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[Sponsor] iTimeKeep -- time entry built for attorneys

iPhone J.D. - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 23:22

Thank you to Bellefield Systems, the creator of iTimeKeep, for sponsoring iPhone J.D. again this month. 

You may talk to a client over the weekend, spend time working on a brief at night after you put the kids to bed, or handle something in a courthouse because you happen to be there on another matter.  iTimeKeep makes time entry so simple and accessible that you can easily enter your time no matter when or where you are working, and thus you don't 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 weeks and months 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.  It’s not unreasonable to expect that you will record some additional billable time every day by keeping your time contemporaneously with iTimeKeep.  Multiply that by 255 work days a year, and multiply that by your billable rate, and the value of iTimeKeep becomes obvious.

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.

iTimeKeep works with law firms of any size, integrating with several time and billing systems:  Aderant, Elite, Omega, PC Law, TimeMatters, and many, many more which are listed here.

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.

I cannot type on an iPhone as fast as I can type on a computer keyboard.  However, I can often enter time just as quickly using iTimeKeep on my iPhone.  Sometimes I use Siri dictation to speak a time entry, which is fast and easy.  Other times I use the iPhone's keyboard shortcut feature to speed up time entry.  (In the Settings app, go to General -> Keyboard -> Text Replacement.)  For example, if I type "tcw" on my iPhone, it automatically changes that to "Telephone conference with " so I just need to type the name and the "re" information.

But 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.  Whether I am entering time in the office on my PC or at home on my Mac, I frequently use the desktop version of iTimeKeep to type my time entries in the clean and efficient interface.

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

Developing a Blockchain Business Network with Hyperledger Composer using the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Fri, 11 May 2018

Blockchain has emerged as a disruptive technology in the areas of trading assets and sharing information.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 01:26

If you have an older iPhone with a battery that no longer holds a charge for very long, you can go to an Apple Store and pay only $29 to get the battery replaced.  When Apple first started this program a few months ago, I heard many stories about how hard it was to get an appointment for this service.   Serenity Caldwell of iMore reports that Apple seems to finally have a sufficient stock of the replacement batteries.  If you were waiting for the line to shorten before giving new life to an older iPhone, now seems to be the time to do so.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • California attorney David Sparks discusses Apple's efforts to make the iPhone more secure.
  • Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal reports on a federal Fourth Circuit decision holding that some form of individualized suspicion is necessary before the government can search a cellphone seized at the border.
  • In an article for The Daily Record, New York attorney Nicole Black discusses iPhone use by attorneys.  Note that the title of the article mentions 2018 use, but the data she is discussing comes from the 2017 ABA Tech Survey released last November (my report), which is based on data collected from February to May, 2017.
  • Luke Dormehl reports that Apple now has permission to use drones to improve Apple M4444444aps.
  • Benjamin Clymer of Hodinkee (a website and magazine devoted to expensive watches) interviewed Apple's Jonathan Ive to discuss the creation of the Apple Watch.
  • Matthew Byrd of The App Factor came up with a list of 20 iPhone apps that you might not know about but which are worth checking out.  There are some good ones on this list.
  • Harry Guinness of How-To Geek explains how secure Face ID and Touch ID are on an iPhone.
  • Olloclip has made external lenses for iPhones for years now.  Jim Fisher of PC Magazine reviews the new Olloclip for the iPhone X, and finds that while it can work well, there are tradeoffs.
  • Peter Cao of 9to5Mac reports that starting in July 2018, all new apps and all updates to older apps must include support for the iPhone X's display.
  • And finally, Ed Hardy of Cult of Mac reports that at the recent 97th annual Art Directors Club awards, Apple won Best in Show for an ad that Apple created called Barbers which shows how portrait mode on the iPhone can make anyone look good.  I mentioned this ad almost exactly one year ago when it debuted, not only because I thought it was a great ad, but also because it was filmed right here in New Orleans.  (I also noted that Apple made some digital changes to the neighborhood, including adding a fake law firm.)  Perhaps this will inspire Apple to film even more commercials in the Big Easy.  Here is that award-winning ad again:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Bypassing Mitigations by Attacking JIT Server in Microsoft Edge

Google Project Zero - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 15:12
Posted by Ivan Fratric, Project Zero
With Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft introduced a new security mitigation in Microsoft Edge: Arbitrary Code Guard (ACG). When ACG is applied to a Microsoft Edge Content Process, it makes it impossible to allocate new executable memory within a process or modify existing executable memory. The goal of this is to make it more difficult for an attacker who already gained some capabilities in the browser’s Content Process to execute arbitrary code.
Since modern web browsers rely on Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation of JavaScript to achieve better performance and the code compilation in JIT is incompatible with ACG, a custom solution was needed to enable ACG in Microsoft Edge: The JIT engine was separated from the Edge Content Process into a separate, JIT Process.
We analyzed ACG and tried to answer the question of how useful this mitigation is going to be in preventing an attacker from exploiting Microsoft Edge. Additionally, we examined the implementation of the JIT server and uncovered multiple issues in it (that have been fixed at the time of publishing this). While the paper focuses on Microsoft Edge, we believe that any other attempt to implement out-of-process JIT would encounter similar problems. Thus we hope that this work would be useful for other vendors who might consider employing similar mitigations.
We published the result of this work in a whitepaper that can be found here. All related materials (tools, PoC code) can be found here.
Categories: Security

So You Want to Write an Article?

A list Apart development site - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 10:30

So you want to write an article. Maybe you’ve got a great way of organizing your CSS, or you’re a designer who has a method of communicating really well with developers, or you have some insight into how to best use a new technology. Whatever the topic, you have insights, you’ve read the basics of finding your voice, and you’re ready to write and submit your first article for a major publication. Here’s the thing: most article submissions suck. Yours doesn’t have to be one of them.

At A List Apart, we want to see great minds in the industry write the next great articles, and you could be one of our writers. I’ve been on the editorial team here for about nine months now, and I’ve written a fair share of articles here as well. Part of what I do is review article submissions and give feedback on what’s working and what’s not. We publish different kinds of articles, but many of the submissions I see—particularly from newer writers—fall into the same traps. If you’re trying to get an article published in A List Apart or anywhere else, knowing these common mistakes can help your article’s chances of being accepted.

Keep introductions short and snappy

Did you read the introduction above? My guess is a fair share of readers skipped straight to this point. That’s pretty typical behavior, especially for articles like this one that offer several answers to one clear question. And that’s totally fine. If you’re writing, realize that some people will do the same thing. There are some things you can do to improve the chances of your intro being read, though.

Try to open with a bang. A recent article from Caroline Roberts has perhaps the best example of this I’ve ever seen: “I won an Emmy for keeping a website free of dick pics.” When I saw that in the submission, I was instantly hooked and read the whole thing. It’s hilarious, it shows she has expertise on managing content, and it shows that the topic is more involved and interesting than it may at first seem. A more straightforward introduction to the topic of content procurement would seem very boring in comparison. Your ideas are exciting, so show that right away if you can. A funny or relatable story can also be a great way to lead into an article—just keep it brief!

