The Ubiquity of Multiple Devices

One of the less obvious takeaways of my previous post was that I assume the availability of multiple devices for my computing needs, both creative and consumptive.  I became acutely aware of the assumption a few minutes ago, writing a post for my fireapplered.net weblog.  I was using my MacBook Pro to write the post, while using my iPad to update the Jetpack plugin on all my WordPress sites.  And my iPhone was occasionally notifying me that it was once again my turn in one of my current LetterPress games or another.

Remember when we had to share time on a university mainframe to get access to computing power?  Well, actually, I realize that probably most of you don’t remember that, but I do.  I remember how incredibly empowering it felt when I got my first computer, a truly personal computer, that sat on my desk for me to use anytime I wanted it.  And now I’ve got no less than three computers offering me their services at any given moment.

How specialized these devices have become, while they are concurrently became more general-purpose.  I have text editors and word processors on all three machines… and access to web services that serve similar purposes.  Right now, for instance, I’m using the editor baked intoWordPress to create this post, an editor that I could easily access with any of the devices currently within arms reach.  I’m using the MacBook Pro, because I grew up with computers having keyboards attached to them and that is still the way I am most comfortable entering letters.  The soft keyboard on the iPad is a wonder, and I am facile enough at using it that epublishing using only iOS devices is absolutely possible (which is what fireapplered.net is all about).  It’s also handy to be able to use the iPhone to edit posts and other text in a pinch, but no one would say it’s an ideal way to do the job.

So even though I have three devices that are all general purpose enough that it is hard to think of a type of task I can’t attack in some way on all three of them, I find myself turning to a specific device based on how I prefer to approach the task.  Rather than having a hammer, a screwdriver, and a wrench, I’ve got three devices that will all pound nails, turn screws, and hold bolts but do so in ways that make them fit for slightly different situations of pounding, turning, and holding.

A for instance.  All three of these machines allow me to record and edit music, in a general purpose sense.  And I have used all three for that purpose.  But I tend to use a specific device for specific circumstances.  If I suddenly find myself with a lick or lyric line in my head, I use the iPhone to capture it by humming or singing.  If I’m hanging out at the sound board for a band I know and want to capture the performance, I’ll use the iPad with a portable interface to record the stereo mix off the board.  If the band is getting together to work on a demo recording, I use the MacBook Pro and a full interface to capture multiple performances on different tracks simultaneously.

Like I say, the devices are getting both more general purpose and more specialized at the same time.  It’s a great time to be a developer.

Ihnatko, Android, and the Space Between Devices

So, Andy Ihnatko has a new column up about switching from his iPhone to an Android device… specifically, a Samsung Galaxy S III. At first, this only registered for me because, to be blunt, I’d never much cared for Ihnatko’s writing, and in a previous life, I’d basically written him off as an Apple mouthpiece that wouldn’t be able to get a gig outside of Macworld. By the time Johns Gruber and Moltz had both linked to it without apparent irony or ridicule, I was curious to go read it.

It’s just the first part of what promises to be three columns, and everyone has their preferences concerning how they use their stuff. But the first read-through left me wondering what he was talking about. His first big complaint, “When I’m typing fast, I’m accidentally triggering speech-to-text All. The. Freaking. Time.” is apparently so bad that “This is the single iOS quirk that makes me hate my iPhone.”

That’s just never happened to me. I’m not trying to say he’s wrong or that you shouldn’t believe his review, I’m just saying I have no frame of reference for it. It’s never once happened to me.

Likewise, his second reason for de-switching is the larger screen size of the Galaxy compared to the iPhone… he complains that reading a book, watching a video, or reading comics is easier on the larger screen.

I’m not feeling this one, either. I mean, all those things are the reasons I carry this iPad with me wherever I go, right? Because you just can’t do them right on a phone.

I realized that Andy and I simply use our devices different ways, and choose different sacrifices and compromises along the way. It is nice that my iPhone will let me read books or watch videos or write weblog posts if I’m stuck without other options, but none of those things are why I carry my iPhone. I have an iPad for those tasks, because I would not be happy doing them on a smaller device. I don’t even see the appeal of the iPad Mini… It’s too small and cramped to do the things I want. Hell, I’ll start the line for the MAXiPad now, the one with the magazine size 9 x 12 inch display.

