Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why I still like and use OS X with a passion

I am reading some posts from folks who feel quality problems with OS X are forcing them to leave OS X or have great concerns about it:
  • http://wozniak.ca/why-i-quit-os-x
  • http://www.marco.org/2015/01/04/apple-lost-functional-high-ground
While I agree that there are some important bugs, I want to point out how I feel Apple is looking out for its users. 

It reminds me of a discussion of being poor vs rich vs being alive long ago (as a king).  Forgive what is likely to be a not-so-short digression on living long ago vs now:
  • Food: Maybe kings could get spices, food, nutrition, variety, and have a fairly continuous food supply, but not most other people.  Famines were not uncommon.  Spices were for the wealthy.  Sailors got scurvy.  This is not so much like the lives of most of us today.
  • Facilities:  Kings did not have what are common facilities today: refrigerators, microwave ovens, hot/cold indoor plumbing with safe drinking water, indoor bathrooms, heater/air conditioning
  • Health: Medicine 200 years ago was something like leeches and prayers compared to now.  We have vaccines, antibiotics, and a whole system.  Live expectancy was vastly less than it is now, even for kings.
We quickly forget what we did not have not so long ago.  We often stop appreciating what we do have.

For me, OS X is an amazing environment to work in.  This experience is not completely separable from the hardware.
  • I can do my work from a Macbook Air - a tiny portable computer.  Never before the Macbook Air could I use a tiny portable for all of my work; previous machines had not enough compute power or RAM.
  • Apple's work in OS X to save battery life and save RAM is something we should celebrate more.  Compressed memory, the ability to see applications taking battery life, the creation of modes that allow applications to be efficient, and rewriting Apple's apps to use that efficiency are amazing!
  • The security focus and capabilities in OS X are also amazing.  Apple's focus on sandboxing goes beyond other vendors in most cases.  Safari not even running some plugins without permission saves power and keeps things more secure.  Apple is also making judicious security patches that do not take 1+ hours to deploy (ahem - Microsoft).  I have never had malware running on my machine to my knowledge, and I have never had another mac user that I know relay to me that they have had such a problem.  I did have malware of many kinds affect my use of Microsoft over the years.
  • Continuity and handoff - Apple has made the experience of using my other devices with OS X so much more usable.
    • Text Messages:  I had already used messages on my computer in place of typing on my iPhone much of the time.  Does anyone think about text messaging before iPhone?  So many people just used feature phones and the old phone keypad before iPhone, but even those with smartphones before iPhone had a vastly inferior experience.  This just takes it to a much more usable place!
    • Phone calls - I just use my computer instead of pulling out my iPhone.  It is handy.  Or, I can refuse a call and send a text reply.  This is amazing during meetings.
    • Airdrop between OS X and iOS has been really helpful in many instances for me.  iCloud will take that to an even better place as I do not have to even copy files; they are just there.
    • Even before these new features, having my bookmarks reliably sync'ed to my desktop and iPhone was great and helpful!
There are many other things, written about many time by many people, about how great OS X is.  I just think it is worth remembering to be happy about what amazing progress and innovative technology we do get to use every single day.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Separating AppleIDs and Family Sharing - benefits and possible drawbacks

I have felt the need for quite some time to create some separation of Apple accounts with my family.  iOS 8 and Yosemite make this more appealing.  Your Apple account is your AppleID.

First, how many places are there to set your account?  There are 5!  If you separate them, make sure to do so every place you intend to do so.

Update on 1/6/14 - TidBITS linked to an article about Family Sharing that is important from someone quitting family sharing:  http://macsparky.com/blog/2015/1/quitting-family-sharing
-- iTunes match is not shared, from what I can tell.  I was told I could continue to share music content, but this is not the whole truth.  I was sharing via iTunes Match.  The separate ID does not allow for this.

What are the implications?
  • iCloud
    • This separates iCloud backups of ios devices!
    • This separates photostreams for each person - you lose the ability to stream photos with any devices on a separate iCloud account
    • It enables easy setup and sharing of:
      • a shared photo album all family members may publish to when they choose.  This typically causes an alert just like with other shared photo albums.
      • a family calendar
      • a family reminder "group"
    • If you use one account, you can keep a shared photostream and iCloud storage account for backups, but then could be sharing contacts, calendars, documents, and more.  This can be problematic.
  • iTunes, App Store, iBooks bookstore
    • App purchases are available to all family members (although I read that there is an ability to hide purchases.  I have not explored this)
      • In app purchases are only available per account and are not family-shareable
    • iTunes Match is no longer shared.  If you share music via iTunes match, another account will need to be purchased.  I believe it will also need to be "primed" with all of your music.  This looks like a bit of a mess!
  • Messages
    • This needs to be separate for each person to be able to use sms messages on their mac linked to their iPhone.
  • Facetime
    • This needs to be separate for each person to be able to use their cellular phone linked with their mac to make/receive phone calls.
With shared messages and facetime, wackiness such as receiving all family texts on one computer and/or one iPhone can be accomplished!
  • GameCenter
    • Separation means a family competition can begin!  Also, separate friend lists can be had.

