OS X 10.10 Yosemite: Absolutely Frustrating

I haven’t posted anything for a while because I have been having problems with OS X 10.10 Yosemite on my 2009 MacBook Pro. I should have waited before upgrading to Yosemite. Online forums are filled with frustrated users who upgraded to Yosemite on their older Macs.

My MacBook Pro is sufficiently equipped to run Yosemite: 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 8GB RAM, 50GB SSD & 1TB HDD. I haven’t been able to figure out what exactly is the cause, but when I have any programs running, say Safari, after some time — it could be minutes or hours, you never know — the thing would freeze. If it was sleeping it doesn’t come out of sleep. If it was not sleeping it doesn’t respond to any input. The only thing it responds to is a long press of the power button, a hard power down.

After powering down and powering up dozens of times a day I had had enough. All those Apple ads about snazzy looking Macs with happy people, and here I was, not so happy. Sure my MacBook Pro still looks pretty good, but what good is good looks when it keeps on freezing and you can’t do anything with it. I was getting frustrated. I was even angry at Tim Cook: Instead of keeping his eye on the ball — not that he is directly in charge of OS development — he’s been all over the news getting interviewed here and there talking up how hard Apple works to make hardware and software work seamlessly together blah blah blah. I wasn’t too happy with Jony Ive either, for the same reasons. I’ve been in a bad mood for several days.

So today I decided I’m going to either find a way to downgrade to Mavericks or get a new computer. And if I was forced to get a new computer it wasn’t going to be a Mac. After a few attempts, my Mac was not letting me downgrade, at least not on my primary boot drive. I’ll save you the geeky nitty gritty details. There was my 1TB storage drive though. After going through some long and detailed instructions, I managed to prep a 8GB USB drive into a OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks Install Disk. Now the 1TB hard drive is where the SuperDrive used to be, and it’s not the fastest connection. But I was so fed up with Yosemite, I decided I would much rather have slow-as-molasses and reliable than fast and totally unreliable. It took me the entire afternoon to backup all of my files from the 1TB internal hard drive to an external one; once all of my files were safely backed up I was ready to try to install OS X Mavericks unto my non-boot 1TB drive. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but it did! Yes it is slow — really stinkin’ slow — but I am happy I can be doing stuff again on my MacBook Pro.

I don’t know how long it will take Apple to sort this Yosemite mess, but I will not be booting into it until there is widespread confirmation from 2009 Mac users that Yosemite’s freezing problems have been fixed. I’ve learned my lesson: Apple no longer seems to wait to get everything right before launching. And I better not see Tim Cook or Jony Ive getting another interview before Yosemite is fixed.

WALTR: Natively Playback Any Video File On iPhone, iPad

I test drove WALTR, and it is awesome. I had an AVI movie file, and normally there is no easy way to play it on my iPad. Here’s the hard way:

  • Install VLC on my iPad (if VLC is not installed already).
  • Connect iPad to my Mac.
  • Run iTunes (and wait a while).
  • Click on the iPad icon (and wait a while).
  • Go to the bottom, find the VLC icon, located the video files, and add files to VLC.
  • Sync (and wait a while).

Here’s the easy way:

  • Connect iPad to my Mac.
  • Run WALTR.
  • Locate and drag the video file to WALTR, and wait a little bit.

To watch the video on my iPad all I need to launch is the built-in Videos app. WALTR can playback a lot of video formats: MP4, AVI, M4V, M4A, FLAC, WMA, etc. Get it.

The Most Color Accurate Mobile Display

Dr. Raymond Soneira conducted a study to find the most color accurate mobile display. He tested the six best mobile displays from DisplayMate’s Display Technology Shoot-Out article series over the last year: Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, Apple iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple iPad Air 2. The results… were in that order, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in Basic Screen Mode coming out on top.

AT&T Stops Using Undeletable Phone Tracking IDs; Verizon Continues

Julia Angwin, ProPublica:

AT&T says it has stopped its controversial practice of adding a hidden, undeletable tracking number to its mobile customers’ Internet activity.

Why would AT&T do this?

The tracking numbers can be used by sites to build a dossier about a person’s behavior on mobile devices – including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how long.

Ah, to sell user data to advertisers.

Edmonds said AT&T may still launch a program to sell data collected by its tracking number, but that if and when it does, “customers will be able to opt out of the ad program and not have the numeric code inserted on their device.”

If AT&T is more interested in its customers than its advertisers — that’s a big if — wouldn’t it be better for AT&T to make the sale of your mobile activity data opt in, instead of opt out? And what about Verizon?

A Verizon spokeswoman says its tracking program is still continuing, but added “as with any program, we’re constantly evaluating.”

Verizon uses the tracking number to identify the users’ behavior and offer advertisers insights about users gleaned from that data. Verizon says the data it sells is not tied to a users’ identity.

