Tivo and DRM

I’ve been loving my TIVO, we can watch / record upto 6 shows at one time.  Very cool… However, recent changes in the system have really made me frustrated.. and I am betting it is TIVO cowtowing to the media industry.

I used to be able to sit in my computer room and do some work on one of my computers while watching a show (via streaming) to my other computer.  My wife could sit downstairs and watch shows on the TV.  But, recently many of my shows do not allow me to watch them (on the same network at home) via the web browser.  Evidently if a TV show is flagged as DRM, even TIVO’s own webplayer is not allowed to show the show.  There is no TIVO app for the Mac so at this point I am screwed.

I have also used an app to convert TIVO’ed show to run on my iTunes library.. again these same shows are no longer available to that app.  While the TV industry is struggling to come to terms with the digital world, I feel they are making things worse for their consumers.  And will only continue to encourage people to “break” DRM instead, as we saw with the music industry, once it becomes easier to be in compliance people will do the right thing.

Has anyone figured out a way around these ludicrous restrictions?

Engineers and Developers save the day!

OK, a quick update on yesterday’s blog post, on how individual people work hard at fixing the problems of corporate policy. Yesterday the service tech came by anyway, left his business card, found and fixed the problem for the hum..asked that I double check this morning, and if it was still a problem he’d come back out. So while the corporate policy was to stiff arm the customer, the tech in the field saved the day. Thank you to the engineer and the developers who make the world work in spite of policy.

The death of Customer Service

In the last month, I’ve had the “opportunity” to have to use customer service from a couple of companies.  Both companies have websites and call centers, with the goal of improving customer service.  To say that they actually provide customer service is another thing.  The first is a major appliance manufacturer. About 14 months ago we had to replace our clothes dryer.  After 15 years, our old dryer had a problem with one of the boards, and while almost every other part could be repaired or replaced, this part was no longer available.  So we spent a few months investigating and picked up a brand new dryer with a ton of positive reviews on multiple sites.

Now 14 months later, the dryer’s drum won’t turn.  Of course the warranty is only 12 months, so it is no longer covered by a warranty.  We tried calling using the website for customer service, and after spending 30 minutes trying to find the right place and form, decided let’s place a phone call.  The phone tree was confusing, and given that they manufacture almost every major appliance, plus a ton of consumer electronics, we tried the press * until the tree finally got confused enough to drop us to a human.  The person answering the call then tried spending the next 5 minutes ignoring our questions and taking us thru the call tree options again. We hung up.  Instead we called the major retail chain where we bought the dryer and got their support team.  They scheduled the appointment quickly and then tried to sell us a $500 service plan on a $600 dryer. When we politely said no, they tried three more times.

Nearly three weeks ago, I had an early morning call I had to take for work and decided I could take it at the house before going to the office.  When I got on the line there was such an awful hum on the line, that the participants on the call couldn’t understand me, nor could they hear each other.  I tried using mute on my phone, but ended up having to hang up, missing the entire call.  I got off the call and called customer service for my local land line company.  They indicated that there were a bunch of service calls happening and they would have to schedule coming out a few days later.  While frustrated I agreed to this delay, and changed my wake up time to I could make it into the office for early calls.  They day of service came and went and no one came by. I used the website to check and had a 30+ minute chat only to be assured that they would come the following day on Friday in the afternoon.  On Friday, no one showed, and due to my work schedule (working from home on Friday) I didn’t have time to call back.  On Monday morning, the line is just as bad as the day the problem started and I reached out via chat… The person informed me that a service tech had been there on Friday and checked the line at the street without finding a problem and closed the ticket.  WTH? The problem is in the house, and we have been faithly paying for the “in house wiring” support for 17 years.  I informed the chatter that this was the case, that I was upset that they had not even rang the doorbell, and that they had closed the ticket without any customer interaction.

At this point the chatter politely apologized and offered to create a new ticket for me.  Sure, I said as the problem was still there.  At this point in time I was able to provide a bit more information, as the problem was worse in the morning.  I indicated this and requested that they come the next day.  I was told the nearest time was a week later (on Wednesday), I asked for a service escalation, as this was unacceptable.  I was ensured that the ticket would be escalated and I should expect someone to show up on Monday instead.  Monday, came and went, with no service.  Checking the online ticket system it indicated an appointment between noon and 9pm on Wednesday (the original schedule).  So I changed my work schedule and worked from home on Wednesday now, because they would need to come into the house.  I started checking the online tool at noon, between back to back calls that I am now doing from my computer as the line still has the hum.  

At 9:01pm I call customer service.  I ask, so what happened?  Apologies, from the service person, the techs couldn’t come by.

Why didn’t they contact me? Apologies, I will schedule a new appointment.  Does tomorrow work?

