Working Tools 42. Sabotaged.

The new normal has exposed the weakness of my iPad-only system.

The iPad Pro as a mini-desktop is a beautiful, minimal setup. The tablet sits on a stand, in horizontal orientation, controlled by a separate keyboard and mouse (or trackpad). This makes for a focused experience.

Then, somebody asks for a video call, on Zoom, for example. I can take the call, but it must be the only app working. I can’t take notes on the iPad while listening to the call. The camera is on a shorter side of the tablet, meaning that if I’m looking at the person to whom I’m speaking, I look as though I’m looking away from them. Not the end of the world, but annoying. Given the state of the world, I, like everyone else, am on more video calls, and am likely to remain so.

I perform stress tests for clients. I dig down through the paperwork, to assess and document that procedures are being followed. Much of this work, is traditionally done on-site, in-person. Not this year. Probably not next year either. Once I have completed the test, I run seminars, going through any issues identified and covering what’s new in the world of anti-money laundering. That’s not going to happen.

I set about structuring a remote stress test and remote seminars.

In reality, it’s not too difficult. I need to manage a lot of documentation and I need to create some video presentations.

Duck Duck Go Search. “Screencasting on an iPad.”

It didn’t laugh at me, but close.

To clarify, I will be making a few video presentations a year. I will use a powerpoint / keynote and present it to camera. The visuals will be the slides, with an occasional inset of my talking head in the corner.

Whilst it would be fun to set up a couple of cameras, the right lighting (I have the kit) and a full blown audio/video studio, this would be overkill. I want something simple, easy to use that produces decent quality audio and visual output.

The good news is that there are options. The bad news is that none of them are iPad-centric.

I transferred the MacBook Pro to my desk. Complete with external peripherals.

However, clamshell mode takes the camera away – which I need. So now the machine is open, front and centre on my desk. The external display comes in handy, meaning that I can keep a script on one screen, while presenting on another. I still enjoy my iPad, so that sits alongside its bigger brothers.

My lovely, minimal, focused workspace, now looks like a hacker’s workstation.

However – it will work, and I will find ways of reducing some of the clutter. Inevitably, part of the solution will involving buying more stuff.

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Working Tools 41. Customer Hostility

Why do tech companies hate their customers so much?

Remember aspirational me? The one who had his iPad Pro on a boom arm. The premise of the iPad Pro is that it can handle pretty much anything. It almost can. Almost.

My desire to have the screen mounted on a boom depends on the ability to use the machine with a keyboard and/or other input accessories. Start prodding at a boom-mounted screen with a finger quickly gives you back-ache and the wobbling screen is not an elegant look.

Some apps, like this one, Ulysses, work perfectly with no touch. Microsoft Excel? Not so much. Google apps? Don’t get me started. Certain web applications, not quite. Of course, if one thing that you need doesn’t work – the whole setup doesn’t. Who wants to get angered every hour or two by an application not delivering on the touch-free option promise of iPad Pro?

Is it unreasonable to expect Apple, Google and Microsoft to work together to ensure the best possible customer experience?

On 1857, TJ made the mistake of asking about Smart Tech. There followed an hour plus of me shouting at the internet.

I’m sure that you have noticed that the world, pre-Covid 19 at least, had become a much smaller place. People are mobile, travel extensively, and even go live in different countries. Seriously. They do. I do.

Let’s take TV as an example.

Here’s what I’d like to do.

  1. Turn on my TV (big box, full of tech, connected to the internet, in the corner of my sitting room.)
  2. Be presented with a menu of the content that I have paid to have access to, and a menu of services or content that I might tempted to consume.
  3. Select some content, pay for it, and watch it.

For example, if I want to watch the Premier League football then in the UK, I would subscribe to Sky TV. As I don’t live in the UK, I can’t subscribe to Sky – because of complicated rights agreements and conventions. Effectively, a Cypriot broadcaster has purchased exclusive rights to the Premier League in Cyprus – so I should go and purchase a Cypriot system to watch English TV with graphics and commentary in Greek. In reality, I’m not a football fan, so I’m not bothered. However, I do enjoy cricket and golf. No Cypriot broadcaster is willing to pay for the rights to golf and cricket. Surely then, I should be able to pay Sky for access to those two sports?

