Apple is smarter than I am so I’m buying an Amazon Echo alarm clock

It’s been a week, and apparently that was Apple Music’s reset timer for re-enabling all the songs I told it I hate.

Okay then. Time to take it to the next level: delete every song in iTunes. THAT will keep the stupid app from offending me.

Problem is, I used some of the songs in the iTunes library as my alarm clock songs. I loved that feature. But this is the dilemma: keep iTunes and wake up to inspirational music, but, also have Apple Music assault me in my car when I don’t pre-launch some other audio app. I can have one, but would have to accept the other too. That feels like a violation I shouldn’t have to put up with.

The Apple Clock app does play ringtones even with the music library empty – because I didn’t empty the ringtones library. This would have been a nice work-around, but the songs I listen to are 3 – 4 minutes long, and ring tones are limited to 30 seconds.

How about a third option? Instead of using my iPhone as an alarm clock, I can buy a stand-alone alarm clock that knows how to access my Amazon Music library. That would be Echo Dot (4th Gen) Smart speaker with clock.

This still leaves me in a bind when I’m traveling. Normally, every day or so I go through all the open apps in my iPhone and “swipe up” to get rid of them – all of them. If I need an app I can launch it again. The Apple Clock app doesn’t have that choice, so it is always running (which is a good thing). My alarms in the morning were set it once and forget it which was pretty nice. But now, none of those alarms are going to work*.

This means that when I am traveling, I’m going to have to 1) remember to be running the Alexa app on my iPhone when I go to sleep, and 2) set alarms to launch in the Alexa app “on this device” which is the iPhone. This is definitely worse than when I was able to rely on the Apple Clock app.

It sure would have been better if Apple would give me an option of which app to launch when some Bluetooth device (my car) announces it is ready to play.

Still, if this is the worst thing to happen to me in a week, I’m living a pretty charmed life.

*It would more accurate to say they will launch, but no sound is going to come out of them, because the Apple Music Library has been emptied.

Hey Siri, I hate Apple Music. Siri replies: “Got it. I’ll remember that you don’t like this song.”

I had to say that over and over and over again. Eventually it appears that I won.

Backstory: I’ve complained before that I dislike people who feel the need to push their accomplishments on me because they can. One of my life lessons is that I dislike things in others that I see in myself, so ….

But this is about them, and not me. 😉

I’ve complained that Microsoft, for example, couldn’t just add something to Windows, but they had to push it on every customer whether the customer wanted it or not.

I have the same problem with Apple and Apple Music. Specifically, when my car and my iPhone get near each other, they connect via Bluetooth. So far, so good.

If I happen to be listening to something, this is really nice. Say I’m walking to my car with my headphones on, I get in the car, and the iPhone and C-MAX figure it out and the audio keeps playing. This is excellent.

But if I happening to be listening to nothing, then that’s what I want. Some programmer at Apple disagrees. I end up listening to Apple Music because … why, again? Because some programmer feels the need to push his/her accomplishment on the world? Is that it? Please bother someone else’ life and leave mine alone.

So I get in the C-MAX, the iPhone sees the Bluetooth connection to audio, and the iPhone doesn’t see any audio app playing. So it launches Apple Music which picks some random song and begins playing.

I hate that.


“Hey Siri, I hate Apple Music”

Siri replies: “Got it. I’ll remember that you don’t like this song.”

Hey Pinky – are you pondering what I’m pondering?

It worked.

The logic was “If I can get Siri to mark every song it has as do not play then maybe I won’t get bullied by the programmer that I insists I listen to something“.

It worked. Last night on my way home, the iPhone lit up Apple Music and found nothing to play. Sweet silence at last.

Well, until I said “Alexa, Playlist Earworm” and Alexa launched my Amazon Music playlist named Earworm:

  • Darude Sandstorm
  • Noisestorm Crab Rave
  • Tony Igy Astronomia
  • Nyan Cat
  • Harold Faltermeyer Axel F.
  • Drumspyder Rumba Hijaz

I did not join Planet Fitness, because of their payment policy

Update: user K replied with what I think is the best insight so far:

Just happened to me today when I went to sign up after a year since I was a member. Noped right out of there. You’re right about the merchant fees but I suspect the real reason they are not billing with cards anymore is because of the high volume disputes they have. I used to work for a bank in the claims department and gym memberships and credit scores were our bread and butter. Visa and Mastercard have set rules in regards to merchant rights and would almost always return the funds back to the customer. An ACH transaction does not have the same protection and NACHA regulations does not cover product and services therefore if a customer disputed the transactions the likelihood of receiving the funds back is slim to none.

