Ap(pl)es

1 04 2014

It’s easy to forget that people once marveled at the interactive tablets carried around by characters in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, or the touch screens in Spielberg’s Minority Report – dream futures that have become reality.
In 1983 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs stated that his ultimate ambition was

“to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes…”.

That vision would take him 27 years to realize.

With the release of the iPad mobile devices reached a new quality because of it’s screen size and the possibility to operate them just with the fingers and without any peripherals. They initiated a shift in paradigm of teaching and learning as well and from that time ‘people could hold the internet in their hands‘.

Historically the term first originated when Apple‘s founder Steve Jobs discussed the future of personal computing during an interview alongside Bill Gates at the fifth All Things Digital conference in 2007. At that time he described

“a category of devices that aren’t as general purpose, that are really more focused on specific functions, whether they’re phones or iPods or Zunes or what have you. And I think that category of devices is going to continue to be very innovative and we’re going to see lots of them,”

Jobs said.

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It wasn’t the first tablet computer by any means, and the iPad faced significant criticism when it was first announced – most pointedly the accusation that it was trying to fulfill a demand that didn’t exist. But the iPad surprised everyone, instantly spawning a market for a new form of computer that made the internet touchable and found its way into the hands of 170-million customers in its first three-and-a-half years.

There are some quite astonishing engineering feats behind the iPad. The iPad Air (launched in 2013), for example, weighs twenty times less than an Apple Mac from ten years ago, but packs four times the memory and four times the processing power. The glass that covers the screen is manufactured via a process which makes it harder than sapphire, and is coated with an invisible oil-repellant to reduce fingerprint staining.

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But most incredible of all is the fact that Jobs succeeded in coming up with a portable – and connected – computer that even orangutans in the Smithsonian National Zoo have worked out how to use, forever altering the future of digital media in the process.

A tablet …

When Steve Jobs ended years of speculation in 2010 by announcing the iPad tablet device, he helped launch a new era in computer hardware. Though tablet PCs have been around for years, the iPad was the first device to use the form factor successfully in the consumer market.

So what exactly is a tablet?

At its most basic level, a tablet PC is a mobile computing device that’s larger than a smartphone or personal digital assistant. In general, if the computing device uses an on-screen interface it’s a tablet.
To confuse matters, some manufacturers produce hybrid devices that are part tablet, part laptop computer. The device might come with an attached keyboard — the screen swivels or folds down to cover the keyboard and voila, you have a tablet!

In 2010, Lenovo introduced a prototype device called the IdeaPad U1 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev. At first glance, it looked like a normal laptop computer. But if you detached the screen from the base, the laptop converted to a tablet computer with its own, independent operating system. Lenovo rebranded the device, naming it the Lenovo LePad and launching it in China in 2011.

The touch screen …

Thousands of scientists, their researches and inventions, the ongoing miniaturization, and improvements in sensor technology made a smartphone and a tablet ready for use.

All tablets have a touch screen interface and an operating system capable of running small programs and interpreting gestures. Further sensors are used to automatically change the orientation from portrait to landscape mode.

Summarized, it was the touch screen first introduced with the iPhone in 2007 and it’s multi-touch capable operating system iOS which made the iPad to a device capable to replace computers for an increasing number of people.

The development of the Touch Screen Technology started in the 1960s although there are many results of basic scientific researches in physics starting hundreds of years earlier.

1960s

Historians consider the first touch screen to be a capacitive touch screen invented by E.A. Johnson at the Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern, UK, around 1965 – 1967. The inventor published a full description of touch screen technology for air traffic control in an article published in 1968.

1970s

In 1971, a “touch sensor” was developed by Doctor Sam Hurst (founder of Elographics) while he was an instructor at the University of Kentucky. This sensor called the “Elograph” was patented by The University of Kentucky Research Foundation. The “Elograph” was not transparent like modern touch screens, however, it was a significant milestone in touch screen technology. The Elograph was selected by Industrial Research as one of the 100 Most Significant New Technical Products of the Year 1973.
In 1974, the first true touch screen incorporating a transparent surface came on the scene developed by Sam Hurst and Elographics. In 1977, Elographics developed and patented a resistive touch screen technology, the most popular touch screen technology in use today.

In 1977, Siemens Corporation financed an effort by Elographics to produce the first curved glass touch sensor interface, which became the first device to have the name “touch screen” attached to it. On February 24, 1994, the company officially changed its name from Elographics to Elo TouchSystems.

1980s

In 1983, the computer manufacturing company, Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP-150, a home computer with touch screen technology. The HP-150 had a built in grid of infrared beams across the front of the monitor which detected finger movements. However, the infrared sensors would collect dust and require frequent cleanings.

1990s

The nineties introduced smart phones and handhelds with touch screen technology. In 1993, Apple released the Newton PDA, equipped with handwriting recognition; and IBM released the first smart phone called Simon, which featured a calendar, note pad, and fax function, and a touch screen interface that allowed users to dial phone numbers. In 1996, Palm entered the PDA market and advanced touch screen technology with its Pilot series.

2000s

In 2002, Microsoft introduced the Windows XP Tablet edition and started its entry into touch technology.

Note
Until today I use a Siemens T4010 Convertible running on the XP Tablet edition with a stylus and an incredible weight of 2.5 kg.
It just works, but it works more like a heater if you place it on your lap and because it’s running XP you have to take care of it’s health with an antibiotic therapy each week.

However, you could say that the increase in the popularity of touch screen smart phones defined the 2000s. In 2001 Mitsubishi launched the DiamondTouch (a human interface device that has the capability of allowing multiple people to interact simultaneously while identifying which person is touching where).

Various companies expanded upon these inventions in the beginning of the twenty-first century. The company Fingerworks developed various multi-touch technologies between 1999 and 2005, including Touchstream keyboards and the iGesture Pad. Several studies of this technology were published in the early 2000s by Alan Hedge, professor of human factors and ergonomics at Cornell University. Apple acquired Fingerworks and its multi-touch technology in 2005. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone still seen as the king of smartphones with nothing but touch screen technology follwed by the iPad in 2010.

There are basically three components used in touch screen technology …

  • 1 The touch sensor is a panel with a touch responsive surface. Systems are built based on different types of sensors: resistive (most common), surface acoustic wave, and capacitive (most smart phones). However, in general sensors have an electrical current running through them and touching the screen causes a voltage change. The voltage change signals the location of the finger.
  • 2 The controller, is the hardware that converts the voltage changes on the sensor into signals the device can receive.
  • 3 Software tells the device what’s happening on the sensor and the information coming from the controller. Who is touching what and where; and allows the operating system and apps to react accordingly.
    To improve the features multi-touch was introduced to recognize the presence of two or more points of contact with the surface. This plural-point awareness is used to implement advanced functionality such as pinch to zoom.

Summary …

The iPad is in the line of disruptive innovations. It seems to become a tool supporting all areas of life, household, education, science, health, communication, etc. It’s for primates but still not for apes who grant preferences to other activities.

Related links …

Sensitiveness

The Post PC era

iPad attends meetings

iPad @ Universities

Troubleshooting touchscreen response

Thanks for stopping by.





Two running systems

16 02 2014

There are some similarities between an iOS device and a human being. Here is a simplified explanation of a computer-like device by using some well-known facts about human beings. Which of them is more complicated cannot be assessed. But it’s obvious that humans learn during their whole life whereas the basic skills of a device are fixed when the production process ends. Adding further skills means installing apps but even features of apps are already clearly defined by the developers.

There is a one way connection between the owner and his device because the owner has access to uncountable information saved on internet servers, can improve his skills and personality, and can be creative when using his brain and e.g. a mind mapping tool or an iWork app.

The comparison …

Basics of the two systems are summarized in this 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.

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

The differences …

Comparing the two systems might be useful for those who are not deeply involved in computer technology. So first of all let’s see where the differences are to avoid misconceptions (Source, modified). Keep in mind that these differences are not valid for supercomputers with hundreds of processors or implemented artificial intelligence. We are just talking about an iOS device with a single processor.

