IPad Pro in Anger: Day Eight – Flying

Flying Home

There are many reasons for using a tablet on an aeroplane:

  • Entertainment
  • Creativity
  • Learning – and –
  • Work


As an entertainment device, the iPad Pro has no equal. The screen, both from a real estate and resolution perspective, is phenomenal. Also the brightness. I was next to someone watching a movie on a Surface Pro today. He asked me to close the window shade because of screen glare. The Pro was plenty bright enough to not need this.

Then there’s the battery life, which even without in-seat power on my recent SYD-SFO flight, lasted the whole flight.

Quite apart from purchasing iTunes movies and TV shows, you can get the OPlayerHD App, or VLC, or any number of video players. Simply copy movies in any format to the device, and et voila, your movie collection comes to life.


Photo-20160201235906145.jpgIt is true that the iPad lends itself to creative tasks. Just today on two short haul flights between Sydney and the Gold Coast (1 hour flying time) on the iPad Pro I:

  • Used calligraphy to handwrite a thank-you note
  • Blogged
  • Edited video
  • Edited photos, and
  • Sketched

Of course there’s plenty more I could’ve done from creating music to building websites.

Udemy Course on Drawing
Udemy Course on Drawing


Here Udemy, iTunesU, Kindle, Kahn Academy, DuoLingo, and iBooks are my friend. So many options for learning, there is no longer an excuse for not finding the time to learn your next skill.


Ok, the biggie. Can you really do real work on the iPad Pro, in an economy seat on an aeroplane?

Of course, that’s determined by your definition of real work. So let me say, for me, the compute tasks I need to do to conduct my work when travelling include:

  • Email
  • Reviewing & authoring documents (PDF’s & Word)
  • Reviewing, creating and delivering presentations
  • Reviewing spreadsheets
  • Research, both primary (mostly Interviews), and secondary (mostly Internet) which I need to collate, synthesise and share with colleagues
  • There is administrivia, like timesheets, expenses, booking travel, the leave and payroll system, and occasionally procuring equipment. All of these systems are web-based, and even with last years 108 days of travel, I can do these back in the office (or on a PC at home)

In the last two weeks I’ve flown 4 times – two 14+ hour flights to and from San Francisco, and two 1 hour flights to and from the Gold Coast.

On the Qantas 747-400, there is no problem doing serious work in economy. Both flights I was on the aisle (44C and 48H), in a seat behind another (so people reclined seats onto me). With the seat reclined, it was tough to use the iPad Pro on the in-seat table. There’s not quite enough room to extend your arms for the keyboard, without standing the Pro upright. However, there’s no problem at all with the keyboard on your lap.

If the seat in front is upright, the table is the way to go.

On the Virgin 737-800 I was in a window seat (29A) and found it pretty cramped. Once the seat in front reclined, there wasn’t really enough room to type comfortably. On the Embrauer 190, however, also a window seat (9F) there was room to type comfortably on the table, even with the seat reclined. I think the extra elbow room on the E190 contributes to this.

On all four flights I cleared my email, mostly before take-off.

Travelling to San Francisco saw me reviewing some 10 deep technical abstract papers, and summarising these for a calibration workshop. I also worked on a client PowerPoint presentation, and another client PoC Proposal (Word).

On the flights too and from Coolangatta I continued work on the Word proposal, and the PowerPoint presentation.

Of course it was hard to review anything without Internet Access, but I did read the pages I had clipped into Evernote prior to the flight.

I’m collaborating with others on both the Word and PowerPoint files, and as soon as I connected to the web again, MS Office365 OneDrive synced my changes to everyone else.

Added Bonus

There are five added bonuses for using the Pro as a travel work device:

  1. As it’s not a “laptop” you don’t need to remove it from your carry-on at security
  2. As it’s not a “laptop” you can use it (in airplane mode) from gate-to-gate
  3. LIghtning Connector – you can charge it in-flight on most long haul carriers. Not to mention everyone has a Lightning cable, and on the odd occasion you sit next to an Android Afficionado, you can pick up a cable in every airport. If you start with a charged device, you won’t need this on all but the longest flights
  4. No fan noise, or overheating.
  5. Integrated 4G means you can stay connected until the doors close, and reconnect as soon as you land, allowing you to send all of those queued emails, and post those blog’s.


There are a couple of drawbacks:

  • That damned Pencil design. I’ve lost the magnetic lightning connector cap. It came off in a seat-back somewhere over the pacific, and is no more.
  • Also, the Pencil dropped during a meal, and rolled back 2 rows. This saw me using my iPhone torch at 3am somewhere to try and recover the device. (I recovered it). Seriously Apple – A CLIP WOULD BE NICE.
  • None of the Office Products are fully featured. This is particularly irksome on PowerPoint, especially if you’re trying to create graphics. Word is okay-ish: It’s ok for most text styles, and even tables. Just not ideal for graphics (e.g. No aligning function, no multiple select etc.) The workaround is to open the documents in Pages, or Keynote, and edit them with the rich tools there, then save them as Office formats. Either that or only do work that requires limited editing functionality.

The Answer?



I took both the laptop and the Pro with me for the last two trips, and didn’t need to use the laptop for all but the most obscure reasons.


Golden Rules for Traveling #1

Project 2012: Day 231

Whether by genes, or by conditioning, I'm a traveller. Tracing my bloodline, on both paternal and maternal sides, finds air crew for at least 2 generations back; and my adopted parentage also flew professionally. As a kid I moved constantly.

