Weird problem with iCal reminders, can anybody help?

This one’s for any of my fellow Apple users out there who have a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 (the latest update of Lion), and an iPhone or iPad running iOS 5.

I’ve got an iCloud account set up to sync reminders between my devices and my computer. This is working beautifully between my iPhone and iPad, and the reminders are also showing up in iCal on my Mac. But the problem is, on the Mac, I cannot edit them. I can’t even click a reminder to mark it as done; I have to go over to one of the iThings and do it there.

Here’s a screenshot of what I see when I try to doubleclick on one of my iCloud reminders from my Mac!

This don't make no sense
This don't make no sense

userinfospazzkat, who also has his Mac laptop and his iThings updated to the same revisions that I do, has not experienced this problem. However, the main difference I’ve been able to note between his system and mine is that he has a full MobileMe account, including an email address, that he set up to talk to iCloud. I don’t have a MobileMe account; I’ve got iCloud using my Apple ID, which is my gmail address, to log in. I would like to HOPE that this shouldn’t be causing my reminders to be showing up read-only on my Macbook, but hey, I’m QA–I know how theoretical functionality doesn’t necessarily line up with what the code is doing, even after it ships.

So what say you, fellow Mac geeks? Any of you experiencing this problem? Any of you know how to solve it?

The Anna upgrades to Lion report

So yeah! Decided after reading the ginormous Ars Technica writeup of Lion, and after reviewing my system this afternoon to see what PowerPC apps I still had (answer: nothing I couldn’t live without), I decided to go ahead and install Lion tonight. It was definitely the easiest OS upgrade I’ve ever done, I’ll give it that.

And in no particular order, here are things I’ve noticed about it:

One, once I rebooted into the new OS, things were quite a bit sluggish for several minutes–but there were two reasons for that. One, Spotlight went and reindexed everything on the drive. Two, I launched Mail as pretty much one of the first things, and that also needed to do significant updating of its database. So things were pretty pokey until both of these finished up their business.

Two, trying to launch iTunes got me an error message about not being able to open an iTunes Library file, but this was easily fixed by doing a quick check for software updates and downloading iTunes 10.4. iTunes then proceeded to load as per normal.

Three, goddamn, Mail is very… gray now. I’m not sure I approve of that, but we’ll see if it grows on me. Ditto for the new gray scrollbars.

Four, I quite like Launchpad, a new icon at the top of the Dock that’s basically a quick and dirty way to get at all of the apps on your system. If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner this interface will look very familiar, and it lets you swipe through it as well if you have a touchpad on your laptop like I do. You’re supposed to be able to organize the icons into folders like you do on iDevices, but I haven’t tried that yet. I like it less because of the similarity to iOS and more just because it means I can lose several less commonly used icons off my Dock.

Five, I discovered entirely by accident that you can set individual desktop backgrounds on the individual desktops available in the new Mission Control feature–which is cool. It’s a much nicer version of Spaces + Expose and even after playing with it for only a few moments, I’m grooving on it. And now I can go fwip-fwip-fwip-fwip through the Dashboard and all four of my desktops in a quick line, and I see LION! ELEPHANT! ISLAND! GREAT BIG SEA! It’s neat.

Six, if I have a Terminal window up and I’m connected to the MurkMUSH and I get paged, the icon starts bouncing at me and showing a little number on it indicating there’s something that needs my attention. Didn’t do that before.

Seven, hrmm, the Ars Technica review was talking about the dots on icons on the Dock that indicate which ones are launched going away. However, I still see mine!

Time Machine is now doing a massive 9.52GB backup–over our house LAN, no less, so this’ll be a while. But on the whole the upgrade appears to have gone swimmingly. I still need to verify that I can reboot into Win7 as needed, and that I can also launch Parallels to run that Win7 install as a VM, as before. (I did update Parallels since they deployed an update to talk to Lion, or so they took pains to inform users.)

