1 Infinite Loop

On my recent trip to the Silicon Valley, I was fortunate enough to be able to make a side trip to see the Apple headquarters. Finally getting to visit the well known “1 Infinite Loop” was as rewarding as might be expected, and at least I can now say I’ve been there.

1 Infinite Loop

See this location on a map, and use Street View for a look around.

Unfortunately, getting a photo is about the most you can do. Despite the word “Visitors” on the sign, this only applies to people with an invite, and the only way to get past the entrance is if you have a host and are able to print a badge at one of the self serve stations.

Lastly, a tribute to Apple from the good old days on a related note:

10 PRINT “INFINITE LOOP”
20 GOTO 10

Travel Tips

If you want to visit the Apple Headquarters, here are a few quick tips:

  1. Plan for about 15 minutes to look around and get a photo. If you feel like walking the loop, you could probably do it in about 15 minutes. Sorry, wish there was more!
  2. The parking lot is huge, and I saw no visible notices about where or where not to park. It seemed safe enough to find a parking spot for a quick visit.
  3. I read about there being a store, but I didn’t see it. As it turns out, the store is under renovations. Watch for it again in the future.

Google Cardboard

This Virtual Reality viewer is one of the most unusual and interesting items I received at a recent conference at the Googleplex. It consists of a cardboard frame that you get to fold yourself, two lenses, and a magnetic button trigger. The front opens up, allowing you to place a smart phone inside, and if running the correct software can create a really great display.

Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Viewer

There are apps that let you do all sorts of things, from a virtual rollercoaster, to looking around on Mars, to navigating the streets around Paris. The educational and entertainment, and even business possibilities here are huge, and I’m surprised this isn’t more well known than it is.

This technology is meant to be open and available, and you can download printable templates to build your own. Of course you’ll need a few special items such as lenses, but all components are available to your average consumer. For those who want to jump right in and perhaps get something more solid than cardboard, you can find a number of viewers available online.

Read more about Google Cardboard: https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/

Mobile-Friendly Websites Now Required

Mobile-friendly (also known as “responsive”) websites are a big deal these days, but Google is now making them a requirement if you want to be placed well in search results.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use this convenient tool on Google’s site: Mobile-Friendly Test

If your website doesn’t pass the test, email or call me to discuss your options.

Debugging PHP Files From The Command Line

Here’s a handy tip for debugging PHP files when all you get is a blank white screen. You know something is wrong, but it isn’t telling you what. This is a common problem when editing custom template files for WordPress.

Error output can be configured by modifying the php.ini file, but this may not always be accessible. Another way to have PHP tell you where it’s having a problem is by going to the command line and running it there:

    $ php -l report.php 
    
    Parse error: parse error in report.php on line 834
    Errors parsing report.php

There it is: “line 834″. It’s a quick and simple solution, and should work for just about any PHP file.

Dealing With A Hacked WordPress Site

If your WordPress site gets hacked, it’s usually pretty obvious. More than likely, your website shows nothing but a message from the hacker, often accompanied by some loud music.

site-hacked

Luckily, in most cases, the damage done to the site is merely visual, and finding and replacing a couple of key files is enough to get the site back up and running. However, you should also take steps to find out where your site was vulnerable and resolve those issues to prevent it from happening again.

WordPress has an FAQ especially for all of this. Read it first and determine whether or not this is something you can deal with yourself. If not, give me a call. I’ve dealt with a number of these and can get your site back online quickly.

iPhone 5: Workaround to Faulty Buttons

According to this engadget article, Apple has started a new program to repair, for free, iPhone 5’s with faulty sleep buttons. I’m currently using an iPhone 5, and it isn’t my original one. That one had a faulty button, which Apple simply swapped for a new one when I brought it in, but that might not be feasible for the long term.

If your iPhone has this problem, and you need to get by for a couple of days before getting it to Apple, here is a temporary fix that will keep you going. This will also work for you if your Home button isn’t working right.

