Inspiration

20 03 2014

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

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

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

Concept Maps …

Concept Maps visualise and communicate knowledge.

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

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

Summary …

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

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

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

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

The app Inspiration …

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

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

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Features ..

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

Filesharing …

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

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

Impressions of the UI …

Work screen …

20131211-083501.jpg

Formatting of objects …

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

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

Layout enhancements …

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

Outline interface …

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

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Shapes …

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

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The pros and cons …

Pros …

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

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

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

Cons …

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

Improvements …

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

20130726-075543.jpg

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

Summary …

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

Notes …

Nick Duffill, Harport Consulting, Scotland

Mind Maps + Concept Maps

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

Inspiration Software Inc., USA

Inspiration for the iPad

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

Related links …

Basics …

Mind Maps and Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Perfect mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Mindly for the iPhone

Other mind mapping tools …

Popples made by Popplet

BigMind

Three In One

Platform for shared maps …

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

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





instaGrok

25 01 2014

instaGrok by instaGrok Inc., USA, is an educational web-based research engine that lets students or anyone else research any topic in an engaging, visual way. instaGrok finds information on the topic and presents it as an interactive mind map (“grok”), showing key facts, concepts and relationships, videos, images and more. Users can pin their favorite materials to their grok and take notes in the built-in journals.

Prior to the launch of the iPad app instaGrok was accessible via any browser. The iPad app is a free version released on Jan 09, 2014 (version 1.0.1).

The concept …

The company tries to retrieve comprehensive information about a topic in a visualized layout with the main topic as the center of a mind map.

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The developer about his concept:

  • Visual interface
    instaGrok presents each topic as an interactive visual interface, allowing the user to quickly grasp important concepts, key facts and relationships.

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  • Features
    • Key Facts show important facts about the topic (with links to the original content page)
    • Difficulty Slider adjusts the difficulty of the material
    • Quizzes offer fun challenges that reinforce learning and encourage exploration
    • Glossary defines important terms
  • Journals, Pinning, History
    • Integrated journals allow easy note-taking or writing of research reports
    • Pin buttons allow pinning of favorite facts, websites or images to your grok
    • Search history is automatically saved, allowing you to come back to your research activity
  • Classroom version
    In the school setting, an integrated teacher dashboard allows teachers to monitor the progess of each student, view their research activity, and view/comment on students’ journals.

How it works …

Enter a search term in ‘What would you like to know about?’ and tap on GROK.
A visualized summary of retrieved topics appears.
Tap on a topic to see

  • Key Facts
  • Websites
    instaGrok provides an integrated browser. So following a source doesn’t require to move over to Safari.
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Concepts
  • Add Note
    Notes can be added to each topic.

instGrok provides a text editor with lots of formatting features to summarize information about the topic.

20140124-055929.jpg

Here is a video about the usage on a desktop computer

Sad to see that many of the essential features don’t work when using the iPad app.

The cons …

The following features are not available:

  • Items in the ‘History’ cannot be deleted.
  • There is no way to add a pin to the journal.

The UI looks perfect but …

  • The iPad’s status bar is overlapped by the app’s screen.
  • The tab ‘Grok’ disappears in some cases.
  • Changing the view often logs the user out.
  • The UI is quite jumpy when rearranging topics although my cable internet connection is a 40 MBit/sec connection.
  • Apple’s autocorrect feature doesn’t work when writing the journal. It’s quite frustrating to manually correct all those minor typos.
  • Many of the formatting options using drop-down menus are not really useful because the controls are too small for targeted usage on a touch screen.

Summary …

A perfect idea unfortunately with a jumpy UI (iPad 3, iOS 7) and not working features.
It seems to me that the iPad version just retrieves the website where many features are also not available, neither with Safari nor with Google Chrome.

Again an app is hastily stitched together and released without a critical internal control.
Three years after the release of the first iPad and the availability of lots of powerful apps fully adapted to the iPad’s touch screen the developer should do it bit more to satisfy customers.

In total I don’t see teal benefits compared to a powerful mind mapping tool like iThoughts for the iPad with which you can also do it all and do it better because of a perfect adaption to touch screens.

Related links …

How to use instaGrok (YouTube, 6:21)

Reviews of mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Pearltrees

Inspiration

Three In One (about MagicalPad)

BigMind

About mind mapping …

Mind Maps vs Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Mindly

17 01 2014

Have you ever tried to create a mind map on the small screen of an iPhone?
It seems to be impossible except there would be an app with a suitable approach to object management.

20140116-121707.jpg

And here it is, it’s Mindly by Jaakko Rantanen, first released in December 2013 with powerful updates in January and April 2014. Since April 2014 Mindly is also available for the iPad.

About mind maps …

Mind mapping is a widely used powerful technique to visualize information. If you look on a mind map you see that one central topic is connected to subtopics with an underlying hierarchical structure. Scientific studies validate that mind mapping improves learning, understanding, planning, and with it the development of personality and knowledge.

Mind maps already have been used hundreds of years ago. See

Roots of visual mapping

for more information.

This impressive overview from Porphyry of Tyre in 3rd century C.E. to the legendary BBC TV series by Tony Buzan in 1974 shows us:

The devices changed from a pen to a computer but the basic idea to connect topics like cells in our brain are connected by nerves remained the same.

With touch screens as the main interface between user and device we came back to the ‘oldfashioned’ technique of using our hands to create information. No mouse, no keyboard, no cables, just fingers and the brain. We are no longer bound to work desks when using a tablet or a smartphone. With this, a problem comes up, the screen size. Fortunately there are prolific developers whose apps are solving life’s dilemma.

Back to Jaakko …

Mind maps are cormorant space eaters and definitely not suitable for editing on an iPhone but the approach of Jaakko solves this problem by using a ‘solar system’-like design of topics. The sun (center of the map) is surrounded by planets (1st level topics) positioned on an orbit. This design is repeatedly used for the sub-topics.

This fascinating mind mapping app places topics in “orbits” around their parent; at the top-level view, the central topic and its first-level “children” appear in the center of the screen. Tapping on one of these first-level topics causes the parent to glide to the upper left corner of the screen, and the next level of information is displayed, this time with the first-level topic centered on screen and its child topics orbiting it.
(Chuck Frey, a reputable member of the mind mapping scene)
See also an interesting interview with the developer under ‘Related links’

There is a striking resemblance to the app Pearltrees (see my review under ‘Related links’).

20140115-060300.jpg

Mindly helps to organize your inner universe by

  • structuring thoughts
  • collecting ideas
  • supporting brainstorming
  • planning a project
  • preparing a speech
  • preparing for a meeting
  • writing a quick summary

If your brain prefers visualized information and you want to use your small iPhone, Mindly is the right choice although there are some cons you should know about.

