Digital transformation isn’t just a single wave, it’s a series of them, each one transformational – it’s an environment in which change is a permanent feature.
No one size fits anyone any more
We know every single Fortune 500 firm now uses Apple equipment in their business.
We know that many enterprises now offer their own proprietary apps and business processes, and we also know that incoming technologies such as RPA will continue to transform business practise.
We recognize that, given the choice, most employees will choose Apple kit, and we know those employees who do may be more productive, cost less in tech support and less likely to quit.
We also know that not every task requires the same toolkit, and that the very notion of apps favours development of software to address one single task well, rather than multiple tasks poorly.
Think about your business.
It’s likely you have different business units engaged in different tasks, each one with different resources and varying practical needs. Maps, spreadsheets, presentations, data analysis, field service manuals, passenger manifests, cargo manifests, location detection systems, data analysis, pre-emptive maintenance, warehouse navigation — look around and you’ll find most business needs now enjoy access to an ‘app for that’.
Particularly on iOS.
The problem is that while Apple’s App Store is by far the most secure shopfront for apps, it’s still not perfectly safe (nowhere is).
This has led many companies to white list specific apps while banning use of others in managed environments.
This leads inexorably toward scenarios in which enterprises will begin to create and populate their own internal App Stores.
These will deliver a mix of curated consumer and proprietary enterprise apps giving employers control and insight and employees trusted environments of choice.
Businesses recognise that in an App environment in which even the most secure platform provider is grappling with threats, while other platforms offer slick marketing to hid inherent weakness, it behoves them to put together their own source of truth.
In the form of an enterprise app store.
None of this is new
But Enterprise App Stores will become far more commonplace.
Many already exist.
SAP has its own SAP Enterprise Store, for example, but a recent Gartner report predicts 40% of workers will manage their enterprise apps in this way.
The model will only extend as incoming employees arrive to market with their own technologically sophisticated needs built as a result of a lifetime engaging with digital tools and App Store distribution.
These tech-savvy employees will digital tools to be as easy to access as downloading an ‘app for that’.
They will want intuitive user interfaces for those apps, will want apps that work together and will not want to navigate through confusing UI elements in order to find the function they need.
We already know employees will quit if the tech they use is worse than what they use at home, so there’s an HR need spurring this evolution.
Ultimately, this means enterprise app developers will approach app design from a widget-like approach, splicing business processes up into modules.
This will enable employees — already used to piecing together a bunch of different apps in order to get things done in the consumer space — to adopt a similar approach at work: They will select the specific apps they need in order to transact the tasks their specific role requires.
Some will use more apps, some will use less, but the overall impact will be that the friction of app use will be reduced and autonomy and simplicity should unlock productivity.
Employees will also be equipped to use third-party apps that have passed through the IT support vetting process and have been whitelisted to work across a company network – while enterprises will be able to sandbox emerging solutions for use by authorized employees, enabling agile business users to choose to use new tools that may augment the business need.
This gives employees the autonomy to use what are for them the best available tools for their job (including emerging solutions), while also protecting the business from hack, attack and user security slack.
Enterprise app deployment becomes a frictionless user experience, just like consumer App Stores.
iPhone-wielding workers can use the best digital tools for the job, and the collections of apps used by workers can be changed in response to changing needs, nurturing business agility and digital dexterity.
There is a downside to this digital dance.
Not every company has the resources to launch its own proprietary app store, but there are service providers who may fill that gap.
At JNUC I spoke briefly with Setapp CEO, Oleksandr Kosovan. He was there to evangelize the SetApp for Teams service, which offers Mac-based enterprises access to a collection of useful productivity apps for a set fee. The idea is that these apps are curated by his company and enterprises can scale their app deployments to demand.
While this service is only for Macs, it’s no great leap of imagination to add links to enterprise-approved iOS apps and distribution to proprietary enterprise apps to this kind of curated and branded store.
While Kosovan’s is a consumer play with a background in consumer markets, firms like Arxan and others also offer proprietary App store solutions for enterprises.
And it’s possible the good times for this segment of the enterprise services business have only just begun.
Apple makes it easy to download an app or to rent a movie on your iPhone or iPad. But what if you want to change the default password behavior for App Store and iTunes Store? Here’s how to manage your password preferences.
Turn off Touch ID and Face ID for App Store and iTunes Store
If you’re using any modern iPhone with Touch ID or Face ID, you won’t be prompted to set your password preference in the App Store app. Touch ID and Face ID will override your previous preferences (if any).
As such, if you don’t want to be prompted for authentication for buying apps, you’ll still get a Touch ID or Face ID prompt. The only way to access those password management settings is to first disable Touch ID or Face ID authentication for the App Store and iTunes Store.
To do this, open the “Settings” app and go to the “Face ID & Passcode” or “Touch ID & Passcode” section, depending on your device.
From the next screen, enter your lockscreen passcode to authenticate.
Here, tap on the toggle next to “iTunes & App Store” to disable Face ID or Touch ID authentication for App Store and iTunes Store.
Once you do this, Face ID and Touch ID will be disabled for the App Store and iTunes Store. You’ll have to enter the password every time you buy and download apps. You can learn how to configure those settings in the section below.
Manage Password Preferences for App Store and iTunes Store
Once Face ID or Touch ID authentication is disabled, a whole new Password Preferences section will be unlocked. To find this, go to the top of the Settings app and tap on your name.
