NASA Education Apps

17 04 2014

When Apple released its first iPad in 2010, forward-looking universities around the world started research studies on how this device could be integrated into learning and teaching.

Research initiatives had to find out where an iPad could improve the learning and teaching process in general.

  • Shifts in paradigms
    The integration of the iPad in the classroom is not only enhancing the way students learn but also changing the way instructors teach. Students now expect stimulation and immediacy; everyone wants everything faster and easier than before.
    “Our students are already so visual as far as learning styles are concerned that it’s becoming the new wave,” says Dr. Garcia. “We, as instructors, are going to have to adjust our teaching methodology in order to keep them engaged and in using the iPad, we can show the students movies and animations and give them a wide array of multimedia resources that they can tap into.”
  • Adjusting the content to its needs
    “The iPad is typically thought of as more of a consumer product”, says Dr. Garcia “but with the right fine-tuning we were able to modify some applications to make the lectures easy to view for the students.”
  • Easy deployment of course material
    About 30 years ago I myself was a teacher of physics, maths and informatics. Course material was produced by duplicating stencils written by hand or with a typewriter. Today teachers can develop their courses on a PC or an iPad and send it to a commonly used resource e.g. cloud storage from which students download it to their mobile device.
  • Reducing costs of learning
    HCC Houston Community College
    “It’s hard having to come up with the money to buy books every semester,” says Mari Hernandez, an Anatomy and Physiology student. “With the iPad, I was able to download it for free and start studying right away, instead of waiting until I could afford to buy the book.”
  • Increased mobility
    one device for the classroom, the campus and at home
  • Improved collaboration techniques
    Young people today are highly engaged in social networking and it’s an everyday experience to exchange information via Twitter or Facebook.
    Learning methods have to accept these new ways of how young people communicate with each other. The professor standing in front of his students and using a chalkboard for hours does not enhance collaboration which contradicts the expectations of young people how to get in touch with learning material and at what time they want to do it.

The App Store features over 65,000 education apps – designed especially for the iPad – that cover a wide range of subjects for every grade level and learning style.

Apple about education apps …

The App Store gives you endless ways to help students learn new concepts and express their creativity. Let your class explore the properties of magnesium with an interactive periodic table of elements. Teach young readers new words with an app that turns word-building into a game. Or find a digital painting app to make art anywhere without brushes or paint. You can find study aid apps built specifically for drills and practice. And apps that complement different learning styles. Whatever you’re teaching, apps help you do what you do best – inspire students to think in new ways.

Today I would like to present an overview about the development of education apps for the iPad and the iPhone by the NASA.

The NASA …

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.
Wikipedia

Apps of the NASA …

The actual offer of the NASA as of January 2014 …

Images of Change

Natural disasters, a warming climate, and human activities are rapidly altering the face of our planet. NASA’s Images of Change app lets you take a close-up view of many of these changes in an exciting and hands-on format. The app presents a curated collection of the best image pairs from NASA’s Global Climate Change website. These image pairs show areas that have been subject to natural disasters or seen significant change over time. Compare Alaska’s Muir Glacier in 1941 to the glacier as it Looked in 2004. Take a before-and-after look at flooding in the Missouri River or at wildfires in Colorado. See the expansion of agriculture in Saudi Arabia as viewed from satellites. All photo pairs can be viewed individually, side by side, or overlaid with a slider bar for easy comparisons. Each image pair contains background information and a map showing its location. The images presented in Images of Change are meticulously selected and constantly updated to give you an informative, compelling, and up-to-date visual experience.

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NASA Earth As Art

In 1960 the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet. OvE the decades these satellites have provided invaluable information, and the vantage point of space has provid new perspectives on Earth. This app celebrates Earth’s aesthetic beauty in the patterns, shapes, colors, and textures of the land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere.
The app features stunning images of Earth from the Terra, Landsat 5, Landsat 7, EO-1, and Aqua satellites.
Sensors on these satellites can measure light outside of the visible range, so the images show more than what is visible to the naked eye. The app draws on several images from the USGS Landsat image gallery and introduces many new images.
This app features time-lapse satellite images of locations on Earth undergoing significant change over decad linking to NASA’s Earth Observatory website. The app has a thumbnail gallery of the images as well as an interactive directory with images organized by geographic region. Each image has a brief caption and the abi to enlarge each scene.
The beauty of Earth is clear, and the artistry ranges from the surreal to the sublime.

EAServices

The Johnson Space Center Engineering Directorate provides core engineering disciplines, facilities, and laboratories for Human Spaceflight Programs. The Engineering Directorate develops many of the technologies that are needed for the exploration of space. This application highlights some of the innovative technologies developed at NASA JSC and the technical facilities used to evaluate these technologies. Engineering is uniquely positioned to tailor and apply technical solutions developed for spaceflight to the challenges of other industries.

Spinoff 2012

NASA Spinoff profiles the best examples of technology that have been transferred from NASA research and missfons into commercial products. From life-saving satellite systems to hospital robots that care for patients and more, NASA technologies benefit society.
This app features shortened versions of all of the articles from the Benefits section of the 2012 edition of Spinoff, which is available in print, PDF, and HTML versions on the Spinoff website.

30 Years Shuttlebook

The Space Shuttle fleet set high marks of achievement and endurance through 30 years of missions, from its first, when STS-1 launched on Apn112, 1981, to its last, when STS-135 landed on July 21,2011. Beginning with the orbiter Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Space Shuttle has carried people into orbit; launched, recovered, and repaired satellites; conducted cutting-edge research; and helped build the largest artificial structure in space, the International Space Station.
As humanity’s first reusable spacecraft, the Space Shuttle pushed the bounds of inquiry, requiring not only advanced technologies, but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA Centers and across the Nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration. For an entire generation, the Space Shuttle program defined NASA. This book is a tribute to everything accomplished during the Shuttle program’s 30 years of operation.

iMorpheus

Project Morpheus is testing a new NASA spacecraft at the Johnson Space Center, and the iMorpheus lOS app aims to bring you right to the center of the action! iMerpheus streams real lander telemetry from the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center and builds a live, real-time 3D simulation during actual engine and performance tests. If the lander isn’t being tested, you can just go to manual and have your own virtual test flight around JSC.
Features:
Live rocket telemetry during Morpheus lander tests rendered as 3D simulations
Recorded telemetry from previous flights when not testing
Fly your Morpheus lander around a virtual JSC, in daytime and nighttime[
Test your Morpheus Lander by flying through a series of GPS checkpoints
Live streaming of @MorpheusLander’s Twitter feed

Space communications and navigation: NetworKing

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Communications and Navigation (SCAN) Program is responsible for providing communications and navigation services to space flight missions locate, throughout the solar system. Astronauts, mission controllers, and scientists depend upon the reliable transmission of information between Earth and spacecraft in low Earth orbit (LEO) or deep space.
As a new Network Manager, your job will be to build and upgrade a complex communications network in order to support scientific missions.
Objectives: Build the Near Earth Network. Enable periodic communication with satellites in low Earth orbit, Buird the Space Network. Deploy a constellation of geosynchronous relay satellites to support LEO mission that require continuous coverage, Build the Deep Space Network. Support interplanetary spacecraft missions with powerful antennas, Manage and Improve Your Networks, Manage your network usage, deal with disasters, and research upgrades to enhance your networks’ capabilities, Support NASA Missions. Advance your networks to unlock special NASA missions that show the networks in action.

Ascent: Commemorating Shuttle

Ascent is a compilation of film and video representing the best of the best ground based Shuttle motion imagery from the STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124 missions. This app includes the entire Ascent production with commentary, numerous additional scenes, selected images, production notes, and an unreleased trailer.

Rocket Science 101

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to launch a NASA spacecraft with NASA’s Rocket Science 101 (RS101). Select your favorite NASA mission and build a rocket to send the spacecraft into orbit. As you take the RS101 challenge, you can learn more about thrilling missions and the various components of the launch vehicles, how they are configured and how they work together to successfully launch a NASA spacecraft. NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) does the same things for real rockets and exciting spacecraft missions every day. About LSP:
NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) leads the agency in providing access to space for the exploration of our home planet, solar system and the universe. LSP is located at the Kennedy Space Center and acts as a broker to match unmanned payloads with specific launch vehicles for customers to ensure mission success. The principal objectives of LSP are to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective and on-schedule processing, mission analysis and spacecraft integration and launch services for NASA and NASA-sponsored payloads. To learn more about LSR rockets and NASA missions go to: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/ index.html

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NASA Technology Innovation 16.1

Technology Innovation is a digital publication of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate which will feature the latest space technology innovators and project developments across the agency. It will also highlight the American inventors, entrepreneurs and application engineers who have transformed space exploration technologies into products that benefit the nation. This issue focuses on a few of the innovators, systems, and materials that helped to make 2012 a groundbreaking year in Mars exploration. The technologies pioneered by these scientists will be vitat components of future space missions, but they are also improving life on Earth through a wide variety of industrial, educational, and humanitarian applications.
Volume 16, number 1, contains four feature articles:
Time Fries: MEDLI, Tailor Made: Woven Thermal Protection Systems, Innovation Without Borders: International Space Apps Challenge, Photon Express: Optical Communications, plus short articles on the commercial evolution of a heat-resistant coating invented by scientists at Ames Research Center and airflow sensors developed by a former NASA engineer. The issue closes with an “Insight” piece by Nell Cheatwood, the Principal Investigator for Planetary Entry, Descent and Landing at Langley Research Center.

