Rediscovering Firefox

Back in the days of yore, I used a web browser called Netscape. Netscape eventually died off but out of its ashes came a browser called Firefox. For a long time this was the only alternative to Internet Explorer and before Chrome was even a thing. I recently saw on my news feed that Firefox had come out with a new browser that was faster and more secure than Chrome for iOS. Of course I had to try it out.

I’ve installed it on the iPad Pro and my personal iPhone and I can definitely say that I like it better than Chrome. I’m almost to the point where I want to delete Chrome from all my devices except for my MacBook Pro and my Windows computers. The speed of Firefox is definitely a plus for me and their private mode is also better. I also like the menu layout better in Firefox compared to Chrome. Where I think Chrome could have defeated Firefox was being able to use all the extensions that I have installed on the desktop version. Thats the only reason I keep them on my computers but frankly I still use Safari more on my MacBook Pro and only revert to Chrome when I have to.

What’s cool is that Firefox is its still free. It’s definitely a distant 3rd in terms of desktop browsers but it will become my #2 for my mobile devices. I think I’ll decide later this weekend if I’m going to delete Chrome from my mobile devices or not and install them elsewhere. Truth be told, I also installed Firefox on my work computer and unpinned Chrome from the tool bar. Since I can’t use the Chrome extensions that I have for home, the browser just became worthless to me. Most of my work stuff still needs Internet Explorer (no I can’t use Edge either) and without the extensions its just another browser.

There aren’t as many desktop extensions for Firefox but that’s not why I want to use the browser. I’m looking for speed and using less memory on my devices. That’s one of the complaints that I have about using Chrome on my older desktop, it just slows everything down by sucking up the memory. That machine might be a good candidate to install Firefox. I’ll keep checking up on the extensions offered by Firefox, who knows they might come out with the extensions that I like to use on a day to day basis and totally supplant Chrome. Now if they could only come out with a better email client than Outlook, then they could rule my windows desktop experience.

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Drawing on Airplanes = FAIL!

I use the Paper by 53 app for most of my sketches whether at home or while traveling. I have purchased Procreate (when it was on sale of course) but I really haven’t touched it after attempting to use it a few times. I’m just a simple person that makes stick figures most of the times or use basic geometric shapes to convey what I’m telling people. I am trying to keep a little book of doodles for my daughter of things that she has accomplished by trying to draw her badges. I have been remiss on doing it but I was trying to catch up on doing it on my flight to San Francisco. I even brought my Pencil by 53 just to do it. I’m working on her snowboard badges by attempting to draw the mountain logo of where she has shredded. The current logo is a bit difficult for me, but I thought hell I have 5 hours to kill on the plane I can do this! NOPE! Absolute fail on my part.

I forgot that planes tend to encounter turbulence and my art skills are already shaky as it is. Having a plane jitter under your iPad while attempting to free hand draw a straight line just isn’t possible. I wasn’t even going for the full logo, I was trying to draw the Kidtopia logo since that was technically easier for me to draw than the actual logo for Keystone. After a few fits and starts I kind of gave up on it. I was going to type this out on my iPad but again, the plane jitters in the air which makes it difficult. I’m writing this on my iPhone 7 since turbulence doesn’t affect my typing skills when holding it in both hands.

Of course as I’m writing this we have hit a patch of smooth air so I could conceivably try drawing again. I’ll just make a copy of my drawing to keep my current master piece intact. That’s the one area that I think Procreate is better than Paper, it has layers to control these sorts of things. I guess I still prefer more simplicity in my apps. There are hundreds of brushes to choose from as well as individual settings that can be tweaked to create a master piece of iPad art. I still use colored pencils and a notebook for most drawings so I guess it’s hard for me to break away from that construct even in the digital age. Kind of amusing actually since I have done my best to delete paper from every other aspect of my work and home life (where possible) to reduce clutter.

Below is the badge I made in paper last year. It was her first year snowboarding and we did it at Snowbird. I try to incorporate the logo of the mountain with some junk that I think represents the area. On the top is the snowbird logo along with a simple mountain and crossed snowboards. She used Burton boots and a Burton board but I happened to have a K2 board when I tried snowboarding which is why I included that logo. I definitely didn’t make this on a plane, I had a nice steady surface in Florida to sketch this out after the trip was over. If I have time I’ll work on the logo for last year this week if inspiration strikes. I suspect making these logos will be easier with an Apple Pencil, it won’t have a squishy tip like my current Pencil and I can be more precise so I can move away from 3rd grade sketches to something approaching a high school freshman.

