Sunday, November 18, 2018

Printer configuration is a still a pain (AirPrint edition)

I replaced an old Brother HL-L6200DW with a new Brother HL-L6200DW. Isn’t stasis wonderful? Scanners and printers don’t change much any more.

I sort of remembered how to test these up. I got it working via ethernet, then got it on our WiFi network. That worked for my Mac, but AirPrint wasn’t happy. Same printer, same name, different Mac ID. iOS said it would let me update to the new printer, but then it failed.

I had to restart my router, rename the printer in the web GUI (I’m sure this isn’t in the manual), restart printer, restart phone. Then it found it.

I’m sure there’s an easier way. Nobody prints though, so maybe not.

PS. The printer has all kinds of web services enabled. It’s basically waving a hack-me flag. It’s a bother to figure out what I can turn off.

Monday, November 12, 2018

An almost useful Siri Shortcut: "Voice memo record"

Apple forgot to add a Siri command that would launch Voice Memo.app and start recording. You can launch it with Siri, but it won’t start recording.

They did add a Siri Shortcut though - “Record a new voice memo”. So I finally found a use for that feature, I added “Record voice memo” and “Voice memo record” as Siri shortcuts. I think the 2nd one works better.

“Record a memo” doesn’t work because Siri uses that to open Voice Memo.app without launching the recording (iOS doesn’t warn about this during shortcut creation). The behavior is also a bit buggy, sometimes the phrase launched Voice Memo.app but didn’t start recording.

I tried creating a springboard Shortcut, but even though “Record a new voice memo” is in Siri & Search settings shortcuts, it’s not available in Shortcuts.app. (btw, deleting a Shortcuts.app shortcut uses an insanely weird UI).

How to find the folder that holds an iOS app in iOS 11 and 12

This is so friggin obscure now. I had to read this Apple Discussions thread a few times. The problem is there are two types of Spotlight search in iOS, and now only one of them shows a containing folder name.

When you type an app name in Spotlight iOS does predictive search first. You don’t tap the Search button. In iOS 11-12 the predictive search result UI doesn’t show the name of the containing folder.

To see the containing folder you need to do search-search (plain old search), not predictive search. Type the portion of the app name that shows your app in predictive search, but don’t tap on the app. Instead tap on the Search (blue) button. That does proper search, and now the containing folder shows next to the app name.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Cisco Receiver client for Mac no longer works with Safari (NPAPI plug-ins are no longer supported by Safari)

Safari 12 “Removed support for running legacy NPAPI plug-ins other than Adobe Flash” [1]. Despite years of warning Cisco wasn’t quite ready (perhaps Apple has made a mess of the plug-in/extension migration [2])

NPAPI support is being removed from Safari 12 | Citrix Blogs (Aug 2018)

… Apple have announced they’re removing support for NPAPI from Safari 12. This will affect the user experience for users accessing Citrix Receiver for Web using Safari on Mac. We’ll address this by turning on the Citrix Receiver Launcher for Safari 12+ in future releases of Citrix StoreFront…

With Safari 12 if you click on a Citrix Receiver link a .ica file is downloaded. You have to click the .ica file to launch Receiver. Prior to 12 the /Library[3]/Internet plug-ins/CitrixICAClientPlugIn.plugin handled the .ica file, clicking a link caused CitrixICAClientPlugIn.plugin to launch Receiver. There’s a Safari 12 workaround, but I’ve not tried it.

Citrix does have new era extension support for Chrome, so you can just use Chrome until Citrix delivers a “Safari App Extension” version of the plug-in. (Which might come with their Citrix Workspace replacement for Receiver.)

- fn -

[1] The dev must have hated keeping Flash support. NPAPI is 1995 old, Chrome dropped NPAPI support in September 2015.

[2] Safari 12 also deprecated the newer-than-NPAPI “Safari Extensions” and Apple is shutting down the Extensions gallery. Instead we’re supposed to get Safari App Extensions, but, as is too often true of Apple, it’s not clear where one downloads Safari App Extensions.

[3] Installed in root Library rather than user Library.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

iOS 12.1 Files.app will open Google Drive hosted ePub directly in Books.app

iOS 12.1 Files.app will open Google Drive hosted ePub files directly in Books.app (formerly iBooks). I don’t know how new this is, but tapping on the same file in Google’s Drive.app gives an “unsupported file type” error. (You can still copy it to Books, it’s just awkward.) I’d long used Drive.app to open my ePubs, just happened to try Files.app today.

Books UI doesn’t scale well to significant number of ePubs, storing them in Google Drive or iCloud Drive works much better [1]. I treat iBooks as a temporary store, periodically I clean it out.

