Personal Computing

Apple Silicon?

On November 10, 2020 Apple announced new small MacBooks and a Mac Mini based on Apple Silicon M1, an Apple designed ARM system on a chip similar to those in iPad and iPhone but tweaked for larger computers. So what’s different and how should it affect your purchase plans?

Anyone spending time on YouTube and various fan sites has noticed the vast amount of click bait on the subject of the new M1 Macs. Most of it is some version of the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt video). We are trying hard not to add to it or to get out over our skis here at Dismal Manor.

Apple has done something great. It will get greater as software shops revise their products to best use the new hardware and Mac OS Big Sur. Present Day Production advises continuing with your current computational environment until your software suppliers have sorted their products for the new OS and hardware. But the M1 Mini and Big Sur are working well enough to purchase and begin exploration and migration planning. What they are finding is that the core product works but individual audio or video plugins may be fussy. Fussy is not good for shop margins or delivery commitments so they are holding short of the runway until their suppliers say they’re good to go on the M1.

Apple released its most popular computers first, the individual laptops and the workhorse Mac Mini. They held off on iMac, the larger MacBooks targeted to knowledge workers, and the custom machines used in the graphic arts and software development in the large.

These machines look familiar on the outside but are completely different inside. The processor architecture is different, the graphics subsystem architecture is different, and the memory is on the processor die. So why upset the world like this? The Cold Fusion video introduces the core ideas underlying the Apple Silicon product line.

Home automation Personal Computing

Dismal Manor Dog Doorbell

At last, the dog doorbell I’ve been wanting. Apple HomeKit Secure Video with Eufy second generation wireless cameras makes a nice dog doorbell. This article tells how to set up HomeKit 4 for the dog doorbell application.

I primarily use HomeKit to alert me when the dogs want in. We have only a couple of months of door open weather where temperature and humidity allow the garden door to stay open. The rest of the year it is shut. The cameras are more reliable than an ear peeled for barking (greyhounds are notoriously non-vocal). It also collects video in case we have a break in while I’m away. Greyhounds are not territorial but Rocky is. He scares the bejesus out of anyone who comes to the door.


  1. HomeKit Secure Video setup.

Eufy Secure Video at Dismal Manor

Dismal Manor has two Eufy Camera 2 wireless battery powered cameras and a USB powered wireless camera. Since I purchased these for Dismal Manor, Eufy has retired the first generation products and now offers only the newer products compatible with the second generation bridge. Only the newer bridge runs the HomeKit gateway.

Eufy has extended the product line to include a complete set of home security door and window sensors, motion sensor, doorbell, etc. Although I’ve not tried it, I believe the perimeter sensors are also HomeKit compatible.

The featured image shows the view from our two back garden cameras. A Ubiquity UniFi Protect DVR and wired 3G cameras capture the front door approach and deep back garden. The Eufy cameras serve primarily as greyhound and fence line monitors. Note that they clearly show the gate and carport X-pen, fence line, and porch landing.

Eufy Battery Life and Motion Settings

Your mileage may vary. I find battery life is about 2 months here as there are many dog motion and dog coming and going events to be recorded. Battery life is easily checked in Home App camera settings.

Dismal Manor is set up to detect animals and people on the porch. HomeKit will spool video, send an alert, and save video when people or pooches are detected on the porch deck at the door. This is very useful as it lets me know that a dog wants in. Or is mounting Zombie Squad HQ patrol from the porch deck.

An Eve Home door sensor logs door openings and closings in HomeKit. These can be correlated with video clips to locate video of an unauthorized entry.

I have disabled vehicle detection and carefully panned the cameras to minimize the view of the street. Vehicle motion will significantly reduce battery life. Night time vehicle light motion will also eat into battery life.

Note that, depending on motion detection sophistication, the cameras may also report shadow movement and tree branch movement. Be careful to keep busy tree limbs pruned out of view.

Motion Detection

Each camera can be configured individually detect motion. There are three settings that may be enabled individually.

  • All motion
  • Vehicle motion
  • People motion
  • Animal motion

This is the key. I can suppress vehicle motion that I don’t care about. These cameras can see a bit of street and traffic is continuous so I don’t want to spend battery saving vehicle transit clips.

People motion can be disabled when the camera has a view of street or public sidewalks. No sense recording passers by. Local or state ordinances may restrict such recording. At a minimum, you must tell people they are on candid camera.

