Critical notes on Mind Mapping

3 09 2014

This is an an address to the community of mind mappers including myself.

First of all let me say that I’m no professional mind mapper and my native language is not English. So please be sympathetic if there are lacks in my statements or in understanding my intention.

I started mind mapping about one year ago with the app iThoughts on an iPad after moving into the Post PC era. It was the way to visualize content and the reason might be my profession. As a programmer it’s a daily task to first visualize what the algorithms should do after coding them and how they should be presented to users without any knowledge of the executed tasks behind the UI.

Getting in touch with the world’s largest platform for mind mappers, it’s BIGGERPLATE.com, and experts in social networks like Toni Krasnic, Hans Buskes, Chuck Frey, Liam Hughes, Chance Brown, Daniel Tay and many others I could improve my theoretical knowledge. Since then I tried to use mind maps in my blog frequently. My blog is about the usage of Apple’s iOS devices and so it’s obvious to use maps for summarizing features of devices and apps with these intentions:

  • forcing people to explore information
  • improving attractiveness of articles by using images which present further information instead of being just eye catchers
  • motivating readers to use mind mapping tools for a more effective summarization process

After one year of using maps in my blog it’s worth to summarize my experiences.

Readers like it …

I always get positive response when using mind maps in an article.
Thousands of downloads show that readers are interested in visualized information.

20140225-062416.jpg

This should motivate authors to use them wherever it’s useful e.g. to summarize technical descriptions or shortened information about more complex topics.

Readers don’t use tools …

Because I always provide links to download my maps in different file formats (PDF, some proprietary formats of other mind mapping tools, and since some days also the DOCX file format) I can look at the number of downloads from my BOX account.

The total number is about 9,500 and 95% are PDF downloads.

Provide additional text …

Usually mind maps should speak for themselves. This often is true for simple maps but when it comes to more complexity additional explanations are all too frequent missing.

Visitors on blogs and social networks do not really understand what the meaning of topics or subtopics is, why it is important, and where additional information is provided when looking on the surrounding textual information. Connections are cut off.

Do not publish ‘personal maps’ …

Maps can roughly divided into content which is only suitable for the creator and maps which are useful for the public. See this map. It was published on Biggerplate without an added description. What can it be used for? What was the intention of the creator? From a graphical point of view it looks nice but I think that’s all and visitors take a look, tap on ‘Like’ and move over to the next nice image.

20140225-060115.jpg

Sadly this distinction is not made on the BIGGERPLATE platform where we see maps which are useless for the public because they just reflect complex considerations of individuals which are presented without further explanations.

Add further file formats …

If the target of mind mappers is to spread the technique to a larger audience downloads of different file formats should be added. Otherwise mind mappers stay within their community and others cannot access their content.

There are factual standards for documents (PDF, DOCX) and images (PNG, JPG, etc.) but there are still lots of proprietary formats of the developers of mind mapping tools with low compatibility level.

It should be a topic for conferences to find a solution.

Missing stats …

Biggerplate by far is the largest platform for mind maps.

Here is an actual info graphic published by Liam Hughes (UK), the founder of the platform, in February 2014.

20140227-135009.jpg

In this context the following stats are important:

  • 76% used mind mapping for “brainstorming by myself”
  • 39.1% of the sample used tablets for mind mapping
  • 3.51 on a scale of 1-5 is the importance of choosing a mind mapping tool because of its supported map style
  • Only 10% of the surveyed participants are younger than 30 years.

Additionally I extracted some information directly from the website.

Map Views 6,435,382
Members 63,009
Google +1 437
Facebook Likes 2,215
Supported File Formats 6 (1)
Groups 163 (2)
Trainers 25

(1)
DropMind, Concept Draw, XMind, Mindjet, iMindmap, MindGenius
(2)
Everybody is entitled to create his own group. The consequence is confusion about the uniqueness of content and an appropriate assignment of newly uploaded maps.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find stats about the total number of uploaded and downloaded maps. The numbers are only displayed for each map. So let’s have a look on the number of views, 6,5 millions. This sounds much. But views can be views of some seconds or views followed by downloads.

