How to create a healthy home office

Image of abandoned chair for standing desk blog

Before becoming a remote worker, I studied Swedish, myofascial, and sports massage. Then within 3 years of completing my studies, I had 2 kids and moved to a different country, which made it pretty hard to start scheduling in massages, so I placed aside the massage qualifications and decided to concentrate on my internet based, customer service skills for a while instead.

Now that I’ve been a remote worker for almost 2 years, I’ve found that my training is still coming in useful. Maybe not for sorting out other peoples’ aches and pains, but by applying my knowledge to myself by creating a healthy home office – and now, with you.

Whether you’re working from a home office, kitchen table, or on the beach (does anyone actually do that..?), chances are you haven’t thought through your set up as much as a company might. Or, to turn that around, having your own space means that you now have the freedom to work exactly however you like. And that means you can take charge of your health habits whilst working from home. There are plenty of ways to encourage good habits, but it’s easiest to first start simply so that they actually become part of your daily routine. Here are a few ideas;

Don’t be stationary

“Sitting is the new smoking” yada yada yada. If you’ve read that headline before, you probably heard that you should be standing all day. Thing is, standing isn’t the answer either. Movement is the solution we’re after, and standing became the popular, easy answer because it leads to movement. Shifting legs, propping one up, stretching, hopping, and, very importantly, being aware of your positioning. Unlike sitting, during which you can slouch all the way down until you melt into your chair, standing forces you to activate your muscles to remain upright and focussed.

Here’s my current setup:



Notice the different level chest of drawers underneath the shelves? I use those to prop up one foot or the other, switching between straight vs bent legs and rotating the angle in which I’m holding my leg.

They’re all varied movements and it’s nothing thought out – just whatever feels comfortable for the next minute or so. With the drawers conveniently placed, I can just throw a leg up without thinking it through. What you don’t want are repetitive movements, like say, a treadmill, but rather different positions, so your body is activating different muscles and nerves, and placing different loads on various places throughout the day.

Oh, and notice my desk set up? Two Ikea shelves, that’s it (P.S. – like my BBC News screensaver? Want one?). My current seating arrangement for when I’m a bit tired is a couch, but someone recently suggested a bar stool which is a brilliant idea. Another alternative is a large Swiss ball which will keep your body subtly working on balancing itself.

And of course, when you’re not hopping about or typing away with one leg raised up, go for a short walk. My office pooch, Conan the Barbarian, ensures that I do.

Remote office dog Conan the Barbarian

He wasn’t named Conan without good reason…

Bring your set-up to you

Are you starting to resemble a turtle with a hunched back and head pulling forward? Or maybe you’ve noticed your shoulders are feeling tight, or are even starting to click when you rotate them? During my brief time actually massaging clients, these were their two most common problems – and yet there are very straightforward ways to start tackling them.

Image of hunched over desk worker

You, at work?


When setting up your space, think about bringing your equipment towards you, rather than your body adjusting to your hardware. My Ikea shelves were placed very specifically, so that the shelf brings my screen to eye level, whilst the keyboard is in a comfortable typing position. By standing quite close to the shelves, I’m able to keep my shoulders back and down, rather than curling towards my front, with the bonus that I don’t have to crane my neck to see the screen clearly. It’s a comfortable set up, but more importantly, it maintains a better alignment and doesn’t cause my muscles to start lengthening or shortening in places they shouldn’t.

Drawing of good positioning for standing desk

(yep, I draw like a 2nd grader)

Release tension whilst working

If your workday has you feeling all stressed out (or, even if it doesn’t, do these anyway!), bear in mind that your muscles and more are also feeling it. There are small movements you can do which will help relieve the tension, and doing them whilst working alone from home won’t raise any eyebrows…

  • Roll a tennis ball, or if you want to make it harder, a golf ball, slowly underfoot with enough pressure that it’s uncomfortable
  • Prop the ball of your foot up on a towel to stretch the muscles running down the back of your legs
  • Let your head hang to either side for a minute each (assuming you can work sideways!)
  • Place your feet at varying heights – one at a time, of course – to stretch
  • Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and release slowly
  • Whilst you’re sitting, place a tennis or lacrosse ball under either one of your bum cheeks and let it slowly sink in and stay there for a few minutes until it feels less uncomfortable

These movements actually target your fascia, which is a thin fibre that wraps around all your insides, all the way down to your cells. We often think of tightness in muscles, but tightness in fascia can be damaging as well. Keep it flexible and supple through movement – especially slow, extended movements in which a position is held before releasing.

