Why I’m excited–and a little nervous–for the Apple Pencil stylus

A pressure-sensitive, pinpoint-accurate stylus?

Yes, it’s true: Apple announced a stylus for the iPad. Ahem, excuse me: A Pencil. At no point during Wednesday’s announcement did the company use the dreaded S-word, preferring “pencil,” “device,” and a few other monikers. But a stylus the Pencil is, and an exciting one at that.

I’ve been writing for almost five years now about why Apple should make a pressure-sensitive stylus for the iPad, and now that it’s come, I cannot wait to get my hands on it.


Questions and curiosities

Rene’s in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium trying out the Apple Pencil as I type this; I likely won’t be able to take a spin with the Pencil until later this year when it’s released. But before Rene disappeared into the hands on area I texted him an obscenely long list of curiosities about Apple’s new pen:

  • Will it incorporate palm rejection, so you can rest your hand on the screen while drawing?
  • Will you be able to tap and draw at the same time?
  • How bad is the latency between drawing lines and having them appear?
  • Can you write quickly without crazy tapping noises driving you insane or slanting your writing?
  • How good is the pressure sensitivity?
  • Will it work with older iPads? (I’m guessing no.)

There’s also the question of whether we’ll even get hands-on time with the Pencil yet. The stylus still has two months until it ships, and it’s a bit telling to me that we didn’t see an illustration demo on-stage—or really any firm examples, outside of product video, of the device’s pressure sensitivity features.


We’ll know all these things soon, and they’re the important questions to ask: There are many styluses out in the world for the iPad right now, and all get at least some aspects of that list correctly, failing horribly in others. If Apple truly has managed to put together a pen that has great pressure, low latency, and comfortable writing, the company could change artists’s digital workspaces for the better.


The benefits of an Apple-made stylus

Until now, artists and photographers who truly wanted pro-caliber drawing were confined to tablets like the Wacom Cintiq—which hooks directly into a computer, or its Android version, the Cintiq Companion—or the Microsoft Surface. (Or even Frankenstein creations like the ModBook.)

These aren’t bad options for pro artists at all—but if they have Apple products elsewhere in their ecosystem, it makes it more difficult to switch back and forth from laptop to desktop to artist’s tablet and back. It also reduces the need for an iPad in the ecosystem at all—if you already own a Surface for drawing, you might as well lug around the Surface for your other tablet works.

The iPad Pro potentially changes all of that. I don’t think it’s going to spur legions of Surface and Cintiq-users to dump their current solution right away. But if the iPad Pro and the Pencil can offer an even closely-comparable experience to that of working on a Cintiq, it opens up a new option when upgrading, and a very attractive one at that.

Combine the iPad’s third-party app ecosystem with the power of pressure-sensitivity, and artists can easily draw and work on images in their favorite programs without worrying if that program has specific SDK support (as is the issue with many styluses today) or terrible latency. They can work in their favorite programs and use Handoff to send their work to the Mac, wirelessly.

Heck, they may even be able to directly integrate it back to their Mac. Apps like Astropad let users turn their iPad into a Cintiq-like interface for OS X; combine that with a pressure-sensitive Apple stylus, and you have incredible control over any piece of digital artwork combined with the rendering power of your Mac.

There are plenty of other potential uses for an excellent Apple Pencil outside of the artist ecosystem: film editing, enterprise productivity, single-purpose site-specific apps—the possibilities are endless.

But the stylus has to be good. Not just good—exceptionally good.


What about third-party styluses?

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the Pencil will kill the third-party stylus. It’s for the Pro only, and plenty of people with limited budgets and desire for smaller iPads may still want styluses for simple writing or sketching tasks. But depending on what we find out about the Pencil’s tech—and how it interacts with that new iPad Pro screen—it may open up some interesting competitive angles. If Apple decides to offer APIs for any of its advances in screen mapping, for instance, that could be a huge boon for stylus-makers.

