Tag: Apple

Things that make me wish I was a developer

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Safari (Mac web browser) plug-in or preference that allowed you to automatically uncheck those “keep me logged in” boxes for web site logins!

Now with extra ad-free goodness

With the price reduction and new apps calling to me from the blogosphere, I have joined App.net, (“a real-time social feed without the ads”) to check it out.

So far, so good. Found many of the Mac/tech related bloggers I follow on there quite easily through a third-party app for finding Twitter follows who are also on app.net.

I’m using multiple pseudo-desktops (forget the right term just now) on my Mac, so I keep Twitter and this and related apps on one screen together, a simple couple of swipes or keyboard shortcut to get to them.

Copy a document name in Mountain Lion

There might be plenty of occasions when you want to copy a document name in Mac OS X Mountain Lion to the clipboard for use elsewhere without navigating to the file itself where it lives using Finder. Here are some techniques.

From the document’s title bar

  1. mouse over the title until you see the down-pointing triangle right of the title
  2. click on the title or arrow and choose Rename…; document title is selected
  3. select Copy from the Edit menu OR keyboard ⌘C

From an icon on the Desktop

  1. click the icon or its name to select it
  2. keyboard the return (enter) key to select the document title
  3. select Copy from the Edit menu OR keyboard ⌘C

Note of caution

Once you’ve copied the file name, remember to click away elsewhere before doing anything else, lest you risk accidentally changing the file name.

What if you don’t want the latest Twitter app?

What we have here, is a fundamental update problem.


iOS, and to a certain extent the evolution of the Mac OS, makes it too easy to update an app, and too hard to un-update. App developers sometimes make radical changes in their apps, and if a user just blindly updates it, say, on a routine iTunes visit, whoa, the user could be in for a sorry awakening.

Scrabble for iPhone in my case, came out with an ‘update’ that took away some of my most-used features and changed the app to an internet/sharing-focused app. I enjoyed playing one-on-one vs. the iPhone, and do not share my every life’s move online. Now I rarely use the app since it loads slowly and I have to fight my way past the ‘sharing’ opportunities to simply just play a short game vs. the computer. Wish I could revert to the previous version!

Today’s issue is what has been reviewed as a, ahem, ‘less than optimal’ change in the Twitter app for iPad. Previously, it was the wonderful Tweetie by Loren Brichter, but now, says the rajam report, “This has to be one of the most regressive updates I have seen to an app in a long time”, removing functionality and elegance for, shall we say, business concerns.


So, let’s say a person is not as diligent as to check each and every app update in iTunes to see if they want it, and also that they haven’t really been monitoring their favorite web sites to see if their favorite apps have stumbled in an update, and mistakenly updated, what then?

Since iTunes puts your previous version in the Trash when you download a new version of an iOS app, you could choose the offending app in iTunes, right-click for “Show in Finder”, delete the app, and drag the good, earlier, version back into iTunes or the Mobile Applications folder in your iTunes folder.

Let’s say it’s been a while since you updated, and you’ve emptied the trash! What about Time Machine? if you use it, great, but you can’t look at old Trash cans that way; when you open the Trash window in Finder, then open Time Machine, you find yourself in the user folder, which doesn’t contain Trash.

Instead, you can again find the offending app in iTunes, right-click “Open in Finder”, then, from the resulting Mobile Applications window, go back in Time Machine and Restore an earlier version if it exists in your Time Machine backups.

But then you’d still be presented with availability of an update on future checks in iTunes. There is no apparent way to mark app updates as ‘ignore’ and thus not show them in iTunes, as there is with Mac app updates.


In Sum

There is a big tech company whose co-founder was fond of pointing out their location at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. Yes, technical and liberal arts folk live in different universes, and being able to bring them together in a product is a phenomenal achievement. The Twitter app episode here shows the disconnect at that company. The app update situation shows something of a disconnect at that big tech company. User beware. User be ready to workaround in those instances where you haven’t paid attention when clicking update!

How to easily export Mail photo attachments by importing to Aperture

The Issue

Apple has failed to provide an “Export to Aperture” equivalent contextual menu item to “Export to iPhoto” in Mail. As if Aperture users do not use email!

This failure has led to various workarounds by creative people with time on their hands or too much frustration and impatience waiting for Apple to fix what is a years-long head-slapping oversight.