  • 01 Brains are analogue; computers are digital
  • 02 Brains uses content-addressable memory
  • 03 Brains are massively parallel machines; computers are modular and serial
  • 04 Processing speed is not fixed in the brain; there is no system clock
  • 05 Short-term memory is not like RAM
  • 06 Brains cannot be divided in hardware/software
  • 07 Synapses are far more complex than electrical logic gates
  • 08 Processing and memory are performed by the same components in the brain
  • 09 The brain is a self-organizing system
  • 10 Processors only can handle commands predefined by the operating system
  • 11 Brains can learn
    As far as I know there are two areas where even iOS devices improve their capabilities over time. When writing words iOS saves frequently written words in an individual dictionary. Power management adapts to usage over time.
  • Bonus Difference
    The brain is much, much bigger than any [current] computer.
    Accurate biological models of the brain would have to include some 225,000,000,000,000,000 (225 million billion) interactions between cell types, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, axonal branches and dendritic spines, and that doesn’t include the influences of dendritic geometry, or the approximately 1 trillion glial cells which may or may not be important for neural information processing. Because the brain is nonlinear, and because it is so much larger than all current computers, it seems likely that it functions in a completely different fashion. The brain-computer metaphor obscures this important, though perhaps obvious, difference in raw computational power.

Source

Processor and apps …

The mind map shows that the kernel of an iOS device has to be divided into processor, operating system, and memory.

The Memory

During installation of a new app, the installer code creates a home directory for the app, places the app in that directory ( /AppName .app) and creates several other key directories. These directories constitute the app’s primary view of the file system located in the memory of your device and represents the universe for that app. It contains everything the app can access directly.

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If you create a document (e.g. with Apple’s Keynote) or receive one via E-Mail you possibly want to further work with it in another app. In Apple’s filesystem this is not possible by default.Interactions of an iOS app are limited mostly to the folders associated with it. This limitation is labeled Sandbox-Mode and was designed to increase the security of the filesystem. Unfortunately it also decreases the usability in many cases.

Note …
One exception to this rule occurs when an app uses public system interfaces to access things such as the user’s contacts or music. In those cases, the system frameworks handle any file-related operations needed to read from or modify the appropriate data stores.

The Operating System

If you tap on a control within an app (or you generally touch the screen), the app (the touchscreen) sends a specific command to the processor which communicates with the operating system to retrieve the necessary further tasks. The processor only can handle commands which have been defined by Apple (implemented in the operating system), the developer of the operating system. Programmers (companies where you het your app from) use these commands to let you interact with their app.

The Processor

A central processing unit (CPU), also referred to as a central processor unit, is the hardware within a computer that carries out the commands of an app by performing the basic

  • arithmetical
    counting the number of mails
  • logical
    setting WiFi on or off
  • input/output
    playing music, or asking Siri via microphone

operations of the system.

The fundamental task of a CPU is to execute a sequence of stored instructions (a program). The instructions are kept in the memory. Usually CPUs work in 4 steps:

  • FETCH
    Fetch involves retrieving an instruction (a sequence of numbers) from the program memory. The location in program memory is determined by a program counter (PC), which stores a number that identifies the current position in the program.
    The instruction that the CPU fetches from memory is used to determine what the CPU has to do.
  • DECODE
    In the decode step, the instruction is broken up into parts that have significance to other portions of the CPU. The way in which the numerical instruction value is interpreted is defined by the CPU’s instruction set architecture (ISA). Often, one group of numbers in the instruction, called the opcode, indicates which operation to perform. The remaining parts of the number usually provide information required for that instruction, such as operands for an addition operation. Such operands may be given as a constant value (called an immediate value), or as a place to locate a value: a register or a memory address, as determined by some addressing mode.
  • EXECUTE
    During execution, various portions of the CPU are connected so they can perform the desired operation. If, for instance, an addition operation was requested, the arithmetic logic unit will be connected to a set of inputs and a set of outputs. The inputs provide the numbers to be added, and the outputs will contain the final sum.
  • WRITEBACK
    The final step, writeback, simply “writes back” the results of the execution to the memory. Some types of instructions manipulate the program counter rather than directly produce result data. These are generally called “jumps” and facilitate behavior like loops, conditional program execution (through the use of a conditional jump), and functions in programs. Many instructions will also change the state of digits in a “flags” register. These flags can be used to influence how a program behaves, since they often indicate the outcome of various operations. For example, one type of “compare” instruction considers two values and sets a number in the flags register according to which one is greater. This flag could then be used by a later jump instruction to determine program flow.

After the execution of the instruction and writeback of the resulting data, the entire process repeats, with the next instruction.
Scientists found out that a brain can also be divided into areas with special functionalities. But don’t ask me how this all works together within a human being and whether parallel execution of tasks is possible or not. Fact is that the processor cannot work on two different tasks as long as their is no companion processor which is designed to offload work from the main processor. The introduction of the M7 Motion processor in Apple’s iPhone 5S in October 2013 allows to aggregate all the data from different sensors of the device and deliver necessary data to the CPU if needed. So the device gets faster because work is partially done by two ‘brains’.

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The Sensors

In the skin, there are at least five different types of nerve endings:

  • heat sensitive
  • cold sensitive
  • pain sensitive
  • itch sensitive
  • pressure sensitive

All these senses submit reactions controlled by the brain, the many experiences stored there, and patterns which initiate reactions.

Your iOS device also needs the help of many sensors to work properly. For example, if you turn your device from portrait to landscape mode the operating system will also turn the screen of an app (if the developer implemented this feature). In contrast to human sensors, the device’s sensors always initiate the same actions if the input data are the same whereas a human being is able to react in different ways up to the actual needs, e.g. hearing a voice (the sound waves) but not processing the content.

Summary …

There are similarities but only in a figurative meaning. Human beings learn many additional skills and can change their reactions even if causes remain the same. An iOS device gets its skill when manufacturing is finished and can only expand them with the installation of an update of the operating system. Advantage human being. So keep control over yourself and do not delegate essential task to your device. Just use it for what it is intended for, show you the way with the app Maps, connect you to the giant sources of knowledge, and help you being creative by using a mind mapping tool.

Related links …

Science Blog

Every App is an i(s)Land

Sensitiveness

Thanks for stopping by.





Recovery

15 01 2014

When an iOS device encounters iOS- or app-related trouble, the issue usually can be fixed by

  • Restarting the app
  • Rebooting the device
  • Deleting the app and reinstalling it

But there are also circumstances where these actions don’t help.
Let’s start with the easiest and fastest way of solving a problem on an iOS device.

Reboot an iOS device …

To reboot means to discard all continuity in a running device in order to recreate its status and memory from the beginning.

Why do you have to reboot your device occasionally?

Rebooting is sometimes necessary to recover from an error, re-initialize drivers, or hardware devices. A reboot may also occur automatically if the computer or hardware device encounters an error or is overloaded.

The reason can be a hardware malfunctioning or, more likely, an application which does not manage the memory associated to it correctly by interfering with other parts of the memory reserved for other tasks.

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Think of it like this …

You want to send money to an a count and looked up the account number. Somebody asks you ‘What time do we have the appointment with Mr. Smith?’. After answering, your short-term memory containing the account number is deleted or the account number you are sure it’s right now contains transposed digits.

You have to reboot and load your memory again with the account number.

If you don’t look up the account number again your money transfer will fail. Regarding your device an app may execute an unwanted operation which might freeze it e.g. by running into an endless loop. You tap on a control but the app doesn’t react or delivers wrong information to the brain of your device, the processor.

Recovery Mode …

In some circumstances, though, the problems are more extensive and require putting the device into recovery mode and restoring it.
Recovery mode is also called DFU mode (Device Firmware Update).

DFU Mode is a state where an iOS device can interface with iTunes but does not load the iPhone operating system or boot loader (this is what really differs DFU mode from Recovery Mode).

The primary reason people need to access DFU mode on their iOS device is to change the firmware on the device. This can serve to downgrade to a prior iOS firmware and operating system, or to use a custom firmware that is required for a Jailbreak or SIM unlock.

You may need to perform a recovery-mode restore if you experience any of the following situations on your iOS device.