The features of Mindly:

  • Hierarchy of elements
  • Attach notes, image or icon to any element
  • Color schemes for elements
  • Visual clipboard for reorganizing content
  • Export as OPML, HTML, PDF, and TXT by mail and the ‘Open in’ command
  • Printing via Apple’s AirPrint
  • iCIoud support
  • Move+Copy to upper element directly via drag+drop
  • spell checking
  • Using the limited display space of an iPhone with an innovative approach to the layout of mind maps

Let’s start with the file management located in the Home Screen and the map overview.

20140115-060501.jpg

Editing maps is mainly done by just two gestures, double tap and drag + drop.
Each topic consists of a caption, a note, and an optional image.

20140115-061035.jpg

If you start dragging an object a symbol for the ‘virtual clipboard’ (top right) and the trash (bottom right) appears.

20140115-061416.jpg

With colors and icons you can breathe life into your map.

20140115-061806.jpg

These are the features for managing files and setting up iCloud synchronization that means, your Mindly maps are synced across all your iOS devices running on the same Apple ID.

20140115-062031.jpg

That’s it. User-friendly, simple but nevertheless powerful.

Great job, thanks Jaakko.

The big brother …

To get familiar with Mindly I manually transferred a mind map about the iPhone sensors, earlier created with iThoughts for the iPad to Mindly.

Note
iPhone sensors were described in my article Sensitiveness.

I created all topics in Mindly, exported the images of the original mind map to the camera roll, and assigned them in Mindly. Textual parts (the sensor descriptions) were transferred via the iOS clipboard. All this took me about 10 min not reading any of the helps provided in Mindly.

20140115-070222.jpg

Both maps now have identical content regarding text and images and it turned out that the app design forces you to use it. I’m sure it will not sink into obscurity like many other apps you ever downloaded from the App Store. Quite the contrary, you will upgrade to the full version.

The pros and cons …

The pros …

  • Perfect UI adoption to the screen size of the iPhone
  • Seamless usage
  • iCloud support
    maps are synced automatically across all iOS devices running with the same Apple ID
  • Availability of a free version allowing you to create a maximum of 3 maps
    upgradable with an In-App-Purchase
  • Exporting the map is possible by sending an email; the mail contains a PDF version as well as the native format of Mindly (.mindly).
  • Comprehensive help system within the app
  • Fast, friendly, and understandable support from within the app by mail

The cons …

  • Reduced quality of attached images when minimized
  • Fixed topic size so that words might be split in two or more lines
  • Hyperlinks cannot be assigned to topics
  • Maps can only be exported in OPML, HTML, PDC, and TXT file formats
    Other formats like DOCX with a hierarchical outline of elements or
    proprietary file format of other well-known mind mapping tools are not supported.
  • no access to other cloud providers

At the time there is no iPad version available but in his interview with Chuck Frey the developer confirmed that he is working on it.

Whether some of the mentioned cons are really cons is a legitimate subject for debate. Some people are always looking for more features others prefer
simplicity of design
and
restriction to useful features.
This is completely in the line of Apple’s design strategy and it’s most often the reason why people buy Apple products.


And we should not forget all the kids with iPhones. Instead of gaming all the time they could use Mindly for many tasks related to their education.

So let the developer decide which way is the best to keep the brilliant idea alive.

The app is brandnew, has an amazing concept, works excellent, is easy to use and so you should give it a try. My impression is that there is a highly engaged team behind the scene and we will see powerful updates in the near future.

Summary …

The app is an innovative approach to mind mapping on small screen sizes. It’s not suitable for more professional requirements because of it’s limited export options. Nevertheless it’s a perfect tool for private use if there is no computer or tablet available.

Related links …

About the developer …

Chuck Frey interviewing the developer

Reviews of mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Pearltrees

Inspiration

Three In One (about MagicalPad)

BigMind

About mind mapping …

Mind Maps vs Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

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

20131020-063307.jpg

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

20140106-071108.jpg

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

20131020-063942.jpg

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

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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

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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.





Apple’s Keynote Sep 2013

19 11 2013

On September 10, 2013 Apple staged it’s Keynote with two new models of the iPhone and the new operating system iOS 7.

These events always let the heartbeat of Apple fans increase near to the frequency of their devices’ processor. Gamblers at the stock exchange look at this event as well and the company immediately gets it’s comeuppance. Let’s have a brief look on the event in Cupertino.

The presentation …

The company is mainly represented by its CEO Tim Cook. Others like Phil Schiller or Jonathan Ive just have to work out the details.

Fred Erick on G+
Nobody can match Steve Jobs. He made tech fun, exciting, and he had such a great sense of humor. Even after you realize he rehearsed his presentations like crazy to get it all right, he still delivered every time.

With Cook, it’s a tightrope because he almost has to let the products speak for themselves since his personality is like that of an old librarian. He’s a nice guy, but his mannerisms and voice could lull a zombie into a coma.
One misstep and he’s got so many negatives against him.

In this mind map I tried to compare both leaders by just using photos. One can write long essays which compare the different characters. My knowledge of the English language is far away from being suitable to point it out with that extra and subtle something. If you take your time and look at the photos you might see what the differences in the two characters are.

20130914-204900.jpg

Feel free to download this map in one of the following file formats.

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

I don’t know Tim Cook personally so I have to be careful with any assessment of his personality. But if I compare the photos of Tim and Steve I can see some differences in gesture and expression which transfer some hidden messages like enthusiasm, analytic thinking, inventiveness, and focussing whereas Tim looks more like a banker managing all the tasks well. The development of the iPhone 5C was an economically driven decision and I’m in doubt whether Steve would have gone the same way.

Admittedly Steve was a charismatic person, impervious to any criticism. He was able to cast a spell on the entire audience. The biography of Tim shows us a typical ambitious businessman who doesn’t feel well when entering the stage of cult.

Diversity comes up …

Apple now offers two iPhone models, the 5C (a cheaper version) and the 5S (the premium version).
While the 5C became the brand for choice whereas the 5S is still the brand for innovation, high quality and perfect design. Apple failed in developing markets and so diversity became a necessity for further increasing revenues although the company makes 75% of the global profit in the mobile market while the market share is just 25%.

Storm Williams, TheTechStorm
“Apple: It’s All About the Brand,” is the headline of a Wired report in 2002. This remains true to this day. And more importantly, the company is well aware of this. The company had built up its reputation through selling premium products. As a result, Apple needs to price its products accordingly to support this image in the eyes of consumers around the world. Asking the company to move away from this path is like asking Mercedes or Audi to build affordable cars for consumers in India and China. The iPhone is basically a status symbol.

