Touch Stylus: The Grail Quest

A Collection of Touch Styluses

Styluses Front to back: swag ballpoint/stylus, Targus stylus, Wacom Bamboo Stylus, Hand Stylus, Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. Rear: Wacom Grip Pen

How friggin’ hard could this be?

If you’ve been reading this blog, or following either my personal or the FRS Facebook page, you’re seeing “from IOS” or “from iPad” on a fair number of them. I have an iPad. I like it. It’s a blast to use and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes the thing is even useful – for work, reading an e-book, research, communications, more.  It’s surprisingly a great tool for teaching drum and chant, where I can bring along the equivalent of a fat binder of teaching materials and notes, and a chunky box of vinyl and CD’s all in the slim slice of the iPad. Paired with a bluetooth speaker, it’s tremendous.

But I am still an Art Guy. And I’d like to do more with the pad that’s directly creative. So to that effect, I loaded a bunch of creative apps on the iPad and have been poking at them. One of the most fun and intriguing is 53’s Paper, and really quite innovative. I’ve also been exploring Art Studio, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper, Pixelmator, and Zen Brush. I recently picked up Astropad, that connects to a PC or Laptop and essentially makes the iPad a mild analog to a Cintiq graphics tablet. I also had for a while some of the Adobe Creative Cloud Mobile Apps, and Autodesk’s Sketchbook, and a couple of others. I discovered something about iOS graphics apps. They’re chunky, and can eat of a LOT of your precious storage. And so do graphics FILES. I’ve got a 32GB iPad and currently have less than a gig free.

Practical limitations? Imagine that. Next iPad will absolutely be a 64 gb or better. A 16gb model iPad is near useless for professional use. However, unlike the iPhone that people tend to replace every 2-3 years, my current one is going strong.

But like I had discovered years ago as a Design Pro on the desktop, drawing with a mouse is, yes, akin to drawing with a bar of soap. So my Wacom tablets have been next to my keyboard for over a decade. They are still superior to the much promoted (actually not too shabby) Apple Magic Trackpad for speed, control and precision. I use both, context depending. Similarly, drawing with my fingertip on the iPad, while better than the mouse, still is coarse and crappy, the worst being, you cant really SEE what you are doing under your fingertip when you’re trying to draw or sketch. Continue reading

Get yo’ iPad On

My Alt self staring back from an iPad

My alt self in the screen of an iPad. Image: PC World. Composite: KG/FRS

This is kind of an experiment, not only am I taking about my experience with a new iPad, but also updating the blog using the WordPress App on iPad, and seeing If a long form article on the iPads touch keyboard actually is sane and/or reasonable. For openers, I do very much miss arrow key from my standard keyboard. But that still falls under “quibbles.”

One thing I swiftly noticed that neither the Facebook or Facebook Pages apps allow you to copy text from within them except while you’re posting. Bummer. I had posted my first thoughts on the FRS Facebook Page. But I was able to get in in Mobile Safari. Live and learn. Remember that early versions of iOS didn’t have copy & Paste at all. But I got it –

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New Printer in the Shop

Canon Pixma MG6220

Where I replace my ancient canon inkjet. And test the new one.

After nearly 8 years of faithful service, my comparatively ancient Canon inkjet printer gave up the ghost, failing with some sort of recurring glitch down in it’s silicon innards. After replacing a print head, the ink tank sponges, it reached the end of any reasonable user maintenance. So I replaced it with a comparable mid-range model, the SOHO targeted multifunction Canon Pixma MG6220. To give you a sense on how swiftly this world moves, that model is already discontinued and succeeded in the model line.

It’s performing well, an respectable successor for the aging Pixma iP4000 it replaced. The wireless functionality works flawlessly from two machines in my studio, once tweaked to life. The prints are the usual high canon quality. However, it is worth noting that test prints from a CMYK target document will still show “contamination” of dots of other colors in swatches of – in theory – pure C, M Y, and grays set as pure black percentage Greys have CMY dots unless set to grayscale print. But this is designer quibbling. But I am well aware that desktop inkjets are NOT appropriate for precise prepress color proofing. (One can dream, but we’re not any printer maker’s target market of any significance any more and “Pro” machines are horrifically costly ) More on this later.

