Sunday, July 25, 2021

Getting photos from iPhone (iCloud) to Lightroom, Aperture and other non-Photos products

(Original 1/31/2021, updated 7/25/2021)

Apple's approach to photography is to keep everything in iCloud and to view or edit the images from a macOS or iOS device running (there's also some limited web browser access). There's some limited ability to share albums between family members and other groups, but this has been a mess for years and I'm not sure what parts of it are available in which versions of macOS.

This approach doesn't work very well if you want to mange your photo Library outside of How do you keep track of what you've have reviewed and exported within no longer tracks what's on the iPhone vs. what's in iCloud; there's no easy way to know what's not been imported if you don't delete all iCloud images.

This is what I do now:

In Mojave create smart folder for all photos that lack keyword of “Exported”

In on iOS or macOS

1. Clean up bursts

In Photos. app on macOS (Mojave for me)

1. Start from my macOS account

2. First pass cleanup in Photos

3. Select all images in Unexported and export as original (I export IPTC as XMP but not sure that’s useful)

4. Assign all images keyword of Exported

In Finder

1. Remove all the small .mov files that come with Apple’s live images.

Now Import into Aperture. Every so often I purge what's in iCloud, the real home is Aperture and its many backups.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Unable to update date of birth associated with an Apple ID: "... could not be changed because of a server error"

You can't change the date of birth or family relationship of an Apple ID with a calculated age of less than 13 years old. Otherwise it's supposed to be possible to change the date of birth associated with an Apple ID. I've done it before (for good reasons).

Recently I decided to get #2 child an Apple credit card. Since banks take birth dates seriously I decided I needed to correct his before applying. It didn't work!

This is what his birthday looks like on his Apple ID web page (same as in his iOS devices):

When I edit it to 4/2/1999 I get this message as expected:

The next step is an email sent to the (we're old customers, pre-icloud) associated with my Apple ID:
Can you see what's weird in this email? It says the change will convert his account to a child account. But the current date makes him 17, the correction makes him 22. The email should say it's being converted to an adult account.

When I click on "approve request" I get:

Cannot change date of birth.
The date of birth for ___ could not be changed because of a server error. Try again.

I started an Apple Chat Support ticket on this a week ago. After the usual back and forth I was escalated twice and ended up with a senior advisor (not sure of his title).  After a bit of work and repetition I was told a ticket had been sent to engineering to fix the birth date and I'd hear back the next day.

It's been a week. I've not heard back. I'll try a chat again tomorrow. Fortunately I have my original ticket number.

I suspect his account entry is somehow corrupted and possibly mixed with another account. Otherwise I wonder if this is a side-effect of Apple introducing family credit cards; maybe once I got an Apple credit card all the family birth dates were locked as a side-effect.

This is going to be a painful slog with no certainty of success.

UPDATE 7/13/2021: After hearing nothing back I called again and was again escalated from chat support to phone support to "senior advisor". Senior advisor said engineering had responded and said it was not actually possible to change date of birth on a child account. I believe that is wrong, it contradicts Apple's documentation saying it should be possible to change for over 13. I have asked that it be reescalated and attach the tech support ref: HT204164.

I reserved a time to call back in 3 days and was told I'd get a link to enable a direct call to a senior advisor.

Update 7/24/2021: Support didn't call back on the date they'd promised. There's still a server error. As noted above Support seemed unaware of the contents of HT204164. 

I'm going to have to give up on fixing this for now. I'll try again in a few months, maybe by then Apple will know how to fix the problem. I suspect it's something in their database design that will require serious work to fix. I also suspect their support team is dealing with post-COVID stress syndrome.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Apple Card for Families: non-owners have a $250/transaction limit but no cap on total spend

Turns out when you enable Apple Card for a non-owner family member they have a max transaction limit of $250 but no total cap (can spend to owner credit limit). I thought the transaction limit would be much higher AND I thought there would be a total spending cap.

It's less useful than I expected.

Update: You can set a number for total spend notification and you can lock at any time. The $250 limit per transaction is a hard maximum though. Too low.

Disk Utility First Aid problem in Mojave: Working around the Disk Locked bug

If you've used Disk Utility in Mojave APFS you know it's become much more complex than HPFS days. Recently I tried running it from the Recovery start and got a Disk Locked error that said I needed to wipe the drive and reformat. I couldn't find any fix for this on Google.