The device

  • displays the Apple logo with no progress bar or a stopped progress bar for over ten minutes
  • restarts but never displays the Home screen
  • is no longer recognized in iTunes after an update or restore did not complete
  • automatically goes into recovery mode after having an issue while installing an update or performing a regular restore

Reasons for this system behavior can be …

  • Broken connection while updating to a newer version of iOS
    – Computer to which the device is connected fails
    – Broken internet connection
  • Repairs that require you to erase all data on phone
  • Unwanted deletion of the device
  • Corrupted files

How to recover your device …

This brief manual applies to all iOS devices as there are iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad independent of their iOS version. I kept it brief and left out the clear-worded instructions messaged from iTunes and your device. They are all self-explaining.

What you need is your

  • iTunes backup password
    (if you use one)
    To use an iTunes backup password is highly recommended because only in this case the device restore includes all sensitive data like passwords for E-Mail accounts or websites.
  • Phone number
    (if you use an a SIM card in your iPad)
  • iTunes account credentials (Apple ID)
    (E-Mail address and password)

How to enter the Recovery Mode …

  • Connect Apple’s USB adapter (cable for charging your device) to your computer with an installed version of iTunes, but do not connect it to your iOS device.
  • Turn off your iOS device by holding down the sleep/hold button in the top right corner until the slider ‘slide to power off’ appears at the top. Slide it.
  • If your phone won’t respond to that, hold the sleep/wake button and the home button together until the screen goes dark.
  • When the phone is off, hold down the home button and connect the USB adapter to the dock connector of your iOS device.
  • The iPhone will turn on and display the Apple logo.
    Keep holding the home button until the screen shows the iTunes logo/USB adapter.

The iOS device is now in Recovery Mode.

If the red empty battery icon appears onscreen, let the phone charge for a few minutes and then restart this process.

When the phone is in recovery mode, a window will pop up in iTunes saying that the phone is in recovery mode and needs to be restored. You can either restore it to its factory settings or from a recent backup of your data.

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An example …

I set my iPad 3 (64 GB, Used space 21.5 GB, 224 apps) into recovery mode after backing up to iTunes. The total time of a restore was about *3 hours*.

About 20 of the 224 apps are frequently used and a greater amount of data is stored in their local folders. The other apps are just for tests and usually manage no data.

You can estimate the time for the total recovery process including the restore of data by taking the two parameters (21.5 GB and 180 min) into account.

(Your used space / 21.5) * 180 = time to recover and restore

The worst cases …

  • If recovery is not possible you have to contact an Apple Store or send your device to the repair service.
  • f you don’t have any backup in iTunes or iCloud resp. just an old one you will loose all your data resp. all changes since your last backup.

Failed attempts to unlock …

If the iOS device has been disabled from too many attempts at entering the passcode lock, then your device will be locked.

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The only way to regain full use is to put the device into recovery mode and restore it via iTunes.

So in this case you must have access to a computer with an installed version of iTunes. There is no way to do it just with an internet connection.

Restore without iTunes …

If you don’t use iTunes, maybe you already moved into the Post-PC era, you can restore your device if it’s connected to a WiFi network.
An iOS device has a built in reset option programmed into the device itself. With the introduction of the iCloud service, you no longer need to connect the device to a computer to restore through the iTunes software.

Restoring an iPhone is useful if you’re going to sell the device or if you want to troubleshoot it after data has been corrupted.

Follow these steps:

A Backing up your iOS device

  • Step 1
    Connect to the Internet through a Wi-Fi connection. A typical iPhone backup can consume a lot of data.
  • Step 2
    Tap on the “Settings” menu item. Select “iCloud” and then “Storage + Backup.”
  • Step 3
    Tap on the button that says “Back Up Now” to cause the iPhone to back up its settings to iCloud, which may take several minutes to an hour or more.

B Resetting your iOS device

  • Step 1
    Tap on the “Settings” menu and then tap on “General.”
  • Step 2
    Scroll to the bottom of the menu and tap “Reset.”
  • Step 3
    Tap the button that says “Erase All Content and Settings.” The iPhone will ask you to confirm this choice. Press the button marked “Erase Phone” to restore your phone to its factory settings.

C Restoring from a backup

  • Step 1
    Start up your iPhone. On a freshly restored iPhone, you are prompted to use the Setup Assistant. Do this in a place where the iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi signal. This can consume a lot of data.
  • Step 2
    Select “Restore from iCloud Backup.”
  • Step 3
    Enter your iCloud username and password information. Your iPhone will restart and begin downloading your backup from iCloud. You may be asked to choose from up to three backups on iCloud, sorted by date.

Reselling your device …

Before you resell your device follow these steps:

Method 1
You can remove all settings and information from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch by going to Settings – General – Reset and tapping on Erase All Content and Settings.

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If you wish to recover all your settings and data again on a new device, ensure that you have an iCloud or iTunes backup and that it’s up to date.

Newer devices running on iOS 5 and later support hardware encryption. Erasing the device means removing the encryption key that protects the data. This process takes just a few minutes.

Method 2
Use iTunes to restore your iPhone to factory settings.

Plug the phone into a computer running iTunes and wait for it to appear in the ‘Devices’ section of the iTunes sidebar. Select the iPhone from the sidebar and then make sure you’re on the “Summary” tab. Under ‘Version’ select ‘Restore‘. You’ll receive a pop-up dialog informing you that this step will erase your phone and reset it to factory settings. Click Restore to continue.
iTunes will now download the latest firmware for the iPhone, which may take several minutes depending on your connection speed. Once downloaded, iTunes will automatically begin the restore process during which your phone will reboot twice. After the process is completed, the phone will appear in iTunes as a new device and ask you for a device name. Before entering any information, disconnect the phone. It has now been wiped of your personal information and is ready for sale.

Summary …

Restore from a backup or even recovery of a device is usually a process you didn’t need while using your iOS device. Quality of hardware and software ensures that all what happens in the life of a computer doesn’t happen with an iPhone or an iPad.

Anyway your iOS device should regularly backed up to iTunes, or what is much more comfortable, to iCloud. Strongly recommended is the usage of an unlock code as well as a password for iTunes backups. If you don’t use passwords many sensitive settings like E-Mail account settings are not included in a backup. So you have to configure them all if the restore process is finished. That can be a pretty much exhausting task.

Related links …

Apple Forgotten passcode, Disabled device

Apple Unable to update or restore

Apple Genius Bar (Help for major problems)

Thanks for dropping by.





Blogging with iPad + iPhone

7 01 2014

No computer, no mouse, no keyboard, no cables, just an iPad, an iPhone. That seems to be a minimalistic configuration for blogging and doing all the other things where an electronic device is a bit more comfortable than a pen, sheets of paper, card boxes, and postage stamps.

This time I want to talk about blogging on WordPress, the biggest free blogging platform in the world, with a minimalistic configuration supported by Apple’s ecosystem.

The hardware …

I use this hardware configuration at home and the iPhone on-the-go and at home as a second screen.

The apps …

All mentioned apps are so-called ‘universal’ apps that means you download once from Apple’s AppStore and the apps are installed across all devices which are configured with the same Apple ID. All my apps are able to connect to cloud storages so that information can be accessed from the iPad as well as the iPhone when on-the-go. Additionally they keep the data in the local app folders, an indispensable requirement. WordPress, PlainText, iThoughts, and Keynote, the essential apps for blogging, save their files automatically in their local documents folder. This allows working even if an internet connection is temporarily not available. Syncing is automatically done if the iOS device reconnects.
Essential data are synced with Dropbox (supported by most of the apps in Apple’s app store) and additionally with Box to increase data security (redundant storages). Unfortunately Dropbox still doesn’t allow WebDAV access which is required when saving iWork documents on an other storage than iCloud. So my second cloud provider is Box (for personal use, 10GB free, perfect UI and features available in the iOS app, perfect content sharing platform, available since 2005). Box supports WebDAV so iWork documents can alternatively saved on Box from within all iWork apps by using the command ‘Copy to WebDAV’.

All apps are developed by reliable companies and offer regular updates and feature extensions as well as adaption to major changes of the operating system like Apple’s update of iOS in Sep 2013.

