Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Windows 7 Search: how to display appointment start date in results

Windows XP full-text search was a back-ported version of Windows 7 search. It was a regression from Lookout (Microsoft Acquired) but an improvement on Windows Live Search. The UI adapted to the result type, so Appointments showed different attributes than Contacts or Files.

Windows 7 Search is another regression, and a big one. When I hit Windows-F for example (only way to really use it), and use Details view (best view), my Outlook Appointments (meetings, etc) show with 'modified date'. That is not particularly useful.

Fortunately there are workarounds. I don't think they are well known, even after I figured this out I couldn't find any posts on this.

One work around is to switch from Details View of search results to Content View (control is a drop down in the explorer bar - right side). Content View shows attributes appropriate for the data type. Enabling the preview bar and you get something like the XP search interface - albeit without column sort or sub-search and, inexplicably, some standard objects can't be previewed on my machine (tasks?).

Alternatively stay in Details View, but right click on the columns (Name, Date Modified, etc). This will produce a very long list of attributes/columns that can be added. For appointments you want "Start date" and "End date" (if you don't know the name, good luck finding them). You can change sort order. You can add selected attributes for other items of interest. The result for many searches will be a sparse matrix, but you can sort by the columns of interest.

See also

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Using iPhoto and Aperture together - and merging iPhoto Libraries

My first post on merging iPhoto Libraries was published on January 17th, 2004.

Gordon's Tech: Apple - Discussions - iPhoto 4: Consolidate multiple libraries

... Using iPhoto Library Manager or similar software, open Secondary Library. Adjust albums so all images appears in EXACTLY one album. (Apple has an AppleScript to find images not in any library, see AppleScript site for iPhoto.)
1b. OPTIONAL. In Secondary Library edit roll names to descriptive names.
2. Burn Secondary Library to iPhoto Disc from iPhoto.
3. Switch iPhoto to Main Library. Insert iPhoto Disc.
4. Expand view of iPhoto Disc. Select ALL albums. Drag and drop on Main Library icon.

Almost 9 years later Apple has posted an officially supported approach to merging iPhoto Libraries - using Aperture.

Nine years ... nine years ...

I could cry.

I did this the hard (hard, hard) way about 6 months ago. I am sure it works a hell of a lot better now. Album Descriptions are still a problem. Both iPhoto Albums and Events can have Descriptions, but only Aperture Events/Projects can have Descriptions. In my testing with iPhoto and Aperture's new unified Photo Library I can edit or create Album Descriptions, but they aren't shown in Aperture.

Maybe this will be fixed in an Aperture update -- but I'm not holding my breath. Apple's description of how they reconciled Aperture and iPhoto doesn't mention this gap (you can submit a request on Apple's Aperture Feedback form). It does list several other issues, these are the ones that seemed significant to me:

  • Smart albums from each application are visible and fully functional in the other. However, the album settings must be edited with the application in which you created the album. 
  • Photos hidden using iPhoto's Hide command cannot be accessed in Aperture.
  • PDF files in Aperture libraries are not visible or accessible in iPhoto. (I remember when iPhoto supported PDFs btw)
  • If you activate Photo Stream for a library in iPhoto and then open it in Aperture, that library is still linked to Photo Stream. Only one library can be linked to Photo Stream at a time, so if you subsequently open another library and activate Photo Stream, the previous library is no longer linked. (I try to avoid Photo Stream for now - feels like it needs several more iterations)

In keeping with Apple's deplorable documentation policies they omit mention of real issues. Besides the Album Description gap, I would be very careful about using Keywords. Aperture's Keywords use a fairly complex hierarchy model, iPhoto keywords are a flat list; true interoperability is mathematically impossible. On inspection iPhoto only shows the very top of the Aperture Keyword tree; unless you want to go to a flat keyword model don't touch Keywords in iPhoto. Interestingly Smart Albums defined against Aperture Keywords still work in iPhoto even though the Keywords can't be displayed in iPhoto.

Lastly, since the two apps support different numbers of 'Stars' the ratings mapping must be lossy.

