With the coming of iOS10 (Apple’s latest operating system for iPhones and iPads), my first generation iPad Mini can’t keep up: it can’t be updated to iOS10

ios10 logoIt’s not yet four years old, so if I’d got out of bed on the wrong side this morning I could well be whingeing about “built-in obsolescence”. But let’s take a sunnier view. It doesn’t mean that my iPad is about to stop working. It just means that I can’t run iOS10 on it. This means that some features of iOS10 are not available and, in time, some new apps won’t run on it either, and some existing apps will not be updateable.

Apple Store - Covent Garden

Apple Store – Covent Garden (sans Fan Boys)

Forgetting the Apple Fan Boys who camp outside Apple in Regent Street and Covent Garden the night before a new Apple product comes out, would a normal, sensible person, think iOS10 is a trigger to get a new iPad?

Probably not. I’ve said before that the iPad Mini is my favourite ever piece of technology and I think it probably still is. Mine is working just as well now as it ever did. I’m writing the first draft of this blog on it. Funnily enough, the excellent Logitech keyboard that I bought for it has some keys going a bit yellow, but the iPad itself looks and behaves like new.

Battery Life

My iPad’s battery has lost 13% of its capacity in almost four years

Does it wear out in ways that we can’t see? Yes. The battery becomes less efficient over time. I’ve just installed an app called Battery Life that tells me my battery is only 87% as good at taking a charge as it was when new. I don’t know how steep the curve is going to be between 87% and useless%, but it’s not worrying me today. It should also be said that I’ve got no idea how accurate the “Battery Life” app is.

Probably just as important as the battery, there’s no hard drive to wear out, and no fan to get as noisy as a cement mixer.

So, what’s a new iPad got that mine hasn’t? Well, it might be a bit faster, but it’s still the same size and weight, and the screen resolution is still the same. If, like me, you own a first generation iPad and wonder what benefits you’d get from a new one, you can compare them at the links below:

Original iPad Mini spec
Current ipad Mini spec

Personally, I can’t be bothered to check them in minute detail as I’m fairly sure the current model doesn’t have anything so staggering that it’s worth upgrading.

iPad Mini Logitech Keyboard Cover - White

The first iPad Mini with Logitech keyboard

The truth is that the iPad mini is proving to be a resilient, reliable fact in my life life that does its job extremely well. When my IT support clients ask me how long they should expect their laptops and desktop PCs to last, I say that anything over four years should be looked on as a bonus. That’s for Windows PCs. I’ve got a Mac Mini and a Macbook Pro of late 2009 vintage that are both still going strong at almost seven years old (although they, too, are now unable to keep up with the latest operating systems). As my clients will know, I’m not a particular fan of Apple as a company or of their computers (as opposed to iPhones and iPads), but there’s no denying that their (initially expensive) products do last very well.

No, I won’t be replacing my iPad Mini any time soon. I’ll just have to get used to the fact that from now on it’s a click on the Home button to fire up the iPhone 5 (in iOS10) and the old familiar swipe rightwards on the iPad (in iOS9).

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad Mini

iPad Mini Logitech Keyboard Cover - WhiteI recently blogged about the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad Mini. Well, it has now arrived in the shops (John Lewis and Apple, for instance). From what I had previously read, there were some minor gripes about some keys being too small to hit automatically if you are a touch typist. Well, I’m not a touch typist and the key placement and action is everything a messy typist like me could want in a keyboard of this size. I think it’s a very real enhancement to the iPad Mini. Last week I spent a very productive 20 minutes on a train between Ilford and Liverpool Street with it on my lap, writing the beginnings of last week’s blog. As far as I am concerned, that’s 20 more minutes available to my working week. For some reason, I could never be bothered firing up a netbook for just 20 minutes, even if it had been in sleep mode in my bag. The iPad is up and running in a flash. And here I am now, writing this blog in Cafe Nerd (as my sister calls it).

The design, build and quality match the iPad itself very well and there’s one other advantage – cursor keys! The lack of cursor keys on iPads drives me bonkers. Now I can cursor up, down, left, and right, accurately positioning the cursor before adding, deleting or amending. It’s almost worth the £69.99 price for this alone!

The only minor gripe I have is that the cover doesn’t close against the iPad quite as firmly or convincingly as it’s big brother on the full-sized iPad. A couple of times I’ve taken it out of my bag to discover that it feels warm and, yes, the display is on. The auto shut-off hasn’t worked. Not a big issue, but it’s tempting to play the game of opening the fridge door to see if the light’s still on.