WordPress
The blog engine

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This app is used to finally create the textual and formatted part of a blogpost with added images or videos. It also manages the WordPress database where your posts are stored. Posts can be saved as drafts for further editing, published immediately (even via E-Mail sent to WordPress), or scheduled.
Powerful stats give you an overview of the number of visitors from each country, followers, referrers, search engine terms, top posts and pages, clicks, tags, and categories you assigned to your posts. Backups of the whole blog data can be made by exporting an the database contents as an XML file.

It’s recommended to activate Akismet (a subsidiary of WordPress) to keep your blog clean of spam comments.

Apple’s Keynote
Breath life into your posts

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There is no other comparable app for creating presentations on mobiles like Apple’s Keynote, part of the iWork Suite. With Keynote I create all the images you see in my blogs as well as images for social networks. Creating an image in Keynote is a funny task. Collages created with images (e.g. screenshots of running apps on your device), added text and symbols, varying opacities, and connecting lines breath life into your post.
And it’s all synced with your other iOS devices via iCloud.

iThoughts
Visualize your thoughts

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Take this mind mapping tool for brainstorming, feature descriptions, or all other kind of information which should be summarized visually.

Tap Forms
Keep it all together

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Using a database is the right way to keep different information together. With Tap Forms I manage all posts, post intros for sharing on social networks, images, and links. This is also done automatically by WordPress but the iOS app lacks because some useful features covered by my database are only available via a browser which, in some cases, is a quite painful way to access essential information about posts.

PlainText
Back to the roots

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Don’t care about formatting. This can be done later. Content is essential and content doesn’t need bells and whistles but a running brain. To keep the mobility the editor should be connected to a cloud storage so that editing can be continued anytime, everywhere with one of the two devices.

PlainText is connected to the cloud storage Dropbox as well as iCloud and automatically saves edited text in the cloud. Just write what’s in your mind, the rest is managed by the app. As an alternative I recommend the app ByWord which supports Markdown. The app can be updated so that text can easily posted to WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Scriptogram, and Evernote.

Note (1)
Simple text editing for users aged from 4-104.
The first text editors were Line Editors oriented to teleprinter- or typewriter- style terminals without a display. On some line editors, the cursor could be moved by commands! Line editors drastically improved text editing. In 1982 the Personal Editor was developed for PC DOS, the IBM operating system for their first personal computers like IBM PC, XT, or AT.
Limitations in Personal Editor led to the development and release of the E-Editor (E.exe) in 1984, a much faster editor that supported very long files and included a substantially enhanced user interface.
The story of the E-Family began and has not yet ended.
Simple editors are still in vogue because

  • the application loads within a blink
  • there is no need to learn how to use it
  • the file format (txt) is readable by all machines and applications
  • most of the simple editors sync automatically across iOS devices

and
are a perfect way to quickly write down a basic idea for further platform-independent usage with all other apps like an E-Mail client, a grown-up word processor like Apple’s Pages, or a mind mapping tool like iThoughts.

Note (2)
Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax designed so that it can optionally be converted to HTML. Markdown is popularly used as format for readme files, or for writing messages in online discussion forums, or in text editors for the quick creation of rich text documents. Markdown works with special characters like *italic* or **bold** to format text as italic or bold.
There is no clearly defined Markdown standard, apart from the original writeup and implementation by John Gruber, which is considered to be abandonware, leading to fragmentation as different vendors write their own variants of the language to correct flaws or add missing features.

Prizmo
The text recognition engine

20131020-064100.jpg

Sometimes it’s worth to take a quick screenshot of an information. Then, if you want to quote, you need a text recognition application which allows to convert an image into text. The far best app is Prizmo. Prizmo supports syncing via iCloud so that screenshots or photos made with the iPhone are also available on the iPad to extract text later.

HP PrinterControl
The document manager

20131020-064610.jpg

Sometimes it’s necessary to scan documents (e.g. invoices of charged accounts, …) with the AirPrint capable HP printer or copy them. The app also provides file management. The HP printer can be fully controlled by the app.

Google+
The content network

20131020-113112.jpg

G+ for iOS devices let you publish links to your WordPress blogs on Google+ to quickly extend your audience when posting to appropriate communities.

FileBowser
The data management tool

20131020-114652.jpg

The best app to manage files on cloud storages as well as computers is FileBrowser by Stratospherix, now also supporting Point.IO. By using a VPN connection you can access storages of remote computers in your office. FileBrowser supports the display of Microsoft Office files, Apple iWork files, PDF files, and other well-known formats.

Additional apps
Various tasks

For other related tasks the software configuration can be extended by TeamViewer Remote Control (managing the still indispensable Windows PC in the office) and further apps which connect you with other social networks like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Scoop.it, Path, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and Facebook. An additional useful app is the free version ‘PS Express’ by Adobe for some basic editing of images.

Blog articles with high quality require intense researches to enable readers to validate your content and for quoting content of other authors. This can be done by using the mind mapping tool iThoughts with it’s integrated browser or by saving links as bookmarks in Safari using a special folder like ‘BlogResearch’. Doing it with iThoughts is the more convenient way if you create the blog structure already with a mind map.

The whole configuration …

Made with iThoughts for the iPad here is a summary of all compontents I use for blogging.

20131020-071118.jpg

If you use a mind mapping tool you can benefit from links assigned to topics. These topics are marked with a small globe. Tapping on a topic opens the website within the integrated browser of iThoughts without switching to the standard browser.

Feel free to download this mind map.

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

Related links …

Features of WordPress blogs

iThoughts for the iPad

DBMS on iOS devices (1)
DBMS on iOS devices (2)
DBMS on iOS devices (3)

E-Family

Text Recognition (1)
Text Recognition (2)

Google+ on iOS devices

File Browser and Point.io

Summary …

It works but admittedly it would work also with a cheaper configuration when using Android devices. But the price is often not the one and only criterion. In my case it’s the homage to a great visionary, an innovator, and a top influencer of our times.

It was Steve Jobs who forced me to join Apple’s ecosystem and start blogging about this fascinating company and the much more fascinating people who made Apple to the most valuable and innovative company in the world (Forbes 2013).

The only task which cannot be done with an iOS device is uploading of files to websites like BIGGERPLATE, the mind mapping platform.

Thanks for being a loyal visitor on iNotes4You.com.





Sensitiveness

27 12 2013

If you are a proud owner of an iPhone you have purchased a device which is in someway much more sensitive than any human being ever can be. And it’s not the incredible SIRI I’m talking about. iPhone’s sensors know all about your movements, your finger, the distance between your ear and the device, your actual location, and even the brightness of the environment.
Your iPhone forms a liaison with you but it’s an arranged marriage, it’s a childless marriage, it’s a miscegenation, and Apple hopes that it will not get a broken marriage. And if you are an Apple freak it’s even a same-sex marriage.

The sensors …

Kinetic sensors enable the iPod touch, iPad, or iPhone’s screen to automatically switch from landscape to portrait modes and back again based on whether you’re holding the phone up and down or sideways.
The iPhone 4, 4th gen iPod touch, and iPad 2 adds another sensor: a three-axis gyroscope. When combining the gyroscope with the accelerometer, this gives these devices six axes on which it can operate. This is designed to make them more sensitive, responsive, and powerful for gaming.

Accelerometer

The accelerometer sensor measures linear acceleration along three perpendicular axes, X, Y and Z. The following schematic drawing illustrates the classical single axis mechanical accelerometer which uses a moving mass and springs. The movement of the mass along the double sided arrow measures the acceleration along that axis.
All iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices are equipped with a modern accelerometer that can measure acceleration in three perpendicular axes. The measurement also includes the Earth’s gravity.
Modern accelerometers utilize MEMS technology in a tiny electronic package.

Notes

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is the technology of very small devices; it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and nanotechnology. MEMS are made up of components between 1 to 100 micrometers in size (i.e. 0.001 to 0.1 mm), and MEMS devices generally range in size from 20 micrometers (20 millionths of a meter) to a millimeter (i.e. 0.02 to 1.0 mm). They usually consist of a central unit that processes data (the microprocessor) and several components that interact with the surroundings such as micro sensors.

Acceleration is the rate at which the velocity of an object changes with time. Rotations are always accelerations because the direction of the velocity changes. If an object falls down because of gravity it’s an acceleration where the velocity increases but the direction remains the same.

