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The Dalrymple Report: Apple Home Automation with Josh Centers

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Josh Centers joins me this week to talk about home automation and all the different things you can do with. We also discuss some of the limitations and the products he’s using in his home with Apple’s iOS.

Take Control of Apple Home Automation

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The Dalrymple Report: Cord Cutting with Josh Centers

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Josh Centers has looked at all of the options we have to cut the cord from traditional cable and satellite TV companies, so I had him on the show to talk about what he likes and doesn’t like about the choices. We talk about Hulu, Direct TV, YouTube TV, and others as we try to find a solution.

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Outfoxing iMovie to set a default movie resolution

Josh Centers, TidBITS:

We’ve been trying to incorporate screencasts into more of our articles here at TidBITS—there are times when a short video conveys some point better than any number of screenshots. As far as tools go, ScreenFlow is the gold standard, but QuickTime Player can record screen actions and iMovie is a decent video editor. And both come with all Macs for free, so that’s where we’re starting.

But I recently stumbled across an infuriating problem: no matter what I did with my original screen recordings, I couldn’t use File > Share > File in iMovie to save a video file at a resolution higher than 720p.

Solid detective work by Josh Centers, as he works out a kludge to get a better iMovie resolution. But even better, his bit of hackery stuck and he now has reset the default iMovie resolution to something much more usable.

Even if you don’t use iMovie, you never know when the need will arise. Take a read through this, just to get a sense of the technique.

And:

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, since iMovie is an impressive tool to be bundled with the Mac for free, but hacks like this shouldn’t be necessary.

Yup.

TidBITS digs into USB Restricted Mode

Josh Centers talks through USB Restricted Mode, the politics of opening a backdoor into iOS, and the mechanics of breaking into an iPhone via the Lightning port.

Bottom line:

If USB Restricted Mode isn’t causing you any trouble, leave it on. Although it doesn’t offer complete protection against an alert attacker who can get access to your device quickly, it’s not worthless. Once your device has been locked for more than 60 minutes, nothing we know of can crack it.

Gibson “running out of time — rapidly”

Nashville Post:

“Gibson Brands, Inc. today announced that the company made a $16.6 million coupon payment to holders of its $375 million, 8.875% senior secured notes due 2018.”

That simple statement issued a week ago — at all of 26 words, it’s less than a quarter the length of Gibson’s boilerplate company description that accompanied it — suggests a business-as-usual tone of a company taking care of its contractual commitments.

But the situation facing the iconic Nashville-based music instrument maker, which has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, is far from normal: CFO Bill Lawrence recently left the company after less than a year on the job and just six months before $375 million of senior secured notes will mature. On top of that, another $145 million in bank loans will come due immediately if those notes, issued in 2013, are not refinanced by July 23.

Reading through all of this, things do indeed look dire. But I can’t imagine the Gibson brand going away. I’d be more concerned with new hands coming in to run the company and changing a process which produces some of the finest guitars in the world, diluting a brand synonymous with guitar craft.

Damn.

[H/T Josh Centers]

Cord cutting and fragmentation

From this TidBITS review of YouTube TV by Josh Centers:

Along with most of the channels you’d expect, such as ESPN, Fox News, and MSBNC, YouTube TV has just added Turner networks, including Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, and TNT. It will also soon offer NBA TV and MLB Network.

Which channels you want is highly personal, but here are a few notable channels that are missing: BET, Food Network, Hallmark, MTV, and Nickelodeon.

And from this YouTube TV support document:

FOX has not secured the rights to NFL games on its national feed, FOXNet. Users in Albuquerque, Austin, Birmingham, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville (South Carolina), Harrisburg, Hartford, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Portland, Raleigh, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, and West Palm Beach will not see NFL games on FOX.

Every cord cutting package I’ve seen so far has holes like this. With cable, you pay a lot more, typically (but not always) have to make a long term commitment, get a lot of stuff you don’t want, but pretty much can get everything you want, as long as you are willing to pay for it.

Ideally, at least for me, the market will devolve to the point where you can build a package that has every element you want, but leave off (and not pay for) things you’ll never consume.

My two cents: Once that sort of package becomes affordable, one of two things will happen. Either the companies that deliver internet will throttle packages they don’t own and make the experience untenable, or cable prices will come down to keep customers and become competitive again.

Apple in 2017: The Six Colors report card

Jason Snell & Dan Moren, Six Colors:

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

This is the third year that I’ve presented this survey to a hand-selected group. They were prompted with 11 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, as well as optionally provide text commentary on their vote.

Lots of data to process, all based on a survey, but telling nonetheless. Read this (and check out the charts) for yourself, but one point I will note is that the biggest negative change from the 2016 report card, by far, is the rating for software quality.

Some of the comments:

In 2017, our panel’s perception of the quality of Apple’s software took a nosedive. Nobody who has been following along to Apple news and opinion for the last year will be surprised.

“Apple’s QA team has dropped the ball this year, with huge bugs in macOS, iOS, and even HomeKit, with often flawed patches for those bugs,” wrote Josh Centers. “Apple looks a bit amateurish lately,” wrote Kirk McElhearn. “It’s getting embarrassing,” wrote Rob Griffiths.”

