Thursday, February 26, 2015

iTunes Cloud videos not showing up? Maybe you're over the device limit Apple is now enforcing.

Recently Apple revised their US family sharing policy … "… up to 10 devices per account, only five of which can be computers … Not all products, including In-App Purchases … eligible for Family Sharing. “

Recently I think I ran into the policy limits. All of our family devices use a single iTunes account, but I’ve not run into trouble before. I think Apple has changed more than the Family Sharing policy. I think the new limit applies to wise old timers who’ve always used a single iTunes ID for the entire family (though everyone has their own iCloud account).

There’s no error message, instead my son’s iPhone 5 simply failed to show our Cloud video resources (TV/Movies). It would only show what was on the phone.

This happened after we introduced an i6 to the family. Emily doesn’t want anything bigger than a 5, so she got my 5s. Most importantly #2 finally got rid of his dying 4 in favor of a fairly fresh 5. 

Except the 5 wouldn’t show his Cloud video. They simply weren’t there. Signing in and out of the store did nothing.

So I pulled his old 4 out of the reserve bin and logged out of iTunes there. A few minutes later the videos showed up on his 5.

Looks like we went over the (new) limit. Turns out it’s not simply for Family Sharing, it’s for devices associated with an iTunes account.

In our case we have 6 active iPhones, 1 Apple TV and 3 Apple computers. We seem to be right at the 10 device limit, so #2’s old 4 pushed us over the limit.

It’s not documented but the iTunes App Store account information now provides some info. According to Account info we had 4 authorized computers and 10 devices. The device detail list provides some policy information:

Screen Shot 2015 02 26 at 10 45 36 PM

There’s no additional information on the 4 authorized computers. I know of 3 and an Apple TV. I could reauthorize them all and reauthorize but that’s a bit of a pain.

Interestingly the 10 devices includes 2 computers (should be 3) and doesn’t include the Apple TV or my own phone! It does, however, include several devices no longer in use. I removed all of those, but I needed to figure out why my new iPhone 6 wasn’t on the list.

Poking around with Apple ID on my own phone I saw this: “Enabling Automatic Downloads … or downloading a previous purchase … will associated this device with your Apple ID for use with iTunes in the Cloud”. So I launched a video and updated an app on my iPhone 6 Sure enough, I now show up on the list.

So we are again under the limit — for the moment. Buy some iPads though, and we’ll be in trouble. I think we’re done buying iOS devices for a while. We need to stay under the limit. The limit is likely to fall; the RetinaLock [1] screws are tightening…

… patent pending 2040) RetinaLock™ (Palladium Inside!™). The RetinaLock™ prevents any access to DRMd material by control of visual inputs. BrainLock does the same for auditory, tactile, and olfactory inputs. BrainLock Enhanced™ (mandatory upgrade 2045) makes it impossible to consider any action that would circumvent the workings of the BrainLock™ (thereby ending the trickle of death sentences related to violations of the DMCA amendment of 2043). 

[1] Incidentally, Google couldn’t find that 2005 blog post. Duck Duck Go had it #2 on the list.

Update 2/27/2015: I wonder now if the syncproblems I saw four months ago were related to bugs with Apple’s implementation of this device cap.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Aperture 3.5.1 empty project bug - a workaround

Maybe this is fixed in 3.5.2 — but I doubt it. This bug has been around for years.

Periodically Aperture will show a project as empty on opening — event though an image count is displayed and images scroll if you mouse over the project. It’s a dangerous bug, with some configurations it would be easy to accidentally delete an image filled project.

The usual fix is to restart Aperture.

The only other fix I’ve found is to create a truly empty project, then drag the apparently empty project into it. All the images reappear.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Clearing thousands of Star tags from Gmail - two techniques and notes on Star support in OS X, iOS and Airmail.

Remember Inbox Zero?

Perhaps you’re there. Maybe, by dint of filters, of carefully constructed responses, of terror induced in potential correspondents, you’ve finally achieved productive nirvana.

You’re feeling good about it. Proud perhaps.

I’m here to ruin that. Because beyond Inbox Zero lies Sentbox zero.

