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Bill Bennett


Apple technology only: Writing on Mac, iPad Air gets outing

Tuesday saw a press breakfast at Vodafone – with global innovation chief Juan-Jose Juan – and lots of writing. In the evening I went back into town to record this week’s NZ Tech Podcast.

Normally I drive to appointments in the city, but where I live, the rush hour traffic is appalling. The good news is that buses whisk to town down a transit lane.

My plan was to sit on the bus and listen to a podcast on the iPhone 5S during the 25 minute journey. When I plugged-in the earphones I realised I hadn’t downloaded the most recent edition. And although much of my iPod music was listed, it was stored in the cloud.

I could have downloaded, but guessed it would take too long and would eat too much of my precious monthly mobile data allowance. As it turned out, I was wrong on both counts. I forgot the review phone had a Vodafone 4G sim and 25 minutes of audio is only about 25 MB of data.

Using the LiveScribe Pen

You never quite know what to expect at press functions. There may only be a handful of people, it may be longer or shorter, it may be interactive or more like a speech or presentation. In this case a handful of journalists and an informal run through some PowerPoint slides.

When I was younger I would have taken shorthand, I’ve never been a big fan of audio recording. On Tuesday I took my LiveScribe smart pen, which does record audio. I’m still using the Sky Wi-Fi version, the latest LiveScribe pen is lighter and smaller because it syncs with an iPhone that does all the heavy lifting on the recording front.

As it turned out, my handwritten notes were more than enough for a decent story – I didn’t need to sync the pen and download the audio. I also got another decent photo from the iPhone 5S. I’m impressed with its ability to make my amateur snaps look acceptable.

Writing on the MacBook Air

It’s possible to write short stories on an iPad just using the on-screen keyboard. I’ve done that a few times. Anything more than six paragraphs and things start to get uncomfortable. So I did what I normally do and turned to the MacBook Air.

When I first got the MacBook Air I would use Microsoft Word to write stories for newspapers, magazines or other web publishers. Apart from anything else, it meant I could send them the kind of Word documents they are familiar with. I’m not impressed with Word on the Mac, it’s now three years old and still gets in the way of my productivity – that’s not true with the latest Windows version of the software. I’ll get a chance to write more about that next week.

Apple pages 5.0
Pages 5.0 has a minimalist look.

I started using Pages ’09 a few weeks ago and upgraded to the 5.0 version when it became available. It’s almost idea for a journalist – the Mac might not be a typewriter, but I don’t need much more than typewriter functionality.

WordPress on Safari

When it comes to the web, I usually type directly into WordPress – that’s what I’m doing now. It works perfectly well on Safari. I use the full screen editor. Most of the time I’m in visual mode – which gives me a preview of what the text will look like on the web page. If I need to add headlines or other code I may flick to the HTML view. This is the kind of job I got the MacBook Air for.

We record the NZ Tech Podcast at offices in town. Normally I get a draft running list for the show’s topics before heading off to the recording. I carry my iPad 2, use it before the recording when we run through the tops and then during the recording to refer to the list and maybe check my own notes or background information on the topics discussed.

This week I used the iPad Air. Apple says it’s 28 percent lighter and a little smaller than my old iPad. That’s true, what isn’t apparent until you spend time with it, is what this means in practice. While the iPad 2 is far from heavy, I get weary of holding it one-handed after 30 minutes. I barely ever noticed this – I did notice not getting tired using the iPad Air.

The Retina display makes for better images. Again it’s not so much that the older iPad was bad, it’s just that you quickly realise the better quality. It may be a struggle going back when the review period is over – that’s right folks, tech journalists get to borrow a lot of cool kit, we don’t usually get to keep anything.



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