Multi-Profiles in iOS please Apple?

WWDC is upon us tomorrow and I’ve watched all the leak videos on YouTube from most major Apple followers showing off the neat new things like dark mode, new emoji’s, and other blah blah blah that really doesn’t have a lot of impact on my use of iOS. I’ll admit that if some of the leaks are true for iPad, it will make it a ton more useful for me when I’m just surfing around and doing stuff like writing or taking notes for work. I know that they always say during the keynote, they’re not going to merge iOS and MacOS and thats fine, I don’t care about that stuff either. What I want is multi-user support.

This is not a hard concept, user profiles have existed since the 90’s when Windows 95 and even before was out. Granted you could just hit ESC on your keyboard without putting in a password and get into the computer but if you did it would load up your settings. Computers are more advanced now and they segregate data and all that jazz when you use a new user profile. I think this is something that could definitely be done on an iOS. The base of the OS is Unix which already supports multi-user profiles (hello MacOS!). There is security built in to protect the data of each user unless you’re the admin and therefore have God power on the machine and the OS.

Having multi-user profiles would be awesome to have in iOS. Even if it was just an iPad feature that would be the step in the right direction. A lot of schools share devices and admin’s are always looking to lock things down so having an admin account and a user account would make sense in education and in business. Personally I use my iPad sometimes for work and I really don’t like mixing my personal life with business but the ipad is really convenient sometimes when you’re running a presentation on your computer but still have to take notes during the meeting. There’s also the question of MDM profiles that corporations load onto the device which limits your options which totally sucks! If you had a work profile, the MDM could be loaded on it and keep the work apps and info segregated from the personal. Then the personal aspect would give the user full control over everything like it should. This would reduce the number of devices that need to be carried around and you could reduce the number of devices needed since there could be work and personal segregation.

Thats my wishful thinking though, I don’t think its ever going to come to iOS but I can always imagine the possibilities. For a phone it would be so awesome! Especially now that the iPhone’s support dual sim. One profile for your personal number and apps, the other profile for your work number and MDM restrictions. No more bringing along 2 phones (well I do this since I don’t want to be bothered by work during weekends). This would be true innovation on Apple’s part and differentiate it form Android phones. But I’m sure this idea has been kicked around already and its been decided that having multiple users for an iOS device doesn’t make sense. Although when you think about families, having a profile for the kids and another for the adults would be so awesome. You wouldn’t have to worry about the kids looking at your bank account and asking why you can’t afford that Nintendo switch they wanted for their birthday or something weird like that.

WWDC is tomorrow at 1PM. I’ve blocked time off on my calendar for work so that I can watch it. I’ve shifted my lunch break to that time too just to be on the safe side. Let’s see how many of the tech bloggers on YouTube are right.

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Using an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS VM for uploading pictures and video to Google Photos

Ubuntu Bionic Beaver

I’ve been taking a lot more video on the GoPro of late and there is even video that I haven’t even moved over to Google Photos yet and I’ve been struggling to find a good solution on how to upload all those videos without keeping my MacBook Pro on all night. Recently I upgraded my NAS (I blogged about it before) and now I have a ton of extra space on there. With that extra space and the RAM upgrade I was able to install a virtual machine. I chose Ubuntu Linux primarily because it was free and I had dabbled with it in the past. I had all these videos from Breckenridge on an external drive and the old way that I uploaded video was to mount the drive on the MacBook, go to Google Photos on the web, and then do a drag and drop. Since a lot of those videos are pretty big, it would take a long time for it to upload, sometimes days I’d leave that thing on.

Given that I have all this extra storage space, I thought, why not load the videos on the NAS and then fire up the VM and see if I can do it that way? The loading of the videos was only slightly problematic since my external drive is formatted for Mac and it can’t be read by my NAS when I plug it in directly. That forced me to transfer the video using the Mac to the NAS, that was fairly easy and quick. Only took 10 minutes for about 300GB which is fairly fast. The next part was a tad more difficult. I was familiar with mapping drives and everything with Windows but not Linux. Thankfully the GUI interface for Ubuntu is pretty easy and it saw my NAS as a network drive.