I happened to be cooking some beef, so I got really excited and took a snap of fascia for you:

Photo of fascia to demonstrate what it is

By giving your fascia some slow stretching and massage, you’ll consequentially feel more flexible, have less constriction in your movements and won’t end the day with that stiff “I haven’t moved for the last 8 hours” after-work feeling.

Get a room with a view

You now have a great reason to set up office in a place with a beautiful view: apart from being good for the soul, it’s actually good for your eyes.

Why’s this? When your eyes are focussing on nearby objects, they’re actually in a contracted state. Imagine that your arm was grabbing a weight and holding it for 8 hours a day. Sounds exhausting, right? That’s what your eyes are doing as you zombie-stare at your screen. So give them a break by looking into the distance and whilst you’re at it, enjoy the view!

These are all simple changes that you can implement now, and will have fantastic consequences for your wellbeing, for your productivity, and for your health. So go on, grab a tennis ball, a towel, and a seat by the window. Get moving!


Photo by Ian Stannard

The longest study on happiness: slow and steady wins the race

Slow but sure route to happiness

Robert Waldinger, the 4th director of the longest study on happiness ended his TED talk “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness” with the quote;

“The good life is built with good relationships.”

A 75 year study neatly summarised into a few words, it comes as no surprise that cash and fame – what people generally think will make them happy – just won’t cut it.

The Harvard study followed hundreds of men, some from Harvard University and others from the opposite run of the social ladder, visiting their houses, asking them questions every couple years, analysing their health, and meeting their families.

These were men who fought in WWII, married, had children, scaled the ladder, fell off it, and ultimately, died, during the study. In fact, only 70 candidates remain.

The results from this study have confirmed what I believe many of us suspected: happiness, in actual fact, comes from high quality relationships. Those who made an effort to connect with friends, family and colleagues reported the most satisfaction in life, the lowest levels of pain, and measured the highest brain activity consequentially leading to the lowest memory loss. Sounds pretty good to me.

So how does this affect you at work? The new mentality emerging in the workplace states that happiness isn’t to be reserved for one’s home (or in our remote-working case), ‘personal’ lives. Surely the  benefits of happiness can only be attained by encompassing happiness as a whole, which means including your work culture.

Over and over, Waldinger repeated the importance of relationships, of making an effort to connect. And why not with our colleagues as well? They are, after all, humans with lives beyond their desk chair. It reminds me of being a small kid and thinking your parents are just that: your parents. Living, breathing, eating parenting life with nothing beyond. Then we realise that they too are every day people with stories, memories, quirks, flaws, and active lives beyond you; lives that make them more real and open the potential for a more rewarding relationship.

In our virtual workspace,  we have a water cooler flow where are welcome to share whatever sparks our interest, as well as our weekly Skype chat for catching up about life and a photo sharing Friday. It helps us to grow closer, be sensitive to particular needs, and lesson the distance that is our reality.

And if there’s an employee disagreement? That’s nothing to worry about. The study found that bickering did not negatively affect the quality of a relationship and I’d go so far as to say the open communication may actually strengthen it. On the contrary, knowing that we can count on the other person, however, had a huge positive impact.

In the end, we all want health and happiness. We may all take different approaches to it but this sounds like the slow and steady, surefire route to get there. Cash and fame bring attention but what does that boil down to? Maybe our desire for relationships, and these two routes lead only to the briefest and let’s face it, probably lowest quality relationships. Instead, by investing in your family, your friends, and your colleagues, you’ll be investing in your life.

Flowdock for Remote Work

flowdock icon for remote workers

Finding which tools work for you and your team can be a tedious task no matter the location. Between encouraging colleagues to become users, create habits, and appreciate the tools, you want to know you’re picking the right app from the get-go, if possible.

And what if you are location-less? Then the challenge becomes that little bit more-so, faced with virtual communication and encouragement.

Our team at Carousel Apps, being fully distributed, decided to go with Flowdock for our general, daily communications.

Flowdock for remote work in Carousel Apps

Within our account, our main chat creatively entitled “everybody” is just that: a meeting point for all to gather and check in. The general rule is, if you’re working, be logged in. That way, we can simply glance at the highlighted faces at the top of our flow and know who is around; a bit like walking in the front door of the office and showing face.

Chat ranges from straightforward questions, tagging @someone if we want to call their attention from any page their viewing, to enquiring about the weekend. At times it can be tempting to delve into deep discussions and we do, but the key is involving our other apps to ensure tickets are created for tracking as well as requests added to project management tools like Asana for efficient follow up. As mentioned in the Flowdock website, “After adopting Flowdock, a surprising thing happens: wikis, email lists, intranets and other means of communication are typically used less, but more effectively. They are no longer used for quick discussions in the comments section, but instead as persistent reference documentation.” We couldn’t agree more. General conversation is contained within Flowdock in an organised manner through search and tagging, whereas external documentation is purely fact, the record of answers to the issue discussed in length via Flowdock. In other words, we come to a decision via chat, then log the decision and the next action externally.

