Use an Old iPad as a Second Display with the Duet App

A couple of weeks ago, I made a comment on a forum that mentioned that I have an iPad 2, for which I got a lot of derision for having such “ancient” tech. People are really awful. *shaking my head* At any rate, some of my long-term readers might remember that I got my iPad as a bonus at my apartment management job back in late 2011. Because of this, it has quite a bit of sentimental value and I haven’t wanted to part with it. I still use it for playing some games and watching Netflix, but I favour my (also “ancient”) iPad Mini 2 and can go for weeks without touching my iPad 2.

The other piece of tech I have is a 13″ Macbook Air. The display actually feels more generous to me than did that of my old 17″ Macbook Pro, but it’s not always enough. I have a non-transcription client the tasks for which make me rue my tiny display. It would be really help to have another display where I could put the reference materials I keep having to flip back and forth to. I also have some transcription clients with documents or videos I have to refer to that would be nice to have on full display all the time. But neither of those needs would justify shelling out for an external monitor.

Well, in between all the trolling on the forum, one guy replied that he had an “out in left field” suggestion to make since he remembered from another comment I’d made that I only have a 13″ computer display — why not use the iPad 2 as a second display using an app called Duet? This would connect the two devices over USB, allowing for a more stable connection than other similar apps that connect over WiFi.

I was intrigued and did some research before shelling out about 20CAD for the app. This was a fraction of what it would have cost me to get set up with an external monitor as I would have needed to get a Thunderbolt “splitter” so that I could have both the display and an Ethernet connection.

I downloaded Duet on both my Mac and my iPad 2. Duet is also available for PC, but I don’t know how it works for a PC. On my Mac, the app shows up in my menu bar.

I just turn it on there, make sure WiFi is on both the Mac and the iPad 2, plug the iPad 2 into my Mac, and voilà! It just works.

Not only can I slide any app window to the iPad, I can slide one (or more) Safari tabs over and work with some tabs on the Mac and others on the iPad. The iPad has to be on the right-hand side of the computer as it adds space to the right of your screen.

The only disadvantage I’ve found to this setup is that since the iPad is feeding off my computer battery, the computer battery drains more quickly. I therefore prefer to plug the iPad into an extra port on my keyboard. This means that the iPad doesn’t stay charged, but I can go at least a full work day on an iPad charge, so this is good solution for me.

Duet is a breeze to use and immediately fit into my workflow. I leave the app on all the time and it’s just a matter of seconds to put my iPad in the stand (if I happened to take it out for some reason) and plug it in. The stand is actually a heavy metal bookend that came with my desk and a binder clip. I got inspiration on Pinterest. There are tons of other free or nearly free stand ideas on there that use things from around the house rather than shelling out for a pricey purpose-made stand.

The iPad is the perfect size for the content I want to display. This is really all the extra space I needed and I can’t believe that a random stranger’s tentative comment solved a problem I couldn’t see myself solving in the near future due to the cost, as well as making a nearly obsolete iPad useful again. I made sure to thank him profusely!

Spoiler: In Which I Get a Mexican Bank Account (and 21st Century Connectivity)

Yesterday was an absolutely insane work day. I woke up thinking I had at most two hours to do of typing only to receive an actual call from a client in a panic — one of her typists got in a bad accident and was out of commission, leaving a mountain of work that needed to be done. The amount of money I was offered to work a 14-hour day was worth it and, thankfully, the files were easy and mostly interesting. But even with how committed I was, there was really too much to do in one day and I was grateful to have a few hours to finish up this morning.

That done, just as I was about to head out, I got a text about the shelving I was going to go pick up — apparently the husband sold them under his wife’s nose. 🙁 She was quite upset and sent me pictures of other shelving she had for sale, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. At least she got me before I left and drove to the very south of Mérida!

Since I now had some extra time, I loaded a few more things into the truck, including the shelves for my bookcases so there will be less to move on furniture moving day (possibly this weekend).

