Colin Devroe

Issues with iOS 8.4.1

31 August 2015

Until recently iOS 8 has been a fairly solid release. I had issues with iCloud syncing — as everyone has — since the beginning but overall iOS 8 - 8.4 gave me little trouble.

I do not know if updating my iOS devices (iPhone 6, iPad Air 2) to iOS 8.4.1 is the culprit but ever since updating I’ve had a horrendous time with my iOS devices. I have two main issues; App Store does not recognize updates are available for apps, iBooks will not open.

Both of these issues are very, very temporarily solved by restarting my device. So I’ve spent the last few weeks restarting my devices more frequently than I have the passed 8 years combined.

The App Store app, after a restart, will recognize that there are application updates available for my device and I can update them. However, after opening any other application the App Store will “forget” that I have these applications installed at all.

If you take a look at your App Store’s “Update” pane you’ll notice an Update button or an Open button on the applications. The Open button shows that you have the application installed at that it is currently up-to-date. My App Store app doesn’t have that button unless I restart — so I think the App Store app doesn’t even know what apps I have installed.

iBooks, on my iPad Air 2, is an app I use a lot for both reading, highlighting, and note taking. I have a few years worth of research and ebooks in there (though, the entire library is relatively small in storage). When I open iBooks I’m presented with the “startup image” for the app but then the application crashes. If I use the app switcher I can see a screenshot of the app that iOS stores for that view… but switching to it crashes the app after a few moments.

For the first few weeks with iOS 8.4.1 I’d be able to open iBooks after a restart and so long as I didn’t close it I was fine. Now, even if I leave it on, I can’t even allow the iPad to “sleep” because iBooks will crash.

For both of these issues I’ve tried several things; full restarts, syncing with iTunes, deleting a bunch of content from iBooks, deleting apps, etc. Nothing has worked. So I think I’m at the point now where I have to do a full reset of both devices and then find someway to restore the data. I have full backups of both applications on my computer but I’m worried the problem lies somewhere in that data. So I fear losing my iBooks data.

If you have any suggestions feel free to send them along.

I’ve heard very good things about iOS 9’s stability so perhaps that release will fix some of these issues as well.

Sandbridge Virginia 2014

27 August 2015

In less than a month we’ll be heading back to Sandbridge, VA for a little getaway. We don’t normally go to the same location back-to-back for vacations but we had a great time last year and we hope to repeat it. Here are a few photos from the GoPro from last year.

I know, I look a bit crazy in this one but the waves were pretty heavy that day.

Eliza and I were able to fully inspect the house before others arrived.

My Dad and I played some great bocce games.

I had to get a little yak time in. My first time on the ocean.

Gavin teaching everyone how to vacation properly.

My mom likes to feed the birds.

I’m looking forward to seeing what we get up to this year. And, I’ll be bringing the GoPro.

Tsunami stones

26 August 2015

Martin Fackler for the NY Times in 2011:

While some are so old that the characters are worn away, most were erected about a century ago after two deadly tsunamis here, including one in 1896 that killed 22,000 people. Many carry simple warnings to drop everything and seek higher ground after a strong earthquake. Others provide grim reminders of the waves’ destructive force by listing past death tolls or marking mass graves.

I think we need to have more of these types of stones for other types of disasters and we should enforce their being heeded.

/via Hacker News.

Coworking turns 10

25 August 2015

Cat Johnson marks the 10th anniversary of coworking over on the Shareable blog:

Ten years ago this month, coworking was born in San Francisco when Brad Neuberg set up some card tables and invited people to work alongside him. There are now over 3,000 coworking spaces worldwide.

I’m happy to be part of coworking in some small way. When we opened just under a year ago almost no one in Scranton had heard of coworking and even less than that understood what it really meant. Today, we have a small but growing community of people that support the space. And Fridays fill us up from time-to-time. We still have a long way to go before we break through and make coworking a mainstay of the area. I’m looking forward to looking back in 9 more years when coworking in Scranton is 10.

Kayaking Quaker Lake and Lake Carey

24 August 2015

Last weekend my friend Eric and I went paddling around Quaker Lake and Lake Carey; each in northeastern PA pretty close to the New York border and each equally different.

Quaker Lake is a beautifully clear glacial lake that does not allow speed boats or jet skis and has some really well kept and manicure homes and properties. I’m looking forward to bringing Eliza here at some point. In fact, I’ll be seeking out lakes that restrict the horsepower of the motors more often.

Lake Carey is the opposite of Quaker Lake… the smell of fuel is pretty prevalent and the speed-boaters and weekenders partying in the middle of the lake are rampant. Not my style so I likely won’t be back on the yak. However, if I ever want to get a cool Bud Light and chat about how much the local fishing laws stink I know right where to go.

Photos from Quaker Lake:

Photos of Lake Carey:

Thanks to Eric for showing me around.

