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  • dtoub 1:09 pm on Monday, May 23, 2016, 1:09 pm Permalink | Reply  

    iCloud problems: my email to Tim Cook 


    Dear Mr. Cook,
    Greetings. I am a long-time Mac user (since the early 90’s) and have been with iCloud since the early days when it was .mac (and I still use my .mac email address).
    After many issues with iCloud, I have grown very disappointed and frustrated with the service, for which me and my wife each pay every month. Here are some of the problems I’ve found and have also been reported by many others:
    • The Photos app will initially show only empty thumbnail placeholders on my iOS devices and my MacBook Pro when iCloud is turned off then back on. Rather than download the thumbnails automatically, I have to painstakingly scroll through every thumbnail (I have over 18,000 photos) on every device in order to have them displayed. Without the thumbnails, it’s pretty useless as a photo library.
    • I’ve been on .mac/iCloud email since 2002. Two months ago, I just happened to notice that all of my iCloud emails were gone from iCloud. I could even date, based on my backups, when the even occurred, and I was on a plane that day (and as you could imagine, it’s not easy to accidentally delete over 17,000 emails manually). I contacted Apple support, and they were not helpful; after the call got lost by the first support person, I contacted a second who had no idea how to reinstall the backup I had and kept accusing me of manually deleting thousands of emails. It was clearly a server issue, and after researching it online myself, I was able to restore all but a few weeks of emails from a Time Machine backup. But this was clearly not good. I never even got a survey about the support team, which is odd since every interaction I’ve ever had with Apple support led to at least one email asking how they did. That suggests to me that the reps involved knew they blew it.
    • And today, for reasons I suspect are within the iCloud backend, I was locked out of my iCloud account and had to reset my password. Ever since, I have been plagued with frequent requests to log back into iCloud on all my devices, which as you can understand is pretty painful during the work day.
    I still love my Apple devices, but admittedly have had to switch to alternative software at times (Airmail rather than Mail, Fantastical rather than Calendar and Reminders) because it’s become apparent even to a die-hard Apple supporter like me that Apple’s software has become less reliable and lacks many useful features. And this extends to paid services like iCloud. I do not understand why iCloud has such poor reliability of late, despite the status page always showing green, as if there are no problems. The iCloud issues today occupied a good deal of time, and I’m still dealing with persistent requests to log in. I wanted you to know, as that is perhaps the only way to help make things better. I’m not the only person with lackluster iCloud performance and reliability; my experience probably has been even better than what I’ve seen reported by others. But it is disturbing nonetheless. I would be happy to follow up with you or a delegate about this. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

     

    Best regards,

    David Toub, MD, MBA 

    Sent with Airmail
     
  • dtoub 11:52 pm on Sunday, April 10, 2016, 11:52 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    wither Apple 


    Please excuse me but I’m going to rant a bit and in a pretty technical and boring fashion.

    I noticed today that my personal iCloud email account only went back as far as 2/23/16. That was odd, since I had emails dating from 2002 and much as I wish I only had 336 emails to my name, that’s not reality.

    I know I hadn’t deleted nearly 20,000 emails en masse. I’m not even sure my mail client would let me without a warning. And looking at my Time Machine backups, everything from 2/23 on had only a small inbox file (technically a .mbox file) of several MB; my inbox file before that date on my backups had 3.7 GB. So clearly, something happened on Apple’s backend on or around 2/23/16 to cause 14 years of emails to just vanish.

    I contacted Apple, in part to let them know that this happened, since looking on the Web, this has been reported by others dating back several years, and nothing was every done to help them recover their emails. The first senior support person with whom I spoke tried to recover the old emails on the server side, but as I expected, all that did was restore 117 emails I had recently deleted, so that didn’t help. And when he went to consult someone else, placing me on hold, he accidentally disconnected me.