If you can’t open with a bang, keep it short. State the problem, maybe put something about why it matters or why you’re qualified to write about it, and get to the content as quickly as possible. If a line in your introduction does not add value to the article, delete it. There’s little room for meandering in professional articles, but there’s absolutely no room for it in introductions.

Get specific

Going back to my first article submission for A List Apart, way before I joined the team, I wanted to showcase my talent and expertise, and I thought the best way to do this was to showcase all of it in one article. I wrote an overview of professional skills for web professionals. There was some great information in there, based on my years of experience working up through the ranks and dealing with workplace drama. I was so proud when I submitted the article. It wasn’t accepted, but I got some great feedback from the editor-in-chief: get more specific.

The most effective articles I see deal with one central idea. The more disparate ideas I see in an article, the less focused and impactful the article is. There will be exceptions to this, of course, but those are rarer than articles that suffer for this. Don’t give yourself a handicap by taking an approach that fails more often than it succeeds.

Covering one idea in great detail, with research and examples to back it up, usually goes a lot further in displaying your expertise than an overview of a bunch of disparate thoughts. Truth be told, a lot of people have probably arrived at the same ideas you have. The insights you have are not as important as your evidence and eloquence in expressing them.

Can an overview article work? Actually, yes, but you need to frame it within a specific problem. One great example I saw was an overview of web accessibility (which has not been published yet). The article followed a fictional project from beginning to end, showing how each team on the project could work toward a goal of accessibility. But the idea was not just accessibility—it was how leaders and project managers could assign responsibility in regards to accessibility. It was a great submission because it began with a problem of breadth and offered a complete solution to that problem. But it only worked because it was written specifically for an audience that needed to understand the whole process. In other words, the comprehensive nature of the article was the entire point, and it stuck to that.

Keep your audience in mind

You have a viewpoint. A problem I frequently see with new submissions is forgetting that the audience also has its viewpoint. You have to know your audience and remember how the audience’s mindset matches yours—or doesn’t. In fact, you’ll probably want to state in your introduction who the intended audience is to hook the right readers. To write a successful article, you have to keep that audience in mind and write for it specifically.

A common mistake I see writers make is using an article to vent their frustrations about the people who won’t listen to them. The problem is that the audience of our publication usually agrees with the author on these points, so a rant about why he or she is right is ultimately pointless. If you’re writing for like-minded people, it’s usually best to assume the readers agree with you and then either delve into how to best accomplish what you’re writing about or give them talking points to have that conversation in their workplace. Write the kind of advice you wish you’d gotten when those frustrations first surfaced.

Another common problem is forgetting what the audience already knows—or doesn’t know. If something is common knowledge in your industry, it doesn’t need another explanation. You might link out to another explanation somewhere else just in case, but there’s no need to start from scratch when you’re trying to make a new point. At the same time, don’t assume that all your readers have the same expertise you do. I wrote an article on some higher-level object-oriented programming concepts—something many JavaScript developers are not familiar with. Rather than spend half the article giving an overview of object-oriented programming, though, I provided some links at the beginning of the article that gave a good overview. Pro tip: if you can link out to articles from the same publication you’re submitting to, publications will appreciate the free publicity.

Defining your audience can also really help with knowing their viewpoint. Many times when I see a submission with two competing ideas, they’re written for different audiences. In my article I mentioned above, I provide some links for developers who may be new to object-oriented programming, but the primary audience is developers who already have some familiarity with it and want to go deeper. Trying to cater to both audiences wouldn’t have doubled the readership—it would have reduced it by making a large part of the article less relevant to readers.

Keep it practical

I’ll admit, of all these tips, this is the one I usually struggle with the most. I’m a writer who loves ideas, and I love explaining them in great detail. While there are some readers who appreciate this, most are looking for some tangible ways to improve something. This isn’t to say that big concepts have no place in professional articles, but you need to ask why they are there. Is your five-paragraph explanation of the history of your idea necessary for the reader to make the improvements you suggest?

This became abundantly clear to me in my first submission of an article on managing ego in the workplace. I love psychology and initially included a lengthy section up-front on how our self-esteem springs from the strengths we leaned on growing up. While this fascinated me, it wasn’t right for an audience of web professionals who wanted advice on how to improve their working relationships. Based on feedback I received, I removed the section entirely and added a section on how to manage your own ego in the workplace—much more practical, and that ended up being a favorite section in the final piece.

Successful articles solve a problem. Begin with the problem—set it up in your introduction, maybe tell a little story that illustrates how this problem manifests—and then build a case for your solution. The problem should be clear to the reader very early on in the article, and the rest of the article should all be related to that problem. There is no room for meandering and pontification in a professional article. If the article is not relevant and practical, the reader will move on to something else.

The litmus test for determining the practicality of your article is to boil it down to an outline. Of course all of your writing is much more meaningful than an outline, but look at the outline. There should be several statements along the lines of “Do this,” or “Don’t do this.” You can have other statements, of course, but they should all be building toward some tangible outcome with practical steps for the reader to take to solve the problem set up in your introduction.

It’s a hard truth you have to learn as a writer that you’ll be much more in love with your ideas than your audience will. Writing professional articles is not about self-expression—it’s about helping and serving your readers. The more clear and concise the content you offer, the more your article will be read and shared.

Support what you say

Your opinions, without evidence to support them, will only get you so far. As a writer, your ideas are probably grounded in a lot of real evidence, but your readers don’t know that—you’ll have to show it. How do you show it? Write a first draft and get your ideas out. Then do another pass to look for stories, stats, and studies to support your ideas. Trying to make a point without at least one of these is at best difficult and at worst empty hype. Professionals in your industry are less interested in platitudes and more interested in results. Having some evidence for your claims goes a long way toward demonstrating your expertise and proving your point.

Going back to my first article in A List Apart, on defusing workplace drama, I had an abstract point to prove, and I needed to show that my insights meant something. My editor on that article was fantastic and asked the right questions to steer me toward demonstrating the validity of my ideas in a meaningful way. Personal stories made up the backbone of the article, and I was able to find social psychology studies to back up what I was saying. These illustrations of the ideas ended up being more impactful than the ideas themselves, and the article was very well-received in the community.

Storytelling can be an amazing way to bring your insights to life. Real accounts or fictional, well-told stories can serve to make big ideas easier to understand, and they work best when representing typical scenarios, not edge cases. If your story goes against common knowledge, readers will pick up on that instantly and you’ll probably get some nasty comments. Never use a story to prove a point that doesn’t have any other hard evidence to back it up—use stories to illustrate points or make problems more relatable. Good stories are often the most memorable parts of articles and make your ideas and assertions easier to remember.

Stats are one of the easiest ways to make a point. If you’re arguing that ignoring website accessibility can negatively impact the business, some hard numbers are going to say a lot more than stories. If there’s a good stat to prove your point, always include it, and always be on the lookout for relevant numbers. As with stories, though, you should never try to use stats to distort the truth or prove a point that doesn’t have much else to support it. Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” You shouldn’t decide what to say and then scour the internet for ways to back it up. Base your ideas on the numbers, don’t base your selection of facts on your idea.

