Tag Archives: iOS

Basic HTTP access authentication in Workflow app

I’m a newbie to Workflow, the super powerful automation app for iOS that was recently acquired by Apple. I’ve known for a while that there’s some useful things I could do with it, but I haven’t had the time to sit down and play around with it.

Today I did, and my workflow required getting the contents of a URL that uses Basic HTTP Access Authentication. Since it took me a little while to figure out how to do it and didn’t find much help online, I decided to write a post and help the next poor soul to run into this.


Basic HTTP Authentication as seen on Safari.

The way Basic Access Authentication works is that the client (usually a web browser but in my case the Workflow app) sends the user name and password as part of the HTTP headers.

The nice little explanation on HttpWatch also has a handy little demo. You go this URL and use “httpwatch” as user name and anything you want as password. It displays an image containing the info you entered.

I created a workflow that hard codes the user name, asks you to enter a password, and then gets the image and shows it. It should be easy enough to use a starting point for your own workflow. You can download it here:


1Password boomarklet for iOS


I’m a huge fan of 1Password. If you aren’t using it or some other secure wallet / password manager, you should go set it up, then come back and read this.

In any case, I often find myself browsing on my iPad/iPhone and land in some website that I need to log into (my bank, Twitter, Reddit, Google, whatever). Since I use unique random un-rememberable passwords on every single website, I have to:

  1. Copy the URL from the Safari URL bar
  2. Open 1Password
  3. Paste it inside 1Password’s built-in browser
  4. Use 1Password’s auto-fill

or the reverse which is more painful:

  1. Open 1Password
  2. Find the login info I need
  3. Copy
  4. Go back to Safari
  5. Paste

So I wrote a small bookmarklet that will open the current Safari address in 1Password. It works with 1Password for iOS 4.1. And here it is:

Open in 1Password

In order to install it while on your Mac, just drag the “Open in 1Password” link to the Bookmarks bar. If enabled, iCloud Safari syncing will take care of making the bookmarklet show up on your iPhone/iPad.

If you want to install it directly from your iPhone / iPad, follow these instructions.

Once it’s installed, you can visit any page in Safari. Click on the bookmarklet you just created and the page should open in 1Password. I hope this saves several minutes of your life!

My other set of bookmarklets for changing font size in iOS Safari is quite handy and popular too.

Google is not making any friends

From Counternotions:

For over a decade, Microsoft — the monopolist of its era — treated its customers on Macs as second-class. Its Office suite never achieved parity with its Windows sibling, even when the differences were not dictated by platform architectures. Whether it was document compatibility, font-metrics, macros, integration with other Microsoft software or myriad other gotchas, Mac versions were always lacking. Every new version of Office promised better compatibility but never really delivered it. Worse, Microsoft never quite integrated Apple-grown technologies into Office to better blend it into the Mac ecosystem, claiming it would break cross-platform compatibility with the Windows versions.

Sadly, this wasn’t an occasional inconvenience but a source of daily frustration for millions of paying customers, corporations and individuals alike. With business so dependent on Office, Microsoft’s message was loud and clear: if you want the real thing switch to Windows.

Sufficiently annoyed by all the trouble, some users did.

Most didn’t, and haven’t forgiven Microsoft ever since.

Therein lies a lesson for Google

I should not need to spell out the analogy they are making, but here it goes anyway:

“Google Maps is to iOS is what Microsoft Office is to Mac OS”

To be fair, Mac users resent Microsoft for more than that. After all, Microsoft ripped off Apple’s groundbreaking user interface whole-heartedly when they created MS Windows.

Oh, wait…

iOS 6.0 feature request

In 2007 I posted a long list of “seemingly obvious” missing software features on the iPhone, which ran what was then known as OS X Mobile and today Apple calls iOS. Since then, most were either implemented (video, VoIP, games, etc.) or are no longer desired (Flash, Java).

I thought I’d revisit now, a month away from WWDC where there is a good chance that iOS 6.0 will be announced, even though I don’t think any of these are “seemingly obvious” anymore.