20131015-140355.jpg

Gyroscope

The gyroscope sensor measures rotational velocity along the Roll, Pitch and Yaw axes. It depends on the property of rotating mass as illustrated in the following schematic drawing of the classical mechanical gyroscope.
Like the accelerometer, gyroscope sensors for mobile devices utilize MEMS technology and may include an accelerometer.

Magnetometer

The magnetometer detects the Earth’s magnetic field along three perpendicular axes. In addition to general rotational information, the magnetometer is crucial for detecting the orientation of the device relative to the Earth’s magnetic north. Electrical appliances that generate magnetic fields disturb the magnetometer.

Linear Acceleration

The linear acceleration sensor measures the acceleration effect of the device movement, excluding the effect of Earth’s gravity on the device. It is a part of the Device-Motion information computed by the iPhone operating system from the main sensors, particularly from the accelerometer and the gyroscope.

Gravity

The gravity sensor measures the Earth’s gravity effect on the device. When the device is placed on a flat surface facing up, all of Earth’s gravity appears on the -Z axis. Tilting the device “spreads” the gravity into the X and Y axes.
The gravity sensor is a part of the Device-Motion information computed by the iPhone Operating System from the main sensors, particularly from the accelerometer and the gyroscope.
Gravity is obtained when the linear acceleration data is subtracted from the raw readings of the accelerometer.

You can compare the gravity sensor and the accelerometer as follows. Hold the device face up and make “up and down” movements. The accelerometer’s raw readings will show Earth’s gravity plus variation on the Z axis due to the movement. The gravity sensor reading will show constant Earth gravity along the Z axis regardless of the movements.

Attitude

The Attitude (rotation) sensor provides the pitch, roll and yaw (azimuth) angles of the device relative to the normal horizon.

Pitch
rotation around the Y-axis (bottom-up)
Roll
rotation Round the X-axis (left-right)
Yaw
rotation around the Z-axis which is perpendicular to the touch screen

It is a part of the Device-Motion information computed by the iPhone Operating System from the main sensors, particularly the gyroscope.
Although the gyroscope provides precise measurements of the angular rates, calculating rotations only from the gyroscope are subject to a noticeable drift due to various inherent physical phenomena like gyro precession. The Device-Motion computation automatically uses measurements from the accelerometer to minimize the drift.

Other sensors …

Proximity

This sensor can determine how close the iPhone is to your face. This sensor is what helps the iPhone turn off its screen automatically whenever you hold the phone up to your ear. This is necessary to prevent accidental button clicks by the side of your head when talking. This sensor is only on the iPhone (since the other devices don’t need it).

Ambient Light

This sensor can determine how much light is available in the area surrounding the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and automatically adjust the brightness of the screen in order to conserve battery life.

Moisture

The devices also contains a sensor which isn’t related to the interface. The water sensor is a little red tab that appears in the dock connector when the phone has been submerged in water. It can also appear as a red dot in the headphone jack.

Water damage is a common problem with cell phones that can cause a significant drop in value, and can often void any warranties you may have. Most mobile phones, including the iPhone, have some sort of water damage indicator.

The 4S has indicators both in the headphone jack, and on the bottom of the dock-connector housing. The new iPhone 5 features one water damage indicator on the inside of the nano SIM card slot.

The best way to look at the indicator is by aiming a flashlight or lighted magnifying glass into the jack. If the iPhone has been submerged in liquid, or has liquid damage, this circular indicator would be triggered and colored red or pink. If the indicator has been triggered, the repair is most likely not covered by the warranty.

NOTE
What to do if your iPhone gets wet …

Immediately turn off the phone. Do not turn it back on, charge it, or connect it to a computer or other device.
Second, hand dry your phone as best you can with a soft cloth. Remove your SIM card and pat down any excess moisture and wipe out the headphone and charge ports.
Next, quickly place the phone in a bag of uncooked rice and let it sit for 48 hours in a dry place. You can also add silica packages to the rice to help the absorption process. The rice will absorb any moisture that remains in the phone.
After 48 hours have passed remove your phone, re-insert the SIM, and try turning it back on. With a little bit of luck you may have saved your iPhone from a watery fate.

Touch Screen

This is doubtlessly the most important sensor of your device. It should work fast, precise, and even if there are fat deposits.

The iPhone’s processor and operating system interpret the input from the touch screen. The capacitive material sends raw touch-location data to the iPhone’s processor. The processor uses software to interpret the raw data as commands and gestures.

20131015-140422.jpg

Here’s what happens:

In the nanosecond between the time you touch the iPhone’s screen and the display reacts, several calculations and signals are sent from the touch screen to the software.

  • 1 Signals travel from the touch screen to the processor as electrical impulses.
  • 2 The processor uses software to analyze the data and determine the features of each touch. This includes size, shape, and location of the affected area on the screen. If necessary, the processor arranges touches with similar features into groups. If you move your finger, the processor calculates the difference between the starting and ending point of your touch.
  • 3 The processor uses its gesture-interpretation software to determine which gesture you made. It combines your physical movement with information about which application you were using and what the application was doing when you touched the screen.
  • 4 The processor relays your instructions to the program in use. If necessary, it also sends commands to the iPhone’s screen (e.g. when pinch-to-zoom is registered) and other hardware components. If the raw data doesn’t match any applicable gestures or commands, the iPhone disregards it as an extraneous touch.

All these steps happen in a nanosecond and you see changes in the screen based on your input almost instantly. This process allows you to access and use all of the iPhone’s applications with your fingers.

The M7 motion processor …

With the release of the iPhone 5S Apple implemented an additional processor, the A7 motion processor.

The M7 is an ARM Cortex-M3 part from NXP running at 180 MHz. The chip allows for low-power collection of motion data drawn from a Bosch Sensortec accelerometer, an STMicroelectronics gyroscope, and an AKM magnetometer.
After collecting information from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, the M7 performs some matrix math processing magic to produce an absolute orientation of the phone relative to the world. This data is then passed to the A7 in a neat package, probably in the form of three headings (roll, pitch, and yaw).

20131015-140435.jpg

Using the A7 main processor to monitor this sort of data would be mega-stress, so the M7 was introduced to maintain a constant, low-power watch over these sensors even if the device is asleep.

The M7 is accessible to applications through the Core Motion API in iOS 7, so it will, for example, allow fitness apps that track physical activity and access data from the M7 without constantly engaging the main A7 CPU. It will enable applications to be aware of what type of movement the user is experiencing, such as driving, walking, running or sleeping. Another application could be the ability to do indoor tracking and mapping.

All sensors …

This mind map shows you all sensors implemented in the new iPhone 5S.

20131015-140453.jpg

Feel free to download this mind map.

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

The app Sensor Kinetics …

Sensor Kinetics is an advanced viewer and monitor for all the sensors available in your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch device. Written by Dr. David Y. Feinstein, one of the pioneers in the use of accelerometers and gyroscopes within the modern smartphone, the app provides a comprehensive view of the total dynamics of the device’s sensors.

20131015-140408.jpg

Sensor Kinetics interacts with the six sensors relating to movement in your device: the Accelerometer, the Gyroscope, the Magnetometer, the Linear Acceleration Sensor, the Gravity Sensor and the Attitude Sensor.
When first activated, Sensor Kinetics: shows you which sensors are available on your device. The main screen captures data from all the sensors and employs graphical windows to illustrate the sensor’s operation.

Summary …

Keep in mind that all these incredible micro machines won’t help you if you have to explain your wife that you again forget her birthday. And don’t try to explain your own failure with a failure of one of the sensors of your iPhone. If she reads this blog she will call you a brazen-faced liar because Apple’s Reminder app doesn’t use any sensor (except you used the option ‘Remind me at a location’). It’s just your brain which was buggy.

Note
Some sensor descriptions are taken from the app Sensor Kintects.

Thanks for surfing by.





iPad’s Birthday

3 04 2013

On April 3, 2010 Apple let the lion out of the bag when it’s first iPad was released. Should we say Happy Birthday to a technical product? No we should not.

But I think we have to thank Steven Paul Jobs, one of the most important rainmakers in the digital era.

