Adobe Voice – is it worth it?

If you’re an instructor – is Adobe Voice worth using?

The short answer: no.

Overview

My co-worker (Matt) showed me Adobe Voice and suggested that it might be a useful tool for creating instructional presentations. In this post, I review Adobe voice from the point of view of an instructor. Some questions that I’ve kept in mind while doing this:

  • Does it allow me to create compelling presentations?
  • How difficult is it to use?
  • Can I preserve my source materials? (to clarify – consider that regardless of your like/dislike of PowerPoint all PowerPoint presentations since 1.0 can still be used and modified with the latest version of PowerPoint)
  • Is this product going to be around in a year?

In the summary section I describe what I see as the pros/cons of Adobe Voice. While in the detail section I cover my test presentation and usage of Adobe Voice.

You can find the sample presentation that I created on Adobe Voice at: https://voice.adobe.com/a/VNo0k/

Summary aka ;TLDR

Ironically, Adobe seems to own your voice when you use Adobe Voice. Consequently, from an instructor point of view I don’t think it is worthwhile. It has great value as a potential form of self expression that also advertises for Adobe. It is great for throwaway projects and has potential as a brainstorming tool assuming that you don’t care about your brainstorming’s artifacts.

Stepping for a moment away from the instructional point of view, Adobe Voice is a great showcase app that can provide other app makers with a great user centric approach to accessing and using Creative Commons assets.

Right now (as of 10/21/15) Adobe Voice is only available on the iPad.

The good about Adobe Voice:

  • The most amazing part of Adobe Voice is the ease of import of Creative Commons materials in terms of icons and images. There’s a certain sort of odd irony that the open nature of Creative Commons is the core feature of an extremely proprietary tool. More interoperable competitors such as Explain Everything should immediately implement this very feature in their product. If nothing else Adobe Voice is a great prototype of the things that you can do with Creative Commons.
  • Kudos to the UI designers and the programming team of Adobe Voice for making it both powerful and easy to use.
  • The frame-by-frame voice recording is great in combination with the background music and choosable theme.

The bad about Adobe Voice:

  • Only portrait orientation is allowed. This may seem like a minor point but it becomes really annoying really fast.
  • The video that Adobe Voice generates is only available on Adobe’s site. Adobe Voice is another way for Adobe to bring users into their Creative Cloud. The only in-app purchase within the app is for space on Creative Cloud. I understand that Adobe is a business and they need to make money. However, in a business context Adobe Voice is nothing more than a pretty advertisement brochure for Adobe. There is no way to export the project to any format but the proprietary one that is stored on Creative Cloud. So ironically your voice as represented by your Adobe Voice project is locked away on Adobe’s servers. There is no way to export the project into any neutral format (like Markdown). This is the biggest problem with Adobe Voice and I cannot recommend it to anyone because of this. Adobe may discontinue the project at any time and the only thing that users may be left with is yet another corporate email apology.

Detail

In this section I walk through my small video creation that you can find here: https://voice.adobe.com/a/VNo0k/ . As a technical point – I used an Audio Technica lavalier microphone – the ATR3350iS. I heard a little bit of background noise when recording and choose the ukulele background music to mask it. This brings up one issue with using the iPad with Adobe Voice – audio capture is tricky. The iPad’s microphone is really not great and you would be better served with a shotgun type of microphone. However, if you use Adobe Voice for just throwaway projects then the sound quality may not matter as much.

Starting Adobe Voice

Few log-in options and some pimping to educational organization.

Starting Adobe Voice

I used my Adobe login

I happen to have a Creative Cloud account due to some meager attempts at learning Photoshop. For my use the cost of Creative Cloud is questionable.

I used my Adobe login

Choice of presentation structure

A very nice pallette of presentation structures to choose from. I went with “Teach a Lesson”.

Choice of presentation structure

The Heart of the Interface

This is the ‘dashboard’ through which you build your presentation on a frame-by-frame basis. In a sense it’s no different than working on a PowerPoint viewgraph – but with the iPad’s tactile interface and amazing Creative Commons usage. Lets do a quick walk through the interface:

1 – Home sweet home where you can create new projects or edit old ones. You never have access to the actual project file and its contents beyond the Adobe Voice app and Creative Cloud.

2 – Built-in: Layout allows frame-by-frame image/icon/text arrangment; Themes is presentation wide changes of theme; Music is presentation wide music backgrounds (all of these will be shown later)

3 – The “share” button which is more of an “upload then share via url to video” (you can only share a link to Adobe’s site where your assembled presentation is located).

