Will the REAL CloudMagic Step Up?

Bring Cards to the Desktop with Chrome’s ARC Welder

image

Over the past year, CloudMagic has become my preferred email application on both my Mac and iPhone. It sports a clean interface and a speedy experience with my four email accounts. I especially like being able to use the same email app across platforms; it is the kind of consistency that calms my borderline-obsessive compulsive tendencies. While the CloudMagic development team is constantly improving and stabilizing the application, there remains a glaring divide between the iOS and Mac versions of the application: the desktop still does not have the “cards” feature that won my heart in the first place.

Cards are efficient means to get an email into a different service. In my case, I use the Todoist card to quickly convert an email into a task.

image

The cards also connect to Asana, Evernote, Pocket, OneNote, Trello, Salesforce, and Zendesk. This service has become a key component of my workflow, helping me clear out my inbox while keeping my todo list useful. While the CloudMagic team promises the cards feature will be making its way to the desktop soon, I have managed to enable the feature so I can take advantage today.

The magic starts with Chrome and the ARC Welder app, which enables Android applications to be run within Google Chrome. Next we need a copy of a current CloudMagic program file (also known as an APK file), which is easily located through a Google search. After installing and running the ARC Welder, we load up the APK we downloaded, leaving all of the default options intact. We have one addition to make in the metadata section of the setup screen, where we will be adding the text: {“usePlayServices”: [“gcm”]}. To wrap it all up, click on the “Test” button and you’ll be looking at your very own CloudMagic app, complete with cards.

image

image

image

Depending on your Chrome settings, the new app will appear in your Chrome applications folder. It can also be pinned to the dock for easy access. Absent other modifications, the ARC Welder is limited to one app at a time, so if you want to repeat this procedure to bring other Android apps to your Mac, you’ll need to employ other trickery to avoid blitzing your CloudMagic app.

The only obvious downside I have found so far is the lack of notifications. This is a problem I can live with as long as I have access to my precious cards. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the feature makes its way to the official desktop version, but until then, it is great to have options.

How to Protect your iOS Files

Hint: It Isn’t as Easy as it Should Be

image

As a criminal defense attorney, I often am receiving sensitive, privileged files that really are for my eyes only. The problem arises when others’ eyes fall upon my iPhone. My spouse, friends, cats, etc. have family unfettered access to my devices. Even if they don’t have my unlock code, I often pass around the phone to share content. The trick is keeping the sensitive stuff away from the stuff I want to share, and it is isn’t as easy as it should be.

File security and your iPhone and iPad are fundamentally at odds with each other. The problem essentially results from the fact that iOS is all about the apps, and file security is more of a trickle-down concern flowing from app security. Unlike most PCs, iOS drives users to open up an app first-there is no file explorer where you can open up a document with a default app. All of this is to say that if you want to secure your documents (or a particular document), you need to secure the app first, and the default iOS apps are not really designed for this.

So if you have sensitive crime scene photos on your phone, there is no simple way to partition them away from the vacation photos. Sure, you can create different albums, but there is no password protection or higher level security system available.

Here is my best solution so far:

I searched long and hard for an option that seemed trustworthy and had a substantial development history. I ultimately chose FileBrowser, which currently retails for $5.99. There are undoubtedly other choices that will work, though. Again, I am just looking for a simple app that has a passcode lock and the ability to create folders and organize files. I also needed an app that integrated with iOS sharing such that if I had an email attachment, I could use the “Open in…” feature to get the attachment into the file browser. I can even use Safari to download documents or images into FileBrowser.

Again, there are plenty of alternatives out there, but I think any solution should have the following attributes: (1) passcode lock; (2) folder organization; (3) ability to move files between folders (4) ability to easily get the files off of the iOS device. Number four is especially important because Apple has a habit of blacklisting file management apps and app developer often vanish into thin air. The last thing you want is to lose your files when you upgrade iOS or your phone or tablet.

It is also important to note that I have no reason to believe these apps are securely encrypting my data beyond the protection offered by iOS - all I really care about is putting a clear stopgap between the sensitive content and the shareable content. Also, attorneys should always be aware of applicable ethics rules; such apps may very well fall short of security requirements absent other safeguards.

The OS Anxiety Fallacy

Outdated Operating Systems Need Love Before Upgrades

image

The immense pressure brought to bear on consumers by Microsoft in its push to move users to Windows 10 has once again revealed the dangers unplanned upgrades can wreak on unprepared users. For a vast majority of home and enterprise users, Windows 10 offers very little tangible benefit against a myriad of potential pitfalls such as software and hardware incompatibility. Ultimately the question becomes, “when is it necessary to upgrade a computer’s operating system?” The first answer is, of course, “it depends,” but most likely, upgrading is not worth it, especially with older hardware.

