macOS 10.12.5: Needed further testing, Apple

Apple released its latest slew of updates for macOS, tvOS, iOS and watchOS earlier this week, one can only be grateful for unlimited internet quotas these days as it all adds up.

Whilst my iPhone, Apple Watch Nike+ and Apple TV all updated without problem, my MacBook Pro 15″ with TouchBar has started to exhibit a few problems in the past day or two. About two days after I’d installed the update I was swiping back from ‘Space 3’ which had Mail to ‘Space 1’ only to be greeted with a lovely red bar where all my desktop icons should have been. This kind of graphics tearing had appeared when these new MacBook Pros were initially released as drivers were immature at the time, thankfully by the time my own machine arrived Apple had just two days beforehand updated macOS to resolve the issue.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 10.48.32 amThis issue is a tad annoying, though more annoying I cannot see others reporting the issue, am I alone in experiencing this issue? Then today I put my MacBook Pro to sleep as I went shopping and have this evening opened to surf the web etc, however upon opening the lid it booted up displaying the Apple logo. Initially I had thought I’d shut the Mac down and just forgotten doing so, however the dialogs displayed alerting me to the fact that there’d been a kernel panic related to CPU interrupts.

I have to say that 10.12.5 is really turning out to be a bad release for me and my MacBook Pro, I really do hope that 10.12.6 comes along quickly to resolve. Whilst talking of wishes, I certainly do hope that 10.13 brings greater stability than we’ve seen with 10.12, I would much rather see Apple focus more on quality code rather than banging it out, stop focussing on yearly releases and focus instead on doing a better job than you’ve done in the past few releases, quality has certainly suffered.

iOS 11: Hopes

I’ve been a long term user of iPhone, having jumped onboard with its release here in Australia with iPhone 3G. Currently using an iPhone 6S Plus it is amazing to compare that old phone to my own when I come across it occasionally.

Over the time I’ve owned iPhones of course it’s operating system has changed and improved greatly, and even been renamed. However, despite the improvements there are always niggling items we’d like to see improved. For me my wish list for iOS 11 would be:

Podcast app: The Podcast app is generally okay, however Cupertino we have a playback problem, it just randomly stops playing. Initially I thought this related to Bluetooth playback interference from nearby users, however it only ever seemed to happen with this app and a search online revealed others too experienced the same issue. Thankfully they suggested use of an alternate app, Overcast. I’ve just downloaded and will trial before I delete my podcast subscriptions from the Podcast app.

App updates: A move to patching instead of full downloads is long overdue here. When we see Facebook issuing updates every two weeks that now weigh in at 244MB it gets beyond a joke. The other day I had Facebook, Microsoft (Excel, Word and Outlook), Google Sheets, and a few others on the list for update, total download size in excess of 1GB. I’ve regularly updated a Microsoft app only to have them two days later issue an ‘oops, bug fix’ .1 release and another 250-300MB download, I’ve got better things to do than download 10-20 sizeable app updates.

Siri: Let’s face it, Siri is really not that useful, more a casual tech fling with a bit of sass. All other virtual assistants seem well ahead of her now, though I do hear language support is her one remaining win. It would be nice if Siri’s capabilities were greatly expanded, if she could interact with other applications and perform tasks within. It would also be nice if ex-USA support for Siri was greatly expanded, it’s far to USA-centric at present, a large number of features work within that country but step outside that country and support drops off.

Cut/Paste/Insert: I find I go to paste/insert something into an email I’m writing and it’s an almighty effort, wish was easier. Perhaps the addition of a keyboard button might assist here with addition of 3D touch to reveal desired functionality?

Photos: There doesn’t appear to be a means of specifying a face from which Photos app can then learn other photos within your library, it’s so frustrating. I tried doing on my Mac but it didn’t flow through for some reason. I feed discouraged from any continued use of the Photos app on the Mac now, I only opened this app on the Mac in hopes of specifying a face and hoping it might sync via iCloud to my phone and iPad, but this never eventuated.

iTunes Sync: When syncing with iTunes I get annoyed that iTunes will restore apps that i have previously deleted from my iPhone. Why does Apple restore apps to my iPhone when I have removed them? If I chose to delete them surely I don’t want these any longer, right?

I do wonder what Apple is going to announce at the WWDC in June, will be interesting to see if maybe they’ll finally address some things, finally. I did read the other day the iTunes Podcasts app is being renamed Apple Podcasts, so looks like it will finally get some love, exactly what who knows.

Facebook, I’m curious

The past week I have noticed a blank notification within my Facebook app on iOS, I have no idea who this is; maybe it is a Facebook coding glitch?

Facebook iOS app notification shows blank person notification
The notification just shows the standard blank person icon and a time, nothing else. With the other notification included in the image you see (blacked out) a name, what they were doing, on what, and how long ago. 

I’m curious, why is it happening suddenly? Glitch in the matrix? Anyone else seeing this?

ADSL line fault

Almost five weeks ago now we started experiencing problems with our Internet connection. At first I though the ISP might have had some problems, or perhaps there was problems in the state with the connection, it’s happened before.

After two days and no notices on news websites or the ISP I gave up and lodged a complaint with our ISP via email, they took a speedy five days to respond; I was not a happy camper. I ended up phoning their support line and, after a 2.5 hours wait, managed to talk to someone, I only just managed to keep my cool about me as I was livid at the waiting time.

