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Going Offline

A list Apart development site - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 09:10

A note from the editors: We’re excited to share Chapter 1 of Going Offline by Jeremy Keith, available this month from A Book Apart.

Businesses are built on the web. Without the web, Twitter couldn’t exist. Facebook couldn’t exist. And not just businesses—Wikipedia couldn’t exist. Your favorite blog couldn’t exist without the web. The web doesn’t favor any one kind of use. It’s been deliberately designed to accommodate many and varied activities.

Just as many wonderful things are built upon the web, the web itself is built upon the internet. Though we often use the terms web and internet interchangeably, the World Wide Web is just one application that uses the internet as its plumbing. Email, for instance, is another.

Like the web, the internet was designed to allow all kinds of services to be built on top of it. The internet is a network of networks, all of them agreeing to use the same protocols to shuttle packets of data around. Those packets are transmitted down fiber-optic cables across the ocean floor, bounced around with Wi-Fi or radio signals, or beamed from satellites in freakin’ space.

As long as these networks are working, the web is working. But sometimes networks go bad. Mobile networks have a tendency to get flaky once you’re on a train or in other situations where you’re, y’know, mobile. Wi-Fi networks work fine until you try to use one in a hotel room (their natural enemy).

When the network fails, the web fails. That’s just the way it is, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Until now.

Weaving the Web

For as long as I can remember, the World Wide Web has had an inferiority complex. Back in the ’90s, it was outshone by CD-ROMs (ask your parents). They had video, audio, and a richness that the web couldn’t match. But they lacked links—you couldn’t link from something in one CD-ROM to something in another CD-ROM. They faded away. The web grew.

Later, the web technologies of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript were found wanting when compared to the whiz-bang beauty of Flash. Again, Flash movies were much richer than regular web pages. But they were also black boxes. The Flash format seemed superior to the open standards of the web, and yet the very openness of those standards made the web an unstoppable force. Flash—under the control of just one company—faded away. The web grew.

These days it’s native apps that make the web look like an underachiever. Like Flash, they’re under the control of individual companies instead of being a shared resource like the web. Like Flash, they demonstrate all sorts of capabilities that the web lacks, such as access to device APIs and, crucially, the ability to work even when there’s no network connection.

The history of the web starts to sound like an endless retelling of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. CD-ROMs, Flash, and native apps outshine the web in the short term, but the web always seems to win the day somehow.

Each of those technologies proved very useful for the expansion of web standards. In a way, Flash was like the R&D department for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Smooth animations, embedded video, and other great features first saw the light of day in Flash. Having shown their usefulness, they later appeared in web standards. The same thing is happening with native apps. Access to device features like the camera and the accelerometer is beginning to show up in web browsers. Most exciting of all, we’re finally getting the ability for a website to continue working even when the network isn’t available.

Service Workers

The technology that makes this bewitching offline sorcery possible is a browser feature called service workers. You might have heard of them. You might have heard that they’re something to do with JavaScript, and technically they are…but conceptually they’re very different from other kinds of scripts.

Usually when you’re writing some JavaScript that’s going to run in a web browser, it’s all related to the document currently being displayed in the browser window. You might want to listen out for events triggered by the user interacting with the document (clicks, swipes, hovers, etc.). You might want to update the contents of the document: add some markup here, remove some text there, manipulate some values somewhere else. The sky’s the limit. And it’s all made possible thanks to the Document Object Model (DOM), a representation of what the browser is rendering. Through the combination of the DOM and JavaScript—DOM scripting, if you will—you can conjure up all sorts of wonderful magic.

Well, a service worker can’t do any of that. It’s still a script, and it’s still written in the same language—JavaScript—but it has no access to the DOM. Without any DOM scripting capabilities, this kind of script might seem useless at first glance. But there’s an advantage to having a script that never needs to interact with the current document. Adding, editing, and deleting parts of the DOM can be hard work for the browser. If you’re not careful, things can get very sluggish very quickly. But if there’s a whole class of script that isn’t allowed access to the DOM, then the browser can happily run that script in parallel to its regular rendering activities, safe in the knowledge that it’s an entirely separate process.

The first kind of script to come with this constraint was called a web worker. In a web worker, you could write some JavaScript to do number-crunching calculations without slowing down whatever else was being displayed in the browser window. Spin up a web worker to generate larger and larger prime numbers, for instance, and it will merrily do so in the background.

A service worker is like a web worker with extra powers. It still can’t access the DOM, but it does have access to the fundamental inner workings of the browser.

Browsers and servers

Let’s take a step back and think about how the World Wide Web works. It’s a beautiful ballet of client and server. The client is usually a web browser—or, to use the parlance of web standards, a user agent: a piece of software that acts on behalf of the user.

The user wants to accomplish a task or find some information. The URL is the key technology that will empower the user in their quest. They will either type a URL into their web browser or follow a link to get there. This is the point at which the web browser—or client—makes a request to a web server. Before the request can reach the server, it must traverse the internet of undersea cables, radio towers, and even the occasional satellite (Fig 1.1).

Fig 1.1: Browsers send URL requests to servers, and servers respond by sending files.

Imagine if you could leave instructions for the web browser that would be executed before the request is even sent. That’s exactly what service workers allow you to do (Fig 1.2).

Fig 1.2: Service workers tell the web browser to do something before they send the request to queue up a URL.

Usually when we write JavaScript, the code is executed after it’s been downloaded from a server. With service workers, we can write a script that’s executed by the browser before anything else happens. We can tell the browser, “If the user asks you to retrieve a URL for this particular website, run this corresponding bit of JavaScript first.” That explains why service workers don’t have access to the Document Object Model; when the service worker is run, there’s no document yet.

Getting your head around service workers

A service worker is like a cookie. Cookies are downloaded from a web server and installed in a browser. You can go to your browser’s preferences and see all the cookies that have been installed by sites you’ve visited. Cookies are very small and very simple little text files. A website can set a cookie, read a cookie, and update a cookie. A service worker script is much more powerful. It contains a set of instructions that the browser will consult before making any requests to the site that originally installed the service worker.

A service worker is like a virus. When you visit a website, a service worker is surreptitiously installed in the background. Afterwards, whenever you make a request to that website, your request will be intercepted by the service worker first. Your computer or phone becomes the home for service workers lurking in wait, ready to perform man-in-the-middle attacks. Don’t panic. A service worker can only handle requests for the site that originally installed that service worker. When you write a service worker, you can only use it to perform man-in-the-middle attacks on your own website.

A service worker is like a toolbox. By itself, a service worker can’t do much. But it allows you to access some very powerful browser features, like the Fetch API, the Cache API, and even notifications. API stands for Application Programming Interface, which sounds very fancy but really just means a tool that you can program however you want. You can write a set of instructions in your service worker to take advantage of these tools. Most of your instructions will be written as “when this happens, reach for this tool.” If, for instance, the network connection fails, you can instruct the service worker to retrieve a backup file using the Cache API.

A service worker is like a duck-billed platypus. The platypus not only lactates, but also lays eggs. It’s the only mammal capable of making its own custard. A service worker can also…Actually, hang on, a service worker is nothing like a duck-billed platypus! Sorry about that. But a service worker is somewhat like a cookie, and somewhat like a virus, and somewhat like a toolbox.

Safety First

Service workers are powerful. Once a service worker has been installed on your machine, it lies in wait, like a patient spider waiting to feel the vibrations of a particular thread.

