Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blogger's BlogThis! bookmarklet has largely disappeared from the web.

Google still hosts the BlogThis! bookmarklet at https://www.blogger.com/blog-this.g but they've removed all documentation. Google Search finds old posts, bad links, and splogs. If you drag above to your toolbar I think it will work (did for me). I am seeing new issues with Blogger's perennial line feed problem, so maybe that's part of the removal. [1]

In a similar vein the Blogger online documentation of limits doesn't mention the now 5 year old limit on search -- only the past 5000 posts are searchable within blogger.

On the one tentacle I'm surprised Blogger still works -- Google deprecated it years ago. On another, my RSS feeds are busier than ever, and Google has quietly returned to blogs for its external communications -- tacitly abandoning G+.

Interesting ride on the pseudo-IndieWeb of Blogger, one of the last remnants of pre-Evil Google. I've been using WordPress for years for my microblog posts and I'm happy to report that the migration tool continues to be updated (though last I looked it was still WP 3.5, we're on 4.0 now).

[1] One of the original sins of the personal computer was the CRLF, LF, CR division between DOS, Mac and Unix. Extra blank lines with various combinations of editing tools is the price paid for Bill Gate's CRLF blunder. He should send us all checks by way of compensation.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Tivoli Radio - spending $150 to get a 1960s radio is very 2014

Ten (ten!) years I wrote in this blog …

Gordon's Tech: Tivoli PAL (or iPAL): the iPod speaker accessory of choice?

… At $130 the price isn't bad. It's not as flash as some of the iPod speaker accesories, but it's ruggedly made and comes with a great radio. It might be interesting to pair this with an Airport Express and use it as a convenient iTunes and iPod extension….

Today, ten years later the iPal features are identical but the price has gone up by $90. Despite the price bump and complete lack of feature change the product remains popular.

Capitalism isn’t supposed to work this way. We should have been inundated by Chinese clones; but instead we are swamped by much cheaper products with inscrutable interfaces. (The latter is why we bought the Tivoli.)

In any case I didn’t buy the iPAL, i bought the battery-less Model One for $140 on Amazon. It has the layout of a $10 radio from 1960 - speaker, volume, rotary tuner, AM/FM switch. The only concession to the past 55 years is an Aux setting (I lied, it’s OFF/FM/AM/AUX).

It’s so retro it’s fashionable. My 12 yo wants one bad.

The back ports do show it’s bit more serious than a 1950 knock-off. Here’s a pro picture from Amazon that obscure’s the “made in China” letters and hides some screw heads ..

Screen Shot 2014 09 05 at 8 09 13 PM

and here’s the real thing, which doesn’t look nearly so pretty …


The radio comes with an (undocumented and easy to miss) coax connector with a 3 foot long external antenna wire. If you plug it in, do switch from internal to external. (In my photo you’ll see it’s set to internal even though an external antenna is connected. I only noticed the switch as I was editing the photo!).

There’s a (stereo) headphone jack, a 12V connector (not sure for what), a record out (!) separate from the headphone jack, and an aux in. The power cable, by the way, is very long and comes with a hefty ferrite core which may or may not help with power line hum.

The aux-in on my device is for the AirPort Express AirPlay output - just as I wrote 10 years ago. Unfortunately, it’s not working very well in our kitchen. I’m getting periodic drop outs, and the microwave completely kills any wifi. As best I can tell it should be working — but the Airport Express I’m using is at least 5-6 years old. I’m going to order a modern Airport Extreme to free up a 2-3 yo Airport Express and try that instead.  (I am annoyed that AirPlay/WiFi is not working as advertised, but I’m not surprised. We Apple veterans don’t really expect our Apple gear to work. Apple is only better than all the alternatives.)

If newer AirPort Express still fails I’ll return the Extreme (yay Amazon) and buy a Bluetooth dongle instead.

Tivoli does make a BT version of this devices for $100 more, but the Amazon reviews are damning, particularly this one

After the Tivoli was initially paired with my mom's iPod, it would autoconnect with it every time she wanted to use the bluetooth function. However, when I paired it with my iPhone as well, that autoconnect feature fell by the wayside and every time the bluetooth function was used, you had to re-connect the device manually. Not really a big deal, but it was pretty cool when the Tivoli connected automatically. Just to be sure, I got in touch with Tivoli and they said that once the unit is paired with more than one device, it loses its autoconnect capabilities. They also said there was no way to reset it to factory settings.

This review is a few years old, so maybe Tivoli has fixed their BT problem, but they’re clearly technically incompetent. I decided to go for the simple device they seem to know how to make with AirPlay then, if that fails, an external bluetooth dongle.

The sound and tuner are both fine. So if it keeps working we’re happy — though it’s weird that we have to spend so much to buy something simple:


Capitalism is not working as expected.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

iOS 7.1.2 update broke cellular data controls

ARGH. I’d come to suspect something like this:

Michael Tsai - Blog - “Use Cellular Data For” Switch Doesn’t Work

… Unfortunately, this feature seems to have stopped working with iOS 7.1.2. I went over my 200 MB bandwidth limit in both July and August—having never done so before. Apps such as OmniFocus and Overcast, which I’ve always set to not use cellular data, used tens of MB of data.

Omni seems to have received other reports of this problem and explained how I could turn off automatic syncing in OmniFocus. I think this helped, but the app has still used 5 MB of data in the last four days, when it shouldn’t have used any at all.

Emily and I have been much closer to our 2GB/month limit than ever before, the kids are running through their prepaid data, and a friend of mine noticed a big leap in AT&T data use.

If there’s a class action suit to get Apple to pay our overages I’m in. They must know about this bug…

In a probably related bug, I’ve noticed that the total cellular data usage is routinely greater than the sum of each apps cellular data usage (so usage is not being recorded at the app level, but is recorded at the OS level). In an unrelated defect, nobody really knows what iTunes Accounts is and why it uses so much data.

See also: