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MyPrecious15ProMax Experience

Posted September 24, 2023

‘Tis the season for my annual iPhone Upgrade Program membership to kick in. This year I moved from a purple iPhone 14 Pro (256GB) to a blue titanium iPhone 15 Pro Max (256GB). The notification and pre-order process went smoothly, as I received a timely upgrade email and also had the correct information populated in the Apple Store app on the older phone. It’s nice that this has all worked without major issues for several years now.

The UPS delivery person brought the new phone to our house on Friday and I decided to do the phone-to-phone transfer process again instead of restoring from the iCloud backup (which I also ran manually on the old phone immediately before starting – just in case). The time estimate displayed laughingly said it would take 10-15 minutes, but I needed to let the process run overnight. Even then, it didn’t download all the apps to the new phone until I hit the continue button Saturday morning.

Despite the long setup time, big kudos to the team at Apple that is responsible for engineering this upgrade process. Trying to create a process that works reliably for millions of customers with a basically infinite number of combinations just blows my mind. Here are some examples from my particular setup:

  • All of my Apple Wallet items transferred seamlessly (with the process to add my Wings Credit Union debit card now all online with no need to call them like before) – Apple Card, tickets, Science Museum membership card
  • All photo, music, iMessage and health data just worked on the new phone (did need to sign-in to MyChart to restore that app)
  • My third party calendar app Fantastical asked me to sign in again, but then all the correct calendar data appeared
  • All my favorite third-party games data transferred with no issues this time: Two Dots, Lightning Link, Star Wars Card Trader and Words with Friends
  • Password management didn’t skip a beat – 1Password transferred over after a sign-in on the new phone and all of the iCloud password management worked as expected
  • My 2FA accounts in Google Authenticator did not automatically transfer, but the export/import process via the double QR scanning worked great (make sure you don’t erase your old device until you do this)
  • Didn’t experience any of the software update issues I had read about – the setup process started by first telling me I needed to update to iOS 17.0.2 before transferring data from the old phone
  • Re-pairing with my Apple Watch was much smoother this time (and was part of the upgrade process and not something I needed to handle manually)
  • I had to reauthorize the new phone for CarPlay in my Honda Civic, but after that everything just worked as before (needed a new USB-A to USB-C cable)

I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go back to the larger size again, but really, really wanted the 5x optical zoom lens only available on the Pro Max. So far it fits OK in my pocket and the in-hand feel and overall weight are much better than I expected. The build quality of the iPhone Pro models continues to be on par with the excellent MacBook line of laptops – I really don’t want to use anything else.

Hopefully I can go more than a week without scratching the screen or dropping it on the floor (yes, I’m still a no-case, no-screencover daredevil)…

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🫡 Being social, an update

Posted September 14, 2023

In my July 2023 post the art of being social, I wrote about the current state of social media and how things had changed for me personally with the deletion of my Twitter account and how I was using Mastodon as my primary remaining service. After finally getting an invite code to Bluesky, I’ve lurked on there for a few weeks now too. Here are a few updated thoughts:

  • Aside from the presence of a few old Twitter people, not finding a lot of value so far in Bluesky.
  • Looked at Threads and saw I needed to create a new Instagram account, so I deleted the app.
  • Mastodon via Ivory still works great for me across iOS and macOS, but I’m finding that the time required to keep up isn’t equal to the value I’m getting out of the posts. Will curate my follow list and see if that helps.
  • LinkedIn lately has been full of bad takes, unwanted sales generation and (apparently) fraud research, so it might need to go away again soon.
  • Based on recent Google actions, may remove my concert videos from YouTube.

Leaning towards 7minutemiles being the exclusive, definitive source of online DK information soon…

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Little blue is for sale again

Pic posted August 22, 2023

Poplar and North Third, Tower, Minnesota

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More changes on Lombard

Pic posted August 20, 2023

Really wish I could get a tour – some sort of new remodel is underway

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New tree in the backyard

Pic posted August 20, 2023

Not sure the replacement is much healthier than the other one, but I ask you, “Are you an oak man?”