I've started cautious use of both iPhoto and Aperture together. I liked iPhoto 9's Event Management tools, and even though they've been dumbed down in iPhoto 11 they're still better than Aperture's. I'd hoped to use iPhoto to export albums to Picasa, but Google stopped support on the Mac Picasa Web Albums exporter and iPhoto PlugIn. It still shows in my iPhoto since it was previously installed, and supposedly it still works if you can find it. (Proof that I am the proverbial dinosaur  -- few seem to care that this app was discontinued.)

I'll update this post with what I learn over time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

iCloud transition - Contacts take 2

Four months ago, when MobileMe was turned off, an attempt to move my OS X Lion Contacts to iCloud transition was a first class debacle. I still have PTSD from that disaster; it took several consultations over a week and some AppleScript intervention to undo the mess.

Since then I've maintained a test set of Contacts on iCloud while I sync my primary Contacts from iPhone to Desktop via iTunes. Now my primary machine is on Mountain Lion, iCloud presumably has fewer bugs, and my iPhone is on iOS 6.01. So I tried again, following this procedure:

  1. Create a backup copy of my contacts on my main mac - prior to iCloud migration.
  2. MacBook Air - remove all contacts. (Cloud empty)
  3. MacBook - sync, confirm empty.
  4. OS X: set up iCloud -- everything goes over.
    1. 1833 cards on desktop
    2. 1833 cards in web view of iCloud (a friggin miracle that they match) - thanks to Nigel Garvey's CR/LF cleanup script.  I did see an issue - the web view seemed to be hanging mid-way through the letter S. I edited the note for that contact, quit and tried again. Everything showed up. Don't know what that means.
  5. iPhone -- need to clear out existing Contacts (was synchronizing via iTunes). Can't just turn on iCloud contacts because it will try to merge with iCloud. i'm sure that would be a disaster.
    1. Turn on iPhone sync with my Google Contacts (usually that's off). iPhone offers to delete local. I accept.
    2. Turn off Google Contact sync
    3. Confirm no contacts left on phone
  6. iPhone - turn on iCloud contacts
    1. 1833 cards on iPhone (note that matches the above counts. Another flaming miracle.)
  7. MacBook Air - turn on iCloud contacts
    1. Yes, again, 1833. Whoopee.
  8. MacBook running Lion …
    1. Here I chickened out. I really don't use that machine much any more and I don't really need to replicate my Contacts there. Why take the risk of adding another OS in the mix, especially Lion? In fact, I plan to revert that machine back to Snowie with a fresh install. Then my house will be Snowie and ML - two decent versions of OS X.

So I'm back on iCloud again for Contacts, and I think a few bugs have been worked out.

Accessing Citrix "ICA" for Mountain Lion - Citrix Receiver, not Citrix PlugIn or Citrix Access Gateway

This is a narrow-interest post, but if you are affected I can all but guarantee you will appreciate it.

Many hospitals and healthcare delivery systems using Epic provide physicians with remote access to the Epic EHR. HealthPartners in MN, where my wife works does this.

The HealthPartners site recommends installation of "Citrix ICA Client" for Windows. It doesn't say what to do for a Mac. We've used the "Citrix Online Plugin" for Snow Leopard for years, but it's no longer supported. We uninstalled it.

So what should one do? Should one install, for example, the beta version of Citrix Access Gateway with 10.8 support? 

Briefly - no. Download and install Citrix - Receiver for Mac 11.6 or later. Citrix has an abysmal web site, but it appears that the 'Access Gateway' product is largely obsolete. Receiver is a supported product and it worked with the HealthPartner's Citrix gateway.

It works, but that doesn't mean it's quality software. The installation failed from a User account, even after granting Admin rights. I had to uninstall and reinstall from an Admin account. (It's also possible that there were bits of old Citrix app remaining and the uninstaller cleaned them up -- but I'd unstable previously.)

Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion - experience and bugs

After about a year of preparation, and six months of running Mountain Lion on my relatively new 11" Air, I upgraded my @2009 27" iMac from Snowie to ML.
I'll add to this post as I get more experience with the transition. For now, I'll list some early impressions, some bugs and what I did to transition.
  • I've had worse upgrades, and I'm glad I was able to skip Lion -- the closest Apple has come to a Vista-class OS X debacle.
  • Mission Control and Full Screen are made for my 11" Air, but they're a bit awkward on my iMac. I might change my old and unloved "Magic Mouse" to Apple's Magic Pad. A lifehacker article helped with changes to Spaces, but this tip in comments is key: "You can assign applications to a space without any addons. Just right click on the item in the dock, and do Options > Assign To > This Desktop". Not all apps have this ML-specific feature; Aperture does but iTunes doesn't. [Turns out this is a bug, iTunes should have the option. See below.]


  • Ran Mountain Lion on a secondary machine for a few months. So I know I can adjust to the mouse direction inversion.
  • Upgraded or abandoned a number of apps based on experiences with the Air prior to transition. FileMaker Pro and VMWare Fusion of course, but I looked at all the apps I use and either removed or upgraded them. Brought everything from App Store up to date that could run on Snow Leopard. Removed Rosetta apps (obsolete games for kids mostly). Removed Spanning Sync (no longer useful).
  • Uninstalled all PreferencePanes.
  • I should have removed all Login Items but forgot, created minor issues (below).
  • Disk Utility Verify Disk.
  • Uninstalled Citrix apps, my wife relies on that. I have a somewhat ML compatible version I'll install soon.
  • Uninstalled Magic Prefs, an app I've used to make the Magic Mouse somewhat tolerable
  • Attempted iCloud migration, that was a fiasco. I'm getting ready to retry with teeth firmly gritted.

Upgrade issues and bugs

  • Ran into a known bug with Login Items (see below) - esp. “SpeechSynthesisServer.app".
  • I had multiple failures with downloading Mountain Lion and a known bug with App Store "unknown error occurred" messages. (See below).
  • I was unable to save the Mountain Lion installer. (below)
  • When opened in it's Snow Leopard 'space-2' the iTunes Doc context menu was missing its 'Assign To' options. They were shown in other Spaces. I had to use those options in another Space to restore the menu in all Spaces. Looks like a bug with converting SL space-assignment prefs.
Known Login Item bug
This bug has hit a few people going from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion. Details below from an Apple Discussion thread I contributed to: 

The document...: Apple Support Communities

… The document SpeechSynthesisServer.app could not be opened because it is damaged or incomplete….

… I think this bug may hit people whose user accounts have gone through a few versions of OS X AND are going directly from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion. In my case my user account started out with 10.2 - so it's picked up some cruft.

There are several items in my non-admin user Preferences:Users and Groups:User:Login Items that are not in my Admin account user including an item called SpeechSynthesisServer. It had a yellow warning triangle next to it and the data type was unrecognized.

I removed it from Login Items, logged out, logged in, and the bug was gone. The LoginIn item is referencing a system app, that app is still present post upgrade: /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A /Frameworks/SpeechSynthesis.framework/Versions/A.

I suspect the app is still important. DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING IN SYSTEM/LIBRARY. Just leave it alone iTunesHelper was also on the one user's LoginItems and I removed it.

I think there are a couple of bugs with the Login Item migration from SL to ML. For example, a disk image I mounted showed with a yellow icon too. I removed it, added it back in, and it was fine.

The known App Store "unknown error" bug and a probably App Store download bug

I was unable to successfully download the Mountain Lion Install from the App Store; two attempts failed with an App Stoer error message "An Unknown Error Occurred". I'd saved a copy from upgrading my Air, so I had to use that. During this process I ran into a bug with App Store error messages. I think there are two bugs here:

  • If the "an unknown error occurred" error appears after a failed App Store download, it will prevent future downloads. The fix is to use App store menu item for logging into your account and click the button to reset app store warnings.
  • I wonder if under some conditions a failed download can get "stuck" and block future downloads. I haven't yet down this, but I wonder if cleaning App Store caches would help [1].
Problem with saving the Mountain Lion Installer
i'm not sure if this is a bug or a change Apple made recently.
When I upgraded my Air from Lion to Mountain Lion from an Admin account the installers were initial saved to the Applications folder. If I quit the install procedure I could save it, then run install (original is deleted).
When I upgraded this iMac, starting from a User account I tried the same thing - quite the Installer. This time, however, it was not in Applications. After this my subsequent downloads failed with an "Unknown Error". So either Apple has changed procedures or there's a bug here. Probably both.

