Apple September 2020 Product Update

Just a few years ago, I would not care all that much about the latest Apple Update. But now that I have a selection of their products based on the company, I used to work for having almost everything they could Apple. I switched / was given a few devices, and now I am happy with Apple.

Now that that is out of the way, Apple had an update of mostly “consumer products. These are the Watch 6, Watch SE, iPad Air, iPad, Fitness+, and Apple One. No phone, no laptops, no proline, and not all that much changed.

Apple Watch 6
Apple Watch 6

Watch 6 is more or less a processer update, with a new oxygen sensor and the regular software update. There was some mention of a brighter display but nothing on battery life. They did take the hardware of the Watch 3 and added a few updates and slapped Watch SE on it. Watch 4 is discontinued but not Watch 3 for whatever reason also. I have the Watch 4, the beta worked just fine, and I do not see a reason to update for at least another year.

Apple Watch SE
Apple Watch SE

The Family Setup for Watch is nice if you have kids, but it needs a separate data plan. It looks like you can do it on the GPS version. This also does not work with older models. I just got my kids some Garmin bands, and they seem happy with them without running around with an expensive watch on a younger kid. My wife might want one if we were to get on board with the Fitness+ because it is required to have a Watch.

Apple Fitness+
Apple Fitness+

So, about Fitness+, it seems to be a workout video service that takes real-time data from the watch and combines it into the videos to help you work out better. It does require an Apple Watch and another Apple screen to play like an iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV. The price is a little high at $9.99, but there are ways to make it less, and with governments keeping gyms close, those types of people are happy to move their money into this. There should be different workouts that do need equipment but its cool for workout people.

Apple iPad Air 2020
Apple iPad Air

Moving along to the iPad Air, it gets a new processer and some new colors. The fingerprint reader is now in the power button, and the second generation Pencell works with this one along with a new style folio keyboard. With USB-C it but not as good of a screen, it would be hard to justify the iPad Pro 11 inch over this for most people.

Apple iPad 8th Generation
Apple iPad 8th Generation

The standard iPad also got updated with an updated processer, and that is all. The price is fair if you want a solid tablet. I learned that after going thought several Android tablets with myself and my kids. But this update is not anything significant. It is just the new one you want to get if you were getting another one. Even the price is the same.

Apple One Services
Apple One

Finally, Apple One. The Apple subscription bundle service. This seems right for a family because you get Music, Arcade, storage space, and TV for five people for $20 a month. That storage is shared, and TV is useless in my experience. I would like to see some of these services get better but meh. If my entire family were all on Apple devices, I would jump at it, but Spotify family plan is still okay, I don’t use iCloud for anything, and the kids do use Arcade for games sometimes. If you jump up to $30 a month, it includes the Fitness+ and News+, so you’re getting News+ for free at that point plus 2TB of storage, so it is good if your family is already invested.

Apple Recap September 2020

This update does not have me running out, wait we cannot do that, clicking buy on their website because I am okay with what I have, not being the Apple fanboy that needs the newest thing. If you want the most recent, the only thing I see most of them getting is a Watch 6 and Apple One subscription with Fitness+ rolled together to save a few bucks and have the workouts. I read one comment on a video about this, and it was making fun of Apple saying something along the lines of “Tim Cook: Guys we are out of ideas, what do we do” then the reply “Let’s make more watch band colors.” Obviously, this is not the most significant update this time. New iPhones and AirPods, along with laptops, will get people excited. I do not think the lack of updates has too much to do with COVID, as most of these people sit at desks looking at computers designing things already, moving to use FaceTime more shouldn’t have limited their work.

Using OneNote for Different Note Taking Tasks

For a long time, I have been keeping notes on ideas for projects, work I have done, and other thoughts using Microsoft OneNote. It has so many things in different notebooks that I forget about them sometimes until I go back and want to add or use the ideas.

Take my news project. It was something I have wanted to build for a few years. But I just never got to it or was motivated to make it. But at some point, I made a notebook with a few notes about the idea, wrote out some of the database tables, and kind of got some things organized.

I have tried a few other notes apps and programs, but OneNote seems to work out for what I want. I do not even remember why I got into using it for things. It is also not like I am starting using it and took massive amounts of notes until many years have gone by. It may have been when I got a tablet with a stylus that I could write things down that I really gave it a try, but never used it all that much.

When I was in college, I took some notes in Google Docs for some Computer Science classes as I had my laptop out. In some math classes, I was able to use OneNote with a tablet and stylus as I needed to put math symbols down fast. Another class I used OneNote for was a science class, and I found it faster to type than to write. I could also add images of what the person was teaching easy enough to the notes.