This did fix it:

1. I rebooted into macOS and ran Disk Utility from there.

2. I rebooted back into the Recovery mode and this time the disk was not locked.

I don't know what did the trick. Maybe all I had to do was go back into normal boot and then back to Disk Utility, but I think I tried that and it wasn't sufficient. I had to run Disk Utility from macOS.

I suspect a safe boot might have worked too. Anyway, the point is, if you're stuck and you find this post it's fixable.

PS. This isn't about mounting an encrypted disk.

Apple ID problem: sharing iTunes Apple ID in two factor world means authentication requests go to one of many possible devices

In the old days, before family sharing, families shared purchases by sharing an iTunes Apple ID while using their own Apple ID for services.

Now that we've moved to 2FA for iTunes Apple ID there's a new problem with this.

Authentication requests go to one of the devices that uses that shared iTunes Apple ID. Just one. Usually the wrong one.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Apps for mapping out bike rides

I recently asked a MN bicycling group what apps they use to layout trail maps. This is the list they gave me:

Google Maps

I've long used this. Main frustrations are limited number of waypoints, inability to draw segments when Google doesn't know something, and lastly that Google's bike trail knowledge is decaying.


Designed for planning routes and had the most support. It can sync to Wahoo and Strava. Premium $10/month, I don't know if you can do a month and then stop it. The free tier is said to be best of the free options.


Said to be same platform as RideWithGPS. If you pay you can divide a tour into days and see an integrated forecast.


I think this requires the non-free tiers.

Plot a Route

This has a pretty complicated web interface. It's ad supported by only $25 US a year to eliminate them.

Also mentioned: MapMyRide and Garmin Connect.

Update: So far I don't like any of 'em. Strava was least useful. RideWithGPS is best so far but need to try others.

Friday, April 02, 2021

The panicky M1 MacBook Air known as Crashy

Nine weeks ago I replaced Emily's 9yo 11" Air with a 2021 M1 Air. Shortly after we passed the return date I realized I'd made a bad decision. The M1 Air panicked so often that it's forever known to us as "Crashy" the M1 Air. On some days Emily would see a spontaneous restart several times a day.

I don't think it's a hardware problem; among other things it's passed repeated hardware tests.  I suspect using Migration Assistant to move from High Sierra didn't help, but I don't think that's all of it. There's something bizarre with residual parental controls on my son's account that I can't seem to clear -- but Apple's parental controls/Screen Time have been horked for my family for years across iOS and now macOS. I don't think that's all of it.

I think it's mostly a bug with Fast User Switching and maybe Chrome/Google Software. We know that Fast User Switching can kill spotlight search until corespotlightd is restarted, so we know some defect is leaking across user sessions. We also know that Fast User Switching is disabled by default on Big Sur, which suggests Apple is worried about it. (Maybe the weird Screen Time behavior is playing a role.)

So after doing every possible fix short of wiping the drive and reinstalling data from backup I removed every trace of Chrome and Google software [1] and I turned off FUS. Since then we've had no more crashes.

Eventually I'm going to restore FUS. This is a multi-user machine and we want it to work properly. When I do that I'll make every user admin because Big Sur does not display a Panic report to non-admin users -- then look for a log report. If Crashy stays up then the finger points to Chrome.

I really wish we'd bought an Intel Air. The 2020 Intel Air was basically perfect.

[1] My son used Chrome, Emily is Safari only. After one crash Emily was asked if she wanted to restart Chrome -- but she wasn't using Chrome. Suspicious for more leakage across user sessions.

PS. At one point I saw a very long thread on Apple Discussions about M1's crashing. It vanished. Here's a shorter thread and another.

Update 4/19/2021: Removing Chrome and disabling Fast User Switching eliminated the panics. We are doing ok without both so we aren't doing further testing. I don't miss Chrome and Emily and my son don't mind logging out.

