Posts Tagged ‘apple’

Why does Mac VoiceOver keep saying the word “simul”?

Saturday, January 12th, 2019 | Tech

I’m currently working with a client to improve the accessibility of their website for visually impaired users. This has involved a lot of time working with screen readers. As part of that, I have found a rather weird bug with Mac’s VoiceOver. It keeps saying the word “simul”.

Which isn’t a word. Maybe it’s saying simmul or simmel, or something else. None of these are words.

It happens when we give it a range to read. Something like “4-6”. The screen reader says the first number, then goes suspiciously quiet and says simul, and then starts building back up to regular volume as it gets to the final number.

I even asked about it on Stack Overflow, and everyone else was confused, too.

I wondered whether it might be a language issue. So, I tried adding a custom pronunciation, and double-checked the HTML tag had a lang attribute set to en-gb. Alas, no luck.

This is only a problem on Mac: TalkBack on Android works fine, for example.

In the end, I was able to get it to read correctly by changing the voice. By default, macOS comes with Daniel Compact set as the voice. However, when I switched to Daniel, Kate, or Kate Compact, it read it out correctly.

In a way, this is frustrating, because there is no much we can do to fix it. It’s a bug with the voice in Mac. But it is at least somewhat comforting to know that I wasn’t making some obviously silly mistake.

Baby food pouches compared

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 | Video

Baby food pouches come with a variety of ingredients and flavours listed on the front. But there are often not as accurate a one might hope. With these pouches, for example, it turns out that a significant percentage of each of them is apples.

Not just a little bit of apple. In the case of the Heinz baby pouch, most of it is apples. But Ella’s Kitchen does make the grade. Their banana baby pouch is made of just one thing: bananas. How crazy is that? Apparently, far more crazy than it should be.

Watch the video. You get to hear the amusing baby screams.

But, if you’re at work, here are the stats:

Company Flavour Ingredients
Cow & Gate Banana, mango and coconut 30% apple
Heinz Strawberry, raspberry, banana 89% apple
Ella’s Kitchen Banana 100% banana

How to open the containing folder in Mac’s Spotlight Search

Saturday, May 13th, 2017 | Tech

One of the irritating things about Spotlight Search in Mac is that you open want to open the folder that contains a file, but there is no obvious way to do this.

Luckily, there is a non-obvious way. And it’s pretty simple. Just hold down the Option key and double click on the file you want to open.

Integrating Apple Pay with your website

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 | Programming, Tech

Over at Worfolk Anxiety, we use Stripe as our payment processor. It’s very good; I highly recommend it to anyone looking to integrate a payment API into their website.

They also have support for Apple Pay. This seems highly desirable as while it is quite easy to enter my credit card details on a desktop computer, it is far more difficult to do on a mobile phone. Being able to click a big Apple Pay button and have it all taken care of is some good magic at work.

Unfortunately, while Stripe makes it super easy to do this, Apple do not.

The dreaded developer program

Most platforms want you to write amazing software for them, so they allow you to do it without much ado. Not Apple. If you want to publish something into the App Store, you have to register for their Developer Program. That is £79 a year. A lot of money, especially if you just want to give away a free app.

However, they also restrict test accounts.

So, for example, if you just want to test whether your website is properly integrated with Apple Pay, you have to pay Apple £79 for the privilege. No wonder it is called “Apple Pay”.

Two fingers to Tim Cook

Luckily, they don’t prevent you from using Apple Pay without the Developer Program. But it does mean the only way to test is to ship code to live and then pay with a real credit card before refunding the transaction.

It’s a total pain in the ass. But it is worth it to avoid giving Apple the money? That’s for you to decide (but yes, yes it is).

Problems validating iTunes Podcast

Friday, December 23rd, 2016 | Tech

traditional-microphone

Recently I launched the Worfolk Anxiety Podcast and as part of that, submitted it to the Apple iTunes Store for listing. The problem was that every time I tried I would get an error:

Unable to read your feed

After searching the web I found a lot of reports that Apple only had limited support for SSL: there were only eight trusted providers and you could not use anyone else. For example, any certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt would not work.

However, this did not make any sense because I had a GeoTrust RapidSSL certificate, and GeoTrust was supported.

I emailed Apple support and we began a backwards and forwards discussion about it. They suggested that although my feed validated on most validators, there were a few that it did not and I should address these issues. The issue was that you cannot use SSL in the strict RSS standard because URLs must begin with http and not https.

I fixed this, and still nothing.

