MacBook + iPad Pro

The iPad Pro 12.9” is a fantastic device that replaces much of what I might need a “traditional computer” for. As I used the iPad Pro, I found it replacing a lot of tasks that previously were done on my 13” MacBook Pro. I still had both devices though, so if needed, the MacBook Pro was not out of reach. Well, at least until that one day…

I was sitting at the airport on a Monday morning, heading out for work travel that would be a full week on the road. As I sat at the gate typing on my iPad Smart Keyboard, I came to the realization that I forgot my MacBook Pro on my desk at work, when I left the previous Friday. Because I have my iMac at home, I was in the habit of not bringing my laptop home from work unless I needed it for travel. Except for this particular week, I guess!

I wasn’t terribly concerned that I would be without a laptop, but who knows what would come up during the week. Even though I use my iPad Pro A LOT, I have always had my trusty OS X available just in case. Not this time!

Time to find out if it was possible to use only iOS for work and personal stuff for an entire week, and while on the road. This is about the most extreme test you can do, so let’s see how it turned out.

While on the road, I have a wide variety of things I need to accomplish, and here is how the iPad Pro did in each area.

Email: I really like doing email on the iPad. Big full screen to plow through the stack of mail that accumulates throughout the week.

Conference Calls: We use Zoom for conferencing, which is fine, but their app is not updated for the large iPad Pro, so the interface is kinda wonky.

Video Edits: I didn’t need to edit anything video related on this trip, which is good because I really need to look into this as a capability of the iPad Pro while I have Final Cut Pro around, before I dive into the deep end on this one.

Photo Edits: iOS has a really nice selection of photo editing applications for almost every occasion. I generally need to work on product photos for work, and for that I use the awesome Pixelmator.

Document edits and creation: I love me some Pages, Keynote, and Numbers! Unfortunately, I have to use Word for a lot of documents, because of Word specific features. The good news is that Word on iOS is actually better in many ways than Word on macOS.

Project Management: I track all my own tasks using Wunderlist. For tracking and managing projects at work with teams we use Teamwork which does have an iOS app, but I prefer the web browser version since that is what I use on the Mac. This works well enough in Safari on iOS.

Watching videos: The iPad is basically the perfect device for watching vidoes! Also with the new picture-in-picture mode, I can watch videos while still working on other things.

Listening to music and podcasts: I use Apple Music and this of course works great on any iOS device. For podcasts, I go back and forth between different apps. I have used Overcast, PocketCasts, and the Apple Podcasts app. I am currently using the Apple Popdcasts app because I subscribe to a mixture of audio and video podcasts, and this lets me have both in one app, and gives me the ability to sync my podcasts between every device I have.

TelePresence Calls: MyMeetingVideo App is my only option here, but it works! Great for testing calls with room endpoints when needed.

Downloading files from medical devices: I used a Lexar JumpDrive M20i that has both a standard USB connector and a Lightning connector.

Downloading files from CD: Nope, not happening even a little bit.

Bottom line, there is still plenty of room for both iOS and macOS in my life, so here is what I ended up doing:

In the end, I decided to replace my MacBook Pro 13″ with the second generation MacBook 12″ (maxed out specs!!) This gives me the best of both worlds. I now have my 12” MacBook + 13” iPad Pro. This is a really killer combo for me, and also because they are each so light, I can carry both of them without even noticing.

Keeping Up With Finances (OS X & iOS)

Keeping track of your finances is a very polarized topic for most people. Love it, or hate it, it’s one of those responsible things that just needs to be done. I have gone back and forth on how I manage our family finances. From tracking every penny, to completely ignoring it as long as everything was getting taken care of.

I am currently in the swing of the pendulum back toward wanting to keep an eye on things a little closer. It isn’t a ‘new year resolution’ or anything, I just want to ensure we are handling and growing our assets in the best possible way. At the same time,  I don’t want to turn this into another job, but rather have the ability to check in regularly with a dashboard of our overall financial status.

