220: Numeric Professional


00:00:00   (upbeat music)

00:00:02   - Hello and welcome to Connected, episode 220.

00:00:11   I'm your host, Stephen Hackett,

00:00:13   and I'm joined by my co-host and friend, Federico Vatici.

00:00:16   - Hello, Stephen, how are you?

00:00:18   - I'm doing well.

00:00:19   We are without mic today,

00:00:21   so you and I can do what we've wanted to do for years

00:00:24   and talk about the Mac the whole time.

00:00:25   finally we can talk about real computers for real work because all those iPad discussions

00:00:32   that we do when Myke is around is all pretend. Our secret nature is to be pro Mac users.

00:00:38   And this is the true form of connected. Myke is not coming back, unfortunately. Myke is

00:00:45   done with the broadcast. So thank you for your service, Myke. This is our new show about

00:00:51   real computers.

00:00:52   Well, this real show is brought to you by our sponsors, Lindo, Luna Display, and Smile.

00:00:59   Before we get to the Mac Mini, we have to deal with some follow-up, Federico.

00:01:03   We have some follow-up.

00:01:04   Right at the beginning, where you should be, right?

00:01:06   That's right.

00:01:07   I was so furious, I was at the end.

00:01:11   Listener Matt has done us the solid and registered HomePodColo.com, so that is your HomePod colocation

00:01:18   company we discussed.

00:01:19   That link has been directed to the HomePod tag on MacStories, which I think is a nice

00:01:24   touch.

00:01:26   It's a temporary location, of course, as we're putting the finishing touches on our HomePod

00:01:32   colo service.

00:01:35   We are, in fact, finalizing the details.

00:01:39   The way that the company is going to operate, essentially, is we're going to have our John

00:01:42   Voorhees go to each user's house and install the HomePods himself.

00:01:48   So we're just finalizing the details of the five clients we have so far.

00:01:55   It's going well.

00:01:56   And you're the first client, Steven, in case you don't know.

00:02:00   Well I did actually buy a new HomePod for $100 off.

00:02:04   I know.

00:02:05   It's still in the box.

00:02:07   This week has been nuts and I haven't unboxed it yet, but it is here.

00:02:11   And I guess I'll wait for Jon to show up to plug it in for me.

00:02:16   So how many do you have now?

00:02:19   Two HomePods?

00:02:20   Two HomePods.

00:02:21   They're not a stereo pair because one's in the kitchen in the house and one is out here

00:02:24   with me in the studio.

00:02:26   There may be room for a third in our bedroom because we have an Echo there, but I think

00:02:31   two will do it for now.

00:02:34   The Best Buy deal went quick.

00:02:36   I saw it pretty early and the black ones are already sold out, so I have another white

00:02:40   one, which is fine.

00:02:42   I think both colors look nice in their own way.

00:02:44   I kind of wanted a dark one for out here, but I got a light one and I will get it set up

00:02:48   hopefully this afternoon. I'm in the midst of a little

00:02:51   studio renovation

00:02:53   which is a nice way to say I ran out of space and needed more shelves and so it's

00:02:58   everything's kind of piled up in the middle of the floor.

00:03:00   I think $100 off is probably the right price for the HomePod considering that

00:03:08   functionally speaking is more limited than you know

00:03:11   you can get with the Google, with the Echo. And I wanted to say two things. First one

00:03:16   is, at least in Italy, this holiday season, so leading up to Black Friday and now I guess

00:03:22   until Christmas, both Google and Amazon have really stepped up their game in terms of commercials

00:03:28   on TV. Like both the Google Home and the Echo are now officially available in Italy. And

00:03:35   And I also discovered, by the way, that Amazon is preventing existing users of the Echo,

00:03:41   like me, who bought US One, from setting it up in Italian. So if you have an original

00:03:48   US Echo, you cannot use the Italian language with it. But they're really going for it in

00:03:53   terms of commercials, both Google and the Echo. They're both using celebrities in their

00:03:59   commercials, which, I mean, does not surprise me because that kind of commercial always

00:04:04   works with the Italian audience, but I see them every few minutes on TV, basically.

00:04:08   And the second comment that I had, we had a small gathering for Thanksgiving, we had,

00:04:15   were a total of nine people for dinner. And when I put on some music, basically everybody

00:04:22   commented on the great quality of the HomePod. Like everybody wanted to know what kind of speaker

00:04:27   it was. I guess they were, like everybody was used to the, to the speaker that I had before,

00:04:33   because I used to show off the echo and all the commands that you could issue.

00:04:39   And so I think they remembered the sound quality of the echo and they were surprised by how

00:04:44   much better the HomePod was sounding.

00:04:46   So I thought that was interesting.

00:04:49   Yeah, that's pretty cool that people would notice.

00:04:53   I think too, people...

00:04:56   The second you interact with it, it's clear that it's not an echo and it looks different.

00:05:00   Like it has a design all into itself.

00:05:03   I don't think anything else really looks quite the way it does.

00:05:06   Plus at your house when there's like six of them, people are going to have questions.

00:05:11   I mean you're going to notice them.

00:05:12   It's like a wall of speakers.

00:05:13   So it's impossible to miss them.

00:05:17   Anyway, do we have more follow-ups even?

00:05:21   We do.

00:05:22   We do have some more follow-up.

00:05:23   Up next, talking about the Power Pick picture frame.

00:05:27   we spoke about this last week and I think most of us mocked it. Derek on Twitter had

00:05:32   a point that if you put it on your nightstand, your phone is only in it when you're sleeping,

00:05:38   but for the other 66% of the time, you have a nice picture frame on your nightstand and

00:05:42   not an ugly charger. This is a good point. I'm not sure we talked about it. I have two

00:05:47   problems with it though. One, I still think the whole idea is sort of silly. I don't know

00:05:51   about you, but sometimes I end up reaching for my phone sort of like when I'm half awake

00:05:56   and I probably shouldn't, but I do.

00:05:58   And I feel like if it's leaning up against this power pick

00:06:00   thing, it is a big risk of me dropping it.

00:06:04   I like that my phone charges while it's laying down.

00:06:09   In fact, our friends at Studio Neat

00:06:10   just announced a new version of their material dock

00:06:12   that includes wireless charging,

00:06:14   and I'm excited to pick one of those up,

00:06:16   because again, the phone can be laying down horizontally.

00:06:20   For some reason, that just makes me feel,

00:06:23   like it's safer to pick it up in the middle of the night

00:06:25   or something, so I'm still not on board with this product,

00:06:29   but Derek I think had a good point.

00:06:31   Also, Derek assumes that we're all sleeping

00:06:34   eight hours a night, which like, that'd be pretty nice.

00:06:37   - I wish.

00:06:38   - I'm pretty close to that most nights.

00:06:39   I know you're probably not, but.

00:06:42   - Not lately, yeah.

00:06:44   - Well, you're busy wiring Mac Minis

00:06:46   and installing HomePods, you got stuff to do, man.

00:06:49   - No, it's a lot of cables to manage.

00:06:51   - You got a business to start.

00:06:53   I have one of those Samsung wireless chargers that are not...

00:06:59   Like, it's an upright type of charger, like the iPhone rests vertically on it, but it

00:07:07   makes me...

00:07:08   Like, it doesn't make me uncomfortable, because I have the same problem as you.

00:07:11   I tend to reach out for my phone when I'm half awake, but it's got this rubber material

00:07:18   on it that's really grippy.

00:07:19   And so I never accidentally bumped into the phone with my hand when I was not paying attention

00:07:25   and dropped the phone, because it's kind of sticky, actually.

00:07:29   It's really, really...

00:07:30   Like, there's a circle of rubber all across the stand.

00:07:35   But I'm getting this new one for my desk.

00:07:39   Actually, the UPS guy was supposed to show up today, and it didn't show up, so I'm getting

00:07:42   concerned here.

00:07:45   I bought this charger that I saw in one of Jonathan Morrison's videos. It's called

00:07:52   Union something. Oh, man, I'm terrible with brand names. It's not Union City. I don't

00:07:59   know why I'm thinking of Union City, but there's Union in the name. But it looks really

00:08:04   cool. It's got this gray and black texture, and it looks like a flat ring, essentially,

00:08:09   like a flat circle that you drop on your desk and you put the phone on top of it. So I'm

00:08:14   I'm expanding the wireless charging situation over here, but also I think I remember that

00:08:21   a couple of months ago, I want to say Logitech or Belkin, one of those two, announced this

00:08:28   crazy expensive wireless charger that they were going to release in December, and I'm

00:08:32   going to find a link for it and I'm going to send it to you, Steven, so that you can

00:08:37   also put this link in the show notes.

00:08:39   Where can people find the show notes, Steven?

00:08:42   You're going to want to get out some sort of computing device, a laptop or an iPad or

00:08:48   an iPod Touch, and you're going to want to go to a browser, and you're going to point

00:08:52   that browser at this URL, relay.fm/connected/220.

00:09:00   And at the end, you want to use numbers, you don't want to spell that out, you want to

00:09:03   do 220220, and you'll find some links.

