Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to buy an iPhone for someone else (in Canada)

I recently had to purchase an iPhone for someone living in Canada who does not have a credit card. They had an iPhone 4s. It was hard to figure out how to do this, but easy when you know the trick.

The key is that Apple’s standard ordering procedure allows an iPhone to be picked up from a store by a 3rd party. They appear with government ID and the order number and Apple does the phone setup for them.

Detailed steps:

  1. Go to Rogers Wireless to get a new format SIM card put in 4s. This SIM can be physically split to produce an iPhone 6s sized SIM. (For annoying reasons having to do with account access I had to active the new SIM for her remotely.)
  2. I ordered the phone from the US using the Canadian Apple store and my American AMEX card with my US billing address.
  3. In ordering I specified the name, email address and phone number of the person picking up the phone. Don’t make any mistakes here. The email address and number you provide here will get pickup information.
  4. At the Apple store the recipient does an iCloud backup from the 4s. Then the store does the SIM swap and activates the new phone. Then recipient does an iCloud restore.

iCloud sorrow: the two ways to be in iCloud Drive

Within MindNode I can move a file into iCloud Drive. It shows up in the MindNode iCloud folder as in test.mindnode below. Note it has no size.

 Screen Shot 2016 10 16 at 8 28 56 PM

Within the Finder I can move a file into iCloud Drive. It shows up as in test2.mindnode above. It has a file size.

Both behave the same way on double click. Both show up similarly in on my iPhone.

test2 behaves like a document. I can create an alias of it. test IS an alias, it points to a document at the root of iCloud Drive.


Friday, October 14, 2016

AT&T has an iPhone network configuration problem.

This is a good news / bad news AT&T post.

The good news is that the support service I received on an iPhone connection issue was excellent.

The bad news is that after the support call I received an email telling me I’d signed up for paperless billing. (No, I didn’t. What’s with the Wells Fargo ploy?)

The badder news is that AT&T has some kind of network activation bug. I think it has to do with updating the relationship between an ICCID (SIM card identifier, this is in term mapped to a phone number) and an IMEI, and then provisioning the services a customer should receive.

I first saw this a year ago with Emily’s iPhone 5s to a new 6s upgrade. I swapped the SIM card; it seemed to work but she couldn’t forward calls. The fix was a new SIM card and a visit to (link there to phone activation).

I ran into a slightly different version of this problem with #3’s transition from an iPhone 5 to a pre-owned 6. I moved the SIM card over, but she had no data services and iMessage wouldn’t activate. Her phone claimed a 4G connection, but in reality no data was moving. Only voice and SMS worked.

The good service came from an AT&T support chat. The tech told me this was a common issue (worsening?), but we still had to walk through the usual steps (I’d already executed Apple’s troubleshooting steps). I didn’t have time though, so I asked for a fresh SIM card instead. The rep said it would appear in a week or so. In fact it showed up 20 hours later via FedEx overnight express.

That’s pretty cool. Shame about the paperless billing thing though.

Why did I want a new SIM card? I figured AT&T’s problem is a database bug, and a new SIM card rewrites AT&T’s database records. As I’d hoped it worked instantly. I think AT&T’s 2nd tier support might be able to fix the database records by hand, but the SIM card fix is faster. (It didn’t enable WiFi calling though — when I tested that I got a message to call AT&T to enable it.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Scrivener can output multiple books from one Binder - if you use keywords rather than labels for the conditional compile.

Scrivener doesn’t do everything I want, but it is able to compile two books from one binder. It’s just not obvious.

The key is creating a conditional (filtered) compile.

I thought I could do this with labels, but they don’t work. Each binder item (text block) can have one label, and the compile condition only supports one label. So there’s no way to create a many:one relationship (ex: two books, 1 chapter).

Text blocks can have only one label, but they can have multiple keywords (tags). So keywords seem like they should work, but there’s no way to do a filtered compile off a keyword.

The trick is to create a named collection from a keyword search. Then use the collection name in the compile. That works. Keywords can be applied to both text blocks and to “folders”; you need the latter for chapter headings for example.

For my book I have two keywords, iPhone and Android, and two saved search collections of the same name. The compile uses one or the other. Common chapters get both keywords, platform specific chapters get one.

- fn -

[1] The keywords UI is an Aperture user element — which is very powerful but amusingly jarring. I assume it’s coming from an OS X API, though I wonder if it’s deprecated. The story of Apple’s abandoned Aperture app would make an interesting book.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Aperture on Sierra: cautious optimism.

Aperture has been sunset, but the Apple Discussion group is still active. I’m encouraged by a discussion thread on Aperture 3.6 in Sierra. Brian O’Reilly in particular has done a great job testing an Aperture Library across multiple Macs (I think he’s a serious photographer, but who has 4 MacBook Pros lying around?) with good results. In his testing many of the El Capitan bugs have been fixed - leaving only the amusing bug of inverted thumbnails in list mode.

Other users are having the kind of problems I’d expect — hard crashes on full screen toggle, uncaught exceptions, etc. There are probably multiple issues, but some of them sound like video driver issues with older Macs. Apple often fixes these bugs 3-5 months after initial release.

