Reblog from iDriveSync

28 02 2013

iNotes4You:

Encryption should be offered by every cloud provider to build up a confidence base.

Originally posted on IDriveSync:

We know there’s always a concern about privacy when you upload stuff to cloud services. Luckily, we’ve got a way for you to keep your digital goodies under lock and key. Literally.

New accounts with IDriveSync now have the option of Private Key Encryption. This new feature will allow users to encrypt their data with AES-256bit encryption with a key known only to them. That means no-one but you can access it. Not us. Not hackers. Not the government. Not even the Borg.

Well, maybe the Borg, but even they’d have trouble.

wordpress_enc

Here’s how it works
Think of encrypted data like a jigsaw puzzle. Unencrypted, the puzzle is complete and easy to understand. Encryption jumbles the pieces all up, but puts numbers on the back so they can be reorganized easily. We’re using AES-256 bit encryption, which is basically the most difficult jigsaw puzzle ever devised. Private Key Encryption means…

View original 658 more words





Push and Pull

27 02 2013

We are not talking about pull-down menus or push-up bras.

This blog is about the technology to immediately transfer information to a recipient (Push) or to get information by asking if there are any news available (Pull).

What is Push and Pull?

Push
The Post office is the active part and delivers the mail when there are new letters.
Getting a phone call and the daily newspaper are examples for the Push technology’s well.
In all situations you subscribed to something.

Pull
You are the active part when going to the post office and looking for new letters in your post office box. This generates more ‘traffic’ and so it’s not as efficient as the Push procedure.
I there is nothing new you flogged a dead horse.

Further examples of the Pull technology are browsing the web, where you ask via Google Search Engine and get the answer from a Web server which displays the site you were looking for.
No subscription is required to use the Pull technology. Unlike buying a newspaper at the kiosk your mobile device has to identify itself to get the requested information. This is done by your provider in connection with your SIM card.

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Some of your iPhone apps are more pushy than others, and often you’d like them to stay that way. These apps take advantage of Apple’s push notification service to send you badges, sounds and alerts. However, too many notices from too many apps can get distracting, even annoying.
Push notifications of apps can be set up individually or collectively using SETTINGS of your device.

What does your device do?

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Deactivate all push notifications …

Go to Settings – Notifications and turn off ‘Scheduled’.
Set suitable options for ‘Allow Calls From’ and ‘Repeated Calls’
Then go back to Settings and turn on ‘Do not disturb’.

Deactivate all push notifications for an app …

To completely turn off push notifications just turn off everything you just listed for that particular app: badges, banners, sounds, and whether the app appears in the ‘Notification Center’.

Not every app has to keep a connection open to some server, but there is one central connection that is kept alive for all push notifications for all apps.

In other words:
If you turn push off for an app that doesn’t receive any, there will be no change in battery life whatsoever. The easy way to know which push notifications are sucking your battery life, just look at what you’re receiving more often during the day. If you receive a Twitter notification every 5 minutes, all day long, the screen will always have to turn itself on to show it to you. This adds up usage minutes and drains battery power.

E-Mail …

Got to Settings – Mail, Contacts, Calendars – Fetch New Data.
If you turn on ‘Push’ you will get E-Mail immediately after your provider received a message for you. If you turn off ‘Push’ the timeframe below will be valid and uses the PULL technology that means, your device asks your provider whether there is anything new for you.

The battery life …

I found many articles saying that the battery life decreases rapidly when turning on push notifications. I started a test with 5 E-Mail accounts and activated notifications for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, iMessage, about.me, Quora, StumbleUpon, 4 forums via Tapatalk and the German ifun.de sending messages nearly every 20 minutes.

Measuring the battery capacity on a normal day with Push and on another day without Push my impression was that there is no significant difference. This is admittedly subjective as I am not able to set laboratory conditions. 3-5% more or less battery power is marginal compared to the other 70 to 80% the iPhone consumes while doing other things.

If you want to save energy you must deactivate all settings which make the device to a smartphone and you better move over to a 20$ mobile phone.

You can find many suggestions about using push or pull to keep your battery alive for a longer time. All these discussions are for the trash, because the energy consumption depends on
how many notifications you get on an average and how Push is implemented in the different applications. Setting up Push requires to keep at least one connection alive all the time. Otherwise the pushing party would contact the nirvana. If there are less notifications it’s recommended to use Push technology because keeping a connection alive does not drain your power significant.

