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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.





Presentation with Keynote

28 08 2014

Apple offers it’s iWork suite with Keynote (presentations), Numbers (spreadsheets), and Pages (letters) for iOS and OSX for free since October 2013.

The iOS versions are perfectly adapted to touch screens and you won’t find the 80% features of Microsoft Office which private users don’t need. The concept of iWork follows Steve Jobs philosophy of focusing on essentials and saying NO to avoid excess.

Since starting my blog here on WordPress I use Apple’s Keynote for creating all the collages I need for my articles and for posting on social networks. To visualize information with Keynote is a quite funny job and lets you more intensively think about the topic you are working on.

An example …

To increase the security of an Apple account the company offers 2-Step Verification. Once activated it needs so-called ‘Trusted devices’ or a Recovery Key to manage your Apple ID.

Here is a presentation created with Keynote explaining the activation and usage of 2-Step Verification.

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Feel free to download this sample as PDF file or in the native file format of Keynote.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple Keynote KEY.ZIP

Once you created a presentation you can use it for posting it e.g. to Snapguide, the platform for publishing How Tos.

Some tidbits of Keynote …

It’s no question at all that Microsoft Office is a more powerful tool for professional tasks. Regarding presentations I think different. At the end if the day the outcome is a presentation focusing on essentials to not disrupt a straightforward view on the topic. This can be easily done with Keynote and there is no need to use Microsoft’s Powerpoint. Only the brain is able to support the creation of understandable visualized information.

Mask (crop) an image

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You cannot really crop an image inserted in a slide but you can hide unwanted portions of an image without modifying the image itself. Just double-tap the image. The mask controls appear. The default mask is the same size as your image. Use the controls to change which parts of the image are visible. Double-tap the image at any time to readjust its mask.

Opacity

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Tap an object, then tap Format Inspector (brush symbol top right). Tap Style Options, then tap Effects. Drag the Opacity slider.

Layer, group, and lock objects

You can layer text and objects to create the appearance of depth on a slide and then move items higher (forward) or lower (backward) in the stack.
You can group multiple objects so that you can move, resize, or rotate them as a single unit. To avoid inadvertently moving, modifying, or deleting an object, you can lock it.

You can group multiple objects and then move, resize, or rotate them as a single unit.
Just touch and hold an object, then with another finger, tap the other objects you want to select. Lift your fingers, then tap Group from the context menu.

Lines

You can customize the appearance of a line by changing its width (thickness), its color, or adding different endpoints to it – for example, an arrow, circle, or square. This is useful if you want to make a double-headed arrow, or if you want to create a decorative divider.
Drag the handles (the blue dots) to change the line length and rotation.
For curved lines, drag the green dot to change the arc.

Interactive Links

If you want to refer to external available information you can use Interactive Links which can be assigned to any object.

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Just tap an object, tap Tools, and then tap Presentation Tools. Use Interactive Links to add a slide, a webpage, or an email address. If you tap on the object while presenting the defined action will be executed.
For example, you are talking about iCloud and assign a link to Wikipedia to get some background information.

Animations

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To make your presentation more dynamic, you can animate the objects on a slide. For example, you can make text appear on the slide one bullet point at a time, or make an image of a ball bounce onto the slide.

Object animations are called build effects. Different build effects are available depending on whether the object is a text box, chart, table, shape, or image.
Moving an object onto a slide is building in. Moving an object off a slide is building out.

Music

To breathe life into a presentation about your last holiday assign soundtracks (music from your iTunes Library).

20140513-061748.jpg

For my readers not living in Thailand …

Asanee–Wasan (Thai: อัสนี-วสันต์ โชติกุล or Asanee + Wasan Chotikul) is a Thai rock band fronted by brothers Asanee “Pom” and Wasan “Toe” Chotikul. Among the band’s hits is a 1989 song that puts into verse the lengthy ceremonial name for Bangkok, “Krung Thep Mahanakhon” (“กรุงเทพมหานคร”). The elder brother, Asanee, is known for his guitar solos and his wild, “rock star” persona. His way of singing ballads is often described as broken-heart jiggo (jiggo is a Thai slang for bad boy, parody from Gigolo in English and Italian). The bespectacled Wasan is known for his sensitive songs and softer, gentler style. Their songs often include a hook chorus sung by female backing vocalists.

For sure an expendable annotation for Thais because they all know the Chotikuls.

