My Kindle’s Place in an iPad World

I’ve often said that my iPad is my favorite electronic device ever. I love its utility, portability, and ease of use. Its app-centric focus and sleek design lets you forget you’re using an iPad and focus on your task at hand. Given how much I enjoy using it, you might think my Kindle e-reader would fall by the wayside, and that was true at first. But lately I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of my Kindle, and this is due in part to one positive and one negative aspect of my iPad. [Read more...]

Shop Once a Month for Groceries and Get Back 12 Hours Per Month

Early in our marriage, my wife and I realized our weekly and sometimes daily grocery shopping was a major source of frustration and tension between us. We were both busy with our jobs, and we didn’t have time at the end of the work day to figure out what to cook for dinner. Planning ahead and shopping for a whole week’s dinners on the weekend helped, but the time that took was frustrating as well. Eventually we solved this problem by developing a system where we plan out a month’s worth of meals and purchase all their ingredients on the same day. [Read more...]

LOI: Novel iPad Keyboard, Ergonomic Chair and More

After a hiatus, my regular Thursday Links of Interest column returns. This edition features a smorgasboard of links I’ve bookmarked in recent weeks:

The “Off” Switch App

This week I’ve re-discovered one of my favorite “iDevice” apps: the “off” switch.

Key Features

  • Intuitive user interface.
  • Simple, un-cluttered design.
  • Facilitaties clear thinking.

Last Sunday morning, I realized I’d fallen into a rut. I’d head into the kitchen to make breakfast, and while I was waiting for the tea to brew or the toaster to “pop”, I’d grab my iPad and sneak a peek at the news, my email, my feed reader or whatever else caught my fancy. On the surface, this didn’t seem to intrude on anything. However, having done this for a couple of weeks, I realized it was making my thoughts scattered. All of the various reading, entertainment and app options were adding useless clutter to my mind. This led to mental fatigue and made it hard for me to focus on the present. So, rather than reflexively indulging myself, I choose to forgo the vast majority of my iPad use for that day.

It was a refreshing change of pace. Life proceeded as normal. It was okay that I wasn’t up on the latest news and blog posts, my social networks would be waiting for me whenever I got back to them, and I noticed a shift in my mindset. I was less focused on entertaining myself and more focused on other things.

My success on Sunday encouraged me to continue limiting my iPad use throughout this week. One thing I have realized about my periods of non-fettered iPad use is my tendency to constantly search for and consume interesting or entertaining information. I love using my iPad to read all sorts of news, magazines, books and blogs. However, if I’m not careful, this pursuit prevents me from thinking deeply about any one thing. Instead, my thoughts get consumed by my consumption, jumping from one interesting thing to the next.

This week I’ve found time for more focused reading. I’ve been reading my Bible more regularly, and my mind hasn’t wandered as I do. I’ve also returned to reading a lengthy Civil War history that I started a month or so ago. Given a spare moment, rather than wasting it browsing aimlessly on my iPad, I’ve been reminded of the value of chipping away at something longer with the reward of finishing farther away.

Finally, this isn’t about me “quitting” my iPad. Rather this week has been about finding balance. As I’ve used my iPad judiciously, my days have seemed much simpler. My attention has been divided among fewer things. This has been a time of adjusting amidst a world of ever growing distractions. I suspect I may even need to learn this lesson again some day (probably sooner than I think). Therefore, I’ll let this serve as my own personal reminder, a “note-to-self” for the next time I get lost in my digital distractions.

App Watch: Great Apps for iPad, Mac and iPhone

Here’s a couple of apps that have caught my eye recently. Whether you use a Mac, iPad, iPhone or some combination of the three, there’s something in here for you:

The Civil War Today | The History Channel – This iPad app curates public domain content from the Civil War period to create a daily newspaper chronicling the events of this day in history. It looks to be an excellent way to study history as it offers an immersive experience of the day-to-day goings on during the Civil War. Here are some screen shots:

HazeOver – If you find yourself working on your Mac with many applications open at once, the utility of this app is immediately apparent. It “dims out” any applications not in focus letting you focus on your current task. Watch this video to see it in action:

iMovie for iPhone4 – This app has been around since last fall; however, as I only got my iPhone4 a couple of months ago, it is new to me. iMovie for the iPhone is a great little video editor that lets you edit video shot with your phone. You can edit clips together, add titles and add music. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate its capabilities is to show you this quick little video I made of my daughter:

LOI – Fantastic Time-Lapse of the Milky Way

Earlier I mentioned my wife and I were evaluating a trial version of MoneyWell. We’ve been so pleased with the software that last night we went ahead and purchased the full version. At some point, I may purchase the iPhone MoneyWell app. If I do, I’ll be sure to give a review here. In the meantime, here’s today’s roundup of Links of Interest:

LOI for Thursday, April 14, 2011

This hasn’t been a good week for blogging; however, I do have a few posts “in the oven” that I hope to publish next week. In the meantime, here’s a hodgepodge of Links of Interest:

FaceTime and the Magic of “Being There”

20110404-065958.jpgOftentimes merely knowing about something pales in comparison to actually experiencing the thing. This was the case with me and the FaceTime video calling feature on my iPhone. I knew the concept as I’ve participated in numerous video calls before; however, I had yet to experience the simplicity of the FaceTime interface along with the portability of my iPhone. The opportunity to move from theory into practice happened when my daughter, Ella, and I placed a FaceTime call to “grandmommy” one evening last week. [Read more...]

LOI – iPad Edition

Today’s Links of Interest focuses on my favorite tablet computer, the Apple iPad. Ever since I bought my iPad WiFi+3G on launch day last year, it has been my “go-to” computer for casual computing. I do believe it has been my favorite technology purchase ever.