Barkings! | The Small Dog Apple Blog

A blog about our business, our industry, and our lives. You'll find posts from everyone at Small Dog and if the dogs could blog, they'd be here, too!

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Clickity Clack

You know, the weird thing is that the only class I ever got an “F” in was typing class. Now, I can type as fast as most people and actually the lessons in typing class served me well as I do not have to look at my keyboard and I use all ten fingers.

I have been fascinated by ergonomic keyboards for some time. This started way back when Small Dog got its start at my house in Warren. About a year after we launched the company I was having severe discomfort in my wrists and arms. It was so severe that it would keep me up at night as my arm and hands got numb. So, I went to see about it and was sent to a neurologist who confirmed that I had carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists.

The neurologist was Dr. Freize, ironically. He hooked up electrodes and shot current and measured it. This is memorable to me because his equipment was sort of old and he kept banging on it to make it work. Nevertheless, I went to see a surgeon and scheduled the surgery to open up the tunnel. They didn’t want to do both at the same time but I insisted and looked pretty pathetic leaving the hospital with both arms immobilized. It took some “special” tools for me to do daily functions and I wasn’t typing too much for awhile. Artie and Hapy had to do all my work for me.

So, I got interested in ergonomic keyboards and here in Kibbles & Bytes, I wrote a series of articles about some of the best boards. My favorite and the one I have used for almost 20 years is the Advantage Pro by Kinesis. Kinesis Technology is the leader in ergonomic keyboards and pointing devices. It took me about 3 weeks to get used to the very strange looking keyboard but it is clearly a superior design. It has the added advantage that no one else wants to use my keyboard so they stay away from my desk.

Now that I am about to move to the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar I am looking for a Bluetooth keyboard that has the same ergonomic features. Luckily, Kinesis came through again. They have recently sent me their new Freestyle2 Blue keyboard for the Mac. It is what I am using now and I love it. If you are old enough to remember the Apple ergonomic keyboard, the Freestyle2 is a bit like that.

The Freestyle2 has a bunch of cool features. It is Bluetooth (cool feature #1) so no cables to my Mac. Not only that but the Freestyle2 features multichannel technology that allows you to not only connect to your Mac but also simultaneously to your iPhone or iPad. It has 3 channels so you can instantly switch between them.

Most keyboards, including ergonomic models, have a 10 degree positive slope from front to back. These designs tend to bend your wrists. The Freestyle2 has a zero degree slope which minimizes the height, effectively creating negative slope and reducing wrist extension. The slim design provides you a 2-in-1 office and travel keyboard.

It has even more versatility. From small to tall and body types in between, the Freestyle2 allows for maximum flexibility catering to each individual’s unique needs. Out of the box both modules are connected together by a flexible pivot tether allowing an infinite range of splay. Disconnecting the pivot tether allows up to 9 inches of complete separation of both left and right keying modules. Perfect for individual needs ranging from a narrow footprint to complete separation. This design greatly reduces and/or eliminates ulnar deviation.

For even more versatility you can add the VIP3 kit which I did. The VIP3 and V3 accessories attach easily to the base of the Freestyle2 keyboard allowing quick and reproducible tent settings of 5, 10 and 15 degrees greatly reducing forearm tension. For people who want integrated palm supports get the VIP3, and for people who prefer tenting without palm supports get the V3.

It is quiet, too. Rob Amon has the company’s loudest keyboard, I think it is an old Datadesk, that he loves but I can always tell if he is working by the insanely loud clicking coming from his office. The Freestyle2 utilizes a quiet, low-force, tactile membrane key switch. The typical average maximum key force of a switch is 45 grams. This is at least 25% less than most traditional and many ergonomic keyboards.

It is clearly made for the Mac. Driverless hot keys for commonly used mouse actions such as Internet Page Forward and Back, Beginning of Line, End of Line,Cut, Undo, Copy, Select All and Paste. A vertical rib is located on the inside row of hot keys to provide tactile notification to the user. And, like the iMac keyboards top-row driverless hot keys provide quick access to Esc/Force Quit, Brightness, Exposé, Dashboard, Play Audio, Audio Volume, Dock, Eject & Off/Sleep.