Controlling a presentation using an iPhone

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Note, that it works not only with both devices connected to the same WiFi network but also with Bluetooth. Just activate BT on both devices and they will connect automatically. It’s also possible to connect more than one device to control the presentation.

Note
To enable remote control open a presentation, tap Tools, tap Presentation Tools, and than tap Allow Remote Control and activate Enable Remotes.

Some cons …

It’s not all roses and Apple surprisingly is not perfect. Here are some features not supported although it would be a ‘Nice to have’.

  • Missing layout enhancements

    Align selected objects (top, bottom, right, left)

    Evenly space selected objects
    The rulers faded in when tapping on an object don’t really help.

    Nudge selected objects along feint lines by using arrow controls
    This is the main problem within Keynote. Not only alcohol let your fingers act restively.

  • Reordering multiple slides
  • Copying multiple slides
  • Moving multiple slides to other presentations
  • Access to Safari within Keynote

My workflow …

Creating an image lets you again intensively think about your topic. So it’s worth to create own collages instead of just using images found in the internet.

First I collect some useful images, open Keynote and start creating a collage which hopefully can be helpful for readers. Using colors, connectors, text, and screenshots taken from my device breathe life into the collage.

If it’s ready I take a screenshot while in presenting mode and insert it into my blog post. That’s it.

The benefit is that you are always far away from any Copyright infringement valid for images you found in the internet. You can find more information in my blog post The Copyright.

File management …

Here are some notes how to ensure that files are securely stored and accessible for others.

  • Always generate a copy of your presentation
    Just tap and hold on a file until it jiggles, then tap on + to copy the file. So you are secure if you accidentally delete a presentation.
  • Turn on iCloud to sync files on all your devices
    Go to Settings – iCloud – Documents+Data and turn on Documents+Data. Make sure that Keynote is turned on.
    So you just need an iPhone to present your slides to an audience by connecting it to a beamer, a TV or any other HDMI capable device with Apple’s Digital AV Adapter.
  • Use WebDAV for additional backups
    If you tap on the Action control and select ‘Send a copy’ iWork offers WebDAV as an alternative place to store files. All your cloud storages supporting WebDAV can be configured to send a copy to that place. With this you have an additional copy of your file and you can use your preferred unique place for sharing files with others.

Using WebDAV is explained in a further blog post mentioned in the ‘Related links’ section.

Summary …

It’s worth using Apple’s Keynote for creating powerful presentations. With the help of an iPad you can do it everywhere and anytime just using your fingers, the main source of creativity.

Related links …

Presenting with iPad (1)

Presenting with iPad (2)

Non-Linear Presentation

Final Argument

Facts about iWork for iCloud

iWork to Airport

iWork and Sharing

WebDAV Basics

Thanks for flying with iNotes4You.





Power on your Brain

11 08 2014

In some way there are similarities between a human being and a mobile device and in particular between an operating system and a human brain.

20140425-061719.jpg

In April 2014 Microsoft ended the support of its famous dinosaur, Windows XP. The reason was that it was outdated and any further attempts to keep the machines healthy would be like using temple pillars as the bodywork for a skyscraper.

If we look at human brains, age is a significant factor to cause buggy behavior. Further patches (consequences of experiences) are either incompatible or rejected by the existing operating system, the myriads of connected nerves.

20140425-061151.jpg

It needs an innovative basic construction to adapt to changes in the outer world, and so keep the installation requirements up to date. Changes might have their origin in different opinions of fellow human beings or in reading information, understanding the messages, and qualifying them as useful or necessary to overtake.

Steve Jobs
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting. It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.

But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
(part of the Commencement Address at Stanford University, 2005)

Some kind of openness (like Open Source Software) is needed to further develop the own personality, knowledge, and imagination.

Technical products have it or don’t have it in their genes which hopefully are designed by forward looking enginieers.

And here we come to the main difference between humans and computers.

Whereas a computer’s main board cannot be changed fundamentally, humans are able to connect the dots in different ways, change the connections, or make connections important or unimportant.

At the end of the day, Microsoft stopped the support for a veteran but it’s up to you to keep on installing patches for your own brain. Just skip incompatibilities, bypass channels, take all other hurdles and you will get the message

‘Successfully installed.’

It doesn’t take a long time and you will recognize significant performance improvements.

Well, you might ask:

What’s the way to get ready for patches and fix some bugs in interactions with others?

