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You can use the Documents by Readdle app to work with files on your device and in the cloud.

Image: Readdle

Apple offers its own Files app as a type of file manager for your iPhone or iPad. The app does let you access local and online files, but it doesn’t provide a wealth of options. If you need a more powerful file manager for your Apple device, you may want to check out the Documents by Readdle app.

SEE: Apple iOS 13: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Freely available for iOS and iPadOS, the basic version of Documents acts as a central hub for your files with access to your device’s photo albums and other folders. You can grab files stored in the cloud through such services as OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and SharePoint. You can manage your files by copying, moving, deleting, and sharing them. You can even view and open many types of files.

First, download Documents by Readdle for your iPhone or iPad from Apple’s App Store. Open the app to see the default folders and sample files already collected (Figure A).

Figure A


Tap the Photo Albums folder to view any photos and videos stored on your device. Tap the iTunes Files folder to see any files that you imported from your computer through iTunes File Sharing. Tap the Downloads folder to access any files you’ve downloaded through Safari.

As for the sample files, you can either view or delete them. To delete a file (or folder) press down on it and then drag it to the section in the left pane that says: “Drop here to delete.” (Figure B)

Figure B


Next, you might want to set up connections to different cloud-based file services so you can view and manage your online files within Documents. In the left pane, tap the name of the service you want to add, such as iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box. If you don’t see the service you wish to add, tap the command to Add Connection and then choose the appropriate service (Figure C).

Figure C


Sign in to the service you selected and grant the necessary permissions. You should see the folders and files stored on that service. The service itself then appears in the left pane under Connections. Continue until you’ve added all the cloud-based file services you wish to access here (Figure D).

Figure D


In Documents, you can also connect to a server in your organization or an NAS or other network storage at your home or home office. To do this, tap the command to Add Connection and then choose the appropriate connection based on the server—WebDAV Server, Windows SMB, FTP Server, or SFTP Server (Figure E). For example, to connect to my Synology NAS, I would choose the Windows SMB option. Enter your username and password and you’ll see the folders and files for which you have access.

Figure E


You can add more files to manage, and you can add them to any location. Tap one of your cloud-based services to upload a file to it, or tap the My Files link at the top to add a file to the default location for the app. To upload a file to your selected location, tap the plus icon in the lower right. Tap the thumbnail for Photos to upload an image from your device’s photo library. Tap the thumbnail for Files to access a file from the Files app on your device (Figure F).

Figure F


You can also import a file from your computer. Tap the Computer thumbnail in the Import From pane. On your PC, open the link listed in the Connect to Computer window and then type the code displayed. Your PC and iPhone or iPad are then connected through the website, while your computer mirrors the My Files location in the Documents app. On your PC, click the Upload button and then select a file to import it into the Documents app (Figure G). Click the Disconnect button on your device when done.

Figure G


Tap the plus icon in the Documents app again. Tap the New Folder icon to create a folder in your current location. Tap the Create PDF icon and you can create and edit a PDF. Tap the Scan Document icon to scan a document with your device’s camera. Tap the Text File icon to create a text file. And tap the Take Photo icon to snap a photo with your device. Further, you can import a file into your current location from any of your cloud storage sites (Figure H).

Figure H


Next, you can add frequently used folders and files to the left pane for quick access. Hold down an item and then drag it to the Favorites section on the left (Figure I).

Figure I


You can easily manage any folder or file. Tap the ellipsis icon in the lower right of a folder or file. From the popup menu, you can now copy, move, compress, duplicate, rename, delete, email, upload, or share the item (Figure J).

Figure J


Finally, you can open many different file types within Documents, including Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, and images such as JPGs and PNGs. You can play different kinds of audios and videos, including MP3s, WAVs, MP4s, and MOVs. And you can extract ZIP files. Just tap the file you wish to open or play, and it launches automatically in Documents. From there, tap the Ellipsis icon and you can email the file, print any type of document or text file, and share it (Figure K).

Figure K


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Twist on CRISPR Gene Editing Treats Adult-Onset Muscular Dystrophy in Mice

2020 09 14 DM1 longitudnal muscle

Myotonic dystrophy type I is the most common type of adult-onset muscular dystrophy. People with the condition inherit repeated DNA segments that lead to the toxic buildup of repetitive RNA, the messenger that carries a gene’s recipe to the cell’s protein-making machinery. As a result, people born with myotonic dystrophy experience progressive muscle wasting and weakness and a wide variety of other debilitating symptoms.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a technique increasingly used in efforts to correct the genetic (DNA) defects that cause a variety of diseases. A few years ago, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers redirected the technique to instead modify RNA in a method they call RNA-targeting Cas9 (RCas9).

Twist on CRISPR Gene Editing Treats Adult Onset Muscular Dystrophy in

Green muscle fibers with RCas9 (the therapeutic candidate for myotonic dystrophy) have eliminated their toxic RNA (red), whereas fibers lacking RCas9 (dark) have persisting toxic RNA (red). Credit: UC San Diego

In a new study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team demonstrates that one dose of RCas9 gene therapy can chew up toxic RNA and almost completely reverse symptoms in a mouse model of myotonic dystrophy.

“Many other severe neuromuscular diseases, such as Huntington’s and ALS, are also caused by similar RNA buildup,” said senior author Gene Yeo, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “There are no cures for these diseases.” Yeo led the study with collaborators at Locanabio, Inc. and the University of Florida.

Normally, CRISPR-Cas9 works by directing an enzyme called Cas9 to cut a specific target gene (DNA), thereby allowing researchers to inactivate or replace the gene. RCas9 works similarly, but Cas9 is guided to an RNA molecule instead of DNA.