For work, I used it to keep track of the different things I did on projects. I would usually embed a spreadsheet with computer hardware notes. I also added photos of the project along with other details. When I switched jobs to doing IT work, we used MACs for everything and an iPad. OneNote on an iPad is great. But I did not use it for work on the iPad.

Anyway, to kind of wrap things up, I have found OneNote to be a handy tool for notes and keeping track of information for me. There are other options out there like Evernote, Keep, Google Docs, or even just text files. But the ability to drop text any place I want on a page then write on it using a tablet, all synced over OneDrive. That is probably what makes me keep using it.

I hope this helps some people get an idea of what to use OneNote for. It could also just help you understand how notes on projects can come and help you out later when you are not expecting it. Let me know what you use in the comments.

Creating a Web-Based Management Tool

About a year and a half ago, I was given an idea for a web-based management tool. I probably should have started building it back then when I was in contact with the person asking for it daily, but other things came up, and I just made a note of it after putting some thought into how to build it.

Come to now, and I have all the time to build the tool but not sure if there is still interest in the tool. I would expect the person asking about it, still needs something, and if they were correct in thinking, others would also be interested. If I were to get it built this fall and out asking people to use it in the spring and summer, it should have some return on time spent creating it.

Another dilemma is that I am working on several projects slowly right now, but time may be running out, and I will need to find real employment if none of these becomes full income before winter. I do not think this project would be something people who would use it are going to be asking to spend money on in the winter. But I hope it means I could have it built in the winter.

This project should not be too hard to get the basics started and working. I want to do it in ASP.net Core so it would be easy to make and API and later a Xamarin App. But I do not have the most experience working in that set of tools. I also expect that some of the features will take some work to put together as they are not just your standard data types.

These projects I have plans for, do not seem too bad, but it seems hard to get going, especially when I do not always feel the greatest. But I think if I can get it to the point that I have something people want to use, it will get me more motivated to put the time in even when there are so many other things I spend time on.

If you have not figured it out, these writing sessions are to help me think about my projects.  I don’t want to put too many details out of this project because every time in the past, I would talk to someone about an idea, a few months or years later, I would see the same thing out of no ware taking off or being advertised. One example was an e-ink meeting room display and an online booking system for offices, then a year later, I would get an ad every day for that idea someone else had made. That is just one idea.

I will contact the person looking for this tool and see what they think. Either way, it is something I could get working and provide as a service within a few months if I were to start working on it.

Create Custom Sites or Live with Tools That Do The Job Kind of Like You Want?

Right now, I have a few sites that I want to build out. These sites could be made with custom code and all kinds of custom backends to make them work how I want them to. But that would take a lot of work, and in some cases, using something like WordPress may be enough to get it working. But that is about as far as it would go, just enough, not really what I want.

Some prebuilt tools have the advantage of having other people help build them, and this makes them do all kinds of things without me having to come up with a way to make it work. But they don’t do exactly what I want, and in most cases, add a lot of extra junk / HTML I don’t need. Just this page has so much additional trash code thrown in to support things nothing to do with blogs, but it makes it so you can make a store or page with a WordPress site.

I think I will have to suck it up and put in the work to make what I want. There will not be a plugin or way I can make a site builder do what I want. Two of my projects are like this, and I need to chose what one I think can become something that starts to make me some money first. I may have to get some parttime development work soon anyway, but both of these would be good to push out into something more.

One thing I will need to figure out for both is how I want to produce the content. One requires a lot of me creating the content, and the other requires me to do a lot of me researching and monitoring the content. I am not even sure if other people want my stuff, either. But this is some of my ideas, and I don’t have a good set of software I could sell yet, so that is also off the table. I also expect both sites would need ads and donation’s to pay for them, but I’m not too fond of ads and feel strange getting money from people.

Then I have some video projects, and I want to make a site to store them separately from YouTube. There seem to be some ways I could have my videos on a WordPress site, but then I would again be dependent on others rather than my own site. Let’s get some videos out before I put too much thought into it.

To finish it up, I will need to create a site for one of the projects to make it work how I want it to. The other can start as a page builder, but I should use it to create a system for it that I control soon. It may even be a good piece of content for that site going over building a custom website.

Getting Things Setup for Creating Content

It has been a few weeks since I made plans to spend part of my time creating content about technology, news, tutorials, and just life. The other part of my time will be building my IT business. But for creating content, I have been getting websites situated, hardware and spaces set up, and just getting things planned out.

