Apple Stuff Up Books AGAIN

Here we go again. My iPad had to be replaced under warranty this week (it was only intermittently charging) so that meant all 4500+ books had to download from the cloud once more. It took about two days but down they came about 50/50 bought from Apple/Amazon. I immediately noticed that several of my books, all of them Amazon epubs, were missing their covers. So…

  • Off I go to iBooks on my Mac to verify if the covers were still there. They were.
  • I then try the trick of adding a new cover to a book (just drag and drop an image onto the book in iBooks – that made no difference to the iPad.
  • Then I tried removing the download on my iPad and redownloading – it again came down with no cover
  • I tried deleting the books from iBooks entirely and re-adding them – they disappeared from iPad and reappeared. Still with no covers.

Apparently Catalina has broken syncing. If you add epubs to iBooks then have them sync to the cloud and then iOS the covers often disappear. The reverse, syncing from iOS to Catalina works fine. This only applies to non Apple epubs (which is about half my book purchases). Here’s what I did to fix it

  • Download the Kindle book
  • Remove the DRM so I can use it / back it up
  • Drag the book to my iCloud on the Mac
  • Open “Files” on the iPad and download the book that is now showing in iCloud. iOS will open the downloaded book in iBooks, correctly showing the cover and then sync that back to iBooks cloud and onto my Mac.

It’s not a difficult solution now I know it’s there but it’s concerning how badly Apple are breaking iBooks on OSX when a primary reason for investing in their technology is the cohesive ecosystem.

Paypal and Direct Debits

What have you spent your morning doing Gab?  That would be removing over 60 direct debits set up in paypal since 2008.

Last week Pluralsight from whom I bought a 1 year license in 2018 went ahead without notice and charged me £199 for “another year” because I hadn’t checked the box to disable their auto renewal buried under my account details.  Strange they can email me multiple times a week with marketing promotions and telling me about courses but apparently can’t email me to tell me they will be charging me another year on X date and that I need to disable auto renew if I don’t want them to.  Even if I clearly haven’t logged in for months.

Lesson learned.  I cancelled the auto renewal, swallowed the cost and won’t ever use them again.

Today there was a charge from AVG Commerce for £99.99.  I haven’t used AVG in years having switched to BitDefender. The last charge was several years ago.  Apparently they just suddenly decided to charge me 2 year’s renewal for a product that had long expired, again because the auto renew was left on the account and because paypal had them as a direct debit.   The last charge was in July 2016 and this one was April 2019 so not even a renewal date.  At least AVG (who have multiple complaints of this behaviour on their site) offer a 30 day refund which I have applied for.  Luckily I could do that without logging in since their login is now a Salesforce login and no account details I have work.

I often use Paypal to pay for things because I would rather not share my credit card with every site but of course the downside is that Paypal won’t dispute a payment like that whereas my credit card company wouild.  So in I go to Paypal to deactivate all the direct debits that are on my account.

There were over 60.  Many times when I paid for anything with Paypal , even a one off thing like a game or theatre tickets it set itself up without telling me as a direct debit.  That means Paypal would have allowed that source to take payment anytime it wanted without notifying me until it was done.  Wordpress and GoDaddy were particularly egregious with multiple direct debits, one for every payment I ever made and all had to be deleted.

None of this would be an issue if Paypal would notify me when someone applied to withdraw money via direct debit or if they had a limit by date or expiry on how long the direct debit was valid, or even if they didn’t bury the direct debits far away from my home page.

I recommend if you use Paypal you go in and deactivate the direct debits you might unwittingly have in place.

Login to Paypal – choose “Settings” (the cog) and choose “Payments” then “Manage Pre-Approved Payments” – go ahead and cancel whatever you need.  I went from 72 to 5.

 

 

The Painful Journey To Abandoning iCloud

As some of you know I’m very committed to the Mac ecosystem.  I have Mac laptops, an iPad with over 4000 books, iPhone (not the latest because who needs that), a watch Apple TVs x 4 etc etc.  I’m also extremely risk averse and cloud wary.  I gave in and let Apple put all my books in the cloud just because iTunes sucks for syncing and cloud syncing worked across all my devices however I also had a lengthy open support call last year with Apple wanting to know where my books were now stored on my Mac so I could find them and back them up

“they are all in the cloud”

“yes I get that but they are also on my laptop so where are they”

“no they are only in the cloud”

“well that’s not true because here I go, switching off wifi and hey I can still read my books in ibooks so they are here somewhere”

..>> pause for several weeks whilst this is escalated>>>>

“they are on your Macbook but stored in a way you can’t find them or access them”

(please no advice on this one, I found my own workaround to find them and backup un-DRM copies)

So.. iCloud. I agreed about 18 months’ ago to let my Documents and Desktop folders sync to iCloud.  My only reason for that was so that I could get at files if I needed to on my iPad or by logging into any browser but tbh I rarely used it.  Still it worked and seemed a decent idea.

