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Knowing why Apple rejected you? There’s no app for that

Knowing why Apple rejected you? There’s no app for that published on No Comments on Knowing why Apple rejected you? There’s no app for that

Apple takes its role as walled gardener pretty seriously. They want you to see your iDevices as safe places that would never do you harm (well, other than taking you to the In-App Purchase Cleaners with children’s games… but that’s a rant for another time).

But they’re a cop without a judicial or legislative system. There are some guidelines — but they’re often vague and inconsistently applied. There’s a sort of court of appeal — but not the kind that holds public hearings or issues helpful explanations of their rulings. And some rules seem to be aimed more at protecting themselves from controversy (or perhaps market reprisals from miffed government officials) than protecting users from malware.

I feel for the iOS developers out there who want to try something genuinely innovative in an area that hasn’t been mined to death already. There’s that very real risk that they’ll invest time and imagination into a ground-breaking app, only to have a reviewer at Apple come up with a reason to block it… or at least take long enough to approve it that the project falters.

Not that it happens all the time, or even most of the time. But enough that I worry it chills innovation, and tempts adventurous developers to play it a little safer, and stick to the stuff Apple’s known to approve.

(Doctor to patient whose nose has impaled an iPad) No need to be embarrassed. We see a lot of using-a-tablet-on-the-treadmill injuries these days.

Run-time error

Run-time error published on 4 Comments on Run-time error

That looks painful, I know. But there’s no easy road to six-pack apps.

As someone who struggles with going to the gym, electronic devices may well prove to have been a life-saver for me. Without an ingrained workout ethic, it’s been hard for me to see a half-hour on a stationary bike as anything more than a sweaty waste of time.

Yes, I know it improves my lifespan over the long run, increases my endurance over the medium run and enhances my energy in the short run. But in a world of a million urgent deadlines, it takes a lot of self-talk to convince myself to take the time to get to the gym, change, work out, stretch, shower and get back to work.

But devices – they provide that immediate sense of accomplishment that working out, at least so far, doesn’t quite manage to do. I can listen to an audiobook while I row, read an O’Reilly tome while I run, or catch up on my favourite podcasts while I flail.

All well and good… but I’m getting pretty good at identifying moments when I’m dividing my attention instead of being truly present. The fact that I feel the need to multitask to feel productive, while I’m doing something that is objectively very productive, tells me I have some more work to do. There are mental muscles I need to work on in tandem with my lats and quads, wiring in some positive associations and finding a few immediate rewards.

Maybe those rewards come in the form of an endorphin rush, or the short-lived-but-gratifying muscular definition that sometimes emerges in my arms. Or maybe devices can come to my rescue again.

There are, after all, scads of apps (possible new word: “scapps”) devoted to encouraging, tracking and reporting your workout progress, and a slew of social networks centered around fitness and exercise.

Fitocracy caught my eye with the single phrase “turn working out in the gym into an RPG,” suggesting I can address both my basal metabolic rate and that conspicuous gap in my geekiness resumé around role-playing games. And the Kickstarter-funded Zombies, Run! had me at “Hello– AIEEEE! (gurgle)

What’s working for you?

Originally posted on ReadWriteWeb

A cartoon essay supporting the iPad (and stylus) as a drawing tool

Is the iPad ready for use by hand (and stylus)? Here’s how I vote “yes”.

Is the iPad ready for use by hand (and stylus)? Here’s how I vote “yes”. published on No Comments on Is the iPad ready for use by hand (and stylus)? Here’s how I vote “yes”.

Squinting? Here’s the full-size version.

A few months ago, Jon Mitchell wrote a great piece on ReadWriteWeb that spurred discussion about the viability of using your hand on your tablet for more than just pinching and zooming. He tried his hand (so to speak) with a stylus on an iPad, and found it wanting. Although I commented at the time, I wound up drawing a more complete response, and last week, ReadWriteWeb ran it.