Here, select the “iTunes & App Store” option.
Tap on the newly unlocked “Password Settings” item.
You’ll now see two sections. In the “Purchases and In-App Purchases” section, you can switch to the “Require After 15 Minutes” option to stop the App Store from asking you for your password or verification every time you buy an app or an in-app purchase (until 15 minutes passes).
In the “Free Downloads” section, you’ll find the “Require Password” feature. You can disable it If you don’t want to be prompted for a password every time you download a free item.
Once you’ve configured the settings to your liking, just go back and start using the App Store and iTunes Store to download apps and make purchases. You won’t receive prompts to use Face ID or Touch ID anymore.
Most people don’t want to pay for apps and prefer to go the free route. After all, why pay for something you can get for free?
But there are some apps you should seriously consider paying for. We’ve surveyed the iPhone App Store and come up with the following list of paid iOS apps that are worth every penny.
1. Sky Guide
Wondering what that bright light in the sky is? Just ask Sky Guide.
Sky Guide is a phenomenal app for astronomers, curious stargazers, and people who just want to kick back and watch the night sky. Just point your iPhone at the sky, and you’ll start seeing loads of stars, planets, and constellations.
These correspond exactly to where you’re pointing at, thanks to the built-in compass. Now you’ll know if that light is Jupiter or star TYC 6812-00306-1. Yep, it’s that precise.
The app also houses mythology-inspired art for every constellation, so you can learn and memorize them in no time. And to make the experience even better, there’s soothing cosmic music in the background.
Rounding out the experience are lots of cool extra features, like the power to travel back in time with the stars and the ability to spot satellites. Sky Guide is your gateway to the heavens, all in the palm of your hand.
Do you have an addiction to constantly checking your phone? Does this keep you from staying productive?
If so, Forest wants to help you out. For a small fee, this cute and effective app will help you stick to what you’re supposed to do. It assists you in fostering good habits and breaking bad ones.
When you want to focus, all you need to do is set a timer. Once that timer is running, a plant will start to grow on-screen. As time progresses, the plant will slowly become a lush forest filled with critters.
But be wary: if you leave the app, all your progress will disappear, and your forest will be chopped down. That’s a lot of wildlife gone! The longer you stay on task, the greener and more beautiful your forest will turn out.
Apple Music regularly receives new features to improve the service. Its time-synced live lyrics function is great for funny (or totally embarrassing) karaoke sessions. The app also looks stunning with iOS 13’s dark mode.
Even better, Apple Music boast way more songs than competitors, coming in at 45 million songs vs. Spotify’s 35 million. You can also import your own library of music through iTunes. Furthermore, Apple Music has native Siri support, seamless transitions between Apple devices, and much more.
In a nutshell, we think that Apple Music is the best music app worth paying for if you own an iPhone or iPad. Check out must-know Apple Music features to make the most of it.
Download: Apple Music ($9.99/month subscription required, free trial available)
Water is so essential to life that there’s a dedicated app for it.
WaterMinder gives you a healthy intake goal to meet and reminds you to drink water on a regular basis. This is super useful, especially if you’re dehydrated, exercise a lot, or are looking to shed some pounds. All the water you drink gets added to your daily Water Log.
The process of logging your water is quite fluid. All you have to do is press a simple button, or you can tell Siri to log it for you.
Moreover, when you meet your water requirements, you can earn achievements. Not just in the app, but in real life, too. Just wait until you unlock your all-new glowing skin!
Endless surfing awaits in Alto’s Odyssey, a game with no bounds. In this award-winning experience, you control Alto and surf down sandy destinations while performing aerial tricks to avoid obstacles.
As you cruise through the desert, the weather changes and the sun sets, resulting in stunning, picturesque backgrounds. But it’s not all about pretty graphics—mastering Alto’s Odyssey has a learning curve.
It’s really a one-of-a-kind experience, with beautiful music and relaxing landscapes to boot. And if you have a recent iPad Pro, the ProMotion display will make the experience even more immersive and relaxing. We recommend Alto’s Odyssey to anyone who enjoys games.
The robocall and spam epidemic finally has a cure: it’s called RoboKiller. With a RoboKiller subscription, you can put an end to the endless spam calls you receive. You’ll be notified of any blocked spam calls as soon as they come in.
Through your carrier, RoboKiller analyzes calls and accurately decides if they’re garbage or not. What’s more, you can record a custom message (or use an already recorded one) to waste the caller’s time and get some sweet revenge.
Although Apple introduced a built-in method to stop spam callers in iOS 13, it’s not as smart as RoboKiller, since it blocks every caller that’s not in your contacts. Using it could result in you missing an important call from a doctor or similar entity.
For just a few dollars, this timeless game is a steal. If you’re somehow not in the loop when it comes to Minecraft, here’s a quick rundown of how it works.
Minecraft is like a virtual LEGO set, except it has an infinite amount of bricks. It’s an endless, blocky adventure in which you can create to your heart’s delight. Create cities, spaceships, castles—anything you can think of. But creation isn’t the only component of this sandbox safari.
In survival mode, you must avoid zombies and other macabre monsters in a vast, open world. And with online support, you can join up with your friends for awesome co-op escapades.
Minecraft is truly a gem (a diamond, if you will). It’s been going strong with a long lifespan full of constant quality and feature updates.