Verizon does not seem to give a hoot about its customers. Something to think about: identifying a user with a single data point is difficult, but as you add more data points uncovering the identity of a user becomes easier. I’m relieved that I am not an AT&T or a Verizon customer.

Microsoft Office Free on Mobile Platforms

Microsoft Office is free on iOS and Android. At first I was excited, went to the app store, searched for Microsoft Office, and then almost downloaded the free apps. Almost. I realized I didn’t need Microsoft Office. I haven’t used Word, PowerPoint, and Excel in years. And I hope I never have to.

Which Messaging Technologies Are Truly Safe And Secure?

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

The scorecard includes more than three dozen tools, including chat clients, text messaging apps, email applications, and technologies for voice and video calls. EFF examined them on seven factors, like whether the message is encrypted both in-transit and at the provider level, and if the code is audited and open to independent review. Six of these tools scored all seven stars, including ChatSecure, CryptoCat, Signal/Redphone, Silent Phone, Silent Text, and TextSecure. Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime products stood out as the best of the mass-market options, although neither currently provides complete protection against sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance. Many options—including Google, Facebook, and Apple’s email products, Yahoo’s web and mobile chat, Secret, and WhatsApp—lack the end-to-end encryption that is necessary to protect against disclosure by the service provider. Several major messaging platforms, like QQ, Mxit, and the desktop version of Yahoo Messenger, have no encryption at all.

I’m going to try out some of these.

Nexus 9: Review by The Verge

Dan Seifert, The Verge:

The Nexus 9’s display might have the same resolution and aspect ratio as the iPad, but it’s not nearly as nice a screen. Colors aren’t as vibrant or appealing, the screen isn’t laminated to the glass as on the iPad Air 2, and the backlight bleeds into the edges of the screen in unsightly ways. It’s not a bad display by any means, but it feels appropriate for a $250 tablet, not something that starts at $400.

The display on the iPad Air 2 is now laminated unto the cover glass. The competition has moved forward. (Though the new iPad mini 3 continues to have an air gap between the two.) Once you get exposed to something better — like content seemingly right at your fingertips on a tablet — that becomes the new thing to beat, and the Nexus 9 falls short. So does the iPad mini 3.

Light leakage should be a thing of the past and it is disappointing to see manufacturers continuing to struggle with this, especially on a halo product like the Nexus 9. Perhaps replacing double sided tape with an adhesive to attach the backlight unit, which is what LG Display did with its slim bezel 5.3-inch LCD, would help.

LG Display: 0.7mm Bezel Full HD LCD Smartphone Panel

LG Display:

To realize the 0.7mm bezel width on the left and right sides of the panel, which is narrower than the 0.8mm thickness of a credit card, LG Display used its “Neo Edge” module processing technology and the world’s first “Advanced In-Cell Touch (AIT)” technology.

LG Display’s Neo Edge technology uses an adhesive instead of double-sided tape to attach and completely seal the total area and edges of the panel’s circuit board and backlight unit. Because there is no plastic guide panel to attach the panel and backlight, the Neo Edge technology helps achieve minimal bezel width, while blocking light leakage and being waterproof and dustproof.

The adhesive seal also prevents corrosion that sometimes occurs along the edge of the glass panel when double-sided tape is used, while dramatically improving the panel’s durability despite the narrow bezel because of increased elasticity as the adhesive hardens.

The company’s AIT technology, exclusively developed by LG Display, reduces the need for bezel space because the touch panel is embedded into the LCD module. The technology offers a slim design and excellent touch, while saving costs since a separate process for touch functions is not required.

Narrow left and right bezels, no light leakage, waterproof, dustproof, more durable, and costs less. What’s not to like.

I am assuming this thin bezel 5.3-inch LCD panel is targeting high-end smartphones, so the only thing I would like to see is a bump in pixel format from 1920×1080 to 2560×1440.

Apple Watch: It Woke Me By Tapping My Wrist

Nellie Bowles and Dawn Chmielewski, Re/code:

“Just yesterday, somebody was saying, ‘Wow, do you know what I just did? I set the alarm in the morning, and it woke just me by tapping my wrist. It didn’t wake my wife or my baby,’” he recounted. “Isn’t that fantastic?”

That is Jony Ive talking. Fantastic? Yes, but I don’t see how this is possible. I was under the impression Apple Watch had a battery life that required nightly charging. Tim Cook on battery life, New York Times:

We think that based on our experience of wearing these that the usage of them will be really significant throughout the day. So we think you’ll want to charge them every night, similar to what a lot of people do with their phone.

The only possibility of this anecdote being true is that this somebody Ive is referring to had two Apple Watches: one for during the day and the other for wearing at night. With a battery life similar to that of today’s smartphones there is no way to wear Apple Watch during the day and continue to have it on while you are sleeping. The only way to wear Apple Watch while sleeping is to take it off and charge it during the day. Unless you are more interested in Apple Watch tapping your wrist to wake you up, I don’t see anyone regularly experiencing being woken up by her Apple Watch this way.