One thing I know I must make sure I spend time on is editing content. This can be text, images, video, or audio. Writing has never been my specialty, so using a few tools together, I hope I can at least spell things correctly and hope sentences make as much sense. Using both Word and Grammarly, I should catch most of the problems. I will also need to read everything a few times before just poking post. I have already found problems because I do not reread my text.

Images and videos should not be too much of a problem for me. I do not expect them to be the prettiest things at first, but getting the message out is the starting point. I have plans to do almost no editing to the videos of me just talking about things I think of. But I will put more work into making sure I give people useful information in a clean way when doing tutorials.

Most people that have been doing content creation for a while telling you just to start doing it. That is hard for a lot of people because when you start, it’s always not that good. I need to take that advice and push forward this week and get some time in making videos and publishing at least a few tutorial starters pages. I also seem to be using this site as a place for me to memory dump my thoughts on things I am working on, it will get better as I do more, and more details will probably get dumped here.

Starting An IT Help Site

As part of my plans to create my own company providing IT services and programming, I want to start putting out content on IT topics, programming, or just other technology-related subjects. I wouldn’t mind doing some streaming question and answer type things, but I don’t know if that would always work out.

To start, I want to cover some of the basics of IT and see how that goes. I have written a few lists of topics to cover that would be easy to start with like HTML, C#, Wireless Networking, Network Cabling, Blogging, who knows what else comes to me.

I have two domains I can use, one was an old technology news site I tried to run but found out it was lame just rewriting press releases, and no one wanted another one of those sites. The other would be a tutorial site similar to this, but I now think the name is lame now, and it has no presence online yet.

I hope to have text-based information, real-life photos of examples, and some videos about the topics. That way, it covers the primary way any average person learns new things. I also plan on producing a video just talking about a topic each day (3-5 days a week), Eli The Computer Guy is an excellent example of what I am thinking of basing these videos on.

If I can handle all this, I also want to try making a video every other morning after taking one of my kids to school talking about the news or other things going on around me or in the world not related to technology in particular. I think it will be an excellent way to vent some of my thoughts without having to put too much effort into it, like writing one of these 300+ word posts, not that I won’t be trying to do more of this.

Will see what happens in the next few weeks, it’s hard to get clients for my IT services business with things shut down and people working from home, I would like to get more business either way, but I can only put myself out there and hope people are looking for me. I hope to keep my blog updated on the progress.

PS: I am writing this differently than usual, I started writing this in Grammarly’s editor. I’m hoping it will help me not only spell things better but produce better text. So far, it seems to have helped with some words that make me sound better and see if the premium is worth it now.

Keyboard Cat

Do different computer keyboards help you type?

This came to me as I am writing on my Lenovo ThinkPad keyboard.

I have used almost every type of keyboard for modern computers and have found that they do make a difference. But some of the more expensive keyboards or fancy features don’t seem to affect how good I can type on them.

Let’s start with laptops, as that is what I am on. The ThinkPad line of keyboards are known for how easy they are to type; some writers keep around ancient laptops just for the keyboard and how fast they can type on them. That said, there are some low-end laptop keyboards with really bad switches that make you go back and rewrite things over and over because the key would not work right or other problems. The Apple laptops also seem to have good keyboards, but they are still smaller keys and are not the easiest to type but are of higher quality.

Next, let’s look at desktop keyboards. I use a mechanical keyboard, and I find it easy to type on with real feeling, so you know you pushed the key. Cheaper keyboards can feel mushy and don’t register; they pressing of them as nicely. The Apple keyboard is way overpriced for not the best keys but is of good quality. Now mechanical keyboards almost all come with lights, that’s useless, and some switches make a lot of noise, so work environments may not like them, and they cost a lot more.

Another place to look at is tablet keyboards. Most are bad with lousy movement or missed key presses. The Apple one I found to be great despite the size. I have bigger hands, so some of them are just too small, and I always hit 2-3 keys.

Mobile on-screen keyboards are not even a thing for this comparison, but I do like the help spelling along with other things they can do.

I guess you end up getting used to what you have. I find keys with feeling to be the best for me, along with some size. I also think not enough people who spend all day typing things won’t look into different keyboards or employer’s who just give them the cheapest thing and hope they get by. I would bet that spending $50-100 on a keyboard that an employee likes would help by not wasting 5 hours each week. But that’s just my opinion on how people use computers in business.

Laptop with Screen and Code

Do you need a laptop still?

I question some times after having an iPad with the keyboard and using it for almost all of my fieldwork doing IT support and Network Management. The systems we used ether had useful apps or were almost fully web-based. It was also effortless to pack the iPad with a cellular data connection no matter where I was going.

