TidBITS#1107/02-Jan-2012

Happy New Year! There was a surprising amount of news over the holiday break, and Glenn Fleishman was quick off the mark to cover Intuit’s plans to release a Lion-compatible version of Quicken 2007, GadgetTrak’s new CameraTrace service for tracing stolen cameras, LogMeIn’s new remote-access app for iOS, GoDaddy’s dropping of support for the Stop Online Piracy Act, and Apple’s addition of a “Complete My Season” option for iTunes Store-purchased TV shows. Glenn also collected the top 10 most-read TidBITS stories of 2011, Adam followed up on the success of our TidBITS membership program and wrote the most popular story of the year about Google’s “Let It Snow” Easter egg, and Michael Cohen tracked down how iCloud’s Photo Stream interacts with multiple iPhoto libraries. Notable software releases since our last issue include Piezo 1.1 and iTunes 10.5.2.
 
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TidBITS Memberships Off to a Great Start

  by Adam C. Engst <ace@tidbits.com>

Thank you.

Seriously, those keys on my keyboard are showing significant wear after the reaction from nearly 1,200 TidBITS readers to the unveiling of our new TidBITS membership program (see “Support TidBITS by Becoming a TidBITS Member,” 12 December 2011). Between the incredibly kind messages from many longtime readers and notes from people who had problems due to multiple accounts or other quirks, it took me almost a week to regain control of my email. But that’s good, and for those who have become TidBITS members, thanks again.

But as gratifying as hitting 1,200 members in a few weeks has been, that’s less than 5 percent of the 25,000 people who receive TidBITS via email each week, not to mention the tens of thousands of people who read our articles via our Web site. So, if you haven’t yet joined the TidBITS membership program (and especially if you tried, but were stymied by glitches that affected some people in the first week), won’t you help us increase our membership to 2,000 by the time we cover Macworld Expo for you at the end of January? We also now have member-only discounts on over 25 top Mac programs, including the newly added PDFpen, TextExpander, DiscLabel, SpamSieve, EagleFiler, DropDMG, and Fetch — see our Member Benefits page for the full list. (And let me know if you’d like to offer a discount on your product.)

Thanks to the whirlwind of responses in December, we discovered (and fixed) a few mistakes, made some changes, and learned some lessons. In the interests of transparency and helping others avoid our missteps, here’s what we’ve learned.

People Like the Option of Manual Renewals -- This is the biggest one, and it wasn’t even really news to us, since a good friend of TidBITS who runs a subscription service had encouraged us to offer both manual and automatic renewals. With four renewable membership levels ($20, $50, $100, and $250), though, we felt that eight options was overwhelming, so we initially opted for making the two lower levels renew automatically, and the two higher levels renew manually.

After hearing from some people who dislike automatic renewals on principle, we posed the problem to our friends at eSellerate, who suggested we use a feature of their system that was new to us. With it, all our memberships default to manual renewals but give those who prefer not to run through the cart every year an option to switch to automatic renewal.

Offer Multiple Levels of Membership -- Speaking of the different membership levels, it turned out to be incredibly important to offer widely varying levels so people could choose how much they wanted to contribute. Although the vast majority of people joined at the lower membership levels, when I compare what percentage of revenue each level generated, it’s remarkably even, apart from the $250 Patron level that has primarily been used by companies and user groups.

Level % Revenue ---------------------------- Contributor ($20) 26% Supporter ($50) 28% Benefactor ($100) 19% Patron ($250) 6% Angel ($1,000) 21%

While we are grateful to each and every person who becomes a TidBITS member, I particularly want to thank all the people who contributed $20 and then sent me email apologizing for not being able to give more. Believe me, we appreciate everything, and in this tough economy, it means all the more to us that our work is considered so valuable. On the other extreme, for all the Angel-level members, we’re truly overwhelmed at your generosity.

Currency Conversion Is Confusing -- Although we pride ourselves on trying to treat readers in other countries as first-class citizens when it comes to things like including metric measurements and avoiding season references that are backward for our Southern Hemisphere readers, currency exchange still throws us.

Initially, we let the eSellerate system handle currency conversion, since then the amount you see in the cart matches the amount that appears on your credit card statement, no matter what currency conversion fee your card charges. But it turns out that the service eSellerate relies on for that feature charges a fairly steep “hedging” fee to ignore any exchange rate changes between when you place your order and when the transaction clears the credit card.

