How to Wake an iPad when Motion is Detected

I have an iPad in the kitchen that I wanted to turn into a security camera display.  I didn’t want it on constantly – only when we were nearby. (Also, since Apple’s built-in Home app doesn’t yet display a camera-only view, I used the Eve app, which doesn’t actually require any Eve equipment. Bonus: Eve shows 6+ cameras at once.)

A lot of tips on this involve setting Guided Access mode.  I didn’t want to limit the iPad to one app, so I disregarded that method.  I did have an extra smart outlet (a $39 Eve Energy outlet) laying around, so I used that with this tip by “justpassingthrou14”, found on Reddit:

This requires you have the aforementioned smart outlet along with at least one motion sensor (in my case, the motion sensor built into a $38 Eufy IndoorCam). Set up two automations:

  1. One automation runs on your Home hub. Open the Home app on your phone, and create an automation using the motion sensor trigger, turning off power to the iPad’s charger.
  2. The second automation runs on the iPad itself. On the iPad, open Shortcuts > Automation > Personal Automation > When iPad disconnects from power, Launch Eve (or Home) app. This wakes and unlocks the iPad and opens it to whatever app.

I set this up and it worked, but I ran into a new problem: How do you charge the iPad if motion is happening in the kitchen all day? Aren’t you going to run out with the display constantly on?

To resolve this, I just setup a third automation:

  1. When motion is detected outside, turn on power to the iPad’s charger.

That’s it. I now have a full security camera view automatically lit up whenever anyone walks around in the kitchen.

Image Credit: Eve, homekitauthority.com, showing another way to quickly show all iPad security cameras at once

I could further improve this by setting something to turn off the iPad’s display when we go to bed, but for now I do that manually as part of my nightly checks to ensure the house is locked up.

How to Find your iPad’s Maximum Battery Capacity and Cycle Count

Unlike the iPhone, when you go to iPad Settings > Battery, there is no way to easily see your battery’s maximum battery capacity percentage or cycle count. Here’s how you can find this on the iPad:

  1. Open Settings > Privacy
  2. Scroll to Analytics & Improvements (if Share iPad Analytics is not on, you’ll need to turn it on for at least 24 hours to get battery data)
  3. Hit Analytics Data
  4. Scroll down to the newest log-aggregated-20**-**-**-******.***.ips file. Open it.
  5. Scroll to com.apple.power.battery.BatteryCycleCount to get the cycle count. In my case (screenshot below) on my 8-month-old iPad Air, my cycle count is 9. On my 6.5 year old iPad Pro, the cycle count is 389.
  6. Scroll to com.apple.power.battery.MaximumCapacityPercent to get your maximum capacity percentage. On my 8-month-old iPad Air (screenshot below), my maximum capacity is 93%. On my 6.5 year old iPad Pro, the capacity is 88%.

Apple’s battery service page says “[the iPad’s] battery is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity at 1000 complete charge cycles.” If your battery is below 80%, you can take it in to get serviced (if it’s still within warranty).

In my case, my iPad Air is doing fine, but my 6.5 year old iPad Pro drains way faster than it used to, as you might expect from a battery that old.

In general, I find that when Apple devices get below 90%, their useful battery life is greatly diminished. It feels more like they have ~60% of their life left. But Apple classifies the original iPad Pro as a vintage product, so there’s not much I can do besides replace it with a new one in a year or so. I’ll probably get a $559 M1 iPad Air to replace it.

It’s okay though for now though – my original iPad Pro still serves as a useful security camera display – but that’s a subject for a different post.

AirBnB vs. Hotels

From over a decade of experience with both:

  • If something goes wrong during your stay – Hotels win. We had an AirBnB in Spain where the washer door froze in a locked position – for 2 days. Multiple spin and drain cycles wouldn’t release the door lock. The owner of the 5 star rated flat would only communicate via WhatsApp or Airbnb email (never in person). After a lot of back and forth and waiting, she actually sent me a YouTube video instructing me to take apart the washer and release the door. The YouTube video wasn’t even for the same washer! I refused and asked her to get a maintenance person to come fix it. Finally, 2 days later, just as she was about to send out for a repair, the washer fully drained and unlocked itself.