What can be said is that the number of views of a representative number of maps is significantly below the number of downloads.

Example:
Group ‘Finance Maps’ with an average ratio of 10/1 that means just one member of 10 downloaded the map for what reason soever. Within other groups the ratio varies between 50/1 to 1000/1.

Possible reasons could be

  • No suitable file format available
  • No further description available
  • Ugly preview
  • Applicable only for personal usage

So there is some work for the Biggerplate team to improve the usefulness of the platform. Searching for suitable maps is a disaster. 163 groups created by members, an uncountable number of wrong sorted maps, and the missing support for the fast growing number of mobile devices are stumbling blocks to gain currency.

The Post PC era …

Mind maps are cormorant space eaters.

20140225-055051.jpg

Stats show us that more and more people are on the way into the Post PC era. Mobility is the keyword and it goes along with reduced screen sizes.

20140225-055711.jpg

A revamped approach like MINDLY for the iPhone (by Jaakko Rantannen) is necessary to use maps on mobile devices (see my app review under ‘Related links’).

Use mind maps …

I don’t have reliable stats about articles published by mind mappers. So it’s just my personal observation that mind mappers often do not use mind maps.

That’s a quite noteworthy discrepancy between their target to further popularize the technique and their own formats for published content.

To emphasize this:

It doesn’t look exemplary if mind mappers don’t use mind maps.

Describing the benefits of the technique repeatedly doesn’t win somebody over to mind mapping.

It’s still the old metaphor of ‘Learning by doing’ which helps.

We are in a transition phase from computers to mobile devices, also known as the Post PC era, and mind mappers know that maps are cormorant space eaters but less is efforts are undertaken to solve this conflict.

Vendors of operating systems still ignore the mind mapping technique by not providing implemented, standardized functionalities which allow to use maps without additional software. A consequence of the file format disaster?

There is hope …

And that’s the paradigm shift in teaching and learning with tablets using mind mapping tools. Developers will or already have recognized this market and I hope we will see innovative solutions. Tools like INSPIRATION and it’s latest updates as well as Mindly move into the right direction (see my reviews under ‘Related links’).

Summary …

There is a lot to do to bring mind mapping to the public.
Schools are an essential part on this rocky road.

Related links …

Biggerplate …

Biggerplate Annual Report 2014

Blog posts …

Mindly for the iPhone

Inspiration for the iPad

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Molecules and Art

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





iThoughts, redesigned, reengineered, re-everythinged

23 05 2014

On May 13, 2014, Craig Scott, the developer of the mind mapping tool iThoughts released a new version designed for iOS 7. It took him 9 months of reviewing the new features of iOS 7, testing them (even Apple isn’t perfect), and redesigning the old version. So it’s understandable that the new version is not free but comes up with a really fair price (80% off). Craig got bills to pay, kids to feed and more.

20140515-200300.jpg

Let’s say it with an Apple slogan for marketing the MacBook Air …

Redesigned.
Reengineered.
Re-everythinged.

To make it clear, re-everythinged doesn’t mean that users have to learn it all again. It’s still an application which can be used intuitively and users migrating from the predecessor will not have problems to immediately continue working on maps.

Craig’s company …

Craig Scott about his company …

toketaWare is a small software development business based in the UK (just outside York.) When I say small, I mean really small. Currently it’s just me Craig Scott.
In addition to the iThoughts mindmap products, toketaWare also builds/maintains makeDoc and makeSlides (iOS apps for converting Markdown, OPML and text into MS Word and PowerPoint files).
Toketa is a term used in Judo to describe when a person has escaped from being pinned down i.e. they’ve broken free. Seemed apt somehow – software that sets you free. That’s the goal anyhow!

Craig’s philosophy …

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 innovative leader of the past.

Craig Scott brought home the bacon.

