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IBM Power Systems S922, S914, and S924 Technical Overview and Introduction

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 07/26/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 26 Jul 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication is a comprehensive guide that covers the IBM Power System S922 (9009-22A), IBM Power System S914 (9009-41A), and IBM Power System S924 (9009-42A) servers that support IBM AIX®, IBM i, and Linux operating systems.

Categories: Technology

1Password secure notes, now with Markdown formatting

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 07/25/2018 - 22:53

The main reason to use a password manager is to create, store, and automatically type usernames and passwords.  But one side benefit of the major password manager apps such as 1Password and LastPass is the ability to store secure notes.  This is a digital notepad where you can store some text, much like you would using the built-in Notes app.  The difference is that these notes are safely stored in the password manager app, which is secured with your complex password (or your fingerprint or your face if you have that enabled).  I like this feature because there are rare instances in which someone else has access to my iPhone or iPad.  I wouldn't let them use my device if I didn't trust the person, but even so, I don't want that person accessing my truly confidential information, even accidentally.  Someone else using my iPad could open the Notes app and see the numerous notes that I have stored there, things like grocery and packing lists, the members of my daughter's soccer team, etc.  But the person wouldn't be able to open my 1Password app, and thus couldn't see my truly private notes.

What type of information do I store in secure notes?  I have some medical information about me and family members in there.  I have birthday present ideas.  I have financial information such as a history of salaries for me and my staff members.  I have a list of all of my former addresses, going all the way back to high school.  And I have some confidential information related to my cases, which will sometimes include items like settlement authority.  Having all of this important, confidential information in one secure location is incredibly valuable.  If you use a password manager and don't currently take advantage of the secure notes feature, I encourage you to do so.

I've been thinking about secure notes for the past few days because 1Password, my preferred password manager, recently added the ability to use Markdown in secure notes.  This means that you can add some simple symbols to your text to format the text.  For example, if you want something in a note to be bold, you can just begin and end it with two asterisks or two underline symbols.  Thus, if you type something like this:

**The Title**

__Another Title__

It will be formatted in 1Password to look like this:

The Title

Another Title

You can also use one underline symbol before and after to do italics, three dashes to add a line, etc.  1Password lists some common Markdown commands on this page, and if you want a more comprehensive description of Markdown you can view this page created by John Gruber, who created Markdown many years ago.

For those of you who used WordPerfect way back when, you may remember how WordPerfect fans loved the reveal codes feature, making it easy to see the commands that told the computer to format your text.  Markdown is the same idea.  When you are in the edit mode, you see the symbols like ** but when you are in the normal view mode, you see the end result such as bold text.  What all of this means is that it takes virtually no time to make your notes look even nicer and easier to read in 1Password.

I'd love to show you some examples of how I am using Markdown in my secure notes, but obviously my secure notes are private so I am not going to post them on a public website.  Instead, I created two sample secure notes in 1Password.  One is the Preamble to the Constitution.  The other one is something I copied from my Notes app.  Over the last year or so, my kids and I have been working our way through the James Bond movies.  Not all of them — I selected what I think are the better ones.  (Feel free to disagree with my choices.)  I have a list to remind me of what we have already seen and what is next.  Here is what part of each note looks like when I am in the edit mode in 1Password:

 

And here is what the notes look like with the simple formatting applied (bold text, a numbered list, and a dividing line).  So this is what you would see when you normally view the note:

 

Looking at the James Bond list reminds me that the next movie up for us is Goldeneye, our first Pierce Brosnan movie.  I remember being excited when he (finally) took over the role because I used to watch the Remington Steele TV show in the 1980s.  Okay, enough about Bond, let's get back to 1Password now.

Markdown formatting looks great.  I wish that 1Password would add the ability to adjust the text size — the text is crisp and clear on my iPhone X and my iPad Pro, but I wish that the text could be larger — and perhaps that will be added in the future.  But my notes are much easier to read with formatting than they are without formatting.

If you use 1Password and you have been waiting for an excuse to create some secure notes, perhaps this can be the impetus for you to start using this feature.  And if you are not yet using a password manager, now you have yet another reason that you should be doing so.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Building a SAN-less Private Cloud with IBM PowerVM and IBM PowerVC

IBM Redbooks Site - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Tue, 24 Jul 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication describes a software-defined infrastructure (SDI) solution with IBM PowerVC.

Categories: Technology

IBM Power System AC922 Technical Overview and Introduction

IBM Redbooks Site - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Mon, 23 Jul 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication is a comprehensive guide that covers the IBM Power System AC922 server (8335-GTH and 8335-GTX models).

Categories: Technology

IBM Software-Defined Storage Guide

IBM Redbooks Site - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Sat, 21 Jul 2018

Today, new business models in the marketplace coexist with traditional ones and their well-established IT architectures.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:04

I have been using handheld devices since the late 1980s, starting with a Sharp Wizard, then numerous Palm and BlackBerry devices, and finally a Palm Treo 650.  But 10 years ago on July 22, 2018, I started using an iPhone 3G, and it was vastly superior to anything I had used before.  (This post from three years ago shows the last important email I ever read on my Palm Treo 650.)  It was the second generation of the iPhone and the first iPhone that was truly useful for attorneys becuase we could use faster 3G data, the App Store, and Microsoft Exchange.  Stephen Hackett wrote a post for MacStories this week looking back at the iPhone 3G.  As much as I loved that iPhone 3G at the time, it is amazing to think of how far the iPhone has come in the past 10 years, and it is hard to even imagine what kind of handheld device I'll be using in another 10 years.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet

A list Apart development site - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 09:00

Over 1 million Webmentions will have been sent across the internet since the specification was made a full Recommendation by the W3C—the standards body that guides the direction of the web—in early January 2017. That number is rising rapidly, and in the last few weeks I’ve seen a growing volume of chatter on social media and the blogosphere about these new “mentions” and the people implementing them.

So what are Webmentions and why should we care?

While the technical specification published by the W3C may seem incomprehensible to most, it’s actually a straightforward and extremely useful concept with a relatively simple implementation. Webmentions help to break down some of the artificial walls being built within the internet and so help create a more open and decentralized web. There is also an expanding list of major web platforms already supporting Webmentions either natively or with easy-to-use plugins (more on this later).

Put simply, Webmention is a (now) standardized protocol that enables one website address (URL) to notify another website address that the former contains a reference to the latter. It also allows the latter to verify the authenticity of the reference and include its own corresponding reference in a reciprocal way. In order to understand what a big step forward this is, a little history is needed.

The rise of @mentions

By now most people are familiar with the ubiquitous use of the “@” symbol in front of a username, which originated on Twitter and became known as @mentions and @replies (read “at mentions” and “at replies”). For the vast majority, this is the way that one user communicates with other users on the platform, and over the past decade these @mentions, with their corresponding notification to the receiver, have become a relatively standard way of communicating on the internet.

Tweet from Wiz Khalifa

Many other services also use this type of internal notification to indicate to other users that they have been referenced directly or tagged in a post or photograph. Facebook allows it, so does Instagram. Google+ has a variant that uses + instead of @, and even the long-form article platform Medium, whose founder Ev Williams also co-founded Twitter, quickly joined the @mentions party.

The biggest communications problem on the internet

If you use Twitter, your friend Alice only uses Facebook, your friend Bob only uses his blog on WordPress, and your pal Chuck is over on Medium, it’s impossible for any one of you to @mention another. You’re all on different and competing platforms, none of which interoperate to send these mentions or notifications of them. The only way to communicate in this way is if you all join the same social media platforms, resulting in the average person being signed up to multiple services just to stay in touch with all their friends and acquaintances.

Given the issues of privacy and identity protection, different use cases, the burden of additional usernames and passwords, and the time involved, many people don’t want to do this. Possibly worst of all, your personal identity on the internet can end up fragmented like a Horcrux across multiple websites over which you have little, if any, control.

Imagine if AT&T customers could only speak to other AT&T customers and needed a separate phone, account, and phone number to speak to friends and family on Verizon. And still another to talk to friends on Sprint or T-Mobile. The massive benefit of the telephone system is that if you have a telephone and service (from any one of hundreds or even thousands of providers worldwide), you can potentially reach anyone else using the network. Surely, with a basic architecture based on simple standards, links, and interconnections, the same should apply to the internet?

The solution? Enter Webmentions!

As mentioned earlier, Webmentions allow notifications between web addresses. If both sites are set up to send and receive them, the system works like this:

  1. Alice has a website where she writes an article about her rocket engine hobby.
  2. Bob has his own website where he writes a reply to Alice’s article. Within his reply, Bob includes the permalink URL of Alice’s article.
  3. When Bob publishes his reply, his publishing software automatically notifies Alice’s server that her post has been linked to by the URL of Bob’s reply.
  4. Alice’s publishing software verifies that Bob’s post actually contains a link to her post and then (optionally) includes information about Bob’s post on her site; for example, displaying it as a comment.

A Webmention is simply an @mention that works from one website to another!

If she chooses, Alice can include the full text of Bob’s reply—along with his name, photo, and his article’s URL (presuming he’s made these available)—as a comment on her original post. Any new readers of Alice’s article can then see Bob’s reply underneath it. Each can carry on a full conversation from their own websites and in both cases display (if they wish) the full context and content.

Using Webmentions, both sides can carry on a conversation where each is able to own a copy of the content and provide richer context.

User behaviors with Webmentions are a little different than they are with @mentions on Twitter and the like in that they work between websites in addition to within a particular website. They enable authors (of both the original content and the responses) to own the content, allowing them to keep a record on the web page where it originated, whether that’s a website they own or the third-party platform from which they chose to send it.

Interaction examples with Webmention

Webmentions certainly aren’t limited to creating or displaying “traditional” comments or replies. With the use of simple semantic microformats classes and a variety of parsers written in numerous languages, one can explicitly post bookmarks, likes, favorites, RSVPs, check-ins, listens, follows, reads, reviews, issues, edits, and even purchases. The result? Richer connections and interactions with other content on the web and a genuine two-way conversation instead of a mass of unidirectional links. We’ll take a look at some examples, but you can find more on the IndieWeb wiki page for Webmention alongside some other useful resources.

