Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bloomberg: Why there is no backup

By Michael Evans

RESTORING my 3G to factory settings the other day, I was again struck by the lack of backup for the popular Bloomberg app. This is an excellent news and information application for the investor and it effectively tracks an investment portfolio with lots of available data. However, when disaster strikes and you have to restore (or buy a new phone) there is no way of recovering all the painstakingly entered portfolio details. Re-entering means searching for company names, entering quantity of holding and purchase price. Having learned by previous mistakes, I now keep all this information in a Numbers spreadsheet so I can enter it again with relative ease. 

I wrote to Bloomberg with my comments on this performance (and also asked why portfolio totals are not provided) and I got the following very reasonable response by return:

"We also agree with both of your points and the solution to both problems are planned and are somewhat related. The first issue regarding the portfolio total returns is somewhat complicated because our applicaiton supports equity securities from all of the world's major exchanges, denominated in a wide range of securities. As a result, a straight sum of the values is not sufficient to provide an accurate result. To perform return calculations, it is necessary to know the user's base currency and the dates on which the securities were purchased and the exchange rates in effect on those dates. It is vastly simpler if all of the securities are denominated in the same currency. This may be the most common case and we may show the total if it is true, we just have not done that yet.

One solution that we have planned that would solve the problem above as well as the storage issue, is to link the list of securities on the MyStocks, to the securities in the Portfolio Tracker on our Bloomberg website. The portfolio tracker is a free widget which performs many of the calculations described above and it could serve as a central repository for the securities which would then be stored so that they would be backed up in the event that your device fails and is initialized.
Hope this helps."

Bloomberg is an excellent application and is highly recommended; it will be perfect if they can implement these changes in the near future.

Ban the Cams: What do airports and breweries have in common?

It's a topsy turvy world. What is deadly dangerous one minute becomes safe the next. Our laptops and cameras have been shuttling around between cabin and hold for the past six months. But now, it seems, we've been doing it right for years.....

Leica Q2: Digital versus optical zoom

Digital zoom, bad. Optical zoom, good. But are we beginning to see wider acceptance of digital zoom when superior lens technology is complementing today's huge sensors?

Keeping over-exposure under control

Does film cope better with highlights? Does digital bring more recovery potential from underesposed areas. It's a complex issue but we reached a conclusion

Internet: Just how much do we all rely on our broadband

It’s a complete broadband blackout at Macfilos and work has been suspended. We managed to get a last post out over the cellular network.....

Hogan: Is micro four-thirds still a viable choice?

With the rapid advance of smartphones, overtaking the 2/3-sensor point-and-shoot cameras, and advances in full-frame and APS-C technology, micro four-thirds is in the eye of the storm. It is being squeezed from above and below. Thom Hogan asks if it still has a future….

Leica job losses as company faces the second digital revolution

The camera market continues to shrink but Leica remains optimistic as it tackles the second digital revolution. This is despite recent setbacks.

Manual winding watches v Leica M10-D

Joshua Munchow, writing for the wonderful Quill & Pad Watch site, relates how purists of fine horology eschew the undoubted benefits of automatics in favour of manual winding.

Printers: Do we really need them?

350px-TheFaulknerPortableAuthor: Michael Evans

Ruminating on the absence of a print connection on the iPad, I got to wondering why we really need printers at all. They take up a lot of space - which is my main objection - and need constant attention and fettling. We're so accustomed to electronic devices that need absolutely no fiddling that it comes as a shock to have to mollycoddle a piece of equipment that demands replenishing with paper and has an appetite for ever-greater numbers of minute ink cartridges: "Your puce cartridge is nearly empty, do you wish to proceed?"

Furthermore, any device that handles paper is prone to misfeeds and frequent constipation. That is, with the honourable exception of the brilliant Fujitsu ScanSnap range of scanners; they do seem to have got it right. But the majority of domestic ink-jet printers are a pain. They churn and clunk and click through a prolonged start-up routine every time you wish to print a page. And invariably one of the multitude of cartridges is near expiry and dire warnings are posted before you press OK to continue. 

So why do we need printers? The answer, as far as I am concerned, is not for much. I print the occasional boarding pass or letter to a financial institution that insists on snail-mail confirmation. I certainly don't feel the need to print out drafts for correction and, as the proud inhabitant of an paper-almost-less office, I most certainly never print stuff to file.

My all-singing-dancing printer never sings, seldom dances. It sits there, occupying a useful chunk of my office, and I would dearly love to be able to wave it goodbye. Unfortunately, for those occasional essential documents, I don't know of a better solution. At the moment, however, I am seriously thinking of consigning it to a cupboard or, even, the loft, where it can churn out the odd print without inconveniencing me for the rest of the month.

Back to the iPad and its lack of printing. I acknowledge it is a problem for anyone who is planning to make Apple's new pad their only computing device. In fact, there are two problems to face: the iPad cannot be connected directly to a printer and, of course, it needs a mother ship for registration and synchronisation. But anyone who has access to that mother-ship computer, whether belonging family, friend or neighbour, could also beg the occasional sheet of printed paper from the same source. The iPad, with its intuitive ease of use and no-computer-knowledge-necessary interface, is ideally placed to serve people who aren't interested in computers and who want to explore the net and deal with emails without hassle. 

PS: Colleague Ralf Meier points out that he prints from his iPad using PrintCentral and WePrint. He says that for the very limited printing he needs this solution works well. 

Bento file location gripe

LISTENING to Leo Laporte's Tech Guy netcast today, I was reminded of a long-standing gripe when applications save data to places other than the Documents folder. Leo was talking about Windows at the time and he mentioned that there were still some badly behaved programs which save data to the Program folder. In Macspeak this would be the Applications folder and I have not come across any apps which insist on doing this. 

But I have come across a number of applications which save their datafile to an Application Support folder inside the user Library folder. I don't like this and I prefer to have all my data stored somewhere easily accessible, usually in the Documents folder. Apart from other considerations, this also helps with backup since it is quick and easy to copy the Documents folder. The Library folder tends to be quite large and contains a lot of stuff that doesn't change daily.

Fortunately, in most cases you can simply move the datafile to a location of choice and it will be found there next time you load the program. Recently, I've taken to storing regularly accessed data in my Drobox folder on the desktop so it is accessible on any of my computers.Box_bento2_grande

I do have one application, Bento from Filemaker, that does not allow a change of database location. Data is automatically saved to the Application Support folder and cannot be moved (at least, not without Bento refusing to find it afterwards). 

In the early days of Bento, which is otherwise an excellent simplified database program, I took this up in the Filemaker forum. The problem was recognised but no solution was promised. So I was disappointed to find that the updated Bento 2 still insists on choosing a data location with no option for change. 

As a result of this I am using Bento less and less and am gradually changing over my records to spreadsheet format in Numbers so that I can store the data in Dropbox. I've improved my efficiency as a result because I can view and adjust the data from any computer. I am still mystified why Bento, probably alone, stick to this unusual restriction.