iPad, Built Apple Tough

I had just gotten to work and noticed that I already had a missed call on my work phone. Shortly after checking to see who called me, I received a text from my wife.

Call me when you can.

She had taken our son to her parents house for the day because he was running a fever, and daycare would have likely sent him home, so I of course thought something had happened on their travels, to them.

I immediately picked up the phone and called her and when she answered the phone I could hear that she was driving (hands free people, calm down), so I knew that there hadn't been an accident. She said, "So there has been a little bit of an accident with the iPad." She had successfully dropped my son off, got back into her car and drove off. On the main county road to her parents house she accelerated to about 45mph and then she heard a loud bang, like something had hit her car.

She looked in her rearview mirror and saw something shiny flying behind her, saw something else go in another direction and it was in that moment she realized what it was. When she went to get our son and all of his stuff that he needed for the day out of the car, she took the iPad that we usually let one of the kids use on the long ride to school, and set it on top of her vehicle. Had she had a car it probably wouldn't have been a big deal, but she has an SUV that is slightly taller than she is, and forgot all about it.

She pulled over and went back to retrieve what she thought were going to be pieces of a now unusable iPad. She noticed that the case was laying facedown in the middle of the road, of which a number of cars had already gone by. She saw two pieces in the rearview mirror but thought maybe the iPad was still in the case, facedown on the pavement, but it was not in the case and nowhere to be seen.

She walked quite a ways back towards the road that turns off the main road to her parents house and nothing. The ditches on the side of the road had stagnant water setting in them and feared that it had been thrown into the ditch and was submerged. After about fifteen minutes of looking she found it laying down off the shoulder of the road in the grass.

When I left in the morning with my daughter she said to me, "Daddy can I have the iPad?" I told her no, it was her brothers turn to have it because she had used it the day before. I guess I should have told her yes! My wife was heartbroken that it had happened and I was upset that it happened since the kids use it to learn their alphabet and learn how to write, along with just using it for pure entertainment such as watching movies on it, but I told it that things happen.

When I left the house this morning the iPad looked like it did the day it was purchased. Despite taking flight at 45mph and skidding across the road it didn't picked up one scratch on the screen let alone break the screen. I am amazed by that because the one corner is almost flattened from the impact. The back has all kinds of battle scars, and the camera has a crack through it, I mean who takes pictures with their iPad anyway, right? As long as I can still get a charger into the 30 pin port that is bent all to hell I can throw it back in it's wonderful case from iFrogz, now owned by Zagg and the kids can use it until they get an Air 2 as a hand me down and the iPad 3 can be put out to pasture.

Pictures of the aftermath:

iPhone 6S Feature Wishlist: Improved Camera, Unlocked, Force Touch, USB-C?

Apple expected to announce new iPhones on September 9th, 2015.

Some things that I would like to see from this years iPhone release are:

Camera Improvements

Perhaps the biggest reason that I am glad to upgrade my iPhone every two years, and possibly yearly now that I am not buying subsidized phones, is the fact that the quality of the camera improves with almost every release.

The rumor for this years iPhone is that the camera will be a jump up in megapixels from 8MP to 12MP. Apple has never used the marketing of megapixels to sell phones, but instead they focus on improving the technology to increase the quality of the photos with the image processor built into their A series chips and increasing the pixel size on the sensor.

This past year Apple purchased a company from Israel by the name of LinX that specializes in cameras for mobile devices

LinX develops and markets miniature cameras for tablets and smartphones. Using an array of sensors that capture multiple images at the same time and proprietary algorithms, LinX says its cameras can gauge depth and create three-dimensional image maps.

Last year, the company said its tiny camera modules allow for better-quality pictures in low light and faster exposure at standard indoor conditions. It said the technology offers single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera image quality without the need for a bulky device.

The news that Apple purchased LinX came out in April, so it is possible that technology may not have been incorporated into this release. It will be interesting to see how it is used when it finally is.

Unlocked At Launch

As cell phone carriers are moving away from subsidies, I am hoping that Apple will offer a factory unlocked version on day one.

Typically you cannot purchase a SIM free phone from Apple until a certain time after the carrier versions of the phones have gone on sale. I assume that there is a rule somewhere in the contracts that Apple has with the carriers that requires Apple to wait to offer customers an unlocked version. For the iPhone 6, which was released on September 19th 2014, the SIM free version (unlocked) was released on January 06, 2015.

Back in June, Apple stopped selling subsidized phones through their online store and switched to only selling phones available through AT&T's NEXT plans.

The shift away from two-year contracts is not specific to Apple or iPhone, but rather part of a larger move by AT&T. Droid-Life reported last month that AT&T would begin moving away from two-year contracts on June 1, although the report claims that the option will remain available through AT&T's website, company-owned retail stores, local dealers via direct fulfillment and customer service.

