Enterprise Apps are Holding Pros Back on iPad

May 13, 2018
Me attempting to work on my iPad at a conference despite bad enterprise apps

Me attempting to work on my iPad at a conference despite bad enterprise appsI’ve attended three conferences for work this spring without a laptop. Working exclusively from my iPad while on the road has shown me that many developers aren’t taking iOS seriously. Apple has made some impressive strides in pushing the iPad into portable PC territory, but many third-party enterprise apps for iOS seem to be lagging behind.

Constant Contact

One of my primary responsibilities is managing our email marketing via Constant Contact. The email marketing giant’s iOS app is beautiful, but nearly useless for an enterprise user on the go.

First, it is impossible for the iOS app to open or edit any email that was created in the desktop version. This becomes exceedingly frustrating when I’m at the final copy editing stages of an email and have to either work in a web browser or borrow a laptop to remove a single comma.

And if you do start a new email on iOS you are met with a counter-intuitive editor that lacks key features. Emails must be built from a small set of templates that don’t include any of the organizational branding you may have set up on desktop. It doesn’t seem possible to add in-line links in text boxes. You can’t even resize your own images, the app just decides to display them however it deems appropriate.

Constant Contact’s iOS app honestly feels like it was built as an entirely separate entity from the desktop/web app juggernaut. I just don’t get it.

Content Management Systems

I manage five websites across three Content Mangement Systems (CMSs) in my day job. None of them work well in tablet browsers.

WordPress at least scales some of the pages in its admin dashboard for mobile, but its still filled with tiny links that make for impossible touch targets. Other CMSs don’t scale at all, forcing me to pinch and zoom all over the place.

My biggest issue is, surprisingly, text entry. Most CMSs have large text-fields where the user inputs the content for a page. Selecting these text fields in a browser is hard enough as iOS often interprets them as a form or an image. And if you use an external keyboard, like I do, most browsers will inexplicably scroll the page down when you start typing. The result is that I’m typing blind and have no way of getting back to my insertion point without de-selecting the text field and dragging the page back up.

I honestly don’t know how many of these issues are the operating system, the browser or the content management systems. Regardless, these seem like problems we should have worked out by now.

Adobe Creative Suite

I’m not the first and I certainly won’t be the last creative to complain about Adobe’s iOS apps. When the software behemoth initially moved onto the platform they broke apart the features of their flagship app Photoshop into a series of mini-apps. This strategy has since been extended to the whole suite of design apps including features of InDesign and Illustrator.

While small apps like Photoshop Fix are great on iPhone, they’re infuriating on the modern iPad and iPad Pro. These devices are just powerful, and in some cases more powerful, than the Macs that we use to run the full Adobe Suite. So why can’t I get anything close to a full-featured version of InDesign, Illustrator or Audition?

Adobe has spent so long investing in their small spin-off app strategy that third-parties like Procreate, Concepts, Affinity Photo, Ferrite and PDF Pen are eating their lunch. At this stage I’d almost rather Adobe just buy them so that I could sync my projects across devices.

It’s been nice not traveling with all of the weight of a MacBook for these past few months. However, I can tell I’m not getting as much work done as I used to while on the road. And that’s really a shame. If Apple wants to keep promotion the iPad, and particularly the iPad Pro, as a replacement for your laptop they’re going to need app developers to at least meet them halfway.

Female Fronted Pop-Punk for Summer

April 29, 2018
Cover art for "I Love You Like a Brother" by Alex Lahey

Power chords and sweeping choruses have always been the soundtrack to my summers. Since the summer when I simultaneously discovered No Doubt and Paramore I’ve had a soft spot for female fronted pop-punk bands in particular. These groups are (unfortunately) somewhat uncommon. However, I’ve discovered three great new acts going into the summer of 2018.

Cover art for the "Old Women" EP by Jetty BonesJetty Bones

Jetty Bones win extra points from me out of the gate for being from my home state of Ohio. Frontwoman Kelc Galluzzo has fantastic vocal range and a real talent for dynamic shifts. The Old Women EP from late 2017 reminds me of Paramore’s fantastic debut All We Knowwith its scream along choruses and sweeping vocal harmonies. For a debut EP, Old Women is incredibly well produced and the songwriting is as tight as the snare drum hits.

Key Track: “No Lover”

Cover art for "Strictly Speaking" EP by Retirement PartyRetirement Party

Recently named a “Band to Watch” by Stereogum, Retirement Party also released their debut EP in 2017. Strictly Speaking is a concise five-song offering that clocks in at about 14 minutes flat. A little more lo-if than Jetty Bones, Retirement Party channels some serious garage and surf influences. The running lead guitar lines feel like summer while the lyrics deal with the dark winters of lead singer Avery Springer’s personal life. If this EP is any indication of the band’s forthcoming full-length it’ll be a catchy glimpse into the ups and downs of life with an undercurrent of hope. Somewhat Literate drops in late May and I can’t wait to hear it.