Imagine if a malicious ne’er-do-well wanted to wreak havoc by impersonating a website in order to install a service worker. They could write instructions in the service worker to prevent the website ever appearing in that browser again. Or they could write instructions to swap out the content displayed under that site’s domain. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that a service worker really belongs to the site it claims to come from. As the specification for service workers puts it, they “create the opportunity for a bad actor to turn a bad day into a bad eternity.”1

To prevent this calamity, service workers require you to adhere to two policies:

Same origin.

HTTPS only.

The same-origin policy means that a website at example.com can only install a service worker script that lives at example.com. That means you can’t put your service worker script on a different domain. You can use a domain like for hosting your images and other assets, but not your service worker script. That domain wouldn’t match the domain of the site installing the service worker.

The HTTPS-only policy means that https://example.com can install a service worker, but http://example.com can’t. A site running under HTTPS (the S stands for Secure) instead of HTTP is much harder to spoof. Without HTTPS, the communication between a browser and a server could be intercepted and altered. If you’re sitting in a coffee shop with an open Wi-Fi network, there’s no guarantee that anything you’re reading in browser from http://newswebsite.com hasn’t been tampered with. But if you’re reading something from https://newswebsite.com, you can be pretty sure you’re getting what you asked for.

Securing your site

Enabling HTTPS on your site opens up a whole series of secure-only browser features—like the JavaScript APIs for geolocation, payments, notifications, and service workers. Even if you never plan to add a service worker to your site, it’s still a good idea to switch to HTTPS. A secure connection makes it trickier for snoopers to see who’s visiting which websites. Your website might not contain particularly sensitive information, but when someone visits your site, that’s between you and your visitor. Enabling HTTPS won’t stop unethical surveillance by the NSA, but it makes the surveillance slightly more difficult.

There’s one exception. You can use a service worker on a site being served from localhost, a web server on your own computer, not part of the web. That means you can play around with service workers without having to deploy your code to a live site every time you want to test something.

If you’re using a Mac, you can spin up a local server from the command line. Let’s say your website is in a folder called mysite. Drag that folder to the Terminal app, or open up the Terminal app and navigate to that folder using the cd command to change directory. Then type:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000

This starts a web server from the mysite folder, served over port 8000. Now you can visit localhost:8000 in a web browser on the same computer, which means you can add a service worker to the website you’ve got inside the mysite folder: http://localhost:8000.

This starts a web server from the mysite folder, served over port 8000. Now you can visit localhost:8000 in a web browser on the same computer, which means you can add a service worker to the website you’ve got inside the mysite folder: http://localhost:8000.


But if you then put the site live at, say, http://mysite.com, the service worker won’t run. You’ll need to serve the site from https://mysite.com instead. To do that, you need a secure certificate for your server.

There was a time when certificates cost money and were difficult to install. Now, thanks to a service called Certbot, certificates are free. But I’m not going to lie: it still feels a bit intimidating to install the certificate. There’s something about logging on to a server and typing commands that makes me simultaneously feel like a l33t hacker, and also like I’m going to break everything. Fortunately, the process of using Certbot is relatively jargon-free (Fig 1.3).

Fig 1.3: The website of EFF’s Certbot.

On the Certbot website, you choose which kind of web server and operating system your site is running on. From there you’ll be guided step-by-step through the commands you need to type in the command line of your web server’s computer, which means you’ll need to have SSH access to that machine. If you’re on shared hosting, that might not be possible. In that case, check to see if your hosting provider offers secure certificates. If not, please pester them to do so, or switch to a hosting provider that can serve your site over HTTPS.

Another option is to stay with your current hosting provider, but use a service like Cloudflare to act as a “front” for your website. These services can serve your website’s files from data centers around the world, making sure that the physical distance between your site’s visitors and your site’s files is nice and short. And while they’re at it, these services can make sure all of those files are served over HTTPS.

Once you’re set up with HTTPS, you’re ready to write a service worker script. It’s time to open up your favorite text editor. You’re about to turbocharge your website!

Footnotes
Categories: Technology

Review: CARROT Weather -- excellent weather app, with attitude

iPhone J.D. - Sun, 04/08/2018 - 23:57

There are a large number of weather apps available for the iPhone, so it takes a lot for a weather app to distinguish itself.  One way to do so is to provide detailed forecasts.  Another way to do so is to have a great interface for the same information that other apps provide (and for a long time, Weather Line was my favorite weather app because of the interface).  CARROT Weather does both, and adds a new way to distinguish itself:  a personality.  In fact, I started using the app because it sounded interesting to use an app with a snarky disposition, although I figured that would be a gimmick which would get old quickly.  I stayed with the app for because it is a fantastic weather app, more useful than any other I have ever used on the iPhone.  After using the app for six months, this is my favorite weather app, and the one that I recommend.

Personality

Let's start by discussing what got me to try to this app in the first place:  the personality.  In addition to telling you the weather, the app provides a line of dialogue relating to what the weather is.  For example, if the weather is cloudy, the app may say things like:  "The sun is playing hooky today" or "Worst.  Clouds.  Ever."  Sometimes the dialogue is an attempt by the app to insult you, such as:  "You've wasted your life.  Also, it's cloudy right now" or "Your weather is bad and you should feel bad."  Sometimes the app tries to be funny, such as:  "It's fifty shades of grey out" or "Every cloud has a silver lining.  Except for mushroom-shaped ones.  They have a lining of Iridium and Strontium 90."  Often the app says something bizarre, such as "That cloud looks like a toddler drowning a rubber ducky" or "What's the point of being able to control the weather if I can't make everyone miserable with cloudy weather from time to time?"  Sometimes the dialogue reflects current events, including occasionally a reference to something that happened that same day (often involving President Trump).  And sometimes the app lies to you, such as insisting that it is sunny when it is actually raining.

 

You can adjust the personality in settings, selecting from Professional, Friendly, Snarky, Homicidal and Overkill.  You can also adjust the political leaning:  Centrist, Liberal, Conservative or No Politics.  You can also tap the dialogue on the main page to swap between a generic, professional description of the weather and the more humorous message.

Why does a weather app need to have a personality?  It doesn't, but it sure does make the app more fun to use.  Sometimes the dialogue falls flat, but it has often made me chuckle.  And there must be lots of phrases in there because I don't remember ever seeing it repeat.  This app reminds me of other technology with an attitude:  Siri, HAL 9000 from the movie 2001, GLaDOS from the Portal video game, etc.  When you add personality to an item of technology, it can become more interesting.

Weather data

As I noted, the personality made me want to check out CARROT Weather in the first place, but this is my favorite weather app because of the quality and presentation of the data.

By default you get weather data for your current location.  In the settings you can make the default the last place for which you checked the weather.  And you can always tap the current location at the top of the screen to change to another city.  The app remembers cities that you selected previously and presents them in a list so that you can select them again more easily.  (Or swipe to the left or right with two fingers to switch between cites.)  You can even adjust the pinpoint location for a city — down to a street address — and you can change the name.  So instead of getting the general weather for Chicago, you can opt to see the specific weather at your grandma's house.

The main screen of CARROT Weather shows you the weather.  The top of the screen has a large number telling you the current temperature.  Next to that number, you see the "feels like" temperature, the precipitation, and the wind.  But those are just defaults; you can put whatever you want next to the temperature such as UV Index, Celsius (if your normal weather is in Fahrenheit), cloud cover, visibility, pressure, humidity, sunrise / sunset, moon phase, etc.)  And while three items are displayed next to the number, you can also set a 4th, 5th and 6th item that displays when you tap the number.

In the middle of the screen there is a pixelated person on a landscape, for no real reason other than to show something interesting.  But when there is a chance of rain or snow in the next hour (using the excellent Dark Sky data that many other iPhone apps use), you instead get a graph showing you precisely when the precipitation will start and stop in your location.  These forecasts are incredibly accurate.  If the app says that it will start raining in two minutes, I would start opening up your umbrella in about 90 seconds. 

