iPhone X / High Sierra Update

Yesterday, I received my new iPhone X. I thought I’d post some notes on the painful process that has been switching over to it. Might be time to start experimenting with a Pixel.

I’m on the Apple Upgrade program, so I assumed it would be a relatively simple process to get bumped up to the next phone, since it’s been more than a year since I got the iPhone 7 Plus. Instead, it ended up involving talking to multiple different people at the Apple store before I could figure out how it all worked, and how to get a new phone, even though my current phone had a cracked screen. Their online eligibility check kept saying that I had used my allotted AppleCare instances, even though I’ve never used any. Eventually I found out that I need to just tell their system there’s nothing wrong with my phone, and then when I send it back in, I’ll end up being asked to pay the $29 to fix the screen, and then they’ll accept is as a trade-in. OK, fine.

From there, I ordered the new phone online, which comes with a trade-in kit (still waiting to receive that, so hopefully I don’t have to update this post with how that was a disaster as well). The phone arrived 6 days earlier than estimated online (under promise, over deliver), and I was off to the races. I’ve done iPhone transfers before and have never had a problem, but this is the first time that I upgraded to a smaller-capacity device (128G –> 64G; cloud power, yo). I started the set up process, expecting it to walk me through making space or choosing what to transfer, but instead I just got a cryptic error message when I tried to restore from backup. Something about general error 9. That actually correlates to a “connectivity issue”, and if I’d known better I possibly could have saved myself a lot of time at this point. Instead, I assumed that it related to the size/space issue, so I went about deleting thousands and thousands of photos and videos and some apps I wasn’t using to make space on my old phone. I finally got it down to a size that would fit on the new phone, and did another complete back up through iTunes.

At this point I should have been able to restore to the new phone and start using it immediately, right? WRONG. Now the new phone was in some weird state where it was bricked, and the only thing I could get out of it was a screen telling me to go to support.apple.com/iphone/restore. Oh, and at this point the new phone had also taken over control of my cellular account, so my old phone was a really expensive iPod (those still exist, right?). Since all the docs I found were talking about making sure you had the latest versions of everything, this was when I realized I didn’t have the latest version of iTunes, but of course I also didn’t have High Sierra installed. Ugh. OK, so another hour+ later, I got those both installed, and I figured now it was going to work, right? WRONG.

I was still getting similar errors to before, and this was when I bothered to read the docs for that specific error (9) a bit more carefully, and see the reference to using “the cable supplied with your phone”. That couldn’t possibly be related, right? WRONG. I had been trying to use one of these USB-C cables, which have otherwise been fine, transfer data, etc. Apparently they’re not good enough for Apple. I switched to the cable that came with the phone (had to use a USB-C adaptor to plug it into a new MacBook Pro though!), and suddenly things started working. An hour or something later, I finally had a working iPhone X.

What a drama. So now, some quick, early observations:

High Sierra

  1. Meh. Haven’t noticed any real difference so far (have only really been using it a few hours though) except…
  2. Photos (the app) is borked, and now wants to import 900 duplicate photos from my phone because it thinks they’re new. I’m not alone.

iPhone X

  1. The notch doesn’t bother me much after a few hours, except…
  2. Various levels of “support” for the notch mean that some apps go “behind” it, while some apps are shrunk down to show a complete rectangle. That inconsistency is kind of annoying.
  3. Some apps/websites/etc put things right into the corners, and with the rounded edges on the screen, plus the “home bar” at the bottom, that can get a bit awkward sometimes.
  4. FaceID is pretty magic. Creepy magic, but magic. So far it’s worked really well.
  5. Lots of new gestures to get around the lack of Home button (and the use of FaceID, vs TouchID, which messes with the workflow for ApplePay), but I’ve picked them up pretty quickly.
  6. The form factor is really nice. I had the iPhone 7 Plus before so this is smaller, but the screen is still nice and big. Thumbs up there.
  7. When the keyboard is up, it feels weird to have a huge blank space below it, with the alternate keyboard icon in the bottom left.
  8. I had to go through and log back into a bunch of apps for some reason.
  9. Google Authenticator is my most painful fail for the transfer (not counting literally the entire transfer process). For some reason, only a few of the things I had configured in there transferred over properly. I’m going to have to go and reconfigure 2FA on everything from my old phone, into my new phone. Luckily I still have the old phone to even know what the list is 🙂
  10. I might end up turning off the TrueAttention feature or whatever it’s called. Sometimes I want to put my phone down and not be looking at it, but keep it on (referring to something else, keeping it in my field of view, whatever). With Attention enabled, it turns itself off when you stop looking at it (wow, talk about needy).
  11. Overall it feels like a really nice phone, but there are definitely some weird edges and corner cases (puns intended).

Ted Rheingold

I’m sad to hear that Ted Rheingold has lost his fight with cancer, and died on Monday. Through a pretty random turn of events, Ted was one of the very first people I met in the SF technology “scene”, back in 2005, after I moved to San Francisco. I attended the first BarCamp, and didn’t have a good way to get there. In amongst the communications about attending, Ted volunteered to give anyone a lift from SF down to the South Bay, so I accepted graciously, and grabbed a ride with him. We chatted all the way there and back, and on and off throughout the day. I remember Ted being open, energetic, passionate, and really light hearted about who he was, what he did, and what he valued. I can’t really imagine a better introduction to those days of the web, and to the community helping build it.