So the new model iPhone 5C is not cheap and Apple is not interested in replacing feature phones by low-quality devices.

See the full article here

iPhone 5C Costs

Secrecy has gone …

This year secrecy has completely gone and the Apple event on September 10 this year was as exciting as viewing James Bond’s Goldfinger.
All the leaks in the global process of development and manufacturing makes it hard to keep the things in a safe. Maybe Apple wants this PR they get without paying for it but it’s followed by disappointment. That’s why our parents kept all the toys under wraps.

Rumors say that the company is working on a TV and a watch. We already see rumors about these devices. So it’s again the same procedure as last year and the same procedure as every year.

It needs just one or two months that rumors about the iPhone 6 will start. If we look on G+ communities it seems to be what many people want.

Innovation …

I’m in doubt about further innovation in the smartphone market if it’s seen as development of completely new features or devices. It’s getting harder and harder to stand out among the mobile crowd. With each iteration of every product from every manufacturer, these phones and tablets look more and more alike.

We already have powerful processors, cameras, displays, operating systems, and now the fingerprint scanner.

If people talk about innovation, they only think about something completely new nobody expected. But the term doesn’t necessarily imply the release of new things. Every development, every step forward is based on former experiences and pioneers is intended to serve people to do things better than before.

What we see in the history if technical products is that sometimes there are big steps but most often small steps leading to a ‘new’ product. Even Albert Einstein wouldn’t have described his Theory of Relativity without all the work done by his colleagues.

Innovation generally refers to renewing, changing or creating more effective processes, products or ways of doing things. And it takes time.

20130917-061713.jpg

Disappointed Apple fans should know that it makes no sense to always release products, new and in a beta phase. This was demonstrated by Samsung when it presents it’s Gear Watch on the IFA in Berlin.

For businesses, this means implementing new ideas, creating dynamic products or improving your existing services. Innovation can be a catalyst for the growth and success of business, and help to adapt and grow in the market.
Being innovative does not mean inventing; innovation can mean changing your business model and adapting to changes in your environment to deliver better products or services.

If we look in todays smartphones we basically have these most frequently used features:

  • Making calls
  • Surf the web
  • Manage contacts
  • Take photos
  • Listen to music
  • Play games

These tasks are settled by every smartphone today. But innovation does not only mean to present new products and functionalities it’s also the improvement of already existing technologies with the target of a more seamless usage.

The fingerprint scanner, named Touch ID, is not new (we already saw that technology in the Motorola Atrix in 2011) but innovative because now it works. It also can be used for authentication when purchasing at Apple’s stores.

Other innovative steps presented on the event are

  • 64-Bit processor working together with the M7 motion processor
  • improved camera and pixel management
  • revamped iOS

Innovation has to serve people. The fingerprint scanner does because it provides seamless and fast access to the device and Apple’s stores. Time will show us if the fingerprint scanner will also increase security or establish another new whole in the ongoing series of compromising personal data.

Apple said

All fingerprint information is encrypted and stored securely in the secure enclave inside the A7 chip on the iPhone 5S. It’s never stored on Apple’s servers.

Saying NO …

Apple again said NO to the near field communication (NFC). The reason is simple: No acceptance, no benefits compared to a credit card, embryonic infrastructure.

It just works …

Here are some basic strategies of Apple which didn’t change independent of stock exchanges, rumors, and criticism of Androids. They emphasize the ‘maverick reputation’ of the world’s most valuable company.

  • The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone
    a slogan when introducing the iPhone 5 in 2012
    It points at continuous development and progress.
  • Even More to Do
    a slogan in 2008 regarding the Apple TV
    It reflects the future efforts to improve the products instead of replacing them.
  • It just works
    a slogan in 2007 regarding Mac OS X
    It reflects the companies strategy of seamless usage.

20130914-125906.jpg

Apple’s Keynote in 2013 followed these principles. People who were disappointed about this event read to many rumors with the consequence that excitement was near to a child getting a Hamburger as it’s Christmas present. But they will still buy the new products and will like them.

Quality, design, durability …

The new iPhone 5S again is a product of high quality and no other company is in the same street as Apple.

Baked Apple
Accompanying a story of an Apple II that worked after a house fire, to illustrate the claim of durability

Durability means also updating older devices with the latest operating system. Users of all the Korean products draw the short straw when it comes to use innovative features Google implemented in it’s Android operating system, a wrong licensing policy and defiance of the principle of ‘Focussing’.

Related links …

Tim Cook Biography

Apple Keynote 2013 with Tim Cook (13 min)

Apple Keynote 2010 with Steve Jobs (10 min)

SWOT Analysis Feb 2013

Tim Cook interview (Busiessweek)

Thanks for stopping by.





BigMind

15 11 2013

BigMind by Blue Tags, USA is in the line of Three-In-One products like MagicalPad or Popplet. It’s designed as a tool for mind mapping, outlining, and note taking.

General information …

If you are not familiar with the mind mapping technique see how Tony Buzan, (often seen as the inventor of mind mapping although there are early beginnings already some hundred years ago) suggests the following ‘guidelines’ for creating mind maps.

NOTE

Others don’t see Tony Buzan as the inventor of mind mapping and verify their opinion by mind maps found hundreds of years ago. See this link
Roots of Visual Mapping

  • 01 Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
  • 02 Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
  • 03 Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
  • 04 Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  • 05 The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
  • 06 Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
  • 07 Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
  • 08 Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
  • 09 Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
  • 10 Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.

The app …

BigMind is offered as a free version where the number of maps is limited to three maps and a paid version named BigMind Pro where the creation of new maps is not restricted.

With BigMind you create mind maps by using one of the provided templates or by creating a mind map from scratch. To add a topic to your mind map just tap the screen. Each topic can include text and/or images. Double tap on a topic to open the menu for inserting images from the camera roll. Within Settings you can also change colors and borders of a topic to point out relevant topics and to increase attractiveness. Adding related (child and sibling) topics is just a matter of tapping the up, down, or side arrows next to each of the topics in your mind map.

The features …

Here is a full feature description of BigMind.

20130910-135551.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

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

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

The cons …

When tapping on the screen the radial control comes up and it’s pretty much confusing to have invisible functionalities below your finger. The better way is to present a context menu which is seen as the standard solution for a well-designed user interface.

20130910-145450.jpg

Further cons …

  • Transfer of BigMind maps to other mind mapping tools is not supported.
  • Files cannot be stored on cloud storages.
  • Files cannot be transferred to other iOS devices because sending in the proprietary file format is not supported.

