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Going iPad Mini exclusive for 7 days

Last week I sent my Macbook Pro in for repairs. The bluetooth connection between my MBP and my Mighty mouse has been weird at best. The connection drops intermittently but the system preferences will still show at the Mighty Mouse is still connected though nothing happens when you wiggle the mouse. Nothing corrects this problem other than a restart. This can be a real pain especially if you are researching and writing a blog post. There is no way you want such an interruption if you are on a roll.

Regardless, this isn't the point of the post. This post is to describe my life with my iPad mini. A basic rundown of what I usually do with my MBP from day to day. I watch drama serials, write blog posts, surf the internet. I skim through Facebook, check Twitter and listen to podcasts and Spotify. I would say I consume media more than I create them on my MBP.

My first step is to pair an Apple Wireless Keyboard to the iPad Mini. Typing on the iPad Mini in the long term just isn't ideal. With my MBP gone, I had lost access to Spotify because I wasn't a premium member so access to music via the Spotify app for me. Logging into Facebook and Twitter is still fine for me because I use Facebook's native app and Twitterrific on the iPad Mini. Watching dramas on the MBP changed to watching Youtube videos via Safari app on the iPad Mini. This in particular was a pain. The volume of the videos on the iPad Mini wasn't loud enough for me to hear so I am constantly on my headphones. The iPad Mini's screen isn't all that great when you compare it to my Retina MBP. I write my blog posts on Byword and post them straight to my Squarespace site using the app so that wasn't so bad. Though switching between Safari and Byword is a pain at times. With Dropbox all my notes are easily accessible. How I wish there is a built in browser on Byword . Check out the new Editorial app for that particular feature

However, all in all, using my iPad Mini exclusively for an entire week wasn't as bad as I had expected. It wasn't the tough and hard wait for my beloved MBP to return to my hands again. Though I am actually typing this out on my MBP, I wouldn't mind going all iPad Mini only. Nevertheless, let's just hope that my MBP doesn't need another trip to the doctor again.

Homescreen - June 2013

I have been trying to keep track of how my homescreen changes for a while now. Though this is the first that I have uploaded to my blog.

First Row

Phone - More often to check on my missed calls then to actually call anyone. More often then not, swipe over to spotlight to look for the right contact to call.

Messages - Also to check on any incoming smses than to send them. In Singapore, What's app is the popular choice.

Fantastical - To quickly add events into my calendar. I also have Fantastical on the Mac.

Downcast - For all my podcast listening needs.

Second Row

[Taskpaper](http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/taskpapp my lists. Lists of things to buy, bills to pay, things to do. I also have Taskpaper for the Mac.

Byword - I use Byword to access the notes on my Dropbox. One issue I have is that it doesn't keep a copy of the notes on the phone. So I can't use Byword to access my notes with there is no 4G or wifi.

Chrome - For all my website browsing needs. I have a bookmarklet that sends my links from Safari to Chrome.

Capture - Launch the app and it instantly starts recording. All the better to catch the little moments in life.

Homescreen - June 2013

Third Row

Guitar Toolkit - Great for tuning my guitar and ukulele.

Calcbot - A wonderful calculator from Tapbots. I just love the sounds.

Twitterific - I have recently switched from Tweetbot to Twitterific. Right now, I dig the larger fonts and animated bird logo.

Photos - To view all my photos and videos.

Fourth Row

Weather Lah - The app to check on Singapore weather. All other "international" weather apps that I have used doesn't come close.

Settings - To easily switch on and off airplane mode. No, I don't take planes often but this is used as a troubleshooting measure.

Riposte - My App.net client of choice. I wish it has a iPad version.

Due - For all timed remainders and events that happen on a regular schedule. I also have the Mac app for this.

Fifth Row

Soulver - I use Soulver to keep track of my expenses. I have Soulver everywhere on my iPad and Mac.

Lift - A habit tracking app that I have just started using. So far, the clean interface is really nice.

Instapaper - My read it later app of choice. Though it is not maintained as often of late. I look forward to what Betaworks would do for Instapaper.

Gmail - I have return to the standard Gmail app. Previously I was using Mailbox but I didn't like the way it messes with my folders. I am still on the hunt for a suitable replacement for Sparrow.

Dock

Drafts - This is my Launch Centre Pro for all my writing apps.

1Password - The one repository of all my passwords.

Launch Centre Pro - A shortcut to all my other frequently used for non essential apps.

What's App - Singapore's messaging service of choice.

Learning FCPx

I had to edit my friend’s pre-wedding montage this year. As a challenge to myself, I took the chance to have the project edited in Final Cut Pro X. Final Cut Pro X debuted (last year?) to much cries of dumbing down and iMovie Pro. I wanted to find out for myself and at the same time add another “feather” to my cap. There was only one thing to do. I scrapped up SGD$370 and purchased Final Cut Pro X via the Mac App store. And the next step, go to the nearest library and check out Peachpit’s Final Cut Pro X by Diana Weynand. So I embarked on my journey to learn Final Cut Pro X.

