Linking Microsoft Products to Consumer Accounts

I had initially envisioned Microsoft’s OneNote as a valuable product that had a place in the iOS productivity suite for the enterprise until I put it to the test. Functionally, OneNote did as I would expect. I was able to take notes and save them to our test Office365 site. It was Microsoft’s decision to link it to a Microsoft consumer account such as Hotmail, or Outlook.com that rendered it useless for the enterprise. In the enterprise the fewer accounts that represent a user the better. My initial thinking was that this was a marketing strategy to cripple the use of OneNote on iOS and make Microsoft’s own hardware more appealing.

After reading comments from Frank Shaw, Microsoft VP of Communications, about the Surface, I think I have a better understanding of what Microsoft is trying to do. Here’s the quote:

We saw too many people carrying two devices around (one for work and one for play) and dealing with the excess cost, weight and complexity…That’s what Surface is.

Sadly, Frank missed the point about why people carry two devices. It isn’t that iOS or Android users can’t run productivity software and be productive. They can. The problem is that enterprise policies force the separation.

When the enterprise changes their policies to support BYOD or Corporate Owned Personal Equipment (COPE), the user will need only one tablet, be it an iPad, Android Tablet or a Surface. Just last week I was able to open a Word form sent to me via e-mail to my employer owned iPad, convert it to a PDF, sign it and send it back to my IT support for processing.

I was also able to download a Word document, to a rich client iOS app, from SharePoint prepared earlier on my desktop workstation. I was able to complete the editing (including Track Changes and Comments), and post the revision back to the SharePoint site where the version was updated.

Requiring a Microsoft consumer account to to use OneNote isn’t going to solve the problem of people carrying multiple devices. Only enterprise policy changes will do that. From an enterprise perspective, it will only drive IT support staff to find alternatives to Microsoft products.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Understanding Apple’s Camera Roll, Photo Stream and Albums

Co-authored by Jeanette Delaplane

I updated my iPad and iPhone to iOS7 and need to do some cleanup of my photos so I can get a good backup. After examining my Camera Rolls (iPhone and iPad) and My Photo Stream I noticed there was a mismatch.

Jeanette and I and spent the morning trying to understand how these worked together. Here’s my “Cliffnotes” on what we concluded.

First of all, as my wife so emphatically points out now is that the Albums really aren’t that at all. If you create an album and copy a photo from you Camera Roll to the Album it is really just creating a pointer and the Album is really functioning as a filter. If you attempt to delete the file from either the Camera Roll or the “Album” it will be deleted in both places. Albums can’t be used to keep subsets of photos and delete them from the Camera Roll. This also holds true for Shared Streams…these aren’t the same as the My Photo Stream.

If you create a Shared Stream and copy a file from the Camera Roll to the shared stream and try to delete it from the Camera Roll it will be deleted in both the Camera Roll and the Shared Stream. If you try to delete it from the Shared Stream it will not be deleted from the Camera Roll.

When a picture is taken with the Apple Camera app the photo is saved to both the Camera Roll and the My Photo Stream when the Photo Stream option is turned on and you are using Wi-Fi. It is possible for My Photo Stream to temporarily be out of sync when the photo is taken and no Wi-Fi is available. Once Wi-Fi is available again, My Photo Stream with sync again.

However, if one device has the Photo Stream turned on and another does not it is possible for a number of photos (those older than 30 days) to be saved to the Camera Roll and not the Photo Stream. For example, if several photos are taken on an iPhone over a period greater than 30 days then the Photo Stream is turned on, only the photos taken in the last 30 days will be synchronized to the Photo Stream. There is also a limit of 1000 photos per Stream.

To copy the older photo to another iPhone, iPad or Mac, you need to create another Shared Stream and copy the files from the Camera Roll to the Shared Stream. At the destination iPad the photos in the Photo Stream or Shared Stream can be copied from from the Shared Stream to the Camera Roll. After they have been copied they can be deleted from the Shared Stream.

IMPORTANT: If the files are deleted from the Shared Stream they will remain on the original iPhone or iPad Camera Roll.

I’ll make the statement below because it actually happened once. With all other tests it didn’t happen. The photos in the Shared Stream were not delete.

{However, if they are deleted from the original iPhone or iPad’s Camera Roll they will also be deleted from the Shared Stream.}

Any of the streams, My Photo Stream or any Shared Streams can be accessed from another iOS or OSX device. This happens automatically for the devices using the same Apple ID and for other people if you share the Shared Streams. A file can be copied to the Camera Roll of an iPhone or iPad.

All Photo Stream (My Photo Stream and Shared Streams) photos appear in the iCloud “folder” in iPhoto on a Mac. The photos can then be imported to the iPhoto catalog.

If you copy anything from a Photo Stream to an album and delete it from the Photo Stream it will remain in the album. It is important to note that it will also appear in the Camera Roll because an album is really just a filter for the Camera Roll. This is evident by the Camera Roll being grayed out when copying from the Photo Stream or Shared Stream to an album. The album is really a smart folder for the Camera Roll, or just a reference from the Camera Roll. The actual file only exists in the Camera Roll and only the Camera Roll.

This is easily demonstrated by editing a photo that appears in both the Camera Roll and an album. The changes from Camera Roll will automatically appear in what you see in the Album.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

iWork Update


In August I wrote a post “Office Automation for iOS”. In that post I noted that Microsoft’s Office didn’t exist for an iPad and Apple’s Pages didn’t support the most current version of the Office document format (.pptx, .xlsx, and .docx). This left us in search of an office automation tool.

