Charles Moore's Mailbag

Writing on the iPad, Mac and iOS Browsers, Refurb Store Experiences, and More

Charles Moore - 2012.02.28 - Tip Jar

Writing on the iPad

From Alex:

Yep, before I discovered the magnifying glass [editing] trick, my whole iPad writing experience was really frustrating. Once I discovered it, I could then copy and paste much easier, so much that the onscreen keyboard is passable and my iPad is much more portable as a result. Of course, my iPad had to get a screen scratch as a result, but then again a Windows 7 netbook I had got Dr. Pepper spewed into it liberally, which was far worse, so I guess I should look on the bright side, which I have an infamously hard time doing.

I must say, the iPad is amazing, even if it tries to replace something that doesn't need replacing - the 128K and it's Snow Leopard Intel Mac descendants.

Sent from my iPad,

Hi Alex,

I've found that Infovole's TextKraft text processor (with many keyboard enhancements and selection shortcuts) and lately Nebulous Notes as well (best Dropbox sync yet) have proved the charm for me, and I'm using the iPad a lot for composition. I find the onscreen keyboard a lot easier to live with than I had anticipated, but TextKraft's enhancements make it better yet.

My iPad 2 came pre-equipped with a screen scratch that I didn't notice until several days after the purchase, so I opted to live with it. However, installing a Fuse Antibacterial Screen Guard, which also protects against fingerprints, static, and grubby residues, and covers the entire touchscreen surface, also covers the scratch with a thick film of clear plastic that should protect against further scratches. Once the Screen Guard is successfully installed, it's not obviously visible, and you pretty much forget it's there unless you're thinking about it, and a happy bonus is that it doesn't seem to attract finger smearing as efficiently as the iPad's own glass screen.


Mac and iOS Browsers

From Eric:

Mr. Moore,

Just read your column re browsers on Low End Mac. Since Safari updated to version 5, I've found it to be a memory hog on my 2008 MacBook Pro and mostly use Chrome.

In the iOS world, I use Safari (tabs made it much more useable) but spend most of my time in Grazing, which you didn't mention so thought I'd pass along. It's fast and stable and very customizable (i.e., I can send links to Instapaper, Reader, and Pinboard with one click). Don't work for them, just a happy customer as the saying goes - I use Grazing on the iPad and iPhone. Oh, and it has adblocker built in.

And as an aside, as I know you like text editors, have you tried Nebulous Notes on your iPad? What I like is the extra row of keys up top that can be set with macros. There's a free version as well. My other current favorites are Phraseology and Daedalus.

Guess that's enough Mac rumblings for the day :)


Hi Eric,

Thanks for the comments. I really can't perceive any compelling reason to use Safari other than its tight integration with the Mac OS (or now just OS X), and that's a mixed blessing. There is Reader, which is useful at times, and Safari starts up fast, but neither is a must-have feature, and I just like Opera, Chrome, and FireFox better.

On the iOS front, I hadn't heard of Grazing. Looks like it has some interesting features, but I'm skeptical that any Web browser that isn't freeware will make much of an impact I'm the market. Too many good ones available for free.

Thanks for the tip about Nebulous Notes. I've downloaded it and have been trying it out, and it's a great little app. It doesn't match TextKraft for text handling features, but it has a great interface, and I think it's Dropbox implementation is the best I've encountered yet.


Great Refurb Store Experiences

From Magnus:

I very much enjoyed your featuring of the Refurb Store.

I myself am a repeated customer of the store, and I am always pleasantly surprised. Not only are the products, as you report, virtually indistinguishable from new (save the box), but they often (in my case always!) come with some nice extras.

All Macs in the Refurb Store are advertised with their respective standard configuration but may come with way better specification. My Mid 2010 Mini, for example, was advertised as a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini featuring 2 GB RAM and a 320 GB hard drive, but it came with 4 GB and a 500 GB disk. Even more spectacularly, my 21.5" Mid 2011 Core i7 iMac came with 8 GB RAM (instead of the listed 4) and a whopping 2 TB hard disk (instead of 1 TB). Considering the enormous costs of exchanging the hard drives in an iMac, the savings were amazing.

I'd also like to mention the website where all stock of the different Refurb Stores worldwide are listed. One can even set an alert to be notified once the desired machine is back in stop (that's how I got the iMac).

Cheers from a cold and freezy Vienna,

Hi Magnus,

It's always great to hear of good customer experiences with Apple, and especially from happy refurbished hardware customers.

Since Apple very rarely offers discounts (Black Friday one-day discounts are an exception) and seldom other sales incentives, the Refurb Stores are a substitute for bargain-hunters who hate to pay full retail.

I did break pattern and paid full retail for my iPad 2 last spring, but I sat on a waiting list for a month just to get one at all under the circumstances that prevailed with demand outstripping supply for months.

Indeed, the rapid development of iOS devices technology and features in general might confound buying refurbished philosophy somewhat in that by the time iPads, for instance, are widely available in the refurb supply pipeline, release of a newer, more desirable model is on the horizon.

For example, my iPad 2 is only eight months old, but the rumored better camera and faster processor in the forthcoming iPad 3 sound tempting. I'll do my best to resist.

However, for Macs, which have (or at least have had) longer service lives, Apple Certified Refurbished machines are the value alternative.

We're finally getting a taste of winter here in Nova Scotia as February draws to a close, although I think most of the cold went to Europe this year.


Gaming Mice Great for Everyday Use

Following up on Vertical MacBook Stand, Dan writes:

Hi Charles:

Dan [Knight] got it - it was the BookArc stand I was looking for. Thanks for the assist.

Cyborg Rat 7 gaming mouse

On an unrelated note, in your quest for the perfect pointing device, have you considered the Cyborg Rat range of gaming mice? I'll be the first to admit they look gimmicky, and the Rat 7 certainly isn't cheap, but they offer a degree of grip customisation I don't think I've seen anywhere else. Adjustable palm grip, interchangeable thumb and pinky rests - heck, they even give you a set of weights so you can tweak the physical effort required to move it. Oh, and about a dozen mappable buttons and on-the-fly tracking DPI adjustment.

I bought it mostly for the sake of my gaming (I love the Magic Mouse, but I really, really need a physical right button), but I found it far more comfortable than the Magic Mouse (which really enforces a "claw" grip to get the best from the multitouch) to the point I find I'm using it day-to-day. I used to get a worrying wrist ache after a couple of hours mousing, but with the Rat properly set up - not at all.

An unconventional approach to ergonomic problems, but you never know.


Hi Dan,

Glad Dan Knight was able to steer you in the right direction with the BookArc stand suggestion.

I haven't used the Cyborg Rat mouse, but I have used gaming mice from SteelPad and Razor, and although I'm not a gamer, I am a fan.

I find that mouse preference is a very idiosyncratic thing. My personal faves include several Logitech models, the Targus mice with touch scrolling, and certain Kensington models.

I absolutely can't get along without a right button, but I find that for my needs, any more than two buttons are superfluous.

Actually, my favorite of all pointing device in the Contour RollerMouse rollerbar, to which I am addicted. It's not cheap, and there is a learning curve, but once your muscle memory adapts, it's extremely slick from a functional standpoint as well as being very easy on the wrists.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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