Apple System and Talking to Your Computer

Do it with the Mac or do it with iOS?

These days I think using Apple gear makes you an Apple System user rather than being either a Mac or an IOS person. It all comes together by having access to whatever you do on all of your systems. It really doesn’t matter whether you want to write, work with photos, create audio, make movies or whatever. You do what you want to do wherever you want to do it. Once you have the digital content started you can move to whichever other device whenever you want. I recently wrote a nearly 3000 word article for my NoStylus website and much of it was done using my iOS devices. I was mobile for most of the time and therefore used my iPad and iPhone to dictate the text using Siri dictate. I would have liked to use DragonDictate, but Dragon Anywhere is not yet available in Spain. During the three days I was working on this article, for some of it I was at home in my office in front of my iMac. I only added one paragraph to the article using DragonDictate. I had already done most of it with iOS. Editing is okay on the iPad, but I find the iPhone a little too small for that type of work. Even so, I prefer to do the editing part of the job using my iMac so I can use applications such as Hemingway and Pro-Writing aid. I ended up doing about 75% of the editing on my Mac. That’s just one example of the Starship Enterprise type system where you talk to your computer by whatever means. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the bridge communing with the main computer direct or if you are using the tricorder device attached to your clothing. One huge computer Apple System and multiple points of entry.

Hemingway app - Apple System

Publishing with WordPress – Mac or iOS?

I have a particularly useful plug-in for SEO on the website and to best use it I have to go through the Safari browser. In my Apple system, this works best on the Mac, but is not too bad on the iPad. If I publish using the WordPress application on iOS I don’t get access to my plug-ins. A good way around this little problem is to get the text into WordPress as a draft using the WordPress application. Then I can go and do the further editing and make use of the plug-in via the web browser.

[su_pullquote]Oh! The joys of slow internet. One day I’ll have more than 6mb download speed.[/su_pullquote]

At home I have rubbish Internet for my Apple System. The download speed is really slow and the upload speed is diabolical. I’m only getting about 6 MB down, but when I’m at work and I have 4G access with my iPhone I can upload and download much faster. So I prefer to upload pictures to my blog postings using iOS because I can do it so much faster. I prefer to have the bigger screen of my iPad Pro rather than just using the iPhone. My iPad Pro doesn’t have a SIM slot so I connect to the Internet using the iPhone as my Personal Hotspot. This works very well indeed and saves some money by being able to buy a cheaper version of the iPad.

Apple System - Personal Hotspot

Using the Apple iMac in your Apple System

My iMac has the 27 inch screen and I have another 27 inch screen connected to it. Sometimes my desktop in the office even looks like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise! If I could fit on another 27 inch screen and have three in front of me, I probably would do so. I also wouldn’t mind having one of those extra widescreen monitors that sometimes come with a curved screen. Having a lot of screen real estate makes my Apple iMac great for editing video in Final Cut Pro X. It’s also fantastic for editing photos just because you see so much more on the big screen. It’ll be even better when I upgrade to the iMac with the retina screen resolution. Perhaps next year, the iMac I have now is still working great, now I have the hard drive fixed. On OSX you don’t get the tactile experience of working with a photo that you get while touching the screen of the iPad. So sometimes it is better to work with photos on the iPad, especially if I want to do some editing where using the Apple pencil is going to help me do a better job. Some editing processes lend themselves to the tactile approach and others need the big beautiful screen.

Having more storage space on the iMac

I have a 1 TB drive inside the iMac and two 3 TB drives connected externally. One of these is a Thunderbolt drive and the other is USB. The Thunderbolt drive is for use while I’m working on documents or whatever and the other driver is there only as a backup. I have an automated backup occur every day at 11:30 PM using the application Super Duper. It makes a clone of the Thunderbolt drive and then the app shuts itself down. I have another 2 TB drive which is used for Time Machine and another USB connected hard drive toaster. This is a device in which I can plug in bare drives and I use this for weekly backups of the Thunderbolt connected start-up drive which is a 500 GB SSD drive. It would have been nice to put the SSD inside the iMac but it was too much hassle and using Thunderbolt is just as fast. Backup and more back up is the mantra for my computers.