  • Better Maps
    The Maps app has not evolved that much since 2007. Android has a lot more feature including crude 3D and driving instructions. Since Apple has purchased a bunch of mapping-related companies and the rumors point to it, this one may come soon.
  • Live Home Screen
    I had this in the original list as “Dashboard / Widget support”. Apps should have the ability to display live information on the Home Screen without the need to launch them. Right now only Calendar updates the date and items inside Newsstand update the front page. And I guess apps can show badges. Not enough. In addition, it would be nice if the icons could be of different sizes (1×2, 2×2, 2×3, etc.) for added flexibility.
  • 3rd party Notification Center additions
    3rd party apps should be able to display stuff inside Notification Center similar to how Stocks and Weather do it today.
  • AirPlay receiver
    It would be cool if you could not just send, but receive audio and video using AirPlay. This can be done through an app that you need to open, that’s cool.
  • 3rd party Siri integration
    This may be the most obvious one, but allowing apps to add feature to Siri can be really useful: “Weightbot, save today’s weight as 162.4”. “Domino’s pizza, order the usual to my house to be delivered at 8 PM”.
  • Unified Contacts
    The ability to gather and consolidate all your contact information from multiple sources, like Facebook, Twitter, iCloud, etc. WebOS has (had?) this as “Synergy“.
  • Simplified logins
    Have you ever restored your phone? You need to go to several different places to enter your password several different times. iMessage, FaceTime, GameCenter, AppStore, Home Sharing… it’s terrible! This should be streamlined!

Do you have any other suggestions? 

Font size bookmarklets

Last night I was reading some online documentation on Safari on my iPad and was annoyed by the small font size. On most web sites, the text is formatted in narrow columns and you just double tap to zoom in perfectly. In this case that wouldn’t work well because the text spans from edge to edge on the site. You’ve probably bumped into a similar situation on your iPhone or iPad.

This morning I looked around for a solution. I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for ; but I combined and modified some of the things I found and created two bookmarklets: one that increases the font size of the page you are in, and one that decreases it.

There are two ways to install them.

Method A

If you use iCloud to synchronize bookmarks between Safari on your Mac or PC and your iPhone/iPad, then the easiest way is to do this from your computer. Just drag the two links below to your Bookmarks Bar.

Let iCloud take care of the syncing for you.

Method B

If you need to do this from your iPhone/iPad because you don’t use iCloud for syncing bookmarks, then things are a little harder. I won’t describe the process here because others have already done a great job. The only difference is that you will use the code from my bookmarklets:


javascript:var p=document.getElementsByTagName('*');for(i=0;i<p.length;i++){if(p[i].style.fontSize){var s=parseInt(p[i].style.fontSize.replace("px",""));}else{var s=12;}s-=2;p[i].style.fontSize=s+"px"}


javascript:var p=document.getElementsByTagName('*');for(i=0;i<p.length;i++){if(p[i].style.fontSize){var s=parseInt(p[i].style.fontSize.replace("px",""));}else{var s=12;}s+=2;p[i].style.fontSize=s+"px"}

Once you have installed the bookmarklets, use them the same way you use a bookmark. I recommend putting them on the Bookmarks Bar for quick access, as shown:

Bookmarklets on iPad

This is how the original website looks:

Original font size

And this is how it looks after increasing the font size a couple of times:

After increasing the font size using the bookmarklet.

In order to reset the font size back to its default, just reload! Hope you find this useful.

My First iPhone App

Myself and some colleagues started going over the iPad and iPhone Application Development course. It’s a class taught over at Stanford University and available for free (as in beer) on iTunes U.

After two sessions, it was time to get my hands dirty. Today I completed my first assignment: An RPN Calculator.

Left to right: iPhone, Mac, Proud Developer.

Not much credit to me here, I was mostly following a tutorial (but unlike in the tutorial, I made the background gray).

Here’s a glorious screenshot:

I understand that if the App Store was an actual physical software store, all my readers would already be lined up to buy their copy. Well, the good news is that the App Store is not an actual store where you have to go get in line like a schmuck. The bad news is that this app is not going to be available for download at all. It’s really a piece of junk.

But I am already brewing (in my mind) what will become the app that will make me rich beyond anyone’s dreams. The brewing is not going well so if you have any ideas, please feel free to pitch in.

At some later date I may write a little bit about my impressions of Xcode, Objective C, Cocoa Touch and this whole iPhone app development thing.