What makes Dark Sky better than Apple’s vanilla Weather app? It all comes down to its uncanny ability to precisely predict the weather.
While the default Weather app tells you what the weather looks like for the day, Dark Sky gives you a forecast by the minute. It can tell you if it’s going to start raining in six minutes, or if the skies will stay clear for just a few hours.
It’s like having a fortune teller for the weather. And if that wasn’t enough, Dark Sky’s interface is beautiful and contains gorgeous satellite animations. In all, Dark Sky is much more informative and precise than any other weather app, and it’s definitely well worth the cost.
These are a few highlights among the great iPhone apps and games worth spending your money on. We think that all of them offer great value for the price, and will serve you well for just a few dollars.
So you’ve done your due diligence and created unique passwords for all your accounts. But now you struggle to remember them all. You don’t trust cloud-based services and find hardware password managers too clunky for everyday use. What else is there? How about a credit card-sized data safe that works with NFC?
The PIN-SAFE card can store up to 50 passwords, PINs, PUKs, and other sensitive data. Once linked to your phone’s IMEI number via the PIN-SAFE Android app, you can access your data using NFC and your PIN-SAFE PIN. Yes, you still have to remember that one. To access the data, just hold the card to your device’s NFC sensor and enter your PIN into the app.
Since PIN-SAFE fits into your wallet, you can conveniently carry it anywhere. Should you lose the card, your data will remain safe. First, it takes both the phone and the PIN to access it. Second, the data is encrypted with AES256. Thankfully, the PIN-SAFE package comes with a backup card.
That said, forgetting your PIN or losing access to your smartphone would render the data on your card inaccessible and forever lost. Thus, we don’t recommend using PIN-SAFE as your primary password manager. It’s a great tool to conveniently and securely access a small selection of sensitive data on your phone. You should, however, keep a secure backup of your data elsewhere.
PIN-SAFE complements traditional hardware wallets or your good old notebook. It’s safer than storing your passwords in the cloud, ultra-portable, and at EUR 19.90, it’s also affordable.
Disclaimer: We ran into a PIN-SAFE executive at IFA 2019 and received a copy of the product. Unfortunately, since PIN-SAFE has not launched outside Germany yet, we weren’t able to access the app on our phone. But we learned that the certification process for a UK launch is underway.
Historically, you downloaded Windows software through an EXE file from its official website or a third-party download site (called a desktop app). But starting in Windows 8 and today with Windows 10, you also have the option of downloading apps from the Microsoft Store (known as store apps).
Many apps are available as both traditional desktop apps and modern Store apps. Given the choice, which should you download? We’ll take a look and try to answer that question.
Why Does the Microsoft Store Exist?
Microsoft included its new app marketplace, called the Windows Store, with Windows 8. At the time, these “Metro apps” were only available in full-screen and many people ignored them.
This marketplace was carried into Windows 10 and eventually renamed the Microsoft Store (not to be confused with brick-and-mortar Microsoft stores). In addition to apps, the Microsoft Store carries games, movies, TV shows, and Edge extensions. Now, the lines between app types are blurred, as Store apps run in a window just like traditional desktop programs.
For some time, Windows was the only major platform not to offer an official marketplace for apps. Android has Google Play, macOS and iOS have the App Store, and Linux has several storefront repositories. Longtime Windows users may wonder why Microsoft even bothered to release an app store like this.
From the company’s perspective, this was mainly for two reasons: uniformity across platforms, and security of the OS.
Universal Microsoft Store Apps
As you might remember, Microsoft pushed the new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps (called Metro apps during Windows 8) pretty hard. The idea was to offer apps that worked on desktop Windows as well as Windows Phone.
Nowadays, even after the collapse of Windows 10 Mobile, apps on the Store often run across Windows 10, Xbox One, HoloLens, and other platforms. In theory, these let developers create an app once that’s usable across multiple devices.
Of course, having these apps on the Microsoft Store also provides an additional revenue stream for Microsoft.
, it’s often difficult to tell whether an app you find on a random website is a legitimate download or a dangerous fake. This leads to inexperienced users opening themselves up to malware just from downloading software.
Instead, the Microsoft Store gives Microsoft more control over what apps are available. The company does some level of vetting to weed out dangerous apps from the Store. For some time the Store had issues with fake and dead apps, but these are thankfully not as bad nowadays.
Desktop vs. Microsoft Store Apps: Security
As we’ve seen, Store apps have the advantage of living in a trusted environment. However, they’re also more secure at their core than desktop apps.
When you download a desktop app, it often requires permission to run as an administrator to install. While this is a normal part of installing software, providing admin rights to a program gives it permission to do whatever it wants to your computer.
If you grant admin privileges to a malicious app, it has free reign to install malware, trash your data, record your keystrokes, or otherwise do harm to your PC. Most apps don’t do this, of course, but this is how infections often spread.
In contrast, Store apps have limited permissions. They run in a sandbox, meaning they’re confined to a certain part of Windows. Since these apps don’t ever run as an administrator, they don’t have nearly as much potential to damage your system.
This is great even for apps like iTunes. By downloading the Store version of iTunes, you won’t get extra junk like Bonjour and Apple Software Update included along with it.
Like Android and iPhone apps, Microsoft Store apps also list out all the permissions they use. This lets you see exactly what functions they utilize in the background. In addition, you can block apps from using individual permissions in the Privacy section of Settings.
