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.

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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.

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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.





About Encryption

29 12 2014

Would you like to be able to use QR-Codes in order to let people quickly get some sensitive information, but also want to be able to restrict the number of people with access to the data? And what about iWork documents containing personal data? Is there a way to securely manage them?

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If you use an app like Qrafter by Kerem Erkan you may have the idea to use password-protected QR-Codes for sending sensitive data e.g. via mail or a messaging app like iMessage.

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The idea seems to be fascinating but let’s face the facts with an answer of the developer Kerem I got via E-Mail:

The encryption is 48-bit, meaning it is weak for any sensitive information. More secure encryption methods take too much data and QR Codes do not have such capacity. You should not use QR Code encryption for anything sensitive.

For the sake of security, it’s hard to beat the old-school, in-person hand off. It’s not the most sexy of options in the digital age, but surely there’s something titillating about a top-secret document hand off. Bring your briefcase and make it like a spy movie. Or don’t.

Don’t send your sensitive documents over email. It may seem private, but even if you’re using an email account that uploads attachments over a more secure HTTPS connection, like GMail, you have no control over your recipient’s server, and they may download your attachment from an unencrypted HTTP connection. Now say they did that from a public Wi-Fi network. Things just got very un-secure.

Some basics …

If you want your data to be NSA-resistant all files must be encrypted on your device before being transferred to the cloud. Your password should never be stored on your device or, if it’s stored there should never leave it. So no unauthorized user, not even employees of your provider, could ever access your data. Client-side encryption is the keyword.

Since encryption occurs before files leave your device it effectively wraps a protective wall around your data in the cloud. Employees then have very limited access to your data. They can only see how many files you have stored and how much storage space they occupy. The files themselves, as well as all metadata (folder names, file names, comments, preview images, etc.), are encrypted. The following chart illustrates three typical encryption schemes. The scheme in the middle is what is used by most cloud storage providers.

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What matters most when encrypting data is not the particular encryption algorithm (e.g. AES), but how it is used. Basically, there are three encryption schemes:

  • 1 None
    No encryption is used. Your data is sent to the storage in plain view, visible to anyone who has access to your network connection as well as to the storage provider. This is a little bit like sending someone a postcard: everyone involved in handling the postcard can read it.
  • 2 Encrypted connection (e.g. SSL)
    In this scheme, a secure channel is established between your computer and the storage provider before data is uploaded. That way, no one can eavesdrop on the transfer. However, the provider sees all your data. Often storage providers implement additional measures like creating corporate policies that disallow their employees to view your data. Another additional measure is using encrypted disks to store your data, so someone breaking into the data center and stealing the hard drives won’t be able to read it. However, it is still visible to the provider and its employees. This approach has the advantage that the provider can process your data for you, such as for creating a search index. Also, it is technically easy to make the data available in the web browser or through an API. The problem with this approach is that your privacy is limited. The storage provider can, for example, be forced to provide your data to a government agency. What’s more, employees will be able to read your data even if prohibited by company policies. It is also much more likely that bugs or other errors could result in data leaks. This is the most widespread approach implemented by cloud storage providers.
  • 3 Client-side encryption
    This approach is inherently more secure than the others. Apart from Box and Wuala, there are only a few other cloud storage providers following this scheme, mostly backup services. All data is encrypted locally on your device before it is uploaded. No one not explicitly authorized by you can see your data. Since not even the storage provider can see your data, they cannot be forced to hand it over to government agencies. The employees are also not able to read your data. As a side effect, it is impossible to recover your password in case you forget it. You can test your cloud storage provider’s security by checking whether they offer password recovery or password reset. If yes, then it does not employ client-side encryption. With client-side encryption, security is embedded deeply in the design of the storage.

    One of the main challenges with client-side encryption is key management. If you only want to back up, a single master key is enough. However, if you want to be able to share data selectively, your cloud storage must feature a sophisticated key management scheme.