Most of the bottom portion of the screen contains columns showing the weather each hour.  Much like the Weather Line app, your eye can quickly see — based upon the relative height of the forecast icon in each column — whether it is getting hotter or colder over time.  The icon for each hour also gives you a sense of what the weather will be that hour — sunny, rainy, overcast, etc.  The bottom of each column shows you the percentage chance of precipitation during that hour, but I often find it accurate enough to just look at the icon associated with each hour; if there is a raindrop in the icon it will rain, otherwise it will not.  Tap any column and the top of the app will show you more detailed weather information for that particular hour.

You can scroll to the right to see hourly forecasts for the next 48 hours.  When you reach the end, you can also tap to see extended (although often less accurate) hourly data for a full seven days.

 
At the very bottom of the app, there are larger icons with the daily forecasts for the next seven days.  Tap any day to jump directly to the hourly forecasts for that day.

Radar

Tap the radar icon at the top of the main screen of this app to see a map with the radar.  At the bottom right of the screen you can change the overlay from the radar to something else, like temperature or wind.  You can tap a Play button at the bottom left to animate the radar over the past two hours.

Time Travel

The app includes a Time Travel feature to show you the weather for a specific day in the past 70 years. Was it raining on the night of the car accident that is the subject of your litigation?  This app can tell you.

 
You can also select any upcoming date for the next 10 years to get a prediction of what the weather will be like on some future date.  I haven't tested this much, but I imagine that it is a guess based on prior conditions for the same date.

Apple Watch

There are not many third party Apple Watch apps which are just as useful as Apple's built-in apps, but CARROT Weather is one of them.  You can add a complication to your watch screen, and you can customize it to present exactly what you want.  What I have been using is a line of text at the bottom of my Activity watch face with an icon to show current conditions, followed by the current temperature, followed by the high and low for the day.  That tells me most of what I need to know. 

Tap the complication to open the CARROT Weather app on the Apple Watch.  On the iPhone, you customize many different aspects of the Apple Watch interface, so you just see what you want to see.

 

Notifications

You can configure the app to send you notifications.  For example, the app can send you an alert when rain or snow is expected in the next hour (in the U.S. or U.K.).  You can get government-issued severe weather alerts.  You can get a morning report and an evening report. 

And more...

The app is a universal app so it also works on the iPad.  You can also get the app for the Mac or for the Apple TV. 

The app has a Secret Locations feature, which gives you an in-app map game in which you need to find places on a map, but I haven't spent much time with that. There are also achievement badges, much like what you can get with the Apple Watch, but they are much more silly, such as the "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" badge for experiencing your first snowfall.

In the settings for the app located in the iPhone's main Settings app, you can flip a switch to change whether CARROT Weather uses a voice to speak out loud to you when you start the app.

If you want to really annoy the CARROT Weather app, swipe down from the top of the screen to bring up the in-app settings, and poke the "eye" of the app on the left side of the screen.  (Or go into AR Mode and poke the app's eye.)  The more you do it, the more annoyed the app will get.

Price

The app itself costs $4.99.  To access some of the more advanced features, such as customizing the iPhone and Apple Watch interface and receiving notifications, you need to pay for a subscription, either $0.49 a month or $3.99 a year.

If you have a custom weather station that you want to use as the source of your weather information (such as weather monitoring hardware in your own backyard), CARROT Weather can work with that as well, but you need a more expensive subscription of $9.99 a year.

Conclusion

It is fun using an app with some attitude, and I like that you can adjust how much personality the app exhibits.  But what really makes this app shine is that it provides you with all of the weather data that you want, in an easy-to-read interface for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch that you can customize to your heart's content.  Even if you don't want an app with attitude, just set the app to Professional mode; you'll still love the app for all of the information that it contains.  Additionally, this is probably my favorite third party app on the Apple Watch. 

I see that I am not the only one who considers CARROT Weather to be the best weather app.  Bradley Chambers of The Sweet Setup picked CARROT Weather as the best weather app, as did Josh Centers in an article for TidBITS.  It takes a lot to shine above all of the other weather apps on the App Store, but CARROT Weather manages to do it.  This is a great app.

Click here to get CARROT Weather ($4.99): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

ABCs of IBM z/OS System Programming Volume 2

IBM Redbooks Site - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Sat, 7 Apr 2018

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

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 04/06/2018 - 01:03

If you wear an Apple Watch, you have probably noticed that if you walk at a brisk pace with your arms moving for at least two to three minutes, the Apple Watch will start to give you credit towards the green activity circle.  That kind of walking isn't a strenuous workout, so does it really help?  Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times reports that, based on a new study of physical activity, short walks reduce your risk of dying prematurely just as well as longer walks do, so it doesn't matter if you reach 30 minutes of walking by taking a bunch of short walks or just a few long walks.  Of course, you'll need to do more than that to lose weight, but the Apple Watch is correct to give you credit because even those short walks are still doing your body some good.  And now, the recent news of note:

  • Lit Software (a sponsor of iPhone J.D. this month) profiled on its blog Atlanta attorney Lloyd Bell, who used TrialPad on his iPad to present medical records and other evidence to a jury in a medical malpractice case, resulting in a $26 million verdict.
  • In an article for Slaw, Virginia attorney Sharon Nelson and her husband, security expert John Simek, write a good overview of the risks of cloud computing for attorneys.  While they think that attorneys should be cautious, they also believe that "the cloud will generally protect a law firm’s data better than the law firm would itself."
  • In an article for Venture Beat, attorney Jeremy Horwitz reviews the new sixth generation iPad, finding that it is a great alternative for many iPad users.
  • Rene Ritchie of iMore wrote a comprehensive review of the new sixth generation iPad.  The title sums it up well:  "Half the [iPad] Pro for half the price."
  • In an article for Macworld, Michael Simon compares the 9.7" sixth generation iPad to the 10.5" iPad Pro.  Serenity Caldwell of iMore also compared the two.  Keep in mind that this is the iPad Pro that was released a year ago; I expect Apple to release a 2018 version of the 10.5" iPad Pro this Summer or Fall.
  • I am a huge proponent of attorneys (and others) using password managers, and my personal favorite is 1Password.  This week the company unveiled 1Password Business, designed for larger teams.  It includes features like Active Directory integration so that companies can automate provisioning.
  • Scanner Pro by Readdle (my review) is my favorite app for turning paper documents into PDFs, and I use it frequently.  But Scanbot is also an excellent scanner app, and I see that this week it was updated to version 7, adding lots of new features.
  • AirPods are one of my all-time favorite Apple products.  Vlad Sarov, who reviews high-end audio equipment for The Verge, posted a review and finds them to be the best in class.  But what is just as interesting is that Sarov originally panned the AirPods before he had a chance to really try them, and Jonathan Kim provides an interesting perspective on this 180° change.
  • Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac interviewed Rob Janoff, the man who designed the Apple logo back in 1977, a version of which is still being used today.
  • iOS 11.3 came out last week.  Rene Ritchie of iMore explains what is new.
  • I've seen very favorable reviews of the Nest Hello, its version of a video doorbell, including this one by Martyn Williams of TechHive and this one by Phil Nickinson of iMore.  It may well be the best choice if you use a Google Home device.  I would be interested to see a reviewer select the best video doorbell for folks who use an iPhone and Apple's HomeKit technology.
  • Zac Hall of 9to5Mac explains how to use HomeKit to automatically turn on outdoor lights based on sunset and sunrise.  I have two different sets of lights in the front of my house — a downstairs front porch and an upstairs front porch — being controlled by HomeKit to do just this.
  • This item is for my 10 year old daughter, and any of you out there who have kids who are similarly engrossed by Harry Potter.  Bryan Chaffin of the Mac Observer reports that on April 25th, there will be a new iOS game based on the Harry Potter franchise.  This one takes place before Harry Potter was born, and it is set at Hogwarts and reunites many of the voice actors from the movie such as Maggie Smith and Warwick Davis.  I have no doubt that my daughter is going to spend many hours on this one.
  • And finally, Apple released a one minute video this week showing how easy it is to take a picture of whatever is on your iPad screen and annotate it using an Apple Pencil:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

[Sponsor] Lit Software -- TrialPad, TranscriptPad and DocReviewPad apps for the iPad

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 21:44

Thank you to Lit Software for sponsoring iPhone J.D. this month.  Lit Software has a long history of helping attorneys use iPads in a law practice.  Shortly after the iPad was first released in 2010, the company released TrialPad, an app that attorneys can use to present evidence to a jury, judge, or other audience.  It was one of the first professional apps for any profession, and countless attorneys have successfully used this app over the years.  Here is my review.