Marginalia

With Webmention support, one could architect a site to allow inline marginalia and highlighting similar to Medium.com’s relatively well-known functionality. With the clever use of URL fragments, which are well supported in major browsers, there are already examples of people who use Webmentions to display word-, sentence-, or paragraph-level marginalia on their sites. After all, aren’t inline annotations just a more targeted version of comments?

An inline annotation on the post “Hey Ev, what about mentions?,” in which Medium began to roll out their @mention functionality. Reads

As another example, and something that could profoundly impact the online news business, I might post a link on my website indicating I’ve read a particular article on, say, The New York Times. My site sends a “read” Webmention to the article, where a facepile or counter showing the number of read Webmentions received could be implemented. Because of the simplified two-way link between the two web pages, there is now auditable proof of interaction with the content. This could similarly work with microinteractions such as likes, favorites, bookmarks, and reposts, resulting in a clearer representation of the particular types of interaction a piece of content has received. Compared to an array of nebulous social media mini-badges that provide only basic counters, this is a potentially more valuable indicator of a post’s popularity, reach, and ultimate impact.

Listens

Building on the idea of using reads, one could extend Webmentions to the podcasting or online music sectors. Many platforms are reasonably good at providing download numbers for podcasts, but it is far more difficult to track the number of actual listens. This can have a profound effect on the advertising market that supports many podcasts. People can post about what they’re actively listening to (either on their personal websites or via podcast apps that could report the percentage of the episode listened to) and send “listen” Webmentions to pages for podcasts or other audio content. These could then be aggregated for demographics on the back end or even shown on the particular episode’s page as social proof of the podcast’s popularity.

For additional fun, podcasters or musicians might use Webmentions in conjunction with media fragments and audio or video content to add timecode-specific, inline comments to audio/video players to create an open standards version of SoundCloud-like annotations and commenting.

SoundCloud allows users to insert inline comments that dovetail with specific portions of audio. Reviews

Websites selling products or services could also accept review-based Webmentions that include star-based ratings scales as well as written comments with photos, audio, or even video. Because Webmentions are a two-way protocol, the reverse link to the original provides an auditable path to the reviewer and the opportunity to assess how trustworthy their review may be. Of course, third-party trusted sites might also accept these reviews, so that the receiving sites can’t easily cherry-pick only positive reviews for display. And because the Webmention specification includes the functionality for editing or deletion, the original author has the option to update or remove their reviews at any time.

Getting started with Webmentions Extant platforms with support

While the specification has only recently become a broad recommendation for use on the internet, there are already an actively growing number of content management systems (CMSs) and platforms that support Webmentions, either natively or with plugins. The simplest option, requiring almost no work, is a relatively new and excellent social media service called Micro.blog, which handles Webmentions out of the box. CMSs like Known and Perch also have Webmention functionality built in. Download and set up the open source software and you’re ready to go.

If you’re working with WordPress, there’s a simple Webmention plugin that will allow you to begin using Webmentions—just download and activate it. (For additional functionality when displaying Webmentions, there’s also the recommended Semantic Linkbacks plugin.) Other CMSs like Drupal, ProcessWire, Elgg, Nucleus CMS, Craft, Django, and Kirby also have plugins that support the standard. A wide variety of static site generators, like Hugo and Jekyll, have solutions for Webmention technology as well. More are certainly coming.

If you can compose basic HTML on your website, Aaron Parecki has written an excellent primer on “Sending Your First Webmention from Scratch.”

A weak form of Webmention support can be bootstrapped for Tumblr, WordPress.com, Blogger, and Medium with help from the free Bridgy service, but the user interface and display would obviously be better if they were supported fully and natively.

As a last resort, if you’re using Tumblr, WordPress.com, Wix, Squarespace, Ghost, Joomla, Magento, or any of the other systems without Webmention, file tickets asking them to support the standard. It only takes a few days of work for a reasonably experienced developer to build support, and it substantially improves the value of the platform for its users. It also makes them first-class decentralized internet citizens.

Webmentions for developers

If you’re a developer or a company able to hire a developer, it is relatively straightforward to build Webmentions into your CMS or project, even potentially open-sourcing the solution as a plugin for others. For anyone familiar with the old specifications for pingback or trackback, you can think of Webmentions as a major iteration of those systems, but with easier implementation and testing, improved performance and display capabilities, and decreased spam vulnerabilities. Because the specification supports editing and deleting Webmentions, it provides individuals with more direct control of their data, which is important in light of new laws like GDPR.

In addition to reading the specification, as mentioned previously, there are multiple open source implementations already written in a variety of languages that you can use directly, or as examples. There are also a test suite and pre-built services like Webmention.io, Telegraph, mention-tech, and webmention.herokuapp.com that can be quickly leveraged.

Maybe your company allows employees to spend 20% of their time on non-specific projects, as Google does. If so, I’d encourage you to take the opportunity to fbuild Webmentions support for one or more platforms—let’s spread the love and democratize communication on the web as fast as we can!

And if you already have a major social platform but don’t want to completely open up to sending and receiving Webmentions, consider using Webmention functionality as a simple post API. I could easily see services like Twitter, Mastodon, or Google+ supporting the receiving of Webmentions, combined with a simple parsing mechanism to allow Webmention senders to publish syndicated content on their platform. There are already several services like IndieNews, with Hacker News-like functionality, that allow posting to them via Webmention.

If you have problems or questions, I’d recommend joining the IndieWeb chat room online via IRC, web interface, Slack, or Matrix to gain access to further hints, pointers, and resources for implementing a particular Webmention solution.

The expansion of Webmentions

The big question many will now have is Will the traditional social media walled gardens like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like support the Webmention specification?

At present, they don’t, and many may never do so. After all, locking you into their services is enabling them to leverage your content and your interactions to generate income. However, I suspect that if one of the major social platforms enabled sending/receiving Webmentions, it would dramatically disrupt the entire social space.

In the meantime, if your site already has Webmentions enabled, then congratulations on joining the next revolution in web communication! Just make sure you advertise the fact by using a button or badge. You can download a copy here.

Categories: Technology

Apple previews new emoji coming in iOS 12

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 01:11

After all of the news from yesterday, and indeed the past week, I think we all deserve an escape from reality.  Fortunately, Apple has some nice pictures for us to look at.  To celebrate World Emoji Day today, Apple is previewing some of the new emoji characters which will be a part of iOS 12 this Fall.  The ideas for new emoji are considered and approved by the Unicode Consortium, and the new emoji in iOS 12 come from the Consortium's Emoji Version 11.0, approved earlier this year.  The Consortium has general rules on what each emoji is supposed to look like, but each company has a lot of flexibility in the specific designs, which is why emoji can look different on iPhone, Android, your computer, etc.  As always, the designers at Apple have done a really nice job with these.

First, we have a male and female superhero, the infinity symbol, and a Nazar Amulet (which Emojipedia explains is an "eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the 'evil eye'" and which is common in Turkey:

Next we have a parrot, lobster, kangaroo, and peacock, which are some of the new animals in iOS 12 (along with a racoon, llamo, hippotamus, badger, swan, and mosquito):

iOS 12 will include many more food items.  Here are leafy green, mango, moon cake (a Chinese pastry), and cupcake.  Other new food items will include a bagel and salt.

There are new faces in iOS 12.  Here are partying face, pleading face, cold face, and smiling face with three hearts.  The other new faces are hot face and woozy face.

The new emoji also contain more hair options for both sexes:  red hair, curly hair, bald, and white hair, each of which is presented in a generic format plus five different skin tones.  For example, here are larger versions of the six different versions of the new female with red hair:

Here are all of the new hairstyles and colors:

Of course, if you have a new iPhone such as an iPhone X, you will also be able to use Apple's new Memoji feature to create an emoji that looks like yourself.  To show this off, Apple has changed the page of the Apple website that shows the faces of Apple's executives, and today instead of photographs it includes Memoji.  Look at the page for all of the new faces, but here are some of them:

There are also new objects in iOS 12.  Here are yarn, softball, and test tube.  Other new objects include compass, brick, skateboard, luggage, firecracker, red gift envelope, flying disc, lacrosse, jigsaw, teddy bear, chess pawn, abacus, receipt, toolbox, magnet, petri dish, DNA, fire extinguisher, lotion bottle, thread, safety pin, broom, basket, roll of toilet paper, soap, sponge and pirate flag.


