more (correctable) annoyances with ios 14

I’m currently running with iOS/iPadOS 14.1, which was released last week. Before that latest update I was having issues with screen brightness and color across all my devices. I would sit looking at the device and see the brightness slowly increase, then slowly decrease, or else watch the hue shift from warm to cool and back again. Or both at the same time. That’s part of the feature set, folks.

I got so tired of it, so I went looking for all the ways to turn it off and just set my own screen brightness. First I went into Display and Brightness and turned off True Tone. That got rid of the crazy hue shifting. Then I had to go hunting further through Settings for more…

I finally stumbled upon Accessibility | Display and Text Size and made sure everything there was off. What surprised me is that Reduce Transparency and Increase Contrast were both enabled. I know I never touched those once, because it’s under Accessibility, and supposedly it’s for folks who actually need help accessing their iPhone. Once I disabled those, the look on my iPhone in particular matched what I used to get right up to the iPhone 8 and its iOS version, 11. The overall look when weird after that, which I know isn’t quite the technical term you’d like to read. But it was usable, I was busy, so I lived with the weirdness.

You’d think by now I would have nailed it all, but no, there’s one more setting which I’ll document here. At the bottom of Display and Text Size is Auto-Brightness. You have to turn that off as well. Once that’s all done, then the screen is just a screen, not some magic marketing checkbox.

The controls for controlling these “features” are all over the place in Settings. Silly me, I would have thought Auto-Brightness would be in Display & Brightness, not two levels down in Accessibility | Display and Text Size. Only a sadistic asshole Apple developer would design and implement it that way.

Now, with the latest version of iOS, all I have to do is swipe down from the upper left corner to get a control panel with the brightness widget, and set the screen brightness to a level I like. It really isn’t that hard to do, folks. The automagic capability in iOS is busted in my not-so-humble-opinion. I’m thankful that I can disable all that crap and do it on my own. Right now, I have screen brightness level set between a third and a half of the slider.

when ideology ruins technology

I’ve been conducting an experiment with myself as the test subject since the first of this year. The reason for this personal experiment has been to determine if I can live without the Chrome browser and Google search.

I can’t go cold turkey on Google. I have multiple Gmail accounts to handle various tasks, having been a Gmail user since 2005 when I was invited to participate in the Gmail beta. In the past I attempted to use Google+, and I will on occasion go slumming through YouTube to look for some off-beat bit of music or old TV program. I experimented using G Suite and its individual tools in place of Microsoft Office, but I’ve since just installed and use Libre Office everywhere, not out of some misguided idealogical motivation but because it wouldn’t do all I wanted, the way I wanted.. Finally I’m a Go language user, Go having been developed by Google and for Google’s internal use before it was released as open source for the rest of the world. Google search was the first Google product I turned to, abandoning Yahoo! search completely the day I switched to Google Beta in late 1998. That’s over two decades of using Google products in some form or fashion. And I haven’t even talked about Google World and Google Maps…

Regardless, I fell under the sway of the screaming mimies that Chrome in all its forms was Evil, as was using Google Search. Ok. So on my iPhone and iPads and Mac I started using Apple’s Safari. It was pre-installed and Apple has this big deal about being privacy focused. I’ll give it a shot. For search I turned to DuckDuckGo, the current champion of the digital cognoscenti everywhere. So how did that work out for you Bill?

In the beginning it was a little rough. Search results, in particular, were a little thin, both in quality and quantity. Using Safari was OK and wasn’t all that different than using Chrome or Firefox. Until later.

Over time I found a problem with Safari on both macOS and iOS and iPadOS. It would crash and any open tabs were lost. On. All. Three. Platforms. I use my many open browser tabs to keep track of research that is ongoing at any given time. Over time, the oldest open tabs bubble to the back and are eventually closed by me. I make those decisions. But after three crashes (two on my iPad, one on macOS), I got really peeved. I’ve never had the problem with either Chrome or Firefox. They may crash, but they have tab recovery. No so Safari. The worst crash was on macOS where I had over a dozen leading tabs out of almost 100 open to areas I was actively using for my software and hardware development. That one truly hurt.

I’ve now gone back to a combination of Chrome and Firefox. I won’t even consider Microsoft Edge, so please don’t mention it. As for DuckDuckGo, when I switched browsers I switched back to Google and got what I consider much better search results. For technical questions, I consider Google’s results to be much superior.

Lesson learned? In the future, take everything that is pushing a technical ideological agenda with many grains of salt.