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Why I Write With My iPhone

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Why I Write With My iPhone

    I write more than the average bear and I try to write every single day no matter what. Whether it be a couple of sentences or my 750 words habit, writing is something that I enjoy doing.

    With the release of the iPad in 2010 there have been a slew of writers taking to its portable and sleek design. It can easily be taken anywhere and is quick to hook up to a Bluetooth keyboard, open a writing app, and go to town.

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    Because of this we have also seen a ton of new writing apps hit the iOS App Store in the last year or so. We have outlined some of the best iPhone writing apps here on Lifehack and I have to say that every month or so there is something new that tends to impress and leads me to purchase.

    But, typing on the iPad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I do most of my mobile writing on iPhone. Here’s why.

    Portrait, fast keyboard, small screen

    There have been recent improvements to the iPad’s keyboard on the new version of iOS allowing the user to slit the keyboard and touch type. It’s pretty awesome and works OK in practice. But there is nothing like flying on a portrait iPhone keyboard. I can even “fat thumb” my way through an article and iOS is smart enough to know what I want to say 90% of the time.

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    The small screen of the iPhone limits me to a small portion of text in the window that I can view. This helps me not think too much about what I am writing and focus more on getting ideas down fast. I can go back later and change things up. The reduced amount of text on my screen helps me concentrate on the act of writing.

    The portrait keyboard on the iPhone is spaced almost perfectly for my hands and allows me to type much faster than on my iPad, even with the new split keyboard. Some say, “well then use a Bluetooth keyboard, you jackal”. To that, I speak my next point.

    Anywhere I go

    The iPhone is the most ubiquitous tool I have ever used in my life. Maybe second only to a piece of paper and a trusty Uniball Vision RT. But, my point is that the iPhone is glued to my hip all the time. When I’m in line at Starbucks. At my desk. With Siri and a headset in my car. Everywhere I go.

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    And because of this ubiquity, I can jot down a couple of sentences for a post anywhere. Now, with Siri and voice dictation I can “write” while driving. The iPhone is truly a “write anywhere” type of tool and because of that I prefer it over the iPad or even my home PC (because I can lay down in bed while writing).

    When a tool for writing and getting thoughts down is with you anywhere the resistance to create is lowered and the excuses of why you aren’t doing it are turned into bullshit.

    How to do it for yourself

    OK, so maybe I have convinced you that your iPhone is the way you should write. If so, here are some tools for your iPhone writing that can help you out.

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    TextExpander Touch

    This is downright the best tool for text expansion on any platform. Give TextExander something long that you normally type, even longer words, assign a “snippet” to it (a shorter piece of text) and type away, friend.

    Evernote

    If you want to talk about ubiquity of writing and note taking then Evernote can’t be left from the conversation. I have had some qualms with Evernote in the recent past, mostly because of data portability, but after listening to a recent Mac Power Users I have decided to give Evernote another look and try. In fact, I am writing this sentence in Evernote on my iPhone.

    Notesy

    If you are a plain text, Markdown kind of animal then Notesy for iPhone is what you want to work with. It’s simple, fast, has Markdown previews, integrates with TextExpander Touch, and syncs with Dropbox. What more can you ask for?

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    A wired headset

    If you want to dictate with your shiny new iPhone 4S or even use Dragon Dictate for your “lesser” iPhone to get text down on the go, then all you need is a decent wire headset. The one that comes with the iPhone is OK, but I “upgraded” to the Apple in-ear headset. The results are great.

    So, to keep my writing habit alive I find that writing on my iPhone is one of the most pleasurable and frictionless ways to do it. It helps me stay focused and allows me to do it anywhere. Give it a try and see how your iPhone can help in your writing habit.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on November 25, 2021

    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

    With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

    Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

    In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

    The easy fundamentals

    First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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    A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

    Here are some examples of strong passwords:
    * i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
    * ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
    * mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

    And not so good examples
    * sammy1234
    * password123
    * christopher

    You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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    Managing your passwords

    I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

    So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

    There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

    Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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    LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

    Upkeep

    You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

    There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

    Alternatives

    You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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    1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
    2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
    3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

    These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

    So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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