Archive | Apple

Workaround for the missing Open With… option in Apple Photos

Another UI Fail from Apple. Photos has no Open With… option. I’m sure I’m not the only one who used this in iPhoto all the damn time. What reason could there possibly be for this change?

You can export photos and Open With… in Finder, which is totally inconvenient. On top of that, you can’t name the file during the export process. You’re supposed to have done that ahead of time.

I guess the crappy new way Photos “organizes” stuff wasn’t enough of a downgrade.

Export dialog box - no option to name the file

Ludicrous export dialog that doesn’t let you name a file.

The easy Open With… workaround we shouldn’t have to do

1 Select the photo or photos you want to open in a 3rd-party app.

Photos right click menu showing no Open With option

Mysteriously missing Open With… option. Because nobody ever wants to simply open a photo with Photoshop, right?

2 Right click, select Share, and choose Mail. Any desktop mail app should work, although I haven’t tested others.

3 Right-click and Mail gives you a proper Open With… option.

Mail window with image in body text. Mail menu has Open With...

Better than nothing.

4 Open in your app of choice.

The quality and usefulness of Apple software is sliding downhill. It makes me sad.

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The decline of usability in OS X and iOS

Apple’s UX/UI has been getting worse for a while now. There were changes to iOS  7 that I really didn’t like, but I figured I’d get used to them. I didn’t. iOS 8 had a handful of annoyances I assumed would be resolved in an update. They weren’t. Now we have iOS 9, and it’s basically another downgrade to me. It all adds up to me being frustrated and annoyed with Apple in a way I never have before. And the OS X “upgrade” to iTunes and from iPhoto to Photos as made it significantly more difficult to perform tasks I do on a daily basis.

If I weren’t so locked in to Apple, I’d switch to Android. If they continue on this trajectory, I may switch anyway.

iOS 9

Not everybody is having these problems, but a quick search shows that I am far from alone.

App switcher with large thumbnails of each app showing no information

App switcher: No longer useful.

  • My devices are sluggish. It frequently takes 3 or 4 tries to get the screen to respond to a text or a swipe. TouchID is so slow I don’t bother to use it to unlock my phone.
  • Switching between landscape and portrait is frequently very slow. It doesn’t get stuck like it did in iOS 8, but I do still have to restart the app from time to time.
  • I can no longer sync new apps or update apps on my iPhone or iPad.
  • App switching is so much less useful. How useful are these large thumbnails? You tell me. Unless I’m switching to the app I used most recently, I use search instead.
  • Search has gone downhill too. You used to be able to search using the second word of an app. Not any more. You have to remember the exact name of the app.
  • Apple has installed another unwanted app — News — that can’t be deleted.
  • I have only sporadically received notifications of text messages since iOS 7. Not fixed in iOS 8 or iOS 9.
  • The difficulty switching between iMessage and SMS in a single thread that appeared in iOS8 has not been resolved.

iOS 8

  • Switching between iMessage and sms in a single message thread is completely unintuitive. I never figured out how to do it. This continued in iOS 9. At some point I found a kludgy solution, but it no longer works for me.
  • After I upgraded, I got only sporadic notifications of new text messages. This was also not resolved in iOS 9.
  • The device regularly gets stuck in landscape or portrait mode. I have to restart the app, and sometimes restart the phone to fix it.

iOS 7

  • Alarm and Timer screenshots

    This is way to confusing at 6am.

    Flat design 1. I get it. Skeuomorphism seems dated. The flat icons may be pretty, but they all look too similar now. Too many have the same color scheme, so nothing jumps out at first glance. Photos looks like Chrome looks like Contacts.

  • Flat design 2. I can’t use the alarm any more. The giant SNOOZE button went away, replaced by difficult-to-read-at-6am blue text. Additionally, the alarm and timer have opposite UIs. On the alarm, the blue text in the middle is Tap to Snooze. On the timer, the blue text is Tap to Stop. Guess how many times I’ve inadvertently turned off my alarm and overslept?

Photos

Holy crap. Photos.

  • It’s a bitch to find anything. It would have been fine if I had put all my photos in albums with iPhoto, but I didn’t. Did anyone? Now to find an older photo, I have to look in iPhoto moments, or remember the date it was taken. Again, fuck that.
  • The option to “Open with…” is gone. I can no longer open a photo in any  3rd party app. I have to export the photo before I can use it elsewhere, and I end up doing this several times per day. Fuck that.

iTunes

iTunes 12 bring us to yet another decline in usability, especially if you have a large music library.