I think messages and facetime are close to being synonymous.  I suspect in some future version of iOS and Yosemite, they will no longer be separate.  In fact, I suspect that this complexity of 5 different places to use an account will be eliminated and shrink to one account at some point.
  • I think it is clear that each person using a separate AppleID for Messages, Facetime, and Gamecenter always makes sense.  If I have that wrong, and you disagree, please tell me.
  • iCloud:
    • This one Graham Spencer of MacStories strongly recommends be separate (see link below).
    • This is very hard for families used to having a completely shared photostream; auto-sharing is lost.
    • It also means if you have one purchased larger iCloud storage capability, it is no longer shared for backups.
    • It lets each user have their own documents, calendar, contacts, while enabling easy sharing of the same with family members.  This makes it seem pretty necessary.
  • iTunes
    • If you use 2-factor authentication, and you should, your family members need to type this in when purchases are made.  This means having it separate is probably a necessary idea.  However, you lose sharing in-app purchases, such as true app-activation in some cases.
    • When family members split from your family group at some future date, they keep their purchases.  What else does it mean?  This is not clear.
I really do hope Apple can eliminate this kind of complexity for its users.

Here are a few articles for reference which can really help as well:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

List of Daniel Eran Dilger's AppleInsider articles for December 2014

Mr. Dilger has been producing many articles this December, and for some of us a concise list is helpful:

December 2014:

Here is a link to a previous post with his articles back through 2013:
  • http://myappleexperience.blogspot.com/2014/05/my-favorite-apple-reporter-daniel-eran.html

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Apple stock market manipulation - it is back, or it never left?

As I have watched Apple's stock price rise, I recall what felt like years of stock market manipulation lifting as the year over year sales increases by Apple won out over the pundits (at best) and manipulators.

Bert Dohmen at Forbes has a new article that is a great example of the behavior: Apple: Icon, Icahn Or iGone?

I actually think Mr. Dohmen has a good point when he says, "Remember, market tops are made when everything looks best, not when they are bad."  Another possible way to think about it is that money can be made when someone can short stock and then drive down the stock price.  FUD - fear, uncertainty, and doubt - and another statement from his article that I agree with but at best creates price uncertainty, is, "My rule: when everyone is in, avoid!"

He talks about "Wall Street firms" competing to raise their future stock price estimate for Apple, and argues that the recent large drop is an example of fund managers starting to get out as the peak is reached.

Then he talks about how Apple is losing market share, and how market share is important to investors.  These feel like arguments made over and over again, over years, and are specious.  If Apple were to lose market share because somehow the market is growing, it could be a view into a huge future market opportunity for Apple.  This can actually be a good sign instead of a sign of doom.  This concept seems evident in another Forbes article, Apple Is Starting To Claw Back Some iPhone Market Share.  Even Mr. Dohmen states both that Apple is both losing and gaining market share.  He says, "Apple is losing market share in the U.S." and in the same paragraph also says, "[...] the iPhone 6 was launched and sales boosted market share above 40% once again."  He is using the same analytics data and company.  He also says, "Sales in Europe and Japan are lackluster. In Japan, market share dropped a big 15.9%.".  Using the same data source, Daniel Eran Dilger says something very different in his appleinsider article, 'Huge' iPhone 6 sales drive iOS to 40% smartphone market share in Australia, US, UK, Japan.  Mr. Dohmen's comment about this?  He dismisses it, saying "But that was the typical new product bump."

Without referring to share of profits in a market, market share is or can be meaningless.  Articles like Mr Dohmen's which carefully avoid such concepts while

Even while talking about Apple Pay, Mr. Dohmen attempts to create new fear and doubt with statements like, ... the competition was ahead of Apple. A competing system is MCX, over two years old.  MCX doesn’t have the potential vulnerability of NFC (technology used by Apple)."  My question is what potential vulnerability?  This sounds like a completely manufactured non-existent vulnerability.  In any case no references to this vulnerability are cited by Mr. Dohmen.  Another very misleading example is, "competition has virtually destroyed the sales of the vastly overprice iPod."  Sales are not as high, but destroyed typically refers to something that is not a dip in sales.  And the concept that large iPhone sales might hurt iPad sales, which is of great financial benefit to Apple, is a concept Mr. Dohmen would not touch with a ten foot pole.

I think Forbes should not publish misleading articles like this one.  They do seem to publish articles with many different opinions, but when is misleading information something that can be considered legal manipulation?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reporting and the "news" that iPad sales are slumping

Forbes has an article today titled iPad Sales Slump As Android Tablets Soar by Ewan Spence.

  • Ewan cites IDC sales data.
  • Ewan describes Android advantages, such as the diversity of devices, lower cost options.
  • He argues that a cheap tablet is not pretty, but is functional, and that that is what most people want.  He says Apple is out of step with the rest of the market.
  • He argues that there are "other forces" tending towards Android and away from iOS.
Things not cited include who is making money making tablets.  Are manufacturers making money?  Cellular providers?  Google?  Android app makers (specifically from Android tablets)?

