Monday, August 31, 2015

What I'm Hoping for From Apple's Sept. 9 Event


In just about nine days from now, Apple will be holding their September media event.  Scheduled for Wednesday, September 9 at 1:00pm eastern (10:00am pacific), Apple will be introducing what it has in store of us in the run up to this year's holiday shopping season.

It's a pretty safe bet to expect the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus to be introduced at this event.  The same goes for iOS 9.  I expect both of the iPhones and iOS 9 to arrive in our hands no later than Sept. 25.  (Betting money is by Sept. 18.)

I like to have a little bit of delighted surprise when I watch the Apple keynote addresses so I really try to avoid all of the leaks in the month running up to the event.  So without getting into any leak rumors, here's what I'm hoping to see on Sept. 9.

iPhone 6 Remixed

It's virtually impossible to open a browser to a tech blog and not be assaulted by the screaming "The Latest Leaked iPhone 6S Thingamabob Will..." headlines, but I do think the next iPhone will have a Force Touch display.  The new MacBooks and MacBook Pros have Force Touch track pads.  The Apple Watch has a Force Touch display.  It's only natural to assume that it will be in the next flagship iPhone.  I'd take this upgrade even if the phone will get slightly thicker.

I would also like to see an upgrade to the camera.  With the iPhone being such a popular point-and-shoot camera, it's time to upgrade that 8MP iSight camera.

Make it thicker.  If the iPhone camera lens protrudes, now is the time to add thickness and level everything out on the back again.  If the phone gets thicker from the inclusion of a Force Touch screen, then there should be space for the entire camera assembly to be contained inside the case.  Oh, and make the battery slightly thicker.

I also expect the A9 processor to be a thing, but since this is an "S" year, I think the processor, camera and display to be the hardware upgrades.

iOS 9

The public betas being what they are, available to the public, they really aren't too ultra-secret any more.  I expect ad blockers to be big.  I'm hoping to just have more control over what ad networks are able to glean about me from scanning my device after running some sketchy ad code when I visit my favorite blogs and websites.  Many people will likely go with a default option and just block all ads entirely.

I'm also looking forward to the end of Newsstand to make it's exit with iOS 9.  It was a great idea back in the spring of 2010 when the band new iPad first appeared with the $1.00/wk The Daily newspaper.  But now, with apps getting all the love, Newsstand seems almost forgotten. On my iPad, you will find three lonely icons for the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and Forbes.  I'd love to have those apps in a standard app folder on my iPad.

Lastly, I'm hoping for some more control over music with explicit lyrics to be added either to the Music app or to the iTunes control panel.  If these options exist today, I sure has heck can't find them.

And speaking of searching, being able to search for preferences in the Settings application is a big win in my book.

Apple TV

There's been a lot to do about Apple TV rumors this past weekend of which I won't get into here.  For me, I'm looking to upgrade my two third generation Apple TVs to a new version that has some kind of wireless headphone support.

I'd also like to see some improvements to HomeKit that will get me excited enough to go out and buy some "smart plugs" for my "dumb" lamps around the house.  I really see a refreshed Apple TV being the hub for all of my in-home Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets.  And I want to play with some new toys this winter.

watchOS 2

I was lucky enough to get my Apple Watch on launch day.  I've worn it every day since then.  Now that all my debit and credit cards now fully support Apple Pay. it's super easy to buy things with my Watch.  I'm looking forward to seeing the loyalty card support found in iOS 9 make the jump to watchOS 2.

I'm also looking forward to the new apps that developers will cook up for us with the new version of WarchKit.  I think with native apps running on the Watch, some of the lag-tastic delays we've seen with the "projected" Watch apps will go away.

So this is what I'm hoping for come Sept. 9.  I think that the release of Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan and any new iPad devices will be held of an October event.  This September will be all about the iPhone, iOS and Watch OS.

[Apple Sept. 9 invitation art via VersedTech.com...]

Sunday, August 23, 2015

On Apple TV Losing Ground to Other Media "Pucks"


Analyst firm Parks Associates has released a new report (available for purchase) titled “The Streaming Media Device Landscape”.  According to the paper’s abstract, the Apple TV has now slipped down to 17% behind the Roku, and Google’s Chromcast.

This really shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone.  The Apple TV 3 was introduced in March 2012 and has remained essentially unchanged aside from a minor specs bump to add support for 1080p video in March 2013.


Since then, there really hasn’t been a compelling reasons to purchase one over the Ruko or the wickedly inexpensive Google Chromecast stick.  To be honest, I really like the Ruko feature that allows you to listen to your video over the wireless remote with a pair of headphones.  I almost purchased one for my bedroom over the Apple TV just so I don’t wake my sleeping wife.  In the end, the stickiness of Apple’s ecosystem won out as I have tons of content that I’ve purchased from the iTunes Store since it’s launch back in the early 2000’s.

Home automation with HomeKit, apps, games, or whatever Apple has planned for the rumored refresh coming this fall will be a welcomed update by many Apple fans.  My kids can’t wait for the new Apple TV to drop just so they can get my two Apple TV 3 boxes.  For me, I’d just love to have the ability to stream the audio over Bluetooth to my wireless Beats earbuds.