Then one Saturday about two weeks’ ago it all went horribly wrong..

I was sat working when I got an alert saying facetime had been added to my watch.  Which was odd.  My watch is 18 months old and was on my wrist and nothing had changed. The watch itself had no alert.  So off I go digging and I find under my account and devices a list of my current watch and an old watch I wiped and sold to a friend to give to his wife 18 months ago.  Well still odd but no big deal.  They hadn’t done anything so clearly just an odd gremlin.  Just in case I removed that old watch from my devices.

Then I got alerts saying my credit cards had been removed from my watch.  Except they hadn’t been removed from the watch on my wrist and the other watch was flattened before I handed it over 18 months ago.

I did some research, found nothing nefarious and let it go.   I did notice I had been logged out of all my Apple accounts on all my devices and things like Sonos had to be re-authorised again.  Weird and annoying but a side effect of whatever happened I assume**

Then a few days later I restarted my laptop.  I probably only restart it every two weeks so this was the first time since that alert.  The laptop restarts but finder and anything that uses finder like spotlight or even terminal were entirely non responsive.  They would briefly work long enough for me to type 2 characters or click on a folder then there would be a spinning ball for about 25 seconds before it would respond.  That gradually got slower and slower over a few minutes.  So off we go to research because I now have a broken laptop.

After several hours research we found this article which gave a bit of a clue as it pointed to a cloud corruption problem http://osxdaily.com/2015/04/17/fix-slow-folder-populating-cloudkit-macosx/

Unlike some of the other Finder troubles, the Finder process usually doesn’t eat much CPU or crash repeatedly, it’s just inordinately slow when loading folder views, populating files, and opening folders.

So I followed the instructions and deleted the files they specify and immediately my laptop was more responsive.  OK.. Well that was a scary afternoon and I’ll just go ahead and disable cloud syncing so that never happens again.

Did you know Apple doesn’t let you do that?  If you disable cloud syncing for Documents anbd Desktop it actually deletes the contents of those folders and keeps the files in the cloud for 30 days in case you want them back.  So that’s dumb.  I decided to move the contents of both folders to temporary folders, disable cloud syncing then move them back but my laptop was working and I was busy so I parked that for later.

Later…. about a week later again the Finder sluggishness came back but this time I knew how to fix it.  Once it was fixed I went ahead and moved the contents of both Documents and Desktop to temporary folders, disabled cloud syncing and moved them back.  My laptop immediately started working, finder was faster than it had been for a very long time and I’ve had no more problems.

Now I wonder if that first alert about this non existent “watch” was a precursor to some cloud corruption on my account.  That cloud corruption caused all the authentication for my account to be lost and also corrupted the authentication for my cloud data which only tried to reconnect when I signed back into the OS.

** for anyone who was wondering if I had asked an apple “genius” about this. Yes I did. No they had no clue what I was talking about since most of them are “iphone experts” in store now and the one who called me back seemed to think I made it up.

Lesson learned. Apple iCloud for all but my books is now disabled.

HCL Launch New Collaboration Site & Client Advocacy Program

Today HCL went live with their own site for their collaboration products at https://www.cwpcollaboration.com. It’s Domino-based and we even have new forums you can sign up for (and the sign up process is easy).

The big news for me is the launch of their Client Advocacy Program which you can read about and sign up to on the site. The Client Advocacy program connects customers directly with a technical point of contact in development, it’s free and open for registration now.  You can read more in their FAQ here, but for those of you who are tl:dr here’s a taster.

Why is HCL Client Advocacy participation beneficial?

A Client Advocate provides the participant:

  • opportunity to discuss successes, challenges, and pain points of the customer’s deployment and product usage
  • a collaborative channel to the Offering Management, Support and Development Teams
  • proactive communications on product news, updates, and related events/workshops
  • more frequent touch points on roadmaps and opportunity to provide input on priorities
  • facilitation of lab services engagements or support team as appropriate

You can request to sign up here

I think we can all agree that even in these early days HCL are showing customer focused intent and following up quickly with real actions to reach out and encourage us to talk to them directly.  I know this is just the beginning, the foot is down hard on the acceleration pedal and I’d recommend you follow HCL_CollabDev on twitter as well as the new Collaboration site.  And feed back.  They want to hear what you think and what you want.  If you feel something is missing or you have an idea, feed back.

Above all don’t paint HCL with the IBM brush, this is a new company with new ideas and their own way of doing things.  Exciting times.

Whooomf – All Change. HCL Buys The Shop…

According to this Press Release as of mid June 2019, HCL take ownership of a bunch of IBM products including Notes, Domino and Connections on premises. Right now and since late 2017 there has been a partnership with IBM on some of the products such as Notes, Domino, Traveler and Sametime* so this will take IBM out of the picture entirely. Here are my first “oh hey it’s 4am” thoughts on why that’s not entirely surprising or unwelcome news ..

