Wednesday, September 04, 2013

One Way Around

I think about secrecy a lot.
I like to think of cheap and or simple solutions that don't need a government budget to be used.
I've been thinking about my AlphaSmart 3000 recently. Mostly because it can't connect to the Internet but is in itself a basic word processor, and a fairly robust (in terms of construction) one at that. It has a four line LCD screen and so it's difficult for anyone to peer over your shoulder while you're working on it without being really bloody obvious. This means it can be used almost anywhere and is easy and practical to bump around in your shoulder bag. It's a good starting point for any text you'd like to keep to yourself or share with a select few. Each of the eight files you can store in the device can be password protected. It's weak protection but better than none. It also has an on / off button on the keyboard and when pressed off the device will hold everything in memory without a save so it's good for unwelcome interruptions.
So where now?
I plugged the AlphaSmart into my iPad today and by pressing the "Send File" button it happily transferred my text to the iPad. That's good but my iPad is far from secure so I needed an intermediary.
Getting files off the AlphaSmart is easy but could I get them in? The simple answer is Yes. A small piece of software called "Get Utility" is designed to send clipboard text back into the AlphaSmart.
One more step.
I have another piece of software called KRYPTA which uses strong encryption and copies encrypted text to the clipboard. So there is the complete puzzle.
Here's the method. (NB The netbook stays offline the whole time and the clipboard is purged before shutdown.)
1. Type on AlphaSmart.
2. Send file to KRYPTA and encrypt.
3. Encrypted content appears in Get Utility via clipboard.
4. Send encrypted text back to AlphaSmart.
5. Connect AlphaSmart to iPad to forward encrypted text.
So there it is. A simple and low cost solution for moving your secrets around. As long as your PC, Netbook or laptop remains offline (permanently) you can be 99% sure that by the time anyone gains access to your kit the message will be past its sell by date.
I hope this is useful to someone or inspires you to find work arounds to the problem of keeping your thoughts safe. If you can find holes in my method be sure to let me know.
I do like a good problem.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Jazz Club

A while ago I was talking jazz with ConcreteDog.
I was trying to work out which scales go with which chords when playing Smooth Jazz. ConcreteDog is very helpful and suggested that I get the iReal b app which a lot of jazz musicians use.
At the time I thought it was a bit expensive for an app which taught you how to play jazz songs which one downloaded from a forum. I guess I wasn't concentrating that day and didn't buy the app. About a month or so later I had another look and thought that at least I could learn something by playing other people's songs so I took the plunge.
The app has lessons for you to practice jazz standards and chord progressions and one can indeed download tracks from the forum but what makes this app so outstanding for me is that it has an editor with which one can enter chords and have them played in just about any jazz style at any tempo. Suddenly I'm writing stuff that sounds like jazz and for me that's all I ever wanted.
Now, this would be a decent recommendation for an app if I left it there but iReal b has a killer move. Once I've entered my chords, set a tempo and chosen a style I can export the whole thing as a MIDI file straight into Cubasis where I can re-voice the tracks and add my own embellishments. How good is that.
One final trick up iReal b's sleeve is that it will suggest scales that work with my chords and I can then use those to create melodies.
I've only just started messing with this process and I know I'm going to have fun and get the results I've longed for so thank you ConcreteDog, it is and always be a pleasure to mine your vast knowledge.