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#1486: Fixing iPadOS performance on the iPad Air 2, Backblaze 7.0 extended version history, Headspace meditation app, pattern matching in BBEdit 13

If you’ve experienced glacial performance on your iPad Air 2 after updating to iPadOS 13, Adam Engst has a fix for you. He also has the details on the latest version of the Internet backup service Backblaze, which extends the 30-day version history limit for an additional fee. Need some focus, or having trouble relaxing? Timothy Buck joins us again this week to review the Headspace guided meditation app. Finally, Adam looks at BBEdit 13, which makes complex but oh-so-useful regular expressions more accessible for novice and power users alike. Notable Mac app releases this week include <deep breath> Default Folder X 5.4, Little Snitch 4.4.3, GarageBand 10.3.3, Fantastical 2.5.11, Audio Hijack 3.6, Logic Pro X 10.4.7, ChronoSync 4.9.5 and ChronoAgent 1.9.3, Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.12, Final Cut Pro X 10.4.7, Compressor 4.4.5, Motion 5.4.4, GraphicConverter 11.1, Things 3.10, CleanMyMac X 4.5, macOS Server 5.9, Piezo 1.6.2, HoudahGeo 5.4, Pixelmator Pro 1.5, and Scrivener 3.1.4.

Adam Engst 18 comments

Fixing iPadOS 13’s Glacial Performance on the iPad Air 2

If you have an iPad Air 2 still running iOS 12, you might want to hold off on upgrading to iPadOS 13, and if you must, make sure you have at least one backup before proceeding.

TidBITS reader Randy Parker reported that after upgrading from iOS 12 to iPadOS 13.1.2, his iPad Air 2 was so sluggish that it was essentially unusable. He couldn’t get past the Wi-Fi password screen during setup, likely due to the connection timing out, and once it eventually connected on its own, actions that were normally instant, such as navigating within Settings, were taking up to a minute. Similar reports have appeared on the Apple Support Communities forum.

When Randy called Apple, the support agent said that the problem was a known issue with the iPad Air 2, and that Apple did not yet have a fix. However, the workaround was to reset the iPad Air 2 entirely (using Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings) and restore from a recent backup. With patience, since each tap took a minute or so, Randy was eventually able to work through the necessary steps, and after restoring from backup, his iPad Air 2 is working correctly and at full speed.

Erase All Content and Settings in iPadOS 13

The problem doesn’t affect all iPad Air 2 units, so you may have no issues with an upgrade. However, it’s possible that some other iPad models are susceptible as well. Regardless, if you experience the problem, try erasing and restoring from backup.

Adam Engst 20 comments

Backblaze 7.0 Extends Version History, Supports Catalina

The most common complaint we’ve heard about the Backblaze Internet backup service is that it maintains old versions of files and deleted files for only 30 days. The current versions of files on your computer remain backed up indefinitely, but if you need to recover an older version of a file or a deleted file, you have to realize within a month of the file being modified or deleted.

We’ve never considered this limitation to be all that concerning. In our recommended backup strategy, you would have a bootable duplicate for getting back to work quickly after a disaster and system migration, a Time Machine backup for versioned backups that also provides a secondary option for system migration, and a Backblaze backup for off-site protection and a secondary versioned backup. To run afoul of the 30-day limitation, you’d need to delete or corrupt a file, not realize for over a month, and suffer from some sort of a Time Machine failure. That’s not inconceivable, but nor is it likely.

Extended Version History

Regardless, if you’ve been perturbed by the loss of old versions and deleted files in your Backblaze backups, you can now increase the length of time Backblaze retains those versions.

Starting with version 7.0 of the Backblaze software, you can pay an additional monthly fee for either 1 year of version history or pay more per month plus storage costs for what Backblaze is calling Forever Version History. The pricing is:

  • 30-Day Version History: Included with your Backblaze account, which costs $6 per month, $60 per year, or $110 for 2 years.
  • 1-Year Version History: Pay an additional $2 per month to retain old versions or deleted files for 1 year after they were last modified.
  • Forever Version History: Pay an additional $2 per month plus $0.005 per gigabyte per month for versions modified or deleted more than a year ago. This service maintains old versions and deleted files forever.

To upgrade, first make sure you’re running Backblaze 7.0. Choose Check for Updates from the Backblaze icon in the menu bar. If Backblaze hasn’t already updated itself, it will prompt you to download the new installer (which you can also get in exactly the same way with a direct download).

Check for Updates in Backblaze

Once you’ve updated Backblaze on your Mac, log into your account on Backblaze’s Web site, and in the Overview screen, click the Upgrade link next to Version History and choose a new plan.