  • The sidebar has disappeared. Along with it the artist or album list view has disappeared. Instead you get a screen with giant album artwork, making it cumbersome to quickly browse your collection.
  • You can restore these views, but you have to do it EACH TIME YOU LAUNCH iTUNES! And there are several steps to do the restore, and I keep forgetting what they are. So I no longer browse, I only search.
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Clothes make the Mac

Macbookair_3
I don’t need a new Mac laptop. Ok, I admit, that’s never stopped me before. But really, the MacBook Air, stunning though it may be, is not for me. I do lust after the multitouch trackpad. I’ve been reaching to pinch my screen while viewing maps since a week after getting my iPhone. I’m ready for it. But there are too many limitations for it to be my primary computer, and I don’t want to go back to messing with keeping multiple computers in sync.

Then I saw the fabulous AirMail. Now there’s the hip yet understated MacBag. Cripes. I may have to get an Air just so I can carry it around in one of these.

Envelope_3
Macbag_3

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Should I take the money?

MrburnsWhat’s an ethical businessperson to do?

Following the announcement that the 8 Gig iPhone price would drop by $200, Apple announced in an open letter that they would give a $100 rebate per phone to early adopters. They bowed to pressure by a bunch of whiners (read the comments) who seem to think that, as loyal fans, we should have some kind of magic insulation from the economic realities rapidly-changing technology. I can certain understand someone buying an iPhone very recently and being miffed about the drop, but such is life. Would any of you very early buyers have passed on an iPhone if you knew for sure that if you waited 2 1/2 months, you could get it for $200 less? I doubt it.

The exact same DLP projector I bought a few years ago for $10K now retails for $2,500. I’m not expecting a refund. I bought bleeding edge technology. I paid a premium *knowing* if I were a little patient I’d save a bunch of money.

Why did Apple cave? I own Apple stock. I think this was a stupid, unnecessary move on their part. This online reaction is not comparable to a campaign by a bunch of rabid fans so save a quality TV show from the death grip of network execs. This was a bunch of rabid fans who mistook their voluntary participation in a media frenzy for some kind of entitlement to immunity from reality. And Apple bit. It’s not a good precedent to set.

That said, I bought 2 iPhones on June 29. Do I have an ethical obligation not to take the rebate? It’s not like forgoing the cash would have one iota of effect on the program, the stock, or anything else. I  think it’s stupid, not wrong. Still, there’s all that ranting I do about hypocrites and personal accountability… Randy Cohen, are you listening?

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Installing Windows on a Mac

(Originally posted Feb. 3)

Installing Windows on my Mac has been, by far, the most painful
aspect of switching. The fact that I could run Windows programs side by
side the Mac OS – no need to reboot – was pretty much what sealed the
deal in my switch to Mac. I need to run YM with Voice and VPchat
– neither are Mac-compatible, and I use them both all day, every day.
Getting up and running on the Mac took hours. Getting Windows going
took days. Why this surprised me, I don’t know.

Here’s what I did:

Installed Parallels Desktop for Mac.
The installation was relatively painless. Unfortunately the interface
isn’t very intuitive. If you plan to use it, make sure you go to the VM
menu and install Parallels tools. This will install the proper tools on
your guest OS installation. Nowhere in the interface are you directed
to do this. I stumbled on it in the Parallels support forums, which have been helpful.

Installed a legit copy of Windows XP Pro. I crashed. 4 times.

I
went to the support forums, where I learned I needed to update my
fresh-out-of-the-box Parallels software. I did so, and am now running
version 1970 (odd versioning scheme, don’t you think?)

More…On
the 5th install, I gave up when I got hung at “7 minutes remaining” for
half an hour. Then I thought I’d try again. I could hear the drive
starting and stopping. Apparently it installed just a little bit each
time. My patience paid off, and the 6th installation attempt worked.

I
planned to get SP2, then Norton. Big mistake. I couldn’t find SP2 at
Microsoft. Oh, there were many links that promised it, but none came
through. By the time I found one elsewhere, I was so riddled with
viruses and malware that I had to reinstall.

The 7th installation of XP went smoothly, albeit slowly. I went directly to the SP2 link I had found and downloaded it.

I ran the SP2 upgrade, and it failed.

I contacted several friends in search of an SP2 CD, to no avail.

I
couldn’t bring myself to buy yet another copy of XP (I’ve bought 3 over
the years), and instead decided I might as well try Vista. Did you know
there are 7 versions of Vista? Microsoft offers very little in the way
of serious comparison. After reading reviews on several blogs, I
decided on Home Premium – full version (not an upgrade).

First installation, no go. Second installation, nada.

Again
I went to the Parallels forums, where it was suggested I make a disk
image (.dmg file) of the CD using Disk Utility and install from there.
Briefly, I wandered back into the wonderful Mac world where things make
sense. Disk Utility was a breeze, even though I had never seen it
before.

I made the .dmg file, but Parallels wouldn’t let me install from it. It showed me the file, but it was greyed out.

Back
to the forums where it was then suggested I make the file an .iso file.
So I renamed it, but got the same results. I’m not sure I did what this
person meant – after this, the thread went dark.

I then went to
my friend Darrell, who knows All Things Windows. He found lots of
evidence online (contrary to what I had found) that showed lots of
people having trouble installing Vista using Parallels (apparently it
works great with Bootcamp, but then I’d have to reboot to use Windows,
which is unacceptable for what I want to do) He suggested we go back
and install XP, then run Vista as an upgrade. The forums implied
updates won’t work in Parallels, but I gave it a try. 2 tries,
actually, but neither worked. I decided to keep trying to install XP.

Darrell
gave me a direct link to a safe SP2 download. I installed XP, and went
directly there to get SP2 and Norton’s. Even that visit to that one
safe site got me a fatal virus. But I install Norton’s anyway, hoping I
can get rid of it. No way – I’m going to have to start over. By this
time my patience is definitely wearing thin… I just want to have my
fabulous new Mac up and running everything efficiently!

I
download SP2 and Norton’s via a PC and burn it to a CD. I reinstall XP
without network connectivity, which for some reason seems to make it
run at a snail’s pace. Several hours later, it fails. I try again, and
let it run through the night.

I came upstairs this morning to a
crashed Mac. I decide to try once more, this time with everything at
the default settings (I had been installing with extra RAM and extra HD
space in anticipation of Vista).

This time I plugged the network cable in, and the installation ran quickly. I unplugged it just as Windows booted up.

I
copied the compressed SP2.exe file and Norton folder to the XP desktop,
then installed. SP2 installed flawlessly this time, as did Norton. I
updated my virus definitions, updated Windows, installed VPchat, and
installed Yahoo Messenger. Both seem to be running fine, although I
haven’t tested voice yet – I’ll let you know.

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Switching to Mac: impressions after a week

(Originally posted Feb. 3)

My career was built on a Mac. I used them faithfully and enthusiastically for 10 years. When Excite bought my company, Go Media, in 1996 I had to switch to PCs. I’ve been using them ever since. When my primary desktop PC crapped out a couple of weeks ago I decided that, between the pain of (probably) starting over on a new PC, and (probably) upgrading to Vista, thus (probably) having to upgrade 2 other PCs, it was maybe time to switch to a Mac. After all, the dual core machines let me run Windows, and I’d still have my other PCs there if I need them. Most of the work I do these days is on the Web or uses
open source software.

I did a bit of Googling in search of switching horror stories. The worst I found was evidence that Quicken
doesn’t export well from PC to Mac. It’s a known problem, but a non-issue for me. I don’t use quicken.

We’ve got an Apple Store here in Austin, so off I went to test drive some Macs. I was pretty sure I’d be coming home with one, but I felt good creating the illusion of doing research. I assumed I’d need a big bad Mac Pro – I didn’t realize how powerful the iMacs are. I secretly wanted the biggest baddest box anyway, but I just couldn’t justify the extra money. I came
home with a 24″ iMac with a 1 Gb of RAM (I almost immediately upgraded to 2 Gb), and a 250 Gb LaCie external HD. I paid maybe $200-$300 more than I would’ve paid for a PC with similar specs.

The short summary: I love love love it. It’s beautiful. For the most part, things just work as they should.

On the other hand, it hasn’t been entirely painless. The first problem I encountered was simply getting online. Unpacking and setting up the Mac was a breeze, as expected. Unfortunately, it wasn’t seeing my wireless network. When I used a network cable to wire the Mac directly to the cable modem, it saw my network, including my laptop online wirelessly,
but I couldn’t get online.

I have Time Warner Business Class, with 14 static IP numbers. Apparently this setup was the culprit. The
solution: in the System Preferences > Network dialog box, there’s a “Configure IPv4” popup menu. I had to change to Using DHCP with Manual Address, attempt (and fail at) a logon, then set it back to Manual and put in all my standard info. That did it.

Weird. And very un-Mac-like. Kudos to the support guy at Time Warner Austin for solving this.

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Will my gadget lust survive the iPhone?

(Originally posted Feb. 3)

Bruce Tognazzini has an excellent review of the iphone here. It’s a good article, although it’s a little odd that he wrote the whole thing having never touched an iPhone…

The thing that’s lacking in every article about the iPhone that I’ve read is any information about the calendar. I see a little calendar icon on the pics, but never any mention of how it compares to the Palm/Treo one. I use my calendar a lot – it seems like it’s an important enough feature of a smartphone that it would get some mention.

I’m totally with this guy re: Cingular. At first I thought Apple was going to roll out different networks gradually, like the way it went with the Treos, but it appears that this will be an exclusive partnership. I switched to Verizon for their network. I wouldn’t want to have to switch to Cingular.

Plus, for me, a 4G iPod is not very appealing. I love having my whole library on my 80G model :)

I don’t know… my gadget lust may get the best of me when this thing comes out. Then again, I may wait for the 80G model with voice recognition and a decent eReader.

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Be nice.