I then headed to the house and got there around 11:30 after stopping at the bank. The maintenance man was there doing a final clean, which was really appreciated. I’ll still want to go over everything, but he did a lot of the heavy scrubbing for me, especially in the guest shower. This was his final visit to the house and I got his keys after. The house is all mine now! 🙂

Since I expected to not have internet and wanted to go to the internet office in person (since I had such a hard time understanding the rep on Saturday), I’d parked on the street instead of wrangling Moya into a parking bay. So imagine my delight that I had internet and phone service! I promptly did some downloads to test my internet and called my mother to test my phone (again, I can call Canada from both the cell and the landline at no extra cost).

I cannot believe how easy and fast it was to get my internet service! Yes, today is a week from when I had the techs come in, but remember that I haven’t been at the house. If I was actually living there, I would have known something was wrong by Thursday morning, called, and solved the problem straightaway.

Since 50Mbps was the last reasonably priced speed, after which costs went up exponentially, I decided to start with that. I was delighted that I just about get that speed with wifi:

I Facetimed with my parents later in the day using my phone to give them a virtual tour of the house and while the connection wasn’t perfect, I had service all over the property. Woohoo!

Compare that to my speeds in Chelem:

The connection in Chelem has been absolutely fine! Really! It’s very stable and except for a few outages and uploads being a tad painful, I’ve been satisfied. I mean, I can watch Netflix without buffering! But it really was great to download and upload in a blink while doing my tests in Mérida!

My landlady showed up around 1:00 and we did a final walkthrough. Then, she suggested that we go to the bank together in her car and that she would drop me off later. I said that I definitely wanted to go with her, but that I’d make my own way back since I was meeting very near the bank a guy selling a faucet.

We got to the bank, HSBC, at just shy of two and waited and waited. There was a gentleman ahead of me in line and by 2:10, I knew I wasn’t making my appointment at three. Well, imagine that the guy let me go ahead of him! He said he’d been waiting for 2.5 hours (OMG) and that an extra 30 minutes wasn’t going to kill him. I still can’t believe that.

The bank rep had to speak to his manager and a few other people before he could confirm that he could open the account for me on a residente temporal visa. The manager said that if I had my passport, migratory document, proof of residency, and an existing client right there to vouch for me, we could proceed. I did have to explain that my FMM (“tourist card”) had been changed for the residente temporal card.

I was a bit shocked, though, that even for their most basic account I had to deposit 2,500 pesos and was thankful I’d gotten some cash earlier or that would have been embarrassing. Other banks I looked at only wanted a 1,000 peso deposit. I was reassured that I would have access to those funds within 24 hours, but warned that if I don’t keep a 2,500 peso balance, I’ll have to pay 100 pesos per month in account fees instead of only 30 pesos. Business is slow right now, the current US-CAD exchange rate is killing me, and expenses are high, so I’ll take door number one please. 🙂

My account will be linkable with PayPal (for which I’ll need a separate Mexico account) and I’ll have online banking (including the ability to pay bills), and a debit card. Seems very similar to having an account in Canada. I do know that Mexican accounts tend to nickel and dime their clients, so I have to go over my account documents very carefully to make sure I understand all the fees.

While the mountain of virtual paperwork was being filled out, the faucet guy texted to let me know he was at the meeting point, a full 30 minutes early. I apologised to the bank man and my landlady and quickly dealt with that, telling the guy I’d probably be a few minutes late and begging him to wait. He said no problem.

Once all the paperwork was completed (and I’d convinced the guy that I don’t need to sign any IRS forms), I was handed my debit card and was able to encode it with my chosen PIN. That was pretty funny — the guy said to enter your “NIP” and then he caught himself and said, “I think you call it a PIN?” I replied, “Actually, I’m French-Canadian and do my banking in French, so it’s definitely a NIP!”

The meeting went very well, linguistically speaking. I sometimes had to ask for clarifications and my landlady had to translate (ie. repeat what was said in different words), but, really, I could have done this on my own if I’d had to.

Once everything was signed, it was 3:00 and I had to go to the teller window to deposit my 2,500 pesos. Thankfully, there was no wait for that! And I had another one of those lovely moments where someone was a bit brusque with me at the start of a transaction and then completely softened as he realised we could communicate.