There are online services for tracking your financial life, like Personal Capital or Mint. I prefer (and use) the features of Personal Capital over Mint, but mostly it comes down to personal preferences. Personal Capital has a lot of features and benefits, but doesn’t show me everything I am looking for. For my overall day-to-day look at family finances and budgets, we have started using MoneyWiz 2 by SilverWiz. The application is available on all the usual Apple Devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch) which makes it great for easy access to all your info in one place.

MoneyWiz 2 has the ability to use online accounts, offline accounts, or a combination of both as the source for your finances. This data can be organized by account, and used to administer reporting or budgeting. The ability to sync all changes and data means you can have access from multiple devices and among multiple people.

If you have been looking for something to help you get started with managing your finances or are looking to get back on track, check out some of the online services and MoneyWiz 2 to help you get a grasp of your financial life. MoneyWiz had an interesting revenue model with a couple different ways to access their software and services.

How Do I Backup My Stuff?

I have been a backup junky for quite a while. I have lost my fair share of data in the past due to poor backup practices, and that just sucks. Backup is generally not on the top of everyone’s mind, but it really should be. Keeping a solid backup of your data is easier than ever, and the cost is trivial in comparison to what your personal data is worth. I was thinking about how all my stuff is getting managed and eventually sent to some kind of backup, and thought it may be helpful for some to see what I am doing to keep my stuff safe. This setup is kind of elaborate, and won’t fit your needs 100%, but parts of it I am sure can, at the very least, give you ideas of better ways to protect your data. Below is an overview of how various devices are moving data around to protect it, and then you will see a nice visual diagram of how all the parts are interconnected.

I would love to hear about cool ways you are backing stuff up and keeping it safe, or perhaps you have suggestions on ways to improve my system. Either way, let me know!

 iPhone– Nightly iCloud backup- Weekly encrypted backup to iMac with iTunes

iPad– Nightly iCloud backup- Weekly encrypted backup to iMac with iTunes

iMac Internal Drive– Locally connected Time Machine drive- Network mounted Time Machine (Mac Mini Server connected to 4 Bay Drobo)- Weekly image backup to external drive with SuperDuperArq backup of Home Folder to Amazon S3

iMac External 4TB Thunderbolt DriveChronosync mirror to Mac Mini Drobo

Mac Mini Server w/ 4 bay 8TB Drobo– Internal Mac Mini drive weekly image backup to Drobo- Drobo real time backup to Crashplan



How do I backup - October 2014 Click Image To View Larger


Top 20 Mac OS X apps/utilities (and why)

The other day I had one of those moments where I realized why I switched to Mac and why I love the platform so much. It is simply put, the nearly perfect apps that are developed for the platform. There are a lot of apps out there for all platforms that do one thing or another “pretty good”. It is however rare, to find an app that is simply perfect. Although after looking through my Applications folder, I find a number of apps that are just that, perfect. This is my chance to take a little time and share some of my favorites. I would also like to give you a little background as to why they are so perfect. I realize that nothing is perfect, and there will be plenty of forum / comment trolls to flame me, calling me a “fan boy” or ready to point out all the “flaws” and bugs these apps have. Well without wasting too much time, let me address those folks, screw off and go back to living your sad and pathetic little life behind your 1337 screen name. Anyhow, for the rest of you, lets get onto the apps shall we? 🙂1password_icon.png1Password by: Agile Web Solutions. If you are looking for a state of the art password manager, this is your app. 1Password is not only a password vault, but has plugins for all your favorite browsers, and with the simple click of a button, it will recall your logon info and sign you into all your favorite sites. All of this is done safely and securely. A really nice app!

adium_icon.pngAdium by: Adium X. With all the IM services out there and all your friends and family all on different ones, you don’t want to have 3 or 4 different IM clients running. Not to mention, none of the “official” clients are very nice anyway. Well Adium solves all of that. Adium is a multi client IM app. You can add all your IM accounts into this one app and Adium does the rest. Not to mention Adium is very customizable and has many plug-ins. The absolute best in class app on the mac!

