Back Up PS4 tip

I bought a Seagate 2TB slim drive to backup the 1TB drive I have had in my PS4 since the beginning.

Originally, the PS4 could not see the USB 3 drive because it came formatted as NTFS from the factory.

I connected the drive to my Mac and formatted as exFAT (since many files are likely larger than 4GB) but the PS4 claimed the drive did not have enough free space (in fact it claimed it had 0k free) even though copying individual games to the drive worked.

I resolved this issue by formatting with a partition format of Master Boot Record. The default for Disk Utility on the Mac is GUID partition format, which appears to not be compatible with the PS4.

Apple Watch and NordicTrack with iFit

The Treadmill

We recently upgraded our treadmill to a NordicTrack Commercial 1750.

I bought a year of iFit not knowing what to expect. iFit is a subscription service ($99/year) that tracks your workouts, provides workouts and includes video and Google StreetMaps workouts. The iPad app looks terrible (it’s still designed for iOS 6) and has low ratings, but the NordicTrack includes a nice 7″ screen for web browsing, FaceBook, watching Fox News (ok, no thanks, but it is a feature) or letting you see what it is like to workout around the world.

iFit comes with a number of workouts, such as around lakes or popular cites. I have not used them much yet, but StreetView is what you would expect. It updates the image as you walk around the map. You can even make your own maps, and if StreetView data is available, you can use that. I can’t wait to be that guy who virtually walks around his own neighborhood instead of going outside to get fresh air. Ok I’ll do it just once.

The reasons we settled on this treadmill are:

  • Quiet – It’s not silent, but this treadmill is much quieter than our very old Proform
  • Heart rate strap – Having gone through some scares, I wanted this to go along with my Apple Watch (more on this later)
  • Cost – At $1500, this treadmill was not the most expensive, but had the features we wanted at a fair price

Getting My Max Heart Rate

I recently had a stress test and the Apple Watch was very accurate compared to the EKG. It was sometimes 12 bpm behind, but caught up quickly. I was pleasantly surprised to also see how close to the iFit chest strap the Apple Watch was. Anecdotally, the Apple Watch was +-4 bpm to the iFit, and usually +-2.

I am tracking all of my workouts with the Apple Watch, as I like the fact that the phone will keep a record of all of my health data (Be sure to restore from an encrypted iTunes backup to restore your health data!) However, the iFit has one advantage over the Apple Watch at the moment. I can specify a heart rate workout, set the max heart rate, and choose if I want to optimize for performance or endurance. iFit will work with the NordicTrack to keep my heart rate at an optimal level.

Before you can do this, iFit wants to know your max heart rate. I think this is really my max comfortable heart rate, as the calibration let me choose the speed. iFit ran me through a 10 minute program with a several minute warmup. iFit increased the incline to 2% and then to 10%. 10% was very comfortable and did a good job increasing my heart rate. I settled on 3mph, which was very comfortable in my Brooks walking shoes.

Now that I have my max heart rate, I can apply it to various workouts. I am looking forward to collecting this data to see how my fitness improves.

Apple Watch Advantages

This may seem like a silly excuse to own an Apple Watch, but Apple Watch is fitness through convenience. I have to charge it every night, but I bought a nice stand and the time from wrist to stand is about 5 seconds. The iFit strap is good, but to use it I must:

  • Resize the strap if Elizabeth has used it last
  • Wet the pickup strips with either contact solution or saliva (yecc)
  • Strap it on
  • Clean it after each use

I already strap on and clean my watch after each use, so this is double the effort. This is minimal effort, but when trying to form habits (especially before work) every little thing counts.

I think as the Apple Watch improves in sensors, size, battery life, and most importantly, performance, we may see more manufacturers like iFit working with Apple to support the watch as an input device.

However, if the quality and age of the iFit iPad app is any indication, I may have a bit of a wait ahead of me.

How to check a file’s spotlight tags (especially on a server)

Many thanks to this post for this info.