Since AT&T, and the other carries, are moving away from contract phones that are cheaper priced it would only make sense for Apple to provide an unlocked phone up front.

When the iPad Air 2 was released, the cellular version shipped with Apple Sim, allowing customers to choose from a couple of different carriers. A universal sim would be a welcomed feature.


Storage on mobile devices seems to be more of a problem as content increases in size, and the camera quality increases. Apple has taken steps to make it not be so much of a problem by having smaller OS updates, iCloud Photo Library, and iCloud Music Library. When iOS 9 comes out they will further improve on saving storage on the device with the App Thinning.

The App Store and operating system optimize the installation of iOS and watchOS apps by tailoring app delivery to the capabilities of the user’s particular device, with minimal footprint. This optimization, called app thinning, lets you create apps that use the most device features, occupy minimum disk space, and accommodate future updates that can be applied by Apple. Faster downloads and more space for other apps and content provides a better user experience.

When I purchased the iPhone 6 I picked up the 128GB model. I managed to use up over half of the storage on it after a year of taking pictures and video, in addition to all of the other app data that I have. I haven't started using iCloud Photo Library yet as it isn't as customizable as I would like it to be, features that I detailed here. I do use Apple Music, paired with iTunes Match, so very little of my device's space is used by music.

It will be interesting to see if Apple holds on to the the 16GB size as for it's main phones. I could see if they kept the iPhone 5S around as the low end phone keeping it at 16GB, but I would really like to see the options be 32GB, 64GB, & 128GB.

Force Touch

One of the biggest features that is rumored to be a part of the iPhone 6S is that it will include Force Touch . As described on the design page for the new Macbook, which incorporates Force Touch into it's trackpad.

In addition to the intuitive Multi-Touch gestures you may be familiar with — like scrolling, swiping, pinching, and rotating — Force Touch brings a new dimension to the Mac experience. The sensitivity is customizable, allowing you to adjust how much pressure is needed to register a click. And the trackpad can even tell whether you’re clicking with your thumb or another finger and automatically adjusts the sensitivity level.

Force Click

Click and continue to press on the trackpad to enable new capabilities, like looking up the definition of a word, previewing a file in the Finder, or creating a new Calendar event when you Force click a date in the text of an email.


Gradually add pressure to the trackpad to vary the speed with which you fast-forward through a QuickTime movie or zoom in on a location in Maps.

Pressure-Sensitive Drawing

Press lightly for a thin stroke or harder for a thick one when marking up a Mail attachment or creating a signature for forms in Preview.

Description of Force Touch in the Apple Watch.

In addition to recognizing touch, Apple Watch senses force, adding a new dimension to the user interface. Force Touch uses tiny electrodes around the flexible Retina display to distinguish between a light tap and a deep press, and trigger instant access to a range of contextually specific controls. With Force Touch, pressing firmly on the screen brings up additional controls in apps like Messages, Music, and Calendar. It also lets you select different watch faces, pause or end a workout, search an address in Maps, and more. Force Touch is the most significant new sensing capability since Multi‑Touch.

Force Touch Could bring finer control to the iPhone for scrubbing through a song, or down through a list. Force clicking to define a word, or add events to the calendar.

The drawing enhancements that the technology brings to a device open up so much opportunity for artists, those using their devices for mobile payments and need customers give their signature, photo editing, and the list goes on.


When Apple introduced the iPhone 5 they also introduced a new connector for their mobile devices; Lightning Connector. The change while I think was a great improvement over the old design, was not welcomed by everyone. There was a pretty large backlash from people, who I imagine had a huge cache of 30-pin connectors that they had amassed over the years. I never completely understood the backlash over the change. It wasn't like Apple went through a design change every couple of years just to make you buy new accessories for your devices. The connector had been around since the original iPod, which debuted in 2001.

For the next iPhone I would like to see Apple rip that wound open again, and give it a USB-C connector. Sure people will be upset, but the connector is so much more versatile.

From the webpage for the new Macbook

To create a notebook as thin and light as the new MacBook, we had to strive for efficiency in every detail, right down to how it connects to peripherals and power. So we contributed to a new universal connectivity standard that combines the essential functions you need every day in one dynamic port. The amazing USB-C port offers charging, quick USB 3 data transfer for connecting to external devices and peripherals, and video output that supports HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort connections. All in a small, reversible design that’s one-third the size of the current USB port.

Since Apple was one of the main contributors to the USB-C standard I don't think it will be long before all of their devices have the port incorporated into them.

No matter what features are or aren't announced next week, I think that this will be a significant update. I will likely be upgrading my phone for the first time to an S update. I am hopeful that the camera will be such an improvement that it will be worth it.

