Lyle Schofield's Technical Journal

A notebook of various projects.

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Copying Music Purchased on iPhone to iTunes Library

9 June, 2013 (19:51) | Software | By: Lyle

My iPhone 4S has never had the software updated on it since purchase (18 months or so).  When the iOS v6 upgrade came out with its debacle on the Maps application, I never bothered.  My experience with my iPhone 3GS was that at some point an iOS upgrade kills the machine, as they keep adding features for newer hardware – the 3GS at some point kind of dies after a software upgrade.  If there’s not really functional needs, who cares about the update treadmill if the phone is working fine?

Anyway, at this point I’m getting more concerned about security related problems, and when this phone dies I think I’m going to replace it with a non-smart phone as I use it less and less.  So, I’m getting ready for an update and seeing the dreaded “you better transfer purchased on your phone” message and not seeing how to do this.  A backup to the local drive creates the curious “where did my backup go” issue – its transferred to the Library in your home directory (the user library), but this is now hidden from you for some mysterious reason in OS X.  Turns out the only way to see the Library now is to use the “GO” menu in Finder, and if you hold down the option key the menu changes to include the Library.  Why the hiding?  There’s nothing intuitive about holding down Option in this menu.

Not that this helps you import into the Library; the files in the local copy are all in some internal backup naming scheme of seemingly random characters.  You couldn’t figure out what to import from there anyway.

So, the simple thing, there is a “transfer purchases” function in iTunes, you have to go under the File menu, select the device, and it shows up there.  Not necessarily easy to figure this out either, if you’ve selected “don’t tell me about this again” in the transfer dialog somewhere back in time.

This knowledge base article was helpful; the Apple Support Group discussions are mostly hacking through the hard to find library folder.


Rebooting iOS (Phone)

4 April, 2013 (17:35) | Hardware | By: Lyle

My phone just stopped (iPhone 4S).  It was switched recently from my personal carrier account to my corporate carrier account.  So, when it stopped working I contacted the company help desk.

Nature of problem: the buttons don’t turn on the phone.  Holding down the power button does not bring up the restart slider.  Plugging in the phone doesn’t wake it up.  A dead phone.

Solution: fill out some form, wait for it to be approved for replacement.  Takes 5 to 7 business days to replace a damaged phone.

It isn’t damaged, it just stopped working.  I noticed the phone was warm, seems like the processor is doing something. can’t connect to it, the USB cable to a laptop did see new pictures and wanted to download them.  So, its running, just won’t wake up to me.  Sounds like a software problem, not a hardware problem. was no help, you need to give it the serial number to get any access and the serial number isn’t on the outside of the phone, its on the inside of the phone (in memory, good place for a broken phone’s serial number).  But, a support page on “phone won’t start” was at the top of a sidebar list and it showed holding down the power button and the home button at the same time would reboot the phone.  After 5 seconds the Apple logo appeared and the phone woke up.

So, a lot of time lost because I didn’t know the reboot command and the internal support people only know how to escalate.  Keep this around – power-home is the iOS equivalent of ctrl-alt-del.

RSS Reader – Bloglines

2 April, 2013 (13:29) | Software | By: Lyle

A lot of news lately about Google disconnecting their “Reader” product, an RSS newsfeed aggregator.  In the wake of this, a lot of unhappy customers, and a lot of discussion about how the reason was probably because no one uses RSS anymore.

I use it daily; I use Bloglines as an RSS aggregator.  Fast Company had a good article on this, which linked to an even better one about how to use RSS correctly.  I’m not quite correct (according to the article), but I’m close.  With the exception of Yahoo’s news feed, I’ve killed off all the large volume content creators.  Most of them have retreated behind paid firewalls anyway.  As Marco Arment’s article points out, they are best for infrequently updated sites, and that is where I find a lot of value to them.

So, live on RSS!  And, subscribe to mine: [main][technical][travel].

Checklist for Changing Email Accounts

22 January, 2013 (10:16) | Services | By: Lyle

Here’s mine:

  • Make sure the new Email is set up; test that you can send and receive from it.
  • Make a list of all the places and people that you can to make sure can find the new address:
  1. Walk your address book and send each person a message from the new account letting them know to change your contact information.  You can just keep cutting and pasting the same text if you want, or use the “blind cc” field if you have one to send out a mass mailing.
  2. Make a list for each company you do business with; banks, insurance, on line shopping, etc.  For each one, you will need to log on to their page and pull up your account and change the contact Email address.  In some cases places allow more than one, make sure the new one is the “primary” if they want that indicated.  You can leave the old one in as a secondary for the time being if they let that.
  3. Make a list of the “others”; Facebook, Google, on line news sites you might read, etc.  This is like the previous item; you need to log on and change the Email in your account information to the new Email address.
  4. Walk the old Email mailbox and see if anything is in there that was not in the previous three things.  Do this again a day or two before the old Email address gets shut down.
  • Change the old Email address to the new one on anything you have written down to remind you of this, like a page on the refrigerator or you address book.  You don’t want to accidentally look at this and give out the old Email address in the future.
I know its kind of time consuming, but its not too bad if you don’t have too many web sites you log into.  And, think of all the spam you’re leaving behind!

