Downsizing to a single iPhone

1155203964_art260

Lots of firsts this summer and I guess the significant one (besides switching companies) is that I am downsizing to a single phone for work and personal stuff.  In the past I have not wanted to do this for various reasons but the biggest one was mobile device management and the ability to either look at or do weird stuff to my phone centrally.  I recently had my work phone wiped out but it actually wasn’t bad since all it did was uninstall a ton of work apps and deleted my accounts and some of the profiles that were set up as part of Mobile Iron.

My new company does expense reimbursement for my phone instead of just paying for the service, so that presents some interesting challenges:

  • I would have to get a new phone number and add it to my family plan
  • Adding the new number means I have to switch my plan to T-Mobile ONE which isn’t bad but I lose LTE tethering unless I pay an extra $10 a month for it which I’m not really prepared to do
  • Everyone elses plan would also switch over  and I don’t know who uses tethering or not and it seems like a general hassle to do so unless there is major cost savings involved
  • I also lost some of my “card” room since I used to keep all my work cards with the other phone, now I have to find a place to keep my work cards since I don’t want to start using a wallet again

My new company uses Citrix Secure Mail as a way for me to get my mail.  They don’t have time and expense apps or other apps that I had as part of my old firm so that means no profile needs to be installed on my iPhone.  There is no Mobile Iron or anything like that.  If I install one of the company built apps then I will see a new profile being installed on my phone but since I have no intention of doing that I think I’ll be fine downsizing to a single phone.

Using a single phone for home and work isn’t bad, but then again I’ve only done it for a day.  I refused to install any work related stuff on my personal phone until I had more information on what it is they were going to install on my phone to monitor what was on it.  Granted most mobile device solutions by companies state they can’t see anything except their data and that the rest of my data is safe.  One of the sticky points I had in the past was Pulse Secure VPN that my old firm would use to connect to the network so I could do time and expense and other stuff like that.  The Citrix apps seem to not use VPN since I don’t see the icon for VPN on the status bar and I wasn’t forced to install a VPN certificate.

I’m going to experiment with this set up for a few weeks and see how it goes.  The only thing I have against this plan is giving work people my actual cell number which I have avoided in the past.  If they finally get around to letting me use Skype for Business as my work number then I’ll be all set!

Whoops I missed writing in July

This post will be a short one.  I just checked the archive links to my blog and for the first time I think ever, I forgot to write something in over 30 days.  I looked over to the right hand navigator and saw that I didn’t write a single blog post in July. Thats because there was a lot going on in July and I was probably writing about it in DayOne instead (although I have been lapse in writing there too lately as well).

I know that I’ve scaled back my blogging goal quite a bit but I think I can at least get out 12 a year (one for each month).  Anyway, I’ve written 3 posts today (2 just now including this one) so that should make up for my lack of a July post.  I have more to blog about but I’ll save that for another evening when I’m just messing around with my home technology.

Whats going to happen to Flickr?

flickr-logo

I remember a long time ago back in probably 2004 or 2005 there was this new photo sharing site called Flickr.  Back then there weren’t a lot of places to upload your photos for MySpace except for maybe Photobucket (maybe I still have an account there, I think I should check….) but Flickr was different in that it had lots of tools to edit your photos.  I now use Google Photos for such things but when Yahoo bought them and then their latest CEO said that you could upload up to 1TB of photos, I thought that was awesome!

Flickr was always for the pro photographer to show off his wares.  They had a premium plan so you could upload tons of photos and make unlimited albums.  The free account which I used had upload limitations but I didn’t care since I didn’t have a digital camera or an iPhone back then so I didn’t need much.  Now Flickr has become part of my photo backup scheme by integrating it and my iPhone with IFTTT.  Every time I take a picture a private picture is uploaded to Flickr if its on my iPhone.  On a given vacation day, I can take upwards of 100 photos if I’m in the mood and I have enough battery power.  Thats a ton of memory and storage but I’m not close to the 1TB I have available to me.

