Elements for iPad Updated with Folders, Markdown Support

Two iPad apps that have been very near and dear to my writer’s heart: Elements and PlainText. They are two simple apps, that let me edit plain text files on a Dropbox folder — each app uses its own Dropbox folder, named Elements and Plaintext respectively. I’ve loved both, but PlainText was winning because it supported subfolders in its folder, which Elements lacked before this update.

Another writing tool I often take advantage of is Markdown, a sort of formatting shortcut language created by John Gruber. The lack of native support wasn’t a big deal for me. I already know most of the formatting commands so I could just enter them in by hand and preview them when I exported them.

The Markdown implementation is a little tricky. If you’ve created a file on the iPad, you’ll need to change the extension to .md, .markdown, .mdown or .mdwn. That will activate the Markdown preview button. It doesn’t appear to add any shortcuts for common Markdown elements, like #. It’s too bad since the need to access the secondary or tertiary on-screen keyboards can slow you down. If you are a heavy Markdown user, I recommend the excellent Edito iPad app.

Now that Elements supports both subfolders and Markdown in version 1.5, it just might become my iPad plain text editor of choice



WWDC 2010 Predictions

iPhone News

  • New iPhone and OS 4.0 shipping imminently. It appears they are already ramping up production. I might even go out on a limb and say 4.0 will ship within a week of WWDC
  • AT&T to allow tethering
  • More tech details of 4.0

iPad News

  • Sales update
  • OS 4.0 new announcements: better file management, better iCal. Bluetooth tethering and greater bluetooth connectivity options, including 3rd party presenters tools, ability to manipulate Photo library, removal of iTunes initial sync requirement. Apple will begin marketing the iPad as a stand alone device.

Mac news

  • Sales update
  • Mac Pro refresh
  • No OS/X 10.7 details except “we’ve got great new things planned”

Cloud news

  • Apple will roll iWork.com out of beta with better collaboration tools
  • MobileMe syncing and cloud backup will be free for iDevices. Possible free MobileMe for Mail/Calendar. iDisk to remain premium.
  • Apple will begin to focus more on cloud storage and syncing.

App News:

  • Possible: new iWork and iLife with cloud storage.

Thoughts on Mobile Me

My e-mail is hosted on Google Apps, as is my calendar. I also use Google Reader for my RSS feeds. I’ve also been a serial abuser of Mobile Me trial. My blog is hosted on WordPress. I use Dropbox for cloud storage.

I don’t generally get political about my technology choices. I use Apple gear because it works the best for my workflow. Over time, I’ve become very integrated into the Apple infrastructure, and while every computer I use has the Apple logo on it, — and I write about Apple professionally — I don’t really consider myself an Apple fanboy. Apple for me is the best choice for me. It may not be the best choice for you. I’m not going to judge.

The one holdout for me as been Mobile Me. I try it and cancel it. I try it and cancel it. There just never seemed to be a hole in my life Mobile Me would fill.

That’s starting to change.

The Google buzz fiasco has started change how I view Google. I’ve been leery of Google’s motivation; they are in the search business and probably know more about what I do on the Internet than the NSA. I’m starting to have qualms about entrusting my email, calendar, etc to Google.

I’m very happy with Dropbox and have considered upgrading to the 50g plan. However, there is one problem with Dropbox: it’s an all-or-nothing sync. Without putting too fine a point on it, there are things I’m ok with syncing to my work computer and things I am not. However, living as a digital nomad and needing to get access to certain documents when I need them, and not just when I’m at home is crucial. As an example, I told a friend if mime I’d send her something I wrote. Now I have to remember to email it. If the file was in the cloud, I could have just shared it with her.

Now that I own an iPad, iPhone and my Mac, simple things like bookmark syncing become important. I don’t usually bookmark — I use Instapaper and Evernote for a lot of my read later needs. I’ll still run across a site I want to bookmark for later on a mobile device.

Which has lead to yet another Mobile Me trial, only this time I think it’s going to stick. For the short term, it’ll let me have a work-pc-friendly cloud storage device without worrying about my freelance writing stuff getting synced over.

I’m not sure what to do about the e-mail thing. I love that Mobile Me lets me have up to five aliases, which is great for creating throwaway accounts. I can’t, however, host the writersmark e-mail there. One alternative is to simply find a place to park the MX record for writersmark and forward it over. For now, I’m just going to keep it hosted at Google until I give it more thought.

I've switched from Nuevasync to Google Sync

Up until last week, I was still using nuevasync for Google Calendar push notifications. Last week, Google introduced Google Sync, and I immediately switched.

Because I use Google Apps for Domains, there were a few extra steps involved — I had to enable Google Sync in my site’s dashboard. After that setting it up was very easy. I followed the instructions on Google’s site, and under username typed in “myrealemail@myrealdomain.com” and it worked perfectly.

After a week, I haven’t noticed any issues on battery life.