Lesson Learned: Don’t Update an iOS Device on the Day the Update is Released

I learned it the hard way — and won’t forget.

Yesterday, I spent about 3 hours in an Apple Store. It was not pleasant.

It all started when, in preparation to update my iPhone and iPad 2 to iOS 5, I synced my two iOS devices. I got an error message. Thinking that was probably not a good thing before doing an OS update, I made an appointment at the local Apple Store — which is walking distance from our Phoenix place — with an iOS Genius. An hour later, I walked over with my iPhone, iPad, and syncing computer, a MacBook Pro.

The “genius” (and this guy definitely deserves his title put in quotes) looked at the situation and told me that because the error message appeared on my Mac and not on my iOS device, he couldn’t help me. But he could make an appointment for me later that day.

If there’s every a way to piss me off, it’s to tell me I’ve wasted my time and need to come back later in the day to waste more time. I gave him a lot of grief, which he deserved. It gave me a really good idea about the quality of management at the Biltmore Apple Store: it sucks. It was the first time I’d ever left the store angry, without my problem resolved.

I went back to my office and started troubleshooting on my own. That’d when the iOS 5 update was released. Since the problem had been resolved on my iPhone, I figured I’d update that. Things went smoothly — on our fast Internet connection, I was able to get the download in less than 15 minutes. But the upgrade kept failing.

So I showed up at the Apple Store again for my second appointment of the day. This time, they put me with a Mac expert. He listened to my problems, looked at his watch, and told me he had to go to lunch in 8 minutes.

What was I saying about Biltmore Apple Store management? Oh yeah. It sucks.

He started out by using Software Update to look for updates. I’d done that first thing in the morning and there weren’t any. But now there was — Mac OS X 10.7.2 — making me look like an idiot. He began the install and while it was working, left for lunch.

Another genius stepped up to fill his spot. I told her that since the process would take some time, she should help someone else. I’d try to resolve it on my own and let her know how I did.

I got the Mac OS update done and then tried again to update my iPhone. No joy. By this point, everyone was tweeting about server problems. I didn’t think this was server related, but when I realized that some kind of verification was going on and that’s where it was failing, I agreed that was the issue. I kept trying.

Connect to iTunesMy phone became “bricked” — completely unusable — with a “Connect to iTunes” image after the fifth try.

Now a small seed of panic began growing inside me. My iPhone is my only phone. It’s for personal and business use. It’s the only way I can be contacted by voice communication.

After trying a few more times, I talked to the new genius they’d assigned to me. (I hadn’t moved from my stool at the Genius Bar.) He tried updating from another computer. When that failed twice, he took it in the back of the store somewhere.

I sat with my laptop and iPad, researching possible solutions on the Web and Twitter.

After 20 minutes, he returned with my phone and some bad news: he wanted to replace my phone.

Now if he was offering to replace it with a factory new iPhone 4, never touched by human hands since leaving China, I would have gone for it. But he was offering a reconditioned phone. And I have terrible luck with previously owned devices. The idea of using a phone that once belonged to someone else — who may have dropped it in the toilet for all I knew — really wigged me out. I told him I’d keep trying.

He set me up with an Ethernet connection to the Internet and a power cord.

And I did. I kept trying updates and failing. While that was going on, I kept searching for troubleshooting tips. @singhpanther on Twitter suggested Lifehacker. I found “How Do I Fix My Bricked iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch?” and worked my way through the instructions, including the DFU mode stuff. I kept trying updates…and failing.

All the while, people kept coming in with iPhone 4s showing the same “Connect to iTunes” icon I had. I counted about a dozen of these people, all looking lost and bewildered.

Finally, after spending a total of about two hours on that damn Genius Bar stool, it worked. My phone was recovered and working properly with iOS 5.

I don’t think it’s anything special that I did. I think I just managed to squeeze into the server queue at the right time for success.

By that time, the lunching genius was back at his place. I showed him my phone. “Got it working, ” I said.

“Of course,” he said smugly. “What do you think we were doing back there?”

You were doing nothing that worked, I felt like snapping back to him. After all, they hadn’t fixed it. They wanted to replace it and put it back on iOS 4.2. It was my perseverance and refusal to let them take the phone away that had resulted in success.