NASA Technology Innovation 16.2

Volume 16, number 2, contains four feature articles:
The Ions Have It, Setting Sail, Big Ideas, Small Packages, Tapping the Source, plus short articles on how a rocket engine designed at Marshall Space Flight Center produced the development of a new ultra-high-pressure fire-suppression system and how a superconducting wire created for NASA’s advanced turboelectric distributed propulsion system is now being used in the manufacture of MRI scanners. The issue closes with an “insight” piece by Michael Gazarik, Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate.

NASA Glenn Research Center: The Early Years

A photographic retrospective of the first forty years of operation at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, located in Cleveland, Ohio. Drawn from a large collection of archived photos, these images and in-depth descriptions provide an insight into the research, people, and activities that herped pioneer America’s advances in aeronautics and space technology. Get a unique view and understanding of NASA Glenn’s history from 1941 through 1979.

NASA Science Mission Highlights

This digital publication highlights just a few of NASA’s many exciting science missions. Here you will learn about the missions designed to accomplish NASA’s overarcbing science goals in Earth science, heliophysics, planetary science, and astrophysics.

NASA Science: A Journey of Discovery

NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and sorar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. This NASA Science application brings you the latest information from NASA’s Science Missions, including the spacecraft, their instruments, the data, and what we are Jearning about the questions we seek to answer. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond.

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ISSLive

See Real Time Data and what’s happening onboard the International Space Station
Interact with live streaming data from the International Space Station (ISS), Take virtual 3D tours of the Mission Control Center (MCC) and ISS, and View console displays, crew and science timelines, descriptions how the ISS works and how the MCC supports the ISS.
There are educational lessons available that interact with the live streaming system data accessible through the website link ISSLive! that tie ISS streaming systems data and operational timelines into one “Rich Intemet Application (RIA)” experience. The application offers data on real time parameters such as station position, internal environment, altitude, payload rack science activities and other interesting data and crew activities.

NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG)

The NASA OIG provides independent and objective oversight of NASA programs and operations. Get the latest information on the OIG audit reports, investigations, special reviews, semiannual reports, and congressional testimony.

NASA Visualization Explorer

This is the NASA Visualization Explorer, the coolest way to get stories about advanced space-based research delivered right to your iPad. A direct connection to NASA’s extraordinary fleet of research spacecraft, this app presents cutting edge research stories in an engaging and excitJng format. See the Earth as you’ve never seen it before; travel to places otherwise unavailable to even the most intrepid explorers.

NASA Television

The NASA Television App brings live and on-demand TV programming to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Watch the latest NASA events unford in real-time or select from a list of recently uploaded videos. Plan your viewing up to a week in advance with the NASA TV schedule, and check out a list of NASA-related programming on other networks.

NASA App

Explore with NASA and discover the latest images, videos, mission information, news, feature storie tweets, NASA TV and featured content. Features:
•Current NASA mission information, over 12,000 images (and growing everyday), Latest news & feature stories, On demand NASA Videos from around the agency, Live streaming of the NASA TV, Third Rock internet streaming radio, Launch information + countdown clocks, Sighting opportunities (visible passes for the ISS), ISS and Earth orbiting satellite trackers, Featured content section, Latest tweets from around the agency, Programs section, Facebook Connect and Integrated Twitter client for easy sharing, Map, information and links to all of the NASA visitor centers, Favorites + image bookmarks, Printing support

Space Place Prime

Space Place Prime is a content presentation app that gathers some of the best and most recent offerings from NASA. A spinoff of NASA’s popular kids’ Space Place website (spaceplace.nasa.gov or science.nasa.gov/kids), Space Place Prime has intergenerational appeal. It taps timely educational and easy-to-read articles from the website, as well as daily updates of NASA space and Earth-from-space images and the latest informative videos.
The interface is a slidable, looping grid of images, one for each feature, with icons indicating whether they represent an image, a video, or an article. Alternatively, a list mode and a carousel mode present images, videos, and articles sorted separately. Content is updated daily, retaining the previous few days-worth of features. Favorites can be tagged for permanent archive.
Facebook, twitter, and e-mail connections make any feature easy to share.

Space365

When did Neil Armstrong land on the moon? When was Jon Stewart born? What space events happened around my birthday?
Free, fun Space365 lets you see what NASA events and quirky trivia facts happened each day of the year.
Features:
• Search by keywords, categories and dates, Over 4,000 events (updated weekly), Corresponding photos with events, Links for more detailed information about the event, Save your favorite events, View the NASA image of the day and it’s details, Send questions to the Space365 team, Tweet, Like and Circle about Space365.

Summary …

This mind map summarizes all the information above.

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If you use a mind mapping tool like iThoughts HD for the iPad you will see a small icon assigned to each topic. It points to additional textual information shown in the upper part of the screen. So all the app descriptions above would’t be necessary if the use of a mind mapping tool could be supposed.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Word DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Further sources …

iTunes U is a part of the iTunes Store featuring free lectures, language lessons, audiobooks, and more, that you can enjoy on your iPod, iPhone, Mac or PC. Explore over 600,000 educational audio and video files, books, and other resources from top universities, museums and public media organizations from around the world (30 countries) on thousands of subjects from Algebra to Zoology. The relevance of iTunes U is validated by engagements of Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, The Open University, MoMA, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress. It’s the world’s largest catalog of free education content.

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A further source with more than 65,000 apps for education is Apple’s App Store where one of the categories is ‘Education’.

Summary …

Apple takes cars of the educational sector. Teachers should learn how to integrate the usage of tablets in the curriculum.

Related links …

NASA, USA

Apple about Education

i(Space)Weather

iPad @ Universities

iPad @ School

Back to the roots

About the mind mapping tool …

iThoughts for the iPad

Thanks for flying with iNotes4You.





i(Space)Weather

13 04 2014

News from the stock exchange is always being discussed by investors. News about the weather is a mainstream conversation. I cannot present stats but I think it’s the most talked about topic, worldwide with quite different motivations.

Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me quite nervous.
Oscar Wilde

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.
P. D. James

Importance …

Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a given location. Human beings have attempted to predict the weather informally for millennia, and formally since the nineteenth century. Weather forecasts are made by collecting quantitative data about the current state of the atmosphere on a given place and using scientific understanding of atmospheric processes to project how the atmosphere will evolve on that place.

When the number of factors coming into play in a phenomenological complex is too large scientific method in most cases fails. One need only think of the weather, in which case the prediction even for a few days ahead is impossible.
Albert Einstein

The chaotic nature of the atmosphere, the massive computational power required to solve the equations that describe the atmosphere, errors involved in measuring the initial conditions, and an incomplete understanding of atmospheric processes mean that forecasts become less accurate as the difference in current time and the time for which the forecast is being made (the range of the forecast) increases.

There are a variety of end uses to weather forecasts. Weather warnings are important forecasts because they are used to protect life and property. Forecasts based on temperature and precipitation are important to agriculture, and therefore to traders within commodity markets. Temperature forecasts are used by utility companies to estimate demand over coming days. On an everyday basis, people use weather forecasts to determine what to wear on a given day. Since outdoor activities are severely curtailed by heavy rain, snow and the wind chill, forecasts can be used to plan activities around these events, and to plan ahead and survive them.

Thunderstorms can create strong winds and dangerous lightning strikes that can lead to deaths, power outages, and widespread hail damage. Heavy snow or rain can bring transportation and commerce to a stand-still, as well as cause flooding in low-lying areas. Excessive heat or cold waves can sicken or kill those with inadequate utilities, and droughts can impact water usage and destroy vegetation.

Space weather …

Space weather is becoming a very important aspect of the weather services, and will continue to grow as we gain a better understanding of the physical processes of the sun and their effects here on the Earth as well as in space itself.

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Space weather can have significant effects to humans on Earth as well as in space due to the growing number of satellites in space, power grids on Earth, use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), as well as commuter air travel and space travel. Solar flares, coronal holes, and coronal mass ejections (CME’s) can emit large bursts of radiation, high speed electrons and protons, and other highly energetic particles that are released from the sun, and are sometimes directed to the Earth.