OS X Photos & iCloud Photo Library: Good, But Could Be Better

Apple has released Mac OS 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 and with those releases comes the all new Photos for Mac OS X and iCloud Photo Library to sync your pictures to iCloud.

When Apple announced these two new items at WWDC in June of 2014, I became excited. I was a subscriber of the now shut down service Everpix, and I thought that iCloud Photo Library could be the replacement of that service but work natively with all of my Apple devices.


Photos is a good first effort to replace iPhoto after it’s thirteen year run. The program is minimalistic and is good in some areas but lacking other areas.

The areas that it is good in are performance, and in quick picture edits. The migrating of my iPhoto library that was 126GB in size at the time of conversion took only 15 minutes. If the library was on my internal SSD it probably would have taken less time, but since it is so large I have my library on an external drive. When the conversion was complete; I did a quick scroll through the pictures and was impressed with how fast it moved through just over 10,000 pictures. The editing controls are more advanced compared to iPhoto. I haven’t had a ton of time to play with them but there are more controls and the ability to finely tune them gives it an advantage over iPhoto.

The areas in which I feel that Photos lacks in are really more feature requests and I am hoping will get added into future releases. Much like the revamped iWork programs were stripped of features and then had them added back in is how I like to think of these “missing” items. The limited access to metadata was somewhat of a disappointment. Most people likely won’t ever use or most likely don’t even know much about metadata, but it would be useful to access and edit metadata as you could in Aperture. The preference pane is pretty lacking, and I am just not sure if that is by design or there are more preferences to come in the future.

Photos Info Window

Photos Info Window

iPhoto's Info Window

iPhoto's Info Window

Aperture's Metadata Window. Hopefully Apple allows Photos to have full metadata editing.

Aperture's Metadata Window. Hopefully Apple allows Photos to have full metadata editing.

Photos Editing Options

Photos Editing Options

iPhoto's Editing Options

iPhoto's Editing Options

Photos Preference Pane

Photos Preference Pane

iPhoto's Preference Pane

iPhoto's Preference Pane

So far my experience with Photos is promising and leaves me to believe that Apple has plans to introduce features that will just improve on a great lightweight application for managing photos.

iCloud Photo Library

With iCloud Photo Library you can choose to upload full resolution files to iCloud and keep a smaller resolution version on your computer and devices to save space. If you have the space to keep a copy of your photos on your computer I would recommend doing so. I currently have an iMac, MacBook Air, iPhone, and an iPad. My plan was; when I did switch my library over to iCloud Photo Library that I would keep a master library on my iMac that would back up to both Time Machine and Backblaze. For my other devices I would turn on iCloud Photo Library and select the option to Optimize Device Storage to free up space on my MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad.

iCloud Photo Library Options

iCloud Photo Library Options

If you notice; I chose to use the word was at the beginning of that last paragraph. I am sure that I will use iCloud Library at some point, but right now I have reservations due for a couple of reasons.

iCloud Photo Library Imports Everything

The main reason for my hesitation is that I have multiple photo libraries; the one library that I would want to use to upload to iCloud Photo Library is the library that I store pictures relating to my immediate family. The pictures that are of the most value to me are those containing my wife, children, and any picture that is relevant to that subject. My concern is the fact that if I turn on iCloud Photo Library; my iPhone will upload every picture in my camera roll to that library. I take a lot of screenshots, download pictures from Safari, Twitter and other places that I don’t want to be included in the library that I reserve for pictures of my family. I also use this library as the screensaver for my AppleTV and iMac. I don’t want to have random screenshots from my devices, or random pictures come across the screen while my children are staring at the television watching pictures, of mostly themselves, float by.

It would be a nice inclusion if the system could sort out screenshots automatically and filter them into their own album separate from the Camera Roll. I am not sure how pictures that are saved from apps like Safari could be sorted out into their own album. There may be a way for iOS to insert metadata into the picture at the time of the selecting the Save Image button and label it Saved From Safari, or whatever application you used, and then using that Saved From text as a trigger the photo could be moved into a Saved Images album that is also separate from the Camera Roll, excluded from iCloud Photo Library, but included in iCloud Backups.

Buttons that appear in iOS when you tap and hold a picture in safari to allow you to save it.

Buttons that appear in iOS when you tap and hold a picture in safari to allow you to save it.

I mentioned that I had Everpix earlier and the reason that it ties into this article is that I could tell it to target a specific iPhoto library and it would upload that library to their servers. I could if I so chose to, turn on automatic uploading of pictures from any device that I installed their applications on but the fact that I didn’t have to is why I liked it. I could be in control of what went into that library stored in the cloud. Then I could then let my wife or anyone else in my family have access to view the picture on their devices; which brings me to my next point.