Update 6/18/2021: By Big Sur 11.4 Crashy was fixed. We're keeping the name however. Fast User Switching is on but I never did reinstall Chrome. We bought our M1 Air around Jan 20, 2021 and 11.4 came out 5/24/2021, so it took five months for Apple to fix the damned thing. Eclectic Company wrote an article about M1 instability under Big Sur.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Big Sur bug: Mail Search (corespotlightd) fails on multi-user machine after a user logs out

We are indebted to GanawaGangunawa for figuring out why Mail search was failing on Emily's M1 MacBook Air (known to our family as "Crashy" [1]). It's a Big Sur bug (though I think it happened in some Catalina environments) that hits multi-user machines.

In our case Ben and Emily both have non-admin accounts on her M1 Air running Big Sur 11.2.1 with fast user switching enabled. When Ben logs out Emily's Mail search stops working. There's no error message, but search does nothing and Smart Folders are inactive.

The fix is to kill corespotlightd.

I created an AppleScript with the contents: 

do shell script "killall -9 corespotlightd"

I saved it as an application and put it on Emily's dock. Two clicks fixes her Mail search until Apple fixes the bug.

[1] When we first got the M1 Air it crashed (spontaneous restart) every few hours. Reinstalling Big Sur meant it crashed every few days, with Big Sur 11.2 it didn't crash, with 11.2.1 it restarts every week or so. I suspect a firmware/OS mismatch in the factory was the initial problem and that for the rest that Big Sur/M1 are not quite stable yet. I almost returned Crashy in the 2 week return window but it seems just stable enough. Good chance future OS updates will fix. It does pass hardware test.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Fixing the Mojave Mail split view in full screen bug

For many users Mojave email will periodically open in Split View mode even then Mail Preferences: General split view is unchecked.

I'm trying this fix:

  1. Check Mail Preferences:General "Prefer opening messages in split view when in full screen". Confirm Mail opens in split view. Maybe quit and restart.
  2. Now open mail preferences and uncheck that option and force quit Mail. (Somewhere in the Mojave era or earlier macOS preferences got wonky such that an app on exiting could do weird and occult things to preferences.)
  3. Restart mail with Safari open in full screen and confirm you don't get the Split View -- get Mail as full screen.
Works so far but I wouldn't be surprised if fix doesn't last.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Put display to sleep on Mac with Touch ID: ctrl-shift-power replaced by hot corner

I use Ctrl-Shift-Power to put my MacBook Air display to sleep each night. That doesn't work on a Mac with Touch ID. I believe the only option is to use a hot corner and choose display sleep.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Don't blame your hub when your USB Flash (thumb) drive disconnects from your Mac

I tried using a SanDisk USB Flash ("thumb") drive as an alternative Time Machine backup device on my daughter's 2020 Intel MacBook Air (Catalina) and my 2020 Apple Silicon MacBook Air (Big Sur). It worked when directly connected to a 2011 MacBook Air (High Sierra), but when connected to an Anker USB-C hub it kept disconnecting:

I was pretty annoyed with the Anker hub and decided to return it, but then I tried it on my 2016 MacBook Air (Mojave) with a rock solid old Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Hub. The same thing happened there!

So I can't blame the Anker hub too much. I canceled my Amazon return. The bug is probably some mixture of faults in macOS, the processor in Flash drives, and some global Hub/USB flaw. 

It would be interesting to test Apple's hub-equivalent dongle -- the USB-C Digital AV multiport adapter.

Migrating from 9yo 11" High Sierra MacBook Air to 2021 Big Sur M1 Air

I replaced Emily's 8-9 yo MacBook Air 11" running High Sierra with Apple's latest (M1) Air (Big Sur). A few notes for others who might be facing migrations....

  1. I used Migration Assistant over WiFi but I didn't migrate any applications. Apps have changed to much, better to install from source. Pay CLOSE ATTENTION when they tell you to write down the user passwords! (I took a photo). Migration Assistant brings over a lot of old junk but it also saves a lot of time; it's a pain to migrate mail archives without it.
  2. Only 1Password needed Rosetta so far. As I write Office 365 is installing.
  3. Citrix Workspace for Apple Silicon worked! That was biggest risk.
  4. I couldn't get Carbon Copy Cloner email notifications working. I contacted vendor. The app works for back up though.
  5. I didn't want to use the iCloud Document sync feature and Migration Assistant did preserve my High Sierra settings.
  6. You need to open Photos and let it update before reenabling iCloud photo sync. There's no error message -- it just won't work.
  7. For multiple users I couldn't update the User Profile Login picture from the user account, I had to do it from my Admin account in Users and Groups preferences. (Needed update for Retina images)
  8. I did better skipping iCloud setup initially then doing it from each User account separately.
  9. I had to reenable Fast User Switching on 1-2 accounts.

