So long iPad…

I’ve not touched my iPad this week. I’m now total a Nexus 7 junkie. More than anything, it’s because of the speed difference. My iPad 1 is so slow in comparison to the Nexus 7. If I were to go back to an iPad now, I would have to upgrade to the latest model and I don’t see the point of spending that amount of cash…

It looks like this weeks visit to my nephews will include a new addition to the “things they use for 30 seconds before going out to play football” pile. :)

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I reserve the right to go out and buy an iPad 3 at any time for the fun of it… :)

Update: The iPad did get re-homed at my nephews this weekend… :)

Adventures with Dropbox and KeePass…

Thanks to Eddie Awad, I’ve been using 2-step verification on my Google account for a while. Now Jake from The Appslab has scared me into using a password manager and revamping all my passwords…

We use KeePass (on Windows) at work to hold all our passwords, so I figured I’d go with that and see how I get on. Unlike work, I want to use a single store for all my devices, so I finally found a use for my Dropbox account.

Dropbox Installations

If you don’t already have it, you need to install Dropbox on your device(s). For mobiles, that means their respective app stores. For computers (Linux, Mac and Windows), you can get it from the Dropbox website.

Shared KeePass Installation

Rather than install KeePass on each Windows/Mac/Linux machine separately, I downloaded the Portable KeePass 2.19 (ZIP Package) version of KeePass and unziped it into a “KeePass” directory inside my “Dropbox” directory. That same installation can be used on all Dropbox-enabled desktops and laptops.

KeePass Installations on Linux

  • To run KeePass under Linux, you need to install Mono. On Fedora 17 you can do this with the following command.
    # yum install mono-core mono-tools
  • Once Mono is installed, you can run KeePass with the following command.
    $ mono ~/Dropbox/KeePass/KeePass.exe
  • I created a new KeePass database and saved the “.kdbx” file in my “~/Dropbox/KeePass” directory, so it was available on all my devices..

KeePass works really well on Fedora 17 using Mono.

KeePass Installations on Android

For Android devices, I used the KeePassDroid app.

  • Install the Dropbox app if you don’t already have it. Connect to your Dropbox account and check you can see the “.kdbx” file in the “KeePass” directory.
  • Install the KeePassDroid app.
  • Open Dropbox, locate the “.kdbx” file and tap it.
  • Once the KeePassDroid app opens, check the “Use this as my default database” option, enter the password and click the “OK” key.

The KeePassDroid app works fine on my Nexus 7 and my old HTC Wildfire.

Update: Swapped my phone for a Nexus 4. Not surprisingly, the app works fine on this too. :)

KeePass Installations on iPad/iPhone

For my iPad I used the MiniKeePass app.

  • Install the MiniKeePass app and open it.
  • Hit the “i” in the bottom-middle of the screen.
  • Click the “Dropbox Import/Export” option and follow the instructions.

It’s not a thrilling app, but it does the job.

KeePass Installations on OS X

The KeePass app does not work well (see update below) under the OS X version of Mono. It’s slow and the interface is quite jerky, but you can use it.

  • Download the Mono SDK for Mac. I used the “2.10.9” stable version. When I tried to use the Mono Runtime, KeePass failed to open the database file, so definitely use the SDK. Install the Mono SDK like any other Mac package.
  • Once Mono is installed, run KeePass with the following command.
    $ mono ~/Dropbox/KeePass/KeePass.exe

If you plan to use OS X as your main platform, I would probably use a different password store until Mono on OS X becomes a little more reliable (see update below).

Update: The latest version of KeePass and Mono work pretty well, so my previous warning is not really necessary now. Remember, if you are planning to use KeePass on Mac, make sure you have the latest version of X11 and Mono (3.2.3 or later).

So that’s it. I only have to remember my DropBox password and my KeePass password and I can now use ridiculous passwords for all my other logins…

Cheers

Tim…

My Secret iPad App Addictions…

When using my iPad, I spend the vast majority of my time in a browser. I don’t have many apps and most of the ones I have I don’t use regularly, but I have a couple that have become a secret addiction…

We City – I love this app. Like all these “earn money and build stuff” apps, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on each visit, but you tend to come back several times a day. I guess I check in about 10 times a day, each time for about 1 minute. I’ve found myself taking my iPad round to friends houses so I can check in a couple of times when I’m there, under the guise of checking my emails. Truly pathetic I know, but that’s addictions for you. :)

GarageBand – I’ve been hearing people rave about GarageBand for ages, but I always assumed it was some sort of Guitar Hero game so I ignored it. It was all a bit random, but the other day I installed it to see what all the fuss was about and it is totally awesome. I was in bands at University, but it’s been years since I’ve done anything musical. I pick up a guitar form time to time, but I can barely play anymore. Anyway, a few minutes with this app and you can start building up pretty cool sounding tunes. You can play the instruments themselves, throw in some autoplay stuff for the instruments you don’t play and even use some of the predefined loops. If you get the right connectors, you can even plug in real guitars, keyboards and mics. I don’t think you’ll be hearing me on the radio any time soon, but it’s great fun and well worth the £2.99 I paid for it. I hadn’t realized I already have GarageBand installed on my MacBook Pro. I guess I should take a look and see what that can do that the iPad app can’t, but to be honest, it’s more fun messing with the iPad than sitting at a keyboard.

