Apple acquired Workflow – The powerful workflow automation tool for iOS

When I was talking about my iPad Pro desktop replacement experiment, I mentioned Workflow, a powerful automation tool I use for tasks of many kinds on the iPad and iPhone. It lets you connect various features of many iOS apps in an easy to use interface that often reminds me of Apple Automator on the Mac, an application that Apple is slowly fading out in my opinion… or at least that is what I thought.

Workflow iOS app
Workflow iOS app

As it turned out, Apple just bought Workflow in March 2017, giving me new hope for more professional capabilities on iOS devices. Right now, the app provides the easiest way to generate workarounds for the various restrictions of many system and third party apps on iOS. For many things that are simple to do on a desktop machine, tasks need to be distributed between several iOS apps and chained together. Doing this manually takes forever, with Workflow it only takes longer than on a desktop machine.

With the acquisition I am hoping for a deeper integration into iOS that would allow for easier usage of workflows within and between apps. Also, I would consider it a good idea to broaden the number of preconfigured workflows to specifically target typical desktop tasks. If Apple is really serious about the iPad as desktop replacement, there is still much left to be done.

So I am looking forward to whatever will happen next.

Back at Sushi Ran

During my last trip to San Francisco in early 2017, I once again enjoyed an amazingly awesome omakase style dinner at the sushi bar at Sushi Ran. I have been there a few times and still enjoyed it as much as every time I went there.

Sushi Ran - table setup
Sushi Ran – table setup

First, I started with a moriawase 1o piece sashimi platter with aaa grade big eye tuna, yellowtail, ocean trout, bonito and barracuda at two pieces each. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures.


Omakase Sashimi

I opted for an 11 piece omakase sashimi plate after that and once again I was blown away. It came with uni (deep sea urchin), katsuo (cherrywood smoked bonito tuna), kamasu (barracuda), tennen hamachi (wild yellowtail), aji (horse mackerel), kusshi oyster, hotaru ika (baby firefly squid), kinmedai (golden eye snapper) and buri toro (wild yellowtail belly). This time I took some photos.


Omakase Nigiri

Since there was time for more, I switched to nigiri and tried some more of the sushi bar exclusives. I was served chu toro (medium fatty blue fin tuna belly), toro (fatty blue fin tuna belly), kasugodai (baby red snapper), kinmedia (golden eye snapper), kamasu (barracuda), mahatma (black grouper), buri toro (wild yellowtail belly), wagyu a5 beef striploin, shirayaki and unagi (two types of freshwater eel).

I never had black grouper before and liked it very much. The bluefin was also awesome, as was the barracuda. All in all it was as amazing as always.


I will surely be back next time I am in San Francisco.

For some reason I had more issues than usual with Japanese sushi terms and had to ask more than once about the variety of fish I could choose from. A few times I even had to take out my iPhone and look stuff up. That felt rather weird, considering I have been a rather frequent sushi eater. Also, it took far to long to find what I was looking for.

This is why I think I will come up with a chat bot to help me out next time. Wouldn’t you like that?

How Peer Reviews for Scientific Journals and Conference Papers Work

In case you ever wondered, how peer reviews are usually done in context of academia,  scientific journals and conferences, there are some short but informative posts by Peter Casserly (and others) on Ex Ordo for Academics explaining how it works.

Ruffly, there are single-blind peer reviews (which are still most common), where the author is known to the reviewer but the reviewer stays anonymous, double-blind peer reviews, where both the author and the reviewer remain anonymous and open peer reviews, where everything is kept transparent. In the posts the basic workflows are explained and research studies are citied to elaborate on the advantages and disadvantages of each process.

In my personal opinion, double-blind peer reviews are most suitable within a scientific context. Although there are large benefits in having full transparency, it might add bias and peer pressure to the process and reviewers might feel the need to work more on their personal profile and alignment of their then public commentary than the actual scientific research in review.

Although it is rather hard to make double-blind reviews truly anonymous, since authors can often be inferred from the content of the article, I consider this the best way to go.

Submission and Rejection

For anyone interested in submitting a paper to a journal for review, it might be important to know, that it will probably be rejected and might take some additional work to be saved (or published for that matter). If you might feel that this can be hard to bare, I can recommend getting used to rejections to better cope with the process in the future by submitting your paper to The Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR):

“The founding principle of the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR) is rejection. Universal rejection. That is to say, all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected.”

ReWine sells wine directly from the barrel

While staying in Melbourne in February 2017, I stumbled upon ReWine on Queen Victoria Market. It’s a local retail company, selling wine by the glass or in refill bottles directly from the barrel of regional wineries.

I really like the concept behind this:

“We buy wines that we like direct from wineries in our own tanks and bring them to Melbourne. Usually they’re ready to go. Occasionally, if we feel we can enhance a wine we can blend it and mature it until we’re happy that it’s at its best for you to enjoy. ReWine has wine stored in the barrel at the Queen Victoria Market and our wine bar and shop in Brunswick East. We generally sell in our own refillable glass bottles, but can sell wine in any volume that you can carry home.”

Source: About ReWine

When I lived in Sydney in 2016, I tried a great variety of Australian wines, joined Naked Wines as an Angel and was on a quest to find what I like most. It was not easy at times, especially with Australian white wines. Although I certainly found some great Australian reds and some select whites that I did like, most wine menus left me unsatisfied at times.

At ReWine I enjoyed almost all wines they offered, the Viognier and the Reserve Shiraz being my favorites. With their selection of local cheese it was easy to find a reason to come back several times during my stay for refills.