[1] Also iOS 12 Books.app won’t sync with Sierra iBooks, so those of us who are putting off painful updates have another reason to store in the file system. Really, though, it’s just way better than using iBooks storage. I’m a bit disappointed Apple hasn’t fully integrated iBook storage with iCloud Files, but this is nice.

iOS 12 Notes.app tables don't render in Notes.web (or Sierra Notes)

Tables have been neglected in the past 20 years of software, so I was surprised to see them in iOS 12.1 Notes.app.

Sadly, they don’t render in Notes.web (Safari or Chrome). Instead we see the same empty block that Sierra Notes uses:

Screen Shot 2018 11 03 at 11 44 48 AM

That’s disappointing. iCloud is overdue for some maintenance.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tableau Public for Mac

Tableau is a popular data visualization tool with strong map features. My workplace version has an extensive list of data connections.

Tonight I downloaded the public (free) version of Tableau for Mac. The connection list is far smaller than the commercial version. It will import from Excel, CSV, JSON, PDF, “spatial file” and “statistical file” files. It can pull data in from Google Sheets, Data, “Web data connector” and “ODBC”. It only exports CSV. It occupies 1.6GB of disk space.

Storage aside, it did a great job pulling data out of a PDF table. That’s almost worth the 1.6GB by itself. Given the state of Mac data tools I think it’s worth keeping around.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

An Elgato T2 Hub and USB 3 SSD work pretty well

For 3yrs I’ve used a Samsung SSD (1TB) in a cheap Inatek IDE enclosure with UASP/USB 3 connection to an Elgato T2 dock connected to a 2015 MacBook Air by Apple T2 cable. The Elgato also connects to two Firewire 800 drives.

I realized today that it’s worked quite well for quite a while. Now that I’ve written this it will all go to pieces, but until now — good stuff. My 360GB Aperture library lives on that external SSD and I don’t have any real performance issues with it. I use Jettison to undock when I take the Air with me; I disconnect the power cable and the T2 cable.

Which reminds me of some rant I read today about how the Air is the worst machine in existence and everyone should buy a $400 Windows machine instead. I beg to disagree. The current Air is still a great machine. You may not like the non-retina screen (my eyes suck so what would I know?), but you can buy a nice external display.

The absolute best thing machine Apple could do would be to continue to sell the 2018 13” Air but swap the T2 for T3* and make the display Retina. Leave every other thing about it pretty much the same and sell it for the current price.

*Update: Actually, I’m not sure T3 is so great. Maybe just do the Retina and call it a win.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

MarsEdit - drag and drop link creation only works with Safari now

In the past it was easy to create a link to a web page within MarsEdit from Safari or Chrome.. Click in the browser URL address bar, drag to rich text editor pane, and drop. Bam — a link is created with the page title text and page URL.

That was broken in a recent MarsEdit update. Happily it was quickly fixed for Safari. As of 4.2.1 it doesn’t work for Chrome though; with Chrome we get the URL text but no link.

I think Daniel will fix this sooner or later, but if you are a MarsEdit user and you miss fast Chrome link creation please let Daniel know. I’d like to get it back!

PS. I’m so Chrome-stuck, mostly due to need for identity switching, that I now drag the link from Chrome to Safari then from Safari to MarsEdit!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The end of Google+ will impact Blogger

Visiting Google’s official Blogger blog today I tried viewing comments on a May 2018 post (a list of things removed and a promise of future work). There are 858 comments, based on Google+. I wonder what will happen to them now that G+ is dead. (So will we get our + back in search syntax?)

At one point Google tried to integrate G+ and Blogger — particularly identity management. It didn’t go well. I suspect the divorce won’t go well either.

- fn -

[1] Suggestively most of the future work mentioned were enhancements to moving data out of Blogger.

PS. Google+ was a really dumb name.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

iOS 12 update may undo cellular data lock

There’s an iOS restriction called “cellular data changes”. If it’s enabled a user cannot change their cellular data settings.

I think the iOS 12 update defeats this lock. Settings will show “Cellular Data Changes” - “Don’t Allow” but the settings can be edited.

To reenable the restriction turn it off then turn it on again.

I’ve seen this on a couple of phones post iOS 12 update. I think it’s an old bug.

Only Apple can provide family mobile device management for iOS

Update 10/24/2018: After writing this, and only by experimentation, I’ve discovered that Apple actually provides extensive remote control options for family members with an “Apple age” under 18. It’s imperfect and there’s no browser interface, but it is comparable to Google's Family Link.

Over on my book project blog I recently reviewed Google’s Family Link solution for mobile device management of children and dependent devices (“parental controls”). I reflected on my experience with third party solutions for iOS devices:

… I’ve found problems with all of the solutions I’ve tested. Qustodio’s VPN can’t handle encrypted connectionsMMGuardian has several killer flaws, and their competition didn’t  even meet my minimal test standards …

I think there are four interlocking reasons that make this a “mission impossible” from anyone but Apple:

  1. Apple’s mobile device management model is very difficult to implement — even for leading corporate partners [1].
  2. It’s non-trivial development to build something like scheduled app access control on top of Apple’s suite of iOS restrictions. This isn’t something schools and business need, so it has to be supported by the family market.
  3. Very few people will pay for this service. It’s a lot of work for a niche market.
  4. Any vendor looking at the home market knows that Apple could eliminate their business at any time with no warning. That’s what Google did with Family Link.