    I called back and got another senior support person, and I’ve not had a more frustrating tech support experience with Apple in many years. I happened to know where the relevant backup files were and copied them to my Desktop and per his suggestion, tried to import them as an .mbox file. It failed. He told me to have Time Machine import it instead of my dragging it from a TM backup (like there’s a difference?) and the same thing happened. I then replaced the (5 MB) INBOX.mbox folder with the old one (3.7 GB), and even after restarting my Macbook Pro, nothing had changed. At that point, the IT guy started blaming the fact that I had installed, as part of the Appleseed program, the latest 10.11.5 update (pretty minor, and nothing with Mail changed). I explained that I hadn’t updated to 10.11.5 until four days ago at the urging of another Apple support person when I had an issue with iTunes (didn’t fix the issue, BTW), and that clearly doesn’t explain why my email disappeared two months ago.

    At that point, I was pretty frustrated, and while he was going on about how I shouldn’t have even called tech support for this as it’s clearly an OS X beta issue (which it isn’t), I tried a different way of importing the old inbox and that easily went into Mail, but as a folder on my computer. Oh, and the IT guy had to have me explain where it was located in the Mail sidebar.

    So right now I’m dragging emails to my iCloud Inbox folder (it wouldn’t take 16,000 emails at once) and should be restored at some point. But it shouldn’t be this painful. I told the guy that Apple’s products used to “just work,” and now, they just don’t. I shouldn’t have to replace Mail with a third-party email client because Mail stopped working well with my company’s Exchange server. I shouldn’t have to purchase a third-party calendar app because Calendar stopped working with Exchange. The innovation and reliability, at least in terms of services and software, are no longer at Apple. Instead of trying to make things thinner, how about making them more reliable, or actually work?

    The reality is that the first IT guy, who I sensed knew something, accidentally hung up on me and did not call me back. The second IT person was well-meaning, but largely clueless as to how Mail works and how email folders can be restored. Even worse, he admitted to me that he knew little about how iCloud works. Wow.

    Unreal.

    Just glad I have backups. I also have every incoming email get resent to a Gmail account I only use for such backups, so that would have been a clunky but potential fallback.

     
    • James Katt 9:29 pm on Monday, April 11, 2016, 9:29 pm Permalink

      So you had 20,000 emails in your inbox.
      That is a recipe for disaster. I wouldn’t rely on a cloud database holding the emails.
      I usually download the email and place them in folders on my Mac.
      Then I backup the emails externally when I do clone backups – of which I do nine.
      And I backup the emails to other apps which can extract the emails from Apple Mail.

    • dtoub 9:47 pm on Monday, April 11, 2016, 9:47 pm Permalink

      I don’t know that this is a “recipe for disaster.” Hell, Gmail was touted as a repository for email so one never has to delete anything. Indeed, all my iCloud mail is copied to Gmail at the server level as a backup.

      Archiving email on one’s computer is hardly a recipe for stability. Hard drives die. Disasters happen. I keep redundant backups and that’s what helped me fix this issue, but I’ve never heard that storing email in the cloud per sé is bad. Using iCloud might be, but using a cloud in theory is a good idea (but of course does not obviate making backups).

  • dtoub 11:29 am on Thursday, March 24, 2016, 11:29 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    biggest iOS and OS X gripes 


    In no particular order…

    iOS 9.3:

    • For all versions of iOS, when one changes the volume, the speaker image on the screen lingers for 1-2 seconds and totally obscures much of the display. A better approach would be to have a linear image appear at the top of the screen (above most of the display) depicting the volume, much like disc capacity is represented in Disk Utility, iTunes, etc.
    • Geofenced reminders often don’t trigger until the second time one gets to a destination. If Maps knows I’m home, why doesn’t Reminders?
    • Mail has come a long way (I always return to it every time I try another Mail replacement, like Outlook, CloudMagic, Spark, etc). But wouldn’t it be nice if like those alternative email clients, one could schedule specific emails to appear at a later date?
    • Need to be able to finally remove stock Apple apps that are of no relevance to the user
    • It would be much easier to use Play Next and other features of Music if it responded to 3D Touch or a swipe gesture. Trying to click the tiny ellipsis (…) to the right of a track is not easy.
    • One still cannot search the Reading List in Safari in iOS, even though one can do so on OS X (and one can search the browser history in iOS).