Be sure, SIRI won’t support your request. She is quite stupid and that would also if she would be a he. No automated system will ever be a useful guide to discover your brain.

You should start with a mobile device, with which you can walk to different inspiring places, and follow Apple’s famous catchphrase

There’s an app for that.
That’s the iPhone. Solving life’s dilemma one app at a time.

It should be added that using a device is just one side of the coin, but a highly convenient one because there is no need for a rubber. Creativity needs just your brain and your fingers. Regarding your brain, Steve Jobs gave us a hint what’s also needed, an attitude. He used some simple words to express his opinion:

Stay hungry, Stay foolish.
and
Think different.

Note
To avoid any further platform wars between Apples and Androids you also might use Samsung’s Galaxy. It just will be a bit harder to find out the right app in Google’s Play Store.

Apps and devices …

No electronic device is needed to start your project of changing your mind. But it would support your way to go through the many things needed to connect the dots. But only if the little helper stays in the background and there is no need to use further hardware like cables, keyboard, monitor, and mouse. You shouldn’t be bound to any work desk. Ideas come up accidentally and most often a work desk hampers an open-minded approach. Repress the memory of your office environment because it’s only you you should focus on.

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It was Steve Jobs philosophy to focus on what’s important. He and is excellent engineers ported this maxim into the devices, the iPhone and the iPad. The company once explained it on its website

Simplicity is often equated with minimalism. Yet true simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity. And it’s about making something that always seems to “just work.” When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.

Going along with seamless to use devices you need apps without bells and whistles which let you focus on your task and show the things like they are stored in your brain. Transfer the connections of nerves to connections of topics in a visualized way.

I suggest two apps:

  • a mind mapping tool
    with which you can emulate important connections of nerves in your brain
  • a browser
    which is much more powerful in supporting your thoughts than any version of SIRI ever can be

Usually well-designed mind mapping tools like iThoughts offer an integrated browser so there is just one app needed. You can use the integrated browser to look up some facts or opinions of others and assign the links you found to topics for later use.

Use the mind mapping tool to summarize all your thoughts which might answer the question

Where do I want to go?
What are the actual stumbles which hamper the installation of patches for my brain?

If you still grope about in the dark ask for help. Again, don’t ask SIRI but your family members, good friends or members of appropriate communities.

Because of my education and work I only can give you some tips for perfect apps supporting your project to become compatible for patches, opening your mind, and using the powerful little mobile devices for more than changing wallpapers five times a day.

It needs some time to go through your life and create a strategy for the future. Again I like to use an Apple slogan for the iPhone to make it clear …

The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.

or in a patched version

The biggest thing to happen to you since your first birthday.

or with an iPad slogan

Redesigned. Reengineered, Re-everythinged.

If your project comes to a successful state it’s not the end. Efforts are needed to validate your redesigned way of looking at the things. Update not only your brain but also your mind map.

Summary …

Apple’s mobile devices initiated a paradigm shift in learning.
Now it’s your turn to make the most out of this amazing opportunity.

Related links …

Mind mapping tools for the iPad …

iThoughts for iOS

Inspiration

Popples made by Popplet

Mind mapping tool for the iPhone …

Mindly

Some reasons to use Apple devices …

Going Apple

The Post-PC Era

A deep insight into Steve Jobs philosophy …

Steve Jobs Timeline 2000-2011

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





The Pareto Principle

5 08 2014

The Pareto principle, also known as 80-20 rule states that roughly only 20% of the causes affect 80% of the effects.

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I would like to give you some examples and an attempt to connect the rule with some aspects of Apple’s strategy to design hardware and software products although I didn’t find any hints published by Apple which explicitly refer to the 80-20 rule. But I’m sure it’s in the mind of Apple’s engineers and can be seen as a guideline for developing products.

Microsoft and the Pareto principle …

Paula Rooney published this noteworthy insight on October 3, 2002

Microsoft’s CEO: 80-20 Rule Applies To Bugs, Not Just Features

In recent months, Microsoft has learned that 80 percent of the errors and crashes in Windows and Office are caused by 20 percent of the entire pool of bugs detected, and that more than 50 percent of the headaches derive from a mere 1 percent of all flawed code.

In an e-mail update sent out broadly to enterprise customers on Oct. 2, 2002, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer highlighted initial progress being made on the company’s Trustworthy Computing initiative, an effort rolled out by the vendor last January to improve its reputation in the reliability and security arenas. For one thing, there will be faster bug-fixing as a result of an error-reporting facility embedded in Office and Windows. And that error-reporting tool will be part of the forthcoming Windows.Net Server 2003.