    With a hotel, you just call down to the front desk and have them send the on-site maintenance person to fix it same day. Or if the washer is broken but you can actually get your clothes out, use a different washer in the same hotel. Or have them do the laundry for you.
  • Broken or missing items: Hotels win. We had an air conditioner remote in a Sóller⁩ Airbnb that was locked in a drawer so we couldn’t use the AC in the bedroom.  The owner told us to open windows for a breeze, but that would let light in while sleeping. We had to politely pester her 3 times before she would unlock the drawer and allow us to use the air conditioner on very hot nights.  Again, at a 5 star rated Airbnb.

    Another time in Spain, 2 of 3 air conditioners were working but the one in the kids room wasn’t.  We had to blast the main AC to keep the kids from sweating.  In a hotel, they’d just move us to a different room.

    In an Airbnb in New Jersey, the owner had a carbon monoxide detector beeping intermittently right beside the bedroom we were sleeping in.  The host dismissed it as “the detector was too close to the water heater”, but we noped right out of there and got a hotel.  Thankfully, we managed to get the owner to refund us our money.

    In multiple Airbnbs in two different cities in Spain, we had problems with very loud rooftop birds waking us up at 6 and 7am.  Hotels usually have double or triple paned glass and shutters to keep out the noise.  The Airbnbs didn’t.

    In general, things are more likely to be broken, blankets are more likely to be musty, and owners unresponsive, in an Airbnb.  You can get a fresh blanket or extra pillow in a hotel.  At one 5 star Airbnb, we had multiple remote controls for air conditioners and TVs with batteries so old that they were corroded.  We had to buy more batteries and clean the corrosion ourselves.  Not hard, but an inconvenience when you’re just trying to relax after a long trip or scout your next destination.
  • Internet: More likely to be reliable in a hotel.  At one Airbnb, I had to find and reboot the router for the connection to work, and even then, the Wi-Fi didn’t reach the master bedroom 50 feet away. At another home, we had problems getting reliable Wi-Fi in every room in the house.  It’s as if the owners have never heard of modern mesh networking with eero routers, or maybe they just don’t want to spend 150€ to improve coverage.  Meanwhile, at all hotels we stayed at during our European and New York City trip, we had strong reliable wifi everywhere.
  • Checking in: Hotels win.  At a Spanish Airbnb, the owner tried multiple times to remotely unlock the front door.  After 30 minutes in the hot sun, we were able to ring all 4 neighbors and find one that had double locked the door so it couldn’t remotely unlock.  He unlocked it for us.  Thankfully we got there during daytime hours.  If it had been 1am, we’d of had to wake somebody up! (and likely pay a late check-in fee to boot)
  • Location: Airbnb usually wins.  You can get a flat in the center of it all, in walking distance to anything you might want to see.  With hotels, you might be a bit farther out or pay a lot more for something closer to the sights and eats.  One caveat: a taxi can almost always bring you directly to your hotel, while your Airbnb flat might be in a location only accessible by foot.  We experienced this multiple times in Europe.  If you have a lot of bags to schlep, best get a hotel.
  • Space for Families: Airbnb usually wins.  You can rent an entire apartment with a separate room for each kid.  This is fantastic for everyone’s sleep!  (If the AC works.) With a hotel you have to seek out the rare ones with partitioned/adjoining roomsSometimes these rooms can actually be cheaper in a hotel – but they are hard to find. (For example, Hilton Embassy Suites have these, and occasionally hotels will have extra handicapped rooms available which they will allow families to use.)
  • Travel Advice: Airbnb wins. Owners are usually knowledgeable about good places to eat, avoiding local scams, and avoiding tourist traps.  At a hotel, you’re more likely to be recommended a potential tourist trap they’re getting a kickback from recommending.
  • Supplies: Hotels win.  Need more toilet paper?  Front desk will send some up.  Need more towels?  Front desk.  At multiple AirBnBs in major cities in Spain including Sóller⁩ and Barcelona, the owners seemed to think 3 tiny rolls of toilet paper is enough for 4 people for 1 week.  No.  Especially when you have small children going potty a lot.  It’s not hard to buy more at convenience stores, but hope you don’t run out at 10pm when they close.  The owners are usually not on site when you need them.
  • (Free) Breakfast: Hotels usually win.  There’s almost always no breakfast in an air bed n breakfast.  Hotels usually have something free/included or at least easy to get to.  Fortunately, the locations we picked for Airbnbs had us covered for some delicious breakfasts (for example, Zeni Coffee in Nice, France – we literally went here every day of our stay in Nice – it was that good.)

