Tue 22 Apr 2014
Luca 6.0.3 works with iCloud
Category : Technology/LucaForiCloud.txt
We’ve released Luca 6.0.3
. The Mac App Store version allows the user to move the accounting database to iCloud, thereby making it possible for the user to review the accounting data from another Mac or even an iPad (using a forthcoming version of Luca for iPad).
Actually Luca is pretty powerful. It allows the user to manage the accounting data for more than just one company, or many branches of the same company, and you can move all of these information to iCloud. I’m looking forward to releasing the iPad version. It’s easier to move around with an iPad, and being able to review the state of the accounts with a variety of relevant people while on the move could make work (and life) more convenient for some accountants.
Sat 19 Apr 2014
HuaWei E3276 Dongle and the Retina MacBook Pro
Category : Technology/HuaweiE3276Dongle.txt
I’ve been using the Huawei dongle
to get onto Singnet Mobile Broadband at LTE (4G) speeds. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with my new Retina MacBook Pro.
It took me some time to find a driver installer for this particular product that will make it work again with the Retina MBP. It’s actually a driver for the 2013 MacBook Air but it works for the Retina MBP, fortunately, and you can find it here at the Huawei support page
I’ve kept a copy of the installer on my own download page, in case that Huawei page should move or be deleted in the future. This is the link
. Hope this helps someone.
Liya for the iPad 2.0
Category : Technology/LiyaForiPad2dot0.txt
This new version 2.0 can access SQLite files moved onto iCloud by Liya version 3.0.2 for the Mac, which unfortunately is still stuck in review for the Mac App Store.
Sun 13 Apr 2014
Liya 3.0.2 Released
Category : Technology/Liya302.txt
A Fresh New Liya
. This a bumper bug fix release. Fixed some of the more quirky user-interface oddities, so it’ll work as modelessly (and smoothly) as I can make it.
This is the first version to get iCloud support for the App Store version. You can share SQLite files in iCloud with the (soon-to-be-released) iPad version of Liya.
Fixed a bug when working in Mavericks where the smart quotes get in the way of entering custom SQL commands.
Also, at some point, MySQL stopped allowing the time zone to be included in a timestamp field. Updated Liya to handle this rejection more gracefully.
Finally, one oft-requested feature - Liya now reports SQL command line errors when users run custom SQL commands (or when Liya has a bug).
I’ve made so many changes in this version that I could have introduced even more bugs. As usual bug reports are very welcome.
Tue 25 Mar 2014
Signing Mobile Configuration Profiles
Category : Technology/VPNEnabler1dot0dot3.txt
I’ve figured out how to get VPN Enabler
to sign the configuration profiles that it produces.
If the server VPN Enabler is running on has either a valid SSL cert in OS X’s OpenSSL folder, or even a test cert generated by apps like MailServe
, then VPN Enabler will give the user a choice to generate and sign a mobile configuration profile, as shown below, when he is creating or editing a VPN user account :
The mobileconfig profile that is generated here will contain the user’s VPN password, in Base64 format. It’s not human-readable, preventing casual snooping, but Base64 is not encryption. It is easily decipherable by any knowledgeable techie. I’m still looking for a way to encrypt the profile data, but this version is useful enough to be released. It can be downloaded now.
Fri 21 Mar 2014
VPN Enabler & Mobile Configuration Profiles
Category : Technology/VPNMobileConfig.txt
I love how mobile configuration profiles work—how it does all the job of setting up network clients to access Internet services (e.g., mail or VPN servers, etc), without users having to enter all the torrid details manually.
So, in version 1.0.2 of VPN Enabler
, I included a “Create Config Profile” button that will light up when you click on a VPN User account name. You can save the resulting .mobileconfig file and send it to the user’s mobile device.
When the user opens that .mobileconfig file, e.g., on a MacBook, he’ll see the dialog box below. Go ahead and install it. You’ll be amazed how easily everything gets set up—the system uses the information in the profile to set up all the fields the user has to, otherwise, enter manually into Network Preferences. All the user needs to do is to give the password for the VPN user, when he’s accessing the VPN Server.
The ability to do that is such a God-send. For one, it eliminates the tons of documentation one has to write to guide a user on how to set up Network Preferences, or create mail user accounts on Mail.app, etc. Secondly, it also eliminates some significant hours of support calls, because even if you have the patience to write detailed step-by-step guides, there’ll still be users who can’t, won’t or are simply unable to follow any kind of instruction.
Finally, it streamlines organisational processes—like hiring, outfitting, training, and bringing new hires up to speed quickly. One mobileconfig profile can contain, in one packet, all the data needed to help each user gain authenticated access to all kinds of server resources, without too much handholding overheads.