One Solution

A bit of online searching results in references to setting up Rules in mail to invoke an AppleScript, or using Automator. I tried out Automator and made a very simple Automator Application that simply imports the selected photo(s) into a specified Aperture Project. One could get more organized and set up Applications for several projects to handle different destinations in Aperture, and other fancy footwork available in Automators Action Library for Aperture. But for my workflow, I am putting emailed photos into one Project, and from there I will further organize the photos within Aperture.

If you are using Aperture with referenced images, you could use Automator to set up a Folder Action so that once you send the photo to the destination folder, it triggers an Aperture import, etc etc.

The simple basic import I’ver just created involves a few easy steps to set up the process, but thereafter it’s only a couple of clicks and you’re done with the import, and then you switch over to Aperture and further manage the photo(s) just imported, ie placing in appropriate Projects, tagging, etc.

(Automator can be found in the Applications folder, or by using Spotlight if you’ve selected Applications in Spotlight’s System Preferences).

The Step by Step

  1. Set up a new Project in Aperture called “imported from Mail” (or whatever you like)
  2. Open Automator, and from the intro screen, click Application, then the Choose button
  3. Click Photos in the Library in the far left pane
  4. Drag Import Photos from the middle pane to the pane on the right
  5. From the Choose Project pop-up menu in the Import Photos action, select the Project you created in step one
  6. Save this Automator Application somewhere you will be able to find it (perhaps in the Documents folder)
  7. In Mail, select the photo(s) you want in Aperture, select Open With > Other… and choose the Application you created in step 6, then enjoy as you glide over to Aperture and see the photo in the Project!

In Future, repeat step 7.

The Wrap

Automator has a lot of potential that you can explore. This exercise does one simple thing. Feel free to expand on this to meet your needs, or create multiple similar Automator Applications.

[Update Jan 11: More suggestions were added to the Apple Discussions thread by other users]

Why is there no “price paid” column in iTunes?

Here’s my gripe of the day re iTunes.

I have a lot of apps (300), but only sync some of them to the iPad and iPhone. Plenty were freebies and plenty I’ve carefully or not so carefully analyzed and paid for.

But I have a MacBook Pro, and am running out of space on the internal HD. So… I’d like to get rid of unused apps, with preference to the ones that were free. The ones I paid for, I could offload to an external HD if necessary, but perhaps getting rid of unused freebies I could free up a good amount of space.

(It would also be interesting to know at-a-glance how much I’ve spent! like, in the lower margin where it shows total apps; regardless of trimming efforts).

So… Why isn’t there a View > View Options… column for “Price Paid”? There IS a column for “Purchase Date”, so they know when, and of course, how much, you paid, but we’re not allowed to see the price as a View Option in iTunes.

Sure, Apple sends you receipts and of course we all keep track of those in a detailed Numbers spreadsheet, right? Ha ha ha!

So, Apple, dare you to provide a ‘Purchase Price’ column in a future iTunes update; no, take that back, double-dog dare ya!

What’s the deal with putting gadgets in your pocket?

There’s plenty of advertising about putting gadgets in your pocket, usually a jeans pocket. I don’t get it!

Plenty of backpacks and bags marketed with the notion that people put their keys and gadgets in there. A lot of cases for iPhones are just to protect the screen and body from damage while mixing with other stuff in pockets, purses, etc. It’s hard to find a good belt case to house an unadorned iPhone for instance.

Why, o why?

What makes sense to me is to put small expensive gadgets and phones on the belt, where they are always accessible. If the phone rings while it’s in my pocket, it’s quite a squirm to fish it out. On the belt, it’s easy to grab and answer or look at the screen at least. Ditto to put in silent mode, I can discreetly flip the switch while in a belt pouch, not so in a pocket or pack.

And then there are the teen-somethings you see with phones/gadgets in their back pockets! What? do they never sit down? that thing is going to pop out of the pocket if they twist or bend, get crushed if they sit, or get lifted by thieves!

Why mix an expensive gadget with potentially damaging items, like putting it loosely with other stuff in any kind of bag? what? huh?

Then again, why are keys in a bag? if anything belongs in a pocket (along with wallet and ID), it’s keys! imagine that bag gets taken, you can’t drive home, you can’t get into home if you find a way to get there. huh?