Tracking via external apps

So where exactly do we log these facts and answers? In a brief summary, we send individual or team tasks over to Asana if they’re general and have to do with the company itself, marketing, and so on. Any bugs raised are logged in Jira, and customer service queries are redirected back to our Freshdesk account. More on these another day!

Additional flows

Our other flow consists of “devs”, for all the chat that is irrelevant for non-coders such as myself, and the obligatory “water cooler” flow. At first, we flirted with the idea of creating another account in, say, Yammer, but the effort of logging in and maintaining a separate account didn’t appeal. So instead, a separate thread was created and we drop in there for social chat and photo sharing. The only rule? No tagging anyone in this chat, just as you wouldn’t call someone over from their desk to the water cooler in the office environment.

For more private chats, we also have 1-to-1’s set up. Not frequently used, but there for when you don’t want to distract the others, 1-to-1’s are only between you and the other person – a bit like a soundproof meeting room you might occasionally pop into.

Flowdock group flows image for remote workers

Snapshot of Carousel Apps’ Flows

RSS Feed in Flowdock

Down the right hand side of the page, we also have an RSS feed linked to social media and Jira, providing a realtime display of what’s going on. Flowdock also provides shortcuts to direct opens, replies, retweets, linking to threads, tags and more, meaning less hopping around from one app to another.

Flowdock Integrations

Ensuring your current -or future- apps integrate with Flowdock is crucial for a smooth workflow and top notch teamwork. Flowdock provides an impressive array of integrations, in fact they have a whole page on their website dedicated to them, listed in the following categories:

  • Project Management
  • Version Control
  • Customer Support
  • Wikis
  • Continuous Integration
  • Monitoring
  • Deployment
  • Single Sign in
  • Others like Google apps, CRM, sales overviews, etc

Still don’t see what you need listed there? There’s also the option to build your own integration using their API with a provided guide, or  the team welcomes you to get in touch with your specific request by emailing

Flowdock Tips and Tricks

These helpful shortcuts are no secret, but are a handy list for a Flowdock beginner getting to know the ropes:

  • Markdown: Flowdock uses markdown based on Commonmark, though it’s not fully supported. We tend to use the simple marks like **bold** and *italics*
  • Emojis: type a colon followed by what you want to enter like :high five: or just click on the grey face to the right to select from a large range of images. And if they’re not sufficient, you and your team can upload even more…
  • @everyone: a shortcut to ping everyone in the group flow, no matter what they’re doing on their computer. This also works with the synonyms like @all, @everybody, @anyone, and @anybody
  • @team: the more refined version of the above. Flowdock is encouraging people to ping @team rather than @everyone, so that only those people for whom the information is relevant will be distracted from what they’re doing. The goal here is necessary communication, not constant distraction. @team targets those people who have selected to be notified, rather than including flow spectators as well.
  • Video chat: start a video chat of up to 4 people with /room – for free, and without downloading additional software, or begin a hangout with. But in the meantime, you can start a Google Hangout with everyone in a flow with the /hangout command.
  • Tags: keep your conversation organised by using tags. You can click the tag button on any chat or within the RSS feed, or just use # to tag the message like #bug
  • Leave an in-flow notification: if you need to write a statement about yourself that doesn’t necessarily require a response, use /me   – this will highlight your comment in blue and your teammates will know what you’re up to
Writing a statement in Flowdock for remote workers

Writing a statement in Flowdock

Image of Display of /me statement within Flowdock flow for remote workers

Display of /me statement within Flowdock flow





The list goes on, but these are the beginner basics, prepping you to hit the ground running. If you’re after more detail, just head over to the Flowdock site which helpfully provides concise but in-depth information.

Displaying Flowdock realtime

With all of our core apps that require realtime information to be monitored, we love using our very own Screensaver Ninja which displays realtime webpages in a screensaver. For example, I’m a notebook and pen type of writer. Creativity only seems to come when I have a pen in hand, which means my computer sits idly next to me. But that doesn’t mean it’s valueless. By using the Ninja, I can be scribbling in my notebook whilst keeping up with team chat, hopping back online if some conversation catches my eye.

