Mac OS Sierra and VPN Problems

I upgraded my Mac at the weekend to Sierra, which went beautifully.  Fast and no problems at all.  Until this morning.  This morning I went to connect to a customer VPN and it has disappeared from my list of VPNs on my Mac.  On further checking I realised that customer ran their VPN as PPTP and PPTP is no longer supported as a VPN option on Mac OS.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-51-20

I can use 3rd party VPN software and I guess removing it was Apple’s best option – leaving it in place but disabling it would have just led me into trying to make it work not realising it was no longer supported.  Still a warning pre-install of “if you upgrade the following services and applications will no longer work” would have been nice if a bit much to ask for.

Consider this your warning*

*And yes I know PPTP isn’t secure and the customer shouldn’t be using it but that one isn’t my decision.  

Living iOS9 For A Few Days

I upgraded both my phone and iPad to iOS9 a few days’ ago but I was in a hurry and I really haven’t had a chance to review the features so I’ve just been living with the new OS and seeing what works for me and what doesn’t.  I use my iPad for Citrix, SSH & RDP, reading, watching TV and playing games.  My iPhone I use for managing my day, emails, reminders, tasks and photos.

I’d be interested to know anyone else’s favourite features that you’re actually using

The Good

  1. Popup blocker in a browser.  Yes I know blah blah editorial sites need to make money blah blah.  It makes my browser faster and sites more interesting.  I do pay for some sites to access but if the sites didn’t overdo the ads then I’d tolerate them.  But they don’t, they overdo and make the entire site unreadable.  I’ve tried Blockr and Peace (now withdrawn) and i’m definitely noticing improvements
  2. Swipe in.  On my iPad I can swipe in from the right to look at my mail whatever else i’m doing
  3. Picture in Picture – i absolutely love the PIP feature that Hulu, iPlayer, Netflix all have.  Now when I’m exercising and watching a program or cooking and watching a program I can come out of the app and do other things whilst the app shows in a small window.  LOVE

    PIP

  4. Photo syncing.  Finally my photos auto sync immediately across devices – previously it was hit and miss and could take a while for photos from my phone to reach any other device. That may have just been me because Tim never had that problem
  5. Spotlight search – customised searching across apps including streaming services.
  6. Mobile data failover when wifi is weak.  The idea is that if you are connected to wifi but it’s not strong it will switch to using mobile data instead.  I do have one dead spot in my house and usually I have to disconnect wifi so it uses data there but this fixed that problem.  It only works if you have unlimited data though.
  7. Siri seems improved, at least it seems to understand me better and write emails / texts more accurately
  8. Public transport in Apple Maps.  I’ve already used this a few times – asking for a route home last night from Hampton Court it showed me the nearest bus stops, stations , bus numbers to take and when they were due.  It only works right now in London and a few other cities but luckily that’s where i live.

The Bad

  1. Swipe In.  When reading a book every time I go to turn the page it swipes in and shows me my inbox. No Apple BAD. I don’t want to be checking my inbox when I”m trying to read.  There’s no way to turn off right in swipe so I need to reprogram my fingers to touch for page turn slightly further in from the right or use the left touch to turn the page. It’s annoying but I wouldn’t give up swipe, I just wish I could turn it off when in iBooks
  2. Spotlight search – by default all apps are included in spotlight search including “Spotlight suggestions” and “Bing Search” both of which send your query to a remote site.  I disabled those.  Also by default when I go to search it shows what book i’m reading and how far i’ve progressed.  Not a fan.  I had to go through and turn off all the apps I didn’t want searched. I would have preferred to turn “on” rather than turn “off” so another one where the feature is good but the implementation doesn’t work for me
  3. Tim absolutely HATES the new keyboard which I don’t notice at all so that’s his problem 🙂

A Statement From IBM On El Capitan and iOS9 Support

IBM have today released a statement explaining why some applications will be unable to connect to Domino servers from iOS9 and El Capitan devices due to Apple removing support for Elliptic curve technology (no – me either) and enhanced transport security.  This doesn’t affect only IBM but it’s something you need to be aware of.  There will be an interim fix for Domino 9.0.1 FP4 and also a new FP5 to resolve these issues (eta end Sept) but there will be no fix for Domino 8.5.x servers.