By default, Store apps all receive automatic updates. This is much easier than the update prompts most desktop apps provide, as you don’t have to worry about visiting the site and downloading the newest version manually. Uninstalling a Store app is also much cleaner than a desktop app, as there are no Registry entries and other scattered data to remove.
Desktop vs. Microsoft Store Apps: Selection
While there’s a wealth of great software available for Windows, you won’t find it all on the Microsoft Store. Developers must pay a small fee to register and get their apps on the Microsoft Store, which might not be worth it to creators of small tools.
A lot of popular apps, such as Discord, Steam, Calibre, Snagit, and many more are not available on the Store. This means gamers and users of power applications will have to stick to desktop apps in many cases.
However, you can also find Store versions for a lot of common desktop software. Slack, Spotify, iTunes, Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Evernote are just a few examples.
Many of the apps on the Microsoft store are mobile-style offerings like Netflix and Candy Crush Saga that are simple games or apps to access one website or service. However, even some small desktop utilities are available in a Store variant. This is the case with PureText, a great little app to paste text without formatting.
Fan-favorite image editing app Paint.NET is also available for a few dollars on the Store. It’s the same as the free version, but the developer offers it as an optional donation with more convenient updates.
Desktop vs. Microsoft Store Apps: Interface
The same app can vary quite a bit between versions. In general, desktop apps offer more features and navigation icons, while Store apps use larger, more spaced-out buttons. This makes Store apps more convenient for touchscreen use.
As an example, look at the version of OneNote included with Microsoft Office compared to the OneNote Store app. Below is the desktop version:
You can see that like other Office apps, this has tabs along the Ribbon for all sorts of features. These include advanced tools like revision history, the ability to record video, and all sorts of tags, plus support for macros. The buttons are also close together, as you’d expect for something designed for a mouse.
In comparison, here’s what the Store version of OneNote looks like:
You can see how simple the interface is here compared to the desktop version. It has fewer tabs and buttons with icons that are spread further apart. In addition, the Store version offers far fewer settings than its desktop counterpart.
As mentioned earlier, this feels more like an app you’d use on your phone than a desktop program. It’s perfectly suitable for quick use, but OneNote power users will find many features lacking.
Let’s quickly look at VLC, the popular media player, to see how its desktop and Store editions differ.
The desktop edition has a wealth of features you’ve come to expect from the program. Along the bottom bar, you can control the playback, including adjusting both audio and video effects. Desktop VLC supports subtitles, the ability to open media from sources like network streams, on-screen control customization, and a whole lot more.
In comparison, the Store edition of VLC is much more streamlined. You can change options, but only a handful compared to everything in the desktop version. It still offers support for subtitles and playback from network sources but doesn’t let you customize the interface, play from a DVD or Blu-ray disc, or use a lot of VLC’s other hidden tricks.
You’ll also notice that the buttons in this version are much larger, making them easier for touchscreen users. As I was testing it, the Store version also froze up several times when trying to start a video.
The Store version is serviceable, but power users will find a lot lacking.
Microsoft Store Versions of Web Apps
Aside from desktop app replacements, the Store contains many apps for web services. These include Pandora, Amazon, Netflix, Instagram, and others.
In some cases, these “apps” are simply a wrapper on a website (such as Amazon). There’s little reason to use these when you can just bookmark the site in your favorite browser.
However, others offer unique features or better layouts. For example, while you can scroll through Instagram in a browser, you need to use the Instagram Store app to access your DMs. You may also prefer to keep a desktop app for video services like Netflix and Hulu installed for easy access, especially if you often use your laptop in tablet mode.
Whether you should use a Store app or web app depends on your needs. Some people like having dedicated app s for services that they have open all the time, like Pandora, to cut down on browser tabs. Give both a try and see which you prefer.
Microsoft Store Apps and Desktop Apps
After looking at both kinds of apps, there’s no clear winner between them. Most people will probably use a combination of both.
Desktop apps offer superior functionality, but can have more confusing layouts. Conversely, while Store apps are fairly stripped-down experiences, they update automatically and come from a trusted source.
There are many ways you can manage and store your writing projects. Some people prefer cloud storage services (like Dropbox) or online editors (like Google Docs), while others use desktop applications (like Microsoft Word). I use something called GitHub.
GitHub: It’s for More Than Just Code
I use Git and GitHub to store and access all of my writing. Git is an effective tool you can use to track document changes, plus you can upload to GitHub super-fast. It’s also quick and simple to download your work to a second or third device.
If you’ve never heard of GitHub, it’s the world’s most popular destination to store and maintain open-source code. That might sound like a crazy place to host your writing, but it’s not! After all, code is just lines and lines of text, like your article, story, or dissertation.
Git is an open-source program created by Linus Torvalds, of Linux fame. Git tracks changes to documents and makes it easier for multiple people to work on the same document remotely. In tech-speak, it’s called a distributed version control system (or distributed VCS). Git doesn’t arbitrarily save versions of your documents at set intervals. Instead, it stores changes to your documents only when you tell it to.
Your documents form a repository (or repo), which is just a fancy term for your project folder. Your Documents folder in Windows, for example, would be a repository if you used Git to manage it (but don’t do that).
When you store changes to your documents in Git, it’s called a “commit.” A commit is just a record of the most recent changes you made to a document. Each commit is assigned a long string of numbers and letters as its ID.
