iWork to Airport

30 06 2014

iWork for iOS syncs all your iWork documents via iCloud with all your other devices running on the same Apple ID. Sometimes it’s useful to save an iWork document on an external storage e.g. a USB stick connected to your router e.g. an Apple AirPort Extreme.

There seems to be a problem with iWork documents winging to an USB storage.
I’d like to think Apple products are perfect but they obviously aren’t.
But don’t panic.
There is a way to fix it in a jiffy.
There is an app for that.

Here is how you can do it seamlessly.

The hardware and software …

This is my home configuration, an iPad, an iPhone, and an Apple Airport Extreme router connected to cable internet via a CISCO modem.

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I use the USB port of the router to connect external storage media with the WiFi network.

To seamlessly connect to external storages I use the app FileBrowser by Stratospherix. Over time it was improved many times and seems to be the best app to connect to local storages as well as cloud storages via WebDAV or predefined connections to well-known cloud providers like Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, or even Point.io. It also supports Microsoft’s SMB protocol (Server Message Block) to automatically connect to Windows networks and since the last update the FTP protocol (File Transfer Protocol) is supported with which you can seamlessly access web servers.

With FileBrowser, the iPad or iPhone becomes a powerful tool for business and private use. The app is easy to use and allows files to be downloaded, edited and uploaded back to the original location or distributed to other employees, partners or customers. With FileBrowser, users can access their documents from their mobile device and no longer need to take bulky laptops to meetings or out of the office when visiting clients.

Let’s take a look on this universal app by summarizing its features in a mind map.

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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. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

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

The steps …

Step 1
Connecting to an attached storage

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Step 2
Using ‘Open in Another App’ in iWork

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i

An alternative …

An alternative to FileBrowser is GoodReader by Good.iWare. The app connects to the attached storage via SMB protocol.

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About SMB …
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.

Because of the many more features of FileBrowser, the clean UI, and the support of Point.io it’s more powerful than GoodReader.

An application …

If you don’t trust in cloud services or if your documents contain sensitive data you might want to disconnect iWork from iCloud.

Unfortunately you cannot deactivate iCloud syncing for single documents.

So you have to go to Settings – iCloud – Documents + Data and cut the connection for an app e.g. Numbers.

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From now on documents created with Numbers are saved locally and you can use the procedure iWork-To-Airport to save backup copies on the storage attached to you AirPort router.

Summary …

iOS devices with installed iWork apps should be improved regarding access to Apple’s routers and there should be an option for excluding single documents from automatically saving them on iCloud.

Related links …

Point.io

Thanks for dropping by.





iCloud, a paradigm shift

16 05 2014

Data has never really been where you thought it was. It was sprinkled across the blocks of a spinning disk and managed by a file allocation table which could retrieve it instantly as if it was all in one place. But it never was, like data traveling across the internet doesn’t always use the same path or is stored in a unique part of a cloud account.

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Note
Without a file system, information placed in a storage area would be one large body of data with no way to tell where one piece of information stops and the next begins. By separating the data into individual pieces, and giving each piece a name, the information is easily separated and identified.
Taking its name from the way paper-based information systems are named, each piece of data is called a file. The structure and logic rules used to manage the groups of information and their names is called a file system.

Using Apple’s Finder or Microsoft’s Windows Explorer gives us an outlined overview of what’s stored on our hard disk. A first step to access files more comfortable was the assignment of apps to file types, e.g. double-clicking a PDF opens the Adobe Reader but the app doesn’t help is to find out where other PDF’s are stored on a hard disk.

After 35 years of using computers I got tired to take care of folders and subfolders, file versions, backups, and scanning the storage for viruses.

Manual file handling is an anachronism.
We have apps to do it for us.

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That seems to be the philosophy of Apple when introducing iCloud services on June 6, 2011.

Press Info: Apple Introduces iCloud

In October 2013 Apple added iWork for iCloud to support web-based collaboration on documents regardless of the user’s Apple ID, the device, and the place from where he wants to work on them.

The idea …

To explain what the concept of Apple is let’s take a look on the internet.

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve several billion users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW), the infrastructure to support email, and peer-to-peer networks.

The funding of a new U.S. backbone by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial backbones, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. Though the Internet has been widely used by academia since the 1980s, the commercialization of what was by the 1990s an international network resulted in its popularization and incorporation into virtually every aspect of modern human life.

