Wifi Only IPad

In January I purchased a new iPad. I had to give up my old iPad when I left my previous employer in December and frankly missed having the interface to support my paperless lifestyle. I wasn't interested in the new iPad Pro but wanted to get my hands on a iPad Air 2. Looking at the options I was able to find one on Gazelle that provided a significant discount over buying from Apple new. I made a decision when buying to not get the LTE version and just stick with Wifi. It was about $100 in savings, even on the second hand market. I have always had LTE iPad so I figured this would be a good experiment to see if I could survive without it.

I'm pleased to announce that my new iPad, sans LTE, has seamlessly integrated into my lifestyle. The big driver for this is the ease of connecting the iPad to my iPhone's hotspot. Thanks to iCloud and continuity I can pop this on very easily. It also seems to know when I'm not using the hotspot and disconnects it and turns off the hotspot on my phone. I had a meeting on Friday where I had turned it on, used for about 5 minutes and put my iPad back in my bag, forgetting to disconnect from the hotspot. Going back an hour later I expected my phone battery to be almost dead. To my joy the phone battery was fine and the hotspot was off.

Pro tip: I use a app called Launcher that lives in my notifications center. It provides shortcut access to apps, contacts and actions. It also allows you to add sections of the settings menu as a shortcut. I added the wifi section for wifi to my launcher bar in notifications center. Now when I need to get connected, I pull down the Notification Center, hit the wifi button in Launcher, authenticate with my fingerprint and now I'm into the wifi selection settings fast!!

Overall this is a great situation. If rumors are true about the "iPad Pro Mini) this month, I'll probably pick one up in similar fashion without the LTE.

Third Party Sport Bands for Apple Watch

I'm fascinated by the Apple Watch. It's really been an interesting experiment over the past couple of months in how a wearable device can impact, improve and simplify my daily life. An interesting component to the Apple Watch is the ability to dress it up or down depending on the band. I originally purchased my stainless steel Apple Watch with the Brown Leather Loop band. I figured I wanted to have a band for working out and dress down so I picked up a white sport band at the Apple Store. 

What I discovered after a few weeks was the sport band was my favorite. I like the leather loop but the sport band really clicked with me both for comfort and style. I started thinking about perhaps getting a couple more sport bands in other colors to mix it up a bit. The sport bands aren't super expensive but at $49 (USD) it's still an expense. I had also been reading about the third party manufacturers who were starting to roll out bands using the Apple design specifications and lugs. 

On Amazon I found a sport band that very closely resembled the Apple sport band in a variety of colors. It was prime so I knew that a return would be easy. I picked it up for $19.95 on Amazon. As I’m writing this the price has dropped to $17.99. 

Overall the look of the band was similar to the Apple Sport Band. The big difference was the material. The Apple Sport Band is made with an elastomer (synthetic rubber) material which is firmer than the silicone non-Apple band. Although similar in comfort because the silicone is more flexible, it wears differently than the Apple Sport Band. 

Third Party Silicone Sport Band

Third Party Silicone Sport Band

I’m a few weeks into the off-market band and I find myself wearing the Apple Sport Band more than my off-market band. I’ve asked for another band for christmas and I’ve pointed my family towards the Apple version. I’m still interested in looking at other 3rd party bands however I think I’ve come to the conclusion that in the sport band series, the Apple product is superior. 

Software Archive

Here's a good workflow that will help you  the next time you do a complete "Nuke and pave" of your machine. Every so often I download an app from the web not from the App Store. This process usually gives me a DMG file which lands in my downloads folder. Sometimes these files come from manufactures the don't offer a free trial so it makes it very difficult to go and download the files. Typically once you have the file you can install and then download any updates that may exist. Some manufacturers are very rigid in how you download the software especially software vendors like Microsoft and Adobe. The goal is to retain these files so that I can go back to them later when I have to reinstall them on a new machine or if I'm rebuilding an existing machine. 

By setting up a folder on Dropbox called software downloads and then creating a Hazel rule, will automatically save software downloads and move them from your downloads folder. Because I store them in Dropbox they are always available whenever I need them. 