The automated error-reporting tool enables customers to relay errors to Microsoft in a condensed “mini-dump” format, which simplifies the process, Ballmer said.

“One really exciting thing we learned is how, among all these software bugs involved in the report, a relatively small proportion causes most of the errors,” Ballmer wrote in his three-page memo. “About 20 percent of the bugs causes 80 percent of all errors, and – this is stunning to me – 1 percent of bugs caused half of all errors.”

But one analyst said that customers should not come to the conclusion that the 80-20 bug ratio will make it easier for Microsoft to clean up problems with its software.

“The 80-20 rule is often believed to be true in most things. Most often it is used by vendors to distract people from the problem of inadequate quality with the implication that they only need to work on a small number of issues to correct that problem,”

said Rob Enderle, research fellow at Giga Information Group.

“What’s forgotten is that 20 percent are often the most complex, most difficult issues to correct and the most likely to spawn new problems as part of the correction process.”

The tool and debugging method, however, did help Microsoft address 20 percent of all Windows XP bugs in Service Pack 1, more than half of all application errors fixed in Office XP Service Pack 2 and 74 percent bugs of fixed in the beta test version of Visual Studio.Net, Ballmer claimed.

A summary …

Ready for a summary of Pareto’s principle?

So here it is and as usual on iNotes4You it’s summarized with the help of a mind map.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts (.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

Apple and the Pareto principle …

Apple’s operating system for mobiles, the hardware, and software applications are as complex as other comparable systems. Only developers are deeply engaged in what’s going on in the code if a user e.g. taps on the touch screen of an iPhone or an iPad. Be sure, it’s a lot what has to be considered when designing the code and providing APIs (Application Programming Interface) to developers who then create their apps based on implemented functionalities of iOS.

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For us, as users of Apple’s mobile devices, there are only two but quite important things, the UX (user experience) and the UI (user interface).

One common adage in the IT industry is that 80 percent of all end users generally use only 20 percent of a software application’s features. Aside the concrete numbers this seems to hit the nail right on the head and I think nearly all of you can agree. Only a minority, the power users, get more mileage out of an application.

Basically there are two options to increase the UX of software products

  • two versions
    a standard and a professional version with extended features
  • one version
    with features limited to the commonly accepted needs of customers

Apple goes the latter way roughly according to the Pareto principle.
But there seems to be a problem.

What are the features if all the options are roughly reduced to the mentioned 20%?

Well, it depends on the application and necessary features can only be identified by constantly looking on the behavior of customers.

If you settled all the needs of customers the next problem comes up.

How can the features be packed in a clean and tidy user interface?

It was Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s top designer, who once said

Simplicity is often equated with minimalism. Yet true simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity. And it’s about making something that always seems to “just work.” When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.

Regarding the UX and UI I found a noteworthy article by Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., on uxmag.com about The Psychologist’s View of UX Design (please use the link under ‘Related link’ to read the full article). It can be seen as a validation of the Pareto principle in the sense of separate the vital few from the trivial many. And with this it also proofs Apple’s strategy of seamless usage of its mobile devices.

Here is a summarization of the main points visualized in a mind map.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

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

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

There’s a finite amount of resources to focus on finding and fixing issues or improving the user experience. It’s the task of designers and engineers to find out the small number of items account for a disproportionate amount of results. An effective strategy is to separate these vital few from the trivial many to improve the user experience.

If you use an Apple mobile device you already recognized that problems with the operating system can be solved with solely three methods

  • Reboot
  • Restore
  • Recover

This is a quite remarkable step to reduce the efforts of users to fix problems.

It’s definitely the wrong and most ineffective way to fill a knowledge base with thousands of articles, often not applicable for devices even if they run on the same version of an operating system. That’s my experience of working on Microsoft Windows based computers in the last 30 years. Problems with drivers, Dynamic Link Libraries, vulnerabilities, monthly published patches, etc. have been quite frustrating tasks, wasted your time, and, regarding the usage of Windows PCs in businesses, cost a lot of money. A reason could be the genes Microsoft put into the cradle of its operating system.

Summary …

Companies looking at the 80-20 rule have to identify the 20% in all areas which means find out the few vital from the many trivial.

