Blogging from your phone? Maybe you should. Here’s why!

I did some testing earlier and wanted to share my experience with you.

There’s a key area, where WordPress lagged behind social networks and services like Tumblr. I’m referring specifically to posting updates direct from your phone.

It has always been technically possible. However, the experience was horrible. So, earlier today, I decided to see if the the WordPress iPhone app had improved. I wanted to know if adding links, formatting text and inserting images had improved.

It has. A lot

I last checked it out around a year ago. Back then, WordPress via the iPhone was fine for writing draft posts. But they would need to be edited and tidied up on a larger device. And adding links to text was, at best, really frustrating.

Today, it’s extremely easy and user friendly. None of the old issues are there.

No, it’s not a full desktop blogging experience. I never expected it would be.

But it works! It’s a breeze to use, too. In other words, it’s easy now to blog “on the go” straight into WordPress.

And that’s what many of us have been waiting for.

Now that blogging on WordPress is truly mobile, I’ll look to incorporate it into my weekly blogging. I’ll let you know how I get on.

More importantly… if you haven’t checked out the WordPress app for iOS or Android in a while, take another look. You too may be pleasantly surprised.

And yes, this post was written and published, from scratch, in about 25 minuets using an iPhone 8.

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Fake News needs our support

The fake news phenomena really interests me. And with hindsight, I don’t know why it’s only become a mainstream issue in the past couple of years.

After all, everyone can be a publisher these days. And most of us are. Billions of people have social network accounts and hundreds of millions of us have blogs too. In other words, we’re all equipped to spread whatever information or misinformation we choose.

I was thinking about this recently, when my friend told me about the challenge he had, helping his daughter with some school work. He explained that time and again, it was easier to find low quality “content” than expertly-crafted articles. For instance, Google regularly ranks Pinterest posts above museum articles, when you’re looking for a reliable source of historic information.

The answer?

Technology certainly has a huge role to play. And the tech companies who have profited mightily from fake news need to start taking it seriously, rather than offering platitudes.

But I don’t think technology is the answer by itself.

Ultimately, the solution to the fake news problem has to be education. More specifically, education on how to discern between reliable / credible sources and those that are not. There needs to be a clear message, that just because an article is ranked highly on Google, or a Facebook post has a ton of likes, it doesn’t mean the source is credible (or the information is reliable).

We’re part of the problem

That’s because search engines, social networks and our friends can’t be fooled without our help.

Here’s why.

  • When we link to a fake news story, it’s (almost) like voting for it. Each link sends Google and the other search engines a signal. And the more links a story gets, the higher it will rank in search results.
  • When we like or share a Facebook post, (or retweet something) we give it added visibility and increase it’s social proof.

Thankfully, this also means we can become part of the solution. We can choose to ensure we check the source of information, before we link to it or share it.

And we can ask our friends to do the same. Like I just did.

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What’s your ‘effin plan B?

Seems the latest trend for gurus, is to be profane.

I’ve noticed it mostly from social-media-famous experts, who come from privileged backgrounds. It feels like an effort to make themselves more street or more relevant.

Sure, the first time you say ‘fuck’ in your book / blog / podcast, people notice it. After a while though, it ceases to work. The effectiveness wears off. People get snow-blind.

If cussing is currently your shtick, you may want to work on your plan B. Because there’s no deficit of cussing experts, speakers, podcasters or bloggers.

There’s a HUGE shortage of people willing to lead. There’s a vast deficit of people prepared to create ideas worth sharing. These are more profitable areas to invest your time and energy.

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iPad and Surface Pro onscreen keyboard smackdown

iPad and Surface Pro onscreen keyboard

I’ve recently been looking for the best mobile productivity device, for working on-the-go. I’ve now written about the Microsoft Surface Pro with the Pro 4 Type Cover and the iPad Air 2, with the Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad.

However, both of these devices provide an alternative to hardware keyboards. That’s right, they both offer onscreen keyboards. So, I thought I’d see what the writing experience was like with these 2 devices. Specifically, I wanted to see how easy it would be to type a 500 word article, without a hardware keyboard.

Here’s what I found.