Done, I was going to race off to the meeting point, but my landlady said that was ridiculous and to get in her car. En route, I texted the guy that, “I’ll be there in five minutes in a yellow car!” and he replied with, “I’m blind if I miss you then!” We pulled up and the guy was exactly where he said he’d be, in front of a hospital right by where I rented an apartment last February. That was fantastic because I knew where I was meeting him and how to get to a bus to get me home. So I thanked my landlady for her help and sent her on her way. She’s amazing. 🙂

The faucet appeared to be exactly what I wanted so I bought it. The guy bought the wrong model for his house so it’s brand new. Here it is:

It really looks strange — the faucet part is like what I imagine for a kitchen, but the handle is more for a bathroom. I really hope that it fits. If not, I’m sure I can sell it for what I paid for it and start over. 🙂 There are two covers for the holes in the sink where the existing taps are, so that reassures me. Anyway, I’ll see what my installer has to say and for 324 pesos (22 CAD) I think it was worth the gamble. It really feels nice and solid. (Edited to add: I just Googled how to tell a kitchen and bathroom faucet apart and the first link showed nearly exactly my model of faucet as being for a kitchen!)

I’d thought to hang around Centro for a bit, but it was an exceptionally hot day (you know the weather’s not normal when the locals are complaining!) and the faucet was heavy. I didn’t want to look for a bus, so I just went to the Hyatt on Calle 60 as I knew for sure I could get a bus there. Sure enough, the first bus that pulled up was definitely going to my part of town. It was only a 3.3KM ride and cost me 8 pesos (0.55CAD). At that price, it’s really not worth driving to centro and I plan to use the bus a lot, although I’ll probably use cabs to go to other parts of town. The bus system here really isn’t very good and the buses are in really dangerous condition anyway, so I’m not as keen to learn the bus routes as I was in Maz.

By the time I’d given my parents the virtual tour of the house, I really had to get going as Puppy was going to be needing his supper. I did stop at Chedraui for coffee and Costco for (almond) milk and a slice of pizza. I usually just get sauce and cheese, but they had a new flavour that I just had to try even if I had to wait five minutes. You see, my absolute favourite pizza topping for non-Italian pizza (what you find on this side of the pond at places like Dominos or Little Caesar) are red onion, pineapple, and sweet Italian sausage. You can’t get sweet Italian sausage here, but Costco came close, with their new pizza having red onion, pineapple, and… al pastor meat! OMG, it was so good. 🙂 I’m not crazy about the sauce on the Costco pizza (way too tomato paste-y), but as long as they’ve got the al pastor version, that’s where I’m getting my pizza fix. 🙂

I missed a rainstorm while I was in Costco and drove home in increasingly blue skies. Puppy was glad to see me!

Well, now that the challenges of renting a home, opening a bank account, and ordering internet service are behind me, it’s time for some new ones. Next on the list are healthcare coverage and a driver’s license!

Inching My Way Towards Connectivity

I worked time and a half the last two days to be able to take today mostly off to get the internet installed at the new house. It’s been A Day.

I’m in one of my sleeping poorly cycles, so I made sure to put an alarm on for seven morning. Of course, it tore me from the best sleep I’ve enjoyed in ages. *sighs* An hour was just enough time to do a few non-transcription tasks that come in overnight and then finish my preparations for the day ahead of leaving at about eight. I’d already packed the truck with several boxes last night.

By the time I arrived at the house, it was about 8:40. I decided to park, then walk to Oxxo to get a bottle of water and a croissant for breakfast. That wound up being a good plan since the the maintenance guy was there and I was able to get an order from him (just a cold Coke, thanks!).

The next couple of hours were spent hauling in what I’d brought, cleaning the office and cabinets in the living room, and doing a preliminary clean in the kitchen of degreasing the stove area.

My landlady called at one point to say that she was going to stop by with the mailbox key, which I was going to ask her about, and my promised microwave. She is so on top of things!

The window for internet installation was nine to twelve, so I figured that the guys ringing the bell at 11:45 were for me. No, they were there to measure the wall fountain because my landlady wants one.