In a 2016 study, Yeo’s team demonstrated that RCas9 worked by using it to track RNA in live cells. In a 2017 study in lab models and patient-derived cells, the researchers used RCas9 to eliminate 95 percent of the aberrant RNA linked to myotonic dystrophy type 1 and type 2, one type of ALS and Huntington’s disease.

The current study advances RCas9 therapy further, reversing myotonic dystrophy type 1 in a living organism: a mouse model of the disease.

The approach is a type of gene therapy. The team packaged RCas9 in a non-infectious virus, which is needed to deliver the RNA-chewing enzyme inside cells. They gave the mice a single dose of the therapy or a mock treatment.

RCas9 reduced aberrant RNA repeats by more than 50 percent, varying a bit depending on the tissue, and the treated myotonic dystrophy mice became essentially indistinguishable from healthy mice.

Initially, the team was worried that the RCas9 proteins, which are derived from bacteria, might cause an immune reaction in the mice and be rapidly cleared away. So they tried suppressing the mice’s immune systems briefly during treatment. As a result, they were surprised and pleased to discover that they prevented immune reaction and clearance, leaving the viral vehicle and its RCas9 cargo to persist, and get the job done. What’s more, they did not see signs of muscle damage. In contrast, they saw an increase in the activity of genes involved in new muscle formation.

“This opens up the floodgates to start testing RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas9 as a potential approach to treat other human genetic diseases — there are at least 20 caused by buildup of repetitive RNAs,” Yeo said.

It remains to be seen if RCas9-based therapies will work in humans, or if they might cause deleterious side effects, such as eliciting an undesired immune reaction. Preclinical studies such as this one will help the team work out potential toxicities and evaluate long-term exposure.

In 2017, Yeo co-founded a company called Locanabio to accelerate the development of RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas9 through preclinical testing and into clinical trials for the treatment of myotonic dystrophy and potentially other diseases.

Source: UC San Diego

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Microsoft Buys Bethesda-Owner ZeniMax for $7.5 Billion

Microsoft said on Monday it would acquire ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion (Rs. 55,223 crores) in cash, strengthening its Xbox video game offering with the studio behind titles such as Fallout and the Doom reboot.

ZeniMax is the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, which has also developed hits including The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored.

The deal comes more than a week after Microsoft’s failed bid for short video app TikTok’s US assets. TikTok has currently structured the deal as a partnership with Oracle and Walmart rather than an outright sale.

Microsoft said it plans to bring Bethesda’s future games into its monthly Xbox Game Pass subscription service when they launch on Xbox or PC. The game pass now has more than 15 million subscribers, Microsoft added.

Bethesda’s structure and leadership will remain in place, Microsoft said.

Gaming is on a tear due to demand from stuck-at-home users during the COVID-19 pandemic and Microsoft has put its faith in offering users many ways to play via its cloud service and consoles at different price points.

Microsoft said the ZeniMax deal will close in the second half of fiscal year 2021, and have minimal impact on adjusted operating income in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Open source: Why governments need to go further


Commentary: Yes, governments should open source their custom code. But more than that is needed.

Image: lucky-photographer, Getty Images/iStockphoto

For Drupal (and Acquia) founder Dries Buytaert, “the default [in government] should be ‘developed with public money, make it public code.'” That is, if a government is paying for software to be created, that software should be available under an open source license. While he acknowledged there might be exceptions (e.g., for military applications, as I’ve called out), his suggestion makes sense.

Years ago I argued that government mandates of open source made no sense. I still feel that way. Governments (and enterprises) should use whatever software best enables them to get work done. Increasingly, that software will be open source. But when good open source alternatives don’t yet exist, it makes no sense to mandate the use of suboptimal software. 

But software that governments create? There’s no compelling citizen-focused reason for closing it off. Instead, there are many reasons to open it up.

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Of the people, by the people, for the people

This topic of why countries should embrace open source is an easy argument to make. As Buytaert pointed out, if public money pays for the code to be developed, why wouldn’t that code be available to the public (except, as mentioned, in the case of sensitive military software)? 

Some countries have already gone this route. As I detailed in 2016, Bulgaria is one of them. A few years later, Bulgaria has been preparing its own national source code repository, based on Git (as required by law: “administrative authorities shall use public storage and control systems for the source code and technical documentation for development, upgrading or deployment of information systems or electronic services”). 

This is a significant step toward greater transparency. However, it’s not enough.

SEE: Open source can thrive in a recession says Drupal creator Dries Buytaert (TechRepublic)

Collaborating on common government issues

As much as I understand Bulgaria’s desire to build its own source code repository, there’s even greater need for governments to collaborate on code beyond their borders. Think about it: Governments tend to do the same things, like collecting taxes, issuing parking tickets, etc. Currently, each government builds (or buys) software to tackle these tasks. Obscene quantities of custom code are created each year by government organizations operating in silos.

Why isn’t the city of Bogota sharing software with London, which shares software with Lagos, which shares software with Pocatello (that’s in Idaho, by the way)? 

As IBM president (and former Red Hat CEO) Jim Whitehurst said way back in 2009, “The waste in IT software development is extraordinary….Ultimately, for open source to provide value to all of our customers worldwide, we need to get our customers not only as users of open source products but truly engaged in open source and taking part in the development community.” This is particularly true in government, where there isn’t even the competitive pressure (e.g., Bogota doesn’t compete with Pocatello) that might prevent large financial institutions from collaborating (though even they partner on open source).

So, yes, we need governments to open source the software they pay to have built, to Buytaert’s point. But we also need those same governments to share that code beyond their borders, thereby driving greater innovation at lower cost for their citizens. 

Disclosure: I work for AWS but the views expressed herein are mine, not those of my employer.

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