Don’t use Skype 8 on the Mac

The latest version of Skype has a titanically stupid issue – you can’t access your Mac address book in any way shape or form.

In Skype 7, you can right mouse click in the address book and choose “call using Skype” making phone calls easy. Or you can find them within the Skype app.

In Skype 8 – NOOOOO

  • You can’t right mouse click and ‘call using skype’
  • And amazingly, searching for a contact within Skype actually gives you back results from the millions of Skype users but not your own contacts

You have been warned, downgrade to the last sensible version of Skype here:

Don’t use Apple iCloud Photos

I got the prompt on my iPhone that I could save 17Gb of space by using iCloud Photos. For those that don’t know, the iCloud Photos service becomes your on-line photo library and syncs to whatever iCloud device you connect it to, such as your iPhone, iPad or Mac.

I decided to give it a go, but then realised that it would require me to also upload every single one of my over 33,000 photos on my Mac into their service (it creeps into the Apple Photos app by default once you sign up).  My photo collection takes up around 350-400Gb on my local disk, so storing on-line with Apples pricing would cost $10 per month for 500Gb.

I also use Dropbox for which they charge $8.25 for 1Tb, twice the space, so doing the maths makes Apple twice as expensive as Dropbox. Given that these firms buy hard drives by the thousands and run them in massive server farms, paying $120 per year to Apple is was more than the price to buy a disk.

  • Seagate Barracuda 1Tb internal disk is £35 at Amazon or around $45 USD
  • Apple want me to pay $120 per year, which would buy me 2.6 drives, every year

How the effing heck can Apple charge such a stupidly expensive price for mass storage when they buy the drives with massive discounts?

Ok and now the rest.

The iCloud web based UI is about as helpful as using Windows 95. Whilst you can see photos in Albums the web UI gets seriously pissed off when the number of photos is more than a couple of screen fulls. And get this, if you decide you want to remove stuff from iCloud Photos, you CAN’T. You can’t right mouse click and delete an Album, and you CAN’T do Edit->Select All and then delete.

YES FOLKS – you can only delete from iCloud Photos ONE BY ONE!

I stopped the on-line sync when I realised the pricing and the terrible on-line UI. I could store all my photos on Dropbox for half the price, and I already have 750Gb of space on Dropbox available to use.

And then there’s Google photos, who charge $10 for 1Tb, slightly more than Dropbox, but less painful than Apple. But Google Photos is FREE for photos of up to 16Mb each, which covers 99% of the shots my camera outputs.

If you are considering Apple iCloud Photos, please think on, it’s expensive and difficult to use. The only way back is to cancel your subscription and let Apple randomly delete photos you uploaded. Try Google, try Dropbox, but ignore iCloud Photos.

Note: I have paid Apple thousands of pounds for iPhones, Macs, iPads and accessories, so generally an Apply fan-boi. I just got really pissed off with such a badly thought out approach to photo management. I also really hate Apple for killing Aperture.

Fuji XT-1 and Missing Memory Card

I like owning my Fuji camera, but I didn’t like it so much when it took half an hour to realise I was shooting with no memory card.

The stupid device puts a short warning on the screen upon startup which disappears within 2 seconds. After that you can appear to be shooting, with an odd review screen after each shot. I was so busy shooting I didn’t press the Play button to chimp at the shots, which would have alerted me.

Apparently the next model XT-2 had a firmware update which more concretely locks the camera from shooting when the memory card is missing.

Even my 7 year old Nikon D7000 got this right. Why on earth didn’t the Fuji programmers make this a no-brainer UI feature with a permanent big warning on the screen?  There’s a setting in the camera to prevent shooting without a lens, explicitly.

Not happy at Fuji at all here.

Touch Bar for Non-Touch Bar Macs

If you want to see how the new Touch Bar works on a Mac which doesn’t have a Touch Bar, look no further than Touche 2 here which gives you exactly that. Touche somehow shows what the Touch Bar would display if you had one. You need macOS 10.12.2 and beyond to make this work I believe. If you edit using Final Cut Pro X – the touch bar gives a useful navigator for your video timeline which is way better than the tools within FCP X itself.

Edit Post ‹ Bill's Site — 2017-01-12 11-46-42.png


macOS and iOS Universal Clipboard

I couldn’t make the universal clipboard work, so here’s how:

  1. Check the article here:
  2. Turn on ‘handoff’ on your iOS device (search for it in settings)
  3. In summary
    1. Both devices must be on the same Wifi network (I think)
    2. Both devices must have Bluetooth switched on
    3. Both devices must new enough (see article above)
    4. The devices have to be physically near each other so that Bluetooth can make contact
  4. Mine didn’t work until I switched on Handoff, and now it does.
  5. How often will I use this? Time will tell.


World War 1 Diary

This is the diary of Roy Trevethin Marris, 2nd Lieutenant Royal Engineers, 1914-1918. Roy was married to Elisabeth and had three children Jean, Patricia and Josanne, who is my mother. What follows is his diary of his experiences in the trenches near Ypres during World War 1. The individual pages are in order below, the body of the diary is also available as a PDF here, re-typed by my father Barrie.

The images below include a hand drawn front page by one of his colleagues, a map of the area in which the diary is set, a timeline of events, a photo of Roy, and some contemporary photos of where the events took place.

Further notes from Roy’s daughter Josanne:

My Dad joined up at the outbreak of the 1st WW, leaving the Royal Engineers at the end of it. He wrote the diary during a few months of the autumn of 1915 in the field either in a tent or wherever he was billeted. I think he must have typed it up when he returned home from the trenches. I have the original diary now tucked safely away, I mean the typed up one not the (presumed) hand written one. The beautiful drawing of the ruins of Ypres (near where he was stationed) was done by his batman I believe. The diary was beautifully written, my father had a talent tor that. In it he expressed his feelings and sadness about what was going on around him and the war in general.

If you can enlarge the pages of it I believe it is worth reading, it is as vivid and as moving now as it was 102 years ago.