I have my rule set to look for files that are older than 24 hours. You can tune that as you wish, perhaps shortening the window. 

As an added step to this process I save all of my serial numbers, authentication codes, and login information to 1Password for easy retrieval later.

Voicemail Sharing

I've discovered a powerful new feature of iOS 9 that none of the press materials on the update featured. The native phone, voicemail app now gives you the ability to share out the voicemail through the share sheet to other apps, such as messages, mail or Evernote. Clicking the share button from the voicemail gives you this ability. 

I've had so many instances over the past few years where I wished I could save a voicemail to Dropbox or Evernote for archiving purposes. Often I have customers who give me orders via voicemail and this is a perfect feature. It also gives you archival privileges for your friends "drunk dial" voicemails. Enjoy friends. 

Hey Siri

After doing an upgrade to iOS 9 I went poking around in settings to see what was new. In the Siri menu I noticed there was an option to do some voice recognition for the "Hey Siri" feature. It prompted me to say Hey Siri a couple of times. In my mind I was thinking that they have optimized this feature to remove accidental activations of Siri. Let's see how it works...

On my ride to the airport tonight I was listening to a podcast that used the Hey Siri phrase several times. My phone was connected to power and it didn't activate. I even ran it back a couple of times at higher volume to see but wasn't able to get it to activate. I turned the podcast down and then spoke the magic words myself and it popped right up. 

Very cool. Perhaps the days of "ahoy telephone" are behind us. 

Export Lightroom CC to Apple Photos in One Click

I've been doing a lot of experimentation with my photos workflow over the past couple of months. Apple Photos is great as it gives me the ability to have all my photos on all my devices and seamlessly integrate with apps on my apple hardware. That said it lacks a lot of the processing features that I need. Additionally I've started really getting into RAW shooting and wanted an app that could do the developing and processing of the raw files. For me Lightroom CC is filling that niche nicely. I wanted the two apps to work together but there is no way to directly share from Lightroom to Photos without doing an export to the desktop and then dragging into photos. With some trickery using hazel, I've been able to create a workaround for this. 

The first step is to create a new folder somewhere on your mac called Lightroom Export or something you'll remember later. I've located mine in the Pictures folder of my user account. Next is to go in to Hazel and set up that folder as one of the "watched" folders. Then create a new rule:

Once this rule is created click Ok and go back to Lightroom. Lightroom allows you to create preset export path's that can be configured and re-used. If you go to file and export it will bring up this menu. You can create a new user preset on the left and then set the conditions. I set the export location to the new folder you just created for Lightroom Export. You can set other conditions such as renaming, adding a watermark and adjusting the size etc. For me I'm changing the file name and selecting the export folder. Once that's done and you've saved it as a user preset.

From your filmstrip or library you can right click, select export and select the user preset you created. Once the export is complete, you'll notice that hazel takes over and you should get a notification that a file has been added to Photos and that the file has been moved to the trash (if you have notifications turned on). Simple as that. Hopefully in El Cap there will be more plugins available for this type of inport to Photos, but for now this is working just fine for me. 

As to my workflow, I'm doing all my RAW processing in Lightroom. From my SD card the photos go into lightroom, are processed and adjusted, and the finished copies go out to Apple Photos. 


Launcher in Notification Center

I've always wanted to remove app icons from my home screen that could be accessed somewhere else for quick reference. I've got my iPhone home screen now to a single page of folders and the most used apps. When iOS 7 shipped, I could launch camera and clock from control center and removed them from my home screen. I'm now able to remove some additional apps. I've always thought that control center should have hooks to quickly bring up settings but it doesn't. 

Using a app called Launcher I'm now able to add some apps as the top line of Notification Center. For me I've gotta shortcut to call my wife, 1 Password, and MobileDay, an app that I use to auto connect to conference calls. Launcher is similar to Launch Center Pro as you can either open a app or create a simple workflow in an app. 

Launcher gives me the ability to add apps or workflows in a Notification Center.  