Also still need to see if Safari’s new Reading List feature will seduce me off of Firefox, and what the new document handling model will be like once I get a hold of a version of a word processor that can talk to it. (Mac Word 2008 does not.)

But so far so good. And oh yes, speaking of Mac Word 2008–if you’re using Mac Office on your system, you WILL need 2008 or later if you want to upgrade to Lion, what with Rosetta support being removed. Be on the lookout as well if you’re at all reliant on Microsoft Query, which is part of Excel. That was one of my few PPC apps left on the system, and a bit of judicious Googling showed me that Microsoft has word out that they’re advising anyone reliant on Query to not upgrade yet until they fix that. They’re also reporting that Outlook is having trouble importing data out of Mail once Lion is installed, so people this might affect should keep an eye out for that.

AND! Since I am a Big Fish employee, it does behoove me to point out that older Big Fish releases, being PowerPC games, won’t run on Lion either. Be on the lookout for our powers that be to issue word on what Mac customers should do about those specific games. If there are particular games you don’t want to lose the ability to run yet, you might hold off a bit on the OS install.

More as I observe it! (And dammit, why don’t I have a Lion icon for posting to LJ and Dreamwidth?)

Murknet websites status update

userinfosolarbird is taking care of most of the technical work to transfer our network over to the new connection, but the websites are on me. So I’m making a clean sweep through all of the websites we’re supporting, to try to make sure that they’re all still connecting properly.

And, Internets, I could use your help! We host the following domains. Please let me know if you can reach them both with and without www at the beginning of the URL:


ALSO, and this is IMPORTANT:

If you own a domain hosted at our site, you should log into whatever registrar you’re using to make sure that your references to our name servers are up to date. Drop me a comment or send me email at my gmail address (annathepiper) to doublecheck what name servers you should be using!

The things I think of

Yesterday I had an eye exam, which required me to alter my usual morning commute–and sacrificed my daily morning swing through Pike Place Market, on the grounds that I could get to work a lot faster after my appointment was done if I took the 30 and went practically straight to Big Fish, vs. taking a 70-something and going downtown and doing the usual marketwalk.

So when I went through the market in the evening, the Handsomest of Marketboys gave me this stern “where the hell were you?” look and was all “we were going to call hospitals and everything!” To wit: HA. And also, clearly I must make a point of informing my marketpeeps (I must now say marketpeeps since now they have a marketgirl!) in advance when I will not be making my usual rounds.

Which of course led me, geekily brained as I am, to imagining a helpful web page they could consult in further situations of this nature, possibly called It would include options like:

  • Yes! Save me a banana!
  • Yes! Those raspberries aren’t going to eat themselves!
  • Yes! userinfosolarbird demands cherries!
  • No! My bus broke down and I’m running late!
  • No! I’m home sick with a cold/the flu/the plague/Kellis-Amberlee!
  • No! I’m working late tonight because all the servers are on FIRE and the QA team is frantically trying to verify when things will be fixed!
  • No! We’re going out to sushi tonight. Mmmmmmm soooooooshi.
  • No! userinfosolarbird and I are heading to Vancouver/Portland/Newfoundland for a Great Big Sea roadtrip! Because blackberries are swoonable and all but they still don’t beat Alan Doyle With a Bouzouki!
  • No! The Murkworks has gone to Disneyland!
  • No! The latest Dresden Files just dropped and I am putting EVERYTHING on hold until I find out what happened to Harry. I’m sure you understand!
  • No! I just sold a novel and am too busy bouncing around the house shrieking!
  • No! I just got my latest rejection letter and am busy sulking at the cats.
  • No! The zombies have risen in Kenmore and userinfosolarbird, userinfospazzkat and I are currently huddled in the upper floor of our house, shooting zombies out of the second story front bedroom window. If I don’t survive, Marc, you can have my iPad as promised. Unless you’re the zombie that killed me.

What else would be on this web page, do you think? Suggest options in the comments!