She came in shortly after them bearing this lovely gift:

This appears to be a very nice basic unit, which is all I want and would have bought for myself. No idea on its wattage, but it’s not like I do a ton of microwave cooking anyway so who cares if it’s not super powerful. I really just want it mostly for reheating things.

What I thought was a microwave cabinet isn’t really because there is a lip that blocks the door. So I thought to put in on shelving I’ll eventually buy. But my landlady told me to put it here on the counter because she had the outlet rewired especially for the microwave. So I will put it there even if it’s not my preferred location by far.

While I’m in the kitchen, here’s the sink that is giving me grief:

It just doesn’t look and feel clean, no matter how much I scrub it. I know I can get both the sink and tap replaced for under 200CAD including labour and that just feels like it would be worth it to me since I will be here for two years. Still mulling it over. The tap is going for sure, but I’ll get a second opinion on the sink.

Before leaving, my landlady made contact with her bank manager for me and very long story short, she concluded that she needs to go with me and will do so next week! I can’t believe how lovely she is! From what I understood of the conversation, she needs to be there as a witness/reference that I’m who I say I am because the manager is going to bend some rules to open an account for me. So no bank account today, but still making progress!

The maintenance man finished his day by painting my back wall. It looks so much better!

I told him I want to bring the furniture from the other terrace to this one and he advised me against doing it because this terrace isn’t as well protected in the rain, floods, and gets dirty with leaves and such. He thinks I will enjoy the other terrace a lot more. But, I told him, the other terrace is a million miles away. I’m really not as likely to use it daily as it’s not convenient to the kitchen. He conceded that I have good points and said that I really can’t know until I live here full-time what will work best for me. I was happy for his advice because that means no surprises!

My landlady’s husband emptied the maid’s room this past weekend and I couldn’t believe the difference.

Here’s one of my own UNPACKED boxes! Once I’m done with the boxes, I will advertise them on the local yard sale site and I know they will go quickly.

Opening the exterior door to the room makes such a difference (my landlady says someone will come by and clean the room!).

I can’t believe I never noticed before that the room has a skylight!

The possibility of my using this room as a den at some point is stronger and stronger, but, for now, it’ll be a storage room.

I cleaned the cabinet in the office and unpacked some stuff onto it temporarily. I decided that my printer will live on it.

After my landlady left, I called the telecom company and got a message saying there was a problem with my appointment and it was rescheduled for Friday afternoon. That was not going to work! I made my way through the phone maze to a live person, marvelling that I can do that now.

I explained to the guy who answered that my appointment for today was confirmed several times, that I made a special trip to be at the house, and that I’d lost a day of work. In stark contrast to what I would have been told by a Canadian telco, the guy was very sympathetic. He apologised and said that they had technical difficulties that put their technicians behind. He offered to call the service team in my area, explain how inconvenienced I am, and that they would make a decision as to whether or not they could squeeze me in at the end of the day. I should expect a call from someone in the next hour or two. At least, that’s what I was pretty sure he was saying since he spoke super fast. As it turned out, I understood him perfectly!

That meant I had time to go out and find some food. I checked in with the maintenance man, we had an interesting gab about where I live in Canada and the role of Catholicism in Mexican culture (not sure how we got there, but, dang, it was very enlightening). He then asked if I had any water to give him. I offered to go to the store around the corner to pick up some and asked if he needed a snack as well. No, his wife was expecting him in about an hour for lunch! I got us both a litre of water, dropped his off, then went out to a main street to find some lunch. The Chinese place I came across was good enough to go there again, but next time, I’m saying no to the fried platano, which was either banana or plantain and incredibly awful. 🙂

It was just past two when the phone rang. It was the internet company saying they’d have guys over by four and to hang tight. Yup, definitely not in Canada anymore… This reminds me of my first winter in Maz when I waited 11 days for internet only to learn that their system had hiccupped and they’d lost my order. Horrified, they sent someone out immediately to get me hooked up. You just don’t get that level of service in Canada because the telcos really don’t care about their customers. That’s what happens when there’s no competition. I don’t expect service to be perfect, but at least treat your customers with respect. Mexican telcos have done more for me in the last three years than Canadian telcos have in twenty years. I mean, what was I doing while I was waiting — using some free TelCel bandwidth they gifted me with to catch up on some personal things!

