goal of what I’m trying to put across, which ultimately gets watered down, or plain forgotten, as I ramble on. This post, so far, is the perfect example …

Back to the point, there are a handful of features that I think Hey really get right. Despite my reservations or negativity put across in the last post I am currently using Hey, to give it more of a go, because of some very key reasons, which I’ll highlight here.


Finding Podcasts That Spark Joy

TitleCard

So many of the larger tech podcasts I listen to no longer ‘spark joy’ so I’m going to have a full clear out and start fresh I think.

I don’t remember the last time I heard a bit of information I care about on a podcast first, it’s generally regurgitation of facts I’ve already read about, or opinions that are repeated by the same small group across a multitude of places. You can usually guess exactly what (often negative) opinion these people will have without even hearing it.

Some more relaxing, and fun, podcasts I enjoy include:

  • FilmSack - FilmSack was one of the first podcasts I ever listened to. I’ve listened to every single episode since. The premise of the show is to find some generally bad / iconic / cult films to watch as a community and the hosts just talk about it. It’s a simple premise, but it’s fun, funny, and downright joy inducing.
  • Triforce - Lewis, Sips, and PyrionFlax from The YogsCast talking about nothing in particular. A relaxing and funny ride.
  • The Late Night Alternative With Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle - This is currently a daily Twitch show, having recently moved over from traditional radio. Great hosts with conversations ranging from the inane to mental health and drug addiction. A really unique take on the late night chat idea.
  • Simon’s Peculiar Portions - Just give it a listen.
  • Core - Another Frogpants show, this time focused on videos games across a wide spectrum.
  • PAL KEYS - I’ve been a Pal Keys / Daryl Baxter fan for some time now. Daryl always gets some fantastic guests from the world, and surrounding ecosystem of video games for a good chat. I’m yet to hear a bad show, or discover a bad guest.
  • Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen - While this is clearly a bit of a cash in on Michael Cohen’s part, it’s also a fascinating listen into some of the insanity within Trump’s inner circle. It’s only two episodes in and I’m already pretty hooked.

While I’ll still be dipping in and out of more tech focused podcasts, I think there’s a need to step back a bit and focus on content that’s adding more to my life than frustration and negativity. The tech podcasting market is a busy, some may say saturated, market and so many of them feel like shows are being put out just because they have to. A lot of the passion has gone and it’s a simple business transaction. I can understand that. We all have to live and have bills to pay, but with limits time in the day, especially while I’m not having to commute about 5 hours a day, shows like that don’t have a place in my queue. Hopefully I can find more, smaller, shows and creators to start investing my time and ad clicks on beyond the list above.


A Console War Like No Other

Consoles Image courtesy of Tom’s Guide

A few days ago, the PlayStation team took to YouTube to share a tear down video of the new PlayStation 5. This struck me as a bit odd but, after wathcing it, I can see why they did it now.

The PlayStation 5 was touted as having expandable storage, and an ability to position the device either vertically or hoizontally. This video not only shows you a, quite fascinating, look inside the hardware, but it details just how you would go about expanding the storage. The relevant part of the video can be seen below:

Yep, that’s right, the folks at Sony are showing customers how to crack their brand new PS5’s open and to expand the storage. A screwdriver’s even required to enable the ability to lay the PS5 on its side.

In true console wars fashion, the Xbox community were quick to troll their competition:

Every product designer must, at some point, experience a conflict between form and function. Love it or loathe it, PS5 is certainly a pretty unique design. Because of this, however, they’re expecting users to bust open their consoles to expand the storage. The Xbox, on the other hand, features a pretty dull looking monolithic tower design, however this affords it an ability to change it’s orientation simply and storage can be increased by just slotting in a new storage card. On the face of it, the two companies have taken the opposite approach to each other when it comes to design. Sony opted for form, Microsoft function.


Hey Google

HeyLogo

I’ve had quite an off and on relationship with Hey since I signed up for it just prior to its public release. It’s inarguably an interesting take on email, and email management. It’s well designed, is being iterated on fairly well and it’s pretty fun to use.

