Happy Fourth

Fireworks over Browns Lake
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Sun Detector

Dog lying in the one sunny spot surrounded by shade
Maddux knows where the sun is.
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Garden pots

I’m trying some new gardening tricks this year. The garden I built in the yard does not get enough sun, so we are going to grow some other vegetables in pots on the deck.

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The Allen family hiking through Eagle Creek Park
Allen family hike

We’ve started to find ourselves developing a new good habit.

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I always tell myself I’m going to write more often, but I never have anything to say.

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Update: I got my package yesterday. It’s pretty excellent that I have the ability to change the delivery location of a Next Day shipment, and—without any warning—have that package arrive four days later than it was supposed to.

I ordered a HomePod the first day it was available for preorder. It shipped via UPS, but required a signature, so I decided to have UPS drop it off at the UPS Store. This seems like a pretty straight-forward situation. It was supposed to be delivered yesterday, but as of right now, it just says “In Transit” and apparently no one knows where it actually is.

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Eagle Creek Trail and Cars

I wandered out onto the nearly finished Eagle Creek Trail extension last weekend with my dog, and walked west from 38th and Airport Drive around to almost 34th Street before construction made it impassable.

This stretch of the trail was built on property that mostly belongs to the Eagle Creek Airpark (which belongs to the Airport Authority, a municipal corporation) and the Eagle Creek Reservoir Dam (which appears to be under direct or indirect control of several county, state, and federal agencies).

Most of the fences—let alone any structures—on these parcels are more than 100 feet off the road, but the trail was constructed about two feet away from the curb. I’m not really sure why. And instead of sloping from the trail down to the drainage ditch, they added retaining walls and wooden fences, leaving nowhere for trail users to go in the event of a vehicle leaving the street and entering the pedestrian area.

I shot a little bit of video on my way back home, walking east with westbound traffic coming toward me. Let’s see if you notice anything interesting:

The speed limit on this stretch of 38th Street is 40 mph. See how most of the cars are moving into the left lane and/or slowing down? They’re not doing that for me and my dog. They are slowing down because of the barrels. What do you think will happen when those are gone in a month?

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Messages needs to show me the links

When Apple released OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, they added a bunch of new features to Messages on both platforms. One of those new features was the Details panel, which gives users a ton of functionality; the ability to change the name of a group message, add and remove contacts, turn on Do Not Disturb on a message-by-message basis, leave a conversation, see the location of anyone who has shared it with you, and view a list of attachments (mostly images) shared within the message. All of these features are awesome and make using Messages a ton better than it was previously.

One thing I find myself doing all the time, however, is thinking, “So-and-so sent me a link a few days ago, and I’d like to pass that along to someone else.” Have you ever tried searching for a URL in Messages? It’s never a very productive process for me. It seems like that Attachments section of the Details view could offer a list of links from the conversation. It could also include phone numbers, addresses, and locations; basically anything that the OS turns into a link/button.

Secondly, I find it strange that Apple built that—awkwardly-placed—Safari Shared Links panel, which aggregates links from your social feeds, but they don’t include their own Messages app as one of the options for it to cull content from. I could see that being a huge benefit if you couldn’t remember who sent the link to you, because that would have everything in one place and searchable. I really can’t think of a good reason not to give users both options.

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Apple Family Sharing wishlist

Apple added Family Sharing to iOS and iCloud about a year ago. At the time they announced it, I was really excited to jump right in. Many of the features it added, like shared Reminders lists and Photos albums were things my wife and I were already doing, but it created an opportunity to save some money on App Store purchases, and cut out a few hoops I had been jumping through to get media in places we could both use it without buying twice. The additional features for children seem like useful features, but my kids aren’t old enough to have their own devices (though I’m sure that’s coming sooner than I’d like to believe).

The first year of use has been perfectly fine, but after very little attention during today’s WWDC keynote, I thought I’d sit down and put a wishlist in writing. As far as I can tell, the only benefit for Family Sharing accounts announced today is a family subscription to Apple Music, which seems like a good deal at $14.99 a month for up to six family members vs. $9.99 per user individually.

Many of my wishes don’t involve content, which should make for things that are easy for Apple to implement. I have wondered lately if the company is getting too big to keep track of everything, and if that’s why one year’s big announcement becomes another year’s ancillary feature becomes another year’s forgotten relic.

Shared iCloud storage

This one seems so simple. Apple provides 5GB of iCloud storage per user, which is enough to backup a device or two on an account, depending on how you manage your photos and video. But with more and more things transitioning to iCloud, that storage is—let’s face it—laughable. My wife is far from a power user, and she had to upgrade to the 99¢ per month 20GB plan just to back up her phone and iPad. I made the leap into iCloud Photo Library, and needed  more than 20GB, so I am on the $3.99 per month 200GB plan. I currently have roughly 70GB free. It would be great to be able to share that 200GB between all the accounts in my family. It would also be really nice to not have separate 99¢ and $3.99 charges every month at different times, among all the random others.

Shared Contacts

I’m not sure how this wasn’t included with all the original Family Sharing stuff, but is it that weird to have a Family group in Contacts that allows everyone to have synced versions of common contacts? If grandma gets a new phone, I could change the number in my contacts and have that sync out to all the devices in the whole family.

iTunes Match

I have no idea what’s going to happen to iTunes Match when this Apple Music thing launches. (Aside: The Apple Music website says “Apple Music and iTunes Match are independent but complementary,” so it sounds like it lives on. It seems like Apple Music incorporates exactly what iTunes Match is, so I’m not sure how they are complementary.) Anyway, provided there is an iTunes Match after June 30, I’d like to know why it doesn’t allow my family to listen to my library.

This request is probably one of those things that has to be negotiated, so that may very well be my answer, but the fact that every user on my iMac has their own iTunes library (and thereby duplicates of any songs that we each like) is crazy. Everyone should be able to contribute to the Family library, and stream anything not in their own library from iCloud. iCloud should just manage this stuff. That’s what computers are supposed to do best. There would be nothing stopping iTunes from adding a tag to each song with the username who added it, giving dad a way to keep the kids’ pop music out of his oldies with a smart album.

Some of this stuff just makes sense. Family Sharing has been around for a year now, and there’s been no sign since day one that Apple even knows it exists. Am I the only one using this thing?

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This Apache setting breaks mod_rewrite

I have had this problem on two very different grades of Apache servers now (cheap, shared stuff and a high-end, expensive, HIPAA-compliant box), so I thought I’d post something reasonably search-friendly in case someone else was looking for the answer.

If you are trying to use mod_rewrite the way a normal human would, to rewrite things like host/users/1/ to host/users.php?id=1 or host/page/slug-for-page to host/page.php?slug=slug-for-page, and you have “MultiViews” turned on in Apache, they will not work. Here’s what that setting does, straight from the documentation:

If the server receives a request for /some/dir/foo and /some/dir/foo does not exist, then the server reads the directory looking for all files named foo.*, and effectively fakes up a type map which names all those files, assigning them the same media types and content-encodings it would have if the client had asked for one of them by name. It then chooses the best match to the client’s requirements, and returns that document.

That means the server is effectively guessing what file you’d want them to see if the one they ask for doesn’t exist, which sounds like something I (and damn near everyone else) would 100% never want to happen. I’m not sure why it seems to defaulted on (or alternatively, why so many hosts turn it on themselves). If a page is missing, I want a 404. I want it logged, and I want to know. Period.

If you are like me and would like this to never happen, you can turn it off via Apache config if you have access to that, or you can turn it off in .htaccess using Options -MultiViews.

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