Pull technology is recommended for users who want to decide themselves what and what time he wants to really use the information. It’s monkey business to receive all the informations even if you have no time to read them.

So decide for yourself whether using Push or Pull.

My personal recommendation is, pull the information you want at a time you want and on an amount you want and don’t let the aliens give the beat. You only read your E-Mails when you are in a position to and have the time. Doing a manual download takes seconds and information can be read then or at your leisure.

Reducing energy consumption …

Here are some suggestions to reduce energy consumption when using Apple’s new operating system iOS 7.

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The history …

The Apple Push Notification Service is a service created by Apple Inc. that was launched together with iOS 3.0 on June 17, 2009. It uses push technology through a constantly open IP connection to forward notifications from the servers of third party applications to the Apple devices.
Scott Forstall stated that push notifications were a better means to maintain battery life than background processes (which are used for pull technology) as far as receiving notifications are concerned.

A more technical view …

github
Apple Push Service Protocol

Thanks for dropping by.





SIRI’s skills

25 02 2013

SIRI is the implemented femininity of iOS devices although nobody knows how she looks like.
Did she improve her communication skills?

In the last update of SIRI’s skills Apple provided the opening of apps.
Activate SIRI and say ‘Open Settings’ and SIRI will open the device settings.

With iOS 5 Apple included a special URL scheme, for example

prefs:root=General&path=Bluetooth

to enable direct access to special settings of the device via a Safari link. Some developers created a MobileConfig package that automatically adds many of these settings to your devices home screen with a self-explaining icon.

This doesn’t work with the actual iOS 6.

But with the help of SIRI it’s possible to directly access some settings.
It works via Apple’s Contacts app by defining an appropriate URL and forward the contacts name to SIRI.

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There are some more settings which can be directly accessed to SIRI.
Some of them may be useful for security reasons when driving a car.

Here are some examples for keywords correctly executed by iOS 6.

Keyword opens
Bluetooth Bluetooth
WIFI Wi-Fi
FACETIME Facetime
CASTLE iCloud
CASTLE&path=STORAGE_AND_BACKUP iCloud Storage + Backup

But be careful.
The keywords are case-sensitive. If you enter ‘facetime’ instead of ‘FACETIME’ your device will execute a reset.

What you have to find out is the right name for the contact so that SIRI directly presents you the desired function without further proposals.

My proposal BLUE for opening the Bluetooth settings works well in Germany with my existing contacts.

A call on Apple …

To the decision makers of Apple:
Please allow the developers to implement commands like this:

SIRI, turn on Bluetooth.

Femininity and serving even male users can go together.

Thanks for reading my blog.
Comments are highly appreciated.





iTunes and File Sharing

24 02 2013

Introduction …

Apple offers an application called iTunes to install on a Mac/PC.
This application provides a functionality called File Sharing for supporting the transfer of files between an iOS device and a computer. When I talk about File Sharing I talk about the tab APPS in iTunes and not about music, photos, or other stuff.

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You should always keep in mind that regular backups of your device are indispensable but there is no way to extract a single file from this backup for restoring it on your device. If you loose a file you must have a copy elsewhere to restore it, or, you must restore your complete device and loose all your data changed after the last backup.

Note

For some other files the data exchange is also supported without the use of iTunes, e.g. the Photo Stream where photos are transferred automatically to iCloud and from there transferred to all other devices using the same Apple ID.

To understand File Sharing we first take a glimpse on the iOS filesystem.
Refer to the image above.

Specific folders are assigned for each app on your device. An app only can work with these folders and not with folders of another app. This is what Apple calls ‘The sandbox mode‘ and it’s designed for security reasons. An iOS app’s interactions with the filesystem are limited mostly to the directories within the app’s sandbox. Because it is in a sandbox an app is generally prohibited from accessing or creating files outside its home directory. One exception from this rule is when an app uses public system interfaces to access things such as the user’s contacts.

This design prohibits direct access from your computer to files on your device, e.g. you cannot copy a PDF which was generated by the app Scanner Pro after scanning a document.
However, a user must have access to some files on his iOS device to further use them on the computer. This functionality is provided by iTunes File Sharing.

How to use File Sharing …

How to install and configure iTunes see

Apple iTunes: How to set up an Apple ID

Connect your iOS device to your computer using the included Dock Connector to USB cable.
Launch iTunes on your computer. Select your iOS device from the Devices section of iTunes.

