June has been one of catching up with projects started long ago. First one system build was finalized, then a second system build started months ago was finished. Of course, that meant several PC’s that needed this month’s Microsoft patches. So this past Saturday I turned them all on and ran system update on each one. For good measure I made sure they were online long enough to backup to my Windows Home Server.
The big updates this past weekend were a system upgrade from my webhost and a upgrade to the newly released WordPress 3.0. Linode celebrated their seventh anniversary by bumping the memory on all their VPS plans. So my 384MB plan got bumped to 512MB. All I had to to was reboot my Linode to get the upgrade, and I did that Saturday. I tweaked the Apache configuration a little to allow more Apache but the new memory is still going unused. Still, a nice surprise.
I went through a upgraded all my WordPress plugins on Friday and then upgraded my guinea pig site to WordPress 3.0. Can’t really call it a test site since it is live. Just doesn’t get much traffic. That seem to go well so on Saturday I edited my svn script to install 3.0 on all my sites and ran it. Everything seems to be fine. To be honest, from my selfishly personal perspective I don’t see any earth shattering changes or enhancements although there is certainly a long list of enhancements.
Since I was updating WordPress I also updated my theme from Frugal 3.3 to Frugal 3.5. This upgrade was painless with the new theme seamlessly importing the old settings.
In addition to the usual Microsoft monthly security patches there were a few Apple updates. Small in number, large in size. My Snow Leopard Macs got OS X 10.6.4 while my Leopard Mac got a security update. Everything got Safari 5 and iTunes 9.2.
It’s interesting that I’m at a point where the Microsoft patches don’t concern me. I do update my primary Windows machine last and make sure I have a backup. But I don’t really fret about the update. On the other hand, I put off my Mac updates (at least the OS and iTunes) until I know I’ll have time to recover. But this time around all was well. It did take iTunes about 2 hours to update my library after the upgrade and then videos wouldn’t play until I rebooted the Mac. So while not part of the plan, it wasn’t a big deal.
Other Updates and Changes
I recently switched over to using Google Chrome on Windows as my primary browser. I like it. Firefox was getting sluggish and I didn’t feel like cleaning up the extensions (although I don’t have too many of them). Windows was also buggy and I noticed it seemed to be after a Firefox crash or other Firefox weirdness. It’s hardly proof, but since I haven’t been running Firefox things have been stable. I do have to use Firefox on a site or two that Chrome has problems with.
That’s it for this Trail Log, just a quick update.
In my last Trail Log I mentioned that my iPad had taken over so many of my iPod Touch’s duties that I dug out my old iPod Nano to use as an audio player. That was short-lived as my iPod Touch is back as of last Saturday. It’s still used only as an audio player, not for any apps, but it’s back.
I figured the smaller Nano would be easier to carry with me and it is. But I found a few quirks in using it and I decided I couldn’t live with them.
My audio listening is usually Podcasts, music and audio books, in that order. Music sometimes drops to third place but at the moment it’s a daily event.
My Nano problems fell into two categories, both due to my listening habits.
The iPod Nano doesn’t do playlists for Podcasts. I can create the playlists and the playlist names do show under “Music”, but they are empty. I find it annoying to have to start each Podcast, I’d rather listen straight through. This is especially important in the car as I don’t want to fumble with the iPod, especially one with a screen as small as the Nano. Most of the time I don’t have the player with me, it’s usually played through a stereo or Bluetooth headphones so it’s more than just pulling it out of my pocket.
The Nano can’t hold my entire music library. For a long time I’ve been listening to my “Least Recently Played” iTunes playlists. This way I listen to the songs I haven’t heard in awhile. But my subconscious must make me want what I can’t have. As I’ve heard some songs they triggered a desire to listen to the entire album and the entire album hasn’t been in the Nano.
Now that the Nano is out of the drawer I may keep it available for the times I want something small, but otherwise the iPod is it. If the iPod Touch was to break or be lost I wouldn’t replace it with another Touch. I’d either switch to the Nano and deal with it’s shortcomings or but one of the iPod Classics with the nice big hard drive.
Favorite iPad apps is a favorite topic these days. I actually have a hard time coming up with a favorite iPad app or even a top 10 list. I’m more task oriented with the iPad and it’s not one or two killer iPad apps that draw me to the iPad, but rather the full range of apps. Any favorites list depends upon how I want to slice and dice the word “favorite” and the apps. So let’s start slicing and dicing.