Flowdock is our office space

Flowdock is the equivalent of our office. The place we virtually enter in each day, greet our colleagues, and have a chat. It may not bring us face-to-face, but we don’t need it to. Our weekly Skype sessions serve that purpose and in the meantime, we “show our face” quite literally whilst concentrating each on their own tasks. Our team is a small one, which makes for pretty straightforward communication for the most part, but part of our job now to prepare to scale up. With Flowdock as a core tool, we’ve set the base of our structure with a tool that the whole team is comfortable and happy using, so that one day, instead of 5 in a flow, we could easily be 50. Or to dream even bigger, maybe 500…


Why my remote working Christmas sucked

Image of forest for remote working Christmas

I don’t mean to add to January doom and gloom but I’ve got to be honest with the remote working community right now: my remote working Christmas truly sucked. That is, the working and Christmas combination. Though maybe what I should be saying is the lack-of-working-Christmas part.

Let me back up. A few months back, my family planned a Christmas getaway to the south of France (in case that sounds a bit fancy, I live in Barcelona so it’s basically next door). We hadn’t celebrated together in something over 10 years which is pretty much the norm for me and my folks, who live in different continents and 3 flights away. Dates were agreed, Airbnb was consulted and bam, the holiday was booked. And of course I checked under that super important ‘amenities’ list that there was wifi ticked – and it was.

So the 23rd of December arrived, my husband and I packed up our Skoda-wagon, stuffing the roof rack full of snowboarding gear that we’d never use (it decided not to snow this year in the mountains), tying the dog down in the boot and strapping the kids into the back. My laptop joined us, safely positioned in the front seat between my feet and ready to get booted up the next day.
That is, till we arrived at our French chalet and the host casually informed us that “the wifi is down, the shops are closed, and we won’t be fixing it”.

What. The. Crap. How could she say that so matter-of-factly? And without any hope of getting it sorted?! THE BOX HAD BEEN TICKED!

And I wasn’t on my own panicking – my sister and dad also work remotely, running their own businesses, so we had a crisis powwow and came to the only decision that we could have made: internet cafe. Ok, except that this minuscule mountain town  didn’t have one. Next option, crash a regular cafe and drink 20 coffees to pay for the table and internet whilst escalating stress levels. This option worked for them, but turned out to be a logistical nightmare for my own little family branch, trying to juggle a toddler and newborn, the latter of whom needed to stay within 20 feet of her mama for feeding reasons.

And so, in the end, I missed quite a few days of work. It was a remote-working-Christmas-fail. It was remote, without the working part. It was having a forced holiday when I couldn’t actually enjoy the holiday without stressing about not checking in. There were tweets to be sent, a Kickstarter to be monitored, and clients to respond to. My computer sat idly, seemingly zapped of life with greyed out wifi bars – seriously, what do people do on computers without internet connection these days?

Next time I plan my trip away, I will have one word on my mind: preparation. Let’s take this trip as an example:

     1. Double check there is internet

Clearly, the most simple and obvious of tricks. In this case, I could have written to the host ahead of time and just double checked that house from the 1800s located in the Pyrenees would have functioning internet. I mean, maybe I should have considered that something would go wrong there…

     2. Ask for a list of back up work spaces

No wifi, no problem. Arrive with a back up plan of places to work along with knowing which one would offer the best solution. The cafe I worked in had fast internet, but also Michael Buble Christmas songs on repeat and crepes for 10 euros. The hotel I tried next claimed to have wifi, but even wandering around like a laptop-zombie trying to catch signal gave no hint that it worked.

     3. Prep as if you won’t be working

Assume the worst. Imagine that there won’t be wifi, there won’t be cafes, or you just decide not to log in. In the weeks before holidays, pump up your social media scheduling tool (we’ve just started using Edgar) full of activity, schedule blog pieces, and set your out-of-office (that feels weird to write in a remote work blog…) just in case.

     4. Just take a bloody holiday

Maybe this was my biggest mistake. It was Christmas, not to mention the first and last one with family in many years, we would be in a remote town, and it was meant to be a week in nature. Thinking back, I should have just booked the days off and undertaken step number 3. That way, I could have had the holiday I ended up taking, but without the shadow of knowing I should have been at my computer.

Remote work may portray an image of a guy draped across a hammock, checking emails with one hand and sipping a Daiquiri with the other. But let’s bear in mind, this doesn’t just happen willy nilly. There is no one here providing you with a desk, chair, guaranteed wifi and whatever else you need to get your work down, as happens in an office. We have the freedom to choose when to work and where to work, but along with this choice comes the responsibility of ensuring this can happen. In my case, let’s say the lesson was learned the hard way.

Screensaver Ninja for Mac OS X 1.2 released, now available in the Mac App Store

Read the original blog post at Screensaver Ninja’s blog.