I recently tagged some files on my Synology NAS mounted with AFP (Finder Go menu, Connect to Server, afp://SERVER.local/VOLUME) but they were not showing up in the Finder.

I still do not know why the Finder is now showing them (the Finder is so problematic) but I did discover how to determine if the tag had been added to the file.

OS X stores the tags in the file’s metadata and I was not sure if Synology’s ext4 would store them or not. You can use the terminal to print out the file’s tags. This is a bit cumbersome as the file as to go in the middle of the command.

The command is:

In this example, replace YOURFILE with the name of your file. Make sure to use “\ ” for every space (or Terminal will think you are starting a new command). For example, if your server’s volume name is “My Server” and the file you want to check is in a folder named “My Files” and the file is named “filetocheck.txt” then the command would look like this:

You will see output similar to this:

Avoiding segmentation fault 11 in Xcode 7 with StringLiteralConvertible

I read a great article on StringLiteralConvertible over at NetGuru but when I tried to implement the RegularExpression, Xcode 7 (and 7.1b3) Playgrounds continually crashed.

It took a lot of experimenting (and some hints from NSHipster) but I finally got it to work.

My original (crashing) example looked like:

but this would just crash the Playground over and over. I moved the code into an iOS app and saw a different crash and an error complaining about Self.StringLiteralType, asking if I meant RegularExpression.StringLiteralType instead.

After some digging around, I discovered that I needed to implement ExtendedGraphemeClusterLiteralConvertible and UnicodeScalarLiteralConvertible as well. On top of this, part of those protocols is declaring ExtendedGraphemeClusterLiteralType and UnicodeScalarLiteralType.

While StringLiteralType is also required to be declared, it seems that because we are directly implementing StringLiteralConvertible, we don’t need to declare it. This is what appears to be the bug, that Swift is not picking up default types for ExtendedGraphemeClusterLiteralType and UnicodeScalarLiteralType.

With this info, I was able to get the code to compile and work (for String, I did not try graphemes nor unicode) as such:

Not I am not using Self. to reference the types, unlike the way Xcode autocompletes them.

Is this correct?


Going further in the example, I added StringInterpolationConvertible:

This is a great find in the article, because StringInterpolationConvertible isn’t obvious.

Apple Watch

As recently as February I was telling people that I would not be buying an Apple Watch. As sure as Bill Hader’s Lindsey Buckingham cannot resist Keenan Thompson’s Diondre Cole, I own an Apple Watch. Fan points earned.

The feature that swayed me was the taptic touch, where the watch touches your wrist through some electromagnetic magic. The iPhone 6 Plus is so large that I often miss the vibration of a notification while the phone is in my pocket, and surely do not hear the sound. I had missed several messages from my wife while driving home, so I figured the watch may resolve this issue. Apple created the problem and I am solving it by buying more of their products.

The first weekend has been fantastic. Battery life is fine. One day. Unless you are working out two hours a day, I do not think that you will have to charge it more than at night. This opinion is applicable to the 42mm Apple Watch Sport. The 38mm watch has a smaller battery so your usage duration will vary.

The weight is nice. The sport band feels nicer that I expected. I worked out to see if I would get a rash from sweat under the band and I did not. The band has one small piece of metal, a pin, that extends slightly out of the band. This makes for a nice experience when using the band on a metal laptop.


The Apple Watch is delightful. It taps me as I am following navigation directions to let me know if I need to turn left or right. This is a nice alternative to Siri talking to you, and is very nice if someone in the car talks over Siri’s directions. The watch taps me when I get a message or a tweet. When I raise the watch to look at it, Mickey Mouse is tapping his foot every second. Luckily this does not tap the wrist.

The watch records how often I stand and entices me to stand if I have been sitting for too long. The watch records my calories burned and my heart rate every ten minutes. The watch tracks my exercises. I apparently do not exercise strenuously enough as my thirty-two minute workout only accounted for six minutes of exercise. The watch could do a better job of letting me know I was failing to meet its expectations, but I will see if I can come to common ground with it today.

