Right vs. Wrong vs. It Depends

Monday, Jun 28, 2021

I once asked a skilled golfer friend of mine whether he thought it was possible to make every single putt on every single green. Not whether a human being could make the putt, but whether there was one single path the ball could take on any given putt that would go into the hole.

His answer was a simple “Yes, I think there’s a possibility every single putt can go in.”

This analogy has stuck with me for a long time. I applied it to a range of decisions and problems in life — no matter the situation, there was always a “right” answer and a “wrong” answer.

I no longer think this way. The more I learn, the less I’m convinced of there being a “right” answer to anything.

There are only variables. Pros and cons. Xs and Ys. Factors and non-factors. For every decision and problem we face.

How a person weighs those variables leads to one’s ultimate decision. The decision may lead to positive consequences for that person, or it may lead to negative consequences for that person.

I also think this way of thinking leads to a more graceful way of life. Rather than assuming someone is a fool for making a certain decision, this type of thinking leads you to ask yourself “How did that person weigh the pros and cons?” or “What would cause this person to think this was an appropriate decision?”

We’re not supposed to call anyone a fool. This has helped me stop calling people fools.

Rarely is there such a thing as “right” or “wrong”.

There’s only “It depends.”

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Multi-Tasking on the iPad is Actually Pretty Great

Friday, May 21, 2021

Multitasking on iPad can become surprisingly busy and complex.

I can’t sit in my armchair and tell iPad users they’re using the iPad wrong. There’s no right or wrong, of course — just how. “You’re just holding it wrong!” they said.

There are many, many complaints about iPad multitasking. And rightfully so — perhaps my biggest complaint is the fact you can’t import photos into Lightroom in the background. Background operation and app-switch speed has to be top of mind of any semi-power iPad user.

I’m not in the right frame of mind to conclude on whether the frustrations with iPad multitasking are due to the entrenchment of traditional computing behaviour or because traditional app-to-app multitasking is actually superior.

Either way, iPadOS’s multitasking paradigm has its own benefits, which I feel are often overlooked.

First, picture-in-picture on iPad is just plain awesome. You can put the video in any corner, swipe it off screen, resize it, swipe it on screen — P-I-P is incredibly flexible in iPadOS.

Second, iPadOS has actual multitasking — as in, you can complete two tasks at the exact same time. Just look at the screenshots above. In those screenshots, a hockey game is playing while typing a message while highlighting text inside a PDF. Again, all at the same time. If you had three hands, you could do even more.

Third, Slide Over is genuinely convenient. Certain apps work better than others inside the Slide Over deck, and when they’re optimized, their convenience is unmatched. I keep a calculator app in Slide Over at all times, I keep an iteration of all messaging apps in Slide Over, and I like to keep an iteration of the Files app available at all times. These kinds of “in-and-out” apps are exceptional for Slide Over.

Obviously iPadOS’s multitasking capabilities aren’t without fault. Importing photos or files in the background while browsing in Safari should be the lowest hanging fruit.

But in many ways, I think many people are just using iPadOS wrong. When used as intended, iPadOS multitasking is the most genuine multitasking computing experience there is.

My Thoughts on Apple’s Spring Loaded Event

Friday, Apr 23, 2021

It’s been so long since I felt the want and drive to discuss one of Apple’s events. This year’s Spring Loaded event was a doozy, to be sure. This usually results in an emptier wallet in the week ahead, with some ripe anticipation for the latest evolutionary product to be delivered.

This year is different though. Not good different. Not bad different.

Just different.

Here are my thoughts on Tuesday’s events, specifically in relation to the products I find fascinating or interesting.

AirTags

We have two ultra-expensive truck keys. They each cost about $500 ($200 or so to replace plus a $300 activation fee, or something like that) and they each have specifics built in — by carrying my key, the truck will automatically sense if I’m sitting in the driver’s seat and will adjust my seat to the predetermined seat settings.

These keys are neat. They’re also very expensive.

One of our keys is always missing. And since it’s a rare day where I can point the finger at my wife for being the forgetful one, I’m going to take the opportunity.

Put another way, the truck automatically adjusts to my seat setting, even if she’s the one in the driver’s seat.

I hope AirTag can fix this issue. My wife has a U1 chip inside her iPhone 12 Pro, allowing for Precision Finding with AirTag. The UI demoed on the iPhone as you walk towards your AirTag looks extra easy to understand and the entire experience seems, at least from the beginning, as something worthy of adding to our in-house Apple ecosystem.

But they’re not cheap, no matter what everyone says. AirTags are $39 a piece here in Canada, or $129 for four. Since there’s no adhesive on the backside of the AirTag, you’re likely to need some sort of keychain holder, which costs between $25 and $45 (actually $450 if buy a Hermès option).

Which means, to protect our truck keys, we’ll need to spend $65 on each key to ensure we never lose them.

$130 of investment to save two $500 keys might make sense, but you can’t look me in the eye and call that “cheap” or “inexpensive”.

AirTags have a healthy Apple price tag to them, don’t you worry.

M1 iPad Pros

I love consistency and completion — if I purchase one f/2.8 zoom lens from Canon, I’m likely to purchase the other f/2.8 zoom lenses to complete the trinity.

Which isn’t to say there’s a current Apple M1 trinity to be had — the debut of the M1 iPad Pro makes two specific M1-powered devices to be added to your arsenal. But you can bet your bottom we’re going to see an M1-powered iPhone in the future.

This new M1 iPad Pro is 50% faster than the 2020 iPad Pro I’m writing this on. That’s utterly insane. To think the latest iPad Pro is twice as fast as my 2019 27-inch iMac makes my head sting a bit.

But the rest of my sentiment has been read again and again across the internets: The iPad has almost never been limited by hardware capabilities.

When compared to a Mac, my most processor-intensive task (photo editing) has been a better experience on the iPad for years already. Photos load faster, edits apply quicker, exports happen faster. I even find renaming and uploading exported photos from the Camera Roll to Ghost or Wordpress to be a better experience on the iPad. This, among other reasons, is why the iPad is still my favourite computer ever.

When software is optimized and dialed in on the iPad, there is little the iPad can’t do.

But where there are software gaps, there are major usage gaps. Backbreaking gaps. Dealbreaking gaps. The type of gaps you simply cannot make up, no matter the amount of money, patience, and Shortcuts-creating experience you may have.

In almost every circumstance, you can do the task you want to do on the iPad. In many circumstances, you can create a workflow or a shortcut to handle your task.

Yet, in so many of those circumstances, it’s simply easier, more efficient, and certainly less expensive to have a Mac around to complete the task.

So to me, there are clear and definitive lines to what the iPad can and can’t do in my working life. The iPad is king at:

  • Manipulating and marking up PDFs
  • Handwritten notes
  • Reading email messages
  • Photo editing
  • Writing pieces like this
  • Browsing the internet
  • Watching movies

The iPad is not king at:

  • Referencing PDFs (once they’re marked up, viewing PDFs on a big iMac screen is far superior to viewing on iPad)
  • Responding to email messages (in that, I tend to work with attachments a lot and they’re simply easier to include on a Mac)
  • Working inside Microsoft Word or Excel
  • Working with physical storage devices, like SD cards or USB sticks
  • Working with heavy web-based apps like CaseWare RCT
  • Working in VPN apps like AnyDesk

It’s clear my “not king” needs are laser-focused and specific.

But for these specific workflows, there’s no current iPad workflow that would somehow surpass the ease and efficiency of working on a Mac. I also don’t believe a magical update to iPadOS 15 in June will change that.

So, to me, the iPad is good at certain things. And the M1 likely doesn’t impact any specific “king” workflow other than photo editing.

Having an M1-enabled iPad Pro could be a boon for some people. I’m excited to read about how the new speed impacts their workflows. And I’m excited for the challenge of discerning hyperbole and marketing from actual improvements.

My guess is, no matter what comes down the pipe in June 2021 WWDC for a revolutionary iPadOS 15, I’ll still turn to the iMac for my daily work and keep the iPad for ancillary tasks.

Speaking of iMacs...

M1 iMacs

We knew this was coming.

What we didn’t know — or perhaps what I failed to see staring me right in the face — was the updated iMac design.

There have been some mixed reactions to the 2021 M1 iMac, for sure. There are many questioning the oddity of the chin. Others question the pursuit of thinness in an otherwise stationary computer. Others view the white bezels with blazoned question marks above their heads and still others aren’t fond of the new colours.

Wherever you stand, the debut of the M1 iMac is surely a sign of fun things to come.

I’m... intrigued. That’s the best way to put it.

I’m not fond of any of the colours. This is clearly a consumer-first iMac meant for households — I wouldn’t be caught dead with a bright orange iMac at the office. Thank goodness they created a silver variety that’s less obtrusive and flashy.

I’m not fond of the chin, but who am I kidding — this isn’t a dealbreaker.

I think the Pro Display XDR design making its way throughout Apple’s product lineup is to die for — nevermind how beautiful the Pro Display XDR display is, I want one on my desk simply because it looks so cool.

I’m also not fond of the larger radius corners of the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. These new accessories look like children’s toys to my eye.

But that’s where the lack of fondness ends.

I would love to add an M1 iMac to my collection. It’d be faster than my current 2019 27-inch iMac by a country mile. The I/O would actually be easier to wield, specifically thanks to the nifty gigabit Ethernet port built into the power brick.

And the new Magic Keyboard has Touch ID. I, like so many others, type my 1Password password about 250 times a day. Skipping that step 250 times a day would free up actual minutes, which frees up actual cash.

Last thought: Where the debut of the M1 chip in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro seemed to signify a price drop (I picked up my M1 MacBook Air with an education discount for only $1170 CAD — that’d be less than $1,000 USD), the M1 iMac seems to be more stable in terms of pricing. The price the 21.5-inch iMac left at is what you’re paying now for the new M1 iMac.

I wonder where this will leave us for the inevitable replacement for the 27-inch M2/3/4/X/Y/Z iMac in time.

I know I’m going to regret buying a 24-inch M1 iMac the moment they showcase the replacement for the 27-inch iMac. And screen real estate matters a lot to my daily workflows.

But you can bet I’ve come up with all the justifications necessary to add a 24-inch M1 iMac to my shopping cart.

What I’m Going to Buy After This Keynote

This list is tentative, barring reviews, funds, and wants:

  • Two AirTags and two Apple leather keychain holders
  • M1 11-inch iPad Pro after I see what happens at WWDC in June (maybe)
  • 24-inch iMac three or four years from now when my children are in school and need a computer because we’re still in COVID-19

That’s a pretty cynical list.

Despite some serious innovation and excitement in the form of the M1 in the iPad and the M1 in the razor thin iMac, I don’t think I’m pulling the trigger on anything in the short term.

I ordered an Xbox Series X yesterday. Should be here next week.