The second app for attorneys created by Lit Software was TranscriptPad (my review).  I know of no better way to manage, annotate, and work with transcripts in a law practice.  It easily beats working with paper or any other software solution out there.  The complex litigation and other cases that I work on don't go to trial very often, but I do work with depositions all the time, so TranscriptPad is the Lit Software app that gets the most use on my iPad.

More recently, Lit Software released DocReviewApp (my review).  This is an app that you can use to review and annotate documents on your iPad, so this app is especially useful during the request for production of documents process.

I got a chance to catch up with the folks at Lit Software when I was at ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago last month, and I was excited to hear about TimelinePad, an app that the company is currently working on which will let you create timelines to explain to a jury and others how certain facts, documents, etc. work together chronologically. 

In addition to coming up with new apps for attorneys, the company is constantly working on improvements to its existing apps.  One improvement that the company added to TranscriptPad last year is the ability to quickly create impeachment reports.  At a trial or subsequent deposition, attorneys often impeach a witness based on inconsistent prior testimony, or perhaps the testimony of another witness.  It is nice to present the quote of the witness on a big slide so that everyone — including the jury and the witness — can see the testimony.  TranscriptPad can now create these slides in just seconds.

Here's how it works.  After you have reviewed and annotated a deposition in TranscriptPad, all of the key testimony will be assigned to the issue codes that you selected for your case.  Tap the Reports button and then in the list of PDF Report types, select the second option, Impeachment.  Decide if you want a white or a black background, and select the annotations that you want to be turned into slides.  For example, you might want to just create slides for one issue code. 

Tap Create Report and you are done.  The app then presents you with a multi-page PDF file in which each page is a different slide.  The quote is large and easy to read on the slide, and the margins show the page and line number, deposition date, etc. to provide the textual context for everyone to see that this is taken directly from the deposition.

Do whatever you want with the PDF file — send it to TrialPad, email it, or open it with another app that you are using to present your evidence. 

What is nice about this feature is that it works so quickly that you can even create slides just seconds before you need to present them.  As soon as the witness says something that is inconsistent, you don't need to worry about whether you remembered last week to create an impeachment slide just in case this happened.  The TranscriptPad app allows you to create the impression that you were prepared for this very testimony — even if you were just as surprised by everyone else at what the witness is now saying.

While the Impeachment Report feature is one of the newer features of a Lit Software app, it is just one the countless features that you can use to be a better attorney with these apps on your iPad.  Thanks to Lit Software for sponsoring iPhone J.D. this month, and a big thank you to Lit Software for giving attorneys these powerful tools. 

Click here to get TrialPad ($129.99): 

Click here to get TranscriptPad ($89.99): 

Click here for DocReviewPad ($89.99): 

Click here for the Ultimate Litigation Package (all three apps) ($299.99): 

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

IBM DS8880 and IBM Z Synergy

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Wed, 4 Apr 2018

From the beginning, what is known today as IBM® Z always had a close and unique relationship to its storage.

Categories: Technology

Consolidation Workbook

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redpaper, last updated: Wed, 4 Apr 2018

LinuxONE is a portfolio of hardware, software, and solutions for an enterprise-grade Linux environment.

Categories: Technology

ABCs of z/OS System Programming Volume 10

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redbook, last updated: Wed, 4 Apr 2018

The ABCs of 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

Planning for Everything

A list Apart development site - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 09:22

A note from the editors: We’re pleased to share an excerpt from Chapter 7 (“Reflecting”) of Planning for Everything: The Design of Paths and Goals by Peter Morville, available now from Semantic Studios.

Once upon a time, there was a happy family. Every night at dinner, mom, dad, and two girls who still believed in Santa played a game. The rules are simple. Tell three stories about your day, two true, one false, and see who can detect the fib. Today I saw a lady walk a rabbit on a leash. Today I found a tooth in the kitchen. Today I forgot my underwear. The family ate, laughed, and learned together, and lied happily ever after.

There’s truth in the tale. It’s mostly not false. We did play this game, for years, and it was fun. We loved to stun and bewilder each other, yet the big surprise was insight. In reflecting on my day, I was often amazed by oddities already lost. If not for the intentional search for anomaly, I’d have erased these standard deviations from memory. The misfits we find, we rarely recall.

We observe a tiny bit of reality. We understand and remember even less. Unlike most machines, our memory is selective and purposeful. Goals and beliefs define what we notice and store.  To mental maps we add places we predict we’ll need to visit later. It’s not about the past. The intent of memory is to plan.

In reflecting we look back to go forward. We search the past for truths and insights to shift the future. I’m not speaking of nostalgia, though we are all borne back ceaselessly and want what we think we had. My aim is redirection. In reflecting on inconvenient truths, I hope to change not only paths but goals.

Figure 7-1. Reflection changes direction.

We all have times for reflection. Alone in the shower or on a walk, we retrace the steps of a day. Together at lunch for work or over family dinner, we share memories and missteps. Some of us reflect more rigorously than others. Given time, it shows.

People who as a matter of habit extract underlying principles or rules from new experiences are more successful learners than those who take their experiences at face value, failing to infer lessons that can be applied later in similar situations.1

In Agile, the sprint retrospective offers a collaborative context for reflection. Every two to four weeks, at the end of a sprint, the team meets for an hour or so to look back. Focal questions include 1) what went well? 2) what went wrong? 3) how might we improve? In reflecting on the plan, execution, and results, the team explores surprises, conflicts, roadblocks, and lessons.

In addition to conventional analysis, a retrospective creates an opportunity for double loop learning. To edit planned actions based on feedback is normal, but revising assumptions, goals, values, methods, or metrics may effect change more profound. A team able to expand the frame may hack their habits, beliefs, and environment to be better prepared to succeed and learn.

Figure 7-2. Double loop learning.

Retrospectives allow for constructive feedback to drive team learning and bonding, but that’s what makes them hard. We may lack courage to be honest, and often people can’t handle the truth. Our filters are as powerful as they are idiosyncratic, which means we’re all blind men touching a tortoise, or is it a tree or an elephant? It hurts to reconcile different perceptions of reality, so all too often we simply shut up and shut down.

Search for Truth

To seek truth together requires a culture of humility and respect. We are all deeply flawed and valuable. We must all speak and listen. Ideas we don’t implement may lead to those we do. Errors we find aren’t about fault, since our intent is a future fix. And counterfactuals merit no more confidence than predictions, as we never know what would have happened if.