[1] from Apple Discussions, C Samit

… try deleting the cache, cookies, and preferences associated with the App Store. Quit the App Store if it's open. Now open the Finder. From the Finder menu bar click Go > Go to Folder Type or copy/paste: ~/LIbrary/Caches/com.apple.appstore Click Go then move the Cache.db file from the com.apple.appstore folder to the Trash. Type or copy/paste: ~/Library/Cookies Click Go then move the com.apple.appstore.plist file from the Cookies folder to the Trash. Type or copy/paste: ~/Library/Preferences Click Go then move the com.apple.appstore.plist file from the Preferences folder to the Trash.


After installing Mountain Lion I tried the App store download -- again using my User account. Again I canceled and it did not appear in my Applications folder. So either Apple has changed the download, or the trick for getting a local copy of ML only works for Admin accounts. This could be a permissions issue.

Also, I had to restart Google Earth so it would add its Login Item back.

Lastly, like all updates this one forces Spotlight to reindex. The combination of Time Machine/Capsule backup and Spotlight reindexing brings my system to a standstill. I recommend letting Spotlight finish before reenabling Time Machine.

Update 2: A major regression with Slideshows.

Mountain Lion includes many new slideshows, but only the "classic" supports dual monitors by showing different images on both displays. The new shows show the same image on multiple displays. That's bad enough, but Slideshow no longer supports nested folders (!). That's really stupid.


  • Auto-correct is annoying and buggy - it causes my cursor to periodically vanish. I disabled it and I disabled auto-character substitution. i think this was causing Citrix issues. Needs to be disabled for every user.
  • Spotlight activity can lockout user interaction. I've seen this in Lion too. This is bad enough to qualify as a bug.
  • Sceensaver/slideshow CPU use is ridiculous. An app.net correspondent suggested they were embedding Rosetta to run PowerPC code. Seems plausible.
  • So far Mountain Lion is substantially slower than Snow Leopard for many of the things I do on my 2009 machine. It's not intolerable, but I would have liked more optimizations.
  • Apple has not updated the Airport Express 5.6 installer to run on Mountain Lion, it's needed to configure older devices. This is a sh*t. I used Pacifist to install the app and configure the old express I use to for music.
  • Front Row is gone. I didn't notice this since I didn't use it. Still, disappointing for many.
  • Many users report power issues with Snow Leopard laptops.
  • It is exceedingly annoying that Save dialogs default to iCloud.
  • RSS support is gone from Mail.app. I expected that and didn't use Mail RSS, but an issue for some.
  • You can turn off horizontal scrolling on the Magic Mouse. Almost worth the update by itself. Two finger double tap for Mission Control is essential. Mountain Lion makes my old Magic Mouse tolerable.
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Client is not officially supported in Lion or ML (must be end-of-life)
  • I thought ML was doing better than SL as a print server, but then my Brother HL-2140 printer stopped working. A search turned up a range of printer dysfunctions in ML. Truly, the CUPS experiment was a failure.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Excel 2007 and 2010 can save multicolumn sort order criteria - but only for tables

The sort order amnesia of Excel 2007 was one of the odder regressions in the history of Microsoft Office. After decades of remembering the last set of sort criteria, Excel forgot them.

Sometimes, if you had a data range with headers and no gaps, and if you clicked on a header in the table, the sort order seemed to stay with the header.