With this in mind here is a more secure method to store sensitive data permanently or to exchange information with others.

Use a secure cloud storage, e.g. WUALA or BOX or an encryption software like BOXCRYPTOR and send the information as an encrypted file, a simple text message, a PDF file, or an iWork document.

Say you and your tech-savvy recipient set up a shared folder. Anything you put in that folder would travel encrypted from your folder to the provider’s servers to your recipient’s folder. That’s it.

Boxcryptor …

You use a cloud storage with standard, that means no, additional sevcurity?
Don’t worry. There is a solution for all well-known clouds including all other clouds which support the WebDAV protocol. It’s an application developed by the German company Secomba GmbH.

This video explains how Boxcryptor works.


(2:36 min)

Boxcryptor creates a virtual drive on your device that allows you to encrypt your files locally before uploading them to your cloud or clouds of choice. It encrypts individual files – and does not create containers.

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Any file dropped into an encrypted folder within the Boxcryptor drive will get automatically encrypted before it is synced to the cloud. To protect your files, Boxcryptor uses the AES-256 and RSA encryption algorithms.

Boxcryptor is free for one device and one cloud provider. You cannot use two iOS devices to manage encrypted files as long as both devices are linked to Boxcryptor. If you want to share encrypted files with others you can do that without a subscription.

A workaround …

You cannot turn off iCloud for individual iWork documents. So, creating a new document with sensitive data is a risk because the content automatically finds its way into iCloud.
Even if you turn off iCloud for documents but still use iCloud for backing up your device, your documents will be stored in iCloud and Apple has the key to decrypt them.

Here is a workaround which lets you manage encrypted iWork documents using Boxcryptor.

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This is definitely not a comfortable way but the only option to keep sensitive information away from unauthorized people. Even if government comes knocking there is no chance to decrypt your data regardless of the provider keeping your files. I would understand if you say “I hear the message well but lack faith’s constant trust.”.

Summary …

Sad to say that effective encryption is still not a standard feature of using cloud storages. Even Apple doesn’t use client-side encryption and so you should be careful when creating documents with sensitive data. Even if you deactivate syncing via iCloud your documents will find their way into the cloud when your iPad or iPhone initiates the next backup to iCloud.

Related links …

About QR-Codes

Mystic signs of progress

About encryption

Notes on encryption

About clouds

The cloudy iCloud

Risky free clouds

iOS cloud clients

Box for iOS

Thanks for flying with iNotes4You.





Facts about iWork for iCloud

6 07 2014

Since October 2013, shortly after Apple’s Keynote event, iWork for iCloud is available as a beta version going along with a redesign of it’s components Keynote, Numbers, and Pages. The iOS 7 adapted productivity tool is now free for new purchased devices.

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iWork for iCloud now allows working on documents across all kind of devices even on devices of other vendors. This works with every any browser like Safari, Google Chrome, or Microsoft Internet Explorer after signing in to iCloud with your Apple ID on iCloud com.

Use copies …

It’s always good to have a copy.

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Resolve conflicts …

If you use iWork on more than one iOS device and activated syncing via iCloud conflicts might occur if one of the devices you are working on is temporarily disconnected from the internet. In this case the document is saved locally on your device but cannot be updated in iCloud.

There seems to be a problem with iWork documents if one of the iOS devices wasn’t connected to the internet when editing a document.
But don’t panic. There is a way to fix it in a jiffy.

Just keep both versions of the document and decide later which one you finally want to keep.

This method of resolving conflicts is much more sophisticated than resolving conflicts which might occur in other apps like e.g. ByWord, a simple markdown text editor where you only can keep one version.

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And Apple wouldn’t be Apple if there would’t be more:

Edited documents are saved to iCloud along with a *history of the edits* you made. So when you open the document on another iOS device, you can undo individual edits, just as if you made them on that device.