I am only a few days into using the Kinesis Freestyle2 keyboard but I can tell already that is not only gives me the adjustability I need for proper ergonomics but it also has the functionality that will improve my overall productivity. I highly recommend this new keyboard from Kinesis.

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The All New MacBook Pro

After weeks of anticipation and months of speculation, Apple finally announced updates to the MacBook Pro lineup. Before we get into the details let’s pause for a moment of silence. Apple has officially eliminated the optical disk drive from the entire computer lineup by removing the entry-level MacBook Pro 13in 2.5GHz which hadn’t been updated since 2012.

The new MacBook Pros offer some pretty remarkable upgrades. They have up to 130% faster graphics, screens that are 67% brighter, up to 58% more storage volume and are 17% thinner. Apple has also removed the function keys from most MacBook Pro models and replaced them with the all new Touch Bar which also allows for integrated Touch ID. The 13in MacBook Pro has slimmed down from 4.5lbs to just 3lbs. The removal of the optical drive, the traditional spinning disk drive and most of the ports has allowed this dramatic reduction in weight. The Force Touch Trackpad is now 2x bigger on each MacBook Pro, the flash storage is up to 100% faster and the battery life has been increased to 10 hours.

Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 has been introduced to the new MacBook Pro and now supports 5K. Like previous generations of Thunderbolt, these new ports allow the user to connect multiple devices through the same port configuration. The base model 13in unit comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports while the stepped-up 13in and the 15in models have four Thunderbolt 3 ports. The 15in MacBook pro can support up to two additional 5K displays and dual RAID systems allowing for some pretty incredible productivity and amazing work experience from a portable machine.

Touch Bar and Touch ID

The all new Touch Bar replaces the function keys on all the MacBook Pros except for the base model. For those users who still aren’t ready to let go of the physical function buttons Apple still leaves these keys on their $1499 model and by pressing the function key the Touch Bar will digitally display function keys. The Touch Bar is a small digital screen where the traditional functional keys once resided and changes depending on the application that you are running. If you’re in mail you can customize your Touch Bar much like the graphical tool bar in mail. You can now file, forward or delete with the touch of your finger and never have to use your track pad. For users who edit photos you can now relocate many drop down menu options to the Touch Bar allowing for full screen editing with ease. You can accept an incoming call, text someone your favorite emoji and now even Apple Pay all from your Touch Bar. Touch ID allows you to now unlock your computer with the touch of your finger and even use Apple Pay on your favorite sites.

Second Generation Butterfly and Larger Touch Pad

The butterfly switch mechanism was first introduced in the MacBook and it’s what helps to give the keyboard on the MacBook an even lower profile and faster response time. The keys are now even more stable allowing for a more comfortable typing experience and more responsive keys. The Touch Pad is now 2x larger than previous generation models giving users more space and flexibility to work and manipulate graphics.

Faster Graphics and a Brighter Display

The 15in MacBook Pro now has up to 130% faster graphics performance than previous models while the 13in is up to 103% faster. The new displays in the MacBook Pros feature a 67% brighter contract ratio and 25% more colors. The new LED display delivers deeper blacks, brighter whites and more vibrant greens and reds. Just when you thought that the display couldn’t get much better Apple managed to make it even more impressive.

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Enter the 3rd Dimension and Push!

I got my first experience with 3D Touch or Force Touch as it was known then on my Apple Watch. I noticed that Grace was able to answer calls on her watch like Dick Tracey but for some reason I could not. So, I called Apple support and learned the difference between a tap and a press. Apple took this one step further with when Apple first unveiled 3D Touch in iOS 9 with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, giving users of those iPhones a new way of interacting with apps, but 3D Touch never really caught on. Now, with the release of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and broader support in iOS 10, 3D Touch is worth learning if you have one of the supported iPhones.

