12 apps

Looking at my setup I’ve realised that it’s only really 12 apps that I use on my iPhone these days. I’ve been sorting out my devices to help distract me less and I’m trying my best to only really check in on places like Twitter once or twice a week. I purged my iPhone of social apps and I’m slowing down on my consumption of podcasts including dropping most of my tech podcasts and listening to more around my other interests like Star Wars or space.

My Home Screen is just these 12 apps and the rest are in App Library. They are apps like settings and App Store but very little else.

My iPhone use has gone down (about 20% according to screen time) and I’m feeling a little better mental health wise so I’m hoping it’s as a result of these changes.

How many apps do you think you could get away with having on your iPhone?

An open world Star Wars game – Yes please

Wow, this is great news as a massive Star Wars fan and gamer. I love open world games and am currently working my way through Red Dead Redemption II in an attempt to finally finish the story instead of getting side tracked, but this is what I love most about open world games.

Yeah I’d love to see Rockstar have a go but UBISOFT is fine with me, getting a break from EA is going to be a good thing for the Star Wars universe of games.

The next iPad Mini Wish List

If you’ve been following along with my setup you’ll know that I’ve dropped the iPad Pro and switched to using my 12″ MacBook and an iPad Mini. I’m still getting to grips with it all but enjoying the more streamlined setup. Now I’m using the Mini as my iPad I do have some wants though as I move forward with using it.

FaceID or a new TouchID

I do like having the home button back but I can’t get over how much space those bezels take up on the Mini form factor. I imagine a full screen iPad Mini with a TouchID on the side button, like what Apple has implemented on the iPad Air. I have to think that if the Mini is currently an acceptable seller then this has to be in the works and I would totally be up for that one.

Squared off sides

I do miss the squared off sides of the 2020 iPad Pro. It looks fantastic and I prefer the grip is gives me over the rounded on the iPad Mini. First off it would look amazing but could also make for a thinner or maybe narrower iPad Mini, what a product that would be.


Getting more colours across the Apple range of products is something of a bugbear anyway but let’s see an iPad Mini with the same colour range of the iPhone 12 (red, blue, green especially).


I have to think that it’s on the cards if we get an update. Nowadays only my iPad Mini and iPhone use Lightning, everything else I plug in daily is using USB-C.

Magic Keyboard

Who knows if it would work but it would be cool, I’d even be ok with it extending out a little to allow more room to type on. I can’t see this happening AT ALL, this is an out there suggestion but nothing wrong with me wanting it.

New Camera setup

Just copied from the iPad Air, no need to take it from the Pro. Just something better in lower light conditions so that scanning documents looks a little better. I use it for the occasional photo but it’s not recommended.

So, here’s my little wish list – any other Mini fans out there with wants?

How often should you post to substack?

I think I’ve misunderstood how Substack works or I should say how you should treat it. At the beginning I thought it could replace some of my daily posts but the more I thought about it, it’s a newsletter – I should really post to it weekly rather than as and when I think of topics as I do here.

So if you are thinking of using Substack to send newsletter content don’t think it like a blog, like I did initially. Think of it as a newsletter summary of what you have been working on or content you stick exclusively to it.

I’m still learning this but I think I’ll be sticking to my daily ramblings on the blog and then longer form or exclusive bits for Substack or just use it as a summary of my posts for the week – hmm..

I’m open to suggestions.

Giving Substack a try

I’ve been writing here for years and fancied giving something else a try for my writing both as a change but to also learn a few new skills along the way, so I’ve created a SUBSTACK to share my thoughts for a bit.

Here’s the link to my SUBSTACK page.

Let me know what you think and if you think it’s worth giving a go, I hope you’ll join me there.

Sticking with what works

Sticking with what works is something that I need to constantly remind myself. This applies to everything from my watch, my tech and even my apps.

Learning new apps or playing with a new device is fun but takes me down a path of distraction.

The most recent example with gear was picking up a discounted Casio G-Shock but finding I couldn’t read the time as it was faint. I sent it back for a refund. In reality there wasn’t anything wrong with my Casio F-91w that’s light and comfortable.

I’ve also been playing with new to do apps but spending time moving between them is less time being productive.

Thinking about setup time on a new machine has me now sticking with my MacBook, there’s nothing wrong with what I’m already using.