That’s still an option, but after we realized the extent of the issue via an alert Canadian reader, we’ve tweaked the cart so U.S. dollars is the default currency, meaning that your credit card will perform the currency exchange, likely at a reduced rate from what eSellerate would otherwise charge.

Seek Help from Support Ahead of Time -- We tested all the Web pages and code involved with the memberships system until we were blue in the face. But what we forgot to do was ask our friends at eSellerate support to take a look at what we were doing, which turned out to be an unfortunate oversight, since most of the problems we encountered (and which they helped us fix) could have been avoided if I’d asked them first.

It wasn’t that what we were doing was actually incorrect, or our testing would have found it. Instead, we’d done things in some non-optimal ways that exposed limitations in various Web browsers and in eSellerate’s systems with edge-case data. The moral of the story is to talk to support people before unveiling a new system.

Looking Forward to Memberships in 2012 -- I’ll admit it — we’re jazzed by the initial success of the TidBITS membership program, and now our goal is to keep it growing while continuing to publish the content you’ve come to expect from us.

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Intuit Plans Lion-Compatible Quicken 2007 Update

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>
  12 comments

Color me surprised! When an unexpected email from Intuit sent to all Quicken for Mac customers landed in my inbox, I assumed it was more warnings about avoiding an upgrade to Lion or discounts off other Intuit products to which I could migrate. Quicken for Mac 2007 and earlier versions were engineered for PowerPC-based systems, and require the Rosetta compatibility layer to run, which Apple neither updated for nor includes with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

Instead, Intuit’s Aaron Forth, the general manager for the personal finance group, signed a letter (not available online) that reads in part:

I am happy to announce that we will have a solution that makes Quicken 2007 for Mac “Lion-compatible” by early spring. There are still details to be worked out, so I ask your continued patience as we work through these.

The company has posted a FAQ about the “Lion Compatible Quicken for Mac 2007.” You will be able to convert data files created in Quicken for Mac 2005, 2006, and 2007 editions with the Lion-compatible version while booted into Lion. Interestingly, Intuit will also let you convert Quicken Essentials for Mac data files to work with the Lion-compatible version of Quicken for Mac 2007. (Importing those data files into Quicken Essentials for Mac requires 10.6 Snow Leopard or earlier, as noted in a now-outdated FAQ.)

This is great news for those who rely on Quicken and haven’t been able to find a Lion-compatible replacement. I’m running Snow Leopard Server in VMware Fusion to maintain access to Quicken 2007, since I haven’t yet found a replacement that meets my personal and small-business needs with the right mix of recording and reporting.

Of course, for those who have already switched to another financial application, Intuit’s announcement is too little, too late. And even then, a number of commenters expressed long-standing frustration with Intuit’s lackluster support for the Mac versions of its products. Perhaps this announcement marks a notable change of heart for Intuit, but we are still talking about merely making the 2007 version compatible with the version of Mac OS X released in 2011.

We’ve written three articles about Quicken and Lion this year. The first explains Intuit’s notions about how to deal with a lack of a Lion-compatible version, and the other two suggest how you would go about finding a replacement for Quicken.

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Type “Let It Snow” into Google

  by Adam C. Engst <ace@tidbits.com>
  14 comments

It has been an unusually warm fall and winter here in upstate New York, with only a few dustings of snow so far, and many sunny days. But I’m feeling a little more weather-engaged with the holiday season thanks to Google’s latest Easter egg… or perhaps “stocking stuffer” would be a better analogy.

Just type “let it snow” into a Google search field in most browsers (not all versions of Internet Explorer may work), and along with the results for Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra performing in YouTube videos, snowflakes will start to fall gently from the top of the window. Leave it for a few more seconds and the window will start to fog up. You can clear it by clicking and “scrubbing” with the cursor, or just click the Defrost button for an instant fix. Now if only this worked with weather.com!


If you’d like to decorate your search window for the holidays, just type either “Christmas” or “Hanukkah” into a Google search field; the results page displays a row of Christmas tree lights or Star of David symbols at the top. Alas, I couldn’t figure any way to get Google to snow on either Christmas or Hanukkah. (After I wrote this, Google also added multicolored candles to the search results page if you enter “Kwanzaa”.)



