Apple

Dear Apple,


How many Geniuses does it take to name your new iPhone the “excess max”? Couldn’t you at least have called it the Ne Plus Ultra.

Or even just the Plus Ultra?

(and, no, claiming that the “X” should be pronounced “10” doesn’t get you off the hook, because you don’t get to decide how millions of people pronounce a letter, and “tennis max” is dumb, too)

History repeats itself, Safari edition


I’m a big fan of the Cookie app for MacOS, which does an excellent job of scrubbing unwanted privacy-tracking cookies and other cruft from your web-browsing experience. But there’s one little problem: it can’t delete your history if you have iCloud bookmark sharing enabled, and Safari’s automatic “Remove history items” preference won’t do it either.

Meanwhile, the only Apple-supported method for clearing history nukes everything, including useful cookies like the ones that keep your bank from sending you text messages every time you try to login from a “new” browser.

The following AppleScript appears to be the only way to delete just your history from iCloud:

tell application "Safari"
    activate
    close windows
    make new document
    tell application "System Events"
        tell process "safari"
            keystroke "y" using command down
            delay 1.0
            keystroke "a" using command down
            key code 51 # delete
        end tell
    end tell
end tell

After running it, you need to leave Safari open for a minute or two without using it, or else it will repopulate with the iCloud history from your iPhone or iPad (“ask me how I know”).

Update

Seems this has the side-effect of causing Mobile Safari to freeze if it’s suspended on an iOS device, requiring you to force-quit it. At least, I’d never had Safari lock up on iOS so often. It’s almost like iCloud isn’t very good at this whole “sync” thing…

Update 2

Bumped the delay to a full second. If you have a lot of history to nuke, it can take that long to load it all. The Mobile Safari freezes continue to be an issue after running this script, but it seems it will eventually recover on its own if you leave it running, and doing so will keep it from freezing again.

…until the next time you clean out your history, anyway. “Dear Apple, up your sync game”

Dear Apple,


I think you’ve gotten enough abuse this week over your stale computer hardware with terrible keyboards and nosebleed pricing, so I’ll abuse you over something else: com.apple.quarantine.

In the course of pretending you’re all about security, you’ve slapped this attribute on everything downloaded via the Safari browser, including all image files. This means that FuckWithPreview.app kinda-sorta-sandboxes them, and dragging the thumbnail into a Terminal window will give you a uselessspecial path rather than the image’s actual location.

Only Preview, though; everything else seems to behave as expected, and I’ve gotten in the habit of inoculating downloaded images before reviewing them, with: xattr -d com.apple.quarantine *.*

What makes this particularly obnoxious is that this is the same Safari that still has this setting enabled by default for all users:

If you actually cared about security, this option would have been removed around ten years ago. I’m sure there are plenty of critical bugs pointing this out, all closed with “working as intended”.

I only care because when I open a few dozen images at once in Preview, instead of one window with lots of thumbnails, it opens two, with the second reserved for those bearing the Scarlet Q. Annoying and pointless.

Oh, right, ‘resource forks’


The last bit of work involved in merging all my personal Mac files back together on the new 12-inch MacBook was FontExplorer X and all of my fonts. For the past few years, I just grabbed a few at a time from the old machine when I needed them (first and foremost being my improved version of Anonymous Pro for Terminal use), but it was time to get them all back.

Except that when I was done, there weren’t as many as there should have been. I opened up a few old Illustrator files, and got warnings about missing fonts.

Why? Because old Mac font suitcases were stored in the magic Mac resource fork, and somewhere in the various iterations of copying the font directories around, I lost all the resource forks, leaving a bunch of zero-length files. Fortunately, I not only made a disk image of the old Togetsukyō disk, I still had the actual disk on a shelf, right next to the two full backups I made with SuperDuper! when I pulled it from the dead machine.

After that, it was trivial to merge over only the files that were zero-length on the new disk. cp handles resource forks just fine, so I massaged the output of find into a quick shell script, and all was well.

Side note: I have way too many fonts, and that’s not even counting the old shovelware CDs that came with CorelDRAW! back in the day (including the early one they got their asses sued off over).