If you have a server with its own digital certificate, like an SSL certificate, you can go one step further—encrypt the mobileconfig file, so it’s not humanly readable. Then, if encryption is available, you can go yet another step further—include all the passwords, so the user doesn’t even need to enter the password on logging in.
You can mail these mobileconfig files to the users, or let them access a password-protected web page to download, install and configure their iPhones, iPads and MacBooks—all at one go, automatically.
It all works so automagically. It’s not like you can’t do this on PCs, or Android devices, but on the Apple ecosystem, everything fits in so snugly and wonderfully, that when you layer such a capability on top, you can get unprecedented levels of efficiency and productivity.
The Mac, complemented by the iOS devices—they’re the Ultimate Business Machines. I shake my head in wonder that I can still hear the familiar refrain—Real Businesses Don’t Use Macs. Well, use Macs. And kill the competition.
Mon 17 Mar 2014
Category : Technology/Liya3dot0dot1.txt
I’ve figured out how to tell whether a running app was downloaded from the Mac App Store, or directly from our web site. With that, I can now build in features for the non-App Store version that go beyond the constraints placed by Apple in their curated wall-garden. For example, there is no need to Sandbox apps that are not going to be distributed from the App Store. The Sandbox is a pain and makes the user interface clunkier than it should be.
In Liya’s case, the Sandboxed App Store version requires all SQLite files to be opened via NSOpen Panels. Therefore I can’t just let the user type or paste the URLs directly into the relevant entry fields in Liya’s interface. They’re forced to navigate everywhere via the Open Panel dialog box. It’s a pain, and the users complain about the loss of freedom to move from point A to point B.
The non-App Store version of Liya retains the purity of the original idea - you can go from A to B in at least a couple of alternatve ways and you choose the faster one always.
So, so long as Apple remains determined to close up the Mac the same way they did to iOS, we’re going to have to live with this.
Liya without the closed up URL box can be found in Liya 3.0.1, which also restores the app’s ability to let the user check back with our site for updates. You can get it from the Liya web page
Sun 16 Mar 2014
Luca at the Mac App Store
Category : Technology/LucaAppStore.txt
But this is a stand-alone version of Luca (with no access to MySQL or Postgres databases, relying only on the built-in SQLite database to store its accounting data) and since it's in Apple's curated wall-garden, it may lack features or innovations that the non-Apple Store version
may sprout, going forward.
But we hope that offers a great low-cost way to try out Luca, for a start. Do check it out if it fits your needs.
Mon 10 Mar 2014
Category : Technology/Liya3dot0.txt
I’ve released a new version of Liya
, which makes Liya conformant to Apple’s App Sandbox guidelines for the first time. I had a problem working with SQLite files under the App Sandbox because SQLite creates a new file when the database is updated and saved (but the Sandbox only allows updates to the same file a user has opened and won’t allow an app to create new files in most folders outside designated user folders like the Home directory).
I couldn’t move ahead until my friend, Hai Hwee, solved the problem with the Sandbox, for the accounting app she is working on, called Luca
, which we’re getting ready to sell on the App Store. That definitely had to be sandboxed and, necessity being the mother of invention, she found a way through and, since Liya and Luca share the same database access code, Liya is the beneficiary.
With this settled, I can now move on to making Liya work with iCloud and, hopefully even DropBox.
Wed 26 Feb 2014
Controlling Web and Mail Servers from the iPhone or iPad
Category : Technology/libshh2.txt
I’m trying out the libssh2 library
for iOS. It allows me to do something like this, connect back to my web server from my iPhone (or iPad) and run some shell commands on that server and return the results to my iPhone. For example, I can grab a few lines from my Apache log file and see who has been hitting my server, in real time. In effect, this allows me to build a version of WebMon
on the iPhone.
It looks like an interesting thing to do. Will see how far I can go with this.
Tue 25 Feb 2014
VPN Enabler for Mavericks
Category : Technology/VPNEnablerForMavericksWebpage.txt
As far as I can tell, the VPN Server that I’ve set up using this enabler app continues to be used by my friends in China. So, yes, Let a Thousand VPN Servers Bloom.
Fri 20 Dec 2013
WebMon for Mavericks 7.0.2
Category : Technology/WebMon7dot0dot2.txt
I finally found the time to update WebMon for Mavericks
. The scrolling performance of WebMon’s (Apache Web Server) Log Window in Mavericks was rather weird, and sometimes it doesn’t refresh itself until you try to scroll the table view.
Version 7.0.2 fixes it and scrolling is much smoother now.
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