There are some more features missing but the above mentioned already are severe flaws so that the app cannot be recommended for most of the users. Even in schools where collaboration is indispensable it cannot be used with benefits.

Summary …

BigMind is an easy-to-use app for starting mind mapping for younger people because of it’s limited features. So it cannot compete with apps like iThoughts HD by Craig Scott, UK.
Usually your requirements increase fast and so it’s more sensible to start with a more professional approach. iThoughts HD for example is as easy to use as BigMind but offers tons of useful features without the necessity of moving through a complex user interface.

It sounds a bit strange that we see this in the company’s app description in the AppStore:

Using Trash, Prevent accidental deletion
Isn’t this a feature which is implemented in nearly all apps?
or
Password protect your mind map, prevent important information leakage.
I don’t think that anyone will manage sensitive information with this tool which needs to be secured.

Related links …

Review of iThoughts HD

Review of MagicalPad

Review of Popplet

Note taking

Thanks a lot for dropping by.





Google+ Activity Guide

3 11 2013

Although I use the internet from the very first day of public availability in Germany (early 90s) I never joined and engaged in any social network until April 2013. The reason was that my blog had less readers and I hoped to increase the number by sharing articles on different networks.

6 months is not a long time to make the necessary experiences and so I think I’m still a newbie to social networking.

I made some faults followed by an intense discussion with Andrew Harasewych (owner of the community ‘Social Media Strategy’) on Google+. Our discussion (near to a fight thankfully with words) and a more conscious perception of what’s going on in communities convinced me (not in all points) to accept the rules.

Here is the article which brought Andrew into the arena when posting it to the community ‘Social Media Strategy’.

About communities

I was a bit confused about the fact that Google basically just gives feature descriptions of it’s network (see related links below) but if it comes to the more subtle facts you have to move off and walk on a rocky road.

Note
It’s a shame that all the big companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.) ignore the technique of mind mapping for help systems although it would shorten the process of learning drastically. To the present I didn’t find any rationale why mind mapping is not publicly used to explain things in a simple visualized summarization with an added link list for going deeper into the details if there is a need. There are many stats proving that mind mapping is the right and most effective way of presenting information but it’s still not used.

Today many people see friendly invitations to social networks and within a blink they can get their membership but the majority is not willing to read all the information published. Seamless usage without reading any documentation is what they learned when using a smartphone or a tablet. This experience is than transferred to engagement in social networks and in many cases it’s the reason for misconduct.

Some general information …

According to analysts we can divide people with an account on a social network into three groups:

20130829-181403.jpg

What we see is the so-called 90-9-1 rule valid for communities with slight differences for the big networks like Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

Wikipedia
The “90–9–1” version of this rule states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing.
The actual percentage is likely to vary depending upon the subject matter. For example, if a forum requires content submissions as a condition of entry, the percentage of people who participate will probably be significantly higher than one percent, but the content creators are still the minority of all members. This is validated in a study conducted by Michael Wu, who uses economics techniques to analyze the participation inequality across hundreds of communities segmented by industry, audience type, and community focus.
This can be compared with similar rules known to information science, such as the 80/20 rule known as the Pareto principle, that 20 percent of a group will produce 80 percent of the activity, however the activity may be defined.
The 1% rule is often misunderstood to apply to the Internet in general, but it applies more specifically to any given Internet community.

The main faults …

As a moderator of the largest Apple related community on G+ my experiences with faulty behavior of members can be summarized as follows:

  • 1 Off topic
    A post is off topic if there is no or a non-organic relation to what the community owner intended.
  • 2 Multiplicity
    Sharing a post multiple times within the same community in a narrow timeframe is senseless. It points to the fact that the poster is not really an active member. Otherwise he would have recognized that his post is redundant.
  • 3 Link/Post littering
    Capture a link and post it without any further comments. Members of a community should know why this information was posted and why it’s relevant. Link litterers don’t take care of this basic rule valid for all communities. In many cases they even didn’t read what they have posted. Entering a search term in Google search, posting the links of the first 5 results would transform every community into a giant trash.
  • 4 Useless content
    If people post just screenshots of their smartphone screen or photos taken with the camera in a community dedicated to Apple and their is no suitable category, active moderators will remove these posts. It’s because their is no perceptible content. There are other networks like Pinterest, Flickr, other communities or the public stream in the poster’s profile where this ‘content’ can be posted. Usually these posters are not what we would call a rainmaker.
  • 5 Wrong categorization
    Google implemented categories to let members select what they are interested in. Many people do not take their time to choose the right category and always use the default value. So there are many posts categorized as ‘Discussion’ although there is nothing to discuss. You will find the Spam category in many well-organized communities on G+ to force members not to just litter posts but take their time to add value to a specific sector.
  • 6 Trolling
    In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
    Neither Google nor any community needs trolls.
  • 7 Spam
    Electronic Spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages. Google automatically flags posts as SPAM if somebody posts the same content on multiple communities (cross-posting) within a narrow timeframe.

The reason for these faults are always the same. The poster hopes to raise awareness for what reason soever. All this might be allowed in other social networks but is not welcome on G+ and often punished by post removal or even a ban from the community if it’s done repeatedly.

I think I must not talk about the more general etiquettes accepted by the majority of people in all countries of the world. Breaching etiquettes is the worst scenario and usually followed by a ban and, in severe cases, Google suspends an account. We all can understand that people are in a dither from time to time. So stay cool before you write a comment, read it again, think about the possible consequences, and not until then tap on’ Share’.

The moderators behavior …

It depends upon the moderator (who is a leisure administrator!) how breaking of rules is treated. The usual case is that faulty behavior is followed by the removal of a post. A more elaborated (and recommended) way is to notify the member and tell him what he did wrong.

Here is a text template which can be put into the comment section of removed posts to let the member think about his posting behavior:

You are here in this Community as a guest. So you have to accept some rules. These are general rules set by Google as well as community specific rules set by the owner of the community.

Not welcome in the Apple Community are posts with useless content which neither provoke fruitful discussions nor give members useful information. If your post is just funny, expresses just a feeling, or contains just an image not related to Apple, or a screenshot of an Apple device and is not intended to start a useful discussion or explains an issue, it is removed because we have no category ‘Fun’ or ‘Photography’, ‘Feelings and Wishes’, or ‘Screenshots’.

It’s not allowed to post off topic but establish an artificial relation to the communities main topic by writing just an intro which pretends a relation to Apple. The communities topic is solely Apple and body content of text posts or of links must have a clear relation to Apple.

Keep it relevant.