Oh, dear, I found more fonts…

Just remembered that I saw a Fonts directory on one of the really old external drives I copied to my new NAS. When I opened it, I found another gigabyte of old fonts. This one does include the old CD4 fonts, plus my old Type On Call purchases and everything that was bundled with Illustrator 7 and 9. I’m sure there’s a lot of overlap with what I’ve already got loaded, but best to be sure.

Okay, I don’t need those fonts…

The CorelDRAW 4 fonts have some novelty value (this was the set of Bitstream fonts they licensed after the pirated fonts in CD3 got them sued), but the 26-year-old font archive that predates my arrival in California looks like a steaming heap of shovelware. I don’t even remember where they came from originally, and I already have the DynaCom shovelware CD if I wanted ripoff fonts without decent kerning tables.

And I’ll just delete the disk image labeled “Font Folio 8”. However I acquired it back in the Nineties, it wasn’t by purchasing the product personally, and I can get legit modern versions of pretty much everything on it from Typekit as part of my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. (besides, it’s more resource-fork suitcase fonts…)

Dear Apple,


So, what exactly is the point of reporting 2^63 - N as the number of free inodes in df output on a Mac? You could at least abbreviate this nonsense in scientific notation, if you can’t report a meaningful number.

iDeactivate


When I upgraded to an iPhone 6 Plus (a year after it came out), I turned my old 4S into a full-time music player in the car. Every six months or so, it would restart and fail to play music until I unlocked the screen, which was a trivial nuisance. The fact that the car’s display didn’t have Japanese font support has always been the only actual issue with connecting an iPod in this car.

During our recent trip to Napa, it did something I hadn’t seen before: refuse to work until I authenticated it against Apple’s servers. I wasn’t going to put it on a random hotel wireless network (given how long ago Apple stopped providing security updates), so I simply didn’t have music in the car for a week until I got home and connected it to my old MacBook (which involved entering credentials on both sides, agreeing that they should be allowed to speak to each other, and reconfiguring all the sync options that had been reset).

(Why not hook the 6 Plus to the car? Because Apple keeps changing their APIs, and 2018 iOS is “not entirely compatible” with my 2011 car)

Broken by design


The Touch Bar on Apple’s current MacBook Pro line was obviously a solution in search of a problem. Unfortunately, the designers were so in love with their hideous mutant child that they didn’t look at how people actually use the top row of keyboards. More likely, they simply assumed that everyone uses keyboards the same way they do, the same arrogance that leads to using low-contrast tinyfonts everywhere.

The Escape key has been annoying me all weekend as I’ve gotten my work stuff migrated to the new machine, and I finally sat down and carefully tested it to understand why:

the Touch Bar isn’t tied into the keyboard buffer

That is, if I type three keys in a row, they will be processed in that order. If I press a “key” on the Touch Bar and then type two keys, the Touch Bar “key” is often the second result. So instead of typing Esc-x, about a third of the time I’m typing x-Esc; more if I’m in a hurry.

And the only “solution” available is to convert one of the other modifier keys into a physical Escape key. And they’re all in the wrong place for muscle memory.

There is no reason other than prettiness (or pettiness) that the Touch Bar doesn’t have a physical Escape key at the left edge. It does have a tactile key on the right edge, even though it sits flush.

Dear Apple,


Next time you update the MacBook Pro line, could you add an option for a decent keyboard? Maybe call it the MacBook Dev, for use by people who do more than fingerpaint on the trackpad. I just finished migrating all my work stuff over to a new one, and while the completely-non-tactile (and mis-positioned) Escape key is the worst part, the physical keys aren’t that much better. At the office, I’ve got a CODE Keyboard hooked up, but at home I tend to use the built-in.

Well, I did, when I still had a laptop I could type on.

And this is going to sound odd coming from me, but it’s too damn loud. Mind you, I go out of my way to buy the clatteriest mechanical keyboards I can find, but this thing annoys me because it sounds hollow and cheap.

While I’m on the subject, if the only port you’re going to supply from now on is USB-C aka Thunderbolt 3, could you possibly produce adapters and accessories that aren’t ranked worst-in-class? The only ones you make that don’t have a terrible rep are the power brick (which no longer comes with a cable…) and the Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”