I like to wait 6-8 months to do a major Mac update, so there’s lots of time for things to improve. When the time comes I’ll do some testing with an external drive before making the conversion. Still, this is better than I expected. I was pretty sure I’d stay on El Capitan through mid-2018 before switching to then. (Surprisingly there’s still nothing in I really want.)

I can’t figure out how to link to a specific post in Apple’s new Discussion forums (which I dislike, but they are getting better), but here’s the text from Brian’s summary post with some edits and emphases, followed by my response …


…  [Known El Capitan bugs evaluated]

Thumbnails upside down in List view
Curves Adjustment and Straighten - not visible in export
Brush Adjustment - off by one pixel
Link to Plug-In menu not working
Keyboard shortcut ‘f’ (for fullscreen) causes crash
Keyboard shortcut ‘w’ (Inspector - Next Tab) causes crash

Test procedure

External Drive - Firewire 800
Clean install of MacOS 10.12 - customer release
Clean install of Aperture 3.6
Import of JPEG and Nikon Raw Images to a new Library - Images are Managed

Test machines:

The above Hard Disk was used a start-up drive on the following machines - with a Thunderbolt to Firewire adaptor as needed

MacPro 2012 - 64 Gb RAM
MacPro 2012 - 48 Gb RAM
MacPro 2010 -20 Gb RAM
MacPro 2010 -16 Gb RAM
Mac Mini Server Mid 2011 - 8Gb RAM
Mac Mini Late 2014 - 8 Gb RAM
MacBook Pro 17” Early 2011 - 16 Gb RAM
MacBook Pro 15” Early 2011 - 8 Gb RAM
MacBook Air Mid 2013 - 4 Gb RAM
MacBook Pro 15” Late 2014 - 8 Gb RAM

My test results are as follows - and were identical in all of the above tests

Thumbnails upside down in List view - Issue found
Curves Adjustment and Straighten - not visible in export - Issue not found
Brush Adjustment - off by one pixel - Issue not found
Link to Plug-In menu not working - Issue not found
Keyboard shortcut ‘f’ (for fullscreen) causes crash - Issue not found
Keyboard shortcut ‘w’ (Inspector - Next Tab) causes crash - Issue not found


… If machines after 2010 work better than before 2010 that would make me think of a video driver problem with Sierra. The good news is that those kinds of bugs are not app specific and they tend to get fixed in later versions of a major OS update.

If I had updated to Sierra and was having problems I’d try one or more of running Apple’s hardware test on my Mac, rebuilding the Aperture Library, rebuild JPEG previews and thumbnails, create a new empty Library, test that, them import the old Library into it, backup to a fresh Vault and then create a new Library from that Vault, run Aperture as a new user (so eliminate existing prefs), and perhaps try “Reprocess Original” to change to most current RAW processing.

Also, create an external (clean install) Sierra boot drive, install Aperture, and copy Library over to that for testing.

I don't plan to update to Sierra until spring 2017 at the earliest. If I do upgrade I'll do something like this:

1. Do multiple backups of Aperture.
2. Experiment first with a near-empty Library.
3. Be ready to try all the things listed above.

Monday, October 03, 2016

How to backup your iCloud data on a Mac

Apple has a support doc on backing up iCloud data with a less than ideal recommendation for macOS backup …

Archive or make copies of your iCloud data - Apple Support

To copy notes, open the Notes app at Copy the text of each note and paste it into a document on your computer, such as a Pages or TextEdit document. Save the document to your computer. To export your notes as PDF, open the Notes app in OS X Mountain Lion or later. Select the note, then click File > Export as PDF and choose a location.

Maybe Automator could make this scale, but I’ve never had much luck with Automator.

There’s a better approach that, oddly, Apple used to recommend …

How do you backup Notes? | Official Apple Support Communities

Open Notes.
Select View > Show Folders.
Create a new folder called Notes Backup in the On My Mac section of your folders list.
Select one or more notes from your All iCloud folder. Holding the Option key down, drag the notes into the Notes Backup folder. A green plus icon should appear as you're dragging the Notes to the new folder. This creates a copy of your iCloud Notes on your computer.
If you have an iCloud section in your folders list, but not an On My Mac section, you will need to create one.
Quit Notes.
In System Preferences, select iCloud. Deselect Notes.
Open Notes. Select File > New Folder. Name your folder Notes Backup. Create a new note in that folder as a placeholder. Quit Notes.
In System Preferences, select iCloud. Select Notes.
Open Notes. You should now see a section for iCloud and a section for On My Mac. Follow the instructions above for making a local backup of your iCloud Notes.

For this to work you need to enable the “On my Mac Account”. That may be disabled on most Macs and I suspect Apple would like to get rid of it. Which is perhaps why it’s no longer part of the backup support doc. In any case this does work on El Capitan, it does scale, and it enables restore.

If you ask Google how to backup, the AI presents this as a “pre-answer” above all web page results. Google’s AI does better than Apple’s support documentation team.

Apple needs a better backup/restore solutions for all of its iCloud data, especially, but for now this helps.