Apparently this is true for Excel 2010. Microsoft documents this (emphases mine):
Sort criteria are saved with the workbook so that you can reapply the sort each time that you open the workbook for an Excel table, but not for a range of cells. If you want to save sort criteria so that you can periodically reapply a sort when you open a workbook, then it's a good idea to use a table. This is especially important for multicolumn sorts or for sorts that take a long time to create.
Tables are more special in 2007 than in prior versions of Excel. I found a description of how to do this in an otherwise obscure forum (maybe a splog?) by dFrank:
Why Excel 2007 doesn't save ... Data -> Sort ... settings?
It is amazing, but why such a simple question take ages to resolve? 
Why Microsoft didn't put a huge warning label that SORT ORDER in EXCEL 2007 is now behaves completely different from previous versions. 
For years now, I was under impression that is it just a bug, and nothing can be done about it. 
Finally, some super-small font on some supper-obscure web site whispers that you only can save sort on a table, but on on a range. 
What the h*** is a table. A table is LIST in previous Excel versions. Never heard of it. But we do not need to know about this. Let's just go thorgh the steps:
-01- Select a range of cells just a bunch of columns and convert it to table (Ctrl T);
-02- Remove annoying unneeded table formatting (Design --> Table Style --> Clear);
-03- Remove filters (Data - Filter);
-04- Apply a sort. 
Next time you are in the file, your sort is finally preserved.
In my limited testing I don't think you need to remove data filters, they are compatible with tables.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crashy apps on iOS 6?

Several of my long used 3rd party productivity apps are less stable on iOS 6.01/iPhone 5 than they were on iOS 5/iPhone 4S. I've note seen this mentioned elsewhere, so perhaps it's a coincidental problem in several of the apps I use.

The apps are still usable, it's primarily an annoyance. I'm restarting the phone more frequently to see if that helps.

Sharing for what it's worth. I also asked on app.net.

Monday, November 12, 2012

iPhone 4S to iPhone 5 - upgrade experience with corporate Exchange security settings

I bought an iPhone 5 because I was out of contract, but for work reasons a cheap iPhone pay-go plan wasn't an option. That meant all of my fees were going to AT&T, instead of paying off half a new phone. On the other hand, if I bought a $700+ contract phone for $300 down then my 4S could go to my daughter and spare me the cost of an iPod Touch while serving as a reserve phone in case I lose the 5.
So I got the standard white 32GB. Very soon I'll get a 2nd cable then wait for the 3rd party adapters to arrive, pick up a cheap case and look for a good one in a month or two.
This post isn't about that however, and it's not about how light and thin it is, or the silly address book that can't be searched by source, or the over-saturated Calendar colors, or the cable, or the maps, or the Podcast app from Hell. it's about how the upgrade works when you go from one corporate Exchange Server authenticated device to a new one.
The corporate authentication process changes the way the phone works and it may make a backup/restore trickier. Among other things that are mandated (I can't change):
  • The phone will wipe with 10 pw errors
  • It auto-locks at 5 minutes (so many bicycling apps don't work well any more)
  • Mandatory 6 digit passcode.
To add an extra annoyance, post phone update I have to wait a few days for the company to reauthenticate the new device. I can't complain though, they pay much of my bill.
I picked up the phone at the AT&T store so I wouldn't have to worry about home delivery; they activated it at 6.0 and I started the corporate account process. That locked down the phone, which is perhaps why the next step didn't work.
After I updated the 5 to 6.01 (among other bugs, 6.0 messes up some Outlook appointments) it showed in iTunes as 'iPhone'. Then I attempted a restore from my 4S -- but it stopped at a partial restore.
So I wiped it completely then tried again. Since my 4S backup was encrypted I expected it to store and restore my credentials. It worked with some quirks.
The restore had two phases. In Phase I it requested my iCloud account credentials (not same as my store credentials) and I had to set a "secure" 6 digit PIN. Then the phone restarted and went into Phase II, restoring about 150 apps, etc. This took about 2 hours.
The restore went pretty well, except for Reeder.app! As usual I had to reenter all my credentials. I think this is a Reeder.app bug, no matter what I do I seem to always have to start over. I also had to redo Google's barely functional and almost forgotten multi-calendar ActiveSync configuration via http://m.google.com/sync (from iPhone) but I expected that. It hasn't been updated in years, and it's awkward and all-bug-forgotten, but it still works. That meant I had to do my calendar color assignments too; fortunately I wrote down the rules I use to assign colors across the 13 calendars I currently sync.
It could have been worse.
PS. In my haste I swapped digits when I set my new passcode (twice). I got through 6 of my 10 tries before I made a wild-guess at what I did wrong and got in. I almost had to wipe the phone and start over again. Be careful!