     

    OS 10.11.4:

    • Calendar still has a horrible design. Does one scroll up or to the right? Is it even clear which month one is viewing? Just bad.
    • After invoking a search and then clicking the x to remove the search term, why am I taken back to Inbox rather than the last viewed mailbox (eg, Sent, etc)?
    • Why do Message notifications not end up in Notifications?
    • Speaking of Notifications, why do I have to click on either Today or Notifications when in iOS I can swipe between them? Seems like that should be a unified approach, no?
    • I like having multiple desktops, but unlike iOS, why can’t I swipe between app windows (rather than desktops)? If I close one app, it doesn’t take me to the last used app, but to an adjacent window. That seems odd.
    • The fact that I have to use great shareware tools like Bartender and BetterTouchTool for things that one would assume would have been built into the OS says a lot
    • Preview constantly opens with the sidebar open, no matter how my preferences are set
    • As Kirk McElhearn astutely noted, there is no way to set a global font preference for Notes
     
    • Abrey 11:40 am on Friday, March 25, 2016, 11:40 am Permalink

      Being able to do a search in Notes in iOS would be a great convenience. Admittedly haven’t updated to iOS 9.3 yet so maybe my wish has been granted.

    • dtoub 11:44 am on Friday, March 25, 2016, 11:44 am Permalink

      It actually has. One can search in iOS Notes now, which is helpful. Oddly, however, one still cannot search the Reading List in Safari in iOS, even though one can do so on OS X (and one can search the browser history in iOS). Something else I should add to this list!

    • appleisgrindingmygears 12:25 pm on Friday, March 25, 2016, 12:25 pm Permalink

      Another gripe in Calendar that has been outstanding in it is that when you create an event and add an attachment to it, it does not get uploaded to Apple’s servers. I have for the past year tried unsuccessfully to get Apple to fix this but with no success.

    • dtoub 12:26 pm on Friday, March 25, 2016, 12:26 pm Permalink

      Yup. Good one. I mostly do this with Exchange and it seems to allow attachments, but I’ve only done this in OS X, not iOS.

  • dtoub 1:57 pm on Thursday, December 10, 2015, 1:57 pm Permalink | Reply  

    performance of ‘this piece intentionally left blank’ with video 


    Amazing performance by the University of Tennessee, Martin Contemporary Music Group, led by Stephen Downing. I’m really blown away.

     
  • dtoub 8:59 am on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 8:59 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bugs, ,   

    iOS 8 bugs that really irk me 


    I’m running iOS 8.1.2. In no particular order:

    • Calendar appointments display in GMT
    • WiFi usually doesn’t see some routers unless I enter the router name, and then it usually forgets the password
    • Why can’t the OS be smart enough to choose the best connection rather than default to the last-used router, which might be barely a dot in terms of strength?
    • I can still make my iPad 4 crash by swiping through several apps with four fingers
    • Multitasking gestures stop working entirely on my iPad after it wakes up unless I swipe up to open the control center
    • Music I didn’t intentionally sync appears on my iPhone. This isn’t an iCloud issue in general, but a syncing issue from my computer’s iTunes.
    • Sometimes, music that was ostensibly synced, really wasn’t, and the track plays for a split-second then disappears
    • Settings is a mess. Where things reside seems almost stochastic at times.
    • Would it kill someone to actually order apps in Notifications by alphabetical order?

    These aren’t all the bugs, of course, or even all of the most annoying ones. But it’s a start. I know that Apple is working to fix the GMT issue, but it sure would be nice for them to deal with at least some of these others. And don’t get me started on the bugs in 10.10.

     
    • Larry Harrison 12:49 pm on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 12:49 pm Permalink

      Yeah! Multitasking Gestures is totally flaky! Sometimes they work sometimes they don’t. Toggling them on and off in Controls usually makes them work – for a while – then they randomly stop again. Damn annoying. Been that way since iOS 8.0, and not fixed through several updates. Still really buggy. And Apple won’ even acknowledge the problem.