Two very cute and sweet guys showed up at 3:45! They asked me where I wanted the modem, questioned me about my workflow and where my desk was going to go, and then determined the best place for the modem. They said that the phone has to be plugged into the modem, not a standard phone jack, so the jacks I have in the kitchen are useless. That’s okay. Having the phone in the office makes sense.

They got to work promptly while I went out to get us some water.

When I came back, I found this unexpected item waiting for me:

Am I glad I didn’t go out and buy a cheap phone! They said it comes with the modem. It’s quite a nice unit! I can call the US and Canada with it, so I suspect it will get some use since talking for any length of time on an iPhone is unpleasant.

Now, I wish this story had a happy ending, and it might, but not today. It takes about an hour for the internet service to activate and I could not wait because I really had to get home to give Puppy his supper. But first, I had to stop at the bank, Costco, and gas station, so I was going to be late as it was. Hopefully, I’ll have service when I come back, which will probably be this weekend if I can get away. One of the tech guys gave me his direct number in case I have any issues.

Nearly Spanished out for the day and starting to get a major headache, I headed out into quite a downpour that I thought was going to abate, but which got worse and worse the closer I got to Galerias. I ended up having to practically swim from my truck to the entrance and was soaked by the time I’d made my withdrawal and returned to my truck. Costco wasn’t happening! 🙁 So I really need to go back this weekend if at all possible as I’m almost out of (almond) milk.

At any rate, I pointed the truck north, got gas, and then decided that I was treating myself to a burger for dinner because I was not going to be in the mood to cook, especially since I thought I was having Costco pizza for dinner! So I pulled into the Carl’s Jr. on the highway to Progreso to get a cheeseburger combo to go. I have to say that’s quite a nice chain as far as fast food burgers go. I really don’t want to get into the habit of having a $100 meal on a regular basis, but this was a good call tonight, especially since 6PM is not a good time to be looking for food anyway.

I got in at about 6:15 and was greeted by a dog who was very happy to see me. Since he hadn’t had any treats all day, I quickly scrambled him an egg to go with his kibble and my lateness was forgiven. 🙂

If I go back to the house this weekend, my goal will be to find some inexpensive metal shelving units for my kitchen so I can start setting up that room. I was surprised by how cheap generously sized used units are and I hope I can find some in a colour I like, although I’m open to spray painting some if I need to. I was disappointed to have missed out on some turquoise ones that would have looked incredible! 🙁

It was a good day at the house. It’s starting to feel more like my space even if there is tons of work to be done to get it feeling homey. I was surprised by how much I brought today — my books, odd computer bits that I don’t need, and DVDs — and realised that the biggest job is ahead of me — repacking all my kitchen things! I really don’t want to pack it up too much until the last minute, but there are plenty of things I can bring down, like extra cups and mixing bowls, plus some small appliances and a few of my cast iron pieces. I think that once I get started on the kitchen and bring down my desk and bookcases, the rest will all fall into place.

I have to note also that with the windows open and the ceiling fans going, the house felt very comfortable, even while doing heavy labour!

Well, it’s almost nine and I still have a small job to do (!), so I’d better get cracking. But first, I think I’ve earned a hot chocolate. 🙂


I replaced my iPhone 5C in the spring with a 6. My 5C had given me nothing but trouble from the get-go and its battery was dying. I was glad to have an excuse to get a much better phone for daily use. But I kept the 5C, which has almost no resale value, thinking that I could use it as a music player when I get set up in my own home. My mother gave me a little charging dock for it that would let me set it up in the kitchen for listening to music or podcasts (once I figure those out).

However, my 5C, evil thing that it is, had other plans.

I’ve been helping a friend shop for an iPhone of her own and pulled out the 5C the other day so I could show her just how much smaller it (and the similar SE) is to a regular size iPhone 6. This is what greeted me:

This was caused by a bad battery swelling (hence the title of this post). This phone really has been nothing but a lemon!

