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Post

Password review and sanity check in iOS

My Spotify account got hacked the other day. I was using a really insecure password that was identical to that of another login I used from a site that had been compromised.

So either someone guessed it or “acquired” it.

Either way, I know it got hacked because at 5:15AM yesterday morning I was listening to a Mozart concerto and then all of a sudden my HomePod started playing some crazy noises that I would have never queued up.

I was expecting the adagio movement of Mozart’s clarinet concerto and got this masterpiece instead!

Groggily looking at my play history in the early morning hours, it was clear that someone else was simultaneously logged into my account. I didn’t jump to action on it but figure I’d deal with it later.

Then, later in the evening all the family accounts associated with my membership stopped working. The natives grew restless and I needed to deal with the situation.

So I changed the password and thought things would be fine.

But this other party was still logged in!

Simply changing your Spotify password doesn’t log out all the other instances of the app. So this time I changed the password and found the button on the Spotify page for “logout All devices.” Additional help here on dealing with compromised Spotify accounts.

This seemed to do the trick. But got me thinking, man, what other accounts have I used that password for?

My MacBook is out of order for a bit so I’m exclusively on iOS 13 and had no idea how to edit the keychain data on my iPad.

Turns out, not only is it pretty easy but Apple does a really decent job of alerting you to:

  • When you’ve stored an insecure/short/easily guesable password
  • When you’ve used the same password on multiple sites

Simply go to:

Settings->Passwords & Accounts->Websites & App Passwords

There you’ll see all of your saved passwords.

If you look for entries that contain a little warning sign like this with the little triangle:

You can click through to those entries and iOS will tell you that the password is either insecure (too easy) or used in multiple locations (a bad practice).

I still have some warnings on mine, but I’ve changed all the passwords that matched the one of the account that was compromised, so that’s a step in the right direction.

Anyway, hope this helps.

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Whoa. Just saw my first Saul Leiter photographs.

Taxi, New York, 1957 © Saul Leiter

Convalescing from a head cold last night I watched 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter. Leiter shot some amazing sort-of-abstract, i don’t know what to call it exactly, photos in NYC from the 1950’s onward. I had never heard of him before (not surprising since I could probably only name a handful of famous photographers). But as soon as I saw his photos I knew he was someone I wanted to learn about.

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HomePod Automation

Man, i spent way too long trying to get my HomePods to work with Apple’s HomeKit automations this AM. I noticed in my Home app that the latest (the really latest that doesn’t brick your HomePod) update had been installed on my stereo pair of HomePods so I was like, sweet, now I can have my early AM playlist fire up at 5:00am at the same time my Phillips lights come on really low.

No such luck. I fiddled and restarted my iPhone and my HomePods and … nothing. I could not get my HomePods to appear as an available accessory in any scene or automation.

Finally I realized that my iPhone needed to be updated to 13.2 (not a painless process as I needed to force restart my iPhone before the update would install).

Once the HomePods were on 13.2.1 and my iPhone on 13.2, everything proceeded apace.

I still can’t get handoff to work correctly, because i suspect the stereo pairing is using the further HomePod that I’m too lazy to walk to to accept the handoff transfers.

Anyway. Apple has strayed pretty far from the ease of the Macintosh, that’s for sure.

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iPad WordPress blog tips and help

With my beloved 13″ MacBook Pro Retina (early-2015) aka THE last good MacBook Pro in the shop, I’ve had to get productive on the iPad Pro I recently picked up. Probably have a whole host of things I’ve learned on making the transition to iPad that are worth sharing but top of mind is getting wordpress blog posts working.

Mostly this is because the only app (so far) from my MacBook that doesn’t have an equivalent on the iPad is MarsEdit. MarsEdit is hands-down the best blog writing software ever made. ANd it doesn’t run on iPad.

So I’m using the iOS WordPress application. Not nearly as nice and getting it up and running was fraught with hoops I had to jump through.

First was updating all sorts of stuff on my Linode box because, well, I’ve been lazy and running all sorts of old versions of php. What was cool here was being able to use the Linode console in safari to upgrade Ubuntu. Truly living in a sci-fi like future when a table can do this:

Anyway, once the housekeeping updates were completed, I was still running into errors posting entries (especially attachments) to this site.

