Custom keyboard shortcuts in iOS

September 26, 2014

One of the little-known features in Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad is the ability to create your own custom keyboard shortcuts. Shortcuts let you create a short sequence of characters that will save you from typing blocks of text that are frequently used or difficult to enter.

One of my favorite shortcuts is for our email address at Sephone (support@sephone.com). It comes in handy when you’re logging into services, filling out forms, or giving your email address when you join a protected Wi-Fi network.

To create this shortcut, go into the Settings app and click on the General item, click Keyboard, and click Shortcuts. You’ll see a list of shortcuts already in the system. (Apple gives you a couple to start.) Click the + button in the upper right to create your own. (Take care not to type a sequence you’d normally use while typing.)

Entering a new keyboard shortcut in iOS

When you type your shortcut, you’ll see that the first suggestion will be your expanded text – and it will automatically replace it for you when you tap the suggestion or hit the space key.

Using a keyboard shortcut in iOS

One final shortcut tip: some people like to use a prefix like “sc” to make sure they don’t enter a shortcut by mistake when they type. Try “scemail” for your email, “scaddr” for your address, or “sclink” for a link to your website. What else do you think would be a good shortcut?

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Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

Responsive Design

September 16, 2014

Over the last two years we have talked much about “Responsive Design” in this blog. In this post, we aim to give you working knowledge on what exactly it is and when to employ it.

What is it ?

Responsive design is a technique that can be used while composing a website. It allows the author of the website to make the site behave differently based on the size of the window/device that the site is being viewed in. For example, the site can look and act one way for a normal size laptop/desktop, but the same site can adapt itself for presentation to a mobile phone.

The scope is broad, nearly everything about the site can be changed for different sizes. Generally speaking, responsive design has three break points. A break point is when a different style is present and is defined generally by screen width. Normally the break points are for normal desktop, tablet, and phone.

Example

Rather than continue to try to try to explain what responsive is, how about an example. Go to americanfolkfestival.com on a desktop/laptop. With the window big, you see the desktop design. Grab a corner and make that window smaller, about the size of your cell phone. The site will morph into a version that is optimized for a phone sized screen. And if you paid close attention, at the tablet size, you saw the navigation change to work with tablets.

For those that just want to see a screenshot. Here is the normal desktop.

desktop

And here is the same site on my phone:

Mobile SiteAs you can see, one site, two layouts.

Brief History

Responsive Web Design was first used on a developer blog in May of 2010. In 2012 the movement had gained quite a bit of traction and lots of developers where jumping on the band wagon. By 2013, more mainstream publications started taking note of it.

Read More

Here are lots of posts from this blog.

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Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.

There’s a New Watch in Town – But Nothing’s Changed

September 9, 2014

It finally happened. For those of us who keep an eye on new tech, the Apple Watch has been a long time coming (rumors have been around for almost two years). Geeks – and what seems like the entire world now – are ogling over new styles, specs, and news for Apple’s watch.

But for us, nothing’s changed.

Yes, we’re excited that we’ll soon be able to develop apps for companies that can use the new tech, just like we develop apps for phones and tablets now. And yes, we’re excited to see what other people do to push the new technology forward.

But we don’t look at pieces of technology first when we’re developing solutions for a company. We talk about the goals and desired outcomes of a project with every client, and we build what we agree will work best to reach them.

Mobile solutions are a great pre-watch example. We’ve had a number of companies come to us asking to have an app in the iOS App Store and Google Play. Yes, we can develop those apps – but they’re not always the best solution for a company. Maybe a mobile website works better based on their audience, goals, and budget. We want to build something that will be successful, not just trendy. (Wondering about the differences between a native app and a mobile-friendly website? We have you covered.)

You bet we’ll be developing apps for the Apple Watch soon. But ask yourself: what’s right for your needs? That’s what we’ve been helping companies decide for over a decade.

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Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bangor, Maine – Sephone Interactive Media on the Move…AGAIN!

September 5, 2014

“It’s hard to believe that we have been at our current location for 5 years,”
says president Joe DiStefano, “and this move allows our distributed workforce a more constant and convenient space for client and staff meetings. Face to face is important.” The location is the iconic TD Bank Building at 77 Exchange Street also makes it easier for those customers that visit “from away.”  The new space is on the 4th floor across from the new Penobscot Judicial Center, GPS and Google also love the location.