Need RSS app that reads authenticated feeds AND syncs

Help me, fellow Apple geeks!

I have a whole helluva lot of RSS feeds I want to keep track of. Ideally, I would like to be able to sync reading these feeds between my computer, my phone, and my iPad, so that if I read an article on any of these objects, it updates the others as soon as I sync.

The problem is that quite a few of the feeds I want to keep an eye on are friends-locked accounts on either LJ or Dreamwidth. And the vast majority of iPhone/iPad apps I’ve found for RSS reading work by way of syncing with Google Reader–which is lovely and all except for the part where Google Reader doesn’t talk to authenticated feeds. :/

I do NOT want to use a third-party service (such as FreeMyFeed) to unlock those feeds and plug them into Google Reader, on the grounds of that would violate the privacy of those feeds. What I’d like to do instead is either a) let my Mac do the actual grabbing of authenticated feeds, and just sync that content down to the mobile devices, or b) find an iPad app that can talk to authenticated feeds locally, and just read RSS exclusively on that device.

So, do any of y’all have suggestions for how I can solve this problem? Let me know in the comments!

IPad thoughts so far

So I’ve had the Shiny for a day or so now and am beginning to have thoughts about it.

Things I don’t like:

  • The mail app has a preview pane I can’t turn off.
  • My laptops USB ports are apparently not powerful enough to let the iPad charge when I have it plugged in for syncing.

Things I do like:

  • The on-screen keyboard is a little weird, but I can work with it. Between that and a reasonable amount of screen space, I am fairly sure that I will be able to write on this thing, although polishing of format will likely still have to be done on the laptop.
  • The smart cover is pretty nifty, and I think I chose well when I chose the brown leather one. It’ll look nicely natural as it gets more use.
  • It is amazing how cold the back of the device feels compared to my laptop, especially if I am carrying them both from room to room. And it’s pretty cool having the thing in my lap right now as I write this post, and to not have heat radiating off of it.
  • About half the apps I had put onto my phone are universal binaries that also work on the iPad, and of those, several of them look way nicer. The WordPress app, which I’m using right now, is a nice example.

I’ve been doing a bit of reorganization of my apps in iTunes, trying to determine which ones need to stay on the phone and which ones will move primary operation to the iPad. So far the book reading apps and the HD games are the big things I am moving over. And I am a sucker for those damn birds (SO ANGRY!) and zombies (brains), so I bought the HD versions of both of those games. I’m downloading a lot of Big Fish’s shiny HD releases too–as a proud Big Fish employee, I feel that is my beholden duty. :D I’ve played a bit already with Hidden Expedition: Amazon, which I’d previously played on the computer. But it looks REALLY good on the pad, and it also has a multiplayer mode in this version, where you can have two people on the same device searching for hidden objects at once, either competitively or cooperatively. I want to try that!

(switching back to the laptop)

It looks like the WordPress app has got some problems (it can’t handle HTML tags well right now and it seems to be stripping out all my damn quotes, which is not helpful), so I’m having to finalize this post via the actual web UI on my laptop. But that’s the fault of the app and not the fault of the iPad; I had the same problem using the WordPress app on my phone.

Anyway, still getting everything the way I want it on the device, but so far so good so shiny!

On the awesomeness of technology

Something that has really come to light for me in the last couple of years is that I’m really, really, really tired of the “my choice of technology is better than your choice of technology” attitude so many of my geek brethren espouse. Whether it be “Linux is better than Windows” or “Macs are better than PCs” or “Open Source is better than paid software” or “my smartphone is better than your smartphone”, I have yet to see that this is anything more than the simple human tendency to divide up into camps and loudly proclaim how one’s camp is superior to everyone else’s.

And you know what, folks? When it comes to geek technology, this is really kind of silly.