I believe some of the errors were tied to the fact that I have a self-hosted wordpress site but was logged into the iOS wordpress application using my “wordpress.com” account. So I logged out of the wordpress app and instead, I used the credentials from my self-hosted site.

But before I could do that I needed to resolve the “Couldn’t connect. XML-RPC is missing from server” error that I was getting. I don’t think I ever had to install an xml-specific package for earlier versions of PHP but now that I’m running 7.3 I had to run:

sudo apt-get install php-xml
sudo service apache2 restart

That allowed the wordpress iOS application to connect to my self-hosted site and upload images.

Heady times, for sure!

Still looking for a MarsEdit equivalent on iPad. Not hopeful. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to manage documents/writing on this thing. I like the built in Notes app for its syncing but interface wise it’s sort of lame and it means copy/pasting text into the wordpress app. Also lame.

Will update and the workflow process improves.

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WordPress iOS app post

With an image!

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MacBook Pro Retina 13″ Early-2015 wifi problems

I think my airport card in my MacBook is dying. Making some notes here in case I find a software fix. Wifi problems seem very common with this model laptop especially post-Yosemite but my wifi issues have been very sporadic until now. Now, whenever my CPU spikes my wifi drops.
Stinks.

This, I think is the log:

AirPort: Link Down on en0. Reason 8 (Disassociated because station leaving).

This command seemed to help folks back in the Yosemite days:

sudo ifconfig awdl0 down

update: that did nothing. dropping off at Genius Bar. Fingers crossed it’s just an airport card replacement.

Another update: Genius Bar was less than helpful. Tech told me to login as a different user (which I did) to see if the problem still occurred (which it did) and suggested it would be too expense to replace the display where the antennas are located (which is not the problem). Going to drop my beloved MacBook Pro off at a local repair shop this week. Given that the trackpad stutters, the thunderbolt->Ethernet is wonky and occasionally the mouse locks up, I’m thinking it’s likely an I/O board issue. Fingers crossed.

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Excellent article on a small city’s car-free transformation

Spain’s Happy Little Carless City

Pontevedra, once choked with cars, is a laboratory for how smaller cities can implement a few simple tricks to reduce driving dramatically.

Many great points here including:

  • free parking at perimeter of city

  • make streets for walking (get rid of sidewalks)

  • small, incremental steps

My hope is that one day Red Bank elects the kind of forward-thinking leaders capable of this kind of vision. We are a long way off from that.

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Music Photos Post

Catalina

Upgrading my MacBook Pro, the Catalina upgrade hung up on “Setting up computer…” but as I had already looked into that issue for a buddy of mine the other day, I know that’a a widespread problem so I just rebooted and it everything came up fine.

Was a bit of a bummer that Scrivener 2 didn’t make the cut for Catalina and as it’s a 32-bit app and I’m not paying to upgrade I went through and exported all of my Scrivener projects as text files before the upgrade. This, part of a larger plan to try to narrow down the number of buckets/apps I use for writing/notes/etc. So exporting ten or so projects was a bit tedious but I discovered that I have written A TON of stuff over the past six years or so. Way more than I thought I had. And that’s not counting journal writing which lives in Day One.

Other than the loss of Scrivener, I’m noting mostly positives since upgrading:

  • apps launch so much more quickly under Catalina.
  • sidecar doesn’t work with the last, best MacBook Pro Apple ever made. Not sure it would have changed my life, but would have been cool.
  • the Photos.app is really, really good at picking out your best photos. It’s uncanny. I wish there were some way to say “find all my lousy photos so I can just batch delete them.” But maybe that’ll come. For now, it’s great just to scroll through the days or months view and see what iPhoto thinks are my best photos.
  • Music app is better though since moving my library to the cloud with iTunes Match, I’m noticing some wonkiness with my album covers getting lost. Need to carve out some downtime to clean up my album covers in iTunes. It’ll make browsing what to listen to much more engaging.
  • iCloud account info under system preferences seems to be much better organized now, especially around Family Sharing type information.
  • everything else seems pretty smooth and snappy.
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WTF? Why does iMessage search suck so bad.

