Thursday, August 25, 2016

Beware: iPhones with mixed FairPlay app ownership may no longer backup/restore as expected

Ran into this with a friend’s devices. He was syncing his and his wife’s iPhones to iTunes under Lion. Not sure how old iTunes library was.

When his wife’s iPhone 6s had to be replaced he found he couldn’t restore from iCloud backup or from his old iTunes backup (Lion OS, I didn’t check his iTunes version). He tried to create a new iCloud backup but that removed  the old one and created a 0kb backup. I couldn’t get iCloud backup working either.

Probably relevant: they had mixed app ownership, some purchased under his Apple store ID, some under her Apple store ID.

I created a backup to a fresh user account iTunes instance on my El Cap machine (but, significantly, my machine is authorized on my App Store ID). Restore seemed to proceed — but app restore didn’t complete from the iTunes backup. Instead it slowly proceeded via iCloud then left apps in dim icon status.

I believe I got things working by signing them up to Family Sharing. Then apps downloaded from iCloud, but not from iTunes.

At the time I write this I’m still investigating media rights and have yet to attempt another iCloud backup.

I wonder if Apple quietly updated its backend DRM rules.

DRM is nasty stuff.

Update:

  1. The iCloud backup problem was an unrelated bug. “The Last Backup Could Not Be Completed” bug has many causes, but sometimes it’s just the wrong error message. Instead of saying “buy more storage” (which is what I usually see) iCloud Backup gave a useless error message and quit. I excluded her 5.1GB of images and it resumed.
  2. Her new phone has no media. I think I know what happened. She gets her media from a non-DRMd old school iTunes music library. If you backup, as we did, from her phone to a Library on my computer there’s a DRM conflict. Apple’s iTunes DRM is device based, not (AFAIK) user account based. So my Mac wasn’t authenticated to hold her music (maybe I could authenticate, but that’s scary). I think the music got backed up, but iTunes could’t display/handle it, so it wasn’t part of the restore. The bug here is absence of an error message, simply media free restore.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

OS X Version support - doesn't use a lot of storage (for me)

A warning that my network share doesn’t support versions reminded me that OS X added version support in Lion (in addition to Time Machine backup).

It’s a feature I’d long forgotten about and have never used. MSFT Word has no support for OS X versions, and of course Google Docs are just pointers to Google’s database. So OS X Versions aren’t that useful for me.

I wondered how much space the versions take. They are in /.DocumentRevisions-V100. Easy to find since I have Finder set to show invisibles. I had no access to view, so I added Read only access for my non-admin account to the root and child drives. I found Data organized by UID, my total version collection was about 1GB. 

So not too bad. I found a few references discussing managing space taken up by versions. I assume the OS has some rules but two references I found didn’t mention any.

If Michael Tsai can’t find an answer I won’t even try. Michael referenced Siracusa’s 2011 Lion article, the main reason Versions storage doesn’t use up so many space is that OS X is clever about what pieces of a file it saves as a version component.

I also see .MobileBackups, but despite what permissions says I can’t open that folder. Some deep wizardry there. About this Mac will show how much storage this takes, about 3GB on my 256GB SSD. There’s a clean terminal method to purge this data, but it seems to be working as designed for me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Uninstalling Synology Cloud Station Mac -- and why you would never have installed it in the first place.

Synology Cloud Station aka Cloud Station Drive stopped working reliably for me in El Capitan.

That’s when I discovered there’s no uninstaller.

Damn.

I have a rule of not installing Mac apps that can’t be easily uninstalled [1]. Clearly I screwed up. In my experience if a Mac apps doesn’t have a clean uninstall it’s not going to work out well.

Uninstall directions for Ubuntu mention a buried uninstall script in ./Cloudstation; I have Finder set to show invisible files (I like running this way) so I found the Mac version of this in /Users/jfaughnan/.CloudStation (you might be able to open this using Finder Go). I couldn’t find an uninstall script in the Mac package though. I didn’t find anything useful on Synology forums; a site that markets a (worthless) Mac uninstaller app gave generic directions.

This is what I did. I think EasyFind will do most of the work for you - just search on Synology.

  1. Exited Synology Cloud Station from the blue cloud icon Finder bar thing.
  2. Searched Activity Monitor for Synology and Cloud. Found two processes called “synology cloud station drive finder integration” and killed both.
  3. Deleted /Applications/Synology Cloud Station.app
  4. Deleted /Users/jfaughnan/.CloudStation
  5. Used EasyFind.app (love it) to search for all files and folders containing “synology” including Invisible Files and Folders and Package Contents. It found a ton of crap. For example: /private/var/folders/5c/gx565vx110gcdhxn10mbddfh0000gp/T/com.synology.CloudStation.FinderSync [2][3]. I deleted that and several more. I’ve included below a set of partial screenshots form Easy Find (shame I don’t know enough unix to do this in shells and dump results). It’s a mess, but in practice I only had to delete 3-4 things to clear them all out. (If you have other Synology tools installed you’ll probably damage them too, but really you shouldn’t let Synology touch your Mac.)
  6. Log out and then in again to confirm Finder iteration is gone.
Ugh. What a mistake that was.
 
Examples from EasyFind (many of these are package contents, so only need to find Package or Folder and delete the lots)
 
NewImage
NewImage

- fn -

[1] Lack of OS uninstall support is one of the historic defects of macOS / OS X.

[2] cmd-opt-c to copy file path is the best feature of El Capitan. Almost as good as old cmd-opt-shift-v for paste as plain text.

[3] There are lots of weird files in ‘5c’, looks like some kind of cache/dumping ground. I just deleted the Synology one. There’s also a com.microsoft.OneDrive-mac.FinderSync in there. Turns out Finder Sync is a newish OS X API that does a lot of interesting things (probably with bugs and Finder screw-ups, knowing Apple):

… The Finder Sync extension point lets you cleanly and safely modify the Finder’s user interface to express file synchronization status and control. Unlike most extension points, Finder Sync does not add features to a host app. Instead, it lets you modify the behavior of the Finder itself….

… With a Finder Sync extension you register one or more folders for the system to monitor. Your Finder Sync extension then sets badges, labels, and contextual menus for any items in the monitored folders. You can also use the extension point’s API to add a toolbar button to the Finder window or a sidebar icon for the monitored folder…

… Finder Sync supports apps that synchronize the contents of a local folder with a remote data source. It improves user experience by providing immediate visual feedback directly in the Finder. Badges display the sync state of each item, and contextual menus let users manage folder contents. Custom toolbar buttons can invoke global actions, such as opening a monitored folder or forcing a sync operation…

…  the user may have multiple copies of your extension running at once, and some may be very short lived…

Update 8/23/2016: I can’t kill the Finder integration on Emily’s Mac. Keeps returning. This thing must have malware in its code base.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Stop Strava.app bike tracking app from auto-sharing all rides to Facebook

I think this is new. It’s certainly causing lots of confusion.

All of my Strava rides were getting auto-posted to Facebook. This was unwanted.

The problem is Strava has a cryptic poorly implemented auto-share toggle setting that’s not part of Strava settings. A deluge of customer complaints forced Strava to break it’s no-documentation rule:

Directly after uploading an activity, you will see the activity edit page before clicking "Save & View." You can share activities to Facebook by flipping ON the Facebook toggle for any activities you wish to share (button turns blue). Keep in mind that this toggle will turn on automatic sharing. In other words, all future activities will be shared as long as this button is left on.  

Take a look at the screenshot on that web site. It took me a while to find the Facebook icon. If it’s blue then auto-share is on and will stay on. To turn it off create a fake ride (walk around the house) then click the “Flag” icon to save it then hunt for a blue Facebook icon at bottom right of the “save” screen. Toggle it off. It will keep that state.

When auto-share is off you can still post to Facebook, you have to open the saved activity then click on it again and then click share.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SMS messaging to small groups: Apple's App Store comes up empty. Again.

It may require federal legislation, but someday text messaging services will interoperate.