Overall I ran into a few bugs and glitches but High Sierra is 3 releases from Big Sur so that's a hard jump. Really wasn't terrible so far. 

The new Air is rather faster than the 9yo 11" Air, but not amazingly faster than my 5yo MacBook Air (Best Computer Ever Made). Most delays are waiting for servers, so local speedups don't make a ton of difference.

Update 4/2/2021: Alas, it turned into a bit of a disaster.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Google's mysterious new blogging platform

Google Blogger has been largely forgotten, but over the past 1-2 years it's been receiving regular updates.

Mostly these have been improvements with a few odd regressions. Some of the regressions have been fixed.

It's kind of curious. Google still uses Blogger for some of their blogs on (ex: Scholar), but they also have a new platform - (KeynoteData Centers). On the Keynote blog page the RSS feed is hidden (but exists), on Data Centers and Photos blog there's a familiar feed icon top right. Data Centers articles date to 2012, but the .google domain was only registered in 2014. So they've migrated some old content, probably from Blogger.

I looked a the source from a Data Center post and it's surprisingly old school readable. There are commented out tags for handling IE 7 (!) and metadata for Open Graph and Twitter Card. Style sheets refer to "/static/blogv2/css/blog.min.css?version=4.4" />. 

I wasn't able to find any articles on "Google's new blog platform". That doesn't surprise me, Google search is fairly useless these days. Clearly they are up to something internally.

If they do make this a public blogging platform I'm sure it still won't handle paragraph spacing correctly.

Blogger will republish old posts with new dates but keep old URL

So I learned something today about Google's ancient blogger platform.

You can republish old content with new dates without breaking the URL. Today I revised a post I'd written in 2008, but I set the publication date to today's date.

The post republished with today's date and is ordered correctly on my tech blog page, but it kept the old URL embedded date:

It's probably always been that way, I just never tried republishing before.

It's something I'll do more often now.

Updating macOS - the paranoid approach (updated from 2008)

I wrote the first version of this on 9/13/2008. I was looking for it 11/21/2020 and decided to see if I could update it a bit in advance of going from Mojave to macOS Big Sur sometime in 2021 (I skipped Catalina entirely). I'm also experimenting with a revised publication date in Blogger.

For my own amusement I kept the original below. Here's what I do now for macOS updates:
  1. Make a fresh Aperture backup (still using it!) from within Aperture.
  2. Test both my Carbon Copy Cloner and Time Machine backups including a test file restore. I create two CCC clones and take one off-site. I don't usually make bootable clones but I do this time.
  3. Remove my backup drives.
  4. Disconnect everything.
  5. Reset SMC, reset NVRAM.
  6. Run hardware diagnostics, Onyx cleanup, and Same Mode boot.
  7. Turn off Time Machine backup.
  8. Update OS.
  9. Login to each user account on the machine and get iCloud working, check that Google services are connected (Mail, etc), run Notes, Contacts, Mail, etc.
  10. Do backup to fresh carbon copy cloner drive. Note Time Machine is still off.
After a day or so I have to decide what to do with Time Machine. I usually start over with a fresh TM backup rather than try to continue with the old one. My primary backup is CCC.

The original post from 9/13/2008

I prefer an OS update to petting a rabid wolf or getting a kidney transplant. Even so, they're not my favorite things. It was clear early on that Apple had botched 10.5 - a prelude to the MobileMe fiasco and the iPhone OS 2.0 fender bender. So I waited to 10.5.3 before updating our non-critical MacBook. That didn't go all that well; I'm still having problems.

On the other hand there's a lot to like about 10.5, and I imagine I know what to watch for.
After lots of experience with 10.5.4, I was read to risk an update to very important machine -- our trouble free PPC iMac G5 running10.4.11.