Key Track: “Men’s Volleyball”

Cover art for "I Love You Like a Brother" by Alex LaheyAlex Lahey

Somewhere between indie and pop-punk, Australian singer/songwriter Alex Lahey crafts short aggressively catchy rock on 2017’s I Love You Like a Brother. The rumbling garagey guitars create a compelling contrast with Lahey’s melodic vocals. Simple song structures and catchy hooks are employed throughout the album to address some fairly complicated lyrical subject matter. This is particularly potent on the surprisingly poppy confession of mental illness “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself.” I’ve had this album on repeat since it came out in October and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.

Key Track: “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself”


I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting things in the pop-punk space. The style has been getting stale for a little while now. Thankfully there are some great bands and talented women pushing the genre forward right now. If you know of any others I’d love to listen to them.

Spending a Weekend in Cincinnati

April 23, 2018
The Cincinnati skyline from one of the city’s seven hills

The Cincinnati skyline from one of the city’s seven hills

Through a series of lucky circumstances I managed to combine a business trip and a visit home to Cincinnati. It’s been a while since I was back in the 513 outside of a major holiday. I enjoy seeing it this way though. Things are much more laidback without the stress of those seasons.

As I was prepping for this trip a surprising number of people I work with asked me questions like “What is there to do in Cincinnati?” And since I’m here for the weekend I decided to write down a few things I always try to do when I’m home.

Drive along the Ohio River

It’s pretty hard to avoid the Ohio River when traveling through the Greater Cincinnati Area. It runs right across the middle of the region from east to west and State Highway 52 follows it all the way on the Ohio side. I always drive the scenic way home when I first get into town just to see the river. It’s best at sunset, when the light reflects up off the water just right.

Eat Some Chili

You can’t bring up Cincinnati without talking about chili. That thin meat based sauce just tastes like home to me. Natives will argue endlessly about where you can find the best coneys in town. However, since I’ve been away for a while I’ll take just about whatever I can get. As long as I have the option of ordering it on dogs or spaghetti, I’m in.

Grab a Pint

Cincinnati’s German heritage and midwestern catholic culture have made it a great beer city. There are dozens of great microbreweries in town and I’ve yet to find one I didn’t like. On this particular trip I hit up Mt. Caramel Brewing Company and Fifty West. They’re a ways out on the east side, so they have a more relaxed vibe than in-town greats like Rhinegeist and Madtree.

Go for a Hike

There’s a lot of great hiking in Greater Cincinnati, especially on the east side of town in the Appalachian foothills. I try to get a short day hike in every time I’m home. There’s a great variety of trails in East Fork State Park and at the Cincinnati Nature Center for hikers of any skill level.

So those are just a few of the things I did to enjoy my home city this weekend. For native Cincinnatians, I’d love to hear your go-tos. And if you’ve never been, I highly recommend checking out The Queen City.

Just Listening to Music

April 16, 2018
My simple stereo headphones are nothing special, but they get the job done

My simple stereo headphones are nothing special, but they get the job doneWhen I was a kid, throughout middle and high school, I used to spend a ton of time just listening to music. I would get a new CD from the library or some new MP3s from some sketchy download service and pore over them for hours. Now it has become a special treat to listen through an album.

I haven’t stopped listening to music altogether, but I’ve stopped just listening to music. I no longer intentionally sit down simply to experience songs. I constantly find that I have to fit music in around the rest of my day. And if I do have a spare hour for an album I inevitably end up doing something else halfway through the first side.

I’m sure part of this is the increased obligations of being an adult and living on one’s own. Another part is probably the insane amount of podcasts I listen to. The abundance of readily available streaming video is certainly a contributing factor as well.

Lately I’ve found myself craving the solitary listening experiences of my youth.

I brought my phone, EarPods and a book to the laundromat tonight. Redundant entertainment to keep me from spending a single moment idle. In the end, I spent most of the wash-dry-fold cycle just listening to music.

For the first time in a long time I sat through an album just staring off into space. Granted, POST- by Jeff Rosenstock clocks in at a brief forty minutes, but it was a nice feeling. I found that I enjoyed the songs a lot more on this listen than I had during the countless times I’ve heard them in the car over the last few months. There was something about the intentionality of it that made them feel more impactful.

When I got home and put my laundry away I kept on listening. Even though there’s an unedited podcast project on my desktop and there are dishes that need washing in the kitchen. I sat in my room ruminating about writing while listening to Television. It felt like old times, even though the band’s sophomore LP Adventure was new to me.

I started my third album of the evening, Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds, while writing this post. I can feel myself ignoring it though, so I think I’m going to wrap things up here and just listen to the music.

Empire Records Headed to Broadway!?

April 8, 2018
The cast of Empire Records

Via Stereogum, Empire Records Broadway Musical In Development:

Empire Records is being turned into a Broadway musical, as Deadline reports. The musical is in development now and is being eyed for a 2020 debut, which would coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary. The stage adaptation of the 1995 cult film, which is set in a failing record store, is being made alongside the film’s original writer Carol Heikkinen, with music and lyrics written by Zoe Sarnak, who is behind the upcoming musical Afterwords.
This is radical news to hear on Rex Manning Day! I really hope this production actually makes it to the stage. I love Empire Records and I can just imagine how a blend of soundtrack cuts and original songs could make it into a super fun musical. Plus, who doesn’t want to see more of Sexy Rexy?

