iWork ’13 – “These are not the office apps you’re looking for.”

Well I tried out iWork ’13 over the weekend.

I’ve been using computers for a long time. I’ve had Linux, OS/2, and Windows all as my desktop OS, all on the same machine – for various purposes – and although these days I use a Mac I’m never afraid to try something new.

I was not daunted by the new interfaces in Pages, Numbers, or Keynote (I really barely looked at Keynote, not being the sort to give presentations). One interface is much the same as another once you understand the core principle of what visually different but functionally similar buttons do.

The new flat look was a bit boring, a bit bland. It gives the suite a kind of staid, almost cold sort of technical feel, but I had no real issue with that either.

I didn’t even mind the fact that with the update from iWork ’09 to iWork ’13, Apple has given the entire suite an almost child-like, playful quality and has no real capacity to serve as a professional office suite any more. It has lost a great many features that I and other people use to create documents for use in business. Oh well, I still have iWork ’09 on my laptop.

What I minded was that I paid for iWork on my iPad in July, and now I can’t downgrade back to what was once a part of my workflow. I’ve been on the phone to Apple, talking to two different people. They have no link to an older .ipa file I can install. They can’t even refund me what I paid for the suite so I can use that money to replace iOS iWork with something else that works in my workflow – instead I was offered a small voucher for use in an Apple Store, to buy some piece of kit I have no need for.

The only work-a-round that’s possible is keep iWork ’13 on the laptop to act as a go-between for iWork ’13 on my iPad and iWork ’09 on my laptop – iWork ’13 on iOS and iCloud cannot export to ‘iWork ’09 file formats.

The problem with this is that I will lose formatting when opening an ’09 file on ’13, and ’13 doesn’t have formatting features I use. There is also the issue of not being able to set iWork ’09 apps as the default opening apps for documents or spreadsheets I create in ’09.

This is, to be polite, a cluster-fuck.

I can’t complain too much though. At least they didn’t charge for the downgrade.

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iOS 6: Video Home Sharing Headaches and Bullshit SOLVED

I figured out what the problem is with the Videos.app and it’s pain in the arse bullshit with not displaying tv shows by their programme name, then series number.

It’s a two-part problem that’s not entirely obvious. The first part is the way Videos.app sorts. The second part is the fact that Videos.app doesn’t always get new metadata when it “refreshes”.

For those people who have set the Artist, Album, Album Artist, Sort Programme, Sort Artist, and various other metadata that seems redundant, it is redundant, and is entirely unnecessary unless you wish to set non-obvious sorting arrangements, e.g. a show like A Bit of Fry and Laurie has it’s first letter removed by iTunes by default for sorting, but you can put the A back in using the Sort Programme field.

The only metadata fields that your iPad needs to display tv shows in correct order is Programme, Series, Episode No., Episode ID, and Track Number. I haven’t checked but I’d wager that even Name (for the individual episode name) is not needed by Videos.app, it’s just nice to know what episode we’re watching.

It took me a while to figure this out because I thought that each time I closed Videos.app and iTunes they would exchange fresh new data when I tried to watch a show on my iPad, it took long enough to load sometimes, but this is apparently not the case and old data hanging about caused a major fuck up with the displaying of shows iTunes was sharing.

So, after you’ve put the important metadata on your TV shows, and assigned a unique ID to each show with the script Increment Number Tags from Doug’s Applescripts (I use [programname][###] for the format),

Shut off Home Sharing on your iPad/iPhone/iPod AND iTunes.

When you turn Home Sharing back on they should properly refresh and your TV shows should be all nicely arranged again.

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iOS 6: Videos Home Sharing Headaches and Bullshit

Before I “cross-graded” (an upgrade insinuates that things have improved) to iOS 6 I just about had the Videos Home Sharing “sussed”, so to speak.

I have a collection of movies and television shows I’ve ripped for the purposes of convenient viewing on my PC whenever I like and not scratching the buggery out of the DVD’s with repeated exposure to the elements and my fumble fingers. I ripped the discs, converted them to MP4, and put them into iTunes where I was very happy with my little library of videos to watch.

The other day in iOS 5.1 I tried out the Home Sharing in the Videos app, and was pleased when I saw that the movies I wanted to watch on my computer could be viewed on my iPad, streaming without problem wirelessly.

Then I looked at the TV Shows and wondered if my iPad had had some sort of digital stroke.

Although I’d carefully made sure that all the shows had all pertinent episode name and number, series number, and programme name settings that they needed to show up nice and orderly in iTunes and on the AppleTV, they were a complete fucking mess on my iPad.

After much searching on Google I found out something odd. The Videos app doesn’t use logical metadata like Programme Name, Series Number, and Episode Number to display a nice orderly collection of tv shows.

If you look at a television episode in iTunes, right click and select Get Info, under the Video tab is the metadata field “Episode ID”. From what I can tell from trawling over the Apple forums that is what Videos.app uses as the sorter, followed by… Artist, Name, Track Number…

Idiotic, but I took the time to go through and “fix” something that wasn’t broken. I added Episode ID’s to all my shows, with the aid of Increment Number Tags from Doug’s Applescripts for iTunes, using the simple delineation [tv show name][number from 001 to whatever].