Studies, including both user experience studies and social psychology experiments, are somewhere in between stories and stats, and a lot of the same advantages and pitfalls also apply. A lot of studies can be expressed as a story—write a quick bit from the point of view of the study participant, then go back and explain what’s really going on. This can be just as engaging and memorable as a good story, but studies usually result in stats, which usually serve to make the stories significantly more authoritative. And remember to link out to the study for people who want to read more about it!

Just make sure your study wasn’t disproved by later studies. In my first article, linked above, I originally referenced a study to introduce the bystander effect, but an editor wisely pointed out that there’s actually a lot of evidence against that interpretation of the well-known study. Interpretations can change over time, especially as new information comes out. I found a later, more relevant study that illustrated the point better and was less well-known, so it made for a better story.

Kill your darlings

Early twentieth century writer and critic Arthur Quiller-Couch once said in a speech, “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” Variants of this quote were repeated by many authors throughout the twentieth century, and it’s just as true today as when he originally said it.

What does that mean for your article? Great prose, great analogies, great stories—any bits of brilliant writing that you churn out—only mean as much as they contribute to the subject at hand. If it doesn’t contribute anything, it needs to be killed.

When getting your article ready for submission, your best friend will be the backspace or delete key on your keyboard. Before submitting, do a read-through for the express purpose of deleting whatever you can to trim down the article. Articles are not books. Brevity is a virtue, and it usually ends up being one of the most important virtues in article submissions.

Your intro should have a clear thesis so readers know what the article is about. For every bit of writing that follows it, ask if it contributes to your argument. Does it illustrate the problem or solution? Does it give the reader empathy for or understanding of the people you’re trying to help? Does it give them guidance on how to have these conversations in their workplaces? If you can’t relate a sentence back to your original thesis, it doesn’t matter how brilliant it is—it should be deleted.

Humor can be useful, but many jokes serve as little more than an aside or distraction from the main point. Don’t interrupt your train of thought with a cute joke—use a joke to make your thoughts more clear. It doesn’t matter how funny the joke is; if it doesn’t help illustrate or reinforce one of your points, it needs to go.

There are times when a picture really is worth a thousand words. Don’t go crazy with images and illustrations in your piece, but if a quick graphic is going to save you a lengthy explanation, go that route.

So what are you waiting for?

The industry needs great advice in articles, and many of you could provide that. The points I’ve delved into in this article aren’t just formalities and vague ideas; the editing team at A List Apart has weighed in, and these are problems we see often that weaken articles and make them less accessible to readers. Heeding this advice will strengthen your professional articles, whether you plan to submit to A List Apart or anywhere else. The next amazing article in A List Apart could be yours, and we hope to see you get there.

Categories: Technology

Tips for using 3D Touch

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 01:48

Unless you are using an older iPhone, I suspect that you are using an iPhone that can support 3D Touch.  This is a gesture similar to tapping, except that you push down a little bit more.  3D Touch was introduced with the iPhone 6s in September 2015, and also works on the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and the iPhone X (and the Plus variants of those phones).  But even though 3D Touch has been around for many years, I talk to many folks who don't even know that the feature is there.  Frankly, I forget about it sometimes too.  But there are tons of really useful things that you can do with 3D Touch.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Quickly jot something down

I often need to quickly jot something down, like a phone number, a name, a case number, etc.  The built-in Notes app is a great place to put that information.  Of course, you can open the app and then tap on the button to create a new note, but it is faster to use 3D Touch.  Just push down on the app icon on your home screen and tap New Note.

Perhaps even more useful is the option just below that:  New Checklist.  If you need to jot down a number of items, such as a grocery list, the New Checklist option after you 3D Touch will open the Notes app, create a new note, and then enter the checklist mode (normally accessed by pressing the icon of the check mark inside of a circle).  Using 3D Touch and tapping New Checklist is far, far faster that doing all of those steps one at a time.

 Compose a new email, without distractions

If you 3D Touch on the built-in Mail app icon, there is a New Message option.  Thus, using 3D Touch is a fast way to compose a new email.  But the real reason that I like this shortcut is that whenever I open the Mail app to compose a new email, the first thing I see when the Mail app opens is a list of emails, which probably includes some new ones that I haven't seen yet.  Thus, I find myself distracted, and sometimes sidetracked, by those messages.  By the time I start composing my email, I may have even forgotten what I was going to say.  When I use the 3D Touch shortcut to compose a new email, I don't see my Inbox until my new email is composed and sent. 

3D Touch cursor

When typing an email, or when typing virtually any other text, if you push down on the keyboard, the keys turn blank and the keyboard turns into a trackpad.  You can slide your finger around to move your cursor up a few lines to edit or add to text.  Not only does this save you the trouble of tapping to select a new location for the cursor, I also find that it is far more precise than just tapping on text you previously typed.

While you are moving the cursor around, you can 3D Touch again to select a word, and then drag your finger to select multiple words.

Message a specific person

If you tap on the Messages app icon, you will probably see your most recent text message conversation.  But if you 3D Touch on the Messages app, you will see a list of names of folks who have recently had text message conversations with you.  Assuming that you wanted to send a message to, or review a recent message from, one of those three people, this is a faster way to jump directly to the text message conversation with that person.

Beware of Contacts

This isn't as much of a tip as it is a warning.  If you 3D Touch on the built-in Phone app, you see a list of four favorites.  Tap a name, and you call that person.  That makes sense.  What I don't like is that if you 3D Touch on the Contacts app icon, you see that same list of Phone favorites, and tapping one of those names will also call that person.  That shortcut makes sense to me on the Phone app icon, an app used to call people, but not on the Contacts app icon.  It would make much more sense to me for a 3D Touch on the Contacts app to bring up the Contacts entry for that person so that you can review contact information.  And that might be the behavior that you were expecting as well, which can cause quite a surprise if you were intending to quickly bring up a person's contact information to see some detail about the person and instead you find yourself calling that person's phone.

Mark my location

If you 3D Touch on the Maps app icon, the first choice is to Mark My Location.  Tap this to drop a pin on the map at your current location.  This can be useful if you are parking a car or a bike and then you are going to walk somewhere else and you are worried that you might forget where your car or bike was located.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

I frequently have a need to open the Settings app and go to the Wi-Fi settings or the Bluetooth settings.  Both are located near the top of the list after you open the Settings app, but an even faster way to access these settings is to 3D Touch on the Settings icon and then tap Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Get this app first

Sometimes I want to start using an updated version of an app, so I will open the App Store icon, tap Updates, pull down from the top of the screen to see what updates are available, and then I'll tap the button to update all of my apps.  Normally this works fine, but sometimes I find that I really want my iPhone to start by updating app X, and instead my iPhone is slowly updating apps Y and Z.  As I wait, I cannot even launch the app that most interests me because the app icon is gray.  Ugh.

To solve this, 3D Touch on the app icon on your home screen for the app in question, and then tap Prioritize Download.  This will tell your iPhone to put the other updates to the side and immediately start updating this app.

Speaking of the App Store, you can 3D Touch on the App Store icon to see a few choices, one of which is Search, which brings you directly to the search function of the App Store.

