Moving to iCloud Photo Library

A few years ago, I said goodbye to my mid-level digital camera and just started using my iPhone as my camera of choice. After all, the best camera is always the one that you have with you, and I always have my phone with me. It wasn’t until this year’s Automattic meetup that that I realized I was transferring photos from my phone to my computer manually via AirDrop, as if I was still treating my phone like a separate unconnected camera. “Surely there is a better way?” I thought, and that better way was right in front of my face the whole time.

Enter iCloud Photo Library, a cloud-based library which is accessible by all of your Apple devices. If you take a photo or video with your iPhone or iPad, or add one to your library on your Mac, it’s immediately sent to the library in iCloud and visible across all of your Apple devices. It’s simple, it’s magic, and it reminds me of having wallet photos. If I want to show someone a photo or get the urge to publish one online somewhere, I don’t have to explain how sad I am that I don’t have the photo on me, because I already have access to my entire library on my phone.

I had heard great things about iCloud Photo Library, but had resisted because I knew I’d absolutely have to buy more iCloud storage since the free 5GB just wasn’t going to work out. Fortunately, Apple recently launched a 200GB plan at only $2.99/month that I could share with my wife for her photo library too, and that was exactly what we needed. After buying more storage, I switched on iCloud Photo Library in the Photos app on my Mac, and the upload of everything completed in about 6 hours. Now, the 2,471 photos and videos I have worth keeping are accessible on both my Mac and my phone.

If you do choose to switch to iCloud Photo Library, and I very much recommend that you do, please keep in mind that it is not a dedicated storage solution. Deleting a photo from the library on any connected device will remove it from the iCloud Photo Library and any other device using it too. Also, keep in mind that each device allows you to choose if you want to download the originals to it. My originals are being downloaded to my Mac’s library, like a second backup, while I save space on my phone by not having it download any.

If you aren’t an Apple device user or you aren’t a fan of iCloud, there are many similar options to choose from, like Google Photos and Amazon Prime Photos. Either way, do consider some sort of cloud-based photo library, so you can always carry your memories with you wherever you go and not have to worry about how you’re going to get your new photos to your computer.

Fix for Stuck Health App (iOS 8)

applehealth400I honestly don’t know how it happened, but one day I opened Apple’s Health app on my iPhone and it wouldn’t load anything. Graphs were empty, attempts to show specific data points just hung forever, attempts to clear all data points under specific categories only appeared to work until the app was relaunched, and even deleting the Jawbone Up app left its data in place. I tried to backup and restore my phone several times, until I finally stumbled on the solution.

The solution for me was to backup the phone with a not-encrypted backup via iTunes (iCloud backups must be encrypted), then restore from that. Probably for privacy/security reasons, the unencrypted backup does not save Health information (along with stored passwords, and I think a few other things). This means that I was able to restore my iPhone without any Health data and start fresh. Ever since, the Health app has been working properly.

Your mileage may very, but best of luck to you in curing your stuck Health app woes!

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WordPress Logo MacBook Pro

mbptopWorking at Automattic comes with a lot of benefits, but at the moment, none are cooler than the one pictured above. After four years of employment, Automattic employees are allowed to have their next computer customized by ColorWare.

This particular model is a mostly black retina MacBook Pro with a glowing WordPress logo in the center, and it’s ready for four more years with me at Automattic.

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Give iOS 7 Time

iOS CompThe day iOS 7 was released, there was a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of iPhone users suddenly called out in terror and were actually not silenced at all. The change in the design direction of iOS came as a bit of a shock in iOS 7. It surprised me too, but it grew on me after a few days.

The shock brought out some colorful comments from folks, my favorites being the ones who claim that iOS 7 is so different, they’re moving to Android. Something in their minds struck on first impression, telling them that a simple change in design direction (not functionality) was so far different from the iOS they had loved that it would be easier to switch to an entirely different phone with an entirely differently operating system, like being so upset with this year’s model of your favorite car that you switch to a bicycle.