Google has a history of little tricks like this, like knocking your window off-kilter when you search on “askew” or “tilt”. Mashable has a presentation of a number of other Google tricks.


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CameraTrace Tracks by Serial Number in Photos

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>
  6 comments

Over 300 models of higher-end digital cameras embed the camera’s unique serial number into the metadata of every photo taken. If those photos are uploaded without that embedded tidbit being scrubbed, the data ends up being available for publicly posted photos at sites like Flickr and 500px. GadgetTrak has leveraged this fact with its just-out-of-testing service CameraTrace.

The service has been in testing for several months, and GadgetTrak has scoured photo-sharing services to collect data from billions of pictures (including all public Flickr photos since 2006) that represent 11 million unique camera serial numbers. The beta service allowed searching by serial number, and that remains as a free option in CameraTrace.

The full service, which requires a one-time $10 fee per camera registered, monitors photo-sharing sites and notifies you of newly posted pictures taken with your camera after you report it as being stolen. It can also be used to see whether your photos with embedded serial numbers have been used without your permission, assuming the unauthorized posters didn’t remove the metadata before posting.

GadgetTrak includes a metallic lost-and-found sticker to attach to your camera, to help those with good intentions to return your camera via a Web form that uses anonymous two-way communication to protect the privacy of both parties. As with laptops and phones, GadgetTrak also gets involved in helping to make a recovery by facilitating contacts with local police.

CameraTrace competes with a longer-running service offered in the UK called stolencamerafinder. That service provides free checking against its database by uploading a photo from which the metadata is extracted. A free account allows basic searching, while either a Pro (£4.99 per month, or about $7.80) or Business (£99.99 per month, or roughly $157) account allows more-extensive searches and provides more-advanced features.

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LogMeIn App for iOS Set Free and Gains Pro Upgrade

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>

Remote-access apps for iOS let you control your desktop computer’s screen, keyboard, and mouse (and sometimes transfer files and engage in other activities) over 3G and Wi-Fi. LogMeIn has pupped a new version of its LogMeIn Ignition app with a new name, just plain LogMeIn, and a new price: $0.00. The free app works with both the free and paid desktop versions of LogMeIn’s screen-sharing and remote-control software. LogMeIn is the most reliable way I remotely access my systems through firewalls, NAT, and other network obstacles.

In making the app free, LogMeIn pulled one feature from the formerly $29.99 Ignition: file transfer. That option is available only with a $39.99-per-year upgrade to LogMeIn Pro. That seems a fair tradeoff, based on my usage. (I use Dropbox for files I might need to reach via iOS if I’m not in front of one of my computers.)

The LogMeIn Pro upgrade includes, in addition to file transfer, integration with Dropbox and Google Docs, access to WebDAV servers, remote AirPrint printing, and tools to manage photos in the iOS Photos app. The Pro upgrade also works with a new feature in the subscription-based LogMeIn Pro for desktop software to stream HD video and high-quality audio to an iOS device. Streaming is available in the Windows desktop version, and the Mac version is coming “soon.” (LogMeIn has a strong history in supporting Mac OS X, so I believe “soon” really will be soon.)

LogMeIn also made a very nice and smart move for previous buyers of the Ignition app, which remains for sale at a higher price. First, it will continue to be upgraded. Second, you receive an automatic lifetime-of-the-app upgrade to LogMeIn Pro app features. The new price for Ignition is $99.99, which includes the same lifetime license granted to existing owners. The company tells me that someone might pay $100 for Ignition instead of ponying up for the yearly Pro upgrade with the LogMeIn app — you break even after 2.5 years.

Both LogMeIn and Ignition are universal apps that work on both the iPhone and iPad.

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iTunes Adds Complete My Season Purchases

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>
  1 comment

The iTunes Store makes TV shows available for purchase either by individual episode or entire season. For seasons currently underway, you can buy a Season Pass in advance, which automatically downloads new episodes as they became available in iTunes. But if you had bought some episodes in a season and then wanted to get the whole run, you would either have to purchase each episode you did not already own, or pay the full-ticket price for a Season Pass.

No more. Apple quietly added Complete My Season (originally reported in MacRumors via a tip from one of their readers). This option lets you pay the difference between what you’d paid and the full cost of the season. Apple offers a full FAQ with details about how it works.