Now Flickr has become part of the purchase of Yahoo by Verizon.  So far everywhere I read on the blogosphere, people are asking what is going to become of Flickr.  I personally would love the service to continue, I have tons of pictures up there and its part of my backups in the event my NAS or Google Photos gets corrupted or something.  Granted the likelihood of Google Photos going away is very small, I still like having backups of my backups and I’ve been such a long time user I can’t see not using the service.  Although it technically would be hard to spin off the Flickr service into its own company again, there isn’t anything special about it that Google Photos doesn’t do anyway already.  Being a massive place to store pro photos is fine but they would need to do something like have pro tools like Photoshop or something similar to Pixelmator tools as part of the service plus online storage and be FAST to be competitive or even make any money.

I don’t do a lot of editing of my photos so all the pro tools in the world wouldn’t do me a lick of good.  I just want to be able to store my photos somewhere for free and privately and Flickr does that for me.  I’m hoping Verizon keeps the site alive and maybe makes some improvements along the way while keeping the 1TB upload amount free.  Maybe adding the ability to upload video???  I know that Google does that but it chokes on some of the bigger videos that I have right now (currently a surfing video of my daughter can’t be uploaded, for some reason Google chokes on it and it just hangs there all day doing nothing).

I haven’t actually gone through the website of Flickr in a while but there seems to be some nice discovery aspects to it.  Maybe they need to become more like Getty Images and charge for photos but have a portion go to the photographer since there is some really awesome stuff up there.  The one thing I do want is to be able to use Flickr with a different ID.  Flickr is the only reason why I still have an active Yahoo ID anymore ever since the data breach was announced a few months ago.  Finding another place to drop 30K images and videos is hard and it takes a really long time to do.  If my NAS had web browser capabilities I’d do it from that but since it doesn’t I have to rely on a computer.  I guess I’ll subscribe to their Twitter feed, maybe they’ll announce what will happen to their service soon.  I hope they don’t go the way of Winamp, there was an awesome program destroyed by a behemoth company and I don’t want the same thing to happen to Flickr.

GoPro Hero Session – Using it in water

I’ve had my GoPro Hero Session 4 for a couple of years now and the main use for it was to use it while I’m doing activities like skiing, swimming, or anything else where I can’t really use my iPhone.  I recently had a family trip in Hawaii and I used it a lot there but I found out that a lot of the video that I had wasn’t all that good because of water spots on the lens.  It’s kind of annoying but you can see enough of the video that it comes out alright but before the vacation I didn’t research a way to get the water off.

I looked the other day on YouTube and someone recommended using RainX on the lens.  That in itself is freaking genius!  I use it all the time on my car and all the water just comes off my windshield as long as I’m going a certain speed or there is a decent amount of water.  There were times you could see me blowing at my GoPro so the video was a bit funny in that regard.  The pictures that did come out of the GoPro were really good and clear and the sound wasn’t bad too since I wasn’t that far away from the subject material.

Overall the GoPro is fine when it gets wet except when you come out of the water, there will be water streaks and drops everywhere unless you treat the lens with RainX or an equivalent.  Under water the pictures and video are pretty good, of course the sound is going to stink since it is under water but I was able to get some nice video of some turtles on the Big Island in the lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.  Here is an example from when I used the camera during my vacation.  Love the turtle, hate the water spot at the end when I bring the camera out of the water.

 

Switching to Spark Mail because of an SMTP error

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 10.00.24 PM

I’ve been using my new MacBook Pro and everything has been going pretty good except for sending out email.  Apple claims that everything just works but for some reason Mail is not working right out of the box.  I’ve tried looking for advanced settings to set some specific ports and encryption but those settings seems to have disappeared with macOS Sierra.  There have been a few times in which I’ve wanted to send out mail and it says that my SMTP server can’t be contacted. I’ve done diagnostics, I’ve done verbose diagnostics and I can’t figure out why its not working.  I think it has something to do with the 2 factor authentication with Gmail and Hotmail thats causing the issue.  I’m too lazy to try and figure it out because it should just WORK!

