Soundbyte 334 – December 2022

ChristopherNews, SoundByte

Welcome to Soundbyte, Merry Christmas! In this issue:

Christmas Party

Join LMUG next Tuesday at 7pm on December 13 for our December meeting and Christmas Party. This year, due to events 🌍ut ⚽️f 🌍ur c⚽️ntr🌍l, we will host the meeting and party online via Zoom. Please find the Zoom invite for members in the email this Soundbyte came in.

We will start the evening with a special NewByte Year in Review and then break into teams for our famous annual Christmas Quiz. Come with family and friends, some food to eat, and join in!

 Don’t forget to follow LMUG on Twitter and in our podcast Brew & Byte!

Right-to-repair comes to Apple UK

Apple’s self-repair programme comes to the UK

Apple has extended their self-repair programme to the UK. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but if you feel confident to replace a cracked iPhone screen or worse, Apple will now sell or loan you the official tools to repair them, at a price. Read more about this on BBC News.

What Matters and how to play nice with Siri

The Matter home automation standard (of which Apple is a major partner) has gone live with a 1.0 release. This means Matter compatible home automation devices will now start coming to market. Matter works across many of the big providers of home automation like Amazon (Alexa) and Google (Home) and this may mean some devices that previously didn’t work with Apple’s HomeKit may soon become available. Have a look at the Verge’s first look at the new devices here.

In the meantime, a big problem with some smart home devices is availability in the UK. Some are US only, and here in the UK a number don’t work with HomeKit but instead work with something called Siri Shortcuts. A good example is the BG-Home wall sockets. These are both elegant and much cheaper than Home Kit alternatives. And yes, I bought some. How did I get on?

BG-Home Smart Sockets (with Siri Shortcuts)

First a warning. Do not try changing your wall sockets or light switches unless either you are comfortable with re-wiring your home or have hired a qualified electrician to do it for you – there is a risk of death if you get this wrong! Second, the quality of set up with ‘smart devices’ can vary tremendously between them. Some just work, and some require jiggery-pokery or a call to their tech support to get it working. These BG-Home devices unfortunately required some jiggery-pokery. I had to login to my internet router and turn off my 5Ghz WiFi network before the switches would connect to the App. This was made clear in the manual: for set-up, only a 2.4GHz network could be used. But I could turn on the 5Ghz band, again, afterwards. These issues would put most people off. So expect problems and celebrate if they don’t appear!

The idea with Siri Shortcuts is you can control the device with your voice, through Siri. So with these sockets, they have an app, and in the app you create a ‘scene’, and this ‘scene’ can be activated by Siri. Siri is built-in to the app and it asks what phrase to use. I have some sockets next to my office desk for my laptop and monitor. At the end of the work day I say “Hey Siri, Stop Work” and the sockets turn off. “Stop work” is my Siri Shortcut to turn off the sockets. Read more about Shortcuts here.

But I have a HomeKit light switch in my home office and a HomeKit smart plug powering my laser printer. At the end of the day I want all the sockets and the HomeKit light switch to turn off when I ‘Stop work’. There was nothing in the manual explaining how to do this. The problem is the scenes that control home automation devices which use Siri Shortcuts live in the Shortcuts app, rather than in the Home app, which is specifically designed to build HomeKit home automations. You cannot control a Siri Shortcut device from the Home app (which is where home automations are meant to run – an odd restriction in my opinion). The solution is an if you know, you know and if you don’t know, you don’t know situation. Rather than Home app, you need to build these home automations in the Shortcut app by adding your HomeKit device to your scene using a specific command. Here’s a quick 1, 2, 3 on how to help HomeKit play nice with Siri Shortcuts.

1. Open the shortcuts app and your ‘scene’ (…). It will be named after the Siri shortcut you say to activate the scene. Look for the ‘Search for apps and actions’ at the bottom of this screen. 2. Type “control” into the search box. In the screen shot above you can seen I have named my home: ‘Cuckoo Tree’ in the Home app. Select the option Control “name of your home” and then click ‘Scenes and Accessories’.3. You will see a list of all the HomeKit devices in your house. On that screen, select all the devices you want to control. Click Next and set what the device(s) should do, then click Done to complete the link-up between your Shortcut and HomeKit.
How to add a HomeKit automation to your Siri Shortcut

Tweet or toot!

Turmoil in the world of social media! Elon Musk, a self declared free-speech absolutist, has purchased Twitter, and promptly unbanned a large number of people who had been banned for hate or violent speech. This has prompted an exodus of advertisers, a disapproving side eye from Apple, and a flight away of Twitter users. Many have flown to a free app that is superficially like Twitter, but with clear moderation policies against hate speech, called Mastadon. On Mastadon, you don’t tweet, you toot…

Have an look at thIs review below from the Wall Street Journal to help decide if you want to join the herd.

Viruses, privacy and scammers, oh my!

Some important news on the Mac. Sophos, the internet security company has stopped support for Mac OS X. They are now only supporting macOS 11. If you can and you haven’t upgraded to macOS 11 Ventura yet, now may be the time, read more about it here. Can your Mac support the latest macOS Venture release? Check MacMost’s guide here. What about privacy though? Sometimes Apple’s privacy controls can frustrate your Mac apps working together the way you want them to. One way to resolve this may be to reset the macOS Privacy preferences. Read how to do this on MacWorld here.

There is a significant scam or fraud going around social media. It is called ‘Established Titles’. They offer to sell you a small plot of land in Scotland, whereby through ancient tradition, you can call yourself a Scottish Laird. Anyone familiar with buying/selling UK property might raise an eyebrow, but many (especially Americans) are falling for it. Have a look at this cross-examination from a US lawyer:

Strange times in uncanny valley

Despite Tim Cook’s clear opinion that Augmented Reality (AR) is the future, many big companies continue to bet on virtual worlds in virtual reality (VR). The difference is immersion. With AR glasses, images are painted over the view in front of you. Imagine seeing walking directions floating in the air before you. In contrast, VR is like being immersed in a dark room that is illuminated only by the projections and images making up a scene around you. Don’t walk around in VR though, as you might not know what you’re about to bump into or knock over! This hasn’t stopped Meta (aka Facebook) spending billions and surging ahead with their latest major VR product. Unfortunately the reviews are not good. This is either half-baked or just a bad idea. Have a look over the garden fence at this one…

VM Fusion comes back to the Mac

VMware’s Fusion is out of beta and now has a Windows 11 emulation solution that officially works on current M1 and M2 Macs. Note there still isn’t a supported version of Windows 11 available for Mac. You would still need to risk using a Windows beta test version with some techie configuration. But it may be good enough to get you out of a fix if you need to use a Windows-only app. Other options like Parallels might be simpler to set up (but more expensive). Have a look at Andrew Tsai’s tutorial here to get it running:

Offers for members

Find below the special offers available to our paying members. Access these great discounts from the discounts page in the member’s section of the LMUG website.

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  • TechTool Pro: 50% Discount
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