00:09:07   There's HomePod, colo, now a bunch of wireless chargers, and some more stuff we'll talk about

00:09:12   here in a second.

00:09:13   It's called Native Union.

00:09:15   So not Union City.

00:09:18   I don't know what Union City is.

00:09:20   It's in Tennessee, actually.

00:09:22   It's like in my state.

00:09:24   It's pretty good.

00:09:25   So maybe I was thinking of that.

00:09:26   I don't know.

00:09:27   My subconscious does weird things sometimes.

00:09:30   But yeah, I'm gonna have this soon.

00:09:33   I wanted to have it today so that I could talk about it on the show.

00:09:38   It's a 10 watt charger, so in theory it should be supporting the faster charging for wireless

00:09:44   charging on the iPhone.

00:09:46   But I guess we'll follow up on this in the next episode because my UPS friend is not

00:09:51   here.

00:09:52   He stopped at the bakery too soon.

00:09:55   We announced this over the weekend, but I didn't want to share with the connected audience

00:09:59   directly, that I will be joining Mac Power Users starting in January.

00:10:04   Yay!

00:10:05   Katie Floyd, who has been co-host with David Sparks.

00:10:07   That show is nine years old.

00:10:09   It's amazing.

00:10:10   Like 450 episodes.

00:10:12   It is just an institution of a show.

00:10:15   Katie has some in-real-life stuff she's going to go do, and so she's stepping away from

00:10:21   Mac Power Users, and they asked me to come on and fill her shoes, which is a huge honor.

00:10:26   I'm sure like many of our listeners,

00:10:27   MPU was one of the very first,

00:10:29   one of the very first podcasts I ever listened to, honestly,

00:10:34   way back in the day.

00:10:35   And it's a real treat to be able to join.

00:10:40   So that doesn't change anything for connected.

00:10:44   I will continue to be on connected each and every week,

00:10:47   but I will also be on Mac Power Users Sunday evenings

00:10:50   with David Sparks, who is like just a true nerd hero of mine.

00:10:54   I said that on Twitter and I really meant it.

00:10:57   So yeah, that's exciting.

00:10:58   We've been planning this for a little while,

00:11:00   and it's fun to be able to finally talk about it.

00:11:02   This is incredible news, and I'm very happy for you.

00:11:04   It makes perfect sense to--

00:11:06   it's kind of perfect to have you be on the sort of new generation

00:11:12   of Mac power users.

00:11:13   I couldn't think of anyone better.

00:11:16   This show is an institution, as you say,

00:11:18   and I know that it's a huge responsibility for you,

00:11:21   but I know that you're going to be perfect for this,

00:11:23   and you're going to love it. And I think people are going to love your perspective. Because

00:11:29   I think what makes what you do unique, Steven, is that you know Apple's past, but you're

00:11:36   not one of those people that is stuck on old ideas or old workflows. You know everything

00:11:44   about old Apple computers and old Apple software, but you always like to try new things. You're

00:11:50   still open to experimentation, which is not something that you can say about a lot of

00:11:54   Mac nerds. So I think that perspective is valuable and I cannot wait to see what you

00:11:59   do on your first episode and beyond.

00:12:01   Thanks man, that means a lot to me. I do have a tiny topic for you. This is a topic that

00:12:09   is not quite a real topic.

00:12:11   No, it's not quite tiny considering what you bought.

00:12:14   Well, the subject of it can be as big as it needs to be.

00:12:18   Oh, okay.

00:12:19   The topic on the show is small.

00:12:21   And that is, that's a washing machine.

00:12:23   So I need to tell you about my Thanksgiving.

00:12:25   We did the show last Wednesday.

00:12:27   I got the show up.

00:12:28   I went to a Thanksgiving thing Wednesday night.

00:12:30   We saw family all day on Thursday.

00:12:32   We come home Thursday night and it's like, "Oh, I just could do a couple loads of laundry,"

00:12:35   you know, because the weekend was going to be busy.

00:12:38   And we discovered the washing machine no longer spins or agitates or does anything it's supposed

00:12:43   to do.

00:12:44   In this washing machine, Federico, what year were you born in?

00:12:47   1988.

00:12:48   Okay.

00:12:49   This washing machine is only, was only one year younger than you.

00:12:54   Wow.

00:12:55   Seriously?

00:12:56   It was still working?

00:12:57   Yes.

00:12:58   So I have taken it apart several times over the years in increasing frequency to keep

00:13:03   it running.

00:13:05   Turns out I know a lot now about washing machine repair.

00:13:07   So if podcasting ever goes away, I have a backup.

00:13:10   But it was at a point where what it needs now is too expensive to put in something that

00:13:16   old. And the next morning was going to be Black Friday, which means lots of places have

00:13:21   lots of sales, of course, including appliances. So, I started what ended up being a very long

00:13:28   Thursday night into Friday morning research binge on what washing machine we should buy.

00:13:33   Because I think, like a lot of our listeners, I don't like going into big purchases uninformed.

00:13:39   I want to read reviews, I want to see roundups, I want to see what people actually think about

00:13:43   them.

00:13:44   So we settled on a washing machine, we ended up getting the matching dryer as a bonus because

00:13:50   we got such a good deal on Black Friday.

00:13:52   But what I quickly discovered, and I promise you I was unaware of this, when I saw this,

00:13:59   I was like, "What is happening?"

00:14:01   There are a whole bunch of washing machines and dryers and it turns out a lot more home

00:14:05   appliances like hot water heaters and ovens and stoves that have the Amazon Echo voice

00:14:11   assistant built in. It's like, what is happening? I thought that this was a thing that people

00:14:17   talked about at CES, but then it wasn't actually real. It turns out I could drive to my Lowe's

00:14:21   or Home Depot and buy a washing machine with the Amazon Echo voice assistant built in.

00:14:26   It does a bunch of stuff, so depending on what you get, you can do things like remote

00:14:31   So you could tell the echo to, "Hey, start my washing machine, start the dryer."

00:14:36   You can ask, "How much time is left on a cycle?"

00:14:38   So like, "How much longer--"

00:14:39   No, that's useful.

00:14:40   Yeah, that is actually genuinely useful.

00:14:41   I think, "Oh, how much longer does the dryer have?"

00:14:43   Especially if you're out running errands, right?

00:14:45   And you can trigger this on your car or your phone.

00:14:48   And then if you have a smart hot water heater or an oven, they basically can just do smart

00:14:53   stuff with your voice.

00:14:54   So start the oven, turn down the hot water heater.

00:14:58   if you're going on vacation, you don't need it running,

00:15:00   full tilt, all that sort of stuff.

00:15:02   Which I find pretty interesting as a nerd,

00:15:05   like, oh, this stuff is sort of merging,

00:15:07   but I ultimately did not buy a smart washing machine,

00:15:11   and I wanna see if you think my reasoning was sound.

00:15:13   My thought is, appliances like this,

00:15:15   like a washer and dryer, should last a decade or more.

00:15:18   The ones I bought have a 10-year warranty on them,

00:15:20   so they will at least a decade under warranty,

00:15:23   and if my last set was any indication,

00:15:26   they'll last a really long time.

00:15:28   And I hope that's true.

00:15:30   But I felt like, could I use the Amazon voice assistant

00:15:33   on this washing machine five years from now,

00:15:36   10 years from now, 15 years from now?

00:15:39   I just don't see that being possible.

00:15:40   I think the technology will continue to evolve

00:15:42   and those old APIs and stuff will just be, you know,

00:15:45   deprecated and gone.

00:15:47   And then like, I'll have all this complication

00:15:49   in my washing machine that I can't do anything with.

00:15:51   So I didn't do it, but I just, I wonder like,

00:15:53   what do you think about that?

00:15:54   Because it set me off on this train of thought of all this voice stuff, all this smart home

00:15:59   stuff I have now, what's the longevity of it all?

00:16:02   Do you ever think about that sort of thing?

00:16:04   No, no, I totally agree with your position on this.

00:16:10   My stance on these API-enabled appliances is I try not to buy appliances that are heavily

00:16:20   software based because the moment you buy an appliance that is heavily reliant on software,

00:16:26   you introduce dependencies in the product that you're going to need to use for like

00:16:31   a decade. And I was really hesitant when we were buying a dryer to buy one with a display

00:16:38   because a display is software and I don't trust software to be as reliable as, I don't

00:16:43   know, a rotary dial made of plastic. I was really hesitant when I was buying an OLED

00:16:49   TV last year because it was heavily based on webOS, but unfortunately when it comes

00:16:55   to TVs we're now at the point where every TV is a smart TV, unless you want to buy a

00:16:59   monitor but then you're going to have to buy a decoder for the digital TV anyway. So I

00:17:06   was not able to avoid that. But I agree with you, like, when the moment comes that I need

00:17:10   to buy a new oven or a new fridge, I'm not going to buy a smart one because I don't trust

00:17:15   the software to live as long as the actual materials of the fridge or the oven. And yes,

00:17:23   most appliances have their own software, but they don't depend on a cloud-based API. And

00:17:29   you never know what's going to happen. You never know if Amazon decides, well, now we

00:17:33   don't do the Echo anymore. And suddenly you have a half-functioning dryer or washing machine

00:17:39   you know, when you tap on the menu it does nothing or gives you an error, or you just paid an extra

00:17:44   for a feature that is not going to be available anymore in five years or something. So I don't

00:17:50   mean to sound like an old person, because I don't think I am. I actually, like, I try to buy smart

00:17:56   appliances when they make sense and if they can be easily replaced. So lights are fine,

00:18:04   I have a small air purifier, that's fine. I don't want to buy something as essential as a fridge or

00:18:10   a washing machine or a dryer that is advertised as a smart one where that smart component could

00:18:17   be easily outdated in five years. Also, I don't want to think about software updates for my fridge.

