macOS Sonoma: There’s a process stealing your windows’ focus

Sean Harding finally put into words an issue that I’ve witnessed for a while now on macOS Sonoma.

This is it:

Weird MacOS thing: the window I am working in will sometimes lose focus (without the app losing focus). Suddenly, and without any obvious cause. It will be as if no window has focus. Sometimes happens as often as every few minutes, sometimes doesn’t happen for a long time. I can’t figure out any common variable. But it can be very disruptive.
Has anyone else seen this? Any ideas?

I’ve adjusted the Python script mentioned in the thread to work with Python 3.x that you can get with Homebrew for example.


Links – For Reasons

It’s been quite some time, but I thought it’d be nice to add some info here with other places where you can find me. Especially since you’re now – on some sites – no longer allowed to link to your other accounts. It’s really only a handful:

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’ll be a poll in a few hours asking people if Twitter’s dumb rule of the day should be revoked. And then 24 hours later it’ll be scrapped and/or people will be let back in.

That’s his modus operandi nowadays:
– Let someone publish a new idiotic rule and immediately ban some famous people
– Wait a bit for people to get upset and talk about him and his stupid rule
– Come up with a poll
– Optional: redo the poll because he didn’t like the outcome of the first poll
– Let people back on the site (if they delete their tweets, even if they’re linking to publicly available information that is being broadcast through the air)
– Post how Twitter „is 🔥🔥🔥🔥
– Rinse, repeat

More and more people are figuring out that the only way to stop this is to stop giving him (and his 44 billion dollar website) attention and leave Twitter.

Update: The policy (here on lasted only a few hours.


Spatial Audio with Plex on iPhone and iPad

Daan Wijffels summarizing the necessary steps to enable Spatial Audio on Plex:

Meet custom profiles in Plex! These profiles allow us to change which codecs are sent to a certain type of device. So al (sic!) we have to do is create a profile XML file with the right information and voilà… Spatial Audio!

If you’re running your own Plex server you can rather easily enable Apple’s Spatial Audio. On the client, iPhone or iPad, you’ll have to enable the old Plex video player (Settings > Advanced > Use Old Video Player). For those interested in additional details, these steps and requirements were previously listed on Plex’s official forum.

Apple introduced Spatial Audio with iOS 14. The surround sound can be activated on AirPods Pro (starting with firmware 3A283) and AirPods Max in iPhone and iPad. Apple lists the necessary iOS/iPadOS hardware in a support document.


iPadOS and the Magic Keyboard: Multitasking is still very limited

I’m just starting to write using Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad. I like the feel and writing seems to be a joy so far. But I’m still running into issues with iPadOS 14, that have already been there in iPadOS 13 and earlier. First and foremost, at least for me, is the bad experience when trying to use multitasking – even now, having a mouse cursor that could potentially be useed to support you.

It’s really bad when trying to navigate multiple text fields between apps. Trying to get the right app – and thus the right input field – to get focus sometimes seems impossible. The only thing that always works is closing the app you don’t to have focus. I had hoped this ordeal would be improved at least a bit after being able to use a mouse cursor.

Here’s one example. You’re using an app that requires you to enter a login, password and a 2FA code. Let’s say you get the first two login credentials from iCloud Keychain while the 2FA code is in some other app like 1Password or Authy. You get through the login procedure, but need said 2FA code. So you load 1Password in slide-over or split-screen to just copy that code. 1Password gets the focus and you just tap the code to copy it.

After that you position your mouse cursor over on the input field on the other app to paste it. You tap your trackpad to activate the cursor there, thinking the app got active, you hit cmd+v because your hands are already on the keyboard and nothing happens. Why? Because the other app never got the focus. The only hint that something’s wrong is the little pill shaped indicator at the top of the app window. At least Apple added this not too long ago. Before you had absolutely no idea what was going on and had no indication of what app was really active – aside from starting to type and hoping for the best.

However, just having that indicator isn’t enough. It’s still a horrible experience because, as I’ve just described, multitasking just doesn’t work as one might expect. One alternative way to successfully insert your 2FA code is tapping the field on the screen, waiting for a bit for a pop-up window to come up and then select Paste. You can also – as mentioned before – swipe away 1Password, basically exiting multitasking to force focus on the app where you want to paste your code. The thing is, all of these ways should work.

It’s not just copy and paste either. Sometimes you just want to use two apps side-by-side, for whatever reason. Well, good luck if the active app it isn’t the one you want to write something in.

