My thanks to Paste Interactive for again sponsoring the RSS feed to promote their web app, Jumpchart.

Jumpchart’s tagline is “plan websites”, but it is so, so much more than that. If you work with a team building websites, or if you do client work, Jumpchart could prove to be a fine tool helping you build, organize, swap, edit, and agree upon the content, design, and information architecture of a new site.


Ian Bogost:

Today, all our wives and husbands have Blackberries or iPhones or Android devices or whatever—the progeny of those original 950 and 957 models that put data in our pockets. Now we all check their email (or Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram, or…) compulsively at the dinner table, or the traffic light. Now we all stow our devices on the nightstand before bed, and check them first thing in the morning. We all do. It’s not abnormal, and it’s not just for business. It’s just what people do. Like smoking in 1965, it’s just life.

The Cigarette of This Century

Colorado is no stranger to summertime wildfires, but that doesn’t make them any less sobering or incredible. My in-laws live about 50 miles northeast of Manitou Springs, and last night, while we were eating dinner on their back deck, a western wind blew in and the whole neighborhood began to fill with smoke and smell like campfire. The Front Range is like a giant tinderbox right now — we could sure use some rain.

A Fire of Epic Proportions

This strikes me as being a big deal. For one, it means Apple is taking the listening of podcasts on mobile devices seriously. Until today syncing and subscribing to podcasts between your Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad was an abysmal experience unless you were using a 3rd-party app like Instacast. Secondly, is this a turn signal for the future of iTunes on the Mac?

As for the app itself, there are some very fun design elements. I especially like the dial for browsing “stations” and the tape player that’s hidden behind the currently-playing-podcast’s artwork.

One other note: it doesn’t look like you can manually add podcasts which are not listed in iTunes directory.

Apple’s New iOS Podcasts App [iTunes Link]

How Microsoft and Apple are Fighting the Prejudice that Tablets Are Not For Creating

Microsoft announced the Surface with most of the attention aimed at their clever keyboard cover and the tablet’s built-in kickstand. However, the heart and soul of the Microsoft Surface will be its software. And I believe the keyboard and the kickstand are byproducts of a software decision.

As Chuck Skoda aptly said: “The keyboard cover does one thing critical to the design of Windows 8, enable classic Windows apps.”

A software decision begat a hardware decision that begat another hardware decision. And this is how Microsoft expects users of the Surface to create on their tablets.

Creating on an iPad

Out of the box the iPad already comes with some great apps. Writing and note-taking, email, Web, video chatting, reminders, and more. In fact, if I was forced into a hypothetical situation where I had no choice but to use a stock iPad to do my job, it could be done. It wouldn’t be easy. But it would be possible.

Of course, not everyone can say that. The only way I would be able to squeak by working only on an iPad would be through extensive use of Safari on the iPad. I’d also have to hire some people to take care of any future web designing I may do on my sites.

However — suppose I were able to negotiate my hypothetical situation to allow the use of 3rd-party apps and a Bluetooth keyboard? Well, as a matter of fact, that’s the portable setup I use right now.

When traveling, I take only my iPad. Loaded with a handful of 3rd-party apps, the iPad makes a great work device that causes me negligible loss in productivity.

When at my home office sitting at my desk, I work much faster and more efficiently on my Das Keyboard, 23-inch Apple Cinema Display, and my MacBook Air. But for the times I am away from home, the iPad works just fine as a competent, capable, work machine. There is virtually nothing I can’t do on the iPad. Moreover, the iPad’s LTE connectivity and indestructible battery life make it a great traveling device with advantages that far outweigh its disadvantages.

So far as I see it, there are two sides to the going-iPad-only coin. One of practicality and one of sentiment:

  • Practically speaking, are you even able to use the iPad as your only computer for a while? Will you be unreasonably handicapped in your needs or responsibilities?

I posted a survey to Twitter, asking people if they could use the iPad as their only work computer if they had to? Out of 1,814 total responses:

4% — Yes, right out of the box using the stock apps.
34% — Yes, thanks to some 3rd-party apps.
21% — Probably, but it wouldn’t be easy or enjoyable.
41% — No way. I need a Mac.

As you can see, only less than half could said they could not use the iPad as their only computer. This is far less than I expected, even considering the nerdy, developer-friendly demographic of my Twitter followers. I received many replies on Twitter from folks saying they need a Mac but only because of a particular program such as Xcode or Adobe Creative Suite.

  • Secondly, if there are no practical hinderances to keep you from using an iPad as your only device, then you must get over your prejudice against the iPad as a primary computer. For the many people that could use an iPad as their only computer, they are either afraid or unwilling to. Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown, or perhaps it is an unwillingness to give up the familiar work environment of a Mac.

Is the iPad slower or more cumbersome than a Mac for certain tasks? Of course. But as I mentioned above, the iPad also has advantages which could outweigh its handicaps for some.

Apple has answered, and is answering, the practical question through iTunes App Store and the plethora of 3rd-party developers. There are hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store that are empowering people to build things and communicate with people in ways that used to be limited only to traditional computers.

The prejudice of using the iPad as a primary device is one that will only be eroded over time and through word of mouth. As more families adopt iPads as their home’s primary computer then it will lead to even more doing so. Likewise, as more and more professionals find ways to use their iPads as a competent work device, then they will lead the way for even more professionals following suit.

Microsoft’s Proposed Solution

Microsoft is attempting to answer the practical and prejudicial conundrums surrounding their tablet by allowing the Surface to run classic Windows applications and by shipping it with a keyboard and trackpad disguised as a cover.

Microsoft needs a compelling reason for customers to see the Surface as a legitimate computing device. And since they don’t (yet?) have a gangbusters App Store, they built a keyboard cover instead.

But… what if the Surface for Windows 8 Pro’s ability to run classic Windows apps is akin to the iPad’s ability to run pixel-doubled iPhone apps? An inelegant but necessary solution that will not only justify marketing speak such as, “look at all the apps this tablet can run,” but also that can tide some users over until native apps are developed. Which, or course, raises the question: who will develop Windows 8 apps?

How Microsoft and Apple are Fighting the Prejudice that Tablets Are Not For Creating

Chuck Skoda:

The keyboard cover does one thing critical to the design of Windows 8, enable classic Windows apps.

Relatedly, something I tweeted a few days ago:

If your tablet doesn’t have a gangbusters App Store, build a cover with a build-in keyboard and trackpad.


Danny Sullivan:

They’d swing them around with a pretty picture on the front, I guess so we’d go “ooh” and “ahh.” If we were lucky, we were allowed to hold one for a few seconds. But if you tried to do anything with it, bang, it was gone.

When the Surface does launch it may be a success and everyone will look back at the Microsoft press event and think, “that was odd.” And if the surface does poorly we’ll say, “I guess they were hiding something after all.”

(Via Matthew Panzarino.)

Danny Sullivan’s Hands-Off Microsoft Surface Tablet Review

You know how when you get a new Mac there are a few apps which you just have to install right away before you can do anything? For me, TextExpander is one of those apps.1

TextExpander 4 is a solid update. I use this app not just for expanding text but also for fixing common typos, making sure I spell certain people’s names right, powering through emails more efficiently, properly capitalizing certain product names, pasting code, and a whole, whole lot more.

If you consider yourself a Mac power user and you don’t use TextExpander, who do you think you’re kidding?

  1. As is LaunchBar, Keyboard Maestro, and 1Password. Once I’ve got those in place it’s like the lights are back on and I can stop fumbling around in the dark and stubbing my toes on the furniture.
TextExpander 4