A few days ago something bad happened to my MacBook Pro. Really bad, as in no longer working at all.
Now despite the way that I depend on this machine for every aspect of my working life, I don’t have a spare MacBook sitting around at home. Something like this depreciates the minute you take it out of the box, so it’s not the kind of thing you can just keep a spare of lying around at home for emergencies. And the other thing about Macs – as I continually argue with the other half of my ‘mixed marriage’ is that they don’t go wrong. In 2 and a half years I’ve never had a day of it not working or requiring service attention, and that means that when something horrible happened to it I was completely unprepared, emotionally and technologically!
Now an iPad and a MacBook Pro are very different things. Whilst you can do an amazing amount with the iPad it’s designed mainly designed to consume content and information, not to create it or manage it and not to run particularly demanding apps. Whilst the sheer size and portability of the iPad is a great asset in many circumstances I haven’t yet found a good reason to switch over to a more iPad-centric way of working generally, preferring to keep it for more leisure and personal use than for work. The only exception to this being business travel, when I go to the UK for just a few days with hand luggage only I do tend to take my iPad and a keyboard case.
So I am used to doing some work on it, and some of the limitations that that involves. But long days in the office managing an internationally-distributed market research team, social media streams across multiple accounts, and having to write articles to deadline as well… How was THAT going to work? Here’s what I learned:
1. Outlook web mail as part of the Office365 suite is actually pretty good. I don’t have the same rich signature file and also find the lack of colour categories and rules frustrating – but it is usable, on my phone and on the iPad, and apart from those things it’ well designed.
2. The Skype iPad App is also limited in some annoying ways. I can’t enter video group chats for example, which is important when working with colleagues in remote locations, also in a group instant message chat you don’t get an alert when colleagues are trying to get hold of you and you happen to be looking at another screen.
3. Even with a nice Bluetooth case with I decent size keyboard writing anything of any length on an iPad is a frustrating experience. However I’m currently creating this article using voice recognition, and that’s going surprisingly well – something I need to explore further in the future. And the little keyboard is fine for email, IMs, social media… And editing dictated work.
4. Online banking with La Caixa is actually *easier* on the iPad then on the desktop – the translation works better, it’s clear and straightforward to use, and I think I’ll prefer to do my business banking on the iPad in future even when I get my nice new MacBook.
5. Shame on RBS in the UK on the other hand who don’t provide an app for their business users. This means doing online banking in the browser screen with teeny tiny writing, when you’re entering passwords and security codes this is a nightmare and makes for an extremely frustrating and risky experience
6. Even on a pretty new iPad Air it is possible to wear the battery down totally in one day, when it’s a very long day
7. Whilst I’ve always taken a blended approach to work-life balance and don’t believe in rigid boundaries, it’s harder to manage this when you’re using a single device for work and then later on for keeping in touch with people. I can check my business email at any time on my mobile devices but I’m rarely tempted to do so in the evenings generally. That’s been different this week
6. I use productivity tools such as LastPass password storage, Text Expander to autocomplete things, and lots of other tools which help me do the things I need to do and live wholly within infrastructure of my dead Mac. Every time I get into some kind of flow of work or creation I bump up against one of these things, and start screaming again
7. I keep fumbling at the front of my keyboard looking for a touchpad that isn’t there. l likewise fully expect when I finally get my hands on my new MacBook Pro I’ll be continually swiping at the screen and wondering why nothing happens
8. Today I picked up the phone and had a long conversation with a colleague that was actually a great pleasure, and we talked about lots of other things besides work. And also got the work thing sorted out in a single chat instead of eight or nine emails going backwards and forwards. It was an enjoyable way to spend half an hour, gave my eyes a welcome break from the tiny screen and my hands from the tiny family keyboard. I need to remember that when I get my new toy!
We’ll go back to Facebook very soon but this was breaking news, thanks for reading.
Maya Middlemiss, Costaconnected for Costa Blanca News September 12th 2014