We are very happy to announce the release of Screensaver Ninja 1.2, which includes:

  • Pre-loading of pages so switching is instantaneous.
  • Different content per monitor.
  • Improved performance, specially around cookie management.
  • Configurable user agent, for those old sites that still block browsers.
  • Disabling sites if you don’t want to show them for a while.
  • slideshow.html system for local picture slides.
  • Many bug fixes.

We are very excited about the first two items as it makes the experience with Screensaver Ninja so much richer and smoother.

Download Screensaver Ninja from the Map App Store

This is the first release to go through Apple’s Mac App Store (and it didn’t happen without its pains). This is not a decision we took lightly but after many usability testing, obtaining Screensaver Ninja through the Mac App Store is a much better user experience and this is critical for us. The price for Screensaver Ninja remains the same. If you already have a copy of Screensaver Ninja, don’t worry, we’ll give you coupon code so you can get it for free from the Mac App Store and from now on you’ll get automatic and free upgrades from there. Make sure to follow the instructions in our knowledge about redeeming coupon codes.


How to legally submit an app to Apple’s App Store when it uses encryption (or how to obtain an ERN)

Picture by Yuri Samoilov:

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. 

UPDATE: some people suggested that we could offer the service of getting you an ERN. If you need to get an ERN and want help with it, get in touch with us at

Last week we published a blog post describing how if your app does anything with encryption, even a single https request, then you need an Encryption Registration (ERN) from the US Bureau of Industry (BIS). Since then, the application we submitted to the Mac App Store, Screensaver Ninja, has been approved and published.

Answering the questions

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. I spoke to Apple representatives as well as various employees of a couple of US agencies. As painful as it is, if your app is capable of the simplest of encryptions, like Screensaver Ninja does due to being a web browser, and capable of doing https, then you need to answer your export compliance questions like this:

Mac App Store questions and answers about encryption

The conclusion from selecting the above answers:

To make your app available on the App Store, you must submit a copy of your U.S. Encryption Registration (ERN) approval from the U.S. Bureau of Industry (BIS).

In some places, you’ll see CCATS instead of ERN. I’m not 100% sure, but it seems CCATS was a previous more bureaucratic version of the ERN. Right now, what you need is an ERN and this is our journey to get it. We are publishing as much detail as possible so that you can replicate it for your own application. There are some other blog posts that explain how to do it, but we found that over the years, some of the steps changed and we had to find a new path. Since this is going to happen again, we are adding as much information as possible so that should your path be slightly different, you won’t have much trouble finding your way through it.

Starting at the beginning

After being utterly confused by both Apple’s as well as BIS’ FAQ and how to pages, I decided to go the homepage for the Bureau of Industry and Security and see where it took me:

Homepage for the Bureau of Industry and Security

At this point I new SNAP-R was relevant to my needs. I was almost under the impression of needing one, even though I didn’t know what it was. Going through that page I found this:

BIS Would you like to

Yes! I’d like to submit an application (SNAP-R) – fourth item in the list. That takes you to this page:, which defines what a SNAP-R is. It stands for Simplified Network Application Process – Redesign. I think a SNAP-R is sort of an account with the BIS. There’s no mention of ERN in that page, but it says:

You must have a Company Identification Number (CIN) and an active user account to access SNAP-R. The procedures and requirements for obtaining a CIN and user account are set forth below.

You need to obtain a CIN before you can proceed. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you’ll see:

BIS Obtaining a CIN for a SNAP-R for an ERN

And that link, ladies and gentlemen, is the most promising I’ve seen so far. It takes you to which looks like this:

BIS SNAP-R Company Registration for an ERN

The SNAP-R Company Registration process

After completing and submitting that form you’ll get an email to confirm your email address. I recommend limiting yourself to ASCII characters here, as the é and á in my name got mangled. That email took only a few minutes to arrive but the confirmation page claims the next step might take up to five days:

BIS SNAP-R Email confirmation

Some people claim to have been finished in 30 minutes or even less. I suppose it depends where you or your company is located. In my case, the five days elapsed so I sent them an email and two days later I got a reply telling me to call their support number: +1-202-482-2227 (later on I learned that another phone number that might help is +1-202-482-0707). When I talked to a representative, he said that I should have received the activation email already and just re-triggered it. Maybe calling them after a couple of days would have been a good approach to speed things up. Shortly after my call I got this email:

BIS SNAP-R Account Invitation email - for ERN

That link takes you to a page to set up your log in and password:

BIS SNAP-R Login ID and Password Setup

After entering those details, voila! you have an account:

BIS SNAP-R Login ID and Password Setup - account created

You may now log in:

BIS SNAP-R login in - for ERN

After logging in, you are now in your SNAP-R Home page:

