It Should Be Noted

Here are a bunch of little things I've noticed, worthy of sharing but not big enough for their own post.

A Lion Correction

I had originally reported that one of my favorite new Lion features was that Quicklook stayed active even when switching away from the Finder to another app. This apparently only happens on my 30" monitor at work, and I don't believe it is the intended behavior. Kinda sad when a bug is preferred over proper operation. Go Lion!

Lion 10.7.2 Update

10.7.2 fixes a few things that were bothering me.

For one, the bug where Desktop icons disappear when you partially swipe to another Space, stop swiping, and stay in your current Space, has been fixed. Do this now and you'll even see the Finder redraw the Desktop icons.

Also, when navigating sorted columns using arrow keys, the headers now don't get selected.

Finally, performance and memory use seem to be a bit better in 10.7.2. Specifically, the green slice of the memory pie in Activity Monitor is consistently larger than in previous iterations of the OS.

iOS 5 On iPhone 3GS

If you're wondering why Apple's new Reminders app doesn't give you the option to geofence your reminder — i.e., you can't set a location — it's because that particular feature is for users of iPhone 4 and up. Now you can stop twiddling your GPS settings and get some sleep.

iOS 5 Little Thangs

A few other things I stumbled upon while playing with iOS 5.

In the Camera app, swiping right now takes you to your camera roll. Also, you can now set macros, so typing "omg" will actually write out "Oh my gawd!"

Also, custom ringtones! Huzzah!


Reader Matt points out that Quicklook does, in fact, stay active when viewing apps other than the Finder on his system. So I started investigating, and it seems that the feature works for other users on my computer; there is a problem specific to my account which is breaking it for me for some reason. I'm presently looking into a fix. For now, suffice to say, this is a real feature in Lion and, for most folks anyway, should work just fine.

Thanks, Matt!


Got it! Trashed my Finder prefs. Now I got the Quicklook all the time!

Buyer's Lament

I'll be honest: I wish I could stay with AT&T.

I just pre-ordered an iPhone 4S. From Verizon. And while I'm excited to get the new phone, and thrilled at the prospect of improved call quality and coverage, I do feel a pang of regret at having to leave AT&T.

I switched to AT&T when the first iPhone first hit the streets. A very big part of that decision was that I was at that time a Sprint customer. And here's the thing about Sprint: I hate them. I truly hate them. I was a Sprint customer for probably ten years, over which I had several problems. Once, for instance, after moving from upstate New York to New York City, Sprint continued to bill me for my upstate land line for three months after I'd cancelled it. Correcting this took numerous calls to customer service, making me really question the competence of the company.

If competence had been the only issue, I might've stayed. But then, years later, I continued to have problems, once when upgrading to a new phone, and then later with billing. At one point Sprint charged me several hundred dollars for a few hours worth of data use that occurred in the wee hours of the morning, when I can assure you I was quite asleep. I managed to have that charge removed, but it took over an hour on the phone — much of it on hold — during which I was, at one point, berated by a Sprint technician for using the phone improperly.

That was when I vowed my revenge.

That day I vowed to leave Sprint at my earliest convenience. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of my life. And when the iPhone hit, I knew it was my chance. That was the day Sprint lost my business forever.

I've been pretty happy to see where Sprint's landed in the ensuing years. They're currently the #3 carrier, and they've only just gotten the iPhone. Ha! Serves you right, Sprint. You guys suck!

I do not have such feelings of ill will toward AT&T, however. In fact, all my personal experiences with AT&T — be they over the phone with customer service, or just using AT&T's customer website — have been quite pleasant. Their customer service folks have always been courteous and quick, and I've never spent more than a minute on hold with them in the handful of times I've ever even need to call them. Their customer billing site is also quite good, with clear, user-friendly graphics and explanations of my bill that always make perfect sense. Overall I've been pretty happy with AT&T.

There is one area, however, in which AT&T has not fared so well. It will likely come as no surprise to readers of this site that AT&T's cellular reception, particularly in large urban areas — particularly New York City, where I spend the vast majority of my time — is less than stellar. Reception at my workplace is especially bad. There are areas where I often need to be in which I simply get no signal whatsoever. But coworkers with Verizon iPhones have no problems anywhere in the building I work in. This more than anything is the reason for my switch; it's purely technical. It's not everyday I need phone service at work, but when I do it's usually pretty urgent, and having to use the land line while I'm troubleshooting a server or a projector with a colleague over the phone is incredibly frustrating. It just plain slows me down, and when time is of the essence, that's a real problem.

So I've made the switch. I don't feel completely good about it — I like to think I'm as loyal to good service as I am damning of bad service. But there is it. It's done. Sorry AT&T. I wish I could stay.

But, Verizon, consider yourself on notice: treat me like you don't want my business, and you will most certainly lose it.

Apple Announcements 2011

Just wanted to share some of my initial reactions to Apple's recent announcements at WWDC 2011.


First off, iCloud. iCloud is really the engine behind the bulk of this year's significant announcements.

As I see it, iCloud provides centralized storage and services that are primarily aimed at managing all your various devices — your iPhone, your Mac, iPod, iPad, all of it. For the most part, iCloud is meant to sit in the background and do all this seamlessly and invisibly, which is terrific. I think it's a great start and Apple is approaching this with the right idea: Make everything as easy as possible.

The $25 portion of the iCloud service that will allow you to store all your music on Apple's servers for anytime access — dubbed iTunes Match — doesn't seem like something I'd ever really want or need. Other folks who are more into having all their music with them at all times might feel differently. But I predict this won't be a huge success for the company, because most folks just won't really find it compelling.

The free music synchronization that iCloud provides, on the other hand, should prove wildly successful, because it makes purchasing music from iTunes even easier and better. And since it's already available in the latest builds of iTunes, I offer myself as an example of its probable success and obvious usefulness.

Until recently I've used Amazon to purchase music. Their songs were generally cheaper and not burdened by DRM. But now that Apple has largely (completely?) done away with DRM, the services no longer compete on that level. Now it simply comes down to convenience. And since all my computing devices are Apple kit, I'll pretty much be using iTunes to buy my music when possible. Because now, with iCloud, I can do so from any device without penalty or hassle: anytime I purchase something from iTunes it will propagate to any other device that has my Apple ID on it. iCloud effectively provides backups of my purchased music as well, by allowing me to re-download any purchases I've made.

This is how it should have been all along. The fact that it wasn't this way in the past — that getting my music onto my various devices was such a hassle — was always frustrating to me, and it kept me from buying music from iTunes as much as I might have liked to. The fact that they've fixed this glaring issue means I'll likely buy a lot more music from iTunes now. In fact, I've already bought eight songs from my Mac. And getting them onto my iPhone was not just a piece of cake, but a complete delight.


Oh, and one last thing: I really dislike the new iCloud icon. A cloud etched on brushed metal buttons? Seriously? Blech! I hope this isn't a new trend because I think it's ugly.


I've written a bit about Lion already, and there wasn't a whole lot of new information at this year's keynote. There were a couple surprises, though.

For one, I was somewhat surprised to see that Apple has backpedaled on offering Lion Server as simply another "part of Mac OS X Lion." In the original sneak peek promotional materials Apple had written:

“Lion Server is now part of Mac OS X Lion. It’s easy to set up your Mac as a server and take advantage of the many services Lion Server has to offer.”

And indeed most people took this to mean that Lion Server would be free. This is longer the way it's presented; in fact Lion Server has its own page now. And if you read that page you'll notice that Lion Server will be 50 bucks.

Now don't get me wrong. At a tenth what it used to cost, Lion Server is still a bargain. I'm certainly not complaining about this. I was just a bit surprised is all. Though maybe I shouldn't have been, as reader LeRoy had pointed out this likelihood in the comments to my original article. What can I say, LeRoy? When you're right you're right.

That said, $50 for the easiest, most powerful server software available is a steal. I will probably buy a copy just to kick the tires on it. If I were still a Mac Sysadmin, I'd be so jazzed.

The next surprise was the price of Lion: 30 bucks. If you're keeping track, that's $100 cheaper than Mac OS X upgrades used to be, about a quarter what it used to cost. That's phenomenal.

And finally, I was quite surprised by the fact that Mac OS X Lion will be delivered though the Mac App Store. I've had my fair share of issues with the Mac App Store, so I'm skeptical that this will be a great delivery method for an OS update. But Apple's pretty good at making great OS update experiences, so they might manage it after all.

iOS 5

The notifications look great, as do many of the refinements in iOS 5. But then, that sort of stuff is to be expected in any iOS relase.

The real game-changer, in my mind — and it's deeply tied to iCloud — was PC Free. The iPad and its ilk are clearly the future for Apple, and likely for the computer industry as a whole. But, as I've said before, the iPad doesn't become a real computing device until it can stand on its own without the need for a Mac. Well, now it can.

The iPad is now a full computing citizen. If it serves your needs it can be your only computer. And I think that will be the case for huge numbers of people. PC Free really sets the stage for the iPad to be the revolutionary device its been hailed as. It's a very important step.


Overall I'm pretty impressed by this year's announcements. I really wish there had been a revised iPhone announcement, or at least a hint of when it might happen. I'm dying — really dying — to switch to Verizon as I can hardly get calls at work anymore. But I don't want to switch right before they announce the new phone. So I wait...

Still, it was a good year, with lots of cool advancements for the platform and lots of cool stuff to look forward to in the near future. I think (despite having just renewed my MoblieMe subscription — Doh!) iCloud is on the right track, enabling all kinds of great things, from better music purchasing to PC Free iPads. And, of course, I'm totally psyched about Lion.