When you get right down to it, no matter what operating system it runs, a computer is pretty goddamn awesome. So are smartphones–I mean, c’mon, you guys, we are all carrying around tiny computers in our pockets. And when I think about this, especially when I think about how computers used to be gigantic boxy things that would take up entire rooms, it’s even more amazing to me.

I’ve been thinking about this this week because I’ve gotten the expected amount of shit for the fact that I’m getting an iPad. But really, I’ve been thinking about it ever since a coworker of mine showed up at work preemptively expecting that the team was going to give him shit for having a Windows phone. That struck me. If you’re going around automatically expecting your fellow geeks to hassle you about the device you’ve chosen to purchase, that really takes a lot of fun out of having it. And it shouldn’t, because again, computers are awesome. And smartphones are just tiny computers.

So I would now like to take this opportunity to celebrate all technology, no matter who makes it. I invite folks to join me in the comments to express love of whatever technology you have and why you love it. I’ll start!

I love my MacBook because it’s clever enough to dual-boot between OS X and Windows 7.

I love Windows 7 because it’s a version of Windows that is not only not sucky, it’s elegant, doesn’t get in your face with the UAC dialogs, and able to play nicely with Bootcamp.

I love Linux because I’ve found it to be an excellent platform to write Python code on. Also, excellent for running our home servers at the Murk, and for playing Nethack on, and hosting my web pages and blogs!

I love Open Source because of healthy respect for the ethic of creating programs just because you love to code.

I love paying for programs I need or games I want because I myself work in the computer industry, and I love supporting my fellow geeks for their work.

I love Firefox because c’mon, FOXES, how can I not?

I love Safari because it’s fast.

I love Internet Explorer 9 because whoa, hey, a version of Internet Explorer that’s actually fast and compliant to recent web standards? Awesome! Well done!

I love my iPhone because it’s a tiny, tiny thing and yet it lets me do so much.

I love my nook because it lets me carry around an amazing number of books with me, and in one small sleek package.

I don’t own one but I love seeing other people’s netbooks because small, cute technology that can go toe to toe with bigger laptops is awesome.

I don’t own one but I love hearing from friends who own Android phones or Windows phones just because a friend saying “I have a toy and it does this really, really cool thing” is awesome, too!

I love flatscreen monitors because yay for occupying less desk space, not to mention no longer throwing radiation at my poor neck.

And I’ll save telling you about why I love my iPad after I’ve actually had some time to break it in. :D

Your turn, people! What technology do you love, and why? (And remember, this is not about ‘I love technology X because it’s not technology Y’–please, let’s not snark. Let’s make this a celebration of all things that are awesome. Thanks!)

The iPads have shipped!

I got the news this morning: my and userinfosolarbird‘s iPad 2’s have shipped! ETA: this Friday! We haven’t decided on names yet, though, and this will clearly accelerate the naming schedule. Not to mention I’ll have to make a point of swinging by the Apple Store this week so that I can buy my iPad its own cover.

Meanwhile though I thought I’d expound a bit on what exactly I plan to do with mine, since Dara and I have been asked a time or two what we’ll do with them.

First and foremost, I plan to put Big Fish Games releases on it! I’ve been an avid player of our Mystery Case Files and Hidden Expedition games, and the iPad form factor is very well suited to the Hidden Object genre of casual games. In fact, I’m thinking I’ll probably enjoy them more on the iPad than I will on my laptop, since I just have to tap the screen to select the object rather than doing a mouse click. So that’ll be easier on my hands.

And I’ll play other games on it too of course–Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies are obvious choices, but I also have a couple other games I’ve been playing on my iPad (a Mah Jongg game and a Kakuro game) that I’ve been enjoying, and I expect to enjoy them on the iPad as well.

Secondly, I want to see if it’s possible for me to write effectively on it. I already know I can thumb-type fairly well on my iPhone, but the tiny screen has proven to me to be less than ideal for how I work on a novel. I’m hoping greater screen real estate on the iPad will counteract that problem. Again, this will be a question of being easier on my hands. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to NOT have suffered carpal tunnel yet like so many other folks my age who’ve worked in the computer industry, and I figure any preventive measures I can take to keep avoiding that problem will be wise.