We will soon arrive at iPadOS 14/iOS 14. We have nice hardware including an official, very expensive keyboard and trackpad combination – like this Magic Keyboard in front of me right now. Yet, the software is unable to do some seemingly very basic things that haven’t been issues on other platforms for ages. Trying to use a keyboard and trackpad to make an app the active app shouldn’t require some magic spell (that I’m currently unaware of). At the very least “tapping into an app” should take care of that, but it isn’t.

This lack of fully functional multitasking is still driving me back to my Mac every day. I love the simplicity of writing on my iPad. Especially because I don’t get distracted by other apps as easily. But unfortunately for me personally I can’t just write in a silo and be done with it. These words have to get pasted to sometimes multiple places before they actually end up at their final resting place.

This means it doesn’t only apply while having to login to websites or apps, but potentially any workflow that requires copy and paste between apps. Simple things like this make you feel like nobody at Apple, who’s actively developing iPadOS, is actually using iPadOS’ full feature set. I’d like to use my iPad more but these things are just annoying and should’ve been fixed a long time ago.


Apple Watch after five years: How long I’ve been wearing it every day

Five years ago – on April 24, 2015 – Apple released its first smartwatch: Apple Watch. After presenting it in September 2014, during the reveal of iPhone 6, Apple started taking pre-orders on April 10, 2015; two weeks ahead of shipping them. Due to international travel, jetlag and, well, sleep on that very day I wasn’t able to get an early model back then and had to wait a couple of weeks until I finally got my hands on mine.

Just like David Smith I was wondering how long I’ve been wearing my Apple Watch since then. Unfortunately I lost some of my health data while moving iPhones in September 2015. So the early days of wearing my Apple Watch models over the years have been lost forever. Thankfully David made the source code for his app that uses HealthKit information stored on your iPhone available publicly. You’ll need Xcode and a developer account to run it on your iPhone.

Diagram showing how much I've worn Apple Watch over the past years

As I mentioned above, I don’t have the full five years of data available to me. This means my dataset starts on September 26th, 2015. As you can see, for the first few months I’ve been charging my Watch during the night, before starting to track my sleep in January 2017 using various apps over the years. For the past year, Sleep Watch has been taking care of this and I usually don’t have to do anything to start or end tracking. (I’m not sure how I lost some more information during July 2017, but apparently it’s gone; roughly 20 days are missing.)

Based on the first date of availability, April 24, 2015, I’ve been wearing my Watch for 34.735 of 43.886 possible hours. That’s 79,1 percent of the time. Looking at actual available data and me owning the watch for only a part of the total time this goes up to 86,1 percent. I expect this number will continue to grow in the coming months and years as Apple Watch becomes more and more self-contained and independent of an iPhone. Better efficiency will also mean that I don’t have to charge it as often and long. As a result it will be possible to wear it for a longer time every day. I’m also looking forward for Apple to add their own sleep tracking. The current apps are good, but I’m sure Apple will be able to do things in the future that current third party apps can’t.

Over the years I owned the original Apple Watch, Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4 and now Apple Watch Series 5*. Looking at battery life, Apple Watch Series 4 was the best model so far for me. I never quite get the same on-my-wrist-time with Series 5. Even turning off various features, even the always-on-display, didn’t help. I still have to charge it daily for longer than I’d like. Series 4 only needed a full charge every two or three days, while giving it a little bit of juice for a few minutes during the days in between. I do enjoy being able to glance at my Watch to get the current time, I wouldn’t want to miss this.

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Raspberry Pi 4: New revision fixes two annoying problems

It didn’t take long until some people started noticing issues with the Raspberry Pi 4* when it was first announced last year. Namely there were issues with regular USB C power adapters/cables that resulted in not getting power to the tiny board. Because of a missing resistor these adapters recognized the Pi as an audio device and disabled sending power down the line. Secondarily there was a tiny voltage switch next to the micro SD card slot, that could easily be ripped off while inserting the card.

Those two issues are history as The Register reports. USB C should work with all usual adapters and the switch was moved to the top of the board. Without much fanfare the Raspberry Pi Foundation started production of a new revision of the board, Revision 1.2 (Code “c03112”). This is not a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B or anything obvious like this. The foundation silently changed production. So depending on how long the store you’re buying from has had its models in their warehouse you may get a new or old revision. Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Ltd, however expects the update “to have reached end users by now”.

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OnePlus 7 Pro: 8 months later

Ever since the very first iPhone that I imported from the US to Germany, I’ve been an iPhone person. At the same time, I’ve also been looking across its garden wall and kept using an Android phone. Those phones were usually Nexus devices, my last one – back then – being a Nexus 6P. Back in early July 2019 this phone was starting to have weird hardware issues, aside from not getting updates from Google any longer.