Please read this G+ Member Guide by Andrew Harasewych as well as the clearly defined community rules to avoid

  • removal of your posts
  • getting banned from a community
  • being a link litterer
  • being a member just trying to get attention

There are many other communities available here on G+ where your post can be placed according to community rules (if there are rules!). As an alternative, just post in your public stream or use your Twitter or Facebook account to notify your close friends.

Looking on hundreds of profiles I recognized that members get many +1 when posting eye catchers but they usually have only a few followers. The reason is obvious: the internet is overloaded with images and people look at them for a few seconds and move to the next image often not even recognizing who posted the image. This is a behavior I will never understand.

We all know that big communities often are misused to get attention. This is not the right way to become a great member and to be seen as a rainmaker. You should take your time when creating a post and show members of this community that your posts are rich in content.

All this and many other useful suggestions can be found here:

Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Member Guide

Sad to say that in many cases there is no further discussion with a member whose post was removed although he was notified. He simply ignores what the moderator wrote down. This is always a strong indicator for people just trying to get attention. Usually they are no active members in a community. They just ‘post and leave’ but are not engaged in any discussion. It looks like trying to build a further profile stream within a community. The ban hammer follows immediately after posting again. Members should be aware of the fact that they are not customers but guests. So, to get rid of people who consecutively violate the rules is a painless action.

The moderators view …

If you want to learn more about communities seen from the moderator’s view I strongly recommend to read the

Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Owner/Moderator Guide

The guide …

If you are a contributor or even a content creator you should follow these rules whether you accept them or not. Nobody should forget that he is a guest on G+ and probably use many other free services of the company. So it’s self-evident that there are just two ways to go: accept the rules or leave the community. Communities on G+ are created by individuals and everybody who joins a community has to accept the rules set by the owner. This is not only valid for social networks based on electronic information exchange but also for any other topic-related groups of individuals. I’m sure it’s the anonymity on the internet which let people think that communities in a social network are different from communities where interaction is based on personal communication.

So here is a mind map valid for members of Google+.
It’s based on a couple of articles I found in the internet. Authorships are mentioned in the links below and it’s strongly recommended that you take your time to read them all if you want to obtain all the benefits offered by a social network like G+.

The mind map was created with the app iThoughts HD for the iPad by Craig Scott, UK.

20130915-154700.jpg

Tap on these images to see relevant parts of the map.

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

A reply from an ignoramus …

I notified a member because he was completely off topic.
The reply was

I live in a free country and I can post what I want.

He can do it if it’s legal and he publishes in his profile stream.

Think of it like this:

If you hate ties and suits would you go into a restaurant where this is obligatory? You can try it but the owner will not accept it. But there are many other restaurants where you can get delicious food without wearing suit and tie.

If you join a soccer club would you ask the goalkeeper to play tennis with you?

More needs to be said?

Summary …

Engagement in a G+ community can be followed by exciting experiences and you can get friends in all parts of the world. Exchanging opinions, getting useful tips, improving knowledge and personality might be the chance but only if some rules are accepted. Again, G+ is completely different from other networks like Facebook or Twitter. It’s a great offer from Google and it’s up to all members to build up a great network by choosing the right communities and contributing useful content. That at least was my painful experience.

Everyone is entitled to express his opinion on the internet.
But like in real life rules have to be accepted to avoid utter chaos.

It’s that simple.

Related links …

Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Member Guide

Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Owner/Moderator Guide

The Social Media Hat
How not to use Google+

Paul Maplesden
How you can be a great G+ member

Google
Google+ Information

Google
Google+ Etiquette

Thanks for dropping by.





Final Argument

30 10 2013

Reviewing apps can be a funny or a really troublesome work. This depends on how conscientious you do your work. Downloading the app from the App Store, playing with it for 20 minutes using provided templates is not enough for a serious rating. But this procedure is often done when we read ratings like ‘Awesome app’, ‘Best app of the year’, or ‘Swiss army knife’. The egg-laying wool-milk-sow is still not born, sorry, not developed.

Enthusiasm is still forced by these small and powerful devices we call smartphones and tablets. The first tablet was launched by Apple in 2010 and technical improvements are done with nearly the speed of light. In the twinkling of an eye we can do things which in former times required

  • Going to the work desk
  • Launching the operating system
  • Staring at the flickering screen, lost in daydreams, and disregarding the everlasting war of drivers
  • Waiting until all the update messages are gone and let you get a sneak peek at the desktop icons
  • Starting the application

With tablets this painful procedure is reduced to ‘Starting the application’.

So people, including me, are still impressed if it comes to controlling a device just with some fingers and using it anywhere and anytime. It’s the hidden child in nearly all of us that takes away the dispassion and forces enthusiasm.

With this in mind let’s take a look on the app Final Argument by Morris Cooke, UK.

General information …

Final Argument is in the line of applications allowing non-linear presentations. In contrast to Apple’s Keynote or Microsoft’s Powerpoint presentation tools slides can be arranged in a non-linear (in contrast to top-to-bottom) layout. .

With this kind of presentation, it is possible to jump to any out-of-order slides. Non linear presentations are excellent where audience participation is expected and encouraged. For instance a manager summarizing the latest progress of a project with his team, team members may interject to explain something, as a result the manager jumps to a different slide.

The features …

What’s the idea of Final Argument?

The app allows to present existing PDF/Keynote/PPT slides, use an interactive whiteboard, and record a presentation as a video.

The main idea is, in contrast to Keynote and Powerpoint, the ability to present in a non-linear way. During a presentation the way going through slides is based on a mind map.

Features …

  • External screen support
    The audience only sees the content the presenter wishes to display. If you receive an unexpected question from the audience, it’s easy to immediately create a new slide or add something to an existing one.
  • Non-linear presentation layout
    Slides can be arranged in a mind-map like style.
  • Close integration with Explain Everything
    You can import your .XPL projects and show them in a non-linear way. Presentation recordings are saved as XPL files, that can be later edited in Explain Everything.
  • Drawing
    Draw in any color, add shapes, use Bates stamps, text boxes, and use a laser pointer.
  • Editing objects
    Rotate, move, scale, copy, paste, duplicate, and lock any object added to the canvas.
  • Powerful clipboard
    Move objects to and from a clipboard invisible to the audience.
  • Import
    Import photos and videos from the Photo Library.
    Import PDF, PPT, DOC, XLS, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, and RTF files from a number of cloud sources, such as Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, or WebDAV repositories.
  • Share
    Share presentations using Evernote, Dropbox, GDrive, WebDAV, Email, iTunes, and any app that allows you to open PDF or MP4 files using “Open In…”.
  • Record
    Record your presentation to use it later as the meeting minutes.
  • Export
    Export the recorded session as an MP4 movie, PDF document or XPL project (Explain Everything) directly from your iPad.
  • Upload
    Upload your session directly to YouTube.