coda_icon.pngCoda by: Panic Software. Whether you are just learning to code web pages or are a seasoned pro, Coda is the app for you. Dubbed “one window web development”, Coda is laid out brilliantly to ensure you are as productive as possible. They really looked at how the workflow should be, and molded this beautiful app around that. Worth every penny!

handbrake_icon.pngHandBrake by: HandBrake. Want to take your DVDs with you on the road but don’t want to lug them around? Want to have all your movies in MP4 format on your media server in your house? This is your app! Handbrake will take your DVDs and rip them into many different file formats and types of compression to fit your needs. I personally rip everything into H.264 MP4s for the Mac mini media center we have. Works like a charm every time and it is beyond simple. Oh and I almost forgot to mention it is open source and FREE!!

marsedit_icon.pngMarsEdit by: Red Sweater Software. This app is for anyone and everyone that has a blog. It is a great app that allows you to compose all your posts offline, save drafts, edit and then post them with the click of a button. I used this app to write this post in fact. It works with a multitude of blog engines; I am using it with WordPress. Clean layout, a must have if you want to blog from anywhere.

omnifocus_icon.pngOmniFocus by: Omni Group. It’s all about GTD (getting things done) these days, and as far as I am concerned, this is the way to do it! If you are familiar with the GTD ideology or just want to stay organized, GET OMNIFOCUS! Get your tasks out of your head, organize them, and do them. Simple as that. This is truly brilliant software.

quicksilver_icon.pngQuicksilver by: Blacktree. “Act without doing.” Quicksilver is a launcher that allows you to be more productive in launching apps than anyone really should be. To be fair, launching apps is about 1% of what Quicksilver is capable of. All I can say is, get this app and let the addiction begin. Once you start using Quicksilver, you will wonder how you ever managed without it!

transmission_icon.pngTransmission by: Transmission Project. Transmission is by far my favorite BitTorrent client. It has a super clean UI, and is very easy to use. It has a good amount of preferences for setting up your BitTorrent workflow as well. One other feature it has that I love is that is has a webserver in it that will allow you to control your active torrents from any web browser. I find this to be very useful, and use it from my iPhone quite often; really slick.

transmit_icon.pngTransmit by: Panic Software. Transmit is what you need if you do a lot of FTP transfers. Transmit is made by the same folks that make Coda, so right there you know it’s awesome. Transmit is a 2 pane style FTP client. It has “your stuff” on the left and “their stuff” on the right. It has a very simple and intuitive layout, making it easy to use. The layout also makes your FTP jobs much faster and more productive.

twitterrific_icon.pngTwitterrific by: The Icon Factory. If you use Twitter then check out this little app. There are a ton of Twitter apps out there, but so far on the mac desktop this is the one I like the best. It is very un-intrusive and sits up in your menu bar. It has a ton of ways to customize alerts. The free version works exactly the same as the paid version with the exception of an ad every once in a while, which isn’t bad at all. They also have an iPhone version which works equally well! Oh, and don’t forget to follow me 😉

apertureicon.pngAperture by: Apple. If you are an avid photographer or a new amateur photographer (like me), this is the app you need for photo manipulation and management, everything from color management to rating images. It also adds the ability to add rich detailed meta data to your images. There is a tethered shooting option as well, to shoot and add pictures to your projects automatically. It is a little pricey for the amateur at $199, but once you use it and see its power, you will find it to be totally worth it. Free Aperture Trial.

appzapper_icon.pngAppZapper by: AppZapper. Need to un-install apps that you don’t need anymore? This is what you want. AppZapper does one thing and it does it very well. Open AppZapper, drag your unwanted apps onto it, and it will find all associated files with that app. At this point you ZAP it, and the app and all associated files will be gone!