It's the procedure I follow with all major OS updates. I do all the work through my admin account.
  1. Check the backups are working so I know I have a current backup of data. I like to do a test restore of randomly selected file.
  2. Have another machine available in case the update runs into problems -- you may need Google.
  3. Don't do the OS update on a desktop machine during bad weather. This is a bad time to have a power failure. Make sure you can't accidentally pull a plug or turn off the power. (I once bricked a peripheral by hitting a power switch with my foot.)
  4. Do a safe boot to clean up the system and verify the drive.
  5. Disconnect all USB hubs and all firewire devices. Attach only an Apple keyboard and an Apple mouse.
  6. Pull the network cable (see below). You can plug it in when you need to get software updates. Nowadays there are all sorts of things a partly updated machine can destroy if it can get a the net.
  7. Restart then remove Preference Panes from admin account (ctrl-click then delete in preference view). Review and remove suspicious login items. Use Spotlight to find all apps or utilities with a date prior to 2004 - remove any that aren't needed.
  8. Uninstall known bad actors. I know, for example, that my copy of Missing Sync for Palm OS won't work with 10.5. I don't need it any more, so time to use the uninstaller. Remove Retrospect's client if present, that will need to be reinstalled.
  9. Turn off sync services, such as Spanning Sync. Don't turn them on again until you've run iCal, Address Book, mail, etc for the first time. I recommend turning off everything related to synchronization, including .Mac/MobileMe, anything in iTunes, any add-on services. To be extra sure, pull the network cable durign the update. Don't allow the machine to access the net without your control.
  10. I've already removed the evil Adobe Acrobat Reader and RealAudio.
  11. Copy the 10.5.4 Combo Updater to the desktop. I don't want to run 10.5.2 a moment longer than necessary. Confirm I have plenty of free drive space left.
  12. Review Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5: About installation options so I don't miss the 'Archive and Install' option [1] . (Made that mistake before!)
  13. Insert DVD and click the install button.
  14. Go walk the dogs, do the dishes, etc. Just the DVD verification takes an age and a half. (Yes, you can skip the verification. I prefer to let it run.) The update should proceed without any questions, so you can let it go.
  15. After the upgrade and reboot it can take a long time for the admin account to come up. Be patient.
  16. Restart again (to let caches be build properly) then apply the 10.5.4 compo updater. The machine will restart.
  17. Check all login items for all users. There's a bug in the 10.5.2 Archive and Install procedure that can cause login items to be applied across user accounts.
  18. Check for other updates. I was surprised I had to install iTunes 8 again -- it had been installed earlier. I imagine if I hadn't done this, and I'd tried to sync to my iPhone, the heavens would have fallen. You have to keep checking until no new updates are found.
  19. Run iCal and Address Book. Anyone else notice that 10.5 Address Book backup is under the export/archive menu now? Back 'em both up before any iPhones sync.
  20. Enable Spanning Sync and do an iCal sync with gCal.
  21. Run Keychain Access and Keychain First Aid.
  22. Run any app that iTunes works with or that intersects with the iPhone.
  23. Cycle through all accounts, looking for obvious trouble.
  24. Hook up the peripherals, download drivers for the MacAlly keyboard, etc etc.
  25. Expect Spotlight to suck CPU and drive the fan until the search indices are rebuilt. Let it run overnight.
  26. The long recovery begins.
There were a few curious things about this update:
  1. MobileMe didn't appear in software update, so it was only when I went to the old .Mac preference panel that I was asked to update to MobileMe. This might have caused some problems if I'd installed MobileMe.
  2. iTunes regressed to an earlier version. I had to update to iTunes 8 again. This would have caused serious problems if I'd missed this.
  3. Spanning Sync keeps telling me its deleting appointments from Google Calendar, but it doesn't say what it's deleting. I don't know why this is happening.
  4. The update resurrected a number of old apps and login items that I thought were long gone. They're reaking havoc on my syncs.
[1] Select this option if you want to install a "fresh" system on your computer. This type of installation moves existing System files to a folder named Previous System, then installs a new copy of Mac OS X. You cannot start up your computer using the Previous System folder. Archive and Install installations require the largest amount of available disk space because you need to have room to preserve your existing System and the new one you are installing. This is a good choice if you've already backed up your important files and are trying to resolve an existing issue. Mac OS X-installed applications, such as Address Book and Safari, are archived, and new versions are installed in the Applications folder. Some applications, plug-ins, and other software may have to be reinstalled after an “Archive and Install.” Fonts that were installed in the Fonts folder in the top-level Library folder can be installed in your new system by copying them from the Previous System folder.