To go through the main features I created a small presentation about the app Google+ for iOS devices with which you can seamlessly engage in this network.

The screen …

To create a presentation for this blog post I first tried to use the integrated features of Final Argument, stopped doing so after about 10 minutes, and moved over to my preferred app for mobiles, Apple’s Keynote presentation tool.
Why? Well, Final Argument is not intended for creating slides. Admittedly it’s useful when creating a slide during a presentation just for keeping ideas from the audience on file.

Morris Cooke’s blog
„Our aim was not to compete with Keynote or PowerPoint – they do their job well for staged presentations, but show their limits when presenting at workshops when the presenter doesn’t have a script to follow. With Final Argument, you can better react to ad-hoc question.”

See these screenshots to get an impression of the UI (user interface).

The screen partitioning …

20130828-090216.jpg

20130828-090529.jpg

Selection of single pages of a Keynote presentation …

20130828-090619.jpg

Working with an external display …

Final Argument is designed to give you full control over what is seen by the au- dience on an external monitor.After turning the external screen on (by connect- ing a VGA cable to your iPad or switching on Airplay using your Apple TV), four additional buttons will be displayed on the presentation screen. These buttons let you control what will be displayed on the external screen. There are four different modes …

  • HOLD
    The audience will see the ‘Intermission’ screen. You can use it during breaks, before the presentation or whenever you need to hide the presentation contents.
  • MIRROR
    The audience will see exactly what you see on your iPad. This mode is rarely used during presentations, as it displays the whole presenter’s screen, together with tools you’re using and the slide map.
  • SHOW
    The audience will see only the currently selected slide. The map, clipboard and sources will never be revealed when you access their contents on your iPad.
  • MAP
    The audience will see the the map on the full screen. Use this mode to display the slide structure to the audience – as a visual agenda of your presentation.

Play a session recording using an external display …

If you’re on the project screen (the front screen of the app, where all the projects are shown), the external display will always be in the “Hold” mode. The external monitor will reactivate when an existing recording is being played.

See my article

Presenting with iPad (1)

for an appropriate hardware configuration to present the iPad’s screen to an audience.

The pros and cons …

That’s what I found out within 2 hours.

The pros …

  • 01 Final Argument lets you decide which information is shown to the audience
  • 02 Suitable UI and easy to use functionalities
  • 03 Access to different pre-defined well-known cloud storages
  • 04 Availability of WebDAV access for accessing not predefined storages
  • 05 Powerful editing features of imported slides within a Final Argument slide
    (Copy, Duplicate, Bring to Front, Bring Forward, Send Backward, Send to Back, Set as Background, Rotate, Move to any position)
  • 06 Selection of single slides of a presentation for further use in Final Argument
  • 07 A powerful clipboard to transfer slides or parts of a slide to other slides by just marking a snippet (function is named as callout tool) within a slide and drag it into the clipboard area.
  • 08 Comprehensive help system accessible from within the app.
  • 09 Only a few controls neede for working on a presentation
  • 10 Sessions can be recorded and exported as a video and uploaded to YouTube
  • 11 Perfect videos about the usage of Final Argument accessible from within the app

    Morris Cooke, Final Argument

The cons …

  • 01 An integrated browser is not available.
  • 02 Features for creating slides are poor, tricky to use and far away from guidelines for intuitive usage.
    There should be a thin border around objects if they are selected.
    Vertical and horizontal lines for adjusting objects are not available.
    Rotation of objects is not supported by showing the angle like in Apple’s Keynote.
    For more complex slides you have to move over to a dedicated app like Keynote. Admittedly the offered features are suitable for creating ad-hoc slides during a presentation e.g. for note taking.
  • 03 Hyperlinks used in slides don’t work.
  • 04 Projects cannot be organized in folders.
  • 05 There is no Redo button and in some cases the Undo button doesn’t work, e.g. After setting a border around a text box.
  • 06 If the on-screen keyboard is visible while working in a text box the options menu for text boxes is not fully visible because it’s displayed behind the keyboard. There is no automatic positioning of an object so that it’s in yhe visible part of the screen.
  • 20130828-090818.jpg

  • 07 The indispensable ‘Open in’ doesn’t work when using a helper app.
  • 20130828-091208.jpg

  • 08 Projects are not automatically backed up. If you made a mistake you cannot go back to a former version.

See this mind map which visualizes the features of the app.

20130828-091912.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

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

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

A simple alternative …

See my article

Non-Linear Presentation

in which I describe a simple solution using iThoughts HD mind mapping tool for presenting to the audience.

Summary …

Final Argument is a high-rated app for the iPad getting much positive response in publications. But there are still no ratings in the (German) AppStore.

Anyway it’s a suitable tool for composing (not creating) non-linear presentations, if not the best. To make it clear, contents must be be created with other apps and Final Argument can then be used for overtaking these slides and put it into a mind map-like order.

The developer should implement a browser which is indispensable for ad-hoc researches within an interacting audience and useful during the process of creating a presentation.

Related links …

Morris Cooke

Non-Linear Presentation

Presenting with iPad (1)

Comments are appreciated.
I’m pleased to see you here on iNotes4You.





An alternate Apple Store

26 10 2013

The Apple Store, a subsidiary of Apple Inc. was founded in 2001.

At the time there are 412 stores in 14 countries. The Apple Store is managed by Tim Cook (CEO) and Apple’s Phil Schiller as the director for marketing.

To seamlessly buy Apple products every iOS device comes with the pre-installed app Apple Store. The app can be connected with your Apple ID and requires some additional information about your banking account to purchase products.

A large percentage of people learn from pictures rather than words.
When it comes to sales offers nearly all of us first want to get an impression of the product before going into the details.

I would like to show you an alternate approach to an array of products by using a mind map.
The mind map was created with the mind mapping tool iThoughts HD for the iPad and shows the offer of the Apple Store, UK, of July 2013.

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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
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

The classic layout …

To choose products and get information you have to move through different screens with images of the product and textual descriptions in general and more detailed.

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The jazzed-up layout …

Buying a device in the Apple Store starts with the selection of a specific model.

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Images and graphics that’s what gives it the extra something to attract potential customers. This is particularly valid for products perfectly designed and finished with high quality materials.
Let me illustrate this important point for a useful and innovative accessory, the Smart Cover.

This part of the mind map uses two topics, an Overview for quick information and comparison and Details for seeing the details and purchasing a variant.

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With the Tap + Hold gesture images can be displayed in full-screen mode.

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Further actions allow to use the image for other purposes.