Adjusting 3D Touch

You can adjust how hard you need to press on the display to trigger 3D Touch.  Open the Settings app and go to General -> Accessibility -> 3D Touch to select Light, Medium or Firm.  You can also turn off 3D Touch, if for some reason you need to do that.

And much more

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to 3D Touch.  For example, you can also use it to "peek" at a link or a file before you officially open it.  And many third-party apps offer interesting 3D Touch options, such as the Launch Center Pro app which lets you see miniature icons.  Click here to see a short video by Apple showing off the features of 3D Touch.

If you are looking for something to do while in waiting in line at the grocery store, on a train, etc., take a few minutes to play around with 3D Touch in different places to find other interesting uses.  3D Touch is a useful, but I suspect underused, feature on the iPhone.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

IBM Geographically Dispersed Resilience for SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Wed, 9 May 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™chapter publication explains the configuration, relocation, and verification of the IBM Geographically Dispersed Resiliency on IBM Power Systems™ solution to protect SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver applications.

Categories: Technology

We’re Looking for People Who Love to Write

A list Apart development site - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 09:02

Here at A List Apart, we’re looking for new authors, and that means you. What should you write about? Glad you asked!

You should write about topics that keep you up at night, passions that make you the first to show up in the office each morning, ideas that matter to our community and about which you have a story to tell or an insight to share.

We’re not looking for case studies about your company or thousand-foot overviews of topics most ALA readers already know about (i.e., you don’t have to tell A List Apart readers that Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web). But you also don’t have to write earth-shaking manifestos or share new ways of working that will completely change the web. A good strong idea, or detailed advice about an industry best practice make excellent ALA articles.

Where we’ve been

Although A List Apart covers everything from accessible UX and product design to advanced typography and content and business strategy, the sweet spot for an A List Apart article is one that combines UI design (and design thinking) with front-end code, especially when it’s innovative. Thus our most popular article of the past ten years was Ethan Marcotte’s “Responsive Web Design”—a marriage of design and code, accessible to people with diverse backgrounds at differing levels of expertise.

In the decade-plus before that, our most popular articles were Douglas Bowman’s “Sliding Doors of CSS” and Dan Cederholm’s “Faux Columns”—again, marriages of design and code, and mostly in the nature of clever workarounds (because CSS in 2004 didn’t really let us design pages as flexibly and creatively, or even as reliably, as we wanted to).

From hacks to standards

Although clever front-end tricks like Sliding Doors, and visionary re-imaginings of the medium like Responsive Web Design, remain our most popular offerings, the magazine has offered fewer of them in recent years, focusing more on UX and strategy. To a certain extent, if a front-end technique isn’t earth-changing (i.e., isn’t more than just a technique), and if it isn’t semantic, inclusive, accessible, and progressively enhanced, we don’t care how flashy it is—it’s not for us.

The demand to create more powerful layouts was also, in a real way, satisfied by the rise of frameworks and shared libraries—another reason for us to have eased off front-end tricks (although not all frameworks and libraries are equally or in some cases even acceptably semantic, inclusive, accessible, and progressively enhanced—and, sadly, many of their users don’t know or care).

Most importantly, now that CSS is finally capable of true layout design without hacks, any responsible web design publication will want to ease off on the flow of front-end hacks, in favor of standards-based education, from basic to advanced. Why would any editor or publisher (or framework engineer, for that matter) recommend that designers use 100 pounds of fragile JavaScript when a dozen lines of stable CSS will do?

It will be interesting to see what happens to the demand for layout hack articles in Medium and web design publications and communities over the next twelve months. It will also be interesting to see what becomes of frameworks now that CSS is so capable. But that’s not our problem. Our problem is finding the best ideas for A List Apart’s readers, and working with the industry’s best old and new writers to polish those ideas to near-perfection.

After all, even more than being known for genius one-offs like Responsive Web Design and Sliding Doors of CSS, A List Apart has spent its life introducing future-friendly, user-focused design advances to this community, i.e., fighting for web standards when table layouts were the rage, fighting for web standards when Flash was the rage, pushing for real typography on the web years before Typekit was a gleam in Jeff Veen’s eye, pushing for readability in layout when most design-y websites thought single-spaced 7px Arial was plenty big enough, promoting accessible design solutions, user-focused solutions, independent content and communities, and so on.

Call to action

Great, industry-changing articles are still what we want most, whether they’re front-end, design, content, or strategy-focused. And changing the industry doesn’t have to mean inventing a totally new way of laying out pages or evaluating client content. It can also mean coming up with a compelling argument in favor of an important but embattled best practice. Or sharing an insightful story that helps those who read it be more empathetic and more ethical in their daily work.

Who will write the next 20 years of great A List Apart articles? That’s where you come in.

Publishing on A List Apart isn’t as easy-peasy as dashing off a post on your blog, but the results—and the audience—are worth it. And when you write for A List Apart, you never write alone: our industry-leading editors, technical editors, and copyeditors are ready to help you polish your best idea from good to great.

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Categories: Technology

ABCs of z/OS System Programming Volume 10

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Fri, 4 May 2018

The ABCs of IBM® z/OS® System Programming is an 13-volume collection that provides an introduction to the z/OS operating system and the hardware architecture.

Categories: Technology

IBM TS7700 Release 4.1 and 4.1.2 Guide

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Fri, 4 May 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication covers IBM TS7700 R4.1 through R4.1.2.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:50

It seems like every time we get one security disaster behind us, the next one comes along.  This week it is Twitter, which announced yesterday that apparently all of its passwords were accidentally decrypted and stored in plain text for a period of time.  Twitter hasn't said for long, and we don't know if any hackers accessed it during this time period, but obviously Twitter is telling everyone to change their passwords just in case.  Twitter also has optional two-factor verification, so while you are updating your password, you should turn that on for extra protection if you have not yet enabled it.  But more importantly, even if you don't use Twitter, this serves as yet another warning that you ought to use unique and secure passwords for every website and service — a task that is much more simple if you use a Password Manager.  (I use 1Password and was able to change both my @jeffrichardson and my @iphonejd account passwords very quickly.)  If you don't currently use a password manager, I strongly recommend that you do so.  Better yet, get it for your entire family, like I recently did with 1Password Families.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • Twenty years ago, Apple introduced the iMac, and Apple created a commercial called Simplicity Shootout to show how much easier it was to set up an iMac versus a PC.  I remember that commercial very well.  Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac explains how that video was made, and he even tracked down the two people who starred in that video.  The former PC-user now uses a 12.9" iPad Pro.  It's a fun article and worth reading.
  • Jennifer Vazquez of Channel 4 New York reports on a man who saw a notification on his Apple Watch telling him to seek immediate medical attention because something was wrong with his heart rate.  He immediately went to the ER and the doctors found a dangerous ulcer that could have killed him if he had waited.
  • If you want to get an Apple Watch, for yourself or someone else, Lief Johnson of Macworld reports that they are currently $50 off at Macy's.
  • In my experience, games don't work very well on the Apple Watch, but maybe I just haven't tried the right one yet.  Andrew Hayward of Macworld recommends 15 Apple Watch games.
  • If you use Wemo smart home products, you can add the Wemo Bridge to make it work with Apple HomeKit.  That normally costs $40, but as John Levite of iMore reports, you can currently get it on Amazon for only $30.
  • Today is Star Wars Day.  To celebrate, you can now pre-order tickets for Solo: A Star Wars Story at your local theater.  I just bought mine for May 25th.
  • Yesterday, to celebrate French film director Georges Méliès, Google released a Google Doodle video.  Thuy Ong of The Verge has details.  You can watch it on YouTube, but if you have Google Cardboard, I strongly encourage you to watch the VR version of it using the Google Stories app on the iPhone.  It is an incredibly well done VR short cartoon.  You need to watch it multiple times to catch all of the fun details.
  • And finally, here is an interesting picture recently tweeted by developer Steve Troughton-Smith that I don't remember seeing before, although apparently it was also posted back in 2014 on MacRumors.  This is the hardware setup that Apple used to create the initial software for the iPhone before it was released in 2007:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Viewing and Managing FlashSystem Performance with IBM Spectrum Control

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 3 May 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication discusses on performance monitoring for IBM FlashSystem® storage products.

