12 Jun 2014

24 – Live another day to “Hack”


What the hack (sic)?  You might wonder
For those of you who are not familiar with the popular TV series “24” (those in the US enjoyed this on Fox).  It is a 24-part show originally featured on the Fox TV  that tackles the major issue (usually terrorism) in a 24×1 hr segment – almost on a minute by minute basis (minus the commercials of course).   After having never watched it on the TV (and being clueless above it until recently:-), I recently watched a couple of season’s on Netflix.  
Caution: Watching Netflix on your second screen may lead to a serious condition called Binge Watching
It is certainly very addicting and this is what brings me to a very coincidental but interesting point that I want to (eventually) make.…read on.

Last Thursday…

I was researching the Dropbox API to use the PDF vault (temporarily until the backend/web services are done to support per user document storage for SML) and downloaded their sample (around noon).  My colleague, Peter had just stepped out for lunch.  So, I tuned to the first segment on my iPad on to keep me company at the quiet Mohawk office.  

Fast forward to Friday afternoon…

As the segments of 24 navigated me through the twists and turns of nuclear threats and mounting counts of the bodies, the tweaked demo turned into a useful App that I had been meaning to do for my own use.  I had looked at the original sample that was a basic file and notes browser using the Dropbox Link API – simple enough to make the point and show how to link as a dropbox user and query the file hierarchy.
I realized that I could use this code base to work on the age-old problem that I was facing.  I manage a file to keep the information about all the login’s, passwords (I usually put hints rather than full password) as the online activity is getting out of control.  I have login’s for at least 100 entities.  In addition there are lots of financial and other institution pin’s, account numbers etc.  I used to manage it by “Security by Obscurity”, but it became a pain to update it.  I had to keep it to ‘least common denominator’ application – which meant possibly text files and zip/password.  But then every time you have to update the info, because one more password needed to be changed or a new login was created.  It could only be done on my main computer if use Zip – and it can’t be accessed on the phone while being on the road.  I did come up with a Dropbox solution, and assigned some automated keystrokes and master password wrapper to manage the ease of updating on my mac, but finding myself at some odd place to login into an account was a pain.  The Dropbox browser on the phone is LOUSY to see the text file There is no search and it does not allow you to zoom/pinch to read the info – try it. (Ed note: It has improved somewhat, but still lacks the search features).  

At the end of 24-hr Hackathon…

So at the end of about 24 hours (discounting 3 hours of sleep that I did manage between 4am and 7am on Friday AM), as the bad guys on the show were being decimated, the bugs, features and Ux also came together.  It is basically a combination of my need, imagination and ‘mash up’ through all my previous iOS code, along with the search on the usual Net communities and StackOverflow, to get to this final brew…

So what…

I am happy with the features of the product.  In addition (in my opinion), this was a success as it got published on the app store, implying that it went through Apple’s rigorous approval process.  Also, it provides the framework for the encryption, PDF reader and converter feature and doc sharing work that is required in other projects (which was the original point of looking at this). 
Screenshot 2016-05-12 08.41.48
Screenshot 2016-05-12 08.41.34
There are a few simple tweaks that I plan to do in another marathon session (Net Reachability guard, TouchID unlock, HIPPA compliant encryption, sharing – without the DropBox botching with the hierarchy of your folders, etc).

The Bottomline 

So, instead of “Live another day on Fox …”, it will be “Sweat another Day a’ la ShshDox”.  The sense of deadline on “24” is unmistakable.  The ShshDox experience demonstrates a method to deal with a sense of urgency that can make or break a project, and for a startup, a misstep could be life threatening!
Finally, this brings me to Mobiuso’s internal focus and discipline to make our team members more entrepreneurial, or intrapreneur.  We used the above experience to jump start some of our challenges to make this real (Find out more about it here).