Apple System - Drives connected

Drives on my iMac

Paying for space on iCloud for storage

In my personal Apple system to protect my photo library I have my photos stored in iCloud. I have only recently set this up, the computer is in the process of uploading my photo library to iCloud and it’s taking forever. This is because the upload speed of my Internet is less than one megabyte. There are times when I would consider moving house so I could live somewhere where I’d have fast Internet. I just have to be patient and wait for all of the files to get up there. I’ve set my devices to optimise for storage. This means that I have a thumbnail version of the file on the device and the actual file is downloaded from the cloud whenever I want to do some work. It can sometimes be a little bit tedious when I’m on a slow Internet connection and I have to wait for a download. With the iPhone I have the 64 GB model and I’m thinking I may have to upgrade when I get the iPhone 7 to 128 GB. I tend to have a lot of applications on my iOS devices and it burns up a lot of storage space very quickly. It’s got so bad that I’ve just had to delete all the music of the phone. That’s not really a problem as I tend to listen to podcasts before I listen to any music anyway.

Automation on Mac and iOS

There are a good number of Apple system automation possibilities for the Mac. I have Better Touch Tool, Hazel, Keyboard Maestro and Alfred added to the standard availability of Automator and Apple Script. It’s amazing the number of things you can do with Keyboard Maestro and it is far easier to use than Automator. I have just upgraded to the latest version of Alfred and there has been overhaul of the workflows set up within the application. I didn’t have too many workflows in there before I upgraded, but I plan to try a few different ones out in the new version. Basically, when it comes down to it, you can automate just about everything with your Mac with various automation tools and coding. The situation for creating automation is on the iOS platform side of the Apple system has improved greatly. If you have any interest at all in automation on iOS then you have to get yourself the Workflow application and Launch Center Pro. I do quite a few automations using the text application Editorial. Editorial is from the same people who made Pythonista which allows you to code Python on you. Many iOS users want to see a form of Xcode on iOS and it seems right to be able to make iOS apps on iOS itself.

Better Touch Tool

It is the job of our computers in our Apple system to make our lives easier. There is nothing quite so sweet as typing in a shortcut key code and things magically happening saving you a lot of time. If you have a lot of automations with shortcut keys you do have to have a good way to remember what they are. When you are using TextExpander you do at least get reminders to help you commit these shortcuts into your memory. If you are using Better Touch Tool it’s probably a good idea to start with a small selection of gestures and commit them to your muscle memory. Add to the small selection little by little to increase the number of items as you go. Use the same sort of process when you’re trying to remember all of your keyboard shortcuts for Keyboard Maestro and Alfred.

Hey Siri – Talking to your Mac as well as your iOS devices

It’s highly likely in Mac OS X there will be an update to give a Siri on the Mac. We’ll be able to control our computer on our Apple system by talking to it. It won’t be like that embarrassing scene in the Star Trek movie where they go back in time. Scotty tries to talk to a computer to get it to do something, gets no response and has to resort to using a keyboard. They must have studied the history files about what computers used to be like in order to know what to do! I doubt he would have had a decent typing speed as he wouldn’t divide the muscle memory we have for typing. Hollywood glossed over that as it would have been too painful to watch Scotty doing the peak and poke style of typing.

Apple System - Talking to Siri

Embarrassment and privacy with your Apple system and Siri

When you’re on your own with your computer you don’t feel self conscious about talking to it. Some people don’t seem too self-conscious talking to their iOS devices using Siri all out in public. Whether or not you feel embarrassed about talking to your computer there is the problem when other people are listening, as your privacy could be compromised. Do you really want to have everyone know when you’re asking Siri to show you the latest website about puppies wearing hats? It certainly won’t be a good idea to say out aloud your passwords as you enter protected parts of the Internet. The other thing about talking to your computer is that it’s okay when you’re on your own in a room, but if everybody in a large room wants to talk to their computer at the same time it could get very noisy. At that point the computer is going to have to be very good at hearing just your voice and nobody else’s. Maybe if talking to the computer does become a thing there will be a change from open plan offices back to single use spaces. Maybe what we really need for our Apple system is to have a neural connection between our brain and our computer. All we will need to do is to think whatever we want our computer to do and hey presto!