Can’t find a message that I JUST FRICKIN’ SENT a few days ago! Let’s try Googling:

Redditimessage

Well, I’m not the only one!

The inability to use the Messages app on the Mac to search message history is really a nuisance. That, and I’m noticing Spotlight search in general seems to really be crappy lately. I wrote this a while back which seemed to kickstart Spotlight back to life:

sudo mdutil -a -i off
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
sudo mdutil -a -i on

But it doesn’t work under Mojave. Bummer.

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Grove Collaborative

Grove

We use Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for monthly deliveries of household stuff like garbage bags, cleaners, etc. This month though I did some Googling while reviewing our deliveries and found that Grove Collaborative was cheaper on a few products. Just placed an order, we’ll see.

They are a B Corp which makes me feel a little better about supporting them (though, natch, shopping locally/independently would be even better if I had the time). From their about page:

We offer products that are gentler on the earth, prioritize post-consumer materials for packaging, and carbon offset every shipment that goes out our door.

Will try to revisit this next month with an update.

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HowTo Post

Things + GTD

Thingsapp

Incredible to think that I’ve been using Things for 10 years now. Amazing application and I can not imagine living without it. That said, I’ve only half-heartedly been maintaining/cleaning/pruning my lists in there and it is totally out of control and probably still contains “Someday/Maybe” items from 10 years ago.

Listening to Tim Ferris interview Getting Things Done author, David Allen the other day got me thinking about being a bit more disciplined about my Things lists.

I haven’t actually made any progress. Yet. But I did find a terrific writeup by Johnny Chadda on how he uses Things for GTD. Really excellent writeup with super-useful screenshots. When I do actually make progress on using Things for GTD is will be because of his how to guide.

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Electric Vanagon!!!

Ekaefer 1163x654

I’ve got a lot of folks who know that I like VW campers and they’ll send me links from facebook from time to time about VW’s forthcoming electic vans and these are almost always prototypes and may or may not see the light of day but this new announcement from Volkswagen where they’re working with another German company to retrofit Beetles with electric engines represents some real hope that someday I might be able to plug in my Vanagon.

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HowTo Post

Relax with MGB wrenching vids.

Johntwist

Some folks get into ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) to chill out. Cool if that’s your thing but I’ve found the most relaxing thing on the internet: watching John Twist from University Motors work on MGs. This 15 minute video on jacking up an MGB will teach you more than you ever thought there was to know about jacking up a car.

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Credit Card Confusion

First off, here’s this from an interesting read over at The Week:

In brief, payment card companies are piggybacking on public systems and guarantees to gouge the American public, especially with credit cards. They act as middlemen, skimming fees off transactions and using their size to bully businesses into accepting their terms — who then raise prices on all consumers. The associated profits, both for Visa and company and the issuing banks, are effectively a tax on everything Americans pay for.

Also, two other credit card facts I learned this weekend:

  • KMart doesn’t accept American Express
  • Audible (despite being owned by Amazon), doesn’t accept the Amazon Store Card.
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NetNewsWire in public beta

One of my favorite Mac RSS readers ever, has a new version in public beta. I’m currently using Reeder on Mac and iOS but am looking forward to reuniting with this old friend!

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Bad news from Apple

What’s up Apple? Is writing code not as creative an endeavor as music or design?

I was a PC/Linux user for ages before I purchased my first Mac (the G4 quicksilver tower, I think was my first one). And the only reason I bought that Mac was because of OS X was really just a great UI over BSD. Were it not for the ability to fire up a command prompt and have BASH at my fingertips running along side the native Mac apps, I would probably still be running Linux.

Moreover, having a shell and scripting languages like Python installed on Mac OS by default means that when my kid wanted to learn some Python beyond what he was learning through school, it was easy to show him how to run Python scripts on his MacBook. The ease of firing off scripts felt like Apple, who likes to encourage the “making” side of technology, considered “making” scripts on par with “making” movies or graphics or any of the other creative outputs that a Mac could be used for.