I even tried purchasing an SSL certificate from Comodo in case Apple had a problem with the RapidSSL intermediately between my certificate and the GeoTrust root certificate. That did not help either, so I now have a duplicate certificate that is of absolutely no use.

Finally, Apple sent me the command they were running.

curl --head https://www.worfolkanxiety.com/podcast/feed

Suddenly it all made sense! They were making a HEAD request, rather than a GET request. I am using the Rauma PHP framework (that I also wrote) and you have to specify which verbs you would like to support. That end-point is tagged as a GET end-point, so did not respond to a HEAD request.

Once I added support for HEAD requests, it all started working. I even changed the MP3 files and artwork back to HTTPS and it still worked.

I have since rolled out an update to the Rauma framework so that it automatically adds support for HEAD requests when you add a GET request. However, there are many other frameworks where you specify the verbs you want to support, so if you run into a similar issue, check to see if that is the cause of your problem.

Introducing Bedtime

Saturday, October 15th, 2016 | Tech

introducing-bedtime

Cook: “Here at Apple, we’re proud to announce our latest innovation. It’s called Bedtime, and it can improve your sleep quality by 160%.”
Ive: “Tim, I think bed time is already a thing.”
Cook: “NO, we invented it!”

Scott Galloway speech

Monday, May 9th, 2016 | Tech, Video

This is a super-interesting speech if you are interested in technology, business, and the short-term future of our society. In it, Galloway discusses how the “big four”: Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, are basically claiming all of the growth and all of the talent that the world is producing; redefining industries while at the same time concentrating wealth into even smaller pools.

Chutney

Monday, November 23rd, 2015 | Food

chutney

Having eaten most of the mango chutney I made a few months ago, I have tired of mango and moved on. The tomato chutney turned out quite well, but my own-recipe apple and blackberry chutney is the real winter, especially with the holidays approaching.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the secret to a really good chutney, is onion. Lots and lots of onion. My next project will be to find a way to replace the onion so that Elina can have some too.

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon

Monday, June 8th, 2015 | Books

iWoz, autobiography of Steve Wozniack, has a very long subtitle: “How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It”. It’s also quite a bold statement for someone as reserved as Woz.

The first half of the book looks at his childhood and college days. His dad was at the forefront of the transistors game and was a firm believer in science, which no doubt gave Woz an excellent start in life. When he says he knew more about chip design than anyone else in the world, it’s not arrogance, it’s probably true.

He is an unashamed geek. He talks about his quest to get the best phone number he can – we wanted all the digits to be the same. I read this wondering “is this really important? Is this something you want to devote so much of your book to?”

Apparently it is, as it was packed with details like this. Apple only gets mentioned in the second half, and it’s pretty brief.

It also gets quite technical at many points. Chances are they if you are reading the Great and Powerful Woz’s biography, you are in the computer game, so that probably makes sense, but some of it I struggled to follow so a non-technical person would be lost.

My favourite anecdote from the book was when he talked about confusion between his number and the airline Pan Am’s. He started taking bookings for them (he would eventually tell the customer he was joking). He tried to see what they would agree to – multiple stops, travelling in cargo, 36 hour flights. The surprise is that most people agreed to all of this if it would get the price down! No wonder budget airlines have boomed, consumers will put up with a lot to save some cash.

iWoz

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 | Books

I have not ready that many biographies, so it is hard to judge quality. However, I was impressed by Walter Isaacson. He has spoken to everybody. Well, perhaps not presidents, but most people not only those at Apple and Jobs’ family but also pretty much everyone who ever talked to Jobs, including many business-celebrities.

Isaacson says he hopes he has presented an honest book. You would certainly hope so, as the idea of Jobs being even more of an insufferable dick that he is portrayed in the book is a scary thing to imagine. A great man none the less, but a difficult one to get along with.

It got quite depressed with the first section of the book. There was Jobs, younger that I was, doing something he loved, building a great company, carving out his place in the tech industry. When I compare that to what I am doing with my life, I come off pretty poorly.

I was comforting to know that Jobs’ live was not all work and no play though. I sometimes wonder, when playing guitar or in the rare moments when I am actually relaxing, whether the true winners in this world are so driven they would never waste their time enjoying themselves and thus I am not one of them. However, Jobs has plenty of time for messing around bootlegging Dylan tapes and shouting at waitresses. That is not to say he was not a hard-worker when needed and an incredibly driven human being. But it does show you can you can something great while still having the time to obsess over a washing machine for a month.

steve-jobs-biography