4 – Per frame presentation elements: Icon scaled to fit, or Photo, or Text. For icon/photo you can use Creative Commons search or your own (shown later)

5 – This is the magical button that records your voice for this particular frame. As long as you hold it, then your voice is recorded. Once there’s either a visual element (via (4)) and/or audio, then you’ll have the ability to play just that frame. Note that I found some weird skips when doing an audio recording that was less than a second.

6 – This is a very PowerPoint like view of your current and future presentation frames. You also have a play button on the left side to play the presentation from this point forward (across all frames). The frame names that you see are due to the “teach a lesson” structure that I choose for this presentation.

The Heart of the Interface

Icon search for ‘voice’ – 1

Icon search for 'voice' - 1

Icon search for ‘voice’ – 2

Look at the amazing Creative Commons selections!

Icon search for 'voice' - 2

Photo search options

“Find Photos” is the Creative Commons search. Have I mentioned how awesome this is?

Photo search options

Replace layout on current frame – 1

Replace layout on current frame - 1

Replace layout on current frame – 2

Replace layout on current frame - 2

Theme Choices

Note that certain themes can cause distortions of photos due to theme type. For example, the Watercolor theme caused the picture in frame 2 to be distorted in a theme appropriate way. In my case, it cut off frame 2’s picture to the point that the word ‘unique’ was not visible so I went back to Simple theme. There are more themes than what’s shown in the image.

Theme Choices

(Background) Music Choices

A very nice touch is the ability to change the volume of the background music across the whole presentation.

(Background) Music Choices

Photo orientation gone bad

There’s no way to correct a photo that is mis-oriented…at least none that I could see.

Photo orientation gone bad

CC CYA – Creative Commons Information

When choosing the ‘i’ next to a Creative Commons image or icon – this is what you get.

CC CYA - Creative Commons Information

“Share” button – 1

I choose to “share” through email. And in case you’re wondering – yes, the double quotes are there for irony.

"Share" button - 1

“Share” button – 2

"Share" button - 2

“Share” button – 3

"Share" button - 3

“Share” button – 4

Boy do I have a story for you…and in case you didn’t know it ADOBE HELPED ME MAKE IT!

"Share" button - 4

“Share” button – 5

When you click the link in the email this is what you see in your browser.

"Share" button - 5

“Share” button – 6

When playing your presentation off Adobe’s site the last frame of your presentation is auto-generated. As you can see – in the case of my presentation it gives attribution to all the Creative Commons images and icons that I used. This is a very nice way to give credit where credit is due. Big thumbs up to Adobe Voice’s designers and developers.

"Share" button - 6

Conclusion

I’m not sure if there is more to say. Adobe Voice comes so close to being amazing but it falls short through its proprietary nature. And the amazing part is the most ironic part too – the integration of Creative Commons assets. It leaves me with this mixed feeling about Adobe Voice which is reflective of how I feel about the company that brought both amazing products like Photoshop and terrible ones like Flash.

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Laravel Podcast Episode 36 – Dev School – the unofficial/informal show notes

Summary

I really like the Laravel podcast. It’s a (typically) very short podcast covering both development and the Laravel framework. I like this podcast so much that I recommend it to my PHP students. It’s a nice informal conversation between seasoned PHP developers that covers the Laravel framework, PHP and other general development aspects.

The only down side of this show is that there aren’t any show notes (at least not for recent episodes). I found episode 36 to be really good in terms of pragmatic advice to those beginning to code. I think it will be really useful for my programming students which is why I decided to write a quick post providing my version of the show notes for this specific episode.

Things to note:

  • The episode is great up to time mark 41:40 (i.e. 41 minutes / 40 seconds) and then it deviates into a discussion about comfortable clothing. Feel free to skip this part. Of course if you want fashion hints from seasoned developers – then feel free to listen 🙂

  • The episode location is on the laravel podcast site. However, the linked time marks use Overcast.fm since that site provides a web player to specific time marks and it is my podcast player of choice where I listened to this episode. If you have an iPhone you should definitely give Overcast a try – it’s fully featured and free. Of course if you like it – you should donate.

  • Should you believe anything these guys say? Well – you shouldn’t believe anyone. Take it with a grain of salt and see if it makes sense. I think the perspective of this episode is useful because of the following:

    • Taylor: super backend developer and creator of the Laravel framework; very down-to-earth
    • Jeffrey: implementer of Laravel for his business (Laracasts) that involves teaching so he he has an interesting perspective on the how-to-learn-programming side
    • Matt: started as a ‘designer’ and ended as a front-end developer that now has his own company (so both a developer and business owner perspective)

Detail

I’ve arranged these show notes based on new beginner developer questions and the relevant time marks. I’ve paraphrased the questions but you’ll hear the exact question that Matt asks when you listen to the specified time marks. The usual disclaimers apply.

