Maximizing the iPad Mini II

Seemed like a good time to update my original iPad Mini review to share some of the experiences in content creation I’ve gained having now fully broken-in my iPad Mini.

I’m still composing most of my posts on my Mac Mini, but that’s mostly out of habit and familiarity and not any inherent limitation of the iOS WordPress app (or the lack of other useful blogging utility apps). There are some niggling issues with the app itself, but nothing that is a deal breaker. For one thing the app will drop the HTML code for the pictures I upload into the bottom of the post I’m working on, forcing me to cut and paste it to where I want the pic to appear in the post, but that is a rather minor perturbation.

Biggest Issue

I’m not a big fan of virtual keyboards and I’ve yet to make the plunge into a bluetooth keyboard like I use on my Mac Mini. I’ve definitely got one in mind for my iPad though. A Logitech cover, case, keyboard and stand combo that runs about €80 here in Germany.


The main issues I have with my current iPad mini cover/stand are its lack of magnetic auto-power switching and the flimsy nature of trying to stand it in portrait mode on my lap, with the latter being a huge issue to me. Logitech has both those issues covered.

The cover/stand I currently use is just not stable enough to stay upright against the pressure of finger input without stabilizing it from behind with my other hand. It’s simply a function of the high center of gravity of the tablet and the narrowness of the stand.

It works fine on a flat surface, but my lap isn’t flat. The Logitech keyboard has a much larger footprint. Even allowing that the keyboard will save me a lot of “surface” input to the device, I imagine it will not totally eliminate the necessity of direct screen finger input. When mated to the iPad, the Logitech stand looks to be a lot sturdier option than what I am own now.

If this Logitech keyboard also had backlit keys (like some of the other keyboard-cases out there) I’d already be an owner. I keep hoping and waiting on that upgrade, but if it fails to materialize soon, I’m going “all-in” on this Logitech unit as it currently exists.

Software (Apps)


I use a combination of photo editing apps to tweak my photos. Camera+ makes quick work of cropping and rotating, as well as enhancement and filtering (I don’t use much), though there are at least a half dozen other apps you can use to accomplish the same thing.

For text over graphics I’m a big fan of Over. For composing collages I use Collage or one of the other free photo compositing apps. I used to use Photolettering for text overlay of graphics, but the free font list is too restrictive. If you can do multiple text layovers without saving and re-opening for each new line, I must have missed it.


For video I use iMovie. For screen capture and white boarding, I use the free watermarked version of Doceri software on both my iPad and Mac Mini.

Other Apps

I rely on the Google search app with voice recognition to do quick fact or link searches. I often run Spotify (mobile Pro) in the background for sonic accommodation.


Post from the Road

I keep an eye out for “urban street art”. I often miss the best stuff because I see it on the highway and don’t have the ability to photograph while on the move. Here is a quick pic I snapped waiting at a train crossing. I think the little building has something to do with the crossing gate electronics, switching and control system.


Posted from my iPad Mini tethered to my iPhone 4S while finishing breakfast outside of McDonalds.


Maximizing the iPad Mini

Setting the Stage

Since my first glance at an iPad it has been a long term goal of mine to switch from content creation on my Mac computer to a portable tablet device.

It is repeatedly stated that the iPad is a poor content creation tool (often in the same sentence that praises the content delivery aspects of the device). This is a claim that has had a fair amount of validity in the past, but it is my viewpoint that the case against the content creation capabilities of Apple’s tablet devices are now being wildly overstated.

There is no debate over the lack of such capabilities in the early iPad and iPhone iterations. The lack of access to a true file structure is an honest and recurring challenge to be sure. About a year ago, I got my hands on an iPhone4. WordPress had just released a free app for content creation and I downloaded it onto my iPhone (and older iTouch) to test the limits of the app. I did at least one or two WordPress posts using nothing more than my iPhone. The biggest challenge for me at the time was the small screen of my iPhone which exacerbates the issues of both my aging eyesight as well as my fat fingers.

