Ap(pl)es

1 04 2014

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

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

That vision would take him 27 years to realize.

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

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

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

Jobs said.

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

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

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

A tablet …

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

So what exactly is a tablet?

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

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

The touch screen …

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

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

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

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

1960s

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

1970s

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

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

1980s

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

1990s

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

2000s

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

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

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

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

There are basically three components used in touch screen technology …

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

Summary …

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

Related links …

Sensitiveness

The Post PC era

iPad attends meetings

iPad @ Universities

Troubleshooting touchscreen response

Thanks for stopping by.





Younity

28 03 2014

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

The company in it’s ‘About’ section …

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

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

The company about it’s app …

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

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

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

Installation …

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

You will get a confirmation mail for every registered device.

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

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

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

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

The features …

Younity offers these basic features

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

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

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

First impressions …

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

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with the following settings

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

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

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The cons …

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

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

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

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

Summary …

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

Related links …

Point.io

TeamViewer

Apps for File Management

Thanks for stopping by.





AiO Remote by Hewlett Packard

24 03 2014

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

AirPrint

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

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

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

Apple Support HT 4356

Manufacturers supporting AirPrint with their printer products are

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

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

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

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

AirPrint in details …

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

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

AiO Remote app by HP …

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

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

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

    Document management …

    I summarized some features of the configuration by taking screenshots.

    1 AiO Remote home screen if the printer is turned on

    20131219-093914.jpg

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

    20131219-094056.jpg

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

    20131219-094156.jpg

    Non-AirPrint capable printers …

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

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

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

    Summary …

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

    Related links …

    HP Mobile Printing

    HP ePrint Center

    Thanks for stopping by.





Inspiration

20 03 2014

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

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

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

Concept Maps …

Concept Maps visualise and communicate knowledge.

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

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

Summary …

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

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

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

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

The app Inspiration …

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

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

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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.





Go Paperless with Tap Forms

12 03 2014

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

About databases …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating the form …

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

20131209-065808.jpg

Notes …

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

Attach files …

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

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

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

Secure the data …

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

20131209-070203.jpg

Sync …

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

20131209-070315.jpg

Backup …

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

20131209-070404.jpg

The workflow …

Here is the complete workflow visualized in a concept map.

20131209-135411.jpg

Summary …

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

20131209-075735.jpg

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

Related links …

About the company…

Tap Zapp Software Inc., Canada

About the desktop companion of Tap Forms …

Tap Forms for Mac

About the usage of databases …

DBMS on iOS devices (1)

DBMS on iOS devices (2)

DBMS on iOS devices (3)

DBMS on iOS devices (4)

DBMS on iOS devices (5)

Importing Data

Form Access To Tap Forms

zBase vs Tap Forms

Thanks a lot for visiting my blog.





Go Paperless

8 03 2014

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

About paper …

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

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

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

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

Paper consumption …

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

20131207-095558.jpg

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

The tasks …

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

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

Here is a brief overview of documents which are worth scanning

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

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

The requirements …

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

General …

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

Specific …

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

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

Scanning …

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

Document management …

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

Useful utilities …

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

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

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

Feature descriptions …

Documents by Readdle

20131207-112952.jpg

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

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

AiO Remote by HP

20131207-112809.jpg

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

Scanner Pro by Readdle

20131207-113350.jpg

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

Further considerations …

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

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

My suggestions how to group the information …

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

Long-Termed (many years)

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

Short-Termed (1-2 years)

  • Receipts
  • Carrier contracts
  • etc

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

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

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

Legislation …

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

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

Security …

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

Summary …

Here is a summary of the hard- and software configuration

20131207-141641.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

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

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

An annotation …

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

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

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

Related links …

About paper …

Fast facts on Paper Use

Paper Consumption

About the hard- and software …

Documents by Readdle

zBase vs Tap Forms

Text Recognition (1)

Text Recognition (2)

About clouds …

Risky free clouds

iDriveSync Privacy

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





Documents by Readdle

28 02 2014

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

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

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

Some technical information about SMB …

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

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

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

Features of Documents …

The developers description …

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

20131126-140533.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

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

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

Documents and iWork …

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

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

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

20131126-140746.jpg

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

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

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

Highlights …

Some impressions of the UI and my personal highlights …

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

Summary …

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

Related links …

Every app is an i(s)Land

Scanning documents

Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines

WebDAV Basics

Thanks for stopping by.