Computer Fairs

Computer FairA while ago, I wrote that I thought that the Tottenham Court Road Computer Fair seemed to be “dying on its feet”. I popped in two weeks ago and was told that they’ve re-introduced an admission charge. After I’d performed my Victor Meldrew Tribute Act and pointed out that there seemed to be few enough punters already without putting us off with an admission charge, I was told – perhaps inadvisedly – that the fair would have to close if the admission charge didn’t work (no, I can’t figure that one out, either). Cutting my nose off to spite my face, I refused to pay it.

I’m going back today (rather sheepishly, but I’ll hide behind my cool new shades), to see if they’re still open as I think it’s time to get some contact details from the better dealers in there. I must also get some broadband filters as they’re about a quarter the price in there that they are elsewhere. These are needed for a client with a property on several floors who has, of course, got lots of telephone points. You must have a broadband filter (also called a “splitter”) on ALL telephone points, irrespective of whether they’re connected either to a telephone handset or the incoming broadband line.

Readers’ Comments

Woman Touching iPhone to NoseI recently mentioned seeing a lady on a 37 bus operating her iPhone with her nose. This prompted a response from a reader who says that this was commonplace in Russia when the iPhone first came out. Perhaps the lady I saw was part of the Russian diaspora. She certainly looked more elegantly dressed against the cold weather than the average Londoner.

The Ted Talks LogoAnother reader responded to my mention of Ted Talks recently by suggesting that I might like to “look under the hood”. He says they have a “right-wing, US Evangelical” agenda. I agree that I have definitely seen a couple of very odd talks, but I’ve simply stopped watching them. I did a Google search to see if there is any evidence for his viewpoint. I couldn’t find any and, anyway, I would like to credit my readers with the same ability to discriminate as I credit myself with. On the other hand, I’d be the last person to wish to promote right-wing or evangelical organisations, so I’m grateful to that reader for marking my card.

Office 365Finally, I should have delved deeper into Microsoft Office 365 before writing last week’s blog. Some versions of Office 365 do include full desktop applications. This is definitely not the impression I gave last week. Sorry. I obviously need to do a lot more work unravelling the complexities of Microsoft’s new product range.

A few bits and pieces this week..

Tab key Tip

Tab KeyWhen filling in forms online, or even just entering a username and password, it’s much quicker to use the tab and “shift tab” keys to move to the next and previous fields respectively than it is to fumble around with the mouse.

If you are not familiar with the “tab” key, it is always at the lefthand side of the keyboard. I think it’s always to the left of the letter “q”.

“shift tab” is executed by depressing the “shift” key and, while the shift key is still down, tapping the “tab” key. Getting used to using the tab key in this context is much quicker than typing one piece of information, fumbling for the mouse, clicking on the next “field”, and typing the next piece of information.

By the way, a “field” in computer terms is a specific piece of information on a form or otherwise entered into or held by the computer – eg “mobile phone number” can be a field and “surname” can be another.

Still on the subject of typing and keyboards:

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad Mini

iPad Mini Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard CoverI’ve been finding the “virtual keyboard” on the iPad Mini more and more usable for “extended typing sessions” as I practise with it more and more. Nevertheless, I would prefer to have a “proper” keyboard that’s good enough that I forget about it for the duration of writing, say, 1000 words.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad has a reputation for doing a good job for the iPad, and now the iPad Mini version has just been released. Naturally, though, the challenge for the manufacturer is even greater here, as there’s even less space to work with to create a comfortable, usable, keyboard on an iPad Mini than on an iPad. I’ve read a few reviews that vary in their assessment of how well Logitech have pulled this off. Here’s an example from Macworld. If there is a consensus at all, it is that the main keys are fine but some of the less important ones are too small to use without a conscious effort. At the time of writing, the only supplier I can find that has them in stock is Amazon. This is one occasion where I’d really like to get my hands on a product (literally) before buying it, so I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival on the High Street. My guess is that either John Lewis or PC World will get it first. Yes, I know that I’m somewhat less than enthusiastic about PC World, but I’m not relying on their technical expertise, and I think it unlikely that I would want to return it. Those are my two criteria for buying from PC World and they pass the test in this case.

Moving smoothly on to another High Street purchase..

Maplin Remote Switchif you find you need to reboot your router regularly and the router is not near your computer, you could buy a remote control switch (eg from Maplins) and keep the switch near your computer so that you can re-boot the router without leaving your chair!