The iPad Air 2 onscreen keyboard

As a pretty fast touch typer, who writes all day every day, I was worried that the small screen size on the Air 2 would make typing really tricky. The onscreen keyboard is far narrower than a regular keyboard. My fingers are trained to expect keys to be a certain distance apart. That was clearly not going to be possible with this device.

I soon discovered that although the Air’s onscreen keyboard is very narrow, everything has been designed to make typing as easy as possible. I found that the keyboard, which was initially designed for the iPhone, where people input with 1 or 2 fingers, is a breeze to use with 10 digits.

One of the major benefits is the exceptionally useful predictive typing feature. Apple has been refining this for years. After typing a few letters, the 3 words that most closely match what you are typing, appear on the screen. With a quick glance at the 3 options, you’re able to find the right word and select it with a click. However, that’s not all. The iOS predictive text feature also guesses what word you’re most likely to type next. This often allows me to type 2 words in a row, with just 2 clicks… without spelling errors or typos.

It’s not perfect though. For some reason, when I type “i” with a space before and after it, it remains lower case. I have to use the shift key to get an “I”. This should happen by default, as soon as you tap the space bar. Another niggle is that some commonly used characters are hard to find. For example, accessing the %, + and – characters requires scrolling through 2 additional screens.

Overall, I was able to get my 500 words written with relative ease and with very little real frustration. And pretty quickly too.

The Surface Pro 3 onscreen keyboard

Whilst I was initially concerned that the iPad Air 2 would be too narrow, I assumed the Surface Pro’s wide screen would make onscreen typing a relative breeze. It wasn’t. In fact, the devices offered almost polar opposite writing experiences.

The Surface’s Windows 10 onscreen keyboard is considerably wider. This made it easy to type on and I found my typing to be more accurate too. And those hard to access characters on the iPad Air 2 were easy to find. This should have been a home-run for the Surface, however, the Surface’s Windows 10 onscreen keyboard is not as intuitive as its iOS counterpart.

Finding the correct keys was easier on the Windows 10 onscreen keyboard, however, the predictive text was less accurate. Also, unlike iOS, which gives you 3 predictive options, the Windows 10 onscreen keyboard offers you up to 8 choices. It places what it thinks are the closest matches on the left, with match quality dropping as you read across. You’d think that more choice would lead to a better experience. What actually happens, is that you find yourself presented with too many alternatives. This slows you down. Whereas the iOS predictive text made things easier, on Windows 10 it became a distraction. I found myself hardly using it by the end of the article.

Here’s the winner and why it doesn’t really matter

The iPad’s iOS onscreen keyboard was a clear winner for me. It’s easily good enough for articles up to around 750 / 1000 words. Personally, that covers around 99% of my work flow.

However, it doesn’t matter.

The thing is, the iPad needs a great onscreen keyboard, but the Surface doesn’t.

The vast majority of iPad users, excluding the iPad Pro, don’t buy a hardware keyboard. So they need an excellent onscreen keyboard. The opposite is true of the Surface Pro. That’s because unlike the iPad, almost everyone who buys a Surface device will use a hardware keyboard. Microsoft sell a Surface Pro 4 Type Cover, which doubles as a keyboard / track pad and screen cover. It’s extremely good. To put that into context, it offers a far better writing experience than most laptops. Unlike the iPad, Surface devices also have a USB port, so any USB keyboard can be used on them.

As you’d expect, neither device offers a good enough writing experience, to replace a hardware keyboard. That said, it’s good to know that if you find yourself without a keyboard and you need to get some work done, you can.

Oh, and in case you were wondering… I wrote this on my iPad, using the Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad.

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Do we know who you are and what you stand for?

There are bloggers I have seen online over the past 5 years or more, yet I know nothing about them.

Sure, I know they retweet social media gurus and a-list bloggers. I know they write the same me too blog posts, agreeing with whatever the popular opinion is on a topic. But I know nothing about them.

I have no idea what they think.

What they stand for.

What they are excited about.

What their story is.

This got me thinking

Unlike previous generations, we leave an easy to follow stream of activity behind us online. Our kids or grand kids will be able to see if we stood for anything. They will see of we were ditto heads or if we had the courage to express ourselves. They will see if we were leaders or if we were sheep.

Maybe that’s something to think about, the next time you feel compelled to share your guru’s latest thoughts… rather than your own.

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