Creating a new work item within your SNAP-R account

The next step is to create a new work item, which you can do from the sidebar. That takes you to a page that looks like this:

BIS SNAP-R Create Work Item

The type of work item that you want, to be able to distribute apps with encryption, is an Encryption Registration:

BIS SNAP-R Create Work Item Type Encryption Registration

Now, about the Reference Number, the question mark next to it sends you to where it says:

Enter a valid reference number for the Work Item. Reference numbers must be in the format “AAA1111”.

which didn’t really answer what a reference number is. I decided to call them again and when I asked the question they put me on hold for 25 minutes. I hung up, called them again and I was speaking with someone else in less than 3 minutes and she answered. The reference number is just something you make up, for yourself. It’s not something you obtain and it seems as long as you follow their convention, it’s fine:

BIS SNAP-R - Create Work Item - Encryption Registration and reference number

After creating the work item, you are invited to edit it. It starts partially populated and it’s straight forward:

BIS SNAP-R Edit Work Item Encryption Registration

Well, it’s straightforward until the last part: Documents. You need to attach the Encryption Registration Supplement No. 5 to Part 742.

Creating the Encryption Registration Supplement

Creating the supplement, thankfully, is easier than it looks; that is, when you know what you have to do. There’s a document number 742 that you can download from and  on page 60 it has the Supplement No. 5: Encryption Registration. These are the contents of that page:


Certain classification requests and self-classification reports for encryption items must be supported by an encryption registration, i.e., the information as described in this Supplement, submitted as a support documentation attachment to an application in accordance with the procedures described in §§ 740.17(b), 740.17(d), 742.15(b), 748.1, 748.3 and Supplement No. 2 to part 748 of the EAR.

(1) Point of Contact Information

(a) Contact Person

(b) Telephone Number

(c) Fax Number

(d) E-mail address

(e) Mailing Address

(2) Company Overview (approximately 100 words).

(3) Identify which of the following categories apply to your companys technology/families of products:

(a) Wireless

(i) 3G cellular

(ii) 4G cellular/WiMax/LTE

(iii) Short-range wireless / WLAN

(iv) Satellite

(v) Radios

(vi) Mobile communications, n.e.s.

(b) Mobile applications

(c) Computing platforms

(d) Multimedia over IP

(e) Trusted computing

(f) Network infrastructure

(g) Link layer encryption

(h) Smartcards or other identity management

(i) Computer or network forensics

(j) Software

(i) Operating systems

(ii) Applications

(k) Toolkits / ASICs / components

(l) Information security including secure storage

(m) Gaming

(n) Cryptanalytic tools

(o) “Open cryptographic interface” (or other support for user-supplied or non-standard cryptography)

(p) Other (identify any not listed above)

(q) Not Applicable (Not a producer of encryption or information technology items)

(4) Describe whether the products incorporate or use proprietary, unpublished or non-standard cryptographic functionality, including encryption algorithms or protocols that have not been adopted or approved by a duly recognized international standards body. (If unsure, please explain)

(5) Will your company be exporting “encryption source code”?

(6) Do the products incorporate encryption components produced or furnished by non-U.S. sources or vendors? (If unsure, please explain)

(7) With respect to your companys encryption products, are any of them manufactured outside the United States? If yes, provide manufacturing locations. (Insert “not applicable”, if you are not the principal producer of encryption products)

All you have to do is create a PDF file answering these questions for your application and upload it. I couldn’t find this information anywhere so I called them once again and that’s how I learned that all matters related to encryption were handled by the department… never mind the name, the phone number is +1-202-482-0707. Next time I’m calling them directly – there was no wait, no menu, just a person picking up the phone.

I created a document for my case saying:

Screensaver Ninja Encryption Registration Supplement No. 5 to Part 742

(1) Point of Contact Information

(a) José Pablo Fernández Silva




(e) 20-22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU, United Kingdom

(2) Carousel Apps is a small London based company producing software apps such as Screensaver Ninja. Our main use of encryption (and so far all of it) is the standard SSL (https), OpenSSH, etc. You can learn more about us at

(3) We produce

(j) Software

(ii) Applications

(4) Our products use standard off the shelf encryption libraries and tools, such as https (SSL). We don’t develop or intend to develop any proprietary encryption mechanisms

(5) We don’t plan on exporting “encryption source code”.

(6) Screensaver Ninja uses Apple’s Safari component that allows https encrypted communication. This is provided by Apple. I understand that Apple uses OpenSSL which is an open source project and thus may have contributions from all around the world.

(7) We produce software, so, no manufacturing process are involved. All our software is produced outside the United States. The reason for this application is to distributed an app through Apple’s App store.

