Desktop is more like the entire desk

The bottom line on Desktop is simple. It’s the best dollar app in the App Store for value alone:

The product:

  • Allows you to use several apps without leaving the main window
  • Has a strong text processor
  • And a pretty good browser
  • In addition, it’s stable

There’s really no downside until you try to use it with an iPad keyboard, and then the problems are minimal.

In addition, I pick up a single loose thread from a previous blog and flog it to death, even going so far as to making my point with a table. And it isn’t funny.

Well, hopefully, a little funny.

Yesterday I segued from how difficult it is to write comedy to the relative comedic value of Presidents and I managed to offend readers with my comments about Obama. Now I predicted in that column that something I wrote would offend someone, but I wasn’t prepared for the volume of email that I received. And that one email was surprisingly forthcoming about how Obama isn’t someone to joke about.

Which, in fact, is kind of what I said.

Basically I said that I couldn’t really come up with a good Obama joke because he seems to fill the situation was gravitas just by entering the room. This was not a joke at Obama’s expense. Gravitas means seriousness, not gravity (although you could say the room gets heavier because of the seriousness). It does not mean he weighs the room down.

That being said, it is easy to joke about Obama with my tea party friends because the joke doesn’t have to be funny. All I have to do is include words like “watermelon,” “waffles” and “chicken” and they roll on the floor in laughter. I don’t even see what’s funny, but they find it hysterical.

I think Democrats are hypersensitive to Obama humor because they’re afraid if they start telling Obama jokes suddenly the current president will suddenly turn into George Bush. And, let’s face it, Democrats have every reason to fear ridicule. Republicans mocked and ridiculed them all through Clinton’s Presidency and Bush’s too.

But Clinton and Bush invited jokes, Clinton by occasionally acting like an ass and Bush by…well, here I go offending people again.

Rather than sharing my huge bag of Bush jokes, I thought I would go back and rank Presidents for how well you could make jokes about them. The best President for making jokes about by far was Bush, because he gave us most of the punchlines himself. His dad wasn’t quite as easy a target, but Clinton being sandwiched between made a little better target.

So here’s how the presidents I remember rate for the ability to tell jokes about them.




George W Bush


He liked to tell jokes himself and the performance usually ended up being funnier than the punchline, which wasn’t how he intended his speech to go.

Bill Clinton


The best jokes of all were on Saturday Night Live and they were really, really funny

George Bush Sr.


Twice the President and half as funny as the other Bush. But still pretty funny.

Ronald Reagan


He used to be a 100 but George Jr. made us forget how funny he was, and it’s mean to make fun of him now that he’s gone.

Jimmy Carter


Rednecks liked to make fun of him, which is surprising since he’s one of few rednecks who did something with his life other than drive around in a pickup and play George Straight tunes while cutting people off trying to get through the yellow light.

Gerald Ford


It’s hard to remember he was the funny President until Reagan came along. In fact, it’s hard to remember he was even President.
In fact, the harder I try to remember, the less sure I am that he really was President and not a stand in until the next election.

Richard Nixon


There was nothing funny about Nixon. Ever. Not even for a moment. Hunter Thompson wrote some funny stuff about him, but Hunter Thompson was funny, not Nixon.

Lyndon Johnson


It was hard to joke about Lyndon because Texans considered him one of their own. Then he guided the Civil Rights Act through Congress, made them realize they were really Republicans and they were just pissed at him. (Even now people swear it was the Great Society, and not civil rights, that got them up in arms, but the truth is, in Texas, where we kept the poll tax active until the seventies, we knew the Great Society was never meant for all those of us who enjoyed the great society before the Civil Rights Act.)

John F. Kennedy


This may be why Obama’s hard to joke about. He reminds us so much of JFK. Besides, back then more people were making fun of the Beatles and Martin Luther King because they thought they made easier targets. Maybe I should raise this to a 5 because Vaughn Meader’s First Family albums got a few laughs. But people thought Andy Griffith was funny then too.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


The only jokes I knew when he was President were knock-knock and elephant in the refrigerator jokes. I was so young then I thought coonskin caps were as cool as shooting paper caps in a plastic flintlock.

A digital desk drawer at your disposal

I decided to write this review in Desktop just as I wrote yesterday’s review in BrowserNotes.

I originally thought BrowserNotes was probably the better of the two applications. Perhaps this was because the application icons in the Desktop’s tools menu were so cartoony. They reminded me of the stores in We Rules.

Once I found the time to play around with it, I realized Desktop is actually the better application by a degree of 10, which is surprising since at one dollar it’s half the price of BrowserNotes. In fact, I would have to say Desktop is the best dollar application I have ever downloaded (not the coolest, but definitely the best value).