Impressions from Melbourne

In February 2017 I spent 2 weeks in Melbourne and explored the city and its surroundings. I went there to attend the ACERE conference 2017 and I presented a research paper on the entrepreneurship policy in Sydney, where I spent several months in 2016.

All things considered, Melbourne is very different from Sydney. It misses the iconic coastline with stunning beaches for one. Also it feels much more urban and condensed, catering to artsy and hipster crowds. Another difference is, that the public transport system not only seems to be far better developed, it actually works (and offers a free tram zone in the central business district).

Apart from some very nice cafés and restaurants, I particularly enjoyed the Queen Victoria Market and went there several times during the 2 weeks for food and wine. I can also recommend Higher Ground, my favorite café for breakfast, lunch or an early glass of wine.

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road, a classic tourist dominated route along Victoria’s coastline, was very nice as well but not as great as  advertised in my opinion. Having travelled along Highway 1 in California for quite a few times, I would still chose the latter over the Great Ocean Road on any day. Still the roadtrip provided ample opportunities to stop for panoramic views.

It was fun to explore Melbourne and I really had a good time. But to answer an apparently pressing question of the many people I talked to in Melbourne, I liked Sydney even more.

Entrepreneurship Policy Case Study: City of Sydney’s Tech Startups Action Plan

During my time at UNSW in 2016, I worked on a case study to review Sydney’s entrepreneurship policy approach. The case study was presented in February 2017 as a peer reviewed paper at the ACERE Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

ACERE
Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange

In reviewing the City of Sydney’s Tech Startups Action Plan, a comprehensive document, outlining the city’s strategy towards the entrepreneurial ecosystem and measures undertaken to stimulate its growth, several disconnects between entrepreneurship policy and academic research findings have been discovered:

“Abstract: Public policy can shift the economic composition of a region. Many policy makers promote entrepreneurship under the assumption of a link between new ventures and economic growth and job creation. While this link is hotly debated in scientific literature, this literature and evidence base does not necessarily inform public policy. This project explores the (dis)connection between municipal innovation policy and the academic literature, using the City of Sydney’s recent Tech Startups Action Plan as a case study. This paper makes four contributions. First, comparison of the first and second parts of the review reveals several disconnects between the plan and the literature on entrepreneurship policy. Second, the origins of these disconnections are traced back to how relevant scientific findings had not been considered in the composition of the Tech Startups Action Plan. Third, this review reveals further deficiencies regarding the plan’s proposed implementation. More specifically, although the plan attempts to consider the entire ecosystem and its challenges, and introduces metrics to track the ecosystem’s growth, the plan lacks concrete implementation methods. Overall, this plan exemplifies challenges in developing municipal entrepreneurial policy. As a fourth contribution, this paper proposes means for closer collaboration between the research community and policy makers.”

Source: Recke, M. P., Bliemel, M., 2016. The City of Sydney’s Tech Startups Action Plan: A Policy Review.

The peer reviewed paper was used as a basis for further development of the research as well as for a similar case study of the innovation policy in Hamburg, Germany, and its impact on the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Impressions from ACERE conference 2017 in Melbourne

In February 2017 I attended the ACERE conference 2017 in Melbourne as a speaker to present a case study on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sydney and the regional entrepreneurship policy. The paper was created in 2016 during my time at UNSW Business School in Sydney.

“ACERE stands for Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, an annual conference in its 11th year. Initiated by Professor Murray Gillin AM and inspired by the Babson College Entrepreneurship Conference (BCEC) in the United States, these conferences were organised annually by Swinburne University (and co-hosts around Australia and New Zealand) under the label “AGSE IERE” (2004-2011). Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE) has produced the ACERE Conference since 2012.”

Source: ACERE conference

It was the first time I attended the ACERE conference and it was a very interesting experience. The discussions around presented research papers were both constructive and inspiring and I certainly met some very interesting people over the course of the conference.

The conference was held at NAB’s The Village and was hosted by QUT (Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at Queensland University of Technology) and RMIT University. The location itself was kind of interesting as well and certainly the most open corporate bank office space I have ever seen.

For anyone interested on what kind of papers were presented, I attached the conference schedule: ACERE 2017 Program

4G Pocket Wifi with prepaid data plan in Australia

While staying in Melbourne in February 2017, I chose to buy a mobile hotspot to stay online with the various devices I had with me. As in 2016, I chose Vodafone as the service provider, since they seem to offer the best network, coverage, value for money and data options.

I bought a 4G pocket wifi R216H mobile hotspot with a 30 day 8GB prepaid option for AUD 59 (about USD 45 or EUR 43).  Any additional recharge would be AUD 30 for 8GB of 4G data.

pocket wifi
pocket wifi

In the U.S. I just recently used a AT&T GoPhone prepaid plan, offering 4GB with unlimited national calls and SMS for USD 45 . In Germany, Vodafone’s corresponding 5GB prepaid plan would be around EUR 35 depending on the service provider. So in terms of mobile broadband, Australia is a good place to be.

During my time in Australia the pocket wifi mobile hotspot never failed me. I used it with up to 4 devices (2 iPhones, 1 iPad Pro and an Apple Watch) both in Melbourne and on the Great Ocean Road. The advertised 10 hour battery life is easily matched and with mobile battery packs this can easily be extended to have a full day of mobile internet access with just one SIM card and one prepaid package.

So for anyone traveling in Australia, I can definitely recommend both Vodafone as a decent service provider as well as the pocket wifi devices they offer in combination with their prepaid data plans.