He started developing his mind mapping tool already prior to the launch of the iPad 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 facts and ideas. In so far there is indeed a virtual connection between Steve and Craig. Priorities for both were/are:

Focus (on essentials)
Say NO (to bells and whistles)

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 bit in cases directly accessible from within the app, e.g. creating doodles.

For example there is one and only one taskbar which is divided into two parts with a Share control in the center. 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 with the most important control (i), the inspector, to set all the properties of topics.

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 immediately after installation and it is the ultimate way to successful marketing via the Apple’s App Store.

The redesigned app …

In many articles about mind mapping I always talked about iThoughts as the most powerful tool for the iPad and a wonder of stability compared to other apps developed by really big companies (I’m just thinking about Google+ for iOS which crashed again while working on this post and looking up new notifications).

So it’s time to review the redesigned version including all the useful updates it got over time. All the powerful features let users create impressive maps. They can be shared in lots of different file formats up to nearly all needs.

A mind map is worth a thousand words so here is a full feature description of Craig’s tool. The map was created with the new version of iThoughts in June 2014.

20140518-194942.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

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

The old version …

The old version can still be downloaded but not purchased. There will be no more updates and bug fixes. This is largely because Apple does not allow updates to apps unless they are build using the iOS 7 technology.

The migration …

After installing the new version you immediately feel back home.

20140515-211500.jpg

There is also an easy way to migrate from the predecessor and this is obviously in the line with Craig’s philosophy of perfectness.

After installing the new version there are two ways to transfer maps.

  • 1 If you already use a cloud folder synced to Dropbox then you can create a similar setup within the new version and have it sync your maps down.
    For more details see How to sync.
  • 2 If you are not syncing with Dropbox then you can use the ‘Send Archive … to app’ feature in the previous version to send a copy of all your maps over into the new version. Once you maps are successfully transferred you can delete the old app. Keep in mind that deleting an app always goes along with deleting all it’s data. This is due to the iOS file system. So first check out the new app and keep the older version for some time.

The anatomy …

If you are new to iThoughts it’s worth understanding the anatomy of an iThoughts screen.

20140523-151528.jpg

I created this map directly from toketaWare’s website (I hope by courtesy of Craig) by using the screen’s image as the center of the map, copied the outlined description to the clipboard and used the ‘text to map’ feature described further down to generate the topics. That’s it. Admittedly I did some further work to improve the layout.

The new features …

The following features are implemented in the new version … •

  • Universal app, you buy it once and install it on all your iOS devices.
  • Rich text support everywhere
    bold, italic, underline, fonts, sizes, colours – all in the same text block
  • Totally new cloud sync architecture – much faster and more reliable
  • Extensive bluetooth keyboard support
  • Multiple selection of topics (SHIFT)
    Left handed?
    If you’re left handed and find it tricky to use the SHIFT button then you can switch this to the other side in the ‘System Settings’ under the ‘Options’ menu.
  • Independently resize topic, image or text
  • New map picker with thumbnail previews, favourites and recycle/trash system
  • Imports Markdown format files•
  • Imports Mindnode and Simtech Mindmapper maps
  • Exports as a ‘website’ (package of HTML, clickable images and attachments.)
  • Export as multi page PDF (which can then be printed out and stuck together into a ‘poster’)
  • Research feature can now download websites for off line viewing (as a .webarchive)
  • System settings accessible from within the app
  • Relationship improvements (drag the actual curve – even drag the end to another topic) •
  • Choose a default colour for callouts
  • Infinite (effectively) and dynamic canvas which grows and shrinks to fit the map

These features have been retired permanently …

  • • Passcode protection •
  • Dimming branches (‘hide completed tasks’ and ‘show unfocused topics’) •
    Shadows
  • Novamind4 and iMindmap4 import/export support
  • TextExpander support
  • Support for WebDAV or Box.com cloud services
  • Splitting branches into separate maps automatically.
  • ‘Based upon’ options when creating new maps.
  • Version history for maps.
  • Paste Style
  • $date and $time variables

Well, no reason to shed crocodile tears. Well done Craig with one exception, the ‘Paste Style’ feature should be returned.