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🫡 Housekeeping Note

Posted August 10, 2023

Going back to having the main blog appear at the top 7minutemiles.com URL (instead of at 7minutemiles.com/blog). Thinking that the /blog address will automatically redirect, so you may or may not need to update any stored bookmarks for the site…

UPDATE: the initial redirect didn’t work, but it should be now. Please let me know if you have any issues – thanks!

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Checked in on the Forever Home

Pic posted August 5, 2023

Not today, Satan

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Hello, August 2023

Pic posted August 1, 2023

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’

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Web browsers on Apple platforms in 2023

Posted July 26, 2023

When I look back on web browsers I’ve used on macOS over the years, it seems like I find one I like and just stick with it for a long time. When The Browser Company announced that their new Arc browser was out of closed beta this week, I thought I’d download a copy and take a look. David Pierce at The Verge has been raving about it since last year, but I’m stuck in my ways and a lot of the concepts Arc introduces would take some time to really figure out. I ended up spending about 30 confused minutes with it before deciding to look at everything else out there right now too.

I vaguely remember the days of Netscape, then Firefox, then Safari, then Chrome. Internet Explorer was the evil actor in this story, both on Windows and macOS. As someone who has published websites for fun and for work, web standards were always the goal versus anything proprietary and tied to one browser. As market share has shifted, this goal always seemed elusive, as people would build sites optimized for whatever was the most popular. Thankfully for Mac users, most Windows or IE-only technologies have died out over time and “the web” has become more of a neutral platform. And with the rise of mobile, iOS and Android browsers are probably more influential now on standards than any of the others.

Read more…

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Our street has been crapified

Pic posted July 10, 2023

I know they say this extends the life of the road, blah, blah, blah…

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The back patio is complete ✅

Pic posted June 8, 2023

This might be my favorite part of the house now (at least until the snow flies again)

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Highlights from the long bike ride 🚴‍♂️

Pic posted June 8, 2023

The watch said it was my longest ride recorded to date: 32.8 miles up and down the Mississippi

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Happy 20th, WordPress

Posted May 26, 2023

Wow – May 27th really snuck up on me. It’s the 20th anniversary of the web publishing platform WordPress and I created a draft of this post nearly two months ago. Thank goodness Jeremy Herve published his WordPress story a few days early so I remembered to come back and finish before the big day.

I won’t rehash all the details of this site, as I tend to do that here every year on March 30th already (the anniversary of my first post). This site is the one I have used WordPress on the most, however, and is the one I focus on more than any other. That said, I have used WordPress on many other sites over the years, including charity golf and sports news sites, personal sites for friends and family and several private intranet sites for companies I have worked for over the years.

While I have never been skilled enough on the coding side to contribute to the project directly, I have leveraged WordPress to learn more about PHP, MySQL, Apache, Nginx and UNIX in general. I ran most of my WordPress sites on Mac OS X in the early days before migrating to a virtual Linux environment on AWS. While I’m still not a fan of the Gutenberg direction, I truly appreciate everyone in the WordPress community – both the paid pros and the volunteer experts.

Happy anniversary, WordPress – stay jazzy forever…

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Stain the patio fence ✅

Pic posted May 21, 2023

That was a tougher arm workout than the dumbbells

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Structural changes coming soon

Posted May 16, 2023

Just a heads up that I will likely be changing the structure of this site in the coming days to help facilitate some business changes with 7 Minute Miles LLC. Haven’t decided 100% for sure yet, but I will probably move all blog posts to a /blog URL (i.e. – 7minutemiles.com/blog). Stay tuned…

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Three months on Mastodon

Posted April 23, 2023

Tomorrow marks three months since I joined Mastodon. Just like with Twitter and Tweetbot, I don’t use the web interface of the instance I joined (mastodon.social), but have exclusively used the iOS and macOS Ivory clients, published by Tapbots. I love their work (thanks, Paul and Mark!) – the interface is familiar and polished and my timeline syncs well between devices.