Let me just start out saying that the performance on the VM is pretty shitty when you’re using a browser to navigate. I think it would be way more responsive if I used it directly on a monitor but I don’t have the right plugs currently since its an older monitor that uses DVI and not HDMI. I got Google Photos up on Firefox in Ubuntu and started loading the photos and videos. Unfortunately I kept on getting script errors on the page (no clue why that was) but after rebooting the VM and starting over it seemed to be working for uploading the files. Given that the interface was really really slow I wasn’t able to put them in an album after the upload was complete. I was however able to leave the VM running while I went out to the movies and was able to close out of the browser tab with the VM and come back to it hours later.

After this experiment I think I have found at least my best way of getting all the videos from my trips up to Google Photos. instead of loading all the photos and video on my iPad for my next trip, I think I’m just going to leave it on my GoPro and wait until I get home to start reviewing and making combined videos. I don’t want to take a computer with me, just my iPad but transferring all that stuff is also a pain in the ass and I’d like to relax a bit more this trip.

Goodbye Google Hangouts?

During my perusing of the inter web, I learned that Google might be killing off Google for us regular people and just letting it exist for enterprise customers. I’ve been using Google Hangouts for a while now, mainly I use it because of the integration with Google Voice. There is also the added benefit that I can talk to other people that use Google Hangouts that use it for enterprise customers.

I’m probably in the very small minority that still uses the application. I use my Google Voice number for work and for other things to try and keep the telemarketers away. The problem is, the telemarketers just call the Google Voice number instead. I also like the integration with Gmail and contacts in Gmail. It lets me message people via SMS or make phone calls. The best part is that its cross platform. I use it on my iPhone, iPad and through the web browser. In that way its a poor mans iMessage that I can use on Windows and OSX.

Recently Google brought back the Google Voice app back. It’s always been there but it was kind of neglected for a long time but it was recently updated. Probably in anticipation of eliminating Hangouts. I was attempting to use the web version but for some reason its not working right which is a shame. Hopefully they’ll fix the interface for it soon. It won’t be exactly the same as being able to use Hangouts, it won’t be available within Gmail which was a great feature in itself. I also heard that the app Allo is also potentially on the chopping block. That makes me wonder what consumers are going to use for chatting that can compete with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

You can use WhatsApp cross platform, but the person also needs to have the app installed. Hangouts is different in that its sending it via SMS so it doesn’t matter if the person has the app or not, your message will go through. I hope that Google gets its shit together and makes a converged chat platform for voice, video, and SMS that integrates with Gmail like Hangouts does right now but at least improves upon the concepts and design.

Apparently I have a year to find something new. I have confidence that at least Google Voice will continue since it does compete directly with Skype and WhatsApp. The only thing preventing me from totally trying to switch to something like WhatsApp is that it doesn’t have an iPad app. I think people have been asking for that for years but they just don’t want to do it. With Apple just owning tablets, it makes sense if they want to keep people interested in using the platform across devices.

Most of the big tech bloggers are covering this which is how I found out about it. I’ll continue to watch it over the next year since it impacts me and how I interact with others.

Alexa Life with the Echo Dot and UE Blast

Alexa has started to infest my home through the Echo Dot and now the UE Blast. I received the Echo Dot as a present for Christmas so that I could start experimenting with a voice assistant. A little while later, I received a UE Blast which has Alexa voice control while also being a really sweet speaker in its own right. My dog likes wires for some reason (that’s very cat like of her) so I got a nice mount for my Echo Dot so it can live in the living room without fear of being dropped (its been dropped twice already by the dog). The UE Blast lives in the office but its rarely on since my wife has no use for voice assistants and I don’t want Alexa listening to me upstairs.