Some details …

My tagline on Google+ is ‘Doing things accurately’. So my blog posts seem to be long but there are two reasons why this is the case:

1 Reviewing a powerful app cannot be done with writing ‘Awesome …’, ‘Best app of the week …’ etc. it needs some weeks to assess a tool and give the reasons for a final rating.

2 Some developers do an outstanding job and in this case it’s simply funny for a leisure blogger not driven by Click Stats to go into the details.

So I think it’s worth spending the time to look at some tidbits of iThoughts and the sophisticated considerations Craig put in the code.

Using the Inspector

Mind maps can drastically be improved by using adequate connectors, colors, shapes, images, numbering, and size of topics according to its importance. Be aware that the appropriate usage of attributes may attract an audience, force further discussions, and last but not least remain in the peoples photographic memory for a longer time compared to a more simplistic layout. But you shouldn’t go over the top. A informative map in most cases shouldn’t be degraded to artwork.

20140515-211756.jpg

20140516-210610.jpg

These images show the main features of iThoughts for improving layouts and with it, breathing life, attractiveness, and a better understanding into the map. All dialogs are integrated in the Inspector control (top right).

Using Links

Today nearly all kind of information is accessible via the 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 browser’s task bar.

20140516-082523.jpg

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

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 indispensable to add comment to topics.

iThoughts allows two options for commenting on topics.

20140517-112740.jpg

As a third way you can use a normal topic and place text into it like I did in the map ‘Anatomy of iThought’.

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 keyboard’s spacebar. To create a sequence of topics use the word ‘comma‘ which is interpreted as ‘create new topic’.

Adding attachments

Mind Maps visually summarize information but sometimes it’s necessary to refer to documents containing detailed description.

The map in my example is about security features provided by Apple. Basics of the 2-Step Verification for Apple accounts are explained in subtopics. I created a detailed description of the activation process and the usage in a Keynote presentation which contains a lot of screenshots and comments. To make it available in a mind map iThoughts allows to attach whole documents to topics.

20140518-094457.jpg

Here are the steps to go explained with a Keynote document…

  • Open Keynote
  • Use ‘Open in Another App
  • Select the presentation you want as the attachment
  • Select the file format (Keynote, PDF, Powerpoint)
  • Select iThoughts in the app’s menu
  • Use Paste to attach the document to a topic

While presenting your map to an audience you are now able to go into the details of 2-Step Verification.

Note
Attached documents are stored in the mind map file in their native format. So the source file travels with the map when sharing it.
The recipient can then work on the mind map as well as on the attached documents and send them back both.

Topics with attached documents are marked with small icons pointing to the source application. Use ‘Tap and Hold’ to open the document within iThoughts or use ‘Open in’ to further work on the attachment.

Further information is available under

iWork and iThoughts

Creating from text

Tap on any topic or select any piece of text within a map and one of the options presented will be an internet Research. Research will take the text and ‘Google it’ – using the built-in browser of iThoughts. Once you are on websites, press and hold on images, text and links on the page and have them turned into topics in the map. This makes it easy to quickly collate information from the web – without requiring a whole load of copy/switch app/paste operations.

20140517-072930.jpg

If you mark parts of a text within the built-in browser of iThoughts or any other app you can insert the text a topic, or several topics (if the the text is outlined) or a note. All formatting attributes are automatically stripped off.

20140517-094203.jpg

Sometimes it’s useful to collect ideas on the go with simple text editors like ByWord or PlainText. An outlined text then can create topics and subtopics if pasted into a map. To generate subtopics the text line must be indented by at least 4 spaces.

Creating Websites

iThoughts can generate (and email/upload) an associated HTML page. It 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.

20140518-072058.jpg

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 Website.zip export format.
  • Choose a folder to upload the file.
  • 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 your 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.

