MacBook Pro Would Not Login (File Vault Corruption)

I embarked on a scary and unexpected journey today with my MacBook Pro when it would not login when I started it. I’m writing about it here in case anyone else has a similar problem.

It began when Safari froze while I was in Facebook.1 In fact, it wasn’t just Safari. The spinning beach ball was on the screen, but nothing was moving. I couldn’t switch to other apps. One notable fact: The trackpad was still working, insofar as it was registering clicks.2

So, of course, I restarted the computer by holding down the power button until it went black and I heard the System Startup sound. Here’s where the real trouble began.

When the login screen came up, I couldn’t do anything. If I typed, nothing showed up. Well, that’s not exactly true. It was like everything was extremely slow. Eventually, one character might appear in the password box. The cursor didn’t move, although it would eventually jerk a little like it was catching. After a while, a message came up asking if I was having trouble with my password.

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Favorite iOS Apps of 2016

In recent years, I’ve occasionally ended the year with some blog posts on my favorite iOS and Mac apps from the previous 12 months, although I haven’t written one recently1. These aren’t necessarily apps that have come out in the past year but the notable ones I’ve been using the most. But first, a few thoughts on how I use iOS devices.

I now own an iPhone 7 Plus, upgrading from an iPhone 6s Plus this year. I’d held off on getting the bigger phone in 2015, worrying that it would be just too large for me, because I have short, thick fingers. (I will never play violin or reach a whole octave on a piano.) I shouldn’t have worried. The new phone is amazing with an immense screen that I use two-handed and it gives me benefit of a bigger battery and the better photos in the camera that the smaller phone doesn’t have.

This year I upgraded to an iPad Pro 9.7” from my old iPad 4. I had dropped the iPad 4 months before in 2015 and cracked a corner of the screen and so had put it in a thick leather case to prevent further damage. Unfortunately, it is now prone to turning off randomly while using it and it was showing its age, running modern apps much slower than the iPhone. We also have a handful of iPad 2s and an iPad mini around the house, acquired here and there from family and friends upgrading to newer iPads, but those are mainly used by Melanie and the kids.

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Google PhotoScan May Let Me Finally Digitize This Box of Photos

Update: See the end of this post for more information

Google has released a new iOS and Android app called PhotoScan that lets you quickly digitize a print photo and get into your Mac Photos and/or Google Photos libraries. Watch the the video for an amusing introduction to how it works, but basically it works better than simply taking a photo with the phone’s camera by eliminating spot glare.

Anyone over a certain age has a box of printed photos somewhere in storage, in an attic or garage or shed or closet. And like most of those people, for years I’ve resolved to scan those photos into the computer, saving them for posterity and saving all that space. Ask anyone who’s suffered a devastating property loss through fire or flood or other disaster and you’ll hear that the biggest loss—apart from loss of life, of course—is the loss of photos. So I want to get those photos out of the box and into my computer and backup drives and cloud backup. Plus, having the photos in digital form means we’re more likely to see the photos in screensavers than we’re likely to pull out the box and start pawing through.

I’ve tried many times to start scanning. I’ve had flatbed scanners of various qualities, sheetfed scanners not really made for the purpose, multifunction printers. While the quality can be good, it takes forever to scan each photo. And I’ve looked into those services where you send in your photos and they scan them, but they’re expensive, you’re sending your precious photos through a delivery service usually overseas, and you still have to go through the photos to cull out the good ones from the duplicates, the blurries, and the shots out of airplane windows.

But in 30 minutes with PhotoScan last night, I scanned 57 photos, skipped dozens more, and then color-corrected and edited the photos I scanned. These photos are now safe in iCloud Photo Library, Google Photos, and Amazon Prime Photo. And I’ve—horrors—tossed nearly all of them in the trash, although I have kept a couple that I think are especially nice in their current form and would stand to be scanned using a higher quality process.