The watch lets me quickly see what Dark Sky is predicting for the weather. The watch lets me access codes to enter buildings. The watch lets me turn on and off my Hue lights.

All from my wrist.

The apps are too slow. This is a very version one product, akin to the first iPad. The watch is delightful none the less.

The watch lets me raise my wrist to pause a movie on Apple TV. Be careful, if you leave the Remote app running and decide to cross your arms, you might find an inadvertent touch from the underside of your other arm rewinding the movie in hyper speed. You can resolve this by pressing the digital crown to return to the clock after using the remote app. Double press the digital crown to return to the previous app.

The digital crown is stiffer than I expected and I believe is fooling me into thinking it is harder to turn at times. I think the visual clues as well as taptic feedback allow Apple into fooling me that I came to the end of a physical list, while the crown is actually still turning normally. Crazy. Delightful. Magic.

I used Apple Pay to pay for lunch at Panera Bread. Two taps on the Contacts button (that’s the button below the digital crown) and I had activated Apple Pay. When the cashier gave me the total, I moved the watch to the reader and the watch emitted a simple “Ping!” sound of delight and the payment was made. The cashier said he had not seen this done before, and wants to get a watch for himself.

I wandered around the grocery store buying items we needed, checking them off one by one in the Wunderlist app. Just a tap on the watch. Next item. I didn’t have to keep pulling my phone out of my pocket or putting it back in to heft heavier items into the cart.

When did my phone become a nuisance?

The space gray aluminum materials are nice. Feel nice. Not sure how long it will hold up, but it looks nice for now.

My heart rate. It’s 65 right now. It was 88 a minute ago. I am doing better than I thought I would be. All of this data goes into my Health app. I am going to share it with my doctor. This all feels early and simple while feeling futuristic and eye opening. Will my niece wear a watch that detects a health issue months or years before it would present itself?

The future is here. This is 1984, 2001, and 2007 all over again. 2022 is going to be incredible, but for now, my Apple Watch has reminded me that I have some chores to finish.

Having issues updating Google Chrome on OS X?

Is your Google Chrome on OS X not updating? When you select “About Chrome” from the Chrome menu, do you see an error 12?

If you do, try this fix:

  • Quit Chrome
  • Open your boot drive in the Finder (typically “Macintosh HD”)
  • Open the Library folder
  • Delete the Google folder (You may be asked to enter your admin password)
  • Launch Chrome
  • Open “About Chrome” from the Chrome menu to ensure an update is happening

You may see another error 12. If so, click the “Allow automatic updates for all users” button. Enter your admin password when OS X asks you to, and Chrome may then update properly.

This appears to be some issue with Google’s updater and code signing. If the updater has not been authorized to update all users, OS X shuts the updater down.

An example of how Apple and Microsoft are different

Update: Joel Bernstein (@castirony) points out that this paragraph works perfectly with “Apple Watch” instead of HoloLens. Damn you, Joel! But he is right. However, I think Apple Watch is an exception for Apple whereas Microsoft does this much more often.


On using the Microsoft HoloLens, Engadget writes:

“Does it work? Yes, it works. Is it any good? That’s a much harder question to answer. In its current state, HoloLens is a series of demos with varying levels of polish, meant to demonstrate the possibility of the device. More clearly: in its current state, HoloLens is far from ready for public consumption. It’s an impressive demo in need of longterm investment, which Microsoft says is happening. All that baggage aside, what’s it like using HoloLens?

I believe this is a great example of how differently Apple and Microsoft operate. You would never read:

“Does it work? Yes, it works. Is it any good? That’s a much harder question to answer. In its current state, iPhone is a series of demos with varying levels of polish, meant to demonstrate the possibility of the device. More clearly: in its current state, iPhone is far from ready for public consumption. It’s an impressive demo in need of longterm investment, which Apple says is happening. All that baggage aside, what’s it like using iPhone?”