Today, however, we have cruddy old SMS, held in the fierce claws of Verizon and AT&T. SMS, which has a maximum of ten recipients. SMS, which carriers have kept alive by bundling unlimited SMS with data services. SMS, which is definitely not free (in the US) for sending services. SMS, which RCS  (aka “joyn”) has failed to replace for about five years — because there’s money on the table.

SMS, which has a decent notification framework even on Android phones [1]. SMS, which is the only thing that is guaranteed to work with every member of a sports team. SMS, which is a key feature of TeamSnap ($8/month — compare to $50/month for many commercial SMS services).

Bottom line - SMS is lousy, but we need to work with it. Our Minnesota NICA mountain biking team is probably going to sign up for TeamSnap for the SMS service alone. The only real alternatives I know of are free GroupMe and iOS or Android apps that turn a list of numbers into a series of sub-10 member SMS texts that are covered by the standard US Carrier SMS bundle and sent as my personal text. That seems easy to do, and unsurprisingly there are a zillion of these apps. How can one pick a decent one?

I started by thinking about what’s important:

  • A clear business model. I avoid apps that hide how they make money. Ideally a simple cash payment.
  • Easy entry of numbers - copy/paste into a text field would be fine.
  • Error handling - notify which texts don’t make it.
  • Last update within past 12 months.
  • A web site with product documentation
  • Decent App Store review numbers in past year (allowing for the usual fake reviews)
  • Android version nice to have
  • US centric - our mobile market is weird. An international solution is unlikely to meet our needs.
From the App Store I started with
  • AtomPark SMS: no reviews
  • Group SMS!: $1, 110 reviews
  • Group Text!: $3, 2,139 reviews. Last updated 9/2014.
  • EasyGroup: $5, 427 reviews, not clear what it does
  • Text 2 Group: $3, 1,885 reviews. Last updated 5/2016
My initial screen left me with Group Text! and Text 2 Group. So I read some reviews. 
 
Text 2 Group requires iMessage be disabled prior to use and has no support or web site. Disabling and reenabling iMessage is a pain in the ass on iOS (turning off data/wifi is easy though and probably has same effect). It’s also rather hard to know what this app actually does.
 
Group Text! has not been updated for 2 years but it has a web site: www.redbits.com. Which says that the manual for version 3 “is coming soon”; version 3.4 was released 9/2014. I reviewed the site and support documents — it’s pretty much unreadable. This is a dead app.
 
At the end of the day Apple’s vast app store yielded … nothing. Even basic quality screens eliminated every product sold.
 
This is probably a good place to mention that Apple’s App Store business model has been broken for years — and that’s a sign of how poorly Tim Cook is doing.

See also 

[1] I had to get an Android phone for my special needs smartphone book project. I was amazed what a mess the carriers have made of Android messaging. Google’s deal with the Verizon devil has a price.

Update 8/20/2016: On app.net @jws points out that SMS messaging to groups can be done by using carrier email to SMS gateways. The form varies by carrier, AT&T processes email of the form 5551234567@txt.att.net. This scales to a large number of users. 

I think some people block these email to SMS services; I think I do.

TeamSnap uses true SMS for the US and Canada.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Simplenote is not dead -- and the joy of nvAlt backup

Simplenote.app, an Automattic product I use a zillion times a day, is less dead than I thought. They just released a version for Android, I installed on my ultra-cheap Moto e and in the blink of an eye my notes are there.

Before I did that experiment though, I made a backup.

I launched nvAlt and my local Mac folder of Simplenote RTF files was instantly updated. I then zipped up that folder — maybe 2MB. Stuck the zip in a folder of things like that. A record of the state of my extended memory on this day.

Only a geek can understand the warm glow I get from that special level of backup. The age old problem of Cloud backup (how do you recover a single mis-edited note from a month ago?) solved. (But will nvAlt work on Sierra? Brett Terpstra’s long delayed nvAlt replacement drops Simplenote support.)

Now if only Automatic would fix the #$!%%! broken search on (only) the Mac version. I confirmed search works on the new Android version.