If the professional industry operated on first impressions like so many of these outspoken critics want them to, you would have no clue what a graphical user interface was, and you would instantly mock the concept of any device used to interact with a computer beyond a keyboard, like a mouse. Both of these ideas where on the chopping block at Xerox in 1979 before they were practically given to Steve Jobs. First impressions stifle design and development, whereas time nurtures them.

Apple spent almost a year on iOS 7, sketching concepts, finalizing designs, and constantly adjusting the finest of details, even after it was unveiled last June at WWDC 2013. At some point in that year, Apple employees began using iOS 7 in the real world on their devices, and soon after, thousands of beta testers were able to join the fun. iOS 7 wasn’t built in a day. It took time, patience, and an awful lot of revisions.

Extend to iOS 7 that same courtesy of time. You don’t need to give it a year, just a few days. Soon, iOS 7 will seem perfectly normal, and iOS 6 will seem worn and outdated.

Does WordPress.com Support Macs?

Believe it or not, I get asked this question quite a lot. Does WordPress.com support Macs? Well, I submit for your consideration this photo from fellow Automattician Joey Kudish and his scavenger hunt.

Yes, that’s almost every employee at Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) holding up their computer, a Mac. What about those of us not holding up our Macs? We left them back in our hotel rooms.

So, does WordPress.com support Macs? You bet we do! In fact, we pretty much support Macs first, since that’s what we use to make everything.

Anyway, this is a rather moot point these days, as most modern browsers (with the notable exception of Internet Explorer) offer very consistent rendering across all platforms, making the Mac vs. PC distinction practically unnecessary when it comes to the web.

So, what does WordPress.com support? We support any browser listed here, regardless of which platform you’re using. We also support any standards-compliant browser not listed there, including a variety of mobile browsers, and you might want to try one of the WordPress mobile apps if you’re a mobile user.

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RIP, Steve Jobs

As you can imagine from the domain name, I have been a fan of Apple products all my life. As it is, I’m writing this post on my iMac, while running updates on my MacBook Air, watching the latest episode of Terra Nova on my iPad, and receiving a text message on my iPhone. Without a doubt, I have been surrounded by the influence of Steve Jobs all my life. Not just in the technology that I use, but in the influence that his technology has had on my work and the work of others.

I was sad to learn of his passing yesterday, but his legacy is so monumental that it may never fade. In fact, most of the world learned of his passing either on a device that he invented or a device that he inspired. That’s not a bad way to go.

New Magic Mouse

Continuing the trend of new gadgets, is Apple’s Magic Mouse, my first mouse in I don’t know how long.

I had been a fan of trackballs since pretty much the day I started using a computer, because I thought they were more ergonomic than mice. In short-term usage, that’s actually still correct, but it turns out that your wrist shouldn’t be locked in the same position for an 8-hour work day, which is exactly what a trackball does. On the suggestion of fellow Happiness Engineer, Michael Koenig, I dug out the mouse that was included with my iMac. Within a day, my wrist pain disappeared, and now I’m a happy mouse user.

So, I figured, why not get the best mouse to celebrate my new found fondness of mice? I quickly picked up a Magic Mouse, and it’s great! The laser-tracking is super-accurate, the bluetooth connectivity is definitely a plus, and the multi-touch surface is amazing!

If you’re in need of a new mouse, get this one, or at least ask to try it at your local Apple Store.

New MacBook Air

Have I mentioned yet that I work for an amazing company? Today, I was lucky enough to receive a shiny new 13″ MacBook Air to serve as a trusty secondary computer.

Now, my iMac won’t have to bear all of the day’s work, and my work will no longer be tied to my desk (or even the house for that matter). Plus, I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to lug the iMac around to all of the company functions.

It’s amazing how far laptops have come. The first laptop I ever held was a PowerBook 150, which was about the size and weight of an average college text-book. Now, the MacBook Air that I’m typing this very post on is thinner and weighs less than most magazines.