Family Sharing - (Sort of)

My other hesitation is that Family Sharing isn’t a built in option. There are work arounds to be able to share photos with family members but it would seem like there would be an easier way. I would like to set my iCloud Photo Library as described above up on iCloud and have my wife, and when they are old enough, our children access the pictures from all of their devices. However I would be the one who manages the main family photo library and they would be able to view it without me having to manually drag the pictures to the family album.

I understand that this is a difficult problem to solve, and not everyone needs this kind of fine tuned precision over their photos. I am guessing though that there are many families out there that would like to control their pictures this way.


It is great that we can take as many pictures as we want and or have the space to store them. On top of that we have the ability to carry those pictures around with us wherever we go. The problem that I see is the preservation of those pictures in the future. I am the one who currently takes the SD card out of the camera (or offloads them from my iPhone), in between importing the pictures I go through a renaming process that tags the pictures with a date and timestamp for the filename, and then I import them into iPhoto. Every couple of months I grab my wife’s phone and drag out all of her pictures with Image Capture, and go through the same process. All of that, as convoluted as it is, works fine for me. I am the digital file collector who curates our photos. My biggest concern is that if I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow; How will my family’s photos be managed and preserved?

Years ago you would have taken less pictures, they would all be developed and sorted into photo albums that could be pulled off of a shelf at any time. There was no technical knowledge required in passing those photos on to your spouse, and eventually your children. I know that I have to teach my wife about how I manage our photos, and where there are stored. That would give me some comfort that she knows if something were to happen to me that she knows where they are stored and will hopefully be able to manage them as I do. The comfort that I would have being able to use my iCloud account to store all of the family photos is that the pictures would be there and preserved for the future if and when my main computer died, if there was a house fire, or any number of unfortunate events that are likely to happen in life.

Apple has created these amazing devices that allow us to take pictures when we maybe wouldn’t have had a camera on us, or at least a device with a camera this good. Photos [1] are a very important and valuable piece of data that are irreplaceable. Memories are great but a picture can send you right back into that moment and help you remember something that you had maybe forgotten about that point in time. With iCloud; Apple also has an opportunity to help people preserve this precious data for generations to come.

  1. Videos are something that I left out of the article all together, but can be included in this statement as well. Photos manages the videos that you take with your devices, even giving them a dedicated album which is another area that makes it an improvement over iPhoto.  ↩

Jay-Z: Tidal Streaming Service

Tidal offers two price tiers: For $9.99 a month, Tidal Premium boasts standard quality sound along with high definition music videos. Tidal HiFi will cost $19.99 a month and features the Lossless High Fidelity sound quality that its competitors can't offer...

Oh Jay-Z...

$20 a month for music that I won't even own when I decide to cancel my service? I know, these are the days where streaming is king, but I have a hard time switching over and sticking with this trend. I currently have SiriusXM that came with my car and I only keep my it because when I try to cancel; they offer me another 6 months for $20. Then I realize when a song comes on that I like and I turn it up that the signal is so compressed and crappy sounding, that I really need to say no thank you the next time around.

I honestly don't understand offering the two tiers of streaming. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I am going to guess that the majority of the people who do subscribe are going to pay for the $9.99 standard streaming service. If the quality is anything less than 320 kbps for the standard streaming then he is really ripping people off.

I also love the end of the above quote

...sound quality that its competitors can't offer...

Apple knows a thing or two about quality when it comes to music. It will be intersting to see how the streaming space will end up, when they relaunch Beats and integrate it into all of their devices.

What's in a name?

If you visited this site before you may have noticed that the URL and title of the site has changed. I have been thinking about changing it for some time and since my old domain name was about to renew; I figured what better time to change the domain for my website?

I don't hate the old name and may use it at some point in the future for a project that I have. I originally thought of it for if I ever had an online "business". I don't make anything that I can sell, nor do I offer any services for contract work. I have ambitions, but time seems to be a wily beast that I can't seem to wrangle; allowing me to get to either of those points. The lack of time is evident with the amount of posting I do here. With the new name I am hoping to increase the frequency in my writing.

As far as the name goes, why not have my websites domain reflect who I am and use my name? There were variations of my name that I wanted to use for the domain but they were all taken.

laughl.in would have been a cool URL, but I'm satisfied with having the .net of my full name.

Siri - Who's Phone is This?

Dave Mark from The Loop Insight posted a link to a tip that was posted on OSXDaily Found iPhone See Owner Contact Info

And then followed up with a post pointing out that this "feature" is actually a security risk.

Siri responds to your query by displaying the owner’s contact info, even on a locked home screen...

When scrolling through Twitter today I came across this tweet from Mark Gurman of 9to5:

That moment when an iPhone security flaw is spun into being a tool for good samaritans. Absolutely insane. Tweet Link

This is a security concern no doubt, as Siri offers up your whole contact card on a silver platter to anyone who asks for it. If done correctly this could be used, as the original tip posted by OSXDaily suggested, in returning a lost phone to it's rightful owner.

