Miscellaneous Issues


1. The problem with doing everything online

More and more companies are trying to push users (whether government, education, business, the average consumers and anyone else) to do everything online. One can understand why companies do it. Mainly to reduce costs, make sure consumers are using non-pirated software, have a look at you on your computer's camera and listen in on your conversations quietly without you being aware, get the users to transfer some sensitive or personal information online for the purposes of getting services or products, and ultimately to make a bigger profit (financially, or non-financially speaking given the range of information being obtained from users). And all done under the umbrella of convenience, presumably offering better and more-tailored products and services in the future, and so on. However, all this comes with a risk. You are allowing many unauthorised people you would not otherwise have with you at the time you transfer sensitive information to watch everything that you do. And all this is happening without your explicit permission.

For example, a company may show you a seminar about the benefits of Veritas Data Insight Risk Analysis Tool to determine where sensitive and personal information is stored in files on a corporate computer. Sounds like a great idea. Try to see which files are lingering around with information that could be viewed by employees and internet users and quickly decide what to do with them (i.e., delete or encrypt them, or move them to a more secure location). You are given a link to try out the tool on a demo basis. Guess what? The tool only works online. So in order to test the tool, you must upload gigabytes of files. Of course, you wouldn't actually upload sensitive stuff to Veritas, now would you? But thinking the company is totally trustworthy because it is offering a security tool to help you, some people do. There you would have created a security breach.

And that is just the start.

Then you have another layer of insecurity to contend with. During the upload, there is a thing called Domain Name Server (DNS) leaks. This is a process where the DNS may not be set-up right and you won't know it. Then governments, hackers and others can exploit loopholes in the server and peep into the files you upload.

Virtual Personal Networks (VPNs) can help a lot. But again, if the VPN service providers have not set up the service right, it too can be subject to DNS leaks. And you will never know for sure unless you employ a special DNS Leak tool to test the servers, such as IP Leak.

Truly secure information is achieved when you don't need to upload or download sensitive or personal information on the internet. You don't put everything on the internet, no matter how secure you think your solution might be (there are people who will find loopholes). If you need to have an online presence and to gather data from users, only grab the essential information you need to perform your services and/or send your products. Any other data about users, if necessary to have, are kept on a separate server not accessible in any way to internet users. Otherwise, keep it streamlined and essential. And encrypt any potential sensitive data and move it to a location that is not accessible on the internet. If that means the tools you use must be independent of the internet, then so be it. You are only doing what is right and giving people the respect to have any personal details properly secure and away from prying eyes online.

Hence the reason why we prefer to offer a database solution that can be run independently from the internet unless you have a genuine and absolute need to access certain kinds of information. And even then, you must decide how much of the information from your database you are willing to risk losing or share with others in order to receive some other benefit. Do you really need to have the information, service or product if it means giving away yours, and/or other people's, personal data? If not, keep it separate. Encrypt it. Put it in a category to help you identify the need to keep it secure. Then encrypt it, or decide how much of the information should be kept and the rest deleted.

1. Encrypted data — the double-edged sword

Apart from not connecting to the internet or a phone network with your portable device as the number one solution to perfect privacy and security while having more direct person-to-person communications, encryption technologies is the next most effective way of protecting your privacy and ensuring communication is directly with the intended recipient.

SUNRISE Contacts will encrypt email messages, notes and any text to a high level. Then you can send any encrypted information to anyone with the text key to unencrypt it.

Encrypting data is a powerful technology. When used to its fullest effect and with high strength encryption technology, governments, law enforcement agencies, intelligence organisations, and the military will shake at the knees as they realise how powerless they are to find out what you do. It is the ultimately PITA technology of the modern era for those who who feel entitled to snoop around and be part of the communication process. In fact, the technology is so powerful, it has been classified as a weapon by those who feel entitled to look at everything you do, and that includes all your personal and business confidential data.

As of June 2018, Australian, French and some American (e.g., the FBI) law enforcement agencies have worked hard to get Apple and other major commercial software companies to provide some kind of a secret backdoor to their own form of encryption technologies and/or the software they produce and have it quietly send out data (before the encryption is applied) as an easier means of accessing your data. This means that once the data in certain lower quality FileMaker Pro databases or other software tools goes through the Apple servers, encrypted or not, there is a high probability some people you don't know, including the software companies offering the encryption technology or the software you use, can still read your data from the servers.

As of 3 June 2018, the Chinese government has noticed how powerful encryption can be. So it has requested Chinese software companies to provide similar backdoor solutions so it can monitor the activities of its citizens. All done under the umbrella of Anti-terrorism laws, it is one of the reasons why the Australian government has banned Wuawei, the smart phone Chinese manufacturer, from operating its services on the Australian 5G network. It does not matter if you have sensitive business confidential or personal information and you are definitely not involved in any illegal activity, or just happen to be one of those unfortunate people who the Chinese government feel must be targeted and sent to the world's biggest open prison. The burden is going to be on you (with the help of software developers and vendors) to prove you are supporting the Chinese government, or supporting the economic system of Western nations, or supporting anything else the government wants to see, as well as have nothing illegal to hide.

About our encryption technology

Our encryption is not based on Apple or other big software companies (and certainly not from a Chinese company). We are independent, and have no intentions of providing a special "backdoor solutions" to our encryption. Any attempts to do so would only compromise your security and privacy and can render our product ineffective at protecting your privacy as well as make the internet on the whole useless for economic purposes, such as consumers purchasing online with their credit cards. This is particularly true should any "backdoor solutions" get accidentally leaked onto the internet for hackers and organised crime syndicates to exploit.

Should some authorities still feel worried about not knowing what is happening in the community because people are using these encryption technologies, the only effective long-term solution to the problems arising from those few selected individuals and/or groups who may cause trouble for authorities is simply this:

  1. Establish a minimum wage for all.
  2. Can't afford it? Then it is time to start a new world order consisting of the establishment of a new non-economic system for people to live and work. This system should complement the current economic system with principal focus on protecting the environment and growing enough natural foods. By doing so, it will have the unexpected side benefit of helping to protect all citizens of the economic system during a depression period or severe recession where people need to find alternative ways to survive until new jobs are created. All rewards in the alternative system, should not be monetary but based on supplying free food and the supply of free housing and a plot of land to work on for the contributions people provide on the land to grow the food, the recyclable building materials, and to restore the natural environment to pristine conditions as required to solve climate change and maintain financial economies. As they say, without a healthy environment, there is no economy.
  3. Provide a safe place to live and grow.
  4. Provide free education for all.
  5. Give extra rewards to people who provide brilliant new ideas that work in reality and will solve the problems of the day.

Or, to sum it up, show true love for one another. That is the only way to achieve true security and a bright future. If the current economic system fails to provide it, then it is time to change it. If we cannot afford it for the number of people alive today, the time has come to start a new world order.

It is as simple as that.

2. Should I subscribe to Claris Connect?

It depends. If you don't care for the solutions you use for getting the job done and make your profit and are willing to pay for any kind of service to make it happen, then perhaps Claris Connect is for you. Even if you pay a FileMaker developer to create APIs to perform the exact same functions as Claris Connect, you may still need to pay for the online services offering those APIs. Apple has simply made the charging process a single transaction, to be paid annually (with a monthly charge shown on the Claris Connect pricing web page to make it look like it is reasonable). Then Apple takes a slice of the money and the rest is paid to the service providers in providing the APIs and having them integrated into the Apple service. Users merely pay the subscription, set up the "workflows" (or scripts) online, together with "if...then" conditions and the events to perform (or script commands/APIs), and that's it. It is just like FileMaker scripts, but in a more simplified way for people who are not proper programmers.

It should be noted that a number of the APIs on offer through Claris Connect can be incorporated directly into FileMaker solutions. It is just that Claris Connect is a separate online service of utilising these APIs. There is no option to download the APIs and include them in your solutions as "add-ons" (or even plug-ins, which would have been better as all a person has to do is grab or send the right data without the hassles of establishing JSON and URL structures in a precise manner as required by the API service providers).

If you choose Claris Connect, the web site makes it clear that there will be monitoring going on by "expert Claris Connect people". Making sure the service runs smoothly is often the advertised reason for this. Beyond that, you must feel comfortable to share people's personal details, your business activities, profit and profile, and who you are that is running the business, to Apple and the service providers you use. For some services, there is no choice when it comes to sensitive financial transactions. For other services, it may be hard to justify the need to share sensitive information to just about anyone. Unfortunately this is the price you must pay for going on Claris Connect.

The other thing to remember about Claris Connect is that its presence in the marketplace is a sure sign from Apple of its insistence to deprecate more features in FileMaker Pro if it can help to minimise competition from other developers. In particular, plug-ins that can perform essentially the same functions as Claris Connect will almost certainly be "deprecated" and removed later this decade. This will make FileMaker Pro even less of a development tool, and more a storage and data finding tool with a fancy looking interface (if you want to go that far). You might as well go back to SQL and build a fancy web page as the front end. There will be very little left of the original Claris FileMaker Pro 2.x to 6.x that people have come to love and made very popular among Mac developers. Soon it won't be long before the word "Pro" will have to be dropped from "FileMaker Pro". There will be very little "pro" features in it to make it worthwhile. And soon there will be a joke going around about Apple along the lines of:

Q. How do you start Apple as a small software business?
A. Give it big software that is perfectly made from the original Claris Corporation and let it take it from there.

The more people use Claris Connect, the less functions and features there will be in FileMaker Pro over time. Anything that was described as "advanced" features because of its usefulness, power and flexibility to achieve more when you need it will be replaced by fancy ways to make the data look good through sophisticated graphs using javascripts and APIs and any other way to create eye-catching layouts. In fact, Apple has a long-term vision to remove FileMaker Pro app from desktops (the tool you use to develop databases. In the next 5 years, Apple will expect you to do everything online (on the assumption internet access will be reliable and your data is secure). Apple is hoping this will solve problems such as software piracy as well as watching people in real-time in what they do with online apps, where they are located, who they are with, how much money you are earning and whether to sell you more products, and so on. By the time we reach this point, you would really need the effort and enthusiasm of a handful of FileMaker trainers, such as Richard Carlton Consulting in San Francisco, to show how great the remaining product is. Good luck to those people. It is something you must consider when deciding whether or not to use the things that Apple chooses and believes people should use while it makes a profit.

3. What about the other "add ons" available for FileMaker Pro 19?

Nothing wrong with having ready-made modules to plug-and-play into your database solutions The Claris Marketplace provides some examples of these add-ons. It is only when you choose the wrong add-ons and decide you need to work offline or you have to go onto another platform to deliver some or all of your content when things can become a pain and perhaps potentially impossible to get out of the FileMaker platform and/or the add-ons you employ. Furthermore, if you stay on the FileMaker platform long enough to see the range of new add-ons on offer, you will experience a time when more and more of these add-ons will have a price tag. Hopefully not much, but if you implement them, it will make it harder for you to move onto a different platform. You will be stuck with FileMaker and forced to use this platform for delivering information and doing all your business and other work with it should you use lots of these add-ons. For the moment a number of these add-ons look free. But they have their limitations, with many javascript add-ons requiring constant access to the internet to make the graphs, calendars and other functions work. In SUNRISE Contacts, we avoid this by ensuring the javascript functions we employ work offline (e.g., Gantt Charts). It also has the benefit of increasing the security of your information, rather than sharing every single piece of information with strangers.

Also, by ensuring our export script is flexible, you have a better chance of moving your content to different non-FIleMaker platforms.

The idea of add-ons is not new or unique to Apple. The online world is quickly moving to a model that involves getting you to centralise your web-like layout pages of a FileMaker database or actual web pages of a web site to a particular platform, and from there you are permitted to drag and drop add-ons or features to help enhance and perhaps achieve your business goals. CMS Hub from HubSpot is one example. Here, you can manage the layouts of web pages in your web site and connect things like calendars, a database tool to store contact details, buy now payment API modules linked to payment processing third-parties, and so on. It has the advantage of allowing most of the work to be done by you without needing to pay a developer to help with the task. However, the main disadvantage is that once you make the move, you will be stuck with that platform. Give it enough time and soon you will be forced to pay a subscription just to be on the platform, let alone use add-ons. And if anything happens to the platform or there is a break down of the internet services, you will be stuffed. For now, and as the technology is evolving, the add-ons and some new platforms that try to do it all like FileMaker Pro 19 will be free or with an initial trial period. Later, once people are sucked into the platform thinking the costs are not too bad and are able to use enough add-ons, they will soon be charged by some means and increase over time. There is very little option to escape the platform and take the information you have created with you (or not without spending many weeks of hard work copy and pasting the original code across to another platform.

Welcome to the Vivarium of the online digital world.

If you must choose a platform to deliver your content, FileMaker Pro 19 is a slightly better option. If you must centralise your content on one platform, FileMaker Pro will allow you to keep the content and layout designs on a file and take it with you. Only when you need to deliver online (or on an iOS or Windows/Mac system) the content and run your business, the file should work out-of-the-box, but only by using Apple's specific tools of FileMaker Server/Cloud/Go/Pro. That is the only additional cost to you (fortunately you can pay a little more for a perpetual license until Apple decides to upgrade the OS), or else lease the server as another subscription payment.

If you are going to be stuck on a platform to deliver your content and conduct your business, try FileMaker Pro 19. But if not, we recommend that you choose wisely your preferred platform for delivering your content and running your business and stick to it. Whatever you choose, hopefully it will be something that will last and be around for more than 10 years, or else get rich as quickly as possible and then it won't matter what happens to the platform. As people say, it is just another tool to get you to a destination.

4. Can I open older fp7 FileMaker database files?

In SUNRISE Contacts, opening an older fp7 database through the lookups layout will be ignored by the FileMaker Runtime engine. To be recognised and converted to the fmp12 format, rename the file extension from fp7 to fmp12. You will also need a copy of FileMaker Pro to do the conversion when the file is opened. When converting, always make a copy of the file first and try the conversion to see the results look like. Do this before committing to the converted solution to become your master copy. Once converted, you can open the file in SUNRISE Contacts using FileMaker Pro 16 or higher. Note that the Runtime app supplied with SUNRISE Contacts will only open database files that are part of the SUNRISE Contacts solution. Use FileMaker Pro for all other databases.

As of version 2.9.6, SUNRISE Contacts will open any non-FileMaker file from the lookups layout so long as there is an application to read the file. So you can store Word, Excel, PDF and other files in the layout and tell SUNRISE Contacts to open them. This will work in both Runtime and the full FileMaker Pro app.