But as I age, I’m realizing that it just isn’t worth arguing with smug assholes like him. So I just got up off the stool and left.

What was I saying about the management of the Biltmore Apple Store? Oh, yeah. It sucks.

The lesson I learned from all this is this:

With millions of iPhones and iPads out in the world and a rabid user base that’s willing to wait overnight in long lines for new devices, it’s not a good idea to update iOS on the first day of its release. Wait a day or two — it’ll all go more smoothly.

And yes, iOS 5 is worth the wait.

Just Say NO to Flash

Are you as frustrated as I am about Web sites relying on Flash?

I need to share a little rant here.

Flash LogoUntil recently, I never realized how many Web sites are built around Flash. I’m not talking about sites that include Flash animations here and there. I’m talking about sites completely contained in a Flash animation.

Like this monstrosity: http://www.stingraysushi.com/

Stingray Sushi is a restaurant. Its site includes a menu, which can only be viewed in that Flash animation.

Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look for a restaurant when I’m on the go. I’ll whip out my iPhone or iPad, open the Maps app, and search for restaurant. Or I’ll use the Safari browser to Google a specific restaurant. Either way, my goal is to see the Home page for the restaurant so I can learn more about it and the food it serves before I drive/walk over. To do that, I need to be able to see the Home page or, at least, a menu.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I’ll never be able to see the Home page for Stingray Sushi on my iPhone or iPad.

Now you might want to blame Apple for this. After all, it’s Apple that decided that it won’t support Flash.

But I blame the Web developer. Apple mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad, have been available for nearly four years. Apple is currently the fourth largest seller of mobile phones, with millions of iPhones out in the wild. Apple is also the top seller of tablet computers, with millions of iPads out in the wild. Developers who continue to base entire sites on Flash are basically thumbing their noses at iPhone/iPad users, telling them that they simply aren’t important enough to view the oh-so-valuable Flash content on their Web sites.

I have two words for these developers, and they’re not “thank you.”

So when I reach a site I can’t view on my device — whatever that device is — do you think I’ll visit that business?

Do you think that I’m interested in rewarding a business for the frustration their Flash-based site has generated by actually buying something there?

There are alternatives to Flash. Many alternatives. HTML 5 is one of them. But apparently, Web developers would rather lean on a crutch like Flash than move forward with new, more compatible technology.

Why does this continue to be an issue?

Just say no to Flash.

Banking by Phone [App]

Almost full-service banking by smart phone.

I’ve been doing 95% my banking online for the past five to eight years. I seldom write any checks and never visit the bank and wait on line for a teller. Instead, I have direct deposit from some of my publishers and use online bill pay (through my bank’s Web site) and online bill paying features in Quicken to make payments. When I receive money by check, I deposit at an ATM. When I need to pay someone with a check — which is more and more seldom these days — I pull out one of the ones leftover from my original check stock, blow the dust off, and write one.

Some Words about Bank of America

I do all of my banking with Bank of America. Before you start bashing them, let me explain why. Our local branch in Wickenburg was, until recently, extraordinarily helpful. We had no trouble opening accounts, getting loans, refinancing our home, getting a home equity line of credit, etc. The staff knew us by name and always helped us immediately with any problems. It just made sense to put everything in one bank.

Since then, Bank of America has done its part to seriously piss me off — as they piss off everyone else they come in contact with. The local branch service completely failed to help us with a very serious problem, actually bringing me to tears in the branch location. I was forced to work with the monster that is Bank of America’s loan department and, although I resolved the situation satisfactorily, I have not been back to the branch since. I also have serious fears that the same problem will arise again and it has forced me to take a completely different approach on my personal finances. But that’s another story.

In general, my banking with Bank of America works pretty well. Between my husband and I, we have many accounts: 3 personal checking, 2 business checking, 2 credit cards, 2 mortgages, 1 home equity line of credit, and a 1 “recreational vehicle” (helicopter) loan. To start moving these accounts to another bank just because Bank of America isn’t what it used to be would be a time-consuming exercise in frustration. I have better ways to spend time frustrating myself.

What I do like about Bank of America’s Web access is that I can access all of my accounts from one login screen. This makes it really easy to manage my accounts. And it works with Quicken for free (although they do charge for QuickBooks access, which is why I don’t use QuickBooks). Even bill pay is free. And checking, as long as I use my debit card at least once a month. So my banking costs are quite low and access is quite convenient. How can I complain?