00:18:23   I don't want to think about the idea of, well, connect a USB cable to your washing machine and

00:18:29   and update its firmware like, okay, some people like to do that, but I don't. And I agree

00:18:38   with your take on this and I think you made the right decision.

00:18:41   Yeah, we I guess I don't think I'm gonna do a bunch of follow up about my appliances,

00:18:46   but they're back there and they're not smart. And that's the way that I like them. Yeah,

00:18:50   good choice. All right, we're gonna get to some topics here. But first, I want to tell

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00:20:40   and Relay FM.

00:20:41   We promised this, that we were going to get into

00:20:44   our Mac minis, both you and I have purchased new Macs,

00:20:49   And I thought we could talk about the hardware we each have

00:20:52   and how we're using the hardware,

00:20:54   and then we'll talk about software stuff.

00:20:55   Does that sound good to you?

00:20:56   - All right, yes, let's do it.

00:20:58   - So I ended up with the three gigahertz i5,

00:21:02   16 gigabytes of RAM, 256 gig SSD Mac Mini.

00:21:06   So pretty much like middle of the road.

00:21:09   It replaced a 2011 model that I had.

00:21:13   I think long time listeners know,

00:21:14   I use a Mac Mini as an entertainment,

00:21:17   in my entertainment center.

00:21:18   It's actually under my TV on a shelf,

00:21:21   and it serves basically as a home server.

00:21:23   So it's not a workstation for me.

00:21:24   I don't sit down in my Mac when I need to work.

00:21:27   But it is connected to a Drobo 5D

00:21:31   via a Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3 adapter.

00:21:34   So the Drobo is Thunderbolt 2.

00:21:35   So that adapter's a little pricey and kinda bulky,

00:21:38   but it seems to be working just fine.

00:21:41   I have an Apple USB SuperDrive hooked up for the rare time

00:21:45   the kids wanna watch something that's on DVD

00:21:47   or I want to rip something,

00:21:49   that has gone months without being used.

00:21:51   But it's just collecting dust really at this point.

00:21:54   So I guess I'm never gonna see that in space gray.

00:21:56   So it's like bright silver in that many space gray.

00:21:59   And it's hooked up to our HDMI television.

00:22:02   It's a 1080p panel, I've had it for years and years.

00:22:05   And it all just works.

00:22:07   So the TV's there, the Mac Mini's there, the Drobo's there.

00:22:11   I was a little nervous about losing the IR port on paper,

00:22:14   But in reality, the Apple TV is our main interface

00:22:17   to the television.

00:22:18   I wasn't actually using the infrared remote

00:22:20   for the Mac Mini in years, so as soon as I thought through

00:22:24   it, I was like, that's not a big loss for me.

00:22:26   And it seems a lot quieter under load.

00:22:29   So in the entertainment center, again,

00:22:31   it's kinda hard to be close to it,

00:22:33   but it seems like if I put it under a heavy workload,

00:22:36   that the new cooling does a really nice job

00:22:39   of keeping things nice and quiet.

00:22:41   So that's kind of what I have and what I have hooked up to it, but I think yours is probably

00:22:47   far more interesting.

00:22:49   So I got a 3.2 GHz Core i7 with 16 GB of RAM and also 256 GB of storage.

00:23:02   So this Mac Mini is on this new desk that I got at IKEA.

00:23:05   It's a, I think it's a Besta desk.

00:23:08   It's a white one.

00:23:09   And it's connected to the LG Ultrafine 4K display.

00:23:15   It's connected via a single USB-C cable that basically runs from...

00:23:21   The Mac Mini is right next to the display, so it's a very compact setup.

00:23:27   About the display, I wanted to say that I don't love it, like the way that it looks

00:23:31   around it.

00:23:32   The bezels are ugly, and I so wish that Apple would make an actual display.

00:23:37   I think the last thing we know is that they said a few months ago that they were going

00:23:42   to make a display for the Mac Pro modular system in 2019.

00:23:47   My dream that I actually like, I shared this on Mac Stories a few days ago, I want Apple

00:23:52   to make a display that accepts two kinds of input.

00:23:57   So I want the same display, I wanted to be able to support Thunderbolt 3 for Macs, but

00:24:04   also USB-C input for the iPad Pro. I don't think that such a display exists right now,

00:24:11   like a single 4K or 5K display that accepts two kinds of inputs, but if Apple were to

00:24:17   make one, I would be surprised if they would make one that is not compatible at all with

00:24:22   the iPad, especially considering how they're making such a big deal that the iPad Pro can

00:24:26   drive a 5K display. Anyway, the bezels are not great, but the display is. It's a very

00:24:33   nice display, the colors are awesome, I cannot see the pixels of course when I'm working

00:24:39   on the Mac. And the brightness is fantastic and I love how it can be easily adjusted,

00:24:46   both like I can tilt the viewing angle but I can also raise and lower the actual display,

00:24:52   so when I'm working with the Mac Mini the display is kind of low, but when I'm working

00:24:56   with the iPad Pro connected to the same display I can raise the display so that it sits just

00:25:03   above the top edge of the iPad. So I got the iPad in front of me, the keyboard and the monitor that's

00:25:12   above the iPad. So it's very nice. I'm not happy about the fact, and this is why I mentioned my

00:25:20   dream of a display that accepts two inputs, I'm not happy about how I need to use the same cable

00:25:30   for connecting both the Mac Mini and the iPad Pro.

00:25:33   So what I have to do right now is,

00:25:35   when I want to use my iPad Pro with the 4K display,

00:25:39   I need to unplug the cable from the Mac Mini

00:25:42   and plug it into the iPad.

00:25:44   I don't think that like a splitter type of a device exists,

00:25:50   but yeah, that's what I have to do right now.

00:25:53   So I'm still not finished with cable management,

00:25:57   but I've used some, like, I don't know how to call them,

00:26:02   some like little plastic cords

00:26:06   to hold longer cables together.

00:26:09   And that USB-C cable to drive the display

00:26:12   is the only cable that I haven't managed.

00:26:15   So it's a loose cable because I need to move it

00:26:17   from the Mac Mini to the iPad.

00:26:19   Not super happy about that, but it works.

00:26:21   Then I got a Magic Keyboard and a Magic Tripad

00:26:25   because I needed to have a quiet keyboard for doing podcasts.

00:26:31   I got, of course, both in Space Gray,

00:26:33   and I wanted to note how it is incredible

00:26:36   that Apple is not making the small Magic keyboard in Space

00:26:41   Gray.

00:26:41   You can only buy the Space Gray one with the long version

00:26:44   with the number pad, which I don't need a number pad

00:26:48   because I'm not an accountant.

00:26:50   I mean, even when I do my taxes, I don't need a number pad.

00:26:53   I'm not that kind of a numeric professional, but it's there.

00:26:59   So it's there.

00:27:01   There's nothing I can do about it.

00:27:03   I guess they want to charge more money for this keyboard.

00:27:06   Yeah, I'm in the same boat.

00:27:07   I've got an iMac Pro here in space gray.

00:27:09   And I use the Magic Keyboard, the little one,

00:27:12   because I also don't need a number pad, and a white Magic

00:27:15   Trackpad, and a mouse, like a Logitech mouse.

00:27:18   And I would love to have all that be in space gray,

00:27:21   but it just doesn't work for me with the keypad on it.

00:27:25   - I mentioned the wireless charger that is not here,

00:27:28   so I need to wait for this, I guess, tomorrow.

00:27:32   But the idea is this would sit on the right side

00:27:35   of the stand.

00:27:36   So right now I got the Mac Mini to the left side

00:27:40   of the display stand.

00:27:43   The H6 audio interface on top of the stand itself,

00:27:48   which is like this black square

00:27:51   that acts as a stand for the display.

00:27:53   And on the right side, I wanted to put the wireless charger

00:27:55   so that I could keep the phone in front of me

00:27:58   while doing podcasts and also charging, but it's not here.

00:28:02   On the left side of the Mac Mini,

00:28:04   there's an external SSD that I bought.

00:28:07   This was on sale for Black Friday.

00:28:10   It's a 512 gig SSD from Western Digital

00:28:15   that supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds.

00:28:19   So that would be 10 gigabit per second transfers.

00:28:22   And I'm using this external drive.

00:28:26   I'm probably gonna get a second one,

00:28:28   but for now this is the time machine drive

00:28:30   for backups for my Mac mini and Sylvia's MacBook Pro.

00:28:34   I did something horrible at first.