My considered opinion is that iPad is still revolutionizing parts of our professional and personal life, the educational system, and the strategies of companies when adjusting them to mobile devices.

20130402-194540.jpg

This message was created with Apple’s app Pages on an iPhone and automatically transmitted to it’s younger bigger brother using Apple’s family ties often named as iCloud.

It’s like the way it should be in real life:

Siblings understand and love each other and even more, the whole family has cultivated it’s communication. People should convert these outstanding properties into character traits.





iPad @ Universities

23 03 2013

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.

There are many representatives of the educational system still getting euphoric when it comes to iPads in schools or universities. That is basically positive as it forces all the people involved to try to go new ways. Teachers always look for techniques to generate interest and keep motivation on a high level. But they are also responsible for the young people and cannot delegate this responsibility to a device. Success and positive results in learning and teaching with an iPad is no automatism. It’s hard and subtle work to adjust all the parameters which give direction to new methods of learning.

The intention of research …

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

Here are some research activities:

  • 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 problems …

All that glitters is not gold.
The problems I see are

  • how to find out the right apps for the students
  • how to establish a set of apps which are universally accepted by the students even if they already use an iPad with their personal favorite apps
  • how to organize and manage all the information to easy access on a subsequent date (the problem refers basically to the lacks in the iOS filesystem, where data are spread over app specific folders)
  • how to integrate a PC, which still cannot be replaced by the iPad
  • how to ensure a high quality level of the software used (you cannot wait for bug fixing during a semester)
  • how the file management can be organized after finishing a course
  • how to enable the teacher to search within documents of his students
  • how to establish a consistent naming system for the files created during a course
  • what the solution can be for iPads iOS with its one-window-at-a-glance-design, which can be obstructive when researching open topics and summarizing results
  • how students can be involved if they use private Android based devices
  • how distractions can be avoided while using a device instead of a pencil and a sheet of paper

Some other problems I see with regard to content, quality and style of courses offered at iTunes U.
There is NO QUALITY CONTROL just as there are no real criteria for recommendations of apps in the App Store. It’s Apple’s way of looking at iTunes U and App Store as an offer to enhance hardware and software sales.

The offer of iTunes U is voluminous but after looking into lots of courses, the quality often could not convince me. I saw courses which were just videos of lectures without lecture notes provided. I also find courses with videos where a teacher just wrote something on a chalkboard.
To find out the right courses may last hours, days, or even weeks.
This more traditional approach reduces the capabilities of an iPad to a usual consumer device.

Summary …

iPad was first released on April 3, 2010.
A new technology was introduced by Apple. The hardware meets most of the requirements but at the time the software including the operating system has not yet been fully developed. Developers all over the world got euphoric as Apple did when introducing the App Store in July 2008. Now it’s time to look at the facts a bit more objectively. I don’t see a real benefit in offering more than 700,000 apps if there is no implemented quality control with user friendly technical criteria lists instead of promises.
I installed about 200 apps on the iPhone. For too many of them special features were announced but after purchasing it turned out that they are buggy and for some apps I wait for a bug fixing for months. Do we need an app for answering the question ‘Why the sea is salty” (McGraw Hill)? Today apps can be seen as usual consumer products like shirts, jeans and other stuff. I like to call some apps as ’7 Up’ apps. Use them 7 minutes or 7 hours and flush them down the toilet to clear the space for the next app. Are the apps for learning or just playing with this handy device? Is there a compulsion to try out new apps in periods getting shorter and shorter?

iPad MAY BE A TRANSFORMATIVE TOOL in education as it can house all resources (books, readings, video, audio), connects to the internet for doing research, provides a vehicle for maintaining communication, replaces ‘dead tree’ paper versions of resources and does it all in an easy to carry around, quick starting, and simple interface.

So the most important questions which have to be found out by research studies are:

  • Does iPad improve the motivation of students?
  • Are there measurable better results in graduation of students using iPads compared to those using the more old-fashioned learning techniques?

All the studies I looked into verified improvements in all fields.
Unfortunately many of the results published were of poor quality as they did not outline the relevant aspects in a clear and comprehensive way. Some studies compiled statistics with an entirety of about 20 students. That’s unscientific.

Anyway you can also find truly meaningful documents like The Reed College’s iPad Pilot Report published by The Reed College (see link below).

Attachments …

A highly interesting and meaningful document I found out at

Reed College: iPad Pilot Project

Apple supports education by introducing iBooks and iTunesU.

iTunes U …
let teachers create their own courses to unleash the full potential of iPad in a classroom. Ideas can be shared in a powerful new way, and the students get a rich, immersive learning experience using the iTunes U app for iPad. iTunes U is available at any college, university, or K-12 school.
From the iTunes U app, students can play video or audio lectures and take notes that are synchronized with the lecture. They can read books and view presentations. See a list of all the assignments for the course and check them off as they’re completed. And when you send a message or create a new assignment, students receive a push notification with the new information.
With the Apple ID anyone can subscribe to any courses.

Some of the really exciting features of the iTunes U experience is that as the video materials are playing, it is easy to pause the video to take notes. This creates a time stamp and a small thumbnail. When you look at your list of notes, it is possible to touch on the time stamp and be taken to that exact point in the video for review.

An example of iTunes U content by
Union University, Jackson, Tennessee

Introducing iPads into classrooms

The apps …

That’s the biggest problem when using an iPad.
It’s not easy to find out apps with the following capabilities.

  • UI which fulfills Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines
  • reputable developer with innovative ideas and fast support
  • suitable capabilities to connect with different cloud providers including iCloud
  • support of well-known file formats (instead of proprietary formats)

Here are my proposals for the software configuration …

  • iWork for iOS (Apple)
    Pages for summarizing results in a final paper
    Numbers for ToDo lists and documentation of the learning process
    Keynote for presentation of intermediate and individual results
  • iThoughts (Craig Scott, UK)
    a mind mapping app for research and organizing one’s brain

    Reflect what you have learned by creating a mind map.
    You will forget many detailed information but you should not forget the topics and their dependencies. Mind mapping on an iPad supports this essential part of the learning process in a specific way.

    It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device or textbook could be. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

  • FileBrowser (Stratospherix)
    as the file transfer app with capabilities to connect directly to networks, clouds and USB drives
  • Camera (Apple)
    to scan documents and use photos for clarification
  • Documents (Readdle)
    to establish syncing of a cloud folder where the teacher provides documents for his students
  • iDriveSync (Pro Softnet)
    to establish syncing of a cloud folder where the teacher provides documents for his students

An external storage has to support WebDAV as it is more flexible than Dropbox. All other providers furthermore offer more free storage capacity than the 2 GB of a Dropbox account. Additionally, a WebDAV connection can be used to save iWork documents.

An alert reader might miss a suggestion for a note taking app because an iPad is frequently used for that task. But I cannot make any suggestion which app meets the requirements of students. So look here …

Further information …

Associated blog links …

Thanks …

I have to explicitly thank Nicolas Forsans, Associate Professor in International Strategic Management at the University of Leeds (UK) who forwarded some useful links to me which initiated my idea to write this article.

Please comment on this article.
Thanks for reading my blog.





iPhone’s dining habits

15 03 2013

Your iOS devices are nothing without waves.

Waves are the food for every mobile device connected to the internet or your carrier and contain the information e.g. needed for your browser to show websites and for a phone call to transmit your voice.

But what are waves and how does this work?

You all know water waves, seismic waves and waves that transmit the sound from one person to another or from speakers to your ear. Sometimes sound waves contain good news or bad news. Whatever is transmitted by waves it’s always INFORMATION.

In case of iPhones contacting your carrier or iPads contacting your wireless access point, waves are Electromagnetic Waves. In contrast to water waves (propagating through water), the sound (propagating through gas) and seismic waves (propagating through the earth) electromagnetic waves don’t need a medium. They also can carry information while propagating through the vacuum with the speed of light (about 300.000 m/sec). That’s pretty fast and helps when transmitting information to your device because there are many disturbers around us and so information has to be transmitted several times before being identified as those destined for you.

