Posts Tagged iPhone

Taking Notes

Most people reading this blog carry around a computer every day, whether its a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Yet many of us still reach for paper and pen when it’s time to take notes.

For many of us, it’s because pen and paper are what we’re familiar with, and we know how they work. There’s a bunch of note-taking apps out there, and they don’t all work the same, or even similarly in many cases.

I recently decided that I was going to try to take notes in a digital format whenever possible and went on an adventure to see which of the most popular apps fit my needs. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted when I started, and I’ve spent a few days trying to find an app that was just the right fit for me.

I put together a few apps I found and a list of the features that I directly compared between them below, and hopefully it helps someone in the same position that I’m in decide which works best for them:

OneNote 2016 Evernote Bear Turtl Apple Notes
Publisher Microsoft Evernote Shiny Frog Lyon Bros Apple
Price Free Free-$7.99/mo Free-$1.49/mo Free Free
Platforms Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Web Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Web Mac, iPad, iPhone Windows, Mac, Linux, Android Mac, iPad, iPhone
Cloud Sync Yes, via OneDrive Yes, via Evernote Yes, via CloudKit (Subscription only) Yes Yes, via iCloud/CloudKit
Self-hosted sync option No No No Yes No
Offline access Yes Paid plans only Yes Yes Yes
Local storage option No Yes No No Yes
Organization Notebooks, Sections, Pages Notebooks, Notes Notes, Hashtags Boards, Notes Folders, Notes
File attachments within notes Yes Yes Images and photos only Yes No
OCR within attachments Partial Yes N/A No No
Encryption Yes, per section Yes, selected portions of notes No Yes Yes, per note
Encryption Strength AES-256 AES-128 N/A AES-256 AES-128
Encrypts media within notes Yes No N/A Yes Yes
Web Clipping Yes Yes No No No
Sharing Yes Paid plans only No Yes No
Drawing/Write anywhere Yes Mobile apps only No No No
Markdown support No Partial, as typing shortcuts Yes Yes No
Language syntax highlighting No No Yes No No
Note history No With paid plan only No No No
Import options Print to OneNote, Import from Evernote zip file Apple Notes, Evernote, DayOne, Vesper, Ulysses None ENEX
Export options OneNote, Word, PDF, XPS, mht ENEX, HTML HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG None PDF

There are a lot more options out there than just these. In fact, there’s a whole Wikipedia page here.

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Can’t add reminders on iPhone with iOS 6

I ran into an issue where I went into the iOS Reminders app and there was no plus button to add a reminder. Fortunately, I found a fix.

First, go to Settings > iCloud and turn Reminders on.

Now, go back into the Reminders app, and the plus sign should appear.

After this, you can go back and turn the iCloud Reminders setting back off if you’re concerned about battery usage. The plus sign will remain.

Another potential solution is to tap the list icon in the top left corner, then search for a list. The results will come up empty, but then you can tap the edit button and create a new list. This will also fix the Reminders app.

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Switching from ActiveSync (Microsoft Exchange) to IMAP and CardDAV for Google Gmail on iPhone

Since Google is discontinuing it’s ActiveSync services, which allowed iPhone (and other handhelds) to sync account data using ActiveSync, you may want to reconfigure your devices now, or simply remember how to do this for the future. Note these steps are iPhone-specific, but can be easily adapted for other phones.

I’ll explain how to delete the ActiveSync setup, then how to add an IMAP account configuration for mail and calendars, and a CardDAV setup for contacts. If you only want to add a new setup, simply skip the first section here.

Deleting the existing ActiveSync setup

You can delete the existing ActiveSync setup by going to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and locating the account under Accounts. Touch the account name, then scroll to the bottom and click Delete Account. This will remove the data associated with the sync from your phone.

Creating the sync accounts

You’ll want to create both a Gmail IMAP account (for mail, calendars, and notes) and a CardDAV setup (for contacts). If you want reminders as well, you’ll have to create a CalDAV setup.

Creating the Gmail IMAP setup

Creating this sync account is very easy on the iPhone. First, in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, touch Add Account….  Next, touch Gmail, and enter your account information.

Creating the CardDAV setup

Similiar to the above. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, touch Add Account…, then scroll down and touch Other. Touch Add CardDAV Account. For Server, enter google.com, and continue with the rest of your account information.

For CalDAV, choose Add CalDAV Account instead of CardDAV, and follow the same account information.

If you use two-factor authentication for your Google account, be sure to use your application-specific password instead of your account password.

Google Apps setup is exactly the same as a standard Google account, just substitute your full email address for the username.

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Using Synology DS211j as an AirPrint Print Server for Brother HL-2170W

I have a Brother HL-2170W printer that I’m using as a wireless printer. One thing I wanted to do was use AirPrint from my iPhone to print if the need should arise, as it does from time to time. My Synology DS211j includes a USB print server with Bonjour and AirPrint support, so I knew I could plug my printer into it via USB and use it as a print server, but there was the issue of the already-configured wireless clients.