Why erase and restore your Mac?

I am a power user. I develop iOS and Mac software. I run betas of my firewall, my operating system, and my applications. I have developer tools installed. I am bound to have problems.

I am not alone though. OS X, over time, can become crufty. Old extensions,old files, or even improper installations. Third party installers often corrupt permissions or install older components.

System crashes (kernel panics) and OS bugs can lead to disk corruption that most do not catch until it is too late. The operating system does a poor job on alerting you if there are file system issues.

Running Disk Utility to repair these issues may seem successful, but sometimes are not. You may notice a “lost + found” folder on the root level of your hard drive. If you find a “iNode” file within that folder, things are not good.

My Late 2013 MacBook Pro is a little over a year old and has gone through many betas, many system crashes, but according to Disk Utility, all was well. I had had disk corruption that needed fixing by booting from the recovery partition, but Disk Utility fixed it.

Come Christmas, I bought a new monitor for myself, a new Razr Naga Mouse (which has its own drivers) and a new USB dock. The computer started to complain.

At first, it was spinning beachballs of death. Then it was strange kernel panics in the file system and in the graphics drivers. Finally I had had enough.

As members of PMUG know, I have many backups. I backup via Time Machine to a drive on my OS X server, to a local WD Passport drive, and to a drive at work. I also have several clones made with Carbon Copy Cloner. One is in the bank, one is at home, one is at work. All are encrypted.

I figured that if i was having all of these issues, I had better restore, because backing up corruption is not good. So I did what I have not done in a very long time.

I erased the disk and started over.

I began by booting from the recovery partition. This is easy, just reboot and hold down COMMAND R. Hold these keys down until the booting process starts, which is a black screen for OS X 10.10 (Yosemite).

Once the recovery tools had booted, I chose Disk Utility and erased my hard drive. Gulp. It was nice knowing you! Because I use FileVault, I had to first unlock the volume by selecting it and choosing Unlock from the File menu. Then I erased it as a normal journaled disk (not encrypted!)

I then quit Disk Utility and used the recovery menu to reinstall OS X Yosemite. This took about 35 minutes to download and install.

Next up was telling OS X that I wanted to restore from a Time Machine backup. I chose my WD Passport as I had just backed up to it and being a USB 3 drive, this was about as fast an option I had. The restoration took about 2.5 hours.

When all was said and done, I got about 30 gigabytes of my drive back. I am hoping this is due to all of the caches, sleep images, and other operating system artifacts, but I am not certain. A quick perusal though my file system seems to have everything I expected.

I suppose that some of my used space was because of previous disk corruptions, or the worst case scenario is that corruption caused some files to never be backed up, or overwritten. Time will tell.

This is why it is also import to archive. An archive is a backup that you then put away forever. Once a year I take one of my external Time Machine drives and label it as an archive. It goes into the bank and then I buy a new 1TB drive.

With this system, if I notice years down the road that I am missing a file I really want, I can go back to an archive and see if it is there.

Both backups and archives are important.

In the end, all spinning beachballs have disappeared. All kernel panics have disappeared. The system is fast and stable. Something was bad, and it seems that only a complete restore was the answer.

TL;DR If you are having very weird Mac problems, consider not just reinstalling OS X, but also erasing the entire machine and doing a full restore from backup.

Getting Apple Pay to work with Subway

I went to Subway last week and was unsuccessful at getting Apple Pay to work. Neither the clerk nor I knew how it should work with their point of sale, and there was a line of customers that I did not want to holdup.

Today I went back and there was no line so I tried again. The clerks, both super nice and helpful, said that Apple Pay did not work with their system yet. They said that something about the POS cannot handle the Apple Pay processing.

I found that odd and asked if we could try. I had already moved my iPhone 6 Plus to the reader and Apple Pay came up. This proved to be a mistake.