Since then we have had the iiNet conduct an initial check remotely, which they rejected our concerns having a problem – I blew up at them at this point, and they kindly reconsidered (yes, sarcasm!). Over we week later we finally had someone come out and test our line, asserting that our line was only achieving 1.1Mbit; prior to this it was 6Mbit but the 1.1Mbit figure I actually dispute as it doesn’t take into account error rates. Finally, as a result of the technician’s visit we were getting somewhere.

A subsequent visit yesterday by the same technician to complete a Time Domain Reflectometer test used to determine whether there were actually faults along our line. He mentioned to my friend that there were possibly three to four faults along our line, though I see the report specified only one fault in our case just 685m from the house. So, next week another technician, from Telstra, will come out to hopefully resolve the issue. Oh god I hope so, I really do hope so, I have never longed for 6Mbit so much.

I have noticed an additional note within our case that, should the attempt to resolve next Tuesday fail and speed remains unchanged, we will be told it is local conditions. I fail to understand how that is given we had 6Mbit previously. I will complain, of course, and advise them that if we don’t get a satisfactory response a complaint will be raised with the Telecoms Industry Ombudsman. This has implications not only for our day-to-day use, but also in the future should we decide to sell the house, not to mention the migration to NBN for us next year.

 

Apple Watch Nike+

I’ve resisted getting myself a smart watch for some time, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t want to charge yet another device nightly. Recently I took up cycling for the first time in 25 years, I was frustrated when I went to use my Fitbit and it didn’t support entry of cycling distances. What the!

Initially I just had my iPhone 6S Plus in my cargo shorts pocket which seemed to generate some statistics with the phone, however it was wildly inaccurate as to distance I’d travelled, one 9km journey got reported as 3.6km. That had me seeing red, I needed something else, aka Bry wants a new toy.

Sitting at Gloria Jeans for a coffee I decided I was going to have myself an Apple watch, but which one. The original version was definitely out of the running, why bother with the last generation, even if it is cheaper to purchase; so that narrowed the field to either series 1 or series 2. As the price difference wasn’t that great I was more greatly attracted by the Nike+ series, so essentially the Apple Watch 2 with a slightly different look, I lovely the look of its band.

The Apple Watch offered support for cycling, and the Apple Watch 2 generation supports GPS tracking, thus I could finally go out for a cycle and know what I did, meagre as it is at this stage, would be tracked. I’m going to combine the watch with tracking app Strava, recommended by my friend, and fellow Apple Watch user, Michael. Today was my rest day, so tomorrow I have to try work out how the heck you use it, and at 5am to boot.

In general, the watch itself it quite good to use once you understand the functionality of the crown and the button. As the supplied documentation is quite light-on it really is a journey of discovery, some of which is discovering the online documentation at the Apple website to understand what some things do, but as a geek exploration is also a part of my psyche. I quite like the breathe app, might help to destress a little, as well the reminders to get off arse and stand every hour, something I am guilty of failing to do at work. Will be interesting to see how the Apple Watch inspires me with my future exercise endeavours.

 

iiNet: Just Awful Service

We signed up to iiNet almost 9 years ago, back then this internet service provider was amongst the best in Australia, and also a lot smaller than it is now. Since then it has gobbled up several smaller ISPs and has itself been taken over by telecoms giant TPG. It has been since the take over by TPG that iiNet has progressively gone to shit, its one great levels of service have now plummeted to the 50 percentile range where once it was in the high 80s.

A week ago we started having problems with our connection, it dropped from an average 6Mbps/1Mbps that we’ve had since signing up to overnight a paltry 0.73Mbps/0.54Mbps. I tried emailing iiNet for assistance as our VoIP handset was dead, perhaps my mistake was forgetting to advise them in the email that this was the case, so I will wear this one. It took their support team in Cape Town (South Africa) 5 days to get in contact with us, I’m sorry but that is just bloody appalling. When they did get in contact Jodie didn’t understand what to say and didn’t manage to get them to contact me and eventually they just closed the case.

So, now I sit here on their support line, on my mobile phone waiting, waiting, just damned well waiting for the bastards to actually pick the damned phone up. Hello iiNet, is anyone actually in support actually working today? Or did TPG reduce your support crew to one person by now? I am so completely pissed off by my experience tonight that if I don’t get satisfaction (when I finally get through) we WILL be dumping these useless pricks and going with another ISP, who cares that we lose the internet for a few weeks, not like we have anything at the moment now.

I think the Australian Government should also have a good long look at the iiNet merger with TPG as to why lessening competition has been such a bad idea.

ADSL comes crashing down

We bought our first house almost nine years ago, signing up to internet service provider iiNet who had a great service reputation. 

We decided at the time to go with a new style service called Naked DSL, foregoing a normal telephone line for VoIP telephony. It ended up being a great decision at the time, we got 75Gb for $69.95 per month and the ability to phone internationally at a fraction of standard costs. As time went on our data cap went up to 100, 200, 300, 500, 1000 and finally unlimited; of course we never even came bear using our cap, and even now with streaming services we struggle to hit a few hundred Gigabytes. 

The only unfortunate thing about our naked DSL service was the speed, our distance from the exchange meant we only got 6Mbps/1Mbps. That was until Thursday, for some reason our line decided to experience problems, though initially I had thought it was our dinosaur modem finally giving up the ghost. It wasn’t until my mate loaned me a spare ADSL wireless modem I knew it wasn’t our hardware but the line at fault. 

With this info at hand, and the modem displaying an array of useful statistics, I fired of an email asking for assistance from iiNet support. So far all I have gotten back from them is an automated email, the silence is deafening. I would call them but I have heard they just take forever to get through to these days. All so frustrating. I can’t wait for the NBN to arrive and be rid of this rubbish.