See also

Monday, August 01, 2016

Comcast - after the promo rolloff

Our Comcast promo rolloff happened today. Our 1st year rate with taxes, modem rental and hidden fees was $56/month. The post-promo rate was $93. I called to see what they’d deal — not much as it turned out. I have a bit of a speed boost and a few dollars off (how much is hard to tell, because the phone quotes don’t include the hidden fees).

They reset my service after the call conclusion — too bad I had an online transaction pending :-(.

I few tips ….

  • when get voice mail prompt requesting purpose of call say: “lower my bill”
  • you want to speak to “customer retention". I think I only got as far as “customer solutions”
  • You can hit 1 instead of saying ‘yes’. Works better.
  • I think you want to have an alternative service quote in hand before calling.
  • Be ready to call more than once. The first analyst I spoke with passed me on to customer solutions and then my line went dead. Well, this is Comcast we’re talking about.

See also

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trello teams explained: it's worse than you can imagine (in free version)

I went through all of Trello’s (weak) online documentation trying to figure out how to manage my (free) Trello teams. Where in the UI is the a list of teams? I could see how to create a team. I could see how to add someone to a team. But where’s the team list?!?!

Turns out in free Trello “Teams” are not teams (of people). That’s why I couldn’t find them anywhere:

NewImage

A “Team” is a collection of boards and people are part of boards and teams and people are related by … I think a Team is basically part of the natural key for a join table between boards and people and “teams”. (But a board can belong to only one Team (or NULL team) … so maybe Team is a foreign key in Board)

You see teams in the Boards screen; in this (hidden) UI they group boards. To add a board to a team you work from the board menu. But Trello has (inadvertently?) made it hard to find the full Boards screen. I don’t think there’s any link to it in the UI, you have to click on “Trello” or just go to URL trello.com.

So you’ve found the list of Boards. They are grouped by Starred Boards, My Boards and by “Team Names”. The Team Names have Boards, Members, Settings. All 3 of these buttons go to the same tabbed screen.

(Tip: The Team-Member collection shows in the URL. So if you know team name, just do http://trello.com/myteamname]

Click on any and you see the the UI equivalent of a join table made up of members, boards, and the “Grouping” (team). BoardGrouping:settings:settings lets you delete a team.

From this tabbed screen you edit the Members:Board relationships. You can delete a Team (remove all rows with same Team name). You can add Members (add rows to join table) by clicking on “Add by Email” which doesn’t actually add by Email, it just lets you search the global Trello user domain by email or Trello ID (should be called “Add Members”).  HOWEVER, to add a board to a team you go to the Board’s settings and use Change Team (this doesn’t remove members, just divides them into Team and Non-Team members). My head hurts. You figure out the rest.

Let me repeat that. In (free) Trello, the “Team” page is the SETTINGS for the grouped boards and it can only be found by going to the semi-hidden “trello.com” home page or the secret URL shortcut.

Teams may make more sense in the paid version but they’re a hot mess in the free version.

I think Trello is one of those great ideas that’s been broken. It’s rare for software to recover from a state like this.

The sensible way to subscribe to a calendar feed in Apple's screwed up calendar ecosystem.

I think I know how Apple screwed this up. It’s one of those evolutionary path-dependency things. Their iCloud calendar is the child of their old OS X Server calendar (via MobileMe). They bolted a web service atop a server side model. In the old model the client was where different calendar sources were assembled, not the server. iCloud/web is stuck with that model.

So when it comes to Calendar feed subscription assembly happens on the Mac, or it happens on the iPhone. It doesn’t happen in iCloud/web. There’s no UI for adding a feed to iCloud/web because there’s no application model for that.

Which explains Apple’s bizarre instructions for getting a feed to iCloud to iPhone via the Mac. Whoever wrote that up was probably sobbing with despair. I suspect the resulting iCloud/web calendar only gets updated when the Mac updates itself. Let me know if I’m wrong.

I think there are really only two ways to do calendar feeds in the Apple world. One is to add the feed to the iOS device(s) (calendar.app) and the Mac (calendar.app) separately. Forget about seeing it in iCloud/web - that really doesn’t work.

The other is to do the subscription in a Google Calendar and subscribe to that on Mac or iPhone (and give up on iCloud/web). But then you’re going to have to deal with iOS failure to support Google’s CalDAV sync select. So this is a geek-only solution (It’s what my family does).

