Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Oh, the humanity...

“User Interface affects everything Humans interact with. Even other humans. Simplicity, clarity, elegance: chase these ‘til you’re exhausted.”
Andy Inathko

Happy New Year - officially. Well, in the Western world, where Gregory's calendar reigns supreme. I write this as the Julian calendar reached Christmas. What a marvellous world - not knowing when the year ends, let alone what year it is! I always take the first day of school as my New Year's commencement, greeting one and all with, "Happy New Year!". 

(Get on with it, Ed.)

Right. Andy Ihnatko is one of my favourite "go to" guys for interesting tech writing. He has been around side the days of the Apple II. Younger readers, look it up - the young Steves had a revolutionary product before 1984. Or 2007. Or 2010. "Simplicity, clarity, elegance…" - brings to mind "Sunday in the Park with George" with the Sondheim dictum, "Order, design, composition, tension, balance, harmony."

Apple is renowned for attention to detail, and no where is so obvious as the user interface. Many of you are unwrapping iPads and iPhones and wondering where to start. Jobs famously said, "If you see a stylus or a task manager, 'they blew it'." Apple designed the interface mimicking the keyboard, but limited space on the device put paid to the original design. Here are the "tricks" to make typing as easy at q,w,e. I mean, 1 2 3!

Today's Tip: Keyboard Tricks for your iPad and iPhone

When using the on-screen keyboard, press and hold down keys to reveal alternatives to the character that appears. 

Press and hold the "a" key to have your choice of ã, å, ā, à, a, á, â, ä, and æ. Works for capitals as well. 

Press and hold the " key and have your pick of «  „  ”  “  ».

Press and hold the "£" key to display , €, $, ¢, ¥. 

Go on - press and hold all the keys to see what pops up.

Rather than switching to the number keyboard and then switching back to the letter keyboard, tap and hold the "123" key, then drag it to a number to select it. When you lift your finger from the number, the letter keyboard will appear again.

Double-tap the space bar to end your sentences with a period and a space. 

In your Home Screen, tap 'Settings' the 'General' and then 'Keyboard' and set up International Keyboards, including Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and even Emoji! Then a tap on the 'Globe' key enables you to change keyboards. 

Tricks for your iPad only.

Press and hold the 'hide keyboard' at the bottom right of your  keyboard and 'Unlock' and 'Split' buttons appear. 'Unlock' moves the bar off the bottom of the screen and 'Split' enables you to do 'thumb typing'.  Adjust the keyboard position by lightly touching the 'Hide Keyboard' key and dragging it up or down. Press and hold  'Hide Keyboard' again to dock, split, merge or dock and merge. 

You have to change habits to work in a tablet environment. The cloud forces a limit to how much you can take along with you. Go with the flow. Use you music player on your phone, pad or netbook with a severely limited playlist. You have a stand-alone music player for that. Use the camera on your phone for the "bread and butter" shots - sync to Dropbox or iCloud or one of the dedicated sites like Smugmug or Flickr. You'll be amazed at the resolution that you have at your disposal and camera apps are, literally, .99 pence. Try some out! 

I'm going to close here with thoughts that are appropriate for commencing on a journey, for teaching is a life-long journey of discovery.

“May you reflect upon the positive aspects of the past, plan and hope for the future, but most of all, realize that we have to live and adapt most readily in the present.”


“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”
 Henry David Thoreau

Keep on experimenting!

Rick Hein