Acorn 5

24 August 2015

Gus Mueller, on his blog, about taking the time to squash bugs that weren’t even reported in Acorn:

It took months and months of work, it was super boring and mind numbing and it was really hard to justify, and it made Acorn 5 super late. But we did it anyway, because something in us felt that software quality has been going downhill in general, and we sure as heck weren't going to let that happen to Acorn. So we took a long break from adding features and just fixed stuff.

Acorn has always been good… this release looks really solid. If you’d like to support independent Mac software developers this is exactly how you do it; buy Acorn.

Disney’s steal of a deal

24 August 2015

MG Siegler on (bleh!) 500ish/Medium:

As we saw a couple days ago at Disney’s D23 Expo, the last deal is the focal point for the company for the foreseeable future. And it’s looking like it may be the steal of the bunch.

He goes on to write why he thinks the Lucas/Disney deal was such a steal.

Me, in November 2012 here on my beautiful personal blog:

So Disney, without a doubt, got a steal of a deal. But, we have to look at this transaction a little differently than just looking at the face value because Lucas took half of the money in Disney stock.
The $4 billion was split; half cash, half stock. Disney is promising to make Star Wars a much more international hit. As it stands, a huge percentage of the revenue from Star Wars comes from toys bought in the US. Disney can bring Star Wars to China, Japan and other nations where toys are a huge hit. Just not Star Wars toys. And, presumably, they can do something special in all of their parks worldwide to bring people into the parks. They can also fund, manage, and distribute new Star Wars releases, movies, games, toys - and George Lucas doesn't have to lift a finger.

Not to mention Disney’s market cap zoomed up well over $4B the very next day after the initial announcement… one could argue they’ve already made their money back from the transaction in value. Now we’ll start seeing it earn that money back in actual revenue.

/via Josh Ginter’s The Sunday Edition.

Getting off the treadmill

21 August 2015

Speaking of jwz, last night he weighed-in on the continuing trend of companies pushing the culture that to succeed in tech you must never sleep. He did so by pointing to a bunch of his older blog posts on the subject. I recommend you read them. Ultimately, though, this is his message:

Instead of that, I recommend that you do what you love because you love doing it. If that means long hours, fantastic. If that means leaving the office by 6pm every day for your underwater basket-weaving class, also fantastic.

Since he helped build Netscape and was neck deep in that culture (and made money because of it) his actions from the 90s are sometimes used against him. However, fortunately for him his words are forever recorded in the documentary Code Rush where he very plainly says that he got lucky. Most of his friends that were doing the same thing didn’t. Sleeping under your desk isn’t a formula for success otherwise all of them would have won.

While I’ve worked at startups for most of my career I’ve never subscribed to this mentality even when my own bosses were pressuring me to do so. My position at a few of the companies were threatened if I didn’t work more hours. I never gave in and I’ve never been fired from any job in my life.

Some people that I’ve worked with over the years simply could not believe I wasn’t in the office before 9am or that I would leave work before 6pm to make it to a religious meeting. Almost all of those people have less than stellar family lives, health, or the ability to do anything but work. I never looked at any of them with envy and I’m fairly certain that when they end up looking back at these decades that have passed they’ll regret not seeing more sunlight or the faces of their friends and family.

Over the last two years of building and rescuing Plain from the brink I would say that I have worked pretty hard and have definitely felt the stress of the start up choices I’ve made. Even during the worst of our time with Plain, however, I took time to kayak and go on vacation. It seems counter intuitive to workaholics but keeping a work-life balance even when you’re up against the wall may be the thing that keeps you moving forward. Working longer hours is almost never a solution to any problem. Having a clear head, less stress, and working smarter almost always is.

To that end, in fact, I think I’m going to go even further the other way. Recently Kyle and I have been throwing around the idea of a 32-hour work week. Other companies have done it and seen success. Today (Friday) I’m writing this from my home office and I plan on working a little bit this morning and then heading to kayak with Eliza. Kyle is at an amusement park with his family. Perhaps Kyle and I can somehow make it work and give ourselves even better lives and do even better work as a result.

HTML email

21 August 2015


It's possible that HTML email is my fault.

Thanks Jamie. :’(

Floating down the Delaware

20 August 2015

Eliza and a few friends floated down the Delaware River in tubes so I joined them by paddling around with the yak.

Why I like Personalsam

19 August 2015

YouTube will not allow me to comment without a Google+ account so I’m putting my comment for Sam Soffes’ daily vlog post right here:

“I think I like personalsam for the same reasons I've always enjoyed reading personal blogs. Living and working online since I was 14 could have been a lonely endeavor but tweets, blog posts, instagrams, vlogs, and podcasts have all made it easier to identify with different people online.

Why I like personalsam specifically is that you’re an inspiration in sharing everything you do; code, thoughts, bits and bytes.”

Take that Google+.

The value of a great Project Manager

19 August 2015

John Ellison, who is blogging about each day that he interns at Clear Left in Brighton, UK writes about the value of a great project manager after 16 days on the job:

We had so many different threads working in different directions and as soon as Clare jumped on the project the threads were working together towards a unified goal.