But it the question gets more challenging when you need to do work on older technologies and systems that still don’t get that most people live in a web browser and apps. Phone systems, old routers, servers, or things that need more coding. That’s where you need a laptop when in the field.

I could argue that if you have a desktop system, you could get away with just the iPad if you worked with modern equipment. But if you need a desktop for work, why not only have the laptop with a dock and nice monitors. It gets complicated, right.

I will have to say my setup as a small IT support and Managed Network technician I need it all. My home desktop is what I use to provide support for my clients, configure systems and servers, develop code for websites and software, and use for entertainment such as videos and games when not working. Now my laptop is useful for on-site doing work on the older equipment, network scanning, and things I need a good keyboard for. The tablet seems to tie everything together, now more than when I was working with others. The there systems make it so I can do work in any setting.

While my laptop is aging because it hasn’t been used much, I have kept it update and upgrade. It leaves me saying, “wow, it still works great” and not having a justification for a replacement. When I got it for school 7 years ago, I made sure I was getting something good, but never thought it would have worked out this long.

So my advice would be to get a reliable laptop you can do everything your work or entertainment needs can afford. If you do need a desktop, you may still need a laptop to meet your mobile needs. Finally, an iPad or tablet can be much more useful for work than just entertainment.

Another note about laptops is that many workplaces no longer get desktops, just USB 3.0 docks with monitors and a laptop. It makes even more sense to do this so your workers can be remote at any time with all of their systems and files. Also, don’t cheap out on computers. They are tools for your employees you are paying a lot of money to, which makes it possible for them to do the job you ask of them.

Anyway, this was some thoughts on laptops. I hope to keep doing these types of posts on this site. If you need help with your network or IT systems or even new laptops, check out my IT business at Grand Junction Computers.

What A Year So Far

Wait its already the end of August? I didn’t even get my 2020 beginning of the year random update post in! What a year so far! So crazy and almost too crazy like there’s an election they need to cause problems with.

Lots has happened with me too, work was great doing managed IT services and working at a wireless ISP, then BOOM world shut down, clients freaked and I was out. Still doing some IT services on my own and was able to spend the summer with the kids. Now its time to get more going.

So what am I working on, well more IT services though my own name, Grand Junction Computers. Next, I am working on computer tutorials for Programming, IT, Computers, Networking, Cabling, and Tech. I have a good list of programming things to keep me busy with them for a while. I also want to start some kind of current events vlog or something will see what that turns into also. Finally I have a few ideas for programs or services, along with a few games that could keep me going.

The goal is to make enough money that just comes in from projects or services I can keep making more. If it goes good enough I would like to find some land and document building a house on it, but that’s the long term goal. Lets see how crazy they get once the elections are over and we can accept that a virus is not the worst thing to happen to us, and most of us have probably all gotten it. Who knows I may actually post thoughts here more, or not.

Welcome to 2019

It is a new year and I am not going to start off saying, “I should blog more” because well I don’t end up doing that. I will say that in 2018 I nuked my FaceBag account and am done with social media, not that I had much love for it in the first place. When sites like Twitter and Facebook started to get popular I always though of it as being kind of lame. I continue to promote the idea that if you want a place for your content, then have your own website, control what and how that content is posted, and be in control of it.

One cool thing about my current work is that I get to do some traveling around the country. According to my spy device, Google says I have traveled 14,390+ miles ~ 57% around the world. That wasn’t to many trips, just a few back and forth. So for 2019 I do hope work sends me more places, but I want to get out more this summer and do stuff around the Rocky Mountains. That gets us to the next point.

A few years back Steve Gibson from GRC and Security Now podcast, did a lot of research and started living a low carb life. I tried it at the time and felt great, was not hungry, and lost some weight. But because if your doing it alone its hard, and our food system is based around carbs and sweets to the most part it is hard to say on it. I also went to school and gained a lot of weight because I was sitting at a computer a lot. Now the old lady found out about Keto and got hyped, so we are now 1.5 months into eating low carb together, we had some problems during the holidays but carbs make us feel sick now. So already losing 25lb I am planning on keeping up the way of eating and working to get healthy. I hope by summer to have gotten down some more weight and just feeling better so I can get out more.

Other things for 2019 is that I am starting to get a list of both Blog post ideas, Tutorial ideas, and Projects I want to create. If I can get even half of the posts done by summer that would be cool, like I said at the top, I always say I want to post more but don’t end up doing it.

Anyway, have a good year, work on making yourself, your family, your community, your country, and your world better by focusing on things that can actually help.

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