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There are 3 main categories of space weather storms: geomagnetic storms, caused by CME´s and the high speed wind from coronal holes, that can create beautiful auroras, as well as cause problems for electrical systems, satellites, GPS navigation, radio systems (radio blackouts), power line transmissions, cell phones, health of astronauts, people flying at high altitudes, and satellite orbits. For this reason, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) located in Boulder, Colorado issues a variety of space weather forecasts and warnings daily to alert those concerned with these effects.

There is a universal free app called SpaceWeather (by Utah State University, icon name SpaceWx) which tells you what’s going on in space. It should be mentioned that you need some knowledge to understand all the measured parameters shown in the app.

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For example, say that a flare occurs and you want to know its effects at Earth right now. The app uniquely extracts data from real-time, operational systems linking the four major space environment domains (Sun, solar wind, magnetosphere, thermosphere/ionosphere). With a tap of the finger you see a detailed chain of energy events including SDO Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) solar images, the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) solar wind calculations, the forecast of the Dst geomagnetic disturbance at Earth, and even the real-time ionospheric total electron content (TEC).
The app provides the most up-to-date visualization of the entire energy transfer from the Sun to the Earth at your fingertips.

Data comes from participating institutions, including NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, National Solar Observatory, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Space Environment Technologies, SOHO consortium, STEREO mission, NorthWest Research Associates, NASA Community Coordinated Modeling Center, Rice University, Kyoto University World Data Center, Oulu University, Space Environment Corporation, U.S., Geological Survey, Utah State University Space Weather Center, and Virginia Tech University.

Real-time space weather data includes:

  • 60 solar data sets
  • 16 solar wind data sets
  • 23 magnetosphere data sets
  • 53 atmosphere data sets
  • 13 alerts

NOAA …

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere.

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), located in Asheville, North Carolina, maintains the world’s largest climate data archive and provides climatological services and data to every sector of the United States economy and to users worldwide. Records in the archive range from paleoclimatology data (collected through the study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of the Earth) to centuries-old journals to data less than an hour old.

The Center’s mission is to preserve these data and make them available to the public, business, industry, government, and researchers.

Apps …

The iPhone comes with a built-in app which allows to retrieve actual information from Yahoo about the weather as well as a forecast for configurable locations. Shortened information is also shown in the notification center.

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You will find many apps in Apple’s App Store showing information about the weather which can be installed on both iOS devices, the iPhone and the iPad.

Retrieval of data …

Developers of weather apps can use so-called APIs (Application Programming Interface) which, integrated in the application’s code, retrieves information from weather data providers. Data are based on countless earthbound weather stations as well as data from satellites and airplanes.

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Living Earth …

Living Earth is a universal app (that means, once downloaded it’s available on all your iOS devices) by Radiantlabs, LLC. It comes with a live 3D simulation of our planet with global weather, forecasts and world clock for cities around the world. If you start the app a rotating globe is shown with live sunrise and sunset borders.

Features …

  • live cloud patterns from near real-time satellite cloud data updated every 3 h
    hurricanes and tropical storms
  • live 3D weather maps with temperature (max, min, mean) humidity, wind, and 7 day and 2 h forecasts
  • tropical cyclon push notifications and updates on current storm systems
  • sunrise and sunset borders and times for sunrise and sunset around the world
    snow and ice coverage
  • alarm clock with music playlist
  • home screen temperature icon
  • iCloud city syncing with the Living Earth app for Mac
  • sharing of the actual screen on Facebook, Twitter, and by mail
  • changing the rotation speed and rotation direction by swiping fast/slow or left/right/up/down
  • comprehensive overview about the actual weather for all defined cities

The app was first published in Sep 2010 and got 25 updates until the end of 2013.

See these impressions of the UI …

Summary …

There are many apps retrieving weather data from various providers. In many cases these providers are not mentioned so it’s not easy to assess the quality of shown data.

Related links …

Weather forecasting

National climate data center

Space Weather

World Weather Online APIs

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Younity

28 03 2014

Younity by Entangled Media Corp. (USA) is an iOS app for remote access of files stored on local hard drives. A desktop companion app has to be installed on the computer to provide information about files and folders on iOS devices. The version I reviewed was 1.7.4 of 2013-12-19. The app is a free universal app that means, there is just one version for the iPhone and the iPad. The app was first released on Feb 1, 2012.

The company in it’s ‘About’ section …

Younity is brought to you by Entangled Media, a company focused on changing the relationship between people, data and devices. While we obviously design and build software/online services, we consider ourselves a user experience company. Our design philosophy is structured around user behavior and unlocking the potential we all see in the technology and content around us. That is, the potential for it to exist simultaneously everywhere for us to access easily and on demand.

Younity is similar to point.io but for local storages (Point.io offers access to several cloud storages with just one login; see my app review of Point.io under ‘Related links’). Younity doesn’t include remote control, it’s just intended for viewing or downloading files from remote computers.

The company about it’s app …

Younity gives you access to all your files, from all your devices, without ever needing to “sync” your mobile devices again. With younity, you have all your music, photos, videos and documents on all your devices regardless of storage. All your files, from all your devices, all the time. You can share any file, stored on any device, with any of your friends right from your iPhone or iPad. No planning ahead required!

Younity creates a personal cloud for all your files, generated by the stationary devices. The Personal Cloud is a private cloud – younity as the provider doesn’t store your files online, it can’t access them and doesn’t know anything about you or your files (promises the company).

You don’t have to log into each computer or browse them separately. You don’t have to put files in special folders or flag them to be synchronized. There is no storage limit because you are streaming files from your devices, so you can have 2GB, 2TB or 2PB of files. If you want to download your files to a local storage of an iOS device for offline use, you can, but it isn’t required. Younity gives you instant, easy access to all your music (including iTunes libraries/playlists), videos, photos and documents on every computer you own.

Installation …

Install Younity on your iOS devices and all computers you want to have access to.
Register for the service from within the apps by using an email address and and a password. It’s recommended to use the same registration procedure on all of your devices to avoid different authentications.

You will get a confirmation mail for every registered device.

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On the desktop companion app select the folders you want to have access to.
Younity then starts a scanning process to retrieve just basic information about files on the computer.

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Scanning an entire hard drive takes a long time.
I used a pretty fast Windows 7 PC with a 115 GB hard drive with 95 GB storage utilization and it took about 2 h to scan the drive and generate the meta data containing information about all locally stored files.

Note
Younity generates metadata files which are retrieved by the iOS device later after the scan process is complete. On a computer Younity will typically use about 0.1% of your computer CPU and usually uses less than 100MB of memory (although it will often report more because that is “reserved” for use if necessary). After the scan is complete Younity typically “listens” and updates the metadata if changes of file locations or file names are made. The iOS app then downloads the updated metadata.

When you first open Younity on an iPhone, after having registered at least one computer, younity will download metadata about your files. The speed at which it does this depends on your mobile hardware (i.e. newer mobile devices are much faster than older devices) and the number of files you have. For example, 30,000 files worth of metadata going to an iPhone 4S will take about 4 minutes with a 30 MBit/s WiFi connection, whereas an iPhone 5 will take about 3 minutes. If you have over 100,000 files (only photos, videos, music and documents), it may take a very long time.

The features …

Younity offers these basic features

  • Easily and securely share files with your friends via younity or Facebook.
  • Search for files across all devices simultaneously, without having to even know which device or cloud service (ie. dropbox, google drive, etc…) the file is stored on.
  • Converts unusable file formats (e.g. WMA, OGG, etc.) to iOS-compatible formats in real-time when you stream so you can keep your media in whatever format you like.
  • Compatible with iOS, Mac OS X, Windows and soon Linux.

If you need a file that is saved on a desktop computer Younity helps to view or even download the file to your iOS device for further actions e.g. mailing it to somebody, share it on Facebook, or use the iOS ‘Open in’ command to transfer it to an appropriate app.

The core value of Younity is that there is no need to intentionally sync files to make them available and that there is just one place to access all registered ressources.

First impressions …

After installing the app on an iOS device and entering the credentials you will see this Home Screen

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with the following settings

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A really useful ‘Search’ functionality is available which shows all files on your registered computers matching the search term. Searching within content is not supported.

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To display a file stored on a remote computer just tap on it and some standard actions are available.

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The cons …

I found the following cons in the actual version of Dec 2013:

  • 1 Complex MS Word/Excel files are not shown correctly.
    Apple’s iWork file formats for Keynote, Numbers, and Pages are supported.
  • 2 Many file types are not shown at all, e.g. exe, ini, cfg, etc. This is a bit confusing although they cannot be handled on an iOS device they should be shown in file lists.
  • 3 Really nerving is that if you tap on a file to display the content and return to the file list it’s not positioned on the file you choosed. So you always have to scroll within the file list of Younity to go to the next file.
  • 4 An option for sorting files is not available.
  • 5 Information about files is incomplete. If you start a file search the file list doesn’t show the device and folder where it’s located. Younity lets you filter views so that you can see only files that you’ve downloaded to local storage and/or only see files that are available (i.e. they are on a device that is online and ready to stream files), but you can not browse files on a per device basis.
  • 6 Uploads of files from an iOS device to a remote computer is not supported.