They tried to put the POS into “mobile” mode but it failed with a beep. I asked them to try credit card, because that’s all Apple Pay is, but the phone had timed out or the NFC reader had timed out, because Apple Pay was no longer coming up.

We chatted for a bit and they tried another mobile mode, which brought up a QR code on the scanner, and they asked me to hold my phone over it. I explained that would not work, so I asked them to try credit card once more.

They were sure eager to get Apple Pay working. They said that they had been trying for over a week but it never worked.

They put the POS into credit card mode again and I put the phone up to the reader. On the left side of the reader the Apple Pay screen came up, I tapped touch ID and the payment went through!

They exclaimed how cool that was and I explained why credit card works but not “mobile” as that must be for other payment systems. They thanked me for helping them to get it working.

Subway should train their employees a little better and explain how this all works. Apple could do a little better with the user interface. For example, does the phone sense NFC or not? I could not tell which piece of hardware timed out or got into a confused state. Apple Pay did not have a good UI for “resetting” it, so I just logged into the phone, then slept it, then backed away, and started over. I think I knew to do this because I am an engineer. A normal user would just give up.

Apple Pay is awesome, but it has some edge cases to be smoothed out.


There is a lot of talk around WWDC. Apple will introduce HealthBook, home automation SDKs, a flat UI for OS X, etc.

Here is what I am hoping for:


  • Xcode 6 that doesn’t crash when compiling XIBs via the command line
  • Xcode 6 with better refactoring and editing tools (AppCodeque)
  • Xcode 6 with a better IB that allows for shared resources such as named colors across XIBs
  • Ability to ship alpha/beta versions of our in-production apps to opt-in/select customers via the App Store
  • App distribution (Testflight) built into Xcode
  • Better Xcode CI functionality around externally hosted GIT repositories that use submodules
  • UIKit on OS X
  • A better Feedback tool for submitting/tracking/communicating about radars
  • Elimination of useless Team Provisioning Profiles
  • A “fix” button in Xcode that does not break more than it fixes


  • Better keyboard (or even custom keyboards)
  • AirDrop to OS X
  • 100% Calendar parity (edit/create every type of event, such as M W F)
  • Better battery life
  • Better GPS accuracy when in Airplane mode
  • Widgets on homescreen
  • Siri that allows me to retry a command when one fails
  • Built in transit

Using 1Password with Windows

As my friends will tell you, I love the password manager 1Password from AgileBits. I won’t go into why, but if you use passwords (which you do), and you don’t manage them, you need something like 1Password.

I recently set up an older MacBook Pro as a Windows machine via BootCamp to play games. I needed some passwords on the machine for various accounts I will need access to, but I did not feel comfortable syncing my entire set of passwords to the Windows machine.

I do not feel comfortable mainly because I do not fully understand how easily the machine can be compromised. I did buy Norton Internet Security for it (Thanks, Matt!), but still, 1Password has my entire life in it. I want to be prudent in protecting that information.

Dropbox is secure, but I don’t want people getting the encrypted files if I can prevent it. Also, Windows seems more likely to get a key logger, so I really did not want to deal with a hacker getting my one password that encrypts all other passwords. All of this is over paranoid, but why take the risk if there is a solution?

Fortunately, the awesome 1Password supports multiple vaults. You can create a secondary vault easily, as explained here. Thanks to the awesome support via the @1password twitter account for the link.

Creating a second vault has its own password, but it is also accessible via the primary vault’s master password. I do not plan to ever use that master password on the Windows machine.

Now I have a second vault, what next? I want access to some passwords, not all. I also do not want to manage two sets of passwords. I really just want read-only access to the passwords I need.

1Password allows you to copy entries from one vault to another. You can copy an entry by right clicking the entry, going to the Share contextual menu, selecting your secondary vault and selecting copy. If you choose copy a second time, it replaces the destination entirely. Using this feature, I can manually keep my windows vault in sync with my primary vault on the Mac. Sweet!

