May 1, 2019

Ultrawide Screen Auto Layout Button

At work I have the following setup to get my work done most efficiently.

Work Desk Monitor Setup

Throughout the day, I disconnect and connect my laptop from the monitor as I go to meetings. Every time I come back to plug in, I find myself setting up my windows on the Ultrawide since most of the time I have a standard” setup.

As with anything related to computers, if you keep doing it, just automate it.

So, that’s what I did. I made a custom TouchBar button using BetterTouchTool that automatically sets up the windows on my Ultrawide the way I want them. Such a better way to live!

BetterTouchTool Custom TouchBar Button

BetterTouchTool Ultrawide Monitor MacBook Pro TouchBar
April 28, 2019

Six New Games - April 2019

A few games I have added to my collection over the last few months that I wanted to share with you all. 🎮

Baba Is You

Baba is You Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Very unique and awesome!

Boxboy! + Boxgirl!

Box Boy Box Girl Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Great game for co-op play.

Cattails

CatTails Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

It’s like Stardew Valley with cats!

Hob

Hob Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Cool visuals and gameplay. From the creators of the Torchlight series.

Cuphead

CupHead Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

So. Damn. Difficult. Really awesome art and music!

Starlink Game Thumbnail
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Cool all around spaceship game. It’s basically what I thought No Mans Sky was going to be. It has Star Fox!

Games Nintendo Switch
April 20, 2019

Siri Shortcuts - Episode 10

Shortcut Name: Where are we dropping?
Revision: 1.0
Add to Shortcuts!

What does it do?
This is a simple fun one. A quick shortcut to randmonly choose a map loaction to drop at in Fortnite Battle Royale! This is based on the maps from Season 8. Can be used with Siri for automated advice!

How does it work?

  1. Create a list of all names map locations.
  2. Randomly select a location.
  3. Speak the location.

Source Code”
Shortcut 010 Code Screenshot

Check out other shortcuts

iOS Shortcuts Siri
April 16, 2019

I’m Looking At Cameras. Again.

I love photography. This is not news to anyone who knows me. I haven’t had a stand-alone camera since I sold my Fujifilm X-PRO2 a couple years ago (an absolutely wonderful camera). At that time I wasn’t in a place mentally that made sense for me to have it around. Rather than the usual joy I feel when it comes to making photos, every time I saw the camera not being used I only felt guilt.

I have been taking all my photos on my iPhone and making some great imagery in the mean time. iPhone cameras have gotten so good in recent years, there isn’t really a need for a stand-alone camera for a lot of people. If you are looking at stand-alone cameras nowadays, there is generally a very specific reason. Profession, specific subjects you are trying to capture, etc.

For me, it’s the separation from the regular world. A chance to see the world from a different perspective. A set of constraints that you have to creatively work through to get to your objective.

Whenever I am looking to make a larger purchase, I always create one of my patented Jason Comparison Spreadsheets.” (Don’t worry, it’s fun for me.) This has lead me down a different path than I was expecting.

It’s been a number of years and I haven’t really kept up with camera news, so I have been doing quite a bit of research this time around. I still haven’t made a decision, but there are some front runners.

Fujifilm X-T3

Sony A7 III

Leica Q2

Each of these cameras is quite distinctive and with that carry a laundry list of pros and cons. There is definitely some thinking to be done on this, but if forced to pick one right this second, I would choose the Leica Q2. This one is an interesting beast. The majority of what would be considered cons for most, I find to be pros. Fixed lens, connection ports, simple video support.

I like being challenged to pick out singular still images from an infinite canvas of the world, and my gut tells me that this tool fits my way of thinking.

More to come… 📷

Photography Camera iPhone Sony Fujifilm Leica
April 14, 2019

This Is Not A Rant

It’s somewhat of a lesson in business I suppose.

I recently sent in my old 10.5” iPad Pro to the Apple GiveBack program. Keep in mind this service actually has nothing to do with Apple as they use a third party service. Other than letting their name, Apple, appear in the program name, they are completely hands off throughout the process.

