Upgraded from Safari to Orion and couldn’t be happier

Web browsing on my Apple devices has been awful, although pretty much everything else has been excellent. Now that I’ve replaced Safari with the Orion browser by Kagi, I have an excellent web browsing experience.

Why does Safari suck? Advertising.

Internet content paid for by advertising is a terrible business model.

For my home automation experiments, I bought a refurbished iPad. They are quite inexpensive as schools age out the older ones and replace them with new iPads. But a 2018 iPad is still a fine device in 2023, and I wanted something to work with HomeKit. The problem was, I’ve got this iPad just sitting there on my nightstand, and there would be times when I wanted to look something up on the Internet. I would give in to temptation, which was universally a mistake. Every time I used Safari to search the Internet it was a completely awful experience because Safari does not support uBlock Origin by Raymond Hill.

Over time, I developed an aversion to browsing the web on any Apple device. It was always bad.

A week ago, I learned about a web browser for Apple devices that can invoke Firefox extensions: Orion browser by Kagi.

Of course, the first thing I added to it was uBlock Origin.

And now I find that browsing the web on iPhone or iPad is pretty nice.


They also have a version for Mac OS, if that’s your thing. 🙂

Ogg > MP3 (thanks, Apple) (not)

I have several CDs (Compact Discs, not Certificates of Deposit) of music that I like. When I popped them into my PC, I got several folders of files I could copy from. I chose to copy the .ogg files because I liked the idea of using an encoding format without weird licensing issues.

Apple has foiled that plan. If I try to play a playlist on an Apple device, the .ogg files get skipped because (apparently) Apple doesn’t feel like playing nice with the Open Source community. They may have more money than God, but adding another codec – that doesn’t have license issues – to their devices isn’t something they are going to spend money on.

When I work on-premises in the office, my co-workers are often noisy and annoying. I want to pop in my Airpods and play background music to drown out their inane chatter. I don’t want to carry the music files on my device; but I do have a Nextcloud server at home that can stream the audio from the Music app web page. I can log in on my iPhone and play the playlist.

But because it’s an iPhone, it auto-skips the Ogg Vorbis files. This doesn’t happen when I’m at home playing the same playlists on Linux or Windows.

So now I get to re-copy the files from the physical media to my NAS (network attached storage) which in this case is a Synology.

First, I get to delete the files with the .ogg file extension. Two steps (for example):

exiftool -p '$filename' -if '$album =~ /WOW Worship: Yellow \(disc 1\)/' *.ogg > wow_worship_ogg_file_list
This generates a file, wow_worship_ogg_file_list, which has the file names in a list.

then to delete them:

xargs -I{} rm -r "{}" < /path/wow_worship_ogg_file_list

Second, after having cleared out the disk space, I can copy from my physical CD to my NAS. That takes a while; and, after it is done, the file names aren’t wonderful. Rename music files to their title to the rescue.

Except, of course, for a duplicate file name. I have an MP3 file I bought from Amazon (published by Monstercat) with the same title as one of the files from the WOW Worship CD. I would prefer to rename the Monstercat file, but really if I’m going to be running the rename music files to their title command often, I need to change the Title inside the .mp3 file. If I don’t, the next time I run it, it will attempt to rename the file to a duplicate name that is already in use.

Exiftool doesn’t really write new Titles, apparently. I think it can, depending on the file type. I wonder if the weird license problems of MP3 are at the root of the problem. Whatever: the answer was to add the id3v2 program and use it instead.

id3v2 -t 'Title by Artist' file.mp3

Now the rename music files to their title script moves the one file to the new file name, and the other file to its simpler file name than what came off the CD.

Apple HomePod is still a fail

I’ve got two devices which tell me that the HomePod is on the wrong Wi-Fi network. Yes, I can believe that. Care to help a fellow out and fix it? Apparently that’s not a thing they had to program.

Extra points to Apple that the electric power plug cannot be disconnected at the device; but requires me to crawl under my desk and unplug it from the wall. I have no idea if a hard reboot by unplugging the power will help, but that appears to be the only option.

At least the Amazon Echo devices had particular button sequences for various levels of reset. Also, the power cord detached at the device, too.