Going along with this analysis more simple solutions for usability problems, feature requests, support calls, software bugs or revenues can be created.

If you recognize that reading just 20% of my blog post let you understand 100% of my intention than you have a further validation of Pareto’s principle.

Related links …

Apple’s Focusing

Apple’s Strategy and Ad

The Psychologist’s View of UX Design

Thanks for stopping by.





iWork to Airport

30 06 2014

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

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

Here is how you can do it seamlessly.

The hardware and software …

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

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

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

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

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

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

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

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

The steps …

Step 1
Connecting to an attached storage

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Step 2
Using ‘Open in Another App’ in iWork

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i

An alternative …

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

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

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

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

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

An application …

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

Unfortunately you cannot deactivate iCloud syncing for single documents.

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

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

Summary …

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

Related links …

Point.io

Thanks for dropping by.





Avoid a Liquidity Bottleneck

18 06 2014

To avoid a liquidity bottleneck at the end of a month you can use Apple’s iWork app Numbers. Once you created an appropriate spreadsheet with the necessary information you can predict your account balance more or less accurately (if the rare event of a crashed iOS device doesn’t happen and you are out of warranty claim).

Here is an example to create the spreadsheet using functions implemented in Numbers and some other tricky algorithms. The good news is, it’s synced with all your other devices via iCloud. So the information is available wherever you are.

The components …

What you need is

  • Apple’s iWork app Numbers
    It’s part of Apple’s iWork suite, the pendant to Microsoft’s Office suite with one important difference: it’s optimized for touch screens and seamless to use even on the small screen of an iPhone and all your documents are automatically synced with all your devices. You can even work on your documents if you don’t have access to one of your Apple devices because there is iWork for iCloud with which you can work on documents via browsers like Safari, Google’s Chrome, or Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
    And it’s free for newly purchased devices.
  • A spreadsheet within Numbers
    which allows to predict the account balance
  • Access to your bank account
    to look up the transactions and the actual balance.

If you are not familiar with programming a spreadsheet don’t hesitate to download my template from my Box account. It’s free and there is no copyright on it. If you downloaded the template you can (easily) adapt it to your needs. The following description might help.

The spreadsheet …

The template contains two essential tables.
The first table is designed to enter the actual account balance, the performed transactions as well as periodical transactions. I call it the Dynamic table

The second table contains the dates for periodical transactions like rents or taxes to be paid in advance. I call it the Static Table.

Here is how it looks like:

20140314-185914.jpg

And here is the download link

Application File format
Apple Numbers numbers

Notes

If you tap on the link and downloaded the file you will see a control ‘Open in Numbers’ for a short time. If the message is gone just tap on the display again.

If you want to work with the template it’s highly recommended to do it with a copy of the original.

The dynamic table …

To predict the approximate liquidity at the end of a month you have to enter the actual account balance and monitor what’s expensed during the month by accessing the transactions with an online banking tool or a browser.

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The spreadsheet contains the necessary formulas to add or subtract incoming and outgoing money transfer. For cash payments (food, has, etc.) an approximate amount can be set on a weekly basis.

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Every time you get fresh cash from your bank you can reduce the remaining value with a so-called ‘Stepper’ control.
A Checkbox is used for payments on a monthly basis e.g. your health insurance. Just set it to true if the payment is expensed.

The static tables …

The first table is just for calculating a date 30 days prior to the actual date to point to an upcoming payment. The second table is for documentation purposes only and not used in any calculation.

The EOMONTH function returns a date 30 days prior to the actual date.

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This the conditional statement which sets the factor to -1 for all months (3, 6, 9, 12) with a due date. It can be easily adapted to other periods resp. months.

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This simple conditional statement sets a marker to emphasize upcoming payments.

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Summarized:

The kernel statement (image 2) sets the factor to -1 according to due dates.
Factor x Base Value defines the content in the column ‘Value’ which is part of the summarization to get the total liquidity.

The adaption …

You have to adapt the template by entering all the necessary values. A look on your last statements of account helps to find out the values. Some of them will be fixed values others vary and you have to define an average value.

You can use the COPY+PASTE feature to add more lines of similar type. In the context menu select ‘PASTE FORMULAS’ to let numbers adapt the clipboard content.

Summary …

If you run into the red it’s not my fault.
I’m sure the reason is your optimism bias or a shaking finger followed by wrong entries.