3D Touch works in two ways: “peek and pop” and “quick actions.” Apps use peek and pop to let you glance (peek) at an item by pressing down on it (not just a touch, but a press into the screen), and then jump to that item (pop) by pressing harder still. In Safari, for instance, you can preview a link by pressing it, and then either release to dismiss the preview or continue to load it in its own tab by pressing harder. Or move your finger up on the screen without letting go or pressing harder to get controls for opening the link, adding to your reading list, or copying the URL. This trick applies to links in other apps like Mail, Messages, and Notes, too.

You can also use peek and pop with email message summaries in Mail, headlines in News, thumbnails in Photos, people in Find My Friends, dates and events in Calendar, and even the previously taken photo box in Camera. Support for peek and pop in third-party apps isn’t as widespread as it is in Apple’s apps, but it’s still worth trying whenever you want to preview something.

More interesting are quick actions, which present a menu of common actions when you press down on an app’s icon on the Home screen, or on various controls and other items throughout iOS. Home screen quick actions are great, since they let you kickstart an app into doing something with just a hard press on its icon. If the app has a widget, a 3D Touch press shows that as well.

For instance, using 3D Touch on the Phone app shows its widget, which gives you buttons to call people in your Favorites list, along with actions to view the most recent call, search for a contact, create a new contact, or view the most recent voicemail. The Clock app lets you start a timer or the stopwatch, or create an alarm. Messages quick actions can create a new message or open a recent conversation. Use 3D Touch on Safari’s icon and you can create a new tab or see your bookmarks or reading list. You can even press on a folder to rename it quickly.

Quick actions and widgets are much more commonplace among third-party apps than peek and pop support, so be sure to try 3D Touch on all your favorite apps. If all you see is a Share item, the app has no quick actions or widget, but many apps provide both static actions that are always the same and dynamic actions that reflect your past usage.

iOS 10 brings 3D Touch to Control Center too. Press the Flashlight button to adjust the brightness of the light, the Timer button for some pre-canned times, the Calculator button to copy the last calculation result, or the Camera button to take a photo, slo-mo, video, or selfie.

On the Lock screen, press a Messages notification to expand it and reply directly from the notification. More notifications will become interactive in the future too. And in Notification Center, you can press a notification to expand it, or use 3D Touch on the X button for any day to reveal a Clear All Notifications option.

It’s too bad that there’s no way to know in advance if an app supports quick actions or peek and pop, but as the number of iPhone users who can use 3D Touch increases, developers will incorporate 3D Touch capabilities into their apps more and more. So give it a try!

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Working Together

In a direct challenge to Google Docs, Apple has introduced collaboration to the iWork suite of apps. Pages, Numbers and Keynote now support collaboration through iCloud.

You can use iWork collaboration with these devices:

  • A Mac with macOS Sierra and Pages 6.0, Numbers 4.0, or Keynote 7.0 or later
  • An iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 10 and Pages 3.0, Numbers 3.0, or Keynote 3.0 or later
  • A Mac with Safari 6.0.3 or later, or Google Chrome 27.0.1 or later
  • A Windows PC with Internet Explorer 11 or later, or Google Chrome 27.0.1 or later

If you find collaboration is not available to you, make sure that you have the latest versions of the iWork apps. I have run into this issue a few times here at Small Dog. I am always a bit ahead of the rest of the team in terms of running Apple software so if I send a Pages 6.0 document sometimes I get push back from those that haven’t upgraded. I do recommend that you update to the latest versions in order to take advantage of the new features, especially collaboration.

To invite others to collaborate on your document in Pages, Numbers or Keynote you must be signed into iCloud and have iCloud Drive turned on. I was struggling a bit as we were testing this because collaboration is very dependent upon iCloud addresses. You need to use the iCloud email address to invite someone or it may get stuck in the “verification link cannot be sent” bug.