Either way, I don’t expect to see the third-party stylus die anytime soon—though it may evolve.


Will it sketch?

As soon as I get my hands on a Pencil, I’ll write about all this and more. Until then, I’m going to hope, wait, and continue to be excited that Apple’s taken a firm step in this direction.

How to get your Joomla! in a sub-directory to work at One.com

I’ve spent quite some time getting my private Joomla! site to work the way I want with urls.
A short good step-by-step has for me proven very hard to find.
Several guides and post have been close, but still failed at the end for various reasons, so I’ll explain briefly what I wanted to achieve and then exactly what does the trick.
I have my private domain, http://www.example.com hosted by One.com.
I’m using Joomla! for the main site, and then various other stuff in subdomains, like forum.example.com for my forum.
However I want to have my current active Joomla! installation in a subdirectory on the server but not show in the url of the browser.
I also like to have only one way of using the site, either with www or without.
So my setup expressed as example is this:

Domain: www.example.com
Webhost: One.com
File path on server: /joomla/

Default links like http://www.example.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_contact&view=contact&id=1&Itemid=13&lang=en it should show as http://example.com/en/contact instead.

I’ll not go into reasoning why, this is the way I want to have it, and if this is how you want it too, please keep on reading, you are close…

These are the steps you need to do:

    1. Edit your webroot .htaccess
    2. Rename and then edit your default Joomla! htaccess.txt
    3. Configure Joomla! to use SEF and Apache mod_rewrite

Ok, now to the task of getting that htaccess correct, checking out the mod_rewrite documentation on the Apache site you get the following encouraging quotes to digest:

“The great thing about mod_rewrite is it gives you all the configurability and flexibility of Sendmail. The downside to mod_rewrite is that it gives you all the configurability and flexibility of Sendmail.”
— Brian Behlendorf
Apache Group
“Despite the tons of examples and docs, mod_rewrite is voodoo. Damned cool voodoo, but still voodoo.”
— Brian Moore


Instead of figuring out how to to this, I of course use my favorite search engine to get a post that has already done it, but no, I didn’t find a single post that gave me the answer, some were close as I’ve already mentioned.
The thing is, it is depending upon your servers configuration, which can vary in so many ways, and by having your site on a cheap Webhost like I have, you have very scarce information. So, post that did the trick for some people, did not work for me on One.com.
So I ended up actually having to learn something about it…

Enough talking, now to business:

1. Edit your .htaccess in your webroot directory on the server. Note:www.example.com should be replaced by your domain and that /joomla with the directory you have your live joomla in.

# Make sure mod_rewrite is on, this is ok even if it is already on higher up in the hierarchy.
RewriteEngine On

#Match all www and do a permanent redirect from www.example.com to example.com
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.(.*) [NC] RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://%1/$1 [R=301,NC,L]

#Ok, now get rid of that joomla directory in the resulting url.
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/joomla/
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /joomla/$1 [L] RewriteRule ^(/)?$ joomla/index.php [L]

2. Now edit your htaccess.txt in your root Joomla directory and when done, rename it to .htaccess

#Make sure this is commented and not active, otherwise nothing will work.
#Options +FollowSymLinks

#Uncomment all RewriteCond and RewriteRule in this section
########## Begin – Joomla! core SEF Section

########## End – Joomla! core SEF Section

#Uncomment all RewriteCond and RewriteRule in this section
########## Begin – Rewrite rules to block out some common exploits

########## End – Rewrite rules to block out some common exploits


3.Now, edit your configuration.php in your Joomla root directory.

$live_site ='http://example.com'
$sef = '1'
$sef_rewrite = '1'
$sef_suffix = '0'

Alternatively using the admin backend.
Site –> Global Configuration –> Site –> SEO Settings



Still, you have to edit manually the configuration.php for the live_site, this was added in Joomla! 1.5.2 to enable Joomla to reside in a subdirectory and generate urls with a different root.

Well, that’s it, now it should work like a charm 🙂