The lesson, if you can call it that, is to be aware of who you are partnering with in business. The customer will always ultimately blame you for any heartache they experience when dealing with your business extensions or partners. In this case, I am aware of the delineation between Apple and Brightstar, but the average consumer would not be. This is the kind of thing that can sour a customer on your brand even when the experience actually had nothing to do with your direct brand.

How the interaction went

I was originally quoted $351 after filling out the online form about the device. Great, let’s do it! I realize I could have probably gotten more money had I sold it myself, but I never want to jump through all the hoops and annoyances that come with eBay, Craigslist, enter name of other online service. Brightstar TRade In Quote

After Brightstar received my product they replied with a revised quote of $0, due to case condition.”

This is the photo they sent showing the proposed damage. Damaged iPad Pro

Sorry, what..?

My initial reply

Hello, I have reviewed the photos related to this value change. The photo appears to show the case is bent? This is absolutely not the condition the item was shipped in. The item left me in pristine condition. This damage either occurred in transit or at the delivery location. What are the next steps to escalate and resolve this issue as the item I shipped 100% matched the quoted criteria?

Brightstar

We are sorry to see that your assessment resulted in a revised value, however a bent device is not  consistent with shipping/physical damage and would be a pre-existing condition prior to sending your device to Brightstar. Our receiving team also checks the packaging for physical/shipping damage and there was no report of shipping damage.

Me

Thanks for the reply. Given the response, I will need to escalate this case. The only two points in the transaction that this damage could have occurred is either 1) in shipping or 2) at the Birghtstar facility. The unit was packaged in the provided packaging with no absolutely no damage to case when sent.

Brightstar

Hello Jason‍, Thank you for contacting the Apple GiveBack support team.

As the previous email mentions a bent device is not  consistent with shipping/physical damage and would be a pre-existing condition prior to sending your device to Brightstar.

Our receiving team also checks the packaging for physical/shipping damage and there was no report of shipping damage for Quote ID XXXXXXX.

No further action will be taken from or end

So, there you have it. They entertain no responsibility, and that’s the end of it as far as they are concerned. I now have a basically worthless iPad coming back to me and they wash their hands of it. I still can’t believe it. I would like to believe that nothing happened on their end to cause this, but all I know for sure is how it looked when I sent it; and that was perfect. Make of that what you will..

I in no way expect Apple to do anything about this, but I will absolutely be letting them know about the way in which this matter was handled by their partner.

Apple GiveBack Brightstar iPad Pro
April 13, 2019

Mac Fresh Install App Checklist

If you are setting up a new Mac and choose not to do a migration (for whatever reason), you may want to have a list of all your applications so you can get back up and running as quickly as possible on the new machine. This is a quick tip that I always use when I am setting up a new Mac.

On your old Mac” Follow these easy steps to get a quick checklist created of all your currently installed apps.

  1. Open terminal.
  2. Copy and paste the following command:
    ls /Applications > ~/Desktop/app_checklist.txt Mac Terminal Screenshot
  3. Open this new text file that is on your desktop. Select all and copy the text. Sreenshot of text file on desktop Text file listing mac apps
  4. Open Notes.app. Paste this text into a new note.
  5. Select all the text in the new note, and click the Make a Checklist” button. Apple Notes list of Mac apps
  6. Done! 🎉
Mac Software Apps Terminal
March 11, 2019

Luna Display

Part of our new Mac mini purchase included a Luna display USB-C adapter. Because the iPad Pro is what we consider to be our main computer”, this was going to be a way to utilize the Mac mini for short sessions while on our iPads.

Here are some of my observations during use.

A. I would prefer the Mac app to be a menu bar app rather than a dock app. There doesn’t really need to be an app in my dock 100% of the time.

B. This window seems to always want to be showing on the Mac which is useless when you are on the Mac. Luna Display Dialog Box

C. Every time I connect, it sets the display configuration to extended, which is not ideal when you are connecting with an iPad to use the Mac from another room. So I have to switch the display preference to mirrored every time I connect. Not sure why it doesn’t allow for a default, or at least remember the last connection state. Maybe something I am missing?