Here’s how to do it the simple way (iPhone and Mac only, not iCloud/web):

  • iPhone: Calendars:Add Account:Other:Add Subscribed.
  • Mac: I think you should ignore the iCloud option, but let me know if it updates without the Mac driving the update.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

FileVault 2's Undying Guest User bug - the El Capitan edition.

Today’s post-El Capitan update bug is a ghostly Guest User account that appears only on restarting a El Capitan Mac with FileVault 2 enabled and Guest User disabled in System Preferences:Users and Find My Mac enabled. The configuration for this pre-decryption login is running out of the UEFI EFI system partition. The one thing this Guest User can do is run Safari; the primary partition remains encrypted. There are no Parental Control options (that’s a problem).

I’ve read claims that this a feature. Some misguided Apple engineer thought it would be a good idea — a kind of Honey Pot that would tempt a thief to go online and thus trigger Find My Mac.[1] It becomes a problem with kids who have issues with internet abuse; they get an open browser.

My own suspicion is that this is a partly-implemented undocumented “feature” that is buggy because it was never tested. Maybe it was partly pulled from the release. Not only does it appear unpredictably it has other associated problems. If you enable the Guest account in System Preferences there’s sometimes an option to  enable Parental Controls and sometimes not. Even when there is an option to enable Parental Controls it doesn’t actually work. I’m also unable to get a true Guest account to work — even when I don’t see the “safari only” warning in system preferences the Guest Account never decrypts the primary partition.

There may be more than one bug involved — perhaps something related to failure of new computer / upgrade to notify EFI infrastructure of a preference change. I suspect it’s the worst kind of bug — an undocumented feature that was partly pulled from a release and lurks in code.

It’s not new to El Capitan, it’s been happening intermittently since Lion. It may be more frequent in El Capitan.  I updated two FileVault 2 machines from Yosemite to El Capitan and only one has the ghost account. 

I reviewed 3 options on apple.stackexchange.com [2] dating as far back as Lion with updates for 10.11.

The fix that worked for me was edited as recently as 6/2016. Basically you turn off Guest Account and Find My Mac in System Preferences. Then you disable System Integrity Protection so you can “touch” a System EFI resource, that forces and EFI update, then reenable SIP. When I did that System Preferences had Guest Account enabled again, even though it wasn’t showing up. I disabled Guest Account and enabled Find My Mac and the ghost seems to have been exorcised.
 
I think reinstalling El Capitan from Combo Update would have worked too — it also forces an EFI refresh [3]. I wonder if one could even have used the reinstall operating system feature in the Recovery mode.
 
- fn -

[1] This has been seen as far back as Lion and there’s a good description in this Yosemite article in FileVault 2.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About FileVault 2 | Der Flounder - Dec 2014 ( - Yosemite)

One unusual feature of FileVault 2 is that sometimes a Guest User icon will appear at the pre-boot login screen.

Figure_4-Guest_account_appearing_at_the_FileVault_2_pre-boot_login_screen

When you log in as that guest user, you don’t get access to your hard drive. The only thing you get access to is Safari and a network connection. Quitting out of Safari will return you to the FileVault 2 pre-boot login screen.

Figure_5-Guest_account_restarting_to_Safari-only_mode

Figure_6-Guest_accounts_Safari-only_access

To my knowledge, Apple has never commented specifically about this guest user but it appears the guest user is an anti-theft measure. The guest user’s appearance at the pre-boot login screen is a feature tied to signing into iCloud and enabling the Find My Mac option.

Figure_7-Enabling_the_Find_My_Mac_option_in_System_Preferences_iCloud_preference_pane

One consequence of logging into the guest user is that, as soon as the Mac gets a network connection, it will immediately connect back to Apple and report its location information.

Figure_8-Computers_location_displayed_on_iClouds_Find_My_iPhone_website

If you don’t sign in with iCloud and then enable Find My Mac from that machine, the Guest User icon will not appear on the FileVault pre-boot login screen. That said, mobile device management solutions that track a machine’s location may also trigger the Guest User icon to appear.