In the menu under the ‘gear’ toolbar button is an option called ‘Save Archive’. This will take all your maps and zip them up into a single archive file then send that archive over into another app. Typically you would use this to send the archive into your Dropbox app – or perhaps your Evernote app. Those apps will then take care of uploading the archive into the cloud – and most importantly – off your device.

iThoughts will nag you each week to save an archive in this way.

The archive file is simply a zip file containing a folder structure of .itmz files. To recover a map, unzip it on your desktop, locate the map and send it back into iThoughts.

You can recover all the maps within the archive in a single operation by sending the zip file itself back into iThoughts. The contents of the archive will be restored into a new folder – your existing maps are not overwritten.

In addition to the above, each day (of use) iThoughts will automatically create an archive. By default, it will store the last 5 archives (days.) You can pull these archives over onto your desktop if necessary. This can be useful if you want to recover a deleted map.

Save, Export, Share

File formats of mind mapping tools are unfortunately not standardized. Each 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.

20140516-202559.jpg

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 as of June 2014. These are:

Application File format
iMindQ (DropMind) DMMX
ConceptDraw CDMZ
XMind XMIND
Mindjet Manager MMAP
iMindMap IMX
Mind Genius MGMF

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

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

iThoughts FAQ, Compatibility

In addition to the above iThoughts can also import AND export OPML which is a relatively standard format for documenting hierarchical data (although it doesn’t support positioning, colours, shapes etc.)

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 and formatting text in shaped topics.

20140516-192350.jpg

You don’t like onscreen keyboards and prefer a BT keyboard?
Well, here is a table with all supported shortcuts

FAQ, Keyboard Shortcuts

Doodles
How to doodle

A doodle is a simple finger drawing tool within iThoughts. It is ‘vector based’ which means each line can be manipulated individually and continuously. Doodles can be attached to topics and exported as PDF, SVG or PNG files.

Use your finger to draw lines (known as ‘strokes’.) To move the canvas itself you must drag it with 2 fingers. This differs from the rest of the app, where a single finger is used to drag the canvas. If you accidentally draw a line when intending to drag the canvas (as I STILL do) then you can hit UNDO to remove it.

20140516-091330.jpg

The numbers in the image above are described as follows:

1 Tap on a ‘stroke’ to select it. When selected it will have a blue ‘glow’ around it. Once selected, any changes to thickness, dashed’ness or colour (#3, #4, #5) will apply to the selected stroke(s.) Tap on a selected stroke to see Cut, Copy, Paste type options (including options to ‘Send to Back’) Drag a selected stroke to move it.

2 Press and hold SHIFT whilst tapping on strokes to select/deselect multiple stokes. SHIFT then drag the canvas will create a ‘selection marquee’ to help select multiple strokes more quickly. SHIFT then drag an already selected stroke(s) will duplicate the stoke(s)

3 Set the stoke thickness. If a stroke is selected then it will apply to that stroke. If no stroke is selected it will become the default for any new strokes.

4 Set the stroke to be ‘dashed’

5 Set the stroke colour.

6 Share the selected strokes or whole doodle (typically in an email attachment.)

7 There is no ‘eraser’ type feature – you can only delete whole strokes by selecting them then tapping on the waste bin icon in the lower corner (or dragging/dropping the stroke onto the bin.)

Text Formatting

A gift from heaven Craig, Rich text support everywhere.

20140518-102519.jpg

Visualized information still needs text to understand the content. With the new version of iThoughts visualized accentuations now can also be done within textual information.

Linked Folders (sync)
How To

Your maps can be synced automatically between iPad, iPhone and desktop (Mac or Windows) by using Dropbox and iThoughts Linked Folders.

I’m a wretched failure when it comes to creating videos. So have a look at Craig’s screencast (5 min) which demonstrates the usage of Linked Folders.