I cannot vouch for this content, I’m not sure this is the appropriate file to submit, this is only what I did. The next step is to click on “View and Manage Supporting Documents” which will take you to a page that looks like this:

BIS SNAP-R Document Management Encryption Registration Supplement No. 5 to Part 742

There, click “Upload Supporting Document” and you’ll be greeted by this form:

BIS SNAP-R Upload document for Encryption Registration Supplement No. 5 to Part 742

I just came up with a title and keywords, entered the current date and my name as author. I think the only really important field is the document type:

BIS SNAP-R Upload document for Encryption Registration Supplement No. 5 to Part 742 f

Submitting the ERN

With that document in place and attached, we seem to have passed some sort of automatic verification procedure.

BIS SNAP-R Encryption Registration All party addresses have passed verification

I clicked on “Preview Work Item to Submit” and I was given a last chance to look at the application and verify its correctness:

BIS SNAP-R ERN Application with document

The submission process, triggered by the “Submit” button of course, asks you for your name, in a special format, one more time:

BIS SNAP-R Encryption Registration Submit Work Item

And we you click “Submit Work Item” you are done:

BIS SNAP-R Encryption Registration Submitted - Thank you

Uploading Encryption Registration to Apple

I almost immediately got a message in the SNAP-R website:

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.36.00

And the message was the acceptance of the application including the ERN code (blacked out):

BIS SNAP-R Encryption Registration Accepted

That is the document you need to upload to Apple. Take a screenshot of that page and save it for your records. Back at Apple’s iTunes connect, when you answer the questions stating that you use encryption, you get an upload box for the document:

iTunes Connect Encryption upload ERN

If the upload button doesn’t appear, this is what an Apple representative suggested: “If you do not see the prompt, there could be a glitch in the website. One possible workaround is to change the answer to question 4 to “Yes”. By doing this the upload field should appear.”

Once you upload it, the “Submit” button will become enabled and you are ready to rock. Click it and your app will be on its way to fame and fortune. Well… that is… after they review your export compliance. For now, your app will be “Waiting for Export Compliance”:

iTunes Connect - Waiting for Export Compliance

From Apple’s version statuses, that means: “Your app is reviewed and ready for sale, but your CCATS file is in review with Export Compliance.” CCATS seems to be an older or bigger version of the ERN and in some places we can still find CCATS instead of ERN. Don’t worry, an ERN is all you need if your situation is similar to mine. When the status reaches to “Waiting for Review”:

mac app waiting for review

Congratulations! Your ERN was accepted.  You are done with this bit of bureaucracy.

If this blog post was useful or you find differences in the process, please, let us know in the comment section.

Picture by Yuri Samoilov


Remote working in Barcelona

remote working in barcelona photo of the city

Listening to one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts the other day, he and his fellow Californians were excitedly chatting about Barcelona and their dreams of one day living in Spain’s second biggest city. Beyond the shared palm trees, sunny days and lively tech scene, Barcelona has a little something extra. A little something that makes it one of the coolest places to be a remote worker.

Here at Carousel Apps, we’re a completely remote team and this means we have the freedom to work wherever we want. Country hopping  jet-setters, city dwellers or village homebodies; the world, as they say, is our oyster. I personally made the move to Barcelona almost two years ago, leaving behind the hustle of the big smoke for a sunnier residence.  It’s a step that my family and I appreciate every single day. I mean, I literally open my eyes to a big blue sky and think “this place is bloody amazing” …maybe I’m just really easy to please. But more than blue skies and a toasty hot sun, Barcelona also has the following which I think make it an awesome place to be a remote worker:

Bursting with Culture

Every Christmas, the Catalans gather around a wooden log wearing a barettina and beat it till it ‘poops’ out nibbles and presents. This is done whilst singing songs about said log which is lovingly called the ‘Caga Tio’. English translation: the shitting uncle. They also have a ‘caganero’ in the nativity scene and create rather unappealing poop-shaped desserts around this time. But hey, let’s move on. There’s so much more than poop culture around here.

Image of Catalan Caga Tio at Christmas
There are also human towers, firework-throwing dragon parties, parades of giants and ridiculously delicious cuisine; it’s like the locals went for a stroll through the woods, gathering the freshest and most flavourful beings from snails and mushrooms to boar and giant onions, to throw onto a bbq. Yum!

Fact is, there is never a dull day with the year packed full of traditions and events, not to mention you’ll get a head start joining in with the locals. Just brush up on your Catalan first – and never ever call it a dialect.