An invoice created with Numbers

20 02 2014

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

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

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

Two versions …

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

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

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

The simple version …

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

20131122-130320.jpg

Steps to create the invoice:

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

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

Note

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

The more complex version …

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

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

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

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

20131122-130439.jpg

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

    LOOKUP(search for, search where, resultvalues)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The usage …

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

    20131122-131245.jpg

    The pros and cons …

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

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

    Send and archive …

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

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

    Summary …

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

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

    Related links …

    Numbers for iOS Devices

    Numbers for the Mac

    Risky free clouds

    WebDAV basics

    Thanks for stopping by.





    Flight Tracking

    12 02 2014

    Moving into the air doesn’t prevent from being tracked. Admittedly I’m not absolutely sure but Apple’s ‘Find My Friends’ won’t work. So who else than Google or Apple is tracking you? It’s not the NSA (No Security Any longer) but the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) or other companies like Flightradar24, and in this case you should be happy that someone takes care of your position.

    20131118-083950.jpg

    An estimated 800k people are airborne worldwide (source The World Bank, 2013). That is a phenomenally large number and it pretty much illustrates the gigantic magnitude of the global aviation industry. In such a crisscross maze of simultaneously flying aircrafts, it’s absolutely crucial for each airline to keep track of all its aircrafts, their locations, trajectories and safety.

    Some facts …

    Each airline has a special team, that is exclusively designated the task of tracking its aircrafts. Airline carriers and specialized companies around the world offer real-time flight tracking services. Here are some of the techniques on which most of the flight tracking systems are based.

    Radar-based Flight Tracking

    Of all techniques, the radar based flight tracking system is the most common as well as the most conventional method used worldwide. The system is also known as ground based tracking or radio frequency tracking. This method utilizes the age-old and time tested fundamental of radar waves for tracking and communication.

    For this, ground based stations, better known as Air Traffic Control or ATC towers, signal radio emit waves at a predetermined radio frequency. These emitted waves return after tapping the airplane. Even airplanes are equipped with systems to emit a code, which is then used to identify flight details like location and altitude. The landing and take-off time of each airplane is also determined by both pilots and ground-based stations using this system. The distance of the plane from the ground is calculated based on the time duration between the release and reception of the frequency from the base. This technique is perfect in almost every respect, except for hurdles like expansive mountains, forests, and oceans that make the journey of radio waves a bit difficult.

    Satellite-based Flight Tracking

    As is the case with traditional flight tracking systems, satellite-based tracking also involves the measuring of time-space-position data, related to the aircraft. However, what is unique in its case is the fact that all these activities are performed by satellites and not by ground-based locations. Consequently, satellite flight tracking eliminates quite a few shortcomings which otherwise, are prevalent in other tracking techniques. It involves the use of satellite transmitters, receivers, decoders, two-way communication antennas and microprocessors, all of which work in synchronization with the satellite stations. It also involves the use of detailed graphic images, contour analysis, etc. which results in accurate tracking of the flights.

    Flight Tracking using Google Earth

    Google Earth is a revolutionary concept. Numerous software applications have been designed, one of which happens to be a real-time flight tracking system. This application makes use of the 3D visuals of the Earth, which are generated by Google Earth, in conjunction with other position-mapping algorithms to ultimately present a visual representation of the flight location, flight path, etc. It also provides additional flight data such as flight origin, destination, departure time, estimated arrival time, altitude, speed, etc.

    Internet-based Flight Tracking

    Google Earth has been an inspiration to several other websites, which now offer real-time flight tracking services over the Internet. All that one has to do is simply enter the relevant flight details on the user interface of the website, and within a few seconds, the website displays a virtual path of the aircraft along with all the relevant tracking and monitoring data. One can sit back and enjoy the virtual experience of following the aircraft’s flight path, as it heads towards its destination.

    ADS-B

    The primary technology that we use to receive flight information is called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The ADS-B technology itself is best explained by the image below.

