About an innovative product

28 04 2016

powered by Microsoft Windows Tablet PC Edition

Usually you find Apple related stuff in my profile stream. This time it’s about a reliable companion not running an Apple OS.

My T4010, still running with Windows XP, today reached its 10th anniversary of a busy working life.





Specs …

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook T4010

Intel Pentium M 745

Intel Extreme Graphics 2 64 MB

12.1 inch, 4:3, 1024×768 pixels

2kg

It’s a shining example for innovation and development of disrupting technology. One of the most important people in the development of mobiles was Alan Kay with his concept of the DYNABOOK.

More about Alan …

Some decades ago

More about innovation …

About innovation

Thanks for dropping by.





Some decades ago

6 11 2015

In 1972 a Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) scientist published a research study entitled A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages.

The device was called DYNABOOK and the author of that paper is Alan Kay, one of the key people who have shaped the way we are using computers today. In contrast to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Steve Ballmer he didn’t stand on stages but he can be seen as the key scientist behind the graphical user interface and one of the inventors of object-oriented programming.

The Dynabook wasn’t so much a prediction but a vision.


A significant component of the Dynabook’s usage model was that its users would be able to easily develop simple applications. This is far away from Jobs’ tablet concept and that of all other competitors. The last thing you would want to do on an iPad is write your own software. There is an app for that and you will find it in the App Store. Anyway there is no doubt about the fact that Kay influenced Jobs in developing the iPhone and the iPad.

“When I saw the iPhone, I figured that they had already done a tablet version, which is easier to make work than the iPhone, so I was partially joking with Steve when I said ‘make the screen at least 5″ x 8″ and you will rule the world’.”

What can we learn from history?
Well, everything has it’s preceding ideas.

Would Einstein’s Theory of Relativity be possible without Newton’s Laws? Edison and Swan were the two most successful at combining the necessary technologies and engineering techniques to build a light bulb (electricity and the knowledge of how to economically create vacuums).

There is no need to talk about COPYING. Success comes up when intelligence combines the right things at the right time in a sexy apparel. This alone is already a technological achievement and innovation crowds of people today derive benefits from.


Regarding Apple’s success the most important thing Jobs overtook from Kay was the belief

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.


Jobs made it to the core principle of Apple.

This message would be an exaggeration nevertheless it’s a fact that Apple changed the way we communicate today and handle information. And that was definitely not just one small step for man. Neither Alan Kay nor Steve Jobs ever claimed to be the only inventors.


Related

Ap(pl)es

About the iPad


Thanks for reading.





Visualizing your Success

5 06 2015

Some people think that personal success can be measured in bucks, clicks, +1s, or Likes.

So I won’t be surprised if somebody wants to visualize his personal value with a chart created with Apple’s spreadsheet app Numbers for iOS.

Here is the tutorial.

  • Step 1
    Create a new spreadsheet within Numbers.
  • Step 2
    Create a table (table 1, top left) and enter the months and the corresponding number of bucks or clicks in a month.
    The last row should contain the sum. It’s needed to display the relative amount of success (the ratio bucks / total x 100).

2015/01/img_3776.png

  • Step 3
    Create another table (below the first table). This table isn’t really needed but usually it’s worth to separate the data from its visualization.
    Refer to the the first two columns of table 1 by using terms like ‘=Table 1::A1’. This will show the months and the absolute values of bucks.
  • Step 4
    Now let’s create the crux of the matter.
    Use the built-in function REPT (Repeat) with the money bag (from Apple’s Emoji keyboard; activation via Settings – General – Keyboard – Keyboards – Add New Keyboard and select Emoji).

Refer to Apple’s excellent help for this function and all the others to understand the parameters.

  • Param 1
    the symbol you want to use for the bar graph
  • Param 2
    the length of the bar (the monthly value in % of the total)

Use it and you will see that Numbers for iOS is perfectly adapted to touch screens.

Note
If you want to refer to a cell of an other table in a function, just tap on it instead of entering the table number and the coordinates. That’s perfect user experience, isn’t it?

Now your visualized success is always with you, on an iPhone, an iPad, or an  Watch.

I suggest to publish your stats quarterly on the internet like Apple does in its U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings.