Current stats: 110 posts, 26 followers and following 252.

So what are my thoughts on Mastodon after 90 days? I’ve already written a few posts about Mastodon that you can view here, but I thought I’d write a little today about some big picture things.

Read more…

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Source material for the chatbots, eh?

Pic posted April 19, 2023

I’ll be watching for my big royalty checks in the mail, Google

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End of an era #GoodBye

Pic posted April 7, 2023

The @kingsbury Twitter account is NO MOR. The jackass cut off my last API today, so I’m now exclusive with Mastodon. See you on the other side…

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🫡 No electricity is bad, m’kay?

Posted April 1, 2023

  • No furnace
  • No water heater
  • No refrigerator
  • No garage door opener
  • No internet
  • No television

Come on Xcel – you had it back on for like five minutes…

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Hello April 2023

Pic posted March 31, 2023

The time of year Minnesota has thunder, hail and blizzards all on the same day

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17 years of web publishing

Posted March 30, 2023

Just like kottke.org, this site is celebrating an anniversary this week. The first post on 7minutemiles.com was published 17 years ago today. If that wasn’t enough to make me feel super old, I also recently discovered that per ICANN, 7minutemiles.com has a creation timestamp of 2002-11-26T19:08:46Z.

Damn. 20 years.

It looks like I didn’t publish an anniversary post in 2022, so let’s look at what’s happened since the 2021 update:

  • Jumped from 12,192 posts to 28,918 (largely due to the new Twitter archive)
  • Still have 201 published pages, but cleaned up and dropped a few
  • FINALLY moved to a mobile-friendly, responsive theme (intro post, longer post)

I had a draft post sitting around forever about my current AWS virtual server setup, but it’s been so long now that none of the processes to recreate it are probably valid any longer. I’ll just say that I’m very happy with the current environment and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their Lightsail and Route 53 offerings to anyone who wants to experiment with the Amazon cloud. Currently running one instance in Ohio Zone A with 4 GB RAM, 2 vCPUs, 80 GB SSD and Ubuntu 20.04.

WordPress turns twenty later this year and I’m chugging along on the latest 6.2 version (although still with the Classic Editor plugin and no Gutenberg). The new theme helped me get current on PHP (8.2.4) and my backend is running on nginx 1.18.0, with MySQL drop-in replacement MariaDB 10.3.38. The cert process is now fully automated using Let’s Encrypt and so far Just Works™.

Still haven’t really looked at any web server traffic log options for nginx, so let’s take a quick peek at the WordPress.com stats for 2022: 6,843 visitors with 21,664 views and 1,032 likes (which I didn’t even know was a thing). Taking all of those numbers with a large grain of salt, but it is interesting to see that the Spring Hill post got bumped down to the #2 spot (only one view behind the Brian Christopher post).

Thanks for visiting!

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HomePod mini and Hey Siri

Posted February 4, 2023

With all of the recent press surrounding the second-generation HomePod, it’s easy to forget about the progress made by the baby brother speaker, the HomePod mini. We bought one of each color for the new house and use them daily. I decided on a Sony sound bar for the big TV, but have had issues with the the HT-Z9F that Best Buy and/or Sony has never really resolved completely. If I had to start all over, I’d probably get a pair of the new HomePods and place them on a short table below the TV.

I was shocked to read that the minis had hardware sensors that weren’t initially enabled. With the latest iOS 16.3 software update, however, all of the minis in the house can now respond with both room temperature and humidity level, which is a nice surprise bonus. I haven’t spend much time studying the Home app or any of the enhanced features enabled by HomeKit, but we can ask Siri to open or close the four sets of power blinds in the house. Haven’t really looked at any smart lighting or door lock stuff and our HVAC just has a standard, unconnected Honeywell controller.