No, I have been inconvienced enough.  I want them here Friday morning, and I want to talk to a supervisor because this has been going on too long.

At this point customer service really breaks down.  The poor guy on the phone could only say “I’ve entered that in your record” and we will try to get someone there. I asked, I want to  be notified on Thursday afternoon to confirm the person is coming and what time.  “I’ve noted that in your record”.  

Me, many things have been noted in my record but nothing seems to matter.  Can I speak to your supervisor? 

“Sorry, there’s no supervisor available.”  

Me – Ok, what’s their name and number so I can call them when they are available.

“Sorry, we don’t have a name, it’s a pool”.

Me – Ok, who’s the manager of the group?

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

Me – Ok, who’s the director, of the group?

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

Me – who will call me to confirm  my problem will be solved this time?

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

Me – Ok, what’s your name so I can voice my displeasure when I do finally get a name.

“My first name is – XXXXXX”

Me – Ok, and your last name.

“Sorry that information is not relevant”

Me – yes it is, what if your name

“here’s my serial number”

Me – Thank you, ok who can I talk to.

“Sorry, I can’t provide that information”

At this point the call ended.  I am still not sure if I will ever get my phone to work correctly.  I am hoping that my network in LinkedIn can help get me to anyone who actually can resolve a problem.  It is obvious that Customer Service has become the route to get customers to go away, and to setup a process that blocks escalation.  The fact that XXXXXX has no “ability” to provide any meaningful information means that he got the brunt of my built up frustration.  I have detailed chat logs that I kept from my interactions on the Web, and the chat system was supposed to send logs, but they never came.  

So much for Customer Service!!!

Brexit and social media

I don’t tend to  post a bunch here, and I’ve been crazy busy lately, so I feel a bit guilty that I’ve not had much time to blog.  So what’s up?

I have been completely dumbfounded by Brexit, and the demographic split that has shown up in the UK during this debate.  A while back a friend and co-worker had recommended a podcast for me to listen to – it’s called More or Less.  They had spent a few episodes prior to the vote going thru the various numbers and rhetoric on Brexit to help voters stay informed.  The second podcast I listen to is WNYC’s On the Media, which recently had an rebroadcast episode on Lies and politics. Highly recommend that you listen to these two podcasts to get a better understanding of how things like Brexit come to be.  Perhaps I live in the tech bubble so most of the people I know in the UK were on the side of stay.  However, recently I went to a local meetup, and we have a UK Ex-Pat who is a financial adviser.  He is of (or beyond) retirement age, and a big supporter of Brexit.  To be honest, his position floored me.  He certainly came down on the side of local control of borders and reduction of EU regulations.  However, after listening to the More or Less podcast and talking to others, I find that the regulation aspect, is a bit of a red herring, and the benefits of open borders in the EU, far out weigh the perceived threat.  

Speaking of open borders – social media.  Social Media have continued to drive open communications across geographical boundaries, while at the same time reinforcing echo chambers for many people.  In the past I’ve been a huge user of Twitter, but the amount of self promotion and marketing BS I get in Twitter, has caused me to get more and more of my social media fix via Facebook.  However, Facebook tends to cause a bit of an echo chamber for me. I get frustrated by the political rants of old friends who have drifted away from how I remembered them growing up.  I have unfriended many of them.  I get annoyed by family members who have diametrically different social views as mine, I mute some of them.  And ultiamately I end up going more and more narrow in the feed.  And when something does pop up in the feed that I don’t like, it becomes even easier to mute or unfriend.  What I find interesting about this, is I tend to feel like I am open minded, and respectful of other people’s opinions, but in practice when I don’t see it reciprocated I block / unfriend, etc.  So am I being narrow minded or am I protecting my sanity?

WWDC 2016 – All Software – All the Time


Yesterday’s WWDC keynote was all about software.  Hardware wasn’t talked about, except in the context that certain hardware ran certain operating systems. I tend to take lots of notes during the keynote, and then read a bunch of blogs to fill in the blanks.  I also downloaded the keynote and will look at it again.  But here’s a quick run through of my notes, in the order to the keynote.  Tim kicked it off and talked about they now have four major operating systems.

First up watchOS3, this was a major refinement of how the Watch will work.  Hopefully all these features will work as well as described.  I’ve installed the developer beta last night, and will see how polished these features are. (Realized, that I cannot discuss things that are not publically discussed, so I will be learning but not sharing much of the beta over the summer.  I do this every summer and there are always bad times.)