“I’m afraid all Sports are bundled together, Sir.”
“That’s a pain, but never mind. I’ll pay the full fee, nobody here in Cyprus carries golf.”
“Cyprus? You can’t watch our TV in Cyprus, sir.”
“Why not?”
“Football rights.”
“But I don’t want to watch football.”
“Sorry.”

This type of story is repeated across multiple services. I’m not allowed to watch the BBC outside the UK. Even though I still pay the licence fee that funds the BBC.

There are ways around these restrictions. One can use a VPN to trick these companies into allowing you to pay them – or one can subscribe to third-party services who provide this content through means unspecified.

In effect, the content providers themselves have created the market for piracy of their own content.

The world’s gone mad.

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Working Tools 40. HEY for Work

I’m a paid up subscriber to the new email service that I wrote about last week. I’m on the lists for custom domains and work accounts.

My personal mail has gone from needy and demanding, to chilled and supportive. I have no notifications switched on, and when I check for new mail, HEY mostly, tells me “Nothing new for you”. Even though I’ve received 30 messages, they have all slipped into the Feed or The Paper Trail. Similar to many other users, I’ve found that I’m reading more newsletters. I read, in the feed, when it suits me, rather than hurriedly scanning and archiving, in a rush to hit inbox zero.

Reply Later works really well for me – at one point in the day, I can focus and reply, and get all those mails responded to in a non-disruptive flash.

Much of this functionality was available to me elsewhere, if I chose to think it through and set it up, but HEY has spelt out to me workflows, and the rationale behind them. I’m settling in, and now, using other clients feels unwieldy and awkward.

Tweaks and bug-fixes are coming thick and fast across all platforms. An altogether delightful experience so far.

My manifesto for HEY for Work

Well, if HEY can have a manifesto, so can I.

Separation.

For too long, all manner of communication has been piling up in my e-mail client. A thread about a golf trip sitting side by side with a Nero’s Notes customer support issue, and a detailed investigation of money laundering for Lime. I want all of those mails – but on my terms. I don’t want to triage all of them in the same visit. So – I worry, when I read about unified inboxes.

It may be that separation can be achieved with a funky account switching function. I’m betting those clever folk at Basecamp will work it out, and on the evidence so far, I imagine their solution will be better than mine.

I would like the accounts to be separate and visibly so. A visual cue as to what mode I’m in (Formal Corporate / Friendly webshop / Personal) is incredibly helpful.

Signatures

These are a legal requirement for UK entities, of which I have two. I’m all for reducing the clutter, but not to the extent that I’m breaking the law.

Timed Send

Sometimes I schedule an hour at the weekend to clear email. HEY has the excellent Focus and Reply feature for that. But…I don’t want my replies to go out on a Sunday afternoon. I want to schedule them.

Now, assuming they deliver all this, how am I going to tell Clare that her Nero’s e-mail is going to be radically different?

Working Tools 39. Hey! Yay! Nay?

Today, I’m writing about the dance craze sweeping the nation.

Only kidding. I’m still blethering on about e-mail.

I have been trialing Hey for more than a week. I’ve read the manifesto (seriously, there is one), watched the 37 minute walk-through, and a ninety minute “Q & Hey” on Twitter. I do like a good pun, so that’s a definite plus.

Day one

“What? I can’t archive? Ridiculous.” My palms were sweaty. Not knowing exactly where every e-mail was, made me anxious. I have forwarded my legion of accounts into Hey, but still have them downloading to other clients as a control.

Day three

“Where’s that email gone? WHERE IS IT? This is nonsense.” (It was in the “already seen” section.)