The Internet has no centralized governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own policies. Only the overreaching definitions of the two principal name spaces in the Internet, the Internet Protocol address space and the Domain Name System, are directed by a maintainer organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols (IPv4 and IPv6) is an activity of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise.
(Wikipedia)

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So the idea of Apple when launching the iCloud services is not new.
It was the rapid development of the internet which provoked the idea to a private counterpart, the iCloud services with some added and powerful features.

  • Optimized automated backup of the content of iOS devices
    • Apps are not stored in the cloud because they can be restored from the purchase list of your Apple account.
    • if your device is locked and connected to a WiFi network backups are automatically initiated.
  • Syncing across your devices
    • Contacts
    • Reminders
    • iWork Documents
    • Purchased apps
    • etc
  • Collaboration on iWork documents across different Apple IDs

Here is the full feature list of iCloud capabilities:

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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 Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Apple’s way …

Apple is well-known for reducing features to it’s needs and for seamless usage of it’s devices.

When you turn on a new iOS device or after you’ve completed the update to the latest version of iOS, follow the instructions in the setup assistant to activate your device and set up iCloud.

Using all the benefits of iCloud is as easy as switching on the light.

If you skipped the setup process, tap the Settings icon on the Home screen, select iCloud, then enter your Apple ID.

From now on iCloud does the work for you including advanced security with features like Activation Lock and Find My iPhone if you lose your device or it’s stolen.

It’s that simple. No further action is ever needed to sync all your devices or to backup content. Your Apple ID is the key to move into a perfectly designed ecosystem.

Special features …

Beside the well-known syncing features for contacts, reminders, iWork documents etc. Apple offers some more powerful features.

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  • iCloud Keychain
    keeps your Safari website usernames and passwords, credit card information, and Wi-Fi network information up to date across all of your approved devices that are using iOS 7.0.3 or later or OS X Mavericks v10.9 or later.

    iCloud Keychain can also keep the accounts you use in Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Messages up to date across all of your Macs. If you’re signed in to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, or any other accounts in Internet Accounts on OS X Mavericks, iCloud can push those accounts to your Macs as well.

    Setup

    Go to Settings – iCloud and turn Keychain on.
    Follow the onscreen instructions to complete setup.

    Security Code

    When you set up iCloud Keychain, you’re asked to create an iCloud Security Code. It can be a 4-digit code similar to the passcode lock for your device, or you can have a more complex code automatically generated for you. The iCloud Security Code is used to authorize additional devices to use your iCloud Keychain. It’s also used to verify your identify so that you can perform other iCloud Keychain actions, such as recovering your iCloud Keychain if you lose all your devices.

    Additional devices

    Follow the iCloud Keychain setup steps above for each device that you want to add. When you enable iCloud Keychain on an additional device, your other devices that use iCloud Keychain receive a notification requesting approval for the additional device. After you approve the additional device, your iCloud Keychain automatically begins updating on that device.

    Incorrect Security Code

    If you enter your iCloud Security Code incorrectly too many times, you won’t be able to use that iCloud Keychain. You can contact Apple Support, who can help verify your identity so that you can try again to enter your iCloud Security Code. After a number of incorrect attempts, your iCloud Keychain is removed from Apple’s servers and you will need to set up iCloud Keychain again.

    Local Keychain

    When setting up iCloud Keychain, you can skip the step for creating an iCloud Security Code. Your keychain data is then stored only locally on the device, and updates only across your approved devices.

  • Optimized Backup
    iCloud backup is a differential backup (only changed items are backed up after the first backup was initiated). Apps and other purchases are not backed up because they can be restored using the purchase history of your Apple ID. This saves time and space.
  • iWork in the cloud
    Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are the best way to be productive on a Mac or iOS device. Apple brought that productivity to the web in October 2013 for Mac and PC. The apps make it easy to work together with people everywhere. And since it’s all powered by iCloud, your documents are always up to date on each of your devices.

    iWork for iCloud works with Safari 6.0.3 or later, Chrome 27.0.1 or later, and Internet Explorer 9.0.8 or later.