During my app review the iPhone version didn’t show all ressources of my Windows 7 PC.

20131220-142132.jpg

The problem couldn’t be solved although I removed the iPhone app, installed it, and registered the device again. The app showed the ‘Downloading metadata …’ message but still didn’t show the missing resources.

Summary …

The idea is pretty good but but there is still some work to do for the developers.
The main benefit compared to many other remote access apps is that there is just one place for accessing all computers.

Related links …

Point.io

TeamViewer

Apps for File Management

Thanks for stopping by.





AiO Remote by Hewlett Packard

24 03 2014

Printing documents seems to be old-fashioned in the modern era of digital communication. But occasionally printouts of documents are necessary. I for example use it for if I have to look on two or more documents to compare the contents which is pretty uncomfortable on an iPad because of the One-Window-Technique.

AirPrint

Apple is known for simple and user-friendly solutions.
In cooperation with Hewlett Packard the company developed the AirPrint technology.

AirPrint is a feature which is implemented in Apple products starting with OS X Lion and iOS 4.2 in November 2010, for printing using a wireless LAN, either directly to any AirPrint compatible printers (such as HP’s entire ePrint range, Brother, Canon, Dell, Epson, Gestetner, Hewlett-Packard, Infotec , Lanier, Lenovo, Lexmark, Ricoh, Samsung, Savin, Xerox and more) or to non-compatible printers through a MS Windows, Apple Mac OS X, or GNU/Linux PC. AirPrint does not require printer-specific drivers.

The current list of AirPrint compatible printers (at the time more than 1000) can be found on

Apple Support HT 4356

Manufacturers supporting AirPrint with their printer products are

Brother, Canon, Dell, EPSON, Fuji Xerox, Gestetner,
Hewlett Packard with 95 Printers
Infotec, Kyocera, Lanier, Lenovo, Lexmark, NRG, NTT, Oki Data, Olivetti, RICOH, Samsung, Savin, Sharp, TA Triumph-Adler/UTAX, Toshiba, Xerox, Zink

A number of software solutions allow for non AirPrint printers to be used with iOS devices. For such printers, AirPrint support can be achieved by configuring such support on an intermediary system already having such printers configured for local printing, shared on the same network. Since AirPrint is driverless, such a configuration compensates for the lack of native AirPrint support by using the drivers on the intermediary system instead.

Note
The simplest solution for all platforms is to create a new Bonjour Service that tricks iOS clients into believing they’re talking to an AirPrint device.
Presto by Collobos Software Inc. is an example for such a desktop application which allows printing from iOS devices to every printer connected to the same network.

Bonjour is Apple’s implementation of Zero-configuration networking (Zeroconf), a group of technologies that includes service discovery, address assignment, and hostname resolution. Bonjour locates devices such as printers, other computers, and the services that those devices offer on a local network using multicast Domain Name System (mDNS) service records. Bonjour comes built-in with Apple’s OS X and iOS operating systems. Bonjour can also be installed onto computers running Microsoft Windows.

AirPrint in details …

My home configuration consists of an Apple Airport Extreme Router and an HP Photosmart 6510 which is AirPrint capable. That means the printer has just to be connected to the power supply. In a further step the connection to the WiFi network is established via the iPhone-like control panel by entering the networks password.

After connecting the printer to the WiFi network it appears in the print menu of every printing-capable app. No installation of drivers, no cables, no additional software which usually comes from an installation CD and is nothing more than ad of the manufacturer.

AiO Remote app by HP …

There are two ways to connect an iOS device to a HP printer:

  • 1 HP wireless direct allows you to connect your iPad directly to your printer wirelessly, without a wireless router. The printer must be equipped with HP wireless direct, and HP wireless direct must be turned on to connect to any iOS device.
  • 2 When connecting to the printer over a WiFi network, you are connecting to the printer using a wireless router. The printer might be wirelessly to the router or with an Ethernet cable. A connection is established after entering the WiFi password.
  • The features …

    • 1 Take a photo and automatically transform it into a PDF.
    • 2 Scan pages placed on the device by using the control buttons on the printer’s display or controls displayed in the app. Save scanned documents in the app specific folder on your iOS device or in the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Evernote, Photostream, or many other cloud storages like iDriveSync via WebDAV).
    • 3 Copy documents using the control buttons on the printer’s display or the controls shown in the app.
    • 4 Show printer details like settings, comnections, supply levels, and print reports like network configuration, wireless test report, or print quality report.
    • 5 Automatic upload of new documents to iCloud and syncing documents across all your iOS devices.
    • 6 As already mentioned AiO Remote can be connected to different cloud storages. So it’s also possible to download documents from there. They can be printed, saved locally, sent by mail, or transferred to other cloud storages.
      Unfortunately Apple’s iWork file formats are not supported.
    • 7 Optional usage of the HP ePrint Service which allows to send print jobs to an E-Mail address registered on the HP ePrint website. If the registration process is finished your printer gets an E-Mail address from HP. Print jobs can be sent to this address and the printout is done if the printer is turned on. So you can print documents from anywhere by sending an E-Mail to your printers E-Mail address. All these print jobs can be managed using the HP ePrint app or the HP ePrint website.
      The HP ePrint service can also be used to print documents on nearby HP ePrint centers e.g. hotels. Nearby centers are shown within the app if Apple’s location services are turned on.

    Document management …

    I summarized some features of the configuration by taking screenshots.

    1 AiO Remote home screen if the printer is turned on

    20131219-093914.jpg

    2 Multipage scanning with a special feature, rearranging pages with Drag+Drop

    20131219-094056.jpg

    3 Saving the scanned document to a cloud storage or mailing it

    20131219-094156.jpg

    Non-AirPrint capable printers …

    When people are evaluating mobile printing solutions, one of the options is to buy a new printer. If you already use a non-AirPrint capable printer it cannot receive print jobs from your iOS device. Presto (former name FingerPrint) by Collobos Software Inc. addresses this problem. The application finds your classical printers automatically and makes them available to your iOS devices if both, printer and iPhone or iPad, are in the same WiFi network.

    How to …
    Consider a network with an attached printer and an iOS-Device in the same network. Install Presto on a Mac or a PC connected to this network. For your iOS-Device no further action is needed that means no special app has to be installed.
    Presto finds all network attached printers automatically and they can be selected on the iOS-Device with the SELECT PRINTER dialog within every app which supports printing.

    See this video for a short description of Presto by Collobos.

    Summary …

    AiO Remote is a continuously updated app from a reliable developer with outstanding features. UI and UX are perfect and the iCloud integration lets you take photos of documents with your iPhone which already arrived when you come home and use your iPad for further actions.

    Related links …

    HP Mobile Printing

    HP ePrint Center

    Thanks for stopping by.





Inspiration

20 03 2014

Mind maps and concept maps are a perfect way to visualize creative processes like brainstorming or summarizing hierarchically or non-hierarchically organized content like feature descriptions of a software product or processes.

In contrast to a mind map a concept map visualizes the whole system with it’s interdependencies and it’s not limited to a strict hierarchy as some points are bound to more than one parent topic.

There is an app named Inspiration (Inspiration Software Inc., USA) for Apple’s iPad which is suitable for creating concept maps whereas the app iThoughts (Craig Scott, UK) is recommended for creating mind maps.

Concept Maps …

Concept Maps visualise and communicate knowledge.

Joseph Donald Novak (born 1932) is an American educator, and Professor Emeritus at the Cornell University, New York, and Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human + Machine Cognition. He is known for his development of concept mapping in the 1970s.

From the outset, Concept Maps were designed to communicate. A student’s Concept Map can be systematically evaluated by their teacher, to assess their grasp of a subject. The scope of their maps and their level of understanding of the relationships between ideas are a reliable indicator of their “knowledge” – what they have learned and integrated, not just learned by rote. It is one thing to know facts, but relating them to each other and understanding their influence on each other takes us from information towards knowledge. Facts alone do not help us to predict behaviour, whereas knowledge represented by models does.
(Nick Duffill)

Summary …

Bringing Nick Duffill’s analysis of the differences between mind maps and concept maps to a very shortened summary:

Mind Maps are captured visualizations of fairly independent objects gearing for extensions and loosing much of their relevance for people who weren’t involved in the creation process.
The tree limb is just connected to the bole.

Concept Maps visualize knowledge of whole systems with interacting elements and logic operations. In contrast to a tree limb objects are connected with basically all other objects like the orbs in the solar system where the gravity and the magnetic and electric fields define the interactions.

If you are interested in a comprehensive description of the differences please read Nick Duffill’s excellent article about mind maps and concept maps (see the link below). He hit that nail square on the head.