It would be unfair to simply lob volleys at Microsoft; every major operating system goes through near-annual upgrades, especially my beloved OS X (soon to be macOS). The arguments for upgrading typically utilize fear-mongering, focusing on security concerns. New features are often added, as well, along with stability improvements. So why not upgrade?

The most common issues arise with older software and hardware. Sometimes these problems are alleviated by patches offered by suppliers, but often not by the time of the new OS launch. Moreover, we live in a beta culture where software testing is often left to users in the months following a major release. The Windows Vista launch immediately comes to mind: a perfectly stable operating system (Windows XP) was replaced by a perfect mess (Windows Vista). This mess was never actually fixed in large part until the release of the next version, Windows 7.

There are also many users who run one or two irreplaceable programs on their computers that will never run on a new operating system. This often occurs with proprietary and custom software (imagine those DOS programs used by auto repair shops across America). These programs can sometimes be run virtually, but virtualization is also not a process to be taken lightly. For these types of users, the operating system is simply a means for the programs they need to communicate with the hardware. There is absolutely no benefit to upgrading an OS in these circumstances.

So what about those security arguments made by OS manufacturers? They are not baseless, but they are vastly overblown. By and large, as long as you have a functional and modern firewall at the head of your network, take care with regard to the websites you visit and the email you open, and you regularly backup your computers, you should be fine. It would make sense not to use an unsupported operating system for email or web browsing, but even these activities should be safe provided the programs you are using are still actively maintained. For example, Windows XP still works great with Firefox and Thunderbird loaded for web browsing and email.

The important thing to take from all of this is that operating systems should be upgraded on the user’s schedule, not the manufacturer’s schedule. Microsoft has an especially horrid track record of dismal upgrades and lackluster support. Now, Windows 10 has actually been a relatively smooth process compared to past upgrades, but plenty of users will awaken to Windows 10 on their computer and a list of software that no longer works. While Microsoft makes the downgrade process rather simple, the automatic upgrade “feature” is far too aggressive for me.

In my own work, I have clients running printing machines on Windows 98, color-matching software on Windows 2003, and system backups powered by Mac Snow Leopard. Old operating systems have a place, especially when they have been painstakingly optimized over many years. Upgrading has its place too, but try not to underestimate the concomitant costs.

Test Bandwidth Speed from the OS X Terminal

This might seem like an oddly specific post, but it could come in hand for those of you looking to monitor bandwidth speeds as part of some automatic script. For example, I’m looking to create a script that will log bandwidth speeds over a period of time.

This little program uses Speedtest.net to collect the data. So, here are the instructions:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Install Python Pip with this command: sudo easy_install pip
  3. Install speediest-cli with this: sudo pip install speedtest-cli
  4. Run the test with this: speedtest-cli

Easy enough! Thanks to sivel!

pip install speedtest-cli

BackupGoo and OS X 10.10 Yosemite

UPDATE 12/31: While the data all looks good, I’m getting force close errors. I can’t see anything in BackupGoo’s logs indicating a problem, so I surmise the issues lies with a Java 6 / Yosemite compatibility issue. As a work around, I’ve loaded up a virtualized Mavericks installation and have set up BackupGoo there. 

Bottom line - under Mavericks, BackupGoo has been a tremendous Google Apps backup solution, but given the lack of communication regarding support of Yosemite, I would think twice before committing.

After receiving no word from BackupGoo “support”, I finally dug in and figured out why BackupGoo wasn’t working on my newly upgraded OS X Yosemite machine. Turns out that I need an older version of Java, available at http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1572. Thanks to the venerable OS X Daily website for the direction.

I imagine other users of Java-based applications will have similar issues with Yosemite, so maybe this post will give you something new to try.

For those of you unaware, BackupGoo was my fairly inexpensive Google Apps backup solution. It has worked well aside from this hiccup, but I am extremely dissatisfied with the lack of support. This was an easy fix and I’m sure I’m not the only one facing the problem. If anyone has a good alternative for backing up Google Apps data, please post below!

Happy Holidays!

Older Posts

Newer Posts

Custom Post Images

Technological Simplicity

Welcome to my blog! This is where I share quick tips, complicated solutions, and general thoughts on all things tech.

© 2018 Delcour Solutions LLC Email