Although it originally appeared that you could complete seasons only by purchasing the HD (high-definition) episodes, Apple says in the FAQ that it’s not the case. If you have purchased only SD (standard-definition) episodes, you can opt to complete the less-expensive SD season, but not upgrade to HD. If you have bought only HD episodes, you’re offered only an HD completion. However, if you have paid for a mix of SD and HD episodes, you’re offered the option to complete either an SD or HD season.

Apple doesn’t provide a list of which shows are eligible, although they appear to be mostly drawn from current seasons. Some past seasons of certain shows are also available if you’ve purchased episodes from them, and Apple says any episodes of currently eligible shows you buy will allow you to complete the season later. “There is no expiration date,” the FAQ notes.

Free shows (via a credit or a promotion code) aren’t eligible for credit against a season purchase, and when shows are pulled from iTunes, even though you can retain the episodes you have, you can’t get the rest of a season later.

The Complete My Season option appears when you’re logged into a copy of iTunes using an account at which you’ve previously purchased episodes, and only for eligible shows in which you meet the various prerequisites.

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GoDaddy Drops Support for SOPA, Sort Of

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>
  15 comments

GoDaddy is often in the doghouse of public opinion. Whether it’s making leering television ads, promoting its chairman and founder shooting elephants in Africa, or supporting points of view antithetical to the nature of a free and open Internet, the company doesn’t seem to back down. Or does it?

GoDaddy was criticized last month after Gizmodo published a list of firms that were on record as supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The list comes from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, which was shepherding the bill into law. SOPA would give unprecedented powers to copyright holders to demand that seemingly infringing Web sites be shut down without any process to determine whether the request is valid. (That list appears to also include firms that don’t support SOPA.)

In its original form, SOPA would kill a targeted site, block any payments made to it by ad networks or charge processors, and remove the site from search engines. All of these measures would be backed by extreme penalties. Most sensible people — including a host of Internet gurus — say this could enable censorship of the nature perpetuated by totalitarian governments, like China. If enacted, SOPA would have huge repercussions for all Web site operators of all sizes, including the millions hosted by GoDaddy. Facebook, Google, and Twitter are among the many Internet firms that oppose SOPA, while record labels, film studios, and publishers are on the list of supporters.

GoDaddy’s founder, Bob Parsons, filed a statement back in November with Congress that outlined the company’s broad support for a number of previous measures as well as SOPA that break the Internet and block free speech in the narrow interest of defending the limited rights of copyright holders to protect their work against unauthorized distribution:

...our company strongly supported the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, the Protect Our Children Act of 2008, and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP). GoDaddy has always supported both government and private industry efforts to identify and disable all types of illegal activity on the Internet. It is for these reasons that I’m still struggling with why some Internet companies oppose PROTECT IP and SOPA.

After receiving a combination of withering scorn and the threat of mass domain name transfers, including the 1,000 operated by the Cheezburger Network, GoDaddy appeared to back down, and pulled its support for SOPA. (It’s unclear how many domain names were transferred, of course, and whether the firm was motivated by public opinion or the potential for customer defection.)

Read GoDaddy’s statement, but I don’t precisely accept this change of heart. First, while GoDaddy claims to repudiate SOPA, that is only in its current form, which now has seemingly no chance of advancing into law. Second, the firm doesn’t repudiate its backing of previous flawed efforts, many of which are now in law. Third, it holds out support for the bill in the future: “Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it.” Who is this “Internet community?” It’s a rather nebulous concept, easily defined in whatever way GoDaddy chooses. GoDaddy’s CEO (who took on the job a week ago) told Gizmodo that GoDaddy would be willing to resume its support of SOPA if there were a “consensus” among “internet leadership,” but wouldn’t say what such a consensus would even resemble.

Finally, GoDaddy wants to revise history. This specious note in its press release is risible:

In changing its position, Go Daddy remains steadfast in its promise to support security and stability of the Internet. In an effort to eliminate any confusion about its reversal on SOPA though, [General Counsel Christine] Jones has removed blog postings that had outlined areas of the bill Go Daddy did support.

I left GoDaddy hosting years ago when it failed to perform seemingly minor technical tasks in a competent fashion, once denying that a top-level domain registrar had the authority to vouch for me owning a domain in that hierarchy. But if I had an account with them, I would leave now. The firm opposes the very nature of the beast that bore them.

If you’d like advice on transferring your domain name registration and other hosting from GoDaddy (or any firm), you can read a long piece I wrote for Macworld that has all the details.