The app Inspiration …

The app Inspiration (Inspiration Software Inc., USA) for the iPad (an iPhone version is not available) is intended to create concept maps as well as mind maps for:

  • Brainstorm new ideas and capture insights
  • Analyze information
  • Understanding cause and effect
  • Organize projects
  • Organize thoughts and topics for writing
  • Take notes

20131211-083308.jpg

Features ..

  • Simple usage because of a perfect UI
  • Diagrams are easy to build and saved instantly
  • Diagrams transform to outlines by just a single tap
  • Personalization with images, colour, shape, arrow style, and backgrounds
  • Using images from the web or the camera roll
  • Notes can be attached to any item
  • Hyperlinks can be added as floating shapes
  • Templates are available after installation

Filesharing …

Inspiration files can be shared as PDFs or in their native file format

  • with other apps by using the ‘Open in’ command
  • with other iPads via Dropbox or iTunes
    (iCloud is not supported)
  • E-Mail or export diagrams or outlines in vector PDF format

Impressions of the UI …

Work screen …

20131211-083501.jpg

Formatting of objects …

Tap on ‘i’ to access the formatting options.
Symbols automatically resize to fit the text that you put in them. You can also manually resize any symbol using the natural pinch interface of the iPad. To resize, touch and hold the symbol with two fingers then drag your fingers outward to make the symbol larger or pinch your fingers together to make the image smaller. The image will grow or shrink proportionally.

20131211-084321.jpg

Sometimes you may want to fine-tune the layout of your diagram. Inspiration Maps includes functions to align, evenly space, or nudge the symbols in your diagram. You must have at least two symbols selected to use the align function and at least three symbols selected to use the evenly space function. In order to select more than one symbol at a time, you’ll need to turn on Multiple Selection using the on the top toolbar.

Layout enhancements …

  • To align selected symbols
    Make sure you have at least two symbols selected.
    Then tap ‘i’. Tap the Style tab. Tap Layout Enhancements.
    Choose how you want the selected symbols aligned by tapping the top, center, bottom, left, middle, or right icon.
  • To evenly space selected symbols
    Make sure you have at least three symbols selected.
    Then tap ‘i’. Tap the Style tab. Tap Layout Enhancements.
    Choose to evenly space the symbols vertically or horizontally.
  • To nudge selected symbols
    Sometimes you may find that it’s difficult to be precise with your finger when you’re moving a symbol to a specific spot. Nudge comes in handy because you can have more control over the movement of a symbol or multiple symbols.
    Tap to select the symbol(s) you’d like to nudge. Tap the Style tab. Tap Layout Enhancements. Choose to nudge the symbol(s) left, right, up or down.

Outline interface …

Maps can be edited via the graphical user interface or, in case of hierarchical structures, via the outline interface.

20131211-084522.jpg

Shapes …

The update of Inspiration now contains 1000+ different shapes organized in categories.

20131211-084113.jpg

The pros and cons …

Pros …

  • Simple UI (user interface), perfect UX (user experience)
  • Maps can be organized in folders
  • Transfer of a map to a self-created folder is done by drag and drop
  • One and just one task bar at the top of the screen
  • Hyperlinks can be added as floating objects
  • Maps can be generated from an outline

Added new features in the update of December 9, 2013:

  • The app got tons of more or less useful shapes which can be accessed via a new control positioned top left and divided into several categories.
    Shapes also include well-known flow chart symbols.
  • Audio files can be added to every object.
  • Multiple selection of objects now can be turned on or off.
  • To refine the layout align, nudge and spacing controls were added.
  • Written or audio instructions can be added to any document.
  • Free templates can be downloaded for mostly scientific purposes in US English, UK English, French and Spanish.

Cons …

  • WebDAV is not supported
    The user is bound to Dropbox except he uses the ‘Open In’ command to transfer the map to a file management app. From their it can be transferred to other cloud storages.
  • Text color of hyperlinks cannot be changed
  • Text color doesn’t automatically change if the object color is changed
    Changing the background color from black to white should automatically change the text color from white to black.
  • Opening of hyperlinks only via dialog
    A nice-to-have feature would be the tap-and-hold gesture.
  • Connection symbols between notes and topics have a standard length
    Notes cannot be assigned to other topics.
  • Saving to Dropbox does not allow to select a folder
    The app uses /apps/inspiration maps as the default folder.
    So it’s recommended to install the free Dropbox client app to manage the files.
  • Multiple saving of the same map always creates new numbered file names
    So on one hand a version history of a useful map is created on the other hand it cannot be managed by the app (e.g. deletion of old versions). If you already shared a link it’s broken when saving an updated version.
  • Opening a map always changes the file date even if the map is not edited

Improvements …

This is an E-Mail I sent to the developer’s support in May 2013 and got this statement:

20130726-075543.jpg

The updated version of Inspiration still doesn’t fix the problems with Dropbox but solved the other problems mentioned in my mail.

Summary …

What I see is an app which is slightly improved but still has many cons.
It’s useful for easy tasks but a bit light weight for business purposes.

Notes …

Nick Duffill, Harport Consulting, Scotland

Mind Maps + Concept Maps

Nick is an expert in mapping technology as well writing sophisticated articles about mind mapping and concept mapping.

Inspiration Software Inc., USA

Inspiration for the iPad

developer of the reviewed app Inspiration and intensively taking care of my questions.

Related links …

Basics …

Mind Maps and Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Perfect mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Mindly for the iPhone

Other mind mapping tools …

Popples made by Popplet

BigMind

Three In One

Platform for shared maps …

The group ‘Apple’ on Biggerplate
created by myself in January 2013 on the world’s largest platform for shared mind maps with lots of mind maps regarding Apple and Apple products

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





Go Paperless with Tap Forms

12 03 2014

My last blog post was about going paperless with a document keeping app. This post is about a much more powerful solution using a database app.

About databases …

It’s out of question that databases on mobiles are the most efficient way to manage large amount of data.

The strong benefit of a database is the synopsis of otherwise widely spread information. Apple’s App Store offers a lot of apps suitable for productive operations but all the informations saved by these apps are cut into pieces saved in app-specific folders. Database management tools summarize all the different types of information in just one app.

If you create structured data (e.g. contacts, where every contact consists of a set of fields (e.g. name, email-address, phone number, account, bank) with different contents and save them as a file you have a very simple database. Its just a container in which similar data are stored like in a spreadsheet.

Lets call the set of FIELDS a TABLE (Form, Library) and the contents of one set of fields a RECORD and a subset of all records a QUERY (collection) and one or more tables and queries a DATABASE

20131209-065716.jpg

An improved version of a database contains many tables, stores your data securely, lets you collaborate simultaneously with other people and gives you fast information about people, stocks, insurances, words in other languages and beyond. But the pure data won’t let you do the jobs. It would be like searching in a very bulky phone book where data are not sorted.
So you need database management software (DBMS) to support your curiosity.

A Database Management System (DBMS) is a set of algorithms that enables you to store, modify, and extract information from a database, it also provides users with tools to add, delete, access, modify, and analyze data stored in one location. A group can access the data by using query and reporting tools that are part of the DBMS or by using applications specifically written to access the data. A DBMS also provides the method for maintaining the integrity of stored data, running security and users access, and recovering information if the system fails.

An powerful feature of databases comes up, if you connect data in different tables. If a record is about a device you might want to attach the receipt and a certificate of warranty. So the first table is about the device itself and the second table contains file attachments e.g. In PDF file format. Records of the two tables are linked together via a common key which could be the serial number of the device. When looking at the main table ‘Devices’ your DBMS retrieves the file attachments from the second table and shows it to you.

A database solves many problems with your otherwise widely spread data.
Where is the “egg-laying, milk-bearing woolly sow app” that makes it all easy to manage?

The short answer is: nowhere except with a database app.

Tap Forms by Tap Zapp Software is by far the best mobile database app for iOS devices and the company offers a desktop companion app which is fully compatible with the iOS version. So there is one and only one data pool accessible from all you Apple devices and syncing via iCloud.

Creating the form …

Within Tap Forms tables are called ‘forms’. So let us create the form to manage the personal repository. To do so just tap on the ‘+’ icon in the main screen, enter a name for your form and add fields by selecting them from the field list. Enter names for the fields and, if necessary, edit the field options.

20131209-065808.jpg

Notes …

  • Missing fields
    Don’t worry, you can add them later and remove fields you don’t need.
  • Pick List
    Use pick lists to choose text from predefined lists. It saves time and prevents from using different terms or different spellings. Use a pick list for the field ‘Keyword’ to quickly find related records with a query.
  • URL
    Add the field URL to a record to quickly access the website with further information from within the app.
  • Note
    Always add the field ‘Note’ to a form to enter annotations which otherwise don’t fit in any other field.
  • Alert
    Alerts are shown in the notification center and as a counter on the apps icon e.g. to remind you of an important maturity.
  • Audio
    An Audio field offers the ability to quickly comment on a record.
  • Layout
    After finishing the field creation procedure you can adjust the layout of the form: rearrange the order of fields, set colors and fonts for labels and values, decide which fields should be shown in the navigation area on the left side of the screen.