  • Background updates, in memory for favorite apps – 7 times faster launching.  This is huge!  I had submitted a watch app in the past, and it got rejected due to performance.  We shall see if a recompile on XCode 8 fixes this.  I am hopeful.
  • Dock will be the side button.. so you can put your favorite apps.  I think of this like freeing up the side button from the your friends list. It will be interesting to see what apps make it to this dock on my watch,
  • Control center swipe up from the bottom – Getting the watch to behave this same was iOS, this is nice.  (Now realistically it looked very similar to the first pane of the old glances.)
  • Messages.. tap to reply.. and scribble – right on the watch, and it does text recognition and translates it.  I am not a big user of Messages (on any platform), but perhaps this will make it better.  I really do like the text recognition aspect for typing out a longer message.  What was really impressive in the demo was they showed it recognizing the Chinese character set.
  • Mini-mouse coming to watch face.. with matching colors to the bands.  This is a bit of a yawner for me.  I’ve not used the Mickey so why would I use Minnie-Mouse.  
  • Activity rings, watch band…. to see progress of workouts.  I may have to try this one for the weekends.  During the week I love having my calendar on my wrist.
  • Simple face – numerals.  Really a bunch of new watch faces, surprised they didn’t open up watch faces to developers.  Maybe next time.
  • Swipe to switch to the watch face you’d like. (edge to edge swipe).  This is a nice feature.. Switch between work hours, to evening, to weekend – easily.
  • Reminders and timers are now swipe-able.. and have updates.  Basically, a lot of options to drive ease of use and fewer taps to get to things.
  • SOS for the watch.. hold the Button until it pops up. will also notify your contacts after the 911 call is done. And then will show your medical ID. It knows the emergency number to call based on Geolocation information.  This feature will be huge for people.  I think this focus on safety and health is a key benefit of Apple’s wearable.
  • Added competition to WatchOS for activity sharing in the Rings. I know a lot of people will like this… For me it’s a bit of a Meh…
  • Added new features for wheelchair users.  Another really great update.  I can’t wait to see how this one plays out in the real world.
  • New app called Breathe – to quiet mind, relax body, and deal with stress.  I will be using this one a lot … 
  • Apple Pay within Apps on the watch.  Expanding their ecosystem for Apple Pay, this will come up again.
  • Sprite kit and scene kit support, etc. Yeah!  Real games coming to the watch – I hope.

tvOS – This was presented by Eddie Cue and he was really struggling on this talk.  He screwed up multiple times, and even showed the magic of how they do their presentations.

  • Over 1300 video channels now… and 6,000 native apps… including Sling (coming today). watch 4 games at once its Fox Sports Go….  Basically tvOS is doing well.
  • Remote App, now available on the iPhone…. (about damn time) including siri remote and touch for navigation, and accelerometer to play games, text with the keyboard
  • SIRI for TV – New features… And it seems this will make it even more fun to yell at your TV!
  • Search Movies by Topics – and searches 650,000 movies and tv shows…and now it searches Youtube too.  Live Tune-in – “Watch ESPN 2” takes you right the channel and hits play.
  • Have a “fix” for Authentication problem, with SINGLE SIGN-ON!!! You sign in once on your apple tV, and it is also coming to iOS.
  • Dark mode… This is good for me, if you are watching a movie with the lights off and you swap to  another show, light mode could blind you!!
  • Automatically downloads Apps to Apple TV when you get it on your iPhone.  So now you I will get the apps for those other apps you get.  Nice convince.
  • DEVELOPERs section. This is a start of Apple opening up their platforms. 
  1. Replaykit – live broad cast game play
  2. Photokit – full access to iCloud photo library
  3.  Homekit – apps to control devices

Next up OS X with Craig.  Or as it is called now macOS… He began with the announcement that the name is changing. It will still have a special name and it is called “macOS Sierra”.  I like this name, as I used to swim for the Sierra Nevada Sharks growing up in California.  Focus on continuity and iCloud as ways of improving macOS.  To me this aligns with the parity discussions.

  • Continuity – Secure p2p wireless protocols across devices, which allows communications to do things like:
  • AutoUnlock! – Leverages Watch because it is a secure device on our wrist. Using time of flight networking to ensure you a local to the device.  I’ve used an app called knock in the past, that was “ok” but this seems like it will make it very useful.
  • Universal Clipboard – “big reaction in this one” copy on iOS and Paste on MacOS. Very cool… Will be using this for sure.  (Check back in a year to see if I really do use it).
  • iCloud Drive – how many of your are using this?  I’ve been trying and it has been OK, but not great.  I think the updates they announced will radically improve the usablilty.
  • Desktop accessible “Everywhere” – so it will also be available on other macs.. and your iOS devices.  I would expect that enterprises wil turns this feature off.
  • Optimized storage – This is one feature that would be cool if it works, but has so many opportunities to go wrong.  The basic ideas is that it will move older files to the cloud, available on demand, and it will automatically delete files you don’t need (cache files, etc.).
  • Apple Pay on the Mac.  This is another great expansion of their ecosystem.  It will allow you to get to websites and pick Apple Pay, and then approve the payment with either your watch of iPhone. Available USA UK, Canada, Australia, China Singapore, coming to France and Switzerland.
  • Tabs will in all of your multi-windowed apps with no modifications required to support this.  I am not a big user of tabs, so not sure if I care.
  • Picture in Picture on the desktop for both fullscreen and desktop mode.  I really like using picture in picture on my iPad.  Glad to see this coming to the Mac.
  • One more thing – Siri for the MAC!!  Big cheer here. You can pin SIRI results in Notification Center, and then drag from the notification center output to keynote and other apps.  This will be convinient.

iOS X again with Craig.  A lot of updates to the way you interact with the iPhone.

