The next level of my #projectipadonly! Finally I can use Adobe InDesign "on the iPad" and minimalize my desk setup.
I’ve come a huge step closer to my dream of working exclusively off the iPad and could not be happier with my tech setup. Although my experiment is called #projectipadonly, I make no secret of the fact that a Mac (mini) is still essential for me. I don’t need the Mac very often. But there are tasks which mostly are part of my freelance work, which I simply can’t do off the iPad and some of which I don’t want to do (yet).
A few days ago I finally ordered a Luna Display-Dongle, after a long search for a solution to remote control my Mac (in my own network). But "remote control" sounds a bit too easy for what I wanted to achieve. My goals were:
I wanted to be able to work with Adobe InDesign or the Safari Web Inspector as latency-free as possible.
I wanted to get rid of my not so pretty 24" display and
run my Mac mini headless, as well as send it into sleep mode to save power.
Of course, the Luna display is not quite cheap. But in several podcasts (where a discount code is mentioned) or on relevant tech websites it was praised as the best solution for my ideas. And as the first tests showed, it is.
Because of my goal no. 1 solutions like Teamviewer or Chrome Remote Desktop were out of question. The connections always use the internet and are way too slow. Also the app duet, despite being operated via USB cable, was not usable for me. The latency was still too high. Used in my wifi network the refresh rate of the Luna Display is also noticeably delayed or parts of the screen are slightly pixeled. However, connected via USB cable, I don’t notice any difference to a attached display. Everything runs extremely smoothly. Thats what I want! ✅
The challenge for goal no. 2 was the Mac mini, built in 2014, which has a mini display or HDMI port instead of the USB-C port that is currently built-in. To be able to operate the Mac "headless", a HDMI-Dongle was required, which simulates a connected display. ✅
To realize goal no. 3, I used the awesome Shortcuts by Federico Viticci, which allow waking up and login on the Mac as well as activating sleep mode via SSH command. ✅ Without the use of Shortcuts, this point would have been possible only by disabling password protection on the Mac. But for security reasons this option of course was not acceptable.
After all my requirements had been fulfilled, I was now able to rearrange my desk in a two-hour procedure, remove the monitor and rewire everything properly.
This morning I was working at my wonderfully minimalist desk for the first time. In a two-hour InDesign session, I prepared a training script for one of my clients.
I have modified the "Wake & Login" Shortcut to open the Luna Display app directly after the login. This way I can start working on the Mac seamlessly. When the work is done, I send the Mac back to sleep. Instead of switching off only the display, I put the Mac into sleep mode (pmset sleepnow instead of displaysleepnow).
How I made a backup shortcut for texts in iA Writer using x-callback-URLs, a bit of SSH and Launch Center Pro.
It is no secret that iA Writer is the writing app of my choice. Currently I use the app even more intensively than I usually do. The app isn’t just the beginning, it is also the setting for a very important project. 📚
Of course, I have to consider possible risks in such a project. One of the biggest risks I have discovered for myself is obviously the technology I use. Although the reliability of my iPad, of the software and of the cloud services that store my data is proven, in this case I prefer to assume the worst case and try to prevent it from happening.
In detail this is about the regular backup of currently two text files (with about 20,000 words each) located in the iA Writer folder on iCloud. In the next several days and weeks more files will be added or both files will increase in size.
The simplest backup method would be to take the two files whenever I wrote something new and copy them into Dropbox. But as a enthusiast of the Shortcuts app this would just be too trivial. I also would regularly forget to copy the files manually.
So I soon started thinking about a backup shortcut. My goal was to get it triggered or executed automatically on a regular basis or to make executing the shortcut as easy as possible for me. Just as I don’t want to copy files from A to B manually, I don’t want to navigate through some menus and make the same selections again and again.
So, how does the solution look like? First I had to get the data I wanted – the text documents. But it doesn’t get easy with the Shortcuts app here. While you can select any file path from Dropbox, iCloud restricts you to use the Shortcuts app directory. I solved the problem with URL commands, which were implemented in the iA writer app only a few months ago.
The paths to the texts are stored in a list at the beginning of the shortcut. If new texts are added, I can simply add their paths here. Using the paths from the list, the Shortcut fetches the texts via an x-callback-URL (Thank you iA!) and packs them into a ZIP file.
The file is named based on the current date and time. It will then be transferred to one of my servers via an SSH command. In the same way, you could also transfer the file to a local NAS server. This would basically be the end of the shortcut. But according to the motto "The more, the better", the ZIP file is also pushed into the dropbox. 🚀
The easiest way to trigger the shortcut is via the app Launcher Center Pro. It is possible to launch the shortcut location-based – for example by leaving the office – or according to a fixed schedule. The app will send a notification and with a tap to confirm the shortcut will be executed.
My most important texts will now be stored locally on the iPad, on iCloud, on Dropbox and on a private server. Now it is less likely to lose date if one instance fails.