Related links …

An invoice created with numbers

If … Then … Else

Thanks for calculating with iNotes4You.





iOS 8 Beta

9 06 2014

When introducing iCloud services on June 6, 2011, the roadmap for Apple’s vision about device connectivity was already quite clear.

  • Seamlessly connect all devices.
  • Use standardized data structures to support syncing between computers and mobile devices.
  • Assimilate the UIs of computers and mobile devices to seamlessly work on either of them.

Connectivity only makes sense if people use more than one device.

This is the case in businesses, families, and it’s also valid for many single users purchasing both kinds of mobile devices, smartphones and tablets.

iCloud is the global hub of Apple’s powerful services.

If you remove all iCloud related features Apple devices are demoted to phones and data processing machines for which the old-fashioned tasks of syncing, transferring files, and backing up have to be done manually.

The WWDC 2014 …

With the WWDC 2014 (June 2, San Francisco, Moscone Center) further essential steps to a unique user experience were made and Apple set the milestones for the future usage of their electronic devices.

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The device you use doesn’t matter, it’s just the task which matters.

WWDC 2014 is the 25th event which began in 1990 with 1,300 developers. Tim Cook presented some stats showing us that there are over 9 million registered Apple developers in 2014 – that’s up 47 percent since 2013 – and the youngest developer at WWDC was just 13 years old.

Apple’s developer conference again unveiled the power of the company in offering vertically integrated and seamless to use devices and services as well as a perfect infrastructure for partners, the developers.

iOS is one of the two most dominant platforms for mobile devices with Android in the pole position if you just look on market shares.

Regarding a product line-up which includes computers AND mobiles it can be said that

iOS and OSX together are the leading software technologies for processor-based devices regardless of any stats.

Apple’s sophisticated ecosystem including all the powerful apps will be massively improved by the new features announced for iOS 8. This all can be called a disruptive concept for using processor-based technology and device connectivity via cloud services.

Seoul, start your photocopiers

But copying won’t help because there never was a vision running like a golden thread through all the activities and technological developments of Apple’s competitors. Neither Google nor Samsung can compete with Apple because most of their services are based on stand-alone developments which require deep-sea diving into countless help articles to successfully administrate them all.

As an Apple user just go to Settings and turn on iCloud.
That’s it.

Fandroids again may argue: It’s all copied.

Let me tell you the truth about just one example which could be brought forward from people just looking on the screen layout:

Desktop widgets (commonly just called widgets) are interactive virtual tools that provide single-purpose services such as showing the user the latest news, the current weather, the time, a calendar, a dictionary, a map program, a calculator, desktop notes, photo viewers, or even a language translator, among other things.

Everybody should know that these tools were already introduced decades ago on Apple’s Macintosh computers, are available in the notification center of iOS 7 and iOS 8 now provides APIs for third-party widgets.

iOS 8 features …

I summarized what Apple published on its websites shortly after the event in San Francisco.

20140606-165200.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.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

See this magnified part of map and a preview of what you get when you download the DOCX file format.

Note

If you don’t use a mind mapping tool it’s recommended to download the DOCx file format which immediately can be opened with Apple’s Pages. The document contains the map as an image, textual information, and referred hyperlinks. Just tap on a link from within Pages to open the article.

iCloud …

iCloud already got a significant improvement in October 2013 when Apple introduced iWork for iCloud.

The new iCloud Drive will be a unified file system bridging iOS and OSX.

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At the time Apple gives you 5GB free storage and this will not be changed. It’s for storing documents, photos, device backups, and application data. 5 GB is a little on the paltry side if you extensively use iCloud e.g. on an iPhone and an iPad. I use an iPhone (23.8 GB used) and an iPad (30.9 GB used) and had to update my storage plan with additional 10 GB to save device backups on iCloud.
Cormorant space eaters on my devices are photos (2.5 GB), Keynote presentations (2.3 GB; mainly collages for my blog), mind maps (1.5 GB), and PDFs stored in iBooks (2.8 GB).

How much will it cost if more storage is needed?

For just $1 a month, you’ll get additional 20GB and for $4 per month you’ll get 200GB. As a point of comparison, that $48 a year is just slightly more than the $40 a year you currently pay for 20GB. Apple says it will have tiers all the way up to 1TB of storage.

iCloud’s new pricing plans compete with …

Provider GB $/year
Dropbox 2 free
100 100
200 200
OneDrive 7 free
100 50
200 100
Google Drive 15 free
100 24
1000 120
iDriveSync 5 free
150 49.50
500 149.50
Box 10 free
100 60
unlimited 180

And here is the ranking …

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What should be mentioned is that costs are just one criterion. Please note that iDriveSync is the only provider offering client-side encryption during transit (sending and receiving data) and at rest (saved data on servers of the provider).