If you call up a past commit by its ID, you don’t see the entire project as you do in Word’s document history. You only see the most recent changes when that commit was made. However, this doesn’t mean the entire project wasn’t recorded. You can delete all your writing from a project folder and still get the most recent version back with a few git commands. You can even go back and see how the project looked a week ago, or six months ago.
You can also include messages to each commit, which is very useful. For example, if you write something but aren’t sure you want to keep it, just do a commit. The section then survives in your commit history even if you delete it from the project later.
Git works best on the command line, which is a great advantage but also has its downsides. The command line is fine to create commits and upload changes. However, if you want to view a commit history, it’s not ideal.
This is why many people like GitHub—a popular online service that offers a web interface for your Git repositories. On GitHub, you can easily view past commits, as well as download your writing to multiple PCs.
Together, Git and GitHub let me control my version history at a granular level. And it’s easy to get my writing on any PC that can run a Bash command line which, these days, includes Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS machines.
Plain Text Files Make Things Easy
Git and GitHub do commits on pretty much any file type for writing, although it works best with plain text. If you write in Microsoft Word, it’ll work, but you won’t be able to see your past commits on the command line or in GitHub. Instead, you have to call up a past commit on the command line (called a “checkout”), and then open your Word file. The Word file then looks just as it did when you made the original commit, and you can get back to your current version with another quick command.
If you use Scrivener, that works, too. Scrivener saves files as text, so it also displays past commits on GitHub and the command line. But Scrivener also saves data that’s important to the program, but not to you. In each commit, you’ll end up with a lot of junk that makes it difficult to read.
I use plain text files because that’s all you need to string words together, especially in your first few drafts.
Getting Started with Git
Let’s get into the technical details of how this all works. We’ll start with PC, and then move up to the cloud with GitHub.
Open your terminal and navigate to the folder you want to use as a Git repository. For our purposes, let’s say we have a folder called “MyNovel” in the Documents folder. Note that there’s no space between the words of our Git repo. You’ll make your life easier if you do it this way as Bash doesn’t like spaces, and dealing with them gets confusing.
Next, navigate to the MyNovel folder in the terminal. To do this in Windows 10, the command is:
Any WSL command that interacts with files saved in Windows needs must use /mnt/. Also, note that the lowercase “c” indicates the drive you’re on. If your files are on a “D:/” drive, then you use /d/.
For macOS and Linux the command is much simpler:
From here, the commands are the same.
Now, we have to initialize the MyNovel folder as a Git repository. This command works whether you’re just starting a fresh novel or already have some saved files inside.
Your folder is now a Git repository. Don’t believe me? Type this in:
That command asks the computer to list everything in the current folder, including hidden items. You should see something listed towards the top called “.git” (note the period). The hidden “.git” folder is where your document version history is saved. You should never need to open this, but it has to be there.
The First Commit
Before we do our first commit Git wants to know your name and email address. Git uses this information to identify who made the commit, and that information is included in the commit log. For practical purposes, this doesn’t matter since writers are typically flying solo, but Git still requires it.
Let’s assume there are three documents in the “MyNovel” folder called: “Chapter1,” “Chapter2,” and “Chapter3.” To save changes, we have to tell Git to track these files. To do this, type:
git add .
The period tells Git to monitor all untracked files in the folder (i.e. files for which you want to create histories). This command also tells Git to prepare any currently tracked files that have been changed. This process is called staging files for commit.
For our purposes, staging isn’t so important, but it can be useful. If you make changes to Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, but only want to commit the changes in Chapter 2, you would stage Chapter 2 like so:
git add Chapter2.doc
This tells Git you want to get the changes in Chapter 2 ready for commit, but not Chapter 3.
Now, it’s time for the first commit:
Git commit -m "This is my first commit."
The “-m” is called a flag, and it tells Git you want to make a commit and tack on a message, which you see between the quotation marks. I like to use my commit messages to mark word counts. I also use them to note special information, such as: “This commit includes an interview with the CEO of Acme Widgets.”
If I’m writing a story, I might include a message that says: “This commit has the new scene where the dog runs away.” Helpful messages make it easier to find your commits later.
Now that we’ve started tracking our documents, it’s time to put our writing in the cloud with GitHub. I use GitHub as an extra backup, a reliable place to look at my document changes, and a way to access my stuff on multiple PCs.
Getting Started with GitHub
First, you need to sign up for a free account on GitHub (you don’t need a paid account to create private repositories). However, you can only collaborate with up to three people on a private repo. If you have a team of five or more working on an article, you need to sign up for a Pro account ($7 per month, at this writing).
After you create your account, let’s make a new repo. Sign in to your account and go to https://github.com/new.
The first thing we need to do is name the repository. You can use the same name you used for the folder on your PC. Under “Repository Name,” type “MyNovel.”
The “Description” is optional, but I like to use it. You can type something like, “My fabulous new novel about a boy, a girl, and their dog,” etc.
Next, select the “Private” radio button, but don’t check the box called “Initialize this repository with a README.” We don’t want to do that, because we already have a repository on our PC. If we create a README file right now, it makes things harder.
Next, click “Create Repository.” Under, “Quick setup—if you’ve done this kind of thing before,” copy the URL. It should look something like this:
https://github.com/[Your GitHub User Name]/MyNovel.git
Now, it’s back to the desktop and our beloved command line.