In Outlook Sentbox zero means the “Sent” folder has no emails in it save those awaiting a response. They may have a flag that goes red 2 days after initial send. All other Sent emails have been deleted or (most often) dropped into the “keep” bin [2].

In Gmail things work differently. I don’t have/use folders; I make sparing use of a handful of tags. So I need a different way to tag sent emails that are awaiting a response.

There are several ways to “tag” such emails. I could use a Gmail tag/label, or a star, or a priority flag. The Star option is quick and synchronizes well across Google Gmail desktop, on OS X, and on iOS and OS X (alas, Airmail doesn’t quite work [1]). So I went with the Star.

The problem was that I had 4,500 stared emails in Gmail - largely from 2007 and prior. Maybe in those days I used the star? Maybe Google automatically set it? Long ago, but I needed to clear them out.

My web searches for a quick way to clear 4,500 flags failed. using an undocumented? Gmail keyboard shortcuts (edited here):

If you use desktop web UI with shortcuts, search is:starred or whatever and then *a to select all. Gmail then provides a link/offer to select all results, not just those on page. 

Once you’ve selected hitting ’s’ will toggle starred status.

I couldn’t test however, because I’d already used OS X to clear the Stars. In Mavericks maps the Star to a “red” (Default) flag — so I elected all of those and cleared the flag. then updated and cleared the Gmail flags.

No that my Flags are cleared, I can create and clear flags on my Sent emails that are awaiting a response. So now I can implement Sentbox zero-equivalent on Gmail.

- fn - 

[1] My copy of Airmail did not have a STARRED folder mapped to Gmail Star status. I had to create one using an obscure method. Pick any email and “star” it. Assuming preferences has Automap enabled, a new starred folder is created. On restart Starred now shows in the Folders section of the app title bar. Unfortunately it does’t work correctly, items starred in Gmail web app don’t appear in Starred folder — updates are one way from Airmail to Gmail. Fail.

[2] Not filed of course. Subject line is precisely correct and has key words used by search, retrieval will be by metadata search.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You can delete Facebook ID and Google ID, but Apple IDs are eternal (also iCloud).

My mother died on Dec 14, 2014. She was fortunate to live in Quebec, which manages the dying process far better than anywhere in the US. It went about as well as it could, and, thanks to all that socialism stuff, she left her family the estate she was determined to pass on. Points for a stubborn woman.

Dying is a complicated business, and I’m only now getting around to cleaning up her online accounts. They are a bit simpler than mine — I had only 3 identities to remove - Facebook, Google and Apple.

Facebook and Google were simple.

Apple — not so much. There is no way to remove an Apple ID, or to remove the associated iCloud data. Apple IDs are eternal.

Sigh. Oh Apple, you get away with so much.

The best I could do was to change her password to something awesomely strong by today’s standards and hope it doesn’t get hacked around 2040 or so.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Restoring iOS deleted Contacts: the iTunes method and OS X method

Clark Goble has a solid iOS 9 wish list addressing longstanding half-implemented oddities like Contact Groups. It omits one longstanding product gap though.

There’s no iOS backup feature.

Yeah, I hear your scoff, but iCloud Backup is not Backup. It’s a system clone. If you delete Contacts accidentally, you can’t readily restore Contacts of, say, 3 days before. When my sister accidentally deleted most of her contacts she had no way to restore them from iCloud.

If she’d been synchronizing with iTunes she could have used a remarkably complicated hack: Recovering iCloud contacts, calendars, and bookmarks from an iTunes backup of an iOS device. Honestly, Apple, that’s just embarrassing.

In this case I had a Mavericks account for her on my primary machine that’s linked to her iCloud account (even though she’s never used it). I took the machine off the network and launched her account. Most of her Contacts were there. I created a local Contacts archive backup, did some cleanup, and put the network cable back in. I didn’t need to use my archive backup though — when sync was done she had a complete set again (which is weird, actually, but that’s iCloud).

I’ve read rumors of some sort of Time Machine/Time Capsule support in 8.x for true iOS backup, but that would still require a desktop machine. IOS needs more than system clone backup, it needs real backup.