Summary …

The usage of functions in Numbers is explained in meaningful helps.
An alternative is to enter the values in a table and use the feature Create Chart from Table. But that would be too easy. Always following the KISS principle doesn’t help you to improve your knowledge.

Related links …

Avoid a Liquidity Bottleneck

An Invoice created with Numbers

If Then Else

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Creating Collages

10 05 2015

People say …

A picture is worth a thousand words.

And there is more …

Humans are designed to absorb visualized information in a jiffy and in many cases remember this information much longer than any other stimulation of senses.

Create collages on your iPad. It’s not only funny but also lets you digest the topic again.

Earlier I posted this image with an ironic content about Apple’s payment system, which works with the iOS devices starting with iPhone 6 and iPad Air 3.

2015/01/img_38931.png

It’s an example for what you can do on an iPad. See the appropriate ingredients, apps, and devices to create collages in the image below. The collage was also created with Apple’s presentation app Keynote.

2015/01/img_3916.png

It might be also worth creating some images with photos of your last holiday. Once you started you’ll love it.

The iPad is definitely a shining example for disruptive technology.

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

Summary …

Stay hungry, stay foolish, and be creative with your iThing.

Related links …

iPad @ Universities

About the iPad

If you use images you should know something about the Copyright

The Copyright

Thanks for dropping by.





Mindscope

30 11 2014

Apple’s iPad is the perfect device for summarizing and visualizing what’s going on in your brain.

Most of the apps available at the App Store are designed for special tasks like note taking, mind mapping, concept mapping, etc. But there are also innovative ideas combining different purposes in just one app.

For technical products Three-In-One, or let’s say X-InOne, is a synonym for a set of three/X features implemented in just one product. Three-In-One concepts are well-known from printers. For printing, copying, and scanning documents there is just one device which does it all.

IMG_3217.PNG

An example is the brandnew app Mindscope by John Goering.

It promises to be

Part mind-mapping tool, part outliner, part todo manager.
A multi-level magnet board for your brain.

The basic idea of John is to organize information in layers each attached to a text snippet.

Create a text snippet.
Tap on it to move into the next layer
(fortunately not the next layer of your touch screen but a software controlled stoarage)
Enter further information.
Go back by using the pinch gesture or tapping on the layer menu at the top of the screen.

If you installed the app the welcome screen presents several videos about the usage.

IMG_3218.PNG

In advance …

The app isn’t ready yet. It’s brandnew and if you are interested in using this tool you should be patient until John adds some necessary features users expect when using the tool for note taking and mind/concept mapping.

Not all readers are familiar with all the abbreviations used in the IT world. UI means the User Interface and describes the layout of an app seen by a user. Developers should follow some standards published by Apple in The iOS Human Interface Guidelines.

UX means the User Experience and describes what users feel when they use the app the first time and extensively later on. The iPad is made for apps simplifying daily tasks. If UI and UX isn’t perfect it’s likely that an app carves out a miserable existence or is deleted after a short time.

Both UI and UX are in some way subjective criteria. So take a look on the screenshots of Mindscope and build your own very personal opinion.

The UI was developed by an engaged team in Berlin, Germany, and for me it looks perfect. I’m convinced that we soon will see a high quality product with the well-known label ‘Made in Germany’. So there seems to be no reason to not purchase the additional features via an In-App-Purchase and getting all the projected refinements of future updates.

Features …

An image is more than a 1000 words. So please look at my collages to see how the app works.

Using the app is easier than any other app I used before. Although it should be mentioned that features are limited. It’s the task of John to keep it as simple as it is now after necessary features are added. Jaakko did it with his app Mindly and I hope John will do it as well.

An application …

Using the app Inspiration I created a short summary of how to sell an iOS device. To get familiar with Mindscope I transferred the information to a board in Mindscope.

IMG_3226.PNG

What we can see is that there might be problems of acceptance because Mindscope doesn’t support colors, shapes, and images. The only way to highlight essentials is to use a bold text possibly with a larger size.

Honestly said, the creation of the board shown above was a nightmare and here are just some of the reasons why:

  • The size of a board is limited to the screen size of the iPad. The content cannot be extended or moved around.
  • Boards cannot be zoomed.
  • Boards do not adapt their position relative to the keyboard coming up when you create a new object.
  • The shape coming up when multiple objects are selected often doesn’t surround the actual selection.
  • The press and long-press gesture often opens a new board and transfers the content of a text snippet into this board.