Andy doesn’t have the same requirements I do for casual reading, watching videos, and reading comics, so the Galaxy works for him in a way it would not for me. I don’t require my iPhone to be a volume text entry device, so it didn’t fail me the way Andy’s failed him.

I mentioned not caring about the iPad Mini, I don’t care much about the Mac Airs for much the same reason: because of the specifics of how I use the devices, the Mini is both too big to substitute for my phone, and too small to substitute for my iPad. The Mac Air is too big to substitute for my iPad, and too small to substitute for my MacBook Pro.

I wonder if Andy ever considers ditching his iPad for a Mac Air?

jjewell.com 9.0

I keep telling myself I’m not going to number these things anymore. I keep doing it anyway for failing to come up with a better hook for the post announcing the next new look and/or direction for the site. Occasionally this progression has meant a change of format, often a change of design, and typically the promise of a certain type of content or other.

All I’ve got for you this time is philosophy.

jjewell.com was always intended to be my business on the internet.  It has taken many forms, but obviously never one that made me happy with it.  And I find myself involved with jjewell.com more and more away from my desk and traditional computer.  Plus I’ve learned a lot after going through these changes so many times.

We live in interesting times… the way we do business is fundamentally changing.  As in other areas of my life, I’m inspired by Benjamin Franklin, publisher.  The printing press has come to the people, and I want to help them work it.

jjewell.com will be built to show off the modern version of the printing press, and to help other people use it in their own lives.  It’s going to be closely linked to jeffjewell.net, jeffjewell.org and neofrugal.com.  It’s mostly going to be created using iOS devices.

I hope someone finds it of value.

Re-presenting The jjewell North American Tour 1998

I first established the jjewell.com domain in 1996.  I can’t really remember what it looked like, right at first, and neither does the Internet Wayback Machine.  But when 1998 brought the closing of the manufacturing plant where I was working and provided me with a severance package, my fledgling web empire became the home of my first weblog (although they weren’t even called that, yet… much less “‘blogs”), the story of the jjewell North American Tour 1998.

And actually, the Internet Wayback Machine doesn’t even remember what that looked like… but I do.  It was raw html coded in notepad.  At first it had a dark grey marble background image with bright text in blue, green, and yellow.  Yeah, I know: that didn’t even last the length of the tour, it ended up in more classical looking greys and navys by the time I returned home.

At any rate, those updates from a cross-country road trip contain some of what I consider to be my most entertaining writing, and I’ve wanted to repost the series somewhere.  I finally decided that jjewell.com was where they were born, jjewell.com is where they should dwell.  So I’ve retroactively posted all the NAT updates here.

Now… between these old posts and the Wayback Machine, it’ll be days before I find time to do something useful… Start here…

Asheville, NC – evening

Last update from the road, but only just barely.

So why the hell would I stop in Asheville, about 50 minutes from home?  Damned if I know, talk to Roberta Verona, it was her idea.

The last mechanical problem, that “missing,” or just not wanting to take the gas uphills, particularly after running for awhile, popped up again.  I alternated between 60mph down hills and 20mph up hills for about 20 miles into Asheville.  Luckily, if you enter North Carolina from the east on I-40, it’s pretty much straight down for an awful long way.  After getting onto I-26 and wrestling with the question of whether to just tough it out the last few miles, I remembered talking with my dad the night before (and he thought I never listened to him…).  The last thing he said was “Don’t push the RV too hard.”  So, actually, it’s my dad’s fault I’m in a Shoney’s just outside of Asheville.

It feels good to be home already.  An old girlfriend lived in Asheville for awhile when we were together, so I know the city pretty well, and the drive back to Greenville is basically a long driveway for me at this point.  I feel like home.

I can’t wait to introduce Scout and Kato to Crash.  I’m secretly hoping that the boys will kinda team up on Kato, who’s been pretty rude to Scout since she showed up.  No respect for it being his house first.  I just have a feeling Scout and Crash will get along.

The second thing I’m going to do is file the new “big books” I got in San Diego.  The big dogs get special treatment including two Mylar sleeves (one upside down inside the other, to seal without any tape.  We don’t like tape anywhere near a multi-hundred dollar comic book)  and are filed off separately.  This way I get to look at all the coolest stuff without digging around in multiple boxes for it.  Hey, so I’m a geek.  I like it.

