robinadr https://robinadr.com Coding, WordPress, and technology Tue, 24 Jan 2017 05:13:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 The End of an Era https://robinadr.com/2017/01/the-end-of-an-era Tue, 24 Jan 2017 05:13:54 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1440 Obama leaving the Oval Office for the final time

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Frying Pan or Fire https://robinadr.com/2016/12/frying-pan-or-fire Fri, 09 Dec 2016 22:29:31 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1439 From Verizon’s press release today:

Today, Samsung announced an update to the Galaxy Note7 that would stop the smartphone from charging, rendering it useless unless attached to a power charger. Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note7 users that do not have another device to switch to. We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.

The lawyers are gambling on where the lawsuits might come from: the fires or the communication cutoff.

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If You Build It Well, They Will Want to Come https://robinadr.com/2015/06/if-you-build-it-well Thu, 04 Jun 2015 00:51:00 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1429 In response to Tim Cook’s speech on the importance of privacy and encryption, The Verge had this to say:

Arguably, Google Maps is better than Apple Maps, Gmail is better than Apple Mail, Google Drive is better than iCloud, Google Docs is better than iWork, and Google Photos can “surprise and delight” better than Apple Photos. Even with the risks.

If Apple truly cares about our privacy then it should stop talking about how important it is and start building superior cloud-based services we want to use — then it can protect us.

Just within that list above, I use Apple Maps, iCloud Mail (and calendar) over their Google counterparts, though I still use Google Docs. I can say without a doubt that the Google counterparts are better.

The only reason I switched over is because I reached a tipping point between my wariness of Google’s practices, and my desire for quality services on the web. Apple’s offerings got better, Google’s business practices became shadier, and I ended up feeling Apple’s services were good enough that I wanted to switch.

It shouldn’t be like that. I should want to use Apple’s products because they both respect my privacy and they’re the best services. It’s unacceptable for a company with Apple’s size and prowess to still be lagging behind when it comes to services in the cloud.

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“Wels Fargo” https://robinadr.com/2015/06/wels-fargo Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:19:44 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1428 A lovely spam email

How do people still fall for these obvious phishing attempts?

I count a few spelling mistakes, many grammar mistakes including improper capitalization, “value customer,” and so on, plus the URL itself is secureupdate-welsfargo.us.pn

Not to mention, I’ve never had a Wells Fargo account in my entire life.

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Marco Arment’s MacBook https://robinadr.com/2015/05/marco-arments-macbook Wed, 20 May 2015 05:50:39 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1425 Marco Arment’s impressions on his impulse purchase of a MacBook:

Instead, we have major compromises on previous invariants. Until now, since I started buying Macs 11 years ago, Apple had never shipped a laptop with a keyboard or trackpad that was less than great. They recognized that a laptop without a good keyboard wasn’t a good laptop, even if a lot of people would be OK with it and buy it anyway.

Now, Apple’s priorities have changed. Rather than make really great products that are mostly thin, they now make really thin products that are mostly great.

This concerns me more than you probably think it should. Not only does it represent compromised standards in areas I believe are important, but it suggests that they don’t have many better ideas to advance the products beyond making them thinner, and they’re willing to sacrifice anything to keep that going.

He perfectly sums my impressions of recent Apple devices up. Between the MacBook, and to a lesser extent the iPhone 6, Apple seems to be struggling with the diminishing returns in the pursuit of thinness.

I couldn’t believe how bad the keyboard on the MacBook felt in person at the Apple Store. Short of an engineering miracle of some sort involving the complete rethinking of a keyboard key, this problem cannot be fixed due to physical limitations. There just isn’t enough space to make the key travel far enough.

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Houston Coffee and Cars https://robinadr.com/2015/04/houston-coffee-and-cars Sat, 18 Apr 2015 20:04:31 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1388 I spent a few days in Houston, and went to the local Coffee and Cars event. Highlights included a LaFerrari, 2 McLaren P1s, some Porsche 918 Spyders, and my personal favorite, a yellow Enzo. I was pretty impressed with the turnout.