The time elapsed is significant because of something that happened in the meantime: my birthday. More to the point, my birthday present: what Apple calls the new iPad and what everybody else calls the iPad 3. Doubling the resolution means my answer would have been more emphatic… not to mention drawn on a single screen instead of over two documents and pasted together in Photoshop.

Great moments of 2011: Rekindled

Great moments of 2011: Rekindled published on 4 Comments on Great moments of 2011: Rekindled

I think I’ve said this before. But no matter how interesting the book I’m reading is, no matter how important the subject matter, no matter how well-written and absorbing – if I’m reading it on the iPad, I can constantly hear the whispering of all the apps I could be using instead. That said, I read a lot of stuff on the iPad (both iBooks and Kindle), and I imagine the same would be true on the Fire.

On a related note, while we were flying back from our holiday a few days ago, my daughter looked up from her book, past me and my iPad, and over to the device in the hands of a passenger across the aisle. Her eyes went wide: “What’s that?”

“It’s called a Kindle.”

“It looks just like paper! Is it electronic?”



One last longing glance, and then back to her book.

2010 in review: Think of it as a raw club sandwich

2010 in review: Think of it as a raw club sandwich published on No Comments on 2010 in review: Think of it as a raw club sandwich

And that’s the final cartoon in my ret­ro­spective of 2010 in social media! I hope you’ve enjoyed it – and if you want, you can catch the whole thing in video. (Hey – did you check out the free 2011 calendar yet?)


Want. published on 1 Comment on Want.

Originally posted on ReadWriteWeb.

There’s something about Apple’s consumer design chops that makes their latest product – whatever it happens to be – the definitive object of desire of the moment.

Steve Jobs could announce a new line of refrigerator expansion valves next week, and we’d be lining up at midnight to buy them. (“It’s tiny. It’s revolutionary. It will completely transform the way you lower the temperature of food.”)

And not because we’re slavish Mac fangirls-and-boys. (Okay, not just because of that.) It actuallywill be freakin’ amazing. Sure, you’ll only be able to buy food approved by the App(etizer) Store, but the design! The user experience! the way the mustard swishes out of the way when you swipe!

And before Jobs even leaves the stage, the marketing and promotion industry steps in. The low-end version of the product – whatever the equivalent of an iPod Shuffle is – becomes the giveaway of choice to people signing up for a new service, whether it’s a bank account, cable or a loan-shark arrangement. The high-end version becomes either the first prize for every contest around, or the bait for a multitude of online scams. (Suuuuure people are auctioning iPads off for $2 each.)

Somehow, Apple has found the combination to the Oh God I Have to Have That center of our brains. And if that sounds a little terrifying, it probably is. The only comfort is this: they haven’t quite perfected it yet.

Northern Voice

Northern Voice published on No Comments on Northern Voice

I just finished two days of iPad-based cartoon-blogging and doodle-note-taking at Northern Voice, the Vancouver-based personal social media conference… and boy, are my arms tired.

But both the iPad and the Pogo Sketch performed magnificently. As for me, well, I’ll leave that to you to judge.


iPreen published on 1 Comment on iPreen

But how long before it does?

Flash! Ah-ahhh!

Flash! Ah-ahhh! published on 1 Comment on Flash! Ah-ahhh!

It’s the same heartbreaking story of any civil war. Sister divided against brother. Neighbour against neighbour. Parents against children. Dev teams against clients. Customers against mobile providers – okay, so no love lost there.

My point is this: can’t we all just get along? Failing that, can we at least get restaurant web sites to offer their menus in plain ol’ HTML?

Dedicated to my amigos at Nitobi!

Cartooning on the iPad? Yep.

Cartooning on the iPad? Yep. published on 8 Comments on Cartooning on the iPad? Yep.

(Originally published yesterday on ReadWriteWeb)

You’re looking at what might be the first published cartoon created on an iPad. (Certainly the first one published on ReadWriteWeb. Or here.)