Where to find the signup link for Backblaze version history upgrades

The $2 per month fee is charged based on your current license type (monthly, yearly, or 2-year) and is prorated to match your license renewal date. For more nitpicky details, see Backblaze’s FAQ.

Charging extra for maintaining old versions and deleted files for longer seems entirely reasonable. For some users, the storage requirements could be significant, and Backblaze has said repeatedly that its primary business challenge is dealing with the amount of data being backed up increasing faster than the cost of storage drops. This approach lets those who want the added peace of mind pay for it, while keeping prices low for everyone else.

Catalina Support and Other Enhancements

The Backblaze 7.0 software also provides support for macOS 10.15 Catalina, so if you’re upgrading to Catalina, you’ll want to download the new version right away. Since Backblaze restores only files, not a complete system, the previous version probably wasn’t running into issues with Catalina’s read-only system volume anyway. However, Catalina does require apps to ask for permission a lot more frequently, and since Backblaze needs access to all your files, you’ll notice more such requests when installing Backblaze in Catalina.

The other notable change in Backblaze 7.0 is an increase in the maximum packet size from 30 MB to 100 MB. This change reportedly allows the app to transmit data more efficiently by better leveraging threading, and it also smooths out upload performance, reduces sensitivity to latency, and leads to smaller data structures. I’ve never noticed Backblaze slowing down my Mac or Internet connection, but increased efficiency and performance are always welcome.

Timothy Buck 21 comments

Headspace: A Guided Meditation Companion

Cultures across the globe have practiced meditation in various forms for centuries. But despite its prevalence, meditation feels daunting to many. Headspace brings powerful, easy-to-follow, guided meditation to the masses through its iOS, Android, and Web apps.

In recent years, scientists have associated meditation with a wide variety of benefits ranging from improvements in memory, digestion, and circulation to reductions in stress, loneliness, and cognitive decline. Headspace has a team of scientific researchers that has published 16 studies in peer-reviewed journals about the benefits of guided meditation for focus, kindness, happiness, stress relief, and more.

I have found meditation to be profoundly beneficial for regaining focus when my mind wants to wander, falling asleep when my thoughts won’t stop, and alleviating stress and anxiety when life gets difficult.

At its core, Headspace is a content subscription service. The iOS app (which I use), Android app, and Web app are important for the quality of experience you receive, but the real value is in the company’s content—audio recordings of guided meditations.

Getting Started with Headspace

The Headspace Basics course is a good place to start for anyone who hasn’t spent much time meditating. It provides ten guided meditations. When starting each installment, you can select a 3-, 5-, or 10-minute version and pick between a male or female guide. Each installment begins with a short lesson about meditation concepts and then transitions into the guided meditation.

Once you’ve completed the Basics course, or if you’re already comfortable with the foundational concepts of mindfulness meditation, try out Headspace’s everyday meditations. These are good for users who want to create a consistent meditation practice.

If you find the idea of meditating with other people appealing, Headspace provides an option called Everybody Headspace, which offers guided meditations that begin at regular times throughout the day and night. You can either wait with others for the next session or join an ongoing session.

Headspace
Left: Headspace main screen, Middle: Basics course, Right: Live meditation

Exploring Headspace Content

The Explore tab organizes Headspace’s content by type, so it’s great when you want a meditation for a specific situation. For reference, the English catalog in the iOS app is organized into the following sections:

  • Featured
  • Meditation basics and timers
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Falling asleep and waking up
  • Performance mindset
  • Personal growth
  • Work and productivity
  • Kids and parenting
  • Life challenges
  • Sports
  • Physical health
  • Day to day exercises
  • Students
  • Helpful tips and support

Headspace content is available in three languages: English, German, and French. I don’t speak German or French, but I did switch the app to those languages and looked through the content. The libraries in those languages appear to be a bit smaller than the English library but are still substantial. There also appear to be differences in content between the mobile apps and the Web app, the latter of which feels like an afterthought in this regard.

Headspace
Left: Explore list, Middle: Kids and parenting subsection, Right: Work and productivity subsection

Using Headspace to Improve Sleep

The Sleep tab of Headspace offers more than just guided meditations. It has five types of sleep-themed content:

  • Sleepcasts: 45-minute stories told with ambient sounds playing behind them. I found the stories a bit distracting, but I like that once you begin playing a sleepcast, Headspace provides a slider to make the voice or the background sounds more prominent.
  • Sleep Music: Tracks of soothing music to help you fall asleep
  • Nighttime SOS: Guided meditations to help you get back to sleep when you’ve woken up in the middle of the night
  • Wind downs: Meditations and breathing exercises to help you get ready to sleep
  • Soundscapes: Soothing recordings of real-world sounds like a lakeside campfire, a tropical night, or a laundromat

Headspace includes a Play Random button at the bottom of the sleep page for those times when you’re too tired to choose.