If an iOS device is not connected to the internet a local copy of an iWork document is used to allow editing.
If you finish your work and the internet connection is still not available you will see an up-pointing arrow on this document in the documents overview. It means that the document is waiting for an upload to iCloud. The arrow disappears if your device connects to the internet again via WiFi or a cellular connection.

File sizes …

I myself use iWork for iOS extensively.
File sizes always matter if it comes to your iCloud data plan (5 GB for free), your data plan you fixed with your mobile provider, and the memory of your device.

So here are some average values for the ZIP files of iWork documents …

App Content File size
Keynote 100 slides 100 MB
Numbers 2 tables 1.1 MB
Pages 10 pages 3.5 MB

Notes

Keynote
The ZIP file of the mentioned Keynote presentation consists of 489 single files, primarily images.
Numbers
The ZIP file of the mentioned Numbers spreadsheet consists of 11 files with 4 tables and 2 images.
Pages
The ZIP file of the mentioned Pages document consists of 21 files with 10 pages, a table, and 5 full-page images.

Go to Settings – General – Usage and you get a list with you installed apps and the amount of memory they use on you device. If you extensively use the presentation tool Keynote keep an eye on the used storage, Keynote is a cormorant space eater if you extensively make use of images.

Exporting iWork documents …

If you use ‘Send a copy’ or ‘Open in another app’ for an iWork document you have to choose a format (e.g. for Numbers, PDF, Excel, or CSV within the app Numbers).

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If you choose the native iWork format for Keynote, Numbers, or Pages the app then generates a ZIP file. It contains the document, images used in the document, and a further ZIP file index.zip which contains properties of all objects you created in the document.

This is quote different from former versions of iWork which produced a single file with the extensions .keynote, .numbers, and .pages. The reason is the new collaboration feature of iWork for iCloud. It needs to save all objects separately to check whether they have been changed or not.

And it’s quite different from Microsoft Office documents which can only be edited by a single person.

This file can be easily opened on all devices running on iOS or OSX.
If you want to open Apple’s proprietary file format from within a cloud client app like Microsoft’s OneDrive client just choose ‘Open in Another App’ and then select the appropriate iWork app.

Syncing ….

iWork sync documents via WiFi or Cellular connections.
Go to Settings – iCloud – Documents+Data and at the end of the list you will find the option ‘Use Cellular Data’ to turn syncing via Cellular networks on or off. If you have a small sized data plan or work on large file sizes it’s recommended to set this option to OFF.

Optimizations …

I already explained that each iWork file is split into a set of files which allows improved collaboration features as well as performance improvements.

See what happens if you open an iWork app which files have been edited on other devices.

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In a first step you only can see the file names and after downloading the preview images iWork looks up file sizes so that only small files are immediately downloaded and others are downloaded not until you want to look into the content or edit it.

iCloud security …

iCloud secures your data by encrypting it when it is sent over the Internet, storing it in an encrypted format when kept on server (review the table below for detail), and using secure tokens for authentication. This means that your data is protected from unauthorized access both while it is being transmitted to your devices and when it is stored in the cloud. iCloud uses a minimum of 128-bit AES encryption—the same level of security employed by major financial institutions—and never provides encryption keys to any third parties.

iWork documents are part of the ‘iCloud – Documents + Data’ section in ‘Settings’ for your device. Documents are encrypted at a minimum of 128-Bit AES in transit (when sent over the internet) and at rest (when stored on Apple’s servers).

When you access iCloud services using Apple’s built-in apps, authentication is handled using a secure token. Using secure tokens eliminates the need to store your iCloud password on devices and computers. Even if you choose to use a third-party application to access your iCloud data, your username and password are sent over an encrypted SSL connection.

Summary …

I’d like to think Apple products are perfect and (not surprisingly) they obviously are (with some resyrictions). A powerful new approach to collaborative working. Apple’s ecosystem got a forward-thinking improvement.

Related links …

iWork to AirPort

iCloud, a paradigm shift

iWork and Sharing

Apple: iCloud Security

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.