Day five

“Right. I’m going to watch the Q and HEY.” Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp talked of the “toughest period of launch”; the first few weeks after release. He explained how feedback pours in from early adopters, users like me, attempting to make the new thing more like the old thing. Everyone tries to mould the new app to their existing workflow. Apparently, the trick is to nod, empathise, and ignore this feedback. The whole point is to change the workflow. “Pah!” I sipped my coffee dismissively.

Day seven

“You know, that Fried fellow might have a point. Perhaps for personal e-mail, Hey and its backward workflow is just the ticket. Impossible for work though.”

Day eight

Isn’t e-mail fun? Work would be fine in this, once they enable signatures.

Day nine

Today. They’re on to something. They have turned how I think about email on it’s head. There are things that can be improved, and one or two of them already have been. All the signs are that the service will go from strength to strength. Hey for Work, custom domains etc, are all in the works.

Conclusion

Will it be for me? At the current rate of evolution, my opinion by Day 14, may have moved all of my accounts irrevocably to Hey.

There are a load of really interesting features on Hey. Too many for me to go through (read about it here)– but the the key change for me – is the reset of the default.

My inbox-zero driven workflow is all about decisive action. Open a mail and deal with it, kill it, file it. Never do nothing.

With Hey, the default is…let it go. Do nothing. Unless you need to. It’s all a bit zen.

Nevertheless – right now, my issues are…

  1. Custom Domain. “Look – you can have firstname@hey.com, isn’t that cool?” Well, it’s OK, but I can also have anything@stuartlennon.com which ain’t bad either. Besides, my first name, and its diminutive, were gone by the time I arrived. If I sign up now, my outbound mail will come from a hey.com address, that ultimately I will dump, in favour of my own domain. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until custom domains are available?
  2. Split apps. I really like having my work / personal mail split. I don’t want a unified inbox. Nor do I want several inboxes (or even imboxes) in one app. I’d like to have three instances of the app on my phone, each with a different coloured icon. Why? Because sometimes, I’m not at work.

So, where am I?

I will subscribe for personal mail. My custom domain will forward to it until there is an offering from Hey, at which point, I’ll have another decision to make. You can email me at stuart.lennon@hey.com

My writing is supported by people like you. Patronage costs £5 per month. For this, you will get access to subscriber only posts in writing and audio, direct access to a patrons chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a Patron

 

Working Tools 38. E-mail Revisited

A huge attraction of going iOS-only, or iOS-first, is simplicity and focus. iPad can do all sorts of multi-tasking, but for me, works best as a single-focus device.

Accepting that my corporate work is easier done on macOS than iOS, has redirected my thinking on workflows.

E-mail

I have three groups of e-mail addresses.

  1. Lime Consulting (Lime). A family of addresses and domains that all come to me.
  2. Nero’s Notes (Nero’s). As the above, but with some traffic directed to Clare.
  3. stuartlennon.com (SL). My own domain, and several older personal email addresses. G-mail and iCloud, for example.

The Lime addresses were aliases of SL. Nero’s forward to SL. That way, I had a unified inbox. Sent mails all came from SL. (Unless I remembered to select the Lime alias.) It was uncomfortable.

Corporate clients expect e-mail to come from a corporate domain, with a corporate signature. This runs contrary to modern thinking. The fashion amongst the “Techeratti” is to have no signature, or a minimal one. This overlooks the inconvenient fact, that for a UK entity at least, it is a legal requirement to include the registered address and company registration number on all correspondence.

Nero’s customers are less picky. Nevertheless, some wise souls like to have an email chat before sending money to a website, new to them. A reply from a different domain is hardly reassuring.

These issues are easily resolved. I split Lime from SL and then set up all three accounts on Mail. Three inboxes in one. Hmmm….now, I have folders and labels, all over the place. On iPad Pro its a mess. On iPhone, it’s horrible.

I am experimenting with having each group of mails in their own app.

iOS

Nero’s are G-suite addresses – so are a natural fit with the G-mail app.

Lime fits nicely with Fastmail, which feels solid and secure.