The full statement and explanation is here but the key summary is

Additionally, IBM is working on an Interim Fix for 9.0.1 Fix Pack 4 (and the upcoming 9.0.1 Fix Pack 5) that will implement Elliptic Curve cipher support for TLS 1.2 and TLS 1.0 that remedies this issue and implements Elliptic Curve support for the following protocols: HTTP/HTTPS, LDAP/LDAPS, SMTP, IMAP, and POP3. Currently, the ETA for the Interim Fix posting is end of September 2015.

Elliptic Curve support will not be available for Domino 8.5.x releases since the specification requires updated cryptographic libraries that are available only in Domino 9.0 and above.

Getting Ready For El Capitan (OSX 10.11) and iOS9

Apple are getting ready to ship both iOS9 (sometime next week is rumoured) and the latest version of OSX called El Capitan. Already people have downloaded and are using beta versions of the software and finding things don’t work – small things like Notes won’t install or run and iOS devices won’t connect to Traveler!  So here’s what you need to do (and with thanks to the king of all things Apple OS Rene Winkelmeyer)

Your Traveler server must be upgraded to the latest version which was released last week – 9.0.1.7.  That version adds support for iOS9 and without it your devices won’t be able to connect.  All those BYOD users with iPhones are sure to be updating the second the OS is released so you really need to stay ahead of the game and get your server upgraded.  And whilst you’re at it , make sure you get your SSL certificates updated to SHA2 if you haven’t already.

Amendment: Rene would like me to make it clearer that not having a SHA2 certificate from a public CA will absolutely positively stop Traveler from working as of iOS9 right now.  He’s right – I wasn’t clear enough on that. Your Traveler server must have a SHA2 SSL certificate and really must be Domino 9.0.1 FP4

IBM have announced there will be a new 64bit (yay!) version of Notes 9.0.1 for the Mac to be released prior to the shipping of El Capitan.  There are no declared dates but I’m hoping that means “September”.  More details of that here but basically until the new 64bit client is available, don’t upgrade to OSX 10.11

So. Traveler first. In fact Traveler NOW and then wait… 🙂

Solving My Macbook Battery Problem

In the past few months I’ve been frustrated by my Macbook Air, which is less than a year old, constantly draining the battery when I leave it unplugged and on sleep.  I often have work to do in the middle of the night or early morning so I’ll bring the fully charged laptop to bed, put it on sleep and set the alarm for 4am – then when I wake up and go to do work I discover the battery is almost completely drained.

I found a thread on the apple support forums from late last year where people were complaining of something similar but that seemed to be entirely related to the Avast software which I don’t have.  I also saw a few comments about using a keyboard cover preventing the screen closing properly which worried me as I didn’t want to give up on my mophie cover but on testing (putting it to sleep manually rather than just closing the cover) I discovered the drain still happened.

My solution was finding the command

pmset -g assertions

running that in a terminal window gave me this

Assertion status system-wide:
BackgroundTask 0
PreventDiskIdle 0
ApplePushServiceTask 0
UserIsActive 1
PreventUserIdleDisplaySleep 0
InteractivePushServiceTask 0
PreventSystemSleep 1
ExternalMedia 0
PreventUserIdleSystemSleep 0
NetworkClientActive 0
Listed by owning process:
pid 69(hidd): [0x0000000a00002102] 02:04:08 UserIsActive named: “com.apple.iohideventsystem.queue.tickle”
Timeout will fire in 596 secs Action=TimeoutActionRelease
pid 67(InternetSharing): [0x000000080000215f] 02:02:51 DenySystemSleep named: “com.apple.InternetSharing”
No kernel assertions.

See that last one?  I have internet sharing on because once when at a conference where only I could connect, Tim and I shared my wifi connection. That option was stopping my laptop from ever properly going into sleep.  I disabled it in system preferences , shut my laptop lid and found it still 100% charged 5 hrs later.

Oh and the first time I ran the pmset command it didn’t show me that, instead it showed me this

PreventUserIdleSystemSleep named: “com.apple.iTunes.syncing”

Yes iTunes was preventing idle sleep, but more importantly until I shut down iTunes it didn’t show me the bigger problem of Internet Sharing preventing it.

Problem solved.

