Monday, May 15, 2017

Why I advise my friends/family to use an iPhone


I have friends and family who switch cell phones.  When they ask me, I always say to get an iPhone, even an old refurbished iPhone.  Why?  Security.

Summary:
  • Android:
    • Users who are not experts do not get security updates often enough, fast enough, or for long enough.
    • Cell phone companies AND phone manufacturers get in the way.
    • Google, maker of the Android OS, does not prevent the situation.
    • In some cases you can buy an older device from a store and get updates for less than 2 years, if ever.
    • Costs less.
  • iPhone
    • Users get updates as needed for a long time directly from Apple.
    • Even 5-year-old devices can get updates at this time.  (I rarely see a reputable provider selling an Apple device more than 2 years old - so they typically get updates for at least 3 years).
    • Costs more, but worth it.
  • If you buy a used device, buy it from a reputable source.  This is absolutely critical.  Don't buy a 4-year old device in any case; it isn't worth it.
What can happen when security is compromised?   A bad actor or even possibly nearly all bad actors can:
  • Get all of your contact information on your phone (for everyone in your address book)
  • Get information about all calls you make, up to and including recordings of your calls, text messages, pictures you take, locations you are including where your phone is right now, and if you are moving, and if so, in what direction.
  • If you use a web browser or other applications with passwords - all of your usernames and passwords.  If you enter credit card information - they get that too.
  • They sometimes can cause purchases of applications or services on your phone.
  • Your phone can be used as part of a bot net to attack other parts of the internet.
  • Illegal content such as stolen data or illegal pornography can be hidden on your device, implicating you!

Some articles I refer to:
  • https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/4/27/15457044/google-nexus-android-phones-security-updates-list
    • Paraphrasing - it says you have 18 months to 3 years AT MOST for security updates.
  • https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/197346-google-throws-nearly-a-billion-android-users-under-the-bus-refuses-to-patch-os-vulnerability
    • The headline says it all?
  • https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2016/5/4/11589630/android-6-marshmallow-os-distribution-statistics
    • Less than 10% of Android Devices are running the most recent Android OS. 
  • https://www.macrumors.com/2017/02/22/ios-10-nearly-80-percent-adoption/
    • More than 80% of iPhones are running the most recent OS
  • http://www.imore.com/switch-iphone-years-free-software-updates
    • The iPhone from 2012 - 5 years ago - is still getting security updates. 

Some additional thoughts and background:
  • Everyone I talk to is getting a smartphone.  No one asks me for advice on a "feature phone" - the name now given to non-smartphone cell phones.  And if they are undecided, it is often a decision "Apple or Android?"  And, they clearly do not have a strong preference at this point, or they would already have decided.  Often price is a guiding factor.  Android phones are cheaper, especially in the world we live in without cell company subsidies.
  • I have friends with Android devices who run them securely.  They talk to me about how they are more secure (the way they run them) than an iPhone.  However, they are often jailbroken.  And these friends are experts who spend quite a bit of time on their Android device, its configuration, and security.  Some even compile Android themselves and install it.  These are not folks asking me for advice.  They have a clear and strong preference, and expertise.
  • Google often does not have a direct OS relationship with purchasers of Android devices.  The manufacturer or cell phone provider usually owns that relationship.  Your security is not their top priority.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My experience of the New LG 5K screen

I have a new macbook pro 2016, and an LG 5K screen that I am working with.

The LG 5K screen looks amazing!  Good quality pictures with a sky towards sunset simply look more like what I see with my eyes than anything I have seen before.  Wow.  The tiny differentiation with colors is amazing.  I'm in my 40's.  The screen makes my eyes very happy.  That is important to me!

I did have to find new ways to scale the resolution of my Windows virtual machine to make it a reasonable size and visibility.

I have used it as a power source as well; this is a welcome simplicity at my desk.  It means I can carry my power supply or take it home, as I have power from my monitor.

The camera and speakers are just fine, thank you very much.  I have not tried the microphone

Now the caveats...

On the first day, I had 5 times when things went poorly.  Three times, I had two solid colors, each taking 1/2 of the screen.  The monitor was completely unusable during this time, as a monitor and hub.  Twice things hung - the screen went black and did not recover until I unplugged it from my laptop.  Once it took 5 full minutes for my laptop to return to normal.  It did return to normal... I never had these problems again after the first day.  This is quite strange.