On the other hand, your emails are tied to a single service / app1, features I’m not very interested in are going to be a big focus for a while (Hey for Work) and, for me at least, I ended up managing my email more not less. There are a few reasons why this was the case. First of all, I’ve been nervous that I’ve been missing something coming into one of the three areas, so I ended up checking the Imbox, Feed and Paper Trail on every visit. Further more, if you use the service as you’re guided to, by leaving your email to flow, you will soon have an app filled with utter junk. This is all part of the design ethos, and I understand it, but over time valid emails in a search, for example, will be diluted by the tut you’ve left festering in the bowels of your Hey mailboxes.


Blog Like No One’s Watching

Post (Photo by Thought Catalogue)

Despite barely posting to my blog for months, I’m still weirdly precious about what I post there. I always feel like I should only post longer form posts or something that I’ve over thought.

People like @ljpuk and @mattbirchler produce excellent content, every single day, and clearly feel comfortable just going with the flow and posting about what’s on their minds. This isn’t to say their pieces aren’t well thought out, they clearly are, but I also like the fluid nature of their blogging style. Mixing up themes, format and in Matt’s case even medium.

My little blog isn’t going to get popular, and frankly I wouldn’t want the pressure of it being so. Because of this, it’s completely unnecessary for me to be so protective of the kind of content I share here. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in the past, but I’m once again going to make a concerted effort to just post. I’m not going to over think it, I’m not going to convince myself no one is interested in reading it. This may well be the case, but I’m going to blog about everything and anything that interests me. If anyone ends up coming along for the ride, then all the better.

I’ll blog like no one’s watching, because chances are they won’t be. And that’s just fine.


There’s A Homescreen For That

Ever since we were first introduced to iOS 14 back in June, I was excited about the prospect of Widgets in iOS. Since even the early days of the beta I’ve been struggling to get a setup I like with them, however, and that was before so many excellent third party widgets were released.

My main issue hasn’t been that I don’t like the widgets, or that there aren’t enough of them, it’s simply an issue of trying to include too much at once. I’ve disliked the iOS homescreen for some years now, so I’ve embraced the new flexibility this affords, but perhaps to a fault. Much as I tend to do with the Apple Watch, I’ve tried to populate my homescreen with widgets (or Complications with regards to the Watch) that cover every situation.

With the Apple Watch, I now have the ability to create some Shortcuts which can automatically switch my face, and in turn the connected Complications at different times of the day. This has lead to a Bed / nighttime face, a Work face, and an Evening & Weekend face.


The Dent Podcast is back ... sort of?

A few months ago, in the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown, I built a gaming PC. This went surprisingly well and didn’t explode the first time I turned it on, which quite frankly was more than I could have hoped for given my lack of talent with these types of things.

The issue with this, however, is that it’s presence in my home office has completely killed any free time I have in the evenings and I now spend most of this time streaming badly. My blog has taken a serious hit, and my podcast has gone the way of the Dodo.

I want to blog more, but the lure of pure unadulterated relaxation playing some games badly has been too great. That’s why, today, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I’ve always found streaming anything difficult because I just didn’t know what to say for an hour or so. With no one watching, I had no chat to talk to either. When I lamented this fact on Twitter a few people suggested just talking about the things I used to do on my short podcast. I dismissed it at the time, but thought I’d now give it a try. So, to that end, meet version 0.1 of The Dent Podcast / VODcast:

As you can see, and hear from listening to it, this is most definitely a 0.1 release. The audio is poor, coming from my headset only, among other issues, but I thought I’d get it out there and see if there’s even any interest in something like this. So, please, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have. I’m under no illusion, however this will be few peoples cup of tea, but it’s a fun experiment to play around with.

This episode sees me chat about my thoughts on the upcoming Apple non-iPhone event tomorrow, 15th September.


Will We See A Surprise Next Week?

We’re now just a few days away from Apple’s traditional September event, but unlike many years before it, it sounds like we won’t see the release of the latest iPhone. Instead we’ll likely see a new iPad or two, along with the latest Apple Watch iteration, but is that it? I have an out there predication that we may be introduced to something that’s been an open secret for some time, namely Apple Glass.