Benefits …

Exploring the product offer with a mind map is much more interesting than doing it by reading just text. It’s the graphical interface which makes the difference.

The whole offer divided into main topics (=products and services) is always visible and navigation is done by a fingertip in contrast to the hierarchical structure of the app Apple Store where you have to dive into the details and then trace back the hierarchy to explore other products. Within a mind map just tap on the Collapse Control (-) and you are back on level zero with the products overview.

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Nearly all mind mapping tools provide a Search functionality. A term or part of it can be entered and the hits are displayed in a list. Tapping on an item opens the related topic. This cannot be done seamlessly on Apple’s website. You always have to scroll up and down, tap on links, and return to the basic site.

The classical app allows zooming only for images whereas the mind map can always be zoomed by using the two fingers. Pinch two fingers together to zoom out or spread them apart to zoom in.

For comprehensive technical descriptions PDFs should be attached to a topic.

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Note
See my post

PDF the Web

for a detailed description how to convert any website into a PDF file which than can be easily added to the mind map by using the ‘Open in’ command from within Safari and selecting iThoughts as the destination app.

Disadvantages …

Mind maps need a lot of space if all topics are expanded.
So a meaningful usage is limited to tablets and computers.

Steve Job’s philosophy was to focus on some products. So my suggestion for an alternate store wouldn’t work with Microsoft products.

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A special functionality is needed to mark products you want to purchase and put them in a shopping basket and an outlined list on the left side of the screen. This new feature is no standard functionality of mind mapping tools but of course it could be implemented in an extended mind mapping tool.

An alternative could be to hide topics which are not of interest. The remaining products are automatically moved into the shopping basket.

Hotspots …

You might argue that I present an alternative for buying in the Apple Store but the user yet doesn’t have the device he is looking for and so cannot use this mind map. Well, mind maps can also be used on websites. Mind mapping tools like iThoughts HD for the iPad for example allow the export of a mind map in the so-called HTML+PNG format. When using this format a website is created and it contains so-called Hotspots which are clickable.
So even on websites it’s seamlessly possible to use all the benefits of visualized information.

Indispensable extensions …

Well-crafted mind maps can liven up any sales offer because they can let the clients see how the product or service can actually benefit them.

So a mind map for sales offers should not just present the facts but also some examples of applications and an overview how the actual products fits in the vendor’s ecosystem.

Here are some suggestions how the actual mind map could be extended to cover the idea of improving sales by showing potential customers something more than just the product.

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Summary …

A slightly increasing number of web services offer mind maps as the main navigation and for visualizing summarized contents e.g. Vizify for displaying bios. It might be a problem of programming languages for websites, performance issues, and the display of unavoidable advertisement that hamper an intense usage of this technique.

Related links …

My blog offers a so-called Keyword Cloud on the right side.
Just tap on ‘Mind Map’ to retrieve more articles about mind mapping here on iNotes4You.

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Chuck Frey: Intangibles of the Sales Process

Thanks …

Comments are appreciated.
Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





iThoughts for the iPad

22 10 2013

Steve gave us the iPad and Craig the app iThoughts.
Well, in some way this might be an inappropriate connection between people and products. On the other hand there are only a few developers who were able to adapt an application to a touchscreen in such a perfect way and to internalize many of the intangible assets of Apple and it’s innovate leader of the past.

Craig Scott brought home the bacon.

He started developing his mind mapping tool already before the iPad was launched in April 2010. It’s not only an excellent coding but also a deep insight in what Apple intended to offer it’s customers. In his lecture about mind mapping on Biggerplate Unplugged (London 2013), Craig called it Touchy Feely Mind Mapping.

A mind mapping tool is an application for improving knowledge and personality as well as summarizing important facts and ideas. In so far there is indeed a virtual connection between Steve and Craig. Priorities for both were/are:

Focus (not diversity)

Say NO (to needless features)

People appreciate apps that feel as though they were designed expressly for the device. For example, when an app fits well on the device screen and responds to the gestures that people know, it provides much of the experience people are looking for. And, although people might not be aware of human interface design principles, such as direct manipulation or consistency, they can tell when apps follow them and when they don’t.

iThoughts follows

Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines

in a perfect way. To use the app a documentation is basically not needed.

For example there is one and only one taskbar which is divided into two parts. On the left side there are file management features and settings. On the right side you will find all features needed for editing a map.

Craig on his website
The roadmap for iThoughts is pretty much driven by customer request – although there are some ‘core principles’ underpinning the whole thing as follows:

  • User Interface is everything
    if it’s not usable then people will not use it.
  • Interoperability is vital
    must play nicely with existing tools/services.
  • Stay focused
    mindmapping is what the app does.

The result of following these simple rules convinces everyone and is the ultimate way to success.

The app …

In many articles about mind mapping I always talked about iThoughts as the most powerful tool for the iPad. So it’s time to again review this app after all the useful updates it got over time.

This mind map, created with iThoughts, shows all features of the app.
I reworked this map in August 2013 after using this stability wonder for about 10 months.

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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
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

A mind map is worth a thousand words so I just want to describe some special and powerful features which let users create impressive maps and support sharing them in lots of different formats up to nearly all needs.

Using links …

Today nearly all kinds of information is accessible via Internet. It’s a giant knowledge base. To provide background information from within a mind map iThoughts allows the assignment of hyperlinks to a node. When opening a link app switching between iThoughts and Safari is not necessary because of iThought’s integrated browser. This is an indispensable feature for mobile devices because of their One-Window technique.

It’s also possible to seamlessly assign links to a topic by just tapping on Research in the context menu and using one of the options (Copy Link, Insert Link, Make Topic) offered in the browsers taskbar.

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Even if you are within Safari iThoughts can be directly accessed by using this bookmarklet

javascript:void(location.href=’ithoughts://link?url=’+encodeURIComponent(location.href)+’&title=’+encodeURIComponent(document.title))

which can be easily integrated in the bookmarks bar of Safari and allows permanent and fast access to iThoughts. See the instruction for installing the bookmarklet here

iThoughts bookmarklet for Safari

Commenting topics …

Some maps are hard to understand because they often reflect a very subjective process of thinking about topics. To make it understandable for others it’s necessary to comment topics.

iThoughts allows three ways of commenting.

Do you recognize the sophisticated coding and design of this app?
It often reminds me of basic values of Apple’s hard- and software, intuitive usage, limitation to useful features, and a UI without gimmicks.

Note
Commenting or even creating topics can be done with Siri, Apple’s speech driven assistant which can be started by just tapping on the small microphone button to the left of the spacebar on the keyboard. To create a sequence of topics use the word ‘comma’ which is interpreted as ‘create new topic’.