Push Your Desktop Repository to the Cloud
The first time you connect a repo to GitHub, you have to use a few specialized commands. The first one is:
git remote add origin https://github.com/[Your GitHub User Name]/MyNovel.git
This tells Git a remote repository is the origin of “MyNovel.” The URL then points Git toward that remote origin. Don’t get too hung up on the term “origin;” it’s just a convention. You can call it “fluffy” if you want to—origin is just easier since it’s the most common way to use Git.
When you upload new changes with Git, it’s called a “push.” When you download changes, it’s called a “pull” or “fetch.” Now, it’s time to push your first commit to GitHub. Here’s what you do:
git push -u origin master
You’ll be prompted to type your GitHub username and password. If you type your credentials correctly, everything uploads, and you’re good to go.
If you want more security for your GitHub uploads, you can use an SSH key. This allows you to use a single password for the SSH key to upload, so you don’t have to type your full GitHub credentials each time. Plus, only someone with the SSH key can upload file changes.
That’s it! Now, when you want to commit changes to your files, you can do so with these three short commands (after you navigate to the “MyNovel” folder):
git add .
Translation: “Hey, Git stage for commit all untracked files, as well as new changes to files you’re already tracking.”
git commit -m "1,000 words on the new iPhone review."
Translation: “Hey Git, save these changes alongside this message.”
git push origin master
Translation: “Hey Git, upload the changes to the origin version of this project on GitHub from my master copy on this PC.”
Git and GitHub Bonus Tips
That’s pretty much it, but here are a few extra tips to make your experience with Git and GitHub even better:
View Past Commits
To view past commits, go to your MyNovel repository on GitHub. Toward the top the main page, under the “Code < >” tab, you see a section that says, “[X] commits.”
Click it, and you see a list of all your commits. Click the commit you want, and you see your text (if you typed it in plain text and not Word, that is). Everything highlighted in green was new text when the commit was created; everything in red was deleted.
Use the Pull Command
It’s easy to grab a new repository on a different machine. Just navigate to where you want to save the repo on the new machine, such as cd ~/Documents. Then, type:
git pull https://github.com/[Your GitHub User Name]/MyNovel.git
Type your credentials, if prompted, and in a few seconds, you’ll be ready to go. Now, commit new changes, and then send them back to GitHub via git push origin master. When you get back to the PC where you usually work, just open the command line, navigate to your project folder, and type in git pull. The new changes will download, and just like that your writing project is up to date across your devices.
Don’t Cross Streams
Most of the time writing isn’t a team effort and involves only one person. Because of that, this article uses Git in a way that wouldn’t work for a multi-person project. Specifically, we made edits directly to the master version of our novel instead of creating what are called “branches.” A branch is a practice version of the novel where you can make changes without affecting the original master. It’s like having two different copies of your novel existing in parallel with neither affecting the other. If you like the changes in the practice branch you can merge them into the master version (or master branch). If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine too. Just throw away the practice branch.
Branches are very powerful, and using them would be the primary workflow with multiple writers on a single project. Solo writers don’t really need to use branches, in my opinion—as long as you don’t make differing changes to the master branch at the same time on multiple PCs.
For example, you should complete your work on your desktop, do your commits, and then push the changes to GitHub. Then go to your laptop and pull all the new changes down before you make any further edits. If you don’t, you might end up with what Git calls “conflicts.” That’s when Git says, “Hey, there are changes in GitHub and on this PC that don’t match. Help me figure this out.”
Sorting your way out of a conflict can be a pain, so it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.
Once you get started with Git, there are tons of things you can learn, such as branching, the difference between a fetch and a pull, what GitHub’s pull requests are, and how to deal with the dreaded conflict.
Git can seem complicated to newcomers, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a powerful tool you can use to manage and store your writing.
Microsoft just can’t stop updating Notepad. Every Windows 10 Update now includes improvements to Notepad, from support for Unix-style line endings to Bing searches and performance improvements. Now, Microsoft is set to update Notepad much more quickly.
This change is part of Windows Insider build 18963. It will arrive with Windows 10’s 20H1 update, expected sometime around April 2020. Until then, Notepad will be updated in the normal way—through Windows Update.
Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar and Brandon LeBlanc explain the change in a blog post:
Notepad has been a well-loved text editor in Windows for over 30 years. Over the last few releases, we’ve been making a number of small improvements to Notepad based on your feedback (including expanded line ending support, wrap around search, and indicating when there’s unsaved content.) Starting with this build, we’re making a change so that future Notepad updates will be automatically available via the store. This will allow us the flexibility to respond to issues and feedback outside the bounds of Windows releases. As always, if you have any feedback for Notepad, we welcome it in the Feedback Hub under Apps > Notepad.
This is a pretty crazy change: Does Notepad really change so often that Microsoft needs the ability to update it more often than every six months? Apparently, it does!
As the Microsoft Store continues to grow and improve, users have a better choice of apps than ever.
Today, we’re going to put calendars under the microscope. Which calendar apps should you use for boosting productivity? Or for remembering birthdays? Or for managing your time more effectively?
Sure, there are a lot of choices. But don’t worry; we’re going to introduce you to the best calendar apps in the Microsoft Store. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Mail and Calendar
We can’t dive into the alternatives without first mentioning Microsoft’s own Mail and Calendar app.
If you rely on lots of apps in the Microsoft suite, it’s one of the best calendar apps you’ll find. Although it’s a single download, it will appear as two separate apps on your Windows machine. You cannot install one without the other.
Importantly for some users, the Calendar app is optimized for Exchange. You’ll get features such as rich support for meetings and managing your schedule.
There’s also a way to change the app’s default font, a dark mode, support for touchscreens and gestures, non-Gregorian calendars, and drag-and-drop event organization.
My Calendar is a lightweight calendar app for Windows 10.
It offers all the features you’d expect to see—including day, week, and month views, toggle buttons to hide and show particular calendars, and a bunch of customization options.
However, the app really shines thanks to its Live Tiles.
You can set up various tiles and customize them to show different things (for example, work meetings, birthdays, national holidays, and so on). It means you can see all your information at a glance from the Start menu without needing to open the app.
My Calendar has a task management feature, complete with customizable categories. All your tasks are accessible from within the Microsoft Store app, but it is only available in the Pro version.
The Pro version also removes ads, add more calendar views (today, agenda, and year), and lets you add photos to the birthday calendar.
One Calendar is one of the best calendar apps for Windows thanks to the impressive number of third-party providers it supports. The list includes Outlook, Google Calendar, Exchange, Office 365, Facebook, iCloud calendars via Webcal, and CalDAV.
Five views are available (day, week, month, year, and agenda). None of them are locked behind a paywall like on My Calendar. It’s easy to jump between the various views using the semantic zoom; just scroll your mouse wheel to move between the different timeframes.
You can also configure the information that’s shown on the app’s Live tile. To change the look, choose from more than 170 themes.
You can work offline too. Also, One Calendar is available on Android and iOS, thus providing you with a seamless experience across all your devices.
Ink Calendar is worth considering if you enjoy using Windows Ink. For those who don’t know, Windows Ink is a Windows feature that lets you use a digital pen (or your finger!) to make notes, write and edit text, annotate PDFs, and more.
Ink Calendar is the closest representation of a paper calendar that you’ll find in the Microsoft Store. When you make a handwritten note on your screen, the app can read the text, understand any time you mention, and add an appointment to other third-party calendars like Outlook and Google. You can also jump from Ink Calendar into Windows’ default calendar app with a single click.
The app lets you draw and write in different colors, offers bright highlighter features, and provides customization features such as background images, themes, and light/dark modes.
Note: You can set up Windows Ink by heading to Start > Settings > Devices > Pen & Windows Ink.
Are you looking for the best Windows calendar for education? You should consider Good Plan. It’s ideal for students, teachers, and even parents.
It has a few core features that’ll appeal to students, teachers, and even parents.
For example, teachers will appreciate the lesson planner with integrated exam and homework timetable. Students can activate the lesson timetable to make sure they are always in the right place at the right time. And parents can follow their kids’ assignments, grades, and school holidays.
Download: Good Plan (Free, Premium version available)
6. EasyMail for Gmail
One of the most significant downsides of using Google’s (albeit excellent) calendar service on Windows is the lack of a dedicated desktop app.
Google has steadfastly refused to make desktop apps for its other popular services (read about the ongoing Google Play Music debacle for a case in point), so it seems unlikely that the situation will change anytime soon.
One of the best Gmail for Desktop workarounds is to use EasyMail for Gmail.
It lets you access Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Tasks in a single interface. You can access different calendar views, create events, accept or reject appointments, and invite other people to your events.
EasyMail for Gmail also supports account switching. If you have a personal Google account and a G Suite account at work, you can toggle between them with a single click. You can add a maximum of five accounts.
We end with a recommendation for hardcore gamers. Game Calendar will keep you abreast of the newest games across all your favorite platforms. You can use it to see upcoming releases and release dates from years gone by. And you can set reminders for upcoming new titles.
The app also offers video clips from games, game information, and the latest trailers. You can even sync your own game library to the cloud for maximum integration.
Remember, the seven apps we have looked at in this article are the nicest calendars in the Microsoft Store. There are dozens of other calendars worth recommending on other operating systems and on the web.
I’m told Apple is at last looking into the privacy and security of free VPN apps made available across its platforms, following a report from researcher, Simon Migliano.
Who owns your VPN service?
The researcher has flagged up several concerns that really should be recognized by anyone choosing a VPN service from both the Apple and Google App Stores:
Ownership: Migliano claims that almost 60 percent of the most popular VPN apps are actually owned (sometimes opaquely) by Chinese companies.
Data protection: Migliano claims Apple is not enforcing its third-party data-sharing ban against VPN apps, with 80 percent of the top free VPN apps “in breach of the rules”, he said. Many are sharing data with third parties, he claims.
That last allegation is particularly concerning.
Has VPN become a honey pot trap?
Think about the nature of VPN services – while they make it much harder for third parties to access/monitor your website traffic while you are using them, they do so by routing traffic via their own servers.
That’s fine when your traffic is kept in a private space, but much less fine when information about what you are doing online is sold on to third parties without any oversight.
These could be data aggregators, hackers, or worse.
Given that anyone using a VPN service is likely to prize privacy and potentially seeks to protect trade secrets or other important confidential data, weak spots in the security provision are a big concern.
Your VPN service provider has good insight into what you do.
Migliano published his data in late 2018.
In his report, he accused both Apple and Google of not doing enough to protect users against second-rate VPN services.
Apple and Google have been informed
“We notified Apple and Google of our updated findings and formally requested they address the privacy risks identified,” he told me.