Point is: please don’t fill up the comments with suggestions on a better bank. I’m not interested in switching.

The Bank of America App

Recently, I downloaded the Bank of America iPhone App. It sat on my phone for at least a few weeks before I decided to give it a try. It has limited functionality, but it does make it relatively easy to check account balances, pay bills (to known payees), and transfer money using the app.

BofA AppThe app is pretty straightforward. You open it and then log in using the same kind of Site Key protection that’s on the Web version of online banking. You then choose from three options:

  • Accounts displays all your accounts and their balances. Clicking an account shows transactions in that account. Clicking a transaction shows transaction details.
  • Bill Pay & E-Bills gives you access to the bill pay feature. You can make a single payment, view (an cancel, but not change) outgoing payments, and view unpaid e-bills (if you have any).
  • Transfer Funds lets you transfer money between your accounts now, schedule a transfer between your accounts for later, or transfer to another person (if you have this feature set up).

Although the app’s limited functionality makes it impossible to use without occasional Web access — for example, you can’t set up a payee in the app; you must do that on the Web site or from within Quicken — it is, in general, quicker to use than the Web site — especially if you suffer from painfully slow Internet connections, as I do at home in Wickenburg. The phone has fewer options, so it takes fewer clicks (or taps) to get to the feature you need. Unfortunately, that feature doesn’t appear immediately. Worse yet, when you go back, there’s no indication that the app is doing anything — some kind of wait cursor or Internet access indicator would really help. But I still think it’s quicker and easier to use than the Web site for the few features it does support.

Point in case: today I paid my mechanic for some work he did on my helicopter. I was able to do this while eating breakfast, without firing up a computer. Launch the app, log in, and get right to the payment page. Enter an amount, send it, confirm it, and I’m done. It took about a minute.

And I can do this from anywhere I have a 3G phone signal. (I have Verizon, so that’s nearly everywhere I go.)

Conclusion

While I’m certain this isn’t the best banking app out there, it is the one that my bank offers, so it’s the only one I’ve experienced. If this is an indication of what’s to come, I’m very glad. The quicker and easier banking tasks are, the less time I have to spend doing them — or dealing with the bank’s staff.

Now that I’ve tried it, I’ll likely be using it more often.

What do you think? Do you use an app for your banking needs? If so, share your experiences in the comments.

Outraged about Apple Tracking Your Every Move? Read This.

Once again, mainstream media, fed by tech journalists who should know better, get half the facts wrong and blow the other half out of proportion.

The big tech news these days is the story about Apple’s iDevices, including iPhone and iPad, “secretly” logging location information as you go about your daily business. The information is stored on your iDevice and then backed up to your computer when you sync — just like all the other information on your iDevice. (That’s what a backup does: it makes a copy so you have in case data is lost.) The media grabbed this one and ran with it, making a big deal about privacy concerns and even going so far as to suggest that this data is somehow getting back to Apple, which might be using it for some dark, secret purpose. The “discoverers” of this plot even worked up a program that can extract this data from your backup and plot it on a map. Just to show how thorough this information is, tech journalists were quick to seize it and plot their own movements.

Makes you angry, huh? To think that some big corporation is tracking your every move?

To hear interviewees on the radio, read blog posts and news stories, and read the comments left on blog posts, you’d think the government should be knocking down Apple’s doors and grabbing every storage device in sight to snatch this oh-so-valuable information from them. The media is outraged and they’ve made the public outraged, too.

Don’t Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Story

There’s just one problem: The story, as reported by most media outlets and bloggers, isn’t entirely true.

Sure, iOS does log location information in a “hidden” file that’s synced to your computer when you back up your device. And sure, that hidden file isn’t encrypted (although it is hidden). But it doesn’t go anywhere else — certainly not to Apple. As was pointed out by someone actually knowledgeable about the situation in an NPR interview I heard yesterday (sorry; can’t find link), the state of California has laws governing the gathering and use of this information. It would be very stupid for Apple to violate this law.

(And do you honestly think that Apple devices are the only ones logging this kind of information?)

You Said they Could!