The best way to describe Desktop is to call it a digital desk drawer with all your handy gadgets tucked away so they don’t interfere with your work. They seem to be modeled on Apple’s long ago abandoned desk accessories.

You can load any of these mini apps into one of two windows.

Any one who ran the Mac OS before the advent of OS X will probably remember desk accessories, handy little mini apps that you could open without leaving your current application. They were included in the earliest system I remember (3.2 on my Mac Plus—or 15 generations of the Mac OS before this one), but Apple decided that the Mac’s multitasking abilities rendered desk accessories useless.

This probably wasn’t the wisest decision because desk accessories returned a couple of generations into OS X as Widgets. I had a lot of widgets but I never really used them because the widgets ran in a separate window from my apps. Desk accessories ran right inside the app. I thought it was dumb to load an app just to run widgets when they should have simply run as apps.

When I looked at Desktop’s tool menu, I felt like returning to my childhood home.

The tools include everything from a voice recorder, to a weather forecast, to maps. Some of them are clunkier than others (the weather app just lists temperatures line-by-line and the currency converter just lists currency values) but they all seem pretty functional. The dictionary knew most words I tried, although it can’t anticipate your spelling (so if you can’t spell, this one’s useless).

You will find it easy to load tools into different windows, or to expand the current window to fill your iPad screen.

If you need more room to work, expand the active window.

The two most important tools, however, are the browser and text processor. Those have clearly received the most attention from the developers and they really shine.

Superb text processor

Desktop’s Notepad is probably the best simple text processor I’ve played with on the iPad. No, I will go on a limb and say it is the best. You can’t manage files, they all go in one folder, but beyond that the text processing and formatting features are impressive (especially for the price).

If you’re looking for a good, simple note taking app for your iPad, look no further. This is the app. Not only can you format text and export the formatted document as a PDF file, you can also send it straight to email as an attachment.

The feature I love the most is the document information window, which keeps track of your total word count (among other things). Many professional writers have to keep their word count under or over a certain total and few iPad text editors provide this feature.

The document information window makes the app worth the dollar.

Pretty good browser

In fact, I would go so far as to say this is an excellent browser. It’s lacks the bells and whistles, such as tabs and page search, but it’s fast and you can save bookmarks. For basic research, this is all you need, and a step up from BrowserNotes.

Stable and functional

I’ve only played with Desktop for a day, so I didn’t really have time to tell if it was stable, although I had no problems with crashing even though I played with several different apps in the split window. So I did a quick check in the App Store reviews and didn’t seem to find any complaints about stability there. For a dollar app to do this much and remain so stable is a wonder.

In fact the only criticism I found of Desktop at the App Store was that it didn’t have a music app like iPod. I thought this strange, since the whole idea of the iPod is to play in the background. So I checked to see if Desktop interfered with iPod playback, and it doesn’t. So why that reviewer would want a second music app to run on top of iPod playing in the background is beyond me.

I only have a couple of criticisms myself, and both are minor (and seem to be related to the iPad keyboard).

This weird message keeps popping up

For some reason, every time I connect my keyboard to use Desktop, this weird message pops up telling me to orient the compass or shake my iPad in the direction of the infinity sign.

I have no possible explanation for this. It’s just bizarre.

iPad keyboard disables shortcut typing

This should be self-explanatory. As soon as I hook my iPad to the iPad keyboard while in Desktop, the iPad forgets it’s an iPad and supposed to do all my typing for me. I now have to capitalize the words at the beginning of sentences, capitalize my “I”s and type my own apostrophes in abbreviations.

This isn’t a deal breaker by any means. I can’t imagine anyone using desktop as their primary word processing tool. Like BrowserNotes, I think it’s most useful on the road, using the virtual keyboard, when you’re researching an article, company position paper, or class project.

Jenny Manytoes rates Desktop

Jenny Manytoes makes biscuitsall over Desktop. If it only included a scratching post as one of the tools she would be rolling on her back like a kitten in a field of catnip.

In memorium: Zorro, a thirteen-year-old seal point rag doll who came to us with terminal kidney disease. It seems that medical bills inspire too many pet owners to rationalize that their cats aren’t good around their kids.

Zorro spent weeks warning off every one who came around him to stay the hell away. Then he decided to set up his home station next to me on the bed and warn off everyone else who came around him to stay the hell away. He finally decided he was a member of the family two weeks ago, began to groom the others and traded off with Teddy Bear for the right to sit on my stomach when I’m sleeping (making it more difficult to actually sleep). Two nights ago he stopped eating and he passed peacefully between Carol and I on the bed early Wednesday morning.


Austin Siamese Rescue helped us pay his medical bills.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

iPad Envy is created entirely using apps from my iPad
iPad Envy.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 5 Stars + Best Buy, Accessories, Browsers, iPad, Utilities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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