It was time for a new device and while I could have gone for a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3a. But with the Pixel 4 already on the horizon back then I decided to go for a newer device that wasn’t made by Google. I went for the OnePlus 7 Pro* that would get my German SIM but also Google Fi. I knew it wasn’t going to be my primary device.

That said, I keep using the phone on a daily basis – not just to check something for work. I use it regularly to listen to podcasts. Pocket Casts for example is a great way to listen to podcasts and isn’t only available on Android, but also the web and iOS. It’s also an interesting way to compare coverage differences on the same network. Spoiler: while there sometimes were huge differences on, for example, T-Mobile between the OnePlus and iPhone XS Max – the Qualcomm chip in the OnePlus usually having better service – there usually isn’t a huge gap with an iPhone 11 Pro Max and 7 Pro anymore.

The OnePlus 7 Pro also had something my previous XS Max didn’t have: the ultra wide-angle lens. Now, again, the iPhone 11 Pro Max does this as well and usually better than the OnePlus, but it wasn’t an option last July.

The OnePlus also came with some things you didn’t/don’t get being an iPhone user. First off: Warp charging is OnePlus’s version of high speed charging. For this, the 7 Pro comes with a special USB C charger. You can still charge it quickly with a regular USB C PD charger, but it won’t be as fast, even if your charger can supply 30 Watts or more. You will need a OnePlus charger to charge as fast as possible. I hope OnePlus will support fast charging using regular Power Delivery in the future.

Speaking of power: the OnePlus 7 Pro does not support wireless charging in any way. This has its pros, as the back of the device isn’t made from glass and thus is less prone to shattering. Of course you won’t be able to charge it by just laying it down on a Qi charger. You’ll need that cable.

The phone also came with a pre-applied screen protector, although it didn’t last for long. It started to come off and became really annoying to use after a few weeks. I removed it and I still have yet to see any scratches. To protect the screen even further – along with the rest of the phone – the 7 Pro also came with a clear case. I’m using my iPhone without a case but I find the OnePlus just to be too slippery to use without it. Glad it was included.

OnePlus 7 Pro: The almost perfect display

Speaking of the display. It’s a real beauty. Even after months of use it looks like new. Like I mentioned, I have yet to see a scratch – even after being “thrown” into my backpack on a regular basis. The 90 Hz display is great, and I I hope Apple brings 120 Hz to the iPhone this year. One thing I personally love is the lack of any camera or notch in the front. I enjoy having a full screen display thanks to the pop up selfie camera. I could live without that camera completely and be okay. I just don’t take selfies.

What I don’t like about this particular display are the curves along the side. It distorts content ever so slightly which I find distracting to say the least. The in-display fingerprint sensor works okay, although I prefer Face ID – which is a problem on Android and does require some sensors along the display; in a notch or otherwise. I can live with it, although it sometimes needs multiple tries, especially – for some reason – if I’m not using my “primary” finger to unlock it. Overall I find myself entering the PIN on the OnePlus 7 Pro more often than any recent iPhone – be it with Touch ID or Face ID.

Software: Up there but not quite Google

One thing Android devices have a really bad track record of are software updates – unless you’re buying a Pixel of course. OnePlus however seems to be one of the better companies. The update to Android 10 for the OnePlus 7 Pro came quickly, sometimes however the security updates lag by a month or more. To make sure you get the most recent updates, make sure to not rely on the plain over-the-air-updates but use an app like Oxygen Updater. OnePlus rolls out their updates in multiple waves, so if there’s a bug it won’t affect everyone at the same time. This however can result in you having to wait for the OTA to reach your device. Oxygen Updater takes care of that and removes the wait. There’s also a lively beta process taking place, but switching between beta and stable builds – unlike Apple’s beta process – results in wiping your device. So be careful about those open betas.

The changes to OxygenOS, OnePlus’s software build on top of Android, itself aren’t jaw dropping in comparison to plain Android. They add some nice things without turning Google’s base completely upside down. One thing, for example, I’m however missing is a quick toggle for dark mode. It might be somewhere buried in the depths of the settings, but they’re hard to navigate even with the built-in search. The same goes for an automatic dark mode switch based on time of day. Both those features are easily accessible on iOS 13.