Guess what? In the iPhone Software License Agreement users agree to give Apple permission to gather this information:

(b) Location Data. Apple and its partners and licensees may provide certain services through your iPhone that rely upon location information. To provide and improve these services, where available, Apple and its partners and licensees may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use your location data, including the real-time geographic location of your iPhone, and location search queries. The location data and queries collected by Apple are collected in a form that does not personally identify you and may be used by Apple and its partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. By using any location-based services on your iPhone, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and queries to provide and improve such products and services. You may withdraw this consent at any time by going to the Location Services setting on your iPhone and either turning off the global Location Services setting or turning off the individual location settings of each location-aware application on your iPhone. Not using these location features will not impact the non location-based functionality of your iPhone. When using third party applications or services on the iPhone that use or provide location data, you are subject to and should review such third party’s terms and privacy policy on use of location data by such third party applications or services.

Credit Where Credit is Due

So what’s the real deal? You could probably learn more about the facts by reading a blog post written by someone who discovered this back in 2010. Yes, this isn’t a new discovery. It was uncovered not long after the release of iOS 4. It was presented at the Paraben Forensics Innovation Conference in Salt Lake City in November 2010. It was covered in an Apress book called iOS Forensic Analysis that was released in December 2010. It was published in a paper in January 2011; the same month it was presented at the 2011 44th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

In other words, this isn’t news. Evidently, the “discoverer” who has the most media connections and can shout the loudest gets all the credit.

What’s the Big Deal?

And how can so many people be so outraged about this? It’s absurd in a time when many well-connected iPhone users — and others — are publicly broadcasting their location day in and day out by check-ins on Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, and countless other sites.

The irony of the outrage was best summed up in a tweet that came down my Twitter stream from Mike_FTW yesterday:

7:04: Check-in from bathroom. 7:38: Check-in from café. 8:15: Check-in from bus stop. (Mayor!) 8:35: Bitch about Apple tracking my location.

So what’s the big deal? There’s a log of your locations on your phone and in a hidden file on your backup computer. I’m sure as I type this there’s already an app under development that’ll wipe it clean for anyone who’s really concerned.

Is iPhone/iPad Killing Stand-alone GPS?

I think so.

This morning, while going through the tweets in my Twitter stream that had arrived overnight, I stumbled upon a MacObserver article that discussed the iPhone becoming the top “camera” on Flickr. (I have my own opinions on that factoid, which I left as a comment on that post; it’s not a favorable commentary on Flickr users.) That post linked to a far more interesting one by Ted Landau titled “A Dozen Devices the iPhone is Killing.” In it, Ted discusses how features in the iPhone that duplicate those in stand-alone devices are making those devices redundant or simply not necessary.

GPS for Everyday Use

As I commented on that post, Ted is right on target with the GPS analysis. I’ve been using various GPS tracking apps on my iPhone for a while now and am super-impressed with the results. The first one I tried was the $2 GPSTrack app, which I wrote about here. Since then, I’ve also played with GPSLite, a free app that does much the same and more for free (which an interface I find a bit too complex for everyday use). My goals with apps like these is to create track logs and trip computer data for flights and for geotagging photos.

Although I’m not fond of turn-by-turn navigation, I know there are plenty of apps that do this, too. So, as Ted pointed out, in-car GPS navigation systems can also be replaced by an iPhone.

GPS for Flying

ForeFlight on iPhone

ForeFlight runs on my iPhone and includes not only GPS capabilities, but flight planning, weather, airport information, and more.

For pilots, a great app called ForeFlight, which works on both iPhone and iPad, offers better functionality than the $12,000 panel-mount Garmin GPS in my helicopter. Rather than view my location on a primitive screen display, I can see it on an actual aeronautical chart. I can also download charts and other information in advance so there’s no need to rely on 3G connectivity in flight. If I do have 3G connectivity, I can also get up-to-date weather information in flight. And although the iPhone screen is generally too small for my aging eyes to see the details, the same software works on my iPad — that screen size puts my panel mount system to shame. In fact, ForeFlight is the reason I’m updating to a G3 iPad 2 — that model includes a GPS; my original WiFi iPad does not.