Headspace
Left: Nighttime SOS content, Middle: Bottom of sleep page with Play Random option, Right: Sleepcast playing with ambiance/voice slider

Using Headspace in iOS

Headspace is a good iOS citizen. It’s updated regularly (26 times in the last 5 months) and includes support for a bunch of iOS-specific features.

For example, Headspace integrates with Apple’s Health app. With that feature turned on in Headspace settings, any meditation you complete in the app will be saved as Mindful Minutes in the Health app. That’s the same metric that the Breathe app on the Apple Watch uses.

Headspace also supports Shortcuts to some extent. I’d like to see this feature expanded in the future, but it currently lets you create shortcuts to start your daily meditation and to help you fall asleep with that night’s meditation.

Headspace for iOS app also offers four different types of notifications:

  • Mindfulness moments: Enable this option to receive between one and five different messages throughout the day to remind you to be mindful.
  • Recommendations: If you don’t have a habit of meditating, turn these on to get Headspace to recommend when to meditate and which meditation to do.
  • Meditation reminders: Set a reminder to meditate at a specific time every day, on weekends, or on weekdays. You can also have Headspace block out that time on your default calendar.
  • Bedtime reminders: You set these reminders separately. The wind-down reminder alerts you to do a wind-down meditation before bed, and the bedtime reminder lets you know when it’s time for bed.

Headspace
Left: Settings page, Middle: Siri shortcut setup, Right: Meditation reminders notification setting

Subscribing to Headspace

You can access a small set of Headspace’s content for free in iOS and Android, or on the Web. I strongly recommend this trial content if you’re new to meditation and unsure how much you’ll use Headspace.

If you find Headspace helpful, after you’ve outgrown the free library, you can subscribe to Headspace for $12.99 per month when paid monthly or $7.99 per month when paid yearly ($95.98). Headspace also offers a family plan that allows up to six accounts for $19.99 per month. If you’re a student, you can get Headspace for the steep discount of $9.99 per year. Headspace is also available for businesses, some of which (like my employer) offer Headspace for free as a health perk.

Headspace is priced based on its potential to improve your life. If you’re not making a habit out of using Headspace for meditation or not finding it impactful, stick with Headspace’s free content or try a free alternative like Oak (which is great but doesn’t have nearly as much content). But if, like me, you do find Headspace’s particular mix of guided meditation content and app design useful and impactful, it’s worth the cost.

Adam Engst 9 comments

BBEdit 13 Simplifies Pattern-Based Searching

I do a lot of work with textual data files, things like membership lists, race results, and team rosters—the sort of thing you get when exporting from a database or saving a spreadsheet in comma-separated value (CSV) format. I want to extract data from these files, clean them up by deleting extraneous bits of data, or reformat them in some way, and the killer app for such text manipulation has long been Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit.

BBEdit iconThe company has now released BBEdit 13 as a paid upgrade, and despite the app’s 27-year history, Rich Siegel and crew continue to think of new features that keep the powerhouse text editor fresh. This update focuses on the pattern-match searching that has long been BBEdit’s core competency, adding a Pattern Playground for interactively experimenting with regular expressions and a Grep Cheat Sheet that provides quick access to many common regular expressions, complete with brief descriptions. Plus, BBEdit 13 provides live searching in its Find window, automatically highlighting matches as you enter the search term.

A Brief Primer on Regular Expressions

You’re undoubtedly familiar with searching for a string—search this document for “string,” and it would find all instances of the word, along with words that contain those six letters, like “astringent.”

Far more interesting are regular expressions—sequences of characters that define search patterns—which let you do things like find all phone numbers in a document, all phone numbers that have the 607 area code, or even just phone numbers that are formatted as (###) ###-#### as opposed to ###/###-####.

You can use regular expressions when replacing text as well. For instance, putting parentheses around a portion of your search saves that pattern for use in replacement. That enables you to do things like reformat a list of names like Tim Cook into Cook, Tim. In essence, you’re finding the first name, saving that to replacement pattern 1, finding the last name, saving that to replacement pattern 2, and then writing a replacement that reverses the order and inserts a comma between the two.

(As an aside, many people use the word “grep” instead of “regular expression” in informal speech. Grep is the name of the command-line utility for performing regular expression searches in Unix. Its name comes from a Unix ed command g/re/p, which expands to “globally search a regular expression and print.” Since I’m not talking about the Unix utility explicitly, I’ll use “grep” synonymously with “regular expression.”)

