A Return to Blogging

I’ve been an Apple Fanboi since about 2012. I started as a windows enthusiast back in the 1990’s and ran versions of Windows up until XP when I switched to full time Linux, even on laptops. Can you imagine the pain of installing Linux on a laptop in the early 2000’s ?

But I finally found a distro I could count on, MEPIS, that was easy to install and used a reasonable desktop based on KDE 3. Then KDE 4 came out and, at the same time, MEPIS took steps backward. I have never forgiven (it’s the Linux way) the changes in KDE from 3 to 4. I have never run Linux as my primary operating system again and when I do run Linux, preferring XFCE, or these days, Budgie over KDE. Don’t even get me started on the awfulness of Gnome 3.

But when I ditched Linux I still had to work, so it was back to Windows, in this case Windows XP (for a little while), then Vista (which was not nearly so bad as advertised) and ultimately Windows has 7. But I was still dissatisfied. I had not made the change to Linux because I loved Windows, quite the opposite. And, as Windows 7 gave way to the Windows 8 beta releases in late 2011 and early 2012, the monstrosity that was the Metro interface made me think that there must be a better way. To, well, think different.

I wanted a sane interface and really liked the *nix environment. Where could I find those things. And the inescapable, obvious conclusion was Mac, with its roots in BSD and NeXT and, since 2006, running on Intel hardware. The switch was as no brainer especially since I was using an iPhone and the Mac represented significantly better integration with that platform.

So switch I did, almost overnight and have not looked back. Until now. Well sort of .

My Mac infrastructure is starting to age with the newest piece of equipment a Mid 2013 Mac Book Air. While all of my machines are compatible with Catalina and will survive the upgrade, I am concerned about next year’s upgrade. Can I still get value selling them while they are supported and buy new Macs?

But wait, there are more rumors out there. Rumors that Apple’s A series chips are good enough to run laptops or desktops and that Apple may transition in that direction as soon as 2020. That would leave Intel Mac hardware I buy today in limbo at best and possibly unsupported or supported only by something like Rosetta.

So is there a lower risk option? One that lets me upgrade to avoid the Scylla of being stuck with unsupported computers with little or no market value and the Charybdis of laying our big bucks for computers just prior to an Apple processor change?

Perhaps. Apple is touting one of its platforms as a replacement for standard laptops — the iPad (what is a computer anyway). The iPad already uses an A series chip and should be un-impacted by any move away from Intel and Apple has announced significant changes in the newly named iPadOS platform that COULD make iPad capable of replacing a laptop.

These changes include:

  • Improvements to multi tasking including better slide over and side by side approaches which allow more than one instance of of a single app on screen at the same time. For example I could have two instances of Numbers with different sheets open in each or two instances of Mail, one with a composition window and the other with an email from the in box for reference.
  • App Expose, like Misson Control on Mac which I never used but which might be useful on an iPad. I’m unsure about this change because I haven’t yet used App Expose and can’t tell what advantages it offers over the application grid on the home scree plus the iOS app switcher.
  • Changes to the home screen that allow widgets to display along with the App grid.
  • Full desktop browser. This is important.
  • A revamped Files application that provides a column as well as an icon view of files. The WWDC presentation seemed to imply that this application could open files regardless of their App affiliation, more like the Mac model, but I am unclear on this. If what I thought was said is true, this would be very big.
  • And some changes to things for all iOS devices like the ability to share folders of Notes and folders of files in iCloud Drive. Those features could eliminate the need for Evernote and Dropbox in my use case. Now if they would only announce the ability to share folders of passwords in iCloud Keychain.
  • A number of welcome improvements to iOS mail and reminders.
  • Expanded printing controls.
  • The ability to manage fonts. I rarely care about fonts, but but that’s interesting and very computeresque.
  • The ability to read usb drives directly.
  • At least rudimentary mouse capabilities, although after seeing screen shots showing it in action , I’ll do without until it improves.

All of this is starting to make me consider if the iPad is enough like a computer to be my primary personal computing device. It certainly could not be used to sling complicated spread sheets, but it might be enough to tackle my email, blogging, and the occasional spreadsheet.

To find out, I’m conducting an experiment. I’ve added an Apple smart key cover to my current 2015 9.7 inch iPad Pro and I’m going to see what I can do, and what I can’t. As soon as a reasonably stable public beta version of iPadOS 13 is released, I’ll load that and see how that helps.

If can do what I need to do on iPad, I’ll sell my MBA and use a iPad Pro 12.9 inch for everything and keep a Mac Mini for occasional desktop use.