Reflection is more fruitful if we know our own minds, but that is harder than we think. An imperfect ability to predict actions of sentient beings is a product of evolution. It’s quick and dirty yet better than nothing in the context of survival in a jungle or a tribe. Intriguingly, cognitive psychology and neuroscience have shown we use the same theory of mind to study ourselves.

Self-awareness is just this same mind reading ability, turned around and employed on our own mind, with all the fallibility, speculation, and lack of direct evidence that bedevils mind reading as a tool for guessing at the thought and behavior of others.2

Empirical science tells us introspection and consciousness are unreliable bases for self-knowledge. We know this is true but ignore it all the time. I’ll do an hour of homework a day, not leave it to the end of vacation. If we adopt a dog, I’ll walk it. If I buy a house, I’ll be happy. I’ll only have one drink. We are more than we think, as Walt Whitman wrote in Song of Myself.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Our best laid plans go awry because complexity exists within as well as without. Our chaotic, intertwingled bodyminds are ecosystems inside ecosystems. No wonder it’s hard to predict. Still, it’s wise to seek self truth, or at least that’s what I think.

Upon reflection, my mirror neurons tell me I’m a shy introvert who loves reading, hiking, and planning. I avoid conflict when possible but do not lack courage. Once I set a goal, I may focus and filter relentlessly. I embrace habit and eschew novelty. If I fail, I tend to pivot rather than persist. Who I am is changing. I believe it’s speeding up. None of these traits is bad or good, as all things are double-edged. But mindful self awareness holds value. The more I notice the truth, the better my plans become.

Years ago, I planned a family vacation on St. Thomas. I kept it simple: a place near a beach where we could snorkel. It was a wonderful, relaxing escape. But over time a different message made it past my filters. Our girls had been bored. I dismissed it at first. I’d planned a shared experience I recalled fondly. It hurt to hear otherwise. But at last I did listen and learn. They longed not for escape but adventure. Thus our trip to Belize. I found planning and executing stressful due to risk, but I have no regrets. We shared a joyful adventure we’ll never forget.

Way back when we were juggling toddlers, we accidentally threw out the mail. Bills went unpaid, notices came, we swore we’d do better, then lost mail again. One day I got home from work to find an indoor mailbox system made with paint cans. My wife Susan built it in a day. We’ve used it to sort and save mail for 15 years. It’s an epic life hack I’d never have done. My ability to focus means I filter things out. I ignore problems and miss fixes. I’m not sure I’ll change. Perhaps it merits a prayer.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

We also seek wisdom in others. This explains our fascination with the statistics of regret. End of life wishes often include:

I wish I’d taken more risks, touched more lives, stood up to bullies, been a better spouse or parent or child. I should have followed my dreams, worked and worried less, listened more. If only I’d taken better care of myself, chosen meaningful work, had the courage to express my feelings, stayed in touch. I wish I’d let myself be happy.

While they do yield wisdom, last wishes are hard to hear. We are skeptics for good reason. Memory prepares for the future, and that too is the aim of regret. It’s unwise to trust the clarity of rose-colored glasses. The memory of pain and anxiety fades in time, but our desire for integrity grows. When time is short, regret is a way to rectify. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m passing it on to you. I’m a better person now. Don’t make my mistakes. It’s easy to say “I wish I’d stood up to bullies,” but hard to do at the time. There’s wisdom in last wishes but bias and self justification too. Confabulation means we edit memories with no intention to deceive. The truth is elusive. Reflection is hard.

Footnotes
  • 1. Make It Stick by Peter Brown et. al. (2014), p.133.
  • 2. Why You Don’t Know Your Own Mind by Alex Rosenberg (2016).
Categories: Technology

IBM Spectrum Connect and IBM Storage Enabler for Containers: Practical Example with IBM FlashSystem A9000

IBM Redbooks Site - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Mon, 2 Apr 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication provides an overview of containers and their framework.

Categories: Technology

IBM TS7700 Release 4.1 and 4.1.2 Guide

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redbook, last updated: Fri, 30 Mar 2018

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

Categories: Technology

IBM FlashSystem V9000 Model AE3 Product Guide

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Fri, 30 Mar 2018

This IBM Redbooks® Product Guide describes IBM FlashSystem® V9000, which is a comprehensive all-flash enterprise storage solution that delivers the full capabilities of IBM FlashCore® technology.

Categories: Technology

IBM GDPS Family: An introduction to Concepts and Capabilities

IBM Redbooks Site - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 09:30
Draft Redbook, last updated: Fri, 30 Mar 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication presents an overview of the IBM Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex™ (IBM GDPS®) offerings and the roles they play in delivering a business IT resilience solution.

Categories: Technology

Meeting Design

A list Apart development site - Thu, 03/29/2018 - 09:13

A note from the editors: We’re pleased to share an excerpt from Chapter 2 (“The Design Constraint of All Meetings”) of Meeting Design: For Managers, Makers, and Everyone by Kevin Hoffman, available now from Two Waves.

Jane is a “do it right, or I’ll do it myself ” kind of person. She leads marketing, customer service, and information technology teams for a small airline that operates between islands of the Caribbean. Her work relies heavily on “reservation management system” (RMS) software, which is due for an upgrade. She convenes a Monday morning meeting to discuss an upgrade with the leadership from each of her three teams. The goal of this meeting is to identify key points for a proposal to upgrade the outdated software.

Jane begins by reviewing the new software’s advantages. She then goes around the room, engaging each team’s representatives in an open discussion. They capture how this software should alleviate current pain points; someone from marketing takes notes on a laptop, as is their tradition. The meeting lasts nearly three hours, which is a lot longer than expected, because they frequently loop back to earlier topics as people forget what was said. It concludes with a single follow-up action item: the director of each department will provide her with two lists for the upgrade proposal. First, a list of cost savings, and second, a list of timesaving outcomes. Each list is due back to Jane by the end of the week.

The first team’s list is done early but not organized clearly. The second list provides far too much detail to absorb quickly, so Jane puts their work aside to summarize later. By the end of the following Monday, there’s no list from the third team—it turns out they thought she meant the following Friday. Out of frustration, Jane calls another meeting to address the problems with the work she received, which range from “not quite right” to “not done at all.” Based on this pace, her upgrade proposal is going to be finished two weeks later than planned.

What went wrong? The plan seemed perfectly clear to Jane, but each team remembered their marching orders differently, if they remembered them at all. Jane could have a meeting experience that helps her team form more accurate memories. But for that meeting to happen, she needs to understand where those memories are formed in her team and how to form them more clearly.

Better Meetings Make Better Memories

If people are the one ingredient that all meetings have in common, there is one design constraint they all bring: their capacity to remember the discussion. That capacity lives in the human brain.

The brain shapes everything believed to be true about the world. On the one hand, it is a powerful computer that can be trained to memorize thousands of numbers in random sequences.1 But brains are also easily deceived, swayed by illusions and pre-existing biases. Those things show up in meetings as your instincts. Instincts vary greatly based on differences in the amount and type of previous experience. The paradox of ability and deceive-ability creates a weird mix of unpredictable behavior in meetings. It’s no wonder that they feel awkward.

What is known about how memory works in the brain is constantly evolving. To cover that in even a little detail is beyond the scope of this book, so this chapter is not meant to be an exhaustive look at human memory. However, there are a few interesting theories that will help you be more strategic about how you use meetings to support forming actionable memories.

Your Memory in Meetings

The brain’s job in meetings is to accept inputs (things we see, hear, and touch) and store it as memory, and then to apply those absorbed ideas in discussion (things we say and make). See Figure 2.1.

FIGURE 2.1 The human brain has a diverse set of inputs that contribute to your memories.