These remote control switches are also very handy for other computer devices whose power switches are not easy to get to.

And, finally, AVG Antivirus (not for the first time)
I stopped recommending AVG Free as the best free antivirus program because their marketing tactics seemed to be getting more and more aggressive. They seemed to do everything possible to steer their users into installing (or upgrading to) paid-for versions rather than the free version. I often find it hard to find the free version on their website, so here is a current link to AVG Free.

Be careful, though, as they still try and get you to click on the paid version. They’re still showing orange buttons for links to the free version and green links to the paid version. No doubt they think we’ll be more likely to click on the green one as we’ll think it’s safe.

Today’s blog is just a couple of iPhone/iPad items that I want to share with you but which don’t merit a blog post of their own

First Impressions of the iPad Mini

So many of my clients have been asking me for training on their iPads that eventually I had to have a chat with myself about whether to buy one. The problem was that I had bought a Sony tablet earlier in the year to learn the Android operating system, so could I really justify the cost of buying another tablet? Well, the decision became much easier with the release of the iPad Mini. This is completely compatible with the iPad software-wise, so anything you can do on an iPad can be done on an iPad mini. The only differences are the physical size and the Mini does not have the new “retina display”. I managed to convince myself that the iPad Mini wasn’t replicating the utility of the Sony as I needed to see if the smaller size really is relevant in choosing a tablet (well, it seemed like a convincing reason to me).

By the time that the 3G version (or “cellular” version, as Apple call it) was released at the beginning of December, I had convinced myself that I need one. At first I ritually phoned the Apple store in Regent Street every day for a week and waited 15 minutes in the phone queue each time before being told they hadn’t got any yet, but they might have tomorrow so please call again. Then I had a brainwave and went to the John Lewis website and found they’d got eight and I could place my order today and collect from the Oxford Street store tomorrow. Absolute cinch. No problems.

iPod Mini in Filofax

The iPad Mini fits neatly into an A5 Filofax as long as there’s not too much paperwork in there (which there shouldn’t be, of course, as most things are on the iPad!)

It’s a beaut. I’d long since suspected that the iPad was better than an Android tablet and I was right. If you are thinking of buying a tablet I would suggest that your starting point might favour an iPad unless you have a specific reason for looking elsewhere (eg price or a specific application/need that can’t be satisfied by Apple apps). I was amazed at the difference that the size of the iPad mini makes. It has very little of the feeling of being difficult and cramped that you can easily encounter using any smartphone (iPhone or otherwise), and yet it really is light enough to hold in one hand for more than a minute or two at a time. It’s so small and light that I can imagine hardly leaving home without it. I carry an A5 size Filofax around with me when I am working and was chuffed to realise that I can actually carry the iPad Mini safely zipped inside the Filofax. That’s it, then – more or less my entire office in a stylish A5 leather case. How cool is that?

If you are considering buying a tablet – and especially an iPad – then I would seriously suggest that you check out the iPad Mini as well as the standard one. You might easily find that the smaller size is a benefit. One final suggestion, and this is one that I do not apologise for repeating, is that I recommend you consider buying a tablet with in-built 3G. They tend to be about £100 more than the WiFi-only versions, but the usefulness of any tablet is severely hampered if you don’t have an internet connection. You can’t always rely on being able to connect to someone else’s WiFi when you’re away from home. Buying a tablet without 3G connectivity is, as my mother would say, “spoiling the ship for a ha’porth of tar”.

Marking all emails as “Read” on the iPhone and iPad

iPhone 3GS

I bought this secondhand iPhone 3GS to learn about IOS. Within two days it had become my main smartphone. HTC, eat your heart out.

Apart from the dreadful soggy and imprecise keyboard, I really like my iPhone 3GS. Everything is very smooth and as intuitive as it gets. However, there is one feature of the Mail program (or lack of feature, actually) that niggles me several times a day – the inability to mark all incoming emails as “read” with a single touch.

Actually, this isn’t the iPhone’s problem: it’s in the IOS operating system, so it’s the same on the iPad. I’ve seen most of my incoming emails on my main laptop so don’t need to read them on the iPhone. Therefore, I just want to mark them all as “read” so that I can ignore them. Why on earth isn’t there a one-touch feature that marks all emails as read? The easiest way that I have found is:

  • Go to the Inbox
  • Tap the “edit” button
  • Click the circle against each “unread” message (one at a time!)
  • Tap the “mark” button
  • Tap the “Mark as Read” button

Phew. If anyone knows of a quicker way, I’d love to hear of it.

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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