Once you start to think in terms of patterns, text-based data become putty in your hands. The hard part is training your brain to look past the specific characters in front of you to the underlying patterns that represent them. That’s where the new features in BBEdit 13 shine. Let’s walk through them with a real-world example where I need to remove the tenths of a second from a file of race finish times (because that’s more precision than is warranted for hand-timing).

Pattern Playground

Even for someone like me who has been writing regular expressions for years, building a grep search usually requires trial and error. That’s not because I’m lousy at grep, but because it’s easy to assume a source file is more regular than it actually is.

For instance, if I had built a grep search that found a first name and a last name and reformatted them to be Last, First, that search would fail with “Victor Von Doom,” where the last name has two words. Annoyingly, fixing the search to account for two-word last names would mess up differently on “Billie Joe MacAllister,” where the first name has two words. Sometimes real-world data simply doesn’t fit into neat patterns.

The solution has always been to start writing the regular expression in BBEdit’s Find window and then test it continually as you go. It works, but the trial-and-error approach can get tedious. BBEdit’s new Pattern Playground feature simplifies the process for those who are already familiar with regular expressions, and for those who aren’t, it’s a godsend for learning. Here’s how it works.

Open the window from Search > Pattern Playground. It has five sections, some of which you interact with and others which report on the results of your actions:

  • Search pattern: Enter your search pattern here. In this case I’m searching for times using the \d regular expression for “any digit,” enclosing the time without the tenths in parentheses to capture it as replacement pattern 1, and then searching for a period (which has to be prefixed by a backslash because a period means “any character” on its own) and another digit to identify the tenths.
  • Capture groups: When you use parentheses to capture patterns for use in replacements, this section of the window shows what each of the replacement patterns will contain.
  • Replace pattern: Enter your replacement pattern here. I’ve entered just \1 because I only want the first part of the time I found, without the tenths (replacement pattern 1).
  • Replacement text: This field shows what your replacement pattern would end up replacing. Although the field looks editable, all you can do in it is copy.
  • Contents of: This large field shows the contents of the file you’re searching, highlighting the found text. The pop-up menu lets you choose a different open file.

BBEdit 13's Pattern Playground
This search finds race times that contain tenths of a second and truncates them.

Live Search Result Highlighting

Once you finish building a functional search, you can move it to BBEdit’s Find window by clicking Use for Find. Here’s where BBEdit 13’s new live search shows its utility. Whenever the Find window is frontmost, BBEdit highlights all the found terms. Or, more importantly, it doesn’t highlight things that you think should be found but don’t match.

As you can see in this screenshot, BBEdit is highlighting all the 15K times, each of which is over an hour. But many of the 7K times are under an hour, so the search isn’t finding everything I want.

BBEdit 13 Live Search highlighting example
Notice how some race times are highlighted, but others aren’t.

With a quick trip back to the Pattern Playground window. I can fix the search pattern by looking for “zero or more” of the pattern that identifies the hour digit and first colon—(\d:)*.

BBEdit 13 Live Search highlighting example
With the revised search, all the race times are now highlighted.

Grep Cheat Sheet

As soon as I realized that I had times both with and without the leading hour digit, I knew how to fix it and didn’t really need to go back to the Pattern Playground window. But what if you don’t know, or you’re working with a regular expression that’s unusual? That’s where the Grep Cheat Sheet comes in handy. Just click the little ? icon that appears anywhere you can perform a grep search to make BBEdit display a menu of common regular expressions. I can’t say that everything you’ll ever need is in there, but it’s a great start.

BBEdit 13 Grep Cheat Sheet
Choose any item in the Grep Cheat Sheet to insert it into the Find window at the insertion point or in place of the current selection.

Other New Features

BBEdit 13 has some other interesting new features as well—see the release notes (which are now always available for the current version by choosing Help > Change Notes) for a full list:

