Sunday, November 12, 2017

Doing it the Hard Way

It’s the kind of fatigue that feels earned, rather than imposed. - Wil Wheaton
Trying to do slightly complex things on my iPad, things I could trivially on my MacBook, brings back some of the joy of early computing to me. When I was first using computers as a kid, reading through my 3-ring binder manual of MS DOS 3.3 and BASIC and discovering how to do things was pure bliss. In the modern world, I’m competent enough I rarely hit those moments on the old MacBook, but I still hit them on my iPad where I have a, “I wonder if...” Like, tonight, “I wonder if I could get the Rescue Bots theme song onto Mini-Chaos’  Amazon Music playlist...”
Find the song on YouTube and then use ListenToYouTube.com to convert it to MP3.  This opens as a new tab in Safari, where I can “Share” the URL into the clipboard and swap over to GoodReader to download the MP3 onto my iPad. From GoodReader, export it over to iCloud Drive.
Now, because it’s YouTube, the song has gross “monetization” stuff in the sound (“Please subscribe...”) which I want to clip out.  Lucky for me is the existing of Hokusai which is an audio-editing app.  Wahoo!
And then? Well, then I’m dead in the water - because I can’t actually upload this MP3 file into my Amazon Music account.  You have to use Amazon Music on your Mac/PC.  So, sadly, at this point I need to use Screens on my iPad to connect to my Mac, and upload the file from iCloud Drive to Amazon Music - but hey, pretty close right?


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Unlocking the WORLD!

As I wait for my chance to pre-order my iPhone X, my good old iPhone 6s+ passed its two year mark which means it was time to break it free the shackels of AT&T. This process man. How does one go about removing the carrier lock from you phone?
First you go through the request process with AT&T and they approve it. Then you simple need to erase you phone and re-install it. So, dilligently, I do the local encrypted backup, delete the phone, and restore the phone. Huzzah!
Of course, this process is terrifying and lots of things get lost on the phone.  Secure Enclave? Yeah, you’re gone.  So I have to rebuild the Touch ID database and retrain it which takes a while. It also seems like a lot of apps store authentication in a temporary space so when I launch them I need to re-enter my username and password. Which isn’t horrible, but it’s annoying...
Most frustrating was that my  ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ got unpaired from the phone in this process - which I didn’t notice until the next day.  How do you fix that?  Reset the phone and restore from backup - which, my last watch backup was much older.  And that too lost all of my watch faces and which apps I had synced and notification preferences and... ya know, more stuff.  Anyway, we’re all good now.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The New Setup

It’s the kind of fatigue that feels earned, rather than imposed. - Wil Wheaton
I really enjoying reading The Sweet Setup’s review of people’s work environments - how do they create their little work space to get things done? One thing that always strikes me is that all of the setups have people starting at a wall. For as long as I’ve had a home office (15+ years? 20+ years?) I have always arranged it so that my home desk lets me look out a window. I can’t believe that staring at a wall is much fun.
I’ve been working on more strongly incorporating my iPad into my digital life. I hear that it’s a desktop replacement. While I think there is a decent length of time before I’ll be able to do my Java development on my iPad, I can do a pretty good portion of my life, so I figured it was time that I had a home setup that reflected making it central. Take a look at this cool setup!
So, an iPad stand, that puts the iPad at the correct ergonomically correct height.  With a nice Apple Pencil stand an Apple Keyboard below. This is the work place of the future! Well, I have to admin, I really don’t link reaching up to tap on the iPad - I sure wish I could use a nice mouse or trackpast with a virtual pointer on the screen, but so it goes.  This setup also makes me wish instead of the iPad Pro, I had the iPad Pro Enormo version.  Still - pretty keen.
The other things I have been trying to get going is that I have all my TV shows over on a local macOS iTunes library.  How do I get these things copied over to my iPad/iPhone so I can watch them when I’m out on the go? I’ve got a start AppleScript that will manually copy the selected tracks (over WiFi) onto my devices.  The next iteration will need to handle copying all unwatched episodes of my shows.

tell application "iTunes"
  if selection is not {} then
    set deviceList to {"Kaoru", "Shinji"}
    set mySelection to selection
    repeat with aTrack in mySelection
      repeat with theDeviceName in deviceList
        set myDevice to item 1 of (every source whose name is theDeviceName)
        add (get aTrack's location) to library playlist 1 of myDevice
      end repeat
    end repeat
  end if
end tell

Saturday, June 10, 2017

An iPad Shaped Hole

I've been waiting to get a new iPad until Apple unveiled the new ones and then on June 5th, THEY DID! Except, it wasn't what I wanted. Is ever exactly what you want? I have been so happy with my little iPad mini 4 with an external Apple keyboard, I just wanted a refreshed version of that which allowed me to use the Apple Pencil, but it was not to be. In fact, it's probably never to be that the mini will have the pencil.
So would it be okay to get a larger one? But, of course, they didn't release an update to the 9.3" version, the released a brand new even larger 10.whatver" version. UG! BIGGER? The mini was such a great "just bring it along" size for me, but okay, back to the large on.
Then what? My final bit of sadness is that T-Mobile discounted it's "free-data for life" program where you got 200MB per month for the life of your device. It's not much, but exactly enough for those times when I'm traveling, trying to work, and there is no WiFi to be found. But that's gone too.
So with all these things weren't quite right, I had a stare down and thought I probably wouldn't buy the new iPad. But then, I said, "whatever." I mean, Apple isn't going to release a mini with a Pencil. The 9.3" version of the iPad Pro has vanished to the land of wind and ghosts, and T-Mobile isn't brining back their FDFL program. Now I just have an iPad-shaped hole in my life as I wait for it to arrive.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Feeling Comcastic!