I think it’s important before making that new purchase or productivity change to take a step back, give it an hour then think again why you are actually making the change?

The best free to do app on iOS

I’ve been testing a lot of to do apps over the last few weeks and it struck me how little free options there are. There are both paid in full one time purchases and monthly subscriptions but finding a free option is hard.

It’s not a surprise given app makers can’t give away their products and it’s not a surprise that the free options come from the big tech companies making money in other areas – Apple, Google and Microsoft.

For me if you’re all in on Apple then the best choice is Reminders. It works well across all devices and has iOS 14 features like widgets. Where it falls down is in some of the iPad keyboard shortcut features but if you’re mainly on Mac and iPhone then it’s great. Your data is safe and private in iCloud and sync works well.

If you tend to use other platforms then I’d recommend Microsoft To Do. It’s a great little app and if you’re coming from the good old Wunderlist it’s a good choice. Where it falls down for me is in it’s speed of feature updates. There’s still no iOS 14 widget, this should be basic functionality now we’re months into the public release. If you can manage without a widget it’s worth checking out.

Google tasks isn’t even worth writing much about. I won’t even link to it, it’s hardly functional.

So that’s it if like me you’re managing a budget or want to check out free options before investing in a paid app.

A relaxing iPhone wallpaper and Home Screen

I’ve been going through my library looking for calmer wallpapers. I change it up probably daily but wanted to settle on something a little more balanced.

Here’s my image, taken in West Wales on one of our many family holidays on the area.

Feel free to use it but please link to my blog and credit me if you put it on the internet anywhere.

Consultancy Services and a few changes to the site

It’s been overwhelming with losing my long time role last year and I have been taking time to figure out what it is that I want to do moving forward. I had been applying for a lot of roles but having taken a step back and a breath I can focus on what I actually want to do.

With this in mind I have made a few changes to the site and some of the services that I can offer given my 20+ years of commercial IT experience.

New ways to support me

I’ve updated my ABOUT page now to include clear ways you can support me in keeping the lights on. These include signing up for Patreon (yes I know, I’m trying again), donating via Ko-Fi (thanks to those that have already) and sponsorship. With sponsorship I have adjusted the price to bring it more in line with other sites based on their view counts. This is a great way to get your product or service out to an engaged and excellent audience.

Consultancy Services

I hadn’t really considered contracting before but it seems ideal for right now, I have a lot of experience and would like to put it to use. Having some variety of both who I work for and what I do sounds exciting to me and I love to help others achieve what they want in their projects. I’ve listed all of my experience on the site here. If you need a techie then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Freelancing writing

Freelance writing is something else, kind of like contracting that is an exciting opportunity to pursue now that I am available full time. I have applied to a few roles already and if you would like to have me write on your site please contact me. My current portfolio can be found here.

I’m only really at the beginning of this new journey and it’s taken a couple of months to get my head around it all and in the right place to move forward – wish me luck.

Should you buy the iPhone SE in 2021?

This is a question I’ve been pondering for some time now and the more I’ve thought about it the more I keep coming back to who is the SE (2020) for?

As someone who uses an 11 Pro and wants to go smaller I only have two options

  • iPhone SE (2020)
  • iPhone 12 Mini

The considerations that make the decision are

  • Costs: Are you on a budget? The SE will win every time here, if you have £450 then 128GB SE is the best deal.
  • FaceID: even after all of these years past the X I’m still not sold on FaceID. I went back to a 7 a couple of years ago and loved being back on TouchID. Being able to unlock as you grab the phone is a much better flow (IMO) than picking up then swiping up. If you aren’t sold on FaceID then it’s an SE.
  • OLED and screen flicker: The OLED screens on X and later do flicker (read up on PWM) and some people are more sensitive to this than others. I’m not sure where I stand on this one but knowing my screen is flickering and potentially causing eye strain is something I’d like to look at more.
  • Camera: Without doubt the 12 Mini has the better camera system, it’s up to you whether the loss of image quality is worth the trade off in price. For me this is the main sticking point and leaves me on my 11 Pro. I think if the camera is important then spend the extra on a 12 Mini.
  • You love your iPhone 7 or 8: The SE is the only option if you love your existing 7 or 8. It’ll be a nice boost in performance, screen and camera to move to the SE.

Anyone reading this have both an SE and Mini and want to contribute to or write up a guest post?