“Yeah, we are located in Suite 404, which has given us some laughs,” DiStefano continues, “404” according to Wikipedia is for an internet address requested but not found.

Downtown is a vibrant area for business and Sephone and has called it “Home” for all of its nearly 15 years of operation. “We have moved our Administrative & Sales Offices only and there will be little or no impact to our customers.” DiStefano continues, “servers with client sites and applications will continue to perform as normal and have been unaffected by the move.” The current mailing address, PO Box 2357 in Bangor, is also still valid.

When Sephone was founded in 2001, it’s philosophy was built on the foundation that businesses need to have control over the content on their websites. This was thought as “strategic” thinking. Sephone has always believed that whether it be simple content, inventory management or ecommerce businesses need to have it be their own, look like them and be controlled by them.

Now with interactive applications common place, people expect it.

This “allowing customers to control their own identity through words and pictures, has always been the cornerstone of our business and products we have developed,” says DiStefano, “it also makes the solution much more manageable financially when a customer does not have to incur ongoing maintenance fees to make simple content changes.”

Sephone is a full service web development and mobile application company. Integrating legacy systems, web based accessibility, including the latest buzzwords of social media and “SEO.”  Sephone has been on the ground floor along with extensive web design and application development providing a multitude of web and mobile services country-wide and right next door.

-end-

For More Information contact:
Kelly H. Cotiaux, Partner and Marketing Maven
207.262.5040  kelly.cotiaux@sephone.com
Twitter:  Sephone   Facebook: Sephone Interactive Media

 

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Casting A Wider Net With Your Community and Clients

August 29, 2014

As you may have noticed, we have been talking a bit about The American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront.  We have mentioned that we have built an App, been on the ground floor also with the website.  We think the Folk Festival is pretty darned special.  It is our sponsorship and support to the festival. Friday Night RR Crowd We also design and execute the strategy for social media.  It is what Sephone can offer to the Festival, to the community and to the somewhere around 100+ visitors that come to enjoy our city.

We’re Selfish

Ok. We admit it.  As a volunteer for the festival, we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty.  And many of our customers are the same way.  We see them.  In fact one of our customers who has long retired logged some serious volunteer duty, 80+ hours in the last two weeks!  We do it. Not because we have all kinds of extra time on our hands or our businesses are slow, it is nothing further from the truth. We take the long view. We get to strengthen our relationships with our existing customers who are attending the same meetings, same functions as we are.  We get to meet potential clients and make new friends.

We are Different At the Core

We think strategically.  We  take the long view of what is best solution in the long run. We do this when working with our clients. Where are we going? What is it going to take to get there?  Sometimes that means business for us.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  But it always means a win for our area, our city and a move in the direction of making it a better place to live, work, and YES,  MOVE your business to or EXPAND your business here.  It may not happen tomorrow, but it happens eventually.  When we started Sephone in 2002, there was still a lot of dial-up, few cell phones and a waterfront in Bangor with a lot of sand piles.  But together, we have left those days behind us.  And next week, along with many others,  have a Folk Festival meeting to plan for 2015.  Hope to see you there.

If you are interested in two minutes of  Sephone and American Folk Festival, see it here.

 

 

 

 

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Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

The 2014 American Folk Festival App

August 19, 2014

2014 AFF app home screenWe love the end of August here at Sephone. For a weekend each year, the Bangor waterfront transforms into a musical space full of cultures and sounds from across America and the world – and we’re fortunate to bring information about it to Festival-goers through the official website at americanfolkfestival.com and through the Festival’s mobile app.

The app is a great indicator of how the world’s turned to mobile more and more each year. Last year, we saw a 75% increase in the number of people downloading the app compared to 2012 – and the numbers are still growing. We love having an app, too, because it allows people to have the information they need quickly and easily.