Attach files …

In my first blog post ‘Go Paperless’ I already mentioned that the PDF file format should be used for scanned documents. So now we have to decide how to attach the files generated by an All-In-One printer with the app AiO Remote by HP or with the help of Scanner Pro by Readdle with which a photo of the document is converted into a PDF file and transferred to Tap Forms.

Basically you can add multiple fields of type ‘File Attachment’ to a record so that several documents can be attached to a record. When creating the form you do not know how many files must be attached later. It can be just one or many updates of documents you get from your insurance company over time. So the best solution is to create a second form ‘MyRepositoryFiles’ which contains the files and is linked to the basic form ‘MyRepository’. In my example I used both fields, a field of the type ‘File Attachment’ and a field of type ‘Link to Form’ which sets the connection to files in the linked form.

Linking a second form to the main form is explained in my article DBMS on iOS devices (2).

Secure the data …

A personal repository contains sensitive data which should be secured by a password for the app as well as an encryption of the database. Tap Forms then encrypts backups of your database on Dropbox and iCloud with 256-Bit AES algorithms.

20131209-070203.jpg

Sync …

To update the whole database on all your devices activate iCloud Sync. If you use your iPhone for taking a picture of a document or scanning it with the app Scanner Pro by Readdle you usually create a new record, add the document, and want to have it on all other devices when coming home. iCloud Sync does it for you.

20131209-070315.jpg

Backup …

Because of the relevance of a personal repository it’s indispensable to regularly backup your data on an external storage. With Tap Forms you backup to Dropbox. So there are three copies of your database: on your device, on iCloud, and on Dropbox. This redundancy never let’s you loose your data.

20131209-070404.jpg

The workflow …

Here is the complete workflow visualized in a concept map.

20131209-135411.jpg

Summary …

In contrast to a document manager like Docunents by Readdle a database is definitely the better choice for managing your personal repository. It adds many useful features not available in pure file managers. To just save PDFs often is not suitable to keep all necessary information together and to complete a record over time with further data e.g. alerts, notes, or files like renewal certificates.

20131209-075735.jpg

Don’t worry about using databases. With Tap Forms it’s really easy to build your own ‘application’ for managing secured information in one place with accessibility on all your other Apple devices.

Related links …

About the company…

Tap Zapp Software Inc., Canada

About the desktop companion of Tap Forms …

Tap Forms for Mac

About the usage of databases …

DBMS on iOS devices (1)

DBMS on iOS devices (2)

DBMS on iOS devices (3)

DBMS on iOS devices (4)

DBMS on iOS devices (5)

Importing Data

Form Access To Tap Forms

zBase vs Tap Forms

Thanks a lot for visiting my blog.





Go Paperless

8 03 2014

Stats say that every human living in an industrial nation uses about 20,000 kg paper in his life.

About paper …

Paper may be impregnated, enamelled, metallised, made to look like parchment, creped, water-proofed, waxed, glazed, sensitized, bent, turned, folded, twisted, crumpled, cut, torn, dissolved, macerated, moulded, and embossed. It may be coloured, coated, printed or even written on! It can be laminated with fabric, plastic and metal. It can be opaque, translucent or transparent. It is naturally combustible, or can be made fre-retardent. It may be a carrier or a barrier or a filter. It may be made tough enough to withstand acid, or soft enough for a baby’s skin. It can be read and worn as a garment. It can be re-used and recycled and it is made from a renewable, sustainable source.

The range of possible uses of paper seems almost limitless. New ways of using it are being devised daily. This evolution will continue because paper is an expression of everyday living.

  • Agriculture
    Sacks, seed packets, and animal bedding Building
    Wallpaper, damp-proof courses, roofing, flooring, flame resistant papers, plasterboard, and decorative laminates for furniture.
  • Business
    Print out sheets, receipts, circulars, catalogues, filing systems, sales and service manuals, brochures, and letter heading.
  • Cars
    Fascia boards, door and roof liners, filters the Highway Code, and driving licences.
  • Communications
    Writing pads, envelopes, newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, calendars, diaries, telephone directories, labels, business and identity cards.
  • Domestic Products
    Tissues, paper plates and cups, toilet paper, kitchen towels, table napkins, and lampshades.
  • Education
    Books, exercise books, wall charts, flip charts, and report cards
  • Electrical
    Special insulating boards, electrolytic condenser paper, wrapping and identification for electrical cables, printe( circuits, and battery separators.
  • Entertainment
    Menu cards, paper hats, crackers, fireworks, wrapping paper, programmes, playing cards, board games, kites, model aircraft, and race cards.
  • Filtration
    Filters for water, air, coffee, medicine, beer, oil, and mechanical uses.
  • Impregnated Papers
    Polishing, waxing, and cleaning.
  • Industry
    Protection for manufactured goods, in transport, transfer sheets for decorating chinaware, display boards, point of sale materials and in storage.
  • Medical
    Wrapping to keep instruments and equipment sterile, bandages, first aid bands, clothing for nurses, face masks, surgeons’caps, disposable bed pans, sheets, and pillowcases.
  • Money, Finance, Security
    Bank notes, insurance forms, cheque books, travellers’ cheques, postal orders, stamps, cash bags and security papers that contain special markings which are only visible when subjected to ultra-violet light

This is an amazing variety of applications but although there is a sophisticated recycling industry the usage of paper still destroys parts of our ecosystem.

Paper consumption …

The paper consumption in individual countries is related to their gross national product. The further increase in paper and board consumption will be different in different countries depending on whether economic saturation, as e. g. in the United States, in the North European and some Central European countries, and also in Japan, or fast increasing demand, as in China, is prevailing. But also India, Russia and some other Asian and East European countries will come up in the near future with growth rates above the average. The following comparision between the paper consumption per capita and the population in the various regions of the world demonstrate the significant differences and devine the future development of the paper demand there.

20131207-095558.jpg

The production and use of paper has a number of adverse effects on the environment.
Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years leading to increase in deforestation, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture. Logging of old growth forests accounts for less than 10% of wood pulp, but is one of the most controversial issues.
Paper waste accounts for up to 40% of total waste produced in the United States each year, which adds up to 71.6 million tons of paper waste per year in the United States alone.
Conventional bleaching of wood pulp using elemental chlorine produces and releases into the environment large amounts of chlorinated organic compounds, including chlorinated dioxins. Dioxins are recognized as a persistent environmental pollutant, regulated internationally by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Dioxins are highly toxic, and health effects on humans include reproductive, developmental, immune and hormonal problems. They are known to be carcinogenic. Over 90% of human exposure is through food, primarily meat, dairy, fish and shellfish, as dioxins accumulate in the food chain in the fatty tissue of animals.

The tasks …

If you plan to go paperless you won’t change the stats significantly but there are some other benefits when moving from ring folders to flash memories.

Scanning documents is a daily task for big businesses but it also can be useful for private purposes. You have access to all important information without taking heavy filing folders with you, search within documents without looking through countless pages, send documents or parts of them to companies or authorities, etc. instead of copying them on new paper. Another benefit is that you still have the content even if original documents get lost for what reason soever.

Here is a brief overview of documents which are worth scanning

  • Insurance Policies
  • Receipts
  • Certificates of Warranty
  • Passport, ID Card, Driver License
  • Ad-hoc information taken with a camera

After buying an iPad about one year ago I started to reduce paper consumption. The first step is to find out the right apps and then optimize the workflow from incoming or already existing documents to permanent storage on an iOS device.

The requirements …

For me, a reliable solution is based on software of reliable software developers which should meet the following requirements:

General …

  • UI design following Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines
  • Reliable developer updating his apps regularly
  • Universal app (running on all iOS-Devices)
  • Further apps from the same developer for related tasks
  • Understandable and fast support
  • Code stability
  • iCloud support
  • Scanning

Specific …

  • Integrated camera usage
  • Saving photos as images or PDFs
  • Combining several photos as pages to a unique document
  • Connection to different well-known cloud storages including iCloud as well as WebDAV-Connections
  • Setting of meaningful filenames for images respectively PDFs
  • Organizing scanned objects in folders
  • Mailing of scanned objects
  • Availability of the iOS ‘Open in…’ command
  • Access to the camera roll and the photo stream
  • Password protection for the app
  • Encryption of documents when uploaded to cloud storages and sending by E-Mail
  • Syncing of scanned objects across all iOS-Devices using the same Apple ID
  • Printing of scanned documents
  • Extended search functionalities

There are three apps available at Apple’s App Store which meet all these requirements.

