Subscription Apps, Default Apps, and Cloud Services

1Password has received some negative press because of their push for more users to switch from purchasing the app outright to a subscription model and the use of their own syncing service. They have responded on Twitter in this fashion to see of the complaints:

On a recent episode of Accidental Tech Podcast, the hosts talked at length about some of the issues around this push from 1Password (and others) and, overall, are sympathetic to the needs of software developers for recurring revenue but are a little bit sour to the push toward more cloud services from software development partners. Panic, makers of Transit (my favorite SFTP and more software), has their own sync service and so does The Omni Group.

However, this proliferation of cloud sync services along with the continued push to never own software but need to continually pay a subscription has me rethinking some of the applications I use on a daily basis.

For one thing, I have an adverse reaction to paying a subscription for things. It doesn’t need to make sense, but I hesitate every time I am asking to pay, via a subscription, for a piece of software (even one I use often). I’m far more likely to search out alternatives at that point.

Another issue is that paying a subscription, especially to another vendor, requires maintaining correct payment information over time. When my credit card expires, I need to find all of the places I have used that card and update it. If I want to change my banking provider, then I need to search out all of those areas as well.

I pay Apple for iCloud storage and an Apple Music subscription. I pay Netflix for entertainment. I pay a VPS provider for my virtual server. After that, I pay for a lot of software but I pay once, use the software, and then purchase the next version the next time I am asked to pay. It is a one time purchase. I don’t need to maintain payment information. It is simple, low maintenance, and understandable.

I have the feeling we will continue to see more software vendors moving to subscriptions models (or trying it out), and so it has me looking hard and long at utilizing built-in apps on my Apple devices. Reminders, Notes, and some others might have a more prominent places in my life especially with the ability to lock Notes, I might be able to move off of 1Password if it ever comes to that point.

Moving from OmniFocus to Reminders would be more of a challenge.

Laptop Replacement

Laptop Replacement by Matt Gemmell

So you want to potentially not use a laptop anymore, but you also want a computer that does all the same things as a laptop, in pretty much the same way. In which case, I think the computer you’re looking for is a laptop.

This is the mindset Apple seems to be working in: that is you are looking for a laptop, then you want a laptop, and that their other devices are meant to be used for similar tasks but in different ways. Is Apple correct? Will the combination of the new iPad Pro and, especially, iOS 11 be able to move more people from laptops to iPads?

I know my parents have completely switched from laptops to iPads, and my dad continues to be iPad-only, having never been comfortable with traditional computers. He, obviously, would wonder why we want to use laptops at all.

Giving the iPad a full-time job

Giving the iPad a full-time job by Justin Searls (Medium)

Here is the money quote from the beginning:

As a result, I’ve come around to a more nuanced view of productivity: that of a tenuous balance between friction and focus. “Friction” is the necessary turning of knobs on my tools in order to do work. “Focus” is the intentional ommission of knobs from tools to foster clear thinking. Any knowledge worker must balance their own creative action with thoughtful attention, and every software interface crystallizes an attempt at striking such a balance.

Everything else builds from there. iOS 11 is a really exciting update for iOS and I am very tempted to move it onto my iPad Pro even in its incomplete state. The iPad is my preferred computer in so many ways, and it is SO CLOSE to being my full-time mobile machine.

Maybe the time is now?

Stanford iOS 8 Course Now Available

The Developing iOS 8 Apps with Swift course from Stanford University is now available on iTunes U …

… and it is entirely in Swift! Obviously.

I’m done with the first lecture and half through the second. I’ve started a number of the old classes, but never finished since I ended up finding them after they had all of the materials available and my tiny little brain was too intimidated to stick with it.

This time I am hoping to keep up with the material as it is released. Hopefully that will help me push through. So far, so good.

My Sysadmin Tool of Choice

The title might be a little facetious, but stay with me.

We recently underwent a semi-invasive project here on campus. It involved replacing the backbone switch for the entire campus and replacing it with a larger chassis which allowed us to consolidate some switches into the new chassis along with adding some 10G switching capacity (which we are now using for our VM storage systems).

What tool was the most important during that project? My iPad.

When a student was stating that their router was not connecting properly with the network, I needed the ability to easily check whether my changes were having an effect. Easiest way to do that? Use my iPad and OpenVPN.

We have a metric ton of projects sitting in the pipeline right now which range from pulling out the last of our Novell NetWare servers and replacing them with OES 11.2 to continuing the migration and consolidation of current services onto smaller VMs and SLES 11. That all comes with a lot of documentation I need to wade through and also using Trello to try to keep track of the moving parts.

What is with me for that? The iPad!

When my family and I recently took a vacation to visit my wife’s family in Milwaukee I wanted to bring along the minimal amount of technology so that we could also pack in a half-hog for my brother-in-law. I still needed to have access to the office and the ability to troubleshoot machines while I was on the road.

What made the cut? My iPad, complete with cellular internet connection, OpenVPN, and Prompt for working with my servers.

I did not originally imagine that this is how I would end up using the iPad.

The idea really stemmed around using the iPad to carry around documentation, and that was pretty much about it. Couple that with some email and web browsing capabilities I was going to be happy using it as my daily-carry machine. However, as I dug into the new iPad Air it became apparent that it could be used for so much  more (and in some cases, be better).

So as it stands right now, the iPad is my sysadmin tool of choice in many situations. Of course, there are many tools that I use in a given day, but I have been pleasantly surprised with how well my iPad Air has transitioned into more than just a daily-carry documentation tool.