Other than the ergonomic challenges of tinkering around on such a tiny device, the WordPress app seemed to work quite well early on and subsequent iterations have no doubt improved and expanded upon that functionality. Aware that I would eventually take the plunge and buy an iPad, I started loading up my iPhone4 with as many content creation and photo apps as I could find. A complete list is too expansive for purposes of this post, but suffice to say that if there is a highly rated content creation app (free or paid) there are better than even odds it is on my iPhone, and by way of Apple magic, now installed on the Mini I am using to compose this post.

The iPad Mini


If the iPad Mini had not arrived on the scene when it did, this post would be constructed on a full size iPad instead of the Mini, but given the special blessings that providence seems to continually toss in my direction, the Mini was released just in time for me to get it instead of its larger sibling. My most excellent wife took pity on me and picked one up in the US on a recent visit to the states, using the awesome buying power of the Golden Euro we now use in place of the weaker dollar. Apple sees fit to offer the same dollar/Euro price for the entry-level Mini at € or $ at 329. This translates into being able to buy an entry level US iPad Mini for €250, a hefty savings over buying it here in Europe @€329! At the end of the day, given the high demand and limited availability during the peak holiday season, she was forced to go with the thirty two gig version @ $429. (€ 326)

The Verdict
The jury is still out on the ability to completely abandon my desktop for a tablet, but there is little doubt in my mind that as time passes the challenges of doing so will become even easier than they already are. Expect future glimpses into this process as I spend more time getting acquainted with my new iPad Mini.


Christmas Tech

Snappy Holidays

The recent snow and creeping intrusion of holiday ornamentation heralds the annual War on Christmas, so I thought I’d toss in my two cents on where folks interested in stockpiling personal electronics for the upcoming apocalypse ought to be heading.  This all assumes you have at least a bit of money left from all the necessary weapons upgrades.


Under the Tree

First off, if you don’t yet own a tablet device, the Apple iPad or iPad mini is the big winner in this year’s Christmas kerfuffle.  I predict the iPad Mini will be the hottest gift of the season.  I have a call in to Santa for an iPad Mini.  It will be an upgrade from my iPad Micro (Iphone 4)  Avoid the Microsoft Surface at any price.  The Microsoft device is so underdeveloped there aren’t even apps for Facebook and Twitter, and the O/S is so fumbled I have actually seen screen shots of their tablet O/S giving those insane error messages Windows is famous for.

The new Apple iMac is the perfect desktop machine.  The Apple TV is an inexpensive gift for a tech oriented family and might qualify as a stocking stuffer in some realms.  Any iPhone is a treat, but the newest model is always the most cherished.  That said, my iPhone4 is fantastic, so even if you can’t swing for the latest greatest iPhone5, there are cheaper options that don’t involve tremendous sacrifice in features or usability.


A Christmas Story (Ghosts of Christmas Past)

And to the many children of the cheapskate parents, I give my condolences in advance for the $99 Android monstrosity of a tablet your folks grabbed at the check-out line in Walmart the day before Xmas. Don’t swear about it in front of your folks or you might end up like Ralphie above. Lots of us didn’t get what we wanted because some knock-off product conned our parents into buying it instead of the real deal.  I used to be THAT kid.  When the Red Ryder BB gun was “the shizzle”, you could count on my parents getting me the cheap plastic version that shot soft rubber pellets.  One of the best early gifts I remember as a little kid was getting a battery operated tow truck (with motorized lift and flashing red light!!)  It was called the Big Bruiser.  I saw one for sale on Ebay the other day.  New in the box.  Priced to sell at $1175!  I was never one of those kids who treated his toys with the dignity of display quality handling.  I could have sold my old Tonka truck for a small fortune, but it got pretty well ground down using it as a wagon to race down the sidewalks (and streets) in it’s day.  Kids of my generation used the toys they got and then left ’em out in the rain.  I guess that is why the small amount that remain command such high prices on Ebay.


Stocking Stuffers

Spotify Pro account.  About ten bucks a month.

Apple gift cards.  Available in various amounts starting at about $10.

Bluetooth headphones.  From about $80 to $400.  I own a pair similar to this that work well for me.

Bluetooth Speakers. From about $50 to $350, with sound quality generally increasing with price.  Brands of note.  Jawbone Jambox  and Logitech.