Year2015

It Just Worked

I installed the latest Mac OS this weekend. It was uneventful. I sat down to play Destiny on my couch. It was an afterthought. I had heard El Capitan was out so I figured what better time than a lazy Sunday afternoon to install it.

I pulled up the Mac App Store, clicked the big banner announcing its arrival into the world and let it start to download. I forgot all about it as I ran around the planets of Destiny chatting with friends and slaughtering aliens.

I finally noticed my computer was needing my attention. So I agreed to reboot it and it did. Installing the new OS in the process.

When it finished, it looked and acted exactly as it had before. I noticed nothing different. If I hadn’t sat through the download and upgrade cycle, I would not have believed it did anything. I did check the version number to be sure.

And there it was. A new Mac OS.

No fuss. No mess. My computer might as well be an appliance. It works as its supposed to. It does its job admirably and doesn’t cause me problems.

Besides adding syncing to the Notes app on iOS. I don’t know what else the new OS gives my aging 201 MacBook Pro. But it doesn’t make using it any worse. And that is the point I’m at with my technology.

If it doesn’t give me anything new, at least don’t break anything.

Make Office 365 stop replying all by default

Office 365 email accounts will default to reply all when replying to a message instead of replying to the sender only.

This is a bad practice, especially since it’s not the expected behavior of an email client. When you receive an email, the default has always been to reply to the sender only.

I’ve made a short screen cast showing how to change this behavior.

Set Office 365 to reply by default

  1. Click the Gear icon in the upper right corner.
  2. Click Options (Do not click Office 365 Settings.)
  3. Click Reply settings in the menu on the left. It’s the second-to-last option under Mail.
  4. Click the option next to Reply.
  5. Click Save. If you don’t click Save, it won’t take effect.
  6. Click the <– Options link at the top of the left-side menu.

Now you can reply to emails as you always have. And Reply All is still accessible from the drop-down menu in the message.

The Cost of Paying Attention

I don’t know what to make of the world anymore. I don’t know where to direct my pain and my exhaustion. Everyday there’s something new to be horrified over. Everyday there’s some new terror to fear.

There are days I wish for the times before I was connected with the entire world. Before I knew of the hates and pains suffered by everyone all across the country, and the globe. Do I need to know of all this pain? Do I need to unplug and go back to a simpler time? I was thinking about this when I came across
The Cost of Paying Attention in The New York Times

Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention. In the process, we’ve sacrificed silence — the condition of not being addressed. And just as clean air makes it possible to breathe, silence makes it possible to think.

I think about this everyday. When I encase myself with headphones and tune out the people on the train, and the constant talking at work.

Silence is now offered as a luxury good. 

Luxury cars are sold with silence as a feature. The article talks about the luxury lounges in airports being an oasis of calm and quiet. It’s a world where the demands on our attention have never been higher. The talking never stops. The demands to engage and be sold to never go away. Silence is bliss.

Silence is sold as a luxury good.

I grew up in the country. I woke to mooing cows and crowing roosters. I couldn’t see another house from my own. We had green fields and tall trees surrounding our property. Now I live in a city. I live in a townhouse. I don’t even have four walls to myself.

But it’s not the noise that drives me mad. It’s the light. All hours of the day and night, bright lights piercing the darkness. The blazing lights penetrate my bedroom windows to illuminate a park, closed at dark.

But it’s never dark there. It’s as bright as daylight all night long at that park. I don’t know why we pay to keep the lights on all night long. Recently, the home owner’s associate replaced the lights with brighter bulbs. So now the night is even brighter and closed to daylight.

I still can’t explain why. I can’t understand why the light is required at night. When did the dark become such a terrible thing? I miss the night. I miss the dark. I miss the quiet.

Government Shutdown Looming (Again)

In 2013 I got a 2.5 week unpaid vacation from my job. My start date with my new job was pushed back a day because the government still wasn’t open. And it may happen again. The government runs out of money Sept. 30th. In less than three weeks, Congress needs to come up with an approved spending plan for the next year.

Or it shuts down. Again.

Republicans are going to get blamed for a shutdown, no matter what happens, by the general public,” said Stan Collender, a budget analyst and executive vice president at Qorvis MSLGroup in Washington. “They have too much baggage, too much history and it only seems to happen on their watch. But I don’t think they care.

They don’t care. They think they can “win” somehow by shutting the government down again.

Apparently 2013 is too far away for them to remember?

Q. I hear Ted Cruz is involved. Didn’t he have something to do with the last shutdown?
A. That’s right. In September 2013, Republicans led by the Texas senator — who is now running for president — insisted on shutting off spending for the Affordable Care Act. (You may recall him reading Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” from the Senate floor.) Obama refused, and the government closed down for the first 16 days of October. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors were furloughed and federal services including national parks were closed. Republicans relented after public opinion turned against them. (Emphasis mine.)

If they shut the government down again, I don’t work.
I don’t get paid.
I don’t get back pay like Federal Employees do.
I don’t get to pay my bills.

I get sent on an unpaid vacation without a firm end date.
It happened to me in 2013.
If it happens again, it’s going to be a huge burden on myself and my family.

I am just one of hundreds of thousands of government contractors working in all areas of government who will be harmed by this. I don’t want it to happen again. I can’t afford for it to happen again.

There used to be a time when government jobs were desirable (and I’m sure they still are if you’re a Federal Employee). But for contractors supporting the government in roles they’ll never hire, it’s increasingly a risky proposition.

Emergency Medical Data and Music Sleep Timer for iPhone

I recently learned two quick tips for the iPhone. I’m not the first person to find them and I’m sure they’ve both been covered elsewhere in more detail. But I hadn’t seen them before and thought they’d be useful to others.

Medical ID for iPhone

This week I saw a tip on Facebook I hadn’t seen anywhere before. There’s a quick way to add emergency medical information to your iPhone and make it accessible without having to unlock the phone.

First, find the Health app on your phone.

Health App icon

Open the app and touch Medical ID.

Health app

Click Edit and enter your health information and choose one or more emergency contacts.

Health app's emergency medical ID

Now you, or more importantly, friends, family or medical staff can get access to your vital data without your help.

To access it, swipe to unlock your phone.

Phone unlock PIN screen

Instead of entering your PIN or using Touch ID to unlock, click Emergency.

Click Emergency and now Medical ID is visible.

Click Medical ID.

Medical ID information

Now your vital medical information is readily available to anyone who may need it to help you. (Phone number removed from photo, but it will be visible on with the emergency contact(s) chosen.

Sleep Timer for Music

My wife wanted to listen to music with a sleep timer. I couldn’t think of a way to do it in the Music app, but Apple has this covered. Hint: You need to use the Timer.

This tip is even easier.

Open the Timer.
Select how long you want your music to play.
Instead of a sound for When Timer Ends choose Stop Playing.

Timer for iPhone screenshot

Now you have a sleep timer for music!