The Life and Death of The Dana Carvey Show

April 7, 2018
A promotional image for The Dana Carvey Show

I watched a great documentary this week on Hulu called Too Funny to Fail; The Life and Death of the Dana Carvey Show.

I’ve been a big fan of Dana Carvey since I was a little kid. My uncle did a mean Church Lady impression, and I remember checking out his Saturday Night Live Best Of DVD from my local library.

I had never heard of his short-lived sketch show. Learning of it now, I’m realizing I would have totally been one of its raving fans if I weren’t four-years-old when it aired.

The Dana Carvey Show was an off-kilter sketch show with an anti-authoritarian streak and a strange sense of glee. Its cast and crew included Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK and Robert Smigel.

In the documentary a few of the contributors mention that Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a key influence. I was a big Python fan in middle and high school thanks to a friend’s extensive DVD collection. Watching a couple of episodes of The Dana Carvey Show brought me into a weird parallel nostalgia for my afternoons spent with the Pythons.

If this sounds like something up your alley, you should check out the trailer for Too Funny to Fail:

I also want to share what may be the best moment in the film. In this clip Robert Smigel recalls the night when he finally watched ABC’s  broadcast of The Dana Carvey Show in context. He immediately understood how horrible it was that their show aired after the family friendly sitcom Home Improvement. The documentarians then showed the lead-in to Carrell, Colbert and other cast and crew in the present-day. Their reactions are priceless.

The full eight episode run of The Dana Carvey Show is now also streaming on Hulu. It’s well worth four hours of your time.

Beam Barrel Aged Buds

April 3, 2018

From Ad Age,  Budweiser and Jim Beam team up for new beer:

Budweiser in September plans to release a limited-edition brew called Reserve Copper Lager that is aged on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves. (Staves are wood pieces that makeup bourbon barrels.) Before then, the two brands will begin appearing together at bars. The “beer and a bourbon shot” promotion kicks off this month.

Beam Barrel Aged Budweiser seems like a no-brainer to me, and I’m surprised they didn’t come up with it sooner. Barrel-aging is really taking off in the craft scene right now. I’m glad to see trends and new styles bridging the gap into the macro-brewing space too. Anything to bring more variety to the table.

RSS is Due for a Comeback

April 3, 2018

Via Wired,  RSS Readers Are Due for a Comeback:

The difference between getting news from an RSS reader and getting it from Facebook or Twitter or Nuzzel or Apple News is a bit like the difference between a Vegas buffet and an a la carte menu. In either case, you decide what you actually want to consume. But the buffet gives you a whole world of options you otherwise might never have seen.

This analogy perfectly sums up why I’m still a die-hard RSS fan. I want to get the news I’m interested in from the sources I trust without having to wade through a sea of click-bait and garbage.

Free the Line; A Film by Shantell Martin

April 2, 2018

Shantell Martin created this great short for the Moment Invitational:

I’ve been following Shantell for a few months now, because I love the way she succinctly describes her creative process. Her focus on flow and feeling are really appealing to me. It’s so outside of how I think. I’ve always had to create inside of structures and processes to feel comfortable with my work.

I also love that she’s working within a scene and used this opportunity to show the work of her peers and talk to them about their processes. I’m a huge nerd for that sort of thing.

Too Many Chat Apps

April 2, 2018
All of the chat apps currently on my iPhone

My blogging counterpart, Jeff Casavant, recently wrote a mini-series on the chat app Matrix. My TLDR understanding of Matrix is that it bridges multiple chat services into one app, creating separate rooms for each and replicating their structure (i.e. Topic-based channels for Slack, one-on-one instances for Facebook Messenger and so on).

I like this idea in theory, but I find it clunky in practice. 

Matrix is an impressive band-aid on the gaping wound that is text chat. Ever since WhatsApp and similar clients started gaining considerable attention we’ve seen a bevy of new chat apps.

It seems like every eighteen months I’m asked to join up with another one for some project or another. I have SMS/iMessage, Facebook Messenger for conversations with friends, Skype for Business at work (which basically no one uses), Slack for my podcasting team, Discord for my D&D group. Oh, and Snapchat, for whatever Snapchat is now.1

If I’m being honest, the chat app I enjoy the most is iMessage. And that’s because, at the end of the day, I know most people will check their texts. You can have hundreds of apps with chat features on your phone, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t pay attention to them. 

There’s a part of me that likes the separation. I like being able to mute notifications for an app when I’m not engaging with that group or project. I also like being able to separate personal conversations with collaborators from work on our projects. I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps right now.

As the chat space gets more and more fragmented I feel like I lose track of more people. I’ve run out of space in my brain to remember everyone’s favorite apps. Jeff prefers Matrix, Tyler only checks Messenger and my DM needs my latest character sheet uploaded to Discord.

I applaud the innovation in each of these apps and I’m glad to see Matrix trying to make sense of it all. I’m just ready for things to settle down a little bit. For now, I’m going to try to keep my inventory instant messengers down to two rows of my home screen.

All of the chat apps currently on my iPhone

This list doesn’t include any dating apps, because I’m honestly not sure if these classify as chat apps.