Ben Crowder

Blog: #iphone

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I’m currently dealing with tendinitis — or some other kind of RSI, not entirely sure what it is. It started up about a week ago and is mostly in my wrists and forearms, but it’s been occasionally flaring up in my hands as well.

At this point I suspect it’s stemming from a combination of the ergonomics of my work-from-home setup along with the iPhone 11 being too large and too heavy for me. Both exacerbate the pain. (As does almost any use of my hands or wrists. Such fun.)

I’m now wearing wrist guards while I work, which helps a little (though still not as much as I was hoping). I’m also trying to be more careful about my hand and wrist positions when I use the keyboard and trackpad.

For my phone, I tried a ring holder but didn’t like it, and I’m now trying a LoveHandle, which seems to help a little with the size of the phone (but not really at all with the weight). Main options here seem to be using my phone less often, setting it on surfaces to use it when possible (as opposed to holding it in my hand), and switching to a smaller phone at some point.

Anyway, I’m documenting this here not to elicit sympathy but as a forewarning that I may not be as productive over the next few weeks.

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Just came across the Procreate Pocket update that recently dropped. It’s good! Very happy to see custom canvas sizes (I was able to get 6000x4000 on my iPhone 8 — only one layer, but painting wasn’t slowed down much at all), and creating custom brush sets on the phone is also nice. I think it’s finally to a point where I can use it for production work.

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A slightly different kind of ebook

Turns out reading PDFs of old books (from Google Books, Internet Archive, etc.) on my iPhone works out reasonably well. For example:


On the left is the fully zoomed out page. Indoors, I’m able to read it without too much difficulty, though my eyes do thank me when I zoom in (as on the right). The problem with zooming, however, is that navigating to the next page then requires more swiping, and, at least in iBooks, you have to zoom in again every time you turn the page.

After a bit of this, I got to wondering what it would be like to typeset an iPhone-sized PDF, designed specifically to be read on a phone. Here’s how it turned out (and this is a proof of concept, nothing too polished):


The pages are set at 7.573×4.267″, which I arrived at by taking 1136×640 (iPhone screen dimensions in pixels) and dividing by 150. Arbitrary, but it worked out well enough. And the text is at 16 points on the left and 18 on the right. (Also arbitrary, but dependent on the page size, of course.)

The PDFs:

The main advantage to a foolhardy scheme like this is full typographic control — margins, fonts, layout (important for poetry), tracking, etc., all without worrying about limitations of ebook readers. I could try to do something about widows and orphans, for instance, though I didn’t do that with this proof of concept.

The downside is that it’s custom-tailored to the dimensions of the iPhone 5S, and on other devices it wouldn’t fit as perfectly. Not necessarily a dealbreaker, though.

Is it worth pursuing? No idea. One of these days I’ll set a full book this way and try reading it on my phone to see how it compares.

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