Scanning …

  • Scanner Pro by Readdle
    with an impressive user interface for scanning by using the integrated camera.
  • AiO Remote by HP
    for hardware-based scanning in connection with an AirPrint capable Three-In-One (Print, Scan, Copy) device by Hewlett Packard.
  • Prizmo by Creaseed
    for extracting text from photos and saving the content as PDF.
    This is a much more faster procedure than scanning documents with an AiO device although the quality is slightly reduced.

Document management …

  • Documents by Readdle
    as the main container for scanned documents with access to Apple’s iCloud and other cloud providers

Useful utilities …

  • File Browser by Stratospherix
    as a tool to access nearly all cloud storages as well as local computers running on OS X or Windows with powerful features like moving multiple files from one storage to another, zipping files, etc.
  • Native apps
    of cloud providers like Box, Dropbox, and iDriveSync
  • 1Password by AgileBits
    as the main password keeper for all sensitive data

It was a rocky road to find out these apps in Apple’s App Store with thousands of productivity apps. The developers of the mentioned products did their homework in the last months and today the apps are quite powerful.

As you can see this suggested solution is not based on a database system. I will discuss the alternate way to go paperless in my next post.

Feature descriptions …

Documents by Readdle

20131207-112952.jpg

Documents supports Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync, SkyDrive, Office 365 Sharepoint, CloudMe, WebDAV, Windows SMB, FTP Server, and SFTP Server (as of Dec 2013).

For a full feature description of Documents by Readdle see my post mentioned under ‘Related links’.

AiO Remote by HP

20131207-112809.jpg

AiO Remote supports, iCloud (for syncing), Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and any WebDAV access, e.g. iDriveSync.

Scanner Pro by Readdle

20131207-113350.jpg

Scanner Pro supports Apple’s iCloud so that documents e.g. scanned with an iPhone are automatically also available on an iPad.

Further considerations …

Many of the scanned documents contain information which must be available over years. So it’s indispensable to use a suitable file format which allows access over a long time and it turns out that it’s the PDF file format of Adobe.

Additionally it’s worth thinking about the folder structure where scanned documents should be saved.

My suggestions how to group the information …

I called the root folder ‘ARCHIVE’ with the following subfolders:

Long-Termed (many years)

  • Insurance Policies
  • Real Estate
  • Certificates of Warranty
  • Personal documents
  • Last Will
  • etc

Short-Termed (1-2 years)

  • Receipts
  • Carrier contracts
  • etc

I always use structured file names containing a date (e.g. conclusion of a contract) and an added short description pointing to the main content, for example 2013-12-06-AppleTV or 2014-01-13-CarLeasing.

An essential point is that there are at least two different storages so that access is still possible even if a device is broken, replaced, or not in use.

It needs some efforts to replace old documents by newer ones and to delete documents which are not valid any longer. But this is a task you also have to do when using ring binders. Nothing is more annoying than to find invalid information when searching for essentials.

Legislation …

Check the legislation in your country. Paperless storage of certain documents without keeping the originals might be inoperative. In this case the old-fashioned usage of ring binders is still indispensable.

Note
This was the case in Germany where companies sent their invoices as PDFs which were inoperative if the company didn’t digitally signed them. Legislation was changed because it hampered the workflow of small enterprises.

Security …

It’s up to where you primarily store your documents. Keep in mind that everything is stored in Apple’s iCloud if you device is backed up to iCloud. So if you don’t want your documents saved in iCloud you should turn off iCloud backup.
If you use a cloud provider it is indispensable to read the terms and conditions. Free cloud storages are subject to change and suspension without notification.
See ‘Risky free clouds’ under ‘Related links’.
A suggested provider is iDriveSync with encryption of data in transit (during transfer from your device via internet) and at rest (when saved on a provider’s server).

Summary …

Here is a summary of the hard- and software configuration

20131207-141641.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Word DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

An annotation …

Valid for reducing paper waste in the private and business sector …

If your goal in maintaining a paperless office is greater productivity, you may find it more useful to focus on that, rather than on the paper itself. For example, if you receive lots of printed documents and your main problems are finding information in them and figuring out where to file them, the scan-OCR-shred routine will serve you well. It won’t literally reduce the amount of paper you encounter, but it will address the inconveniences you struggle with.

Then there are the trees. Environmental issues, including saving forests and reducing waste, are certainly noble reasons to decrease paper usage.
MacWorld

Related links …

About paper …

Fast facts on Paper Use

Paper Consumption

About the hard- and software …

Documents by Readdle

zBase vs Tap Forms

Text Recognition (1)

Text Recognition (2)

About clouds …

Risky free clouds

iDriveSync Privacy

Thanks for stopping by.
Please do not print this page, just save the PDF version.





Documents by Readdle

28 02 2014

Documents by Readdle (USA) is a universal app for iOS devices and intended to support file management. The developer is a reliable company updating it’s products regularly since years.

File sharing is an indispensable requirement for collaborating, backing up relevant files and continue working on other devices. For private and business environments the following features should be provided by apps for the iPad and the iPhone.

  • 01 Connection to well-known cloud providers
  • 02 Connection to external storages via WebDAV
  • 03 Connection to storages attached to Windows networks
  • 04 Connection to storages attached to Apple’s routers
  • 05 Connection via SMB, FTP, SFTP
  • 06 E-Mail support for sending and receiving multiple documents from within the app
  • 07 Reading all well-known file formats (Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, etc.)
  • 08 Transfer of files between all connections
  • 09 Organization of files in self-created folders

Some technical information about SMB …

Wikipedia: Server Message Block
In computer networking, Server Message Block (SMB), also known as Common Internet File System (CIFS) operates as an application-layer network protocol mainly used for providing shared access to files, printers, serial ports, and miscellaneous communications between nodes on a network.

Not only does SMB allow computers to share files, but it also enables computers to share printers and even serial ports from other computers within the network. For example, a computer connected to a Windows network could print a document on a printer connected to another computer on the network, as long as both machines support the SMB protocol.

Though SMB was originally developed for Windows, it can also be used by other platforms, including Unix and Mac OS X, using a software implementation called Samba. By using Samba instructions, Mac, Windows, and Unix computers can share the same files, folders, and printers. This is great for those Windows-based office networks where there is a graphic designer who refuses to use anything but a Mac and a tech guy who does everything on his Linux machine.

Features of Documents …

The developers description …

  • READ
    - View Office Documents
    - Read and Annotate PDF files
    - Search Inside Documents
    - Edit Text Files
    - Read Books and Articles
  • MANAGE
    - Manage your files
    - Copy Documents from Mac or PC – Sync with iCIoud, Dropbox, Google Drive and other cloud storages
    - Share Files with Your Friends
    - Protect Everything with a Password
  • SAVE
    - Store Email Attachments
    - Download Documents from the Web
    - Save Web Pages to Read them Later
  • ENJOY
    - View Photos from your Trip
    - Watch Movies while on a plane
    - Listen to Your Favorite Music

20131126-140533.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Documents and iWork …

Of you use Apple’s iWork Suite and activated iCloud to sync your documents across all of your devices it might be useful to add an additional security layer for important documents. Why? Well, if you accidentally delete an iWork document on one of your devices it will we deleted from all of your devices.

Apple’s document management in iCloud doesn’t support the recovery of deleted documents.

So it’s worth saving documents at an additional place. You can do it by using the ‘Send a copy’ command within iWork and send a copy to an additional cloud storage which is accessible via WebDAV e.g. Box net, iDriveSync, etc. In many cases users prefer a Dropbox account (because the majority of apps support Dropbox) but there is still no chance to access Dropbox via WebDAV.

20131126-140746.jpg

The alternative is the usage of the ‘Open in another app’ command within the iWork Suite and choose ‘Documents’ as the destination application. If doing so Apple’s operating system moves a copy of your document to the app specific folder of Documents. An unwanted deletion of an iWork document then doesn’t affect the copy which has been saved in the documents folder of Documents. For the reverse way, from Documents to iWork, you also can use the ‘Open in’ command from within Documents.

Additionally you can activate syncing within Documents so that the copies of your iWork documents are synced with your preferred cloud storage.

Keep in mind that all documents saved in the app specific folder of Documents are only accessible on the device which contains the copy. You have to activate iCloud for Documents to automatically sync data of Documents with the app related part of your iCloud account.

Highlights …

Some impressions of the UI and my personal highlights …

  • Drag + Drop
    Drag + Drop to move files between folders
  • iOS Data Protection
    iOS encrypts all files when Passcode Lock in device settings is enabled and device os locked.
  • Office Documents Search
    Full text indexing of MS Office, iWork, HTML files
  • Zip
    Zip selectable files
  • E-Mail
    E-Mail selectable files (in contrast to iOS no limitation of the number of files)
  • Websites
    With the integrated browser websites can be saved in PDFs or HTML format
  • SMB support
    Easily connect to Windows PCs

Summary …

Documents by Readdle is an app with a perfect UI following Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines. The developer is continuously improving it’s apps.
Another noteworthy app of the company is Scanner Pro also operating on a high quality level with a perfect UI. Apple’s iWork Suite, Documents, and Scanner Pro together build a powerful extension of features on an iPad and an iPhone.