Incredible Nature

If you’re into fresh air, gorgeous mountains, hiking, skiing, the beach – surely that list must include all of you by now? -then Barcelona is the place to be.

With the world’s biggest metropolitan park sitting side-by-side with the city, facing a stretch of sandy shores on the other side, Barcelona offers a million ways to get outside. And if you’re an adventurous type, rent a car to drive north and get to know the Pyrenees, wild-flower fields, and quietness of the rest of Catalunya.

If your remote work is also flexible with its hours, it’s easy to take advantage of everything the area has to offer. Set up your laptop in a local ski chalet and alternate between sending emails and tearing down the slopes, or pop out of your co-working space for a lunchtime swim at the beach. Or hey, here’s an idea: do both in one day.

Co-Working Spaces

Speak to expats here, and you’ll quickly realise that most run their own businesses or are freelancers. And that, of course along with local freelancers or small businesses, has led to the emergence of a variety of co-working spaces. The below are among these and not only are they ideal places to network and make friends, but to top it off they are modern, bright spaces where you can gather a group for a spot of post-work, beach volleyball.

Co-Working Cloud: a naturally sunny space in central Barcelona with parking for cars and bicycles, kitchen space, screens for rent, and free coffee, tea, and fruit. Located centrally, not far from the iconic Sagrada Familia.

Betahaus: much more than just a remote working site, Betahaus welcomes you to work in their space, enjoy workshops, or host an event. It’s all about a family environment, hence the need for an interview to become a member. Alternatively, head over to spend the day in the working space zone for 20 Euros.

Raval Co: if you want to be working in the midst of the Barcelona buzz, Raval Co just might be the place for you. As stated in its name, they’re located in El Raval, an old part of town which is seeing funky boutiques pop up by the minute adding to its layers of character.

Valkiria Hub Space: aiming to create a community of  innovative entrepreneurs, Vakliria does this by offering a co-working space, mentoring and event organisation. Go in and grab a desk, have a chat at the in-house cafe, then stroll over to the beach just a few minutes’ walk away.

There are many more places available; check out the full list from Metropolitan magazine.

Earn in a Foreign Currency

Every time the Euro drops, I do a little dance. Though I’m fiscally resident here, earning in a foreign currency translates into slightly higher wages by the time I’ve transferred my funds over. And since the cost of living is relative to local wages (where the minimum is a tight 756 Euros/month), life suddenly becomes more affordable. Paying almost half of what I did in London, I can now live in an apartment twice the size with a beautiful beach a 10 minute walk away. Fresh produce sourced locally now graces our dinner plates, rather than being the luxury item that it used to be.

All in all, you’ll still be spending here, but not to the extent of other major cities combined with the fact that earning foreign currency may lessen the burden even more.

Family Friendly

Remote workers are often portrayed as 20-something adventurers who set up office on a different beach every week. And that may be somewhat true. But for those of us who are perhaps 30-something, no-longer-country-hopping, family-rearing adventurers, Barcelona provides a brilliant place to raise a family and still be young at heart. Apart from getting stuck into everything already mentioned, there is a thriving scene of friendly folk with a few kids in tow. Discussing business at the local playground, or having a networking bbq whilst bouncing your kid on one knee is pretty commonplace. Not to mention that the locals themselves are centred around family. Take your kids out to restaurants till midnight and no one will bat an eye. Spend your spare time in one of the plentiful parks, or just enjoy all the cooing grannies. Sure beats trying to ram a pushchair onto the London tube during rush hour.

So to sum it up with a few photos, here are some snaps that have summed up my time remote working in Barcelona:

Of course, there are struggles here as well. Spanish paperwork has left me lost for words at times, not to mention the extremely high costs of being self-employed which is multiplied if you’re a part-timer. But beyond these couple of factors, I’d say Barcelona is a remote-working oasis, ideal for the grownup who doesn’t quite want to grow up. So what do you think, could remote working in Barcelona be next on your list?

Feature Photo by Bastien Deceuninck

Photo by Joan Cuevas


Free-form version 0.2.0 released

We are very happy to announce version 0.2.0 of our form building library Free-form. This version includes:

The Bootstrap 3 support means that you can have whole fields defined as succinctly as:



Prerenderer 0.2.0 released

We are proud to announce the release of version 0.2.0 of our ClojureScript library Prerenderer, a library to do server side pre-rendering of single page applications. In this release, we include:

The two first items in the changelog came hand in hand and they are the biggest changes to keep in mind if you are upgrading. We are very happy that we no longer need a fork of re-frame and we would like to extend our gratitude to Mike Thompson for working with us on having the appropriate API to make this happen.

The change in API means that your Prerenderer module now would look something like this:

instead of: