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LittleBITS: iCloud Delivery Issues, Naples MUG, Howard Oakley

This week’s collection of updates and recommendations that don’t warrant a full article includes a status update on TidBITS delivery problems experienced by at least some iCloud users, a free NMUG membership through the end of the month, and a blog that all technically involved Mac users should be reading.

Last Week’s iCloud Delivery Problem Theoretically Resolved

Six months ago, we had a problem with iCloud rejecting TidBITS issues (see “Resetting Recent iCloud Bouncing Subscribers,” 30 August 2021), and with that fresh in her head, it took Lauri Reinhardt only a few days to realize that iCloud was up to its old tricks last week. She quickly replicated the problem by forwarding an issue to herself and sent me the SMTP headers to pass on to Apple. To the iCloud Mail team’s credit, they replied within a day, saying that they had resolved the issue. I reset all the affected icloud/me/mac.com addresses, and everything should be back to normal.

The upshot of this is that if you didn’t receive TidBITS last week at your iCloud account, that’s probably why. So if TidBITS #1595 doesn’t arrive normally (and you’re thus reading this on the Web), there may be something else going on. One possibility is that if you subscribe from a custom email address that forwards to iCloud, you may still be affected. Either way, contact Lauri for help.

Looking for a Mac User Group? Try the Naples MUG

When Tonya and I started TidBITS back in 1990, Mac user groups were powerhouse organizations. Seattle’s dBUG held meetings in a fancy downtown hotel (see “dBUGing,” 2 September 1991) thanks to sponsorship from companies like Microsoft (“Claris & Microsoft,” 23 September 1991) and Aldus (“Aldus Delivers,” 18 November 1991). The newsletter for the world’s largest Mac user group, Berkeley-based BMUG ran to hundreds of pages, thanks to articles by a veritable Who’s Who of Mac writers of the time, and it was also a major pre-Internet source of online Mac interaction (see “A Tale of Two Cities,” 29 March 1993).

BMUG newsletters

Things have changed, with the Internet reducing the desire for in-person meetings of like-minded Apple geeks. Many of the Mac user groups that have survived now have meetings that draw 10–30 people, mostly long-time regulars who have known each other for years and enjoy the social and intellectual interaction. There’s nothing wrong with that, just what I’ve observed over years of presenting at user group meetings.

At least one Mac user group has bucked the trend: the Naples MacFriends User Group, or NMUG. Based in Naples, Florida, and run by a dedicated group of largely retired volunteers, the nonprofit NMUG has leveraged the pandemic-driven move to online Zoom meetings to increase its membership to over 600 people from countries around the world. NMUG offers weekly 75-minute meetings on Apple-related topics, an active Groups.io message board, and classes with expert instructors, extensive notes, moderators, and post-class access to the video recordings. Many of us from TidBITS have presented at NMUG meetings over the years, and Josh Centers will be teaching an iPad class on 5 February 2022.

I mention NMUG here because anyone who joins through the end of January 2022 will receive a temporary free membership through the end of March 2022 that provides access to the weekly meetings and message board, plus allows registration for their classes. After March, the annual membership fee is $30. So if you’re pining for some of that old-time user group feel, give the NMUG free membership a try.

Recommending Howard Oakley’s Eclectic Light Company Blog

There are a lot of people doing good work in the Apple community, but the person I’m currently most impressed by is Howard Oakley. As I learned in a MacObserver interview, he attended Oxford and worked in the British Royal Navy as a doctor, becoming heavily involved with computers and programming along the way. In his retirement on the Isle of Wight, he does vastly more than most people of any age, writing detailed articles about Mac topics for his Eclectic Light Company blog, developing a large stable of freeware Mac utility apps, and writing heavily illustrated articles about fine art. (Yes, I realize that last one is off-topic, but I knew next to nothing about painting before subscribing to his posts, and now I can easily differentiate Bonnard from Seurat.) A recent post summarizes what he’s done over the past seven years.

Eclectic Light Company banner

I’ve mentioned Howard Oakley’s articles on occasion in TidBITS, but a recent pair of them inspired me to recommend him more generally. First, his “Solutions for macOS Monterey and Big Sur” provides a quick recap of things you can try to resolve a generic problem on the Mac in today’s world of signed system volumes and M1-based Macs. Second, “Did someone forget their password? Getting access to a locked Mac” lays out all the possible ways to recover from a lost password. So if you’re interested in articles about Mac topics that range from highly practical to rather technical, try adding the Eclectic Light Company to your reading list or follow him on Twitter. For me, because I prefer to have things appear in email, that means subscribing to his RSS feed via Blogtrottr.

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Comments About LittleBITS: iCloud Delivery Issues, Naples MUG, Howard Oakley

Notable Replies

  1. You mentioned using RSS to subscribe to Hoawd Oakley’s blog. I agree completely, but RSS is a bit harder to use today than it was several years ago, because popular web browsers (including both Safari and Firefox) have dropped built-in RSS support.

    Fortunately, convenient access is still available via add-ons.

    On Firefox, I use the Want My RSS add-on (Github sources). It puts back the RSS functionality that used to be built-in to Firefox. When you visit a web site that advertises an RSS feed, it creates a menu item in the location bar you can click on to view the feeds. It also registers itself as a handler for RSS data, presenting it in a good looking human-readable format (with links you can use to download the feed’s XML and hand it off to one of several popular RSS reader apps and sites).

    I haven’t installed a similar extension for Safari, but a quick search through the App Store shows that there are some available.

  2. It’s true, but I am delighted to be using NetNewsWire 6.x to manage my RSS feeds again, so that joy offsets the browser support failure.

  3. Howard is an absolute treasure for his clear writing, his kindness, and his breadth of knowledge—plus all the utilities he’s released!

  4. NNW is a good RSS reader, but having something integrated with your web browser is still useful, even if it’s only to see the alert icon to let you know that a site has a feed to browse.

    That’s how I use Want My RSS. To get/view the URL and then hand it off to my reader (Feedly).

    Unfortunately, it requires a URL for handing a feed URL off to a reader site. So I don’t think it can directly hand-off to NNW, unless NNW registers a URL type (maybe feed:?) with macOS.

  5. This is a perfect example of why this piece was in LittleBITS rather than an article. :slight_smile: I knew that comment was going to trigger some suggestions, so thanks for the pointers to the Firefox add-on, and to @glennf for the mention of NetNewsWire. There are other RSS readers out there too that are worthwhile—in this day and age of social media, I think a lot of people have forgotten how to follow traditional blogs.

  6. Just to let you know I did receive this week’s TidBITS issue at my mac.com address.

  7. Yes, Howard Oakley blog I read regularly. Not only the new stuff. It is the reference for understanding the newest MacOS systems. I have been returning to his Boot disk layout in macOS Monterey several times lately.

    I have been meaning to ask for some time now which blogs and sites people that follow Tidbits like to check out regularly. In the more general category, I read Macrumors, The Eclectic Light Company, Mr Macintosh and Hacker News regularly. For more specific things like my love of old MacPros, I follow some threads on forums.macrumors.com.

  8. Big fan of Eclectic Light. And now more with his articles on Art work. Nice tips on the RSS, which I added to my site. Which still bums me out when Apple dropped their own RSS feeds of downloads, with only itunes, a news feed (marketing), dev news and movie trailers remaining.
    (I was trying the iTunes RSS builder but it limits you to “most played”. Why not let me get feed of latest Alternative Artists/Songs available? …)
    Re: MUGS… there used to be a local group, and maintained by some diehard Apple/Mac users. Nice to see Naples MUG!

  9. I’m sad that Macintouch has gone the way it has. I used to pay $10 a month to support the site, but when there was no longer any forum I moved over here (at Ric Ford’s suggestion) and cancelled the payments. I was a bit surprised to see a snarky comment there about people cancelling their support when he took away the forum, but quite honestly that was what we were paying for access to. I can see that it was a lot of work for him to read every post and often edit it before actually posting it, but it would have been much more useful if he had simply made it a phpBB forum and appointed a few moderators to police it, instead of doing a nuke and pave (old Forge reference!)

  10. I agree with @drmoss_ca about MacInTouch. I used to be a regular reader, but something about how they write their articles has just rubbed me the wrong way for about the last year or so. I can’t describe it, but the words “whiny” and “boring” seem to come to mind.

    Everything posted is laced with editorializing (xyz’s proprietary software, bug ridden xyz software, macOS has yet another security bug). And I also see that many of their postings for new versions of products recycle the descriptions they’ve used for ages.

    It has become a tired, uninspiring read. I don’t know if there’s a “chicken or egg” situation with it - is the decline of MacInTouch due to the change in style, or was the current style a result of the decline? Either way it seems to have gone into a death spiral of irrelevancy for me.

    It has, however, drawn me here to TidBITS (which I should have paid more attention to for years even though I knew it existed), and (circling back to the original point) Howard Oakley’s Eclectic Light Co.

  11. Not that I want to do down TidBits, but I’d be pleased to see Ric set up a bulletin board forum that would entail little work for him, and I’d take part in it. There were so many very knowledgeable posters in the old forum that it would be good to capture them before they all wander off elsewhere. Should they all move here, that would do equally well. But after so many years of interaction on Macintouch, I suspect many will just shrug and give up. Mac users are not the same few rebels anymore, and while that’s great for Apple, it doesn’t give the same exclusive feeling we had when there were so few of us struggling through OpenDoc memory issues etc! I think the closest thing to a religious experience I ever had was when I walked into the first Apple store in Toronto. Before that I had been in three physical Apple resellers and it was a bit like what I imagine going into a drug dealer’s would be like. Exciting, strange and familiar at once, but certainly a sense of being among fellows. All three died as soon as official Apple Stores opened.

  12. Very nice write up about Howard, I have always enjoyed reading his updates & using his programs!

  13. Thanks for the link to the Naples MUG - they have my admiration.
    In the 1990s I helped run the Australian Open Access Users Group. We typically had 10 or 15 members attend the meeting, which covered all sorts of computer-related topics, not just the Open Access Suite (a pioneer DOS-based package that Microsoft copied with Office):
    http://www.vdrsyd.com/aoaug/oaug.html
    Some topics I covered:
    Quantum computers:
    http://www.vdrsyd.com/aoaug/qtm_comp.html
    DNA computers:
    http://www.vdrsyd.com/aoaug/dna_comp.html

  14. And here I thought the Australian Open Access Users Group was to support those looking for tickets to a tennis tournament!

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