Hotels vs. Airbnbs Price per city
Image credit: passiveairbnb.com
  • Price: Hotels usually – but not always (see Airbnb-biased chart above) – win again. What the chart doesn’t show you is – after Airbnb’s hidden cleaning fees and service fees – Airbnb is usually more expensive. In Europe, tax is usually included in the price you pay, so the advertised hotel price is what you get. With Airbnb, more often than not, the advertised price looks cheaper but is more expensive during checkout. Plus, many times you may have to pay a hidden cash-only local tax fee to the Airbnb owner of 13-20€. Don’t forget late-check-in fees of 30-60€.

    On top of the higher price, Airbnb expects and nags you to spend time rating your stays and writing reviews. You can either write an honest 3 star review and get reciprocal 1-3 star feedback, ruining your chances of getting accepted as a guest again, or you can write a glowing 5 star review that the owner doesn’t deserve just so you can get a 5 star review back.

    Or you can do what I do and just refuse to write reviews on their site any longer. At hotels, you might get one survey email which they give you points for filling out. You usually don’t have to worry about speaking your mind about what the hotel can improve.
  • Security/Spy cameras: There are more likely to be hidden/undisclosed security/spy cameras in your room in an Airbnb than a hotel – although you should still check your hotel room carefully.
  • Bed bugs: Could be anywhere. Check any place you stay. Especially if you’re in a big city staying in a popular place. We actually found some old very slight potential bed bug evidence on a pull-out-bed mattress in a U.S. hotel about a year ago. The hotel was great about it. They quickly replaced the entire mattress and gave us a free night.
  • Politics: If you prefer the companies you do business with to stay neutral on politics and just focus on providing good service, hotels (especially smaller ones) have a lot better track record than Airbnb does.
  • Amenities: Many hotels offer spas, swimming pools, massage, fitness centers, even steam rooms, whereas Airbnbs usually don’t.  

Overall, hotels are still the best.  (Winning 10 categories above to Airbnb’s 3 categories).  Check Priceline or your warehouse club’s travel page for even better deals, or just book with the hotel directly. 

The only reason we still hold our noses and occasionally book with Airbnb is because it’s easier to find separate bedrooms for parents and kids.  Of course, we could get adjoining rooms in a hotel for this but that’s sometimes double the price. Shop carefully!

M1 Mac and LG Ultrafine Monitor Not Waking from Sleep Fix

Many people have had this problem where, intermittently, M1 Macs will fail to wake up their (LG) monitors from display sleep.  So instead of pressing a key on the keyboard to wake the display, you have to unplug the whole display and plug it back in to get it to be recognized again.

I couldn’t figure out why this was happening. But then I read somewhere on Reddit that a guy fixed the problem using one of those electromagnetic cable shield loops.  (can’t remember the name of it right now)

So I tried making a poor man’s electromagnetic shield with Aluminum Foil:

Poor man's foil electromagnetic shielding on monitor

And it worked!  This foil has been there for well over a week now and my M1 Mac wakes the LG display from sleep every time.

Now, if only my two different M1 Macs would not blaze my LG displays at 100% brightness almost every time they woke the display up. But that’s a subject for a different post.

Forecast Failed or No Weather Data errors from macOS Weather Widget

A few months ago I was fiddling with location services on my Mac Mini. (Running macOS Monterey 12.4) I ran a few defaults write commands without recording what I was doing. This was in an attempt to fix something else, and I forget what it was I was doing or whether it worked. I don’t even know if it caused what I’m seeing below.