English is not my native language and so it’s quite difficult to describe what happened during the creation process but we should keep in mind that we are talking about a 1.0 version.

Anyway I’m not sure if developers should release apps where basic features are missing or the UX in some cases is near to annoy users. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with apps already available and constantly improved over years and so the release date for a new app should be considered carefully.

Missing features …

Developers like Jaakko Rantanen (developer of Mindly) who first released his app in December 2013 and launched powerful updates in January, April, and July 2014, skyrocketing ratings and sales did it right. Talk to your customers and delight with useful new features.

If John is only approximately on the level of Jaakko we will see a competitive offer which will have it’s place in the category of useful productivity apps.

The cons as of August 26, 2014 …

  • Syncing between iOS devices not supported
  • Images cannot be assigned to topics
  • Text colors are not supported
  • Proprietary file format available only on the device
    Files cannot be sent to cloud storages or by mail
  • Topics cannot be organized in folders
  • Shapes for topics are not available
    This is a quite important con because shapes are an indispensable option to use visualizations of complex topics.
  • The UNDO control is missing
    Sorry, but that’s an absolute No-Go.
  • No word wrap
    At the time the app is more suited for shorter text snippets.

Not listed are a couple of useful small parts in the program code which make users happy, e.g. aligning objects, duplicating objects, and, and, and.

IMG_3219.PNG

The developer tries to avoid on-screen controls which is definitely the right approach to let the user focus on content.

Remarks (October 23) …

To get an overview of the changes after my article was written please have a look at the Version History of the app in the App Store. Some useful features have been added but I still think that, after 2 months of being in the market it’s a no-go that there is still no UNDO feature.

Remarks (November 15)

Never give up. The sorely missed UNDO command was released in Mindscope 1.3 along with some other tweaks which can be looked up in the version history of the app in Apple’s App Store.

The app still has the subtitle ‘Mindscope – the Mind Mapping Out…’ although many features even of simple mind mapping tools are missing.

Summary …

The app looks quite promising. The next months will give us the answer whether it moves into the smiling sky of iOS apps or drops into no-man’s-land.

The app promises to be a tool for mind mapping, planning projects, taking meeting notes, creating flowcharts, tracking todos, and presenting information. This is a quite exaggerated announcement. To compete with a specialized app or a Three-In-One app like MagicalPad it needs tons of further improvements.

John, keep on following the KISS principle. This is what users expect from modern apps for the Apple’s mobile flagship for teaching, learning, and organizing.

Related links …

The developer’s website …

Mindscope

Mind mapping …

iThoughts

Mindly

Mind/Concept mapping …

Inspiration

Three In One

Mind Maps + Concept maps

Others …

Note taking

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





CloudOn

28 09 2014

To work on Microsoft Office files (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) you can either use an app like DocsToGo, a subscription of Office 365 (connected with Microsoft’s cloud service SkyDrive) or a free app called CloudOn by CloudOn Inc., first released in October 2011.

20140122-062353.jpg

CloudOn can be connected not only to SkyDrive but also to your Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Hightail accounts, and send or share files with colleagues and contacts via email directly from within the app. Some features like AirPrint are only available through the Pro version of CloudOn with an introductory offer of $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

The features …

CloudOn works with Microsoft Office documents stored on the above mentioned cloud storages. New files can be created and existing files can be edited. Microsoft’s proprietary file format is kept in either case. •So there is 100% compatibility with Office files and you do not have to worry that they will break or compatibility issues will occur.

  • CREATE, REVIEW and EDIT documents
    Create, review and edit Microsoft Word documents , Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on an iPad or an iPhone.
    •Insert charts, images, equations, SmartArt, clipart, tables, shapes and change format fonts, paragraphs, styles, themes and layout.
    •Review spelling and grammar, track changes, comments, annotations and rich markup.
    View and create charts (including pivot, bar, line, area etc), add formulas, filter etc.
  • ACCESS and MANAGE files
    •Seamlessly connect to and access Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents in your cloud storage provider account(s), including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Open documents, spreadsheets and presentations from your email accounts as well as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Copy, paste, delete, rename and move files across folders.
    •All files are saved automatically giving you the comfort that you won’t lose your data.
    •DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF are the file types supported by CloudOn.
  • SHARE and SEND documents
    You can work on the same doc with colleagues (understandably not simultaneously).
    •Use the FileSpace to add context to your work – view all the activity on any given doc including edits, action, and notes or if you prefer just send a link to the file by email.
  • AIR PRINT documents (feature of the Pro version)
    •Print Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets and Powerpoint Presentations.