I’ve gone ahead and downloaded Spark Mail on my MacBook again.  I have the app for my iPhone and iPad and I haven’t had any major problems with it.  I can do a unified inbox and I can create smart folders as well to catch all of my unread mail.  The thing thats great?  It just WORKS!  There are some things that I’m going to miss like seeing the inline pictures in my message (I can live without that) when I create it and the integration throughout the OS.  The interface for Spark Mail isn’t bad, at least its familiar like my iOS devices but the one limitation is that it doesn’t have real time updates to my mail account.  I kind of have to wait a few minutes before everything updates.  It’s probably because there is some caching involved at the Readdle server side.

I’ve gone ahead and pinned this to my task bar on my Mac and turned off all the notifications for the default Mail app.  I hope they fix this in MacOS High Sierra so that I can delete yet another app on my Mac.  I don’t want to clutter it with a ton of apps that I’m not going to use. One example is me not installing Flash for Safari.  I am fine with not installing it since I’m not missing much. I do however refuse to install Chrome again since its such a memory hog.

New MacBook Pro 13″

IMG_5907

I finally received my brand new MacBook Pro 13″ from the good little elves at Apple in China!  The computer came in an unmarked box and it said it came from some obscure company in China.  I’m guessing they did that so no one would steal the computer from the back of the UPS truck.  I didn’t go with the 15″ because it was too big and heavy and the screen on this thing is pretty awesome for a 13″ so I’m pleased with my purchase.

I got the one with the touch bar and so far its been decently useful.  I can’t say much about it since most of the things I’ve been using have been pretty standard.  It’s been useful for the volume and brightness so far and I’ve also started to experiment with audio and video playback using the touch bar.  I just noticed that there are spelling suggestions when you type just like the iPhone but I don’t know if I’m going to use it since I type fast and just let auto spell check do its thing.  I’ve spent most of my time trying to get all the data back onto the computer.  I didn’t bring stuff back from TimeMachine since there was a lot of junk on my old computer that I didn’t want on my new one.  It was a good thing that I was able to move most of the media to my NAS so I don’t have to worry about jamming up the SSD with a ton of files that can live elsewhere.

This MacBook you definitely can’t get in the store.  I upgraded the RAM to 16GB and I also increased the size of the SSD to 1TB.  I’m used to having large on board storage and I can’t give that stuff up now.  Even though I have my own private cloud, my internet connection at home isn’t fast enough to support media streaming except when I’m at home.  But that was the purpose anyway from the get go.  I am going to start using it more for iMovie which is why I got a more powerful machine this time around.  My old MacBook was struggling a little bit when it was trying to splice things together so I’m hoping that this will be better.

By far the coolest thing is unlocking my computer with my Apple Watch or with my finger using Touch ID.  When it recognizes my Apple Watch, I don’t even get a chance to use Touch ID!  Thats pretty cool!  I haven’t found any shopping websites that use Apple Pay (I mostly use Amazon for my shopping and they don’t support it really) but I’m keen to give it a go.  I did install some software like Paragon NTFS.  That thing costs $20 but I need it for reading and writing the NTFS drives that I still have at home because of my Windows 10 computer.  I should probably re-do those drives as exFAT or something so they can be read by Mac and by Windows.  I also got a HooToo hub so I have 3 USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI port, and a SD Card reader for my GoPro stuff.  I also have 2 adapters from Aukey to change my plugs from USB 3.0 to USB-C.  Using the HooToo and the adapters really isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be on YouTube.  I was able to use it just fine when I was doing my backups of my iPhone and transferring files over from my external drives.  It’s just one more thing to put away but thats a really small thing in my opinion.  This computer is really kind of like a desktop replacement for me so its not going to go many places and even if it does, I’m going to be pretty mobile and won’t need a lot of cables to sync or do nutty things like that.

