Moving the HomePod

I moved the HomePod about 10 feet farther away to the left. Siri has a harder time hearing me with metal playing at 70% but jazz is OK. I have to yell a little louder to get Siri to hear me over the metal.

Apple 2018

I wasn’t always an Apple fan. My Atari 800 was bought by my parents because the Apple II was too expensive. It felt like a computer for the elites. I got over that when my grandfather bought a Mac 128k for me in early 1984 and it was everything Byte magazine said it was, and more.

Since then, it’s been a fun ride. The original Mac was easy to figure out. The screens were all 72 dots per inch, which meant that even without a screen, I could shut down a Mac via the Special menu with a mouse. The Mac grew and languished at the same time, and then things changed.

When Apple bought NeXT, things changed for the better. Gone were most system crashes due to shared memory, or system lockups due to cooperative multitasking. The UI was rough, but overall stability and growth potential more than made up for it.

Apple did start another trend with OS X, one towards discounting consistency and user friendliness. It was subtle. For example, the application name moved to the right of the Apple logo. This small change meant that familiar menus like File and Edit were no longer accessible via mouse muscle memory. Their location shifts with the width of the application name.

Apple shipped iTunes and the UX experience continued its downfall. Release after release added, and changed, functionality. Dialog boxes became less and less useful. One example was “Some items could not be synced.” This is not very useful to the customer, especially a non-technical customer.

The trend continued over the years. When Time Machine corrupts a remote backup, Apple tells the customer that the backup needs to start over to improve reliability. This is technically true, but it doesn’t help the customer by telling them that a) their entire backup was corrupted and lost and b) What to do to prevent this from happening again.

The trend continued into iOS, where a dialog that “some applications could not be restored” appeared. Hardware like the Mac Pro languished for years. Apple stopped shipping new wireless routers, which I’d claim helped them seal the Apple ecosystem, but continued to sell the older hardware. Apple stopped selling monitors.

Then it all came to a head starting in late 2016. Apple shipped the new MacBook Pro. Between the expense, the keyboard, the touch bar, and the lack of upgradability, Mac fans like me had had enough. Yes, I bought a 2017 MacBook Pro, but it wasn’t a normal purchase. I bought it to replace a damaged machine. I wasn’t excited. I wasn’t blogging about how great it is. I kind of loathed it.

I write this story on that MacBook Pro, and it’s fine, but not $3600 fine. I don’t need the Touch Bar, but to get the best graphics, Apple forced me into it. So many people were upset and venting that Apple brought a number of media personalities in for a talk about the upcoming iMac Pro and a new Mac Pro.

In the meantime, they announced, and still have not shipped, the HomePod, which many are seeing as an overpriced Echo competitor. Apple wants you to think of it as an awesome speaker with Siri built in, but that’s not the message customers are getting.

The problem is, along with these other decisions Apple has made to become less user friendly, they haven’t even made Siri awesome. Siri works, and is very cool technology, but it fails just as often. Fifty percent isn’t that great. Just the other day Siri completely garbled a message to my wifi. Trying to add items to lists in apps other than Apple’s is very spotty. Things sometimes work, sometimes fail miserably.

Apple also had a very bad run software wise. I trust Apple with all of my data, a lot of important data, and they let me down with password bugs, root access bugs, HomeKit access bugs, and other general software concerns.

However, the issue that came back to light and inspired this story is how Apple transitioned to iOS 11 and dropping 32 bit apps. During the course of iOS 10 usage, Apple had some vague dialogs about apps that may no longer work when iOS 11 ships and also told people when they tried to use those apps.

However, what Apple totally failed at was telling customers, at the time of upgrade, exactly which apps would no longer work. I spoke with relatives, who are not technical at all, who were upset that they no longer had access to some apps, and more importantly, some data. Apple has revoked access to people’s data, and to me, this is peak Apple 2017.

I am sure Apple’s analytics show that not many people were using 32 bit apps, and I agree with the need to move past them, but I think Apple should have spent more time to educate people and to treat their data better.

