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OS Quest Trail Log

New Hosting and New Domain

This site has been dormant nearly two years, with the most recent post made in June 2015. This post doesn’t really qualify as re-activating the site. But I did make some changes and it’s likely I’ll be posting here a bit more.

I moved this site to WordPress.com hosting when I shut down my Linode VPS in 2014. I’m back on a Linode VPS server and I’ve moved this site back to being a self-hosted WordPress site. I kept the same theme and didn’t make any cosmetic changes so it shouldn’t be noticeable.

The migration went remarkably well. There’s a lot of graphics and images missing from older posts, but these went missing when I imported them into the WordPress.com site three years ago. I never got around to fixing them at that time. This time I went through and removed the broken/missing images and broken links from the posts. I did indicate in the affected post that old images and links were removed. Most were of old and obsolete software. Missing images were fairly easy to find so I think I got all of them, there are probably broken links remaining since I didn’t really dig in to find them. Cleanup will continue.

I also changed the domain name. When I started the site back in 2006 the domain osquest.com wasn’t available (not at a price I wanted to pay), so I used osquest.com. After ignoring solicitations to sell me the domain, osquest.com was dropped and I was able to register it a few years ago. I finally got up the nerve to make the change and now use this as the URL. All the redirects seem to be working.

I haven’t been able to test the RSS feed to verify that it redirects successfully. This post will let me know. But the site has been inactive so long I doubt anyone will notice. If you do subscribe via RSS I suggest you switch to the new feed to avoid future issues.

If nothing else, the site may see some activity as I write about the site move and WordPress setup.

 

 

Categories
Apple iOS

iPad Air 2 Ordered (and cancelled)

Screenshot of my iPad home screenI saved my money and was all set to upgrade my iPad once Apple released this year’s models. I watched the live event and ordered my iPad Air 2 the next day when they became available.

Then I cancelled the order this morning, before it shipped. There wasn’t one reason that caused me to cancel although price was the most significant factor. I decided the upgrade from my iPad 3 wasn’t worth the cost. I have an iPad 3 (Retina) so after its sale I figured the total cost of the upgrade would be $600, before considering accessories. Here’s why I wanted to upgrade and why I decided to wait another year…

  • The screen: I already have a Retina screen. The new Air 2 has a glare reduction coating and is a fully laminated screen so I have no doubt the screen will look better. So, this is certainly a reason to upgrade but I don’t really have any complaints about my current screen. Ok, maybe a few. Glare and smudges annoy me, so any reduction would be appreciated. But if I was to put a price on this upgrade I would put it at $100 which is generous since I haven’t seen the new screen.
  • Touch ID: It’s a huge convenience on the iPhone and I do miss it on the iPad. I don’t care at all about the purchase related features (or lack of them). Purchase friction saves me money. I just want it to unlock apps. It’s hard for me to put a value on this. I was thinking $100 but realized that was the price difference between the iPad Mini 2 and the new Mini 3 and the only difference was Touch ID. Of the two I’d save the $100 and get the iPad Mini 2 (if I was buying one). I do value convenience so even though this doesn’t add any real functionality I’m going to value it at $50.
  • More CPU Power: My iPad 3 has never been a speed demon but I’ve already upgraded to iOS 8 so I know what to expect. I’m not a gamer and I don’t use a lot of demanding apps. I’d value this at $50, at least until I have specific issues.
  • Improved LTE: My current iPad 3 is the LTE version on Verizon. I subscribe to a data plan about 2 months out of the year. The ability to pick a wireless vendor on the fly is nice, although I’m not sure how much I’d switch vendors. The lack of Verizon isn’t a problem as I’d like some variety as a backup and my iPhone is locked to Verizon. When I do use LTE I don’t have any complaints about speed but I’m mainly getting email and text files, no streaming. I don’t consider this upgrade to have any value for me.
  • Improved Wi-fi: Like LTE I don’t place heavy demands on my Wi-Fi usage. I do stream video in the house but what I have works fine. I do have a 802.11ac router so I could take advantage of the iPad Air 2 Wi-fi. So yes it’s faster and better in theory, in practice I won’t notice a difference in my daily use. So I don’t consider this to have any value for me either.
  • Camera Improvements – I don’t think I’ve ever taken a picture with my iPad. Maybe I tried it once. I don’t think a better camera will change that. Likewise I don’t use the front facing camera for video calls or FaceTime. So this has no value for me.
  • Thinner & Lighter: While Apples obsession with thinness is beginning to bug me this would be a big change from my iPad 3 and I would like it. It would be easier to hold the Air 2 for a longer time but I don’t currently leave the iPad behind because it’s heavy. I’d value this at $50 although I should point out the original iPad Air would have the same value assigned to it.