At the end of all this, I have found that using Screens (with Screens Connect) is a more simple and effective way to accomplish remote control of the Mac mini. Plus I really like the way they have implemented touch mouse control.

It’s a neat little device, but I am struggling to see why it would be any better” for remote desktop use compared to a software solution.

*I am not using it as an additional display, which is one of the key features of the device. This works as intended. Perhaps I just misunderstood the use cases for this device.

If you are using a Luna Display and are not having these issues, let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks! 📧

Mac mini Luna Display Remote Desktop Screens Screens Connect
March 11, 2019

Freedom™

Author: Daniel Suarez
Title: Freedom™

Freedom TM Book Cover

2009 saw one of the most inventive techno-thriller debuts in decades as Daniel Suarez introduced his terrifying and tantalizing vision of a new world order. Daemon captured the attention of the tech community, became a national bestseller, garnered attention from futurists, literary critics, and the halls of government-leaving readers clamoring for the conclusion to Suarez’s epic story.

In the opening chapters of Freedom™, the Daemon is well on its way toward firm control of the modern world, using an expanded network of real-world, dispossessed darknet operatives to tear apart civilization and rebuild it anew. Civil war breaks out in the American Midwest, with the mainstream media stoking public fear in the face of this Corn Rebellion.” Former detective Pete Sebeck, now the Daemon’s most famous and most reluctant operative, must lead a small band of enlightened humans in a populist movement designed to protect the new world order.

But the private armies of global business are preparing to crush the Daemon once and for all. In a world of conflicted loyalties, rapidly diminishing government control, and a new choice between free will and the continuing comforts of ignorance, the stakes could not be higher: hanging in the balance is nothing less than democracy’s last hope to survive the technology revolution.

Goodreads Link
Previous Book in Series
Amazon Link

Finished Reading: February 24, 2019

Full Star RatingFull Star RatingFull Star RatingFull Star RatingFull Star Rating

Reading Books Daemon Freedom
March 10, 2019

Podcasts going down the same road?

I can’t say I am happy to see podcasting heading down the road of Netflix, Hulu, (list the other nine streaming services)..

Another form of media that wants me to have 6 different apps to be able to hear everything the way I want. Rad..

Historically collecting podcasts was so easy.

  1. Find RSS feed.
  2. Add to player.

Wondering if Apple will add podcasts back into  Music and make deals to include content from these ad free and original content sources?

Perhaps this exclusive / ad free content is only available in these silo apps for some period of time, then it moves to ad supported in normal rss feeds?

I guess this means that podcasting has found the mainstream given the number of companies looking to pull money out of the medium now?

Lots of open questions, but it’s definitely clear that Podcast consumption as we know it is changing, and the change is accelerating.

What’s your take?

I ❤️ Podcasts

Podcasts
March 2, 2019

iPad Pro Hyper Drive

Since I use my 2018 iPad Pro SO MUCH, I decided to pick up a Hyper Drive to expand capabilities for today, but more than likely for the future.

Hardware
The hardware looks great and feels very high quality. It matches the iPad color and fits very securely. The unit I got came with a couple swappable securement brackets. One for use with no screen protector, one for use with a screen protector, and an extension cable version in case you don’t want the unit mounted directly against your iPad Pro.

Ports

  1. HDMI
  2. USB-C Pass Through Charging
  3. Micro SD Card Slot
  4. SD Card Slot
  5. USB-A
  6. 3.5mm Headphone

I never ended up getting a Hyper Drive for my MacBook Pro so I can’t compare it to that but this iPad Pro unit looks great and works well. If you find yourself needing a bunch of ports for your iPad Pro, this could be an option for you.

Update 2019-03-05
Interesting bonus! I tried plugging it into my MacBook Pro to see if it was even possible, and sure enough it fits, and it functions! One more win for USB-C.
iPad Hyper Drive in MacBook Pro

Hyper Drive - iPad Pro

iPad Pro - Hyper Drive

iPad Pro Hyper Drive
February 23, 2019

Two MacBooks or One Mac Mini?

