iTunes - Where is that Song?

I recently posted about some of the annoyances of iTunes. Today I want to follow up with another point of frustration: How to search for a song and figure out which of your playlists it's in. 

One of the great things about iTunes is creating the perfect playlist. And if you have a lot of playlists in your music collection it can be hard to remember which is which. My wife was trying to find a playlist and could only remember that it had this one specific song in it. So she did what all of us do and searched for the song. ... No dice.

She poking and prodding she turned to me and said "This is horrible! Why can't they make it simple to list out all the playlists that have a specific song in it?"  We tried asking Siri and she just got confused. The answer is a keystroke away.

Bring up iTunes, select your music library and search for a song. 

Hold down the "Control" key and click on the song. Near the bottom of the list you should see "Show in Playlist." Click on it and it will show you all the playlists your selected song is in. 

If "Show in Playlist" isn't visible it just means that song is not a part of any playlist. Who know searching could be so easy? 

Let me know some of your iTunes gripes in the comments below. Who knows? Maybe there's a simple solution.


iTunes Annoyances - Let Me Count the Ways

iTunes started life as a great little app to play music. Over the years it has grown to gargantuan proportions and handles all of Apple's media as well as acting as a portal to the iTunes store. To me iTunes is bloated, over weight and needs a diet. Since that's not going to happen for a while I've decided to address some small but niggling issues and maybe help someone keep from pulling their hair out. Today I want to address a problem that plagued me when I started using iOS 9 on my new iPhone 6s

I work out to music and I suddenly ran into a problem with playlists. The first song repeated over and over. I could not get the next song to play. Hitting the couple arrow icon just started the song over again. 

First I wanted to see what my playlist had "Next Up" so I hit the three lines to the right of the play icon.

It showed me nothing but endless repeats of the same song. 

The solution is as simple to fix as the problem is to cause. When playing music the main screen has a to "arrow" icons at the bottom of the screen. One for "Shuffle" and the other for "Repeat."  Can you see the almost too small to read numeral "1" on the "Repeat" icon below? That means the selected song will play over and over and over... until you are sick of it or change the settings.

To stop this aural assault you just tap the same icon until the little "1" & the grey box around it goes away. BTW - The grey box is a visual signal that this function is selected. In this case if you select the "repeat" arrows and only tap once the grey box will be shown but no number. This means the playlist will repeat. Tap again, and the number 1 will appear and that song will repeat. I figure since the Home button on my iPhone is so close to the repeat icon in iTunes I inadvertently selected it without knowing it. 

Over the years Apple has tried to improve iTunes but it's still filled with small buttons which I am clueless to explain. If there were only one or two unknown buttons it wouldn't be so bad but every update of iOS or iTunes brings more changes and more new icons. If you add in the new Music service, old Playlists, Genius Playlists, Shared libraries and other functions things get confusing in a hurry. 

I hope this helps relieve some of the frustration out there. Write a comment and tell me your frustrations with iTunes. I'll listen, and just maybe, Apple will too.


Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan - Where did my Widgets go?

El Capitan the new Macintosh OS was released today and there are a lot of things to like. Unfortunately there are also a few annoyances. Today I want to address Widgets. 

You remember those don't you? They are the mini-applications that sit on your Dashboard. Apple has a whole page devoted to them here.  They first appeared in Mac OS Tiger in 2005. You normally access them when using a key command or gesture (swipe left using 3 fingers). They appear on a secondary desktop.

Well Apple has decided they aren't important and has turned them off by default. If you are a Widget user, however infrequent, you can turn them back on in System preferences. Just open up preferences and navigate to "Mission Control"

Make sure "Dashboard" Is turned back on. I am used to having all my widgets on a separate space so that's the pick I made. Close up Preferences and you will have your Widgets back. 

Based on this change I can only suspect that Widgets may not be around much longer. But for now, you can have your El Capitan and Widgets too.


iOS - Adding Emergency Information

Every year iOS is updated with great new features and awesome new programs. I'm sorry to admit I don't always take the time to explore every feature and every new app. Today I want to remind people about an Apple app that came out a while ago, Apple's Health App.  Like me you probably moved it to iOS purgatory on the last page of your iPhone applications  screen but you may want to take another look.

Most people think you have to have an Apple Watch to use the health app or it's only helpful  to track fitness, calories or food, but there is one great use for this application you might not know about, the ability to have personal information handy in case of emergency. 