You can read the full Parks Associates abstract on their website.


Samsung Galaxy "Ultimate Test Drive" for iPhone Switchers


Last week, Samsung launched the "Ultimate Test Drive" promotional website to entice customers to ditch their iPhones in favor of Samsung's cheap imitation iPhone clones, namely the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge+ or the Galaxy Note5.

Did I mention all of those devices run the less secure and less frequently updated Google Android OS?

Like I would ever give up my iPhones for an Android device.  Least of all a Samsung Android device.

The program works like this:
  1. You go to the promo site.
  2. Pick out the new Galaxy phone you want
  3. Take a 30-day test drive (after handing over your credit card information)
  4. Buy the phone or send it back.
So, here's the kicker.  The site went live late last week.  When I visited the site on Sunday morning, I was greeted by a message at the bottom of the page that reads:

"Thank you for your interest. Due to the overwhelming demand, we are temporarily out of test drive phones. Please keep checking back for available phones."

Huh.  I thought that Samsung was having a hard time selling Galaxy phones after Apple launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ last September.  You'd think that Samsung would have piles and piles of Galaxy phones in warehouses all over the place after reports from earlier this month that price cuts are going into effect.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge+ go on sale in the US on September 21.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Apple Releases iOS 8.4.1 Update for Apple Music


Today, Apple released iOS 8.4.1 for all current model iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

Apple's release notes for iOS 8.4.1 appear below.

This release includes improvements and fixes to Apple Music.
  • Resolves issues that could prevent turning on iCloud Music Library
  • Resolves an issue that hides added music because Apple Music was set to show offline music only
  • Provides a way to add songs to a new playlist if there aren’t any playlists to choose from
  • Resolves an issue that may show different artwork for an album on other devices
  • Resolves several issues for artists while posting to Connect
  • Fixes an issue where tapping Love doesn’t work as expected while listening to Beats 1
For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:

The iOS 8.4.1 release is available now as an over the air (OTA) update from your devices.  Just go to:
Settings > General > Software Update to begin the install.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Troubleshooting Enterprise Connect Client Issues

Earlier today I was asked to help troubleshoot an OpenText Enterprise Connect client issue in a pre-production quality assurance environment.  It appears that testers were experiencing issues trying to open or edit documents stored in Content Server with the new desktop client.  Today, the QA team was testing Enterprise Connect 10.5.2.178 with Content Server 10.5.0 and Enterprise Connect module 10.5.2.

The error being raised was:

Method 'PrepareEditOpen' not implemented for repository 'CSTest2'


There was no problem accessing the test documents from the Content Server 10.5.0 web UI or via WebDAV.

Since the issue was showing up on the clients, I decided to turn on error logging in Enterprise Connect

Enabling Enterprise Connect Logging

1.Right-clicking the Enterprise Connect desktop icon.

2. Choose "Options" from the pop-up contextual menu.

3. When the Options window appears, click the "Logging Options..." button.



4. On the Logging Options page, check "Log Enabled" and select "Error" from the "Apply to All" drop down menu.


5. Set the "File Location" field to which ever folder works best for you.

6. Click the "Apply" and "Exit" buttons.  Close the Options window.

7. Logout of Windows and login in again to activate logging.

At this point, I reproduced the error trying to view a document in Content Server using the Enterprise Connect client.  when the error was reproduced, go back into the logging options and disable logging.

On my test machine, three logs were created: uc_explorer.log, uc_ucscore.log and uc_ucsync.log.  Open the uc_ucscore.log file in your favorite text editor.  I suggest Notepad++ over Notepad.

Scroll down to the bottom of the log to see the errors.  I found the following:

08:15:18.41 [UCSCORE    ](4588): ERROR: Could not get service.
08:15:21.58 [UCSCORE    ](4588): ERROR: Can't query Office Editor Documents: Could not find a part of the path 'C:\Users\[WindowsAccountName]\AppData\Roaming\OpenText\OTEdit\[CSInstanceName]\c2149\'.
.
.
.
08:16:27.62 [    ](4588): ERROR: WebEditRequest.GetDocumentInfo: exception.type=System.NotImplementedException; exception.message=Server not capable of Webedit.Unreserve;


During my investigation, I noticed that the \c2149\ folder was not created on my client.  Don't get fooled by that error message.  The real clue was the next line:

exception.message=Server not capable of Webedit.Unreserve;

This error says that the Content Server webedit module can't do it's job.

To verify the problem was with the Content Server instance and not the Enterprise Connect client installed on the PC, I added another URL connection string to Enterprise Connect for a disaster recovery instance and tested the ability to open documents.  Enterprise Connect was able to open a copy of a test document that was in the DR instance just fine.  So, the problem was at the QA Content Server.

Taking a look at the installed modules, I quickly discovered that the OpenText Enterprise Connect, Email Services and Content Server Web Edit modules where all at version 10.5.0.  The Enterprise Connect client being tested as 10.5.2.

