Biggest Current iOS Gripe

The barrage of notifications for calendar invites that you’ve seen and dealt with on other devices when you unlock your phone for the first time in a while is so horribly annoying. It’s caused me to inadvertently decline invites when I’m trying to swipe the notification away.

The calendar knows I accepted the invite. Why is it giving me this blast of prompts? I think this started in iOS 10, but I hate it.

Apple Music Killer Feature: My Favorites Mix

There was a lot of noise about Apple Music competing with Spotify in iOS 10 with the algorithmically generated New Music playlist. I’ve been doing more driving than usual lately and got a chance to check out the New Music playlists. There’s been some gems, but there’s a lot of stuff I don’t like. That’s alright though—you want to have your boundaries pushed.

The Favorites Mix playlists, however, have been amazing. And that really makes sense. I’ve been putting music into iTunes since 2002, and I’ve been a stickler about rating songs over the years. When Apple Music came out, I took everything I’d rated 4 or 5 stars and “loved” it.

Apple has my ratings, songs I’ve loved, everything I’ve bought from the iTunes Store, and (if they pass this data to the cloud) my play counts and last played data. That’s almost 15 years of data, probably somewhere north of 100,000 played songs (last.fm has me at about 64k plays, but that doesn’t cover everything).

So, yeah, Apple should be able to make good playlists of my favorites. They’ve done a pretty good job. There’s some exceptions (interstitial tracks from albums I like), but they’ve been unearthing songs I may not have listened to in years. When I’m not sure what to listen to, the Favorites Mix has been a go-to, and it hasn’t really missed yet.

I just need to make sure I leave room for the New Music mixes …

Mac OS Sierra Not Cleanly Unmounting USB Drives

They always warn you about upgrading to the first release. “Let them fix the bugs in the .1 before you upgrade,” they say.

I never listen.

In Sierra, I’ve run into an interesting problem where the first time I mount my Time Machine USB backup drive post-launch, it mounts and works just fine. I can then tell the OS to eject the disk, which it seems to. Except, in Disk Utility, it still thinks it’s there. And now this phantom disk prevents it from ever being mounted again, until I reboot.

I’ve tried command line mojo (diskutil and hdiutil), and both will say they’ve unmounted the drive, but it still shows up. Eventually, diskutil stops responding.

Reading online, there’s lots of folks reporting similar issues, but no one seems to have found a particularly good solution, other than “reboot.”

We’ll see if it gets fixed up in the .1 release. Until then, off to reboot.

Changes to the SSH keys and Keychain in macOS Sierra

If you were used to storing your ssh keys in your Keychain, you may have noticed that your ssh agent forwarding wasn’t working when you updated to macOS Sierra.

According to jirsbek on GitHub:

ssh-add -K in macOS Sierra no longer saves SSH keys in OS’s keychain. As Apple Developer stated: “That’s expected. We re-aligned our behavior with the mainstream OpenSSH in this area.”

I’m actually ok with the change in behavior. To resolve it, call ssh-add -A to add your identities into your ssh-agent. I’m doing that as part of my .bashrc (though I haven’t rebooted yet, I assume it’ll work).

(Via jirsbek on GitHub.)

Apple TV on the Eve of tvOS 10

It’s been almost a year since I got the new Apple TV. We’ve been using it a ton lately, since network TV is in mostly reruns, and it’s a good opportunity to catch up on some shows and movies. When I got the Apple TV back in November, I mentioned three things that I thought would make a huge difference: an Amazon Prime app, a Comcast X1 app, and support for the iCloud Keychain. Well, none of those things have come true. But the last is almost coming true in tvOS 10.

iCloud Keychain support would make entering all the TV provider passwords easy. In tvOS 10, you’ll only need to enter the provider password once, and it’ll activate all of the TV apps you have access to. That’ll be surprisingly helpful and will reduce the number of times a password needs to be entered (or you hit one of those stupid activation screens) considerably.

Almost a year in, apps are starting to take advantage of the capabilities of tvOS. I plan to write about some of the apps that I’ve found really nice (and some that aren’t great) in the near future. If you want a preview, check out Fox Sports Go. It’s multiscreen live feature is pretty fantastic, and a perfect use of the Apple TV.

Improvements to Siri and the Apple remote have made the Apple TV much nicer to use since the launch. I find myself using Siri more frequently now, since it has a pretty high success rate of finding the show that I’m looking for, and dumping me one click from opening it. That’s useful, given that some of the interfaces (I’m looking at you, HBO Go) are pretty horrific for navigating around.

We use the Apple TV pretty regularly at this point, and I find new useful apps every week (Last weekend I discovered the awesomeness of the ABC app, if you can believe it. Schoolhouse Rock and Sports Night.). If it had Prime and Xfinity X1 support (which, in both cases, isn’t crazy, since I’m paying for subscriptions for both), we’d probably have the Apple TV on the first input of the TV.

Evernote to Apple Notes

I’ve been an Evernote user for about 8 years now. The earliest note I have in Evernote is from May of 2008. I’m not an uber-power user, but I’ve used Evernote for a lot of things over the years and have about 1400 notes in Evernote. It has been a big part of my move to go paperless.

I store manuals for devices and equipment in the house in a notebook, recipes, articles, receipts. However, over the years, the app got bigger and bulkier and my usage got more refined. There are loads of stories about where Evernote went wrong. In their defense, they’ve been trying to refine the product over the past year.

My issues are reasonably simple: the app got too complicated for a note taking/archiving.

With the convenience of Apple Notes (it’s syncs on all my devices, is reasonably lightweight), I’ve been toying with the idea of dumping Evernote (and saving myself a little money) and moving my notes into Apple Notes. I think, by and large, it does an ok job of replacing Evernote.

Except it’s missing the Web Clipper.

There’s a Web Clipper for Apple Notes for iOS via Workflow (warning: I haven’t tried it yet).

But there’s not one for the Mac that I’ve found yet.

While I search for one (anyone found a solution?), I’m going to slowly test moving different notebooks over to Apple Notes and see if I can simplify my paperless workflows and make life a bit more convenient.

The Simplest Apple Music Fix

There’s been a lot of talk about Apple Music in the past week (the link is to a good example).

I actually like Apple Music. It mostly works for me. I have what I think is a reasonably large music collection (but I’d guess I’m just on the upper bound of average, maybe). I listen to lots of music, both stuff from my music and from Apple Music.

I find the biggest problem is the concept of “my library” vs. Apple Music. I often listen to music and click the little heart to “love” a song, whether it’s on Beats One, or an artist radio, or just because I was checking out a new song I heard on a podcast.

The problem is, I have no idea how to find those songs again. When you create a playlist in iTunes, you can only find tracks that are in your collection. So, if you want to do anything with that song, you have to first add it to your collection, then you can heart it.

If you heart it before you add it to your collection, your collection doesn’t count it as “loved”.

There’s lots of really odd behaviors around rating/hearting/interacting with songs that are not in your library.

I think the simplest fix would be that if I’ve done anything to a song (heart it, rate it, add it to a playlist), that it’s part of “My Library”. If iTunes (or the Music app) want to have a switch/toggle to only show music that’s local to your collection, go for it. But the fact that I can’t just treat Apple Music’s library like my own library forces me to think about the order of how I act with music, and that’s more friction than I should have.

In doing that, it would also change the way search works. Why not have search just graphically show you which music is on your device vs. in the cloud?

There’s too many places where I have to think about whether I’m dealing with Apple’s music or my music.

Just take that away.