[2] Apple has killed Apple Discussions with their latest update.

[3] Despite waiting a long time to do my El Capitan upgrade I ran into an unexpected behavior with an updated installer that wasn’t actually updated. So my main machine went to 10.11.2. I wonder if I’d actually gone to 10.11.5 if this problem would have shown up. It seems to be related to a bug with EFI partition updates.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Aperture in El Capitan: Not showing the workspace? (and other known issues)

Here’s a partial list of known issues for Aperture in El Capitan from this an old discussion forum link [1]

  • The thumbnails in list view are upside down. (Apple has been intermittently screwing up EXIF orientation tags since iPhoto 5.)
  • If you add a Curves adjustment the straighten adjustment will not be visible in the exported images. The exported images won’t show straightening. (This is unpredictable behavior.)
  • When brushing adjustments, the position can be slightly off, one pixel or so.
  • The link to the plug-in page no longer works in the Aperture menu (this is Yosemite too)
  • You can no longer order print products from Aperture (Yosemite too)
  • Soft proofing is broken
  • When exiting app the progress window that’s displayed has no content

The levels/straighten export bug is the worst I’ve read about.

Except for what happened today. Aperture opened, but the workspace was somewhere else in space. It acted like it was off-monitor somewhere. Aperture worked normally in a different user account, so I figured it was something about my account. Removing preferences didn’t help.

I changed Mission Control so that Dashboard was no longer a space — and Aperture’s workspace returned. But reenabling Dashboard space didn’t affect Aperture.

Someone noticed in El Capitan beta that the workspace might vanish. In which case clicking on the Aperture icon in the Dock would restore it. If it happens again I’ll try that, and also the Aperture context menu Windows item.

[1] Apple’s new Discussion Forum software is amazingly broken. They really can’t do anything right any more. Fortunately I’d Pinboarded that link.

PS. Aperture has more trouble with El Capitan than most older software. Perhaps it’s more dependent on undocumented features than other software, or perhaps the code base is unusually problematic.

Update 7/24/2016: I’ve just seen iTunes lose its workspace. El Capitan really doesn’t want Dashboard to be a space. At least not the way I have Mission Control setup. I made it an overlay.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Life with Satan's Own Backup: Synology Time Machine Backup goes bad

A few days after my carefully delayed update from Yosemite to El Capitan, Emily’s MacBook Air complained it couldn’t run its Time Machine backups to our Synology DS215j NAS. I can’t say if this was related to El Capitan or not, but I do wonder about El Cap’s relative deprecation of APF (which Synology/Time Capsule needs).

The usual approach to this problem is to use the Synology web interface to run “File Station” and delete the .sparsebundle from there (don’t even think of trying to do this through the Mac Finder) then start over.

Instead I ran through a checkup of the NAS. I didn’t find anything — but did update my notes on the confusing configuration (every machine has a dedicated Synology username and quota). I tried various things to mount the old sparse bundle including disabling SMB, etc. Nothing worked, I couldn’t make use of the existing backup.

So then I installed a (long!) physical ethernet cable and tried Finder (AF) copying the .sparsebundle to a local drive so I could browse it efficiently. Every time I tried it quit at about 54GB with a message like “The operation can’t be completed because you don’t have permission to access some of the items.” A different 60GB file copied normally.

I figured that was a bogus error message from a corrupt file, so I used Synology to copy the 200GB directory internally. It copied well, no sign of a file system problem. I deleted the original and I was able to Finder copy the Synology copy to my local machine. BackupLoupe could even browse it, because, you know. you can’t use Time Machine to access a backup unless you’re on the original machine (which is why it’s Satan’s own backup).

All very occult.  It’s probably something to do with extended attributes, AFP, and some kind of El Capitan bug.

Oh. And I started over. Of course.

See also:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

iCloud MailDrop for distributing archival quality photos (sports teams, etc)

Inspired by an AWT post I did some testing to see how iCloud MailDrop handles a set of image attachments. I’ve blogged previously that archival/group distribution of large photo images is an unsolved problem.

