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The iPad Setup of Ben Brooks

Every week we try to post a new interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Why do we do these interviews? Because a glimpse into what tools someone uses and how they use those tools can spark our imagination and give us an idea or insight into how we can do things better.

New setup interviews are posted every Monday; follow us on RSS orTwitter to stay up to date.


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Ben Brooks. I spend my days listening to people complain to me, so naturally I then spend my free time complaining to the world about everything I can think of — where else but on a blog.

I have a great family in Lakewood, WA and currently working hard to train my 19-month-old daughter to be a hacker — I figure that’s a good way to get myself erased from the web.

Did I mention I am a bit of a privacy nut?

Which iPad do you have?

Ben Brooks iPad Air Home screen

I have the iPad Air in Silver, Verizon. I went with 64GB, but I am thinking that was a short-sighted decision. It seems kids need lots of space on iPads when you hand them down for things like movies and games. Those games are surprisingly very big — I am constantly having to try and free up space on my daughter’s 32GB iPad.

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

Before the iPad Air I wasn’t using my iPad for a whole lot each day, but the iPad Air has changed that dramatically. My iPad is now my primary computer whenever I am not at work.

My wife and I stream TV shows from the iPad to the TV, I write, correspond, and read on the iPad. I’ve also begun editing my pictures on it — but that’s pushing the software capabilities available on the iPad right now. I hope better photo editing software comes out, because being able to touch your photos to edit them is really great and far less tedious feeling than say Lightroom is on my Mac. Not to mention the screen is fantastic for looking at the photos.

My goal for the upcoming year is to use my Mac for less and less. Using an iPad feels more social to me, in that I’m not hiding behind a screen and keyboard. If someone wants to talk to me when I am using the iPad I can just set it down, but using a Mac doesn’t feel like that’s something you can easily do.

When I get behind a proper computer I always feel like I am entering my own world — like I am not available to others. But when I am behind my iPad working I feel like I am connecting with those around me — the walls are thinner and clearer.

It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it is the primary reason why I want to use my iPad more and more.

Ben Brooks iPad

What apps do you use the most, and why?

My two most used apps at work are easily PDFpen and Notability. I keep building blueprints in PDFpen via iCloud, and it serves as an excellent tool for walking contractors, and tenants, through the property to show what I need done in specific areas. Sometimes I keep leases in PDFpen if I have an ongoing negotiation, but since I cannot password protect PDFpen I try not to keep leases in it.

Notability has become my defacto notes tool in meetings and I use a Bamboo stylus with Notability. It’s not the best app, but I like that I can type in things if I need text to be really clear. Nine times out of ten I use Notability just so the older generation feels like I am paying attention — I rarely go back and look at my notes, or take notes. If I really need to remember I put it down in my iPhone after the meeting.

At home my apps switch to Sunstroke, Instapaper, and iBooks. In other words I spend a lot of time reading. I also use FileBrowser which is a great little app that allows me to AirPlay to the Apple TV from my media server.

If I’m trying to be productive, then Poster and Safari get pretty worn out with me flipping between them. Typically my blogging workflow goes: read in Instapaper, open in Safari, copy into Poster, and publish. Sometimes I make a stop in Editorial if I want to add some different formatting (I have actions setup to automate that in Editorial). I think that pretty much sums up my most used apps.

Which app could you not live without?

I’ll assume I get the stock apps (otherwise Safari for sure), so I’d have to pick Editorial. My gut reaction was Poster, but honestly I could setup a script to publish from Editorial if I wanted to (and wasn’t so lazy about it), but I cannot replicate the functionality I have added to Editorial with custom scripts for formatting images and text for my site.

I used to hand write in all the code for formatting in Poster, but now I think I would cry if I had to go back to doing that. If you ask me again in another month I am sure my answer would be different. I would certainly miss iBooks though.

Oh man, now I may need to change my mind, but I won’t — I’ll stop here.