After that, I’ll start the arduous unpacking process.  I’m not even going to try to get everything tonight, but I’ll bet all the comics and Atari stuff gets unloaded first.  After that, I may just play until I fall asleep and worry about the rest of it tomorrow.

There will be at least one more trip update, perhaps more as things like photo developing happen.  I’ve also discovered that I have something to say about this whole Clinton thing (on long trips, AM stations stay with you longer than FM, for some reason, so I’ve been listening to Rush Limbaugh take enormous glee in demanding impeachment, indictment, disbarrment, excommunication, deportation,and a good flogging for Mr. Bill.  As usual, the fat man makes some excellent points but fails to reach the appropriate conclusion…).  It doesn’t really fit into the update category, so it looks like I may start using my webspace to shoot off my big bazoo about stuff on some regular basis.  Stay tuned…

Somewhere, NE

I already mentioned the problem with long drives–plenty of time to think of great things to say, but they leave my tiny head before I get a chance to write them down.  Another problem is that I keep rolling into campsites at one, two, maybe three in the morning, and really don’t feel like doing much other than sleeping.  I tried to make this one a little better (theoretically, I should have been in a little after midnight), but another damn time zone rolled by and these stupid campsites are impossible to navigate at night.  Particularly by yourself.  I had to unhook the Tracker by myself in the dark because I couldn’t make the turn they wanted me to and you can’t back up with the Tracker attached.

Hey, only two distinct topics in that paragraph, I’m back on the road to literacy.  I technically could go back and start a new paragraph at “I tried…,” but this way it’s like a look inside my mind, a “Making of The Update” kinda deal.  My treat to you.

I’m kinda punchy after all the driving, so I’ll apologize in advance for what this update must look like.  540 miles today, 625 yesterday, and 508 the day before.  Yowza.  If I can get a decent start tomorrow, and if Roberta Verona keeps running as well as she has been, I’ll be waking up in my own bed Wednesday morning (actually, more like Wednesday afternoon, at the rate I’m going).

But again, that depends on tomorrow being another 600+ mile day.  I hope I can get to sleep, what with the adventures getting the RV parked tonight and the fact that Nebraska’s thermostat is set noticeably warmer than Wyoming’s (I miss Wyoming, I didn’t know how good I had it), and the fact that the campsite I finally got wedged into is only 20 amp electrically.  Don’t know & don’t care precisely what that means, but the practical implications are that I can’t run the AC.  Oh, well, I think it’s safe to run the fan (and by “I think it’s safe” I mean I’m doing it now, and have not yet exploded into a huge fireball that scatters debris for miles and miles), so I’m doing that, anyway.

Called Suzy on the run from somewhere in Wyoming (it’s fun just to say that… really stretch it out now:  WHY-OOOHHH-MING.  See?  Fun) and she commented that I sounded a lot better, and looking at what I’ve read I think I’m reading a lot better, too.

I think I got to the point where I didn’t _have_ a point, anymore.  Newport was fantastic (and it’s currently my choice for where-to-live-after-I-leave-SC, whenever that might be), but I really wasn’t _doing_ anything there.  I had gotten to all of the places that I’d planned to go, met the people I wanted to, took the photos I hoped for (well, I missed Grand Canyon, but there’s not a chance in hell I was driving back through Nevada just for some piddly-squit hole in the ground, I don’t care how good it’s PR department is…), and ended sentences with the prepositions I wanted to (see, the rules of grammar are yours to toy with as long as you draw attention to it before the reader notices!  Silly reader!).  Steve Winwood helped me realize that it was time I should be going, and that was all it took.  Zoom, like an RV on rails.

I am looking forward to getting home.  I miss Scout a lot, I know this probably sounds weird, but that cat is the best friend I’ve ever had.  Crash and I are getting along great, but still…  I’m also looking forward to sorting out all the stuff I’ve accumulated and stashed throughout the RV.  I’ll bet I’m going to be surprised by half the stuff I find.

And I’m looking forward to my music.  I’m still not sure what the first step is as far as getting in front of lots of people, but I’m pretty sure there will be a homebrew tape available with acoustic stuff written, recorded, or otherwise worked on while on the road.  Right now it looks to be six songs, but there may be a seventh if the stuff that’s been roaming around my head the past couple days stays there long enough for me to get a chance to extract it.