In all, Apple says that there are over 70 new emoji characters.  However, according to Emojipedia, the actual number is closer to 150 when gender and skin tone are taken into account.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 01:27

I know that I talk about password managers frequently, but that's because I think that in this day and age of new security concerns every week, having unique and complicated passwords is a critical primary defense between your confidential information and the bad guys.  There is a slight learning curve when you first start using a password manager, but trust me, you are smart enough to figure it out.  And if you use a service that offers a family plan, you can share some passwords with your spouse and other friends and family while keeping other passwords private to you.  Geoffrey Fowler of the Washington Post agrees with me and recommends that you use a password manager.  He prefers Dashlane, but also recommends 1Password (my favorite) and LastPass.  Password managers are going to be even easier to use on the iPhone and iPad when iOS 12 comes out in a few months because they will be more integrated, reducing the number of times that you need to open the password manager app to copy a password and then switch back to the previous app to paste it.  If you are not using a password manager yet, you could wait until iOS 12 comes out, but I recommend that you get one now and start to enter all of your current passwords and secure information (which takes time to do, but fortunately you only have to do it once) and that way you will be ready when iOS 12 comes out.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • I enjoyed listening to the latest episode of Brett Burney's Apps in Law podcast.  He talks with Pennsylvania attorney Evan Kline, and they discuss the DEVONthink app.  (Evan Kline was one of the folks who did the awesome Galactic Empire v. Han Solo CLE that I discussed a few years ago.)
  • Burney also posted a video in which he discusses version 4.5 of iAnnotate, a PDF annotation and file management app, which I reviewed back in 2013.  As Burney notes, one of the neatest features of iAnnotate is that you can customize the toolbar to just include the tools that make the most sense for your practice.
  • Yesterday, Thomson Reuters announced the next generation of Westlaw, which will be called Westlaw Edge.  Law librarian Jean O'Grady did a good job of describing all of the new features of Westlaw Edge in a post on her Dewey B Strategic blog.  She notes that there will be a new iOS app.  (Note that Westlaw is a current sponsor of iPhone J.D.)
  • If you use Quicken, the iPhone app should be getting new features soon.  Quicken CEO Eric Dunn announced yesterday that at the end of this month, Quicken will release "an all-new mobile app which works better, looks better, and does more than the existing app."
  • In light of the App Store celebrating its 10th anniversary this week, Alex Guyot of MacStories looks back at the last 10 years of apps.
  • Jonny Evans of Computerworld recommends some neat iCloud tips.
  • Trevor Daugherty of 9to5Toys recommends portable Apple Watch chargers for travel.  My travel solution is to just bring a USB charging cable with me (the one  that comes with the watch) along with an Anker PowerPort, which I use in my hotel room every night to charge my Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, etc.
  • When I was in college, I very much wanted a device like the iPhone, but that technology was far away.  Instead I used a Sharp YO-620 electronic organizer, and I followed with much interest a company called General Magic, which was rumored to be working on something very neat in this product category.  The company itself didn't make it, but the folks who worked there went on to create lots of technology that we use every day.  Thus, I was interested to see a report by Stephen Silver of AppleInsider about a documentary about General Magic that first debuted earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.  His post includes the trailer.
  • And finally, Frederic van Strydonck created a really neat short film using an iPhone partially submerged underwater.  He calls it Spltch, and it is worth watching:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Review: AirFly by Twelve South -- use your AirPods with any headphone jack

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 02:19

Wireless headphones in general are very useful, but Apple's AirPods in particular are one of my all-time favorite gadgets.  I barely feel them in my ears, and they let me listen to music, podcasts and videos without any annoying cords hanging down my face.  To use AirPods, you need an iPhone or other device with Bluetooth.  What do you do if you want to use your AirPods to listen to audio coming from a headphone jack but Bluetooth is unavailable, such as an in-flight entertainment system on an airplane or the audio in a health club?  The clever folks at Twelve South developed the AirFly for this very situation.  Plug the AirFly into the headphone jack of the audio source, and then the AirFly uses Bluetooth to send the audio to your AirPods.  Twelve South sent me a free sample unit for review purposes, and this device is great.  The AirFly is a simple solution that works very well.

The hardware

The AirFly is smaller than the case that holds your AirPods.  It is 1.8" high, 1.3" wide, and has a depth of .4 inches.  And it weighs about a half an ounce — virtually nothing.  It comes with two small cords, a USB-to-Micro-USB cord that you use to charge the AirFly, and a small headphone cable.

It take two hours to fully charge the AirFly, and when fully charged the AirFly lasts about eight hours. 

There is a single button on the front of the AirFly, used to turn the unit on and off and for pairing.  There are two ports on the bottom:  Micro-USB for charging, and a headphone jack.

To make it easier to carry around the AirFly and the two cords, it comes with a small carrying pouch.

Connecting to the AirFly

To pair the AirFly to your AirPods for the first time, you hold down the button on the front of the AirFly for 10 seconds, then you hold down the white button on the back of the AirPods case.  But you only have to do this pairing the first time that you connect.  In the future, you can just turn on the AirFly and your AirPods will automatically connect.

To switch from using the AirFly to using your iPhone again, just hold down the button on the front of the AirFly for five seconds to turn the unit off.  Then open up the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone and tap AirPods to connect them again.  It is even easier to switch from the iPhone back to the AirFly; just turn on the AirFly by pressing that front button for five seconds, and your AirPods will automatically disconnect from your iPhone and connect to the AirFly.

Although the AirFly works great with Apple's AirPods, it can work with any Bluetooth headphones.

The AirFly uses Bluetooth version 4.1, so your AirPods can be about 30 feet away from the AirFly and still work — pretty much the same range that I get when using my AirPods with my iPhone.

Connecting to an audio source

With a name like "AirFly" you can tell that Twelve South thinks that most folks will want to use this device on an airplane.  However, I didn't have any flights during the past few weeks so I wasn't able to test them which I was in flight.

Instead, I turned back the clock to the Fall of 2005.  Think back to a time before the iPhone when the iPod was still all the rage, and larger Apple Stores even featured an iPod Bar:

The Fifth Generation iPod was the hottest new model, large enough to hold 15,000 songs and also display 25,000 photos and 150 hours of video on its huge (for its time) 2" x 1.5" color screen.

Bluetooth headphones were just starting to hit the market at the time — Stephen Regenold reported in Popular Science on September 29, 2005 that Wireless Headphones are Finally Here, but I didn't know anyone using Bluetooth headphones back them, and certainly nothing as small and innovative as the AirPods.

I pulled my old iPod out of retirement so that it could act as an audio source.  I plugged one end of the headphone cord into the AirFly and plugged the other end in into the iPod.  Within a few seconds, I was listening to songs from my old iPod using my new AirPods, and the music sounded great. 

It was so incredibly freeing to be able to walk anywhere around the room and continue to listen to my iPod.  The 2005 version of myself would have loved using the AirFly and AirPods.  I listened to songs on my old iPod for a long time, and it was actually fun to use a device with a click wheel again.

I also tried the AirFly with other devices in my house with headphone jacks, and it worked great every time.  Look around your own house or office and I'm sure that you will see audio sources that have a headphone jack but don't support Bluetooth.  An iPod, a stereo system, a record player, a TV, a radio, a portable gaming system, an older computer, a portable DVD player ... if it has a headphone jack, the AirFly will make it work with your AirPods.

Conclusion

A few hours after I took the above photo of my old iPod with the AirFly attached, I went back to play with it some more, and it looks like the screen on the iPod finally died.  I tried all of the old tricks for restarting an iPod to no avail.  While it is sad to say goodbye to an iPod that I used almost every day for so many years,  I'm glad that I had one last chance to use it.  Thanks to the AirFly, I was able to give that old iPod a taste of the future.  Perhaps one day, airplane entertainment systems and other devices will all include native Bluetooth support.  But until that day comes, the AirFly is a perfect way to use a headphone jack with AirPods.

Click here to get AirFly from Amazon ($39.99)

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Apple releases iOS 11.4.1 with Exchange and security improvements

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 01:03

Yesterday, Apple released an update to iOS, the operating system for the iPhone and iPad.  The version number change — 11.4 to 11.4.1 — seems pretty minor, but there are two features in here that I think will be of interest to many attorneys.

First, iOS 11.4.1 improves reliability of syncing mail, contacts and notes with Microsoft Exchange accounts.  I know that a large number of law firms use Exchange (and Outlook on the PC or Mac), and thus lots of attorneys use an iPhone and iPad with Exchange.  I certainly do.  Most of the time it works great, but I have had syncing issues in the past, and indeed I encountered one just last week.  There was a contact on my iPhone who did not appear in Outlook on my PC.  I don't know what caused it, and the only solution I came up with was to create a new entry in Outlook on my PC and let that sync automatically to my iPhone, and then delete the former entry on my iPhone so that I didn't have a duplicate.  Hopefully this update will fix these sorts of problems in the future.

Second, iOS 11.4.1 increases security.  This is true of every iOS update, and I'm sure that there are lots of ways that iOS 11.4.1 is more secure, but there is one that is notable.  I mentioned on June 15 that when iOS 12 comes out this Fall, it will include support for USB Restricted Mode.  See that post for more details, but in short, this mode greatly reduces the risk that someone can take your iPhone and plug it into a hardware device that is designed to crack your password by preventing such a device from working if it has been more than an hour since your iPhone was locked.  Who has these devices?  We know that some law enforcement agencies use a device called GrayKey, but if some of the "good guys" have it, then I'm sure that there are some "bad guys" who have similar devices that are used for hacking purposes which are contrary to the public good — and perhaps contrary to the interest of you and your client, because presumably you have confidential information on your iPhone or iPad protected by the attorney-client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine.  If one of these bad actors steal your iPhone or iPad and then connect it to one of these devices quickly enough, maybe they still have a chance of cracking your iPhone, but hopefully there will not be enough time.

It turns out that not only is this feature in iOS 12, it is also in iOS 11 thanks to iOS 11.4.1.  I installed this update on my iPhone and iPad last night and the feature seems to work well.  To test it, I unlocked my iPad using my thumb print, then I waited for an hour, and then I connected it via a USB cable to my home computer running iTunes.  In the past, the iPad just showed up in iTunes.  But after installing iOS 11.4.1, when I connected my iPad to my computer more than an hour after I last unlocked it, I saw an alert on the iPad's lock screen telling me that I had to unlock my iPad before I could use an accessory:

Although USB Restricted Mode is enabled by default in iOS 11.4.1, you can turn it off if you want.  In the Settings app, tap on Face ID & Passcode if you have an iOS X, or Touch ID & Passcode if you have an earlier device, and then enter your passcode.  On the next screen — the same place where you teach your iPhone your face or your fingerprint — scroll down to the very bottom.  The second to last setting is called USB Accessories.  Just below it is an explanation of what this new setting does.  When switched to the off position, which is the default, you have greater security.  If you switch it on, then you are saying that you are allowing your iPhone to be connected to USB devices even if it has been more than an hour since the iPhone was last unlocked.  It is a little counter-intuitive to have increased security when something is turned off, so that's why I wanted to mention this.