Now I need a way to remember which passwords I want synced to the Windows vault. Enter the awesome tags feature. I love tags. You can edit any entry in 1Password, a login, a secure note, etc, and give it tags. Tags are just words that you will use later to find. I used the tag “Windows” on all of the entries I want to sync.

Now comes the part that was not intuitive with 1password in beta, but now is awesome! – Creating a smart folder of tags. A smart folder is a folder whose contents are generated via criteria, such as ‘all entries whose tag is “Windows”‘ This folder updates itself automatically, which is awesome.

First, choose “New smart folder” from the File menu. You will be presented with a pane that includes search criteria:

Smart Folder UI with no settings

Now change the settings to find all tags that are “Windows:”

1Password smart folder dialog tag is windows

Click “Save” in the upper right corner of the pane.

Every time that you add the tag “Windows” to an item, it will show up in this folder! All that is left to do is sync. You can sync all of these items by selecting the smart folder, then clicking one of them in the list and pressing Command-A (or Select All), then right click the selected list, select Share, then your vault, then copy. 1Password will replace all entries!

Note: It would be nice if I could right click the Smart Folder to share all items, AgileBits 🙂

This method will not remove any entries that you removed the “Windows” tag from. You will have to do that manually.

Now that you have copied entires into the secondary vault, go to the Finder and open your Dropbox folder. Create a new folder for the secondary vault. Back in 1Password, switch to the secondary vault (Via the 1Password application menu) and open preferences. Select the Sync tab, and choose to sync via Folder. Select the folder you just created in your Dropbox folder.

On Windows, when you install Dropbox, choose to not select everything. This will allow you to not sync your 1Password folder, but will let you sync your folder you made for the secondary vault. Once Dropbox is installed, it will copy your newly made secondary vault to your windows machine.

To access the passwords, you can either buy 1Password for Windows, or if you just need simple access, AgileBits has includes the awesome 1Password Anywhere HTML file. Simply open your Dropbox folder, open your secondary vault folder, open the 1Password agile keychain, then open the 1Password.html file with Firefox (it won’t work with Chrome, and certainly do not use Internet Explorer)

Type in your secondary vault password and have access to all of your data. If I need to create/update logins, I will do that on the Mac, re-sync everything to the secondary vault, and access on Windows.

It seems like a lot of work, but in practice it takes 10 seconds once set up, and gives me the peace of mind knowing that most of my data is not on the Windows machine.

I’d like to repeat that this may be overkill, but because I am not a Windows expert, I do not want to make it easier than necessary for others to access my data. If I can limit the amount of data I keep on a computer that I do not use very often, I will feel better about it.

One may point out that the 1Password anywhere file is accessible via also, which is true! You do not even need to install Dropbox on the computer. Simply log into, and navigate to the secondary vault folder. I would not access my primary vault this way, again because of the off chance that a key logger has slipped past Norton.

What Apple’s SSL bug means to you

On Friday it was revealed that Apple has a very serious flaw in iOS 6, iOS 7, and Mac OS X 10.9.x.

You should stop what you are doing and update iOS now. Agile Bits has a good explanation on how to do this here:

1Password is not affected by the SSL bug (

As of this writing (Sunday night, February 23rd) Apple does not have a patch for OS X 10.9 Mavericks, but as said that one will come “very soon.” You can get that update by choosing “Software Update…” from the Apple menu. 10.8 and earlier do not appear to have this flaw.

To test your system, use

What’s the issue?

When your computer connects to the Internet and asks for a secure connection, it does so using one of several protocols. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is one of them. When the data comes back, the operating system does checks to make sure everything is proper.

Sometime in 2012, Apple checked in some broken code. The code had an extra line that caused the software to always skip a check and consider the answer good. Now if someone has control over a privileged portion of the network you are communicating on, they can intercept the data and lie to iOS or OS X. Because of the bug, the lie will not be caught and your data will be improperly encrypted.