Click the Apps tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Note

If you do not see the File Sharing section shown in the image below, your iOS device does not have any apps that support File Sharing.

.

Under the File Sharing section, you’ll find a list of apps currently installed on your iOS device that support File Sharing. Select an app to view a list of the files associated with that app on your iOS device.

How to copy files from and to the iOS device …

Drag and drop files onto the Documents list to copy them to the app on your iOS device or…
Click the Add… button, locate the file or files you want to copy from your computer, and click Choose. The selected files will be copied to the app on your iOS device immediately. Select only files that are supported by the iOS device app. Refer to the iOS app’s documentation to determine which file formats are supported.

Avoid data loss …

Be careful …

If you delete an app on your iOS device
you also delete all files associated with it.
That’s a consequence of the above explained iOS file system.

To avoid losing files on your iOS device associated with the app, back up and copy shared files to your computer frequently, and especially prior to deleting the application from your iOS device.

To do this, select the files shown in the Documents section of the specific app and copy them to a local folder on your computer. The folder should be named with the app’s name.
If your device is an iPad, the app, which files you want to save is Apple’s Keynote than put the files in a well-named folder on your computer and name it like

…iOSFileBackups\iPad\Keynote\presentation.key

Note

It depends on the app’s functionalities which way is best to avoid data loss.
Some apps with iCloud support, such as Apple’s iWork suite, save files as a local copy on your device and in iCloud to push them to other devices.
With other apps not supporting iCloud but supporting ‘Send by E-Mail’ you may send a file to your own E-Mail address and use it as a backup.

Syncing …

What is syncing compared to file sharing?

Syncing (with your computer) means that changes to files you made on your iOS device are transferred to your computer’s local hard drive when you connect your device via USB to your computer, open iTunes, select your device and start Syncing.

Which data are synced?

Documents Directory – ApplicationHome/Documents
The Documents directory is the primary location to save user and application related content. This directory and its subdirectories, are backed up when a user does a sync with iTunes. This directory is also the repository for iTunes file sharing content.

Documents Inbox – ApplicationHome/Documents/Inbox
The Documents Inbox is primarily used when an application such as Apple’s Mail app calls an app with a request to open a specific file type.
The file passed to the application (from the Mail Inbox) is stored in the Documents Inbox directory.
The content in the Documents Inbox directory is backed up when a device is synced with iTunes.

tmp – ApplicationHome/tmp
As the name implies, the tmp directory is available for files that are used only while your application is running. The content in the tmp directory is not backed up when a device is synced with iTunes.

Library – ApplicationHome/Library
The Library directory is intended for content that is not user generated. The content in the Library directory is backed up when a device is synced with iTunes, with one exception, there is a Caches directory that is not backed up.

You might think that if you sync you already have a copy of your data on your computer.
That’s true, but not in all cases.

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Example

Files of the app Discount Spreadsheet (Luminant Software) are updated in the File Sharing section of iTunes every time and immediately after you connect your device via USB.

Files of Apple’s iWork suite on the other hand are possibly not displayed. The reason than is that they never were copied to iTunes. As I figured out data of some apps have to manually transferred to iTunes.

There is no general rule which app presents its data in the File Sharing section of iTunes. If you don’t see any files after selecting an app, open the app on your iOS device and try to find an option (like File Sharing, e.g. app 1Password) or a command (like ‘Copy to iTunes’, e.g. apps of iWork suite) to transfer files to iTunes.

The possible behaviors of apps syncing with iTunes File Sharing sections are

  • automatically
    e.g. Tap Forms, Plain Text, Discount Spreadsheet
  • not automatically, only after manual action like ‘Copy to iTunes’
    e.g. iWork (Numbers, Pages, Keynote)
  • after entering credentials and selecting a command like ‘PC iTunes File Sharing’
    e.g. Safety P+V, Safety Notes
  • on demand after activating this feature in Settings of the app (File Sharing ON)
    e.g. 1Password

Syncing with iCloud …

For Apple’s iWork suite keep in mind that turning off syncing with iCloud stops syncing across all of your other devices and iWork files are only stored locally on your iOS device. You should never set the option ‘Use iCloud’ to OFF (Settings – options for Keynote, Numbers, Pages) if you work on more than one device.

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If you possibly turn it to ON later you will get a lot of messages regarding different versions of your documents and you have decide for each single document what to do (Keep it from this or that device or both).