To finally resolve the issue, I backed up the OTHome directory (the path Content Server is installed into) and the SQL database and performed the upgrades to each of the modules to bring them up to version 10.5.2.  Once that was complete, the QA test clients were able to open, edit and update documents without further trouble.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Thoughts Regarding the iOS 9 Public Beta

It’s that special time of year once again where we have been shown all of the wonderful software enhancements that Apple is cooking up for us this fall.  It is also the time when we, the brave nerds, install not quite fully finished software on our iDevices and Macs.  All of this is done in the name of being nerdy.

Actually, what I’m talking about is the pre-release public beta versions of Apple’s upcoming operating systems: iOS 9 and Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.

Both of these new operating systems are still under development so it’s not fair to judge either of them on their technical merits, stability or performance.  The completed versions of both iOS 9 and El Capitan are due out "this fall."  What I want to talk about here are some of the user facing enhancements in iOS 9.

Keyboards

Last year, one of the big ticket items in iOS 8 was Apple allowing third-party keyboards to be installed on iOS.  While having alternate keyboards available was fun, I dumped all of them inside a week.

This year, I’m far more interested in the tweak Apple has baked into the iOS 9 public beta: changing keyboard key cap states.  With iOS 8, I could never keep the Shift key state straight in my head: What was the CAPS mode icon state again? Solid white?  Or was that grey?  I can't remember.  Better keep mashing the Shift key and retyping.  At least half the time while I was banging out a long text in Messages, a tweet in Twitter or a long email in Mail, I would get the state wrong.  So annoying!

In iOS 9, now the key caps change state depending on whether or not Shift is engaged or not.  Below is a sample of iOS 9 Public Beta 1 running on my iPhone 5S (left) and iOS 8.4 running on my iPhone 6 (right).


I think I really like that enhancement.

News and iCloud Drive

After installing iOS 9, you will get two new stock apps: News (as featured in the WWDC June 8 keynote) and iCloud Drive.


News appears to be everything Apple showed in the keynote.  I was really excited about News when is was unveiled during the keynote address.  As I said in my summary post on this year's WWDC keynote, I think this will be a worthwhile feature for both the iPhone and iPad.  With Apple's focus on user privacy, I think this could become the go-to alternative for things like Facebook Instant Articles.  The beta apps has lots of great articles from across the spectrum of publishers and topics.  I think the biggest challenge users will face is taking the time to fine tune their news feeds.

iCloud Drive, in my opinion, is a new iOS client app to help round out the features of iCloud document storage that launched as part of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite last year.  With iCloud Drive, you now have access to the folders and documents that you have stored in iCloud.  iCloud Drive works similarly to Microsoft's OneDrive or Google's Drive iOS apps.


On the left, you can see the top level folder view for iCloud Drive.  On the right, you see the list view of the contents of the Keynote folder.  It's pretty basic stuff to be sure, but is also a utilitarian feature that Apple needs to gain parity with Google and Microsoft.

iOS 9 will be released later this year and is expected to run on any iOS device that is already running iOS 8.

For more information about iOS 9, check out Apple's iOS 9 preview website.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Apple Rolls Out iOS 8.4 with Apple Music, Beats 1 Radio


At 11:00am EDT this morning Apple released iOS 8.4 bringing a redesigned Music app, launching the new Apple Music service with Beats 1 24/7 live radio and updates to the iBooks apps.

Below are the release notes for iOS 8.4.

iOS 8.4 Release Notes

This update introduces Apple Music—a revolutionary music service, 24/7 global radio, and a way for fans to connect with their favorite artists—all included in the redesigned Music app. iOS 8.4 also includes improvements for iBooks and bug fixes.

Apple Music

  • Become an Apple Music member to play from millions of songs in the Apple Music catalog, or keep them offline for playback later
  • For You: Members can see playlist and album recommendations, handpicked by music experts
  • New: Members can find the latest, greatest new music available—direct from our editors
  • Radio: Tune in to music, interviews, and exclusive radio shows on Beats 1, play radio stations created by our editors or create your own from any artist or song
  • Connect: See shared thoughts, photos, music, and videos from artists you follow, then join the conversation
  • My Music: Play from all of your iTunes purchases, songs from Apple Music, and playlists in one place
  • Completely redesigned music player that includes new features such as Recently Added, MiniPlayer, Up Next, and more
  • iTunes Store: Still the best place to buy your favorite music—one song or album at a time
  • Availability and features may vary by country

iBooks improvements and fixes

  • Browse, listen and download audiobooks from inside iBooks
  • Enjoy the all-new Now Playing feature, designed specifically for audiobooks
  • Books that are Made for iBooks now work on iPhone in addition to iPad
  • Find and pre-order books in a series right from your library
  • Improves accessibility of widgets, glossary and navigation in books made with iBooks Author
  • New default Chinese font
  • New setting to turn off Auto-Night theme in your library
  • Resolves an issue that may have prevented Hide Purchases from working
  • Resolves an issue that may have prevented downloading books from iCloud

Other improvements and bug fixes

  • Fixes an issue where receiving a specific series of Unicode characters causes device to reboot
  • Fixes an issue that prevented GPS accessories from providing location data
  • Fixes an issue where deleted Apple Watch apps could re-install

For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:


iOS 8.4 can be installed on any current model iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.