If I want to be a crack Laravel developer and I’m a complete beginner – where would I start? (01:30)

Time mark: 01:30

An interesting discussion of how to get from being a newbie to becoming experienced in Laravel. But it applies to any interesting framework/language.

What should I build when I’m learning? (14:35)

Time mark: 14:35

A good discussion of whether your learning project(s) should be ‘real’ and whether toy projects are the way to go (short answer: yes).

Boot camps: are they worth it? (15:38)

Time mark: 15:38

This frequently comes up in my in-person class. Up to now I didn’t have a great answer but this part of the episode covers this really well both from a what-do-you-learn perspective and from the job search will-an-employer-hire-me perspective.

What are the quintessential books every backend developer should read? (20:52)

Time mark: 20:52

This part of the podcast covers many more books than what a backend developer would use. There’s some dead air in the podcast for this question when Jeffrey speaks. Here are the books that I deciphered (I will update this if I hear back from Taylor/Matt/Jeffrey via twitter for anything that I missed).

Are there any tricks/pitfalls that you have fallen into as you were learning? (30:41)

Time mark: 30:41

This addresses the Law of the instrument question.

Knowing what you know now is there any one thing you wish you would have known or done when you began to learn programming? (32:36)

Time mark: 32:36

A long time ago I heard the “knowing what you know now” question in a Brian Tracy audio book. It applies to lots of thing including programming.

The clothing question that you can safely skip: is there any piece of clothing that you would fight about if your spouse threw it away? (41:40)

Time mark: 41:40

Thinking of my ripped gray hoodie still makes me sad.

Conclusion

Hopefully you’ve found this useful. Send me a tweet if you did.

Resources for Learning Ember.js

Overview

A while back I had decided to checkout and study a JavaScript framework. There are tons of frameworks out there – so which one to choose?

I choose Ember.js as the framework that I was going to learn. My reasoning was that I liked Yehuda Katz’s approach to software and Ember’s adoption within industry. I also liked one of Ember’s core tenants of not making breaking changes in a major version.

I worked on this for a few weeks trying to put a little bit of time each day when I could (amongst all my other personal and work responsibilities). I think that my timing was a bit off because Ember 2.0 was in the process of coming out and all documentation (whether the official documentation or books describing Ember) was off. I got little headway because I was straddling the which Ember should I study line. When asking for ideas on the best approach I got the advice of sticking to 1.13 while also getting the advice that 2.0 changes things drastically even though it’s just a removal of things.

I’ve decided to put my Ember studies on hiatus for now. I’ll revisit when it has more stable documentation-wise and I’m able to get a more solid mental model of Ember 2.0.

The purpose of this post is to list out some resources that I’ve come across. The Ember community is really friendly and really smart. If you’re looking for Ember information then this post may be useful to you. Of course the best source of Ember information is the the Ember website and the community.

What is Ember.js?

Wikipedia has a great summary of Ember’s philosophy:

What is Ember.js?

Approach

My approach was as follows:

  • Learn about the Ember community and the available resources
  • Apply what I learn to a project of interest
  • Document the highs and the lows

Wes Bos wrote a great post about how to approach the constant change in the software industry.

Ember Community and Available Resources

I like to soak in the the components of a framework. Here are some things that I found along the way.

Ember’s site

Where to begin but at the beginning – http://emberjs.com/ .

Ember's site

Twitter users worth following

I used Twitter’s ‘lists’ feature to create an Ember specific list. I found these users to be full of Emberness 🙂

Twitter users worth following

Reading the fantastic Ember newsletter

A very nice weekly newsletter from http://emberweekly.com

This newsletter give you a feel for the current happenings in Ember.

Reading the fantastic Ember newsletter

I had started reading the ember-cli 101

I came across a recommendation for https://leanpub.com/ember-cli-101 from the an Ember screencast site (https://www.emberscreencasts.com/faq). I looked around other authors and Adolfo seems to be amazingly eager to keep his book and his readers up-to-date. He certainly deserved the $35 suggested payment for his book.

I had started reading the ember-cli 101

-> ember-cli 101 (continued)

Adolfo deserves even more than $35. Have you heard of 24 x 7 support for a book? I haven’t seen that anywhere else.

-> ember-cli 101 (continued)

Ember podcasts

The Ember Weekend podcast – a nice casual weekly podcast about Ember related projects.

The Ember Land podcast – latest and greatest release and Ember evolution

Ember podcasts

Slack Channel

You can find the Slack channel on this page: http://emberjs.com/community/

Ember has a Slack channel. Lots of helpful folks and it seems flame-free for newbies though you should of course do some due diligence before asking questions.