Using the monitor as a hub is a failure so far.  Items plugged in are not re-recognized when I plug the monitor back into my computer, so I have to unplug and re-plug them into the monitor.  This has been true for 3 devices:

  • USB-A (with USB-C adapter from Apple) HDD
  • USB-A (with USB-C adapter from Apple) Kinesys keyboard
  • USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 EZQuest Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

I hope a fix is forthcoming...

Update:  The 10.12.4 MacOS update fixed it!  I was taking my monitor to Apple the next day.  The Monitor works as a hub now.  Whew!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More on my iPhone 7 after a bit of time has past

My experiences with my iPhone 7 seem notably negative.  Things I experience, and experience often:

  • My headphone buttons become unresponsive, in part or in whole.  For example, this morning, I could start/stop a podcast, but not change the volume.  Unplug/replug headphones fixes it.  I do that multiple times every day.  This is still happening with iOS 10.1.  (This is with native lightning headphones).
  • Siri - I ask for a song or an album, Siri shows on the screen that I am understood, and then Siri decides instead to play all of my music.  Examples:  I listen to Exit by Tangerine Dream.  I say, "Siri, play album Exit".  Siri understood but did something else!  This seems better in iOS 10.1, thankfully.
  • Siri - when I am with my family, I try to push the home button to activate Siri and make a request.  The timing seems impossible much of the time.  I hold down and then let go of the home button, but the flowing "I'm listening" graphic does not show up at the bottom of the screen.  Maybe Siri is already trying to interpret what my family is saying around me - I'm not sure.  Some time later Siri tells me it does not understand, and I can push the microphone and try again and that typically works reasonably.  This does seem a bit better in iOS 10.1.
  • iPhone 7 hang/crash - home button not working, I cannot stop music/podcasts... I have to hold both the power button and the down volume button to reboot (we'll see if this continues with iOS 10.1)
  •  iphone 7 crash and reboot - I find I must type my password, often, when I pull my iphone out of my pocket, about every other day.  It has rebooted and will not accept my fingerprint.  I do not know why.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shipping and the iPhone 7 - a warning and an interesting path

I ordered 2 iPhone 7s.  They were both to arrive some time at the end of the month.  And then, they were to come today!

One iphone showed up Monday.  I happened to be in the shower at the exact moment the delivery attempt happened.  But with a wonderful UPS driver, he came back later and delivered!  That was a very happy experience.

Knowing I might not be available the precise second a delivery was attempted, and not wanting to pre-sign for the iphone and worrying it could be stolen,  I changed the delivery location for the second iphone to a local UPS Store.  DO NOT DO THIS.

The outcomes from this action:

  1. My iphone was in the US when I changed the destination (by about 1 mile).  It went back to China!  It was in China 3 times total in the end.  This travelling miracle was completed in only a couple of days.
  2. Once it was ready for delivery today, they had an address problem.  Wait.  How can UPS have an address problem with a UPS Store?  UPS Stores are not part of UPS.  Not really.  They are franchise businesses.  I am not sure if it is because of a deal with Apple, or packages requiring signature, but the iPhone could not be left with a UPS Store.  But the online status did not say this.  It said, "Your package is in transit. We're updating plans to schedule your delivery. / The package will be forwarded to a UPS facility in the destination city." I had that message the day I made the request, as well as this morning.
  3. A bit later today I saw, "Directions to the address are required to complete delivery. We are attempting to update this information. / The address was corrected." The correct interpretation of this is, "We aren't allowed to deliver it how you asked.  We didn't bother to tell you that.  When we feel like it, we'll get back to you, but definitely not today."
  4. I called UPS, waited on the phone for a while, eventually got to talk to a person.  After a while, they said, "Oh, this is an Apple shipment.  I have to transfer you to a special team dealing with Apple shipments."  So I waited for a while and got to a person.  I came to understand that the UPS Store delivery was not an option.  Can they fix it so this problem does not happen to anyone else?  No.  Otherwise, my conversation went something like this:
    1. So... what is an option?  Delivery to my original address, or depot pickup.  Where is my iphone?  At the depot.  Can I go pick it up?  Not until tomorrow.  But, it is not on a truck?  It is at the depot?  Yes.  But I cannot pick it up now?  I can pick it up tomorrow.  I will need to change my delivery preferences online.  They cannot do it for me now on the phone?  No.  (eventually they did change it for me).  I continued asking if I could pick it up today.  They eventually called the depot and told me to expect a call in an hour.  But an hour from now is very near when they close...
  5. I had gotten driving to the depot during the end of the conversation.  I had clearly written the tracking number, my name, and address on a piece of paper.   I asked for help at the depot.  They gave me the iphone (with ID).  
What did I learn
1) Don't change the destination
2) If you do, change it to the depot.
3) Never use a UPS Store if you can avoid it.  (I have had other UPS Store problems, but never related to Apple before)



