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Tablet Habit is now Rocket Panda

  • November 13, 2018
  • Blog

As of today Tablet Habit is now Rocket Panda. Before I go into the full reasoning why I wanted to share with you what has been going on with me for the last few weeks.

To make a long story short, I have been having a bit of an issue defining my blog. As I have said before, Tablet Habit was a blog for me to explain how I use the iPad as my main device and it was a way for me to express my love for iOS and the iPad. That all changed once I started using my 2017 MacBook Pro.

I started to slowly move more and more things to my Mac and less work on my iPad. Which brought on something of an identity crisis. I gained readers because I was an “iPad guy” and drifting away from that seems like I was cheating my readers out of what they wanted.

My first idea was to move things from Tablet Habit over to Mac Habit.

Logo for Mac Habit I made

Logo for Mac Habit I made

After a lot of work building a new website from scratch and importing all of my old posts over, Mac Habit was inches away from taking over Tablet Habit. I was excited, nervous, and anxious to show everyone the new website I was going to be using. But then a question popped in my head.

“What makes Mac Habit any different than Tablet Habit?”

The original answer I had was Mac was a more universal term for Apple blogging, and it was something that wasn’t tied to anything other than Apple. It wasn’t a device-specific name like Tablet Habit. Which sounded fine, but I wanted something even more freeing than Tablet or Mac as my name.

I spent days, even weeks, trying to come up with a new name. Then, during a shower I was taking the name Rocket Panda came to my head and I loved it. It wasn’t specific to any kind of topic or idea, and the name stuck with me like glue. If you ask me what it means, I will say it is just a cool name that I enjoy, and that Rocket Panda doesn’t need a topic or underlying meaning. It is just something that is catchy and easy to pronounce and type out without any kind of mispronouncing or misspelling. In short, I like the name way more then Tablet Habit or Mac Habit.

Seeing as this is my blog, and has always been a personal endeavor for me, having a name that isn’t tied to a specific topic seemed to be the right choice.

This website will still have all the things you loved about Tablet Habit, including all the old posts. The only change you will notice about this site is that it has a new name and a new color scheme to match the flames coming from the Rocket Panda logo. I may deviate from posts about Apple, but this is and forever will be a personal blog where I share my thoughts on things. It will always have my authenticity in it and I like to think people read my stuff because of my personality I put to the page, not the topics that I write about.

If you want to follow Rocket Panda on social media or make sure you have the right RSS feed subscription you can find all the links below. If you have any questions, comments, concerns feel free to mention Rocket Panda on Twitter or email me directly.

I thank all of you for being loyal readers and sticking with me over the last year with Tablet Habit. Here’s to many more with Rocket Panda!

🚀🐼

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Why Today at Apple Made the Keynote

  • October 30, 2018
  • Blog

One thing I think that was most interesting on the new Apple Event Keynote wasn’t the new devices, but the fact that Today at Apple was given time on stage.

For those that don’t know what Today at Apple is, it’s a series of workshops that Apple Stores offer for anyone to come to for free and learn things you can do on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I am sure there are others as well, but it’s been something that hasn’t been talked much about in the Apple tech community.

The Today at Apple workshops may not be geared towards those who are tech savvy. With that said, Apple giving time for it on stage today in between the release of some much-needed updates (Mac Mini and MacBook Air) and interesting innovation (iPad Pro) shows that Apple isn’t just here to make you think that your iPad Pro 10.5” isn’t good enough anymore. They want you to harness that power with what ever device you have.

As Tim Cook said in the keynote after they announced 60 all-new sessions coming to Apple Stores, it is something that no one else has.

For me personally I have never been to a session, but after today I have been looking at upcoming events and workshops at my local Apple Store and am very seriously considering making the 55 minute drive to go to one of these.

Some sessions mentioned in the Keynote include Siri Shortcuts, and a session called Small Screen Magic which is all about making short movies with the Clips app. They also provided an interesting background with other new sessions that are intriguing to say the least.

Screenshot from the October 30th Apple Event

Screenshot from the October 30th Apple Event

Apple really outdid themselves today with the new devices. But I think they equally outdid themselves 18 months ago when they launched Today at Apple and made it possible for their users to learn from the team at Apple just what kind of things they can make on their computers.

It is also worth noting that when this part of the Keynote happened the entire audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music went into an uproar of enthusiasm and excitement. It is indicative just how important sessions like this can be for users, and I can’t wait to see what I have been missing out on.

Learning GTD: Starting From Scratch

  • October 26, 2018
  • Blog

When I started reading Getting Things Done, I was in a spinning world of chaos. I had many different plates spinning at the same time and no way of making sure that nothing fell through the cracks. I needed a system.