Slack Channel

Possible places to start from

These are some things that I’ve encountered and like everything else in this post – it’s all opinion.

Where to begin?

I started reading through the ember-cli 101 book, but the problem (my problem) was that it didn’t give me the architecture/mental model for Ember.js. It looks like a great hands-on lab type of book. So I needed to find something more along architecture/mental model.

Where to begin?

Frank’s article is about architecture

Frank Treacy wrote a great article about Ember’s architecture: http://emberigniter.com/5-essential-ember-2.0-concepts/ . I read through it and although the MVC concepts make sense. The pieces he describes don’t click for me. He has some code examples but this code forms a partial application. I needed something that’s more like a whole pie rather than slices of different pies that are put next to each other.

Frank's article is about architecture

John Fisher had a good article about how he ramps new developers at his company

The article is at http://spin.atomicobject.com/2015/08/24/learn-ember-js-quickly/ . It’s a good source of information but it is geared towards experienced developers (John states this upfront).

John Fisher had a good article about how he ramps new developers at his company

-> Starting Ember Guide

While John’s Ember guide links go to 1.13, I went to the 2.0 guides since this changed just happened. Unfortunately, the 2.0 docs seemed a bit out of sync.

-> Starting Ember Guide

Ember Weekend recommendation for a book

The Ember Weekend guys have the best show notes that I have ever seen. They recommended Balint Erdi’s book.

Ember Weekend recommendation for a book

Rock and Roll with Ember.js

The “Rock and Roll with Ember.js” book can be found here: http://balinterdi.com/rock-and-roll-with-emberjs/

Looks interesting…but now that ember-cli 2.0 is out – does that mean that the book is still valid?

Sent questions to the author. Balint was extremely responsive.

Rock and Roll with Ember.js

Balint’s response to my questions

Balint also mentioned that he’s working on a 2nd edition of the book for Ember 2.

Balint's response to my questions

So…

So if I go with 2.0 – it’s still in the oven being baked and there aren’t books/materials to support Ember 2 beyond scattered tutorials here and there. So no cohesion. If I stick with 1.3, then I get the books and (per Balint) “90% it is the exact same thing as 1.13”. So get clarity with 1.13 or go with 2.0 with significant less support materials. Which one to pick?

The Ember core team is committed to “stability without stagnation” (per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ember.js)…so understanding 1.3 should lead me into 2.0 without too much headaches. So initially I went with 1.3.

So...

Time to ask on Slack (EmberJS Community – #needhelp channel)

Time to ask on Slack (EmberJS Community - #needhelp channel)

Slack response

Slack response

Bought “Rock and Roll with Ember.js”

This was for Ember version 1.0 when I bought it a few weeks ago. As of 10/06/15 “Rock and Roll with Ember.js” has been revised to 2.0. I’ve gotten a couple of updates since that time.

Bought "Rock and Roll with Ember.js"

Conclusion

Hopefully some of the resources I mentioned are useful to you. If you’re an experienced Rails developer then Ember seems like a natural choice and it is likely to be easy to pick up. For all other developers and newbies Ember 2.0 is the way to go and up-to-date docs are almost here.

(Ad) War and (Ad Blocker) Peace

It’s hard not to fall into the ‘war and peace’ clichés when consider ad blocking and the ad blocking ‘wars’. There have been many articles written about this and there will be many more. Of course there isn’t any blood spilled (thank G-d). There’s panic and the ‘you are going to put us out of business’ accusations that are being volleyed back and forth. It’s a weak first-world version of CNN news during wars – focusing the graphic pictures and the things that will raise viewership regardless of any sort of viewer scarring.

I’ve been using ad blockers on and off somewhat haphazardly. A few weeks ago my co-worker asked me for advice related to ad/tracking blockers for her home machine. Her daughter had reached the pre-teen stage and besides the typical drama my co-worker wondered how to prevent or at least minimize the tracking that her daughter encountered on the web without the use of a cyber-nanny type of program.

My immediate recommendation was Ghostery. I told her “just block everything, and then whitelist the sites that you trust for your daughter.” Was this good advice? I don’t know. It was advice that made sense at the time and to me it still makes sense even now.

I had been using Ghostery for a while and I really liked. The interaction with my co-worker occurred just before iOS 9 was released with purchase-able content blockers for iOS’s Safari browser.

I was about to purchase a content blocker named Peace by one of my favorite iOS developers. I was about to purchase the blocker but I held off because I realized that I did relatively little reading through mobile Safari relegating any long web reading to Instapaper and getting most news through RSS feeds or private Twitter lists that I created.