Neuroscience has identified four theoretical stages of memory, which include sensory, working, intermediate, and long-term. Understanding working memory and intermediate memory is relevant to meetings, because these stages represent the most potential to turn thought into action.

Working Memory

You may be familiar with the term short-term memory. Depending on the research you read, the term working memory has replaced short-term memory in the vocabulary of neuro- and cognitive science. I’ll use the term working memory here. Designing meeting experiences to support the working memory of attendees will improve meetings.

Working memory collects around 30 seconds of the things you’ve recently heard and seen. Its storage capacity is limited, and that capacity varies among individuals. This means that not everyone in a meeting has the same capacity to store things in their working memory. You might assume that because you remember an idea mentioned within the last few minutes of a meeting, everyone else probably will as well. That is not necessarily the case.

You can accommodate variations in people’s ability to use working memory by establishing a reasonable pace of information. The pace of information is directly connected to how well aligned attendees’ working memories become. To make sure that everyone is on the same page, you should set a pace that is deliberate, consistent, and slower than your normal pace of thought.

Sometimes, concepts are presented more quickly than people can remember them, simply because the presenter is already familiar with the details. Breaking information into evenly sized, consumable chunks is what separates a great presenter from an average (or bad) one. In a meeting, slower, more broken-up pacing allows a group of people to engage in constructive and critical thinking more effectively. It gets the same ideas in everyone’s head. (For a more detailed dive into the pace of content in meetings, see Chapter 3, “Build Agendas Out of Ideas, People, and Time.”)

Theoretical models that explain working memory are complex, as seen in Figure 2.2.2 This model presumes two distinct processes taking place in your brain to make meaning out of what you see, what you hear, and how much you can keep in your mind. Assuming that your brain creates working memories from what you see and what you hear in different ways, combining listening and seeing in meetings becomes more essential to getting value out of that time.

FIGURE 2.2 Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch’s Model of Working Memory provides context for the interplay between what we see and hear in meetings.

In a meeting, absorbing something seen and absorbing something heard require different parts of the brain. Those two parts can work together to improve retention (the quantity and accuracy of information in our brain) or compete to reduce retention. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the research of Richard E. Meyer, where he has found that “people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone, but not all graphics are created equal(ly).”3 When what you hear and what you see compete, it creates cognitive dissonance. Listening to someone speaking while reading the same words on a screen actually decreases the ability to commit something to memory. People who are subjected to presentation slides filled with speaking points face this challenge. But listening to someone while looking at a complementary photograph or drawing increases the likelihood of committing something to working memory.

Intermediate-Term Memory

Your memory should transform ideas absorbed in meetings into taking an action of some kind afterward. Triggering intermediate-term memories is the secret to making that happen. Intermediate-term memories last between two and three hours, and are characterized by processes taking place in the brain called biochemical translation and transcription. Translation can be considered as a process by which the brain makes new meaning. Transcription is where that meaning is replicated (see Figures 2.3a and 2.3b). In both processes, the cells in your brain are creating new proteins using existing ones: making some “new stuff” from “existing stuff.”4

FIGURE 2.3 Biochemical translation (a) and transcription (b), loosely in the form of understanding a hat.

Here’s an example: instead of having someone take notes on a laptop, imagine if Jane sketched a diagram that helped her make sense out of the discussion, using what was stored in her working memory. The creation of that diagram is an act of translation, and theoretically Jane should be able to recall the primary details of that diagram easily for two to three hours, because it’s moving into her intermediate memory.

If Jane made copies of that diagram, and the diagram was so compelling that those copies ended up on everyone’s wall around the office that would be transcription. Transcription is the (theoretical) process that leads us into longer-term stages of memory. Transcription connects understanding something within a meeting to acting on it later, well after the meeting has ended.

Most of the time simple meetings last from 10 minutes to an hour, while workshops and working sessions can last anywhere from 90 minutes to a few days. Consider the duration of various stages of memory against different meeting lengths (see Figure 2.4). A well-designed meeting experience moves the right information from working to intermediate memory. Ideas generated and decisions made should materialize into actions that take place outside the meeting. Any session without breaks that lasts longer than 90 minutes makes the job of your memories moving thought into action fuzzier, and therefore more difficult.

FIGURE 2.4 The time duration of common meetings against the varying durations for different stages of memory. Sessions longer than 90 minutes can impede memories from doing their job.

Jane’s meeting with her three teams lasted nearly three hours. That length of time spent on a single task or topic taxes people’s ability to form intermediate (actionable) memories. Action items become muddled, which leads to liberal interpretations of what each team is supposed to accomplish.

But just getting agreement about a shared task in the first place is a difficult design challenge. All stages of memory are happening simultaneously, with multiple translation and transcription processes being applied to different sounds and sights. A fertile meeting environment that accommodates multiple modes of input allows memories to form amidst the cognitive chaos.

Brain Input Modes

During a meeting, each attendee’s brain in a meeting is either in a state of input or output. By choosing to assemble in a group, the assumption is implicit that information needs to be moved out of one place, or one brain, into another (or several others).

Some meetings, like presentations, move information in one direction. The goal is for a presenting party to move information from their brain to the brains in the audience. When you are presenting an idea, your brain is in output mode. You use words and visuals to give form to ideas in the hopes that they will become memories in your audience. Your audience’s brains are receiving information; if the presentation is well designed and well executed, their ears and their eyes will do a decent job of absorbing that information accurately.

In a live presentation, the output/input processes are happening synchronously. This is not like reading a written report or an email message, where the author (presenting party) has output information in absence of an audience, and the audience is absorbing information in absence of the author’s presence; that is moving information asynchronously.

Footnotes
  • 1. Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein (New York: Penguin Books, 2011).
  • 2. A. D. Baddeley and G. Hitch, “Working Memory,” in The Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Advances in Research and Theory, ed. G. H. Bower (New York: Academic Press, 1974), 8:47–89.
  • 3. Richard E. Meyer, “Principles for Multimedia Learning with Richard E. Mayer,” Harvard Initiative for Learning & Teaching (blog), July 8, 2014, http://hilt.harvard.edu/blog/ principles-multimedia-learning-richard-e-mayer
  • 4. M. A. Sutton and T. J. Carew, “Behavioral, Cellular, and Molecular Analysis of Memory in Aplysia I: Intermediate-Term Memory,” Integrative and Comparative Biology 42, no. 4 (2002): 725–735.
Categories: Technology

IBM FlashSystem V9000 AE3 and AC3 Performance

IBM Redbooks Site - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Wed, 28 Mar 2018

This IBM® Redpaper™ publication provides information about the best practices and performance capabilities when implementing a storage solution using IBM FlashSystem® V9000 9846-AC3 with IBM FlashSystem V9000 9846-AE3 storage enclosures.

Categories: Technology

Apple announces a new iPad, and potentially opens the door to Apple Pencil improvements

iPhone J.D. - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 02:01

Yesterday, Apple had a special event at a high school in Chicago to announce new hardware and software that can be used in schools.  You can watch Apple's one hour presentation and learn more information from Apple about it announced on this page of the Apple website.  It looked like these were interesting announcements for folks in the education field who want to help students be even more creative and productive with iPads.  I'm not a teacher, so I'm not really qualified to comment on that.

But I did see quite a few things yesterday that have the potential to be really useful for attorneys, although in some cases you have to read a few tea leaves.  Here's what jumped out at me.