Beverage service is here! Hopefully I won’t spill my drink on my computer bag.

Can’t use a iPad as my main computer

I’ve seen all the ads and I even have a stylus and Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad Air 2 but unfortunately the iPad can’t function as my main computer.  The primary reason is that I deal with a lot of files whether its documents, videos, or pictures.  Sure there are plenty of cloud services out there that can save my stuff (and I use most of the big names like Box, Dropbox, and Google) but none of the free versions have enough space for all my junk.  Oh an one of the biggest reasons?  I use local backups for my myriad of iPhones and iPads to an external drive because I would need close to 1TB to backup every device I own.

Don’t get me wrong, for doing light computing such as writing this blog post using my iPad is just fine and the majority of my posts are actually composed on the iPad (for some reason the interface on here is better than on my MacBook).  Also for doing light document editing its fine as well or just watching videos the iPad is ok and does what I need it to do.  Now I am intriguied by the rumors of what the new iPads are going to offer and if the rumors are true, a bigger screen but crammed into the same chassis as the regular iPad Air 2.  The improvements with iOS 10 were also quite helpful.  With multi-tasking I can write this post and watch Xfinity at the same time which is pretty close to like using a regular computer.

I still like using a regular mouse and having a ton of windows open to manage my files and web browsing.  Although I don’t do it often, I need to transfer files from my DSLR or my GoPro to a computer (quickly), I’ve done it before using wifi and its soooo slow and I also only have so much room on the iPad, I have almost 500GB’s free on my MacBook.  I would look forward to using a new Apple Pencil with the new iPads but unless there was some opening up of iOS to being more open or having a way to use MacOS on a future iPad, I’m probably going to get a computer as my next device.  I need it anyway, my files aren’t going to manage themselves and I have iPhones and iPad’s to sync and backup constantly.

I will say, I do a lot more video consumption on my iPad than I do on a TV, its probably due to its portability and the screen is just big enough.  So while I can’t use it as a computer, it does make my life a bit easier to get my shit done (of a personal nature, for work I’m tied to a crappy Windows 7 computer).

I want a touch screen Mac!

I’ve been following this argument online for a while and I think it’s time that Apple come to the realization that having a touch screen computer that runs OSX would be awesome!  I’ve tried using an iPad Pro at a store and I have an iPad Air 2 as a personal device but I want something closer to the Surface Pro that has ports and other shit so that I can connect my devices and load the content onto the computer.  I can use my regular MacBook for that but I kind of want that 2 in 1 device now as a personal device.

I’m personally fine if they want to make everything USB-C or something as a connector for power but I just want to be able to navigate OSX with my finger instead of using a touch pad.  I’ve come into some instances where I want to touch something on the screen since it’s so much like my iPad but I can’t make anything happen unless I use the mouse.  Access to the file system is pretty important these days for me now that I have a NAS.  I want to put stuff in the NAS but I might need it on my computer first and I wan to be able to organize it the way I want to.  The cloud isn’t good for everything and the there are some things I just don’t want floating around in cyberspace.

While the Mac App Store is nice, a convergence of the two app stores and being able to use touch, type, and mouse would be awesome.  Imagine taking something like a hybrid device and hooking it up to a 4K display!  And actually having it be useful to you as well from a computing stand point from a device that more in line with a tablet or as a real computer when you need it.  I think it’s only a matter of time before Apple has to do this, there are too many Windows variants out there and the fact that my work computer lets me touch the screen is pretty freaking awesome.  Now if I could only use it to write with a pen or something, that would be the ultimate!

I think the closest that I’ve seen to a good touch screen computer is the Microsoft Surfacebook.  I tried one out at my local Best Buy and it was a pretty decent machine.  I like that I can draw on it, remove the screen, but still have a mouse and keyboard when I want one.  I didn’t spend too much time with it but I configured one online and good lord it was expensive.  For that price I’ll just keep my 2011 MacBook Pro and my iPad Air 2 and switch between the devices.  But who knows, maybe them touch screen Mac is in the pipeline and we just haven’t been introduced to it yet.  I guess I’ll have to wait till WWDC to see what’s coming.