Right after my purchase hesitation, Marco Arment pulled Peace off Apple’s app store and the Twittersphere went ape sh*t over his decision vilifying him as a pariah that was charging $2.99 from his loyal followers only to yank the ‘app’ rug from underneath them.

Most of the folks beating up on Marco would not hesitate to buy a $3 cup of Starbucks coffee. In fact, they would probably buy a more expensive cup (Grande anyone?). And if they walked out of Starbucks, got into their car and started driving to say work. Lets also say that the Latte they’re drinking had bad milk. How many of these people would turn the car around and bitch the barista out? How many would scream expletives if they did indeed go back. Or would they humbly say “sir – my latte seems to have some bad milk”?

I’m probably biased when it comes to Marco because I appreciate his humanity and his willingness to put himself out there – in the public eye. Heck – he was even willing to explain his Peace related actions and motivations on his podcast (starting around the 18th minute).

Of course Marco isn’t the only developer in the ad blocker spotlight. There’s also Dean Murphy’s Crystal ad blocker and his recent decision to allow certain advertisers through in terms of Crystal’s default settings.

This whole thing made me consider the whole issue of ad blocking. It’s far from a black and white issue. There’s lots and lots of gray in there.

The players seem to be:

  • Content creators: these are the so called ‘publishers’ on the web. The bigger the site, the more obtrusive ad infestation, the greater the complaint about content blockers and how it was ‘the end of publishing as we know it’. It’s as if an iOS 9 content blocker will suddenly transport everyone to the stone age.
  • Advertisers: These are the companies that are paying for ads. They’re also paying for tracking and the magical voodoo known as analytics. They want to get as much data …as much ‘big data’ about their users so they can do things like offer their users ‘useful services’ regardless of whether their customers want this or not.
  • Ad/Tracker Services (ATS): These are the Googles and all those companies that put the mechanisms in place (typically 2nd, 3rd, 4th party JavaScript code) to do tracking and ad serving. Ghostery has an excellent options pane for its browser plug-in that shows their categorization:
    Ghostery Options

  • Developers: these are the developers of content blockers. Whether it is a big company like Ghostery or a tiny developer like Marco or Dean Murphy.

  • Consumers: This is me and all of you. Anyone that uses the web for something is a consumer (whether they want to be or not).

The thing about ads is that they’re not only pushing something onto the consumer, they’re also tracking the consumer. Ghostery displays an amazing little window for each visited site showing the number of ads and trackers that a site has. Here’s one from The New York Times.

The New York Times - Breaking News, World News

The ATSes provide services across all the various sites that you and I visit. How much data has Google collected in terms of Gmail, Google Docs, and Google search usage? What about Facebook? Yahoo? Bing? What about all the other ATSes that we know nothing about?

It’s a complicated subject and there are no easy answers (check out “Back to Work Episode 239” towards the end of the show regarding the fact that this is not easy).

The only voice that I can speak for is myself – as a consumer. Personally, I want advertisers to ask me to opt-in to their data collection and ads. So until they do this, I will use ad blockers like Ghostery.

If I’m ok with The Economist’s pay wall – then why shouldn’t I be with a content wall that a publisher puts up? If a publisher objects to ad blockers, then they should absolutely put up a content wall. I wont be offended. I’ll have a clear choice of whitelisting the site with my blocker or moving on to another site.

Ultimately, ad and content blockers are a consumer’s way of making ad and tracking services opt-in services. Publishers, Advertisers, and Ad/Tracking Services have been unwilling to follow an opt-in approach so now the consumers have the ability to enforce such a process.

Note:

As of 9/30/15 – Any ads on this site come from wordpress.com. It’s WordPress’s way of getting paid for the free service that they give me. I don’t get any money out of it.

How to Create an Encrypted Zip file on the Mac

It all started with a text message from my wife about needing help with a password on a zip file:

wife: I tried to put password in zip file

wife: I followed this page http://smallbusiness.chron.com/create-encrypted-zip-files-mac-44338.html

me: command of: zip -e myzipfile.zip file1.txt file2.txt OR zip -r -e myzipfile ./directory the tricky part is the terminal

wife: I used the terminal but for some reasons, it only creates empty folder
…a bunch of text messages later…

me: Here you go – give them this link…

My wife is really smart and quite a decent user of her Mac. She needed to encrypt a zip file because whe was sending some paystubs to some bank loan people.

I know what you are starting to think “but encrypting a zip file is insecure”. And you’re probably right but the fact of the matter is bank employees are severely constrained by their employers and you’re LUCKY if they’re even allowed to open an encrypted zip file. It’s not that they’re incapable of such a feat, but rather that they’re in a financial institution with a whole lot of rules and regulations that make secure electronic delivery of anything quite debatable.

