Tuesday, May 3, 2016

IPad Pro Review

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had picked up a 9.7" iPad Pro along with a few accessories. I didn't use the new iPad much until the keyboard cover arrived as I don't care for using the onscreen keyboard. It uses up too much screen real estate. The keyboard cover is made of similar material to the regular Apple cover and attaches to the iPad using the same strong magnets. Magnets in the cover also keep the keyboard folded against the cover (no key prints on the screen) and keeps the cover against the screen.

The keyboard material itself is some kind of synthetic fabric and has a completely different feel than any other keyboard I have used. It is powered from the iPad using three small connections built into the cover and these same connectors are also used for data transmission. In other words, the keyboard is not Bluetooth and has to be physically attached to the iPad for use. The keyboard is about 10% smaller than a regular keyboard and the travel of the keys is about the same as my MacBook, i.e. very little travel. I don't have any problem typing on the keyboard even with the smaller size. But then again, I'm not a very good typist.

I have been trying to use an iPad as a portable blogging platform since the first iPad came out in 2010. Each successive model has been slightly better. Initially, the problem was getting photos from the iPhone to the iPad. That has been resolved by either using AirDrop or DeskConnect. AirDrop works without an Internet connection and I have been using it routinely. The other problem had been uploading photos into a blog post and being to format the display of the post. For years, I have been using Blogsy for the iPad (the iPhone version is pretty average) and it had been working great. On January 29, 2016, the authors removed it from the App Store due to sluggish performance of both the app and sales.

My current blogging app is BlogPad Pro which was initially designed for WordPress sites but now sort of supports Blogger sites as well. I say sort of as there are some formatting problems which are easy enough to address by posting as "Draft" and fixing the HTML directly using the Blogger editor. It would be nice to have these issues fixed and I have sent in bug reports to the author.

AirDrop now actually works pretty consistently between my devices but it took some playing around to figure out how. WiFi and Bluetooth both need to be enabled even if you are not connected to a WiFi network. If you do that, then the devices find the each other and you can transfer files though I've only used it for photos. I had ordered the camera connection kit which allows you to plug in an SD card using a USB adaptor. This should allow me to use photos from the DSLR if desired and possibly GoPro video. The USB port on the camera connection kit will also support the Ethernet adaptor as well as a number of other USB peripherals. (Or so I hear)

The Apple Pencil is another accessory that only works with the iPad Pro models but the number of applications that support it are few. The digitizer has very high resolution and very fine, detailed drawings and lettering can now be made. Unfortunately, there isn't an easy way to carry around the overpriced stylus.

The 9.7" iPad Pro with the "Smart Keyboard Cover" weighs in at 1.5 lbs. Pretty light. But, my newish MacBook weighs just a shade over 2 lbs. Not a whole lot of difference. The iPad isn't tied to Wi-Fi as it has a Verizon SIM installed. Both devices have all day battery life and very nice high resolution displays. Would I recommend the 9.7" iPad Pro? Absolutely but it isn't a replacement for the laptop but it may be all I bring on short trips when I need to travel light. For longer trips, I occasionally need the additional flexibility provided by a laptop,

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Almost Ice-Free

That is Ballaine Lake in the background. Still not quite ice-fee but getting pretty close. Our temperatures are still just above freezing in the morning but are getting close to 60°F by the end of the afternoon. Warm enough to dispense with the fleece liner under the RC. I'm almost to the 1000km break-in mileage on the rebuilt engine but I'm still not 100% confident that there isn't still a hidden problem. Right now, when the clutch is disengaged and the bike is still in gear, there is a very slight tendency for the rig to move forward. This was never the case in the past. But that's about the only thing giving me pause.

On Thursday evenings, starting yesterday, the local Harley/Honda/BMW/Polaris/Victory dealer has a barbeque with free hamburgers and brats. Yesterday, there were a number of door prizes given away in addition to the free food. I'm not sure I'll attend every week that I'm in town but the brats were very tasty. Their big prize, to be given away sometime in June, is a well outfitted BMW G650GS. I think that it was a rental bike at one time but it has tons or Touratech add-ons and has spoked wheels. A very nice bike.