A customer may have an app that will never be updated. The developer may have died. Who knows the reason, but now the customer is stuck. Unlike a computer, a customer can’t get to their iOS data and try to convert it with another app. The data is invisibly locked away, for good security-related reasons, but the customer doesn’t care.

All they know is that Apple took their data away.

The last stroke of 2017 was the battery issue with iPhones. As a final example of Apple trying to present customers with zero information, Apple was burned by public perception of what Apple was doing to prolong the life of their iPhones. I won’t debate the issue with the batteries themselves, but because Apple decided that customers don’t need to know which files could not be synced, that they don’t need to know which Apps could not be restored, that they don’t need options when it comes to building expensive hardware, that customers want a black box that just works, Apple hurt their reputation and wrote some future Samsung television ads for them.

I thought about making a list of things I want to see Apple do in 2018, but I am sure their plans are already written in stone. I just hope that Apple has woken up. There is a middle ground between too much information and zero information, too many choices and zero choices.

I want Apple to make me feel great about Apple again.

Workflow reminds me of AppleScript

Workflow is an automation tool for iOS. The app is great, so great in fact that Apple bought the company.

However, when trying to do something simple like prepend asterisks to a list of text on the clipboard, I immediately ran into confusion and had to find another workflow someone else wrote to get over the hump.

AppleScript was this way – Promise of grandeur, then a lot of skinned knees.

In the end, I got the task working, but it was not at all obvious, especially since my text, a table from Numbers, isn’t exactly text.

The solution?

  • Get Clipboard
  • Repeat over every item on the clipboard
    • Split the text on new lines
    • Replace ^ with “* ” using a regular expression

  • Combine the text with a new line
  • Send to Clipboard
The real problem here is that iOS doesn’t let you introspect the type of data that is on the Clipboard, nor does workflow let you introspect what is in a variable. You kinda have to just look at the output and guess. Why did some operations result in 183 pages of text? I still don’t know.

Editing text on the iPad is horrendous

I don’t know how Federico does it. Editing a post in WordPress in Safari felt like a Fischer Price experience. Select out of the text area and selection breaks. Cannot shift-select a large selection. Cannot drag a selection and have the text box scroll.

I know it’s a website, but still, these are all easy things to do on a computer.

Hell, often I would command-tab back to Safari and the Smart Keyboard shortcut popover would stick on the screen.

Apple can fix this.

Cannot start words at the beginning of sentences with lower cased letters with the Smart Keyboard

Another annoying bug that I am sure Federico has many Radars on.

When using a Smart Keyboard on my iPad, I cannot start words at the beginning of sentences with a lower cased letter. IOS (see!) just won’t let me do it.

The only lame workaround is to press and hold on the down caret in the bottom-right corner of the screen until the software keyboard comes up, then toggle the shift key off.

Tapping the shift key on the Smart Keyboard does nothing.

Grr.

iOS 11.2.1 (grr)

Text selection extension is broken in iOS News for iPad

If I tap on a story in News on the iPad, it opens in it’s own view controller. I can select text, but if I try to extend the selection by grabbing either the beginning or ending selection marker, the screen just scrolls in the direction I drag.

These kinds of bugs, where Apple owns the OS and the App, are just infuriating.

IOS 11.2.1

The Force Awakens

I re-watched The Force Awakens last night ahead of Friday’s Last Jedi screening. I am not a super huge Star Wars fan, other than I really enjoyed episodes IV-VI.

The Force Awakens holds up. It’s entertaining, the pace is good, and the story is decent. Sure, it’s A New Hope over again, but who cares. The second time through I was not thinking about that, but rather just enjoying the characters and the movie.

From what I am reading, Last Jedi is apparently very good.

If it’s Empire Strikes Back good, will they hand episode IX back to Abrams, or leave it in Johnson’s hands?

Overcast and CarPlay progress bar bug

Overcast and CarPlay in iOS 11 have not been very friendly. Every beta of iOS and release have broken Overcast in one way or another.