00:28:38   I decided to format the drive with APFS.

00:28:42   I did not know that that format is not supported

00:28:46   for local network, like a shared time machine backup.

00:28:51   If you wanna have like a shared time machine drive

00:28:54   on your local network, it appears that APFS is not supported.

00:28:57   I followed this tutorial that I found

00:29:00   by just by Googling things around.

00:29:04   It's from last year, so I think it's accurate

00:29:05   and it worked for me.

00:29:07   I needed to format the drive in macOS Extended.

00:29:11   case sensitive journaled for some reason,

00:29:14   but now we have a shared time machine drive.

00:29:17   So my Mac Mini backs up locally via USB-C,

00:29:22   and it's fast, it's very fast.

00:29:24   I also have, I should say, a cable that I bought on Amazon.

00:29:29   So, you know, I've been doing my research for USB-C

00:29:34   because of the iPad Pro series

00:29:36   that I'm writing on Mac Stories.

00:29:37   And I wanted to make sure that I would,

00:29:40   basically upgrade all my USB-C cables to support the 3.1 Gen2 spec.

00:29:48   I did some research and I ended up buying this cable from Amazon UK because it was not available

00:29:56   in Italy. But it's from a company, I think they're called J5 Create. I'm just going to double check

00:30:04   on this to make sure. But it's this cable that is short because of course these cables that support

00:30:10   fast data transfers, they cannot be too long, so they need to be short

00:30:16   cables otherwise they're gonna lose bandwidth and all that. So it's called the

00:30:19   J5 Create and the cable is the JUCX01. It's a 0.7 meter USB-C to USB-C cable

00:30:31   that supports 3.1 Gen2. This is the cable that runs from the Mac Mini to the

00:30:36   Western Digital SSD. So my time machine is fast. Sylvia's network backup is a little slower,

00:30:43   of course, because it's going over Wi-Fi, but it works. So it's doing its own incremental backups

00:30:50   right now and everything seems fine. And finally, last piece of this setup that I still need to

00:30:58   configured the way that I wanted. I've been testing the OWC USB-C travel dock. So OWC were

00:31:07   kind enough to send me a review unit of this product. I'm going to cover this product in

00:31:13   future iPad Pro article on Mac stories, but this is one of the best USB-C docks that I think you

00:31:21   can find right now because I also bought a bunch myself on Amazon and I was not happy with them.

00:31:26   This dock supports USB 3.1 Gen 1, so not Gen 2. OWC, they have a Gen 2 dock coming, I think,

00:31:36   that also supports Thunderbolt 3. This one supports Gen 1, so that would be 5 gigabit per

00:31:44   second transfers, not 10. But it's good enough, and it's got an HDMI 2 port, it's got two USB

00:31:52   3.1 ports and one USB-C that supports power delivery so that you can do power pass-through.

00:32:01   It's compatible with the iPad and it's compatible with the Mac Mini.

00:32:06   I'm trying to understand if I want to use this, like, always leave it on my desk.

00:32:12   Like if I want to... because I'm still trying to decide when I'm working on the iPad Pro,

00:32:20   Do I want to work at the kitchen table or do I want to work in the corner of the bedroom

00:32:25   where I set up this new desk?

00:32:28   So I don't know if... because the travel dock can be used... it's very small, it's very

00:32:34   compact and it's called the travel dock because it's meant to travel with you, it's meant

00:32:38   to be thrown in a bag and when you want to use multiple USB devices with a USB-C device

00:32:44   like a MacBook or an iPad Pro, you have this dock in your bag.

00:32:49   But what I'm realizing now is that the mechanical keyboard that I'm using with the iPad Pro,

00:32:57   it's a Mattias keyboard. It's a mini tactile Pro. It's very loud and it's bothering Sylvia,

00:33:04   so I don't think I will be able to continue typing in the kitchen, which means that the

00:33:10   travel doc will sit on my desk. I just need to figure out where.

00:33:15   Yeah, this thing looks pretty nice. It's pretty cheap this week. There'll be a link in the

00:33:21   show notes. But yeah, this looks awesome. Have they said when the Gen 2 one may be coming,

00:33:26   or is it just coming soon?

00:33:27   I think it's already available, actually. If you enter "Thunderbolts Free Dock" on their

00:33:33   website it's very expensive, I should say. It's also a powered dock. It's got its own

00:33:39   adapter and supports 85 watt power delivery via USB-C for, yeah, like that one supports

00:33:50   two 4K displays or one 5K display. It supports both Thunderbolt and USB-C 3.1 Gen 2. It's

00:33:58   very, you know, it's got a lot of options and it costs a lot of money. But, yeah.

00:34:02   Yeah, the Thunderbolt stuff always makes stuff more pricey, which is a bummer, but it's kind

00:34:09   how the world is. So you've got a desk, you've got a Mac Mini, you have a display. That display

00:34:14   has a double life when it's not hooked up to your Mac Mini. It's hooked up to your iPad Pro

00:34:19   through a means that are less than ideal, but I guess that is what it is at this point, right?

00:34:25   This sounds awesome. I've seen pictures of it. It looks great. I know you wanted to do this for a

00:34:30   long time, but it's been a while since we talked about your desire for a Mac Mini. We talked about

00:34:35   a year ago I feel like, like a long time ago. So why this and not something like a MacBook Pro or an iMac?

00:34:43   So the MacBook Pro, because I already have one, and I really don't need a portable Mac,

00:34:50   I need my Mac to be the podcasting computer, essentially. So it needs to be, it's a fixed

00:35:00   machine that doesn't move from my bedroom and if I need to record somewhere else, like

00:35:06   I don't know, my beach house in the summer, we have Sylvia's MacBook Pro, which is a 2017

00:35:12   one. My MacBook Pro is a 2015 one. So we have a backup portable computer and I really didn't

00:35:20   need to have another MacBook Pro because I don't need my Mac to be portable. Also, I

00:35:26   to have a bigger screen because it's more comfortable, because my, you know, with years

00:35:31   past and my eyesight is not as good as it used to be, I'm already wearing glasses and I feel like if

00:35:37   I can have bigger UI elements on a big display when I'm clicking things that, you know, that's

00:35:41   better for me. To which you might reply then why not an iMac? Because I wanted to have a modular

00:35:48   system where I decide what I want to buy and I wanted to buy a display that was going to be 4K

00:35:55   and that was going to be supported by the iPad Pro as well.

00:35:59   I just like the idea of building my own setup better

00:36:03   than just saying, well, buy an iMac and you're done.

00:36:05   So I wanted to buy every individual piece myself

00:36:07   and that was fun to do.

00:36:09   Also kind of expensive, but it was worth it

00:36:11   because I feel like I have this setup now

00:36:13   that is flexible enough to last me for several years,

00:36:17   I hope, because I don't want to buy another Mac.

00:36:20   - I think you'll be set.

00:36:21   I mean, this seems like a great setup

00:36:22   and I think all those reasons make a ton of sense to me. You know the iMac is

00:36:27   great if that's all you need at your desk. It's why I have one. I really like

00:36:31   the all-in-one deal, right? Like while the cables go off the back, I don't have a

00:36:36   tower under the desk or on the desk somewhere. It just really works for the

00:36:39   way my setup is, but for your needs the Mac Mini I think was a great choice and

00:36:44   I'm glad that you seem happy with the hardware that you've got there.

00:36:48   Yeah, it's very nice. It's very cool. And also I installed the Philips Hue light strip+

00:36:55   behind my desk, so facing the wall, and it creates this awesome lighting effect that I can set up some colored scenes with Siri.

00:37:05   it's very nice, which also drove me down this insane rabbit hole of making your own LED

00:37:18   light strips. It's a whole thing about buying compatible Zigbee controllers. So Zigbee is

00:37:26   one of the protocols for wireless lighting control for a smart home. My problem is that

00:37:33   when you buy the Hue Lightstrip Plus, it's a 2 meter strip, but I only needed 120 centimeters.

00:37:41   So I have this cut-off end of 80 centimeters of a strip that is unused.

00:37:47   Philips says you need to... there's nothing you can do with it.

00:37:51   You need to throw it in the trash.

00:37:53   But there's people, very courageous people, who have been doing their own modifications

00:37:58   and reusing the cutoff ends of Lightstrip Plus to create another Lightstrip, which means

00:38:05   buying your own controllers and connecting them with custom accessories that you can

00:38:10   find online.

00:38:11   There's a company called Lit Accessory, L-I-T Accessory, that makes these additional parts

00:38:19   for modifying the Philips Hue Lightstrips.

00:38:22   My problem is that I think I will need to do some soldiering if I want to reuse this

00:38:28   cut-off part. And I've never done any soldiering in my life, so I'm not sure what the solution

00:38:35   is going to be here. I'm probably going to have to buy the parts myself and then ask

00:38:39   my dad to do the soldiering for me. So I will also keep you posted about this, because I

00:38:44   have no idea what I'm doing.

00:38:46   soldering is not that bad. But yeah, you maybe your first one should not be on something

00:38:51   kind of expensive like a light strip. Yeah. We're gonna talk about our software on the Mac minis.

00:38:56   But first I want to tell you about our second sponsor. This episode of connected is brought

00:39:01   to you by our friends at Luna display. Luna display is the only hardware solution that

00:39:06   turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. So you'll have a super portable second display

00:39:12   with stunning image quality and basically zero lag.

00:39:15   Setting up Lunar Display is really simple.

00:39:17   You just plug in this little hardware dongle into your Mac

00:39:20   and it comes with USB or USB-C when you order it.

00:39:24   And you'll just be up and running in seconds.

00:39:26   Everything just works over your local Wi-Fi.

00:39:29   And if you don't have access to a Wi-Fi connection,

00:39:31   you can just connect directly via USB.

00:39:33   It's all really simple.

00:39:35   Lunar Display also acts as a complete extension of your Mac.

00:39:38   It supports external keyboards.

00:39:40   It was the Apple Pencil and Touch interactions.

00:39:43   You can use your Apple Pencil on a Mac app.

00:39:45   It's really cool.

00:39:46   It basically turns your Mac into a touch screen device.

00:39:49   So they sent me one.

00:39:50   I've got-- actually have the dongle right here.

00:39:52   It is super small.

00:39:53   You can just put it in your bag.

00:39:55   It's not this big, bulky thing.

00:39:57   And what absolutely surprised me and keeps

00:40:00   me really happy with this product

00:40:02   is the extremely low latency.

00:40:04   It feels really fast.

00:40:06   And so if you've ever remoted into a computer,

00:40:09   You have that lag and it makes it frustrating to use, and that just doesn't exist with the

00:40:14   Luna Display.

00:40:15   It's all really, really smooth.

00:40:16   I'd totally recommend it if this fits a need in your setup.

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00:40:25   Just go to lunadisplay.com and enter the promo code "Connected" at checkout.

00:40:30   That's lunadisplay.com, promo code "Connected" at checkout for a 10% discount.

00:40:35   thanks to Luna Display for their support of this show and all of Relay FM.

00:40:39   Okay, software.

00:40:42   Software makes hardware work.

00:40:43   Oh really?

00:40:44   That's what it does?

00:40:45   That's what it does.

00:40:46   Yeah, it's in there and it just makes things happen.

00:40:49   Mine, again, my Mac Mini Entertainment Center home server.

00:40:54   So the software I'm using is all really based around that.

00:40:57   It's not set up as a workstation.

00:40:59   If I needed to take my iMac Pro to the shop for something, like I don't have logic or

00:41:03   anything installed on this Mac Mini.

00:41:04   like a different thing. So I mentioned that I have that big Drobo attached to

00:41:10   it. I'm using the Mac to manage file sharing, just the stuff that comes in

00:41:15   Mac OS Mojave that works for my needs. I used to have a Synology and I, like you,

00:41:22   sort of had a bad experience when it started to fail and I decided that I

00:41:26   just would rather have a Mac managing my files than a NAS. And the

00:41:31   The Drobo is too loud to have at my desk here, so it's in the house.

00:41:34   The Mac Mini is hooked up via gigabit ethernet, as is the iMac Pro in the studio.

00:41:39   So everything's wired.

00:41:41   I did consider buying the 10 gig Mac Mini, and I think I'm gonna kinda wish that I had

00:41:46   done it in the future and put a 10 gigabyte switch in.

00:41:50   But it's all gig for now.

00:41:51   That's fine.

00:41:52   I don't edit off the Drobo.

00:41:54   It's like cold storage, right?

00:41:55   So I work on a project and it gets stored there.

00:41:58   Because it's attached to the Mac directly, I've got Backblaze, which is a sponsor of

00:42:02   the show and other shows here. They have a really great online cloud backup.

00:42:06   One of the beautiful things about it is, it will back up connected devices.

00:42:10   The Drobo is hooked up via Thunderbolt. It's a locally attached drive. Backblaze sees it,

00:42:15   no problems. Sometimes, with the Synology, you have to jump through hoops to get a cloud

00:42:19   backup service to work with it. You don't have to do that with direct-attach storage.

00:42:23   Backblaze is running all the time. The Drobo is actually just looking at it.

00:42:27   I've got something like six terabytes of stuff stored on it or something like that.

00:42:35   It's a pretty large chunk of data.

00:42:39   Backblaze keeps all that backed up.

00:42:42   The Drobo I have split up, I have a share for storage, and then I have a share for our

00:42:47   main iTunes library.

00:42:50   This iTunes library is less important than it used to be because of Apple Music.

00:42:53   in the old days anything we purchased I had automatically downloaded to this

00:42:57   iTunes library as like the collection, like the main library. And for

00:43:04   music now that's really not that important but it still downloads any TV

00:43:08   shows or movies we purchase via iTunes which again we do way less of than we

00:43:13   used to but sometimes especially with kids they like to see movies over and

00:43:17   over and we'll purchase something and it's just it's just there all the time.

00:43:19   time. And so that iTunes library is always running, have automatic downloads

00:43:24   turned on. And you know, so it's sort of there as like a big bucket of media we

00:43:30   can dip into if something's not on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. And like I

00:43:35   said, this machine like it over the years has become less important in my

00:43:41   setup. Really like if I could have a silent raid in my office, I would hook it

00:43:46   directly to the iMac Pro and probably get rid of my home server and just do

00:43:49   everything on my workstation here, but things aren't quite there yet and the

00:43:54   Drobo still works really well. I'm not looking to replace it anytime soon, so I

00:43:57   feel like the Mac Mini will have at least several more years of service for me.

00:44:01   But because I have a desktop now, and I think we're gonna talk about this with

00:44:06   you, I have a Mac that's always on anyway. So the iMac Pro, I don't shut it off at

00:44:12   night. I just let it run. And so I used to have like a lot of Dropbox and Hazel

00:44:16   stuff running where it would watch a Dropbox folder for something and then

00:44:21   Hazel would name it and sort it into you know folders. I do bills and

00:44:25   invoices and you know bank statements, those sort of PDFs. I have a bunch of

00:44:30   Hazel rules to deal with all that and now that just runs on my iMac Pro on my

00:44:34   desk instead of like the Mac Mini having to do it and you know I gotta wait for

00:44:39   things to sync. It's just all all right here. So you know this is kind of one

00:44:44   reason I didn't buy a nicer mini. I really bought the i5 just for a little

00:44:48   future proofing. And so again, if I need to put it into service

00:44:53   somewhere else, it was a little bit faster than that Core i3. But that's

00:44:58   about it for me. It's really stock. There's very little data on the SSD

00:45:02   itself. Really just enough for the file sharing. Everything is stored on the

00:45:07   Drobo. I have Time Machine set up for this Mac Mini just so I have my setup. So

00:45:12   when I set my new new Mac Mini up it pulled over its file sharing settings

00:45:17   and all that stuff but it's really clean and really basically it's as stock as it

00:45:23   can be for what it is and I like it that way just so if something goes wrong it's

00:45:27   really easy to figure out what it is one last thing it's not the notes but just

00:45:33   came to mind I run a little utility called print opiate are you familiar

00:45:37   with this Federico yes I've used it in the past I think so so what this does is

00:45:42   So my printer doesn't support AirPrint, which means I can't print to it directly from an

00:45:48   iOS device.

00:45:50   But the printer's on the network, and the Mac Mini's on the network.

00:45:54   And Printopia is a little application that runs on Mac OS, and it basically allows non-AirPrint

00:46:03   printers to work with iOS directly.

00:46:05   So if I go to print a PDF from my iPad—I actually just had to do this yesterday—I

00:46:09   I had a PDF, I needed it printed, I was on my iPad.

00:46:13   I go to print it, and that printer just shows up

00:46:16   as if it was fancier than it actually is,

00:46:18   because Metopia is in the middle,

00:46:20   sort of negotiating everything.

00:46:22   It's like 20 bucks, I've run this thing

00:46:26   years and years and years across multiple versions

00:46:29   of Mac OS, it's really solid, I've never had it fail on me,

00:46:33   I've never had like a print job get eaten by it,

00:46:35   it's really great, and so that may actually,

00:46:38   Other than the Drobo dashboard and like carbon copy cloner and back plays, like I don't have

00:46:44   many third party apps on this Mac Mini.

00:46:46   This is definitely one of them.

00:46:47   So if you have a printer that doesn't support AirPrint, this can be a great way to make

00:46:52   it more useful in our iOS world.

00:46:56   I'm familiar with it.

00:46:57   I used to use it back when I used to have a MacBook Air and I had the printer and I

00:47:03   lived in Viterbo.

00:47:05   The printer was not compatible with AirPrint, is that the name?

00:47:10   And I used Printopia, that was really great.

00:47:13   I am curious about Backblaze, because on this Mac I still don't have even Dropbox installed,

00:47:21   because I just access Dropbox via the web browser.

00:47:24   But I was thinking like, I have a local backup on an SSD via Time Machine, I should probably

00:47:30   also have an online one.

00:47:33   Does Backblaze allow you to browse the individual files via an iOS app, maybe?

00:47:40   Yes, it does.

00:47:42   So you can go in and restore single files or download them actually directly as needed.

00:47:47   It's pretty great.

00:47:48   Okay, alright.

00:47:49   That's awesome.

00:47:50   Alright, so my setup.

00:47:53   So the first thing I did, I set up a dynamic hostname.

00:47:59   My ISP and the modem that the MyISP provided as a built-in option in its own settings to

00:48:07   interact with one of the, to integrate with one of the, some of the most popular dynamic

00:48:13   host names providers that exist.

00:48:17   The idea would be that you get a unique domain name that redirects to your local IP.

00:48:25   So I have my own domain that redirects, I can set it up so that it redirects to individual

00:48:33   ports and devices on my network.

00:48:38   And the reason I'm using this is because I want to be able to access my Mac remotely.

00:48:42   It's kind of like having a static IP address, but it works in a slightly different way.

00:48:50   this dynamic hostname that is configured at a network level. So it's not my Mac that is

00:48:56   updating this hostname with the new IP address, but it's my modem. I can fully control where

00:49:02   the traffic goes and which devices have access to that and all those details. What I can

00:49:08   do is I can VNC into my Mac Mini via 4G from my iPhone or iPad using screens, but I also

00:49:17   set it up for file access. So using File Browser, which is an iOS app that I brought about on

00:49:23   Mac stories before, via 4G from my iPhone or from my iPad, I can log into my Mac Mini

00:49:32   and see the file structure, see my home directory, see my downloads, see my documents, see my

00:49:38   apps directly from iOS, both on Wi-Fi when I'm on the local network or using a dynamic

00:49:44   hostname when I'm out and about and I'm on 4G. And even better, using File Browser on

00:49:53   iOS, once you log into one of your remote computers, one of your remote servers, you

00:50:00   can open the Files app, so the System Files app by Apple, and you can enable the File

00:50:05   Browser location, and that network folder will be available as a location in Files.

00:50:12   So any other app that wants to import a document is able to use the file browser location as

00:50:21   a document provider.

00:50:23   To give you an example, a few days ago I needed to upload a CSV file that I had previously

00:50:29   downloaded on my Mac Mini to a website in Safari, but I was on my iPad.

00:50:36   So what I did was I logged into my Mac Mini via file browser, and then I jumped back to

00:50:42   Safari on my iPad, and I tapped on Upload File, and I tapped on Browse, and then I opened

00:50:49   the Files app, and I selected the file browser, and I moved the...

00:50:53   I selected the file from my Mac Mini for upload.

00:50:57   And so essentially, Safari on iOS used Files as a middleman to deliver a file from my computer

00:51:04   to the website with iOS in the middle. I thought that was really cool. So on the Mac you set

00:51:10   this up in the sharing preferences. You need to, so let me double check because I need

00:51:16   to be sure. Under sharing you enable file sharing and in the options you need to, I

00:51:25   enabled both SMB and AFP because I think file browser required AFP. So I enabled both and

00:51:34   I set up access just for my user. And I also, after many, many years, I set up a more complex

00:51:41   and longer password because you never know.

00:51:44   So when it's out there, you know, that's a more important thing. We didn't hit it from

00:51:49   anywhere.

00:51:50   But I'm actually very happy with this setup of being able to log into my computer from anywhere.

00:51:58   I never had this before because the previous company that the ISP that we had in Viterbo years ago didn't support dynamic house names.

00:52:07   So that's really cool. And then of course, I turn my attention to automation and scripting.

00:52:15   And as you can imagine, Steven, I started experimenting again with AppleScript, which

00:52:22   is something that I used to do years ago, but with a new flavor of AppleScript, if you

00:52:27   will, which is integration with shortcuts and Siri on iOS.

00:52:32   So there's two...

00:52:33   Oh no.

00:52:34   What have you done?

00:52:36   You've created some sort of hideous monster between two very different worlds.

00:52:40   It's a Frankenstein monster of scripting, basically.

00:52:43   Wow, that's a title-phishing statement.

00:52:46   It's what it is though.

00:52:48   So what happens is this has two sides of my strategy here.

00:52:57   There's a Homebridge, which is the popular utility to create like a HomeKit hub to add

00:53:05   unsupported devices to your HomeKit configuration.

00:53:09   And so of course the Mac Mini is acting as a Homebridge server.

00:53:12   I promised many months ago that I'm going to write about this eventually.

00:53:16   I first set up Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi, but I was really not happy with its performance.

00:53:22   It's so much better on the Mac, it's so much more stable, so I never had a single issue

00:53:27   so far.

00:53:29   So there's the Homebridge side and there's the shortcut side.

00:53:34   So for Homebridge, what I did, I set up the Mac Mini to integrate with three different

00:53:42   accessories.

00:53:44   I installed plugins for my LG TV, my Air Purifier, which is now officially supported by HomeKit,

00:53:53   and iTunes.

00:53:55   So what I can do now is I can fully control my TV, I can switch inputs via HomeKit and

00:54:02   therefore via Siri and therefore via shortcuts. I can change the level of the volume because

00:54:10   the volume is like a fake light in HomeKit, so you can adjust the volume with individual

00:54:16   levels.

00:54:17   Oh, come on.

00:54:18   Yeah, it's a fake light. It's called TV volume, but it's a fake light.

00:54:21   Oh my gosh.

00:54:22   I can set the mute. I can navigate channels with up and down. There's two switches in

00:54:28   In HomeKit there are channel up and channel down and they navigate up and down in the

00:54:33   list of channels.

00:54:34   And then I can also open any kind of input I want.

00:54:37   So I set up the HDMI 2, which is my Nintendo Switch, HDMI 3, which is my PlayStation and

00:54:42   all that.

00:54:43   All of this is running via a WebOS plugin for Homebridge on the Mac Mini.

00:54:47   Super stable, works really well.

00:54:49   I needed to change a bunch of settings on my TV to enable Wake On LAN and that type

00:54:54   of stuff, but now it's working really great.

00:54:57   Air purifier, again, just needed to install a plugin,

00:55:01   drop in some info for this device on my local network.

00:55:05   Now I can turn it on via HomeKit.

00:55:07   I can set its speed.

00:55:09   Again, the air purifier in this case

00:55:12   is a natively supported type of device in HomeKit.

00:55:16   So you got like a custom icon and custom controls.

00:55:19   It's not a fake light, it's an actual air purifier.

00:55:22   And then I can also trigger its silent mode,

00:55:25   which is like a special mode for, like, if you want to leave it on at night.

00:55:29   Finally, iTunes.

00:55:31   So iTunes is based on this Homebridge plugin called the AppleScript file,

00:55:38   which allows you to create Home... This is wild.

00:55:42   It allows you to create HomeKit accessories,

00:55:44   switches, so things that can be on and can be off,

00:55:48   that when you turn it on, the accessory in HomeKit,

00:55:53   it runs code from an AppleScript file.

00:55:57   So I have HomeKit accessories that can, for example,

00:56:02   change the volume of my HomePods,

00:56:06   or play specific playlists from iTunes,

00:56:10   or play specific playlists on specific HomePods,

00:56:15   or set things on Shuffle.

00:56:17   So all the things that you can do with AppleScript in iTunes,

00:56:20   they can become AppleScript commands that you run via Homebridge and therefore on iOS

00:56:27   or any other Apple device via Siri and via HomeKit.

00:56:31   This is very cool because I set up a scene, for example, that when I trigger it, it dims

00:56:39   all the lights around the house and turns them red, turns off the TV and starts playing

00:56:47   our favorite playlist on shuffle at a specific volume through the three HomePods that we have.

00:56:53   And this is done, of course, you need to leave agents running in the background on the Mac Mini.

00:56:58   The display does not have to be on, you just need to leave agents in the background and in agents

00:57:02   you need to select, at first, so not every time, you need to select the HomePods as destinations

00:57:09   in the AirPlay menu. But that's it, once it's done, it's done and it's very cool. And again,

00:57:15   Super stable never had a single issue so far. This is just the homekit side

00:57:19   Yeah

00:57:19   What's the delay like on all that stuff like is the is the iTunes side pretty fast?

00:57:24   Like is it respond quickly less than two two seconds? I would say

00:57:28   One second usually like even even saying pause iTunes, which is now a command for me in Siri

00:57:35   Takes about a second. It's it's really well done the plugin works and this is also wild it works by

00:57:44   using the native iTunes remote API.

00:57:48   So when you first register the plugin,

00:57:51   you will need to enter a pin code via iTunes

00:57:54   because this plugin is using the official Apple API

00:57:57   for iTunes remotes.

00:57:58   So that's why it works really well.

00:58:01   It's not like, it's not just using AppleScript.

00:58:04   I'm using AppleScript for some things,

00:58:07   but it's also using this native remote API for iTunes.

00:58:11   It's really, really convenient.

00:58:13   So right now in HomeKit, I have a mix of official HomeKit accessories, like my Philips Hue lights,

00:58:20   like my Elgato, actually not Elgato, Eve sensors, but also I have some custom ones.

00:58:28   iTunes, my TV, you know, stuff that I set up via Homebridge, my air purifier.

00:58:34   All of these automations, I also adapted them manually to shortcuts and Siri.