(emphasis added by me)

I did join a different gym. I was ready to join Planet Fitness; I took the tour, a pleasant young man explained the membership plans, and they sent me a link to sign up at. The facility seemed good, and it was closer to my home than the one I did end up at. But their sign up process demanded that I hand them my checking account number and routing number. That’s a nope, and we’re done.

I even found the Contact Us part of their web site and sent them an email asking what other options were available. They never bothered to respond.

The gist of the problem is computer security; Planet Fitness internal IT security isn’t that good. Well, no-one’s internal security is all that good – just ask T-Mobile: their 2021 data breach was T-Mobile’s fifth incident in four years. Worse, when T-Mobile was asked about the potential for security problems, their answer was “What if this doesn’t happen because our security is amazingly good?

I can’t help but think that Planet Fitness feels the same way.

Why can’t I have the membership fee charged to my credit card? When their IT infrastructure gets breached (not if), I can easily get a new credit card number from my credit card company – if Planet Fitness would allow me to use a credit card. I’ve actually had to do that before; I got a physical letter in 2016 letting me know of a breach with a particular company that I did business with every couple of months. Changing the credit card number was pretty easy. Slightly annoying, but if that was the worst thing to happen to me in 2016, I’m leading a pretty charmed life.

But what happens when Planet Fitness loses my checking account number (and routing number)?

That would be a disaster.

Sure, I could close the compromised account, and open a new one; but my paycheck gets deposited there. Everything funnels through there. I even had a need to get paper checks printed up a year ago, and that expense of the rest of the paper checks would go in the shredder. Is Planet Fitness going pay me to get new checks printed? If I sued for it, I’m pretty sure I’d win – unless their defense was “well, if you are stupid enough to give us your checking account number, then that’s on you.” Maybe that is the way they think about their customers. 🤷

It also bothers me that Planet Fitness is only being somewhat truthful about why they want to pull the money directly out of my checking account. From their web site:

The method in which members are able to pay for their monthly membership varies by location, but many Planet Fitness clubs accept payment through checking accounts only. We require an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) through checking accounts for your convenience: This allows us to be able to continue your membership without interruption or the hassle of updating your payment information if your credit cards are lost/stolen, invalid or expired.

I have a problem with “… for your convenience ….”

This is flat out falsehood. It’s not for my convenience, it’s for Planet Fitness’ convenience.

Also, Planet Fitness doesn’t have to pay the credit card company their commission. That’s the real reason they are willing to risk my security; they are being cheap. My security versus a tiny bit of extra profit? SELL ‘EM OUT BOYS!

It’s also important to note that there’s a major discrepancy in ACH vs. credit card fees. Broadly speaking, ACH transactions have the lowest costs associated with any payment system. On the other hand, credit cards typically charge 2.5% of the transaction value in fees, plus an additional processing fee. So, when it comes to ACH vs. credit card fees, ACH is the clear winner.

So, I found a gym that lets me pay by credit card. It is farther away from my home. It doesn’t have as many locations. But it does let me subscribe with a credit card, and it doesn’t lie to me about why they prefer to have my checking account number. They did ask; but they were honest and said it was because they wanted to avoid having to pay the credit card merchant fees. If I was willing to pay more to cover that, they’d let me use a credit card for billing. Yes, I am, because I know that no company’s IT security is all that good. I’m paying now for for easier recovery later. That gives me peace of mind.

LibreOffice broken – it’s version 7 that is broken, and the problem is multiple monitors

What confused me before is that sometimes it appeared to work, but then it would break again. I finally figured out that it was sliding the window from one monitor to the other that invoked the broken behavior.

I went back to the earliest version of LibreOffice that is “official”, and it was still broken. I went and got the latest version of LibreOffice 6, and it is no longer broken.