My use cases for Alexa are pretty limited so far, its probably due to my not having a “smart home”. I don’t have the doorbell, thermostat, lights, or garage door opener that could be controlled by Alexa using my Echo Dot or my UE Blast. I definitely don’t shop with it, I’m still old school and I like to see what I’m buying first on the web and then maybe in a store before plunking down hard money. I think the main things that I use my Echo and UE Blast for is music and the weather. The weather is used to find out if I can go motorcycle riding on a given day, music is just for fun and to see if Alexa or Amazon can play the music we ask of it.

The far field mic’s are pretty good, they can hear me from across the room. Obviously the UE Blast has the better sound for music since its also technically a UE Boom with just WiFi and Alexa built in. To make the Echo Dot a little bit better, I paired it with my UE Boom so I can have good music from the Echo Dot, it just requires an extra step of actually turning the UE Boom on and pairing it but that’s a cinch to do. I just yell “Alexa, pair my Bluetooth speaker” and its done in seconds. The UE Blast I just tell it to play music. I used it at my father in laws place while everyone was asleep and it worked really well. I was able to play with the dog and ask Alexa stuff since I was able to connect to the WiFi. The Blast will be my “go to” speaker to bring on vacations if we want to have music wherever we are. It’s got some long battery life and with Alexa built in, it will be quite useful in hotel rooms and other spots like that.

I’ve generally discouraged my daughter from using Alexa too much, unlike Google I can’t really control who Alexa listens to for commands. I can’t count the number of times my daughter has over ridden my music by playing Frosty the Snowman just to mess with me. She has it down so that Alexa just has to hear “Alexa, play frosty!” And it automatically plays the song for her. I’m thinking that when she gets older, maybe I’ll get an Echo Dot for her room or something so that it can wake her up in the morning. I definitely won’t be having one of them in my bed room, I have enough iPhones and other Apple devices that have alarms to wake me up.

What’s becoming difficult is managing all the different devices I have now. For phones and tablets I’m all in on Apple, even my main computer for home is my MacBook Pro. I have Chromecasts and Apple TV’s that are attached to various TV’s. I keep Apple TV 3’s to do streaming from my Apple devices and the Chromecast for my NAS. I now have voice assistants from Amazon but they can’t do anything really since I don’t have a smart home but the music at least is pretty good. I don’t think I’m going to get a Home Pod, I’ve already started down this Alexa path so I might as well keep on going with it regarding voice assistance. With some IFTTT recipes I can technically integrate some things from Alexa to my iPhones and iPads. I was really tempted a few days ago with a sale on Google Home Mini’s but that would have complicated things even more at my home. I’m hoping that Alexa can start recognizing voices, then I can get a few more (maybe without the wife knowing)…….. but I still use Siri when I’m away from home because you know, she right there on my wrist and phone.

NAVIGON is no more!

Curious thing when I was checking my NAVIGON app last week, there was a message that I sort of just clicked through but it bothered me so I checked the website, to my surprise Garmin decided to kill all their iOS navigation apps. I have had NAVIGON on my phone since the days of the 3GS and it used to be my go to app for navigation in my car. Apparently I’m allowed to use it for another 2 years until there will be no more map updates. That’s kind of sad but it’s expected since in the age of unlimited data, you only need Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Waze.

I remember the software being a crazy price. I think I paid $79.00 for all of North America. Truthfully it was one of my better purchases due to all the travel I do for work. At the time maps kinda sucked on the iPhone and NAVIGON was more accurate. Over the years I got frustrated with the software due to its interface and lack of search capability. In recent years I’ve relied on 3 apps for navigation and with the final death of NAVIGON I’ll be able to reclaim about 100mb of space on my phone and a tile space.

I’ll admit that having an offline map is useful but Google has this and I have another app called Ulmon that does offline maps. It doesn’t really do turn by turn but I won’t get lost either which is the main point. For it’s time, NAVIGON was freaking awesome and prevented me from getting lost most of the time. Before I had unlimited data it was useful to have he map preloaded on the phone so I wouldn’t use up my data plan. I just might keep the software on my phone for the next two years mainly because I paid for it so I might as well use it if the need arises. By then I should be ready to upgrade my iPhone 7 to something else.