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The future …

iCloud will connect all your services with each other. Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, SkyDrive and other clouds just operate as remote storage servers. Files are transferred to the cloud and taken off if needed. Some apps like ByWord (a simple text editor for iOS devices) automatically save content on DropBox servers which then can be accessed in a wide variety of ways.
All these approaches are isolated applications.

Apple is in a unique position. The company develops soft- and hardware which is the basis for building an interconnecting service and not only a file sharing application. This makes it a bit more confusing to think about because there is no precedent or metaphor to compare it with.

More and more developers implement iCloud storage and synchronization (e.g. the password keeper 1Password, the database application Tap Forms, etc.). They seamlessly connect to iCloud and users must not care about saving or syncing. Create an iWork document on one device, edit it on another device, and collaborate with people not using an Apple device but one of the supported browsers.

What I’m driving at is how there seems to be a difference between managing files on a remote located cloud through some dedicated App or having files available to specific Apps and not worrying about whether they are remotely located in a cloud.

Managing files manually seems to be a bit more work than necessary. If I am with a client and we change a document together, I could return to my office to see those changes without having to ask the client to upload the newest version. So I feel it is probably a choice we make about how we want to handle our data. Do we want Files? Or do we want access to our data? If the file needs an app to open it, then why not just have the app retrieve it from iCloud?

Everything we see from Apple regarding cloud services seems to be pointing toward empowering the apps themselves to handle their data in the cloud and to have hooks into iCloud which deal with this seamlessly. We all used to deal with filing our data on hard drives and organizing it into categories, labeling it, and adding tags. Lately it has gotten easier to manage documents without having to think about where they are located. We may have to evolve a new way of using computers where the desktop metaphor gets replaced with a data access model shared by all apps.

It may get to the point where we no longer need to be aware of exactly what location the data is in.

We should not be constrained by the metaphors which once allowed us to simplify our understanding. If the new paradigm is to have our data available no matter where we are on the net then we will have to let go of our older notions of it being “stored” in the cloud somewhere far off.

Summary …

iCoud is a giant step forward to seamless managing and syncing of information across all your devices. But it’s also the way into an extreme dependency. Access to data is dependent on the availability of an Internet connection and bug-free software applications on web servers as well as on connected devices.

Credits …

Thanks to Dave Trautmann, President at EncycloMedia Ltd., for publishing his forward-looking statements on Google+ and giving me the idea to write about this topic.

Related links …

iCloud Setup

iCloud Keychain

The cloudy iCloud

The Apple ID

Thanks for flying with iNotes4You.





Box for iOS

12 05 2014

In January 2014 Box offered a free 50 GB storage for those who downloaded the iOS app from Apple’s App Store. Usually it’s 10 GB anyway a lot more than the well-known Dropbox with 2 GB.

With a perfect client app and a clean web-based interface it’s worth to take a look on the offer of Box Inc., USA.

Martin Destagnol, who heads mobile engineering at Box said

We are really committed to making the user experience of this app the best in the world.

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To help with that, Box hired Mallory Paine to head up iOS development at Box. Paine was an engineer on the original iPhone and most recently was director of mobile engineering at Path.

Expectations …

What do users expect when using a cloud storage on an iOS device?

  • encryption while data in transit to and from the cloud
  • encryption while data at rest on the cloud
  • create files and folders
  • delete files and folders
  • move files to other folders
  • rename files and folders
  • send files by mail
  • send file by link (share)
  • multi-selection for file operations (delete, copy, move)
  • copy link (for further use)
  • share files by retrieving a link to files/folders
  • menu for recently accessed files
  • powerful full-text search within folders with highlighted search pattern matches
    (searching for just file names is nice to have but normally useless)
  • options for sorting files and folders by name and date changed ascending and descending
  • availability of the ‘Open in’ command to directly transfer a file to an appropriate application
  • preview for all well-known file formats
  • supported file formats
    txt, csv, image file formats like jpg, png, etc
    Office file formats like
    docx/xlsx/ppt (Microsoft), numbers/pages/key (Apple)

Security …

Some years ago, the word cloud mostly related to the clouds in the sky, now it immediately makes me think of Data Clouds. Although a recent study totally contradicts this saying that most people think it is run on actual clouds in the sky. Most businesses manage their data in the cloud, because it’s an easy way to collaborate and all the information is accessible anywhere and anytime from any platform. Private users use cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and SkyDrive to easily share or backup pictures, music and documents. Although these solutions are easy and often reliable, how much of your private data do you really want to entrust to big corporations?

