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Father, Husband, computer geek, gamer, aspiring fitness nerd. I architect and code by day, and often keep at it into the dark of night. Currently fascinated by Python / Django, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and CentOS. Always on the lookout for a new Oracle DB challenge.

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Matt Chamlee

Matt Chamlee

Apps That Help Make My iPad a Laptop

3 min read

I’ve been repeatedly impressed by this iPad Pro and how it works as both a tablet and a laptop. Granted, there are still severe limitations in some areas compared to a full Windows or macOS experience, one being serious software development, but I’ve been able to take Python development further on this device than I ever thought possible. Some credit goes to iOS itself, especially version 11, with the multitasking bits allowing overlaid and split-screen application usage. Lately, however, I’ve found myself impressed in the application design itself, usage of the space on the iPad, and elements of very thoughtful design. Not all of it is perfect, and some of it you pay a hefty pricetag for (looking at you Omnigraffle), but it goes a long way to helping me settle into using this as both a tablet and a laptop/productivity device.

Editorial, which I’m using to author this post, is a great example of clean, get out of your way design. While I’m sad my current blogging platform of choice, Known, doesn’t support Markdown directly, Editorial is still great for publishing layout and organization. It can be what you want, from a simple text editor to a robust word processor, and even includes scripting which I have yet to try out.

Omnigraffle, what some might call the premiere vector design and diagramming tool for Apple devices, really shines on iOS in it’s latest release. It’s expensive, but if it’s something you have a need for the flow, performance, and ease of use make it worth it.

Word, which I’m using more and more on my iPad for outlines as I plan out projects and applications, is a great example of taking something as long lived and feature-rich as it is and distilling it into just what you need to get the job done. The features are all there, but it gets out of your way and let’s you work on the task and hand. The more I use it the more I’m curious to see what I can do with Powerpoint on iOS.

A few apps I’ve used very little, but am exited to spend more time with, are Pythonista, Ynab, and Terminus. Pythonista take a lot of cues from Editorial, which makes sense since it’s the same developer. Ynab I just feel more comforable doing the regular stuff on the web app and quick things on the phone, but I suspect over time the iPad app won’t feel so awkward, already doing several things very well. Terminus is a superb terminal application that I just haven’t had as much need for, but I know of ways I could put it to more use.

I look forward to being able to do more on the iPad. I’ll probably never get to any more serious development, at least not locally (Terminus provides some remote development options), but I expect to find more capabilities as time goes on.

Matt Chamlee

My Road to the iPad Pro

5 min read

Why the iPad Pro? Well, it actually starts with the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.

Actually, it probably started with the Newton. That really was a toy, at the time, but it was one of the best toys. The handwriting recognition was amazing. Digital notes, never having to worry about paper again. Unfortunately it didn't really fit anywhere into my lifestyle. It went into storage, and then I think I gave it to someone. Part of me misses that slick little device.

The Note Pro was bascially the follow-up to that Newton. I had a Note 3, and was a neato big phone with a Pen, but the note taking just never worked on that small of a screen. The Note Pro I could take notes on, doodle and draw when the desire grabbed me, double as a laptop with my bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It worked well, for a while.

Almost immediately I noticed performance issues. It had almost the same hardware as the Note 3. While the hardware generally speaking was plenty powerful, the Note Pro had a little over two times the resolution, on the same GPU. For most day to day things this was fine, and even performed admirally for some games, but for the overall experience it was way more hit and miss than it should've been. One of the bigger disappointments was Touchdraw, a 2d vector and diagramming app for Android. No, the app was amazing, but the performance was horrible. Things just chugged on that tablet, and while I had found some other great pen apps to use on the Note Pro, Touchdraw was the app that really suited what I wanted to do most with the device. It killed me.

So, the Note Pro got used less. It would get pulled out for meetings sometimes, but I was bothering to get it out less and less. It was heavy, mostly because of the case I had on it (which was arguably one of the best cases for the tablet). Oh, and then the Android parts of the tablet set in. It stopped getting updates a little over a year after a bought it. Not even two years of updates. Samsung is probably mroe to blame than Android/Google, but this is not the first android device I've owned that's been abandoned sooner than it should've, it's just the quickest.

A few months ago I re-committed myself to using the Note Pro again, and things were going well, but I wanted to see if I could sideload the latest Android OS. Low and behold I found Lineage, and with little effort I was able to get it updated to 7.2. Yes! This was great. Performance was even better in some cases. Awesome. Oh, wait, now I can't utilize my internal home DNS becuse of some Google/Android bullshit? FUCK!

So, that was pretty much it. I needed a multi-purpose tablet. I needed something that could be an all around productivity device, typing and note taking, consulting and side work, reading, studying, and entertainment (games/videos). I didn't want a laptop, didn't really need the size, and definitely didn't need the expense. I knew the iPad Pro had been announced, and was fascinated with the first 12 inch version, but it was huge. 9 was too small, but this 10.5 sounded just about right. I went by an apple store about a week before the actual purchase and played with it briefly, but didn't come away impressed. Decided to take the plunge a few weeks ago and am ecstatic I did. It's proved to be an amazing, endlessly useful device. I can do long form writing (like this), diagramming with Omnigraffle, reading, studying, consuming video and audio entertaiment, and even multi-tasking around with all the above (and with more awesome features to come in iOS 11). I can write Python code when the bug hits me (Pythonista). I can VPN and them SSH to my home servers to fiddle, fix, and deploy code. I can RDP/VNC to desktops and servers if needed. I can even play games (which I've always done, but man do they look really good on here). Nothing will beat my uber Windows 10 desktop at home for the real heavy lifting work/coding/gaming, but whem I'm on the go or want to be away from the desk/office the iPad Pro is my goto.

I hope to relate more experiences and other adventures as I go, but suffice it to say I expect to get a lot of use out of this slick tablet. I will say this. Apple has me on the portable iDevice front, and I've always liked the Mac Mini. The laptops  are nice, but overpriced for my liking. Loving my iPhone SE and now my iPad Pro. Looking forward to whats next.