Now Apple has announced (in what seems like a really bad move) they are dropping the scripting runtimes from Mac OS. Meaning, by default there won’t be any Python or Perl or Ruby. I have so many little scripts in my ~/bin directory that rely on these languages (mostly Python).

Yanking these runtimes out of Catalina gives the impression that Apple doesn’t consider making scripts on par with making drum loops in Garage Band. I’d argue they’re both pretty damn creative outputs and Apple is denying its users the creative tools they’ve come to rely on.

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Bullshit.

Wealthy white boys from North America are more likely to be full of shit than other kids:

Having derived and established the comparability of our bullshit scale via measurement invariance procedures, we go on to find that young men are more likely to bullshit than young women, and that bullshitting is somewhat more prevalent amongst those from more advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Compared to other countries, young people in North America are found to be bigger bullshitters than young people in England, Australia and New Zealand, while those in Ireland and Scotland are the least likely to exaggerate their mathematical knowledge and abilities. Strong evidence also emerges that bullshitters also display overconfidence in their academic prowess and problem-solving skills, while also reporting higher levels of perseverance when faced with challenges and providing more socially desirable responses than more truthful groups.

Here’s the study: Bullshitters. Who Are They and What Do We Know about Their Lives?

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Freedom vs Function

Great piece by Brent Simmons (the guy who originally wrote MarsEdit, the app that I’m writing this entry in) about the freedom to make your computer your own and how that freedom is slowing eroding away.

With every tightened screw we have less power than we had. And doing the things — unsanctioned, unplanned-for, often unwieldy and even unwise — that computers are so wonderful for becomes ever-harder.

G4

Just this week I built up an old Mac G4 with OS 9.2 on it with my son and recalled how much I loved Mac OS 9 and the flexibility to make it look and do all sorts of crazy stuff (Drag Thing!) That’s not so much the case with OS X and Marzipan threatens to make OS X even less flexible under the hood. The only real freedom and flexibility the end user has (besides changing the wallpaper, etc.) is at the command line. If that ever goes away then Linux starts to look very attractive from a desktop perspective.

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2019-04-20 20.56.36

Was out cruising in the Atlantic Ocean this past week so broke my streak of posting but I’m back. Here’s a picture from the trip.

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Health Post

Ed Boyden on Minding your Brain

I listened to this absolutely fascinating podcast yesterday. Tyler Cowen is a great interviewer and he and Boyden cover such a huge range of neuroscience topics: from mental illness to optogenetics to ketamine to meditation to blowing up bits of your brain using a material like the use in diapers so that the bits are large enough to study under a microscope. Really, really great discussion. Definitely worth your time, give it a listen.

BOYDEN:I think one of the things we have to figure out is how can you detect consciousness, and how can you create consciousness? Alan Turing proposed the Turing test, where you would converse with something and you could try to decide whether it was conscious. But with Siri and Alexa and all this stuff in homes and on phones nowadays, I think everybody would agree that’s probably not enough. You need to know something about the internal state as well, but we don’t have a firm grasp on that yet.

I also loved this exchange:

COWEN: Is there a puppet master in the theater, or is it a kind of nominalist reality, where all there are are the different desires? And maybe the film involves a kind of illusion that someone’s in control, but that’s just another actor in the play?

BOYDEN: Here’s another way of looking at it, which is there’s so many things that we’re consciously aware of, but the vast majority of the things that the brain is doing, we’re probably unconsciously aware of.

For example, here we are in my office, and there’s all sorts of stuff around. Your brain has been processing a lot of it. If I point at that blue highlighter over there, you probably saw it earlier but were not paying conscious attention to it. But now that I point at it, you are consciously aware of it.

I actually think that something that we have to understand is, how are all these unconscious processes — this roiling sea of stuff that we have no access to — how are those processes contributing to the emergence of consciousness?

That’s one reason why I’m very excited to study the process of consciousness, if you will. What are the processes in the brain that lead to it that happen beforehand and that might help us understand, in a causal way, what gives rise to consciousness? But again, this is just an idea right now.