I wondered: Since I’m already using my printer wirelessly, can I just plug the printer into the NAS using the USB port and use both USB and wireless? The answer to that is actually yes, according to this post at UbuntuForums. You can use USB and either wired or wireless at the same time, but you cannot use both wired at wireless at the same time.

Now that I had that important issue aside, it was time for setting it up.

First, physically plug the USB cable from the printer to the NAS. You should be able to verify that the printer shows up in Control Panel > External Devices as shown here:

Once that’s done, click the printer to select it, then click USB Printer Manager > Set Up Printer:

Since the DS211j didn’t have a specific print driver listed for this model, I took the known-working driver configuration from my “Ubuntu and Brother HL-2170W” post, and set it up as shown below:

  • Mode: Network Printer
  • Advanced Settings: Enable AirPrint
  • Printer Brand: Generic
  • Printer Model: Generic PCL 5e Printer

After that, I hit Save and then Close, and I was able to print a test page successfully by clicking on the printer and then clicking USB Printer Manager > Print Test Page. One thing to be aware of is that the DS211j is a bit lacking in RAM, so print jobs can take a bit (up to 5 minutes) from the time they’re sent to the server until they come out of the printer.

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Google Music vs iTunes Match

Google and Apple each brought their own services which allow users to upload their music library and stream it to their devices in the form of Google Music and iTunes Match, respectively. But how do those services compare?

Let’s take a side-by-side comparative look at some of the features:

FeatureGoogle MusiciTunes Match
Number of songs20,000 songs not purchased from Android Market25,000 songs not purchased from iTunes
PriceFree$25/yr
Supported devicesWorks on common browsers on Win / Mac / Linux / Android / iOS (1)Works on Win / Mac running iTunes; iOS devices supporting iCloud
SyncAutomatically sync music to Google Music using Win / Mac / Linux clientAutomatically sync music to iTunes Match using iTunes
Sync SelectionSelect which songs to upload using sync clientAll songs from iTunes library are synchronized.
Local StorageSave music to your Win / Mac / Linux / Android device for offline playbackSave music to your Win / Mac / iOS device for offline playback
UploadingEvery song must be uploadedMatching is performed prior to upload; Only unmatched songs are uploaded
Supported file formatsMp3, AAC (m4a), wma, flac, ogg (source)Same as iTunes
Excluded formatsNone24-bit audio; Bitrates under 96 kbps; File over 200MB (source)

(1) Although Google Music is reported to work on iOS devices, I can confirm it does work on iOS (iPhone), but only as the desktop site (which is clunky and requires zooming on an iPhone screen). The mobile site still shows I have no music in my library.

As you can see, Google Music is aimed at the Android crowd, while iTunes Match is aimed at the iOS crowd. However, a few of the major points in Google Music’s favor that I see are that it supports playback from a web browser, has a Linux client, and is free.

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Google adds two-factor (2-factor) authentication for Gmail and Google Apps

Two-factor authentication finally comes for Google accounts, including Google Apps.

From Google:

Using 2-step verification will help prevent strangers from accessing your account with just a stolen password. When you sign in with 2-step verification, you’ll verify your identity using both a password and a code that you receive on your phone. Learn more

The one-time-password (OTP) that you receive on your phone can come from one of two different methods: Either a time-based password using the Google Authenticator app for your smartphone (BlackBerry, iPhone, Android), or as a text message. Google also provides you a set of codes that you can print out, in case you don’t get your code or your phone is lost. Keep them in a safe place, because if you lose your phone and your codes, getting access to your account is a royal pain — but that’s the way it’s supposed to be:

You’ll need to fill out an account recovery form to verify ownership of the account. Take time to answer each question to the best of your ability. The form was designed to ensure that no one can gain access to your account except you. Since Google doesn’t collect a lot of information about you when you sign up for an account, we will ask you questions like when you created your account, what Google services you use, and who you email frequently (if you use Gmail) to make certain you are authorized to access your account.

Two-factor needs to be turned on in your Google Account settings, and Google has an excellent walk-though on how to activate and test two-factor during the setup. Google calls their two-factor authentication simply “2-step verification.”

To access your account settings from your Gmail or Google Apps mail screen, click Settings in the top right, then click the Accounts tab, then Google Account Settings. then click the “2-step verification” link.

Google says that setting up their 2-step verification takes about 15 minutes, and it’s a good estimate. Budget longer if you’re less savvy or want to be more careful. There’s a testing step involved, so there’s little risk of locking yourself out of your account.

There are major security advantages to using two-factor authentication. One of the biggest simply being that if your password is compromised, there’s still a barrier preventing someone from logging in and having their way with your account.