An inexpensive iPad that works with the Apple Pencil

I'll start with the one announcement that attorneys can start using this week:  the new sixth generation iPad.  Before yesterday, when an attorney would ask me which iPad to buy, I always said the iPad Pro.  You need to decide whether to get the more traditional 10.5" size or the larger 12.9" size, but I always considered the iPad Pro far superior to the standard iPad for attorneys and other professional users.  A big reason for that was that only the iPad Pro line supported the Apple Pencil, which is fantastic for annotating documents — highlighting the cases that you download from Westlaw, adding notes in the margins of a brief filed by your opponent, circling key provisions in a contract or exhibit, taking handwritten notes in a meeting, etc.  But it also helped that the iPad Pro is a much more powerful device, so it keeps up with you and doesn't get in the way of you getting your work done.

Yesterday Apple updated its entry-level non-Pro tablet, which is simply called the iPad.  This sixth generation iPad features the 9.7" screen that has been a part of the iPad since 2010, so you don't get the reduced bezels that result in more usable screen space on the 10.5" iPad Pro.  And in many other respects, the new sixth generation iPad contains old technology.  For example, it has the first generation version of Touch ID, an older camera that lacks optical image stabilization and can't record 4K video, lacks True Tone (so the screen doesn't adjust based upon the ambient light in the room so that white always looks white), lacks ProMotion technology (so the screen doesn't refresh as often), and doesn't have a four-speaker audio system.

But for the first time, the entry-level iPad now supports the Apple Pencil, which I've always considered the major advantage of the iPad Pro for attorneys.  Because it lacks the ProMotion technology, the Apple Pencil won't be quite as fast and smooth on the screen of an iPad as compared to an iPad Pro, but if you have never used an iPad Pro then you won't notice the difference.  Instead of spending $649 for the cheapest version of the 10.5" iPad Pro (with 64GB), you can now spend $329 for the cheapest version of the iPad (with 32GB), a significant savings of $320.  Use some of that to buy an Apple Pencil (which costs $99) and you are still spending far less than you would on just the iPad Pro itself without the Pencil.

The sixth generation iPad also features the A10 processor (first used in the iPhone 7 in 2016), which is an improvement over the A9 processor used in the fifth generation iPad which came out one year ago, but still slower than the A10X chip used in the currently-shipping version of the iPad Pro (introduced in mid-2017) and the A11 chip in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

If you are in the market for a new iPad and are thinking of saving yourself some money by purchasing this sixth generation iPad instead of an iPad Pro, here are two more things that you should keep in mind as you compare the features.  First, remember that the iPad Pro being sold today was introduced in June of 2017.  The 2018 iPad may compare somewhat favorably to the 2017 iPad Pro, but when the 2018 version of the iPad Pro is released (maybe this June?), I'm sure that there will even more of a gap between the non-Pro and the Pro models.

Second, keep in mind that if you are like most people, you will hang on to whatever iPad you buy today for several years.  While many people upgrade to a new iPhone every one or two years, people tend to wait even longer before upgrading to a new tablet.  In a few years, the 2017 (or 2018) version of the iPad Pro will probably still work really well with the latest apps, but the sixth generation iPad may seem even more dated.

But for many attorneys, this won't matter.  If you just want a basic iPad to get your work done and it is more important to you to pay essentially half as much money, even if it means that you won't have all of the bells and whistles associated with the high-end iPad Pro, the 2018 version of the iPad is a very good option.  The least expensive $329 version only has 32GB of space, which might not be enough if you plan to keep a lot of documents, photos, etc., but there is also a 128GB version for $429. 

I think it is great that there is now a lower cost, entry-level iPad that I can finally recommend to attorneys and other professionals looking to get work done without paying a premium for the latest and greatest features.

New Pencil feature:  Smart Annotation

Although I often use my Apple Pencil to annotate a Microsoft Word document, adding comments or additions in the margins, circling paragraphs, etc., when I am done annotating I always convert the document to PDF and send that version to the person who is making the changes.  Converting to PDF is necessary because if I just send the document in Word format, it is too easy for the annotations — which are just pictures on top of the document — to get out of sync with the document itself.  For example, If I circle a few words in a paragraph, And then another person starts to type something to the beginning of the paragraph, then the circle stays in the same place while the words that you were supposed to be circled move down the page.  And even if you are not sharing a document with another person, if you try to use both redline edits to text and also annotations from an Apple Pencil in the same document, it can quickly become a big mess.

Realizing that this is a problem, Apple added a new feature to Pages, Apple's word processing app that comes for free with the iPad, called Smart Annotation.  This feature makes your edits stay with the text that you were annotating, even if the words move around. 

Here are two pictures that show you how this works.  In the first image, I circled a word in the last sentence of the first paragraph and wrote some notes:

Now I hit return to move that last sentence so that it becomes the second paragraph.  If you try this in Microsoft Word, the annotations end up in the wrong place.  But in the new version of Pages, the annotation correctly moves as the text moves.

Apple says that this new Smart Annotation feature is currently still in beta, but in my tests last night it seemed to work really well. 

Does this one new feature mean that I'm now going to start using Pages instead of Microsoft Word on my iPad?  No, it doesn't.  There are too many other features of the Word app that I prefer.  And whenever I translate a document from Microsoft Word to Apple Pages format and then back again, there is a high risk of messing up the formatting of the document.

But even if I won't use Pages, I'm still excited about this Smart Annotation feature because I hope that it is the start of more intelligent Pencil integration into apps and documents.  I especially hope that Microsoft copies this feature and perhaps even extends it, making annotations work even better.  Smart Annotations is one of those features that once you see it, you cannot imagine why it wasn't always there.

A second Renaissance Age for the stylus?

Next, I want to talk about a single sentence of Apple's hour-long presentation.  Just before the 34 minute mark, Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of product marketing, introduced a new durable keyboard-and-case for the iPad from Logitech.  After that, he says this:  "And Logitech is also offering Crayon, a new low-cost option for Education that works great with iWork and other Pencil-enabled apps."

I've been using a stylus with my iPad pretty much since I first got an iPad.  For many years, companies came out with better and better styluses, adding new features to make them work even more like a real pen or pencil or to add some other improvement.  The different styluses came in different shapes, experimented with different tips, some included buttons that an app could interpret to change from a pen to an eraser or other function, and there were lots of other differences.  As I look back at the iPhone J.D. Index, I see that I reviewed 28 different styluses between 2011 and 2016.

And then I stopped.  Shortly after the Apple Pencil came out in 2015, I no longer saw any point in reviewing a stylus made by any other company.  No other stylus had that fine tip, the extremely low latency, and the perfect palm rejection.  It wasn't even a fair fight; Apple designed the iPad to work with the Apple Pencil, so you could finally have a fine tip stylus that was as responsive as writing with a pen or pencil on paper — especially when using apps designed to work with the Apple Pencil.  No other company could match that.  I'm sure that Apple will release a second generation Apple Pencil at some point, and hopefully we will see it this year.  But before yesterday, I didn't expect to ever use any stylus with my iPad other than an Apple Pencil.

But now, there is a second stylus that uses Apple Pencil technology.  And it doesn't even come from Apple; it comes from Logitech.  The Logitech Crayon is half the cost of an Apple Pencil ($49).  It lacks a few features in the Apple Pencil — for example, it isn't pressure-sensitive so you cannot get a thicker line by pressing harder.  (As a workaround in some apps, you can tilt the Crayon at an angle to change the thickness.)  And you cannot charge the Crayon directly from an iPad; you need to use a Lightning cord, much like you would charge an iPad or iPhone.  But the Crayon also has some advantages over the Apple Pencil besides price.  For example, it is more durable, and it has a flat edge so it won't roll off of your desk.  (My workaround on my Apple Pencil is to add a clip.)