I also added Artist (Programme Name), Album Artist (Programme Name), Name (Episode Name), and Track Number (Episode Number) to all the shows. A few people in the forums suggested adding the series name (like “Season 1” or “Series 1”) to the Album metadata field, but when I did that then Videos.app rearranged everything so it showed Season 1, Season 1, Season 1… then all the different Season 2, Season 2, Season 2… Without the Album metadata it was in order, although for some reason it listed everything alphabetically in two groups. Show A, C, E, H, L, then B, D, F, G, I, J, and K.

I had hoped that this shit would be cleaned up after upgrading (HA!) from 5.1 to 6, that Videos.app would sanely organise the TV Shows by Programme Name, Series Number, and Episode Number.

NOPE, it’s all a big fucking mess again of unordered shows, repeated listings, and lots of missing shows.

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iOS 6: Where is the RSS support?

I have two RSS readers on my iPad, Google Currents and a much simpler reader simply called RSS.

I’ve been using my iPad more in the last few days, utilising it as a kind of stand-alone laptop (with the aid of a bluetooth keyboard/case) and one of the things I like to do when casually looking around web sites is adding their RSS feed to a reader when I like the site.

Safari autoloads the Podcasts app, and if the Podcasts app seemed to have any support for RSS feeds at all then I might use that but it apparently doesn’t – you can add the feed, but Podcasts won’t grab any items or let you read them.

There’s no options in Settings to change the default action when clicking on a link that goes to an XML file, and Safari seems to have absolutely no ability to show RSS feeds at all. It also has no action on the tap-and-hold “right click” menu to open the link in an RSS reader. For that I have to copy the link, open the reader, then manually add the feed. This in itself isn’t exactly earth shattering or difficult, but it then means that I can’t easily sync my RSS feeds.

And it gets better.

I just discovered, while trying to find out how to set Safari with a default RSS reader option, that RSS support is gone from Mail.app in Mountain Lion, so if I upgrade I definitely won’t be able to easily sync my RSS feeds between my laptop and my iPad using Mail.app and I would prefer it that way because it’s the minimum amount of fuss and bother. I shouldn’t have to get third-party software or accounts with online RSS services to put back functionality that was in the system in the first place, but I might very well have to.

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The Disconnect Between Physicality and Mentality.

Do you know what I’ve been doing wrong at job interviews?

I’ve been pointing out what I can do for the upper management types interviewing me.

At my last job interview a couple of years ago, for an IT position at G. James Glass and Aluminium, I kept pointing out how I could easily jump into the IT position and make it work even while working on the factory floor.

That was wrong. I had no idea what sort of systems they had in place, or how difficult they’d be to learn, no matter how simple I find it to learn a new system.

What I should have said was they have a disconnect between their factory and their office, and I could work on fixing it.

Some of you are going to say I’m nuts, that such a thing would have shut down the interview after the first sentence I spoke, but that’s okay, I don’t want to work for a company that is ignorant of their failing anyway.

The only way we improve is to recognise where we suck.

They had a disconnect, a “communications problem”, and they were looking for a guy to solve that problem, even if they didn’t know it when I was sitting there in the interview room.

Why else would a company making glass and aluminium products ask a prospective IT worker what he could do on the shop floor?

I’ve worked about equal amounts in both IT and as an Assistant Tradesman. I can see just how much of a problem these people all have talking to each other, but unfortunately it’s taken me this long to realise it.

At my next job interview, if all my dreams and hopes and fantasies don’t magically come to fruition before then, I’m going to point out that they have a communications problem.

It’s the only reason why anyone would want to stick a computer geek on a factory floor.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

There’s a phrase, you may have heard of it, that goes,

“A face for radio.”

I’d like to say that that phrase particularly applies to me, but there’s also a corollary which I can add for even more “truthiness”,

“And a voice for mime.”

I’m not an attractive man, neither physically or mentally, and it’s taken me a long time, too long, to realise this.

The last post I wrote on this blog was all too long ago, and declared something I didn’t have the commitment for. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to create a nice design that was entirely personalised to myself, it was simply that I didn’t have the taste, style, or creative ability to do the job properly and to my own satisfaction.

Another realisation… I am not a creative man.

Now that last one is kind of fucked for me, because since the start of this year I have been focused full time (except for this month when I had a part-time job as an Assistant Tradesman) on writing a book. Well, eight books really, but there’s one in particular I want to get written and published (under a pseudonym) so I can continue the trilogy.

Yeah, a trilogy. I had an idea for one book, then I needed a prologue, and then the first book didn’t finish well and there was all this other stuff… so it’s a trilogy.

But it’s fucked! I keep writing and re-writing, and you know something, it’s a big steaming pile of shit.