The solution is a feature called AssistiveTouch. Open the Settings app, go to General, then Accessibility, where you will find an entry called AssistiveTouch. If you haven’t delved this deep into your device’s settings before: Welcome. Open it, and activate the option:

AssistiveTouch

Immediately, you’ll see a glowing button appear on the screen, which you can position anywhere on the outside edge of the screen by dragging it around. Say hello to your second Home button. Go ahead, spend a minute zipping it around the screen just for fun.

When you tap it, you’re presented with a number of options:

AssistiveTouch-Menu

Tap Device, and select Lock Screen. Not the most elegant solution, but at least you’ll be able to lock your device. You’ll notice the various Home button related tasks you can perform there as well, plus a whole bunch of other actions like changing the volume, getting to the multitasking screen, or taking a screen shot.

Good luck with your device!

Starbucks Launches New App, Not Update

Starbucks updated their app recently, but instead of going through the normal process of updating their existing app, they launched a completely new one.

starbucks-two-apps

Old icon, new icon

I’m sure there was a specific technical reason for doing this, but it means that unless you open the old app and see the update notice, you won’t automatically get the new version. Head over the App Store, search “Starbucks”, and download the new app. It’s much more streamlined and is free of some of the visual bugs that made the old one look bad.

Tremor Tracker 2.4

My latest update for the Tremor Tracker app was just released to the App Store.

Tremor Tracker 2.4

This version adds a couple of new features, addresses some bugs, and implements a few visual changes to match the iOS 7 display. Also, as you can see, it comes with a new icon for a more distinctive look.

Click the image above to view the app on iTunes and download it to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch!

Connecting a MacBook to a TV with RCA connectors

I recently needed to connect a MacBook to a TV set. For most people, this is as simple as getting an adapter, plugging in their HDMI cable, and moving on. However, the TV in question is an old model, with nothing but RCA inputs.

A Google search quickly locates pages of questions regarding this same problem, with many answers and a varying level of successful solutions. I spent a good deal of time figuring out what was necessary, some time on Amazon to find products to match, and came up with something I thought would work. Maybe I got lucky, but my solution was a success, and I’m sharing it here to help anyone else in a similar situation.

Hardware

To make this work, you’ll need three things:

Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter

Click here to see the product.

This is your standard Apple adapter. If you have an older MacBook, you’ll need a Mini DVI adapter instead of the Mini DisplayPort. Find out which one your device supports and purchase accordingly.

Generic PC to TV Converter

Click here to see the product.

This is where the magic happens. Somewhere, somehow, inside this blue box, the signal from the VGA cable is converted and exported to a video RCA plug.

Stereo to RCA Cord

Click here to see the product.

The audio needs to be sent separately from your MacBook to the TV, and this will let you go directly from one to the other. You do not need this exact product, and it’s possible you can find it at a local electronics store, or even a dollar store.

Bringing it all together

Once you have all of your equipment, the rest of the process is basically just plugging in cords. Let’s take a look at the cords you’ll plug into your MacBook:

On the left, you see the Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, which is plugged into the VGA cable that comes along with the Generic PC to TV Converter. Next to it is a USB cable that powers the Generic PC to TV Converter, and comes with it. And on the right, the stereo end of the Stereo to RCA cord.

Now we look at the Converter box:

On the left is the power input, which connects to your MacBook via USB. In the middle is the yellow RCA cable which is the output we’re looking for. On the right is the VGA cable, which is plugged into the Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter on the other end.

Once everything you see here is connected, plug the yellow video cable, and the red and white audio cables into the corresponding places on the TV set. If you’re lucky, it’ll just work. If it doesn’t work right the first time, don’t panic. There are a lot of cords and connections, and you’ll need to tinker a bit. I’ll provide a couple of tips below.

Troubleshooting

If you have trouble making this work, try the following:

NTSC vs PAL

You may see a rapidly flickering screen. If this happens, look on one of the sides of the blue Generic PC to TV Converter box where you’ll find two tiny switches. Confer with the manual, but in the end I had to guess. Try flipping them both in the opposite direction.

Check the connections and TV settings

You’re dealing with at least 10 connection points. Make sure they’re all plugged in properly. Some TVs have more than one set of RCA connectors. Be sure your TV is displaying the right ones.

MacBook display settings

When you plug in the Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, you should see a display screen icon in the top bar. Check the settings to make sure everything looks good on that end.