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The Top 10 TidBITS Stories of 2011

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>

We typically eschew simple numbered lists of things at TidBITS in exchange for bigger-picture articles. But as 2011 rolled to a close, we started wondering which of our articles garnered the most page views during the year. Poring through our Google Analytics stats shone a light on a truly varied bunch, in part because nearly half of them were published in previous years!

One story that I want to call out specially didn’t make the list: Michael Cohen’s “Rosetta and Lion: Get Over It?” (23 May 2011). Of all the articles we published in 2011, his exegesis on being told to ignore his feelings of being let down about Lion not including Rosetta emulation for PowerPC programs received the most comments — over 200. While many people agreed with Michael’s point, others told him to, you know, “get over it.”

Let’s count down the top 10 articles, starting at the bottom.

No. 10Find Your Lost iPhone or iPod touch with iPhone OS 3.0,” 17 June 2009. This article introduced Find My iPhone, a new feature in iOS 3.0 that apparently remains a popular topic despite the age of the article and iOS now being at version 5.0.

No. 9:Mac OS X’s Mouse Acceleration Problem,” 4 March 2007. Get into the WABAC Machine, Sherman, as we find that a 2007 guest article by Parrish S. Knight about an issue with mouse movements must still be irking people enough to turn to search engines to find an old answer. The article received a notable edit from Joe Kissell, who has mouse expertise dating from his years at Kensington.

No. 8:New iMac Gains Thunderbolt, FaceTime HD, and Quad-Core CPUs,” 3 May 2011. There was nothing terribly special about this article, a solid rundown of the changes in a new model of the iMac, but it must have hit the sweet spot of being both concise and comprehensive to merit a mention on Daring Fireball.

No. 7:Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail,” 2 May 2009. One of Joe Kissell’s most popular articles, this piece stands the test of time because of the extensive advice Joe offers to solve several interlocking problems related to email access. We’ve left comments open on this article because it’s such an evergreen, and it garnered over 100 comments in 2011 alone!

No. 6:Let’s Stop with the Siri Baiting,” 1 December 2011. A recent article, Adam’s irritation with misleading and pointless complaints about the Siri voice-processing system definitely hit a nerve. Siri is in beta, but advertised alongside other fully realized features, which is part of the perception problem. Unlike the articles up to this point, “Siri Baiting” readers came mostly from Daring Fireball and direct discovery, rather than via search engines. This was also one of our top-commented articles, with 88 rejoinders.

No. 5:Lion Is a Quitter,” 5 August 2011. Matt Neuburg answered a question on many Lion users’ minds: Why were applications quitting in the background and relaunching when needed? Matt tracked down how Lion frees up memory by dumping programs that aren’t in active use, and sorted out the logic of what happens behind the scenes. A good third of readers for whom we know the source came from Hacker News, part of Y Combinator, but we have no idea why that particular article garnered attention there. Matt answered tons of questions in the comments, which currently number 159.

No. 4:Secrets of Thunderbolt and Lion,” 27 February 2011. An early article I contributed on Thunderbolt and Lion answered many readers’ questions about the new hardware port and the (at the time) upcoming Mac OS X revision. Google News drove about a quarter of readers to our doorsteps for this item, which generated 72 comments.

No. 3:How to Replace a Cracked iPhone 3G Screen,” 30 June 2009. Jeff Carlson’s 2009 article remains widely consulted for fixing a problem that’s otherwise expensive to solve, and it carried nearly 2 percent of TidBITS’ 2011 page views — even though the advice isn’t applicable to the iPhone 4 or 4S. Google searches deliver the lion’s share of readers to this page. In fact, this is our most popular article since we started using Google Analytics in 2005.

No. 2:Our Favorite Hidden Features in Mac OS X Lion,” 20 July 2011. The TidBITS staff felt that there were so many exhaustive articles published about Lion that we wouldn’t attempt to write yet another one, but would instead look at the fiddly bits of Lion that we liked best. Daring Fireball gave the article its initial push, but search engines have kept it an evergreen since then.