Categories: Technology

Using the IBM Spectrum Accelerate Family in VMware Environments: IBM XIV, IBM FlashSystem A9000 and IBM FlashSystem A9000R, and IBM Spectrum Accelerate

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 3 May 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication is a brief overview of synergistic aspects between various VMware offerings and the IBM Spectrum™ Accelerate family, including IBM XIV® and IBM FlashSystem® A9000 and IBM FlashSystem A9000R servers.

Categories: Technology

IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 Best Practices and Performance Guidelines

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Thu, 3 May 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication captures several of the preferred practices and describes the performance gains that can be achieved by implementing the IBM System Storage® SAN Volume Controller and IBM Storwize® V7000 powered by IBM Spectrum Virtualize™ V8.1.

Categories: Technology

Priority Guides: A Content-First Alternative to Wireframes

A list Apart development site - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 09:07

No matter your role, if you’ve ever been involved in a digital design project, chances are you’re familiar with wireframes. After all, they’re among the most popular and widely used tools when designing websites, apps, dashboards, and other digital user interfaces.

But they do have their problems, and wireframes are so integrated into the accepted way of working that many don’t consider those drawbacks. That’s a shame, because the tool’s downsides can seriously undermine user-centricity. Ever lose yourself in aesthetic details when you should have been talking about content and functionality? We have!

That’s why we use an alternative that avoids the pitfalls of wireframes: the priority guide. It not only keeps our process user-centered and creates more valuable designs for our users (whether used alongside wireframes or as a direct replacement), it’s also improved team engagement, collaboration, and design workflows.

The problem with wireframes

Wikipedia appropriately defines the wireframe as “a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website. … [It] depicts the page layout or arrangement of the website’s content, including interface elements and navigational systems.” In other words, wireframes are sketches that represent the potential website (or app) in a simplified way, including the placement and shape of any interface elements. They range from low-fidelity rough sketches on paper to high-fidelity colored, textual screens in a digital format.

Examples of low-fidelity (on the left) and high-fidelity (on the right) wireframes

Because of their visual nature, wireframes are great tools for sketching and exploring design ideas, as well as communicating those ideas to colleagues, clients, and stakeholders. And since they’re so easy to create and adapt with tools such as Sketch or Balsamiq, you also have something to user test early in the design process, allowing usability issues to be addressed sooner than might otherwise be possible.

But although these are all valuable characteristics of wireframes, there are also some significant downsides.

The illusion of final design

Wireframes can provide the illusion that a design is final, or at least in a late stage of completion. Regardless of how carefully you explain to clients or stakeholders that these first concepts are just early explorations and not final—maybe you even decorated them with big “DRAFT” stickers—too often they’ll still enthusiastically exclaim, “Looks good, let’s start building!”

Killing creativity and engagement

At Mirabeau, we’ve noticed that wireframes tend to kill creativity. We primarily work in multidisciplinary teams consisting of (among others) interaction (UX) designers, visual designers, front-end developers, and functional testers. But once an interaction designer has created a wireframe, it’s hard for many (we’re not saying all) visual designers to think outside the boundaries set by that wireframe and challenge the ideas it contains. As a result, the final designs almost always resemble the wireframes. Their creativity impaired, the visual designers were essentially just coloring in the wireframes.

Undermining user-centricity

As professionals, we naturally care about how something looks and is presented. So much so that we can easily lose ourselves for hours in the fine details, such as alignment, sizing, coloring, and the like, even on rough wireframes intended only for internal use. Losing time means losing focus on what’s valuable for your user: the content, the product offering, and the functionality.

Static, not responsive

A wireframe (even multiple wireframes) can’t capture the responsive behavior that is so essential to modern web design. Even though digital design tools are catching up in efficiently designing for different screen sizes (here’s hoping InVision Studio will deliver), each of the resulting wireframes is still just a static image.

Inconvenient for developers and functional testers

Developers and functional testers work with code, and a wireframe sketch or picture provides little functional information and isn’t directly translatable into code (not yet, anyway). This lack of clarity around how the design should behave can lead to developers and testers making decisions about functionality or responsiveness without input from the designer, or having to frequently check with the designer to find out if a feature is working correctly. Perhaps less of a problem for a mature team or project where there’s plenty of experience with, and knowledge of, the product, but all too often this (unnecessary) collaboration means more development work, a slower process, and wasted time.

To overcome these wireframe pitfalls, about five years ago we adopted priority guides. Our principal interaction designer, Paul Versteeg, brought the tool to Mirabeau, and we’ve been improving and fine-tuning our way of working with them ever since, with great results.

So what are priority guides?

As far as we know, credit for the invention of priority guides goes to Drew Clemens, who first introduced the concept in his article on the Smashing Magazine website in 2012. Since that time, however, it seems that priority guides have received little attention, either from the web and app design industry or within related education establishments.

Simply put, a priority guide contains content and elements for a mobile screen, sorted by hierarchy from top to bottom and without layout specifications. The hierarchy is based on relevance to users, with the content most critical to satisfying user needs and supporting user (and company) goals higher up.

The format of a priority guide is not fixed: it can be digital (we personally prefer Sketch), or it can be physical, made with paper and Post-its. Most importantly, a priority guide is automatically content-first, with a strong focus on providing best value for users.

The core structure of a priority guide

Diving a bit deeper, the following example shows the exact same page as shown in the wireframe images presented earlier in this article. It consists of the title “Book a flight,” real content (yes, even the required legal notice!), several sections of information, and annotations that explain components and functionality.

A detailed digital priority guide for an airline’s flight overview page

When comparing the content to the high-fidelity wireframe, you’ll notice that the order of the sections is not the same. The step indicator, for example, is shown at the bottom of the priority guide, as the designer decided it’s not the most important information on the page. Conversely, the most important information—flight information and prices—is now placed near the top.

Annotations are an important part of priority guides, as they provide explanations of the functionalities and page behavior, name the component types, and link the priority guide of one page to the priority guides of other pages. In this example, you can find descriptions of what happens when a user interacts with a button or link, such as opening a layover screen to display flight details or loading a a flight selection page.