One thing I’ve noticed after going from Android 9 to 10 is the shortened battery life. With Android 9 I could use the phone for days. Not using it much – I once managed to go for 7 days. Great if you’re using it for a back up phone. This time has been cut down. My usage of the device varies a lot, partly because I keep turning Google Fi on and off on a regular basis depending on what I’m doing and where I’m going. So it’s hard to say for me how long the battery really lasts under normal circumstances, but I think two days are possible. Add the aforementioned Warp Charger and just top it off in a few minutes.

Speaking of Google Fi: It’s great to be able to turn your cell service on and off with the flip of a virtual switch. I’d love if more carriers were supported, especially under spotty conditions it’d be great to also use AT&T or Verizon. When I’m traveling outside the US, I’m not buying any local SIM cards anymore. Google and, to be fair, T-Mobile US in general make it so easy to just not care about it and only have one number.

OnePlus 7 Pro: An interesting alternative to an iPhone

Overall the OnePlus 7 Pro could be a great full-time alternative to an iPhone for me – the things I’d be missing however are the camera hard- and software of Apple’s device. Photo and video are just much better. The other big (software) thing is iMessage. Google/Android is still lacking a default secure messaging app, that easily works across multiple devices and operating systems. Google keeps on presenting new messaging apps every year, but nothing ever came close to iMessage. And don’t tell me about WhatsApp – it’s owned by Facebook. No, thank you. It’s a pain to use in comparison to Apple’s solution that works seamlessly across iPhone, iPad and Mac.

I’m looking forward to the OnePlus 8 Pro – or whatever they’ll exactly call their new flag ship phone. There are some interesting rumors and I hope to also see 5G in that device. Does Google Fi include access to T-Mobile’s 5G network? Update: Sounds like it does.

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Taika Waititi: Fix those MacBook keyboards

It was rather silent around the MacBook Pro/Air keyboards in the past few weeks and months – ever since Apple presented the newest 16” model. But the Oscars on Sunday night became another negative highlight in their history. Here’s the clip that has been going around for the past few hours:

Yes, Apple has fixed the keyboard, but so far only on the 16” MacBook Pro*. Yes, it’s noticeably better than before and one can only hope there won’t be any other major issues on these machines that require a yearly replacement. But, and this is a big but, all other MacBooks to this day still come with the problematic butterfly keyboards.

I still can’t understand how long it took – or rather, it’s still taking – for Apple to fix these problems and come out with a new keyboard. They went from a version that worked as everyone expected, to a complete nightmare starting with the 12” MacBook in 2015.

I also wonder how many people just can’t afford to let go of their possibly only computer for a few days just to get a new keyboard, no matter how complicated it is to live with a keyboard that’s repeating keys or entire keys that don’t work at all. This problem does and will haunt many MacBook owners for years. Multiple generations of MacBooks will go unserviced and once the 4 years of free replacements have passed, people won’t be willing to pay the enormous bill that comes with a new keyboard.

The first MacBooks are already past this timeframe and, coming up at the end of this year, the first MacBook Pro with Touch Bar will be on that list as well. I’m also afraid the resale value for those machines won’t be as good for their current owners as it has been for other Macs in the past. Once a single key is toast it’s hundreds of dollars you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. As John Gruber notes: „Apple could switch every single Mac in the lineup to the new keyboards tomorrow, and people would still be joking about MacBook keyboards for years to come.“


No more autoplay: Netflix finally allows you turn off automatically playing trailers

Those of you who use Netflix day in, day out have probably come across one of the more annoying features of their apps: automatic playback, audio and video, of previews. You weren’t able to turn this off and just had to live with it. Until today.

Now you can turn it off by heading to your Netflix profile on the web and opening Playback settings. There you can turn the automatically playing trailers using autoplay. If the changed option doesn’t trigger immediately just switch to a different profile and switch back. According to Netflix that’s supposed to load your chosen setting instantly.


Python 3 in macOS Catalina: Fixing the abort trap

At some point in the beta program of macOS Catalina Homebrew’s python 3 broke and only ended up showing an “Abort trap: 6” for every command that involved using it. This included pip3 and other tools that were previously downloaded and worked as expected.

After a bit of searching I found hints that there was an issue with some OpenSSL libraries. Using the current openssl package, Homebrew has openssl@1.1, there’s a simple fix (exact command might differ once the package gets updated) for the problem:

ln -s /usr/local/Cellar/openssl@1.1/1.1.1d/lib/libcrypto.dylib /usr/local/lib/libcrypto.dylib
ln -s /usr/local/Cellar/openssl@1.1/1.1.1d/lib/libssl.dylib /usr/local/lib/libssl.dylib

This will take care of it until openssl gets updated and the symlinks eventually break. I’m sure I’ll have to get back here to remind myself on how this gets fixed in the future.