Some may think I’m crazy for throwing away the originals, especially since the PhotoScan process does not result in the highest quality digital photo, but here’s my thinking: If I never scanned the photos at all, they would remain in their boxes and envelopes, slowly fading and discoloring and decaying and soon enough their quality would soon be even worse than the scan quality. Meanwhile, I’m keeping all the negatives because they take up so little space on their own. And honestly, I’m no Ansel Adams. The world will not be worse for the lack of high quality scans of my vacation and college photos from my single days, even as the photos that document my immediate family’s history was digital from the beginning.

PhotoScan is quick and easy and worth a try. Meanwhile, here’s a sample of the results of the scan below, a photo of my brother John in Paris in 1997 during World Youth Day.

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How to Increase MacBook Pro Storage Space Without Touching a Screw

When I got my MacBook Pro 13″ last year, I purchased it with a 256GB internal solid state drive. That was a serious downgrade from my 2011 MacBook Pro which had a 240GB SSD, but also a 750GB rotational drive that I had put in place of the CD drive. I had to make some tough decisions about what I would be carrying about with me.

That worked out well for most of this year as I pared back my applications and files. I went with iCloud Photo Library and iTunes Match, keeping my very large photo and music libraries on the old MacBook Pro which now resided permanently on a shelf. But even then my new MBP’s drive was filling up, primarily due to a an Adobe Lightroom catalog containing lots of photos for work.

Replacing the internal SSD on my MBP would be too expensive (those drives have not come down in price much), so I turned to another technology that lets me use a previously unused port: the SD card slot.
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Your iPhone Could Save Your Life

Did you know your iPhone could save your life? It could if you set it up right and if the people around you know about it.

Here’s how you access your Medical Information1. While the iPhone is locked, press on the home button. (Don’t press too hard or too long or you’ll bring up Siri; just press once.) That will bring up the password entry screen. At the top of the screen, you’ll see the Emergency button. Tap that and you’ll see the emergency dialer. At the bottom left, you will see Medical ID.

Got it? Good. Now you know how to do it, show it to your spouse, to your kids, to your co-workers, anyone who may need to access it if you’re unconscious and getting medical attention.

Of course, it won’t do any good if you don’t put your medical information in there in the first place. Unlock your iPhone and open the Health app. In the lower right of the app’s main screen, tap on Medical ID. Either click on Create Medical ID or scroll down until you see “Edit” in the lower right.

Now you can enter all your various medical conditions, blood type, medications, emergency contact information, and other medical notes. I put in mine that I’m a Catholic and that they should contact a Catholic priest.

The more people that know about this, the better off we all will be.

  1. I do not know if Android or Windows Phone have this feature. They should.

MacBook Pro’s Toolbar No Longer a Rumor

It’s long been rumored that Apple’s new MacBook Pros, due to arrive on Thursday, would have a new Magic Toolbar, an OLED touchscreen replacing the row of function keys at the top of the keyboard. And there have been third-party mockups of it floating around the whole time.

Now Apple has let the cat out of the bag itself by including an image of the Toolbar in the update to macOS Sierra that dropped on Monday.

As you can in the image attached to this post, the toolbar will be dynamic, displaying text based on what’s on screen, in this case, allowing an Apple Pay transaction to take place. Even more, there’s apparently a TouchID sensor on the right side of the toolbar. This is very big.

Even beyond having a configurable space that potentially could allow a developer to include the most important functions of his app, say the most important tools in Photoshop or editing functions in Word, the TouchID opens all kinds of possibilities.

Imagine never having to remember your passwords, not just to unlock your laptop, but for any web site because your finger is your password.

We won’t know for sure what features the toolbar will or will not have or even if that TouchID sensor will be accessible to developers right off the bat (the iPhone’s TouchID was not for a while after its introduction), but the future is bright.

And now I’m looking forward to the day I need to upgrade again.

Change, especially in iPhones, is Inevitable

There are some people who love change for its own sake. Perhaps they even need it or crave it, not because it improves anything, but just because it’s different. But most people don’t like change.

We accept change, but usually with a cost-benefit analysis attached. If we change this, will it improve the experience or make it worse? If I move from this town to another, will living in the new town be better? Will my new job be better? Is it better for me to pay a lot of money for a new car or should I just keep driving my old car that needs repairs?