I spent my evenings running through the book and learning the basics of FCPx by just clicking everything in sight. I have a confession to make, I didn’t finish reading the book. The software isn’t hard to figure out if you are familar with the original Final Cut Pro or Avid. I can’t speak for Premiere Pro since I never had a hands on before. Coupled together with the help of the internet, pretty much any editor should be able to make sense of the software. There are things made better in FCPx while others are harder than before.

Things that are better

  • You can switch on waveforms for the audio track right on the timeline panel itself. No more going into the sequence settings panel.
  • You can shift multiple video or audio within the edit and have the video and audio close the gap that your video or audio has left behind. No more ttt and shifting here and there.
  • You can assign keywords and ratings to clips to make for easier searching. More work for a logger but it makes it easier to look for clips.
  • You have audio and video scrubbing! The audio scrubbing might be a little too much at first when you use it.
  • More text effects and video transitions!

Things that are worse

  • You can no longer view all the attributes timeline in one panel. These have been shifted to the timeline itself. This is a problem when you do not have enough screen real estate to open all the layers that you need. Also, the attributes timeline isn’t seperate into the individual attribute such as position or scale. You keep having to shfit between the inspector and the timeline.
  • You can no longer have certain clips be on specifc tracks because there is no longer any tracks. For an example, you want to keep the sequence neat and easy to understand by keeping the subtitles on track 8. Or you want to seperate SOT, music, SFX and VO in their seperate tracks, you can no longer do this. The clip will fall to the lowest possible “track” unless another clip is occupying a higher “track”.
  • You have to make a clip into a storyline just to add a transition to it. Why? I can see no advantages to this.
  • The panels can no longer peel off so having a dual monitor setup would be less useful than having a single large screen.

Conclusion

I have not used FCPx for long and I am far from comfortable with it. Currently my day to day editing software is Avid, though not by choice. If it were up to me, I would have probably stick to the original Final Cut Pro.

Regardless of my choices, as a video editor, I must be adaptable and at least have a basic working knowledge on how each editing software works. If you are a video editor I would suggest borrowing a Mac with FCPx installed just to play around with it, just to get a feel of it. I’ll probably have to check out the Peachpit’s Final Cut Pro X by Diana Weynand again to read through the rest of the book.

 

Review - MacBook Pro Retina Screen Part 2

My new retina Macbook Pro has arrived! In all its 2.6Ghz, 16GB ram, 256GB SSD glory. It’s lightning fast! Setting it up was a breeze with Time Machine. I am totally blown away by the differences between my old and new Macbook Pro. The retina display is rendering all my apps and text tack sharp. The 16GB ram is allowing me to open all manner of apps all at the same time. Even, the weight of the MacBook Pro is sooo much lighter than my old MacBook Pro. I can’t believe how thin the MacBook Pro is. Starting up is fast, clocking in at under 15s from power off to ready to work.

This is definitely a big upgrade from my old laptop. I am glad I got the new MacBook Pro. Everyone should have a chance to work on a laptop this fast.

Review - MacBook Pro Retina Screen Part 1

I have finally caved and ordered a new laptop. I am finally retiring my Late 2008 15” MacBook Pro after 4 years of service. You have served me well. The new laptop I have ordered is actually a refurbished set. I took the plunge partly because the refurbished set is cheaper and faster than the configuaration I had in mind to get.

My new laptop is a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina screen, 2.6Ghz, 16GB ram, 256GB SSD. Coupled together with the AppleCare, I paid SGD$3357 for them. That’s SGD$11 cheaper than 2.3Ghz 15” base model after upgrading to 16GB ram.

I can’t wait for it to arrive! Will update once I get a hands on.

 

Apps and me

I’ve only been actively reading tech news very recently. (Thanks to Reeder and RSS) Through that I’ve intent on trying out new and interesting apps.

It started when I was trying to get back into the writing habit earlier this year. So I thought if I got myself a distraction free writing app it might help me. Obviously that didn’t worked out as I planned but that led me down the rabbit hole.

From researching which is the best distraction free writing app on the mac, it spread to iOS. I become bent on buying or rather collecting all manner of writing and productivity apps.

I’ve gone from Byword to Launch Center Pro to 1password to Instapaper to Tweetbot. I was relentless.

That led me to discover many podcasts on the 5by5 and 70 decibels networks. And that to finding more sites to follow and many internet celebrities’ blogs to read. It is a rabbit hole that I am still deep in and very much enjoying.

Side note I highly encourage everyone to check out the apps mentioned above. I don’t get any thing out of you clicking on the links but good apps must be shared.