So, as a challenge to both my co-host of A Slab of Glass, Christopher Lawley, and myself I set out to read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen cover to cover to see just if GTD was something that would work for me. After chapter one I was all in.

I wanted to use this methodology immediately. I did brain dumps, set up a task manager, and started making boat loads of contexts and tags and folders. I thought I was finally getting to where I wanted with a system that worked for me. The reality was that I was on a high setting up all these productivity things, and I was no closer to getting my work done.

If I am being honest, I was even further from getting the big things in my life done. I did all the things I thought I needed to do to get my life in order and start Getting Things Done, but in reality I just took the foundation of the methodology and ran with it, without thinking on a much higher level.

I was worried about having a task manager that handled everything I threw at it, without actually throwing anything at it. I put the cart before the horse, and that is where I think a lot of people end up when starting a brand new productivity system. This all stops now for me.

I have decided that over the next several weeks I will be starting from scratch in Getting Things Done, and do what David Sparks suggested when he was on A Slab of Glass episode 19:

Do not try to create an entire system in a day. I think what you should do is you should make a list of things you want to improve. What are the key elements of a task management system? There’s capture, how do you capture tasks? How do you process tasks? How do you complete tasks? How do you review projects? Those are the big 4 steps. And pick one of those and say, “How am I going to get better at this?” And do that for two weeks, or a month, or two months, or whatever it takes to just internalize that and say, “Okay, I am just crushing it on capture, now how am I going to process tasks?” If you try to do it all at once it’s just overwhelming and nothing sticks. It’s just like learning keyboard shortcuts or anything you do. Bite off small pieces and fully digest them. And then take another piece, but don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite, you’re going to have a problem.

So the first thing I am going to work on is capturing. I need to figure out a system that will work for me and what will allow me to make capturing thoughts, ideas, projects, tasks, and anything else that comes to mind. I need to make it second nature to take those ideas in my mind and put them somewhere I will go back to later to process them.

All of this will be part of an ongoing series on Tablet Habit I like to call “Learning GTD.” Capturing will be part one of this new series, and I can’t wait to share this journey with all of you as I try to make my life more organized and less chaotic.

Pro Apps on the iPad

  • October 16, 2018
  • Blog

Adobe recently announced that Photoshop is coming to the iPad, and with that comes talk of how the iPad is once again on the precipice of gaining the ability to be a “Mac replacement.”

For me, this seems a bit trite and something that isn’t a matter of if or when, the iPad is a Mac replacement if I ever saw one. In fact, I have been using my iPad as a main computer once again since the release of iOS 12. I haven’t picked up my Mac for more than a few minutes a handful of times.

I do still use my Mac, don’t get me wrong, and I think it is an amazing machine. With that said, it isn’t necessary for my workflow of writing, reading RSS feeds, designing minimal graphics, and managing the backend of my websites. All of this can be done on my iPad with ease.

So why did I decide to crack open my Mac? Because when I needed to do something quick, it was easier for me to use a Mac app that I was already familiar with than to try and find a solution on my iPad that would have made this quick thing I had to do an entire project. If I really wanted to go iPad only, those quick and easy things I do on my Mac would become projects and learning sessions on my iPad. It isn’t impossible, but it isn’t something that I can make time for right now.

With all this said, there are times where I will make a conscious effort to make the switch from an app on the Mac to something on my iPad. A recent example of this is going from Adobe Photoshop on my Mac for graphic design to Affinity Designer on the iPad.

The reason for this is two-fold. The first being that I wanted to make more logos and designs with an app that is actually meant for designing rather than using a photo editing tool as a means to making logos. Adobe Illustrator came to mind, but I have had issues with RAM on my Mac when using that app on my Mac. So, I decided to look into other alternatives and Affinity Designer was one that I felt was an obvious leader for the iPad. It had all the features I would want a Pro app to have, tutorials to make my life easier when learning this new system, and an affordable price tag to $19.99.

After downloading the app, I spent an hour or so watching tutorials and just playing around with the application to get a grip on what all this system can use and what things I could look into for my own work. The UI is brilliantly placed and allowed for a busy and cramped space to look like it was crafted specifically for the iPad instead of cramming a desktop version of an app into a smaller screen haphazardly.

The apps Affinity has put together allow for it to be a seamless and simple solutions for people looking for a pro application to edit photos and design works of art, but they aren’t the only ones.