Launcher gives me the ability to add apps or workflows in a Notification Center.  

Neato For iOS Notifications Center


If you've discovered the Evernote widget for notifications center you're on the right track. If you're looking for the next step, download Neato on the iOS app store. This app takes Evernote shortcut's to the next level by allowing you, right in Notification Center, to type a note and add to Evernote. I've been using it all week and it's really amazing. 

The Evernote widget is great but it's a shortcut that takes you into the app. If your doing heavy lifting notes or adding photos, reminders or lists - that's the way to go. If you just need to jot something quickly down like a name, phone number or company name, give Neato a shot. 

It it also has the capability of posting to Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter etc.  


Here's a link to the iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/neato-jot-down-note-save-to/id931243944?mt=8

Available on the iOS App Store

Evernote Products Notebook

I have a lot of Evernote notebooks. One that I rely on almost weekly is my products notebook. I have a separate notebook that I record pictures, brand and store information for products that I buy everyday. Some examples of things in this notebook are

*Printer Toner
*Dog Shampoo
* Diapers
* Contact Solution
* Furnace Filters

This helps me remember the brand information on the products that we use. It also helps when I remember that I need to buy something and I'm already in the store and don't have the ability to consult the empty bottle or wrapper at home.

Usually I have a separate note for each product that includes a photo of the front/back of the label, a shot of the UPC code, and information on which store I've purchased from in the past. I'll also put information in the note such as location in the store like isle number or instructions to locate it. As a final note: I share this notebook with my wife. As we grow in Evernote together we will put more information in. Hopefully you will find this tip helpful.

Sidecar For iPad/Mac

This week I received my Sidecar iPad mount and have been playing around with it. Sidecar Venostech is a product that I originally backed a few months ago on Kickstarter as I’ve been looking for something like this for some time. Essentially its a very robust piece of plastic with a spring mechanism in the middle. It allows you to temporarily mount an iPad, iPad Mini or iPhone (presumably any other tablet or phone) to the side of your laptop screen. With a slick app called AirDisplay Avatron Software I am able to extend my Mac desktop onto my iPad. This is great for me as I’m on the go a lot, working in hotels and spaces where I can’t lug around a second monitor.

Image Credit: Venostech

Image Credit: Venostech

The Sidecar is very easy to attach to the iPad and laptop (provides easy one handed holding while you twist the knob to tighten and holds the iDevice securely in place. The Sidecar has rubber padding that protects both the Mac and the iDevice from scratches or damage. The Sidecar is available from Venostech’s website for $29.99 plus shipping. A quick note is you don’t have to use this for a desktop extension. For example you could use it to have Omnifocus running right next to your screen or some other app that you use frequently. I’ve found a lot of success running a dual monitor setup using the product, in conjunction with AirDisplay.

Speaking of AirDisplay, I’ve tried several Mac to iPad screen display apps and AirDisplay is the best I’ve found. Air display is available in the iOS app store for $9.99 and you must download the companion Mac app (free) from Avatron’s website. The companion app sits in my menubar (behind Bartender) and you can select weather it automatically connects or manually connects. One thing that I was concerned with originally is the need for WiFi when using this setup. Very often public WiFi is not configured to allow devices to talk through the firewall. You can lug around a Airport Express to create that wireless network but I’ve found an even better workaround. Use your iPhone as a WiFi hotspot. AirSharing works great when used as with an iPhone as the WiFi hotspot. Just be careful of your bandwidth caps.

Overall I am very impressed with the Kickstarter funded Sidecar. This was something I’d been looking for and now that I have it, my productivity when on the go has increased. A couple of downsides to it: If your using an older iPad (1–4) the weight of the iPad may cause damage to the Macbook Air’s display hinge. I have a Macbook Air and a iPad Air and so far working just fine. Hopefully I’m not proactively signing up for a Genius Bar appointment. The only problem I experienced is depending on where you mount it it might tip the laptop back or just the screen. I’ve found when mounted in the middle or closer to the bottom of the screen the results are improved. You can go into display preferences (if using with AirDisplay) and adjust the orientation of the monitor depending on the arrangement. Display preferences do remember this when connected to AirDisplay so you should only have to do this once.