Related links …

Every app is an i(s)Land

Scanning documents

Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines

WebDAV Basics

Thanks for stopping by.





About yourself

24 02 2014

Orca is a mobile healthcare company that improves patients’ experience.
The multisensory apps provide a more effective learning experience. Learning is about doing. Health care specialists can use touch, sound, sight, and real interactivity, to instruct and teach their patients more quickly, efficiently and effectively. Medical students are supported when learning the anatomy, conditions, and even basics of treatments. For patients and interested people in general the apps are a comprehensive knowledge base about the human body.

The company was founded by physicians, designers and engineers who want to make the clinical experience better for patients. Orca develops apps that improve doctors’ interactions with their patients. These apps deliver relevant and interactive medical content, which is easily shared with the patient via app or the web.

The company cooperates with Harvard Medical School to provide the best content.

Actual offers …

As of November 2013 the company offers the following apps

20131122-120618.jpg

Orca Tools are developed for a better patient communication. Using Orca Tools you can: capture photos & video of MRIs, x-rays, or pathologies annotate, draw & highlight on the anatomy content quickly, and securely send digital handouts to your patients.

Orca data can be exported in a number of different formats and added to several different EMRs. Orca content can be accessed online, on iPads, and on TV systems.

See this video which describes how to use the features

Create Handout

Favorites

An example …

To describe some basic features of Orca apps I used the app HeartDecide.

HeartDecide includes interactive 3D animations that permit you to explore and explain anatomy. Hospitals and healthcare systems who leverage 3D animation see higher levels of patient engagement and an increased perception of quality care.
More than just grabbing attention, studies show that 3D animations are more potent than text, physical models and 2D illustrations, in communicating health information.
HeartDecide also contains visual imagery of conditions (photographs, x-rays, and animation), with an option to toggle between normal and abnormal views, which helps patients grasp problems that seem obvious (because of their training and experience) to healthcare specialists.

20131123-112609.jpg

Lastly, augmented reality provides a unique way to enhance comprehension in-context, by enhancing the patient’s worldview with relevant visual and auditory information.

20131123-112801.jpg

Satisfaction levels among people who are well-informed are much higher than those who don’t understand their condition or treatment. Patients who interact with information via multiple sensory inputs feel more satisfied with the course of action they choose and the care they receive. Numerous studies have proven the efficacy of this type of education, it significantly elevates both comprehension and recall.

20131123-112905.jpg

Comprehensive textual information about the anatomy as well as conditions are available.

Privacy and relevance …

Orca about privacy …

We know privacy is important to you and your patients, as a result, all of this content is available to your patients via a HIPAA-secure web portal, which will be linked to your search-optimized Orca Health Specialist Profile.

Relevance and applications are documented in these statements of healthcare professionals.

20131122-191759.jpg

Summary …

The apps improve doctors’ interactions with their patients and support each others understanding. For non-professionals (using the free versions of Orca apps) it’s an interesting insight in how the human body works.

Related links …

How Health Care Pros are using Twitter

Thanks for stopping by.
Hope to see you again in the best of health.





An invoice created with Numbers

20 02 2014

Apple made the iWork suite for free when buying a new iOS device to improve the user experience by providing all the basic features users expect. The iWork Suite for iOS consists of

  • Keynote
    the presentation tool for creating slides and present them to an audience
  • Pages
    the text editor to write letters and more
  • Numbers
    the spreadsheet application for calculations, stats, and other stuff for which a table is the appropriate approach

This post is about an application using Numbers for creating an invoice.

Two versions …

There is a simple approach with a template showing all products in a table. The invoice then is created by deleting unwanted rows and adjusting the quantities.

Another version is more complex and allows to refer to an additional sheet where products are listed with their prices. It uses the embedded function ‘Lookup’ to retrieve the unit price from a sheet where all products are listed.

Both versions work with a control called Stepper to adjust the desired quantity for each item (see image below). I used Apple’s template ‘Invoice’ which is available after the installation of Numbers.

The simple version …

The kernel of this version is a table where all products are listed. A calculation for the total net value, the tax, and the gross amount has already been added by Apple. If you use the template just tap on the cells to see how the calculation is done.

20131122-130320.jpg

Steps to create the invoice:

  • 1 Tap on the tab ‘Invoice’ and select ‘Duplicate’ from the context menu.
    This step is necessary to not loose the template for further invoices.
  • 2 Delete unwanted rows by tapping on the table (to select the table object).
    Bars appear above the columns and to the left of the rows.

  • 3 Tap on the row in the left bar to delete it.
    The whole invoice is immediately recalculated.
  • 4 Repeat this step for all unwanted items.

Note

If product properties have to be updated select the template ‘Invoice’ and make the necessary changes for product description or unit price.

The more complex version …

An alternate version uses a separate sheet where all products are listed, the price list. Another sheet contains the template for the invoice with some rows where the desired products must be inserted by referring to the sheet ‘Products’.
This version uses two embedded features:

  • 1 the function Lookup
    to search for a product in the sheet ‘Products’ and to insert its unit price in the column ‘Unit Price’. Calculations are done by the same formulas as in version 1.
  • 2 a control called Pop-Up Menu which contains all product descriptions.
    The values for choosing a product must be added manually when creating the control. All values have to match the original product description. Otherwise the ‘Lookup’ function doesn’t return a valid unit price.
    The ‘Pop-Up Menu’ is bound to each line of the column ‘Description’.

Here are the steps to create the Stepper Control to access the unit price from the sheet Products.

  • 1 Tap on the first cell in the column ‘Description’.
  • 2 Tap on the ‘Edit’ symbol in the task bar of Numbers (top left).
  • 3 Select the tab ‘Format’ and then ‘Pop-Up Menu’.
  • 4 Create the proper values by entering the product description.
    You have to enter the exact description used in the sheet ‘Products’. Otherwise the item cannot be found.

20131122-130439.jpg

  • 5 Use the function Lookup within the cell Unit Price to refer to the unit price in the table Products.
  • 5.1 This is done by double-tapping on the cell Unit Price. The input bar of Numbers comes up.
  • 5.2 Tap on ‘Functions’ and then on ‘Reference’.
  • 5.3 Select Lookup.
    The LOOKUP function finds a match for a given search value in one collection, and then returns the value in the cell with the same relative position in a second collection.

    LOOKUP(search for, search where, resultvalues)

    •search tor:
    The value to find. Search value can contain any value.

    Select the first parameter by tapping on it.
    Select the cell Description.
    The coordinate is overtaken as the first parameter.

    •search where:
    The collection containing the values to be searched, search where can contain any values.

    Select the second parameter by tapping on it.
    Select the sheet ‘Products’.
    Select the whole column Description by tapping on the upper bar (which comes comes up when selecting the table). The coordinates of this column are overtaken as the second parameter.

    •resultvalues:
    An optional collection containing the value to be returned based on the search, result values can contain any values.

    Select the third parameter by tapping on it.
    Select the whole column Unit Price.
    The coordinates of this column are overtaken as the third parameter.

  • 5.4 Tap on ‘Finish’ (white check mark with green background).
  • 20131122-131010.jpg

    The usage …

    If you now want to create a new invoice, copy the template, enter the customer data, and compose the product list to be calculated. The latter is done by using the Stepper Controls for Description (Step 1) and Quantity (Step 2).

    20131122-131245.jpg

    The pros and cons …

    Version 1 is simple whereas version 2 is more suitable when it comes to a large number of products. The sheet ‘Products’ can also be used as a price list. Just style it with some added images of products and add the terms and conditions.

    Another benefit of the 2nd version is that the maintenance of products is centralized. With added templates for offers, delivery notes, and sales confirmation there is just one data basis, the sheet ‘Products’. If you change details of a product it will immediately be changed in all the other templates.

    Send and archive …

    Invoices can be mailed to customers as PDFs. For archiving documents it’s recommended to save a PDF on a cloud storage for which encryption is offered, in transit as well as at rest. iDriveSync for example offers client-side encryption and can be accessed via WebDAV protocol from within iWork for iOS.

    For further information about cloud storages and WebDAV access please refer to ‘Related links’ below.

    Summary …

    For small businesses Apple’s Numbers might be useful. Legislation in nearly all countries require to save invoices for a longer period e.g. in Germany it’s 10 years. Additionally it’s required to use a strictly ascending invoice number. To fulfill all the advices mentioned in the legislation can be a hard job when using Numbers for iOS.

    But as always it’s a question of accurate work and an appropriate workflow.

    Related links …

    Numbers for iOS Devices

    Numbers for the Mac

    Risky free clouds

    WebDAV basics

    Thanks for stopping by.








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