A Yosemite Success Story

A few months back my agéd mother said, “I need a new computer.” This is what she always says when her iMac misbehaves in some small fashion, but in this case it was misbehaving in a big way. Like many people, she got bamboozled into clicking a pop-up ad for MacKeeper and her computer was now experiencing major Spinning Pinwheels Of Death to the extent that she couldn’t do anything on the machine for more than a few minutes — at best — before one of those twirly rainbow SPODs would appear.

My youngest brother, who is primarily a Windows guy but who knows his way around the UNIX command-line, spent hours heroically tracking the various bits of MacKeeper malware down and expunging them, and though he succeeded for the most part, her computer’s operation was still a few orders of magnitude short of optimal. It got to the point where we had to move her to a new user account: fortunately, though MacKeeper mostly trashed her login account, its effects did not jump the wall to the new account we created. Finally, she could do her bill-paying and read her email, but most of her files and pictures and music were still in the old sad, bad account, so I made an appointment to spend a morning moving her files.

However, a couple days before the appointment, she called and asked with the same child-like eagerness with which she’d probably clicked the MacKeeper pop-up’s button if it was safe to install Yosemite, OS X 10.10, which had just been released. I cringed but figured she’d probably do it even if I said “No,” so I told her it was risky but up to her. She installed it. Fortunately, nothing dire happened. At least, I thought not; I didn’t get a follow-up call saying otherwise.

On the day of the appointment, I sat down at her Mac and logged into her old, bad, sad account to see about moving her files and pictures and music. What I found was astonishing: no SPODs! Or, at least no more than would be normal in any account waking up under a new OS for the first time. The old, bad, sad account was no longer bad and sad (it remained old): the OS X 10.10 installer had apparently found all the remaining corruption and cruft that MacKeeper had left behind and cleaned it all out.

Whenever a new OS for the Mac is released, one always sees stories about how it has messed up formerly fine computers. These stories make for great press and give us all a secretly delightful frisson of fear (“Thank god it didn’t happen to me! Yay, me!!”), but for every such story we see, we can’t know how many stories like my mother’s there are didn’t get reported, where the new OS fixed a machine that was on its last legs.

Battery and the iPhone 6 Plus

I’m hearing a lot of moaning and teeth-gnashing about how the new iPhones can’t hold a charge any longer than a two-year-old with a weak bladder (e.g., this report). After the first day or so I was a bit worried: I charged my iPhone 6 Plus completely before going to bed on the first day and the next morning it was down to 78% charge after sitting completely unused all night.

The next day charge seemed to go down somewhat faster than it did on my iPhone 5, too. But then things began to change, and last night I completely charged the iPhone 6 Plus again before going to bed. This morning, the reported charge was 100% — it barely dropped at all. Right now, in fact, it is still indicating 100% charge after 43 minutes of usage and 10 hours and 48 minutes of standby.

Seems to me that it takes a while for iOS 8 and the iPhone to settle down. It also seems to me that as the onslaught of background app updates slows down (only a couple apps updated last night), battery life gets better (I didn’t take Adam Engst’s advice to turn off automatic updates for iOS 8 because I wanted to see what the result of leaving them on would be).

All this to say that over the next few days I’m sure we’ll be seeing all sorts of scare stories about bad iPhone 6/iOS 8 battery life problems, but take them all with a grain of salt: it’ll take a week or so of use before you can have a reliable baseline of battery life information.

New from : iWork Cross-Platform Incompatibility

Last week Apple introduced iOS 8 and, along with it, a reconfiguring of iCloud document storage. Moving from the old, sandboxed system in which apps had access only to their own documents stored in iCloud, iOS 8 brought iCloud Drive, which allows apps to open documents in iCloud from other apps. This has been a long time coming, but there is a hitch in the transition. It’s this: when you activate iCloud Drive, all of your iCloud documents are moved into the new storage system.

That means, sadly, that apps using the old Documents in the Cloud method of accessing iCloud documents won’t see any of the iCloud Drive files. This includes all apps on Macs that aren’t running a version of OS X that supports iCloud Drive. Such as Mavericks (OS X 10.9)—the most current Mac OS that Apple has released. iCloud Drive capability is coming with OS X 10.10 (“Yosemite”) sometime next month.

Fortunately, Apple has made iCloud Drive optional in iOS 8, though the iOS 8 Setup Assistant really tries to convince you otherwise: if you decline to make the transition, the Assistant makes you confirm your Luddite ways.

