Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My favorite app for workaholics

Recently I've been working my butt off (I wish!) and have had to resort to using a program that I bought years ago for my iPhone 3, have only occasionally had use for, but have been thankful for owning every time I've needed it. It's my favorite software. Period. At least for now. And it's name is Ignition by Logmein.

What I like about it is the user interface. You'd think it would be really painful to manipulate a full-screen computer remotely from a device the size of a smartphone screen. And you'd be right. But the Ignition interface transforms the experience into a veritable pleasure.

The brilliant innovation is that, instead of having to move a miniscule mouse pointer around a miniscule representation of your full-size screen, and then tap in just the right place with your elephant sized hoof of a finger, you can freeze the mouse pointer in the center of your device's screen and move the remote screen around beneath it and zoom in/out at need. When the desired bit of the remote screen is placed beneath the pointer, tap the screen anywhere to "click" the remote mouse. Or double-tap to "double-click" the mouse. Or two-finger tap to "right-click". And so on.

The keyboard is there when you need it. There are shortcuts for special key clicks. All in all, it's really nice. So nice, in fact, that the other day when I was waiting around for my car to be serviced, I was regretting having brought my laptop with me. Had I left it at home, I could have used it remotely from my iPad. Crazy, nay?

Here's the bad news. When I bought version 1.0 or whatever, lo those many years ago, I shelled out a princely $15 for the software. Now the price is $130! Glad I'm not shelling out today.

Here's the good news. There's a free app (not called Ignition, but just Logmein) that does everything I described above.

So what does $130 buy you? Primarily a really great file transfer utility. I confess I never looked at it before today, and I'm looking at it now solely because I'm writing about the software. And I'm kicking myself a little bit because I'm really impressed and thinking I could have saved myself a lot of hassling around in the past had I just known that my software could do this. Let's see: It can transfer files between the remote device and my iOS device, between either of them and any of a number of cloud storage services, between one remote device and another (I like that!), and it can attach any of these files directly to an email message.

I suspect, too, that if I had Logmein Pro or Central installed on my computers, it might be able to do even more. But I'm not a deep-pocketed corporation, so I'll have to settle for the free version on my computers.

There is one thing that I don't like about Ignition or, more accurately, that I wish they would/could enhance. I've gotten used to not proper casing or punctuating when I type on an iOS device, because the OS does all that for me. But when I am typing remotely I have to remember to do all that stuff. It would be so cool if the software would do it for me. Asking a lot, I know. For now, if I have a lot of remote typing to do, I use another favorite app, iA Writer, to do the typing, then copy/paste. In fact, I do that whenever I have to write anything on an iOS device more than a few sentences. That's another nice app, which I'll write about on another day.

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