“I don’t know how quality assurance works inside Apple, but something needs to change,” wrote Brent Simmons. Fraser Speirs wrote, “It’s as good as anyone else’s but it’s not good enough.”

“My family consists of a couple of big nerds, but mostly average users, and everyone agrees software reliability is trending down,” wrote Casey Liss.

Read the whole post. Very interesting.

Amazon public relations: Yes, Prime Video app still coming to Apple TV this year

Josh Centers, TidBITS:

At this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple and Amazon finally announced that we would be able to watch Amazon video natively on the Apple TV by the end of the year.

And:

But it’s December, and Amazon Prime Video for the Apple TV remains vaporware. Is it still due in 2017? Surprisingly, yes. Amazon public relations told me, “Thanks for checking in. Yes, you can expect the launch this year.”

This report jibes with last week’s report that the Apple TV app was being beta tested by Amazon employees.

[Via DF]

What’s wrong with the Touch Bar

Josh Centers wanted to do a TidBITS piece on innovative uses of the MacBook Touch Bar. Things did not go as planned.

What’s coming in tvOS 11, and what is still needed

Josh Centers posts about what’s new in tvOS 11, but then goes further, digging into what’s still needed.

I’d go further, and add the ability to support multiple Bluetooth interfaces, as I’ve written about here:

  • Pair two sets of AirPods to a single Apple TV: This would allow my wife and I to listen on headphones, each with a different volume level, a blessing for people with different hearing needs and for parents with sleeping infants.

  • Pass the audio through to HDMI while AirPods are active: This would allow someone with a hearing deficit to listen at a louder volume while the room gets the regular volume.

Terrific read.

Clearing up confusion about Netflix and the TV App

Josh Centers, TidBITS:

AppleInsider caused a bit of a stir when it reported that the TV app for iOS and tvOS now supports playing Netflix content. As you may recall, Netflix hasn’t yet agreed to integrate with the TV app (see “tvOS 10.1 Unifies the Apple TV Experience with “TV” App,” 12 December 2016). However, the AppleInsider report is correct in that you can indeed find and stream Netflix content from the TV app. But TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino correctly pointed out that such functionality has been there from the launch of the TV app.

So what’s the deal? Netflix doesn’t work with TV, but it also does work? It’s a bit like the famous Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment, in which a cat in a box is simultaneously alive and dead. But unlike quantum mechanics, there’s a simple answer to this conundrum.

We wrote about this yesterday. Glad Josh was able to clarify. Read his post for the details.

Four reasons Apple should bid on Time Warner

Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS:

Telecom giant AT&T is seeking to purchase content giant Time Warner (which is no longer affiliated with Time Warner Cable, see “AT&T Aims to Buy Time Warner for $84.5 Billion,” 24 October 2016). However, the deal could run into regulatory obstacles, with politicians on both sides of the aisle questioning the merger. It also doesn’t help that the Department of Justice is suing AT&T subsidiary DirecTV.

And:

Goldman Sachs is reportedly pushing Apple to make a competing bid for Time Warner, but Apple is resisting. However, I think Apple should consider the possibility. Here are four reasons why.

This is a great, thoughtful read. Should Apple spend the cash to instantly acquire one of the biggest, highest quality content libraries on the planet? Would they burn bridges in doing so, alienate players they are trying to bring to the table?

I find this all a fascinating business.

Circle, Square, and Venmo: Payment apps let you pay via iMessage

Glen Fleishman, with a little help from Josh Centers, walks through the payment apps that work inside the iMessage infrastructure. Learned a lot, all very interesting, but found this telling:

We’re still in the early days of iMessage apps, but two prominent payment apps have added iMessage integration: Square Cash and Venmo. A third, Circle, was launched on multiple platforms by entrepreneurs with deep Internet roots. Oddly, PayPal hasn’t yet updated its app to support iMessage payments, but the company often lags putting improvements in its native software.

Is this a wait-and-see on PayPal’s part? They’ve clearly opened a door to the competition. Or perhaps iMessage support is just not that big a deal in the larger world of payment processing.

tvOS adds Dark Mode and more

Josh Centers digs into the latest tvOS release. One notable addition:

Those of us blinded by the bright-white look of tvOS 9 will appreciate the new Dark mode, which you can enable in Settings > General > Appearance. Dark mode not only turns the Home screen dark, but also darkens the user interface elements of many apps.

I’ll definitely be switching to Dark Mode.

Mastering Preview to view images and PDFs

In this two part series, Adam Engst and Josh Centers take you through a masters class in using your Mac’s built-in Preview program to work with images and PDFs.

TidBITS Apple TV FAQ

Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS, pulled together a well-written assemblage of frequently asked Apple TV questions. Terrific set of questions, well worth scanning through.

Retina strategy

Josh Centers has some interesting thoughts on Apple’s strategy for Retina displays and which products we should expect to see them in.

The Dalrymple Report

The Dalrymple Report: A look at the iPhones 11 I’ve been using the new iPhones for a few days, so Dave and I took some time to talk about some of the new features. Brought to you by: OmniFocus: OmniFocus is … Continued