Since we moved into our house we've had AT&T for internet, and since we moved in we've been annoyed about it. I have a baseline assumption that everyone is annoyed by their service providers, and therefore, there is no point in swapping willy-nilly, because, you're just going to be annoyed by the next one. Still - I have a few very big annoyances over the years.
The first is that I started on AT&T Home DSL at the fatest speed available and it was slow. I called a few times asking if they offered faster, and AT&T DSL did not. But here was the thing - AT&T DSL didn't offer faster speed, but AT&T U-Verse *did* offer faster speed over DSL. Huh? It was bizarre, but by calling AT&T U-Verse (who had a separate number from AT&T DSL), I was able ot get upgraded to faster internet speed.
Then, once or twice a year, my internet would slow to a terrible crawl. I would complain. Technicians would come out. Eventually maybe it would be solved for a time, until it happened again. At one point a technician changed me from a hot/cold dual DSL line to a pair-bonded DSL line and that helped a lot for a long time.
Part of the problem is I live in an infill community and for whatever reason, when they built it, they didn't run fiber through out little infill. Fiber runs a few hours down either direction, but not to us, so the best AT&T can get is 18 MB/s over aDSL and the upstream standards are defined at 1.5 MB/s. So on my aDSL add a couple of dropcams, a SkyBell, and I'm quickly saturating my upstream. I have to start managing QoS for the system to work. LAME!
So I switched to Comcast/Xfinity - which isn't the most loved company out there, but I have 100 MB/s down and around 5 MB/s up. Which means? Everything streams great. I'm lovin' it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Delaying the Upgrade

When I joined my current company the hiring boss asked me what computer he should buy for me and I said, "nothing yet. Next week is WWDC and I'll be they are going to announce something cool." It did not dissapoint as they announced the first retina computer and he got me a maxed out Retina MacBook Pro. That good and faithful servant lasted with me for four and half years and then finally gave out when it started to kernel panic everytime it swapped from the intergrated GPU to the discrete GPU. Funny thing about that? It happened precisely two months after Apple's GPU recall ended for that machine.
When my work computer died, I had a week where I exclusively used my iPad Mini to do my job and it worked pretty darn well. The most impressive thing I think I was doing is that every day I had to download a 80MB text file from SFTP, run some regex search/replace on it, and then upload the processed file to another SFTP. Holy moly, Coda for iPad did that with very few issues. Anyway, my list of Pro apps that I used!

  • Coda 2 - I don't actually do website development with this, but the SFTP engine (it's Transmit!) combined with a text editor that could actually handle regex process of files that are 800,000 lines long made this an amazing app for some of the work I needed.
  • Airmail - Funny thing here is that I would much rather have used Gmail app for this process, but it doesn't support split screen multitasking so I had to use this instead.
  • Microsoft OneNote - I know that Evernote is the darling of the industry, but when they changed their pricing model I swapped to OneNote.  Totally free and works great between my iPad, iPhone, and new MacBook Pro.
  • Hangouts / JoinMe - I spent all of my days in video conferences with coworker and customers and these programs work "just fine."  This is *THE* major blocker for me using my iPad for everything, because I need to be able to screen share presentations and web page demos.  Also - why doesn't Hangouts support split-screen multitasking?!?  (Google!)
  • Slack - yeah, we use Slack. It's gross and works fine.
  • OpenVPN - I was mostly just surprised that OpenVPN had an iOS app and it worked just fine.  I kind of expected that it couldn't, but it did, and that's cool.
  • Productivity - These all works great whether it was Apple Pages, Numbers, Keynote or Microsoft Words, Excel, Powerpoint or Google Docs, Sheets, Slides. We use all of them and it's great.

So for my real job that I am paid for there were two challenges I had. The first was that I couldn't screenshare the way I need to. That was basically a deal breaking.
The second was that I do a lot of REST API scriping for demo's using Bash and it doesn't look like I've got a good options for that either. The best bet I have is Pythonista, but technically speaking all of our scripting is done is Bash - so I'm going rogue if I use Python to do it.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bumper Crop This Year

In those first few years of home ownership, I really got a kick out of mowing the lawn every week, clipping back the trees and plans, and making sure the weeds were taken care of. Then the kids came onto the scene and where did all my free time go?
We noticed that the sidewalk in front of our house was much blacker and dirtier from the water drainage the side walk in front of the neighbors houses. On inspection, the neighbors have these nice drains that pump the water out from the backyard onto sidewalk, whereas our water seemed to just bubble up through the dirt. I mean, that seems like a reasonable explanation for why there was so much dirt on our sidewalk.
Then I got to wondering, when I moved to "minimum viable yard care" - did somehow I have drains where dirt erosion just covered them up? The answer was, yes and yes. There were two. Guess it would have been better to uncover before these record winter rainfalls.