The latest bug is:

  1. Tap a podcast in Overcast’s CarPlay UI
  2. It goes to now playing, but doesn’t start playing (it used to)
  3. Tap play
  4. The progress starts, but there is no audio
  5. Tap pause
  6. Tap play
  7. Now the audio starts.
  8. Rewind to beginning to hear what I missed

Siri didn’t like my message

My friend Joel sent me a message and I used Siri via CarPlay to respond.

After I finished speaking, Siri just beeped her completion sound and went away.

She didn’t send my message, didn’t express concerns with its content, didn’t report and error.

Rude, Siri.

Getting HomeKit to work again

Ok, Apple, in order to fix this HomeKit nonsense we had to:

  1. Update iPhone
  2. Guess that Apple TV also needed updating because you didn’t tell us
  3. Disable Apple TV public betas to see 11.2.1
  4. try cellular, no go
  5. Enable WiFi and use the Home app
  6. Now cellular works
  7. Ugh

Apple Pay Naughty or Nice List

Updated: 2017-12-10 21:30:38

Nice

  • Ace Hardware
  • All about Air heating and cooling
  • Chevron (at the register)
  • Jimmy Johns
  • Local post office
  • McDonalds
  • Panera
  • Parkrose Hardware
  • Safeway
  • Starbucks
  • Subway
  • Walgreens
  • Where the shoe fits
  • Whole Foods

Naughty

  • Applebee’s
  • Bath and body works
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Burgerville
  • Chipotle
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • KFC
  • MOD Pizza
  • Potbelly
  • Target
  • Walmart

When iOS photos uses too much storage

I have been using Photos on macOS and iOS since they were introduced. I also jumped into iCloud Photo Library at it’s introduction. It’s not that unheard of that, as an early adopter, I run into issues from time to time. This latest issue was very tricky to figure out.

It all started when I made a iTunes backup of my iPhone 7. I do not have a lot of data on my phone, with the bulk being photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library. After the backup, my Mac was running low on available disk space and I discovered by looking at the backup in the Finder that it was over 50gb. This seemed too large so I started investigating.

First I looked in Settings on the iPhone in General -> Storage & iCloud Usage. iOS reported that I only had 70gb of 200gb free in my iCloud storage, which did not make since because I mostly had videos and backups in iCloud.

Tapping Manage Storage for iCloud revealed that my iCloud Photo Library was using 75gb, which made since, but my iPhone was using 50gb! This didn’t make sense, but it did match with the size of my iTunes backup.

Now the problem is, tapping my iPhone on this screen did not explain where the storage was being used. It claimed to be telling me this information, but the numbers simply did not match up. My largest usage of storage was iMovie at 7gb. It did not list Photos nor Messages.

I backed out to Storage & iCloud Usage, but this time I tapped Manage Storage under “Storage” instead of “iCloud” A ha! My photos and Camera was using 35gb, when it should have been using much less. Messages was using 7gb.

I verified that iCloud Photo Library had all of my photos by looking on iCloud.com. Next came something unexpected.

I turned off iCloud Photo Library and iOS told me it would remove Photos and Videos. I told it to go ahead and do this (I had several clones of my entire Mac with all of my photos) and when it was done, over 5000 photos and videos remained on the iPhone.

Several hours later, I realized I needed to remove these by hand. Import in Photos was doing nothing, so I used the Image Capture application on the Mac to download all photos and videos from the phone, just to be safe, and then used it to delete all 5000 photos and videos.

I was back to only using a few GB for photos. Next, I turned on iCloud Photo Library and iOS brought down all 13,800 photos.

Since then, my Photos has blossomed back to using 11gb, but the backup size is still only 14gb instead of 50gb.

These issues may not affect a normal user, but it never hurts to validate storage usage and expectations from time to time. iOS doesn’t make this very easy to understand where all of the data is being used, nor how to manage it, but it is far better than the hidden Library on macOS..

My first micro.blog post had a title, and that is what showed up in my feed. Let’s try a post without a title and see what happens.

Hello, micro.blog!

I kickstarted micro.blog because Manton is awesome and I have wanted to start moving my content off Facebook and Slack and back to my own home. Let’s enjoy the ride!