Life with the AirPods

Over a year ago I bought an iPhone 7 and one of the missing features was the headphone jack. In truth this didn’t bother me too much, I had my Bose bluetooth headphones and I was fine with using the included lightning EarPods. Just recently I got a pair of AirPods and I must say that its been pretty awesome. I use them more than almost all of my other headphones (except for when I’m flying). They’re not very large so its portable, they have pretty decent sound like regular EarPods, and the best part is that they don’t have any wires. I think that last part is the most important since I like not being tethered anymore to my phone if possible.

I do bring the case with me everywhere, mainly so I have a place to put them away because I’m scared of losing one and these things aren’t cheap. The fact that they just pair with my iDevices is pretty sweet. I have had a few problems here and there with the sound when I take calls but its normally short lived. I also managed to pair it to my work laptop so I don’t need to use wired headphones when I am on WebEx or doing some training that has sound. Unfortunately activating them is a bit harder on a Windows 10 laptop compared to my MacBook Pro but it just means when I walk away from my laptop its not in any danger of flying off a table.

I’ve seen a lot of review videos about the AirPods and even tried out my fathers pair since he had them before I did. I’ll admit that it makes me look funny when I’m walking around with them but sine they are so common now in California I don’t look so weird. There aren’t as many people wearing them in FL so I still look a little funny there. I thought they were going to release a new version of the AirPods during the iPhone event but I was surprised that they did’t. I guess they didn’t need to release a W2 chip since the current version is pretty awesome.

The only reason to get rid of my AirPods will be because they won’t hold a charge anymore. I hope that won’t be for at least a few years, I need to get my money’s worth out of these things. They are truly useful for things like writing blog posts while watching Netflix, no wires to trip over!

Complicating my home wireless setup

I’ve recently run into some trouble with the wireless in my home and no matter what I do I can’t seem to fix it.  I’ve tried everything from rebooting the thing, messing with the configuration, to even calling Comcast to see if they could do anything on their end to make the thing stop dropping the wireless signal every hour or so which forced me or the wife to reboot it.  I’ve been using the Netgear since I switched over from AT&T to Comcast because it had gigabit Ethernet, wireless capabilties, and it supposedly had a media drive component so I could stream stuff.  Well the Netgear has been quite disappointing to date, I’ve never been able to get the media server part to work (and its well documented that it totally sucks as a feature), the wireless is completely unreliable, the only part that even seems to work is the cable modem aspect of the device.

I was able to dig out my Linksys X2000 that I used when I was using AT&T.  It has a wireless router component to it and I decided to dig this out of my little tech storage area and connect it to the Netgear.  Now this thing is really old so it only can do 10/100 on its ethernet ports so its not as fast as the Netgear when I connect something to the modem directly.  What I did do though was I connected the Linksys to my home desktop and the router and I connected the Linksys and Netgear to my NAS so it can still take advantage of Gigabit ethernet and regular 10/100.

I was able to check everything out that connects in my house and it all seems to be OK.  I changed the SSID on the Netgear to be unique and as my backup and used the original SSID on the Linksys so everything would still be able to connect like it used to.  So far so good, I haven’t really tested the speed between machines but at least to the internet it seems to be the same as if I was just using the Netgear by itself.  While I’m glad I found a work around solution this is by no means something that I wanted to do.  I purposely bought the Netgear to be my single device to consume internet and be able to use it from multiple devices.  The fact that I had to bring out my Linksys after all this time is kind of a bummer.  It does do Wireless B/G/N but doesn’t use the 5Ghz band but thats technically ok by me since I was using the 2.4Ghz band at home because of my HP Photosmart printer. Linksys actualy makes a better product than Netgear so I’m expecting to have a lot less trouble with the wifi going forward.

Now the thing I really want is fiber to come to my neck of the woods.  I would love it if I had Google Fiber or something, then my internet would be screaming fast!  I think I’ll have to wait a while until that happens, until then I’ll be suffering with Comcast.