Filtering or reporting animal motion is useful depending on use case. Here at the manor, I have enabled animal motion detection. This ability makes the dog doorbell possible. When a dog comes up on the landing, it is detected and reported.

I have my cameras configured as shown above. Detect people (usually me), detect animals (usually Rocky) and record them. The bridge reflects these settings properly on the Eufy side of things.

Recording happens in an AppleTV or HomePod in the Manor. I’m not sure which takes lead. The Eufy Base Station also has 16 GB of video storage to cache clips locally. Clips pushed off site are encrypted and can only be recovered via the Home App on a Mac or iThing. And all devices must be logged in to a common Apple ID. Access by other Apple IDs may be configured by adding the Apple ID to the HomeKit home.

Off Site Video

I can look in on the dogs while away from home. A third Eufy wired camera is our “RockyCam” that is active when I’m away from home. I can check it over LTE to see how badly Rocky is pacing in my absence. He’s convinced there are Zombies under the bed. This camera is positioned primarily to show door reactions and pacing between the lounge and bedrooms. It is set up for away recording.


I have the MacOS notifications set up as shown below. The iPhone is set up to report when any motion is detected.

Notifications Management

To participate in HomeKit secure video, an iThing must have a Home App installed. Each iThing individually controls notification delivery. I have my iPhone set to always deliver motion detection notifications. It is also set to pass these on to Apple Watch. This combination lets Apple Watch tap me on the wrist when a dog wants in.

You can gate notifications using your WHISKEY (location, not single malt preference). When home or when not home. I leave this setting off which is treated as always. This works nicely as I get a tap on the wrist when Rocky or Missy wants in.

Home automation Personal Computing

HomePodOS 14.1

On Thursday, Siri and I had a shouting match ending in a hard reset and reconfiguring of HomePod. Fortunately, Apple Support procedures included a reset procedure that put HomePod back into factory fresh condition, updated the firmware to HomePodOS 14.1, and allowed me to reconfigure HomePod for use here in the study.

The 14.1 release adds support for HomePod Mini, configuration transfer, the Intercom feature Uncle Tim demonstrated, and more.


Save yourself a lot of trouble and use Genuine Apple Support Procedures rather that magazine articles or how-to click bait.

  1. Resetting HomePod
  2. HomePod Software Release Notes, like forever.

AirPlay Accepts Roon Connections

Apple appears to have resolved the AirPlay connection difficulties in HomePodOS 14.1 release. Before 14.1, HomePod AirPlay server would get horribly tangled and would refuse non-Apple connection requests, specifically from Roon Core. After much fowl language and a reset, HomePod appears to be sorted and is accepting Roon connections.

Siri still plays unwanted Apple Music

Siri still has the problem of playing unwanted music in an attempt to ingratiate herself with the user. Since I haven’t used Apple Music in 3 years, she’s at a bit of a loss as to what should be played. There is still no way to turn off Apple Music in HomePod OS or in MacOS. If you remove Apple Music, audio codec libraries are removed.

Checking HomePodOS Version

MacOS Home App lets you check the HomePodOS version fairly easily. Double click on the tile representing the offensive HomePod. It will open to show the device’s preferences pane. Scroll to the bottom where the device ID and software version information appears.

Single clicks will reward you with unwanted music chosen by Siri for your annoyance.

You can also reset or remove your HomePod here.

Personal Computing

I thought Apple left Infinite Loop?

Apple’s first HQ was at 1 Infinite Loop in Mountain View. Steve Jobs and I apparently share a self-deprecating sense of humor. With the new HQ, Apple now has a much less memorable address. So why write about infinite loops? There appears to be one in the process of changing an Apple ID’s password. Apple ID is the key to using Apple iCloud services and enabling iThings to collaborate in a user environment.

Would the change Apple ID password pass the Tim Cook test? I suspect not. Tim’s an old duffer like me. Or maybe Tim likes infinite loops. Somehow, I suspect not.

Personal Computing

Introducing Fantastical Calendar

In his search for a better calendaring app, the Dismal Wizard remembered that he had been using CardHop for some time to wrangle contacts quickly. So he poked around some at the App Store to discover that the Card Hop people are also the Fantastical Calendar people. So he bravely plunked down $5 colonial dollars for a one month trial of Premium Fantastical Calendar. It is what the Wizard had been seeking for 18 years. He’ll explain after the break

Personal Computing

New Apple Calendar?