Adding this all up I’d value the upgraded features at $250. If I’m wrong and some must have feature or app appears where I’d want an iPad Air 2 it will still be around. Maybe by then it will be in the refurb store for less money.

I use my laptop a lot so that lowers the iPads value for me. I tried going iPad only before upgrading my laptop and found I didn’t like it.

 

Categories
iOS

iOS 8 Installed

Screenshot of my iPad home screeniOS 8 was released around the typical time of 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM EST) and I installed it on both my iPad 3 and iPhone 5s shortly afterward. I set aside about an hour to do the upgrade and it was done in about that time. Most of the time was just waiting. It didn’t take long for the download portion, most of the time was spent preparing and doing the installation. My iPad 3 took longer thanks to the slower processing.

I skipped the iCloud upgrade on both devices.

The upgrade was uneventful on my iPhone. I did have a problem with the Audible app. It would crash right after starting but this occurred prior to the upgrade and began when I upgraded the Audible app. I hoped the iOS 8 upgrade would fix the issue but it wasn’t to be. I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling the app which did resolve the issue.

My iPad upgrade was a bit more eventful. It got caught in a loop prompting me to “authorize” my app store account when I tried to download app updates after the iOS upgrade. I eventually cancelled it and all was well. I was also prompted twice for my iCloud credentials (three times if I count the prompt during the upgrade) but these did stop. I didn’t have either of these problems on my iPhone.

Apple apparently pulled Healthkit integration at the last minute until a bug could be fixed. I’ve also been having problems finding some iOS 8 apps in the app store via search. It may be that they haven’t been pushed out yet. Other than that it’s been uneventful although I haven’t used the updated software very much.

Categories
iOS

iOS8 Preparation

Screenshot of my iPad home screeniOS 8 will be released tomorrow. There’s a lot of new features which means there will probably be a lot of bugs or incompatibilities. Now, “a lot” is subjective, but guaranteed that some will make a lot of internet noise. The smart think to do would be to wait for the dust to settle before upgrading my own devices (an iPhone 5s and iPad 3). But I rarely do the smart thing so I’ll be upgrading my phone & iPad as soon as I get the chance. While I’ve never had a serious problem I always prepare for the worst by doing the following:

  1. Delete all the apps I haven’t used in recent memory. This has the added benefit of cleaning up the accumulated cruft. When I go through the apps I always find ones I haven’t used in months but say “I really want to use this app”. I take a hard line and delete these. I can always re-install if I really do want to use it. The exception would be an app that hasn’t been used but has a lot of data. Deleting the app deletes the data so if it’s not stored someplace else (such as a cloud service) I’d leave the app. But honestly, I haven’t encountered this.
  2. Backup the device to my computer using iTunes. I backup both my iPhone and iPad to iCloud and I hate iTunes with a passion. But this is one time where I fire up iTunes and backup my devices. I use an encrypted backup so my passwords are backed up. Local restores are much faster than through iCloud. Plus, if Apple melts down completely iCloud could be affected.
  3. Check iCloud apps for compatibility. I’ve been burned by Apple’s cloud offerings so much that I’ve avoided storing files in iCloud. Apparently the phased rollout of iOS 8 and Yosemite can also cause problems. Day One is warning users not to upgrade to iCloud Drive (which is optional during the iOS8 upgrade) if they use iCloud with Day One. If you do upgrade to the new iCloud drive you won’t be able to see the documents on your Mac until it’s upgraded to Yosemite, or on other iOS devices until they are also on iOS 8. Apple does note this when they prompt whether or not you want the Cloud Drive upgrade – “You will not be able to access the documents currently stored in iCloud on your other devices until they are also upgraded to iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite.” Even though Yosemite is expected soon (and a public beta is available) I have not seen a firm Yosemite release date from Apple.
  4. Just prior to upgrading to iOS 8 I’ll do one last check to see if there are any app updates waiting. I’ll do a similar check just after the upgrade, but before running any apps.