While the phone is locked it could just display the name that is on the "me card" and display a message stating to contact the phone's owner using an alternative number than that of the cell phone if one has been entered in the contact. If the owner has any 'Related Names' entered into the phone these could also be listed in a generic format such as Spouse, Mother and so on.

Appsanta - Discounted apps up to 60% off

Realmac Software has teamed up with developers of well known apps to give discounts for the holiday season, and is located at appsanta.co.

Some of the apps that you can get on sale are:

There are quite a few more apps available, and wouldn't doubt that more are added over the next couple of days.

Mac OS X Yosemite: Back to My Mac & iPhone Hotspot Fix

Since having the ability to tether my computer to my phone, I have had the ability to use the Back to My Mac feature of OS X on a cellular network. That is until I upgraded all of my machines to Yosemite. When it worked and I was away from home, my iMac and my Airport Extreme connected hard drive would show up under the Shared section of my Macbook's Finder Sidebar. After upgrading to Yosemite these would show up occasionally, and if I tried to connect it would connect one time, and not work the next. Then one day it stopped working all together.

I tried going into the settings on my MacBook and turning Back to My Mac off under iCloud and re-enabling it. I tried doing the same thing on my iMac and I still could not connect. While I was on my home wifi network I could connect with no issue at all. After trying a couple more things in regards to changing my network settings, and even my sharing settings, I got frustrated and turned to Twitter to try and find the answer. I was told to try changing my iPhone's name and then changing it back but unfortunately that didn't work at all.

Then I remembered that the one thing that makes Back to My Mac possible at all is that you have to enter your Apple ID into the Airport Base Station, and got an idea.

I logged into the base station with Airport Utility, removed the Apple ID and restarted the Base Station. Once it restarted I once again went into Airport Utility and re-added my Apple ID and restarted the router. After that I once again had the ability to use Back to May Mac over a cellular connection.

Not really sure why it worked on wifi and stopped working over cellular, and why removing my Apple ID and re-adding it, fixed it, but glad to have it working again.

iOS 8 Feature Highlight: Medical ID

With iOS 8 and the Health app, Apple has allowed you to create a Medical ID card that you can enter vital information into, and if you so chose you can allow this information to be displayed on the lock-screen of your device. (Click here see how to set up a Medical ID.)

The purpose of this information being accessible from the lock screen is that if something were to happen to you, a medical responder could know who you are and any pertinent information that they would need to know if you were in a state that would prevent you from being able to communicate it to them.

Medical ID Information Displayed

  • Birthdate
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medical Notes
  • Allergies & Reactions
  • Medications
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Blood type
  • Organ Donor
  • Weight
  • Height

Barrier to Entry

Medical ID is a great addition to iOS, however I have some issues with its execution.

Information is Hidden

The main problem that I have with it is that in order to access the information you have to know it is there. Your phone has to be locked with a passcode so when the person slides to unlock the screen the passcode screen must appear. They then have to know to click on the Emergency button at the bottom left corner, and then click on Medical ID. There is no need to have that information buried and require that someone have the "training" to know how to get to it. Granted if a stranger finds you and decides to use your phone to call 911 they may stumble across it, but there is a greater chance they may be using their own phone.

There are just too many variables and assumptions that make me wonder why it is even there. As more and more medical professionals become aware of it they may know to look there, or the 911 operator may say can you go to the Health app and get me the following information? Until then I guess the best way to get it out there is to tell people to set it up and make them aware that it is a feature.

Not All Devices Created Equal

The second issue I have with it is in regard to Apple's continuing desire to keep all of their iOS devices segmented by choosing to not include an application on one device or to run a different version of the application on another device.

Health is yet another application that the iPad mysteriously does not get, it was the first thing I noticed when my iPad rebooted after upgrading because the Tips application was the only additional app that my home screen had. When I upgraded my iPhone it had Health and Tips. I am aware that you won't be taking your iPad out for a jog to collect health data, but Health on the iPad just makes sense from a standpoint of syncing your dashboard stats, and using Medical ID.

Over the weekend I help some family members upgrade their devices and I noticed on the iPod Touch that I upgraded that the Health app was included. This furthered my confusion, because if not the iPad why they iPod?

When I went to show the person how to set up a Medical ID for her son I was dumbfounded to discover that Medical ID was absent from the application. It is unfortunate because it would be the perfect scenario for Medical ID. My thought was this a great way for kids to carry around an identity; if they got lost an adult could get the required information to get ahold of parents. In this case he is an 8 year old child who has allergies which could be listed out in detail in this Medical ID and could very well be used to save his life. I did some research and saw that there were a lot of people who were disappointed that this was not included on the iPad as they carry their iPad with them everywhere as their only device.