I also figure that it’ll be a better writing device than the laptop for when I go to conventions or something, such as the forthcoming Norwescon. It’ll be more portable, and last a lot longer on battery life, and shouldn’t heat up like my laptop does.

Third, I fully expect to use it as a reading device, despite the fact that I’ve also got the nook. I do have a small number of books I’ve purchased from Amazon as well as a whole lot of PDFs, neither of which are easily readable on the nook without going through a bunch of hoops that I don’t wish to go through. And, if for whatever reason my nook breaks or something, I can read my B&N books on it as well with the nook app.

Fourth, if I find it’s not a good writing device, I will probably shift to using it to monitor Facebook and Twitter and my RSS feeds and such, while segregating the laptop to be writing ONLY. The idea here would be to encourage myself to have a mental space of “if I’m on the laptop I’m writing, DAMMIT, so no looking at the Internet”.

Fifth, I fully expect to use it to watch videos, perhaps on airplanes or trains or something. I do have some Torchwood I need to get caught up on, and now that I’ve been clued in to the wonders of Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo buys for movies, I expect I’ll have a few more interesting digital copies of movies showing up in my library. (Russell Crowe leads the way, AS HE DAMN WELL SHOULD, with The Next Three Days. XD )

A lot of this is, I grant you, perpetuating the whole idea that “bah, iPad users are just consumers of content!” (An attitude which annoys me, as I’ve already ranted about on this blog; after all, us creative types need people to consume and appreciate our content, so it is not at all nice to snark at people who do so.) On the other hand, a lot of this is also stuff I already do on both the iPhone and the laptop, including my own creative output. The overall idea here is going to be finding out whether the iPad will serve me as a better device than the laptop does, or what. And all in all, I expect to enjoy the hell out of it!

And I’ll see if any other amusing things to do on the iPad present themselves. For example, userinfospazzkat has been overjoyed with the Garage Band app on his iPad (he’s got the original model), and has had great fun creating little musical compositions with it. (Take that, ‘iPad users are only consumers of content’ people. ;P :) )

iPad users who may be reading this, tell me about anything awesome you’ve done with your devices! Especially if you’ve found ways to be creative with them, and what apps you’ve found that let you do that!

Help Solarbird and me name our new iPads!

Thanks to shiny bonus goodness, (and to the iPad 2’s just coming out) userinfosolarbird and I have succumbed to this particular form of Apple shiny! We’ve opted for two white models, each with 64G capacity and Wi-Fi only, since we didn’t feel like shelling out for an extra 3G plan on top of what we’re already paying for my phone. We had to order them from given that they cannot be found for love or money ANYWHERE in the Puget Sound area (my lack of surprise, let me show you it), and so now we get to wait until mid-April for them to show up.

Which means of course that we have plenty of time to consider a CRITICAL QUESTION: what in the world are we going to name them?

As I’ve mentioned before our usual computer naming scheme at the Murkworks is to name all our computers after Elfquest characters. But as these are iPads, they’re not quite in the “computer” category, and neither are they in the “auxiliary devices” category, so the floor is really kind of wide open!

Here are the options we’ve considered so far:

  • “Kim” and “Shego”, from Kim Possible (mmm, femmeslashtastic)
  • “Ichimaitan” and “Nimaitan”, based on the Japanese counting system for flat things (hee hee hee), and also on OS tan girls
  • Naming them after two Go-Backs, given that Go-Backs tend to be less clever than other elves ;) (note: “Kahvi” is already claimed as a name of Dara’s studio workstation)

Any other clever ideas? Submit your nominations now! Bonus points for any references to names that go well together in pairs, especially if they’re twins, since these are the exact same model of iPad! I’ll do an actual poll at the beginning of April. :D