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Partial iPhone 7 experience

I have upgraded from an iPhone 6 to iPhone 7 with 256GB of storage.  It has all of the amazing feature upgrades (remember I'm mentioning 6-7 NOT 6s to 7):


  • Better screen that some have called the best screen ever
    • Wide color gamut
    • 625 nits - brightest ever on an iPhone (only the new Apple Watch is brighter at 1000 nits) for better performance while in bright light.
  • Double max storage at 256GB
  • An A10 fusion CPU that is reputedly 2x the speed, 3x faster on graphics, but also more efficient with an additional 2 slower cores with an even better motion M10 co-processor.
  • Double the RAM at 2GB
  • So much better camera:
    • 12MP main/iSight camera instead of 8MP
    • Wider color range
    • Image stabilization (previously only on the 6S plus)
    • 4k video
    • f/1.8 - better low light performance
    • also from 6S level - live photos, slow motion support (120fps video)
  • Better facetime/front camera at 7MP up from 1.2MP
  • Bigger battery - 1960mAH instead of 1810mAH, with a reputed 1-2 hour boost in life (have not tested this yet myself)
  • Faster LTE with carrier aggregation - 2-3x faster depending on carrier
  • Siri is improved, and able, like on the 6S, to listen at all times (if you enable this feature)
  • 3D touch (like 6S)
  • waterproof (only for shallow dunks. Called water resistant.  DO NOT TAKE IT IN THE POOL!)
  • lift to wake screen
  • No more headphone jack
  • Replaced home button with taptic response non-button (works great for me!)
  • Taptic Engine - slowly learning how to enjoy using it!
My experience so far has had some unexpected twists and turns
1) I had to upgrade iOS from who knows what to 10.0.1 as soon as I received it.  This interrupted my iCloud recovery.  So I upgraded, reset many settings, and then had to erase all data and settings to recover from iCloud.  Very weird, and I felt lucky in knowing how to do this.  I wished I had not made any settings.
2) Siri:
  • always on is spotty.  So far this has worked better from the headphone adapter and headphones than from lightning headphones
  • Things that always used to work - hey Siri play album Exit (Exit by Tangerine Dream) left me playing all music shuffled.  On screen it showed that Siri heard me, it was just that Siri no longer seemed to understand what these words mean.  That is sad.  Also Siri turn music down was interpreted to try to play some song called Down.  I have also had this work, so it is hit and miss.
3) No headphone jack
4) Big text stops me from seeing some device data
  • This is not a new issue for iPhone 7, but if you have text set via Accessibility features, it is not possible to see your whole hardware wireless address (MAC addr).  Some people need this to set up secure wireless connections.  Turning this off did not work for me - I had to adjust the size to a smaller size to see the whole address.  This was just a minor one-time hiccup. 
5) Problems others have reported that I thankfully have not experienced
6) iTunes server - if at all out-of-date, will not work with iOS 10.
  • If you have a somewhat aged machine acting as your iTunes server, it will not even try to let you sync your media.  I was aware that this was likely going to be the case, but I am waiting to upgrade (probably to a new Mac mini once they are/are not announced in October).  So bear this in mind if you are upgrading

I was originally told my iphone 7 would arrive at the end of September, but it arrived more than 1 week earlier!  That was great!

I'm enjoying using all of the features that are new to me like live photos, 3D touch...

I'll update this post at the top as I use it more in the next few days.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Recent iPhone 6 battery problems

UPDATE:  A replacement iPhone 6 has fixed my battery issues and has fixed other problems I had forgotten about, such as errant triggering of ApplePay and the fact that taking screenshots was nearly impossible.  It is back to being a pleasure to use again!  I wish I had that months ago, but no one suggested these issues could be hardware related.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have not been blogging about Apple.  When I am less enchanted with my Apple experience, I am much less interested in blogging about it.