When it comes to privacy, there is a very fine line of knowing what these companies are doing with your data and whose hands are actually on it. Security breaches have been very common and they aren’t going anywhere. Sometimes it’s not the question of will someone steal your data, it’s when will they steal your data.

Terms of services …

To register for a free cloud storage is easy and fast.
Go to the website, fill in your mail address, a password and click on Submit. Usually you will get a conformation mail. Confirm and you can access 2, 5 or up to 50 GB space in the cloud.

But did you read all the Terms of Services of your provider?
See what may happen with your data if it’s a free account.

In addition to other termination provisions, if your account it not currently subject to a paid subscription plan with us, we at our discretion may terminate your account if: (a) you do not engage in any activity in your account within thirty (30) days after becoming a Registered User, or (b) you do not engage in any activity in your account for any period of one-hundred and twenty (120) consecutive days. In the event of such termination, any Content you may have stored will be lost.
(Aug 1, 2013)
TOS Box Inc.

Other providers operate with nearly the same terms.

Features of Box for iOS …

Let’s have a look on the clean and tidy user interface …

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Box offers useful settings.

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Downloaded documents can be displayed in portrait and landscape mode and the additional toolbar can be overlaid on the right side e.g. sharing or moving the file to an other folder.

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What I miss in many client applications for mobiles: full text search within documents with highlighted matches.

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The Box client is connected to installed apps on your device. In the ‘Add item’ section (top right) you can create documents with suggested apps. The app is automatically opened and the created file is saved in the Box folder.

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People you share files with see this clean and tidy web interface.

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Additionally there are comprehensive stats available which show all activities on your account. With an appropriate setting of email notifications you are always informed e.g. about downloads of shared files.

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Box offers some useful sharing options.

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Here is a full feature description of the Box client app visualized in a mind map.

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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. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

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

Box edit …

A really powerful feature of Box is Box Edit.
Box Edit is an add-on feature that allows you to edit or create files directly on Box. Designed for all file types, browsers, and platforms, Box Edit uses the default application installed on your computer to edit or create simple and centralized content: DOC files open in Microsoft Word, PPT files open in Microsoft PowerPoint, images open in Photoshop (if installed), CAD files open in AutoCAD, and so forth.

Unfortunately this feature is still a bit embryonic if used on Apple’s mobiles.
The only app which is actually supported without crashing the Box app is CloudOn.

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If you create a document with Box Edit the native app opens and a small Box-symbol appears. After finishing the work the Box app is re-launched and the file is saved on the Box account.

Box sync …

Because mobile operating systems like iOS don’t reveal the file system to the end user, Box has focused on integrating with applications.

Instead of syncing files/folders, they are working with app developers so that users can sync the content of their favorite apps directly to Box. Apps with direct integration like GoodReader and DocsToGo, allow you to connect directly to your Box account and manage your files from within the app.

How does Sync manage conflicts?
If two users both change a file concurrently, Box will first try to merge the changes if both are not edits (e.g. one user edits the file, another user renames the file). However, if both users edit the file, the first save will get uploaded, and the second save will generate a “Sync Conflict/Error” message and generate a “-copy of” version of the edited file.

Box and Apple’s iWork …

You might know that Apple’s iWork suite for iOS supports saving of documents via a WebDAV connection to a cloud storage.

For Box you have to enter

https://dav.box.com/dav

and your credentials to save iWork documents on your box account. iWork saves your Numbers, Pages or Keynote documents as ZIP files. To later open a document from within the Box client app just use the ‘Open in’ command and select the appropriate iWork app. Unfortunately Box cannot display iWork documents saved as ZIP files.

Summary …

Box offers a much more powerful solution than it’s competitors.

Box features impressive file-sharing capabilities that are easy to use, even if you are new to the service. Box allows you to set folder permissions, giving you complete control over what other users can do with your shared files. File-sharing capabilities make this web service worth your consideration.

The company is working on client-side encryption and if it’s available Box seems to become the most powerful cloud provider.

Related links …

BOX Blog

BOX Pricing

iOS Cloud Clients

Thanks for flying with 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.

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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.





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.








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