So someone who has taken control of a coffee shop’s wifi router, or a rogue employee at an ISP, or a hacker who has taken over a router somewhere, can listen to the traffic from Safari, iMessage, iCal, Mail, etc.

Chrome and Firefox are not afflicted because they do not use Apple’s code for SSL.

This is a really big deal. You are encouraged to not use a network you do not trust until Apple patches OS X. Apple has already patched iOS 6 and 7, but not OS X.

iOS 5 is not affected.

For more reading, check out Imperial Violet

Apple needs to be held accountable somehow. Depending on how much tin is in your hat, this bug is either a plain bug that was not caught because Apple lacks code review and unit testing practices, or they added it for the NSA, or a rogue NSA employee added it. That does not matter, this is the most trusted of code and it should never fail like this for so long.

Chevy and/or Apple improve Volt music connection

Updated: 2014-07-15

I am a huge fan of my 2013 @chevyvolt.  The only issue I have with the car has been it’s entertainment stack and how that works (or doesn’t) with the iPhone.

It seems as though there have been improvements, either over the air via OnStar, when I took my car in for maintenance, or via iOS 7.0.4.  I have been tracking the same issues since iOS 5, so I doubt that Apple has fixed anything.

When do the issues arise?

  • Use Siri to start playing music
  • Switch to Bluetooth source on the Volt
  • Try to use the controls on the Volt to skip tracks
  • or try to use Siri to play new music

What would happen?

  • The Volt would switch to Paused mode, while the phone said it was playing
  • The Volt would be showing the incorrect song for the music playing
  • Everything would finally cease working
  • Music would start playing on the iPhone, but not through the Volt

All of these things are terrible on their own, but while driving, it’s downright dangerous, I believe, because it distracts from keeping one’s eyes on the road. People are allowed to use a radio while driving, and this should be as reliable and simple. Therefore I choose to not use this while I drive, and just listen to FM radio.

Chevy has not responded to inquiries about updating the 2013s for Siri Eyes Free, so I think it is safe to say that they will never support this. @Chevrolet has tweeted asking how will we use the new Siri support in our Volts, but we cannot, because the new support isn’t available unless you buy a new car.

In my tests today, it seems that all but the last issue are working better. I hesitate to say resolved because I need more time with the system.

In addition, I found that the issue with the audio muting happens when you are connected to the iPhone via the Bluetooth Source and then use Siri. This causes the Volt to switch to “dialing” mode for Siri. When that is done, it switches back to Bluetooth Source, but no audio is heard. If I switch to another source then then back to Bluetooth, the audio starts, usually about 15 seconds into the song.

Apple and @Chevrolet can get better. I’d appreciate it if @ChevyVolt would give me a way to pay for an upgrade to my $40,000+ car so I can safely use Siri, iTunes Match, and listen to my music in my electric car of the future

Evening eye strain? Try Flux

Do you use a Mac laptop at night?  Is your lighting usually dimmer than the screen?  Do you turn the screen brightness down?

If you answered yes to any of these, you might want to try Flux.  Flux changes the color of your screen to a warm yellow at night.  It looks weird and broken at first, but after using it for a month, I can attest that it does reduce eyestrain.

If you are watching a movie or working on something color sensitive, you can easily disable or quit Flux via it’s menubar item.  But for the rest of the time spent surfing the web, I have found that my eyes are a lot less tired after several hours of being on the computer.

Check out Flux.

TIP: Save to recent locations

As OS X has changed over the years, I find myself missing some of the nuances I in the new interface.  Recently I had been working on a number of documents in various applications and while saving them, repeating many steps.  I would click Documents in the sidebar, then find the folder I had been saving in, choose it, then name my document.

Until I saw, at the bottom of the navigation popup menu in the Save dialog:


 At the very bottom of that menu is a list of recent places!  Very handy to have because for some reason, the OS X Save Dialog keeps resetting to my default folder each time I open it.