Garmin is apparently trying to play catch-up with this functionality but I don’t think they’ll succeed. Why would someone pay thousands of dollars for a one-trick pony like a panel mount GPS when less than $700 will get you an iPad with GPS and Internet capabilities that can be updated on the fly and do so much more — for example, e-mail, Web browsing, ebook reader, and other apps? Best of all, the FAA is starting to accept apps like Foreflight as “electronic flight bags,” thus making traditionally required documents such as printed charts and flight plans unnecessary. (This is something I hope to blog about in more detail soon.)

And Another Thing…

ForeFlight on iPad

Here’s ForeFlight on my iPad. Although this iPad doesn’t have a GPS and can’t do accurate tracking, my iPad 2, which should arrive soon, will.

One thing Ted didn’t mention is the main reason why I don’t like carrying more devices than I have to: batteries and charging. When I go on the road, it seems that my “gadget kit” is filled with cables and charging devices. And spare batteries. What a pain in the butt! Wouldn’t it be nicer to carry just one cable and charger, perhaps with a DC adapter? While it’s true that running a GPS app on an iPhone, especially in tracking mode, sucks battery power more than almost anything else you’re likely to do with the phone, a DC charging device can usually remedy this. Heck, even my helicopter has a DC power port.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine why someone would buy a standalone GPS if they had an iPhone or another smartphone with equally good GPS capabilities. Can you think of a reason?

Making Documents Portable with a Scanner and iPad

For those documents you really want to have with you all the time.

From the very beginning, I embraced my iPad as an ebook reader. I have books stored in all three ebook reader apps: iBooks, Kindle for iPad, and Nook for iPad. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that the iPad could also be used to reference books and other documents I already had or could create in PDF format.

I use GoodReader for this. I’m not saying its the best PDF reader for iPad, but I like it. One of its best features is the ability to synchronize with DropBox. I can create folders in DropBox, fill them with PDFs or other compatible document formats, and see them on my iPad. And, of course, I can also see them on any computer I use to access my DropBox account.

What I’ve found is that many software manuals and other user guides are available online as PDF format files. So now, on my iPad, I have a copy of the 300+ page user guide for my new Nikon D7000. And Dragon Dictation. And Final Cut Pro. And dozens of other software programs and devices I use regularly but don’t know as well as I could.

Yesterday, I took this a step further: I scanned all 191 pages of the Robinson R44 Raven II Pilot’s Operating Handbook. Yes, the manual for my helicopter.

No, I don’t plan on reading it while I’m flying. I’m required to have an up-to-date copy on board and I do. This is for consulting when I’m on the road. For example, suppose I’m doing a photo flight with a client and need to consult the performance information for a certain combination of load, altitude, and temperature. The charts are in the book. Rather than get my butt out to the helicopter, I can consult the book on my iPad, in the comfort of my office, hotel room, or client meeting.

ScanSnap S1100191 pages is a lot to scan and I admit I never would have attempted it with my old flatbed scanner. But last week I bought a ScanSnap S1100 portable scanner. Although it only takes a page at a time, its feeder considerably speeds up the scanning process. I was able to get the whole book scanned in about 20 minutes. (Yes, it would have gone quicker with a duplex model, but that’s not what I bought.) I saved the resulting PDF to Evernote, which performed optical character recognition (OCR) on the document to make it searchable on Evernote. And I copied the PDF file created during the process to my DropBox so it would sync to my iPad.

I’m hoping that more and more organizations see the benefit of distributing documentation in PDF or ebook format. Although Robinson currently distributes Safety Notices and the like as PDFs on its Web site, manuals are conspicuously missing. I’m not sure if it’s because they want to sell these things or because they’re worried about people consulting older copies that might be floating around on the Internet. (I plan on updating my copy when new pages become available; I think I can modify a PDF’s pages with Preview. It’s in my best interest to keep the book up to date.)

Until then, I’ll create my own PDFs of the documents I need to consult when I’m on the go.

Me and My iPhone

I am loving my new iPhone.

When the Verizon iPhone became available earlier this month, I bought one. I was due for a phone upgrade anyway, and had to choose between an iPhone and an Android phone. I needed either operating system to use my Square point of sale device.

It had been nearly four years since the original iPhone was released, but for that for years, it was only available on AT&T. AT&T does not have the coverage I need in the places I go. It also has crappy customer service handled by overseas, outsourced workers. No matter how much I wanted an iPhone, I was not willing to enter into a relationship with AT&T. Instead, during the four years, I had a Palm Treo phone followed by a BlackBerry Storm. They did the job and I was satisfied.

