Capturing Thoughts

When I purchased an iPad I figured it would encourage me to write more often. That hasn’t been the case in the first couple of months of ownership because, as good as the onscreen keyboard is, it’s still too frustrating to write more than a sentence or two.

If the iPhone’s onscreen keyboard is too small the iPad’s is too large. I make fewer typing mistakes on the iPad, but it comes at the cost of speed. With the iPhone I felt as though my typing speed and accuracy improved the more I used it. That’s not been the case with the iPad where no improvement in either area has been made.

I held off on purchasing a Bluetooth keyboard from Apple because I didn’t want to turn my iPad into a laptop with removable screen.

But I wanted to write more, and that wasn’t happening. So here I am typing out my thoughts on a new Apple Bluetooth keyboard and loving it.

I learned to type in 7th grade, but I didn’t learn to write until I was living in Germany. For the first time, I had to write instead of picking up a phone to share my experiences with my family and friends. More importantly, I learned to share how I felt through writing.

Back then, an idea would hit, and I’d grab a notebook and jot it down. Today, I reach for my keyboard when the same thing happens.

It’s not easy to explain, but my keyboard works at the same speed as my mind. I’m able to capture my thoughts through my fingers, and it all happens at the right pace. I’ve read about experienced writers who began using a typewriter and couldn’t migrate to a computer for the same reason.

I’m not an experienced writer, but I can’t imagine moving away from a keyboard to a more modern technology such as voice recognition to capture my thoughts.

Could it be the most important skill I learned in school was how to type?

InstaPaper for the iPhone and iTouch

InstaPaper is an app for the iPhone and iTouch that flies under the radar. Occasionally I’ll read a review about it online but few of my friends mention it among their favorite apps. 

But this is one fantastic app, and one of only a handful I use half a dozen times each day or more. If you’re a news junkie, just download it right now. You’ll love it.

 instapaper

In short, InstaPaper allows you to save web pages to your iPhone and iTouch for offline or later viewing. Say you come across an article on Techmeme that looks interesting, but you don’t have time to read it. Just click one button on your browser’s toolbar and, the next time you launch the app on your iPhone, the entire article will be there for you, neatly formatted.

InstaPaper comes in two versions: a free version with a few ads and a Pro version without ads for $4.99. I’m using the free version for now, but plan to purchase the Pro version soon.

InstaPaper doesn’t replace a good RSS reader on the iPhone like Feeds which syncs with Google Reader. InstaPaper is best for those article you find while browsing around the web. Maybe you’re interested in the article but don’t necessarily want to add the site to Google Reader. InstaPaper is perfect for capturing the content you want at the moment you find it with no hassle.

Give it a try.

The iPhone Has Reduced My Reliance on Windows

Kim took the kids to Longbeach, WA last week. While she was gone I kept in touch with her by phone, but also SMS and email.

We both used Facebook to update our friends and family. We both updated Twitter a few times each day. We watch YouTube videos and read blogs in Google Reader.

Kim took pictures of the kids and sent them to me over email where I optimized and cropped them before posting to Posterous or Facebook.

We both checked the weather and played a few games. I updated my blog and listened to music. I even traced her route back to Auburn using Google Maps.

None of these activities are unusual. I suspect many families use similar technology to keep in touch. 

But here’s what I realized this weekend: At no point did either of us use any Microsoft software. image

We used our iPhones. Having an iPhone has reduced our reliance on Microsoft software. Not only did the iPhone replace our Windows Mobile phones but it’s also replacing many activities that used to require a PC.

Should Microsoft be concerned?

Kim and I will spend more on iPhone apps this MONTH than we will on Microsoft software this YEAR.

It’s not that we’re intentionally avoiding using Microsoft software. It’s just that we don’t need it very much.

The iPhone isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. Each week I see more iPhones show up on Microsoft campus. What does it say about Windows Mobile if your own employees are leaving it for the iPhone?

The game has changed. But does Microsoft realize it?

Lucky 7: The iPhone Apps I Use Every Day

Now that I’ve had a iPhone a few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of apps. Although a few of them failed to live up to expectations, I’ve enjoyed most of them, especially those recommended to me by friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Naturally, I’m using a few of the most popular apps such as NY Times, USA Today and Facebook. Everyone knows about those. For that reason, I’ll focus on a few lesser know apps that I’m using each day. Links open in iTunes.

bylineicon

Byline
I use this app more than any other because it provide true two-way synch with Google Reader. It grabs all my feeds so I can read them when I know I’ll be offline. Even includes a built in web browser for those blogs that provide only a partial feed. Well worth the $4.99

frenzic

Frenzic
One of the most addictive puzzle I’ve played since Bejeweled. I love the sounds and the colors and the polished feel of this simple, fast paced game. The touch screen controls are perfect. The perfect time waster. $4.99

quickvoicerecorderfree

QuickVoice Recorder
A very simple to use voice recorder. No useless features. Just does what it says. If I’m driving home from work and an idea for a blog post hits me, I use this app to record it.  Free

shovel

Shovel
If you’re a Digg addict, this is a must have app. Pulls in posts from Digg in their Popular, Top Stories, Movers and Shakers and Brand New categories. Digg is my favorite place for tech related news and odd stories that don’t hit mainstream outlets. Free

craigslist

Craigsphone
Sure this app lets you search for an apartment, job or girlfriend but I’m putting it on this list for one reason: Best of Craigslist. It never fails to make me laugh. You’ll find it under the “Featured” section. Free

sportacular

Sportacular
This is crack for the sports junkie. I can drill down to game, team and season stats for any team or league. Updates on all the major sports every 30 seconds in an easy to use and responsive program. No banned substances required. Free

lastfm

Last.FM
As much as I admire Pandora, I prefer Last.FM for a couple of reasons: 1. Better Windows desktop player 2. Advanced social features. I like being able to see what my friends are listening too. You can’t go wrong with either, but give Last.FM a try if you want to see the future of music. Free

What apps do you use on your iPhone or iPod Touch each day?