Maybe the marketers are looking for some common-measurement reference point across society, as in, almost everyone knows what jeans are and the size of the pockets.

Here’s my logic: pockets are for the stuff you never want to be separated from, and only need occasionally. The belt or other device permanently attached to you is for for stuff needed more frequently but too valuable to be left in a bag. Stuff in the bag is at risk, so should be relatively replaceable stuff, or gadgets that are bulky but can be re-created relatively easily from a backup.

Also, I was brought up to treat expensive objects carefully (more especially if they are gifts), which is perhaps not as common as I thought it was.

So I suppose I see overlapping tiers of necessity/usability. Stranger than fiction, yes indeed.

Lion Spaces not ready for prime time

The concept of various Spaces, or desktops, has been around the Mac OS for quite a while, years at least. Leopard? Snow Leopard? So it makes me wonder why they haven’t got its functionality right yet.

Here are some glitches I’m seeing, still, in Lion:

  • try to command-` to change Safari windows and it only works within one space, won’t move you to a window in another space for some reason
  • in Safari, dragging a tab out of its window opens the link in a new window, but can’t be dragged into a new space; user has to drop the window in the current space and pick it up again to drag sideways
  • command-tab to change apps might move you to another space but does not always bring the selected app to fore
  • Aperture, ’nuff said? Well, command-tab does nothing; one has to manually go to its space thru the many methods for that

On the Subject of EXIF and privacy, etc.

The topic if EXIF location data came up recently in an email list I subscribe to, here is what I wrote from what I know on the topic, with any subsequent updates as well.

For those interested in the topic of EXIF data, one of the many resources/tools available is from Jeffrey Friedl, who produced a very interesting EXIF Viewer tool web page and a javascript tool that you can simply drag into a browser toolbar, target an online image, click the tool, and reveal whatever EXIF data is available with the image.

For any images you’re concerned about, use this (or other) tool to reveal the information that is available with it online, or discover info about online images you are curious about.

There are lots of comments following his original post, worth reading for those interested in the topic. His is the only tool I’ve used so far for this subject.

My understanding is that EXIF data is stored at time of capture by the camera, and the user has little control over the contents, but this data is the source of the information that the computer presents to you in photo management software. Possibly the camera has options on what to include or not (on my new Canon S100, for instance, I can turn GPS on or off, and its tracking feature on or off; you can turn off location services for individual iOS apps as well through Settings).

Your computer photo software can add many, many fields and categories of IPTC data. This can include lots of things including caption, copyright notice, contact information, etc.

Some photo web sites/apps strip or modify the IPTC data, alas. You’d need to search online and/or the t&c for this.

In Aperture, you can choose to include or not include location and face information in file exports as part of the Preferences > Export panel. I leave both unchecked, as I tend to be more a privacy fan than a ‘share everything’ person.

In iPhoto, location is an option in Preferences > Advanced.

Flickr offers a variety of settings including hiding the EXIF data.

I wish iOS offered native EXIF/IPTC data viewing and captioning, though at least one or two other apps provide the functionality.

There are probably plug-ins for exporting and uploading to strip a variety of data from photos before posting online. The word “geofence” is becoming more popular as a tool for people to protect certain areas from recording/sharing. It’s a developing area of tech/society.

Now that I’ve made so many notes I think I’ll put this on my blog and update it with additional resources from this thread.

Privacy of your location is an ongoing theme these days, it’s a challenge of living in the times we do, to work that balance of your personal and public lives. Some would advocate there is no difference, which leads to the following rant. [location rant->]Personally, I turn off every location service I reasonably can, deny when apps ask for it, and pay attention to the feature when using devices that have location as a feature. I’m of the opinion we need to establish better national privacy standards; other nations are far ahead of us. A person’s location should be considered their property imho, and companies that want to use that data should be up front and compensate users for the use of the data, instead of hiding their collection and sales of the data in t&c, which very few read [<-rant over].

Clever find of additional photo buttons in iOS5 photography

iOS “Cable releases” at Macworld’s Mac OS X Hints.

Apple Dictionary interface woe & wishes

In the previous Dictionary, the user could tab to highlight the whole word search field, and when switching to Dictionary via command-tab, the word would be highlighted. And as usual in Mac OS, since the field was active, it would be surrounded by a blue highlight.