There should be an easy..practically trivial way to compress a directory and put a password on the Mac but the “encrypted with password” part is not easy at all. In this tutorial I’ll walk you through how to do this.

And now for the instructions

These instructions and pictures were done on Yosemite but should apply to future versions of Mac OS X.

Creating a non-encrypted zip file is easy

Lets use an example directory called my directory

Creating a non-encrypted zip file is easy

Right click on your folder

Choose the ‘Compress’ selection

Right click on your folder

And now you have a zip file

It’s easy peasy – you now have a *my directory.zip *file. But it isn’t encrypted with a password. Anyone can double click on it and it would show its contents without difficulty.

And now you have a zip file

Creating an encrypted zip file

To create an encrypted zip file you need to use the Mac’s command line. The command line is a vastly different way to interact with the file system. Most of the tutorials that I have seen do not exactly explain how to use the command line. I will make a stab at making this tutorial clearly explain how to use the command line to create the encrypted zip file of a directory.

Before we proceed – you need to agree that you will follow my instructions to the letter….I’m assuming you are nodding your head with a ‘yes’. If you deviate in any way and you get surprising results then go back and try again by following the exact steps.

The usual disclaimer applies – use at your own risk and I’m not responsible if you destroy your Mac 🙂

Create a mydirectory directory in the Documents folder of your mac

Make sure that the mydirectory doesn’t have any spaces in the name.

Note: Your mydirectory folder doesn’t have to be in Documents. It can be anywhere that you can get to with the Finder.

Create a mydirectory directory in the Documents folder of your mac

Place your files in the mydirectory directory

Place your files in the mydirectory directory

Search for terminal in spotlight

Spotlight is the mac’s search facility. If you don’t see it in Finder just press the following keys: COMMAND SPACEBAR

The command is the key with the clover leaf symbol and the spacebar is….the spacebar. When you see the search box type terminal and then double-click on the suggested program like the one shown in the image (below).

Search for terminal in spotlight

Use the Terminal to change directory to mydirectory

In the terminal we’re going to change directory (cd) into the mydirectory folder. Remember that the Terminal is a completely different way of interacting with your file system (the other way is visually through the Finder).

In the terminal you will be typing the cd command followed by a space (i.e. pressing the spacebar).

  1. In the terminal type: cd
  2. With your mouse drag the *mydirectory *folder from the finder window into the terminal

In the next step you will press the enter key on your keyboard and within the Terminal you will have changed the directory into mydirectory.

Use the Terminal to change directory to mydirectory

Press the enter key

You should now be in the mydirectory folder. Congratulations…we’re almost there.

Press the enter key

Now type cd ..

Type: cd ..

The key thing is typing the letter c and d then a space with the spacebar followed by two periods.

Now type cd ..

It’s time to zip up the directory with and encrypt it with a password of your choice

Type: zip -re myzipfile.zip ./mydirectory/

There’s a space (i.e. press the spacebar) between the words (see the red lines in picture).

Note that myzipfile.zip is the encrypted zip file that will hold your files. You can use another name for it but make sure that you don’t put spaces in the file name.

It's time to zip up the directory with and encrypt it with a password of your choice

Now press the enter key

You’ll be prompted for the encryption password so enter whatever password that you want to use and then press enter. Then type it in again when you see ‘Verify password:’

Now press the enter key

What you should see

After you re-enter the password in ‘Verify password:’ and then press the enter key you should see the directory being zipped and encrypted.

What you should see

Time to test the zip file

You’re pretty much done. It’s a good practice to verify that the directory is encrypted in the zip file. So we will use the Terminal that you already have open to open a Finder window to the directory where the zip file is located.

Type: open .

There’s a space between the open and the period.

Time to test the zip file

Open the new zip file in the Finder window

Use the new Finder window to find the zip file that you just created (myzipfile.zip in this case). Double-click on the file.

Open the new zip file in the Finder window

When you double click the zip file

If you have properly encrypted the zip file then you should get the picture shown below. If you don’t see this then you probably didn’t encrypt the zip file.

Note: the “hello.txt” message just refers to the first file in the directory. When you put in the correct password the zip file will be fully decrypted, so all files will be decrypted.

When you double click the zip file

After you put the correct password

After you put the correct password you should see your directory in the finder windows.

Note: In the image below there is a ‘mydirectory 2’ The reason there’s a ‘2’ next to the directory name because your original directory is in the same location.

After you put the correct password

Open the directory and verify that the you can open the files without issue

Open the directory and verify that the you can open the files without issue

You’re done – CONGRATULATIONS!!!