SL – these are more personal, less constrained, so I’m trying a variety of apps. Favourite right now, is Edison.

Keeping them separate allows me to segregate my duties. If I’m checking my personal mail, I’m not deluged with corporate stuff. If I’m working on one company, I’m not distracted by the other. There’s work to do on notifications per device, but thus far, I’m enjoying it.

Mac

All accounts into Mail. I use “Mail Steward” to back up messages. Old habits die hard, I guess. It plays nicely with Mail. There’s enough real estate and control to manage the multiple inboxes, folders and labels. Largely, I’m only on the Mac to do the Lime stuff anyway.

HEY

Then, my invite for HEY arrived. New, shiny and different. Will this fit in to my system? Where?

I’ll let you know, once I’ve finished testing it.

My writing is supported by people like you. Patronage costs £5 per month. For this, you will get access to subscriber only posts in writing and audio, direct access to a patrons chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a Patron

Working Tools 37. HEY

Heard of Basecamp? It’s a collaboration tool for remote teams.

Well, the guys behind it have been working on re-imagining e-mail. The aim is to put the user in charge. Privacy-driven, workflow-oriented, with some additional clever elements. It’s called HEY. If you have a half hour, go check out this video by the CEO.

I was seduced. Back in February, the company advised interested parties that they were opening a list for early access in June. I missed that, but eventually caught up and got my request sent in May. I believe, at launch (June 15th) there were 40 to 50 thousand people awaiting their invite.

Basecamp have been dripping out the invitations. The idea is that you use your code to sign up online and get your new e-mail address, and then download the relevant apps for your platform and get going. You have 14 days to try the service. If happy, you can sign up, for £99 per year.

If the service works, and does what it says it does, I will happily pay £99 per annum. That’s not to say that the service is perfect, or without missing features, but the pros outweigh the cons, – for me.

I kept checking my inbox for my code. I’d like to secure my favoured user name. FOMO anyone?

Then, Twitter blew up. Apple is threatening to pull the app – because the subscription element is outside the App Store. Ie: Apple doesn’t get a cut. That’s a no-no.

Unless it’s not a no-no.

There are plenty of examples of apps that already do this with no trouble – one of them being Basecamp. Other e-mail services do it too, Fastmail, Protonmail and Gmail, for example. I’m no expert on this sort of thing – go read John Gruber’s take, here.

I’m not a developer, nor an Apple shareholder. I’m not even a European regulator. (Look out Apple.) I’m a consumer.

I understand the debate – should Apple get a slice of everything that touches their platform or should other parties be allowed to profit from their own innovation atop IOS? There are good arguments on both sides, and I look forward to learning.

However – from a consumer point of view, I’m just annoyed.

Apple is the biggest company in the world. How in God’s name did they create a system that is inconsistent, opaque and so difficult to navigate? They approved the application and then changed their mind? OK on Friday, no good on Monday? Really? That’s the Quality system?

I feel for Basecamp, I’m sure this is not what they want to see. Some are suggesting this is a superbly engineered PR stunt. I imagine the same people think the Earth is flat and Covid-19 a hoax. Without IOS, Hey is crippled, headlines or no headlines.

The promise of the service is fantastic, the marketing clever, and the hype exciting. Bravo Basecamp – a rising tide lifts everyone.

Now, the tide’s out. Apple looks like a greedy monopolistic behemoth, stifling innovation.

Smart Apple would acquire Basecamp. Ruthless Apple would load the development team for its own mail applications, sherlock and supersede Hey.

Rotten Apple, in full view of its customer base, crushes an exciting initiative on the basis that, it hasn’t been cut in on the action.

I have no problem with Apple making money – but it takes a special kind of stupid to make yourself look this bad.

Legal counsel are telling Tim Cook that they can beat the anti-trust investigations in the US and the EU. Maybe they can. Regulators will never bring Apple down.

Greed and complacency might though.