  • Apply Text Transform: If you previously built a BBEdit text factory to run a particular transformation across multiple files, BBEdit 13’s new Text > Apply Text Transform command lets you do everything a text factory can do with a single dialog. And if you discover it’s something you might want to use again, click Save As Text Factory. BBEdit 13 Apply Text Transform dialog
  • Rectangular selections: Previous versions of BBEdit let you make a rectangular selection by holding down the Option key, but that worked only in documents that didn’t have Soft Wrap Text in Edit > Text Options. BBEdit 13 now allows rectangular selection even when that option is on. They can be handy when working with columnar data, and if you’re doing that, don’t miss BBEdit’s Edit > Columns commands. BBEdit 13 rectangular text selections
  • Enhanced selection: You’ll notice that the highlighting of search results is purely cosmetic; those items aren’t selected such that you could cut or copy them. However, there is a new selection option that can do that: Search > Find & Select All. Plus, speaking of BBEdit’s column commands, the new Edit > Columns > Select Column command does exactly what you’d think. Also note the new Edit > Select > Highlighted Matches and Edit > Select > Live Search Results commands.
  • Strip Trailing Whitespace: It’s common to have one or more spaces at the end of a line, and sometimes that’s problematic. BBEdit 13 now has a Text > Strip Trailing Whitespace command and equivalent text factory operation for removing such cruft.
  • Sidebar enhancements: You’ll now find BBEdit > Preferences > Sidebar for tweaking how the sidebar looks and works. Plus, although this option was present in previous versions, note that the List Display Font Size slider in BBEdit > Preferences > Appearance lets you increase the size of the text in the sidebar.
  • Dark mode switching: You can now have BBEdit automatically follow the system appearance if you’re set on using Dark mode (see “The Dark Side of Dark Mode,” 31 May 2019). Look in BBEdit > Preferences > Appearance. BBEdit even changes its color scheme to match changes in the system appearance—the release notes explain this approach in detail.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the briefing I had with Bare Bones prior to the release of BBEdit 13 revolved around useful features that shipped in previous versions of BBEdit, but which I had never managed to internalize in my usage. I’ll delve into those some other time, since it was quite embarrassing to discover how much I was missing out on, even as someone who uses BBEdit all the time.

Regardless, BBEdit 13 is a beefy upgrade that adds compelling new capabilities without changing how loyal users have become accustomed to using the app over the years. Particularly if you use grep-based searches, or should be using them but have never figured out grep syntax, BBEdit 13 is well worth the upgrade fee.

Upgrade Details

System requirements have increased, so BBEdit now requires at least macOS 10.14.2 Mojave (preferably 10.14.6 or later), and it works with 10.15 Catalina.

BBEdit 13 retains the same pricing as BBEdit 12, meaning that a new license costs $49.99. Upgrades from version 12 cost $29.99, or if you own BBEdit 11 or earlier, the upgrade will be $39.99. Mac App Store customers with a subscription immediately gain access to all of BBEdit 13’s new features with no action required.

You can use all of BBEdit’s features for free for 30 days; after that, the core features remain available for free, but you won’t be able to use any menu items marked with a star without paying for a license.

Watchlist

Default Folder X 5.4 No comments

Default Folder X 5.4

St. Clair Software has issued Default Folder X 5.4, delivering support for macOS 10.15 Catalina, additional AppleScript features, and several bug fixes. The Open/Save dialog enhancement utility adds new AppleScript commands, and it ensures that when you open an AppleScript applet or droplet in Script Editor or Script Debugger, it’s added to the Recent Files menu. The release also fixes a bug that could cause folders shown in tabbed Finder windows to be listed more than once, resolves an issue that could prematurely close a file dialog when moving a file to the Trash within Default Folder X, and adds support for the version of the Path Finder file manager app distributed via SetApp. ($34.95 new, TidBITS members save $10 on new copies and $5 on upgrades, 9.6 MB, release notes, macOS 10.10+)

Little Snitch 4.4.3 No comments

Little Snitch 4.4.3

Objective Development has released Little Snitch 4.4.3, adding compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina. Because system apps on Catalina have been moved from /Applications to /System/Applications and the paths in rules must be updated. Objective Development recommends that you upgrade Little Snitch before upgrading to Catalina to ensure that rules for system apps are correctly updated. The network traffic management utility also enables you to disable notifications about potential consequences when you deny a connection on a per-application basis, adds support for additional remote endpoint types, ensures that clicking a column header in the rules list properly sorts that column, and fixes a rare kernel panic that could occur when the system runs out of memory. ($45 new, free update, 39.5 MB, release notes, macOS 10.11+)

GarageBand 10.3.3 No comments

GarageBand 10.3.3

Apple has released GarageBand 10.3.3 with a smattering of improvements to the music creation and audio editing app. The update now enables the Loop Browser to filter by loop type, ensures the keys on the keyboard in the Piano Roll are sized correctly, corrects a crash that occurred when the Intro to Guitar lesson is opened a second time in the same Learn to Play session, improves the transition between Light and Dark modes, and ensures the input level meter now works in the Learn to Play setup window. GarageBand 10.3.3 now requires a minimum of macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra. (Free from the Mac App Store, free update, 1 GB, Release Notes, 10.13.6+)

Fantastical 2.5.11 No comments

Fantastical 2.5.11

Flexibits has released Fantastical 2.5.11, adding support for Reminders (which no longer use CalDAV) and Voice Control in macOS 10.15 Catalina. The calendar app also resolves an issue where Fantastical wouldn’t reopen on the correct display when using multiple displays, fixes a bug that caused Propose New Time to appear incorrectly for some Exchange events, and corrects a syncing problem with Exchange Server 2007. ($49.99 new from Flexibits and the Mac App Store, free update, 16.2 MB, release notes, macOS 10.11+)

Audio Hijack 3.6 No comments

Audio Hijack 3.6

Rogue Amoeba has released Audio Hijack 3.6, adding compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina and improving the tracking and handling of physical input and output devices. Audio Hijack now automatically tracks devices across restarts and between ports, including USB audio devices that previously required re-selection after restarting your system. In Catalina, Audio Hijack tries to replace the now-defunct iTunes with the new Music app in all relevant places.

The audio recording utility also now fully supports Dark mode, updates the Source selector so it’s easier to capture audio from the Finder and Text to Speech, improves auto-splitting of files with millisecond precision, improves session names imported from the old Audio Hijack Pro, and updates the backend Audio Capture Engine to version 11.0.1. Audio Hijack now requires 10.12 Sierra or higher. ($49 new with a 20% discount for TidBITS members, free update, 14.1 MB, release notes, macOS 10.12+)

Logic Pro X 10.4.7 2 comments

Logic Pro X 10.4.7

Apple has released Logic Pro X 10.4.7, a maintenance release that focuses on accessibility issues. The professional audio app now enables you to use VoiceOver to insert a plug-in before an existing plug-in, improves VoiceOver to announce disclosure triangles in Inspectors and icon names when assigned to tracks, ensures that multiple plug-ins inserted consecutively using VoiceOver appear in the expected order, and enables you to drag non-contiguous tracks into a Track Stack using VoiceOver.

The update also allows stereo width and panning adjustments with a mouse scroll wheel, ensures that splitting a note on Flex Pitch no longer causes Flex Pitch detection to disappear, enables you to to bounce a track in place in a project that has not yet been saved, ensures settings in the Track Inspector no longer unexpectedly affect Articulation Output switches, and eliminates a couple of crashes. ($199.99 new in the Mac App Store, free update, 1.5 GB, release notes, macOS 10.13.6+)

ChronoSync 4.9.5 and ChronoAgent 1.9.3 No comments

ChronoSync 4.9.5 and ChronoAgent 1.9.3

Econ Technologies has released ChronoSync 4.9.5 and ChronoAgent 1.9.3, optimizing both for macOS 10.15 Catalina and its split system/data volumes. ChronoSync adds support for archiving over Backblaze B2 connections, properly handles firmlinks in Bootable Backup, brings support for APFS Volume Groups to the Bootable Backup Assistant, implements a new Volume Group Converter utility that allows a single APFS volume to be converted to an APFS Volume Group in Catalina, and improves volume detection and mounting efficiency. It also fixes bugs in the False Mount Point Detection Readiness Test, the Validator, and the SFTP storage provider.

ChronoAgent gains Internet-based registration functionality, adds support for new InterConneX client capabilities that allow package file counts and data size to be reported more accurately, and displays the preference pane in Dark mode if selected. Both apps modify their Full Disk Access detection logic for Catalina. ($49.99 new for ChronoSync with a 20% discount for TidBITS members, free update, 67 MB, release notes, macOS 10.11+; $14.99 new for ChronoAgent, 26.6 MB, release notes, 10.10+)

Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.12 5 comments

Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.12

Bombich Software has released Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.12, bringing full support for making bootable backups of macOS 10.15 Catalina’s new read-only System volume and its Data volume sibling. The drive-cloning and backup utility also improves OneDrive and Dropbox placeholder file detection, allows the selection of a Catalina System volume that has been deleted from a destination volume group (and enables its re-creation), improves the reliability of HFS+-to-APFS conversions (particularly for slower destination devices), updates a fix in version 5.1.10 that addresses an issue where a remote Mac could go to sleep between CCC’s archive management and file copying requests, and adds “files copied” to the history output of the CCC command-line tool. ($39.99 new, free update, 15.9 MB, release notes, macOS 10.10+)

Final Cut Pro X 10.4.7, Compressor 4.4.5, and Motion 5.4.4 No comments

Final Cut Pro X 10.4.7, Compressor 4.4.5, and Motion 5.4.4

Apple has released Final Cut Pro X 10.4.7, Compressor 4.4.5, and Motion 5.4.4, with all three apps receiving a new Metal-based processing engine that improves playback and accelerates graphics tasks. For those planning to purchase a new Mac Pro when it ships later this year, all three apps also enhance graphics performance with support for multiple GPUs (including the Radeon Pro Vega II and Radeon Pro Vega II Duo), optimize CPU performance with support for up to 28 CPU cores, and improve performance of ProRes and ProRes RAW decode when using the Afterburner card. The three apps also add support for viewing High Dynamic Range (HDR) video on the Apple Pro Display XDR (also due later this year), with Final Cut Pro supporting simultaneous up to three Pro Display XDR units (two for the Final Cut Pro interface and one for dedicated monitoring). Final Cut Pro, Compress, and Motion all now require macOS 10.14.6 Mojave or later.