First let’s see how I compare to Apple’s chart toppers:
As for the Top 10 Paid Apps I have half of them but only one of the five gets used regularly. I bought Pages, Numbers and Keynote early on figuring they’d complement the desktop apps and would be good examples of iPad apps since they’re from Apple. None of them get used on a regular basis. Penultimate falls into the same category. I was looking for a note taking app and thought it might be useful it never caught on with me. GoodReader for iPad is the only one of the top 10 that caught on with me. It’s found use regularly as a way to read any manage manuals and notes. It also has hooks into Dropbox, GMail and other cloud services.
The only app (other than the three iWork duplicates from the Top Paid chart) from the Top 10 Grossing chart is Plants vs. Zombies HD. And by any definition this is one of my favorite apps, and so far the only iPad game I have. I’ve had to forcibly separate myself from the game. It was consuming all my free time along with time that should have been more productive.
Out of the Top 10 Free Apps I tried four of them and use two regularly. Neither iBooks of USA Today for iPad were keepers. iBooks is nice and may see a return but at this point I’m sticking with the Kindle app. The two I use are both Video related. The Netflix App gets regular use and until it appeared I wasn’t a regular consumer of Netflix streaming despite my subscription. The ABC Player app gets limited use and I could live without it.
The bottom line is my usage doesn’t seem to fall in line with the popular apps, so what do I use?
Lose It! is really an iPhone/iPod Touch app that I’ve moved to my iPad. It’s a calorie counter and gets daily use.
LastPass and 1Password are both password tracking/security apps. Lastpass is a cross-platform web service and the iPhone app complements the service. 1Password is a iPad app and is more functional on the iPad than LastPass but is more Mac specific 9at least until the Windows version leaves beta).
Mint.com, still a iPhone app, complements the web service that I use for financial management so it gets regular use.
NetNewsWire is my RSS reader and since the iPad I’ve been doing most of my RSS consumption on the iPad. NetNewsWire can send articles to Instapaper. Which brings up Instapaper as one of my Favorites. Many web pages end up there for later reading.
Despite the iPad being promoted as the savior of print media only one traditional newspaper app has caught my attention. And that was the Financial Times app. It’s free through July (there’s a sponsor) but it’s the one media app that may be worth subscribing to. The USA Today app was better than I expected, but like USA Today I wasn’t drawn to it. I had been a regular reader of the New York Times website but their iPad app hasn’t been a regular for me. I go through phases with the NPR app. Some weeks it’s used regularly and then it may be ignored for a couple weeks.
Then there’s the utility apps which I would consider my favorites for their genre. I like Twitterrific as my Twitter client, Weatherbug is my weather app and PCalc is a fine calculator and convertor.
Then there are a couple iPad apps which made their desktop counterparts more useful. Bento is a big one for me. I find it easier to create the databases on my Mac but like having the data on the iPad. It’s also handy to be able to add or edit records. I add the Kindle App to this. It’s nice to have access to my Kindle books whenever I have the iPad.
I’ve been a user of the Dropbox service at the free level. The Dropbox iPad app put me over the top and I became a paid Dropbox subscriber. Evernote should be one of my favorite iPad apps but it’s been buggy for me and I’ve tired of hunting down the bad record to delete it and then re-installing Evernote. The Dropbox iPad app increased my Dropbox usage while the Evernote iPad app is driving me away.
There is one iPad app that’s iPad only for me and a daily user. I guess I’d have to call it my favorite, it’s simply called ToDo for iPad.
Alright, now that I’ve gone through the list let’s see if I can come up with my five favorite:
ToDo for iPad – I use it daily and it’s the first ToDo app I’ve been able to integrate into my daily workflow. It’s not perfect, but little in life is.
Instapaper – The iPad has become my favorite way of reading anything shorter than a book. Instapaper gets a lot more use now since I’m not tied to using it at my computer.
GoodReader – This makes the list because it’s so functional and I do use it a lot. I find the UI a bit annoying at times.
Bento – I foresee increased use of this app and suspect it will be one or two on this list in six months.
Dropbox & Netflix – I tied these at number five because it’s not so much the iPad app that’s a favorite, but he iPad app makes their service so much more valuable to me.
Are there any of your favorites that should be on my list?