Our garage door opener has some online functionality via the LiftMaster myQ app: our add-on camera records movement, can broadcast video and audio remotely to the app and enables Amazon Key delivery. I can’t currently tell Siri to open or close the garage door, but it is kinda cool to enable the speaker when the girls visit and do the old “intruder alert! intruder alert!” The LG washer and dryer we bought are connected to the home network (and have an app), but I really don’t care to get alerts that say a load of laundry is finished.

Siri for me on my phone has a checkered history. In the beginning, it wasn’t very good at understanding my requests, but has definitely improved over time. With the mini speakers, it’s really handy to just tell Siri to do stuff without typing anything. It’s perfect for interacting with Apple Music, setting kitchen timers, getting the weather forecast and closing the blinds earlier than programmed. I’ve also set the Siri voice to be Irish and female, which is all kinds of fun, lassie.

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More on the WordPress 2023 project

Posted January 23, 2023

Following up on the soft launch post, I thought I’d share a few more things to document and credit some of the incredible people in the WordPress community that have taught me so much. This post by Nick Schäferhoff was the kick in the pants I needed to just build off my last theme instead of trying to start with someone else’s theme and trying to make it mine. That article really helped me focus on reducing the number of theme files (now just have index.php, single.php and page.php) and finally cleaning up my CSS style sheet.

Mobile-optimized hamburger navigation menus seem to be everywhere, but it took me a while to pick Rui Guerreiro’s WP Mobile Menu plugin. This seemed to be one of the most popular options, with both free and premium versions available. My problem was that it wasn’t the easiest to set up and customize, but all of the people that participate in the support forum (especially Rui) really helped get me across the finish line on that aspect of the project.

Speaking of plugins, I encountered a few issues that needed to be resolved. There were two plugins that I’ve been using for a long time that do not appear to be supported any longer, one breaking with PHP8 (timeago) and the other apparently pulled from the WordPress directory (add-meta-tags). I’ve been using the excellent WordPress security plugin Wordfence for many years and it now alerts me to issues like this, which is very handy. Timeago hadn’t been updated in 13 years and was based on a jQuery plugin of the same name (which was last updated in 2014). Decided to drop the custom dates and just use the standard get_the_date() call for now.

Add-Meta-Tags started development in 2006 and has officially been deprecated and is no longer recommended for production sites. It was easy enough to find another tag plugin – decided to use Meta Tag Manager, by Pixelite (which also has free and paid versions). I thought I previously wrote about the PHP Everywhere plugin issues, but in any case replaced that with Insert PHP Code Snippet by xyzscripts.com a while back. Looks like the Gmail SMTP plugin might be next on the hit list, according to WordFence…

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Soft launch of 7 Minute Miles 2023

Posted January 22, 2023

Welcome to the long-delayed new theme for 7 Minute Miles! I’ve had a number of design goals for quite some time, the biggest of which was making this site appear better on mobile devices. A few months ago, I set up a test environment using the excellent WordPress development tool Local, by WP Engine. While there is still a lot of tweaking to do, it’s time to make the switch and make updates to production (I know, I know).

So what were some of my key goals?

  • Responsive design
  • Dark theme
  • Larger fonts/easier to read
  • Hamburger menu navigation
  • One design for all devices
  • Clean up and simplify code
  • Full PHP8 support

There were a number of things I initially had on the list that I decided to drop. I still really, really like the three-column newspaper look on larger screens and it was hard to let go of that Masonry codebase that I’ve used for quite a long time. Also decided I just don’t like Gutenberg and don’t want to switch now. That will change if/when the Classic Editor plugin reaches end of life, but I’m comfortable modifying the underlying theme code directly when needed.

So what’s left to do? Lots of testing across different devices (iPhone, iPad, iMac, Windows) and a review of all my previous sub-pages (some of which may not come back). Now that this is live, I need to review the demise of Tweetbot/Twitter and decide how often I want to post here and what format that will take. As always, you can find the RSS feed here and I still highly recommend NetNewsWire for following people.

Thanks for visiting!

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Sneak peek on the new 2023 theme

Pic posted January 8, 2023

The prototype is running on localhost – need to finish a couple more things, then start mobile optimization

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