My writing is supported by people like you. Patronage costs £5 per month. For this, you will get access to subscriber only posts in writing and audio, direct access to a patrons chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a Patron

Working Tools 36. Horses for Courses

I’m self-aware enough to know, that whining about whether to use one highly-priced bit of tech over another, is easily seen as a humble brag, or a first world problem.

Certainly, in the context of our world today, it’s entirely insignificant. Still winds me up though.

The Dream

Aspirational-me has just ordered a boom arm for my iPad. My desk will be clear, but for some artfully-placed stationery, and a coaster. With careful lighting, I will post on Instagram, #minimalsetup, #chillsetup. Each morning, I’ll write my journals, with the sun streaming in, showing off the gleaming ink from my fountain pens. Then, having meditated, my iPad will swing across, my keyboard emerge from a drawer and I shall morph into the digital entrepreneur, typing in Ulysses.

The Reality

Pragmatic-me has finished reinstating my Macbook pro and external display atop a book case, behind me. (Or #improvisedstandingdesk in Insta-speak.)

Why?

Lime Training and Consultancy Ltd (Lime) supports firms in the retail financial services space. Think Bureau de Change, Money Transfer services, and pawnbroking. Its job is to make sure that these firms are aware of regulation around money laundering and terrorist financing, and have policies, procedures and systems to ensure that they do the right thing. So, I keep abreast of what’s going on, keep firms informed, and ensure their procedures are current and effective.

Case Study

Boom! Regulation change. I need to read some, or all of; legislation (both the old version and the new one; lawmakers don’t publish “track-changes”), regulations, guidance (from multiple sources), professional commentary, and legal opinion. Firms need a distillation of all that.

“What’s happened? How does it impact us? What needs doing? Have you done it yet?”

Sometimes, things are straightforward. I can write a note, publish it as as a pdf and issue it with an imperious glare. Mostly though, I need to explain what’s happened and why, and suggest how things might be addressed. A collaboration ensues. There are many fantastic apps and tools that can be used for this. Trouble is, the firms will use e-mail, Word and Excel and only e-mail, Word and Excel. Given that the customer is always right, I therefore, use e-mail, Word and Excel.

In short, client work generally requires multiple browser tabs, annotated pdfs and screenshots, Word, Excel and e-mail. All to be open and easily accessible. Top notch file management and search is a must.

Possible on an iPad? Sure. Easy on an iPad? No. As to archives, Ipad OS is fine, as long as you have stored in your head the exact location of every file going back to 2009, because the Files App hasn’t got a clue how to find anything.

Word, Excel and multi-tasking all work on an iPad, in much the same way that a saucepan will boil over a lighter. It works, but you’re better off using the cooker.

Accidental Improvement

I’m still stabbing the display with my finger from time to time, but overall the arrangement works well. If I’m standing at a keyboard and screen, I’m in corporate mode. The change of location, posture and machine is an excellent prompt for the required mental gear change.

My writing is supported by people like you. Patronage costs £5 per month. For this, you will get access to subscriber only posts in writing and audio, direct access to a patrons chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a Patron

Working Tools 35. The Domino Effect

I wrote only last week about breaking stuff.

Turned out that my migration of the Lime website wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. The theme wasn’t responsive, and activating the menu on a tablet or smart phone, overlaid the menu choices on the current page text. It looked horrible.

I have activated another theme – which whilst still not perfect, is holding the fort, as it were.

Updating the site, I stumbled on a process that is inefficient. As part of my iPad first, streamlined workflow ambitions, I set to fixing it.

Trigger

Something happens in the sphere of anti money laundering that I wish to alert my clients about, and to comment on publicly. The first is achieved by sending a briefing note, and the second by posting on the website.

Current Process

I write the web piece in Ulysses and upload it to the WordPress Editor, as per this site. I also export the text to form the basis of the briefing note. Typically, I export it as a Word document (Docx). Then, I edit it, copy it, and paste it onto a corporate template. Finally, I e-mail it to the clients with a covering note.