It’s time to put on your party hat and do the happy dance. You’re done!

Image credit: http://emojipedia.org/party-popper/

You're done - CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Let me know how I can make these instructions better.

If you think I can do a better job with this tutorial – let me know via twitter (@eli4d).

One last thing…

If you think that Apple should improve the encryption zip file – send Tim Cook an email at tcook@apple.com (I’m serious). Looking for an idea of what to send? Here’s a sample:

Email Subject:

Can you (pretty) please improve the Mac OS X Archive utility to allow zip encryption from the Finder

Email Body:

Dear Tim,

*Can you kindly ask your Mac OS X team to add an encryption capability to the Mac’s Archive utility so I can use the the Finder’s built in ‘Compress’ service rather than use tortuous command line tutorials like https://eli4d.com/2015/09/23/how-to-create-an-encrypted-zip-file-on-the-mac

Sincerely,

ENTER_YOUR_FIRST_NAME

The Voice Behind the Code

I recently listened to The Changelog episode about a static site generator called Middleman (as an aside – The Changelog is an amazing podcast about all kinds of open source software – kudos to Adam Stacoviak). Now I’m not a user of Ruby (haven’t had time to play with Ruby nor Rails) but after listening to this episode I really want to try out Middleman and in fact I put it on my list of projects to play with when I have time.

Why? Because I liked how Thomas Reynold presented himself on The Changelog, I like his philosophy in developing and managing Middleman. It’s a side project that he’s been maintaining for a long time and he’s committed to maintaing it for a long time still. Furthermore, his technical decisions and evolution of Middleman shows me that he’s someone who’s willing to evolve his software rather than let it fade away in a morass of old crufty code.

My immediate reaction of putting Middleman on my project playlist made me consider my own approach for selecting software. I used to look at software based on popularity as measured by techie blogs and the latest fad. Somewhere along the line I changed my approach and how I purchase software. Somewhere along the line, I started paying attention to the the voice behind the code.

These days – when I come across an interesting product – I start reading the blog of the developer (or company), and then I move onto any podcasts that the developer has participated in. It’s an oddly personal path to a product. I suppose that marketeers will call it ‘personalization’ or some such thing.

When did this start for me? When did I change from a blind purchaser of software to a more reflective one? (I think this is more applicable to Mac software purchases than iOS products where I’ve bought lots of crap before stopping my purchases for the most part)

I think it started with the Build and Analyze (B&A) podcast where I heard Marco Arment talk about software development. I found out about B&A from a Merlin Mann podcast called Back to Work.

I bought Marco’s Instapaper app because of B&A. Here was an opinionated developer that wasn’t afraid to tell why he did or didn’t do certain things when it came to Instapaper. I liked the guy’s honesty, hard headedness and general East Coast demeanor. Marco sold Instapaper in 2013 and I thought that Instapaper was doomed to take a long slow nosedive into oblivion. But I was wrong because Marco entrusted his software baby to a great steward for his product.

He moved on from B&A to the Accidental Tech Podcast. He also created The Magazine but I didn’t buy it because it was not my cup-of-tea as a product (Apple’s Newstand never seemed right to me so I never bought anything in it).

He recently created a fantastic podcast client which I’ve been enjoying since day one of its launch. Overcast embodies Marco’s sensibilities and his choices fit the checkboxes that I have for a podcast client.

It’s funny how all of this started because of a podcast and listening to some anonymous guy passionately talk about his software and why he made certain choices when designing that software.

I have yet to be disappointed by a product purchase that is based on the voice behind the code. I’m not sure if this is a great approach to purchasing software but it works for me.

Voices that I’ve liked:

Book Review: “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

Warning: Spoiler Alert: If you intend to read the book, please do not read this review.

Rating:

  • Harlequin level: n/a
  • Plot/action/story: 5
  • Solid conclusion: 5
  • SciFi thrill: 5
  • Fantasy thrill: 5
  • Part of a series but doesn’t skimp: n/a

Overall thoughts about the book

While I’ll do my best to describe my impression of “Childhood’s End”, I have to admit that words fail me. It is a stunning novel beyond description. I read it on my Kindle and immediately ordered a 1953 hardcover version the moment that I finished it. I rarely do that…actually, I never do that.

While I understand that scifi purists might scoff at Clarke’s combination of scifi and the paranormal, I don’t think anyone can deny his storytelling mastery when it comes to both.

Clarke divides the book into 3 parts:

  1. Earth and the Overlords
  2. The Golden Age
  3. The Last Generation

In Earth and the Overlords we are introduced to the mysterious Overlords that show up just as man is about to take off to the stars. This theme of man being prevented from reaching the stars is repeated over and over again and the last part of the book resolves this fundamental issue. Mankind does not ever take off but man’s children leave on a completely different route into the universe.