Now we have the Lion version of Dictionary, which is enhanced and in some ways better, but this tabbing while in the application functionality needs fixing. That is, when in the app, say scrolling through the word list in the left sidebar, clicking on a word, the word entry field is no longer highlighted, and if the user tabs, the word in the field is not highlighted, nor do you get the blue line around it, but it is active. If you type, the typing appears. Hm.

Also, if you are typing a word in the word field, the highlight of the text and the blue line disappear, but if you misspell, or want to look up another word, you can tab and start typing again and that works, again although the field text is not highlighted nor surrounded by the blue line.

So… functionality is the same, but the visual indicators are not consistent.

I still wish they would offer dictionaries in other languages as options in addition to the current all-English options.

Oh, and wildcard searching would help, too. Like, you know the word ends in ‘gine’ but not the part before, you could search for “*gine” and all the results would be words with that ending. Try something like that now and you’ll get some results close, but some totally unrelated results, not limited to the ‘gine’ ending.

Aperture-iPhone Camera Roll glitch

Although I’m really happy with the new accessibility of the iPhone camera from the lock screen, and the hardware shutter button, there is still a glitch using it with Aperture.

Recently I snapped a photo from the lock screen, and as any of you who’ve tried it know, the only ‘camera roll’ images you can see when in this mode are those you’ve shot since activating the camera this way, and I reviewed the pic and was happy. But oddly the image didn’t seem to be committed to the actual camera roll somehow.

I let the camera go back to lock mode, dark, opened Aperture to import the just-taken image, and… it’s not available!

Hm! So I unlocked the iPhone, checked the camera roll and verified the image is in there but still Aperture does not see it. So then I reboot the iPhone, quit Aperture, and Aperture does not even see the iPhone. Had to unplug/replug the iPhone for Aperture to see it and finally the image appeared.


[Update: see also Camera Roll/Photos glitch on TUAW]

Aperture Space irritation

So the Mac OS Lion goodness is flowing all around, but why has Apple still not fixed the odd behavior of Aperture when it is assigned to a Space?

Since Spaces came out as a feature, I was one of the apparently few who liked it. I assigned apps to different spaces so I could shift easily among different work/mindspaces. All along, including now in Lion, the command-tab application switching feature does not work with Aperture, in the sense that Lion does not go to its space when I command-tab to it. I have to go directly to its Space (multiple ways) to make it the active app.

I noticed this when backing up vaults to external drives. Aperture’s icon hops and the OS voice tells me “Aperture needs your attention”. I try to quickly command-tab to see what’s up (and allow the backup to continue) but then have to somehow clickety-click or control-# to activate its space, then the annunciation goes away.

Other apps don’t do this, I wish Aperture wouldn’t. Ack!

iPhone 4/4S poor battery life on iOS5

I’m reading more about Apple seeking out iPhone 4S owners regarding rapid battery depletion, but it may not be a 4S issue.

Christopher Breen at Macworld did some clever but inconclusive troubleshooting with additional software and appropriate application of wetware on his battery-sucking 4S.

When I switched my iPhone 4 to iOS 5, I immediately saw the same power draw, going from 100% battery, with the phone on the nightstand doing nothing but waiting to alarm me awake about seven hours later. Imagine the chagrin at finding the battery at 28% upon wakeup, when the phone normally lasted days on a charge under iOS 4.x.

So, I am not the genius that Breen is, so I did the usual stuff like turning off bluetooth, wifi, cellular data, notifications, location services, and I think only airplane mode slowed the drain. During later trouble shooting the phone would lose about 10% charge per hour.

Same behavior but on an iPhone 4 with iOS 5. Although I had set up the phone as a new device when upgrading to 5, and spent hours setting it up again (long story), I couldn’t figure it out so nuked the phone again without putting on apps or content. Then the battery was stable. Gradually I added apps and other content, slowly turning features back on. Now it’s back to a normal battery drain. Go figure.

Simultaneously, I did switch to iCloud, and also had some iCal glitches that took about 2 hours with AppleCare on the phone to resolve. Perhaps that’s related.

Anyway, hope you didn’t have the same ugly experience!

[Update: The Loop reports iOS update for battery issue and others]