Dear Re/code reader: You have some tech questions, I have some answers. So today I’m introducing this Ask Walt column. Every Friday, I will try and resolve these mysteries, succinctly and in plain language.
Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that I won’t be able to diagnose your personal tech glitches and problems. I also reserve the right to edit questions for length or clarity, and to combine similar inquiries.
Q. Which computer platform is best for writing via dictation? I am disabled, and currently using a PC, but my personal preference would be to switch to the Mac to run Dragon Dictate 3. However, I would like the best for a writer who wishes to start in a dictation writing environment.
A. Both Windows and Mac have built-in dictation, but I believe that, for you, the Dragon dictation programs, which cost about $200, are the best way to go. For years, Dragon focused mainly on Windows, but in 2012 it released a Mac version with the same dictation engine and near parity in features. I tested it and generally liked it. The Windows version still had a few features the Mac version lacked, but they were fairly minor. So I think you’d be safe either way. But if you want the absolute fullest set of Dragon capabilities, it might be best to use Windows.
Q. I am looking to purchase a new iPad or iPad mini. However, my only concern is that there does not appear to be a place on either to attach a USB stick. How does one attach a USB stick in order to download documents or a movie from the stick?
A. One doesn’t. Apple chose not to include USB ports or a standard, system-wide file system users can manage. It does sell an add-on USB port, but it is designed to only work with cameras. To transfer files from a computer to an iPad, most users either email them to themselves, or use cloud services like Dropbox, which have apps for the iPad. You can also sync files to some apps via a cable connection to your PC or Mac running iTunes.
However, there is a special type of USB flash drive that works with an iPad, or any other mobile device without a USB port. It looks and works like a standard USB drive with a computer. But it also can beam files to an iPad via Wi-Fi. One of these that I like is the $70 AirStash. I have reviewed it, and found that it worked as promised.
Q. Just wondering if you know of any blogs or online resources regarding the BlackBerry Q10. It’s very lonely out there for us Q10 enthusiasts.
A. I can’t give you a complete list, but there are still blogs that cover BlackBerry, if not the Q10 model exclusively. For instance, the venerable CrackBerry.com blog has a whole section on each BlackBerry model, including the Q10. Another, called BerryReview.com, also covers the Q10. The company itself maintains blogs at blogs.blackberry.com.