Now, whenever the Mac has been sitting for a while (awake but with the display off), I get these errors when I open Notification Center:

In the Console, I see:

I did a few things that did not involve defaults write commands to try and fix this. These were all temporary fixes:

  • Settings > Security & Privacy > Hit (un)Lock > toggle off/on Location
  • Delete weather widget and re-add
  • Clear cache files from ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.weather.widget/Data/Library/Caches/com.apple.weather.widget/ and re-add weather widget
  • Toggle off/on Wi-Fi

Sometimes after toggling Wi-Fi, local weather would work, but Photos would say “Looking up location data” forever when you tried to see where a picture was taken. Maps would also hang.

Finally, I tried turning off Limit IP address tracking in Settings > Network > Wi-Fi and restarted the computer. Everything started working, and it’s been working for 6+ hours. Let’s see if it continues working after a day or so, but here’s hoping!

Update: It failed after around 48 hours this time. But now all I have to do to fix it is toggle Limit IP Address Tracking On/Off and it instantly starts working again.

Let me know in the comments below if this has happened to you and if you were able to resolve it.

On a related note, I also found that if your Notification Center widget isn’t responding to mouse clicks (for example, to change your city location to My Location, or to press Done), you need to force quit the WidgetConfigurationExtension from Activity Monitor.

Turning the HomePod Mini into a Noise Machine

My wife insists on brown noise when she’s sleeping, and white noise for when our kids sleep. We only had one noise machine that we purchased years ago for the kids. It still works great. It’s hooked up to a smart outlet and automatically turns on when it’s time for the kids to go to sleep.

That leaves our bedroom. To get the particular noise she prefers, she has to fiddle with the MyNoise app on her phone (which sometimes loses her preset), move the phone in the right position, and adjust the volume. I wanted to automate this to make her bedtime routine just a tad easier.

Now the easy solution would just be to buy another old school noise machine and hook it up to a smart outlet.

But I had a HomePod Mini laying around.

So I spent a few hours geeking out trying to get the HomePod Mini to work with Apple Music / iTunes Match. Here’s what worked:

  1. Purchase wife’s favorite brown noise track. You’ll note this track, at 68hz, is only 1.5 minutes long. None of the hour+-long options available had the right pitch or tone – some were too deep and scary, some were too high pitched and staticky. The 68hz one turned out to be the Goldilocks track.
  2. Convert the track to WAV format in preparation for looping it into an hour. Why does it need to be looped? Because if you just stick it on repeat, you’re going to hear a pause every 1.5 minutes. Gets annoying fast if you’re trying to sleep.
  3. Make 40 copies of the track, and crossfade those copies into one file with FFmpeg. (Huge thanks to Gyan Doshi at SuperUser for figuring this out!) This is also documented at FFmpeg’s site.
  4. Convert the resulting almost-1-hour long WAV file back into M4A format and upload it to iTunes Match.
  5. On the iPhone, open the Home app. Add an automation to automatically play the above track and turn off the bedside light at a pre-set time. (or when we say Hey Siri, Good Night)
HomePod Mini Automation in Home app
HomePod Mini Automation in Home App

You may ask, why not just use the sounds built into the HomePod or the sounds built into the iPhone? Because my wife hated all those sounds. Now she has the perfect sound for her, looped, with no pauses*, helping her fall asleep faster without any fiddling around. If she sleeps soundly, I sleep soundly. It was fun to get this accomplished! Hope this helps someone else searching for the perfect dream machine.

* Technically, there’s a brief pause after a little under an hour while it loops. But by this time, we are almost always long asleep. Also note that iTunes Match’s maximum track length is 2 hours, so don’t go crazy with your loops.

Switching from Linux back to the Mac

I used a Linux Thinkpad laptop for a little over 1 year at work. The latest long-term-support Ubuntu version of Linux was installed. As the months passed, it got more and more unreliable. The most serious problems were:

  • When powering on, it would often require 3 full power cycles to get to the desktop after login. I would be staring at a blinking cursor, and it would hang, with no progress, and I’d have to power off and on again.
  • Waking from sleep reliably would almost never happen, especially with a USB-C external monitor connected. I’d have to reboot when it couldn’t wake from sleep, sometimes multiple times.
  • Randomly forgets 200% scaled resolution at 4K and brings me back to 100%, requiring a trip to settings to set it back.
  • Fans spin louder when connected to any external monitor at any resolution.
  • Requires numerous tweaks to get many things working. For example, AirPods used to be normal volume but are now very low volume and can’t be reset, monitor brightness can’t be controlled via function keys and requires command line tool to adjust, fingerprint login only works 20% of the time, etc.
Image credit: itsfoss.com

All this time I had an older Mac laptop for another work project right next to it, and it by contrast was utterly reliable, even with gobs of enterprise security software installed on it. Wakes from sleep instantly 100% of the time, never forgets resolution, works perfectly in clamshell mode, and is mostly silent unless it’s doing an update.

