Ben Crowder / Blog

Blog: #iphone

Since the phone is now the window to the soul, here’s my current home screen:


Things of possible interest (or more likely imminent boredom):

  • 30 Seconds is a system shortcut I made that starts a thirty-second timer, which I use for my physical therapy exercises morning and night (I used to use a third-party app until I realized I didn’t need one)
  • Projectile (an app version of my project tracker), Bookshelf (reading tracker), Slash (blog engine), Storybook (writing app), Momentum (time tracker), and Liszt (to-do list) are all PWAs I’ve built
  • While it’s kind of weird (they’re the same exact app), I love that Marvin SxS is on the App Store alongside Marvin; I use the dark-background Marvin for fiction and the white-background Marvin for nonfiction
  • From left, the three bottom apps in the dock are Codex (notes app), Saturn (launcher), and Gate (Drafts clone), which are also PWAs I’ve built, and clearly I have a problem
  • I currently have 136 tabs open in mobile Safari, and clearly I have two problems

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I’m slowly getting back into doing non-religious art, and What Do You Mean, “What Are You Doing?” is my first real entry there. It started out as a random doodle in pencil, which I scanned and then redrew in Procreate Pocket on my phone, which is also where I did the coloring and texturing.

With this piece, by the way, I found that a) working on an iPhone 11 really, really makes me miss the pressure sensitivity on my old iPhone 8, and b) I’m at the point where I’ve finally decided to start saving up for an Apple Pencil and iPad. I’ve hesitated to go down that path since it’s an expensive one (the iPad part, that is), but the benefits are now pretty clear to me.

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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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