I was eligible for a phone upgrade on December 22. The rumors of iPhone coming to Verizon were running wild before that. I held off long enough to hear the announcement before locking for two years in on a new phone.

Early in February, when I logged into my Verizon Wireless account, Verizon offered me the phone. Again, my choices were between an iPhone and an Android phone. The main reason I went with the iPhone was because there would be no learning curve for me. I already had an iPad and my understanding was that the operating system was nearly identical on the iPhone. Unlike many people, I don’t consider my phone and toy. It’s a tool. A communication tool. Smartphone features also make it a simple computing tool. I don’t play games, I don’t make movies, and I don’t waste a lot of time with apps. My main concern was getting a smartphone that met my communication needs and enabled me to sync my data with my computer. The way I saw it, the iPhone would do this easily and transparently while an Android phone would require me to either buy special software or jump through hoops using Google apps to sync my data. And although I wasn’t very interested in apps, I knew that there were far more iPhone apps than Android apps. When I discovered that the two phones I was considering, the iPhone and the Droid 2, would cost me the same to buy, the decision became a no-brainer. I bought the iPhone.

Last BlackBerry Photo

The last photo I snapped with my BlackBerry Storm. Really.

What I never realized, was just how much I would enjoy using the iPhone. It really is easier for me to use than any other phone I’ve ever had. The interface is very intuitive. But what really blew me away was how easy it was to sync my data between my Macs and my phone. I simply entered some information about my MobileMe account into my iPhone and my iPhone did the rest. Saving time saves money — really. If I’m not wasting time with a steep learning curve, I have more time available to get work done and to enjoy my life. For me, that’s what it’s all about.

The wide availability of apps surprised me. I never realized how many apps there were for things that I need to do. In my role as a pilot, I need specialized information about the weather, sunrise and sunset times, light angles, and FAA regulations. It wasn’t long before I found apps that can meet many of my needs. For example, I found an app that gets official airport weather and displays it in a format that’s familiar to me. This makes it possible for me to use my phone to get up-to-date weather information about any airport that I might need to fly to. I can even do this during flight (although I can’t say I recommend doing so). Another app not only makes it easy to create an official FAA flight plan but it will show my aircraft position on an aeronautical chart while I am flying. Another app makes it easy for me to log my flight time after every flight. I can then sync that data to a file on my Mac book Pro and my iPad so I have up-to-date logbook information in multiple places.

I know there are a lot of games out there, but I don’t play them. I keep hearing about Angry Birds and how addictive it is and can’t understand why someone would want to play a game that sucks so much time out of their life. The only reason Game Center is on my iPhone is because I can’t get it off. There are no games. People told me that I would like my iPhone because I play with it, but that simply isn’t true –– not in the true sense of the word. I may spend more time browsing weather information and reading books and articles on the news but I don’t play games.

I’m not saying the iPhone is the perfect phone for everyone. It really depends on your needs. If you like to spend your time watching video on your phone, you probably would prefer something on a faster, 4G network. If you’re only interested in communication, you could probably save a lot of money by going with a standard phone instead of a smartphone. People who buy iPhones to look cool or keep up with their friends are idiots. The phone should meet your needs. If it exceeds your needs it should only do so to give you room to grow. After all, don’t you want your phone to last two years?

I’ll be writing a lot about my iPhone in the days and weeks to come. I want to highlight some apps that I think people may find useful. I don’t want people thinking that I’m an Apple fan boy or fan girl. Although I like most Apple products, I’m not blind to their shortcomings. (I must admit, however, that I haven’t found any shortcomings in my iPhone yet.) My goal is to point out how software tools, including mobile computing apps, make my life easier. By sharing this information with you, you might learn how to make your life easier, too.

On a side note here, I’m currently experimenting with Dragon Dictate, a software program that uses voice recognition to transcribe what I dictate. This entire blog post was written by dictation. As I look over what has been transcribed, I realize that it is not error-free, but it is amazingly accurate. I need to learn the software to help make me more productive. Many people like to spend hours in front of the computer but I don’t. I’m hoping that by using dictation software which can type almost as fast as I speak, I can save a lot of time in my writing work and be able to spend more time doing the things I love with the people I love.