  • Lock and home screen. Raise to Wake – shows the lock screen information without touching a button.
  • Functional notifications with 3-D touch on lock screen.  Now you can interact more with your lock screen.  I am wondering how many of these features will be removed on enterprise devices.
  • Control center is redesigned and swipe over for music.  Nice option to expand the usefulness of the control center.
  • Slide lock screen to the right… for camera access.S
  • Slide lock screen to the left … for widgets 
  • Simple add widgets from the 3d Touch of a third party app…   Overall the lock screen and home screens will become more functional.
  • SIRI the biggest news is opening it up to developers!!!!!!!  It will allow people to expand SIRI for certain domains.
  1. messaging
  2. ride booking
  3. photo search
  4. workouts
  5. payments
  6. VoIP calling
  • Quick Type – bringing SIRI knowledge base to keyboard, via LSTM -deep learning in longer context.  All deep learning is on the device only.  A common refrain across the iOS annoucement was Apple doubling down on your privacy.  Relevant location and contact info. based locally on the device.  And a feature for my Mom multi-lingual typing. So you can type between German and English (as an example) without changing keyboards.
  • Photos – Places updates that include Advanced Computer Vision – to provide local On device information identified on the device. With privacy protection (on your device).  So automatically group all your pictures of people. Also do scene and other analysis to group pictures and allow you to search.  Google does this too, but all on the cloud.  By doing this on the cloud, Google potentially leaks your personal information.  You can also build memories – to analyze across your library to cluster photos to build a memory (ON Device to protect your privacy – see the refrain here).All these features are also available on the Mac.
  • Maps – and this was handed off to Eddie Cue. All new design and more info in advance area including: suggestions, filter on places you may want to go, Navigation, more info, easier to control, and traffic on route, auto zoom in and out based on speed,waypoints on the way (like how far is the next bathroom),also available on CarPlay – turn by turn in the instrument cluster of your car.  Oh yeah, and open maps up to developers for creation of extensions, I.e. added book a ride app extension.
  • Music… Had singer up on the stage.. Who tried to hype the crowd.  Key points 15 million paid subscribers, and all new redesigned from the ground up (clarity and simplicity).  Added lyrics in the album view.
  • News…redesigned more focus on you and on trending, added subscriptions to News (I wonder if Air and Space Smithsonian app will be put in here) and added breaking news notifications on the lock screen.
  • Homekit new Apple app (pretty much expected) called Home – A new app to control all home kit devices which allows you to control every HomeKit device in your house, use Siri and add scenes for things like turn off everything, I am going to bed.  Also, to go back to the Control center thoughts, there will be a new page for the Home app.
  • Apple TV can be a secure point for remote access and automation via the TV, securely end to end encryption and geo fence your house.  This will be Apple’s hub for your HomeKit house.
  • Phone features are now being enabled for developers.  They added voice mail transcription, and API extension (which they demoed to identify spam calls), integration of VoIP API across apps, so you can always communicate with certain contacts with certain apps like Skype.  And for enterprise users CISCO integration so you can hand off between your iphone and your office phone.
  • Messages. This is the most frequently used app on iOS.. Rich links in messages,play video inline, can see in camera automatically. Emojis 3X bigger in transcript,predications as you type, and you can emoji-fy your messages. Added bubble effects… tap back like Slack … Handwritten messages for that personal touch…Digital Touch…Full screen actions in messages …  Music integration – in line … so many effects – this will get very annoying.  And once again opened up messages to developers (iMessage Apps).
  • Spiit view in Safari on iPad
  • Privacy features…end to end encryption by default in face time… all deep learning, etc. is on-device … no capture of data from searches on the internet … Something they called Differential privacy –  Apple uses this technique and hashing, subsampling, and noise injection to keep users private.. but get patterns, etc. to drive learning

And finally Tim came back on Stage – Swift has been out for two years, they have over 100,000+ swift based apps on the App Store.  After they open sourced the language – it is now the number one language on GitHub.  The big annoucement wasi ntroducing an App for iPad called Swift Playgrounds! Learn code on the iPad – very cool for kids to master the basics of code… Includes coding keyboard on the iPad.

Overall love that Apple Double downed on the privacy and security aspect.  Should be a cool summer of code.

WWDC 2016 – All Software – All the Time

Yesterday’s WWDC keynote was all about software.  Hardware wasn’t talked about, except in the context that certain hardware ran certain operating systems. I tend to take lots of notes during the keynote, and then read a bunch of blogs to fill in the blanks.  I also downloaded the keynote and will look at it again.  But here’s a quick run through of my notes, in the order to the keynote.  Tim kicked it off and talked about they now have four major operating systems.

First up watchOS3, this was a major refinement of how the Watch will work.  Hopefully all these features will work as well as described.  I’ve installed the developer beta last night, and will see how polished these features are. (Realized, that I cannot discuss things that are not publically discussed, so I will be learning but not sharing much of the beta over the summer.  I do this every summer and there are always bad times.)

  • Background updates, in memory for favorite apps – 7 times faster launching.  This is huge!  I had submitted a watch app in the past, and it got rejected due to performance.  We shall see if a recompile on XCode 8 fixes this.  I am hopeful.
  • Dock will be the side button.. so you can put your favorite apps.  I think of this like freeing up the side button from the your friends list. It will be interesting to see what apps make it to this dock on my watch,
  • Control center swipe up from the bottom – Getting the watch to behave this same was iOS, this is nice.  (Now realistically it looked very similar to the first pane of the old glances.)
  • Messages.. tap to reply.. and scribble – right on the watch, and it does text recognition and translates it.  I am not a big user of Messages (on any platform), but perhaps this will make it better.  I really do like the text recognition aspect for typing out a longer message.  What was really impressive in the demo was they showed it recognizing the Chinese character set.
  • Mini-mouse coming to watch face.. with matching colors to the bands.  This is a bit of a yawner for me.  I’ve not used the Mickey so why would I use Minnie-Mouse.  
  • Activity rings, watch band…. to see progress of workouts.  I may have to try this one for the weekends.  During the week I love having my calendar on my wrist.
  • Simple face – numerals.  Really a bunch of new watch faces, surprised they didn’t open up watch faces to developers.  Maybe next time.
  • Swipe to switch to the watch face you’d like. (edge to edge swipe).  This is a nice feature.. Switch between work hours, to evening, to weekend – easily.
  • Reminders and timers are now swipe-able.. and have updates.  Basically, a lot of options to drive ease of use and fewer taps to get to things.
  • SOS for the watch.. hold the Button until it pops up. will also notify your contacts after the 911 call is done. And then will show your medical ID. It knows the emergency number to call based on Geolocation information.  This feature will be huge for people.  I think this focus on safety and health is a key benefit of Apple’s wearable.
  • Added competition to WatchOS for activity sharing in the Rings. I know a lot of people will like this… For me it’s a bit of a Meh…
  • Added new features for wheelchair users.  Another really great update.  I can’t wait to see how this one plays out in the real world.
  • New app called Breathe – to quiet mind, relax body, and deal with stress.  I will be using this one a lot … 
  • Apple Pay within Apps on the watch.  Expanding their ecosystem for Apple Pay, this will come up again.
  • Sprite kit and scene kit support, etc. Yeah!  Real games coming to the watch – I hope.

tvOS – This was presented by Eddie Cue and he was really struggling on this talk.  He screwed up multiple times, and even showed the magic of how they do their presentations.

  • Over 1300 video channels now… and 6,000 native apps… including Sling (coming today). watch 4 games at once its Fox Sports Go….  Basically tvOS is doing well.
  • Remote App, now available on the iPhone…. (about damn time) including siri remote and touch for navigation, and accelerometer to play games, text with the keyboard
  • SIRI for TV – New features… And it seems this will make it even more fun to yell at your TV!
  • Search Movies by Topics – and searches 650,000 movies and tv shows…and now it searches Youtube too.  Live Tune-in – “Watch ESPN 2” takes you right the channel and hits play.
  • Have a “fix” for Authentication problem, with SINGLE SIGN-ON!!! You sign in once on your apple tV, and it is also coming to iOS.
  • Dark mode… This is good for me, if you are watching a movie with the lights off and you swap to  another show, light mode could blind you!!
  • Automatically downloads Apps to Apple TV when you get it on your iPhone.  So now you I will get the apps for those other apps you get.  Nice convince.
  • DEVELOPERs section. This is a start of Apple opening up their platforms. 
  1. Replaykit – live broad cast game play
  2. Photokit – full access to iCloud photo library
  3.  Homekit – apps to control devices

Next up OS X with Craig.  Or as it is called now macOS… He began with the announcement that the name is changing. It will still have a special name and it is called “macOS Sierra”.  I like this name, as I used to swim for the Sierra Nevada Sharks growing up in California.  Focus on continuity and iCloud as ways of improving macOS.  To me this aligns with the parity discussions.

  • Continuity – Secure p2p wireless protocols across devices, which allows communications to do things like:
  • AutoUnlock! – Leverages Watch because it is a secure device on our wrist. Using time of flight networking to ensure you a local to the device.  I’ve used an app called knock in the past, that was “ok” but this seems like it will make it very useful.
  • Universal Clipboard – “big reaction in this one” copy on iOS and Paste on MacOS. Very cool… Will be using this for sure.  (Check back in a year to see if I really do use it).
  • iCloud Drive – how many of your are using this?  I’ve been trying and it has been OK, but not great.  I think the updates they announced will radically improve the usablilty.
  • Desktop accessible “Everywhere” – so it will also be available on other macs.. and your iOS devices.  I would expect that enterprises wil turns this feature off.
  • Optimized storage – This is one feature that would be cool if it works, but has so many opportunities to go wrong.  The basic ideas is that it will move older files to the cloud, available on demand, and it will automatically delete files you don’t need (cache files, etc.).
  • Apple Pay on the Mac.  This is another great expansion of their ecosystem.  It will allow you to get to websites and pick Apple Pay, and then approve the payment with either your watch of iPhone. Available USA UK, Canada, Australia, China Singapore, coming to France and Switzerland.
  • Tabs will in all of your multi-windowed apps with no modifications required to support this.  I am not a big user of tabs, so not sure if I care.
  • Picture in Picture on the desktop for both fullscreen and desktop mode.  I really like using picture in picture on my iPad.  Glad to see this coming to the Mac.
  • One more thing – Siri for the MAC!!  Big cheer here. You can pin SIRI results in Notification Center, and then drag from the notification center output to keynote and other apps.  This will be convinient.

iOS X again with Craig.  A lot of updates to the way you interact with the iPhone.

  • Lock and home screen. Raise to Wake – shows the lock screen information without touching a button.
  • Functional notifications with 3-D touch on lock screen.  Now you can interact more with your lock screen.  I am wondering how many of these features will be removed on enterprise devices.
  • Control center is redesigned and swipe over for music.  Nice option to expand the usefulness of the control center.
  • Slide lock screen to the right… for camera access.S
  • Slide lock screen to the left … for widgets 
  • Simple add widgets from the 3d Touch of a third party app…   Overall the lock screen and home screens will become more functional.
  • SIRI the biggest news is opening it up to developers!!!!!!!  It will allow people to expand SIRI for certain domains.

            1. messaging, 

            2. ride booking, 

            3. photo search,

            4. workouts, 

            5. payments, 

            6. VoIP calling, 

  • Quick Type – bringing SIRI knowledge base to keyboard, via LSTM -deep learning in longer context.  All deep learning is on the device only.  A common refrain across the iOS annoucement was Apple doubling down on your privacy.  Relevant location and contact info. based locally on the device.  And a feature for my Mom multi-lingual typing. So you can type between German and English (as an example) without changing keyboards.
  • Photos – Places updates that include Advanced Computer Vision – to provide local On device information identified on the device. With privacy protection (on your device).  So automatically group all your pictures of people. Also do scene and other analysis to group pictures and allow you to search.  Google does this too, but all on the cloud.  By doing this on the cloud, Google potentially leaks your personal information.  You can also build memories – to analyze across your library to cluster photos to build a memory (ON Device to protect your privacy – see the refrain here).All these features are also available on the Mac.
  • Maps – and this was handed off to Eddie Cue. All new design and more info in advance area including: suggestions, filter on places you may want to go, Navigation, more info, easier to control, and traffic on route, auto zoom in and out based on speed,waypoints on the way (like how far is the next bathroom),also available on CarPlay – turn by turn in the instrument cluster of your car.  Oh yeah, and open maps up to developers for creation of extensions, I.e. added book a ride app extension.
  • Music… Had singer up on the stage.. Who tried to hype the crowd.  Key points 15 million paid subscribers, and all new redesigned from the ground up (clarity and simplicity).  Added lyrics in the album view.
  • News…redesigned more focus on you and on trending, added subscriptions to News (I wonder if Air and Space Smithsonian app will be put in here) and added breaking news notifications on the lock screen.
  • Homekit new Apple app (pretty much expected) called Home – A new app to control all home kit devices which allows you to control every HomeKit device in your house, use Siri and add scenes for things like turn off everything, I am going to bed.  Also, to go back to the Control center thoughts, there will be a new page for the Home app.
  • Apple TV can be a secure point for remote access and automation via the TV, securely end to end encryption and geo fence your house.  This will be Apple’s hub for your HomeKit house.
  • Phone features are now being enabled for developers.  They added voice mail transcription, and API extension (which they demoed to identify spam calls), integration of VoIP API across apps, so you can always communicate with certain contacts with certain apps like Skype.  And for enterprise users CISCO integration so you can hand off between your iphone and your office phone.
  • Messages. This is the most frequently used app on iOS.. Rich links in messages,play video inline, can see in camera automatically. Emojis 3X bigger in transcript,predications as you type, and you can emoji-fy your messages. Added bubble effects… tap back like Slack … Handwritten messages for that personal touch…Digital Touch…Full screen actions in messages …  Music integration – in line … so many effects – this will get very annoying.  And once again opened up messages to developers (iMessage Apps).
  • Spiit view in Safari on iPad
  • Privacy features…end to end encryption by default in face time… all deep learning, etc. is on-device … no capture of data from searches on the internet … Something they called Differential privacy –  Apple uses this technique and hashing, subsampling, and noise injection to keep users private.. but get patterns, etc. to drive learning

And finally Tim came back on Stage – Swift has been out for two years, they have over 100,000+ swift based apps on the App Store.  After they open sourced the language – it is now the number one language on GitHub.  The big annoucement wasi ntroducing an App for iPad called Swift Playgrounds! Learn code on the iPad – very cool for kids to master the basics of code… Includes coding keyboard on the iPad.

Overall love that Apple Double downed on the privacy and security aspect.  Should be a cool summer of code.

Backing out a Beta

I’ve always liked playing with Beta software.  As sometime developer, the feedback you get from crazy people like me who like testing things that aren’t quite done is invaluable towards making your software better.  Sometimes a beta can be problematic with some of the other software you are using, and that causes me to back it off.  My 2011 MacBook Pro is my development machine, and the machine I record and edit my podcast on, and I had forgotten to turn off beta updates for OS X, so recently 10.11.6 beta got installed on it.  As soon as this happened I started having problems with Audio, this has happened with every version of OS X for the last few years, and when it gets too problematic, I’ve been able to go to the AppStore and download the latest OS X GA code, run the installer, and get back to a working machine.

This week, I was getting ready to edit the podcast, and was still having the problem with audio, so I did my trick. This is when all hell broke lose. The backout procedure that I used failed, and I had a black screen of rebooting craziness.  The Mac was belly up, and I had to boot to recovery mode.  Going to recovery mode, usually means, just re-running the installer.  That failed… Same issue.  I had to backup the machine and dig back into my mind to how I could do this via the command line.  To do this, I connected a USB drive, and manually navigated the shell to get to the right device and then found the Ditto command!  This allowed for me to easily copy my home directory to the USB drive.

After this, I ended up erasing the drive via Disk Utility and doing a full “new” install.  I copied the data over, and then reinstalled a ton of apps.  In the end this took me almost two days of time.  The copying of the drive to the USB drive via the ditto command was slow…But it validated the copy so that was worth it.

Today’s lesson, don’t use beta’s on your production machine.  Did I learn this… We shall see.

MoogFest Wrap-up

Well, I had plans to post a daily blog entry for each day of MoogFest.. but to be honest… It was way too much fun to spend time writing a blog each day.  So let’s go thru the experience a bit.

Friday started with a four our session to build a new sequencer.  The MoogFest Engineer ticket gets you time with the designer of a new piece of kit, and you actually get to build your own.  This year was a BFAM (Brother From another Mother) which is a companion piece to the Mother-32.  Having not soldered since high school I was a bit worried, but it was so well organized and layed out that after 261 solder points, I am almost an export.  (Well at least capable).


My board had small capacitor on it that was broken and I had Eric from the design team replace it for me.  We ended the four our session with a completely soldered board, and ready for Saturday’s session when we finished build the case and actually running a few audio tests.  What a BLAST!  The sound of the BFAM was full, loud and fun!

Friday after noon I was only able to do one session, it was a set of video’s with a live performance by “I Speak Machine”.  The movies were entertaining, but the music was very cool.  The show ended with an ambient version of Gary Numan’s song “Cars”, by I Speak Machine.

The rest of the night was live performances at the Carolina Theater’s  Fletcher Hall. The performers were all very trance ‘ ambient music like.  Rival Consoles was the most exciting of the three, jamming to the his own music.  Alessandro Cortini was a bit too relaxed for my taste, and Grouper sat on the stage playing here guitar (and synthesizers).  I was in the front row and couldn’t tell when Grouper was actually playing things, as I saw more of her forehead than anything else.


The night ended for me with Gary Numan playing his “Pleasure Principal” album!  This is the concert that he cancelled in Atlanta back in 2010 that I had attended.  So I finally got to see it and he did an awesome job!

Saturday started with a great session all about Max-MSP, with the instrucuter showing how he uses it to build very ambient videos for live electronic shows.  And then a session on how the ear and brain understands Music.  The session was really interesting and informative; however, it came down to they had no idea how the brain understood music.  So the title was a bit misleading. 