At this point, the Crayon only works with the sixth generation iPad.  It uses a new method of communicating with the iPad, so it will not work with any of the iPad Pro versions that have been released to date (although maybe that will change when the 2018 versions of the iPad Pro are released).  And at this point, it looks like you need to be a student or teacher to use the Logitech Crayon; according to Lory Gill of iMore, the Crayon will go on sale this Summer to schools, which will have to buy at least 10 units at a time.

If these restrictions remain, I myself may never use a Crayon.  However, what excites me is not the Crayon itself, but instead the possibility that the Crayon is the first of many new styluses to come.  Sure, it is possible that the Crayon is a one-off device, a way for Apple to get a cheaper and more rugged iPad stylus into the hands of schools without Apple having to make the product itself.  But my hope is that Apple is finally opening up the market so that third parties will be able to use Apple Pencil technology to create products that match the low latency and palm rejection of the Apple Pencil, but come in different shapes or sizes or have other differentiating features.  I would love to see professional styluses from Logitech, Adonit, Griffin, Kensington, Wacom, and the many other companies who in the past created some of the most innovative styluses for the iPad.

Will this happen?  Am I reading too much into that one sentence from Joswiak's presentation yesterday?  We'll see, but my fingers are crossed that when Apple opened the door to the Logitech Crayon, it opened the door for other third party styluses as well. 

iCloud Storage

Currently, every Apple account comes with 5GB of free iCloud storage, which you can use to store your photos, videos, and other files.  But that space gets used up very quickly, so Apple currently sells 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB plans.  In the U.S., the current monthly costs are $0.99 for 50GB, $2.99 for 200GB and $9.99 for 2TB, and with the two larger plans you can share that space with an entire family.  (I currently use the 2TB plan for me and my family.)

Yesterday, Apple announced that the free iCloud storage for school accounts is increasing from 5GB to 200GB.

Apple did not make any announcement of for folks outside of Education, but my hope is that Apple is finally recognizing that 5GB is way too small given current technology and that everyone needs a huge increase in free storage space.

Conclusion

I know many attorneys who are using an older iPad and are overdue for an upgrade.  Now that there is a relatively inexpensive entry-level iPad that supports the Apple Pencil, hopefully the sixth generation iPad will be an incentive for these folks to get a new more powerful and more useful device.  Advanced users will still want the iPad Pro, and after using a larger 12.9" screen for so many years now I'd never want to return to a smaller screen, which would force me to squint when reading documents.  But for many attorneys and other professional users, the sixth general iPad will be the sweet spot.

The new iPad is available this week, but everything else that excited me about yesterday's presentation will take a while to become a reality — if they come to fruition at all.  Maybe no other apps will add a Smart Annotation feature, maybe the Logitech Crayon will be the only third party stylus that works as well as the Apple Pencil, and maybe only schools will get increased iCloud storage space.  If that's the way it works out, I'll be disappointed.  For now, I prefer to be optimistic, and I hope that it won't be long before we can choose between a variety of different styluses for the iPad and iPad Pro, and use those products with iPad apps that offer all sorts of advanced stylus features such as Smart Annotations.

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

IBM Tape Library Guide for Open Systems

IBM Redbooks Site - Tue, 03/27/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Tue, 27 Mar 2018

This IBM® Redbooks® publication presents a general introduction to the latest IBM tape and tape library technologies.

Categories: Technology

IBM Power System AC922 Introduction and Technical Overview

IBM Redbooks Site - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:30
Redpaper, published: Mon, 26 Mar 2018

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

Categories: Technology

IBM Open Platform for DBaaS on IBM Power Systems

IBM Redbooks Site - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:30
Redbook, published: Mon, 26 Mar 2018

This IBM Redbooks publication describes how to implement an Open Platform for Database as a Service (DBaaS) on IBM Power Systems environment for Linux, and demonstrate the open source tools, optimization and best practices guidelines for it.

Categories: Technology

In the news

iPhone J.D. - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 00:39

Apple technology, especially iPhones and laptops, shows up in TV shows all the time.  I often hear folks speculate about how much Apple must have paid for product placement.  In an article for Variety, Brian Steinberg reports that there are some rare instances in which Apple does so, but most of the time that Apple's products appear in a show, it is just because the folks creating the show feel that it makes sense for an Apple product to appear in the scene.  But that doesn't mean that Apple has nothing to do with it.  Steinberg reports that Apple has a team that works with TV shows to provide Apple products to be used by the actors.  There is, of course, some cost to Apple to provide all of those products for free, but as Steinberg reports, that cost pales compared to the cost of a 30-second commercial, even though the exposure can be just as valuable.  And now, the news of note from the past week:

  • On his Apps in Law website, legal technology consultant Brett Burney discusses in two articles (part one, part two) and two associated videos how the TranscriptPad app works.  This is a great resource if you have TranscriptPad but you are not quite sure how to use all of the features, and is also useful if you don't have the app and you want to see exactly how you could use it.
  • California attorney David Sparks writes about an update to the Trello iOS app, an app that can be used by teams to manage a project.  I haven't used this myself, but I do hear about other attorneys incorporating project management software into their law practice.
  • The LitSoftware blog explains how Texas attorney Ron Clark used TrialPad to win three defense verdicts in criminal cases.
  • Next week, Apple will hold an education event in Chicago.  In an article for Macworld, Jason Snell predicts what Apple is most likely to announce, including a new low-cost iPad.
  • Jared Newman of Fast Company describes 25 top productivity apps.  There are some good ones in this list, along with quite a few that I've never heard of.
  • About a year ago, I tried out and reviewed Sleep++, and Apple Watch app that can measure and track your sleep.  The app didn't seem useful for my life, but I continue to hear from others who see value in using an app like this.  Federico Viticci of MacStories reports that the Sleep++ app was updated this week to add automatic sleep tracking, which I imagine would reduce the awkwardness of using the app.  Viticci's article also compares Sleep++ to AutoSleep, a similar app which Viticci prefers.
  • If you do sleep with your Apple Watch on, Christian Aibreg of iDownloadBlog recommends disabling Auto Call in your Emergency SOS settings so that you don't accidentally call 911 at night if you sleep on your watch the wrong way.  This reminds me of an incident back when I was a teenager using a Commodore 64 computer and a modem to dial a local BBS.  The phone number of the BBS was 391-19xx.  I could tell as the modem was dialing that it made a mistake and didn't dial the "3" and thus instead it dialed "911."  Through my modem speaker, I could hear emergency services pick up, while my end was making the sounds of a modem in the 1980s.  I immediately hung up in panic, but then a few minutes later the police showed up at my house to check that everything was OK — meaning I had to explain to my parents how my computer had called 911 by mistake, something that they didn't really understand.  We may no longer use modems to dial a BBS, but I guess that accidentally calling 911 is still a thing.
  • Apple updated its Apple Watch band collection for Spring 2018.  Rene Ritchie of iMore discusses the new bands.
  • Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac discusses some "obscure" Apple accessories of the past which you might have forgotten about.  I enjoyed the article, but some of these "obscure" accessories are items that I used quite a bit, so I'm not sure that they are obscure.  Indeed, I posted reviews of the Apple Universal Dock and the iPad Camera Connection Kit.
  • And finally, two weeks ago, I ended the In the news post with an Apple video for the HomePod called "Welcome Home" created by Spike Jonze.  It's a great video, and the choreography and effects are really impressive.  This week, Tim Nudd of AdWeek posted a fascinating behind-the-scenes article and video on how the Apple commercial was made.  You need to go to the AdWeek article to watch the video, and I recommend that you do so because it does a great job of showing you how complicated this was to create.  It reminds me of Apple technology itself, which is often so easy and fun to use that you can forget how much effort went into making the product.  After you watch that article, you'll want to watch the Apple video again, so here it is:

Categories: iPhone Web Sites

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