Using Siri in iThoughts

Adding attachments …

Craig allows to connect an Apple iWork document to mind map topics to breathe life into your mind map by assigning additional detailed information to that topic which cannot be provided by simple comments.

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

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

Further information is available under

iWork and iThoughts

Using doodles …

With all our technical equipment some people unlearn using their fingers for painting and writing even if they use touchscreens every day, except me. See this my van Gogh-like doodle created with iThoughts and connected to the topic ‘Home Configuration’.

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  • Doodles are Vector Based which means that individual elements of the diagram can be selected, copied, pasted, moved and generally tweaked after the event.
  • Doodles can be exported in SVG format – meaning that they can be opened and edited by apps such as Visio, Inkscape and Illustrator.
  • Doodles can be copied to the clipboard as PNG images and pasted into other apps or emails. By selecting the relevant strokes of a doodle even parts of it can be copied to the clipboard as PNG.

See the video on Craig’s website for detailed information.

Creating Doodles

Creating from text …

If you mark part of text within the integrated browser or any other app you may insert the text as a note, a topic, or several topics (if the the text is outlined). All formatting attributes are automatically stripped off. Topics with sub-topics are created if sub-items are separated with commas.

Creating websites …

iThoughts can generate a static PNG (image) export for each map. The PNG can be emailed as an attachment or uploaded to one of the ‘cloud storage’ services (Box, Dropbox, or any other cloud accessible via WebDAV like iDriveSync).

iThoughts can also generate (and email/upload) an associated HTML page.
The HTML page contains what is known as an Image Map.
This tells the browser to treat different parts of the image as clickable Hotspots. iThoughts will automatically associate a hotspot with each topic – then associate that hotspot with a hyperlink (if the topic has one.)

This makes it simple to publish a static, clickable mindmap webpage.

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As an example – take a look at the following link – generated by iThoughts and uploaded to Dropbox then made publicly visible – essentially using Dropbox as a website hosting provider.

Mind Map Webpage

The process is as follows:

  • Create your map – adding links to topics as appropriate.
  • Select ‘Send Map To Cloud’ and choose the PNG+HTML export format.
  • Choose a folder to upload the PNG and HTML file into.
  • Once uploaded, use the Dropbox ‘Copy Public Link’ option (from your desktop) to get the public web address of the uploaded HTML file (you may need to make the folder public/shared.)

That’s it – your map is now published as a clickable web page. If you’re using Dropbox then you can use the built in iThoughts sync to refresh the image/HTML as you map changes.

Image maps on websites act as attractive navigators. People are much more about to retrieve information than with traditional link lists.

Map Recovery …

iThoughtsHD automatically saves your work every 60 seconds (or when the app is closed/suspended.) It also creates a ‘snapshot backup’ (copy) of your map each time it is modified then closed. It keeps 10 previous snapshot versions (of each map) on disk – any one of which can be recovered.

To recover a previous version, you must create a new map and select the ‘Based Upon’ option and choose the map and version which you want to recover.

Using settings …

Mind maps can drastically improved by using adequate connectors, colors, shapes, images, numbering, and size of topics. Be aware that using an appropriate usage of all the offered attributes attracts an audience, forces further discussions about topics, and last but not least remain in the peoples photographic memory for a longer time compared to a more simple layout.

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See this gallery containing the main features of iThoughts for improving layouts

summarized

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and in details

Save, Export, Share …

File formats of mind mapping tools are unfortunately not standardized. Every developer of mind mapping tools knows this. However none of the many tools pay attention to this fact by implementing adequate options to save a map in all the well-known file formats of other tool, except iThoughts.

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If you want to become a mapper you should register on BIGGERPLATE.com to access more than 50k mind maps and to upload your own maps to this work-wide largest mind mapping platform.

Using iThoughts you should know something about compatibility of the different file formats actually supported by Biggerplate. These are:

Application File format
Mindjet Manager MMAP
XMind XMIND
iMindMap IMX
Mind Genius MGMF
ConceptDraw CDMZ

When downloading a map from Biggerplate you get the best results within iThoughts if the original map was uploaded in mmap (Mind Manager) format.

Note
By the way, a direct access to Biggerplate is a built-in feature of iThoughts. Just tap on the action’s control, use Copy from Cloud, and select Biggerplate.

You can find further information about compatibility on Craig’s website

iThoughts FAQ, Compatibility

and some more detailed information under

iThoughts FAQ, Compatibility Details

Note
If you use the PDF or PNG format your map is automatically resized independent of the actual display on your device. Collapsed and expanded topics appear as on the screen. Complex maps need much space so that you have to limit expanded topics to the most important ones. Otherwise details will be too small to perceive. As an alternative iThoughts allows to export single topics and you may use this feature to seamlessly display important parts with a suitable resolution.

An extended keyboard …

It’s in the line of Craig’s sophisticated coding to add useful features to Apple’s standard keyboard for writing text in shaped topics.

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An ad-hoc application …

This is what makes mind mapping and the usage of mobile devices so fascinating.

In the morning of August 10 I read Liam Hughes article about the Biggerplate Unplugged Conference in Utrecht (Netherlands on October 9, 2013) on my iPhone in a coffee shop.

Note
Biggerplate is the leading free mind map library founded by Liam Hughes, UK. Liam regularly organizes meetings with the leading heads of the scene.

I took screenshots of some essential parts of Liam’s article

Utrecht Speakers

with my iPhone.

Coming home all the screenshots already arrived on my iPad (thanks to Apple offering photo stream syncing via iCloud). I cropped the screenshots (built-in function of iOS), opened my mind mapping tool iThoughts HD, and attached these photos to a new mind map, set some colors, and moved the topics to an appropriate position by using the gesture ‘Tap and Hold’.

Additionally I used the app Prizmo (it’s not the mobile version of Prism!) with which text can be extracted from images by text recognition algorithms (see photo). I added the extracted text of Liam’s announcement to the comment field (top of the screen) of iThoughts to show an alternate way of attaching textual information to a topic which just contains a photo. A nice feature of iThoughts is that if a topic contains an image it can be displayed in full-screen mode by just tap and hold on a topic (see photo of Hans Buskes).

See

Text Recognition

for detailed information about text recognition.

Summary …

Now you may understand my introduction where I compared Steve Jobs with Craig Scott.
Reviewing all the sophisticated features of iThoughts described here (and there are many more) support the perception of a powerful app in the line of many basic principles also followed by Steve.

Related links …

iThoughts FAQ

iThoughtsX for Mac
available since 2013-08-20

iWork and iThoughts

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Happy mapping
and a big Thank You for visiting iNotes4You.








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