Science and Technology: First Look: An entirely amateur first impression of the iPad Pro

Yeah, so, iPad Pro. For those who know me, feel free to gasp. Now that we have that out of the way, here’s my first impression of it.

I bought the 265Gb WiFi version of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard and Pencil as a compromise drawing slate solution. I’ve used Wacom drawing slates in the past and find I have a hard time drawing on one surface while looking at another, and I can’t afford Wacom’s Windows 10 drawing tablets just yet. Further, whether Windows users like it or not, Windows is not yet a superior platform for freehand drawing without compromises and significant investments in software and learning time.

Hence the iPad Pro. For the money, it has the best mix of capability, software, and frankly, ease of use of any platform out there. If I was going to spend this kind of money, I wanted a platform that worked out of the box with minimal fuss. So far, the iPad Pro delivers on those counts.

The device is solid and, to my surprise, heavier than I expected. That’s likely mostly the result of the battery, which gives me hope that it will last a while, even using the Bluetooth to use the Pencil. The screen is fabulous. Hands down, it’s the best resolution I’ve ever seen on a mobile device, so proper credit to Apple for that. The WiFi and Bluetooth worked as expected and with none of the onetime fuss over connecting to networks Apple had back when I was using their products regularly, so that is definitely a plus.

As a regular Android and Windows user, I found the idiosyncrasies of iOS to be just odd. I’ve used many Apple products in the past, so I know they can get a little narrow minded about their design philosophy, but things like limiting which screen widgets can appear on seem plain silly to me. Granted, I haven’t used it enough to identify if some of the other complaints about the operating system are warranted for me, but those kinds of limitations will guarantee this will be a specific purpose device for me.

App-wise, I love the diversity but hate the App Store. The store design seems to be intended to make things impossible to find unless you already know exactly what you are looking for. And, while yes I am spoiled because of the Play Store, the cost of actually useful apps is a little breathtaking.

My primary use for this tablet will be, for the time being, drawing and photo editing, neither of which I have done much of yet, but what I have played around with so far has been nice. I will report back on that later.

Overall, I am pleased with the iPad Pro. It does exactly what I expected it to do, if not exactly how I wish it would do it. As a first impression, Apple has made a good one.

First Look: iPad Pro review: 4.5 out of 5

DLH

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: A matter of motion

A little over four years ago, I bought a Fitbit One. I bought the device because I was just on the tail end of having lost 65 pounds, dropping from around 340 to 275 over the course of a couple of years. That weight loss was mostly the result of specific dietary changes, especially the near elimination of soy from my diet as the result of an allergy to soy proteins.

My theory behind buying the Fitbit was to help me keep the progress of that weight loss going and to help me achieve a minimum level of fitness. Four years later, that very same device tells a tale, and its not one I wanted to hear.

It turns out, way back in 2013, I did a lot of research into what a “minimum level of fitness” would mean for me. After all that research, I concluded that around 5,000 steps a day, a mere 35,000 steps a week, would meet the goal I was trying to achieve.

Now, I know what the multitude of “experts” say. I read many of them, and I concluded that, and the end of it all, your mileage may vary as far as their expertise is concerned. My conclusions were based on me and my fitness level at the time, and I’m sure, if I had followed my own advice, it would have made a difference.

You see, the story that Fitbit tells me is that, based on my own determinations, I should have walked about 7.5 million steps by around now. Instead, as of today, I’ve walked a mere 2.3 million steps. Even allowing for the fact that I didn’t use my Fitbit at all for six months last year, the fact is that I’ve walked less than half the amount of steps I determined I should have to achieve a minimum level of fitness for me.

The fact is that I am a quintessential example of the modern sedentary lifestyle. Sure, I run a farm, but my physical output comes in fits and starts, and for a while now, not as frequently. And the fact is that this reality starts with not bothering to walk a measly 5,000 steps a day.

It would be easy for me to make some kind of grand pronouncement here about how I’m going to change all that, but I’m not going to. The story my Fitbit tells me is that the changes I need to make to be even minimally fit are hard, and what it is going to take for me to achieve that goal may be beyond my grasp right now.

But, now I know, and knowing is its own kind of power.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Gaming for the Rest of Us: Field Report: Banished

Banished is a real-time strategy building game in a similar vein to games like the Anno series, The Settlers series, or the Tropico series. I got Banished through Steam via a Humble Bundle. I found the game to be easy to pick up and play without too much of a learning curve for the interface.

Unfortunately, the vanilla game lacks depth, and I found the underlying mechanics somewhat inscrutable. The most baffling of those mechanics is the aging process relative to the game play speed.

Like many games in this genre, you find yourself caught in failure cascades involving resource balances, resulting in various forms of the citizens dying out. Because the game contains no warning system about running low on resources, including the population aging out, you spend a lot of time checking the stats, which I find distracts from the game play.

All of that said, once you master the nuances of the game, it’s pretty straight forward, meaning it gets boring fast. Fortunately, the game supports mods that expand the game play, but unfortunately, some of the best mods for the game are unstable at best.

I enjoyed playing Banished after a fashion, but the underlying premise needs some work to make it a great game.

Field Report rating: 3/5

DLH

Read more at my Gaming for the Rest of Us site...

Gaming for the Rest of Us: Field Report: Banished

Banished is a real-time strategy building game in a similar vein to games like the Anno series, The Settlers series, or the Tropico series. I got Banished through Steam via a Humble Bundle. I found the game to be easy to pick up and play without too much of a learning curve for the interface.

Unfortunately, the vanilla game lacks depth, and I found the underlying mechanics somewhat inscrutable. The most baffling of those mechanics is the aging process relative to the game play speed.

Like many games in this genre, you find yourself caught in failure cascades involving resource balances, resulting in various forms of the citizens dying out. Because the game contains no warning system about running low on resources, including the population aging out, you spend a lot of time checking the stats, which I find distracts from the game play.

All of that said, once you master the nuances of the game, it’s pretty straight forward, meaning it gets boring fast. Fortunately, the game supports mods that expand the game play, but unfortunately, some of the best mods for the game are unstable at best.

I enjoyed playing Banished after a fashion, but the underlying premise needs some work to make it a great game.

Field Report rating: 3/5

DLH

Read more at my Gaming for the Rest of Us site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Nothing to report

It’s been quiet here because there’s really nothing to report. I’ve arrived at a kind of weird plateau. In some ways, I’ve improved dramatically over the past few months, but the fatigue and achiness still dog me. Hopefully, as the weather improves and I can get outside more, that will improve as well.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...