Final Cut Pro 10.4.7 enables you to select either the internal or external GPU to accelerate graphics, lets you view luminance levels in High Dynamic Range PQ media in the Waveform monitor, resolves an issue in which relinked media would sometimes result in empty thumbnails, adds support for fragmented MP4 format in HTTP live streaming, and enables you to define keyboard shortcuts for the Add Color Mask, Add Shape Mask, and Toggle View Mask commands.

Compressor 4.4.5 can now tone map HDR video to compatible Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) displays when running in 10.15 Catalina; supports HEVC playback with alpha channel; improves load balancing of graphics processing across multiple GPUs; displays timecode as drop frame, non-drop frame, frames, or absolute time; and can simultaneously import multiple image sequences.

Motion 5.4.4 retains custom window layouts when it’s opened, resolves an issue in which flickering may occur when changing cameras during playback, improves performance when using multiple behaviors on a camera, fixes a bug in which undoing a 3D text font change could corrupt characters in the canvas, corrects instability caused by copying and pasting of a Match Move behavior, and improves load balancing of graphics processing across multiple GPUs. (Free updates. Final Cut Pro X, $299.99 new, 2.9 GB, release notes, 10.13.6+; Compressor, $49.99 new, 342.2 MB, release notes, 10.13.6+; Motion, $49.99 new, 2.3 GB, release notes, 10.14.6+)

GraphicConverter 11.1 No comments

GraphicConverter 11.1

Lemkesoft has issued GraphicConverter 11.1 with numerous new and updated features for the recently upgraded Swiss Army knife of graphics programs. The release adds the capability to fetch all used keyword functions in the Browser, enables you to change color inside a border using the contextual menu, adds the Option-Space keyboard shortcut to store the current frame of a movie next to the movie, and brings several additions to the Browser contextual menu (including Quick Convert Into Same Folder and Add XMP Faces As Finder Tags). GraphicConverter 11.1 also adds an autoplay option for Quick Look, supports non-proportional PDF scaling, corrects a possible crash with third-party Core Image filters, fixes a bug related to moving files to NTSF volumes, brings back missing display of the EXIF date within XMP in PNGs and some HEICs, and fixes a time zone issue that occurred when displaying the creation date for some MOV files. ($39.95 new from Lemkesoft or the Mac App Store, $25.95 upgrade, free update from version 11, 152 MB, release notes, macOS 10.9+)

Things 3.10 No comments

Things 3.10

Cultured Code has released Things 3.10, adding full compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina, increasing the system requirements to a minimum of 10.13 High Sierra, and dropping support for 10.11 El Capitan and 10.12 Sierra. The updated task manager also now includes support for Catalina’s Dark mode scheduling, adds a new Reminders Import feature that migrates your entire Reminders database over to Things, and reworks the Reminders app integration for adding to-dos to the Things Inbox (renaming it as Reminders Inbox in Settings). ($49.99 new from Cultured Code Web site and Mac App Store, free update, 17.9 MB, release notes, 10.13+)

CleanMyMac X 4.5 No comments

CleanMyMac X 4.5

MacPaw has released CleanMyMac X 4.5, bringing support for macOS 10.15 Catalina and adding instant notifications about malware threats. The new real-time malware monitoring feature runs continuously in the background, checking your system for suspicious activity and providing instant notifications about potential threats. The all-purpose cleaning and maintenance app also removes the now-irrelevant Photos and iTunes Junk modules from the sidebar menu in Catalina, improves the uninstallation of Quicken, enhances the CPU chart animation in the CleanMyMac X Menu, and fixes a bug that caused Health alerts to appear when Do Not Disturb mode in the Notifications Center was turned on. ($89.95 one-time fee, $34.95 annual subscription, or included in the $9.99-per-month Setapp Mac app subscription service, free update, 48.1 MB, release notes, macOS 10.10+)

macOS Server 5.9 No comments

macOS Server 5.9

Apple has released macOS Server 5.9, adding new restrictions, payloads, and commands for Profile Manager and now requiring macOS 10.15 Catalina or later. For macOS, the update enables you to create profiles that skip the Screen Time and TouchID panes in Setup Assistant, configure automatic macOS updates and app updates, support Web-based authentication for Device Enrollment Program, and manage Activation Lock settings on Catalina-enrolled Macs. For iOS, you can configure new supervised-only restrictions to allow external drive access in the Files app, continuous path keyboards, and turn Wi-Fi off or on, plus skip various panes in Setup Assistant. ($19.99 new, free update, 66.1 MB, release notes, 10.15+)