Others have other theories.  Mark Hibben of Seeking Alpha has a new article, (must be registered to read the whole thing) Why iPad Sales Will Recover In 2015.  This seems to run along the same lines as a detailed article on October 30th by Daniel Eran Dilger on Apple Insider, How Apple, Inc. went thermonuclear on Samsung, erasing Android's primary profit center.

I am surprised that statistics-generating companies like IDC can get away with ignoring articles like the Apple Insider article.  They are supposed to be performing analysis.  Part of analysis is looking at analysis from others.

IDC and Ewan Spence do not look at all the evidence.  There is a cherry-picking of evidence to lead to a conclusion, ignoring other evidence.  Mr. Spence does not acknowledge in any way the new breadth in the ipad line - a breadth that frankly I think is kind of crazy, but would think would quiet exactly the kind of feedback provided by Mr. Spence.

Where is the Macalope when we need him?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

More experiences with Yosemite and ios8

I have been working further with Yosemite and ios8.  I have found some features of interest to me, and learned a bit more about iphoto icloud options, and a bug.

First for the bug.  Now that I have SMS messaging available to me on my macbook pro, I am using it.  I texted a co-worker with some connectivity issue, and my message to his iphone went green, bypassing Apple's messaging infrastructure and going through as an SMS message.  Messages on my macbook pro showed an unread message from this specific message.  So I read the message.  It was marked read.  Then I went about my business and saw that messages showed an unread message.  It was that same message, which I read again.  This kept happening.  For at least a couple of days.  I see it is now marked read, perhaps after a reboot.  Annoying.

Next - iphoto icloud.  When I use iphoto, I have to attach an external drive.  I just do not have room on my internal drive for my iphoto library, which is around 180GB.  Thus I am interested in having my photos in the cloud if possible, hopefully both protecting my photos and removing my need to hook up an external drive to manage my photos.  With ios8 (or is it 8.1?) ios devices are ready for photos in icloud beta.  Apple has information at https://www.apple.com/icloud/photos/
It is not yet available for Yosemite -see more at imore: http://www.imore.com/photos-os-x-yosemite-explained

There are features I am not yet testing, but I am interested in looking at soon.  If you have family members with Apple ID's and you share with them, they could interest you.  You can can now share other icloud item types:

  • Reminder categories
  • Calendars
If you run the OS X Yosemite version or log in to icloud.com, these now have options to share!  I look forward to sharing calendars and reminder categories with my family.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Some notes (and problems) working with ios 8.1 and Yosemite for a little while.

OK!  I was excited - I finally got Yosemite AND ios 8.1!  Full continuity and handoff!

First I switched all of my devices to use iCloud Drive.  Then I had some fun:

  • I texted from my computer to a non-iPhone number!
  • I received a call and answered it on my computer!  A headset is most useful...
  • I received a call during a meeting, and it rang on my iPhone, iPad, and computer!  I used my computer to text back that I was not able to answer as I was running a meeting and (record scratch followed by silence) and audiobook on my iPad started playing!  And, I could not quickly log in, and forgot to swipe up to silence it, and it was already in silent mode and that didn't help.  I turned the sound down to nothing.  Whew!
  • I used handoff to:
    • Finish a text
    • Finish an email
    • go to a webpage on my computer immediately that I was looking at on my ipad and iphone (tried each, and the other way around from my computer)
    • Edit a numbers file
    • Edit and view reminders
    • View contacts (used it to verify a contact I had just added on my computer was indeed on my iPhone)
  • With Yosemite I have used new features:
    • I drew on a picture in my email on my mac - annotating it.  OK I did this many times just because I can!  It is also very useful, for directions.  I circled a place to park on a map.
    • Now that email is more integrated with contacts, I have been cleaning up my contacts lists so I see little pictures of my contacts in my emails on my mac.  Where I have triple copies of a contact, I am working towards only one.
    • I'm trying out notification center as an alternative to Feedly.  I like having both!
    • I used spotlight to search for more.  I regularly look up word definitions using spotlight at this point, for example.  I can cut and paste numbers now, which did not work well before (cutting from spotlight)
    • I air dropped photos from my iPhone to my computer to share them via Google Drive from my computer, after changing the names and putting them in a folder.  This was amazing and fast for the full-size photos.
I keep my phone in vibrate mode nearly all of the time.  I am so used to the vibration, that I can now ignore it, and also feel it when it is not there at times.  The ability to answer phone and texts on my computer is extremely useful to me.

OK, I'm also playing with Apple Pay.  I've used it, and find that when I needed to get the fingerprint ID'ed on my phone while paying, it did not always work.  However, normal unlocking of of my phone is flawless.  What is the problem?  I'm holding it differently during payments and so needed to rescan my thumb for this different angle for paying.  Some cards work, some do not.  I also used having my credit card in my Passbook to check what I was charged for a non Apple Pay charge - and found one that was wrong!  It helped save me $60 by spotting this before I even left the store.  I am a fan of Apple Pay.

I do not have 1password 5 working with iCloud on my mac.  I have the app store version on my mac, and I am asking AgileBits for help.