Cheers

Tim…

More iPad musings…

One of the reasons I bought an iPad was to use it as a book reader. I figured I could save a few trees and save a bit of money as some Kindle books are a little cheaper than the paper equivalents. Fast forward a few months and I’ve not completed a single book on the iPad. In fact I’ve struggled to read more than the odd page of any novel. The iPad just isn’t working out for me in that role. I find it a little heavy, the screen reflection is shocking and I’m not particularly happy about doing things like reading in the bath or in bed with it. It just doesn’t work for me. Added to that, a comment Gwen Shapira made at OOW 2010 has come back to haunt me. It’s just too easy to get distracted on an iPad. How wise you are Gwen. :)

I’m toying with the idea of buying a kindle. It would certainly solve the weight, screen reflection and distraction issues. Whether it would feel “natural” to me is another issue.

I had a bunch of gift tokens from the last couple of Christmases, so I went out a few days ago and bought real paper books. Instant satisfaction and I’ve started reading again… :)

Cheers

Tim…

iPad. Thoughts so far…

In one of my previous posts I mentioned I bought an iPad whilst at OpenWorld. Well it’s a few days old so I thought I’d write a little something about my thoughts so far.

I was originally very skeptical about the whole iPad thing. I switched from a 17 inch laptop to a 13 inch MacBook Pro to reduce then weight of the bag I was lugging round at conferences. At OpenWorld I got so sick the weight of the MacBook I decided to buy the iPad and I must say, from a weight perspective at least, it is a massive improvement.

Having not been part of the iPhone crowd I was initially very confused by the interface. Reading content was a breeze but editing and typing was truly arduous. Over the last few days I’ve got used to it and for the most part it is OK. I’m typing this blog post now using it. Having said that, without a separate keyboard it is not a good device for content generation. Simple text is fine, but cut & paste is a complete pain. Don’t even get me started on pasting hyperlinks into blog and forum posts. Too much effort.

Where it really comes into it’s own is for reading content. I’ve got Kindle for iPad and the books are really neat and easy to read. I’ve also moved some PDFs of the Oracle docs onto iBooks and they are much easier to read on the iPad than the Kindle. Very impressive. The screen does suffer in bad light compared to the Kindle, so if you are only going to read novels, then save a load of cash and use a Kindle. If on the other hand you want to browse the net, check emails and do some minor content generation, like blogging and twitter, then the iPad is great.

Two other factors that weigh heavily in it’s favour compared to a laptop are the instant on/off and excellent battery life. No more hassle at conferences and on planes. Just switch it on and go.

It’s early days, but I think this will now replace my laptop for everything except presentations with demos.

Cheers

Tim…

Apple iPad… I just don’t get it…

I’ve been using a Mac for a while now and I’m still waiting for it to change my life. It’s no different for me than any Windows or Linux box. Just a box to run a browser and SSH sessions from. The only thing that distinguishes it from the other stuff out there is the box is really pretty. The content is no big deal. I don’t find it easier or harder to use than anything else. Tastes vary, but the OS is not particularly prettier or uglier than anything else I’ve used. Added to that, I believe the iPhone is just another smart phone, not a lifestyle. Now you know where I stand, here are my first impressions of the iPad.

The iPad looks like a really nice way to view information, but I just don’t see how it fits into my life. Of course my lack of understanding is explained by this quote from the advertising blurb.

“Exceeds your ability to understand”

I see. I’m just not clever enough to understand that I need it. I better not announce to the world that I don’t understand or I’ll prove I’m stupid. Isn’t that like The Emporer’s New Clothes? Well I for one don’t understand…

Here are some of the things I’m confused about:

  • No phone functionality? So I have to carry my phone and this around, but if I have an iPhone I can do most of this stuff anyway (but with a smaller screen), so what’s the point of having both?
  • No keyboard? I just don’t see it as practical to do any of the non-work stuff I do without a real keyboard. Of course I’ve not tried this screen, but typing on touch screens sucks. I need physical feedback to type at any speed. If I have to use a separate keyboard to feel comfortable, what’s the point? If you are predominantly a viewer of information, fine, but if you have to produce anything I can’t see this working.
  • No lid? How long is that screen going to stay unscratched? I can see those who have Compulsive iPhone Polishing Disorder going mad with this thing. Of course it’s great for the manufacturers of accessories who will no doubt produce a multitude of covers and lids.

So what does it do well?

  • It looks really neat for viewing existing content. Browsing, reading, casually information retrieval.
  • If you are a big traveller, it looks like an improvement over the Kindle for reading.
  • For travellers also, it beats watching films on an iPhone, but I’m not sure it is better than a laptop. Why? Well a laptop is free standing on the fold down table. I’ve got to hold this thing or rest it against something and risk dropping it if I fall asleep it’s going to annoy me. I see an opportunity for a iPad stand for plane tables. :)

My biggest stumbling block is many people I know would still need a phone and laptop if they bought an iPad, so what’s the point?

I’m torn between thinking it is cool and wanting one, but ultimately knowing it is pointless. I would consider having one in the living room, lying around so I can casually look something up on the net, or quickly check my emails, but that’s about it. The problem is it’s not as portable as a phone and not as flexible as a laptop. This middle ground always confuses me. I’m sure this will be a natural fit for some people, and this years accessory for others, but I just don’t get it…

Cheers

Tim…

Update: This is funny Next from Apple: The Pocket iPad.