Scanning and submitting expense receipts

As many of us do, I have to submit expense reports to the company I work for.  We have to submit receipts with each report, and the system is a bit old, so those receipts must be in small (under 2mb) TIFF format (named .tif as well).  This can be a bit of a pain not only scanning receipts (such as parking receipts) but then getting them into the proper format, especially when the Mac prefers PDF.

I have an awesome Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M which works great for bills and such, but it is not so hot on smaller receipts.  It tears them up, or they get caught in the mechanism, etc.  I could always just scan my credit card, but I do not like redacting one hundred line items just to expense five.

I tried a couple of camera solutions, but none worked until I found Scanner Pro for $6.99 on the App Store.  It is a nice little app that takes scans, converts the scans to black and white saves them into a PDF document.  Some of the plusses for my system include:

  • Easy management of multiple PDF documents (can rename documents, has a badge for number of pages)
  • Automatic uploading of the documents (once saved) to DropBox
  • Ability to add new scans to existing documents
  • Creates nice, high contrast images

This solved one of my problems – Timely scanning.  I can now scan a parking receipt while in the parking garage elevator and have the receipt in a document (such as August Parking) and uploaded to DropBox by the time I reach my car.  Score!

This did not resolve my issue with the system at work needing .tifs.  This proved to be a royal pain, because exporting as TIFF from Preview makes HUGE images.  Each receipt was around 2-3mb.  The size is not only an issue due to the constraints of our system, but also an image that large takes over a minute to upload.

I turned to my trust old friend from decades past, Graphic Converter.  At $39 on the Mac App Store, it is not cheap, but it sure is useful.  The user interface is fairly terrible, but it works!  The command I used is “Convert & Modify” from the file menu.  Once you use the terrible file browser to select your folder of PDFs from Scanner Pro, and select a destination folder, you do the following:

        • Function: Convert
        • Format: TIFF
        • Options: LZW with Prediction, Single Page File, uncheck all metadata
        • Check “WWW Ready”
        • Check “Use Batch”
        • Add two commands to the Batch Table:
          • Scale: proportional 50%
          • Resolution 72×72 ppi




Graphic Converter will remember these settings (The Export settings feature failed miserably on 10.8) Once everything is set up, press “Go.”  In about 5 seconds you will have one file for each page in the document named “August Parking1.tif” “August Parking2.tif” etc.  These files for a typical gas station sized receipt will average 100k in filesize.

Upload tiny documents, archive, and repeat next month.

Update: Sam Grover says that he uses automator to do the part I am using Graphic Converter for!

It’s iCloudy and time for an umbrella

The Apple ecosystem is growing faster than anyone could have imagined.  We buy music, apps for our phones, apps for our Macs, videos, and books all via our iTunes accounts.  We can even pay for our Netflix accounts via iTunes now.

This is convenient and nice, but as people come together and form families, things can start to become a mess.  Some music is bought on one spouse’s account, while some apps are bought on another.  Kids are typically set up with an allowance on a parent’s account.  Some families that existed when the Apple ecosystem started have adopted to buy everything under one master account.  Some families have, sadly, broken apart and have to deal with figuring out who gets the main account and who starts over.

In all of these cases, it would be easier to let everyone have their own iTunes account, and then combine them under an iCloud umbrella.  The umbrella would give permission for everyone under the umbrella to use the assets of the other accounts.  The umbrella simply manages the keys needed to access the assets.  If someone is removed from the umbrella, those keys would be revoked.

This system would allow my wife to access the apps that I bought, and vice vera.  We would not have to play the login game to keep our apps up to date.  We could access each other’s music and album art without playing games.

This is Apple after all.  It should “just work.”

Apple, shield us from the rainy iCloud days and give us iTunes account umbrellas.

Presenting Lion

I will be giving a class on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion at MacCamp this fall.  We are going to have three classes on Lion, and should be covering iOS 5 and iCloud.

If you are in the Oregon/Washington area and are looking for an excuse to spend a couple of days in the beautiful forest with other Mac users, consider signing up for MacCamp!