In addition to favorite features from years past (including the ability to build your own schedule, push notifications to alert you of upcoming performances, information on who’s currently performing and who’s scheduled to perform, and up-to-the-minute schedule changes), we’ve added a new vendors section with information about all the amazing food and craft vendors throughout the Festival. And if you want to support the Festival but don’t want to miss any of the music and don’t see a member of the Bucket Brigade nearby, you can now donate online, right from the app.

Make sure you have the latest version of the app before you head to the waterfront! Go into the App Store app on  your iOS device and click on the Updates tab, or go into the My Apps area of the Play Store on Android. Updating only takes a couple of minutes!

Don’t forget to share photos from the Festival from the app, and tweet to your heart’s content about what you see using the #AFFBangor hashtag! See you on the waterfront.

By the way, we made a two-minute video talking about the site, the app, and how the Festival has changed over the years. We hope you like it!

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Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

HTTPS and Windows XP

August 15, 2014

WARNING:  This blog post will be semi-technical.

First and foremost, if you are using Windows XP, you need to upgrade. Mainstream support ended years ago, extended support ended months ago. The last release of XP was over 6 years ago. Really, just upgrade. Okay, on to the heart of the matter.

IP Addresses

IP addresses are one of the core pillars of how the internet works. An IP address is  used to locate a unique host on the internet, sort of like a phone number or a regular street address. The internet is running out of version 4 IP addresses (IPv4). There is a solution, version 6 IP addresses (IPv6), but there is issue if you are using Windows XP, your operating system only supports IPv4.

sslSo with time ticking until we run out of IPv4 addresses, it’s getting harder and harder to get them. That presents another problem. Secure certificates. These things are what provide encryption on the web so you can securely transfer your private information, credit card numbers, etc. Often times, a browser will show a lock in the address bar along side the” https ” to show you that you are secure. You need a unique IP for every secure certificate, or you used to at least. There is a newer thing called Server Name Identification (SNI) where you don’t need an IP for every secure certificate, but again, XP does not support that, so it’s irrelevant.

What we are driving at is, Sephone is not likely to host new secure certificates that support Windows XP, they no longer support it, so neither can we. You need to upgrade. We will continue with the “grandfathered” ones we have, but it’s time to stop letting Windows XP keep all of us from using the proper technology to do the job. Do the job right.

 

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Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.

App Permissions: What Can and Can’t Apps Do?

August 6, 2014

One of the aspects of mobile apps that make them great is that they have the ability to use some of your phone’s native features like its camera and its contact list. Our American Folk Festival app, for instance, allows users to take photos that can be submitted to the Festival for use in a Facebook album. If you have a gaming app, you may want the app to access your contacts to see if anyone else you know is willing to take part in a head-to-head matchup.

Lock on a doorRecently there’s been some controversy surrounding Facebook’s push of its Messenger app for chatting with friends. Some users have noticed that it asks to do a lot – record audio, take photos, and more – and some posts go so far as to say that it might record ambient audio or take random photos without your permission.

This is a good time to take a look at app permissions. Each app has its own set of actions it wants to take with your phone, like the examples above. App developers use these permissions to allow their app to access parts of your phone’s operating system (for example, iOS or Android). And despite what you may read, you have control over what your phone’s apps can access.

iOS

iOS 7 lays out a few categories for feature access, including photos, microphone, and geolocation. When an app first requests access to one of these areas, you’ll see a prompt asking whether you’d like to allow access. If you do, you can turn access off later (or see a list of apps that use that permission) by going into the Settings app, tapping Privacy, and then looking at the permission you’d like to control. If you don’t want the Messenger app to access your microphone, for instance, go into the Microphone area and toggle the line for the Messenger app.

Android

When you first install an Android app, you’ll see a list of permissions it requests. It’s important to note that if you have auto-updating turned on, updates to the app may add related permissions without asking you first, but you’ll still be prompted about any major permission changes before the update occurs. At this time there doesn’t seem to be a convenient way to control apps on a per-permission basis like there is in iOS, though this feature is hidden in some of the latest versions of Android and may be made public at some point.

It’s also worth noting that once you allow access to a permission for an app, whether it’s on install in Android or after a prompt in iOS, the app can use it in some cases without your knowledge – so there is some level of trust needed. As with all software, be careful of its source!

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Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.