Apple Air Drop

4 November, 2012 (23:36) | Software | By: Lyle

The machines have been on a scattered assortment of 10.x OS’s, some because of hardware limitations, some because its a lot of trouble to upgrade when you’re busy with other things.  But, the older machines are starting to be used seldom, and the newer machines are 10.7 or later now.  Transferring files with the USB memory stick seems so floppy-disk now.  Bluetooth transfers are OK, but you need to turn on bluetooth which you may not be using.   Copying over Wi-Fi is a hassle if you aren’t on the same network, haven’t enabled guest access, and have firewalls turned on.  A very pleasant surprise is “Air Drop“, a feature which seems to be (I’m too lazy to look it up) a combination of Wi-Fi and Bonjour to make a simple file transfer between two computers.

Obviously, if you’re on the same network you can just peer-to-peer through normal networking shares.  But, this is very useful if you aren’t on the same network.  My example; you have a very complicated WiFi encryption key, too long and random to hand type without frequent mistakes.  But, paste it into a file, send it through AirDrop, open the file on the second computer and paste it into the WiFi password prompt.  Now, both computers are on the network with little hassle and very quickly.

A nice replacement for any sneaker net, provided everyone is running OS X at a high enough revision.

Monitoring Network Traffic

13 October, 2012 (18:31) | Software | By: Lyle

This may apply to OS X only, but maybe Unix/Linux as well.

My DSL service is pretty low end by today’s standards, around 786K bandwidth compared to the bazillion G per second of FIOS or whatever.  It’s always been fine, you only really notice its low end when downloading something really big like streaming HD video services.  But, not doing that a whole lot so its been generally unnoticeable.  Lately, thought, its starting to show signs of being not-enough.

I think the problem is that over time I’m adding devices, and along with that, those devices are doing more things on-line that I’m not conscious of.  I was wondering why page refreshes were so sluggish, then I noticed that the lights on my hub were blinking away even though I thought nothing was going on.  So, how do I see what’s going on?

Googling around found this:

Very useful, I now can see what’s going on, although frequently in cryptic daemon process labels.  But, some are very useful, especially when you see a ton of activity from Apple software update services, which was not an active application at the time.  I expect this program to poll the mothership for updates when I ask it to, I didn’t expect it to download those many-megabyte files until I told it I cared about the download.

If you open up Software Update, you’ll notice as you go through the entries that some of them indicate “downloaded” status.  If you have a lot of bandwidth, not bad, you didn’t have to wait for the download for processing.  But, if you don’t, you might want to control the time when this activity is happening, so you’re not clogging up the pipe when you are doing something more important.

Fortunately, there is a control panel to deal with this.  Note the check box below “Download Updates Automatically”.  Go ahead and uncheck this if you want to control this.  The down side; if you see some update you want to process, clicking “install” will start up a download process you need to wait for.  Not fun for that 163 M iTunes update (what the heck is in that?) or that close to a Gig OS X update.

Other solutions are out there.  A number of links led to a program called Little Snitch.  Seems like a nice program, just does a lot more than answer the basic program.  If you’re roaming around a lot might be worth looking at.

My Apple Life

17 September, 2012 (00:02) | Hardware | By: Lyle

Here’s the inventory:

  • 20 inch iMac G5 (2005)
  • 30G iPod (2006)
  • 15 inch Mac Book Pro (2011), employer supplied
  • iPhone 4S (2011)
  • 21 inch iMac (2012)
  • 11 inch Mac Book Air (2012)

I don’t think we intended to collect all this stuff.  The original G5 purchase was unusual after a series of home-builts and a nice Dell desktop (and a whole parade of Windows based work laptops).  The weekly windows update/virus scan/defrag/etc. got old, the iMac looked awfully Star Trek Next Generation in the store and I liked the UNIX underpinnings.  It was pretty, and quiet, and the transition was relatively easy except for a few software items that had no open source equivalent (and a few years later iWork showed up which improved things greatly).  We didn’t miss the Windows world, and AppleCare and neighborhood Apple Stores completely changed the customer support equation.

So, we became Mac people.  Travel then brought along the iPod.   While it only held a fraction of the music collection it sure was great controlling what you listened to on an airplane.  Still running, although the battery doesn’t hold much of a charge anymore (and a new battery sits waiting to be plugged in once I figure out how to crack the case).

Work switched to Apple hardware (or ThinkPads with Ubuntu; you had your pick) so that was easy.

The iPhone is the second (a 3G originally).  Reading glasses make the smartphone not as interesting or time consuming, but its a well built little device that does everything.  And, Angry Birds!  Not sure what the next phone will be, but its a year before I have to figure that out.