Valerie and I were looking at getting new laptops for the last couple months. She was looking to get a laptop as she hasn’t had one for a while. I was going to replace my 2016 MacBook Pro. After looking over all the various configurations, it looked like we were both landing on the same 13″ MacBook Pro specs. Meanwhile, in the background, the new Mac mini launched and I was looking to get one fur use at home as an always on computer”. Then it hit us; we didn’t necessarily need a laptop, what we needed was access to a Mac. I have been doing most of my daily personal computing on the 2018 13″ iPad Pro, and Valerie has been on a 2018 11″ iPad Pro. Those are our portable computers, so really we just needed some mac that we can both have access to, both locally and remotely. So why not just get a high performance Mac mini and share it? That’s exactly what we did!

Mac mini Configuration
Processor: 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7
RAM: 32GB 2666MHz DDR4
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 (Option for eGPU if needed in the future)
SSD: 1TB
Ethernet: 10 Gigabit (for future use)

BYOKMDS (Bring Your Own Keyboard Mouse Display Storage)
Keyboard: Keytron K1 (blog post about it) / Magic Keyboard
Mouse: Logitech MX Master / Magic Trackpad
Display: LG 27UK650-W 27″ 4K UHD IPS Monitor with HDR10
External Drives: G-Drive 4TB USB-C Drives

Fast User Switching
In the last ~20 years of using Macs, I don’t think I have ever setup a personal Mac in a multi-user environment. Well, that changes now! We are running two accounts on the Mac mini using Fast User Switching so we can switch back and forth quickly when either of us needs the machine. Having multiple user accounts also give us the ability to have a shared space that is fully RW for both of us. Finally, this enables either of use to have background services running in the background while the other user is utilizing the machine.

Unlock with Apple Watch
Since we went with the Mac mini instead of the MacBook Pro, something we didn’t get is TouchID. I definitely miss TouchID (and the Touch Bar!), but the ability to unlock with Apple Watch at least makes logging in a little more automated.

What are some things I want to do with this Mac mini?

  • Download and backup all original photos
  • Filter and file mail
  • Plex Server
  • iTunes Server
  • iCloud Drive offline copy
  • Games (maybe?)
  • iOS content local cache
  • File server
  • File archive storage
  • Auto process tasks from iPad
  • HomeBridge
  • VPN
  • Who knows what else!?

As it always has been, the Mac mini is a great all around machine!

Mac mini MacBook Pro iPad Pro
January 22, 2019

Dual SIM iPhone Support

Ok, so with the addition of dual sim support in iOS 12.1.2 I went and got an iPhone XS Max so I could consolidate my iPhone X (personal) and iPhone 8 (work) into a single phone.

My Cellular Accounts
Personal: T-Mobile
Work: AT&T

Hurdles
When I initially called T-Mobile to setup my primary number as the eSIM, I was told it is not possible to do with post paid accounts at this time”. Fast forward, that was bullshit and it’s totally possible. Once I got that going, I then popped in my work AT&T physical SIM card as the secondary line. This was now working, but there was one major caveat. Only one line on a phone can be associated with iMessage and FaceTime. This was unfortunately a deal breaker since I needed iMessage for both of my numbers.

Other Stuff
It was definitely weird to see two sets of signal bars in the iOS status bar! It was also interesting to see how the system handled the distinction of your primary and secondary number when it came to calls, messages, etc. The system added a distinct P” or S” logo prepended to entries to identify which line they belonged to. This also carried over to my Apple Watch.

Unfortunately because of the inability to use iMessage with both numbers, I had to go back to two separate phones. For now..

I am going to revisit this in September with the next batch of iPhones and iOS 13.

iPhone SIM T-Mobile AT&T
January 17, 2019

Ranking Connector Types

🚨Tech Controversy Corner🚨

This is a weird one that almost no one cares about, but it’s been on my mind lately for some reason. 🤷‍♂️

Ranking Cable Connectors! Strictly on the physical connector itself, not its speed or capabilities.