From the moment rumours about an Apple tablet got serious, I was eager to learn whether it could be a vehicle for actual cartooning. Much of the buzz wasn’t promising, suggesting the device would be geared more to consumers than content creators.

Yet even a device as small as the iPhone has shown remarkable potential with the advent of software like Brushes, which produced artwork good enough – admittedly, thanks to a very talented artist – to become a New Yorker cover.

So when Steve Jobs made his Jan. 27 announcement, I was hoping against hope to hear that the device might be a worthy competitor to my beloved (but heavy and unwieldy) Cintiq. In retrospect, that was wildly unrealistic, but I was still disappointed not to hear words like “pressure-sensitive” or “stylus”.

Yesterday, thanks to the heroic early-morning efforts of my wife, I got my hands on an iPad of my own. And after seeing what my daughter did with Doodle Buddy, I quickly installed Brushes andAutodesk’s SketchBook Pro – two drawing apps for nominal grown-ups. After a little experimentation, I landed on SketchBook as my tool of choice for my first experimental cartoon.

Still, I had a problem: my big ol’ meaty index finger, which is not only a terribly imprecise drawing tool but also a very effective obstacle to seeing just what it is I’m drawing. I quickly found myself hankering for the fine-grained control of my Cintiq’s stylus.

That was when I remembered the Pogo Sketch… and discovered it was sold at the same Apple store that sold us our iPads.

The Sketch is a slender stylus ending, not in a thin nylon tip like a Wacom stylus, but a soft kind-of-rubbery material that does the same capacitive magic as your finger. And in conjunction with SketchBook Pro, it seemed to mimic pressure-sensitivity. (That’s important to many cartoonists, who like the dynamic feel of a line that changes width as they draw.)

Most important, it allowed a degree of precision and control I just can’t get with my finger, and it allowed me to draw the cartoon you see here. I can’t say it’s the same quality as cartoons I draw on the Cintiq or with pen and ink… but it’s infinitely better than anything I’d achieved on the iPhone. And to me, at least, it holds the promise – as I get a little more practice – of becoming a truly portable sketching, inking and coloring solution. I can see it coming in handy for liveblogging, rough sketches or, on the road, an alternative to more desperate measures.

How about you – if you’re planning on getting an iPad, will you be using it mainly to read, view and hear content, or will it be a creative outlet, too? And if so, what are you going to make?

You may be suffering from Apple Anticipation Syndrome

You may be suffering from Apple Anticipation Syndrome published on 1 Comment on You may be suffering from Apple Anticipation Syndrome

Symptoms include incessant speculation about unannounced features, an irrational urge to travel long distances to get one earlier, and drawing iPad cartoons in your doctor’s

A use case for the iPad

A use case for the iPad published on 8 Comments on A use case for the iPad

Ah, yup. Between the price point, the locked-down App Store approach, the spiffy design, the tech specs, the lack of camera, the lack of multitasking, the lack of phone, the cool iBook Store, the corny iBook shelves, the impending transformation of personal computing, the impending collapse of Apple stock, the green light for 3G voice-over-IP apps, the telco deals, the publisher deals, the rumor fact checks, the comparisons with Windows, the Kindle-killing, the not-Kindle-killing and the just-have-to-wait-and-see, all of the good points are taken.

Okay, except maybe pointing out how disappointed cartoonists are that there’s no pressure-sensitive stylus. But That Would Be Self-Serving, so I won’t say it.

I’m sure there are probably a few more sanitary-napkin jokes left waiting in the wings (Anyone joke about a Maxi model yet? They did? Bugger.) but I’d like to think I’m above that. (Addendum:Alex tells me that “wings” is also circulating as an iPad joke. God, I’m clueless about this stuff. Is there a course I can take somewhere? Or maybe an app?)

All I can say is this: Dollhouse wrapped on Friday night, and I’m just about certain that even if the zombie apocalypse was brought about, not by the depradations of the Rossum Corporation, but by an iPad OS update that went horribly, horribly wrong… I’d still want one of the gorgeous damn things.