There are some caveats to be aware of when syncing:

Syncing only happens if a device is connected to a WiFi network (by default) except you turned on Mobile Data Syncing in the iOS Settings.
By default local changes are synced 30 seconds after the app is closed.
Remote changes are checked for when the app starts (but no more frequently than every 10 minutes).

Improved Context Menus

I’m an old man but I also heard young people complaining about wavering hands causing a perfect disaster when arranging objects on a touch screen. So here is just one example of iThoughts’ improved context menus which let people think you are in full control of your fore limbs.

20140518-105420.jpg

There are many more new features implemented in the context menus which increase seamless usage.

20140518-112246.jpg

Just explore them.

Settings

Now Settings are accessible directly within the app. Thanks a bunch!
Have a look on the many options you have to customize the app.

20140518-122200.jpg

Please don’t ask me for explaining all the options. Just try them out or request for a fixed-price offer if you want me to do it for you.

Some cons …

Nobody is perfect and it’s surprisingly also valid for Craig.

  • Due to iOS 7 the new version is not as responsible as the old version. If you use multitasking it takes some time to wake up the app from suspended mode. I used an iPad 3 running on iOS 7.1.1 and I think it would run much smoother on an iPad Air with its 64-Bit processor.
  • An outlined collection of links still cannot be inserted as topics. The links are there but not activated. They are interpreted as normal text.

You remember the words of Craig “The roadmap for iThoughts is pretty much driven by customer request”. Don’t panic though. Let an email wing its way to the tech guy Craig with a severe reprimand and your suggestions. I’m sure he will take care but you should give him some time. Beside bills to pay and kids to feed there are some more things to be done, e.g. Christmas shopping, ironing, washing-up, and more.

Version history …

iThoughts was completely redesigned. So it’s obvious that there are bugs to be fixed and features to be added.

Feel free to download a regularly updated overview of iThoughts’ version history.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple Pages/Microsoft Word DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ

Some examples …

I created these maps with the predecessor or iThoughts and downloaded them from my Dropbox account into the new version.

Tap an image to zoom in.

Summary …

iThoughts is still the best mind mapping tool for Apple’s mobiles and the actual version is a quite significant step forward into Apple’s new design philosophy.

Related links …

About the new version …

iThoughts migration

About the predecessor …

iThoughts for the iPad

More about features …

iWork and iThoughts

Non-Linear Presentation

About a competitor …

Inspiration

About mind mapping …

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Mind Maps + Concept Maps

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Inspiration

20 03 2014

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

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

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

Concept Maps …

Concept Maps visualise and communicate knowledge.

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

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

Summary …

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

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

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

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

The app Inspiration …

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

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

20131211-083308.jpg

Features ..

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

Filesharing …

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

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

Impressions of the UI …

Work screen …

20131211-083501.jpg

Formatting of objects …

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

20131211-084321.jpg

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

Layout enhancements …

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

Outline interface …

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

20131211-084522.jpg

Shapes …

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

20131211-084113.jpg

The pros and cons …

Pros …

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

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

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

Cons …

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

Improvements …

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

20130726-075543.jpg

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

Summary …

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

Notes …

Nick Duffill, Harport Consulting, Scotland

Mind Maps + Concept Maps

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

Inspiration Software Inc., USA

Inspiration for the iPad

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

Related links …

Basics …

Mind Maps and Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Perfect mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Mindly for the iPhone

Other mind mapping tools …

Popples made by Popplet

BigMind

Three In One

Platform for shared maps …

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

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





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.

20140124-054155.jpg

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.

20140124-062814.jpg

  • 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, April, and July 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 …

With every update I have to reduce the original list of cons. This is my list as of July 2014 and it’s likely that the remaining cons will not survive this year.

  • Reduced quality of attached images when minimized
  • Fixed topic size so that words might be split in two or more lines
  • 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 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

20131020-063640.jpg

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

20131020-063816.jpg

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.

AIO Remote
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.

20140506-091341.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. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

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

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.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 186 other followers

%d bloggers like this: