Users Guide 2.x - Notes

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Part 1 - Installation and Initialization


Creating, Viewing and Editing Notes

About Files, Directories and Notes

In addition to the KeyStores and Keys that you saw in the Installation and Initialization section, PDS also needs to manage your data. In doing so, PDS has two types of containers - PDS Notes and PDS Files.

The relationship between Notes and Files is this: A Note is a type of a PDS File. A Note is opened by PDS, and PDS then displays the contents of the Note in a text editor or a text viewer. And while every PDS Note is a PDS File, not every PDS File is a PDS Note.

PDS Files consist of Notes, but PDS Files also consist of files and directories that were created outside of PDS but were encrypted by PDS. When you encrypt an existing file or directory using PDS, the output is a single PDS File - regardless whether it contains an encrypted file or directory.

So, a Note is a Note, but a PDS File may be a Note or an encrypted file or directory. Notes are always written using Base64 encoding. When a file is encrypted, you will choose whether it will be written Base64 or binary. When a directory is encrypted, it is always encrypted into a binary output. And to wrap this up, if you choose to encrypt a plain text file and write it in Base64 format, it actually becomes a full fledged Note, capable of being edited or viewed like the Notes you will create within PDS.

Truthfully, this is much more information than you need to remember to use PDS. Let me show you how easy PDS is by creating your first Note.

Creating a Note

Notes are "small" encrypted documents that remain internal to PDS. Notes are either Plain Notes or Styled Notes, with Styled Notes being able to support text markup. Once created, Notes can be edited, viewed (a read-only way to look at the information) or deleted. Notes that can be modified are opened within the main window of the application. In Java terms, these Notes are contained in an Internal Frame. Notes in an Internal Frame are separate from Notes that are being viewed, as the latter are in a External Frame. In this way, your volatile information is front and center. All Notes can be minimized, with the volitile Notes being minimized within the application window while the Notes being viewed are minimized to your Deskop.

To create a Note you will need to have created an encryption Key. Then you will select "Note -> New" from the GUI, or click the New Note icon on the Toolbar. In the dialog, enter a name for the Note and select Encrypt (or press the enter key).

Dialogs should allow you press the enter key after providing the information for the final required field, thus allowing you to avoid having to grab the mouse and navigate to and then click the "submit" button. Additionally, accelerator keys are available where supported.

You will be prompted for the passphrase of your default Key (Figure 2). Authenticate, and then see your new Note appear in the PDS GUI.

You may open up as many Notes as you like at once (Figure 3). In testing, there does not seem to be a constricting upper limit on the number of Notes open as Internal Frames.

The maximum size of a Note (and all open Notes) is a limitation of the amount of memory allocated to the JVM. This can be modified by passing the appropriate arguments to the JVM when PDS starts. For details, see the "Other Tasks" section of the PDS Users Guide.

Fig 1. Create a new Note
Fig 2. Authorization when creating a new Note
Fig 3. Notes in Internal Frames

Viewing a Note

All the Notes demonstrated thus far have been opened within the Editor, and displayed in an Internal Frame. For security purposes, PDS allows you to open Notes in a Read-Only, or View mode. To view a Note you must have previously created and saved a Note. To open the Note in a read-only mode, select "Note -> View" from the GUI, or click the View Note icon on the Toolbar. In the dialog, select the Note and click Open (or press the enter key).

You will be prompted for the passphrase of the Key protecting the Note. Authenticate, and then see your new Note appear outside the PDS GUI (Figure 4).

As with most other aspects of PDS, you may have many Notes open at once. Be aware that there is no data connection within PDS between Notes that are open; each is an island. So, updates in one opened instance of a Note will not update another instance.

Fig 4. Note opened for viewing in an external frame

Editing a Note

To edit a Note, select "Note -> Edit" from the GUI, or click the Edit Note icon on the Toolbar. In the dialog, select the Note and click Open (or press the enter key).

You will be prompted for the passphrase of the Key protecting the Note. Authenticate, and then see your new Note appear inside the PDS GUI (Figure 5). PDS provides a full-features editor with familiar shortcuts for cut, copy, paste, undo and redo, separate for each PDS file in an Internal Frame. As you would expect, these features are identical to what is seen when creating a new Note in PDS.

When editing a Note, PDS is aware if unsaved changes have been made to that Note, and that information is used when when closing a Note that has unsaved changes. Although not a best practice, PDS supports opening the same Note in two different PDS editors. When a Note is opened in two editors, each Note will only be aware of changes within that instance of the Note.

Fig 5. Editing a Note

Creating a Styled Note

Styled Notes are created just like Plain Notes, except that you must check the Styled option for the Note Type within the Create a New Note Dialog (Figure 6). After selecting the Encrypt button to create a Styled Note, you will be presented with a warning Dialog (Figure 6) about the use of Styled Notes. Please read the information carefully. Should you wish to not be prompted with this message every time you create a Styled Note, you may select the checkbox in the Dialog to disable future warnings of this kind. As with all options to not display further warning messages of a particular kind, re-enabling the warnings may be accomplished by selecting Options->Settings and re-enabling the Dialog(s) of your choice.

Fig 7. Styled Notes contain the Java version
Fig 6. Creating a Styled Note

As indicated in the Dialog in Figure 6, the header of the newly created Styled Note (Figure 7) shows the Java version that was used to create the Styled Note. Should this Note be edited by a later version of Java, the initial Java version will be replaced with the later Java version. In this way, should you run into compatibility issues, you will know which version of Java to use to regain access to your information.

Now that you have created a Styled Note, what can you do with it? Figure 8 shows a new Styled Note, which includes the "Text Format" drop down. This drop down is separated into three (3) groups; the first for the changes to the font, the second for changes to the size of the font, and the third to change the color of the font. As you can see, at least one of each of those groups has been used in the new Styled Note.

Finally, when you close your Styled Note, you may see the warning shown in Figure 9. In short, this warning is indicating that the basic characters (A-Z, spaces, punctuation, etc.) are the same as that in the saved version of the Note, but PDS cannot tell if any of the markup differs. Basically, when you see this, the text matches, but there are changes that could be undone in the "undo" buffer. Erring on the side of caution, this warning Dialog is displayed. As with other similar Dialogs, you may disable this Dialog and re-enable it later if you desire.

Fig 8. Markup options for Styled Notes
Fig 9. Warning about possible unsaved markup

Encrypting and Decrypting Files and Directories

Part 3 - Encrypting and Decrypting Files and Directories

Customizing the PDS Application

Part 4 - Customizing the PDS Application

Verification, Configuration and Other Tasks

Part 5 - Verification, Configuration and Other Tasks


Part 6 - Troubleshooting PDS

(C) PDS Software Solutions LLC, 2016
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