I think that I've ended up going to the University just about every day this week. I had picked up one of the 9.7" iPad Pro models a couple of weeks ago but the keyboard cover, camera connection kit and pencil were back ordered. The camera connection kit is still back ordered but the keyboard and pencil arrived today. I did the iCloud restore on the iPad using the Internet at the university. Just a little bit faster. I'll do a full review in a bit after using the new gadget for blogging. I was told that I wouldn't like to type on the keyboard cover but it isn't too bad. After all, I got used to typing on the new MacBook keyboard so I could probably get used to typing on just about anything.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What a Way to Spend a Morning

In the waiting room of a tire shop. May 1st is the deadline for using studded tires. We don't have a second set of rims for the Prius so the tires must be swapped on the rims twice a year. Maybe it's time. Let's do the math $75 twice a year and we've had the car for 4 years. That's about $600. Could've easily paid for new rims plus there wouldn't be the wear and tear on the tire beads. This may be the last time for both sets even though they aren't anywhere near worn out.

I did hear back from the author of BlogPad Pro and they thanked me for reporting the problems. The paragraph break is the more annoying problem and they said that Google had changed the API and it will be fixed at the next release. Until then, I will be starting posts on the iPad where it's easy to insert photos, then bring them up in the Blogger web interface to fix the paragraphs. Simple enough. The incorrect HTML style in the photos was new to them though. I guess that has been there but not mentioned before, I guess people just put up with it.

Another day, another waiting room. Though this one has better free snacks. I'm at the local Toyota dealer getting the next service done on the Prius. Fortunately, there isn't much needed as part of the service. Since it's out of warranty, I should probably start doing some of this myself. Then I wouldn't be sitting around in another waiting room. I did talk with a friend who was here getting an air bag recall done on his old Corolla. He is another airhead member and is getting ready for a bike trip to the lower 48 with his son. He said that his son may be keeping the airhead so he'll be keeping the old Honda. I believe it's a predecessor of the Goldwing. I don't remember what they were called.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ice Coffee Weather

Another typical spring day in interior Alaska. There have been a lot of bikes out on the roads this weekend and the almost universal comment has been "it's only April!". Not only are the bikes out but also bicycles, RVs, boats, kayaks and canoes. The only thing missing were the leaves and those came out last night. This morning, the hills had a green tint that wasn't there yesterday.

On Sunday afternoon, we went out for lunch and I had the sushi platter. I was really looking forward to this and the restaurant didn't disappoint. The glass has strings of raw beets topped with cucumber and was a strictly a garnish and had no flavor. But it made for a nice presentation.

This morning was warm enough to justify an iced coffee as it was starting to feel too warm. Almost 60°F. I arrived late to the coffee house and most of the regular crowd had already left. I had stayed home as the neighbor was felling trees and asked me to stick around. I took advantage of the time to arrange the garage to make room to store the snow plow. It's now in front of the BMW which was turned sideways. That gave just enough room for the Ural plus some walking space around everything.


Right now (Monday afternoon) I'm trying out my birthday gift from Bridget. A "smart", fuzzy logic rice cooker. I'm not sure how you make a rice cooker smart but I used one while we were renting the townhouse in Kyoto, It did a great job though I had a hard time reading the menu (it was in Japanese). I like that it has a brown rice setting as well as a variety of measuring marks in the pan. We had been using jasmine long grain rice for years but I had picked up some California short grain rice while I was in Barrow and I thought it tasted much better and had a better texture. The cooker has different water settings for short grain white rice and jasmine rice. It even has a setting for baking cakes! I'll need to try that sometime...

No issues or problems with the Ural yet. I've added about 100 ml of oil so far but it's still in the engine break in period. Almost to the 1000 km where I'll need to torque the heads, adjust the valves and change the oil and filter.