December 13th, 2015

Home Automation

Two years ago, I went through a long process of decluttering, decorating, painting (okay, hiring someone to paint) and furniture replacement. Some home automation happened sort of peripheral to that project. We set up the Chamberlain MyQ and had a _ton_ of problems that didn't resolve until R. completely reset everything and reprogrammed. We think we picked up someone else's garage door during the first round of programming, so the door kept opening (or closing) at odd hours, which from a security perspective was kinda terrifying but because the app would send an alert when it happened was basically very manageable.

Eventually, we also put a keypad outside, so we only very rarely use the app anymore (mostly when I get a loaner car and forget to bring a button with me). This has some nice side effects: babysitters have no trouble getting in, and it is now actually impossible for me to lock myself out of my own house (you can laugh ... if you're mean). We also have a Nest, which is nice, because we can turn the heat/AC off for a trip, but then turn it back on enough hours before our return that we are comfortable (and, if we remember, we can program it to be reasonable for when other people will be in the house during our absence).

This is all very nice. I attempted to get one of those camera doorbells set up, but R. balked for mostly good reasons. I'd still like to do that, because one of the major uses for being able to lock and unlock the house while not home is to let people in who are there to fix something, without requiring me to be home the entire four plus hour window that they might show up. I can go for a walk, for example, or go grocery shopping, or whatever, without missing the chance to get whatever it is working again. Right now, I tell whoever is coming to call me on their way/on arrival if I think I won't be there and it mostly works, but a doorbell would be kinda cool -- and a doorbell would also have the feature of letting me text a neighbor to move the package into the house after delivery (or, conceivably, unlock the door, let the delivery person drop it inside, and then relock it after).

When we were visiting family over T-weekend, we got to experience the Echo, which T. is excited about because it will tell knock knock jokes. Now, that is a pretty good reason to buy a piece of home automation. It will not, apparently, interact with our garage door (MyQ) yet (which is a serious bummer). It will play Prime Music, which I almost never use, but I could certainly go through the appalling dance to get all my iTunes music over into Prime and then that might be useful. It will do weather and news, which seems cool. And I _think_ it will play well with the Nest. But the more I think about it, the more I think that the single best feature of the Echo might be that it will work with those light switches.

Which means that the next time I head downstairs, I don't have to bark my shins in the dark or turn lights on upstairs that might wake other people up to go downstairs and find light switches. Or (which is what I currently do) bring a flashlight. I can head downstairs and say, turn on the lights to the Echo, and if I put the kitchen light on a wifi switch, It Should Just Work. And upon returning to bed, the reverse.

Given my experience with other home automation, I'm sure there will be unpleasant surprises along the way.

Profanitype: Apple iTunes Store, MyMusic edition

I have an AppleID. I have been sharing that ID across multiple devices for many years now. I share it with my son, because before Family Sharing, that was the only way to not have to buy every damn piece of media more than once.

When I buy a song at the iTunes store, it usually will show up in MyMusic on that same device. But it _won't_ show up in MyMusic on any other device, even if those devices are ALSO using the same AppleID and are logged into iTunes and MyMusic using that AppleID (heck, even if they are both using the Match library). This is incredibly annoying. If you turn on automatic downloads for music, problem solved, but then you get everything. So. What to do?

Every other time, I've tried all kinds of crap trying to force a refresh. Generally speaking, if you bought a single and you went to look at the album listing that single is from, you can see on other devices that that track is "Purchased" -- but you can't get it to download from there.

Here is what DOES work:

Go to "More" in iTunes store, then Purchased, then whichever media, but for us it is always Music, then I always go to Recent Purchases, but you could find it via the band name or whatever. Recent Purchases takes a while to load -- you can tell that this is the one time that an actual database check occurs. Then there's a download cloud icon and you can download it.

If I bought on my son's phone, I won't need to do anything else on my own phone. But if I bought it on my phone, I'll need to enter my AppleID password in order to download it. Why? Why, Apple, why?

Things that DO NOT work: killing the instances of MyMusic and/or iTunes store in hopes that something will change when they start up again. Going to Recently Added in MyMusic to see if it is listed there. Searching by title or artist with Show All Music enabled (remember, in all these cases, it's on a shared iTunes Match library).

There are _so many things_ about this situation that don't make any sense to me (particularly WHY don't those things work on the MyMusic side? but also, why can't you download it from the Purchased indicator on the iTunes Store side when you are looking at the album listing and it shows one of the tracks as Purchased). R. says, this is so typical of Apple. I disagree. This is _very_ atypical of Apple. Apple software often fails to work in really odd and obscure ways. But this is a database interaction that is failing in a really obvious and irritating way (a couple, actually, if you count the part where I have to type in my password on my son's phone to download but not on my phone).

If you are still reading, and you've never had this happen and you are very confused, just don't. Go do something else with your valuable time. It's bad enough that Apple has destroyed my equanimity so many times. It shouldn't be wasting your time, too.

Here's the Actual Bug: iTunes Match, iTunes Store, multiple devices

By definition, if you have iTunes Match as your music library on a device, you should be able to access everything in that iTunes match library. (Yeah, yeah -- you have to have data access via wifi or cellular, whatever.) But if you buy on one device using an AppleID, it won't show up in the iTunes Match library for that same AppleID on any other device, unless you (a) have Download Everything set up or (b) go into More/Purchased/Whatever media/etc. and downloaded it.

By definition, the track should be in the iTunes Match library (which contains everything bought on the same AppleID through the store). But it isn't for the Match library ON THAT DEVICE until you take action to make it show up ... via the iTunes store.

You cannot fucking tell me that isn't a bug. That is a bug. And no, there's no mystery refresh occurring once every 24 hours, because I've had tracks fail to show up for longer than that. For all I know, there are permanently inaccessible tracks.

ETA: For all instances of "iTunes Match" probably replace with "iCloud Library".

ETA: Upon further reflection, I suspect that I know why this happened. You can delete stuff from MyMusic on a given device without it going away from the iCloud Library -- as in, it doesn't show up in the library listing any more. So while _I_ think that all devices should have windows that show the _same_ library, in fact each device has a window that shows a filtered version of the library.

Bad Hack, Apple. Very bad hack.