But Apple is too cool for buttons and plugs. You dimwits.

Anyone can whine; how about a solution, David? Sure. It’s stupid, but it works:

  • Switch your iPhone / iPad to the correct Wi-Fi
    • Why do you even have more than one Wi-Fi network, David? The answer is Three Dumb Routers.
    • Remember: the S in IoT stands for Security.
  • Exit the HomePod app on your phone
    • I don’t know for certain that this step is required. But I do know that when it comes time to reach out to the HomePod, the act of opening the app will trigger an inventory to be taken. Probably there is some sort of polling cycle that tells the app to inventory this IoT device: but why leave that to chance?
  • Unplug the router providing the wrong Wi-Fi the HomePod is clinging to.
    • The stupid HomePod won’t be able connect to a Wi-Fi network that is off.
  • Unplug the HomePod
    • Leave it off for 15 seconds or more.
      • Decades ago in electrical engineering class, one of the professors gave us an extra credit math problem to calculate the amount of signal left in circuits as the capacitors drained. The clock crystal is still running; signals are still generated. Generally speaking, for computer circuits, it took about five seconds for the capacitors to drain. Best practice in engineering is to triple anything safety related – so: 15 seconds. This is safety related because you don’t want some weird random signal triggering some logic just because a capacitor wasn’t fully discharged: you could fry something and then the magic smoke escapes.
  • Plug the HomePod back in
  • Visit the HomePod in Apple Home app
    • It will whine that the HomePod is on the wrong network; but this time it will do something about it.
  • Plug your main router + Wi-Fi back in
    • Thank goodness the Apple programmers didn’t program the HomePod to have affinity to the previous Wi-Fi just because it returned to existence.
    • Since it was my secure devices Wi-Fi, I do actually want that network to work.
    • If I had a family here, I would have needed to blast out prior warning that the network was going away. Good times.

I don’t know. Maybe the people at Apple never thought people ought to secure their home with more than one Wi-Fi network?

Amazon Echo abandonment, a month in.

I’m trying Apple HomeKit stuff instead. It is very disappointing. Amazon understands “cloud” and Apple does not. Or maybe Apple’s heart just isn’t in it. Perhaps someone there felt a need to compete with Amazon, so they started HomeKit. But, once the reality hit of how much change it would take to do a great job, they grew disheartened and gave up.

Either way, the Apple HomeKit stuff is a Yugo to Amazon’s Porsche.

Of course, the Apple stuff is as expensive as a Porsche, so it’s a bad deal.

I was watching the television show Silicon Valley and at one point they openly mocked Apple that Apple Maps was so bad. Worse was Microsoft Zune which made me LOL. Point is, Apple then decided to make Apple Maps good, and today it is. In fact I had an address here in town I needed to get to, and Google Maps completely failed it. So I tried Apple Maps and it worked. That was quite a good accomplishment in my view: Apple delivers a better app than Google.

But HomeKit today is no bueno.

It increasing looks like I need to invest some time and effort into Home-Assistant.io

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

iPhone fails at phone calls too much

Around April 1st, T-Mobile and Sprint called the merger done. Also around that time, there was an iPhone update. Since then, my iPhone has a bad time receiving phone calls. Not always, but way more than ought to happen.

I think I’ve seen this four times since the beginning of April. The symptoms are that the iPhone rings, to let me know of an incoming call. I see that it is someone I want to talk with, so I hit the button to accept the call. The call stalls in the not-quite-complete starting phase. One time, I could hear a friend on the other end, saying hello and could I hear him.

The iPhone is just completely stuck. The call cannot be ended. The call cannot be removed from the active list by swiping upward. The only thing I can do, is to power down the phone.

I paid way too much money for this telephone to fail at phone calls.

I’d like to also mention that before that (not much before – maybe a month or two), and still today, sometimes iMessage loses it’s brains too. The symptoms are very similar: non-responsive, and closing does nothing. For iMessage, I have to go into airplane mode, then power down, then power up, and then get out airplane mode. Finally, iMessage recognizes that it didn’t actually have a connection before, so it tries again and this time doesn’t fail.

For as much as this device cost, I expect better. If I wanted a bad device, I could have gone with four different bad devices for the price of this one.