Monthly Archives: October 2017

A searing commentary on iOS app development with a reference to what’s really possible.

This is pretty much a copy-and-paste of an app store product review for Word Press. As it was being composed I realized I was actually witnessing a lesson for app developers. I’m not a developer, but a user of apps, many of them, for both work and pleasure, and on occastion an app is conceptualized, created and engineered in such a way that it reminds me that much of the software we use is rushed, under-whelming and mostly a waste of our collective, valuable time. What started as a searing review of Word Press’s latest iOS app iteration unwittlingly became high praise for an app called, “Blogpad Pro”. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to become much more demanding about the quality of the applications you use, be they for work or pleasure, free or paid.

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It’s so much less frustrating to open an app where you can tell that they have really tried to develop something that is aesthetically pleasing, and functional, even though initial releases may fall a bit short on aesthetics, while still delivering more than expected in terms of fundamental reliability and intuition for the end-user. On the other hand, apps like the one being reviewed [WP] just continue to frustrate as lots of thought is given to aesthetics but clearly functionality and intuitiveness get a lower priority. The principle being described might go something like this: The better an app looks, the better it better deliver.

I’ve had this app [WP] on my iPad mini for some time and look at it every so often to see if these fundamental principles have engaged with the developers yet … As of this morning, still no. I can’t even get to square one with this app as I open help windows, or plug-in information windows, and then can’t clearly see how to get back to the main app short of quitting it by swiping-up and relaunching. The built-in browser offers absolutely no visible button for getting back to the “My Sites” area … Oh it’s there, in the upper left hand corner, it’s just programmed in such a way that it can’t be seen, so hopefully the user is savvy enough to poke around a bit and figure it out. And WP wants me to actually use my valuable time posting with this? Nope, not happening.

The best Word Press app for iOS continues to be a relatively old app called, “Blogpad Pro”. I started using this app way back with iOS 8.x and it was so well engineered that it continues to trounce the likes of Word Press’s own, along with most anything else out there. The downside is that, there have been no updates to this app for years, (which is also very impressive when considering all things that have come along for Word Press in the interim), and repeated attempts to contact the developer are met with the proverbial sounds of crickets.

It’s really too bad they did not make enough to continue looking after one of the best engineered apps ever. It remains the perfect blend of a full set of useful and functional features, aesthetics and ongoing reliability, and incredibly, continues to work well with iOS11 (with NO updates)! Every app developer on the planet should find these dear people and pay them A LOT of money to really understand how to develop a good quality application – for any and all purposes.

I want to be able to use Word Press’s” own app because it also incorporates site management tools into its app – sort of, but, until WP stops trying to wow-me and starts developing a fundamentally solid, pleasing and reliable software application, I’m compelled to continue to turn my nose up at it. Best of luck.

Where’s the iPad MINI PRO? Tsuro by @Thunderbox_ent has just released a major update to one of its games and an all-time favorite of mine, Tsuro. It is a rare game, and in this case a board game, that is the perfect zen between intellectual engagement and zoning-out.

Where’s the iPad MINI PRO?

Tsuro by @Thunderbox_ent has just released a major update to one of its games and it’s an all-time favorite of mine, Tsuro. It is a rare game, and in this case a board game, that is the perfect zen between intellectual engagement and zoning-out. When I come home and play a computer game – which is not often – I don’t like to be left staring at the wall with no registrable EEG when I’m finished playing it, I like to have some brain function left. Tsuro fllls that occasional and important niche for me.

Thunderbox’s significant upgrade to the game, in its basic format, plays just fine on both of my iOS devices. In this update Thunderbox has included access to @Apple AR technology, but alas, while the new features work just fine on my iPhone 8, the AR on my expensive 256GB, iPad Mini 4 is a no-go. Sans AR, the basic, non-AR game-play on my iPad Mini is just fine, but I want the same AR experience on my Mini without having to buy the smaller of the two current versions of the iPad Pro.