00:58:43   So there's this technology, there's this command,

00:58:48   the shell command called osaskript,

00:58:51   and osaskript, it lets you run Apple scripts

00:58:54   via the terminal on the Mac.

00:58:56   Shortcuts, the Shortcuts app

00:58:58   has a native run SSH command action,

00:59:05   and of course, if you put in your IP address of your Mac

00:59:09   and your username and your password,

00:59:11   you can use OSAScript to pass AppleScript commands to your Mac.

00:59:16   So just let me look in shortcuts for a second.

00:59:21   Let's see. To give you an example of the commands that I set up,

00:59:25   I have Wake Mac.

00:59:28   So this wakes up the display.

00:59:29   And of course, if you wake up the display and you have an Apple Watch, the Mac also unlocks

00:59:34   because it's getting the Wake command.

00:59:36   Sleep Mac. So puts the display to sleep.

00:59:40   pause iTunes and play iTunes.

00:59:41   I can set some text to the clipboard of the Mac,

00:59:47   or let's see the more custom ones.

00:59:49   So this one uses, so I've been going through

00:59:53   the entire archive of Doug scripts.

00:59:57   Are you familiar with Doug scripts, the website?

00:59:59   - Yes. - So.

01:00:00   - Yeah, this thing, this website is amazing

01:00:04   if you wanna do automation on the Mac.

01:00:05   - There's Apple scripts for everything.

01:00:07   And there's an entire iTunes category, but not only that,

01:00:12   there's an entire sub category for iTunes

01:00:16   and AirPlay devices.

01:00:18   So it's amazing.

01:00:19   And I've been using that to put together commands

01:00:24   for changing the volume of individual AirPlay devices

01:00:28   from shortcuts on iOS.

01:00:31   What's even better, and this looks amazing to me,

01:00:34   My shortcut has... the AppleScript is put together via a text action.

01:00:40   So I wrote the AppleScript in a text action, but the text action has a combination of text

01:00:46   and magic variables. So it's like this bridging these two worlds together in shortcuts of like

01:00:52   having the AppleScript but also having the variables from shortcuts. It looks really,

01:00:57   really good. Like visually speaking, you can see like these two worlds colliding.

01:01:02   But yeah, I can change the volume of my HomePods. I have templates for speakers 10%, speakers 20%,

01:01:09   speakers 30%, and so forth. I have two long AppleScript-based shortcuts that I put together.

01:01:18   One is a menu that on my iPhone and my iPad, it lets me choose from multiple HomePods. So I have

01:01:26   kitchen, hallway and nightstand, and it asks me what kind of volume do you want to set

01:01:33   for the selected HomePods.

01:01:36   And I can do all this from iOS, but it's the Mac Mini that of course receives the code

01:01:41   and the command and runs it, because it's a home server, that's what it does.

01:01:45   And the other one is called rplaylist+mood, which is the shortcut that I described.

01:01:52   It runs a bunch of code and what it does is it changes the iTunes output to specific home

01:01:59   pods and the specific volume level, usually between 8 and 10, because we listen to music

01:02:03   late at night, we don't want to disturb the neighbors.

01:02:07   And then it runs that code, triggers the HomeKit scene for the, you know, turning off the TV

01:02:15   and playing the playlist via iTunes on shuffle, and then finally it turns off the Mac Mini

01:02:21   display. So everything's, you know, TV is off, Mac Mini is off, the lights are red,

01:02:26   we're listening to some music, we're having a good time, and it's beautiful

01:02:30   because it runs from, I can run it with a single Siri command via

01:02:34   shortcuts. So yes, I've spent way too much time coming up with these sort of Mac

01:02:41   and iOS together automations, which I think is something that I'm gonna cover

01:02:44   a bunch next year on Mac Stories, because it's really fun.

01:02:47   Putting the stories back in Mac Stories, as they say.

01:02:49   That's what I'm doing, baby. I'm putting the Mac back in Mac series. Yeah, yeah, I love

01:02:56   it. Finally, you're gonna be happy with this. I can go on and on about this stuff, but man,

01:03:02   it feels good to talk about the Mac again. I'm using a custom screensaver. It's the Aerial

01:03:10   Screensaver by John Coates on GitHub. It uses the screensavers that you also get on the

01:03:16   Apple TV, but you get them on the Mac, and it's been updated to version 1.4 that integrates

01:03:24   the ISS videos from TV OS 12.

01:03:27   So the beautiful International Space Station videos that you get on the Apple TV, you can

01:03:31   get them on the Mac too, and they look amazing.

01:03:34   It's an amazing screensaver.

01:03:37   I tried running it on my old Mac Mini, but it would run the fan.

01:03:43   But most of the time the Apple TV, like the Apple TV is the default input on our television.

01:03:47   Of course, I use it there.

01:03:49   But I need to check this out again, because I have not I have not spent time with this

01:03:55   in a while.

01:03:56   So I may download this and build it again, just to just to spend some time with it.

01:04:00   And it's a it's version 1.4 point five.

01:04:03   So coming right along.

01:04:04   It's really cool.

01:04:06   Those new ISS videos are just really amazing.

01:04:09   You don't even have to be a space nerd to appreciate them.

01:04:11   Well, you are listening to believe that the earth is a globe. You know, there's people

01:04:17   who don't. At least that's the only requirement, I think.

01:04:22   Oh my gosh.

01:04:25   Did I make you proud, Steven, with this?

01:04:28   Yes. You have done this in the way that I had hoped that you would, where you are blending

01:04:36   the Mac into your environment. I was a little afraid that you were just going to buy this

01:04:41   and it was going to be just for podcasting

01:04:45   and you would feel like you spent a bunch of money

01:04:47   for something that you only use a couple times a week,

01:04:49   but I like that you're integrating it into your,

01:04:51   the rest of your stuff and that makes me happy

01:04:54   because you know, the iPad and Mac can get along just fine.

01:04:57   There doesn't need to be a war between us.

01:04:59   - Yeah, yeah, it's true.

01:05:01   Yeah, so I will keep you posted on the next steps, yeah.

01:05:05   - Yes, please do.

01:05:06   All right, our third and final sponsor this week is Smile.

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01:06:29   and all of Relay FM. I meant to ask you are you running dark mode in Mojave?

01:06:34   Not at the moment.

01:06:36   Yeah, that's kind of how I feel.

01:06:38   Yeah.

01:06:39   It was a novelty, and then I got tired of it.

01:06:41   I think it's going to be more useful on iOS, honestly.

01:06:44   Yes.

01:06:45   Because when it's late at night and I'm lying in bed, I really want my phone to be darker.

01:06:50   So, probably...

01:06:51   Oh yeah, I mean so much of iOS is still just like huge panels of white, you know?

01:06:56   But, so we're going to wrap up today talking about iCloud.

01:07:01   Oh boy.

01:07:02   And specifically some iCloud issues that you are experiencing.

01:07:11   So I think you, like probably a lot of our listeners, use iCloud on your iOS devices,

01:07:17   on your Macs, having it be the glue between all this stuff.

01:07:20   But you have run into a little bit of a problem.

01:07:23   Yeah, and it's the worst kind of problem, tech problem, in that it happens randomly.

01:07:32   it's impossible to reproduce by following specific steps.

01:07:38   It just happens sometimes.

01:07:40   And of course when you need to explain to somebody that you're having an issue sometimes,

01:07:45   that is really hard to do, because again, you don't have instructions to repeat the problem.

01:07:51   Here's what happened.

01:07:53   For the past two weeks and a half, three weeks,

01:07:58   I've been having some random iCloud issues.

01:08:01   things like HomeKit didn't think that I was home while I was at home.

01:08:09   And so some automations kept running.

01:08:11   Like my motion sensor kept sending me notifications because it detected motion

01:08:17   because nobody was home, but I was at home in front of the motion sensor doing the motion.

01:08:24   [laughter]

01:08:26   I love that sort of problem. It's like, this technology is so smart, but it's so dumb at

01:08:33   the same time.

01:08:35   Or some other issues involving, like, my iPhone didn't tell me that it hadn't backed up for

01:08:46   four weeks. For the past month, my iPhone was not backing up to iCloud, and it didn't

01:08:51   tell me.

01:08:52   That's fine.

01:08:53   And then I started noticing that some reminders that I had previously changed on one device,

01:09:01   like changing the due date of a reminder, was not syncing to other devices. So after

01:09:08   a few times this happened, I went like, "Wait, I just did that a few minutes ago on my iPhone.

01:09:14   Why is it still here?" And at that point I realized, "Oh, something is really wrong,"

01:09:19   because all these things that have been happening are connected together. So something is definitely

01:09:23   wrong. So, you know, debugging iCloud is a nightmare because for obvious reasons, Apple

01:09:32   likes to keep things simple and invisible. There's no like pretty log that you can see

01:09:39   like something that is easily viewable or, you know, displayable on iOS. You can capture

01:09:47   logs but it's a really geeky thing to do and they're basically unreadable unless you're

01:09:51   an Apple engineer. So I started doing what everybody recommends doing. First off, the

01:09:58   main issue appeared to be reminders, because I had entire sets of reminders out of sync

01:10:04   between my iPhone, iPad, Mac, and iCloud.com. I started by turning off reminders sync in

01:10:12   iCloud on multiple devices and re-enabling them one at a time after resetting my reminders

01:10:20   on iCloud.com, sort of bringing back individual devices, one after the other. That didn't

01:10:26   work. So I tried to sign out of iCloud, which is a really disruptive procedure in that it's...