The advantages of priority guides

Of course, we can debate for hours whether the creator of, or team responsible for, the above priority guide has chosen the correct priorities and functionalities, but that goes beyond the scope of this article. Instead, let’s name the main advantages that priority guides offer over wireframes.

Suitable for responsive design

Wireframes are static images, requiring multiple screenshots to cover the full spectrum from mobile to desktop. Priority guides, on the other hand, give an overview of content hierarchy regardless of screen size (assuming user goals remain the same on different devices). Ever since responsive design became standard practice within Mirabeau, priority guides have been an essential addition to our design toolkit.

Focused on solving problems and serving needs

When creating priority guides, you automatically focus on solving the users’ problems, serving their needs, and supporting them to reach their goals. The interface is always filled with content that communicates a message or helps the user. By designing content-first, you’re always focused on serving the user.

No time wasted on aesthetics and layout

There’s no need for interaction designers to waste time on aesthetics and layout in the early phases of the design process. Priority guides help avoid the focus shifting away from the content and user toward specific layout elements too early, and keep us from falling into the “designer trap” of visual perfectionism.

Facilitating visual designers’ creativity

Priority guides provide the opportunity for designers to explore extravagant ideas on how to best support and delight the user without visual boundaries set by interaction designers. Even when you’re the only designer on your team, working as both interaction and visual designer, it’s hard to move past how those first wireframes looked, even when confronted with new content.

Developers and testers get “HTML” early in the process

The structure of a priority guide is very similar to HTML, allowing the developer to start laying the groundwork for future development early on. Similarly, testers get a checklist for testing, allowing them to begin building those tests straight away. The result is early feedback on the feasibility of the designs, and we’ve found priority guides have significantly speeded up the collaborative process of design and development at Mirabeau.

How to create priority guides

There are a number of baselines and steps that we’ve found useful when creating priority guides. We’ve fine-tuned them over the years as we’ve applied this new approach to our projects, and conducted workshops explaining priority guides to the Dutch design community.

The baselines

Your priority guide should only contain real content that’s relevant to the user. Lorem ipsum, or any other type of placeholder text, doesn’t communicate how the page supports users in reaching their goals. Moreover, don’t include any layout elements when making priority guides. Instead, include only content and functionality. Remember that a priority guide is never a deliverable—it’s merely a tool to facilitate discussion among the designers, developers, testers, and stakeholders involved in the project.

Priority guides should always have a mobile format. By constraining yourself this way, you automatically think mobile-first and consider which information is most important (and so should be at the top of the screen). Also, since the menu is typically more or less the same on every screen of your website or app, we recommend leaving the menu out of your priority guide. It’ll help you focus on the screen you’re designing for, and the guide won’t be cluttered with unnecessary distractions.

Step 1: determine the goal(s)

Before jumping to the solution, it’s important to take a step back and consider why you’re making this priority guide. What is the purpose of the page? What goal or goals does the user have? And what goal or goals does the business have? The answers to these questions will both guide your user research and determine which content will add more value to users and the business, and so have higher priority.

Step 2: research and understand the user

There are many methods for user research, and the method or methods chosen will largely depend on the situation and project. However, when creating priority guides, we’ve definitely found it useful to generate personas, affinity diagrams, and experience maps to help create a visual summary of any research findings.

Step 3: determine the content topics

The aim of this stage is to use your knowledge of the user and the business to determine which specific content and topics will best support their goals in each phase of the customer journey. Experience has taught us that co-creating this content outline with users, clients, copywriters, and stakeholders can be highly beneficial. The result is a list of topics that each page should contain.

Step 4: create a high-level priority guide

Use the list of topics to create a high-level priority guide. Which is the most important topic? Place that one on the top. Which is the second most important topic? That one goes below the first. It’s a straightforward prioritization process that should be continued until all the (relevant) topics have found a place in the priority list. It’s important to question the importance of each topic, not only in comparison to other topics, but also whether the topic should really be on the page at all. And we’ve found that starting on paper definitely helps avoid focusing too much on the little visual details, which can happen if using a digital design tool (“pixel-fixing”).

A high-level priority guide for FreeBees, a fictional company Step 5: create a detailed priority guide

Now it’s time to start adding the details. For each topic, determine the detailed, real content that will appear on the page. Also, start thinking about any functionalities the page may need. When you have multiple priority guides for multiple pages, indicate how and where these pages are connected in a sitemap format.

We often use this first schematic shape of the product to identify flows, test if the concept is complete, and determine whether the current content and priorities effectively serve users’ needs and help solve their problems. More than once it has allowed us to identify that a content plan needed to be altered to achieve the outcome we were targeting. And because priority guides are quick and easy to produce, iterating at this stage saved a lot of time and effort.

A detailed priority guide for FreeBees, a fictional company Step 6: user testing and (further) iteration

The last (continuous) step involves testing and iterating your priority guides. Ask users what they think about the information presented in the priority guides (yes, it is possible to do usability testing with priority guides!), and gather feedback from stakeholders. The input gained from these sessions can then be used to validate and reprioritize the information, and to add or adapt functionalities, followed by further testing as needed.

Find out what works for you

Over the years we’ve seen many variations on the process described above. Some designers work entirely with paper and Post-its, while others prefer to create priority guides in a digital design tool from scratch. Some go no further than high-level priority guides, while others use detailed priority guides as a guideline for their entire project.

The key is to experiment, and take the time to find out which approach works best for you and your team. What remains important no matter your process, however, is the need to always keep the focus on user and business goals, and to continuously ask yourself what each piece of content or functionality adds to these goals.

Conclusion

For us here at Mirabeau, priority guides have become a highly efficient tool for designing user-first, content-first, and mobile-first, overcoming many of the significant pitfalls that come from relying only on wireframes. Wireframes do have their uses, and in many situations it’s valuable to be able to visualize ideas and discuss them with team members, clients, or stakeholders. Sketching concepts as wireframes to test ideas can also be useful, and sometimes we’ll even generate wireframes to gain new insights into how to improve our priority guides!

Overall, we’ve found that priority guides are more useful at the start of a project, when in the phase of defining the purpose and content of screens. Wireframes, on the other hand, are more useful for sketching and communicating ideas and visual concepts. Just don’t start with wireframes, and make sure you always stay focused on what’s important.