I am hoping that in the future they will realize that all devices should get the same functionality and to make Medical ID more accessible to someone who isn't tech savvy. It could help save someones life by allowing for a more intuitive discover of the feature.

Considerations for the iPhone 6 Plus

You may have heard that there are new iPhones models. I am for once not eager to upgrade at launch this time, even though I am due for an upgrade. I am actually more excited to upgrade to iOS 8 which will happen in a couple of days.

Apple finally released their bigger iPhone that has been rumored for some time now. I am still of the opinion that these larger phones are completely unnecessary; I will reserve that judgment of course until I get my hands on one. [1] The biggest reason I have always been against the larger phone is the fact that they look ridiculous when you hold them up to your head to talk on them. That reason diminishes over time as more and more people actually don’t use their phones to make phone calls anymore. If a phone call is made there are enough people who use the speakerphone, or talk into their ear buds with the inline microphone.

The two test factors for me to get the Plus will be:
1. How well can I use it with one hand?
2. Will it fit in my pants pocket comfortably as that is where my phone spends a lot of it’s time.

Beyond those two factors and my general dislike of these bigger phones I have tried to build a case for why I would actually find a larger phone useful.

  • Optical Image Stabilization - The image stabilization between the two version of the iPhone 6 are different. The iPhone 6 has digital image stabilization and the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization; making the iPhone 6 Plus the better camera.
  • Longer Battery Life - A bigger phone means that there is extra room to pack a bigger battery into; and will result in more time in between charges.
  • Navigation in the car - The Plus would be great to mount on the dashboard of your car to use for navigation. When I bought my car I thought I don’t need the one that has the digital display on it because I have an iPhone.[2] Using the iPhone 5 for navigation has been alright, but a bigger screen for that purpose would be nice.
  • Reading - I read a lot of things on my phone. Everything from RSS to Books. More real estate means more words on the screen.
  • Gaming - The iPhone certainly has changed the landscape of handheld gaming. Some of the games that have come out for iOS have console level detail to them, and the bigger the better to see all of that detail.

The above reasons are pretty compelling to get the iPhone 6 Plus, but so far I think I am going to stick to my original decision of the iPhone 6 and live with the 4.7" screen when I do decide to make the leap. I will be going with at least the 64GB[3] storage option and am currently undecided as to whether I am getting the Space Grey or the Silver phone.

  1. A friend of mine decided that he is going to upgrade his 4S and will most likely get the iPhone 6 Plus.  ↩

  2. Now that CarPlay is coming I am kicking myself for that choice.  ↩

  3. I am baffled that Apple decided to keep the 16GB around at least for either version of the 6. I would have thought the capacities would have been 32GB, 64GB, & 128GB.  ↩

PixelLove - Icons for iOS Design

PixelLove is offering icons for use with your iOS designs. They have a Pro version and a lite version called the Infinity pack.

700+ iOS 8 tab bar icons & toolbar icons, retina ready with vectors & strokes for easy editing. Web fonts and free updates also included as part of the 'Infinity' pack.

In addition to the paid sets they have a royalty free set of icons available here.

These icons are great for use in Sketch 3.

Determined to do my own thing

Trying to start something new when your life is already in full swing seems to be, for me at least, one of the most challenging things that I have yet to overcome. Time is all I need, and I have almost none of it to spare. I work a full time job, and have two children under the age of three that I am very involved with so that leaves little time for anything else. From writing articles for this site, to learning the skills that I need to learn to be able to start working on projects that I want to work on, it seems like there just aren't enough hours in the day.

I have always wanted to have my own website. A place to gather my thoughts, and if at all possible give guidance to other people with the things that I have learned over the years. I have started and abandoned many sites over the years, but this site has lasted the longest. I am not sold on the name however and am still considering changing it, along with the url. Regardless I have ideas for the site and it isn't going away anytime soon.

I also have ambitions to learn how to program and make apps for both the Mac and for iOS. About 15 years ago I bought a couple of books on how to program specifically for the Mac but was always put off by the Who is this book for? sections in the beginning of these books that said that a prerequisite is to already know how to program. I bought a book on C to learn the things that I needed to learn before Objective-C, and it just never took. Fast forward to now and I am starting again with the help of Lynda.com. This is one of those do it or give up on the dream kind of things. If programming doesn't take hold then I will figure something else out.

I have a steady job, but I have always wanted to work with my own computer and be able to make a living at it. So this is the journey that I am on now. To find my place doing what I love to do, and that is anything that involves me doing it with the technology that I love to use. The problem besides time is to pinpoint one thing and stick to that. I seem to have a strong case of attention deficit disorder when it comes to figuring out what I want to do. I could do web design, I could program, I could do photography....and yes the list goes on, and on.