Opportunity

Aha – I thought. Perhaps I can export it straight to a PDF template from Ulysses. Apparently not. Or at least not without building a bespoke “style” over on Mac, using skills beyond my know-how. Even then, the logo might be an issue.

Hmmm…what about some sort of shortcuts / automation on IOS? Nope. Not that I can divine.

How about one of those swish PDF apps? Apparently not.

A little Google-fu convinces me that it might be possible to conjure something on the Mac but that on IOS, I will struggle.

Simplicity

The simplest way is to compose the briefing note on a briefing note template in either Word or Pages and send it from there. Who knew? I will probably compose the text in Ulysses with no formatting, then copy & paste to Word/Pages. That done, I’ll format for web in Ulysses and export to the site, before returning to Word/Pages and manually formatting the briefing note.

Or – of course, somebody will point out to me that I’m missing something painfully obvious.

Content

Schedule

In June – I’m changing things up a bit.

Monday – I’ll link to the 1857 Podcast release.
Tuesday – I’ll link to my article at Lime
Wednesday – I’ll publish the Members-Only post
Thursday – I’ll publish the regular post (like this one)
Friday – I’ll link to my article at Nero’s

The weekend, I’ll take off, though there may be some “downtime” posts too.

Membership

I’m going to change the Membership program too. Offering more content to members in more forms. I will also be increasing the price. Now – people who became members before June 1st 2020 will retain their legacy pricing. If you do want that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting a writer as he gets going, it will cost less if you do it before June 1st. Become a Member.

Working Tools 34. Breaking stuff

Limeconsulting.com is the website for my company Lime Training and Consultancy Ltd. It’s website was awful. Unloved, unmaintained and creaking under the weight of updates not completed. It had been designed, by someone else, using a plugin, that I don’t understand. Changing a phone number on the site was a fraught process, that took hours and generated volleys of ungentlemanly language.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and built a new site. Now – by built, I don’t mean code. I have a Hosted WordPress package with 5 sites included in the price. I chose a theme and drafted new text into the existing boxes. I followed the instructions, and ported my domain to the new site. The SSL certificate even moved on its own.

Done. Satisfying.

I opened my email, and deleted the usual notes from the host confirming every keystroke of the last hour. I may even have displayed a certain jaunty aspect. Then, one email caught my eye. “stuartlennon.com is down.”

“But…but…I didn’t touch that one.” Perhaps not a wail, nor were any toys ejected from a perambulator, but it was a close-run thing.

I spent an hour in the host’s dashboard. This confirmed to me that the dashboard is designed to provoke frustration, bordering on the murderous. The bloody thing may as well be in Serbo-Croat. I dialled the number of shame. (Or Support, as they call it.)

On the plus side, I was able to cook supper, water the plants, feed the dog and lock the house down for the night, while waiting to get through to the relentlessly chipper Jennifer. We spent a few minutes agreeing that my work on limeconsulting.com inevitably angered the SSL Certificate on stuartlennon.com. I mean, Duh!

Jennifer promised to have her team rekey the SSL within 24 hours and wished me a wonderful rest of the day. In fairness, the site was up and running within the hour.

The next day, refreshed, I resolved to “streamline my workflow”. Going IOS only, does require some adaptation to be efficient. Truth be told, much of what I do could do with streamlining. I’m forever making notes about how I must learn to do x or y. I then ignore the note, and get the task done with whatever Heath-Robinson process that I discovered back when God was a child.

I write in Ulysses. Because it’s awesome. Also, because the WordPress interface is, well, not very nice. The opposite of awesome, if you will. In Ulysses, I upload the finished post, complete with Markdown formatting and images, to the site’s WordPress admin. I could simply publish directly to the web – but I like to have a final check before unleashing anything onto the reader.

Cleverly, WordPress understands Markdown. Where I use “##”, it knows that I mean “Heading 2”. Inexplicably, it does not convert the syntax in the editor screen – only in the published post. Why? I have no idea. If the people at WordPress know, they’re not telling. I asked.