Categories: Technology

Apple 2018 fiscal second quarter -- the iPhone and iPad angle

iPhone J.D. - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:15

Yesterday, Apple released the results for its 2018 fiscal second quarter (which ran from December 31, 2017 to March 31, 2018) and held a call with analysts to discuss the results.  Apple's first fiscal quarter is the one with all of the holiday sales, so Q2 is usually not a particular impressive quarter for Apple.  In fact, two years ago, Apple had a particularly rough second quarter.  In 2018, in contrast, Apple had its best Q2 ever, with record Q2 revenue of $61.1 billion,up from $52.9 billion in 2017 Q2 (and $50.6 billion in 2016 Q2). Apple CEO Tim Cook attributed the record quarter to three factors:  iPhone revenue was up 14%, services revenue (things like Apple Music and the App Store) was up 31%, and wearable revenue (things like the Apple Watch and AirPods) was up almost 50%.  If you want to get all of the nitty gritty details, you can download the audio from the announcement conference call from iTunes, or you can read a transcript of the call prepared by Seeking Alpha, or a transcript prepared by Mikah Sargent of iMore.  Apple's official press release is here.  As always, I'm not as interested in the financial details as I am the statements of Apple executives during the call that are of interest to iPhone and iPad users.  Here are the items that stood out to me.

iPhone

  • During the past quarter, Apple sold 52.217 million iPhones. The all-time record for Q2 was in 2015 when Apple sold 61.2 million iPhones, but this is the second most iPhones that Apple has ever sold in a fiscal second quarter (up from just over 50 million a year ago).
  • By my count, Apple has sold almost 1.4 billion iPhones since they first went on sale in 2007.
  • If you combine Apple's over $38 billion in iPhone revenue in Q2 with its over $61 billion in iPhone revenue in 2018 Q1, you get to about $100 billion in iPhone revenue for the first half of 2018, which Cook said was a new record for iPhone revenue in the first half of the year.  I'm sure that a big part of the reason for this was that Apple has been selling the iPhone X, its most expensive iPhone ever, during these past two quarters.  But whatever the reason, I'm glad that Apple has numbers that it can boast about, because that encourages Apple to continue to develop the iPhone, and encourages smart engineers who work at Apple to stay at the company, all of which results in better iPhones for those of us who use them every day.
  • What kinds of iPhones are people buying?  Cook said that in the past, the most expensive iPhone was not the best=selling iPhone.  In other words, the Plus model of the iPhone 7, iPhone 6, etc. sold less than the non-Plus model.  But in this past fiscal quarter, the most expensive iPhone being sold by Apple — the iPhone X — is also the best-selling iPhone.
  • Before today's call, there were rumors that the iPhone X was not selling as well as Apple had hoped.  Cook addressed this by pointing out what I just mentioned — that the iPhone X was the best-selling iPhone.  He also stated:  "I think that it's one of those things where, like a team wins the Super Bowl, maybe you want them to win by a few more points, but it's a Super Bowl winner and that's how we feel about it.  I could not be prouder of the product."
  • John Gruber of Daring Fireball offered this take on iPhone X sales:  "Year over year, iPhone sales were up 3 percent on unit sales, but 14 percent on revenue.  Unit sales are close to flat, but Apple grew revenue by double digits.  There’s no other way to explain it than that iPhone X is a hit."

iPad

  • Apple sold 9.113 million iPads in the past fiscal quarter.  iPad sales were highest for Apple in 2013 to 2015; for example, Apple sold 19.5 million iPads in 2013 Q2.  iPad sales have been reduced in recent years, but Apple did sell a few more iPads in 2018 Q2 than it did in 2017 Q2 (when it sold 8.922 million).
  • By my count, Apple has sold over 403 million iPads since they first went on sale in 2010.
  • To help you to see iPad sales over time, I prepared a chart that shows two things.  The blue line shows the actual iPad sales each quarter (in millions).  The green bars show the average of the current quarter and the prior three quarters.  I think that this chart is useful because while the blue line shows peaks every year in Apple's fiscal first quarter — the holiday quarter, when folks buy lots of iPads as presents — the green bars are more helpful for seeing iPad sales over time.  As this chart shows, the iPad was introduced in 2010 and saw a sharp rise in sales until the end of calendar year 2013 (the beginning of Apple's fiscal year 2014).  From calendar year 2014 through 2017 Q2, iPad sales have decreased over time.  But then iPad sales started to increase again.  The increase wasn't very much each quarter, and thus if you look at the last four green bars in this chart, you can only see a slight increase.  But it does increase.  For four quarters in a row, the four-quarter average of iPad sales has increased every single quarter.  I don't know if we will ever see the record iPad sales that we saw a few years ago, but as long as iPad sales continue to increase, Apple will (hopefully) be encouraged to continue to put resources into iPad development.  And hopefully that will translate into better iPads for us to use.

Other

  • This was Apple's best-ever quarter for services, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, etc.  Because much of this is subscription revenue, these should continue to be profitable areas for Apple in the future.
  • Cook noted that more transit systems are accepting Apple Pay, which has increased Apple Pay use by commuters.
  • Apple never reveals specific numbers for the Apple Watch, but Cook did say that 2018 Q2 Apple Watch sales were higher than any prior Q2, adding:  "Millions of customers are using Apple Watch to help them stay active, healthy, and connected, and they have made it the top selling watch in the world."
  • Apple also doesn't release specific numbers for the AirPods, but Cook said that the product is a "runaway hit."
  • Of course Tim Cook was not going to reveal any new products coming in the future, but Cook did show his excitement for the future, noting:  "We have the best pipeline of products and services we've ever had.  We have a huge installed base of active devices that is growing across all products, and we have the highest customer loyalty and satisfaction in the industry."
  • One analyst asked Tim Cook whether Apple's emphasis on user privacy was a focus because it could help Apple's revenue.  Cook pushed back and said that Apple doesn't see it that way.  "In terms of benefit, we don't really view it like that.  We view that privacy is a fundamental human right and that it's an extremely complex situation, if you're a user, to understand a lot of the user agreements and so forth.  And we've always viewed that part of our role was to sort of make things as simple as possible for the user and provide them a level of privacy and security."
Categories: iPhone Web Sites

The transition to 5G on the iPhone

iPhone J.D. - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 02:19

Yesterday, T-Mobile and Sprint announced that they will merge.  If the government approves, then we will have only three major wireless companies in the United States.  In the communications that I have seen from the two companies, including a joint website that went live yesterday, one of the main themes was that this merger would promote 5G, the next generation of wireless technology.  This makes me wonder, what will 5G bring us, and when can we start to use it on the iPhone?

100x faster

It won't surprise you that the primary advantage of 5G is faster Internet for mobile devices.  Indeed, wireless speed has increased dramatically since the iPhone was originally introduced in 2007, so we all expect this to continue in the future.

The original iPhone only supported 2G Edge wireless, and the addition of 3G support a year later was such an improvement that the second generation of iPhone mentions it in its name:  it was called the iPhone 3G.  Edge on the original iPhone provided download speeds of around 100 Kbps — about twice as fast as a 56K modem.  With 3G, the iPhone 3G in 2008 increased download speeds to around 500 Kbps.  Carriers improved 3G technology over time, and manufacturers improved devices to take advantage of that.  For example, in early 2009, I reported that AT&T was planning to double 3G speed, and by 2011, I was using an iPhone 4 with better 3G technology and I saw average download speeds of around 3 Mbps.

The iPhone 5 was introduced in the Fall of 2012, and one of the marquee features was support for 4G LTE.  It provided a major increase in wireless speed.  Here in New Orleans, in 2012-2013, I would typically see 4G LTE download speeds in the 30-40 Mbps range.  Those speeds increased over time as technology improved.  With my iPhone X in 2018, I typically see 4G LTE speeds of 75-100 Mbps, and I often see speeds well in excess 0f 100 Mbps.

