Nest having problems staying connected to your Apple Airport Extreme? Try this.

I recently got a new Apple Airport Extreme wireless router.  It performs great, but for some reason my (1st generation) Nest thermostat starting having trouble staying connected to my network.  If you google ‘Nest connection problem’, you get a rabbit-hole of forums and complaints that include various hacky anecdotal fixes.  Well let me add one more, as I have found a solution to my particular problem.

If your Nest Learning Thermostat is having trouble staying connected to your Apple Airport Extreme (or any other dual-band router), try this:

The Apple Airport Extreme (I believe, by default) operates on both the 2.4 ghz and 5 ghz bands (B/G/N, and N/A/AC bands).  It combines both of these bands under a single network name (aka ‘Broadcast SSID’) so that, regardless of the device, they all connect to the same network name.

I have found that this is problematic for the Nest.  It thinks it is connected to the network, when in fact it is not.  The Nest won’t even report any errors, it just won’t appear to be online, even though it thinks that it is.

The solution I have discovered is to separate the 2.4 ghz network from the 5 ghz network, and have them broadcast under separate SSIDs.  This setting can be accomplished through the Wireless settings pane of the Apple Airport Extreme app (for OS X or iOS), via the ‘wireless options’ button and subsequent sub-menu.  Simply check the box for a separate 5 ghz SSID broadcast name.  Here is a (slightly outdated, but the general steps are essentially the same) guide to help walk you through the process: Creating a Dedicated 5GHz AirPort Network

I separated my networks under different SSIDs (a ‘low’ for the 2.4 band, and a ‘high’ for the 5 band), and I forced the Nest to connect to the new ‘low’ SSID (the 2.4 ghz network).

My Nest is now connection-problem free, and is back to working like a charm.  Whether this is an Apple problem, or a Nest problem, I am unsure… I’m just glad everything is back to normal.  Happy Nesting!

The only legitimate iOS 8 privacy concern: iMessage group naming

The only legitimate iOS 8 privacy concern: iMessage group naming

Achtung! Warning! Caveat emptor!  This isn’t a bug, so much as an ill-advised feature.  I’m sure kids will have fun with it, but if you are even somewhat of a responsible adult, this ‘feature’ may get you in trouble.  I personally think its fun, but there is a legitimate gripe to be made in terms of exposing thoughts you may not want exposed.  Read on…

The iOS 8 Messages app (the default texting app that we all use for SMS, iMessages, etc.) allows you to name group conversations that have multiple people in them.  If you are messaging 2 or more friends at once, a ‘group’ is formed.  When scrolling through all the various messaging sessions you may have stored on your phone, group chats are identified by the list of names of the people that are participating in it, which quickly truncates since there simply isn’t much room to display the names of everyone in the thread.  In iOS 8, if you click on the ‘Details’ of the group conversation, it allows you to rename the group to something shorter and more recognizable:

Conveniently rename the group!
Conveniently rename the group!

This is a tremendously helpful feature for when you are trying to keep your various group conversations organized, etc.  But there is a problem.  Whatever you name the group gets broadcasted to everybody in the chat (if they have iOS 8 installed as well)!!!:

2014-11-04_20-13-25

Yikes!!!  Be sure to name your group conversations something flattering, otherwise you will have some ‘splainin to do, Lucy…

On the flip side, your group-mates can rename this group to whatever they want, and not only does it get broadcasted to you (as seen above), it also shows up on your phone Messages list!:

Touché, co-workers!
Touché, co-workers!

As you can imagine, this can lead to some fun games.  Or utter embarrassment.  The choice is yours… just be aware of it!

Hopefully Apple adds the option to make your personalized group names private in the future!

Annoying iOS 8 bugs

Here are some things that bug me about iOS 8:

Spotlight crashes.  Ever drag the screen down so you can start searching for an app, or an email, etc.?  iOS Spotlight is a tremendously useful feature.  If you have pages and pages of apps, you can’t live without it.  But often, you are forced to, because it crashes.  A lot:

Spotlight... crashed.  Dead. Useless.
Spotlight… crashed. Dead. Useless.

You have little recourse when this happens.  You can restart your phone, or alternatively, you can just wait a few moments for Spotlight to ‘restart’ itself and start working again.  When you are in a hurry, it’s painful.

Inconsistent Reachability.  Speaking of Spotlight (and numerous other areas in iOS 8), when you double tap the home button (not pressing, just tapping), the whole interface slides down so that you can reach items at the top of the screen with one hand (that you normally would not be able to reach one-handed).  Again, another great and useful feature that I use quite a bit on-the-go.  Problem is, it doesn’t work in all areas consistently in the way you think it would.  Returning to Spotlight as an example:

Only certain things are reachable.
Only certain things are reachable.

Searching in Spotlight (if it isn’t crashed-out), brings up a handy list of items.  Double-tapping home slides them down for easy one-hand tapping, but what if you want to alter your search terms?  Break out that other hand.  In other apps, the entire top interface slides down, including the info bar:

properReachability
proper reachability

I’m not hating, but why the inconsistency?

That damn U2 album.  Do not get me wrong, I actually appreciate the U2 album, and I think it was a nice gesture.  Unlike the rest of the internet, the fact that the album showed up in my purchase history didn’t twist my panties.  But what did is the subsequent error I am still constantly assailed by every few minutes (or every few hours… it’s random!):

This.  Constantly.  Modal.
This. Constantly. Modal.