I’m very disappointed, as is more and more often the case with my Apple experiences. The fact that Apple continues to try and force my hand into buying exactly what they want me to buy rather than meeting my needs as they exist in the real world, is a growing frustration. I’m fairly certain that “my needs” are not so unique that they are completely isolated from the needs of a significant number of on-going Apple users. I have strong evidence of this because just about the time I think I’ve thought of a unique product recommendation or feature request, almost always I find that many others have beat me to the proverbial punch. This is even more poignant with regard to their professional products, hardware and software, but that’s for another post.

Suffice it to say that, if/when/ever, Apple decides to cough up an iPad Mini Pro, I will mortgage the farm to get it, but I will not be forced/coerced into buying a full-size iPad Pro under any circumstances. It’s almost like Apple realizes they’ve got us, and not unlike the phone company and cellular service providers in general, they believe they can get away with anything. Maybe they can, time will certainly tell, but there is a breaking point with me and those with similar experiences and expectations. I have invested a lot in Apple tech, up to and including, staking my professional reputation on its hardware and software technologies, over and over again, over the years. After the badly down-played XSAN fiasco I have backed way down from insisting on Apple products for professional application. On the consumer side of things I have also become much less vocal for pro-Apple evangelism. And for the record, I do not believe it has anything much to do with who’s at the helm. Even with Steve driving the company, it was headed in the same directions. But again, this is for another post.

Lack of AR on my recently purchased iPad Mini 4, and lack of talk of a Mini Pro, (which is why I bought the iPad Mini 4), leaves me wondering how much longer I can continue to invest in Apple, as a consumer and as a market investor. I guess one voice is, one voice – but, there is that voice, for whatever it’s worth.

Logic X and macOS 10.13 – A Winning Weekend of Production

Logic X/APFS/macOS High Sierra

It was a winning weekend of tracking audio for approximately fifteen hours of live television broadcasting and internet streaming. A few of the programs were only half a dozen tracks, but most of the programs were talking-head panels or full blown music programs requiring 15-20 audio tracks. Beginning this week all of the audio, including dialogue, will be sweetened, fixed and where necessary, re-recorded, with the final output laid back to fully post-produced video. I have done this sort of thing for years, but what made it a bit of a nail-biter this year was that I decided to upgrade to macOS 10.13, alias, High Sierra. Hopefully it does not need to be said, but in case it does – yes – I was runnning a fully redundant tracking system on a completely different workstation. In the end, Logic X and High Sierra came through with flying colors.

I have always preferred to use Apple’s Logic X for this sort of thing, in fact, for audio tracking and post production, Logic X has pretty much negated the need for ProTools. Make no mistake, ProTools is a fine product and unarguably an industry standard, but it turns out that Logic X does just about everything ProTools can do and does it less expensively and is much more elegant to maintain and keep upgraded. All of the plug-ins I need are available in both ProTools and Logic X and in environments where audio and video are going to remain locked from recording through post, Logic really is a much more elegant tool. It’s a bit odd how Apple has clearly marketed their professional audio product to home musicians and electronic music composers, but the truth is, it makes the cost and, honestly, hassle of installing and maintaining ProTools pretty much unecessary.

As for the the OS update: Personally I look more for what’s going on under the hood of Apple’s upgrades and updates, for both hardware and software, and this year Apple’s new file system, APFS, represents what I think is going to be one of the most important core upgrades in quite some time. (And in case this needs to be said, I would not leap to upgade workstation to OS 10.13 in mission-critical scenarios. Give it time and for sure, wait until the ProApps system libraries are updated, which some think will be sooner than later.)

As for Logic X, I do continue to have some oddities with getting logic to function properly with incoming timecode from an external source, or the timecode stamps on incoming Video with audio. What’s weird is that these issues seem to be related to the relative time of day, so Logic will lock to TC just fine up to a certain time of day and after that I have problems getting it to lock properly, and these issues are 100% repeatable. I’ve already done some tech calls to Apple and they are assuring me that they can get the issue resolved – let’s see what happens. I’m thinking one reason issues like this slip through the cracks is that there’s not enough industrial/pro use going on at the level ProTools has, so little but important things get by.

That’s all for now, just wanted to give a report on taking the plunge in a critical production scenario with macOS 10.13 and Logic X. Please leave comments in any form – praise, reprisals, objections, rebuttal and funny faces – below.