 

Apple released more information on how this new mode works in this post.  Note that you can still plug in a power adapter to charge your iPhone or iPad without needing to enter your passcode after an hour.  However, Apple warns that there may be some other devices which might not pass a charge unless you first enter your passcode. 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 23:33

On July 10, 2008, Apple opened the App Store, stocked with 500 apps.  There are now over two million apps in the App Store.  I wasn't planning on talking about the 10th anniversary of the App Store until next week, but yesterday Apple released an interesting "feature" story about the ten years of the App Store, and it is a great read.  This isn't just a boring press release; it is a detailed story featuring quotes from lots of individuals who have had something to do with the App Store's success.  And now, the other news of note from the past week:

  • Malcom Owen of AppleInsider explains why the 10.5" iPad Pro is a great iPad to use when getting work done.  For most attorneys, that probably is the best iPad to get, but I really like the 12.9" size and I can't imagine ever wanting to go back to a smaller size.
  • British defense secretary Gavin Williamson was speaking to the House of Commons when Siri started talking too — probably triggered when he mentioned Syria.  The resulting short video is amusing, posted by Malcolm Owen of AppleInsider.
  • Apple is rebuilding the maps in its Maps app.  Matthew Panzarino of Tech Crunch talked to a number of folks at Apple and has all of the details.
  • Bradley Chambers of 9to5Mac reviews some of the best password managers for iOS and macOS.
  • Andrew O'Hara of AppleInsider reviews the Olloclip for iPhone X, an external lens system.
  • If you access Twitter using a third party app like Twitterific or Tweetbot, you are going to start losing some features next month.  Peter Cao of 9to5Mac explains why.
  • My favorite weather app, CARROT Weather, was updated this week to add new map layers.  Ryan Christoffel of MacStories explains what is new.
  • Ed Hardy of Cult of Mac reports that the iPhone 8 is currently the best-selling smartphone in the world.
  • In iOS 12, third party apps will be able to work with CarPlay.  Sygic plans to offer offline maps, useful if you are traveling without a data signal, as reported by CarPlay Life.
  • And finally, is it worth it to get an unlimited data plan from your cellphone carrier?  I use the AT&T unlimited plan (which I described in this post), and I think that it makes sense for my family, but your situation may be different.  Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal teamed up with competitive eater Carmen Cincotti to show to talk about when the plans do and don't make sense (video link):

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Order Out of Chaos: Patterns of Organization for Writing on the Job

A list Apart development site - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 09:18

A few years ago, a former boss of mine emailed me out of the blue and asked for a resource that would help him and his colleagues organize information more effectively. Like a dutiful friend, I sent him links to a few articles and the names of some professional writing books. And I qualified my answer with that dreaded disclaimer: “Advice varies widely depending on the situation.” Implication: “You’ll just have to figure out what works best for you. So, good luck!”

In retrospect, I could have given him a better answer. Much like the gestalt principles of design that underpin so much of what designers do, there are foundational principles and patterns of organization that are relevant to any professional who must convey technical information in writing, and you can adapt these concepts to bring order out of chaos whether or not you’re a full-time writer.

.row{margin:0 132px 24px}.col ol,.col ul{margin-left:40px}.row:after{clear:left;content:"";display:block}.col{float:left;width:50%}.col ul{list-style-type:disc}.col ul li{margin-bottom:9px}@media only screen and (max-width:37.5em){.row{margin:0 0 24px}.col{float:none;width:100%}.col+.col{margin-top:24px}} Recognize the primary goals: comprehension and performance

Not long after I wrote my response, I revisited a book I’d read in college: Technical Editing, by Carolyn D. Rude. In my role as a technical writer, I reference the book every now and then for practical advice on revising software documentation. This time, as I reviewed the chapter on organization, I realized that Rude explained the high-level goals and principles better than any other author I’d read up to that point.

In short, she says that whether you are outlining a procedure, describing a product, or announcing a cool new feature, a huge amount of writing in the workplace is aimed at comprehension (here’s what X is and why you should care) and performance (here’s how to do X). She then suggests that editors choose from two broad kinds of order to support these goals: content-based order and task-based order. The first refers to structures that guide readers from major sections to more detailed sections to facilitate top-down learning; the second refers to structures of actions that readers need to carry out. Content-based orders typically start with nouns, whereas task-based orders typically begin with verbs.

Content-Based Order Example

Product Overview

  • Introduction
  • Features
    • Feature 1
    • Feature 2
    • Feature n
  • Contact
  • Support

Task-Based Order Example

User Guide (WordPress)

  • Update your title and tagline
  • Pick a theme you love
  • Add a header or background
  • Add a site icon
  • Add a widget

Of course, not all writing situations fall neatly into these buckets. If you were to visit Atlassian’s online help content, you would see a hybrid of content-based topics at the first level and task-based topics within them. The point is that as you begin to think about your organization, you should ask yourself:

  • Which of the major goals of organization (comprehension or performance) am I trying to achieve?
  • And which broad kind of order will help me best achieve those goals?

This is still pretty abstract, so let’s consider the other principles from Carolyn Rude, but with a focus on how a writer rather than an editor should approach the task of organization.1

Steal like an organizer: follow pre-established document structures

In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argues that smart artists don’t actually create anything new but rather collect inspiring ideas from specific role models, and produce work that is profoundly shaped by them.

“If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original,” he writes, “we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.”

The same principle applies to the art of organization. To “steal like an organizer” means to look at what other people have written and to identify and follow pre-established structures that may apply to your situation. Doing so not only saves time and effort but also forces you to remember that your audience may already expect a particular pattern—and experience cognitive dissonance if they don’t get it.

You are probably familiar with more pre-established structures than you think. News reports follow the inverted pyramid. Research reports often adhere to some form of the IMRAD structure (Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion). Instruction manuals typically have an introductory section followed by tasks grouped according to the typical sequence a user would need to follow. Even troubleshooting articles tend to have a standard structure of Problem, Cause, and Solution.

All this may sound like common sense, and yet many writers entirely skip this process of adapting pre-made structures. I can understand the impulse. When you face a blank screen, it feels simpler to capture the raw notes and organize it all later. That approach can certainly help you get into the flow, but it may also result in an ad hoc structure that fails to serve readers who are less familiar with your material.

Instead, when you begin the writing process, start by researching available templates or pre-made structures that could support your situation. Standard word processors and content management systems already contain some good templates, and it’s easy to search for others online. Your fellow writers and designers are also good resources. If you’re contributing to a series of documents at your organization, you should get familiar with the structure of that series and learn how to work within it. Or you can do some benchmarking and steal some ideas from how other companies structure similar content.

My team once had to do our own stealing for a major project that affected about half our company. We needed to come up with a repeatable structure for standard operating procedures (SOPs) that any employee could use to document a set of tasks. Knowing SOPs to be a well-established genre, we found several recommended structures online and in books, and came up with a list of common elements. We then decided which ones to steal and arranged them into a sequence that best suited our audience. We made out like bandits.

Structural SOP Elements We Found Our Assessment Overview Steal Roles Involved Steal Dependencies Steal Estimated Level of Effort Nah, too hard to calculate and maintain. Process Diagram Meh, kind of redundant, not to mention a lot of work. No thanks. Tasks Steal Task n Steal Task n Introduction Steal Task n Responsibility Steal Task n Steps Steal See Also Steal

But what if there is no pre-established pattern? Or what if a pattern exists, but it’s either too simple or too complex for what you’re trying to accomplish? Or what if it’s not as user-friendly as you would like?

There may indeed be cases where you need to develop a mostly customized structure, which can be daunting. But fear not! That’s where the other principles of organization come in.

Anticipate your readers’ questions (and maybe even talk to them)

Recently I had an extremely frustrating user experience. While consulting some documentation to learn about a new process, I encountered a series of web pages that gave no introduction and dove straight into undefined jargon and acronyms that I had never heard of. When I visited related pages to get more context, I found the same problem. There was no background information for a newbie like me. The writers failed in this case to anticipate my questions and instead assumed a great deal of prior knowledge.

Don’t make this mistake when you design your structure. Like a journalist, you need to answer the who, what, where, when, how, and why of your content, and then incorporate the answers in your structure. Anticipate common questions, such as “What is this? Where do I start? What must I know? What must I do?” This sort of critical reflection is all the more important when organizing web content, because users will almost certainly enter and exit your pages in nonlinear, unpredictable ways.

If possible, you should also meet with your readers, and gather information about what would best serve them. One simple technique you could try is to create a knowledge map, an annotated matrix of sorts that my team once built after asking various teams about their information priorities. On the left axis, we listed categories of information that we thought each team needed. Along the top axis, we listed a column for each team. We then gave team representatives a chance to rank each category and add custom categories we hadn’t included. (You can learn more about the process we followed in this video presentation.)

A knowledge map my team created after asking other teams which categories of information were most important to them.

The weakness of this approach is that it doesn’t reveal information that your audience doesn’t know how to articulate. To fill in this gap, I recommend running a few informal usability tests. But if you don’t have the time for that, building a knowledge map is better than not meeting with your readers at all, because it will help you discover structural ideas you hadn’t considered. Our knowledge map revealed multiple categories that were required across almost all teams—which, in turn, suggested a particular hierarchy and sequence to weave into our design.

Go from general to specific, familiar to new

People tend to learn and digest information best by going from general to specific, and familiar to new. By remembering this principle, which is articulated in the schema theory of learning, you can better conceptualize the structure you’re building. What are the foundational concepts of your content? They should appear in your introductory sections. What are the umbrella categories under which more detailed categories fall? The answer should determine which headings belong at the top and subordinate levels of your hierarchy. What you want to avoid is presenting new ideas that don’t flow logically from the foundational concepts and expectations that your readers bring to the table.

Consider the wikiHow article “How to Create a Dungeons and Dragons Character.” It begins by defining what Dungeons and Dragons is and explaining why you need to create a character before you can start playing the game.

Writers at wikiHow help readers learn by starting with general concepts before moving on to specifics.

The next section, “Part 1: Establishing the Basics,” guides the reader into subsequent foundational steps, such as deciding which version of the game to follow and printing out a character sheet. Later sections (“Selecting a gender and race,” “Choosing a class,” and “Calculating ability scores”) expand on these concepts to introduce more specific, unfamiliar ideas in an incremental fashion, leading readers up a gentle ramp into new territory.