Do you like the 2020 iOS 14 Unified Apple Calendar? Dismal Wizard does not. He decided to do something about it and found One Calendar by a couple of intrepid young Netherlands programmers. Read about DW’s gripes and OneCalendar after the break.

Personal Computing

TrueNAS Core 12.0 RC1 Arrives

Dismal Manor runs a small hobby TrueNAS server to hold and serve photos and music. This server shares files with a MacOS system and runs instances of Roon and Plex to distribute music about the manor. On Friday, Dismal Wizard said 3 hail Marys and upgraded from FreeNAS 11.3 to TrueNAS Core 12.0 RC1. Here are the Wizard’s first impressions.

Personal Computing

MacOS Catalina Stability?

Image is a screen capture of a screen capture from a blog article linked as Reference 2. Jim thought to catch this standard Apple alert box.

As Apple updates MacOS Catalina, stability appears to be on the decline. Here at Camp Dismal, we are experiencing a number of issues that the Dismal Wizard believed were related to USB disks. This 27 inch Retina iMac has 2, a USB Blue Ray drive from MacSales and a LaCie external disk that had been used for disk backup on our FreeNAS file server.

I’ve been sending crash reports to Apple. I can visualize some summer intern at home up to his armpits in panic reports and hang reports. What is going on? I have no effing idea. After the break, what I have tinkered with to no avail to remove the issue.

Greyhounds Personal Computing Photography Twittering

Mister Fancy Pants

Image taken by the author and manipulated in Apple iOS Photos of the Bovver Boys courtesy of their social media minions.

Rocky has made great strides in his house manners. We continue to work on treat taking, table manors are largely down when I’m at the island counter, and he is getting the hang of moving about the house. He’s caught on that Missy won’t be bullied to change beds.

He’ still a shouty git. He still wants brekkie at 0400 but waits to mug me after a loo visit. He still wants his tea around 1530 but can be distracted into waiting until 1630 or so. He’s still working on meeting trades and has yet to catch on to the notion that trades are not Blighters of Zombies. Maybe Zombie Squad HQ has a training for that.

So why is he Mister Fancy Pants?

Rocky with big muscles flushed (pink)
Mister Fancy Pants

His ticking makes him look like he is wearing yoga pants! This is an iOS 13 Apple Clips manipulated image that exaggerates his markings and coat texture. In boring reality his bum looks like this.

Rocky showing off his yoga pants while watching Squizzer TV

So that it?

No, he did something stupid so Missy give him the nickname for a Twitter post. Her social media assistant has forgotten the specific incident.

Apple iOS Clips App is a lot of fun

Clips App can process new camera images or video clips to apply various transformations to them. I’ve done a couple of things where I’ve grabbed a promising photo off of Twitter, filtered it, and posted it back as a comment on the original post. I modded an image of @NormTheCairn. Later that day both #BovverBoys were posting photos for me to render for them. I like the “Comic” filter.


The Bovver Boys posted this image on the occasion of friends day. I suspect it is a paste up but it is one of their better efforts at getting both of them into the same image. So I saved it to my iPad and had a go at it.

Bovver Boys before Comic Rendering


This image is the result of cropping and applying the color version of the Comic transformation. There are monochrome, pen and ink, and various color transformation filters. I keep coming back to the color Comic filter.

Bovver Boys Norm The Cairn and Rupert after comic render and crop

This may be a good technique to try for #ZZST storyboard collages. The ZZST artists make these up using Zombie cartoons as a base layer and clipped images of the brave Zombie Squad war fighters participating in that Saturday’s event.

Personal Computing Uncategorized

Alternative Twitter Apps

With the advent of iPadOS and development work at Twitter, Inc. the iPad Twitter app has become unstable. As of iPadOS 13.1, multiple users are seeing the following problems.

  • Each time the app is updated, view mode switches from the most recent to “Home” view. Most users prefer the timeline view.
  • In both home and timeline views, the app interrupts what you are doing to refresh the view.
  • The app segfaults at random
  • The app hangs in the tweet editor
  • The app segfaults in the tweet editor

In this article, we’ll look at an alternative Twitter app. There are two well regarded apps, Twitteriffic and Tweetbot having similar user interfaces and none of the rude behaviors mentioned above.