Slight Apple Books Tweaks in iOS 14

Back in February I wrote a short post about a tiny change to Apple Books made in iOS 13.4. Well, 6 months later and I’m back with some further tiny changes to Apple Books that no one notices or cares about news for you. I love the Apple Books app, and I use it daily. Many of the book prices are comparable to the likes of Amazon / Kindle, and I just love the look and feel of the app, along with the tracking features introduced with iOS 13.


Getting Work Done On An iPad Pro

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a completely different answer to the age old question of: ‘Can you get real work done on an iPad?’ I’m not here to answer that question for you, but I have moved my own use case for my beloved iPad Pro to the next level recently, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about the software, and hardware, that has helped me along the way.


Ultimate Apple Setups

I’ve been tweeting and posting quite a bit recently about my Apple based setups, so when an online friend of mine1 shared his [recent post](http://ipadguild.com/the-best-apple-setups-for-500-1000-2500-and-5000) about a setup challenge I was very intrigued.

The premise of his challenge is simple, you have to come up with your ultimate Apple product based setups at four different price points, namely $500, $1,000, $2,500 and, finally, $5,000. The rules, as defined by Chris are:

  • You cannot use any other items, if you have a Mac Pro lying around your home, I don’t care.
  • The prices are based off Apple’s website.

Sounds simple enough, right? For my purposes, just because I want to, I’m going to be using the U.K. site prices, because they’re inclusive of tax, which isn’t true for the U.S. one, as far as I know. The great British Pound doesn’t stretch quite as far as the dollar, so this could be interesting.

I should just mention that, so as not to tait my views, I’ve not read Chris’ post as yet, further than the ’rules’ section at least.

So, without further ado, here goes!


The iPad Pro Magic Keyboard - Worth the Weight?

The 2020 iPads Pro were introduced on 24th March, but for many people, including myself, ‘new keyboard day’ came just under one month later, when Apple released the intriguing new iPad Pro Magic Keyboard.

As I’ve alluded to in the past, including in my recent piece about my current iPad Pro setup, I’ve long pined for a ‘docked’ iPad Pro experience and I’ve achieved that goal, to a certain extent. Obtaining a true laptop, experience, however has been a little lacking.

A year or so ago I bought the Brydge Pro keyboard, which I used with my 2018 iPad for some months, but the device never really stuck. While it looked fantastic, the keys were extremely sticky and I found it really killed a major USP of the iPad, namely it’s portability. While it wasn’t all that heavy, really, and it could be removed from the device fairly easily, it still wasn’t ideal. It was clear from the little connecting clips that there was a tangible, finite amount of times you could reliably add and remove the iPad from the keyboard. With the Brydge out of the picture, I relied on the truly excellent Apple Smart Keyboard Folio case, for my ‘iPad as a laptop’ needs. All in all it’s been performing an admiral job, and the Smart Keyboard Folio remained my favourite keyboard to use with my device. Until today that is.


My iPad Pro Setup

I’ve explained previously that I’m a big iPad user and, until recently, I thought it impossible to fall in love with it even more. Then Apple released iPadOS 13.4 and everything changed, again … The full trackpad / mouse support added in this point release has added a feature I’ve wanted for many years now, and the implementation of it has really blown me away. This is not a simple re-hashing of the system currently in place on macOS.


Magic Keyboard - GrimeGate

If you read my Magic Keyboard for iPad first impressions post you’d know that I’m pretty smitten with it. While I did mention a few shortcomings after my first day, I’ve gone on to use it extensively, every day since, and I’m in love with it now more than ever. Over this short period of time, however, I’ve noticed, what I think, is one of the devices biggest failings. The material.


Looking Forward

I’ve never been what you’d call a prolific writer on The Dent, but given the current events the world’s going through at the moment I’ve felt even less inclined to post than before. Who wants to hear about how much I love trackpad support in iPadOS 13.4, or what I think about that sweet new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro? Well, likely no more than has ever wanted to listen to me.


My Flexible Friend, Now With More Flex

I’ve posted many times on Twitter about all of the various configurations I use my iPad in. Far too many times for many, I’m sure! When it comes to my iPad Pro, however, I may just have a new favourite setup … The latest developer beta of iOS 13.4 introduced full trackpad support, which will be available to everyone next week. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so a video has got to be worth at least 2,000.