Apps like Lumafusion and Ferrite also allow those working with video and audio to be iPad only as well. They not only are great solutions for using an iPad for videos and podcasts, it can be your main way of editing. The Mac isn’t necessary anymore to make that YouTube Video or create the podcast you always wanted to. It wasn’t that long ago when you needed a high-end iMac or Mac Pro to edit videos to meet the expectations of critics and film reviewers, and most importantly ourselves. You go on YouTube now and look at videos made entirely on the iPad and they are some of the most creative and impressive pieces of art I have seen online in the past 18–24 months. One I highly recommend is that of Serenity Caldwell’s iPad Review.

There are a lot of premium apps with premium prices on the iPad, but not nearly enough for everyone to see that the iPad is a “Mac replacement.” Personally, I think it would be better to see apps like Logic Pro X and Final Cut X get full versions of the apps on iOS. Having Apple tout that the iPad is a great alternative to the Mac and Windows Tablets but not have the premium apps to back it seems counterintuitive to me and I think for people to look at the iPad more than a Facebook and Netflix machine, they hav to put their money where their mouths are.

Despite my criticism on Apple not providing apps that are pro apps, I will say that there is no tablet in the Android, Chromebook, and probably the Windows ecosystem, that is as beautifully designed and well thought out as those on the iOS ecosystem, especially the iPad. If I were to look for something like Affinity Designer and Lumafusion in a Tablet form I sincerely doubt I would find anything that is as close to the intersection of beauty and function like those available on the iPad.

If ever there were a time to think about replacing that old MacBook Air with an iPad, I would say that time is now. With Adobe releasing more iPad apps in 2019 and almost certainly new iPads coming in the next month or two, I think right now is the perfect time to think about what you can do with the iPad and really consider if it can be a replacement for you in your day to day work and life. For me, it absolutely is. I may crack open my Mac once in a while but it by no means is because I need it, it is just that I don’t have the time to learn how to work around those specific things I use my Mac for still. One day I think I will, and probably have an easier time with it thanks to iOS apps like Drafts 5 and Siri Shortcuts to make things as easy as one singular tap.

Pro apps on the iPad are here to stay, and I think having Adobe coming into the game to bring full-featured versions of their apps is a great thing for iOS and the iPad.

Old App Versions with Siri Shortcuts

  • September 20, 2018
  • Blog

When Siri Shortcuts came out I was extactic to get my hands on it and see what it can do, but I ran into a problem that I think needs to be addressed by Apple and the Siri Shortcuts team. The problem is that some applications that have since moved on to a new version are not working properly in Siri Shortcuts.

For example, I had a Ulysses Workflow that was imported into Siri Shortcuts after updating the app but when I opened it up I saw this:

I thought it was odd seeing this as I had the latest version of Ulysses installed on my device. After some troubleshooting and testing I have found a temporary solution.

For Ulysses, and possibly other apps, you need to install the older version of the application—in this case Ulysses Classic—and once you do that the error of the application not being installed will go away. In fact when you run the Shortcut it opens the new version of Ulysses, not the older version.

From there you have both the current version of Ulysses and Ulysses Classic installed, which is not ideal. I found that you can actually uninstall Ulysses Classic once you run a Shortcut with Ulysses in it. Once you have tested a shortcut after installing the older version, you can then uninstall the older version and see if adding actions for that application still works. For Ulysses it worked fine for me, but not so much for Tweetbot.

Tweetbot has gone through 4 version of the application and each new version has their own application, which was done to allow the developers over at Tapbots to continue to gain revenue as they add more and more features and support to their app. The problem with this when it comes to Siri Shortcuts is that for some reason the version it is trying to use is Tweetbot 3, not Tweetbot 4, the latest version of the application.

So, I did some testing and found out that installing Tweetbot 3 made the shortcut work and it indeed did open Tweetbot 4 instead of 3 when running the action. However, when I tried it uninstall version 3 the shortcuts I built and new ones I tried to build all came back with the error of the application not being installed.

In this case the solution isn’t a simple install and uninstall of the older version of the app. Instead you need to keep the older version of the application to allow the shortcut to work properly. My suggestion is just put it in the back of a folder on your home screen so it isn’t taking up precious real estate on your screen built still allows you to run shortcuts for Tweetbot.

Why I Think This is Happening

The reasoning for this error saying the application is not installed, I think, has to do with Siri Shortcuts requiring a specific app be installed, in this case older versions of the app when Workflow was in its heyday.

Now, as far as why it is opening the newer version of the apps when both are installed, I think, has to do with the newer version having the same x-callback-url and those newer version of the app taking priority whenever those urls are opened.

So, if you see this problem with certain apps and you know that you have the older versions in your purchase history try and install it and see if that fixes your problem.

As for a permanent fix, I think Apple is aware of this problem as they have seemed to be working with some of the developers on this and are making server-some changes to the application to prevent this issue going forward.

If you notice any apps doing this and want to spread the work let me know on Twitter or feel free to email me.

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