I am going to try and refocus myself and start posting at least once a week here. I am excited because I have decided that I need to take a week off from everything and give myself time to sort out some ideas and I am hoping to start down a productive path to starting something new. I know that these things don't happen overnight, but I am looking to get a foundation started so that I can build on it over time.

Learn to Design

If you have ever wanted to learn how to design interfaces or even just how to use a vector based tool such as Bohemian Coding’s Sketch[1] then you should check out designcode.io.

Meng To is a self taught designer who has taken what he has taught himself and gathered that information into a website and ebooks that teach people how they can use Sketch to layout an interface and use Xcode to build an application from scratch.

There are currently three chapters:

  • iOS Design: walks the reader through different aspects of design such as how to chose colors, fonts, and sounds for an application; how and where to get your inspiration.
  • Learn the Tools: Focuses on learning how to use Sketch.
  • Build the App: Takes you through the process of using what you learned in the first two chapters and applying it to how to use Xcode to create an iOS application.

He is currently working on a fourth chapter that deals with Apple’s new programming language; Swift. The new chapter will be available to everyone who purchases a copy of the book.

Before he launched the book the price was $50.00 and he was expected to increase the price of the book to $100.00. Currently it is still $50.00 so if you are slightly interested in it you may want to jump on it while it is still discounted.

In addition to the book he aslo has a weekly newsletter that he distributes with various design resources that he has come across on the web.

  1. This application would be the equivilant of using Adobe Illustrator.  ↩

iBooks Fix: Syncing ePub data between Mac and iOS devices

My excitement for iBooks being released on the Mac died when I finally got my hands on it when Mavericks first came out. The fact that it ripped my books out of iTunes and didn’t carryover the metadata that I had added to them, and giving all of the books non descriptive titles within the Finder was my first issue. The second being the fact that I was not able to sync any data (position, bookmarks, notes etc) between the ePubs I currently had on my iOS devices with the Mac version of iBooks.[1] I was confused because this task worked great between my iPhone and my iPad. I spent countless amounts of time opening the book on one device, waiting a minute or two for it to sync, then opening it on my Mac and the book would open to the cover, instead of to the page that it was supposed to be on.

Eventually I gave up trying to get it to work until I was recently using PhoneView to download various items from my iPad one day when it dawned on me that there is a section in PhoneView to access the books that are on the device that you have connected to it.

So I copied an ePub from my iPad I purchased form O’rielly Media about web design to my desktop, that I had been highlighting and taking notes in. My thought process was that this book has some type of data associated with it, and the syncing works between my iPhone and iPad so if I were to use the same file on my Mac then the sync should be fixed. I then wondered what would happen if I put the book in a place that I could get at it from all of my devices. I moved it to my local Dropbox folder waited for it to upload and then I opened the file in iBooks on my Macbook, and sure enough the highlights and my current position synced perfectly. I open the book on my iMac and verified that all of the same data was accessible on that machine.

The next step was to make sure that this worked with other books so I uploaded a couple of ePubs that I didn’t have loaded on any of my devices to Dropbox and loaded them into iBooks on each of my devices, highlighted some sections, took some notes and once again it worked perfectly.

Syncing ePubs with iBooks on all devices:

  • Put the ePub in a central location that you can load it into iBooks from such as Dropbox
  • Do not change the name of the book if you have already loaded the book on one of your devices. The book needs to have the same attributes on all of your devices in order for it to recognize that there is data available for it to be syncing.
  • Load the book into iBooks on all of your devices. For iOS if you are using DropBox you will need to have the Dropbox app installed you can select the book and then hit the share icon, and tap on the Open In… button.
  • Happy Syncing

  1. Even the iCloud reset article that I wrote didn’t fix the sync issues  ↩

Forcing iCloud To Reset Syncing On All Devices


If you have upgraded to iCloud Drive you will not be able to force iCloud to sync using the method described below. From research I am seeing that the best way to force a sync is to reboot and it should refresh iCloud, and or to create a new document. I am still trying to figure out if there are other ways to force iCloud Drive to sync.

Note: Solution is below if you would like to skip the backstory.

I have heard the frustrations over how iCloud syncs and how much of a nightmare it is for developers to implement it into their apps. There are many developers who have created their own sync solution as a result of not being able to get their apps to work with iCloud syncing. There are also stories of people loosing their data while using iCloud.

I personally have never had a problem with syncing data from the apps that use iCloud to sync until my wife started having problems with 1Password a couple of weeks ago, which I detailed here.[1] Even though that was my wife’s data I am I.T. person for our house and I had to deal with the frustration of syncing not working.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later and I decided that I wanted to upgrade my laptop to a MacBook Air and prepare my MacBook Pro to sell it to fund the purchase of my new computer. I ordered the Air before selling the Pro because I wanted to make sure that I transferred all of the data over to the new computer before I wiped my Pro. I turned on my Air and went through the set up process signing into my iCloud account and turning on all of the features of the service.