  • dtoub 5:17 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 5:17 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps,   

    my 2014 list of indispensable, well-designed iOS apps (along with some clunkers) 


    Obviously, this is totally subjective, but here are the iOS apps that I really can’t do without. Generally, these are extremely well designed, and have sufficient updates to keep them useful. All are available on the iOS App Store, hence the lack of embedded links. These are always on my Home screen in one or another folder. In no particular order…

    • Google Maps. I am not a fan of Google on many levels, but they get Search right, and this almost never fails me. Now that they updated the UX, making the arrow even bigger (like that of Apple Maps), it’s even better. I have no reason to ever use Apple Maps.
    • Waze. The interface is not terribly pretty, but it works and I really like the crowdsourcing. There are many things that could be improved, but for long trips, I do like being alerted to slowdowns in the road and other obstacles.
    • Paprika. The best recipe manager out there, period. Unlike abject failures like TheRecipeManager that I’d really like to forget ever having had to use, Paprika syncs effortlessly with other devices and our Macs, and it’s trivial to import a recipe from the Web with one click. Worth every penny if you cook anything.
    • Xpenser. This is what I use to manage all my receipts for work travel. It uploads everything into the cloud and I can then obtain a report with the receipts through a Web site (www.xpenser.com). It always works, and it’s free.
    • GoodReader. While it’s not perfect, it does provide a great way to work with PDFs in iOS, and I use it all the time to securely annotate documents. The scrolling could use some work, but otherwise it’s something that most people really should probably have on their devices. It also opens compressed files.
    • Office for iOS. When this came out earlier this year, it was really annoying and not useful, in that one needed a pricey subscription to edit documents. Now that it’s free with a few limitations (and one can get around the lack of Track Changes by simply enabling it in a document via one’s computer), integrates with Dropbox, and has a decent UI, it’s a no-brainer. Much as I liked Pages, it just can’t compare when working with others who use MS Word. I still prefer Keynote any day, but being able to use Excel rather than fight with Numbers is so much better.
    • Newsify. I’ve tried many RSS newsreaders on iOS, and this is what I’ve found works best for me, and it’s free. Reeder used to be nice, but now it’s just not worth the additional money except on OS X, since Newsify doesn’t exist for the Mac OS.
    • Zite. It’s now end-of-lifed, and nearly dead after being purchased by the owners of Flipboard, and doesn’t seem to get updated news as much as it used to. But it’s still a great news aggregator and will be sorely missed. Flipboard is getting better through having access to Zite’s backend, but still can’t really replace Zite.
    • Kayak. I travel. A lot. Kayak helps me manage all of this, storing all my itineraries and giving me updates on flights. It used to be a bit more reliable and timely than it is now, but still is critical to my travel.
    • Transit Maps. It stores all my transit maps for various cities in Europe and in the US, and works perfectly.
    • Google Translate. It does what it is supposed to do.
    • Word Lens. While this would be even more useful if it had more language packs (like Dutch; I really need it in Dutch), and isn’t always reliable, when it works, it’s amazing. It uses my iPhone’s camera to translate signage into English (or in the other direction).
    • Runkeeper. A nice way to track exercise, with GPS and other functionality. It also integrates with other apps.
    • MyFitnessPal. This tracks food intake, integrates with my Fitbit, and really helps one try to stay healthy.
    • 1Password. Absolutely indispensable for managing passwords, and now has TouchID functionality.

    Now for a few apps that I really wish were better…

    • Apple Maps. Getting better, but still nowhere near where it needs to be.
    • Quicken (2015). It works, but could be so much better and functional, and still crashes at times.
    • Wells Fargo. I loved the Mobile Deposit function when it came out, but now it’s become buggy for many users and is much less streamlined and elegant than similar apps from other banks (eg, Citizens Bank). I tried to give them feedback and they confused it with a tech support need that they required to be done via telephone, so I finally gave up.
    • Haaretz. The iPhone app has no swiping capability, often crashes, still has ads for paid users, but at least can work. The iPad app was deleted from my iPad after I realized it was horrible and not worth bothering with compared with just going to the Web site in Safari.
    • US Airways. I’m hoping this changes with the merger. It never remembers logins, and is nothing more than a Web app disguised as an iOS app.
    • Facebook. For something that claims to be updated (with no changes actually specified) every two weeks in the App Store, it’s only gotten worse. Many people hate that Messenger functionality was split off. I hate the lack of utility, the crashes, etc. I don’t really believe those claims that they update it every two weeks.
    • Paper. This was, I suspect, supposed to be a replacement for the main Facebook app. It isn’t. In many ways, it’s even worse than the Facebook app, even though the design is better in some ways.
    • Wikibot. When it doesn’t crash, it’s a great way to read Wikipedia.
    • Scramble. The HD version is now a year old, crashes and is totally unusable. The iPhone version isn’t much better.
     
