Tag Archives: document

How to start and end a letter or email: Salutation and Valediction

Here’s a topic for a moment: formal and informal greetings in an email, or letter, any form of written communication.

For several years I would not use any form of sign-out at the end of an email or message, except in email I would include


Now it seems people don’t do that, they leave it to the automatic insertion of a signature.  But then, it cuts out the option of choosing the emotional tone of the close-out.  Granted, I ignored that by the “-Tom” ending in so many messages.  But I’m more aware of it now.

Today I sent a fax, a task I do less than 5 times a year.  Thinking about the proper use of words to convey meaning, while avoiding the dramatic and excess bubbly emotion, I cut it down to:

From Tom ****

My address has changed as of May 2011:


52-1000 Somewhere St
Somewhereville, SW  S0M 3W4


20-1000 Somewhere St
Somewhereville, SW  S0M 3W4

Tom *****

I don’t need my name at the bottom, if it’s a short note to announce my change of address.  But I want to close it off, very neatly and cleanly.  Yet, having the name appear by itself seemed an unnecessary duplication of the “From Tom Pace” line at the top.  So I opted for a sign-out greeting.

A sign-out greeting, is called a valediction.  It is the counterpart to a salutation, examples such as “Dear NAME,” or “Attention NAME” or “To Whom it May Concern”.

My emails sometimes include valedictions, and I use valedictions in verbal communication… The one I have used most frequently in written messages came from my adoption of the verbal “take care”.  But several other places and people I’ve seen using “Regards” and “Best regards”.  So I tried it out, and it feels clean but also a bit distant.  So, in the last couple years, whenever I use a valediction in written messages, it will be one I come up with at the moment, to match the tone of the message or the tone of the saluation.

In this above example, I thought about “Yours truly”, “Sincerely”, “Regards”, “Best regards”.

Yours truly is excellent, but feels much older, and it’s mostly a simplification of “Truly, I am yours” or other similar expressions.

So here’s the end result: I chose Sincerely.  It is not a match of the salutation “Attention NAME”  as much as it matches the opening sentence announcement “My address has changed…”.

Sources I referred to for the writing of the valediction are:


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Make your iOS apps support public types (like .zip)

It will happen once in a while, when using an iPhone or iPad, a person may get an email with an attachment to be opened, but can’t because there is no app on the device to open it. Or similarly, surfing the web using the Safari mobile browser, and suddenly there is a file to be accessed/downloaded but it isn’t supported in Safari on iOS.

And for app creators/developers, we solve this issue by allowing our apps to open those types of files, to make up for the lack of Apple having an app that does so.

There is much info around the internet about this, but mostly the info is about supporting custom file types (for random example: .my3dimage) it all comes up short for supporting public file types. I mean, types of files that are out there in the world, but the iPhone doesn’t have an app that supports them. A really obvious case is PDF files.  They used to be not supported, but now they can be viewed in Mail or Safari.  One popular type that is not supported in mail or is the zip file type.

An app developer simply adds the CFBundleDocumentTypes key to the app’s Info.plist file, and fills it in with info, and then builds the app to handle the file when another app tries and fails to open a file.

CFBundleDocumentTypes is an Array of Dictionary objects. Each dictionary has a set of keys (and values) and following is a list of recommended keys from Registering the File Types Your App Supports in Document Interaction Programming Topics in the iOS developer library:

CFBundleTypeName specifies the name of the document type. (ie. Zip archive)
CFBundleTypeIconFiles is an array of filenames for the image resources to use as the document’s icon. (could be a picture of a folder with a zipper, like Windows Explorer uses, or anything else)
LSItemContentTypes contains an array of strings with the UTI types that represent the supported file types in this group. (an array of the UTI types.. this is the confusing part for quickly supporting public types that I deal with in a moment).
LSHandlerRank describes whether this application owns the document type or is merely able to open it. (This is another interesting part that I talk about)

More can be added (and SHOULD be added), and they’re found in Table 2 Keys for type-definition dictionaries, of the CFBundleDocumentTypes section, in the Core Foundation Keys page of iOS Information Property Key Reference.  But BEWARE!  Several of these keys are not for iOS, but Mac OSX, and some are deprecated, while still remaining in the list.

There is more information on the meaning of each specific value that can be assigned to each key. Check out below Table 2, in CFBundleDocumentTypes section, for Document Roles and Document Icons.

After Document Roles and Document Icons sub-sections, is a relatively section of some importance, Recommended Keys.  I say “some” importance because it’s a very important section naturally, but contains out-of-date recommendations.  This list contains 1 valid key for iOS and 3 that are Mac OSX only, plus those 3 are deprecated:

CFBundleTypeExtensions (not in iOS)
CFBundleTypeMIMETypes (not in iOS)
CFBundleTypeOSTypes (not in iOS)

The following are strongly recommended, but optional:


These 7 recommended keys, partly overlap with the 4 I listed above from the Registering the File Types Your App Supports section. The overlapping items are:


It can be confusing then, which to use… I think this is just a case of some instructions not being updated with the latest best-practices. So try support as many non-deprecated keys as possible!

Now for a list of the strings that can go into the all-important LSItemContentTypes section:

System-declared Uniform Type Identifiers (UTIs)


The table on this page lists a whole bunch of system and public file types that aren’t necessarily supported in the iPhone or iPad.  Zip is in the list, and happens to have the com.pkware.zip-archive valiue.

I won’t discuss the icon, but please see Document Icons  within Custom Icon and Image Creation Guidelines for info about them.

Info about the Role is in iOS library.

There is a possible issue with the Rank, if two apps declare themselves as the Owner of a type, then one of them is given precidence for the button that appears on the right-side in Mobile Safari, as seen in this picture:










I don’t know much about dealing with this yet, but it should not be a huge problem because a user can click on the “Open In..” button and see other apps that open it, like in the following picture:

Hope that helps someone.

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Google Android cheap devices

A friend and I walked by a Rogers Wireless reseller recently, and discussed a promotional poster we saw in the window. It showed a bunch of Android phones, and the cost for these was advertised around $80, brand new (on contract, of course… )

Soon, most or all North-American mobile phones will be smartphones. Android is free, and so manufacturers are not obligated to spend any money for including it on their devices. Except, in order to properly manufacture a phone that includes Android installed from the factory, the phones must have certain abilities/features.

As phone prices drop, perhaps the cost to include a touch-screen will become too great for the manufacturer (relative to the cost of the phone itself) and the manufacturer may choose to use a trackball or touchpad like the BlackBerry phones. The possibility of any major manufacturer producing any android phone without a touch screen is a very bad thought. It would wreck most apps, and make the experience of using the phone very terrible. Maybe then it would not matter if it had no touch screen, because no one would buy it!

So, it was a pleasant when I was looking for a list of permanently-available buttons (home, back, search, menu, volume, lock, etc) and I discovered the following, part of the Android Compatibility Definition Document, available in the side column at http://source.android.com/compatibility/index.html

7.2.3. Navigation keys
The Home, Menu and Back functions are essential to the Android navigation paradigm. Device implementations MUST make these functions available
to the user at all times, regardless of application state. These functions SHOULD be implemented via dedicated buttons. They MAY be implemented
using software, gestures, touch panel, etc., but if so they MUST be always accessible and not obscure or interfere with the available application display
Device implementers SHOULD also provide a dedicated search key. Device implementers MAY also provide send and end keys for phone calls.

7.2.4. Touchscreen input
Device implementations:17
• MUST have a touchscreen
• MAY have either capacitive or resistive touchscreen
• MUST report the value of android.content.res.Configuration [Resources, 30] reflecting corresponding to the type of the specific
touchscreen on the device
• SHOULD support fully independently tracked pointers, if the touchscreen supports multiple pointers

7.2.4 says all Android phones MUST have a touch screen. That’s a great discovery! So the touchscreen part of an android phone is not optional.

That’s all for now.

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Documentation and 3D game engines

I am progressing slowly but surely. The 3d rendering engine for the iPhone that I am using is called SIO2. I am finding it slow going because the documentation is not what I call good. There are no step by step procedures in the tutorials and the reference doc materials are very raw, with no clean summaries,except those on the front page of the website that describe, in point form, the most general capabilities. Those capabilities are great,but after putting in the time to download the engine and try out the tutorials, I am coming to a question: is a pre-existing system better than developing a system in-house, if the existing system is so time consuming that the learning curve is almost as long as the development process?

Here I am frustrated with the lack of good quality and complete learning materials, but the existence of the system is still better than developing my own system. That is because in the time it would still take to devlelop my own thing, the existing thing may (or may not) improve, and in other cases I may find some help that I had not found at first. So the learning of an existing system is better.

This experience is going into the heaping pile of experiences of bad documentation for products I have seen. There is a wiki, and I might start contributing to it.

Going forward in the future, the skill to produce good documentation may become a very valuable transferable skill in the workplace. It seems very boring in some product contexts, ie. Vacuum cleaner manuals, software application manuals, inflatable air matress instruction sheets. Yet this world needs a better, universal, written method of learning that appeals to the reader. Something like google’s API doumentation, and apple’s iPhone and iPad documentation.

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