The first app that I installed was 1Password[2] as a lot of my password are long passwords using the built in generator I would have preferred to have that installed on my machine before I proceeded to install anything else. I opened up 1Password, clicked that I am an existing user and it asked me where my data was. I selected iCloud and the window stated that it could not find any existing data in iCloud. I have an iPhone, iPad, iMac, and a MacBook Pro that I have never had a problem with my 1Password syncing between, so I was confused as to why it wasn’t finding the data now. Since having dealt with my wife’s 1Password issues a couple of weeks ago I thought I would have this fixed in no time. That would prove to be an incorrect statement.

My first move was to check my Mobile Documents folder, and I examined the folder that contains the 1Password data called 2BUA8C4S2C.com.agilebits.onepassword, and there were 24 files in it and the size was 867kb. I checked my iMac and noticed that it had 32 files in it and was 6.6mb in size. Another thing that I noticed was that my Mobile Documents overall folder size on my Air was 401mb, but on my iMac it was 557MB. I went into System Preferences -> iCloud and unchecked Documents & Data and selected Delete From Mac. Restarted the computer went to ~/Library and dragged the Mobile Documents.xxxxxx[3] to the trash. Restarted and re-enabled Documents & Data and waited quite awhile to make sure that all of the data had time to download. Upon opening 1Password I was greeted with the same window stating that my data could not be found. I uninstalled 1password, removing it’s associated preference files, and reinstalled only to receive the same error. Fed up with trying to make it work I ran the 1Password DiagnosticTool and sent their support an email.

The next night I hadn’t heard back from AgileBits so I decided to call up Apple. In my mind I concluded that the problem was with iCloud and not 1Password. The gentleman who answered the phone asked me why I had called and I let him know that I was having an issue with data not syncing with iCloud on my new computer. I said that I have it working with all of my current devices but it seems like not all of my documents are downloading to the Air. When he found out that the issue was with 1Password he said that there was nothing that he could because Apple does not support the syncing of third party apps with iCloud. He said that the developer must not have coded their application correctly and that it is an issue I need to take up with them.[4] I was instantly livid but kept my cool saying sternly You mean to tell me that this application works flawlessly on four other devices yet it won’t sync to this brand new computer, because it is an app problem? Everything points to this being an issue with iCloud not syncing properly. His reply was that he can understand my frustration and see how I would think that it would be iCloud. I was told that if I was having an issue with my Apple apps syncing with iCloud then he would be able to help me.

After not getting an answer from Apple I decided to open up Byword[2] since it uses iCloud to sync as well, and over half of my documents were missing. I opened up Safari, went to their website and sent an email to their support team. Within an hour I received an email from their support team that said:

Try logging in at http://icloud.com, go to Account Settings , Advanced and perform Reset Documents & Data. Does that fix the syncing issue?
Reset Documents & Data will not delete any of documents or data. It will simply reset the syncing information on all your devices that the sync process starts with a clean slate on all them.

I had not tried that because I didn’t know that the setting even existed. However it worked perfectly as described. It worked so well in fact that it fixed sync issues with apps that I didn’t even know I had a problem with, because my Mobile Documents was now 805MB now instead of the original 557MB that I thought it was. The conclusion that I have made is that it was a problem with iCloud syncing all along so below I have provided a couple of screen shots detailing how to force iCloud to re-sync to all of your devices.

Force iCloud Sync

Go to icloud.com and log in with your Apple ID.

From the iCloud home screen click on your name in the upper right hand corner.

Within the drop down menu click on Account Settings.

Click the Advanced row

Select the option to Reset Documents & Data. You will be taken to one more screen that tells you:

Reset and merge all documents and data on iCloud with what is currently on your devices. No documents or data will be deleted. More Details.

Click Reset Documents & Data again.

After that you will want to restart every device that is associated with your Apple ID and that has iCloud sync enabled. Any problems that you have had with applications syncing should now be fixed.

This option should be built into the iCloud Preference Pane, and the iCloud Settings for iOS instead of being an obscure setting on the web version of iCloud. When I called AppleCare the Advisor should have at least told me about this option[5] rather than trying to say that the developers at AgileBits must not know how to program.

  1. I actually take that back. I have had problems with Apple’s notes not syncing correctly, and disappearing. So much so that I use Simplenote now.  ↩

  2. Disclosure: Link is an affiliate link to the iTunes store.  ↩

  3. The xxxxx will be a series of numbers and be shown like Mobile Documents.92991882  ↩

  4. My first thought was you are really going to throw a developer under the bus like that? Developers are dropping the Appstore left and right, so it really isn’t in their best interest to be making comments like that.  ↩

  5. He may not have even known about it, but he should.  ↩