We are the same way with our technology. I like my old Blackberry with its physical keyboard; why should I go with a new iPhone with a virtual keyboard on glass? My 3.5” screen smartphone is perfectly adequate. That 4” screen is too big.

And that’s the other thing about change: We get used to the change. A new car feels new and exciting… for a few weeks. But then it becomes routine. A new house is an adventure… until it gets filled with our stuff and we sleep, wake, eat, clean and live in it for weeks.

Again, the same is true for our technology as well. When I was contemplating upgrading from my old iPhone 5 (4” screen) to the iPhone 6 (4.7” screen) or 6 Plus (5.5” screen) , I though the 6 Plus would be too big. All the tech press and reviewers talked about how big it was in the hand and too big for some people. I dithered and dallied, but I finally went for the big phone. And it seemed so big at first.

But now, it’s just the size of my phone. I got used to it. Although when I hold Melanie’s old iPhone 4 in my hand it seems so tiny. I can’t believe I ever used a phone that small. So not only do we get used to the change, but it change our perception of how things used to be.

If there’s one truth about technology, it’s that it’s always changing. Apple announced new iPhones this week and one of the changes is the loss of the headphone port. People are freaking out about it. This is a big change for people.

There is no more personal technology today than our mobile phones and apart from taking photos and sending messages, perhaps the most common use is listening to or watching content on them, usually with headphones. This change goes right into the comfort zone so there needs to be a big benefit to such a big change.

I don’t know if Apple has yet provided a sufficient rationale for how it will benefit users. But the reality is that the iPhone is the most popular phone on the planet. People will buy it by the millions. Adjusting to the loss of the headphone port will take some time. Some people will hate it. Some will go to Android phones to avoid the change (which will be a change in itself). Some competitors will tout the lack of a change in their phones as a reason to buy them.

But people will get used to the change eventually. And in a couple of years, perhaps even as few as one year, hardly anyone will complain about it. Phones without 100-year-old analog ports will be the new normal and seeing a phone with one will seem odd.

It’s just the way human nature is.

iPhone 7? Watch Series 2? Will I Buy One (or Both)?

I sometimes forget that not everyone obsessively follows all news and rumors related to Apple, especially for the new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch series 2, and so I’m surprised at the strong reactions to news that Apple is eliminating the headphone jack on their new phone. I suppose I had my strong visceral reaction against it months ago and have come to terms.1

In all honesty, I hardly every use the headphone jack anyway, preferring Bluetooth headphones and speakers. So when the new iPhone 7 comes along, the loss of the jack doesn’t mean much.

But Apple also needs to do a better job of letting people know that they’re still getting wired headphones in the box with the iPhone 7. I was watching the news and the people on the street kept saying they weren’t interested in the new wireless AirPods (at $159!) so weren’t sure about the iPhone 7.

Wait a minute! Apple is still including headphones with a Lightning port connector instead of a headphone jack, which actually is better. That’s not Apple fan “drinking the Kool-Aid”, but objectively true: The Lightning port provides digital audio without having to go through and analog conversion like the old port did and it provides more options for controlling the phone. And if you aren’t ready to ditch your third-party headphones with the old 1/4-inch jack, they’ve put an adapter in the box, too.
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Why does Apple inflict Split View on us?

Every time I use Apple’s split-screen multitasking on my iPad or iPhone I ask why would they do this to us? I don’t mean letting us use two apps side-by-side, especially on an iPad. That’s wonderful and long overdue. No, I mean why did they only half-bake it?

The user interface for choosing the second app is so bad it’s almost incomprehensible. It’s like no one in Apple ever tested it. As soon as you open the special app picker for the second app, you get a scrolling list of apps that support split view.

Except it’s in no discernible order, whether alphabetical or where it’s installed on the iPad or anything. And there’s no search so you can just type in the name of the app you want. No, you have to scroll and scroll and scroll, looking for the app, hoping you don’t blink as it goes by. I think this could only be worse if the picker scrolled itself at high speed and you had to tap on the app as it went by.

Apple is supposed to be the “every little detail” company, but once in a while you get glitches like this and wonder how it got through.

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