  • dtoub 1:15 pm on Sunday, November 9, 2014, 1:15 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: focused music, minimallsm   

    focused music 


    My music has been labelled “postminimalist.” And “minimalist.” I’m okay with either, although I’m not at all shy about the “minimalism” label.

    But it occurred to me that how I really approach composing a new work is to focus on a small number of elements. That leads to repetition at times, but most of it comes out of improvisation rather than some system.

    So I’d prefer to refer to my music as “focused.”

     
  • dtoub 3:02 pm on Thursday, October 9, 2014, 3:02 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: indiegogo,   

    we’re raising money for a new album! 


    A few days ago, an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign went live, with the aim of funding a recording of quartet for piano and for four, as performed by the remarkable pianist Stephane Ginsburgh. The album will come out on Maria de Alvear’s label World Edition in 2016. Before the CD has been released, contributors will be able to receive a digital download of the entire album, along with an audio file of the world premiere of quartet for piano from June, 2014, personalized scores of the works, etc.

    So if you’d like to help make this album a reality, please donate. It will really bring you good karma.

     
  • dtoub 11:42 pm on Sunday, September 7, 2014, 11:42 pm Permalink | Reply  

    air waves (2014) for brass quintet and synthesizer 


    Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 12.01.58 AM

    Before I mention this piece, I have to say that I spent probably two hours today trying to make a simple addition to the “about the music” page on my music site, since snippets of earlier text kept appearing and additional columns and line breaks as well, even though none of these were in the actual page code and rendered well outside of WordPress. I’m convinced WordPress is possessed or else has something against new music, since it made that minor task horribly painful.

    Okay, now that that’s out of my system…I have a new work.

    I was interested in putting together a brass work with mostly static chords. But a few of the chords sounded best with a very low pedal tone, which unfortunately were a bit out of range of even a tuba. So my solution was to add a synthesizer that essentially doubled all the brass tones. Paul Bailey kindly looked it over and made some great suggestions (such as the addition of a French horn, which I was initially avoiding). The result is air waves, which lasts around 20′-25′.

    The score is here. The audio file (mp3) is here.

     
    • Paul H. Muller 6:49 pm on Thursday, September 11, 2014, 6:49 pm Permalink

      The synth was a good idea – adds some smoothness and evens out the blend. I esp liked the stretch after 17 min…

    • dtoub 7:06 pm on Thursday, September 11, 2014, 7:06 pm Permalink

      Thanks! Glad it worked!

  • dtoub 9:21 pm on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 9:21 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: for philip glass,   

    philip glass marathon concert 


    Several years ago, I wrote a really long string quartet called for philip glass. It’s never been performed, but one of my favorite sections occurs around 37 minutes from the end (the whole thing is around two hours, which is actually short by the standards of folks like Feldman or La Monte Young). I arranged that section for piano at the behest of pianist Nicolas Horvath, who often does these really long, marathon-like concerts of minimalist music and who last year premiered my piece for four in France.

    Well, Nicolas is premiering for philip glass in its piano version at a Glass marathon in Paris on Friday, April 11. That should be a really neat concert, with over 90 works in addition to the piano music of Philip Glass. Quite a superhuman feat!

    This will be the third time he has performed a work of mine (he’s already done one twice; that’s the first time I’ve had a piece performed more than once) and with Stephane Ginsburgh’s concert in Bruxelles in June, I’ll have had as many live performances in Europe as I’ve had here in the US. It’s getting there.

     
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