Good luck and great job Venostech and Avatron!

Belkin Wall Outlet with USB

The problem I was having, in the kitchen never having enough outlets plus always having to locate my adapter to charge iDevices.

This was an easy solution. The Belkin 6 outlet wall adapter with USB was the perfect fit. Picked it up at Home Depot for less than $20. It screws into the decora wall plate screw making it impossible to pull out of the outlet. There are 6 outlets and 2 USB ports on top. I am able to charge both my iPad Air and iPhone 5S at the same time.



Passbook App Good but not Perfect

I'm a frequent flier and the idea of a paper boarding pass seems so 1998 to me. My airline of choice (most of the time) is United Airlines. United has been doing a very good job with electronic boarding passes since it's inception several years ago. First it was an emailed link that would bring up a web page, then a email containing a PDF, app delivered boarding passes and now, integration with iOS Passbook.

When I first experienced Passbook in iOS 6 it was a very cool concept. I promptly loaded up all my rewards and membership cards that had been taking up space in my wallet. Did you know you can make a pass for a card or membership program that doesn't have an integrated service? When United updated their app for iOS 6 it brought with it the inclusion of Passbook boarding passes. At first this was revolutionary and the function of having a swipe to display boarding pass from my lock screen was amazing.

Over the past few months it seems that the passbook app has been going downhill, or at least the user experience. Lately I'm not getting consistent delivery of my boarding passes to the lock screen and very often when I swipe it brings up the wrong boarding pass (boarding pass for a future or past flight segment). I'm actually finding that the electronic boarding pass on the United app is a more streamlined experience than using the Passbook app.

As a related note I wish that Passbook offered an automatic delete feature. For example it automatically deletes the pass 72 hours after the pass expiration. I fly a lot, sometimes 6 boarding passes a week. At the end of the month it's not uncommon to have 30 or so older passes in passbook that need to be deleted.

I'm sure that Passbook is due for evolution, specifically as Apple enters the NFC and mobile payment space. My hope is that the app developers and apple will continue to develop this interface as the desired user experience is extremely beneficial to the consumer. 

Track Apple Serial Numbers & AppleCare with 1Password

Here's the problem: This week it occurred to me that my AppleCare subscription on my MacBook air was perhaps about to run out. I needed to go and look up the exact date that I purchased my Macbook Air so I could track this back. After doing some digging in my email folders I located the original PDF of the receipt from the purchase. But that took too long. 

Here is the solution: I created a secure note in 1Password where I recorded the serial number of my Macbook Air, the model number and purchase date. I created PDF's of both the receipt and the webpage that gave me the details on the expiration of the AppleCare plan (which turned out to be next year). Now I have this information securely stored at my fingertips. Because I use 1Password on both my mac and iOS devices I'm able to get to this information wherever I go. I'm now creating similar notes for all of my Apple purchases and other products that have warrantees that expire. It occurred to me that this could have been done in Evernote as well however I found some elegance that it's secure in the 1Password app behind a very powerful main password. 

1Password is made by Agilebits and can be found at https://agilebits.com/onepassword

1Password stores my MacBook Air Serial Number and purchase information for fast access. Also I attached PDF's of the receipt of purchase and a screen capture of the AppleCare expiration website. 

Tweetbot for Mac


I've been a Tweetbot for iOS user for over a year. I was originally turned on to it by Katie and David over at Mac Power Users. For my use it's an extremely powerful twitter client on both the iPhone and iPad. I suffered through their update on the iPhone which unfortunately was a paid update when iOS 7 came out however its a workhorse and I love the app. I was very happy when I opened up the Mac App Store yesterday and discovered that Tweetbot has an app now on the Mac platform. I've been underwhelmed by some of the other Mac Twitter clients. If you are using the Tweetbot app on your iOS device and like it, go ahead and purchase the Mac App Store version. It is an exact replication of the app on iOS. Better yet once you authenticate with Twitter (you can use multiple accounts as on iOS) and are logged into iCloud on your iOS device all your data syncs together. This includes your lists, saved searches and preferences. The only decisions you have to make on the iOS platform is to use location services etc via your Mac. Great job to the folks over at Tapbots. I highly recommend downloading this app for your Mac. For more information head on over to http://tapbots.com/software/tweetbot/mac