Row of hypercars

Pagani Huayra

enzo

classic-carrera

lineup

mclaren-p1-3

huracon

no-murci

ferrari

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Smarter Archives 3.2.3 https://robinadr.com/2015/04/smarter-archives-3-2-3 Tue, 14 Apr 2015 05:13:12 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1386 Smarter Archives 3.2.3 has been released. The only change is the addition of a German (de_DE) translation, thanks to Jay Linski (@jaylinski).

Download it now.

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Technical Support for Technical People https://robinadr.com/2015/04/technical-support-for-technical-people Sun, 12 Apr 2015 20:05:41 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1383 I’ve spent some time on the phone with Apple tech support recently, and it has become clear that a certain “knowledge barrier” exists that you need to clear in order to get effective technical help. I avoid tech support a lot of the time, opting instead to search online for solutions, but sometimes you exhaust all options and have to call in. Especially if you need something administrative like an RMA done.

In Apple’s case, the first person you encounter on the line is a “tier one” support personnel. They don’t seem to know much beyond guiding you through troubleshooting steps that can be found in their handbook, and I assume on Apple’s online knowledge base. Not that this comes as criticism; I would bet 95% of their calls can easily be handled with this. Think Grandma calling in to set Yahoo! mail up on the iPad her grandkids just got her for Christmas.

But having to get past this person becomes frustrating. I certainly think I know more than I actually do, but I know more than the average Apple user. So when I’m trying to explain how two-step verification works with iCloud, it devolves into me guiding the support person through Apple’s own products, them realizing this call is more than they can handle, and getting referred to a “senior service advisor.”

Once this happens, my calls go a lot smoother. The senior advisor has not only the authority to take more serious actions on Apple’s end, but they also have a much more expansive technical knowledge and it finally feels like someone I can communicate effectively with.

That’s the “knowledge barrier.” I wish companies offered some way to jump over this barrier; an option for technical people. But I can also see people opting for this because they think they know what they’re talking about, and they really don’t.

Thankfully, once you get past that first person, Apple tech support does a great job.

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PSA: VPN Your Life https://robinadr.com/2015/03/vpn-your-life Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:15:24 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1381 If you haven’t signed up for a VPN service yet, you need to. I’ve been a customer of Private Internet Access for more than a year now, and the annual $40 has been more than worth it.

Here’s a quick list of what I’ve used it for:

  • Tunneling torrents through it
  • Connecting to IRC networks that don’t use SASL and/or mask your IP
  • Watching Netflix outside the US2
  • Connecting securely to public wifi

Especially that last one. Every time you sit down at a Starbucks, a public library, or anywhere with a publicly available wireless network, there could be someone listening in on your wireless transmissions. It doesn’t require much knowhow to pull off either.

Note this matters even more when you log in to websites that aren’t using a secure connection (http://). Your credentials transmit in plain text. That should scare you.

So get a VPN account, set it up, and start browsing securely.


  1. This goes both ways: sometimes you want access to the US catalog from outside the country, and sometimes you want access to another country’s catalog (e.g. Canada’s) from inside the country. 

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Parsedown for WordPress https://robinadr.com/2015/03/parsedown-for-wordpress Wed, 18 Mar 2015 05:24:56 +0000 https://robinadr.com/?p=1379 I’ve created a WordPress plugin that uses Parsedown as a Markdown processor. I actually finished version 0.1 a few weeks ago, but I wanted to iron a few bugs out before I announced it publicly.

It functions as a 100% drop-in replacement for the original Markdown plugin, PHP Markdown Extra by Michel Fortin. Everything is the same, down to the same filter behaviors and priorities.

Unlike other plugins, my plugin has no settings. Just upload the plugin, activate it, and you’re off.

Download Parsedown for WordPress v0.3.

The plugin’s page in the WordPress repository has more information. Development takes place over on GitHub, where you can also report any bugs you come across.

If you’re looking for a live example, this site is currently using the latest version.

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