HCL are all about leading with on premises, not cloud. The purchase of Connections is for on premises and there are thousands of customers who want to stay on premises. Every other provider is either entirely Cloud already or pushing their on premises customers towards it by starving their products of development and support (waves at Microsoft). *cough*revenue stream*cough*

HCL have shown in 2018 that they can innovate (Domino’s TCO offerings, Notes on the iPad, Node integration etc) , develop quickly and deliver on their promises. That’s been a refreshing change.

They must be pleased with the current partnership products to buy them and more outright.

When HCL started the partnership with IBM they brought on some of the best of the original IBM Collaboration development team and have continued to recruit at high speed. It was a smart move and one I hope they repeat across not just development but support and marketing too.

HCL already showed with “Places” that they have ideas for how collaboration tools could work (see this concept video https://youtu.be/CJNLmBkyvMo) and that’s good news for Connections customers who gain a large team and become part of a bigger collaboration story in a company that “gets it”.

Throughout 2018 HCL have made efforts to reach out repeatedly to customers and Business Partners, asking for our feedback and finding out what we want. From sponsoring user group events (and turning up in droves) around the world to hosting the factory tour in June at their offices in Chelmsford where we had two days of time with the developers and their upcoming technologies. I believe they have proven they understand what this community is about and how much value comes from listening and – yes – collaborating.

Tonight I am more optimistic for the future of these products and especially Connections than I have been in a while. HCL, to my experience, behave more like a software start up than anything else, moving fast, changing direction if necessary and always trying to lead by innovating. I hope many of the incredibly smart people at IBM (yes YOU) who have stood alongside these products for years do land at HCL if that’s what they want, it would be a huge loss if they don’t.

*HCL have confirmed that Sametime is included

All the 10s, Let’s Make Things Simple..

Announced at the Domino 10 launch today: if you have let your licensing for Domino lapse you can renew it until the end of the year saving up to 50%, and if you have licensing and need more then IBM will discount new licensing by up to 20% until the end of the year.  I don’t sell licenses but that seems like a good deal to me.  Why should you? Well, why shouldn’t you?  If you have Domino in your environment even with a lapsed license you are keeping those servers around because of all the data that’s on them – don’t you want to use that data?  Let’s talk about what you get if you are licensed:

  • access to your Domino data using Node and modern javascript development tools
  • a new query language for Domino (DQL) which allows you to access Domino data from external platforms (buh-bye ODBC!)
  • access to your Notes applications (yes even the really really old ones) on an iPad
  • entitlement to not only use instant messaging in your Notes and web clients but also on mobile devices
  • a ton of TCO features including a new 256GB db size limit, auto database repair, cluster symmetry (automatically populating entire directories from one server to another and keeping them in sync), publishing of stats to New Relic and other cloud based reporting tools, new full text indexing engine, …

I’m not mentioning a ton of other features too.  I’m giving credit to the team who did such a great job today and especially Luis Gurigay whose presentation was seamless and showed how your back-end Domino applications work with no required code changes on an iPad, how your Domino data and web apps can be integrated into O365 and (this which he showed live and I took a screenshot) of showing a Notes document being created and then published in Slack, Microsoft Teams and Watson Workspace concurrently.

The code for this will be made available via the IBM Destination Domino site tomorrow.

Screenshot 2018-10-09 at 11.05.53

So Domino 10 is out tomorrow.  The beta for the application development pack which includes the Node module is due out this week, and the beta for Notes on the iPad is due out this month.  If you want to sign up for the betas go to the destination domino site and if you want to talk licensing and you don’t have someone at IBM to talk to let me know and I’ll see who I can point you at (and then step away because I do not want to do licensing :-))

Ideas, Demos & Your Last Day To Sign Up for Beta 2

So much interesting activity going on around the IBM/HCL products so in case you missed them I thought I could summarise for you.  All are worthy of your time if you care about the future of Domino, Traveler, Verse or Sametime

BETA

Firstly – no time to lose – the registration for Beta 2 of Domino , Notes and Traveler closes TODAY at 12pm EST/5pm GMT.  If you want access to that Beta due this month hopefully then go and sign up here now https://www.ibm.com/blogs/collaboration-solutions/2018/06/11/announcing-ibm-domino-v10-portfolio-beta-program-sign-today/.  Don’t leave it then be disappointed when you don’t get access.

IDEAS

If you have ideas for what you want in Domino, Notes, Traveler, Sametime or anything else – there is a new site (requiring no login) where you can add your ideas and vote on other people’s.  It’s been running for a few weeks and there are some great ideas there already to vote for so it’s a good place to browse during your next coffee break.  Remember the rule – if you don’t ask you don’t get https://domino.ideas.aha.io/ideas

DEMOS

HCL are publishing a series of videos showing how features that are in v10 will behave.  Here are three interesting features announced so far.