Piezo 1.6.2 No comments

Piezo 1.6.2

Rogue Amoeba has released Piezo 1.6.2, correcting an issue where AAC recording did not work correctly in macOS 10.15 Catalina. The simple audio recording app also improves the tracking and handling of physical input and output devices. Piezo now automatically tracks devices across restarts and between ports, including USB audio devices that previously required re-selection after restarting your system. ($19 new with a 20% discount for TidBITS members, free update, 8.8 MB, release notes, macOS 10.12+)

HoudahGeo 5.4 No comments

HoudahGeo 5.4

Houdah Software has released HoudahGeo 5.4, adding support for macOS 10.15 Catalina and Photos 5.0. Because the upgrade to Catalina will restructure your Photos library (changing both file paths and identifiers), it’s essential to wrap up your current HoudahGeo projects before upgrading to Catalina because otherwise HoudahGeo won’t be able to reconnect with the images previously associated with your project. The photo geotagging app corrects a crash that could occur when the map jumps to a search result and works around an occasional crash when loading image thumbnails. ($39 new with a 25% discount for TidBITS members, free update, 23.2 MB, release notes, 10.10+)

ExtraBITS

17 comments

Beware Mail Data Loss in Catalina

Mail 13.0 About boxMichael Tsai, the developer of the long-standing SpamSieve plug-in for Mail on the Mac, has written a blog post warning about potential Mail-related data loss when upgrading to macOS 10.15 Catalina. In particular, he’s hearing from numerous customers that updating Mail’s data store from Mojave to Catalina sometimes says that it succeeded, when in fact, large numbers of messages turn out to be incomplete or missing entirely. Plus, moving messages between mailboxes on the Mac can delete message bodies, leaving only headers. If you moved the message to a mailbox on the IMAP server, other devices see it as deleted, and that deletion status eventually syncs back to the original Mac, where the message disappears as well.

As Michael Tsai points out, these problems can be difficult to notice (if you’ve already updated to Catalina, run through your mail to see if it has been affected), the problems can propagate to other devices, it’s difficult to make a complete backup, and even if you have a backup, it’s hard to restore.

To reiterate our advice in “macOS 10.15 Catalina Ships, Upgrade with Caution” (7 October 2019), hold off on upgrading to Catalina for a while, particularly if you use Mail.

3 comments

Adobe Cuts Service to Users in Venezuela

Adobe is cutting off its services in Venezuela, due to US sanctions against the country. The company will deactivate all Venezuelan accounts, except for Behance, on 29 October 2019 to comply with Executive Order 13884. Adobe will refund users for unused services if they purchased their subscriptions directly from Adobe. If you created an account in Venezuela but no longer live there, you can contact Adobe support to keep your account active.

Adobe's cancellation notice

Refunds are cold comfort for Venezuelans who depend on Adobe tools for their work. This move is an example of the dangers of subscription-based software. If Adobe still sold software licenses, Venezuelans could keep using their apps.

The good news is there are plenty of alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Suite software. We haven’t used all of these apps, but they’re certainly worth a look to see if they’ll meet your needs:

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Don’t Take Lightning Cables from Strangers

Fast Company reports that the creator of a Lightning cable with a sneakily embedded wireless hotspot is claiming that he can now mass-produce it. While the cable isn’t a threat to iPhones, if it were to be plugged into a PC or Mac, it could give a nearby attacker access to that computer, either through Wi-Fi or over the Internet. In fact, the O.MG Cable is marketed as a malicious tool:

The O.MG Cable™ is the result of months of work that has resulted in a highly covert malicious USB cable.… The O.MG Cable allows new payloads to be created, saved, and transmitted entirely remotely.

O.MG Cable
Caption: Image by Hak5.

Realistically, everyday users shouldn’t worry. The likelihood of being targeted in person by someone sophisticated enough to take advantage of the O.MG cable’s capabilities is extremely low. The takeaway is to be cautious of what cables you plug into your computer. Always buy cables from reputable suppliers, and don’t plug in cables from unknown sources.

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Apple Card Offers a Disaster Relief Program

The Apple Card offers a number of benefits, but there’s one that Apple hasn’t advertised: a disaster relief program. A MacRumors reader who experienced flooding in Houston received an email message from Apple offering things like no interest for two months and no payment due in the month they enrolled in the program. It appears that Apple is sending this offer to Apple Card holders in areas affected by natural disasters. If you receive such an offer, you have to contact Apple Card support to enroll. While some worry that this program could be seen as predatory, if you’re forced from your home and have to live in motels for an extended period, such perks could be welcome.

The physical Apple Card