The one thing I was concerned about was the keyboard.  I had tried out the keyboard in the store and it was just meh to me.  It wasn’t great and it wasn’t too bad but the key travel was kinda not the same.  I’ve been using it for about a day and a half and I’m typing up this post on it and I like the keyboard a lot.  It reminds me of typing on my iPad when I’m not using the external keyboard, the key travel is pretty short but theres just enough that lets me know its a real keyboard and not a screen.  The reason I was hesitant at first about getting this was the lack of input by using a pen to draw stuff.  When it really came down to it, I don’t draw that much anyway and it was a nice to have.  The Retina display is awesome since my old computer didn’t have it but all my other apple devices do.  I can tell there is a difference when I look at the screen and it not being touch doesn’t really bother me in the slightest.  Thats what I have an iPad Air 2 and an iPhone 7 for after all.

One thing that I have found kind of useful is using Siri.  I was attempting to move my backups from on the SSD to an external drive for iOS.  Instead of using finder, I just hit the Siri button on the touch bar and asked for it to bring up Terminal.  it was pretty handy since it worked similar to how it works on the iPhone.  I just asked her to “Launch Terminal” and away it went.  I haven’t had too many problems and its already done a few software updates to bring it up to speed.  I can’t wait to try out macOS High Sierra.  Unlike my past MacBook Pro, I’m not going to use the beta on this computer.  Maybe I should create a VM or something but that would take up precious space on my SSD.  Maybe I’ll look and see what software I can use to create a VM so I can try it out and off load the VHD somewhere so it doesn’t take up space.

I’ve got some traveling to do tomorrow so I won’t be able to mess with my MacBook tomorrow but I should have some time in the coming week to fine tune it so I have it just the way I want it.  Hopefully this thing will last more than 5 years, I’d like to keep it a little longer than the last computer.  It would be sad if my HP Desktop outlasted this MacBook Pro.

Got a new MacBook Pro!

Yesterday was Apples WWDC and while normally it’s software focused, yesterday they announced a bunch of hardware updates.  One of those updates was to the MacBook Pro which received the Kaby Lake processors.  Out of everything yesterday this is the only news I really cared about since it triggered my “buy” order on the Apple Store.

My other MacBook is pretty much dead right now, I’ve tried getting it to boot but to no avail.  I’m saving the SSD from it as an external drive or something that I can take with me to transfer pictures and other things.  Similar to my now dead Macbook, I just had to modify the configuration.  I opted for the 13″ screen instead of the 15″ screen since the 15″ was too heavy to carry around.  I also maxed out the RAM and the SSD to 16GB and 1TB respectively.  I left the processor alone at the 2.9Ghz i5.  The older MacBook I spiced up the processor so it was an i7 quad core but I don’t need that sort of thing.  It needs to do iMovie more and more since I take more video which is why the RAM and SSD are important.  I also have tons of things that take up space like pictures and video.  While I do offload that stuff to the cloud it’s part of my crazy backup strategy so I never lose a photo.

The unfortunate part is that I won’t get the MacBook until next week.  It takes 3-5 business days just to get out the door let alone ship it to my home.  I can survive a little longer with my daughters computer but I will say it was painful doing Azure on Chrome.  This one will hopefully last at least 5 years like my last MacBook Pro.  Although if it could last as long as my desktop that would be amazing since it’s 9 years old running Windows 10.  With the extra power, maybe I’ll update to Final Cut Pro for video edits.  The templates in iMovie are few and far between and the stuff from GoPro is good but the editing interface sucks.

The great thing with the MacBook Pro is that there will be minimal configuration needed.  Just a few apps here and there and that’s it!  I’m going to find a way to import my iTunes playlists and music from the NAS and keep that crap off the laptop so it’s not cluttering my drive. I had problems with it on my desktop but then again it’s running Windows.  Worse comes to worse, I have a time machine backup to make it a quick restore.