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Summary …

There are apps supporting file sharing, other apps which do not, apps syncing with iCloud or not, apps providing backup functionalities, and others for which iTunes File Sharing is mandatory.

For Apple’s own iWork suite the situation is a bit confusing.
If you use iCloud the documents are synced with iCloud and across all your other devices but not backed up in iTunes. And unfortunately there is no option to copy them to iTunes in total.

Sorry!

You may think that this blog article is a bit confusing with all its If’s and Then’s and Else’s and But’s. But I don’t bare the blame. If there is no consistent concept there is no consistent description.

My personal recommendations …

Turn on Syncing via iCloud

Your benefit:
Data of iCloud capable apps are accessible on all of your devices
and are also available as local copies if you currently don’t have an internet connection.
But keep in mind that if you delete a file on one device it’s immediately deleted across all other devices using the same Apple ID.

Use an additional storage

Your benefit:
There is an extra level of copies of files which can be separately restored whatever happens on iCloud or on your device.
For iWork you may use the available WebDAV connection to a cloud provider (e.g. iDriveSync). If you install the related client application on your computer you will also have access from your computer to those files without using file sharing of iTunes.
Use ‘Copy to WebDAV’ every time you worked on a single document.

Useful links …


Apple How to transfer or sync content to your computer

Apple iOS: About File Sharing

Apple iWork for iOS: About File Sharing

Apple iOS: Syncing with iTunes

Apple iTunes: About iOS backups

iNotes4You iWork and iCloud





Cloud Providers for iOS Devices

22 02 2013

There is a rapidly increasing number of Cloud-Providers. You have to decide which fits best. Otherwise your data will be spread over the world and its hard to find out where they are.

I checked free accounts of 12 providers and their usability on Apple’s iOS-Devices as well as their PC-Client versions since more than one year. This article describes my experiences with all the free offers.

Summary of the main test criteria:

1 iOS-Client-Software available

  • to display the frequently used file formats like PDF, TXT, CSV, XLSX, DOCX, iWork-Format (.numbers, .keynote, .pages)
  • to manage files and folders
  • to get links for sharing files
  • to share multiple files via a single link

2 PC-Client-Software available

  • to permanently sync local folders on Mac/PC with cloud folders
  • to set up the sync direction (two way or one way syncing)

3 Encrypted transfer of data between local device and cloud storage

  • to avoid the usage of special apps for encryption like BoxCryptor for Dropbox
  • to securely manage data in transit (while transmitted between the provider and the device) and at rest on the cloud storage

4 Amount of free space

  • should not be less than 5 GB
  • reasonable prices for account updates to higher capacities

5 WebDAV-Support

  • to set up an additional connection other than the native provider’s native app via administrative tools like USB Drive, GoodReader, ReaddleDocs, …
  • to assign shares to a drive letter on a PC and work with this ressources within any application (e.g. saving documents from iWork directly to the cloud

6 Performance, Activity, Usability

  • immediate syncing with high performance
  • plain activity indicators on Mac/PC for sending and receiving files on Mac/PC
  • available context menu on the Mac/PC icon with all necessary functions for accessing local sync folders, preferences, recently updated files, etc.

7 History

  • availability of a file history
  • availability of restoring deleted files from the trash within a reasonable timeframe

Main facts …

Cloud Free WebDAV Encrypt Syncing
iDrive 10 GB yes no multiple, selectable folders
Dropbox 2 GB no no one folder+subfolders

iDriveSync and Dropbox provide powerful apps for Mac/PC as well as iOS devices.

Dropbox and iDriveSync sharing options on iOS devices are:
E-Mail, Message, Facebook Message, Post to Facebook, Tweet

A special functionality of Dropbox is the ‘Camera Upload’ which uploads every photo you made with your camera on an iOS device.

Both providers do not support encryption in transit.
If the provider is compromised your data will be unsafe.
Except WUALA (CH) no provider fulfills the necessary requirements for safe transfer and storage.
Admittedly cloud providers ensure encryption but the Terms and Conditions of nearly all providers authorize them to review the data or pass them to authorities on demand.

Dropbox currently does not support WebDAV whereas iDrive does. That must not be a disadvantage because the PC-Clients support convenient syncing with local folders and most of the iOS-Tools (like USB Disk, GoodReader, Documents, …) support direct access to the storage of well-known providers.