Keep in mind that the title of the document will be included in the link that you send so if it is confidential- like “www.icloud.com/pages/09aMdbLCQ5naCrMpHaqAfxUoQ#firingemily” you might want to tell the recipient to not forward that link.

You can invite people to collaborate on your Mac, iOS device or from iCloud. To invite from the Mac simply click on the handy “collaborate” button in the menu bar. By default, people that you invite can edit your document. You can change share options and limit who can access it. If you set Who Can Access to “Anyone with the link”, and you want to add a password, click Add Password. Type your password and hint. You and other participants need this password to open the document.

Then choose how you want to invite others to work on your document. If you choose to email your invitation, type an email address or phone number for each person you want to invite. Add any other information, then send or post the message.

To invite from your iOS device, tap the ***, then tap Collaborate With Others. Again, you will be given the options to limit access or add a password. Click on Add People and you have the same choices on how to inform them via email, Messages, copying the link, Twitter or Facebook.

Inviting from iCloud in Safari is the same as doing so from within Pages on the Mac.

You may not want everyone to be able to edit the document but do want them to be able to read it. You can set this all up when you share. When you invite others to collaborate on your document, you can set restrictions on who can view and make changes to your document.

In the Who Can Access menu:

  • Choose “Only people you invite” if you want only specific participants to access the document. To open it, those participants must sign in to iCloud or iCloud.com with an Apple ID. If they don’t have an Apple ID, they can create an Apple ID after you share the document with them.
  • Choose “Anyone with the link” if you want anyone who has the link to the shared document to be able to open it.

In the Permissions menu:

  • Choose “Can make changes” if you want anyone who can access the document to be able to edit and print it.
  • Choose “View only” if you want anyone who can access the document to be able to view and print, but not edit it.
    You can change share options at any time by clicking or tapping the Collaborate button, then choosing Share Options.

It is usually important to be able to track everyone’s edits on the document and know when changes have been made. If you click on the collaborate button you can see to whom the document is shared and who is currently viewing or editing it.

Edits that you and others make to the document appear in real time. Look for colored cursors and colored selections of text and objects to see what others are currently editing. Tap or click the colored dot next to the person’s name in the participant list to jump to their cursor. If you don’t see a colored dot, that person has the document open, but isn’t editing.

If you are really confident in the editors you can hide collaboration activity on your Mac by going to Choose View->Hide Collaboration Activity or View->Show Collaboration Activity. On your iPhone or iPad tap *** and turn Collaboration Activity on or off.

You can continue to edit even if you are offline but others will not see your edits until you have re-connected.

You should note that currently not all functions are available in collaboration mode. As an example, in Pages you cannot insert, cut, copy, paste, delete, duplicate, reorder or edit sections. You cannot adjust margins, use “replace all”, create delete or reorder styles.

Once you have had enough of the sharing edits on the collaborated document you can turn off sharing by clicking on the collaboration button and hitting Stop Sharing. When you stop sharing it is removed from iCloud drive for all participants.

iWork Collaboration is still in development and I expect we will see a lot of improvements before it is a real competitor to Google Docs but it is coming along. Check it out and let me know how it works for you!

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Revert to iOS 9 Home Button Behavior

Ever since upgrading to iOS 10 and getting my iPhone 7 Plus I have been amazed with how fast the fingerprint recognition works. I must admit, however, that I was a little thrown off with having to press the Home button before unlocking my phone.

iOS 10 changes how you use the Home button to unlock your iOS device from the lock screen. Previously, you could unlock it by merely resting your finger on the Home button when the lock screen is showing. In iOS 10, however, you must press the Home button and then use Touch ID to unlock the device. With newer iPad and iPhone models, Touch ID reads your fingerprint so quickly that you can usually press the Home Button instead of just resting your finger on it.

If you’re like me and find this to be more of a hassle than convenience and prefer to skip the requirement to press the Home button I’ve got good news for you. You can change it! To revert to the previous, and one could argue faster, behavior go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Home Button and enable “Rest Finger to Open.”

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