The big news for today’s Apple keynote was the update to iPad. There was another announcement that has bigger implications for the enterprise, the iWork update! Why is that big news for the enterprise? Two reasons:

1. iWork (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) is now FREE. For an enterprise that saves thousands of dollars. If you are deploying a couple hundred iPads and intended to deploy Pages, Numbers and Keynote it would have cost $30 per iPad. That turns out to be a savings of $6000 for a 200 iPad deployment. Yet without the next point it wouldn’t be really big news.

2. Pages now supports the .docx format! I’ve verified this. Presumably Numbers and Keynote will support the latest Office format as well.

As I explained in my post in August, when you combine this with SharePlus (a SharePoint client for iOS) and SharePoint, you now have a seamless experience for office automation

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Portable Recording Studio

For the past couple of years or so I have been playing a Native American flute.  Earlier this year my wife pointed out that she preferred the sound of a clarinet to  the flute. I had no objection to learning to play the clarinet but didn’t own one. During a break at work I mentioned this to a co-worker. She told me that she still had the clarinet she had played in high school. She hadn’t played it in years but didn’t have the heart to just donate it to Goodwill. She wanted to give it to someone who she knew would put it to good use and offered to give it to me. I eagerly accepted her offer, took the clarinet to a local music shop and had it refurbished. I took a few lessons and have been playing it now for about six months. 

During this past six months I’ve worked out a couple of original tunes and thought it would be fun to record them…this is where the portable studio comes in. I play in our basement so the sound doesn’t carry too much and disturb the rest of the family. I didn’t particularly want to drag my MacBook down to the basement every time I wanted to record something. I thought recording on my iPad using GarageBand would be ideal. All I needed was a way to connect a mic suitable for recording the clarinet to the iPad. There are mic solutions such as the iRig mic to connect a mic to an iPad; however, they aren’t really suitable for recording a woodwind instrument. What I needed was an XLR Condenser mic. These are the kind with the larger metal three pronged connectors. The cable for an XLR condenser mic will not fit an iPad without some type of adapter. 

I had a cable that plugged into an XLR mic I had laying around (I have no idea where it came from) and had what appeared to be the correct (1/8in) connector for the line-in on my MacBook and iPad. I tried it. The sound was so quiet it was useless…more research.

A condenser mic, I learned, needs a pre-amp and “phantom power”. Apparently the way these mics work requires a little bit of power to be fed to the mic. My research turned up a handy little device, the Tascam iXZ Mic & Guitar Interface. It appeared to meet the requirements, got good reviews and only cost about $35.00. Bingo. My little portable studio was coming together; one XLR condenser mic, an XLR to XLR cable and the Tascam iXZ. I gave it a try on my iPad. Some of the notes sounded great, others didn’t…more research.

After reading about how to mic a clarinet I learned that you don’t put the mic at the bell. Most of the sound comes out of the holes along the upper and lower joints…the side of the clarinet where you place your fingers. It also needed to be about two feet away in order to get the whole tone range. Twenty-five dollars later I had an inexpensive tripod mic boom I could position exactly where I needed it. I tried again. Success! I got a great recording onto my iPad.

GarageBand on the iPad is great for recording and doing a little bit of editing but to really do it justice I needed to move the project file to GarageBand on my MacBook….iCloud to the rescue. GarageBand for the iPad supports iCloud. I turned that option on and voila, the project inherited the little cloud icon. However, back at my MacBook I couldn’t find the file. All the help at the Apple site indicated I should use iTunes. I try not to connect my iPad via a cable and iTunes so I wanted to find an alternative…more research.

I learned that iCloud uses a Mobile Documents folder in the ~/Library folder on a Mac to sync documents (LINK). Sure enough, after exporting (iTunes -> GarageBand) from the iPad with the project enable for iCloud (LINK), I found the file. When I opened the file in GarageBand on my MacBook it made a copy instead of working with the file I had exported. I edited project and wanted to add more tracks. I thought I would be smart and simply copy the version of the file I had been working with on my MacBook to the Mobile Documents folder. After copying the file, I looked to see if it would appear on my iPad…it did! Yea. When I attempted to open it I got a message indicating it was either corrupt or wasn’t a GarageBand file…Boo! More research.

It turns out that the project files for GarageBand on OSX and iOS are different because they have different capabilities. My researched show that there is a way to move the GarageBand file from the Mac to the iPad. It involves editing the project file and the .plist file (LINK). This worked, Yea!

Now I can record tracks on my iPad, move the project to my MacBook, edit the project, move it back to the iPad to record more tracks, etc. With all that done I realized that it would probably be much easier to add voice tracks directly from my Mac. I plugged the iXZ cable into the line-in port and tried to record in GarageBand…no luck…more research.

It turns out that the headphone jack on a Mac is setup the same way they are on an iPad or iPod. They can take a headset with a mic (LINK). I plugged the iXZ interface into the headphone jack, adjusted the setting in the System Preferences and it recognized the external mic.

Here’s a summary of my portable recording studio:

1. iPad with GarageBand for iOS

2. Tascam iXZ Mic & Guitar Interface

3. XLR condenser mic (Large Diaphragm for voice or instrument style for recording instruments)

4. XLR to XLR cable to plug the mic into the iXZ interface

5. An “On Stage Stands” tripod boom mike stand.

6. MacBook Pro with GarageBand.

7. Headphones with (1/8″ connector). It plugs into the headphones jack on the iXZ interface.

This setup will work ideally for doing podcast as well. I hope some of you will find having all this information in one place useful.