No. 1:Type “Let It Snow” into Google,” 21 December 2011. This article from late Decemeber, which Adam penned for fun, quickly became our most viewed page of the year, thanks to ending up as the top news match on Google’s search results for the better part of a day. Google interleaves news and other results as appropriate into its general search, and news results for the phrase “let it snow” were shown before Web page matches, with Adam’s article on top. At times, we had 1,200 simultaneous users reading the article. We’d prefer that our more weighty prose received this kind of attention, but the Internet is all about accidents. Interestingly, the piece also received 500 “likes” on Facebook, but only 160-some page views could be traced back to Facebook users.

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Photo Stream and Multiple iPhoto Libraries

  by Michael E. Cohen <mcohen@tidbits.com>

For the casual photographer, Apple’s iCloud Photo Stream service offers great convenience, bringing, as Apple puts it, your photos “everywhere you want them.” And the marketing slogan, within limits, is more or less true.

For example, I recently went on a two-week vacation to Great Britain and brought along with me my old Canon PowerShot SD800, my iPhone 4, an iPad 2, and the Apple Camera Connection Kit. Each day, I would go out, take some pictures with my iPhone (usually to obtain GPS information for a particular location) and others with my Canon, and then, later, import the Canon pictures to my iPad with the connection kit. I had no need to import my iPhone pictures, though; as soon as my iPhone was within range of the Wi-Fi network in the flat where I was staying, the day’s iPhone pictures began arriving on my iPad as well. With very little effort on my part, my iPad became the portable photo library for all of my vacation photos.

And when I got home and fired up iPhoto on my iMac, all of those vacation pictures — both the ones from my iPhone and those I imported onto the iPad from my Canon — were all there in the Photo Stream in iPhoto, ready to be divvied up into various vacation picture albums. Photo Stream, in my experience, was working exactly as described, supplying me with my photos everywhere I wanted them.

But, it turns out that “everywhere you want them” is not necessarily true for everyone. A few days after I got back I was forwarded an email from a Take Control reader who said that, in his experience, Photo Stream did not work between multiple Macs. This baffled us at TidBITS since we had not seen that to be the case. So, naturally, we began some experimenting to find out why Photo Stream was failing for our correspondent.

What Did Work -- The first experiment was a simple one. With iPhoto in one user account on my iMac already connected to my Photo Stream, I logged in to a second user account on my iMac (I always keep a second user account on my iMac available for testing and troubleshooting purposes), launched iPhoto in that account, and set it up to use my iCloud Photo Stream as well. That worked fine: the photos in my iCloud Photo Stream began downloading to the iPhoto library in my second iMac user account, even though iPhoto in my primary iMac user account was open and connected to that same stream. No error messages were seen.

So, one Mac and one Photo Stream had no problem with two different iPhoto libraries in two different Mac OS X user accounts.

The next experiment was run by Tonya Engst. She had an iPhoto library on her MacBook that she had just migrated, via Migration Assistant, to her new MacBook Air. Both MacBooks used the same user account name, and both iPhoto libraries were identical. She then proceeded to enable Photo Stream on both her MacBook and her MacBook Air, and, like me, had no problem. Even though both libraries had the same name, and were running in Mac OS X user accounts that also had the same name, iCloud was able to tell them apart and supply her Photo Stream to each of them.

So, two Macs, and two identical iPhoto libraries on two identically named Mac OS X user accounts had no problem with simultaneously connecting to the same stream.

What Didn’t Work -- My next experiment was to switch libraries in iPhoto after I had enabled Photo Stream. To do that, with my Photo Stream still connected to the iPhoto library I normally use, I quit iPhoto, and then relaunched it with the Option key held down. Doing that prompts iPhoto to ask you to choose an iPhoto library to open; it’s how you switch between iPhoto libraries if you happen to have more than one. I chose a test library I had created a while ago, and then, finally, I saw an error message much like one that our correspondent had seen.


So, here was the restriction: in any one Mac user account, iPhoto can only connect an iCloud Photo Stream to one iPhoto library at a time. You can’t have two iPhoto libraries in the same Mac user account connected to the same stream.

But this restriction was not, it seemed, what was affecting our correspondent: he was running iPhoto on two different Macs, using two different iPhoto libraries, but he saw the same message. What was going on?

What Was Going On -- After a couple more email exchanges, we got a full picture of how our correspondent’s experience differed from ours. Here’s what he had done.

He first set up iPhoto to connect his Photo Stream to his iPhoto library. He then copied that library to a different Mac. He then launched iPhoto on that second Mac to see if the copied library was intact. It was. Finally, he enabled his iCloud Photo Stream on that second Mac and that was when he got the multiple library error message.

