• apple,  business,  dell,  ipad pro,  ipados,  lifestyle

    The iPad Pro as a “Real” Computer

    Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.

    The iPad Pro is a real computer. You might be thinking "Yeah, duh!" right now. Let me explain.

    I was recently working in my office - my corporate office for my job-y job, not my fun-with-computers home office - and I was using my company issued Dell Latitude laptop. I needed to jump on a conference call, so I undocked my laptop, opened the lid, and moved closer to the window for better lighting. I also wanted to charge my work-issued 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I decided to try to charge my iPad Pro from the USB-C cable from my Dell WD19TB USB-C/Thunderbolt dock.

    As expected, my iPad started charging immediately. What I wasn't expecting was a few seconds after that, iPadOS 13.4 "attached" to the dock and started mirroring the screen, accepting input from my Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, as well as connecting to the network.

    iPadOS 13.4's wireless mouse and system-wide pointer support worked with my Logitech Unifying Receiver connected K750 keyboard and M510 mouse just as smoothly as it does on the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard or a Magic Trackpad 2. I am also using a Dell 32-inch 4k UltraSharp U3219Q monitor, which displayed the video output from the iPad crisply. With an Ethernet connection, I was able to use Microsoft's Remote Desktop Mobile client to connect to Windows 10 and Windows Server machines. Files was able to connect to my frequently used SMB server, and I was able to use multiple FileMaker applications hosted on FileMaker servers with FileMaker Go.

    There are a few things that I found a little disorienting while using my iPad Pro in place of my Windows laptop. I am confident they will become second nature quickly, but I think that they are worth mentioning in case you, dear reader, want to try your own iPad Pro at work experience.

    First, the iPad Pro will go to sleep a lot faster than Windows will put my laptop to sleep. I am apprehensive leaving my iPad constantly connected to power for multiple hours after 100% charge was reached. Second was getting the K750 keyboard to wake up and work with the iPad was occasionally problematic. The M510 mouse never had an issue. As a security feature, the contents of password fields are not mirrored to the external monitor. I kept clicking into the password field thinking I missed the target for the cursor until I realized what was going on. Finally, I discovered that while the iPad saw the USB powered speaks that are connected to the dock, I was not able to play audio of audio of any kind from the iPad through the dock speakers. I will have to keep playing with the speakers to figure out what's going on.

    Overall, I had an enjoyable afternoon working on my iPad Pro in place of my Windows 10 laptop. There are few specific tasks that I probably could have done on the iPad, but muscle memory makes those technical IT tasks quicker for me in Windows. Enabling hardware support for USB-C docks and accessories is not a glamorous headline grabbing iPadOS feature, but I'm glad it is there.

  • business,  imac,  lifestyle,  logitech,  wfh

    Working From Home

    With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic underway, many businesses are allowing employees to work from home (WFH). The company I work for is no different. So, this week, I am starting a new work from home schedule.

    On the plus side, I get to wear the typical computer nerd uniform: jeans, t-shirt, and a sweatshirt of some kind since it is still cold here in the northeast United States. Since I am working from home, I am also able to use my 25-inch 5k iMac (2015) by adding in a little VMware Fusion and a company Windows 10 virtual PC [1].

    With the kids starting online learning with their schools, the kitchen and dining room tables are already occupied. To help keep work and personal computing needs logically separate on my iMac, I am using the Mission Control spaces and multiple desktops feature. It is super easy to switch from my "personal" space to my "work" space with a quick Control + Left or Right Arrow. (Actually, I have three spaces: personal, Music and Home space, and then work.) A set of paired HomePods keep whatever I'm listening to sounding great.

    But the one thing that isn't "great" about my setup is the Magic Mouse 2. Yes, it looks and works great - for short bursts of work. But I found that when I was doing a trial WFH day last week, using the Magic Mouse 2 for about 10 hours was starting to get on my last good nerve. In a Windows world, the right-click action is used heavily. When I'm trying to quickly mouse around, there were too many times when the Magic Mouse 2 was incorrectly interpreting my right-click as a left-click action.

    For this week, and for the duration of my WFH stint, I have switched to the Logitech M510 mouse. I have used many Microsoft and Logitech wireless mice over the years at work. The M510 is currently my favorite. (I have a black and a blue one. The black one came home with me.) With its dedicated left and right buttons, I don't have to worry about the touch sensor misinterpreting my right-clicks as left-clicks. I also prefer the high back feel of the M510 when using it for long periods of time over the Magic Mouse 2.

    The Logitech Options control panel used to customize the M510 button layout.

    The M510 does have five points of customization when the Logitech Options driver software. You will also need to install the LogitechUnifying Technology USB-A receiver before the mouse will work. Both can be installed from a single download from the Logitech website. I like to keep my mouse setup pretty simple, so I turn off left/right scrolling, the side buttons, and the scroll wheel center-click features. Your mileage will vary based on your personal preferences.

    Be well and stay safe.

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    [1] I should note that I do have my work-issued Dell Latitude 7480 laptop home with me too. I don't skimp when buying Dell computers for employees. I do like the business class Latitude notebooks a lot, but, you know, they still aren't Macs.