    20131118-084104.jpg

    How it works …

    • An Aircraft gets its location from a GPS navigation source (satellite).
    • The ADS-B transponder on aircraft transmits signal containing the location.
    • ADS-B signal is picked up by a receiver.
    • Receiver feeds data to different databases.
    • Data is shown on the website o Flightradar24 and in Flightradar24 apps

    Flightradar24 has a network of about 2000 ADS-B receivers around the world that receives plane and flight information from aircraft with ADS-B transponders and sends this information to our servers. Due to the high frequency used (1090 MHz) the coverage from each receiver is limited to about 250-400 km (150-250 miles) in all directions depending on location. The farther away from the receiver an aircraft is flying, the higher it must fly to be covered by the receiver. The distance limit makes it very hard to get ADS-B coverage over oceans.

    MLAT
    In some regions with coverage from several FR24-receivers we also calculate positions of aircraft with the help of Multilateration (MLAT), by using a method known as Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA). By measuring the difference in time to receive the signal from aircraft with an older ModeS-transponder, it’s possible to calculate the position of these aircraft. Four FR24-receivers or more, receiving signals from the same aircraft, are needed to make MLAT work. That means that MLAT coverage can only be achieved above about 10000-20000 feet as the probability that signal can be received by four or more receivers increases with increased altitude.

    Summary

    Aviation industry analysts are of the opinion that satellite-based tracking in collaboration with global positioning system (GPS) will become one of the most advanced, accurate and reliable flight tracking techniques in the days to come. Frequently changing atmospheric conditions, turbulence and diverse flying conditions, make real-time flight tracking an absolutely crucial aspect of aviation.

    I summarized some relevant topics of flight tracking in a mind map.

    20131118-133708.jpg

    Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

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

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

    All of the above mentioned methods are used to track airplanes, maintain coordination between them, and thus control air traffic. It is because of these air traffic tracking systems that airplanes are known as the safest option for traveling. Moreover, the rising unpredictability of nature due to global warming and threats due to increased terrorism also demand sound air traffic control systems for the utmost safety of airplanes and passengers.

    Apps …

    There are two kinds of apps available at Apple’s App Store, one for people just needing the important information for planning their flights and one for tracking flights all over the world with comprehensive information about airports, carriers, and flight data.

    The app Flightradar24 …

    The app Flightradar24 by Flightradar24 shows live airplane traffic from different parts around the world. There is a free and a paid PRO version available. The technique to receive flight information from aircraft uses ADS-B. That means the app can only show information about aircraft equipped with ADS-B transponders. Today about 60% of the passenger aircraft and only a small amount of military and private aircraft have an ADS-B transponder. At the time Flightradar24 operates about 2000 receivers all over the world.

    20131118-084629.jpg

    About 98% of Europe is covered with ADS-B receivers. There is also a more or less good ADS-B coverage in USA, Canada, Caribbean, Brazil, Russia, Middle East, India, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia. Most of the data about air traffic in the USA are retrieved from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

    The app FlightTrack …

    With the app FlightTrack by Mobiata, USA you can plan your flights by entering some data like date, flight number, etc. Flights can be synced with all your other iOS devices via iCloud, each record can generate a calendar event, and an alert comes up if you should start to prepare for launching. Additionally the app shows the flight boards of origin and destination airports in real-time.

    20131118-084915.jpg

    FlightTrack optionally works together with TripDeck, the itinerary manager of Mobiata with these features and more:
    •

    • Manage hotel reservations, car rentals, flights, cruises, restaurants, meetings and more
    • Automatic syncing with your Triplt itineraries
    • Get easy access to check-in times, seat number, confirmation numbers, gate info, baggage claim, notes, integrated airline contact info and more
    • Alternate flight finder with integrated airline phone numbers
    • Edit and share your itinerary on the go
    • Interactive trip map gets you to every destination
    • Offline mode for use in the airplane
    • •

    I use the app FlightTrack since 2 years and provided information is perfect for nearly all airlines all over the world.

    Updated version of Flight Track …

    Shortly after writing this post in November 2013 Flight Track was updated. Here is the companies announcement:

    Just in time for our 5-year anniversary, we’re pleased to introduce FlightTrack 5, our brand new FlightTrack app available for both iOS and Android. Rebuilt from the ground up, the team has worked hard over the last year to improve our features and design.

    What’s New?

    • Designed for iOS 7 and Android Holo.
    • Group flights into trips and customize trip names.
    • Easily distinguish who is traveling on specific flights.
    • See which flights have Wi-Fi onboard.
    • View actual flight paths (when available).