Look here for waves in motion

Simple Wikipedia

Properties of waves …

Properties of waves are among others the amplitude (height of cycles) and the frequency (number of cycles per second). Sound waves have a low frequency when we hear a deep tone. The frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz).

20131014-175857.jpg

Image (1) shows an AM (amplitude modulated) wave and Image (2) an FM (frequency modulated) wave. You all know AM and FM if you ever looked on a radio’s dashboard. The more important method is to transmit information with a frequency modulated wave.

Information transport …

A constantly moving wave with the same frequency and amplitude cannot transmit information except a YES (the sender is on) or a NO (the sender is off).

To transmit information we have to vary the amplitude or frequency of the electromagnetic wave. But the information then is encoded and none of our organs of perception can understand what it means. iPhone’s receivers for WiFi and carrier-based signals support us by converting the electromagnetic waves hitting the device into text, pictures and sound.

For example, a radio transmitter turns a human voice into waves by varying the frequency of waves in the same pattern as the sound waves measured by a microphone.

Image (2) shows a FM wave where the frequency is varied constantly. If it represents a sound wave it could be the varying signal of an ambulance and provides us with the information ‘Let it pass’.

Your WiFi is not working?

As I already mentioned there are many disturbers preventing us from enjoying our iPhone.

If you have problems with your WiFi connection a possible reason could be INTERFERENCE. Interference occurs if waves carrying the information disturb each other. In one case the disturbance may lead to a complete extinction so that your device looses the connection to the access point.
Images (3) shows two senders not far apart. Two pins, driven by an electromotor, are tapping on the water and in some regions you can see quietness. The water waves are extinguished.
Image (4) shows this phenomenon in the nature.

That’s what can happen with your WiFi access point while providing your iPhone with information via electromagnetic waves.

Other reasons …

Distance
One of the most common causes of a low Wi-Fi signal is distance. Wireless routers and access points are limited to low-power broadcasts to prevent interference with other equipment, limiting their effective range to around 100 feet indoors.

Construction
If your Wi-Fi signal mysteriously drops off in certain rooms, it may be due to your home’s construction. Especially thick walls and a metallic mesh inside the wall effectively disrupt any Wi-Fi signal passing through, significantly reducing signal strength or blocking the signal completely.

Device Interference
You may also find intermittent signal problems caused by interference from other, non-Wi-Fi devices. Wi-Fi operates in the 2.4-gigahertz band, as do cordless phones, some remote alarm products and a microwave oven. When active, these devices can reduce your Wi-Fi signal strength due to interference. Additionally, microwaves can produce substantial interference in the frequency range used by wireless devices and can completely disrupt a Wi-Fi connection. Taking care to situate your wireless nodes and equipment away from such interference can help improve signal strength, but repeated problems may require you to replace older appliances with modern, wireless-friendly alternatives or switch to the 5-gigahertz frequency band available with 802.11n products.

Change the Channel …

Another source of Wi-Fi signal problems is interference. Wireless devices feature the ability to transmit and receive on several separate channels (slightly different frequencies in the 2.4 or 5 GHz band), but in many cases, they shift from the factory set to a single default channel. This can mean that several wireless sources in a small area, such as an apartment building, are all competing for signal in the same frequency band.

If you encounter unexpectedly weak Wi-Fi signals and detect other networks operating in your area, try switching to different channels to find a less crowded part of the spectrum.
You can change the channel for your Apple router using the free Airport Utility provided by Apple.

20130124-194807.jpg

Useful links for technicians …

CISCO Myths of interference

Channel frequencies

Thanks for surfing by on your wave.





One year without a PC

13 03 2013

About one year ago I kicked off my PC for private use.
This post is about my experiences on using solely an iPad and iPhone.
Could these two Apple devices replace my PC? Are there any disadvantages?

Answering and assessing these questions I first have to describe what I am doing with these two young electronic helpers.

Here are the tasks for me, the iPad and the iPhone …

  • Online – Banking
  • E-Mail communication
  • Writing letters
  • Archiving documents electronically
  • Capturing ideas
  • Organizing private long-term commitments
  • Managing photos, contacts and events
  • Online-Shopping
  • Creating images for blogs
  • Participation in forums
  • Writing blogs

All these tasks can be fulfilled by using an iPad. And others?

I started a topic ‘What iPad cannot do’ on iMore, Everything iPhone and MacTalk Australia forum to ask the members what their opinion is.

A member of MacTalk Australia forum should be separately quoted here because he hit that nail square on the head regarding tasks which are not important for me but for other users …

I don’t think it’s a question of whether you can or cannot do any given thing with an iPad compared to a computer, but rather, how well you can do such things. Like, could an iPad convert video? Maybe, if there was an app for that. But I doubt it’d be able to do it as well as a computer. And even though you can put together movies on the iPad itself, I doubt you’re going to see any serious productions produced entirely on an iPad.

Other opinions …

iMore (TurboTiger)
Accessing sites that require Java Applets. This is why I also have an MacBook Air.

iMore (Alli)
True Multitasking, Multiple Windows, Uploading files to websites (except photos)

MacTalk (Geoff3DMN)
RAW photo editing

MacTalk (glacierdave)
The biggest area where I think this conversion would fall down for many users is financial or business applications. In my area that frequently means finance apps customised for primary production and GIS-style applications for land management. While there’s iPad alternatives for these, they aren’t as widely known and accepted as the current crop of Windows applications and a conversion to iPad would involve some certain pain.

MacTalk (icant)
Can you swat a spider with an iPad? Yes, but not very well. A magazine is preferred. There are some tools to edit Openstreetmap on iOS. But the desktop apps are much better. e.g. JOSM runs on Java.

Everything iPhone (Mugwhamp)
I teach IB literature and theory of knowledge, and I use my iPad 10 hours a day. I make all spreadsheets, docs, and newsletters with the iPad, in addition to messaging and email. I regularly project my lessons on to a screen, use the iPad for note taking in meetings, video and audio record my students’ presentations, make my own presentations, edit PDFs, and edit photos and videos. The ONLY thing I use my laptop for is downloading music and videos and transferring them to the iPad via iTunes. When my laptop dies, I will only keep a home desktop for the aforementioned purpose. I’m definitely post-PC, and I love it. I understand that some technical professionals may need something more, but for the many and varied tasks that I engage in as an educator, the iPad rules. It is most definitely a powerful production tool.

Everything iPhone (Europa)
Running a server, Playing non-iTunes friendly videos (you need a computer to do the live conversion with Air Video and to move them to the phone for playback via VLC), Ripping and converting videos, Burning and playing CDs/DVDs, Updating the firmware on Bluetooth devices, Torrents, Photoshop, Audition, etc., Accessing the file system and making modifications, Running the full version of iTunes, Capturing/recording video that is playing on the screen, Hiding the pesky Newsstand app, Flash video content, Programming, Restoring or applying a full update to the iPad, Jailbreaking, Air Print to an unsupported printer, Computer games

MacTalk (Steeley)
I certainly can’t be a graphic designer with an iPad. The screen size is too small, I can’t use a graphic tablet or mouse, there’s no professional software and, the biggest issue, you cannot colour calibrate an ipad and the existing over saturated colours on iPads are next to useless when designing for print.

iPad in education …

The forum members told us what we cannot do with an iPad.
Here are some links about the usage of iPad in the educational sector.
What we can learn from this is that the iPad falls short in many cases but has substantial benefits in other cases.

Leeds University: Integrating iPads into Universities

Pepperdine University: Research Study on Using iPads

Here are my professional responsibilities …

  • Developing software based on Microsoft Access
  • Updating content of the company-website
  • UI and UX design
  • Software maintenance
  • Deployment of software updates
  • Maintenance of the LAN

iPad and Windows cannot be friends so none of these tasks can be done by the little brother. iPad may only be used for checking things via a remote desktop connection.

The benefits of the iPad …

  • Mobility
  • Use it at a time you need it
  • UI (the user interface)
  • UX (the user experience)
  • Quietness
  • Sharpness of the display
  • Size
  • Basically no need of any peripherals

When I go to the office it’s the way to work with hardware you have known for decades. The first IBM PC was released in 1981 and a bit later it got Windows and a mouse. Since that time there were basically no changes regarding this configuration, nothing what you would call innovative.
The whole machine with its peripherals was just for doing the things you have to do. Did the machine ever motivate you to do new things?

As to the immobility of a PC you have to have your ideas when you sit in front of your desk. But this often doesn’t work. There are ideas coming up just when you do not sit in the office. Even a notebook did not change this none-productive-environment basically.

But the iPad did.

It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

As to limited software capabilities you are forced to find out new ways to organize your work. And these new approaches of modern computing are often easier and more effective. So the machine motivates you to go alternative ways. That’s what we call creativity.

What do you think?
Would this man have been even more creative with an iPad?

20130123-150612.jpg

Creativity has nothing to do with any activity in particular – with painting, poetry, dancing, singing or finding out E=m c c.

Anything can be creative – you bring that quality to the activity. Activity itself is neither creative nor uncreative. You can paint in an uncreative way and you can clean the floor in a creative way.

iPad supports creativity by forcing you to do things with your hand. That’s what we learned as we grew up and that’s to what we come back using this kind of machine where the mouse is just eating its cheese and not supporting us.

My opinion might look highly subjective and younger people growing up with these technical marvels cannot understand me. Then you should know that I grew up without any computer you could afford for private use.
My first PC was a Sharp MZ 80K (1978) followed by an IBM PC (1981) and everybody thought these machines are made for working while you first think of an iPad as a gadget just for fun.

Sometimes I boot the IBM PC still residing in our office (which, you won’t believe it, is still working!) and compare it with the iPad. If you had traced this long way you may understand me.

Last but not least let’s hear what EINSTEIN said …

Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Summary …

Nobody would use a 40t truck to buy a bottle of milk and nobody would try to transport 20 pupils to school with a Smart. So it’s no rigorous YES or NO to a PC or a tablet. Use the device it’s dedicated for at the right time and at the right place. And that’s definitely not a PC for brainstorming in a coffee shop and it’s not a tablet for doing the relevant tasks in the office.
Like in all other parts of our life we are targeted to use the device which fits best for a task. The only requirement which must be fulfilled is the ability of seamless data exchange between both, the PC and the tablet.

(This post was updated on 2013-05-22)

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





Facts about iMessage

3 03 2013


Apple talks about iMessage …

If you’re a texter, you’ll love Messages on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Now they all come with iMessage, a service that’s an even better kind of texting. Because it’s free for you and anyone texting over Wi-Fi using an iOS device or Mac with iMessage. And it’s unlimited. So say as much as you want.

This is the link to Apple’s website iMessage

iMessage is accessible through the Messages app on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 5 or later or on a Mac running OS X Mountain Lion or later. For users who have an active data connection, Messages will check with Apple if the recipient has iMessage set up. If so, Messages will seamlessly transition from SMS to iMessage.

The recipient must use an Apple device as iMessage is an Apple service and not based on services of your carrier.

iMessage is not tied to a particular device or SIM card – it uses an Apple ID.
Consequently the Apple ID you entered during the device set-up phase will be the one used for iMessage by default. The Apple ID can be changed from within the Settings app, but more importantly you can also set up “proxy” E-Mail addresses through which you can receive iMessages. These proxy addresses act as gateways through which iMessages can be funneled into your Apple ID, which is what actually stores your messages. If you have an iPhone your phone number is also added automatically to this list of “proxies”.

Notes
A PROXY is a computer system or an application that acts as an intermediary for requests. Servers of your provider for example are proxies as they receive information and send them to you.

If you don’t have a SIM card inserted (e.g. in an iPad) iMessages can be sent from your device if you are connected to the internet. But if the recipient cannot receive iMessages you cannot contact him via Apple’s Messages because automatic switching from iMessage to SMS service is only possible with a SIM card.

Activating iMessage …

During activating iMessage there are several messages coming up which I don’t describe here because they are self-explaining.

  • Turn on iMessage.
    A popover with your Apple ID comes up.
  • Enter your password.
    If you activate iMessage Apple will send a confirmation for your phone number to the UK (+44 7786205094) to register this phone number in the global catalog for iMessage capable devices. You have to pay the normal fee for this SMS. In Germany its 0.28€.
  • From then on your phone number and your Apple ID are used for iMessage.
  • If you use further Apple devices all the information is pushed to them. So you just have to turn on iMessage on other devices.
  • The whole procedure is also valid for Facetime activation.

You may add further E-Mail addresses.
Each entry will be verified by Apple through sending an E-Mail to this address. It contains a link ‘Verify E-Mail’ for verifying this particular address.

20130118-151757.jpg

Wit the release of iOS 7 in Sep 2013 Apple adapted just the layout of iMessage and added the new feature ‘Blocked’ with which you can choose a contact from ‘Contacts’ and block any iMessage communication with selected people.

20131001-061845.jpg

The whole setup procedure, the system behavior, and the restrictions remained the same. iMessage is still not available for establishing connections with devices of other vendors. This is quite understandable because it’s an Apple service and requires an Apple ID.

Restrictions …

If the recipient does not use iMessage (because he owns no Apple device, deactivated iMessage or cannot connect to the internet) your message will be sent as a usual SMS unless you turned off the option ‘Send as SMS’ in Setting – Messages.

Features and behavior …

From the users point of view iMessage works like sending an SMS with the following exceptions and additional features:

01 Appearance

  • On your screen iMessages you sent to the recipient appear in a blue, usual SMS in a green bubble.

02 File Attachments

  • With iMessage you can send file attachments like photos, screenshots and videos. When using WiFi videos are compressed to 360 x 480 pixels and cannot exceed 100 MB. If you use the Cellular 3G connection the quality of videos is strongly reduced. A video should not be longer than 90 sec.

03 Group Chat

  • If you select more than one recipient to send your message to iMessage starts a group chat.
    All consecutive messages are sent to all members of the group chat. Within a running chat single members cannot be excluded.

04 SMS

  • If an iMessage cannot be sent double tap the message and select ‘Send as SMS’ from the context menu. You may also let iMessage do this automatically if you go to Settings – Messages and turn on ‘Send as SMS’. Carrier messaging rates may apply.

05 Text length

  • A message with more than 960 characters will be cut into pieces. Each part contains up to 960 characters. The maximum length is 4000 characters.
    You can activate ‘Character Count’ in Settings – Messages to see the length of your message.

06 Encryption

  • Messages sent via iMessage are unlike usual SMSs Point-to-Point encrypted.
    To my state of knowledge Apple did not publish details of the encryption protocol.
  • Corporate security is compromised when users who rely on iMessage are unable to transmit messages via Apple’s platform, as iMessage may revert to sending a regular unencrypted text message (SMS). A single finger swipe allows users to exchange public encryption keys, encrypt text messages, and protect text, audio, video, and picture messages from eavesdroppers by going through a carrier-based network instead of through the cloud.

07 Delivery confirmation

  • A ‘Delivered’ note next to each message indicates a successful delivery and there is also the option of sending ‘Send Read Receipts’ – these simply allow the other persons sending an iMessage to know that you have read their message.

08 Editing and Status informations

  • Tap on the Edit icon of an iMessage to forward a message or delete it.
    During a conversation iMessage displays a bubble with three points when your partner edits his new message.

  • A profile for iOS devices is available for logging all iMessages on the device.
    The installation is on one’s own responsibility.

    iOS Profile for Logging iMessages

09 Transmission time

  • iMessages reach the recipient meanly within 2 sec while an SMS usually needs 5 sec.

10 Notification

  • Go to Settings – Notifications – Messages and use appropriate settings for notifications.
    If you only want to be informed about an incoming iMessage in the Lock Screen turn off ‘Show Preview’.

11 Further devices

  • iMessages are automatically pushed to all your other iOS-Devices where iMessage is activated.

12 Different SIM Cards

  • If you frequently visit foreign countries the use of a local SIM may save costs.
    But what happens with iMessage?
    As iMessage is not carrier-based you must not do anything. Your phone number is admittedly different from that you used when activating iMessage. But your Apple ID remains the same and is alternatively used when your phone number has changed. But keep in mind that in this case iMessage only works with an internet connection because your new local phone number is not registered in Apple’s iMessage address pool.

Thanks for reading this post.
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