It turns out MailDrop is a pretty interesting solution. You can use it to send 5GB of images at a time for a maximum quota of 1TB. Images are available for download for 1 month. That’s weirdly generous by Apple standards. Since iCloud accounts are now available to anyone this option is universally available. (Correction: AppleIDs are universally available, and they include access to Apple’s web based productivity apps, but non-Apple customers don’t get the rest.)

I tested using the iCloud web interface for Mail - Mail.cloud. I turned on MailDrop in preferences:

Screen Shot 2016 06 30 at 10 07 11 AM

With this enabled I selected about 60MB of images from a folder of Mac background images using the Mail.icloud attachment interface. After selection there was a note that they’d be sent by MailDrop. It’s hard to predict when MailDrop is used, Apple says it happens when the “ISP limit is exceeded”. I’m guessing 20MB or so [1]; but it would be preferable to have a manual way to activate AirDrop. (I’m pretty sure it’s 15 to 20 MB — and Apple doesn’t know what the cap is for corporate email accounts.)

I received the images in Gmail. The result was surprisingly attractive …

Screen Shot 2016 06 30 at 10 06 32 AM

The email was composed of thumbnails, if you click on an image you get …

Screen Shot 2016 06 30 at 10 06 13 AM

Since there’s no authentication one can send the message to oneself and forwards. I don’t normally use iCloud mail, but I could use it for distributing sports team images by sending the email to my gmail account then redirecting it.

If you want to provide a package of images that can be downloaded all at one time you need to compress them first and upload the archive. When I use this feature to share sports team photos I’ll probably do both — attach the images separately and include an archive. I may also share the archive URL in a team web page.

Apple has been curiously quiet about this feature. It may be the best way to distribute archival images available anywhere.

Here’s an edited example of an image URL, emphases mine:

https://www.icloud.com/attachment/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fcvws.icloud-content.com%2FB%2FAZOlwq83HR6i_J8Iqv1ETh96sCvWAQH591dTXxiV9rUgQPlOMjcbZQpT%...b2db-9ff6a7f032be-1%26ckc%3Dcom.apple.largeattachment%26ckz%3DApple-Webmail%26y%3D1%26p%3D42%26s%3DmfAJoJBJFepF6jaBPKqUJmnFHhI&uk=Oz_h26l5GHgaU53IUocfzg&f=NaturePatterns06.jpg&sz=5581904

- fn -

[1] It’s 20MB and there doesn’t seem to be a stable technique for lowering the threshold. This would be much nicer if it were manually adjustable. I’ll create a 15MB “filler file” to attach to emails I send to my gmail account, then I’ll resend from there stripping the filler file.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Photos 1.0.1 bug: Export Unmodified Original includes deleted images

Pretty simple bug: “Export Unmodified Original” includes deleted images. You have to empty trash to avoid this one. Happens when I select all images in “All Photos”.

Apple’s software quality continues to explore new lows. I’m still on Yosemite, it’s possible this doesn’t happen in El Capitan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Microsoft OneDrive does archival photo sharing better than I thought (with one bug)

Yes, I’m being cautious.

In testing, however, I can do this:

  • Create a folder that I can upload full resolution images to and ALSO make it shareable so other OneDrive registered users can upload to it.
  • Create an album that is based on that folder.
  • Share the folder-based album to people who do NOT have a OneDrive account.
  • Update that folder-album using the web UI. (Switch to Files, choose Create Album from Folder. If folder actually exists then it updates - including deletes.

Unfortunately there’s a bug with the undocumented update feature. In addition to updating the album it creates duplicate albums with an iterating integer suffix. The duplicates are easy to delete. I can’t see how to submit a bug report for One Drive unfortunately.

The current behavior is very close to what I want for sharing images in our sports team. There are also album share to Facebook options.

I haven’t tested whether any ICMP metadata will be used by the albums. There don’t appear to be any Photos.app uploader plugins but I’m still using Aperture so I’d be exporting.

I have 1TB of OneDrive data thanks to my Office 365 subscription. That subscription, which supports installs of Mac apps as well as Access on my Win10 VM, has been a great purchase.