My daughter recently got her drivers license and like every parent I worry about her when she is on the road late at night driving by herself. One small measure of comfort is know that If she were to get in an accident and someone needed her personal information or an emergency contact number, all they would need to do is grab her ever present iPhone (never used while driving of course!) and access the data from the lock screen. 

To set things up just open the Apple Health app and select "Medical ID" in the lower right corner. To create a medical ID just select the red "Create Medical ID" text and fill in the data. 


Apple has added a lot of basic medical information fields but you can also enter data in the notes section.  By default you can add medical conditions, allergies, medications you might be on, blood type as well as other personal information. You can also enter one or more emergency contacts. Make sure you have selected "Show When Locked" before hitting the done button.


Now here's the best part, when your phone is locked and someone needs to access this information they just need to select the "Emergency" button at the bottoms of the lock screen then "Medical ID" on the next screen.


Obviously this is information can save your life in the event of an accident but it's also extremely helpful if you loose your phone. Anyone who finds your phone can find a contact they can call to return your phone to you. 

Apple is great at adding little details that make your phone an awesome device to use. Medical ID is a well thought out addition that can literally save your life. 


USB Power Outlet - Amazon SALE!

One of my most popular posts is about a replacement wall outlet that includes 2 USB ports for charging your devices you can read about it here: Fastmac U-Socket USB/Power Outlet.

Since I first published that post way back in 2011 several other companies have come out with similar products. Today I just want to give you a heads up that Amazon is having a sale on the Leviton 15-Amp USB wall outlet with built in USB ports.

My Fastmac USB Outlets are still working great but you can always use more ways to charge your devices. With these outlets you don't have to hunt down your wall wart, you can just grab a cable and plug it in.

At $18.52 for Amazon Prime users, these outlets look like a great deal, go out and order several. They will be shipped same day for free. That's a deal!


Tech Tuesday - Old Technology

Today I've decided to start a less problem based series of posts about technology in general. After thinking about it for a while I decided to call it "Tech Tuesday." The alliteration works for me but I reserve the right to change the name to "Tech Thursday" if I don't meet my deadline. But for today, it's Tech Tuesday. 

For my first Tech Tuesday post I'll start with a question: What's the oldest piece of tech you have still laying about?

I have a vast collection of old routers, ancient network Ethernet Switches, printers, cables & miscellaneous old calculators.

I'm an HP RPN guy myself and rarely use my old HP 41C or 32S any more. My iPhone now serves as my go to machine when I need to work some math. If you are like me and find the default apple calculator lacking check out the Apple App store. It has a great collection of calculator emulators and including many HP-like RPN versions. My go to iPhone calculator is Free42. As it's name implies it's free and works well. It may not have all the programing functions of some of the more advanced emulators out there but, it's free. Give it a try.

As for working electronics I think I'm most proud of my old Palm Tungsten T3. It's rugged and well designed for it's day too bad HP had to go and ruin it. At this point it's worth next to nothing so for now I keep it tucked away. Who know's maybe it will be worth something some day.

So how about you? What do you have laying about? Do you still use it every day or even every month? Let me know in the comments. 


Apple Photos - How to Stop Autolaunch

One of my hobbies is photography. I love taking tons of photos and over the years I have developed a workflow involving Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Bridge and Adobe Lightroom. I used iPhoto and more recently the new Apple Photos, but not as my main go-to application. Therefore I was quite annoyed when each and every time I plugged in my iPhone or SD card Apple Photos would open. Here's how to shut that off. 

Open up Photos and plug in your SD Card or iDevice. Go to the "Import" tab and look at the upper left corner of the window. 

All you need to do is uncheck the "Open Photos for this device" box and Photos will not autolaunch when you plug in your device. 

The somewhat annoying part is that you will need to do this for each and every device you plug in. But once you have plugged them in and unchecked the box all should be well and Photos won't autolaunch.

BONUS Section

People tend to forget applications they haven't used for a while (or in some cases never even knew existed). Image Capture is one of those applications. 

Image Capture has been around a long time and is installed by default in the Applications folder.  You can use Image Capture to do all sorts of things including using a scanner, sorting your photos, quick emails or even make a contact sheet. You can also set what you want to happen when you plug in a SD Card or idevice. 

Find Image Capture in your applications folder and open it up. Once open look in the lower left corner of the window. You will see almost the same import configuration options as you see in Photos.