Of course it comes without any cables, but I still have the perfectly fine USB A-B cable from old the iP4000. But this is less of a annoyance than it would have been since this printer utilizes Wi-Fi quite well. I can also connect wirelessly from my other workstations and the laptop through our local network. It also seems to run through ink a bit more quickly, but I manage to minimize it by leaving the printer powered up. I also wish there was a bit more guidance for using the various printer paper profiles built into the driver, but this is a continual Canon issue, not specific to this printer. More on this later.

I still like that Canon Ink tanks have been consistently less costly than HPs insanely costly ones, and their drivers better and more versatile, esp. on Mac OS, but their ink prices ARE creeping up. >: (  And more on this later… Continue reading

iCloud is Not for Everyone

Apple's iCloud - Documents in the Cloud

Apple’s iCloud – Documents in the Cloud promises “all your documents, with all your edits, on every device.” Image: Apple

In the most recent update of the Mac OS, Mountain Lion, the Apple branded cloud computing service iCloud was expanded to more fully embrace the Mac from it’s previous focus on iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  After taking a look at in in reviews and a one friend’s somewhat exasperated experience with iCloud, I realize that the utility of iCloud will very much depend on what sort of user you are.

One of the enjoyable things I do, rather off to the side of the “day job” is serve as president of my local Mac User Group. Like many things in the tech world, Mac User Groups are not what they once were. Before the era of the internet, Applecare, the Apple Store, and the Genius Bar, Mac (and PC) User groups were often the only casual source of experienced to expert help and guidance for most users, especially non-professionals without their companies to provide IT support. And of course, mac’s were a markedly different species from PCs in those days, and were a lot more … well.. computer-y.

Apple’s arc in the last decade has been to cater to a vast underserved consumer computing market and to that end, has relentlessly pushed simplicity, elegance, design excellence and the appliance nature of their devices. Note that they almost never use the word “computer” any more, it’s even gone from the company name. It’s simply iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad… An iPhone is a more powerful and capable micro-sized computer that most of the Power PC line of Macintoshes, just one that happens to have a phone. And they’ve done away with most of the computer-y stuff that most folk associate with desktop computers, while still having it do all those THINGS, and typically very well. (Except Maps at the moment… opps) Using an iPhone, the focus is almost entirely on the apps, and what you’re doing, and not particularly on the device much at all.

Currently Apple is making an effort in it’s desktop computing operating system to bring that ideal to to their desktops and notebooks. And part of that effort is iCloud. But iCloud is not cloud storage as most of you who are power users already use and experience it, such as in Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon CloudDrive, Microsoft Skydrive. There are also cloud computing services as well like YouSendIt, Amazon Web Services, Google Apps and the like which actually provide computing services and apps remotely, and most of the cloud storage services also have some of this functionality. iCloud also provides some dedicated services for various iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac users, such as Music Syncing, iTunes matching, Mail and Calendar services, etc.

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Magical…

Magical. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." --Arthur C. Clarke

Click above for Large Image (900 x 600 px)

“Ook ook ack! Eeeeeek! OOOK!” [Trans: "My God, it's full of apps... " ]

I usually don’t repeat subjects, and I JUST reviewed the iPad2. But sometimes a marketing campaign can trod over the same raw nerve so many times before one has to spout off on it.

I don’t want to get off on a rant here but…

Apple’s overuse of the word “magical” when promoting the iPad just gets under my skin. Actually it annoys the poop out of me. Probably because it’s patently horseshit. It’s a piece of TECHNOLOGY, people, not the gorram Philosopher’s stone. We’re not a bunch of knuckle dragging homo habilis hominids howling and flinging rocks, sticks and poop at the frakkin’ monolith. Sometimes I wonder what Apple’s marketing people think of their audience. I do realize what they’re getting at, the idea of an information appliance so immediate and intuitive to use, that the actual interface disappears and you become immersed in just using the thing. Continue reading