Use conventional patterns to match structure to meaning

Within the general-to-specific/familiar-to-new framework, you can apply additional patterns of organization that virtually all humans understand. Whereas the pre-established document structures above are usually constructed for particular use cases or genres, other conventional patterns match more general mental models (or “schemas,” as the schema theory so elegantly puts it) that we use to make sense of the world. These patterns include chronological, spatial, comparison-contrast, cause-effect, and order of importance.

Chronological

The chronological pattern reveals time or sequence. It’s appropriate for things like instructions, process flows, progress reports, and checklists. In the case of instructions, the order of tasks on a page often implies (or explicitly states) the “proper” or most common sequence for a user to follow. The wikiHow article above, for example, offers a recommended sequence of tasks for beginner players. In the case of progress reports, the sections may be ordered according to the periods of time in which work was done, as in this sample outline from the book Reporting Technical Information, by Kenneth W. Houp et al.:

Beginning

  • Introduction
  • Summary of work completed

Middle

  • Work completed
    • Period 1 (beginning and end dates)
      • Description
      • Cost
    • Period 2 (beginning and end dates)

      • Description
      • Cost
  • Work remaining

    • Period 3 (or remaining periods)
      • Description of work to be done
      • Expected cost

End

  • Evaluation of work in this period
  • Conclusions and recommendations

The principles of organization listed in this article are in fact another example of the chronological pattern. As Carolyn Rude points out in her book, the principles are arranged as a sort of methodology to follow. Try starting at the top of the list and work your way down. You may find it to be a useful way to produce order out of the chaos before you.

Spatial

The spatial pattern refers to top-to-bottom, left-to-right structures of organization. This is a good pattern if you need to describe the components of an interface or a physical object.

Take a look at the neighbor comparison graph below, which is derived from a sample energy efficiency solution offered by Oracle Utilities. Customers who see this graph would most likely view it from top to bottom and left to right.

A neighbor comparison graph that shows a customer how they compare with their neighbors in terms of energy efficiency.

A detailed description of this feature would then describe each component in that same order. Here’s a sample outline:

  • Feature name
    • Title
    • Bar chart
      • Efficient neighbors
      • You
      • Average neighbors
    • Date range
    • Performance insight

      • Great
      • Good
      • Using more than average
    • Energy use insight
    • Comparison details (“You’re compared with 10 homes within 6 miles …”)
Comparison-contrast

The comparison-contrast pattern helps users weigh options. It’s useful when reporting the pros and cons of different decisions or comparing the attributes of two or more products or features. You see it often when you shop online and need to compare features and prices. It’s also a common pattern for feasibility studies or investigations that list options along with upsides and downsides.

Cause-effect

The cause-effect pattern shows relationships between actions and reactions. Writers often use it for things like troubleshooting articles, medical diagnoses, retrospectives, and root cause analyses. You can move from effect to cause, or cause to effect, but you should stick to one direction and use it consistently. For example, the cold and flu pages at Drugs.com follow a standard cause-effect pattern that incorporates logical follow-up sections such as “Prevention” and “Treatment”:

  • What Is It? (This section defines the illness and describes possible “causes.”)
  • Symptoms (This section goes into the “effects” of the illness.)
  • Diagnosis
  • Expected Duration
  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • When to Call a Professional
  • Prognosis

For another example, see the “Use parallel structure for parallel sections” section below, which shows what a software troubleshooting article might look like.

Order of importance

The order of importance pattern organizes sections and subsections of content according to priority or significance. It is common in announcements, marketing brochures, release notes, advice articles, and FAQs.

The order of importance pattern is perhaps the trickiest one to get right. As Carolyn Rude says, it’s not always clear what the most important information is. What should come in the beginning, middle, and end? Who decides? The answers will vary according to the author, audience, and purpose.

When writing release notes, for example, my team often debates which software update should come first, because we know that the decision will underscore the significance of that update relative to the others. FAQs by definition are focused on which questions are most common and thus most important, but the exact order will depend on what you perceive as being the most frequent or the most important for readers to know. (If you are considering writing FAQs, I recommend this great advice from technical writer Lisa Wright.)

Other common patterns

Alphabetical order is a common pattern that Rude doesn’t mention in detail but that you may find helpful for your situation. To use this pattern, you would simply list sections or headings based on the first letter of the first word of the heading. For example, alphabetical order is used frequently to list API methods in API documentation sites such as those for Flickr, Twitter, and Java. It is also common in glossaries, indexes, and encyclopedic reference materials where each entry is more or less given equal footing. The downside of this pattern is that the most important information for your audience may not appear in a prominent, findable location. Still, it is useful if you have a large and diverse set of content that defies simple hierarchies and is referenced in a non-linear, piecemeal fashion.

Group related material

Take a look at the lists below. Which do you find easier to scan and digest?

  1. Settle on a version of D&D.
  2. Print a character sheet, if desired.
  3. Select a gender and race.
  4. Choose a class.
  5. Name your character.
  6. Identify the main attributes of your character.
  7. Roll for ability scores.
  8. Assign the six recorded numbers to the six main attributes.
  9. Use the “Point Buy” system, alternatively.
  10. Generate random ability scores online.
  11. Record the modifier for each ability.
  12. Select skills for your character.
  13. List your character’s feats.
  14. Roll for your starting gold.
  15. Equip your character with items.
  16. Fill in armor class and combat bonuses.
  17. Paint a picture of your character.
  18. Determine the alignment of your character.
  19. Play your character in a campaign.

Part 1: Establishing the Basics

  1. Settle on a version of D&D.
  2. Print a character sheet, if desired.
  3. Select a gender and race.
  4. Choose a class.
  5. Name your character.

Part 2: Calculating Ability Scores

  1. Identify the main attributes of your character.
  2. Roll for ability scores.
  3. Assign the six recorded numbers to the six main attributes.
  4. Use the “Point Buy” system, alternatively.
  5. Generate random ability scores online.
  6. Record the modifier for each ability.

Part 3: Equipping Skills, Feats, Weapons, and Armor

  1. Select skills for your character.
  2. List your character’s feats.
  3. Roll for your starting gold.
  4. Equip your character with items.
  5. Fill in armor class and combat bonuses.

Part 4: Finishing Your Character

  1. Paint a picture of your character.
  2. Determine the alignment of your character.
  3. Play your character in a campaign.

(Source: wikiHow: How to Create a Dungeons and Dragons Character.)

If you chose the second list, that is probably because the writers relied on a widely used organizational technique: grouping.

Grouping is the process of identifying meaningful categories of information and putting information within those categories to aid reader comprehension. Grouping is especially helpful when you have a long, seemingly random list of information that could benefit from an extra layer of logical order. An added benefit of grouping is that it may reveal where you have gaps in your content or where you have mingled types of content that don’t really belong together.

To group information effectively, first analyze your content and identify the discrete chunks of information you need to convey. Then tease out which chunks fall within similar conceptual buckets, and determine what intuitive headings or labels you can assign to those buckets. Writers do this when creating major and minor sections within a book or printed document. For online content, grouping is typically done at the level of articles or topics within a web-based system, such as a wiki or knowledge base. The Gmail Help Center, for example, groups topics within categories like “Popular articles,” “Read & organize emails,” and “Send emails.”

It’s possible to go overboard here. Too many headings in a short document or too many topics in a small help system can add unnecessary complexity. I once faced the latter scenario when I reviewed a help system written by one of my colleagues. At least five of the topics were so short that it made more sense to merge them together on a single page rather than forcing the end user to click through to separate pages. I’ve also encountered plenty of documents that contain major section headings with only one or two sentences under them. Sometimes this is fine; you may need to keep those sections for the sake of consistency. But it’s worth assessing whether such sections can simply be merged together (or conversely, whether they should be expanded to include more details).

Because of scenarios like these, Carolyn Rude recommends keeping the number of groupings to around seven, give or take a few—though, as always, striking the right balance ultimately depends on your audience and purpose, as well as the amount of information you have to manage.

Use parallel structure for parallel sections

One of the reasons Julius Caesar’s phrase “I came, I saw, I conquered” still sticks in our memory after thousands of years is the simple fact of parallelism. Each part of the saying follows a distinct, repetitive grammatical form that is easy to recall.

Parallelism works in a similar manner with organization. By using a consistent and repetitive structure across types of information that fit in the same category, you make it easier for your readers to navigate and digest your content.

Imagine you’re writing a troubleshooting guide in which all the topics follow the same basic breakdown: Problem Title, Problem, Cause, Solution, and See Also. In this case, you should make sure that each topic includes those same headings, in the exact same hierarchy and sequence, and using the exact same style and formatting. This kind of parallelism delivers a symmetry that reduces the reader’s cognitive load and clarifies the relationships of each part of your content. Deviations from the pattern not only cause confusion but can undermine the credibility of the content.

Do This

ABC Troubleshooting Guide

  • Introduction
  • Problem 1 Title
    • Problem
    • Cause
    • Solution
    • See Also
  • Problem 2 Title

    • Problem
    • Cause
    • Solution
    • See Also
  • Problem 3 Title

    • ...
  • Don’t Do This

    ABC Troubleshooting Guide

    • Introduction
    • Problem 1 Title
      • Problem
      • Root causes
      • How to Fix it
      • Advanced Tips and tricks
      • Related
    • Problem 2 title

      • Issue
      • Steps to Fix
      • Why did this happen, and how can I avoid it next time?
      • See also
    • Problem 3 title

      • ...

    This last principle is probably the easiest to grasp but may be the most difficult to enforce, especially if you are managing contributions from multiple authors. Templates and style guides are useful here because they invite authors to provide standard inputs, but you will still need to watch the content like a hawk to squash the inconsistencies that inevitably emerge.

    Conclusion

    In one sense, my response to my former boss was accurate. Given the endless variety of writing situations, there is no such thing as a single organization solution. But saying that “advice varies widely depending on the situation” doesn’t tell the whole story. There are flexible patterns and principles that can guide you in finding, customizing, and creating structures for your goals.