Here is a summarization of all features created with a mind map with my favorite mind mapping tool iThoughts HD for the iPad.

20140122-194601.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

User interface …

The functionality of CloudOn is pretty straightforward, with a tidy interface that allows you to rearrange the layout of your files by tapping an icon. There are also shortcuts for creating a new document and for accessing the settings and other menu options.

20140122-063536.jpg

CloudOn also has an autosave feature, so if your quick burst of editing is interrupted, everything will have been saved for when you can come back to it.

The navigation features and the different ways to show files and storages are quite impressive. But navigation through folders is unfortunately not the main task of the app. It’s working inside a document.

20140122-062523.jpg

In contrast to Apple’s iWork suite the UI of CloudOn when working on a document is not perfectly adapted to touch screens. It just reflects what is well-known from the original versions of the Microsoft Office suite. With a “RIBBON” as the main menu bar it works like the big brother for desktops. This might be seen as an advantage by many users but others complain about the missing adoption for the iPad’s touch screen.

20140122-063019.jpg

This is the fully adapted keyboard of Apple’s spreadsheet application NUMBERS.

20140122-063119.jpg

As you can see Apple uses a fully adapted keyboard which fully supports the basic tasks done with a spreadsheet application like choosing the field type (text, number, date, term), building a sum, and using functions.

There would be a lot of features which should be added to CloudOn to facilitate typing on an iPad in Excel. CloudOn just helps a bit by adding a row at the top of the iPad keyboard with Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Tab, function, arrow, Esc, and Del keys.

Unfortunately there is a keyboard lag. A slight delay between touching the keys and the appearance of letters on screen makes the typing process feel disjointed. You might also recognize the usefulness of Apple’s autocorrect feature which is not working in CloudOn documents. It’s quite frustrating to manually correct all those minor typos.

In a group setting CloudOn’s lack of support for custom add-ons, templates, auto-correct settings, and other advanced features may limit the program’s usefulness. Still, the word processor lets you track and accept changes, show or hide markup, make and view comments, restrict editing, and compare and combine versions.
Similarly, the mobile versions of the spreadsheet and presentation apps provide most of the features you’ve come to expect in Excel and PowerPoint, respectively.

Summary …

For all the productivity apps working on Microsoft Office files this is still valid:

It’s not that it does it well,
it’s that it does it at all.

CloudOn goes far beyond the basics to provide a full set of word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation features in a familiar interface. But it’s still not adapted to touch screens.

So the usefulness is only given if there is a constraint to stay fully compatible with Microsoft’s file formats. It’s also useful if documents are just for accessing information or making smaller changes.

In general the concept of porting a desktop app to an iPad with just slight modifications is wrong and will not be accepted by the majority of users. We are living in year 4 after the launch of the first iPad and users need and want apps fully adapted to touch screens.

A further disappointing approach to manage Microsoft Office files and a certificate of poverty for Microsoft not to offer an iPad version of their Office 365 Suite.

Related links …

Office 365 for Mobiles

Thanks for dropping by.





Critical notes on Mind Mapping

3 09 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readers like it …

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

20140225-062416.jpg

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

Readers don’t use tools …

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

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

Provide additional text …

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

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

Do not publish ‘personal maps’ …

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

20140225-060115.jpg

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

Add further file formats …

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

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

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

Missing stats …

Biggerplate by far is the largest platform for mind maps.

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

20140227-135009.jpg

In this context the following stats are important:

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

Additionally I extracted some information directly from the website.

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

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

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

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

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

Possible reasons could be

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

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

The Post PC era …

Mind maps are cormorant space eaters.

20140225-055051.jpg

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

20140225-055711.jpg

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

Use mind maps …

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

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

To emphasize this:

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

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

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

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

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

There is hope …

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

Summary …

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

Related links …

Biggerplate …

Biggerplate Annual Report 2014

Blog posts …

Mindly for the iPhone

Inspiration for the iPad

iThoughts – redesigned, reengineerd, re-everythinged

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Molecules and Art

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.








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