If you don't see the import pull down menu (shown in the red circle above) hit the very small arrow box in the lower left corner. That symbol is Apple's universal icon for "There's more stuff here if you hit me!" In this case it toggles the import view on and off. Once open use the pull down menu to set the application or no application to autolaunch. 

Using Image Capture also allows you to set the import location or what to do with the photos on import. Just use the "Import To" pull down menu at the bottom center of the window.

As you can see there are a lot of cool options, even build a web page! How easy is that.  

If you are a photographer and take even a modest amount of photos, getting rid of small annoyances, saving time and streamlining your work can really pay off. These tips may not make you a better photographer but they definitely help your workflow.


A Little Time Off - TARDIS Style

I decided to take some time off from blogging a while back but should get back to all things Mac shortly. It wasn't like I didn't have other projects going on though. Since my family loves Dr. Who, I thought I would share the TARDIS nightlight I just finished. Now I just turn it on at night to scare away all the Daleks and Cybermen hiding under my bed.

As a DIY project I'm sure it's been done to death but I figured it was going to be fun and interesting to see what I could do with it. 

I started with some plans I drew up and some materials. 

Some cutting, more thinking and many trips to the big box hardware store and I finished the basics. (FYI - Big Box hardware stores suck at small parts and accessories. I got almost everything elsewhere.) 

Add some glue and the classic outline was done. 

I fussed over the details of the call box sign. How do you make the text clear and readable? How do you make 4 signs that all match? Should I make the signs illuminated? A few  internet searches later I found a sticker place that will print your own custom made stickers. WOOT! 

A little Sharpie action, some pre-stained wood side panels and when all was done I ended up with this.

Several coats of "Tardis Blue" stain, a wash of black to add some depth and I had my nightlight. If I get around to it I'll take some night shots. The top light is clear acrylic that glows. The windows are frosted and covered with blue acetate to give a nice blue illumination. All in all, it works well and it makes me happy. Isn't that what's life is about?


Geek Day Off - 2015 Emerald City Comicon

All technology all the time isn't healthy. Everyone needs to look up from their screen every once in a while and enjoy life by doing something fun and different. In the past I've blogged about going to the Seattle LEGO Brickcon with the son, I've done some woodworking and I've attended the Seattle Emerald City Comicon. Here's links to my 2013 ECCC and 2014 ECCC posts. This year I went again and it was bigger and better than ever.

So here are some photos from this year's Comicon to help you through another Monday.

Over the past 3 years Comicon has grown. This year it was packed and tickets sold out weeks in advance. When you finally get through all the lines the show floor is huge and filled with artists, artwork and people.

First and foremost ECCC is about comics, the artists that draw them and the artwork they create. There are a lot of booths filled with awesome comic book art and great artists. 

There are also shops filled with fun cosplay items as well as everything comic related. 

All the cool artwork and kitsch aside, what really makes Comicon fun are the people who attend. Everyone who goes has some passion or inner-geek that they hold in (some more so than others) for 364 days of the year. But on this one day they let their hair down, dress up and have a lot of fun. Some of the costumes are amazing. 

This year "Marvel's Agent Peggy Carter" lead actress Haley Attwell was was a guest of ECCC. The show is very popular and dressing up as Peggy was the thing to do. Here are just two of what must have been 200 versions of the character.

People also dressed up as characters from their favorite animated movie or TV Show

Gaston & Harley Quinn

MegaMind and My Little pony

Attendees also dressed up as comic book characters even if they don't have a movie or TV show. Although he may be popular in the Marvel geek community I bet most people have never heard of Sub-Mariner. Marvel is set to milk the cash cow one more time with a Sub-Mariner movie so stand by to learn his back story. 

Then there were just tons of characters from past movies and shows. 

Here's Barf from Spaceballs as well as Black Widow and Hawkeye from the Marvel movies.

Captain America Dancer

And of course Captian America himself

Here's Lady Thor and her ... friend?


Character from that never ending movie, Never Ending Story

There was even a visit from a Northwest native and his handler. Glad they finally decided to get out of the forrest attend the Con. Gotta love the ability to wear furry Sasquatch costume inside a heated building. 

The Riddler holding Court

I must say that this is the first Snoopy I've seen in the 3 years I've attended.

Wonder Woman!  Hey DC Comics, where's HER movie! 

I had a great time this year and will be heading back next year. So just like this Storm Trooper, a nice day off is always appreciated. Hope you enjoyed the photos.