Along with this, Google introduces what they call “Application specific passwords.” These are workaround passwords for applications (IMAP/POP/SMTP clients, Google Talk, etc) that can’t present the OTP passwords required for two-factor authentication. Instead, you generate a different password — one for each resource if you like — and enter that in your application instead of your normal password. Sound confusing? It’s not, really. This has the added advantage that if someone gains access to your applications configuration files (e.g. Outlook) and pulls your password out, they can’t use it to log directly into your Google account. You can also go into your Google account and revoke these generated passwords at a later date if a resource does become compromised.

After enabling 2-step authentication, you’ll receive an email with information which includes information about application specific passwords:

IMPORTANT: What to Do If Some Applications Stop Working

Some applications that access Google data do not accept verification codes. They
only accept usernames and passwords. Examples include:

-Smartphones (e.g., Android, iPhone)
-Mail clients that use IMAP/POP (e.g., Outlook Express or Thunderbird)
-Chat clients (e.g., Google Talk)
-Picasa desktop application

Now that you have signed up for 2-step verification, these applications will
temporarily stop working. You can get them working again by entering an
application-specific password into the password box, instead of your regular
password or your verification code.

That email will contain a link to generate those application-specific passwords.

Security-minded individuals will no doubt embrace these changes to Google. I for one appreciate that Google is going to such great lengths to provide easy-to-implement security tools that benefit the consumer. I believe that Google may have done something really great here — users who are really concerned about security in Internet resources may now seriously consider creating Google account. Less technical consumers may still use Google using conventional username/password combinations if they so desire.

What do you think of Google decision to add two-factor authentication to accounts? Are you, or will you be, taking advantage of it?

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Paperless Geocaching

This isn’t meant to be a complete explanation of all the available options, but simply a quick primer for someone who is interested in planning a purchase to try for the goal of paperless geocaching. Paperless meaning, in the most general sense, you don’t need a paper printout for coordinates.

There are a few different ways to go about this:

You can have a GPS or GPS-enabled device that you load waypoint files on.

Most hand-held and vehicle GPS units will allow you to load waypoint files on them, thus giving you some kind of list of loaded waypoints and allowing you to approach and make the find without having to enter the actual coordinates into the GPS. Geocaching.com has two features that help with this: “Download waypoint file” and “Send to GPS”. The download waypoint file will generate either a .LOC or .GPX file for loading onto your device (See the documentation that came with your device for the actual process). The Send to GPS function appears to only work with Garmin devices (for now, at least).

The drawback to this method is you have to go on the geocaching.com website before your actual trip and choose which caches you will attempt and load them. The premium membership has a nice feature which helps with this: “Pocket queries.” Pocket queries can generate a waypoint file with up to 300 caches based on criteria you specify.

Garmin has a product line dedicated to the paperless geocacher. See information at Geocaching with Garmin.

This is a good viable option for those cachers who seek infrequently or who simply have a GPS unit and want to reduce their paper usage in an inexpensive way.

You can have a data-enabled device (such as a laptop or netbook with an aircard).

A netbook with an aircard can be an invaluable tool for use in the car (not on the trail) for looking up caches, viewing logs and maps, and logging your visits. This would allow you to log your visits without having to go back home, and give you a little more flexibility in case you find that you’re in a new area and want to pick up a quick cache or two. You can simply log on the website, look up a cache, punch the coordinates into your GPS, and away you go. Returning to the car, you can log your visit easily.

You can have a device which combines the two functions above, both retrieving the data from the website and helping you navigate to it.

This is the goal a lot of cachers (including myself) aim for: A single device that can do it all. A smartphone with GPS and data service is the usual tool for this job.

There are several different geocaching apps for smartphones, and some do it better than others. Here’s a quick run-down of some of my favorites:

Trimble Outdoors and Geocache Navigator by Trimble Outdoors – $9.99 (If I recall correctly)

These two programs are available on a large number of phones and carriers. I prefer Geocache Navigator, but Trimble Outdoors has a slightly different feature set which may make it appealing to different users.Geocache Navigator allows you to load up a list of nearby caches, display them on a map, seek them, and log your visit directly from your phone. It does require you to “tie” it to your geocaching.com account, which can be done easily from the geocaching.com website. One feature that Geocache Navigator does not have is the ability to set a waypoint (such as your car), which leaves the walk back completely up to you. Trimble Outdoors does have this, but doesn’t retrieve caches automatically; it requires you to load GPX files yourself prior to seeking a cache.

Geocaching by Groundspeak – $30

Groundspeak’s own geocaching app for Android and iPhone devices. These apps load caches near you (or by GC code) and help you navigate to it. Logging your visit, looking at previous logs, hints, even pictures are part of this app. Though a little pricey, these apps definitely do it all, and they’re published and supported by Groundspeak, the folks behind geocaching.com.

Free phone apps

I know there are a number of free apps, unfortunately they vary between carriers and phone brands, and I don’t have enough experience with them or a list of links to provide. Please feel free to leave your apps and feedback in the comments below.

Have your own way of going paperless? Have you had experience with any of the above apps you’d like to share? Have an app not listed above that you prefer? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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