If using the iWork suite intensively Dropbox is not the best candidate as there is no support for WebDAV. If iCloud syncing for iWork is turned on (Settings – iCloud – Documents + Data) they are admittedly transferred to other iOS devices but only those using the same Apple ID. So sharing is only supported by mailing the document as an attachment.

iDriveSync supports WebDAV and therefore can be configured in iWork using the ‘Copy to WebDAV’ feature. What you have to do is to enter the server address (http://dav.idrivesync.com), your credentials and to share the iDriveSync folder with your colleagues.

Both iOS apps support the display of the above mentioned file types except CSV files.

Another benefit of iDriveSync vs. Dropbox is the pricing (1.38 $ /50 GB/y vs. 3.75 $ /50 GB/y).

So the overall winner is iDriveSync.

Useful links …

Sharing Multiple Files on iDriveSync

Costs of Cloud Storages

Risky Free Clouds

Which Cloud Provider fits best

Some impressions of the UI …

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iWork and iThoughts

20 02 2013

iWork is Apple’s offer to create spreadsheets (with Numbers), presentations (with Keynote), and write letters (with Pages). The components of iWork are specially developed for iOS devices, easy to use and nevertheless powerful. I see lacks in the missing connection to cloud services without WebDAV support and to network attached storages.
If you ever used these apps you will never change back to other apps which are more likely to Microsoft’s Office Suite.

There is another app which should be in the portfolio of all users working on an iPad.
It’s the mind mapping app iThoughts for iPad developed by Craig Scott, UK.
Mind mapping is a perfect way to save all the ideas you have on your device.

See my blogs

Mind Mapping (1)
Mind Mapping (2)
Mind Mapping (3)

In Jan 2013 iThoughts got an update with some interesting features regarding Apple’s iWork suite.

The Workaround …

This is a mind map about a recommended home configuration when using iOS devices.

You may download this mind map from Biggerplate.com, The Mind Map Library.

Apple iPhone+iPad Home Configuration

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Look at the branch ‘Software – iWork – Numbers’ on the right side of the mind map. You can see a small green at the top right corner of the branch. It represents a globe and points to a website link.
Tap and Hold to open the website with the integrated browser of iThoughts.

The essential new feature of iThoughts …

You can now connect iWork documents to mind map branches to breathe life into your mind map by assigning additional detailed information to that branch.

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Note

Attached documents are stored in the mind map file in their native format.
So you can delete the source file located in the documents folder of Keynote.
You can also share the mind map. The recipient can then work on the mind map as well as on the attached iWork documents and send them back.

The marked branch contains the Keynote document icon as well as the note icon of iThoughts (left lower corner of the branch) which shows that there is additional information available. By ‘Tap and Hold’ the Keynote document can be opened to display the contents or to move over to Apple’s Keynote app to further work on it.

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That’s what I call SUBTLE PROGRAMMING. Congratulations, Craig.





Apple on Biggerplate.com

19 02 2013

A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches. Categories can represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items related to a central key word or idea.

The website

Biggerplate.com

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is the world’s largest free mind map library founded by Liam Hughes, UK.

On January 1, 2013 I created a new group on Biggerplate.com named APPLE.

The Apple group offers free mind maps about Apple products, the operating system iOS for mobile devices, and apps from Apple’s App Store.

To download mind maps from Biggerplate you have to register first. Just enter your E-Mail address and a password and you will become a member. The membership is totally free.

You can download any mind map created by more than 40,000 members for free.

For the Apple group it’s recommended to use the app iThoughts by Craig Scott available at Apple’s App Store. It’s the only app supporting about 20 different formats especially .mmap files (Mindmanager), .xmind files (XMind), and .cdmz files (ConceptDraw) which are supported by Biggerplate.

The latest mind map uploaded to Biggerplate within the Apple group is a full feature description of the database app Tap Forms HD by Tap Zap Software Inc., Canada.
It’s an autonomous app for database creation that means, you don’t need a Mac/PC to create your own database. Tap Forms supports iCloud and Dropbox as well as Backup+Restore using a ZIP file format.

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Go to

Apple group on Biggerplate

to download the mind maps you are interested in.

Liam and Thomas would highly appreciate if you upload your own mind maps related to Apple products.

Associated links …

DBMS on iOS-Devices (1)

DBMS on iOS-Devices (2)

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

If you have any questions about the app iThoughts or the platform Biggerplate don’t hesitate to contact me via the contact form on my About page.








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