What this means, is that a very swish plugin called Yoast, doesn’t work. Yoast reads posts, scores them and then makes suggestions. It looks at SEO (yeah, whatever) and more importantly, at readability. The SEO reports says things like “you have only used the keyword 3 times, rather than the 4 times recommended for a post this length.” Sure. OK. The readability test though, is useful. It makes suggestions about sentence length, passive verbs, and conjunctions. Unfortunately, it does this from a reading of the editor screen. This means that it sees “##” as two hashes. It understands links as weird combinations of brackets.

Having got the digital version of a shrug from Automattic, the people behind WordPress, I asked Yoast. They suggested that I might want to write directly into WordPress.

Harumph.

End result? I binned Yoast.

Just this morning, I have spent an hour in mortal combat with my wi-fi network, but that’s another post.

Sometimes, I just break stuff.

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Working Tools 33. iPad Pro – Fight!

An iPad is not a laptop. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. YES, IT IS! NO, IT ISN’T!

People do like to get tribal. The internet is getting all shouty about the latest must-have accessory from Apple.

The tech colossus has released a software update that greatly enhances the efficacy of using a mouse or a trackpad with the tablet. Additionally, they have released a new keyboard attachment for the iPad Pro, that includes a trackpad.

Taking these two things together, an iPad Pro can now look and function in a very similar fashion to a laptop.

The internet is awash with videos, podcasts and articles positing that this configuration is truly the laptop replacement. Some are delighted, some horrified and others incredulous of everyone else’s opinion.

Diplomat that I am – I will steer clear of that debate.

Everyone’s wrong. (Alright, not entirely clear of the debate.)

My view

The iPad Pro flutters its eyelids and in a gravelly, seductive whisper says “What do you want me to be, baby?”

The new keyboard, infuriatingly named the same as the keyboard that accompanies the desktop iMac (Magic Keyboard) does indeed give the tablet a similar form factor to a laptop. Macbook killer. Allegedly.

The software update makes the tablet a desktop. The iMac killer, if you will. It sits on a stand, and is controlled by the the old magic keyboard and trackpad. A stripped-down desktop, unsullied by cables.

The Road Warrior sticks to the smart folio keyboard, (no magic there apparently), which allows for typing but preserves the lightweight portability of the tablet. Essential in the old days when she shuttled around the world making deals, kicking ass and taking names.

When the day is done, the user dons a turtleneck, retires to the couch and reads something impressive and intellectual on the naked tablet.

There are more modes – think Apple Pencil, external displays – but you get the picture.

The iPad is all about flexibility of environment and working practice. By happy accident or prescient design, it’s on the way to becoming the device for everyone – or at least most of everyone.

Apple’s view

Apple is a business, and will have no trouble selling us desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, accessories and services as long as we buy them. Arguments between Apple fans about which hunk of metal is best, bother it not a jot. Apple wants to capture all those people who don’t “compute” on Apple devices. Apple wants the young “future-consumers” to get aboard. These markets aren’t going to be buying huge desktops or $3,000 laptops, at least not many of them.

The iPad is the best tablet on the market, and it’s a pretty damned good desktop and laptop too.

My Usage

I’m writing from my dining room table, where I have setup a temporary workstation while my wife recovers from surgery. I’m in mini-desktop mode.

It’s too hot for a turtleneck, but I do subscribe to magazines and newspapers which I read on the couch through my magic slab of glass.

Eventually, we will be allowed to move again, and I can see myself outside a beach bar, or jammed into a airline seat, tapping away on a folio cover keyboard.(Sand can’t get under the fabric.)

The laptop form? Not for me. I suspect it’s much more stable than the folio if you type on your lap – but I don’t, and if I’m at a table, I find the desktop setup more ergonomic.

These things are always subject to change, but I can’t see myself buying a desktop Mac or Macbook again. Others may buy more of these things – and I’ll be honest, I’m not bothered.

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