“To make it as easy as possible for them to resolve the issues, we supplied detailed lists of the apps that required their attention as they still posed a risk to users, along with recommendations on remedial steps to take.”
He explains that Apple is now looking into his claims, though no action has yet been taken.
This follows Apple’s decision in early June to acknowledge that VPN apps require stricter regulation than other apps.
Apple also banned such apps from sharing any data with third parties, though hasn’t begun enforcing this policy yet, the researcher claims.
“However, unless Apple takes action to enforce these new rules and kick non-compliant apps from its App Store then it’s simply paying lip service to privacy,” he said.
To its shame, given the nature of Miglianos claims, Google has not responded at all at time of writing, the researcher said.
What makes this all the more concerning is that those apps he has identified as insecure are responsible for over 210 million downloads on Google Play.
Similarly, they are being downloaded 3.8 million times a month via Apple’s App Store, he claims.
All over the world, Internet users are waking up to the need to protect their privacy.
This isn’t just in terms of personal privacy, but as enterprise systems, workflows and infrastructure becomes increasingly digitized, privacy and security protection are becoming essential bulwarks against all manner of cyberthreats.
With this in mind, Migliano said:
“Even putting aside the question of whether there’s cause for concern that Chinese companies have quietly cornered the free VPN market, this category is crying out for proper regulation.
“The privacy boom is happening against a backdrop of growing internet shutdowns around the world, which means conditions are ripe for VPN profiteering.”
What’s the catch?
There’s a catch to all of these claims, of course:
Migliano works for a company called Top10VPN, which claims to test existing VPN services.
This means he certainly has a business case to justify exposing weak or insecure service, but may also mean his claims need to be challenged.
Fortunately, if Apple is indeed acting on those claims, his claims will soon be challenged – and (when found appropriate) every user will benefit.
Meanwhile, Migliano’s company recommends ExpressVPN, NordVPN and IPVanish VPN, all of which are fee-based. I’ve only used NordVPN, which I liked, but have never used the other services myself.
I’m hoping Apple will look into these claims.
When it does, I’d urge it to figure out some form of kite marking scheme in order that customers choosing to use a VPN service can more easily identify and choose a scheme they can trust, rather than those who subsidize their business by selling your data to data aggregators.
Getting a blue screen of death (also known as a stop code error), where your system unexpectedly crashes, is frustrating. Especially when you don’t understand the problem. If the error is named “Unexpected Store Exception,” we can help.
Despite what you might think, this error has nothing to do with the Microsoft Store. We’re going to show you various ways to troubleshoot this error to determine the cause of an Unexpected Store Exception in Windows 10.
1. Check the Health of Your Hard Drive
The error often indicates that you’re using a failing hard drive. It’s easy to check this with a program like CrystalDiskInfo. Download the standard edition, run the installer, and open the program.
The tabs at the top let you change between drives if you have multiple. Look at the Health Status, which is being determined from the values listed in the table beneath.
Good means exactly that and shows your drive is in fine health. Bad or Caution are obviously negative.
If you see either Bad or Caution status then you need to replace the drive as soon as possible because it’s at risk of failing imminently. In fact, even if you see Good, it’s worth switching the drive if you have one spare—the number one cause of the Unexpected Store Exception stop code is a faulty hard drive.
How to Boot Into Windows 10 Safe Mode Safe Mode is an inbuilt troubleshooting feature that allows you to fix issues at the root, without non-essential applications interfering. You can access Safe Mode in various ways, even if Windows 10 no longer boots. Read More
if you need a hand.
Press Win + X and click Device Manager. Once here, double-click on Display adapters. This will display your graphics card. Right-click the result and click Uninstall device. Confirm it and restart your PC.
Press Win + I to open Settings and click Update & Security. Once here, click Check for updates. Windows should automatically find the latest driver and update your system.
Your antivirus software could be interfering with your system and causing the error. Try temporarily disabling your antivirus and see if the error still occurs. How to disable will vary depending on your software, but chances are it’ll be somewhere in the program’s Settings menu.
If you’re using Windows Defender, press Windows key + I to open Settings. Go to Update & Security > Windows Security > Virus & threat protection > Virus & threat protection settings and slide Real-time protection to Off.
Alternatively, if using any third-party antivirus software, you could try uninstalling it entirely. Press Win + I to open Settings and go to Apps. Find your antivirus on the list, click it, then click Uninstall.
Of course, it’s not the best practice to leave your system unprotected. If this doesn’t fix the Unexpected Store Exception error, enable your antivirus again to help keep your computer secure.
5. Turn Off Fast Startup
Fast startup is a feature that is enabled by default on up-to-date Windows 10 systems. With this, your computer uses a type of hibernation in order to give you quicker boot speeds, especially on hard disk drives.
While great, it can cause some drivers to not load properly, which can lead to the Unexpected Store Exception error. As such, it’s worth disabling fast startup to see if it gets rid of the error.
Press Win + R to open Run. Input control panel and click OK. Click Power Options, then Choose what the power buttons do from the left-hand panel.
Once here, click Change settings that are currently unavailable. Untick Turn on fast startup (recommended) and click Save changes.
Need More Help?
Hopefully, the steps above have helped you troubleshoot or solve the issue. Most commonly, the culprit for the Windows 10 Unexpected Store Exception blue screen error is faulty hardware. If not, the other steps mentioned are worth perusing.