chaching_icon.pngCha-Ching by: Midnight Apps. Managing your finances is not always the easiest thing. But it can become a little more friendly with the help of Cha-Ching. This little financial app is the easy to use alternative to Quicken and the likes. It’s very easy to use and intuitive. If you want something simple to use or want to replace your current software that has too many “features,” check out this little piggy.

evernote_icon.pngEvernote by: Evernote Corporation. This is by far the best application for note taking and storing. It is the most cross platform app I use by far. It works with Mac, Windows, iPhone, Web browser, and Windows Mobile! With this app you can take your notes on anyone of those clients and all your notes are stored in the cloud and synced everywhere, making your notes accessible anywhere, anytime. You can tag your notes, and even add voice and pictures. One of the coolest features is the ability to OCR text from pictures! You have to check this app out for your note taking needs.

growl_icon.pngGrowl by: Growl Team. Growl is a notification system for OS X. Quite simply, Growl lets Mac OS X applications unintrusively tell you when things happen. It is a must have for everyone using OS X. It is free and beyond useful!

overflow_icon.pngOverflow by: Stunt Software. If you are like me then you hate when you have too many things in your dock! Although it would be handy to be able to have more apps in reach like they are in the dock. Enter Overflow: with overflow you have a single icon in your dock, that when clicked, will present you with a fully customizable grid of all your apps. You can set them up in categories or how ever you like. It is a fantastic companion to Quicksilver, when you know what you want but the name isn’t coming to mind to type it. Click the Overflow icon and you are launching your app in 2 clicks!

perian_icon.pngPerian by: Perian Project. Perian, dubbed “the swiss-army knife for quicktime” is a Quicktime component that adds support for many video file formats. If you have a video file that won’t play because you don’t have the correct codec, install Perian, and chances are you will be good to go.

simplify_media_icon.pngSimplify Media by: Simplify Media. This app lets you listen to your music from practically anywhere! Simplify Media lets you listen to your home music collection in iTunes over the internet from almost anywhere. I use it to listen to my home iTunes collection while I am at work. It all streams seamlessly through iTunes, it’s like the music is on that computer. There is also an iPhone client that lets you listen on the go. One other really cool feature is the ability to add up to 30 friends’ libraries, so you can listen to their music in the same way. This gives you practically an infinite song library! Breakthrough app.

visualhub_icon.pngVisual Hub by: Techspansion. I was a little hesitant to put this one on the list because the developer has stopped work on it and the app is effectively dead 😦 But because this app is SO great, I am putting it on the list anyway. This app, plain and simple, is THE video transcoder for the mac. It can transcode practically anything into anything else. If there is any way for you to still get a copy of this app, do it, you won’t be disappointed!

connect360_icon.pngConnect360 by: Nullriver. Ok, since you can’t actually get that last pick anymore, here is a bonus pick! This one is for all the Xbox360 owners out there. This little app allows you to use your mac as a media center extension so you can stream music, videos, and photos to your Xbox360 from your mac. It does exactly what it says and does it well.

There you have it, I hope you enjoyed the list and got some good info on what software to get for your mac. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Also, if you have picks that you like better than any of the ones I have listed here, send those along as well!

Quick Software Review: StarPlayr2

If you don’t have Sirius Satellite Radio you can probably stop reading right about… Sirius has an online portion of their service where you can listen to all the stations streamed over the internet. I actually find this service to be more useful than the radio itself, but thats a whole other deal. Anyway, being able to listen online is great, but doing it through the web browser is kind of a pain and not always the best experience. What would be nice, is a standalone desktop application. Well if you are on Mac, your solution has arrived, StarPlayr2. There are a couple of options for OS X, but this one I find to be the best.

Some of the key features.

– Full channel listing
– Bypasses the stupid captcha Sirius uses (so good!)
– Pulls album art from amazon
– Shows artist and song info
– 20 presets locations with easy access
– Ability to record to MP3
– Channel and Volume controls

This app is the perfect solution if you are looking to listen to Sirius Online.

Version reviewed:
Cost: $free!
Link to Developer Site: