iOS’s Storage Problem

This article is helpful and will hopefully at some point be unnecessary.

The problem, fellow nerds and geeks, is that we already know all this stuff. But the people in my family with tons of photos and videos on their phones don’t, and you can’t really explain it to them.

They don’t use iTunes – they synced music they like one time years ago (probably from someone else’s library) and then go to Pandora (but the idea of deleting all that music they never listen to? You may as well suggest they eat their kids if they’re starving.) iTunes Match? I love it. They have no idea what it is. And for $25 a year they’ll just stick with Pandora.1

Offload the camera roll? Where to? Some computer running Windows Vista that they never turn on anymore?

I use iPhoto and still think it’s weird that even though I have Photo Stream enabled I need to manage and delete duplicate photos on my camera roll.

Delete iMessages? They don’t even know what an iMessage is. They don’t have to delete messages from any of the other messaging apps they use.

I consider myself a pretty savvy Mac and iOS user and after seven generations some of this stuff still feels wonky. I know how to work around it…they don’t.

I’m surprised at the adoption rates Apple touts in their keynotes. Getting people in my family, non techies, to update their apps and iOS software is like pulling teeth…because it is. Delete all these memories and moments from my life for some bug fixes? Never. Besides, they like having this stuff on their phones so they can look at them.


  1. And why still use Pandora after iTunes Radio? Because they don’t understand iTunes Radio. They understand Pandora’s thumbs-up and thumbs-down model. 

Shawn Blanc’s Review of OmniFocus 2 for Mac

At least go to it just to check out his spectrum of GTD tools graphic. It’s spot on.

I try not to get too attached to OmniFocus, but I get a little defensive when I read things like “OmniFocus is TOO COMPLICATED.” What’s ironic about this is that I’ve also talked with people who want OmniFocus to do even MORE, like be a CRM system.

Yes, use the tool that’s right for you. For me, it’s been OmniFocus ever since the beta for Mac about…wow, 8 years ago.

The new design will take some getting used to. I miss the check boxes. I think if you’re going to call something a flag you should make it look like a flag. But the core functionality is still there, and it’s faster – namely in switching perspectives and the Quick Open feature which gets you to your projects quicker than ever.

Why you should clean your tags

The amount of work and care that needs to go into accurate iTunes metadata is precisely why nobody but the nerdiest of music nerds cares.1


  1. On a sidenote, it drives me nuts when people send me email with no subject line, or with vague subject lines, or lack the sort of information I may need to find later. I consider all that stuff metadata. Subject lines are metadata. I think I’m being polite and considerate. Others don’t care. 

Why People Still Use Windows XP

After talking to a number of current XP users, we’ve reached one major conclusion: For many of them, PCs aren’t snazzy tech gadgets, but home appliances that still work just fine. Beyond that there’s suspicion toward Windows 8, migration hassles and costs, personal preference, and a heavy dose of skepticism about the fundamental insecurity of Windows XP.

Also of note is that Outlook Express doesn’t come with newer versions of Windows. People who use Outlook Express probably set it up with POP years ago, so the migration would be a pain.

What is the stock mail program on Windows these days? Does it even have one?

When Nerds Take Over Shared Calendars Will Be Mandatory

In this episode of Mac Power Users David talks about using shared calendars among his family. Everyone has their own iCloud calendar and they share a Family Calendar for scheduling family gatherings and events.

His 12-year old uses it. “It’s not that hard.” he says.

I’ve always wondered what it will be like when nerds take over the world. In this version if you want to go to the movies with someone in your family you send them a Calendar invite.

Could make dating way easier. There’s even that “Accept [Tentative]” setting so that the expectation of flaking is up front instead of an hour before your date.

“Clarity”

Yeah, I like my Mac – but if you go on and on like this with the Apple love you automatically volunteer to teach my dad how to use mail.app.

The other thing to explain to him, a recent switcher, is that on Macs the menu bar isn’t tied to the window. You can have an application be ACTIVE without a window being present.

How messed up that is to you depends on how long you’ve been in it. I’m in too deep, man, too deep.

#1 on the Socially Engineered Scam Section

On the modern-day Dungeon Keeper remake.

The modern-day Dungeon Keeper is not even a game. It’s just a socially engineered scam. And since people don’t remember what real gaming was like in the 90s, they are giving it the highest rating in the app store.

It’s just unbelievable.

…What EA has done here has nothing to do with gaming, and the same is true for pretty much all other ‘free-to-play + in-app purchase’ games. We don’t have a mobile gaming industry anymore. We have a mobile scamming industry.

The Genre Tag Problem

The Genre Tag Problem:

Ask any passionate music fan about their favorite genre or genres of music, and you’ll be in for a graduate-level course in their passion. And that’s before you dive in to the various subgenres of music, in details that would overwhelm any sort of systematic organization in a store. For a passionate music fan, it’s not nearly as simple. Just look at this list of subgenres for Heavy Metal, itself a sub-genre of Rock music. And forget about using the iTunes genre images if you get really specific. And, if it’s not easily classifiable, odds are, in the iTunes Store it’s classified as “Alternative”. This is a limitation by design.