Much less fortunately, the iWork for iCloud apps that run in a modern browser do not make iCloud Drive optional: it’s either activate iCloud Drive (which affects all of your iCloud documents on all of your devices) or no iWork for iCloud for you—click “Not Now” and you are booted out of the iWork for iCloud app!

iCloud drive not optional
Click this and lose access to iCloud documents on your Mac running Mavericks

If you click “Upgrade to iCloud Drive” the consequences can be severe: if you are not running the Yosemite beta on your Mac, and if any of your Apple devices are not updated to iOS 8, they all lose access to your iWork documents stored in iCloud.

Here’s a chart that shows what works with what:

iCloud document accessibility matrix
The current matrix of iCloud document accessibility — not even Neo could understand this!

Right now, Apple’s vaunted “Everything you love, everywhere you go” claim comes with a great big asterisk and a footnote that reads, “Eventually. But not today.”

Thanks, Apple!

[Note: Kirk McElhearn, the “iTunes Guy” at Macworld, points out that Windows users can access iCloud Drive with the new iCloud app that Apple released for Windows. But, since they can only run iWork within a browser on a Windows computer, they are only affected if they have iOS devices that don’t run iOS 8. I do note the irony, though, of Apple giving better service to Windows users than to Mac users!]

Whither Rosetta?

Ever since OS X 10.7 Lion was released, we’ve all been wondering just what happened to Rosetta.

Apparently, it went in search of comets! Currently, it’s approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta is due to arrive at the comet in August and deploy a lander in November. So no wonder OS X no longer includes Rosetta! It’s off exploring the solar system!!

Caption: The two lobes of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko symbolize the PowerPC/Intel duality of Rosetta.


Pages 5 and Importing Styles

I’ve been experimenting with styles in Pages 5.1, and have finally figured out how to copy styles from one document to another. Figuring this out is important, because Pages 5.1 has no style import function, and to properly export an EPUB, for example, you really do want to have certain styles in your document from Apple’s EPUB Best Practices document (which, by the way, is still in Pages 4 format; it should be a template in Pages 5, but noooo…).

It seems there are a lot of little bugs in Pages 5.1’s styles, as the procedure I figured out demonstrates. First of all, the only way to get styles from one document to another is either to copy and paste the styled text from one document to another or to use the Format > Copy Style and Format > Paste Style commands, as I describe below. Note the same problems arise whether you merely copy the style and paste it or copy text containing the style and pasting that:

  1. Select text containing the style you want in the source document.
  2. Choose Format > Copy Style.
  3. Switch to the document to which you want to add the style and select the text you want changed to the style you copied.
  4. Choose Format > Paste Style. At this point, the style is pasted into the document, but may not show up in the Text Format inspector, so you may have to perform the following step.
  5. Click elsewhere in the text then back in the styled text you pasted. The Text Format inspector should now show the pasted style’s name, but that style is still not in the list of styles, so you can’t use it elsewhere in the document.
  6. Click the down triangle in the Styles popover. Notice that no style is checked in the list of styles, and the pasted style’s name does not appear.
  7. In the popover, at the top, click the + to add a style. Now the new style name appears in the popover and can be used.

Pages 5.1 should really be categorized as a beta…

The bait-and-switch battle for eyeballs

Forbes goes the extra mile in shoving an Apple reference into an article that is actually about something else completely:

The headline: “No iPhone Bump For September Retail Sales”

The first paragraph: “Even though U.S. shoppers raced out to buy the latest model of the iPhone, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates consumers kept an otherwise-tight grip on their wallets in anticipation of the dampening effect of the government shutdown.”

So it’s really an article about the U.S. retail sales report for September. But without an Apple mention, it’s just news, not linkbait.

If journalism is dying, Forbes is sticking the knife in, twisting it, and licking the blood off of it…

Syncing Vinny with TBS

Vin Scully is doing the play-by-play announcing for the National League Championship Series on the radio. The series is being telecast by TBS, which has its own announcers. They aren’t national treasures like Vin Scully is.

A billion years ago, in the Analog Age, I would have listened to Vinny on the radio while watching the TV with the sound off. But I live in a place with very bad over-the-air radio reception, so that’s not possible. However, I do have the MLB app on my iPhone, and that does provide my local radio feed (KLAC). Problem solved?

Not quite. The MLB audio feed can be delayed anywhere from 6 to 20 seconds behind the TV broadcast. Luckily, my cable box is a DVR: if I pause the live feed for just as long as the MLB app lag, I can sync the video and the audio.

Dodgers playing for the pennant and Vinny on the radio. Some things are timeless.