Ever since that album was ‘given’ out, my phone has constantly been barraged with this lovely piece of buggary. This message pops up at random intervals throughout the day, and it completely interrupts whatever you are doing until you tap ‘Done’, only for it to come back at a random interval sometime later.  No, ‘Retry’ doesn’t do shit, other than make it pop back up faster.

Let me tell you, when you are trying to quickly snap a photo of something cool, and this shit pops up, it makes you want to break your phone in half.

The best that I can trace this problem to is the U2 album.  Not the music tracks themselves, but the ‘Digital Booklet’ that came with the tracks.  iTunes (on the phone) doesn’t know how to download the booklet, so it tries over and over to get it, failing each time, prompting this message.  Some people have tried launching iTunes on their desktop machines, going to ‘Account’, logging in, and then bringing up the Account screen.  From there, a prompt will show up for any un-downloaded purchased items.  For me, the booklet was listed as the sole item that I had not yet downloaded (yet purchased…. even though I really didn’t, of course).  I clicked ‘download’, and the booklet is now on my iMac, and hence cleared from my account screen, but this shitty error still pops up on my phone from time to time.  I give up.

At least now I understand why the rest of the internet is pissed about ‘purchasing’ this album (for free), even if my reasons are slightly (and much more annoyingly) different.

There are other aspects of iOS 8 I find annoying, such as Continuity having all 500 of my Apple devices ring or ding at once anytime I get a call or message, flaky Airdrop, with its hit-or-miss file transfers, but those types of things will be ironed out in time, along with these I hope.

Until then, iOS 8.2 can’t come fast enough.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite DNS and Bonjour not working? Here is a fix!

OS X 10.10 Yosemite DNS and Bonjour not working? Here is a fix!

Ever since I upgraded from the Yosemite Beta to the final release, certain things have not been working.  In particular, I could not browse to any network printers, NAS devices, or even see my Aiport Extreme from the Airport Utility.  My wifi and internet were working, just nothing on my local network.  I knew something was up with Bonjour, and by extension, my internal DNS (discoveryd service, new for 10.10 Yosemite) for my particular machine.

After 2 days of frustration, I’m happy to report that I fixed this.  Here’s how:

Launch the ‘Console’ app, and look in the logs and hopefully you’ll see many entries for variations of this error:

discoveryd Basic DNSResolver  dropping message because it doesn’t match the one sent

specifically (for my machine in this moment of time):

11/4/14 12:54:06.002 AM discoveryd[2158]: Basic DNSResolver  dropping message because it doesn’t match the one sent Port:0 MsgID:0

After much searching on the internet, and many plist deletions, etc. nothing worked.  So then I tried this:

System Preferences -> Network

At the top of that preference pane, there is a ‘Location‘ dropdown.  It was set to ‘automatic‘.  I clicked on that, and created a new location called ‘Home‘ (you can call it whatever you want, really).  Then my wifi connection reset itself, and EVERYTHING started working again.

2014-11-04_01-14-58_01

Creating a new network location must have fixed some errant config file somewhere that was causing DNS and/or Bonjour lookups on my internal network to fail.  All is good now.

I can now browse for all bonjour devices, see my airport extreme, etc.  Everything works.  How lame and frustrating is that???

I hope this helps somebody!

Obnoxious boot chime in OS X? SILENCE IT!

From the terminal:

sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=%80

To get the chime back:

sudo nvram -d SystemAudioVolume

If you can’t get OS X to boot properly, and are stuck in reboot hell, get to the terminal via Single User mode.  Hold command+S after you hear the chime, or see the grey screen appear after starting your mac.  Then follow the onscreen instructions to mount your main hard drive partition, which consists of this command:

/sbin/mount -uw /

Happy booting in silent peace!!!!

Geektool (geeklet glet) update for Yahoo weather icons, 2014 edition!

Yahoo France made a small change to their icon source URLs, putting them on secure servers.  My old script command will work, but you need to change the URL to https vs. http:

curl --silent "https://fr.meteo.yahoo.com/united-states/california/aliso-viejo-12796580/" | grep "obs-current-weather" | sed "s/.*background\:url(\'\(.*\)\') .*/\1/" | xargs curl --silent -o /tmp/weather.png

Original post here.

Geektool weather icon unix shell script for September 2013

Well, Yahoo! is going through a (frankly) much needed UI/UX update on all their sites, and that has stranded a few Geek Tool users who rely on Yahoo for awesome .png image weather icons.  Fret not, France to the rescue! (SAY WHAT?)

Yes, Yahoo! France still has our beloved weather icons that we can steal from (but for how long??).  Use the following unix command to grab the weather icon, and save to the /tmp folder.  Modify as you see fit of course:

curl –silent “http://fr.meteo.yahoo.com/united-states/california/aliso-viejo-12796580/” | grep “obs-current-weather” | sed “s/.*background\:url(\’\(.*\)\’) .*/\1/” | xargs curl –silent -o /tmp/weather.png

Enjoy!

And in the meantime, if anybody has a new source for great weather icons for the future (for when the French finally surrender to the new Yahoo! UI), drop a comment!  Thanks.

See my updated post for 2014.