The Worst Product Apple Have Ever Released

It hurts me to say this and goodness knows I’m not a fan of the “if Steve Jobs” were alive mantra but Apple have finally managed to release a product so bad, so beta, so limited and so shonky that I had to spend time working out how to remove it and that takes me back to my windows days.

So what is it? Well most of you won’t even notice but in Mavericks Apple kindly introduced iBooks for OSX.  I read a lot on my iPad on my iPhone and  – you know – actual books.  I have over 2000 books in iTunes syncing across devices.  I never had any real urge to read books on my computer but Apple obviously thought I did (or they were up to something nefarious) so they brought out iBooks.  Why is iBooks so terrible?   Well let’s start with the fact that it removes your books from iTunes completely and imports them into “iBooks” where they can no longer be found via spotlight.  If you’re looking , and looking , and looking you’ll find them hidden away in

~/Library>Containers>com.apple.BKAgentService>Data>Documents>iBooks>Books  – intuitive eh?

Of course not ALL books are there, no, no, .  I went from 2058 books in iTunes to just over 1600 books in iBooks with 400 odd left behind in my old iTunes folder (I spotted that, iBooks certainly didn’t tell me).  I believe those are ones I dropped in from other sources and not from the iBookstore.  So that’s annoying but I’ll just carry on using iTunes and ignore iBooks…..

Unfortunately no.  As soon as you launch iBooks it starts the ibookstoreagent and that takes over from iTunes, you no longer have a books folder in iTunes and none of your books are visible there.  Your iPad or phone syncs with the new iBooks app (the one with 400 books missing).  The iBooks app itself is horrific, you can’t edit any metadata on books (like correcting author names or titles or book covers) or sort the books the way you want – basic stuff that we could do in iTunes.  So now I have 400 books missing, a useless app oh and all my books moved to that container folder have been given a numeric code instead of the useful filename so I can’t search for them by title or author in spotlight.

I check my iPad and iPhone and neither have all books on them, even all books bought from Apple.  If I look at “purchased” I have tons to download manually because they won’t sync.  At this point I’m ready to roll back to Mountain Lion .. but some kind person on the Apple support community (well several kind people) offered a way to remove iBooks and go back to my happy place with iTunes and books management in there.  Here’s what I did

1. Used Activity Monitor to stop the iBookstoreagent

2. Found the ibookstoreagent and moved it to trash (otherwise it will keep restarting

3. Used AppCleaner (free to install but not from AppStore) to remove iBooks and all its related files completely

4. Launched iTunes and my books folder was back with the 400 missing books in it

5. Dragged / dropped all the books in that container folder into iTunes

6. Choose File – Library  – Organize Library to get all those books back into the iTunes folder structure

7. Deleted the container and everything in it including the copies of books I now had back in iTunes

That’s it.  It took about 5 mins (10 if you need to download AppCleaner)  and now I am back to the way I worked before, all collections etc intact and 2058 books in place.

I’m now very nervous about any iTunes or OSX updates going forwards, for the first time since I moved to Mac 6 years ago, i’ll be holding off to let others go through that pain barrier first.  If you haven’t launched iBooks yet, I’d recommend you don’t.

Bad Apple.  Bad.

Rethinking the iPad Air

Yesterday I switched my iPad for an iPad Air. I had an iPad and I have an iPad mini which I thought would replace my regular iPad but it’s now barely used. The iPad has two SIM cards, one for O2 in the UK (which also works in Europe at no charge which I suspect O2 don’t know) and one for AT&T in the US. Despite its size and weight (and how difficult it is to fit in a handbag) I find it more enjoyable to read books on and it’s really reliable for data connections. The iPad mini is now used only on planes really where it’s small enough to fit on the seat tray so I can watch videos

So why bother upgrading at all ? Well I had skipped 2 versions already (I also don’t update my iPhone) and my books were taking a noticeable time to load (10 seconds or so which is FAR too long) plus “lighter” sounded good and I could pass down my old one to my mother replacing her even older one. I can’t say I was excited about it though….

Well a day later and using it today I love it. It’s smaller, thinner and lighter to fit in my bag, I can hold it easily with one hand and the reduction in bezel size means my thumbs reach the middle when typing which makes it more accurate to use. On and the books load much faster. I debated upgrading to the Air but knowing what I do now I’d definitely recommend it. The mini may find a new home though.