A tiny Yay! today for the iPhone coming to Verizon. Whether you switch or stay with AT&T, this is good news for iPhone users. We finally have a choice of carriers, and that means competition. And that means that things get better faster.

And so, a tiny Yay!

Calendar Syncing

UPDATE 5/1/11: If you've been having trouble syncing multiple calendars to your iPhone, it's because Google has added an extra step to the process. I've added a bit about Google's new required iPhone sync utility to the Set Up Your iPhone section for folks with multiple calendars. As always, happy syncing!

I keep getting comments asking the best way to set up two-way calendar sharing between multiple computers, and I've finally decided to just write a post that details the process. This is different — and in my opinion, far better — then sharing your calendars via, as I wrote about long ago. This, in fact, is the real deal. This is good stuff. This is how it's supposed to work. So let's get started.

I thought the easiest thing to do — since it's what I do, it's fairly simple and it works well — would be to walk you through connecting an iPhone and a Mac to a central calendar on Google's servers.

Set Up a Google Calendar

The first thing you'll need is a Google Calendar account. If you have Gmail, chances are you already have a Google Calendar. If not, go set one up now, and be sure there's at least one calendar active in the account.

Set Up iCal

Next you need your Mac, and specifically you need to open iCal.

  1. In iCal go to Preferences->Accounts.
  2. Click on the little Plus sign in the lower left corner of the window.

  3. Choose "Google" from the Account Type pulldown and fill in your Google Account info.

  5. Once the account is set up you should see Google Calendar's default calendar in your iCal sidebar. If that's your only calendar, you're done. To view a different calendar, or if you have multiple calendars you want to view, go to the Delegates tab and check and/or uncheck which calendars you want to appear in iCal.NOTE: I had to relaunch iCal for it to see all my calendars, which can happen when you have as many as I do — I believe it's eleven!

That's it! Now, any event you create in iCal on one of these Google Calendars will get written to the master calendar on Google Calendar. And vice-versa. Go ahead and test it out. Remember to refresh your browser to register changes made in iCal.

Set Up Your iPhone

You can also connect your iPhone (or iPad) to your Google Calendar account (just like you can with email).

  1. On your iPhone open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the Mail, Contact, Calendars tab.
  3. Under the Accounts heading press "Add Account..."

  5. Fill in all your Google Account info, as usual.

  7. Once the account is set up, press it in the list and be sure that the Calendars switch is set to "ON."

  9. Go to your iPhone's iCal application and you should now see your primary Google Calendar.
  10. UPDATE: If you have additional Google Calendars that you want to sync with your iPhone, you'll need to use Google's iPhone configuration utility, which you can reach via any web browser at the following URL (you'll need to be logged in to your Google account first, of course):

    At this web page, simply check which calendars you want to sync with your iPhone and they will sync accordingly. As far as I can tell, this is a new additional step that Google has recently added to the process to allow greater control over what gets synced to your iPhone.

Here, just like in iCal, you can add or remove events and they will be reflected on your Google Account. They should also be reflected on your Mac's iCal application as well. Just remember: since this is all happening over the WWW, it can take a few moments to propagate to all systems, especially if you have lots of calendars or a slow connection. Just give it a few minutes and you should see everything get in sync.

Also remember: the Google Calendar is the master calendar. The calendars on your iPhone and Mac are beholden to that Google Calendar. If it goes away from Google, it will be gone from your iPhone as well as from your Mac.

Bonus! Moving iCal Calendars to Google

"Well," you might ask, "what if I've already added a bunch of dates to my local iCal calendar and now I want to migrate to the Google Calendar sharing system without having to redo all my events?" That's a great question.

Fortunately, both iCal and Google Calendar can take advantage of a common calendar format know as ICS. So all you have to do is export your iCal calendar to the ICS format, and then import it into Google Calendar. Sound simple? It is.

  1. Select a local calendar (under "ON MY MAC") from iCal.

  3. Under the File menu select Export...->Export... (no, this is not a typo).
  4. Name the calendar and save it somewhere handy. This is your ICS file, a single file with all that calendar's info, that you can import into Google Calendar.
  5. Open a web browser and go to your Google Calendar account.
  6. Click Settings->Calendar Settings (upper right corner).

  8. Click the "Calendars" tab. Here you should see all your calendars listed. Be sure you have a calendar to put all the imported calendar's events into. It can be your main calendar, or you can make a new one. Once you're ready, click Import.
  9. In the popup, select the ICS file you just made, and choose the Google Calendar where you want to put the imported events.

  11. Click the Import button.
  12. The calendar events should now be available to you in Google Calendar. You should also see them on your iPhone and in iCal on your Mac. If you don't, and you added them to a new calendar, be sure that new calendar is among your visible Delegates in the Accounts preference pane in iCal.

So that's it! I hope people find this useful. I certainly have!