The G5 finally got squirrelly.  So, no brainer to replace that with a new one.  And, work is moving into a locked down mode for laptops so I decided to get a personal one.  The iMac was an easy transition thanks to Migration Assistant, and its way faster, quieter, better screen by a mile.  Mountain Lion is an adjustment, as well as the very different keyboard and mouse.  But, very easy move.

The Mac Book Air is funnier.  Given the power of the home desktop, and the work laptop, I just wanted something for Email and personal things, and super-portability was the main concern.  The iPad thing didn’t interest me – I need to type and I wanted to run real OS X programs.  Yes, they might converge later, but they aren’t there now, and the Apple reconditioned store save $150, making the little mini laptop in spitting distance of the loaded iPad.

So, quite a collection now, spread out over a very long period of time.  Not trying to be a fan boy, but I guess I am.  I blame Apple for extreme reliability, industry leading design, and constantly delighting me.

Moshi FireWire 800 to 400 Adapter

15 January, 2012 (18:25) | Hardware | By: Lyle

In the move from the old Mac Book Pro to the new Mac Book Pro, the Firewire 400 port was eliminated as part of the normal technology progress of Apple products.  This creates the problem of having two Firewire 400 external hard drives I use for music files that I can’t plug into the new computer.  As I was shopping around for a new drive I found out that Firewire 800 is electrically compatible with Firewire 400, just a different signal down the wire.  So, turns out there are cheap adapters for plugging FW400 devices into FW800 ports.

Moshi Firewire 800 to 400 Adapter

Moshi Firewire 800 to 400 Adapter

Purchased the one pictured on the right from the manufacturer Moshi on Amazon, not based on any real input other than it seemed to be the middle price – the primary logic being the cheap ones would be junk, and the expensive ones would be overpriced.

Product is no fuss – plugged it into the 800 port, plugged the 400 cable into the other end, drive instantly mounted and was used without incident or detectable performance differences.  You do need to make sure all the 400 devices are at the end of the Firewire chain, otherwise the 800 devices will be throttled down to the 400 speed.  But, I only have 400 devices now, so no need to worry about this yet.

Way cheaper than replacing the devices, and since I didn’t realize the missing 400 port on the new device it would have created some hassles to drag the data around anyway.  Besides, those drives will probably last for a few more years anyway, why waste them?

This was definitely a good $15 purchase.

Disk Inventory X

3 August, 2011 (11:03) | Software | By: Lyle

Came across a very cool Tree Map generator for your disk space for OS X, called “Disk Inventory X“.  Distributed free with GPL.  A very fast way to figure out where all your disk space went (and then to see the obvious collection of MP3 files at the end).  Downloaded, installed, and ran in about two minutes and answered the question.

Mac Swap

16 July, 2011 (16:06) | Hardware | By: Lyle

My work computer was switched yesterday. The Mac Book Pro 17 inch was replaced with a Mac Book Pro 15 inch. The new one is current MBP specs; 4 G RAM, Intel i5 chip running at 2.4 GHz, 500 G hard drive, “matte” LCD/PED display. The old one was backlit LCD, Intel 1.8 GHz Duo chip, 160 G hard drive, 2.5 M RAM.

I used the old one for more than 4 years. The MBP 17 inch is a premium product, and priced that way, but when you consider the long life compared to other manufacturer products it is not overpriced. The machine ran reliably for 4 years with hardly any crashes (none hardware wise). I didn’t encounter the spinning beach ball of death until I started running larger Java programs, and it ran cool unless I was on a Adobe Flash site. Frankly, if it had more RAM and if I replaced the keyboard (the keyboard had some noticeably worn out keys) I could have squeezed another year out of it I imagine.

It will take more time to provide a detailed comparison. The initial impressions are:

Not real crazy about the screen. I know this is a better screen any way you measure it, and the lighting is absolutely completely even from end to end with a larger viewing angle. But, it seems to have a blue-ish cast to it compared to the 17 inch which could completely be my brain after staring at the other one for four years.

Keyboard is louder. Im used to the more chicklet style keys from my desktop keyboard, but typing on this is much louder. There seems to be a drum type resonance from the case construction. Feel of the keys is positive and not stiff.

Miss the mouse button. Or, hate the giant track pad. The press on the track pad requires a lot of pressure, and doesn’t allow the glancing click that the large mouse button on the old laptop had. I see that there are a whole lot of multi-finger gestures, and everyone says I’ll get used to it. Don’t like it so far. The click and drag gesture is especially awkward for me.

Better Case. Runs cooler, stiffer construction, lighter. The “billet” approach is clearly superior to any other laptop I’ve had my hands on.  The 17 inch case actually warped a bit over time due to some weak points in the case.  There was a noticeable bend where the CD slot was.

Super Battery Life. Runs for hours on a charge. No wonder I was the only one carrying around a power supply to meetings lately.

Seems Snappier. I would hope so – two generation of chips later and more RAM.

Fits on a Plane Easier. The old one was great for my aging eyes and for a more desktop experience on the road. Really challenging to use on an airplane though.