I’m glad to have shared a brief slice of his life, and sorry to see him go. The world is slightly better off from his contributions, and slightly worse off without him.

See also Om’s much more eloquent post (which is where the photo for this post came from).

Canoeing the Colorado

A few weeks ago, Erika and I joined some friends on the Colorado River for a repeat of a trip we took last year. I got all my gear sorted out on Thursday afternoon/evening, then drove out to Fruita (our put-in point) on Friday morning. By noon we were all loaded up in our canoes and ready to hit the water. This year’s highlight was probably the felon we ran into who claimed to be on the run. Seriously. Right when we started, we saw someone putting in on the other side of the river in a yellow kayak. Not too long later he caught up with us, and asked to borrow a phone. His story was confusing and rambling, but he claimed to be on the run from Federal Marshals, and was taking one last river trip before he was put away for 20+ years on a felony “paleolithic” offense, which apparently involved finding and trying to sell a dinosaur bone on federal property. The guy was wearing jeans and runners, and had nothing with him. Our guess is that he stole the kayak and was just making a run for it. Other than our kayaking-felon, we were treated to the same beautiful cliffs and landscapes as we were last year. Some fun mini-rapids and lots of hanging out in chairs in the river, drinking beers. We also briefly saw some river otters on the last day which was a fun treat. The first night’s campsite again turned out to be a rough one, even though we tried a very different one this time. It was super muddy to get in there, and then was again a total mosquito party. We found a spot inland a bit where we could set up a kitchen and hang out to avoid the mosquitos, but then it rained all evening, which made for a pretty muddy and dreary time. The next morning we went on a bit of a hike up into the valley/hills, checked out the scenery, then headed off for the day. Day 2 (the only full day on the river) was a really lazy one, because we didn’t have that much distance to cover. We had a few nice long breaks, including a shot at some fishing and running some rapids in life vests (just laying back and floating them directly in the river). That night we stopped at Black Rocks 3 campsite, which was glorious. We had a beach to ourselves with soft sand, no mosquitos, and ended up with a beautiful clear sky. We lay around and watched the stars, admired the Milky Way, and generally just enjoyed the evening. Since we had a schedule to keep on Day 3, we were up and at it in the morning, and got moving. We got buzzed by a plane while we were packing up (figure-8s in the sky!), then hit the river. When we got to the boat ramp, our ride was already there so we took out, packed up, and rolled back to Fruita. From there it was a matter of loading everything up, then making the 4 hour drive back to Denver so that we could unpack and clean, organize etc. Another great trip.

Fjällräven Classic, USA, 2017

This week, I’ve been roaming the Colorado wilderness with 250 of my closest/unknown friends, participating in the second annual Fjällräven Classic, USA. I participated in the inaugural event last year, which conveniently fell during my 3-month sabbatical from work. At the time, I said that no matter what else was going on, I would definitely be attending again in 2017. As promised, when the 2017 Classic was announced, I immediately grabbed tickets, and this time even talked Erika into going.

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The Future of the Web

I recently spoke at a small conference we put on in Detroit. I talked about The Future of the Web, in the context of data ownership, and proprietary vs open platforms. It was the first time I’ve done a talk like this without slides of any kind, so I actually wrote out the whole thing (below). The live version was a little different, as you can hear in the audio (sorry it’s a bit echo-y):

Read transcript

Classic Training Hike

On Sunday, Erika and I went on a training hike, to start getting into shape for the Fjallraven Classic. This year it’s over 30 miles of backpacking within 3 days, and we’re both a bit nervous about being able to keep up the pace! We went up to White Ranch Park, and ended up hiking about 8 miles (Belcher Hill, Longhorn, Shorthorn, Longhorn, Whippletree, Belcher Hill), with roughly 20lb packs. We went pretty slow, but I think we did OK considering it was our first longer (and loaded) hike of the season. We’ll definitely need to get a few more in between now and the end of June, along with a bunch of basic walking/hiking training as well. The elevation (10,000 ft+) for the Classic is going to be rough, even for us Mile-Highers.

According to Fitbit, I did just over 21,000 steps and burned 4,500 calories. My heart rate peaked up around 140bpm briefly.

Dented Reality on New Dedicated Virtual at Media Temple

I’ve completed the migration of dentedreality.com.au (along with all my other domains, excluding this one) to a new dedicated virtual server with Media Temple. Mad props to them, they’ve been great in helping me handle some pieces of the process, which has gone relatively smoothly. Things I’m looking forward to on the new host include:

  • Working with Plesk Onyx
  • Trying out Let’s Encrypt 🔐
  • PHP 7 😍
  • Hopefully consolidating and simplifying some things

This site (beau.blog) is now my main blogging/writing space, with Dented Reality being more of a full archive of my digital footsteps.