I've lived in many countries, and travelled to more. I've hiked, hitch-hiked, bicycled, motorbiked, bussed, trained, driven, sailed, and flown across countries, continents, and oceans. My first intercontinental flight was at 6, first transnational train at 7, and at 17 I regularly hitch-hiked over 1500 kms at a time.

One of the things that's a real shame is how many people just don't enjoy the journey. They queue and complain, and consider travel an inconvenience at best. But the travel bit of travel is often the most enjoyable, and all it takes is a mind shift. Simply commit to enjoying every minute of the journey, whether you're held up at customs, or battening down the tarp on the trailer in a storm. Flat tyre? No problem, dig deep into your resourcefulness and figure it out.

Of course what drives the attitude for many people is two things:

  1. The actual point they believe the holiday has started. Usually this is the destination, or more specifically when you've unpacked and are having your first drink at the destination. (Boring)
  2. Discomfort.

Travel can be uncomfortable, and everyone's resilience to discomfort is different. Especially when you bring stress, relationships, fatigue, and frustration to the deal.

Rules to Enjoy the Journey

So there are a couple of Golden Rules for travel. Rules that allow me (& you) enjoy the actual travel. Here's the first:

“Eat when you can, Sleep when you can, and NEVER pass a bathroom!”

Travel often involves long times away from amenities like kitchens, or beds, or indeed bathrooms. Being prepared for every eventuality means forgoing the routine for a while, and making sure your basic needs are met.

If you have an opportunity to eat, do so. Your flight might be delayed, the truck stop at the next town might be closed, and that line of clouds might be a squall. You don't want to be in a situation where you can't eat for hours at a time, and haven't eaten

The same goes for sleep. Jetlag, or motion, partying neighbours in the motel, or indigestion. Any number of factors in an exotic location conspire against you to keep you awake. Not to mention needing to be awake to drive, or sail, or ride. Don't risk your safety or sanity for the sake of a couple of minutes of shut-eye.

Then there's the bathroom thing. Inevitably by the time that cart has gone past and you need to relieve yourself, so do the other 500 folk on the plane. Then there's the 4 hours to the next stop, which your driving partner doesn't want to stop for to make up time. Whether you need it or not, don't walk past the bathroom.

Ever see James Bond not take out a villain because he needed to take a dump? Nup, I thought not. Because he follows this first golden rule.

SAReunion 03 – Antarctic Warming

Midway on today’s flight, the captain mentioned there was an unusual break in the clouds and looking from the left hand side of the aircraft we should be able to see the Antarctic Ice Pack.

I had no idea the route took us this far south. I guess that’s where the Rhumb Line takes us.


I’m pretty sure this is the furthermost south I’ve ventured.


I did manage to get a couple of snaps, which certainly don’t do the majesty of the Ice Cap justice.


Awesome. I wonder how long it’s going to be there for?

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SAReunion 01 – Departure

This morning I had to be at the airport at 7am to check-in for a10am flight. This necessitated being packed last night. I mean fully packed, not “mostly packed with a couple of things to throw in.” So it was during this “great packing process” when it began to dawn on me that things have changed. Or rather, I’ve changed.

I’ve always prided myself in being the consummate traveller. After all, I’ve done it so much, and ventured so far. Always able to find the balance between “Being Prepared (for every eventuality)” and “travelling lightly.” I glibly put out a single hold-all for my check-in luggage, and my trusty TechEd07 Speaker BackPack for carry-on.

By the time I’d packed my clothes I realised I was going to need another bag for the limited scuba gear I wanted to bring, as well as “The Beast” my 6kg 17” laptop (for video editing), not to mention the DSLR, camcorder, various accessories for charging and connecting said technology, and obligatory Aussie gifts. Nevertheless, I managed to get it all in to the two moderately sized check-in bags,with a very light carry-on.

We whisked to the airport this morning, Lu decided to drop me off, rather than “see” me off, waving at me from the truck as they roared off. I was just 2nd person in the Premium/Silver FF queue. Things were looking up. Then disaster struck.

It turns out that although my luggage all fitted in, the bags weighed some 33kg. Here’s were Qantas fantastic systems irony comes into play. Y’see, although I’m a Qantas FF, travelling on a Qantas aeroplane, I’m holding a SAA ticket. If I was holding a Qantas ticket, my Silver FF status gives me a 30kg limit. Simple enough to find 3kgs and transfer it to my carry-on. But because of a code in the system, I now had to redistribute 10kgs!! Because Lucy wasn’t waiting to see me off, there was no-one to give my gear to.

I will say that the check-in attendant and her supervisor were both fantastically helpful. Rather than just charge me excess baggage, and treat me with contempt (as happened when Lu & I returned from Vanuatu) They did everything in their power to help me get my bags to the limit. Then tried to waive the excess when I got the bags down to 26kgs. But they couldn’t. So rather than paying $150 for 3kg I ended up with “The Beast”, its power pack, my fins, DSLR and camcorder on the counter and my carry-on.

Here’s where we move from the sublime to the ridiculous. I wandered over to Strandbag and bought a cheap hold-all. Because of the fins it had to be bigger than regulation carry-on size. Then I put all of the items I’d removed from my luggage and lugged this 10kgs with me. Through security (2 laptops to scan), through duty-free, onto the plane. So, I still have all the luggage on the same plane. But instead of being securely stowed in just 2 bags in the hold; I now have an extra, technically overweight bag, and have become one of those people that I despised so much as a traveller. Y’know, the ones who clearly can’t read the signs about regulation size for carry-on, and have no respect for others. *sigh* All because in a computer application, my ticket has a SAA code against it, rather than a Qantas one.

Still, I can’t overstate how friendly and helpful the staff were. They even put me in an exit row, next to an empty seat.