Good luck with your upgrade!

Categories
Mac OS X

Maestro Monday: Start Scanner App

I hate having software running when it’s not needed. I also hate always having to manually start and stop software based on some often repeated action.

I recently bought a ScanSnap scanner and the ScanSnap manager needs to run whenever I want to scan. Using Keyboard Maestro’s ability to react to USB devices being connected or disconnected I was able to manage this automatically rather than leaving the software always running, or having to manually run it. What’s cool is that the ScanSnap S1300i turns on when the cover is opened (and shuts off when it’s closed) and Keyboard Maestro sees the on/off as the connection (or disconnection) based on the cover opening and closing. It’s not the actual cable connection being detected.

Hint: Activate the USB device when setting up the trigger and it will put the name of the newly connected device into the name field.

Start ScanSnap Manager

Keyboard Maestro Macro to start ScanSnap Manager

Stop ScanSnap Manager

Keyboard Maestro Macro to stop ScanSnap Manager

Categories
Mac OS X

Maestro Monday: Macro Libraries

The macro library is a great resource in keyboard Maestro. It was immediately obvious to me since there’s already macros loaded into the Keyboard Maestro main window.

Selecting Windows -> Macro Library from the menu displays a popup window of dozens of pre-built macros that are ready to use. Just double click the one(s) you want and they’ll be added to your active macro library where you can use it as-is or edit it to meet your needs.

The Macro Library window
The macro library window (left) is shown next to the active macros window. The “Automatically Resume Safari’s Last Session” macro has just been added from the library
Categories
Mac OS X

Maestro Monday: Paste as Plain Text

Many Mac apps have a command “Paste and Match Style” or “Paste as Text” while many others don’t, or if they do they keyboard shortcuts are different. I paste as plain text a lot. So I have a Keyboard Maestro macro assigned to take care of it, and I assigned the macro to the <Command>-<Option>-<V> key combination.

It’s a very simple macro but one I find is a huge time saver.

Screenshot of the Paste as Plain text macroThe macro is triggered only by the key combination and used the Keyboard Maestro variable %CurrentClipboard% to get the current contents and the set them right back as plain text.

Categories
Mac OS X

Maestro Monday: Syncing Macros

I have two Macs, a Mac Mini desktop and a laptop. Keyboard Maestro makes it easy to sync Macros between these two Macs. You’ll need a syncing service such as Dropbox. There’s no technical or compatibility requirements, it’s just a simple file sync. I use Cloud Station from my Synology NAS.

To set up Syncing first pick the Mac that has all the Macros that you want to sync. Start the Keyboard Maestro editor and pick File -> Start Syncing Macros… from the menu.

Syncing setup dialogFor the first Mac select “New”. For future Macs select “Open Existing…”. The difference is fairly obvious. For “Create New…” you’ll pick the sync file location and the existing macros will be saved to it. For “Open Existing” you’ll browse to the existing file. For “Open Existing” all existing macros will be replaced with the ones in the sync file.

That’s all there is to it, syncing will occur automatically. Syncing, in my experience, is nearly immediate and does not wait for a new macro to be completed.

Since there are differences between my two Macs I don’t want every macro to run on them both. While the macro can be written to recognize the computer it can run on, the easiest way is to create macro groups and disable the group for the Mac it should ignore.

Macro group settings screenshot

Categories
Mac OS X

Maestro Monday: Activate an App

Another simple, easy macro for Keyboard Maestro this week. I have several apps I want to quickly switch to during the day. And I want to do this without having my hands leave the keyboard or tab between many apps. So Keyboard Maestro is used.

It’s simply a macro assigned a hot key trigger which then switches to the app. OmniFocus is the example used.

Screenshot of the activate app Keyboard Maestro macro

Categories
Mac OS X

Maestro Monday: Keep Required Apps Running

My Mac Mini is an always on machine and there’s some apps I always want running, even when I’m not home. Keyboard Maestro makes this happen rather easily. The macro below keeps Mail, OmniFocus and Evernote open. There’s nothing difficult here.

Macro to keep required apps running

Since the macro checks for the app to be running before doing anything I’m not interrupted if I’m working at the computer, unless of course one of the apps has closed down. In that case I wouldn’t mind the interruption.