    The key thing to remember is that structure affects meaning. The sequence of information, the categories you use, the emphasis you imply through your hierarchy—all of these decisions impact how well your audience understands what you write. Your ideal structure should therefore reinforce what you mean to say.

    Footnotes
    • 1. The principles in this article are based on the same ones that Carolyn Rude outlines in chapter 17, pp. 289–296, of the third edition of her book. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of editing. The book is now in its fifth edition and includes an additional author, Angela Eaton. See Technical Editing (Fifth Edition) for details. The examples and illustrations used in this article are derived from a variety of other sources, including my own work.
Categories: Technology

Review: LA Wallet -- digital version of your Louisiana driver's license on your iPhone

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 18:33

Has this ever happened to you — you grab your iPhone and keys and jump in your car to go somewhere, only to realize after you start driving that you forgot to pick up your wallet or purse, and thus you don't have your driver's license with you.  As a result, you spend the rest of your trip praying that you don't get pulled over for any reason.  You could just take a picture of your license and keep that on your iPhone, but that isn't going to be legally valid.  The only real solution is a digital version of your driver's license which is valid under state law.  Louisiana, where I live, was the first state to roll out a digital driver's license on July 3, 2018, and a few other states are working on similar initiatives.  The app that you use in Louisiana is called LA Wallet.

Announcing the app earlier this week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said:  "Most people never leave home without their smartphone and with this App, they will never be without their driver’s license.  State Police requested a 'hands-off' and 'no-touch' procedure that would not require them to hold a driver’s phone.  Rep. Ted James who authored the legislation that led to the creation of this App is to be commended for his work as well as the team of Louisianans who designed it."

The law

Before discussing the app, let's briefly address the statute that makes this app possible.  In Louisiana, and I imagine in virtually every other jurisdiction in the world, you need a driver's license with you when you are driving a car.  In Louisiana, that law can be found in La. R.S. § 32:411.  Act No. 625 of 2016 amended that statute to add language saying that you can either have a license or a digital license when you are driving.  The current law provides, with the new language in bold and underlined:  "The licensee shall have his license, or a digitized driver's license as provided in this Section, in his immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle and shall display it upon demand of any officer or agent of the department or any police officer of the state, parish, or municipality..."  La. R.S. § 32:411(F)(1).

The law then goes on to provide what constitutes a valid digital driver's license.  The law specifically provides that it is not enough to just have a picture of your driver's license.  See La. R.S. § 32:411(F)(3)(b) ("A digital copy, photograph, or image of a driver's license which is not downloaded through the application on a mobile device shall not be a valid digitized driver's license as provided by this Section.")  Instead, a legal digital driver's license in Louisiana must be displayed in an app that meets certain requirements, including the ability to connect to the La. Department of Public Safety via the Internet to confirm that the digital driver's license is currently valid. 

The law also provides that, for now, a digital driver's license is only valid during a traffic stop or a checkpoint.  If you need to provide your license for some other reason, such as proving your identity to TSA to board an airplane or to prove that you are of legal drinking age at a bar, for now at least the digital driver's license is not enough.  But there are efforts underway to expand the acceptance of a Louisiana digital driver's license.

If you show your iPhone to a police officer, does that mean that you have consented for the police officer to look at other apps on your iPhone?  The statute explicitly says no:  "The display of a digitized driver's license shall not serve as consent or authorization for a law enforcement officer, or any other person, to search, view, or access any other data or application on the mobile device."  La. R.S. § 32:411(F)(3)(e).  Moreover, once the officer looks at your digital driver's license, the officer is required by law to return your iPhone to you.  "If a person presents their mobile device to a law enforcement officer for purposes of displaying their digitized driver's license, the law enforcement officer shall promptly return the mobile device to the person once he has had an opportunity to verify the identity and license status of the person."  Id.

Here are all of the statutory requirements associated with a digital driver's license in Louisiana, contained in La. R.S. § 32:411(F)(3):

(a) For the purposes of this Subsection, a digitized driver's license shall mean a data file available on any mobile device which has connectivity to the internet through an application that allows the mobile device to download the data file from the department or an authorized representative of the department, contains all of the data elements visible on the face and back of the license, and also displays the current status of the license. For the purposes of this Subparagraph, "current status" shall include but is not limited to valid, expired, cancelled, suspended, disqualified, hardship, or interlock hardship status.

(b) A digital copy, photograph, or image of a driver's license which is not downloaded through the application on a mobile device shall not be a valid digitized driver's license as provided by this Section.

(c) A person shall not be issued a citation for driving a motor vehicle without a physical driver's license in his possession if he presents a digitized driver's license to a law enforcement officer in connection with a traffic stop or checkpoint in Louisiana. However, in connection with requests for identification not associated with traffic stops or checkpoints in Louisiana, a person may be required to produce a physical driver's license to a law enforcement officer, a representative of a state or federal department or agency, or a private entity when so requested and be subject to all the applicable laws and consequences for failure to produce such license.

(d) The department shall promulgate such rules as are necessary to implement a digitized driver's license. No digitized driver's license shall be valid until the department has adopted such rules.

(e) The display of a digitized driver's license shall not serve as consent or authorization for a law enforcement officer, or any other person, to search, view, or access any other data or application on the mobile device. If a person presents their mobile device to a law enforcement officer for purposes of displaying their digitized driver's license, the law enforcement officer shall promptly return the mobile device to the person once he has had an opportunity to verify the identity and license status of the person.

(f) The fee to install the application to display a digitized driver's license as defined in Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph shall not exceed six dollars.

As I noted above, digital driver's licenses are coming to other states too.  Just a few days ago, William Petroski reported in the Des Moines Register that Iowa is working out the details of its digital driver's license, which is expected to debut in 2019.  Iowa, Colorado, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Wyoming are working with a company called Gemalto, which received a $2 million grant from the federal NIST to design and test a digital driver's license.

The LA Wallet app

Currently, the only digital driver's license app in Louisiana is an app called LA Wallet, although I imagine that others could make similar apps as long as they meet the requirements of the statute.  When you start the app you are asked to provide an email address and create a password so that you have an account with Envoc, the Louisiana-based company that created the app. Next, you need to create a four-digit PIN, which you will have to enter every time you open the LA Wallet app.

Next, you add your driver's license to the app by supplying your full name, your driver's license number, and your audit code (a four-digit number on the front of every Louisiana driver's license).  Although the LA Wallet app is free, you need to pay $5.99 to download a digital license.  That $5.99 will cover you until you get a new driver's license.  (In Louisiana, a license is good for up to six years.)

That's it.  Now, when you open the app, you enter your PIN, and then the app shows you the main screen:

Tap on the small image of your license to bring up the full view:

A high-quality digital version of your full driver's license is displayed.  The app determines whether your license is valid and displays that clearly along the top — a large green bar if it is valid.  I'm not sure how often the app normally checks (it did it several times on its own during my testing) but you can always tap the Refresh button to force it to check.  You can tap the View button to switch between a graphical version of your license and just the key information in large, plain text.

I cannot say that I fully tested this app because I haven't yet used it when I was pulled over for a traffic stop or a random checkpoint.  And if I never get a chance to conduct that sort of "test" that would be fine with me.  But it certainly looks like this app does everything that it says.

Conclusion

Spending $6 for up to six years of never having to worry about forgetting my driver's license when I am driving seems like a pretty good deal to me.  And as noted above, the legal uses of this app may expand in the future, which might be helpful for folks younger than me who are frequently carded at a bar but may not always have a physical license.

I like the idea of moving away from physical cards.  I can already walk to many stores with nothing more than my iPhone or Apple Watch, using Apple Pay to pay for my purchases.  (I actually just did that yesterday morning to pick up a few groceries.)  Thanks to the LA Wallet app, now I can also drive to those stores, or anywhere else in Louisiana, without having to worry about having my wallet which contains my driver's license.

If you live in Louisiana, I encourage you to get the LA Wallet app.  If you live elsewhere, hopefully you will soon have a similar iPhone app that you can use.

Click here to get LA Wallet (free): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Building a SAN-less private cloud with IBM PowerVM and IBM PowerVC

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redpaper, last updated: Fri, 29 Jun 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication describes a software-defined infrastructure (SDI) Solution with PowerVC.

Categories: Technology

Db2 Utilities in Practice

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Fri, 29 Jun 2018

As IBM® continues to enhance the functionality, performance, and availability of IBM Db2®, the utilities have made significant strides towards self-management.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 23:59

What products will Apple announce this Fall?  I presume that there will be a new iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, but it is difficult to know for sure what features will be included.  However, Michael Simon of Macworld has some predictions based on a pretty reliable source — Apple itself.  Now that the beta version of iOS 12 is out, Simon makes some informed guesses about upcoming hardware based upon what is contained in that beta software.  For example, ever since the iPad came out in 2010, the time has been displayed at the top center of the screen.  The same used to be true of the iPhone too, but Apple moved the time to the side when the iPhone X was released with its new camera — and thus a notch — at the top center.  In the beta version of iOS 12, the iPad similarly moves the time away from the center, and Simon predicts that this is to make way for a camera and a notch, just like the iPhone.  This would allow folks to use Animoji and Memoji on the iPad, so this strikes me as a reasonable guess.  For the rest of Simon's predictions based on what is in the beta version of iOS 12, click here.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • On the Lit Software blog, the company discusses how California family law attorney Cari Pines uses TrialPad, TranscriptPad and DocReviewPad in her law practice.
  • Massachusetts attorney Robert Ambrogi discusses the 25th anniversary of the PDF file format.  I started practicing law 24 years ago, so PDFs have always been a part of my law practice, although they were only a minor part at first.  Ever since I started using an iPad in 2010, PDFs have been an essential part of my law practice.
  • Jack Nicas of the New York Times reports that Apple and Samsung have settled their seven-year legal fight over smartphone patents.
  • Over the past two weeks, I've reviewed two products (Eve Motion, Eve Degree) made by Elgato as a part of its Eve line of smarthome products.  The company announced Wednesday that it has decided to go all-in on HomeKit-compatible smarthome products.  It is selling all of its non-Eve products (including its gaming business) to Corsair, and the company is changing its name to Eve Systems.  I look forward to this increased focus on HomeKit technology and I hope that it results in even more great products for iPhone owners.
  • Mike Matthews reviews the Honeywell Lyric Controller, a home security system which is compatible with Apple's HomeKit technology.
  • Rene Ritchie of iMore wrote a detailed preview of what is new in the upcoming iOS 12.
  • Federico Viticci of MacStories shares some of his favorite somewhat obscure features of the upcoming iOS 12.
  • If AT&T is your cellphone carrier, you are now paying an additional $1.33 every month.  Nick Statt of The Verge explains why.
  • And finally, this week Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed at Fortune's CEO Initiative by Fortune executive editor Adam Lashinsky.  Chance Miller of 9to5Mac has a good summary of the interview, or you can watch the full video on YouTube.  The interview includes lots of interesting information about Apple, and the positions that Apple has taken on issues ranging from education to privacy to social issues to the environment:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Your Emails (and Recipients) Deserve Better Context