Getting back to this first part, Clarke plays with and refuses to answer whether the Overlords are ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Are they really here to help mankind or do they have a different agenda? He also taunts the reader with the most basic of questions – what do the Overlords look like and why do they refuse to show themselves?

He constantly hints at a hidden agenda and he uses the relationship of overlord Karellen with the human Stormgren to both clarify and obscure the Overlord/mankind relationship. This part of the book is best summed up by the last paragraph of part one:

And Stormgren hoped that when Karellen was free to walk once more on Earth, he would one day come to these northern forests, and stand beside the grave of the first man ever to be his friend.

There’s this bittersweet tone that the above paragraph sets for the next section of the book – The Golden Age.

In The Golden Age we are immediately shown what the Overlords look like. Sure it’s 50 years later and the Overlords have had time to affect man in a way that brings utopia to all mankind. But it’s still shocking to find that the Karellen (and therefore all Overlords) looks like Satan.

At this point I was sure that the Overlords’s agenda was ‘evil’ and of course I was wrong once again. Clarke is like an amazingly strategic volleyball player that sets up a fake spike and has one of his compatriots slam the ball on his confused opponents.

Mankind’s utopia is in full swing when we’re introduced to Rupert Boyce. Through Rupert we meet George Greggson and his future wife – Jean. And through Rupert’s séance party Clarke shows us some slight hints to the Overlord’s actual agenda. It has to do with Jean revealing the exact location of the Overlord’s homeworld (actually the location of their sun). In the process of showing us this we are also introduced to Jan Rodricks, who in the last section of the book, turns out to be the last man on earth.

Jan figures out a brilliant way to be a stowaway on an Overlord ship reaching for the stars and visiting their world. This daring move in conjunction with time dilation assures his place as the last man on earth.

The Golden Age closes with a one-two punch. The first punch is Karellen’s clear dictate that mankind would never reach the stars:

“It is a bitter thought, but you must face it. The planets you may one day possess. But the stars are not for man.” “The stars are not for man.” Yes, it would annoy them to have the celestial portals slammed in their faces.

The second punch is the bittersweet passage that continues the build up of the ending in this constant circular drumbeat sort of way. As I mentioned before – words fail me.

It had been the Golden Age. But gold was also the color of sunset, of autumn: and only Karellen’s ears could catch the first wailings of the winter storms. And only Karellen knew with what inexorable swiftness the Golden Age was rushing to its close.

The Last Generation begins with the pettiness of George Greggson and the eventual move of both him and his family to New Athens – a sort of modern day commune. Here in New Athens Clarke builds up and hammers through the transformation of the Greggson’s children and the eventual transformation of all of the children of the world.

As a parent, some passages are utterly terrifying:

“I’ve only one more question,” he said. “What shall we do about our children?” “Enjoy them while you may,” answered Rashaverak gently. “They will not be yours for long.” It was advice that might have been given to any parent in any age: but now it contained a threat and a terror it had never held before.

and

It was the end of civilization, the end of all that men had striven for since the beginning of time. In the space of a few days, humanity had lost its future, for the heart of any race is destroyed, and its will to survive is utterly broken, when its children are taken from it.

Here Clarke reveals the full plan of the Overlords and the upcoming extinction of mankind. He also intersperses Jan’s journey to the Overlord home-world. It is a sort of high-tech rendition of biblical hell with less drama and lots of tech. Through Jan we get to see that the Overlords are really in their own sort of purgatory.

Jan is truly the last man on earth and through him we see the ascendence of man in the form of the children’s merger with the Overmind. Yet this merger is strange and inexplicable. We don’t know what really becomes of the children, we just know that they are no longer an obvious remnant of mankind.

They were emptier than the faces of the dead, for even a corpse has some record carved by time’s chisel upon its features, to speak when the lips themselves are dumb.

The Overlords are stuck in their own hell. They are servants to a master that they cannot understand. They are at an evolutionary dead-end and the only thing that they can do besides serving the Overmind is to do their best to understand that which they cannot understand. And yet Karellen assures us that they will not bow their heads without a fight.

Yet, Karellen knew, they would hold fast until the end: they would await without despair whatever destiny was theirs. They would serve the Overmind because they had no choice, but even in that service they would not lose their souls.

The above passage reminds me of Invictus and the way Clarke applies it applies to the Overlords – man’s version of Satan is quite astounding.


>Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


Man’s children have ascended and become something else (we don’t know if they’re in ‘heaven’, we just know they’re in ‘something else’). But the Overlords…they’re still fighting to be the captains of their soul.