I have been having iPhone 6 battery issues for more than 6 months.  Problems are in 2 core categories:

  1. Poor battery life - a full charge sometimes lasts less than 2 hours.
  2. Shut off when the iPhone indicates that it still has power - It looks like I have 20-30% power, and suddenly my iPhone is powered off with no notice.  In this case, sometimes I can turn it back on, and sometimes it indicates that I must plug it in to turn it on.  In both cases, once I plug it into power, once it turns on, it shows 20-30% power.
My attempts to remediate:



  • Try 1:  I went to an Apple store for a Genius Bar appointment to help.
      • I was assured that the condition of all hardware involved was good.  My battery was in good condition.
      • we performed a reset of all settings
      • shut off nearly all background activity
      • shut off location services access for most apps, and "always" access for any app that had it.  I ended up deleting Waze as part of that effort.
    • In the end, this consumed time and was not effective.  My battery life was a bit longer with some background activity no longer happening.
  • Try 2:  I did an online chat with Apple Support to try to fix the problem.  I was guided to reinstall iOS from scratch and then recover from iCloud.  After a 2 hour process in chat, the icloud recovery was starting.  In the morning once I logged into my iPhone, app downloads and photo syncing.  After 24 hours, a few more hours of re-doing logins and re-doing all of my 2-factor setups not based on SMS, I was back to normal use.
    • This proved not effective.  I was able to get screen shots of my iPhone going from full to 1% battery use in 1 hour 50 minutes.  I plugged it in, and within 2 minutes showed 60% battery capacity available.
  • Try 3: I had another online chat with Apple Support some days later.  Although I had my iPhone set to send debugging data, Apple was not getting it.  After an hour of getting my debug data to Apple Support, I was told to take my iPhone to a store.
  • Try 4: Back for a Genius Bar appointment.  I was assured by my last Apple Support call that the store would have all appropriate history and be ready to help.
      • A full diagnosis was performed.  This appeared to be a repeat of the last diagnosis done online with Apple Support.  My battery shows as still in good condition, but just barely.
      • Instead I showed the Apple Genius the history from my emails from Apple Support.  
      • The Apple Store showed that there was no location nearby with my model of iPhone for replacement.
    • I was told that it might be a corrupt file, and rebuilding without iCloud recovery was strongly recommended.
      • When I asked how I would get back to normal use on my iPhone, there was no answer.  The idea seemed to mostly be that I had to go back to acting like I had not been an iPhone user for years.  Eventually I was assured that I would only lose my call history and text history.
      • I brought up that I have an iTunes server with media, and that I sync many types of media, and that that configuration would be forgotten as well.  There is no solution to that problem.
So I thus far have no solution.  I have these comments:
  • As a result of my battery problems, I was probably charging my iPhone much more often than it was designed to be charged, degrading my battery condition.
  • Drove twice to apple stores and spend many many hours and did not get resolution.
  • I am told a corrupt file is involved, and that some apps and core functions are crashing, and that this is related to my iPhone having battery issues.  When I asked if this was due to a bug in iOS, that is not known.  So even if I took further steps, if it is a corrupt file could I have to go through this whole problem set again?  Yes.  Was it due to a specific app or apps that I could delete to avoid the problem?  No.  That to me implies it is an iOS bug.
I am glad Apple is willing to replace my iPhone as they are contracted to do, but the whole experience is painful.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Apple Photo services - experience and concerns

I use many Apple products and services. I find that there are some confusing choices Apple has made, and I cannot guess at how they make sense to Apple product management.

I have used Photo Stream for quite a long time. I have family members who do not otherwise use iCloud, who are set up to use my Apple ID for Photo Stream. We use/used this for:

  • automatic sharing of photos we take
  • looking at photos we take on Apple TV via Photo Stream
  • enabling download and saving of photos family members take to the core photo library on my computer
  • We delete photos after sharing that I did not mean to share for a variety of reasons
This shows up in a photo album My Photo Stream.

When iCloud Photo Library became available, the features were really attractive:

  • My entire photo library is sync'ed and available on configured Apple devices!
  • My entire photo library is available on the web via icloud.com
  • All photos I take from configured devices are part of my entire photo library
  • I do pay for iCloud storage to have enough room for all of my photos.

Problems using both:

  • With the iPhoto OS X app before, I could see and download My Photo Stream photos to my photo library.  With the Photos OS X app and iCloud Photos on my iPhone:
    • I cannot see photos in My Photo Stream
    • I cannot delete photos in My Photo Stream

I was unable to find documentation about this feature change, and feature lack.  Apple support staff had inconsistent information.  Apple support staff cannot explain how I might be able to access or delete photos from My Photo Stream.

So what am I doing?

  • I use an iPad to access My Photo Stream, and on rare occasions use that to save photos to my computer sync'ed from the iPad.
  • I am living with no longer having immediate access to My Photo Stream.
  • Wishing Apple made different service decisions...