IFTTT as the Hazel For iOS

I have been using Hazel in my Mac workflow for some time now. If you aren't familiar check it out at:


Hazel automates files and actions throughout my Mac. For example if I put a file with a specific  file name in my downloads folder Hazel can add to Evernote or move the file to a specific folder. This is a key part of my day-to-day workflow. iOS is another story. Because iOS is a fairly closed ecosystem and products like Hazel aren't available for iOS devices and iOS does not have a local file structure there is little automation available for mobile devices.

Recently "If This Then That" (IFTTT) has launched an app for the iPhone. IFTTT is just what it says. If some condition occurs it triggers something else to happen. This used to be a web based service that could do some really amazing things. For example if weather.com detected sunset it could trigger your WeMo to turn a light on in your house. Now with the launch of the iPhone app it has added another layer of possibilities. I designed a IFTTT recipe this week that takes any new picture on my camera roll and copies it to a Dropbox folder.

What I've learned from this experience is IFTTT now has the capability of interacting with files on my iPhone and taking action with them. It's a very small start but this has the potential to be the closest alternative to Hazel for iOS devices.


Mavericks First Glance

Took some time over the weekend to download and install the new Apple operating system, Mavericks. Download and install time took about 45 minutes on my home internet (~25mbs). The install was seamless. So far I'm very underwhelmed with the OS. I'm really glad that Apple decided not to charge for this update. Big pieces were the addition of maps and iBooks to the OS. There are some additional notification options which are nice. I'm liking the LinkedIn integration. I'm already able to update contact information through LinkedIn through Cobook (requires a hack - not off the shelf) and it's a nice option to share through LI from Safari. Safari did get an update however it was updated through the app store before the Mavericks update. First glance Mavericks is a meh for me. I'll get more into it this week as I'll hook up to an external monitor in my office tomorrow. I hear that's where the magic begins.  

iOS 7 First Glance

Big day for the Apple server farms. Millions of people downloaded the iOS7 update for their iDevices today including me. At first glance it's a pretty slick interface. I'm happy to see the Forstalish designs gone and what is left is very clean and well improved. I've also taken to twitter tonight to review a lot of the new features (rather than just discover them myself). One thing that many people aren't talking about but should be is spotlight.

Spotlight search has been a feature of iOS for several generations but with iOS 7 it got a huge facelift. Now you swipe down from the center of the home screen and just get a typing field at the top. It used to be a fairly light searching field however it's improved now with searching emails, including emails not in the inbox but in nested folders. Very slick. I'm also excited to see this now working as a light launcher such as Alfred or Launchbar on the Mac. You now have point and shoot access for apps, functions contacts and other text that appears across the device. I really hope this continues to improve as they open it up to developers.

So on the first night after spending about 2 hours with the new OS on my iPad and iPhone I'm happy with the results. More to come soon.

Lighting and Micro USB Charging Cable

Here's the dilemma, I have several iOS devices that charge via a Apple Lighting style connector. I also have several devices that charge via a Micro USB platform. I'm conscious about space when I travel and don't like carrying around a lot of cables. I would prefer to just have a couple that would charge all my devices. There are times that I want to charge both my iPad and iPhone at the same time. You can see the issue here. Last month I discovered a really good solution that fixes this problem. Apple makes an adapter that goes from Micro USB to Lighting

   Link to Apple Micro USB-Lighting Adapter


Now I can carry a lighting cable and a Micro USB cable with the adapter on one end that can charge all my devices and keep me from having to carry too many extra cables. Just for the record the things that I charge with Micro USB are my iPad keyboard, Verizon hotspot and Monoprice backup battery.

Hopefully this will work well for you too.