    One FlightTrack Experience
    We’re consolidating all the goodness of FlightTrack ($4.99) and FlightTrack Pro ($9.99) into one new product. To celebrate this big update, we’re offering you the new app at a discounted price of $2.99 until December 1, 2013, after which the app will be available for $4.99.

    Summary …

    Both reviewed apps depend on the information published by carriers, airports, and the mentioned external technical equipment. So it might happen that your flight is tracked but without additional information like departure time, gate number, arrival time, or weather conditions at the destination airport.

    Related links …

    FAA, Federal Aviation Administration

    Eurocontrol

    The World Bank, passenger stats

    Thanks for landing at iNotes4You.





    Apple’s Focusing

    27 01 2014

    Focusing on a few products is characteristic for successful companies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other companies following a different strategy are unsuccessful. But focusing on a few products, trying to bring features and services together in a unique environment, and developing new products which seamlessly fit into this environment is the strategy of the most valuable and innovative company in the world, it’s Apple.

    Steve Jobs said …

    People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
    (WWDC 1997)

    See this video with another famous quote about focus and simplicity (38 sec)

    The actual offer of the company still follows this principle. The brands focus is on providing a superior customer experience by offering solutions from a single source.

    • Hardware
    • Operating systems
    • Software
    • Services
    • Stores

    To be successful project to project over a long period, a company has to develop habits that instill a passion for quality in all corners of the organization. This can be achieved by following these rules:

    • 1 Set up clear expectations
      It’s the job of leaders to be clear about the company’s nonnegotiable core values. They are the riverbanks that help guide all employees as they refine and improve on performance and excellence.
    • 2 Collect and analyze data
      Collecting data is more common than ever, particularly with the advent of Web analytics. The metrics to be tracked go above and beyond either web or financial information as well as direct contact to customers.
    • 3 Invest in capacities
      A company stretched thin on resources will never be able to overdeliver, and quality depends somewhat on the ability to exceed expectations. An infrastructure has to be created that anticipates revenue.
    • 4 Celebrate victories
      When a company surveys customers on the quality of service, make sure that everyone, from the top down, knows of the results and receives recognition for the things that are going well.

    This all builds the DNA of a successful company. CEOs and all employees in the headquarter as well as in stores must be integrated in the process of engagement.

    The product line …

    A product line up has to reflect the companies care values and the clearly defined targets. This is why Apple’s product line up is restricted to a handful number of hard- and software products targeted at a perfect user experience. If you look at the Apple Store there are many other products of sought out vendors available to give other companies the chance to participate in the companies success. That attracts others to at least boost the business. An outstanding example is the App Store with more than 1m apps (as of Jan 2014) and more than 200k registered app developers. They all breath life into Apple’s hardware offer. As you can see even Apple’s software offer is restricted to a handful products which just top the user experience off.

    Here is a mind map showing the complete product line up of Apple.

    20131103-110256.jpg

    Please tap on these single images to see parts of the map.

    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 ecosystem …

    Analyzing all main products, extracting them, and re-organizing them we get the components of Apple’s ecosystem.

    This concept covers

    • Customer relationships
      Apple Store
      Apple Care
      Genius Bar
    • Completeness
      iPhone and iPad for mobile computing
      Macs for professional tasks
      AirPort router for Internet connection
      Apple TV, iTunes, and Airplay for entertainment
    • Simplicity
      Focusing on essential features and seamless usage as the main target of the design philosophy.

    There are two operating systems and specs of all hardware components are an integrated part of the development. Keeping hardware and software development together results in the highest possible performance and user experience. Success then is forced by an outstanding design.

    Summary …

    It’s not the junk market Apple is interested in. Steve Jobs, returning to Apple in 1996, defined the direction with a focus on an entire user experience. Tim Cook is following this strategy and there is no need to move into diversity because this business concept works perfect and competitors are on the way to copy this strategy. There is Samsung working on an own operating system, Microsoft with the XBox and it’s Surface computer, and Google with it’s mobile device Nexus. It’s the only way to stop fragmentation and increase the user experience.

    Related links …

    Apple’s Strategy and Ad

    Designed by Apple in California

    Apple’s Ecosystem

    Two Ecosystems

    Thanks for surfing by.








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