Switching to VideoLAN from GPlayer on my iPad

The last few years I’ve been using GPlayer as video player of choice since it doesn’t require syncing my entire iPad to iTunes, instead I could use it to just drag and drop videos into the app and thats it, nice and fast!  I also can view files that won’t play on the native Videos app which is also a nice touch.  Recently I received an iPad Air 2 and you can do multi-tasking I have the capability to watch a video and do something else at the same time.  GPlayer hasn’t been updated in some time and it doesn’t support that feature at all which is the primary reason why I’m giving it the old heave ho.  I decided to switch to VideoLAN which recently enabled this feature into their app.

I decided to download it and test it out and it seems to work pretty well!  The one function that I do miss is that when you transfer files over, they don’t group them into folders like GPlayer does natively.  There are a few anime series that have a lot of episodes so I have to put them all into folders manually.  This isn’t really so bad, its just an extra step that I didn’t have to do before.  It does have a very nice interface though and I can see the entire title now.

This will make those nights in the hotel room more productive so I can watch something while surfing the internet or maybe even updating my blog a little more than I have in the past.IMG_1330

Apple TV wins over Chromecast for hotel rooms

I’ve been traveling with both a Chromecast and an Apple TV for a while now and I have to say that in my opinion the Apple TV is winning over the Chromecast.  I don’t have a fancy setup like having a Plex Server at home to stream stuff but I do have Netflix and I can airplay from different websites which is a big plus in my opinion.  Hotel networks are notoriously slow so while most of the time the Chromecast works ok, it sometimes stutters or doesn’t engage at all when trying to use Netflix.

I actually ha that problem 3 weeks ago when I was trying to use my Chromecast at the HIlton Garden Inn.  I finally was able to find a way to get my travel router working and I was trying to get Netflix to work.  It would just constantly say “Casting” on my Netflix app but nothing woould ever happen on the TV.  I tried using YouTube which was just fine but it doesn’t have the stuff I want to play which is on Netlfix.  The following week I brought my Apple TV and I’ve been bringing it ever since.

I think it all comes down to personal preference and even though there is more stuff to bring for the Apple TV it just works better.  I use my iPad or my iPhone as the remote but I have a regular remote as a backup whih helps things along if I can’t get the other devices to work.  The fact that I can Airplay my local content is a huge plus, I have lots of movies that I’ve bought or otherwise gotten that I want to play while I’m away from home.  In that way the Chromecast is limited that I have to stream everything from another service and it has to be a supported service by Chromecast.  It might be different if I had a Plex Server where I could stream from my house or something but I have a 128GB iPad so I can carry locally a lot of content.

This will be one of my new requirements when I travel, I need to have a hotel room that has a TV that can support my Apple TV and my travel router.  This way when there is nothing to wath on TV (which happens a lot), at least I can be entertained by things that I want to watch.

iPad Mini with Retina!!

iPad Mini with Retina

OK so I decided to bite the bullet and get myself a new toy to play with during my long travels for work.  I was waiting for the new iPad Mini with Retina display to come out after it was announced during the Apple event in October.  This little bugger has the same processor and memory of my iPhone 5s that I use for work which on its own is pretty fast compared to a lot of my other devices that I’m using currently.  I won’t go into some long winded review of the iPad Mini, there are other places like imore.com that do a much better job than I ever could.  I just wanted to write about the fact of how awesome I think this new iPad is.  It will currently replace my iPad 2 as my traveling iPad and the iPad 2 will stay here at home for when I need a bigger iPad to do something.  I won’t lie, I’ve used both my iPad 2 and iPad Mini at the same time which by itself was pretty bad ass.  I bought the wifi version like I have for the previous 2 versions that I own but the kicker is that the Mini has 128GB of memory which translates into storing more videos onto my iPad for traveling 🙂  I also opted to go with the Smart Case in black. It reminds me of the original iPad case that I got for my first iPad and so far its held up well (I dropped the Mini because I fell asleep and it hit the bed rail…)

I like the size and how light it is too, thats not to say my old iPad 2 won’t still be used, it just won’t be my traveling companion anymore.  It still has a front and rear facing camera that my original iPad doesn’t have so maybe my wife will use it to FaceTime with me and my daughter while I’m away.  Anyway, gotta get back to playing with my iPad Mini