While we’re still not quite sure what is going on under the hood with Photo Stream and his library, it seems reasonably clear that copying a library that is still connected to Photo Stream to a different Mac and then trying to connect that copy to the same stream can confuse iCloud.

The Moral of the Story? -- If you want to copy your iPhoto library to another Mac, or to another user account on the same Mac, disconnect it from your Photo Stream first. Although Photo Stream can connect to multiple Macs, it gets confused when you move an already-connected iPhoto library among Macs.

Or, as Dr. Egon Spengler succinctly put it in Ghostbusters, “Don’t cross the streams.”

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TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 2 January 2012

  by TidBITS Staff <editors@tidbits.com>

Piezo 1.1 -- Rogue Amoeba has updated their minimalist audio recording app Piezo to offer better support for recording from voice-over-IP apps like Skype, iChat, and FaceTime. Previously, recording a conversation with Piezo caused you to hear yourself as well, which was extremely disconcerting. Piezo 1.1 now records local audio to the left channel and your caller to the right channel. It also supports drag-and-drop of source apps to the Piezo window, illuminates the Dock icon when recording, no longer prevents sleep when it’s not recording, and improves the VU meters slightly. Not yet fixed is the problem I reported in “Piezo Makes Audio Recording Dead Simple” (8 December 2011) whereby Piezo plays incoming audio from VoIP apps through the device selected in the Sound preference pane’s Output screen, rather than through the device selected in Skype or iChat. ($10 new, free update, 2.8 MB, release notes)

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iTunes 10.5.2 -- iTunes Match has been finicky for many people since its launch, but as with any service that includes both local and remote components, there’s no telling where the problems lie. Apple has now released iTunes 10.5.2, advertising it as providing “several improvements for iTunes Match,” so perhaps we’ll see some of the iTunes Match oddities disappearing (like why does it sometimes match all but one song on an album?). Also fixed in iTunes 10.5.2 is an audio distortion problem when playing or importing certain CDs. Apple doesn’t explain what “certain” means, but it does make one wonder if the music companies are trying some sort of copy-prevention hackery. (Free, 102 MB)

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ExtraBITS for 2 January 2012

  by TidBITS Staff <editors@tidbits.com>

That’s Sir Jonathan Ive now, but even he still can’t use an iPad during takeoff and landing on a commercial flight, though American Airlines pilots can. Also, Glenn and Adam discussed our new TidBITS membership program on MacVoices, and Apple announced that the Mac App Store has passed 100 million downloads.

Jonathan Ive Honored with Knighthood -- Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, Jonathan Ive, can now demand that his employees and everyone else address him as “Sir.” He’s been made a Knight Commander of the British Empire for his design work at Apple. Although Ive worked at Apple for several years before the arrival of Steve Jobs as CEO in 1995, Jobs and Ive launched an industrial design revolution at the company that has dramatically influenced products and design aesthetics worldwide.

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Pilots Can Use iPads During Takeoff and Landing, but You Can’t -- The Federal Aviation Administration’s restriction on electronic devices — even those that don’t have internal radios or are in Airplane Mode — during takeoff (including sitting on the runway for hours) and landing has always seemed unnecessarily cautious, and Nick Bilton of the New York Times has explored that in the past. But his latest blog post makes the restriction seem even more ridiculous, since the FAA is now allowing American Airlines pilots to use iPads in the cockpit at all times. The only defense given is that it might be different if everyone was using a device during takeoff or landing, but that seems eminently testable. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if flying could become more convenient for a change?

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TidBITS Membership Program Discussed on MacVoices -- Curious about how we came up with the idea for our new membership program, and why we designed it the way we did? This is inside baseball, of course, but if you like peeking behind the curtain, you’ll enjoy hearing Adam Engst and Glenn Fleishman discuss the hows and whys with MacVoices host Chuck Joiner. And yes, there is stuff in here that we haven’t said elsewhere.

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Mac App Store Passes 100 Million Downloads -- Apple has announced that over 100 million apps have been downloaded from the Mac App Store in just under a year since the online store opened on 6 January 2011. The company did not break out the difference between free and paid apps, nor was the number of apps (beyond “thousands”) shared. Although inclusion in the Mac App Store is by no means a guarantee of sales success, it has proven to be a boon for many Mac developers.

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