Swift for yield hedging …

iOS is still the preferred platform for developers offering mobile apps. Apple’s App Store is a heavy weight champion when it comes to quality and quantity of apps for mobile devices.

To keep the quality and acquire even more creative young developers Apple is apparently offering a much faster and more effective means of building software applications with an “interactive playground,” significantly improving on its own Objective-C.
The new programming language Swift will use the same LLVM (Low Level Virtual Machine) compiler and runtime as Apple’s Objective-C implementation, and its simplified syntax gives it an easier learning curve. The reason behind introducing Swift was to make it easier for developers to create apps for Apple’s mobile platform. Apple Developers write codes line after line and then compile those results to see output, but using Swift language they can see results in real time instantly while writing their codes.

My suggestion for the developers of the official Google+ app:

Try out Swift.
Maybe it helps to bring some stability into an app crashing daily since months.

Some tidbits …

  • Per App Battery Usage
    Another feature that has been part of Android since its inception and extremely useful at that, will finally make its way to iOS 8. Apple did not mention this during their keynote but it will be part of the iOS when it is released. Users will be able to see which app is draining the battery and take relevant action.
  • AirPlay
    won’t need Wi-Fi in iOS 8, it can use a form of peer-to-peer networking. This means an Apple TV should be able to connect to your iPhone even when both devices aren’t on the same wireless network.

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  • AirDrop
    will now work between iOS devices and Macs, meaning you can exchange files on an ad hoc basis between the two, without the need for an Internet connection or even being on the same local network. Need to get a photo to your Mac from your iPhone or want to send a PDF from your Mac to your iPad? Just fire up AirDrop.

Apple’s move …

Let’s dispense with the preliminaries. The WWDC 2014 confirmed a move in Apple’s strategy of controlling what’s going on if a device is in use.

I found this excellent article published by the well-known Apple evangelist Jonny Evans on Computerworld.com.

It’s not about ‘Made in Cupertino’ any more:
the new Apple is all about PARTNERSHIP.

… here’s a few ways in which today’s Apple conceded it doesn’t want to control every aspect of your experience – it just wants to ensure it secures the environment to make sure it’s platforms are platforms you can use:

  • CarPlay
  • Third party app support in iCloud Drive
  • Massively improved integration between iOS and OS X
  • Support for third party Widgets for Notification Center
  • Support for non-Apple apps in iCloud
  • DuckDuckGo support in Safari (OK, that just accentuates how much more secure Apple is than its troublesome mobile foe)
  • Third-party keyboard support
  • Health app, which works with third party devices
  • Support for third party devices for the smart home (HomeKit)
  • added by me
    API to access functionalities of Touch ID ( Apple’s implementation of a fingerprint scanner)

All of these moves are explicit moves that mean Apple is answering critics who call it “too controlling” by permitting users a hitherto unprecedented environment in which they can work with the devices they choose. It’s also a shot in the arm for developers, who can now work to develop their own solutions and have these underpinned by the secure power of Apple’s ecosystem.

Note
Jonny Evans is an independent journalist/blogger who first got online in 1993 and began writing about Apple in 1999. He’s author of Computerworld’s AppleHolic blog and writes on numerous tech topics here in the US and UK. Jonny has no shares in any technology company, enjoys new and disruptive technology and likes music almost as much as he likes his large and shiny dog.

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Stay tuned and join Jonny’s Appleholics Kool Aid Corner on Google+.

Summary …

Since WWDC 2014 Apple is turning over a new leaf when it comes to developer relationships. MacWorld’s headline ‘A love letter from Apple to developers’ hits the nail right on the head. It’s seems to be a win-win-win situation for Apple, developers, and customers. The WWDC 2014, iOS 8, and OSX were the biggest steps forward since the opening of the App Store on July 10, 2008. The gap to competing platforms – operating systems and stores – approximates to the depth of the Mariana Trench.

Related links …

iCloud, a paradigm shift

Apple’s Ecosystem

App Development + Marketing

WWDC 2014 Apple puts its fighting boots on

About my preferred mind mapping tool …

iThoughts, …

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.








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