So, plan on me being home sometime Wednesday (although I’m secretly shooting for late Tuesday night).  And we’ll go from there.

Somewhere, ID – afternoon

I did Oregon wall-to-wall in a day yesterday.

Roberta Verona has seemed as though she wants to run, so I’ve given in to the request.  I went far past the distance I was expecting yesterday, and I’ve already got three hours worth under my belt today.  I expect that will be the first of three driving sessions today, which should take me through Idaho and Utah and on into Wyoming.  That means I’ll have run the entire western portion of I-84.  84 is the only Interstate with an eastern section and a western section, I think.

I had thought of a ton of stuff to say while driving, and I’ll probably forget most of it now that I can write.

Approaching Portland from the south is not the way to see Portland.  Spend your time on the east side of town, playing in the Columbia River Gorge.  Although the scenery was going by at a steady 55 miles an hour, it was fantastic.  Around one turn you get a view of a mountain (I’m assuming Mt. Hood) that’s like all the magazine pictures of mountains.

Turns out they have desert in Oregon, too.  The good news is that the heat isn’t nearly so severe, and there’s actually little towns every so often to break up the monotony.

Not that I stopped at any of the little towns.  Apparently, I’ve decided I’m ready to be home, because driving has been easy, even long hours of it.  Although there have been a couple places that I’ve been tempted to stop (Snake River Canyon, for instance.  By the way, the Snake River has done some spiffy landscaping, even outside the Canyon proper), the overall impulse is to drive on.  So I’m driving on as long as it lasts.

Crash (that’s the kitten’s current name, due to his tendency to crash into stuff while he’s playing, as well as his ability to force me to narrowly avert crashes as I remove claws from my ankles…) seems to have taken to travelling okay.  He spends a certain amount of time alseep in my lap, then he’ll climb up the steering wheel and sleep on the dash for awhile, then he’ll climb down the steering wheel and across my left arm (this is tricky while I’m steering, and he has been known to bounce down my leg and into the floor while attempting this manuver, which gives you some insight as to how he’s earning his name) and sit on my shoulder looking out the window for a while.  Then sometimes, he justs disappears for a while.

Every time I stop, he wants out.  I keep telling him that he has to wait to get to South Carolina before he can go out and play, but comprehension does not seem to be his strongest suit.

So anyway, Crash and I are cruising through the mid-west.  I don’t know if it qualifies geographically as “mid-west” yet, but there’s lots of straw and hay and cows.  It’s pretty dull.

I saw the coolest cement plant last night.

I thought that needed to have its own paragraph for the full effect to set in.  But, seriously, about one in the morning last night (for me it was right about midnight, but I crossed another one of those damn time zones along the way), I saw a bunch of lights up in the distance.  Now, it gets _really_ dark out in that mountain/desert/prairie melange they’ve got going, so dark you can’t see more than a couple feet off the edge of the road.  Lights in the distance can be tricky to figure out.  At least twice before, I thought that there must be a river up ahead, because the lights were obviously a bridge.  Nope, just an interstate up the side of a mountain.  So I’m trying to be logical and figure out what this thing is.

As I get closer, I can tell there’s a bunch of three different types of lights, and random others here and there, all in a fairly tight grouping.  Doesn’t look like a town, doesn’t really loolk like a bridge (unless they’re building spiral bridges out west these days).

Like I say, turns out it was a cement plant.  There was a big steel frame structure, with bluish lights at regular intervals, a massive building that looked like it might have been made of stone (or, duh, cement, I guess) lit weirdly from the top and bottom with yellowish/brownish lights, and a low brick officy kind of building.  There were also a bunch of normal type streetlight dotting the facility.

The two big buildings, lit like they were, looked like something I would have seen in Las Vegas, but bigger.  And the real amazing part was the way the different lights played off of the rocky, hilly landscape, throwing multiple oddly colored shadows off of every stone.  Really neat.

That’s about all I can think of to bring you up to date, which is a Perkins just off the 84 in Idaho, past Twins Falls heading east but not to Pocatello yet.  I’m not hungry anymore, but damned if I’m going to leave any of this French Silk Pie.  I intend to stay at one or the other of two KOAs along I-80 in Wyoming, depending on just how far I drive tonight.  Hopefully, I’ll get to actually post this at that point…