My workplace has since replaced the Ubuntu Linux Thinkpad laptop with a M1 MacBook. It’s silent at all times. Really the only problems I have are occasionally it will set the external monitor to 100% brightness when waking from sleep, and once every couple of weeks I will have to unplug and replug the external monitor to get anything shown on the screen again. Other than that, it’s fantastic. No reboots needed.

Gravity Weighted Blanket

I bought a Gravity weighted blanket a few months ago. A few people have asked me my opinion on it, so I’m putting down my thoughts here:

Pros:

  • It’s like a big hug every night. Comfortable, no off-gassing smells, well-made.
  • I go to sleep faster and stay in bed longer with it on.
  • Cover is washable.
  • Even the cooling version is warm in the winter. (in a 65-67F / 18-19C household) If you’re used to wearing pajamas, you may want to sleep without them. If you keep your house above 70F / 21C, you may not want a weighted blanket.)
  • You may be able to get a discount on Black Friday or by emailing support politely.

Cons:

  • If you’re over 5’10”, you should probably get the King/Queen version. The Standard version is just too short. My feet kept sticking out, and I had to return/exchange it (and pay $55 return shipping).
  • The King/Queen version is expensive. ($265 + tax when I bought it)
  • It’s heavy: 35 pounds, and can be a bear to move.
  • Comes with suffocation warnings for children under a certain age – that’s how heavy it is. This is an adult blanket.

Despite the cons, I’m glad I got it. I was going to get another big plush Korean blanket (which is pretty heavy itself at around 15 pounds) but decided on Gravity and it’s even better.

Error: Windows Could Not Prepare the Computer to Boot into the Next Phase of Installation

I kept getting the above error when installing Windows 10 and Windows 11 from two different USB sticks onto a ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop. I had followed the process outlined at FreeCodeCamp for creating the USB sticks from a Mac.

Finally, I figured it out based on a comment on another board: During Windows setup, delete all the partitions except for the first one. Now installation proceeds, to a point:

Then I got the error “Windows could not update the computer’s boot configuration.” To resolve this and the previous error, I reset the BIOS to the default configuration, and crucially, used MBR to format the USB stick instead of GPT. ( diskutil eraseDisk MS-DOS "WIN10" MBR /dev/disk2 )

Now Windows installed successfully!

Apple Music vs. Spotify Discover Weekly vs. Amazon Discovery Mix in 2021

Decided to give these services another shot in November 2021.

  • Apple Music’s New Music Mix gave me 25 genuinely new songs, 9 of which I liked, a 36% success rate.
  • Spotify’s Discover Weekly gave me 30 songs, some dating back decades, 5 of which I liked, a 17% success rate.
  • Apple’s selection was a variety of progressive house, techno, dance, electronica.
  • Spotify’s was entirely drum and bass, even though I’ve listened to plenty of other music using their service. (But had checked out another Spotify drum and bass playlist recently.)

I used Spotify’s web player, which gave me no ads during the entire time I listened. (using their free plan.) For Apple Music, I used the generous free trial (2 or 5 months) given by the Shazam app. The Apple Music player on the Mac is janky – with odd back navigation. You also can’t drag their New Music mix to the sidebar, unlike Spotify where Discover Weekly is easily findable.

I also tried Amazon Music’s “Discovery Mix” and “You Might Like”. Stunningly, out of 25 songs in the discovery mix and 30+ in the “You Might Like”, not a single song was good. It’s like Amazon didn’t even look at my Amazon Music library to discover what I like. It was all random garbage.

I’ll give the win to Apple Music this week, as they overall had the most new music I liked. I even loved one of the 9 liked songs they recommended. (For the record, I loved two of Spotify’s, but Apple just found more new music that I at least liked.)