Only Apple can do the equivalent of Google’s Family Link [2]. That may require governmental pressure. Until Apple does it parents of children and guardians of special needs adults will need physical access to iPhones to implement restrictions.

- fn -

[1] JAMF is the dominant vendor in the corporate and educational iOS MDM market. I recently took advantage of a “Daring Fireball reader” special offer for a free 3 device JAMF account. When I enrolled a test device I discovered that annual certificate renewal disconnects enrolled devices (unless you have a dedicated corporate Apple ID) and I learned that full access to Apple’s suite of iOS restrictions requires either Apple’s “PreStage purchase program” or use of Apple Configurator (I think this is in flux with iOS 11 and 12).
[2] If Apple does add MDM to iCloud, I hope they think about vulnerable adults. Google’s “age of consent” (13yo in US) opt-out and notification approach is a workable alternative to disabling use of Family MDM for adults.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Apple Manage Devices / Associated Devices is still kind of broken

If multiple devices share a Store Apple ID they will show up in Apple ID Devices. They will also show in iTunes (for that Store Apple ID), Apple’s current documentation states iTunes is the only way to see and manage this list. “You can have ten devices (no more than five of them computers) associated with your Apple ID and iTunes at one time."

And you thought iTunes was dead!

You have to remove devices manually from this list after you stop using them. If, like me, you use the same Store Apple ID on family devices it’s easy to hit the limit.

The interesting bit is these two lists are different and they don’t synchronize. They are presumably on two different databases.

The applied.apple.com list is current and shows 8 devices. I think if you sign out of a device you’re not using this list will be updated.

The iTunes managed list is not updated when you sign out of a device. You have to update it manually. I think it still supports iPods. It had one of our devices that was no longer active on it, but it also had an old iPhone 4 we use for music only that runs iOS7 [1]

iPod support explains why the iTunes managed list can’t be automatically updated. I don’t know what happens if you exceed the limit on one list but not the other.

- fn -

[1] The iCloud My Devices display supports “iOS 8, macOS Yosemite … or later …”

iOS 12 Family Sharing: Purchase Sharing supports changing Apple ID and UI could support future multiple Apple IDs.

One of Apple’s “original sins” is the proliferation of Apple IDs and the inability to merge or manage them. I have four that I know of with cryptic and fungible relationships between Apple ID and product ownership. (The worst bugs in the software world are data model bugs.)

In iOS 12 Family Sharing there’s now a setting for Purchase Sharing with an associated Apple ID. Mine is set to my Apple Store ID which is historically distinct from my iCloud ID (many old timers have this unfixable issue). If you tap on this Apple ID it rings up a dialog that allows this to be changed (there’s a bug here — tapping on it doesn’t always work. I had to leave the screen and return to it to enable tap). When I tapped it switched the default to my iCloud Apple ID.

I believe this is a new control. It will be interesting to see what happens when I migrate other family devices that use this iTunes Store ID for purchasing.

At the moment only one Apple ID can be used, but this UI could support multiple Apple IDs. The screen also displays a payment method that cannot be changed, it’s presumably defined by Apple ID.

This is something to watch.

PS. The ten year history of this mess is one reason I recommend Spotify over Apple Music for families.

See also:

iOS 12 Parental Controls / Restrictions / Screen Time: Parental Controls (Passcode restricted) is not always compatible with "Share Across Devices"

Experimenting with Screen Time I enabled a passcode on my personal iPad after I’d enabled “Share Across Devices” [1]. I then found I could disable it without reentering the passcode. Which kind of defeats the purpose of a parental control passcode.

Then I turned it on again, and this time I was asked something like: “Is this iPad for you or your child?” [2]. Once I chose child I could no longer remove the passcode without entering it.

“Share Across Devices” then turned itself off.

When I turned “Share Across Devices” back on then I had to reenter my Screen Time Passcode. After than Screen Time Passcode was disabled.

Maybe this isn’t exactly a bug, but it certainly is awkward. I wonder if “Share Across Devices” uses iCloud ID or iTunes/Store ID.

Screen Time for family is enabled through the “Family Sharing” screen.

- fn -

[1] I think Share Across Devices Requires Apple’s two-factor authentication, which seems to rely on SIM-hack-friendly justly scorned phone number authentication. Yay Apple.

[2] Remember when iOS was going to allow multiple accounts on a single iPad? Android did that for their now defunct tablets.