Since I’ve contacted Apple several times about this phone, I decided to waste some time and contact Apple again so they’d have another 5C horror story on file. I also rather hoped that the rep would take pity on me and offer me an App Store gift certificate for a token amount, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

The chat start off as normal, with my being asked to explain my problem briefly. I wrote: “I didn’t realise that iPhones self destruct.”

I then uploaded the above photo and added, “The battery on it swelled up and destroyed the phone.”

Next thing I knew, my case was being escalated and I was transferred to a more senior customer service rep. Surprising.

This second rep said that all she could do for me was to have the phone repaired or replaced. I explained that I’m in Mexico now and she said that’s not a problem and she would see if there’s a repair place nearby. There was no way, of course, that I was paying for anything related to this phone, but I let her work since while I’ve gotten some recs for Apple repair people in Mérida, I haven’t been able to figure out who is officially sanctioned by Apple.

She came back to me with only one authorised repairer in Mérida, who happens to be super convenient for me to get to, and asked for some information so she could append some notes to the serial number. It was there that I confessed that I had no intention of having the phone checked out. Which is when everything changed.

Even though the phone was well outside of warranty, the repair or, more likely, replacement would be absolutely free to me.

This decision was made primarily because the battery swelling issue is a known problem with the iPhone 5s (all models, but not necessarily all phones), but also because she saw that I’d contacted them before about issues with this phone and not been able to get to a repair shop for valid reasons (like a repair shop being 16 hours away roundtrip and my needing my phone for internet access so I couldn’t just mail it in and not have it for two weeks).

So there was recognition by the manufacturer that my 5C was a ticking time bomb of a lemon! I feel so validated. 🙂

Today, I went into Mérida to the iShop at the Altabrisa mall. There, they scanned the phone’s serial number and it brought up the note that I should get a repair or replacement at no charge. The lady said it was a clear case of replacement and that I’ll get a brand new phone in 10 days!!!

Now, I’m glad this happened when it did, after I got my 6, because it really is a superior phone and I might not have bought it if I had a better working 5C. But it’s great to know that I have a solid backup replacement phone in case something happens to my 6 (which I bought used). A new 5C’s value in Mexico is quite a bit higher than in the US and Canada so I am also toying with the idea of trying to sell it, but I think I’ll be happier sticking to my original plan of using it as a music player. At any rate, I have options!

Apple continues to provide me with extraordinary value. Sure, I’m getting more and more frustrated with them and their offerings as time goes on, but this experience was a good reminder of what a mistake it would be to go with any other manufacturer and offered the final little bit of confirmation I needed that sticking with an iPhone was the right call.

Thanks, Apple!

First Anniversary of Living in the 21st Century

It was a year ago today that I got internet access in Bulgaria and discovered that it is possible to stream a movie while downloading something in the background. I finally had 21st-century quality internet.

So today is my first anniversary of living in the 21st century at last. It’s been a full year of paying a reasonable amount for internet access, not worrying about bandwidth usage, dealing with ISPs who understand that internet is vital and needs to be fixed NOW, being in locations where free unlimited WiFi is ubiquitous, and getting a taste of that Star Trek-like future where the internet is just there.

Oh, it hasn’t been perfect by far. But when I look at my first 20 years of internet access in Canada and compare it to the last year spent mostly in Europe and Mexico, it’s like I jumped ahead a full century, as evidenced by how difficult it was to be offline that week I was home.

I can now take any job a client sends me, even if it’s a huge video, and because I can reliably download tons of audio in a day I’ve been able to grow my business and take on more clients.

Netflix is actually part of my routine now and I can download reliably from the iTunes store. So I’ve considerably cut down on torrenting (the only download method that works on slow and flaky internet).

All my device updates are done as they come out and the ever increasing security breaches with Macs aren’t as nervewracking since I can get the security update right away.

I can now sync my calendar, notes, and to-dos between my devices and have considerably cut down on how much paper I use and am less scattered.

In the next year, I want to learn what podcasts are all about and start backing up remotely (on top of the local backup).

But first, the challenge of getting myself hard wired to internet at my first home in Mexico. I’ve been promised that that will not go smoothly, but with 20 years of dealing with stupid Canadian ISPs under my belt, I can take anything TelMex or whomever I end up with throws at me! 😀