Friday, August 31, 2012

My Failure to Convert to all Apple Products

Okay, I admit it.  My love affair with Apple products is fading.  I thought I wanted to be a full-on Mac user.  The iPad was the first step.  Then, convinced by my daughters that I would become even more efficient with an iPhone, in May, I submitted.  The iPhone is handy, and I do feel that I have gained some efficiencies by having them both, although I have not yet been able to see how they play out during a time when I am juggling teaching along with all of my other work commitments! 

Having the iPad and the iPhone meant that the next logical step was a Mac computer.  I envisioned being able to sync all of my devices and seamlessly go about both my professional life.  I would be able to work on a document on any one of the three devices and not have to worry about version control or compatibility.  So, three weeks ago, I got a Mac Book Pro. 

Things have not gone smoothly.  The syncing and seamlessness I imagined remains elusive.  This is in large part, I think, due to the fact that I have been working at the same institution for 16 years and I have a file structure and digital organization that has worked well for me.  I have yet to master how to effectively integrate cloud storage (mostly “icloud” and “dropbox”).  Add to that the use of “time machine” for the Mac on an external hard-drive and new mouse/keypad motions and I’m all messed up!  Additionally, my habits of fingers and keyboard shortcuts are extremely ingrained.  I can’t seem to convince my fingers that to cut (or copy) and paste it is no longer the “ctrl” key plus “x,” “c,” or “v”, but rather that key just to the right of the “ctrl” key.  URGH! 

My ultimate goal (perhaps it was a fantasy?) was to use the iPad in place of my laptop (a super light-weight Dell) for most traveling and work at home.  I know that to do that I would need a full keyboard for the iPad.  I don’t mind purchasing that item, but I have come to accept that I have a bigger problem. After 16 years of being an academic, I have a system for how I research and write my articles and books.  I like to think that I am efficient.  The mechanics of the writing task don’t consume much brain space, which is good because I need all the brain space I have to actually work on what I’m going to say!  The Mac has consumed far too much of my brain during the past three weeks.  I can’t afford to give up that kind of time to the task of learning a new digital working environment.  I’ve got writing projects to finish!  And, new semester is upon us.  I have a system for how I prepare for class.  While I like to try new things – hence my interest in this iPad for education project, I remain concerned about all of my powerpoint slides that I have created for my classes.  How are those going to play out in a Mac environment? 

So, I admit it, I am a Mac failure.  I am returning to my Dell PC. At least for now.  I might still get that keyboard for my iPad, and I am going to work on finding ways to sync my files better with icloud and dropbox.  But for now, I’m going to keep one foot in each camp – Apple (iPad and iPhone) and PC (laptop).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mapping with smart devices

Just a quick post, relayed to many in this group via email, of my recent iPad-related work on mapping; see here for a quick review of some mapping apps, and here for an upcoming 2012-13 initiative I'm pursuing in conjunction with NITLE. Others at Lewis & Clark welcome to participate! Please contact me if interested.