01:10:33   It is. Everything breaks. Basically.

01:10:36   Everything breaks. Everything breaks. And it asks for confirmation, you get emails,

01:10:40   you get two-factor authentication stuff. But I did that. I did that on my Mac, did it on

01:10:46   on my iPhone and my iPad.

01:10:48   That also didn't work because after a few minutes

01:10:50   that everything was back online, stuff was not syncing.

01:10:54   I, what else did I do?

01:10:57   I reset all my settings.

01:11:01   So needed to start from scratch,

01:11:05   changing all the little settings

01:11:06   that I change on my iOS devices,

01:11:08   like my date format or how my contacts are sorted.

01:11:12   All, I needed to redo them all

01:11:14   because I reset the settings.

01:11:16   I restored all my calendars

01:11:20   and all my reminders from a backup.

01:11:22   This is something that you can do on iCloud.com.

01:11:25   It basically erases all of your reminders and calendars,

01:11:30   removes all sharing information,

01:11:33   and recreates them based on a backup

01:11:36   that is available on iCloud.com.

01:11:39   That didn't work.

01:11:40   The only thing that worked for me,

01:11:43   I was able to fix the iPhone backup situation by deleting an old backup, actually deleting

01:11:49   all previous backups, and starting one from scratch.

01:11:54   A reader on Twitter told me that something was probably like a random file was causing

01:12:00   the backup to fail, and that seemed to be true, because after wiping all my previous

01:12:05   backups, I did one from scratch with like 80 gigs of data to upload to iCloud, but that

01:12:12   worked, so backups are not fine. But reminders are still not syncing reliably across devices.

01:12:20   And yes, I did what you're probably thinking right now, you dear listener connected, "Did

01:12:25   you file a radar?" Yes, I did. And I'm at the point where I got an Apple employee to

01:12:33   look at my SysDiagnose log from my iPad, and I still don't have a solution for this.

01:12:41   Literally, the next thing to do would be to drive to Craig's house and say, "I did everything

01:12:50   that you possibly wanted me to do, and there's nothing more for me to try. There's nothing

01:12:55   else for me to try." Also, I didn't mention that I updated to the latest iOS beta because

01:13:05   I thought, "I'm on the stable track, maybe by doing a full software update, maybe it

01:13:11   removes caches or it flips all the right switches and things are going to clear because it's

01:13:17   a software update." No, that also didn't work. So I'm at a loss here. There's nothing

01:13:23   more that I can do. I've done everything. There's Apple employees are now looking

01:13:27   into whatever is wrong with my device. It's a nightmare. And it's also, it's even worse

01:13:34   because I really like reminders and I don't want to go back to using a third-party task manager

01:13:38   because I like dictating my reminders to Siri, I like using my home pods, I like using good tasks,

01:13:43   I really don't want to switch. So now I'm using reminders and effectively managing my to-dos twice

01:13:50   on multiple devices. It sucks, it's terrible, but I don't want to switch. So I hope that if you're

01:13:59   you're an Apple engineer, there's a... I don't know, Steven, can I put the radar number in

01:14:04   the show notes? Is that allowed? Just the number?

01:14:06   Yeah, yeah!

01:14:07   There will be a radar number in the show notes. You will find my log if you work at Apple.

01:14:12   Please look into it, because I'm going crazy.

01:14:15   Wow.

01:14:16   Yeah.

01:14:17   It's like standing at the edge of the ocean and just, like, screaming.

01:14:21   Oh, boy.

01:14:23   Fun fact, Stephen, you can capture sysdiagnose logs on iOS. You need to press volume up,

01:14:31   volume down, and power or side or top button, three buttons all at once. Wait 10 minutes,

01:14:38   go into settings, privacy, analytics data, you're going to find the sysdiagnose file.

01:14:43   For me it was a 200 megabyte file, which took a while to upload via Safari. Also, interestingly,

01:14:51   I was not able to send, and this is totally ironic, I was not able to get that. That sys_diagnosed

01:14:58   file is a .tar.gz archive. It's a heavily compressed archive. I was not able to copy

01:15:06   that to the files app because it was not showing up in the in the share sheet. I needed to

01:15:15   use a third party app to send it there. And then from Safari, from the bug reporter, you

01:15:21   why in Safari it was to read all documents, pick the location where the disease diagnosis

01:15:28   was. So, a whole nightmare all around. I've been in this situation, I had something

01:15:32   similar to this with Notes, probably two summers ago during the beta where I would have Notes,

01:15:38   but more specifically Notebooks, come back from the dead. I'm looking at Notes now, I

01:15:45   I probably have 20, 25 notebooks in the Notes app.

01:15:50   And I create them and destroy them as things go along.

01:15:53   So I'll make one for a project.

01:15:55   And then I'll archive those notes or print them elsewhere.

01:15:58   If I don't need them, I'll just get rid of them.

01:16:00   And I'd have these zombie notebooks come back.

01:16:02   And sometimes they'd have notes in them,

01:16:04   and sometimes they didn't.

01:16:05   And you file a radar, and you get in touch.

01:16:07   And maybe eventually someone figures it out.

01:16:10   but iCloud needs some sort of way for Apple at least

01:16:15   or someone to go in and hit the reset button, right?

01:16:19   Like just reset Federico's Reminders database.

01:16:21   And then it's up to you to say,

01:16:23   "Okay, the phone is the master record.

01:16:27   "I want this to go everywhere else."

01:16:29   It's just like, OmniFocus does this.

01:16:31   If you install OmniFocus on a new device

01:16:33   and set up sync, it asks you,

01:16:35   "Hey, do you want the stuff on the server

01:16:36   "or do you want local stuff?

01:16:37   "Do you wanna merge them?

01:16:38   "Like what do you wanna do?"

01:16:39   iCloud, even if it's not user accessible, but you could call AppleCare support or talk

01:16:45   to a developer via radar and say, "Hey, I need you to do this," and they just do it.

01:16:50   That would be really great.

01:16:52   You are in a privileged position that you're famous in this world, and so your radar may

01:16:57   get looked at more rapidly than someone else's, because someone follows you on Twitter or

01:17:02   works on the team or something.

01:17:03   Who knows?

01:17:04   You know, Tim Cook is just having espresso down the street and say, "Hey, fix my reminders,"

01:17:08   and he does it.

01:17:10   But this is why I think Apple needs this for regular support people.

01:17:14   So if you could just call it AppleCare, chat with them online and say, "Hey, my reminders

01:17:18   have fallen out of sync.

01:17:19   They have some way to just kind of reset the clock and make it all work again."

01:17:24   Maybe that does exist and I'm just not familiar with it, but I know with my notes thing, I

01:17:28   sort of had to do what you had to do is like I had to kind of make noise publicly and then

01:17:32   someone noticed.

01:17:33   And that's not a viable solution for 99.9% of Apple's customers.

01:17:38   So I'm sorry you're having trouble with it.

01:17:41   This sort of thing doesn't mean nervous.

01:17:43   It seems like reminders-- a lot of apps build on top of reminders, like Good Task and others.

01:17:49   And I would be really hesitant to try those, just because reminders seems to be kind of

01:17:54   an older part of iCloud maybe, and it doesn't quite seem to behave all the time.

01:17:59   Godspeed, my friend.

01:18:00   Godspeed.

01:18:01   Yeah, it's really true. Yeah, thank you. There's nothing else I can do at this point, so I

01:18:08   did all the things that people told me to do, both randos on Twitter and friends privately.

01:18:16   I've done it all, and I'm just waiting at this point.

01:18:19   I think that does it. I think that was a... We talked about the Mac, we talked about iCloud.

01:18:25   Pretty fun, pretty fun week. If you want to find links also if we talked about, head over

01:18:30   to relay.fm/connected/220. There you can see Federico's radar number, but you can get

01:18:37   in touch via email as well. If you have feedback or follow up for the show, send us an email.

01:18:41   We get it and we read it and we respond when we can. Actually, most of the time I do respond,

01:18:46   if you're nice. It ends up in follow-up and feedback, so we can keep moving the show forward

01:18:52   the way that it is designed to do. Of course, you can do that on Twitter as well. The show

01:18:57   is there at underscore connected FM. But I have you know, it's the holidays I want to

01:19:02   keep everybody in good mood. So you should follow us on Instagram. You can find Federico

01:19:07   there at Viti VITI CCI Myke is there as I am why ke you can find me on Instagram as

01:19:14   Steven m Hackett. Those links will all be in the show notes. I think our sponsors this

01:19:19   week Linode Luna display and smile. They made this show this excellent Mac mini focus show

01:19:25   possible. Until next week, Federico, say goodbye.

01:19:28   Arrivederci. Adios.