In between bouts of shitting all over my computer I’ve been vomiting out other shorter chunks of acidic prose that I’ve been trying to use for “practice”, and the idea behind them is fine, it’s the tool which is fucking broken.

This tool, up here. You can’t see this but I’m tapping my skull.

Somewhere between being five years old and full of imagination and now I seemed to have lost my imagination and, most importantly, the piece of my brain which facilitates the output of my imaginative processes.

I’m a stubborn cunt though. I’m not ready to give up on trying to be creative, because it is one of the only things I have in my life. I have ideas, I dream about the fucking things, and I’m going to get them out. They will be published one day, even if they’re self-published, and they may stink or they may be glorious, I don’t know.

I’m not smart enough to know if my ideas are complete shit or not. Other people tell me they’re good ideas, but they could just be saying that because they know me and don’t want to hurt my feelings.

So where do we go from here? I don’t know where you’re going, but I’m going to walk proudly into oblivion, knowing that when I get there, I’d have tried my fucking best, and anyone who doesn’t think that’s enough can go fuck themselves.

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almonu… Redesigned.

I doubt that many people have seen the old almonu, so I’m not going to say welcome to the new almonu, especially since this version isn’t even close to being finished yet; hence the lack of, well, everything.

This is version 0.1 (Zero Point One). Not even the blogging side of things is finished but at the moment it displays blog posts on the front page and on their own, so I’m publishing this early with this post.

Heads up to Internet Explorer users, this site probably isn’t for you. I’m not going to go into a long-winded post about IE, I’m just going to say that if you use IE for no other reason than it’s there, then stop it, please. I’m sorry, but I’m creating this site with the most up-to-date (and a little working draft) standards here, and a fair few things aren’t going to work with IE. This site will work with Firefox 4 or Safari 5 (WebGL-enabled) though, as those are the two browsers I’m testing it on, and I’d love a heads up from Opera 11 users please (as it apparently has pretty good standards support too).

What’s coming?

Finishing the blog section for a start, and then I have kind of a big task. The central purpose of this site is to showcase my design ideas, in 3D. I had been working on something like this years ago with VRML, but with the new inclusion of WebGL and X3DOM in HTML 5 I think I’ll go for in-browser 3D. A double-HDD failure has set me back a little bit (primary drive AND backup), but I’m rebuilding my data. What else am I going to do, scream and hurl my computer out the window? That would feel satisfying for all of five minutes, and then I’d be tearing my hair out and really getting nowhere.

VRML was easy. X3DOM is going to be a bit more difficult but I think ultimately it will pay off, if only for the simple fact that what I couldn’t do in VRML I can definitely do in X3D rendered by the browser without a plugin.

I have ideas I want to share with the world – some silly, some strange, and some that I think have merit – and although a few are 2D, most of them are 3D – architecture, furniture, home workshops, transportation, and even small towns – and I’m happy that with the new HTML 5 there is now finally a 3D aspect to HTML.

So there will be a blog section, so I can have these little moments where I pretend to know how to write about design and making stuff, and there will definitely be a model display/faux portfolio section where I can show off my half thought out ideas and crack pot designs. I’m also thinking about putting in a forum section but then again there are so many forums about so many topics, even specialised ones I might include, that I don’t know if the hosting costs would be worth it in the long run; I really, really want to keep this site as ad-free as possible, even if only because I don’t like seeing ads everywhere, not even on my own stuff.

I want to share. I want to share my designs, link to other people’s cool designs and ideas, and try and inspire other people; even if this inspiration is nothing more than taking my designs and adding/subtracting to make them something else. I’ve always had this need to stimulate my brain, whether it be by reading something or designing something or using my hands to create something physical, and whether it be by ego or misplaced pride or simply the nurtured urge to share I want to spread my knowledge and experience in construction and design (what little there is) to others.

So here it is, almonu (intentionally spelled all lowercase).

If you’re not a regular visitor, I hope you will be, and I hope I will post often enough to encourage your frequent patronage.

If you’re a critic I have only one thing to say – If you want to give creative criticism and don’t have an example to back up your argument, then just shut up; I don’t want to hear from a Negative Nancy who has nothing to contribute other than snide comments. Many great ideas have been dismissed by people out of hand and were knocked down by sheer stupid pressure, and yet years later said “bad ideas” turned out to be good and useful. I don’t want to be told an idea or design sucks with absolutely no reasoning behind it, but IF you do have a reason to say something won’t work (legal or physical) I wouldn’t mind knowing.

If you’re a web designer, or someone who knows me, and has been following this blog because of some sort of sense of morbid curiosity and were wondering just how badly I could screw up web design then you’ll notice that this site has a kind of minimalist touch to it – one column, very little text decoration, and so forth. I figure that’s the safest avenue for me in the field of 2D design. I’m a technical guy. I’ve always found it easy to come to grips with the technical side of things, whether they be web design or working in a workshop, and minimalism is a great safe avenue for people like me; people who want to be creative but simply aren’t.

So here it is, almonu. Love it, hate it, I don’t care. I just want to share stuff, and here is the place for me to do it.

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