A list Apart development site - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 09:05

Email communication is an integral part of the user experience for nearly every web application that requires a login. It’s also one of the first interactions the user has after signing up. Yet too often both the content and context of these emails is treated as an afterthought (at best), with the critical parts that users see first—sender name and email, subject, and preheader—largely overlooked. Your users, and the great application you’ve just launched, deserve better.

A focus on recipient experience

Designing and implementing a great email recipient experience is difficult. And by the time it comes to the all-important context elements (name, subject, and so on), it’s commonly left up to the developer to simply fill something in and move on. That’s a shame, because these elements play an outsized role in the email experience, being not only the first elements seen but also the bits recipients use to identify emails when searching through their archives. Given the frequency with which they touch users, it really is time we started spending a little more effort to fine-tune them.

The great news is that despite the constraints imposed on these elements, they’re relatively easy to improve, and they can have a huge impact on engagement, open rates, and recipient satisfaction. When they all work together, sender name and email, subject, and preheader provide a better experience for your recipients.

So whether you’re a developer stuck fixing such oversights and winging it, or on the design or marketing team responsible for making the decisions, use the following guide to improve your recipient’s experience. And, if possible, bring it up with your whole team so it’s always a specific requirement in the future.

Details that matter

As they say, the devil is in the details, and these details matter. Let’s start with a quick example that highlights a few common mistakes.

In the image below, the sender is unnecessarily repeated within the subject, wasting key initial subject characters, while the subjects themselves are all exactly the same. This makes it difficult to tell one email from the next, and the preview content doesn’t help much either since the only unique information it provides is the date (which is redundant alongside the email’s time stamp). The subject copy could be more concise as well—“Payment Successfully Processed” is helpful, but it’s a bit verbose.

Avoid redundancy and make your sender name, subject, and preheaders work together. Periscope repeats the sender name, and doesn’t provide unique or relevant information in the subject or preheader.

Outside of the sender and the dates on the emails, there’s not much useful information until you open the email itself. Fortunately, none of these things are particularly difficult to fix. Weather Underground provides a great example of carefully crafted emails. The subject conveys the most useful information without even requiring the recipient to open the email. In addition, their strategic use of emojis helps complement that information with a very rich, yet judicious, use of subject-line space.

Weather Underground does a great job with the sender and even front-loads the subject with the most valuable bit of information. The date is included, but it’s at the end of the subject.

Weather Underground also makes use of Gmail Inbox Actions to provide a direct link to the key information online without needing a recipient to open the email to follow a link. Gmail Inbox Actions require some extra work to set up and only work in Gmail, but they can be great if you’re sending high volumes of email.

Both scenarios involve recurring emails with similar content from one to the next, but the difference is stark. With just a little effort and fine-tuning, the resulting emails are much more useful to the recipients. Let’s explore how this is done.

Emphasizing unique content for recurring emails

With the earlier examples, both organizations are sending recurring emails, but by focusing on unique subject lines, Weather Underground’s emails are much more helpful. Recurring emails like invoices may not contain the most glamorous content, but you still have an opportunity to make each one unique and informative.

Instead of a generic “You have a new invoice” notification, you can surface important or unique information like the invoice total, the most expensive products or services, or the due date.

By surfacing the most important or unique information from the content of the email, there’s additional context to help the recipient know whether they need to act or not. It also makes it easier to find a specific invoice when searching through emails in the future.

Clarifying the sender

Who (or what) is sending this email? Is it a person? Is it automated? Do I want to hear from them? Do I trust them? Is this spam? These questions and more automatically run through our heads whenever we see an email, and the sender information provides the first clue when we start processing our inbox. Just as for caller ID on incoming phone calls, recognition and trust both play a role. As Joanna Wiebe said in an interview with Litmus, “If the from name doesn’t sound like it’s from someone you want to hear from, it doesn’t matter what the subject line is.” This can be even more critical on mobile devices where the sender name is the most prominent element.

The first and most important step is to explicitly specify a name. You don’t want the recipient’s email client choosing what to display based on the email address alone. For instance, if you send emails from “alerts@example.com” (with no name specified), some clients will display “alerts” as the name, and others will display “alerts@example.com.” With the latter, it just feels rough around the edges. In either case, the experience is less than ideal for the sender.

Without a name specified, email clients may use the username portion of an email address or truncate longer email addresses, making the name portion incomplete or less helpful to recipients.

The technical implementation may vary depending on your stack, but at the simplest level, correct implementation is all in the string formatting. Let’s look at “Jane Doe <email@example.com>” as an example. “Jane Doe” is the name, and the email is included after the name and surrounded by angle brackets. It’s a small technical detail, but it makes a world of difference to recipients.

But what name should we show? This depends on the type of email, so you’ll want to consider the sender for each email independently. For example, with a receipt or invoice you may want to use “Acme Billing.” But with a comment notification, it may be more informative for recipients if you use the commenter’s name, such as “Jane Doe via AcmeApp.” Depending on the context, you could use “with” or “from” as well, but those have an extra character, so I’ve found “via” to be the shortest and most semantically accurate option.

Similarly, if your business entity or organization name is different from your product name, you should use the name that will be most familiar to your recipients.

Recipients aren’t always familiar with the names of corporate holding companies, so make sure to use the company or product name that will be most familiar to the recipient. In the above cases, while “Jane Doe” may have made the comment, the email isn’t directly from her, so it’s best to add something lik “via Acme Todos” to make it clear that it was sent on Jane’s behalf. In the case of “Support,” content doesn’t clarify which product it refers to. Since users could have a variety of emails from “Support” for different products, it fails to provide important context. Avoiding contact confusion

In the case where you use someone’s name—like with the “Jane Doe via AcmeApp” example above—it’s important to add a reference to the app name. Since the email isn’t actually from Jane, it’s inaccurate to represent that it’s from Jane Doe directly. This can be confusing for users, but it can also create problems with address books. If you use just “Jane Doe,” your sending email address can be accidentally added to the recipient’s address book in association with Jane’s entry. Then, when they go to email Jane later, they may unwittingly send an email to “notifications@acme.com” instead of Jane. That could lead to some painful missed emails and miscommunication. The other reason is that it’s simply helpful for the recipient to know the source of the email. It’s not just from Jane, it’s from Jane via your application.

You’ll also want to put yourself in your recipient’s shoes and carefully consider whether a name is recognizable to your recipient. For example, if your corporate entity name and product name aren’t the same, recipients will be much less likely to recognize the sender if you use the name of your corporate entity. So make sure to use the product name that will be most familiar to the recipient. Similarly, you’ll want to avoid using generic names that could be from any company. For example, use “Acme Billing” instead of just “Billing,” so the recipient can quickly and easily identify your product.

Finally, while names are great, the underlying sending address can be just as important. In many ways, it’s the best attribute for recipients to use when filtering and organizing their inbox, and using unique email addresses or aliases for different categories of emails makes this much easier. There’s a fine line, but the simplest way to do this is to group emails into three categories: billing, support, and activity/actions. You may be able to use more, like notifications, alerts, or legal, but remember that the more you create, the more you’ll have to keep track of.

Also, keep the use of subdomains to a minimum. By consistently only sending transactional email like password resets, receipts, order updates, and other similar emails from your primary domain, users learn to view any emails from other domains as suspicious. It may seem like a minor detail, but these bits of information add up to create important signals for recipients. It is worth noting, however, that you should use a different address, and ideally a separate subdomain, for your bulk marketing emails. This helps Gmail and other inbox providers understand the type of email coming from each source, which in turn helps ensure the domain reputation for your bulk marketing emails—which is traditionally lower—doesn’t affect delivery of your more critical transactional email.

Subject line utility

Now that recipients have clearly identifiable and recognizable sender information, it’s time to think about the subjects of your emails. Since we’ve focused on transactional emails in the examples used so far, we’ll similarly focus on the utility of your subject line content rather than the copywriting. You can always use copywriting to improve the subject, but with transactional emails, utility comes first.

The team at MailChimp has studied data about subject lines extensively, and there are a few key things to know about subjects. First, the presence of even a single word can have a meaningful impact on open rates. A 2015 report by Adestra had similar findings. Words and phrases like “thank you,” “monthly,” and “thanks” see higher engagement than words like “subscription,” “industry,” and “report,” though different words will have different impacts depending on your industry, so you’ll still need to test and monitor the results. Personalization can also have an impact, but remember, personalization isn’t just about using a person’s name. It can be information like location, previous purchases, or other personal data. Just remember that it’s important to be tasteful, judicious, and relevant.

The next major point from MailChimp is that subject line length doesn’t matter. Or, rather, it doesn’t matter directly. After studying 6 billion emails, they found “little or no correlation between performance and subject length.” That said, when line length is considered as one aspect of your overall subject content, it can be used to help an email stand out. Clarity and utility are more important than brevity, but when used as a component to support clarity and utility, brevity can help.