I think people like me who are meticulous about their genre tags are a dying breed. I used to recommend getting as specific as possible with your genre tags because if you wanted to listen to something with a beat you could select the 5 dance music genres and iTunes and go nuts.

But you can’t do that on iOS.

The motivation behind having detailed tags was so one could easily navigate a music library. I still have a standard process of verifying that tags are good on new music, but now with things like Genius Mixes and iTunes Radio stations it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put much effort into it.

TechInch Reviews OmniOutliner 4

When a plain-text document is too little, and a spreadsheet too much, OmniOutliner’s the app you need. You’ll turn to it for simple budgets, project overviews, book drafts, basic databases, and lists of the mundane things in your life, and it’ll work great for all of those. There’s really nothing else like it.

I upgraded to OmniOutliner 4 immediately.

I actually ENJOY writing my thoughts in it. It’s so easy to jot down ideas, navigate documents, outline some kind of project plan, or create any sort of document that someone might create in Excel because of its tables.

The only problem with OmniOutliner is that it’s cumbersome to share documents. As the only Mac user in the office I find myself making plans in OmniOutliner and then exporting them to PDF for others to see. I wish I could just copy and paste them into an email without any sort of markup or image attachments.1

When I do meeting agendas I typically write those in Byword with multimarkdown, export that to HTML, and then copy and paste that into an email and/or calendar invite.2 I’d rather do them in OmniOutliner.


  1. One can export to HTML, but it outputs the document to a folder with images and an HTML file. 

  2. It’s 2014. Why doesn’t calendar.app support rich text? It’s the same problem iTunes and podcasts.app has

iTunes Podcast Syncing Stil Having Problems

TidBITS: Explaining Podcasts in iTunes 11.1:

The reality is that syncing of this information through iCloud is confused beyond belief, rife with incorrect and inconsistent behavior. In extensive testing, we experienced a variety of problems, at least some of the time. Sometimes one problem went away, only to be replaced by another.

  • Podcast subscriptions disappearing and reappearing randomly, and differently on four devices
  • Subscriptions syncing from one device to another in only one direction
  • Available episodes in a podcast differing between devices
  • Stations syncing without their underlying subscriptions syncing as well
  • Playback position syncing from iTunes to an iPhone, but not an iPad

Both iTunes and Podcasts.app were updated this week. Still seems to be a problem.

The strangest one is that podcast play position is synced from iOS to iTunes, but you don’t know it until you play the podcast on your computer and it suddenly picks up where you left off because all the blue dot besides the episode are completely filled.

…That and the over 200 podcast episodes I get marked as unplayed.

“If anyone from Apple is listening…”

iTunes Guy Kirk McElhearn on this Macworld podcast (paraphrasing):

Come on – Amazon does 250,000 tracks in the cloud. You can’t do better than Amazon?

My trick for getting around the limit is to delete anything I don’t think I need in the cloud from a computer other than my main iTunes library. That way it takes the music off the cloud, but leaves it in my main iTunes library. When/if Apple lifts this limit I’ll be able to add those tracks I removed from iCloud as they were before they were purged.

If that sounds complicated, it kinda is. I shouldn’t have to deal with it. And if your criticism is “well your iTunes music library shouldn’t be so big” the reason it’s that big is because I use iTunes. People with big libraries are big music fans, which is why iTunes still exists.

Otherwise we’d all be on Spotify.

Ecoute 2 for iOS

If you’re unhappy with Music.app, check out Ecoute 2.

I think it encompasses more iOS 7 principles than Apple’s own app. The album view grid shows more albums than music.app, it scrobbles, and has a night mode.1

However, it still has some of the same problems music.app has, such as navigating and crashing with large iTunes Match libraries.


  1. I’m beginning to think that sometime soon Night Mode may be incorporated into iOS. The best implementation has been Twitterrific’s and Instapaper’s, which appear to enable night mode based upon sunset. Ecoute and Tweetbot appear to enable it based on auto-brightness, which is difficult to understand anyway. 

Podcasts.app’s horrible show notes formatting

“Where can people go for show notes?” You often hear on podcasts.

You should just TAP for show notes. Where should people go for show notes? Just tap the screen or click the “Show Info” button in iTunes.

Rich show notes, poor formatting.

Problem is, Apple’s iOS Podcast app strips all formatting from this details screen. You can write richly detailed notes with headers, hyperlinks…you know, HTML, and it comes out looking like this.

Why would they do this? Is it a security thing? That doesn’t make sense – Safari shows you any HTML on the web. How is this any different?

It’s not much better in iTunes. Here’s the standard Show Info view. It isn’t the same show, but you can bet that you see a plain-text type view instead of properly rendered HTML.

iTunes Show Info

My bet is that extensive show notes are an anomaly. When iTunes podcasting support was originally added shows didn’t put much effort into extensive notes, so they didn’t bother with HTML formatting. But today it’s different – we have richly detailed, and HELPFUL, show notes, except Apple never updated the way they’re rendered.

Between stuff like this, and the poor syncing between iTunes and iOS (although iOS-to-iOS appears to be much more reliable), podcasts.app still has a ways to go.

It’s strange, because Apple was a pioneer here. They have the best way to discover podcasts and arguably the worst way to listen to them.