I then went back to finish up building my Brother From Another Mother sequencer.  It was tons of fun, and I am looking forward to using the device to create a new entry sound for my podcast GamesAtWork dot Biz. Check out this final image of my new toy:


I then quickly went over to the Carolina Theater to see the final Gary Numan Show… One of my favorite albums of his – Telekon!  I decided to sit in the front row of the first balcony which allowed me a great view of the stage show and some incredible pictures –  like this one:


Sunday morning started with playing with LittleBits and building an IR LED based sound device… The show ended for me after watching Laurie Anderson on Sunday afternoon.  I’ve liked her performances since the song “Oh, Superman!” From my days in high school.  She was amazing as she talked about some of here recent work, including an exhibit where she built a giant seated statue where she projected the live video feed from one of the former Gitmo prisoners.  The guy is now in West Africa, where he is working to promote women’s rights.  He had been rounded up in Afganistan at the age of 14… He claimed not to be a Talbian supporter, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Given what he is doing now, and that he was never actually charged with anything… I tend to believe him.


She also talked about her experience as the ONLY ever NASA artist in residence.  Amazing speaker… Bummed I missed here performance on Saturday, but it conflicted with finishing up my BFAM Sequencer.  A few other interesting artists I saw where “I Speak Machine” and “Silver Apples“… Check them out!!!

MoogFest 2016 – Day 1

This is my first time at MoogFest (and I’ve been dying to go since I first heard about it a few years back).  This year is the first year that it is downtown Durham, and they are doing it up right!  I ended up getting the VIP Engineer setup, so I can make my own Synthesizer tomorrow (more to come on that – probably Saturday), they had a check in at The Durham Hotel and I picked up my Swag Bag.  The nice thing is, it is a tote bag, especially since I can’t carry my backpack into events after 6pm.  I started the day checking out the spaces, and ended up over at the Full Frame Film location.  This was the presentation of Beats and Star Wars.  While I didn’t really pay attention to the write up, it was a great presentation on a local space and the work of a UNC Chapel Hill professor, who is going around the world helping people get into producing music with everything you can carry in one backpack.  

They just launched a KickStarter for BlackSpace – I highly recommend you check it out, especially if you want to support the creative community in Durham.  

I checked out the modular marketplace, where a bunch of synth companies are setup to show off cool kit.  I spent some time playing with  the Artiphon – which was pretty amazing.  I had checked out their Kickstarter a while back, but never thought it would really work.  But, work it does!  (In my best Yoda voice). You can bend the strings, change instruments, and shift the pitch up and down… With amazing ease.   The device is $399, which is a bit rich for me, but anyone who actually plays music should find this to be completely within the range for a good instrument.  If you are in town, and ever wanted to see what this thing could be, go check them out!

I spent the afternoon in a session called The Code of Music, the session was a workshop where we tested out a bunch of apps, to get a feel for how music could be made.  We then designed our own musical experience based on design principles.  I came up with an idea loosely based on a combination of “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T”, The “Top Secret” Drum Corp, and the App Fugue Machine.  The basic idea is a performance piece where you have up to 1,000 kids on a stadium field.  Each kid has a keyboard for use with one hand, a wearable sensor, and a simple arpeggio that they play.  As the move around the field, the sensors in the wearable will adjust the pitch of the keyboard.  At a pre described distance from other kids, it will be in harmony.  As they get closer, it gets more and more into dissident sound, as the pitches start bending towards each other.  Finally as the kids touch, it becomes the same notes.  So they get to a clear and perfect pitch.   Crazy idea, I know, but would be pretty awesome to see!!

I then walked around and found that I could pick up all three live albums (signed) by Gary Numan from his UK Tour of his classic albums. These are the same three albums he’s going to be playing at MoogFest!  So I picked them up.  Can’t wait to hear them after the shows here in Durham!  Here’s a pic:

Why do routers suck so much?

I’ve had a wireless network in my house since about 2001, and in these 15 years.. I’ve noticed that the quality of routers has declined a lot.  I don’t know if this is caused by my ISP, or by the routers themselves.  When I first setup my house, I actually had a dial up modem that would be used to connect to the net.. I then switched over to a cable modem.  Since switching to a cable modem, I’ve had the same ISP the entire time, and while speeds have increased and the number of devices I’ve had connected has also increased, the overall performance has degraded.  I find myself at least once a week and sometimes multiple times a day, having to reboot my router, and my cable modem. 

I’ve gone from d-link, to Apple, and now a google On-Hub router, and none of it seems to make a difference.  The cable modem is a standard surfboard, that the cable company recommends, even though I bought my own (and have replaced it once already).

I understand that a cable modem setup, actually puts you on a shared network with your neighbors, but that shouldn’t cause a problem if the entire network is setup correctly.  I am wondering if there is a good site for debugging where the problem is?