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Saturday
Oct292016

macOS Sierra Got This WRONG

Unlike Windows, when you connect your Mac to a network share there’s no checkbox that says “Reconnect at logon”. When I got my first Mac over ten years ago I created an Automator app to connect to shared folders on my home network and placed it in my “Login Items”. I’ve been using that same app ever since. It’s a simple enough app requiring only to blocks. The first block, “Get Specified Servers”, defines the connect strings for each network share. It uses a standard UNIX command to define the URI: smb://<user>:<password>@<server>/<share> (in this case it tells the OS to use samba to connect).  This command has been around since UNIX itself. The second Automator block does the actual connecting.

Since upgrading to Sierra, the OS started doing something irritating. Every time the Automator app runs and tries to connect to any network share, Sierra prompts for my user credentials:

I have to manually click the “Connect” button every time, even though I click the “Remember this password in my keychain” checkbox every time. The connection is made like always, but not without my intervention. After a little investigation, I found I’m not the only one to experience this. The macOS forums at Apple are full of complaints about this new behavior. The sad part is, the Apple engineers are saying this behavior is by design. Riiiiiiiight…

I thought I’d be clever and use a different method to connect my network shares, the  good ol’ command-line. Instead of using Automator’s built-in blocks, I’ll just create a shell script…

…I thought. It turns out that won’t work anymore either:

 

According to Apple engineers, this “feature” is part of Sierra’s new security model. I gotta call “bullshit” on that claim. It doesn’t make any sense. After all, Sierra remembers and fills in my credentials. It just won’t connect. I think this “feature” must be an unintended consequence of something else Apple engineers did. I sure hope they find a way to undo it soon.

Tuesday
Aug302016

Why I Cancelled My New York Times Subscription (and You Should Too)

I am a creature of habit. Doing certain things at a certain time on a regular basis gives my life order. My wife thinks I may take this to extremes sometimes and she’s probably right, but it is what it is. I’ll be the first to admit my behavior may border on OCD, but I like doing things the way I do them. My daily routine is something I’ve developed over many years and I wouldn’t do things the way I do without purpose. The reason I spend a portion of every morning reading newspapers is to stay informed. Not the CNN or Fox News versions of informed, but the in-depth, behind the scenes version one can only get by reading quality periodicals. The periodicals I read frequently fall into three major categories; daily news, monthly news and specialty publications. It’s the daily periodicals, the newspapers, that make up a large portion of my routine and those are the ones I’ll address here.

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Saturday
Jul092016

Considering macOS Sierra Public Beta? Not Just Yet

I downloaded and installed the macOS 10.12, Sierra public beta yesterday. I put it on my late 2013 15” MacBook Pro. I’m one of those lucky people with multiple (3) Macs, so I never run the risk of upgrading myself out of production. To be fair, I’ve had pretty good luck installing OS X betas. Even before Apple’s public beta program, my developer status afforded me access to early copies of everything Apple published. I hardly ever install a “Rev 0” version of anything, but Apple has a decent track record of releasing mostly stable versions of their OS by the time it gets to “public” status. I didn’t have that experience yesterday.

So, why would a semi-intelligent person like myself risk the utility of a multi-thousand dollar laptop by installing a half-baked operating system? Well, there was one feature of macOS Sierra I couldn’t wait to try. I wanted my Watch to unlock my MBP by simply coming in proximity. I never got there. More on that in a minute.

First, the install went without a hitch. I went to Apple’s developer site, clicked the “Download” button for macOS Sierra Beta 2. That launched the Mac App Store app where I redeemed a code that started the download. 4.86 GB later, the install screen appeared.

 

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Sunday
Jul032016

Broken Watch

Well, after a year and a half I did it. I fumbled my Watch onto the tile floor in my dining room. Do you know what an idiosecond is? That’s a segment of time measured from the instant you drop your glass-laden Apple device to the instant it hits the floor/ground. It is right around one-second-long, but due to the time-dilation that takes place, it feels like much longer. Although your entire life doesn’t flash before your eyes, a significant portion does. You think, “Oh shit!”, “Is it in my Lifeproof case?”, “Can I break its fall with my foot?”, “Is my AppleCare up-to-date?”, and you swear profusely against whichever god suits you. All this in the span of a single idiosecond. If you’re like me, you spend the next couple of seconds asking forgiveness from whichever god you just profaned while asking him/her to please let your device be OK. My poor Watch wasn’t. The screen was completely shattered. I could tell immediately which corner it landed on. The scratch-proof sapphire turned to dust on the upper right-hand corner and the rest of it completely spider-webbed. It was so bad that when I did the “slide to power off” thing, my thumb came back bloody.

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Tuesday
Jun142016

A Great 4K Monitor for Under $400

Damn you, Apple! You’ve ruined me for life. In November of 2013, you re-calibrated by eyeballs. Now, I own a bunch of perfectly good hardware that I can hardly stand to look at.
Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but…
It was a faithful day in late 2013 when the UPS driver dropped off my 15” MacBook Pro with Retina display. Within an hour of unboxing the machine I knew I had just started down a path of no return. My epiphany came when I turned 90 degrees to my left, diverting my gaze from my new MacBook Pro to my 2009 27” iMac. What I once thought was the most beautiful computer display I’d ever seen, now looked shoddy by comparison with pixels the size of golf balls. It was almost as if someone had smeared Vaseline on my glasses.
My previous laptop was a 2009 17” MBP. Like always, I did the BTO (Build To Order) thing from Apple’s on-line store when I bought it and, like always, I got every hardware upgrade Apple offered at the time because my MBP is my main machine. I don’t need a “Starbucks Surfer”. As an IT consultant, I need a powerful, portable workstation with as many connections as possible to suit the myriad office setups I typically encounter over the lifetime of a machine (usually 3 or 4 years). I need as much RAM as I can get to accommodate a Windows VM because well, I’m in the IT business and some chores just require Windows. I also like a discrete graphics card to drive a large monitor when I’m “docked” at my home office. If you’ve used Mac portables as long as I have then you understand the word “docked” isn’t 100% accurate (or 75% or maybe even 60…). But I’m straying a bit. More on that in a minute.

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