This resonates with me as we’ve just brought on Plain’s first Project Manager (more on this soon) and it has been easily one of our best decisions to-date.

Brooklyn PA

18 August 2015

Eliza and I visited with a few friends in Brooklyn PA a month or so ago. Nice place to go for a walk but man oh man there were a lot of dead things on the road.


18 August 2015


Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites--even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

Emphasis mine.

/via Mike Rundle on Twitter.

A new Apple TV in September

18 August 2015

Mark Gurman, as per usual, has the skinny on the next Apple TV. We have two Apple TV’s in the house and two at work. At home we use the Apple TV every single day. If that Mark is laying out ends up being the reality of what ships we’ll buy two immediately.


17 August 2015

I use Evernote on my desktop, tablet, and phone. I don’t particularly care for their applications* but the service and structure works well enough that I’ve been productive using them.

Jeremy Brown, a local designer and developer and frequent Coalworker, recently wrote about Alternote:

It's clean, and it's generally nice to use. What's good is great, and what's not is tolerable.* I give a lot of credit to the developer so far for undertaking what seems like an ambitious project and doing an exceptional job, especially on the interface. It seems like it's being actively developed, so I'm hopeful that what issues exist will be worked out over time.

Totally agree. I’m going to buy and use this application because I like where it is going.

* There is no perfect note taking application for everyone. Same with to-do apps. That is why there is so many of them. So while I have quite a number of quibbles with Evernote I do not blame them.

Kayaking Dunn Pond

16 August 2015

I shared a photo on Instagram/Facebook of a recent paddle on White Oak Pond and within seconds a perfect stranger suggested I paddle Dunn Pond due to its similarities. I love White Oak Pond so the first opportunity I had I went to paddle Dunn Pond. I’m glad I did.

I ended up shooting more videos than photos (here is one video).

Summertime swim

15 August 2015

This is what can happen when two little girls grab your camera and shoot over 100 photos in a matter of minutes. :-)

Walking to lunch

14 August 2015

Last week a few of us walked to Ale Mary’s — which I recommend if you haven’t tried it yet — and I took my GoPro along.

I’m digging these.

Franklin’s in downtown Wilkes-Barre

13 August 2015

Franklin's Pub in Wilkes-Barre, PA

Yesterday we had a client meeting in Wilkes-Barre and so we decided to grab lunch downtown just before it. Our intent was to visit Maer’s BBQ but, to our surprise, it was and has been closed for a while.

However, we found Franklin’s. Nice atmosphere, good food, and decent beer selection on draught. So if you’re downtown stop in and try to support them.

Inexplicably Franklin’s doesn’t have a web site (if you own Franklins and you are reading this, please get in touch with us) so I’ll leave their address right here:

53 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701

Side note: Looks like April on Yelp didn’t like it.

Shooting San Francisco with GoPro

12 August 2015

This summer I’ve found myself shooting with my GoPro Hero3 a lot. And not just while kayaking. I really dig the perspective and most of what is captured is fairly Instagrammable. I’ll also mention that the GoPro form factor is less obtrusive than the iPhone in that people hardly notice the GoPro at all.

In late-June Kyle and I made an unexpected and unplanned business trip to San Francisco so I took my GoPro along and shot a few photos along the way. These are unedited (save for size) direct from the camera.

There are several small tweaks that I typically make to the photos coming from my GoPro before posting them to Instagram — such as bumping up the saturation, bring some light to the shadows, sharpening, etc. — but overall I think the GoPro has a just different enough perspective from the iPhone that I’m dig using it.

I will say, however, that when I want to capture something with far better quality than the GoPro provides I still take out my iPhone and shoot.

Since I’ve been shooting with a Hero3 this summer I’m definitely eyeing up the GoPro Session. Based on the comparisons I’ve read it seems a capable little device.

Wi-Fi Assist in iOS 9

6 August 2015

Bradley Chambers, commenting on a new feature in the latest beta of iOS 9 that will allow the iPhone to switch to cellular data when a Wi-Fi connection gets weak:

This is going to be huge for Siri. One of the places that I typically use Siri is backing out of the driveway at home or the parking lot at work. Wi-Fi is just strong enough in both of those locations to stay connected, but have a hard time transmitting data. To a user, Siri is not working, but in reality it's just a poor Wi-Fi connection.

This is likely my single biggest gripe with iOS currently.

Here is what happens; you walk out of your home and the Wi-Fi signal effectively drops to “one bar”. It can see the network, but it doesn’t have a strong enough signal to transfer data. The iPhone will just sit there spinning not knowing what to do. This happens to me a few times per day as I’m leaving my driveway and pulling into my parking spot at Coalwork.

I’ve simply turned Wi-Fi off on my iPhone and recently bumped up my data plan. I’d much rather just be on LTE all the time. I’m happy to see this as an option in iOS 9 but I don’t really know why it isn’t something that “just works”.