 

While 4G has gotten faster over the years, just like 3G did, as I look back over the past decade, the major speed advantages have been when there was a new generation.  5G is being advertised as being the next major speed bump.  The CTIA, a trade organization for the wireless industry, says that 5G can be 100 times faster than 4G, and a chart on its website predicts a transition from 100 Mbps download speeds to 10 Gbps.  5G will also feature low latency that can make the internet five times more responsive when you initiate each request.

With this dramatic increase in speed, I imagine that we will see an increase in high quality video on demand, a vast increase in augmented reality, and even more services living in the cloud.  And of course, I'm sure that the faster speeds will prompt new innovations that many of us have not thought about yet.  The CTIA website says that with 5G, "[s]ensors will monitor the health and safety of critical infrastructure like buildings, roads, and bridges, while connected trash cans, bus stops, light poles and more will help cities operate more efficiently" and says that 5G will help self-driving cars.

A different kind of infrastructure

To date, wireless cell technology has been based on huge towers with antennas 125 feet in the air which would provide service for several miles.  But it turns out that 5G will be different.  5G is much faster, but the signal doesn't go nearly as far.  So instead of a smaller number of tall towers, 5G will work with a large number of microcells placed around 500 feet apart, often on streetlights or utility poles.

But it won't just be that microcell on a utility pole.  As reported by Allan Homes earlier this year in the New York Times, "[m]uch of the equipment will be on streetlights or utility poles," but it will often be "accompanied by containers the size of refrigerators on the ground."  That New York Times article includes pictures showing how these containers can be made to look like mailboxes so that they don't seem too out-of-place.  Because this equipment on the ground is a potential eyesore, some local governments are looking to regulate 5G implementation, which has led the wireless companies to lobby at the state and federal level to try to block local regulators from slowing down the transition to 5G.  Katherine Shaver of the Washington Post reports:  "Industry-backed legislative proposals introduced this year in 18 states, including Maryland and Virginia, would preempt most local zoning laws for small cell poles up to 50 feet tall.  They would limit residents’ input on applications for small cell facilities and restrict local governments’ ability to reject them."

In an editorial, the USA Today suggests this compromise:  "A smarter approach would bar localities from turning the permitting process into a cash cow, but would give them input on where 5G boxes go and what they should look like.  This kind of buy-in might seem burdensome.  But it is necessary to prevent a grass-roots rebellion of property owners and community activists."

The future is close

It will be interesting to see how these implementation details get worked out, but I presume that somehow, they will.  5G (and someday 6G, 7G, etc.) seems inevitable.  As noted above, T-Mobile and Sprint are seeking government approval of their merger so that they can be a leader in 5G technology.  AT&T announced a few months ago that "2018 will be the year you can experience mobile 5G from AT&T" with preliminary service "in a dozen cities, including parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas, by the end of this year."  Verizon announced a few days ago that it would launch 5G "in 3-5 markets later this year and take the same aggressive approach to the deployment of 5G mobility when devices become available."

As that quote from Verizon indicates, the initial rollout of 5G won't mean that you can start using it on your current iPhone.  When 5G first comes out, you'll need to have a dedicated hardware device to receive the 5G signal, which I presume you can then connect to a mobile phone via Wi-Fi.  3G was available in 2007 when the original iPhone was introduced, but Apple didn't take advantage of it for the first year of the iPhone because some of the initial 3G chips for mobile devices consumed too much power.  Apple waited for the technology to mature a little before adding 3G a year later in 2008 — and even then, just for AT&T.  (The first Verizon iPhone didn't come out until 2011.)

Complicating things further, I understand that there isn't yet any agreement in the industry on how 5G is going to work.  Thus, the technology that lets an iPhone talk to AT&T 5G may not also allow for communication with T-Mobile/Sprint 5G.

Nevertheless, I expect that it won't be long before 5G will start to have enough availability that you will want to have the opportunity to take advantage of it.  I don't expect a 5G iPhone or iPad in 2018, and I suspect that the technology will still be too new in 2019, but it wouldn't surprise me to see 5G in Apple mobile devices in the year 2020.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 23:47

As someone who started trying out iPhone apps in 2008, I eventually got to the point where I had hundreds of apps on my iPhone.  Last summer, as I was troubleshooting a problem, I ended up starting with a fresh install of iOS.  Since then, I've been more conservative about adding new apps ... but even so, I still have four screens full of apps on my iPhone, and many of those screens have lots of folders.  California attorney David Sparks apparently has more self-control than I do, because as he shows off in a post on his MacSparky website, he has only a single screen of apps and only four folders on that screen, with a system so that every app goes in a special place.  I'm not sure that I can ever see myself with just a single screen of apps, but I can see the logic to his approach.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • On the latest edition of the Apps in Law podcast, Brett Burney interviews Massachusetts attorney Howard Lenow, who discusses the Timeline 3D app.  Lenow does a good job of describing how this app is simple to use but very effective.
  • California attorney Jeffrey Allen and Texas attorney Ashley Hallene recommend some of their favorite apps in an article for the ABA's GPSolo eReport.
  • New York attorney Nicole Black discusses time-tracking software for lawyers, including apps that you can use on an iPhone.  One of the apps that she discusses is iTimeKeep, a new sponsor of iPhone J.D. and the app that I use in my law practice almost every day.
  • In early 2015, I noted that upgraded the Wi-Fi in my house by purchasing two AirPort Extreme wireless base stations, putting them at opposite ends of my house, and connecting them with a Cat 6 cable.  I've always liked Apple's AirPort base stations because they were so much easier to use and manage than routers made by other companies.  But Apple stopped updating their devices about five years ago, and never embraced the mesh networking technology that you see in many modern routers.  As reported by Rene Richie of iMore, yesterday Apple announced that it was officially out of the Wi-Fi router business that it entered in 1999 when Wi-Fi was in its infancy. 
  • If you are looking to upgrade the Wi-Fi in your home or office, Apple has some advice for selecting a Wi-Fi router that works well with Apple devices.
  • When I think of smart home and air conditioning, I think of smart thermostats.  But Mike Wuerthele of AppleInsider notes that GE is now shipping the first HomeKit-compatible window air conditioning unit.  And Ben Lovejoy of 9to5Mac notes that GE has some other units that work with HomeKit.
  • Jason Cross of Macworld recommends the best calculators for the iPhone and iPad.  His overall favorite is PCalc, and that's the one that I use too.
  • J.D. Biersdorfer of the New York Times explains how to add fonts to an iPad.
  • If you use Windows 10, Jim Tamous of The Mac Observer notes that iTunes is now available in the Microsoft Store.
  • Bradley Chambers of The Sweet Setup explains how you can change the title of memories in the Photos app.
  • And finally, in this 15 second video, Apple shows visually why the App Store on the iPhone is safer than other app stores on other smartphones:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

Networking Design for HPC and AI on IBM Power Systems

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 26 Apr 2018

This publication provides information about networking design for IBM® High Performance Computing (HPC) and AI for Power Systems™.

Categories: Technology

IBM Private, Public, and Hybrid Cloud Storage Solutions

IBM Redbooks Site - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Thu, 26 Apr 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication takes you on a journey that surveys cloud computing to answer several fundamental questions about storage cloud technology.

Categories: Technology

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