One final point from the Adestra report is that open rates aren’t everything. Regardless of whether someone opens an email, the words and content of your subject line leaves an impression. So even if a certain change doesn’t affect your open rates, it can still have a far-reaching impact.

Clearing out redundancy

The most common mistake with subjects is including redundant information. If you’ve carefully chosen the sender name and email address, there’s no need to repeat the sender name in the subject, and the characters could be better applied to telling the recipient additional useful information. Dates are a bit of a gray area, but in many cases, the email’s time stamp can suffice for handling any time-based information. On the other hand, when the key dates don’t correlate to when the email was sent, it can be helpful to include the relevant date information in the subject.

With these examples, after the sender, there’s no new or useful information displayed, and some form of the company name is repeated several times. Even the preheader is neglected leaving the email client to use alternate text from the logo.

With the subject of your application emails, you’ll also want to front-load the most important content to prevent it from being cut off. For instance, instead of “Your Invoice for May 2018,” you could rewrite that as “May 2018 Invoice.” Since your sender is likely “Acme Billing,” the recipient already knows it’s about billing, so the month and year is the most important part of the subject. However, “May 2018 Invoice” is a bit terse, so you may want to add something at the end to make it more friendly.

Next, in situations where time stamps are relevant, avoid relying on relative dates or times. Phrases like “yesterday,” “last week,” or “two hours ago” don’t age well with email since you never know when someone will receive or read it. Similarly, when someone goes to search their email archives, relative dates aren’t helpful. If you must use relative dates, look for opportunities to add explicit dates or time stamps to add clarity.

With regularly occurring emails like reports or invoices, strive to give each message a unique subject. If every report has the subject “Your Monthly Status Report,” they can run together in a list of emails that all have the same subject. It can also make them more difficult to search later on. The same goes for invoices and receipts. Yes, invoice numbers and order numbers are technically unique, but they aren’t particularly helpful. Make sure to include useful content to help identify each email individually. Whether that’s the date, total value, listing the most expensive items, or all three, it’s easier on recipients when they can identify the contents of an email without having to open it. While open rates are central to measuring marketing emails, transactional emails are all about usefulness. So open rates aren’t as purely correlated with successful transactional emails.

There’s a case to be made that in some contexts a great transactional email doesn’t need to be opened at all for it to be useful. The earlier Weather Underground example does an excellent job communicating the key information without requiring recipients to open it. And while the subject is the best place for key content, some useful content can also be displayed using a preheader.

Making the most of preheaders

If you’re not familiar with the preheader, you can think of it as a convenient name for the content at the beginning of an email. Campaign Monitor has a great write-up with in-depth advice on making the most of your preheaders. It’s simply a way of acknowledging and explicitly suggesting the text that email clients should show in the preview pane for an email. While there’s no formal specification for preheaders, and different email clients will handle them differently, they’re still widely displayed.

Most importantly, well-written and useful preheaders of 40–50 characters have been shown to increase overall engagement, particularly if delivering a concise call to action. A study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing (signing up required) points out that preheader content is important, especially on mobile devices where subjects are truncated and it can act as a sort of extended subject.

If the leading content in your email is a logo or other image, email clients will often use the alternate text for the image as the preview text. Since “Acme Logo” isn’t very helpful, it’s best to include a short summary of text at the beginning of your email. Sometimes this short summary text can interfere with the design of your email, so it’s not uncommon for the design to accommodate some visually muted—but still readable—text at the beginning. Or, as long as you’re judicious, in most cases you can safely hide preheader text entirely by using the display: none CSS declaration. Abusing this could get you caught in spam filters, but for the most part, inbox providers seem to focus on the content that is hidden rather than the fact that it’s hidden.

If you’re not explicitly specifying your preheader text, there’s a good chance email clients will use content that at best is less than useful and at worst makes a bad impression.

If your email can be designed and written such that the first content encountered is the useful content for previews, then you’re all set. In the case of receipts, invoices, or activity summaries, that’s not always easy. In those cases, a short text-based summary of the content makes a good preheader.

Context element interplay

The rules outlined above are great guidelines, but remember that rules are there to be broken (well, sometimes …). As long as you understand the big picture, sender, subject, and preheader can still work together effectively even if some of those rules are bent. A bit. For example, if you ensure that you have relevant and unique content in your preheader for the preview, you may be able to get away with using the same subject for each recurring email. Alternatively, there may be cases where you need to repeat the sender name in the subject.

The key is that when you’re crafting these elements, make sure you’re looking at how they work together. Sometimes a subject can be shortened by moving some content into the preheader. Alternatively, you may be able to use a more specific sender to reduce the need for a word or two in the subject. The application of these guidelines isn’t black and white. Simply being aware of the recipient’s experience is the most important factor when crafting the elements they’ll see in preview panes.

Finally, a word on monitoring and testing

Simple changes to the sender, subject, and preheader can significantly impact open rates and recipient experience. One critical thing to remember, however, is that while some of these improvements are guaranteed winners, monitoring and testing things like open rates and click rates is critical to validate any changes made. And since these elements can either play against each other or work together, it’s best to test combinations and view all three elements holistically.

The value of getting this right really is in the details, and despite their tendency to be overlooked, taking the time to craft helpful and useful sender names and addresses, subject lines, and preheaders can drastically improve the experience for your email recipients. It’s a small investment that’s definitely worth your time.

Categories: Technology

[Sponsor] iTimeKeep -- time entry built for attorneys

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 16:12

Thank you to Bellefield Systems, the creator of iTimeKeep, for sponsoring iPhone J.D. again this month.  I cannot think of a better time of year to use a product like iTimeKeep.  It is the start of Summer, and whether you are headed to the beach for a vacation, traveling with your family for a roadtrip, or just spending more time enjoy the sunshine, you are more likely to be out of your office for the next few months.  But being out of the office doesn't always mean being away from work.  Opposing counsel may email you a new motion, requiring you to send a note to your client with an update.  Or maybe you need to handle a quick phone call on one of your matters.  With iTimeKeep on your iPhone, time entry is fast, simple, and accessible.  When it is easy to enter your time immediately after you finish a task, you are far less likely to forget to record your time entries.

Forgetting to record a few 0.1 or 0.2 time entries may not seem like a big deal, but over three months of Summer it can really add up.  This time that would have otherwise been lost is what Bellefield refers to as invisible time.  With the iTimeKeep app on your iPhone — which is likely with you all the time — you can enter your time contemporaneously and before you forget about it.  As soon as you enter time, the app quickly talks to your firm's time management system so that the activity is officially recorded.  By using your iPhone to record your time entries at the time that you do the work, you don't have to worry about losing time that you forgot about as you try to reconstruct your activities at a later time.

Contemporaneous time entry is good for another reason.  It is much easier to keep track of what you are doing while you are doing it than it is to try to reconstruct your time entries at the end of the day (or on a subsequent day).  We've all been there before — you are doing your time entries at the end of the day, and you find yourself staring blankly as you try to remember what it was that you worked on in the morning.  Eventually it may come to you, but you are wasting your own (non-billable) time as you attempt to remember what you did.  If you instead enter your time as you are doing tasks, you save yourself the agony of reconstructing your day.  And because iTimeKeep makes it so easy to keep track of your time contemporaneously, over time you will find that you do it more and more.

I started using this app in my own law practice last year, and I posted a comprehensive review in August.  I have used this app on more occasions that I can remember to record my time when I am out of the office, time that I might have otherwise forgotten about.  Thus, the app has helped me to get paid for the work that I am actually doing, plus it ensures that my timesheets accurately reflect all of the work that I am doing for my clients.

 

iTimeKeep validates your time against client billing guidelines, so you don't have to worry about forgetting to add a needed issue or task code for a file, or entering time in 0.1 increments when the client requires 0.25 entries.  And you can use built-in timers to keep track of precisely how long you spend working on a task.

What surprised me about iTimeKeep is that it isn't just a tool for avoiding missed time entries.  It is also a fantastic tool to use every day for recording all of your time.  The iTimeKeep interface is so incredibly well-designed and fast to use that I often prefer using iTimeKeep over the interface for my law firm's time entry software.  And fortunately, it doesn't matter which one I use — time that I enter in iTimeKeep shows up on my firm system, and time that I enter in my firm's system shows up in iTimeKeep if I have to go back and edit an entry.

iTimeKeep is not just a product for your iPhone (and iPad and Apple Watch, and even Android).  You can also use iTimeKeep on your computer via a secure website interface.  When I am in my office on my PC and at home on my Mac, the fastest way for me to enter time is using iTimeKeep in a web browser.  With the web interface and the iPhone and iPad apps, it is very rare for a day to go by when I haven't used iTimeKeep at least once.

Speaking of the interface, iTimeKeep just rolled out several new changes to iTimeKeep desktop to further enhance the experience for attorneys.  iTimeKeep offers something called “One Experience Timekeeping,” which means that the way you enter time is the same whether you are on a mobile device or at your desk, entering time from your desktop.  This seamless approach to timekeeping is designed to allow you to conduct timekeeping on your terms, the way that you work.  I've been using the new desktop interface almost every day since it debuted, and I'm a big fan; it makes it even faster and easier to enter time.

No attorney enjoys time entry, but it is a necessary part of the practice of law for most of us.  With iTimeKeep, you significantly reduce the friction associated with entering your time, especially when you record it contemporaneous with performing the work for your client.  Thank you to Bellefield for sponsoring iPhone J.D. again this month, and thank you for creating this perfect example of an iPhone app that greatly improves the practice of law for attorneys.

Don't waste anymore time.  Try iTimeKeep today.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Hortonworks Data Platform with IBM Spectrum Scale: Reference Guide for Building an Integrated Solution

IBM Redbooks Site - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Tue, 26 Jun 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication provides guidance on building an enterprise-grade data lake by using IBM Spectrum™ Scale and Hortonworks Data Platform for performing in-place Hadoop or Spark-based analytics.

Categories: Technology

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