Disclaimer: 100% opinion and nowhere near a complete list

Data Connectors (speed not a factor)

  1. Lightning
  2. USB-C
  3. USB Type A / USB 3.0 Type A
  4. Firewire 400
  5. USB Mini A
  6. Serial
  7. Parallel
  8. USB 3.0 Type B
  9. USB Micro A
  10. USB Type B
  11. eSata
  12. Firewire 800
  13. Thunderbolt
  14. USB 3.0 Micro B

Video Connector (video quality not a factor)

  1. USB-C
  2. HDMI
  3. DisplayPort
  4. DVI
  5. BNC
  6. VGA
  7. Apple Display Connector
  8. Component
  9. Composite
  10. Mini DisplayPort
  11. Mini VGA
  12. Micro DVI
  13. Mini DVI
  14. S-Video

The interesting thing is that we are finally at a place in time where a single cable can do everything! USB-C is great and I am trying like hell to get everything I own converted over to this connector.

Connectors Computers Video Cables
January 15, 2019

Keytron K1 Mechanical Keyboard - Mac

I ordered a Keytron K1 87 Mac Mechanical Keyboard from a Kickstarter and it just showed up this past week!
*They changed their name to Keychron at some point.

Features ✔️
Tactile feel
Wireless or wired
Ultra-slim
Mac and Windows layouts available
19 RGB led effects
87 and 104 Key versions available
One key activate Siri
Can be connected to 3 devices with ability to switch between them with keyboard shortcut

Tactile Feel 🖐
The mechanical keys feel nice. They are a good level of clickyness”. It is taking me a little bit to get used to them as I have been using the iPad Pro Smart Folio case mostly lately.

Build Quality 🔨
The visual and physical quality is very good on this keyboard. I would have expected this to cost a lot more than it did.

RGB Lighting 💡
Some people like lights, some don’t. I had the option to get no lights, only white lights, or RGB lights (at different price points). I went full RGB because I am in the camp that likes lights! The lighting effects are really cool. Each key seems to have an LED under it, rather than zones, which is great. The only time this isn’t good is when a key has two rows of text on it (example: Page Down). In these cases, only the top row is fully illuminated.

Media Keys ⌨️
The top row is dedicated to F keys and Media keys. It also has a dedicated key for: Screenshots, Dictation, and Siri.

I am sure I will have more to say about this thing as the weeks go on, but it’s looking good so far. Also, it works well with both my MacBook Pro as well as my iPad Pro. 👍

Order One For Yourself

The Lighting Effects

Additional Photos

Mac Keyboard Keytron
December 31, 2018

2018 Running Challenge

Prior to this year (2018) I would never describe myself as a runner”. That changed this year when I decided to take health more seriously and create a goal for 2018 that would push me to be better than I ever have been in the past.

I have challenged myself to run 250 miles this year! Let’s go!

Week # Miles Run Week # Miles Run Week # Miles Run
1 7.42 19 4.04 37 6.45
2 8.24 20 7.53 38 5.35
3 6.09 21 6.25 39 7.36
4 2.00 22 5.01 40 4.12
5 4.05 23 3.41 41 10.80
6 9.57 24 6.20 42 5.34
7 11.18 25 2.49 43 5.58
8 3.59 26 10.57 44 2.08
9 10.30 27 4.07 45 2.84
10 6.11 28 2.50 46 3.06
11 6.49 29 4.45 47 0.00
12 7.82 30 8.32 48 3.52
13 6.98 31 3.35 49 3.42
14 2.52 32 10.31 50 2.57
15 2.68 33 10.96 51 5.45
16 6.27 34 4.61 52 4.69
17 4.64 35 1.25
18 8.12 36 8.17
TOTAL 290.19

2018 Running Log Data

Running 2018 Apple Watch
Jason Burk | 1999-2019
blot.im!
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