Wemo and a New Router

Cliffs Notes: Delete the Wemo app. Reboot your iPhone. Reinstall the app and go from there.

I got my first Wemo devices at least as far back as 2015. I’ve been happy with them. They work. Yes, they can be occasionally stubborn — but I think that’s mostly due to wifi dead spots in my home. A built-in ethernet port would be a nice option. And yes, the Mini Smart Plugs that never stop broadcasting their setup wifi network? Also annoying, but hardly a dealbreaker.

Today I considered getting rid of all my Wemo devices in favor of a competitor. It didn’t matter which competitor. I was frustrated. I couldn’t get any of my Wemo devices to connect to my new wifi network. (I have entered the world of mesh wifi with a pair of Nest Wifi routers.)

I did some research before I created the new network. Based on what I found, I would have to factory reset each Wemo device in order to get it onto the new wifi network. Fine. Not ideal, but fine.

Wemo devices, like many smart devices, broadcast their own wifi network in order to perform initial setup with help from another device like a phone or tablet. It makes a lot of sense — modern phones have a screen. Things like light switches or doorbells or speakers tend not to.

I was able to get each of my Wemo devices to broadcast its setup wifi network. I was able to get my iPhone to connect to each of these devices (though not always on the first try). But that was where my progress stopped. For each smart plug, I was prompted to use my phone’s camera to snap/scan the plug’s Homekit code, or type in the code manually. But none of my plugs are new enough to have Homekit codes printed on them. For the light switch, I was just shown basic instructions about installing the hardware in wall. Not what I was looking for.

I gave up and moved on. I got every non-Wemo smart device in my house connected to the new wifi network. Then I did some more Googling, and found this on Reddit: Wemo Smart Plugs do not play well with SSID name change The crucial advice? Delete the Wemo app from you iPhone. Reboot your phone. Go from there.

What do you know? It worked. For devices that I didn’t factory reset, the name and ID photo were still stored. So the factory reset didn’t help anything, and actually lost my customization.

You would think a line of devices that depend on wifi would walk users through the process of moving devices to a new wifi network. For contrast, the Ring Doorbell app has a Device Health screen with an action called “Change Wi-Fi Network.” In the Alexa app, the screen for each Echo device shows the wifi network it is currently connected to, and a “Change” action.

User flow shouldn’t lead to a dead end. Users shouldn’t have to delete and reinstall an app to get back to a setup phase. And an ecosystem like Wemo shouldn’t have a massive blind spot for moving devices to a new network.

Wemo and a New Router

iTunes, Movies Anywhere, and SD

There was a time when I had not yet embraced our digital-only future.

I still bought Blu-ray discs. Like a caveman, I would search through my mostly organized Blu-ray and DVD jewel cases, find a movie I wanted to watch, open the case, take the disc out, open the Blu-ray player, put the disc in the tray, close the tray, and wait.

When I put The Bourne Legacy’s disc into our Blu-ray player, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t play.

My wife wanted to watch The Bourne Legacy.

Our hero

The disc wasn’t playing.

I grabbed the jewel case, walked to the basement, opened iTunes or whatever obscure URL the coupon in The Bourne Legacy’s jewel case wanted me to open, and redeemed the code for the digital copy of The Bourne Legacy.

Then I walked back upstairs, changed the TV input to the Apple TV, and played the movie.

It was as if the disc worked.

But I could watch it on my phone. I could watch it in the basement without lugging the disc around (like a caveman).

A short time later, I went through all my DVDs and Blu-rays, looking for digital codes to redeem. Some had expired. Some had expired but worked anyway.

As I looked over my new iTunes movie library, I noticed that some of the films were HD and some were not. This was annoying and disappointing and would cause me to re-purchase some films in HD.

I believe I owned the following films on iTunes in SD format:

    Cowboys and Aliens
    Jurassic Park
    Jurassic Park III
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes
    Super 8
    Terminator Salvation
    The Town

Now, as of April 2018, I can only find the following SD films in my iTunes library on my up-to-date gen 3 Apple TV and on my up-to-date iPhone 7:

    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
    Super 8

In iTunes on an up-to-date Mac, these films appear to be SD:

    The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
    Super 8

The fact that two films are HD on two devices and SD on one seems like a bug to me.

(Technically I can find Inception in SD, but I later purchased it in HD. It appears twice in my library. I upgraded Prometheus, too, but the SD copy is no longer in my library.)

Limitless was distributed by Relativity Media. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Super 8 were both distributed by Paramount. What do these two film studios have in common? In what way would they be linked that is relevant in the 2018 digital film library landscape?

Movies Anywhere.

Name two film studios that aren’t participating in the Movies Anywhere initiative as of April 2018. Relativity and Paramount. Sure, there are others. I just don’t own any of their movies.

This makes me extremely curious. This is too much to be a coincidence.

The first thing I wonder is: If I were to buy an SD film on iTunes that is available in Movies Anywhere, would it show up in Movies Anywhere? Would it upgrade to HD in my iTunes library? Seems unlikely. Apple wouldn’t leave a loophole that big.

Are SD films upgraded to HD only if they were in a user’s iTunes library before Movies Anywhere started?

Here’s what I think is most likely: Apple/iTunes keeps track of which films a customer purchased on iTunes and which films a customer redeemed with a code. If a code redeemed an SD copy and that film becomes available in Movies Anywhere, it is upgraded to an HD copy.

If my theory is correct, the moment that Paramount or Relativity join into Movies Anywhere, I should have fewer SD films in my iTunes library.

iTunes, Movies Anywhere, and SD

The Passion of the Comcast: Cutting the Cord

This is an ongoing story.

In late 2014, my wife — the primary person on our Comcast account — got a call that we could get new cable boxes, more channels, faster internet, and phone service, all for less than what we were paying at the time. A technician came to our house and hooked up a primary X1 box in our living room, a smaller X1 box in our bedroom, and a new combination modem/router. The X1 interface is a vast improvement over what came before it. Our internet speed went from 25 mbps to 100 mbps. Things were good. We even added two digital adapters.

Fast forward two years, and I watched as our monthly Comcast bill got larger and larger. It got as high as $236.43 on May 1, 2017. Our two year contract had ended and the steep discount with it.

In that two year span, Google Fiber had announced plans to bring its service to Atlanta, and more specifically, Brookhaven. It’s not available at our home as I write this, but I operate under the assumption that it could become available at any moment.

So I don’t want to sign any contracts. But that’s the only way to get a discount with Comcast.

So I started looking at streaming tv providers. I went in thinking I might go with DirecTV Now — I already have AT&T cell service. But Sling had the features and channels we wanted. I tried it out, bought a couple Apple TVs (and an antenna and a Tablo) and turned in our cable boxes at the local Xfinity office.

Of course, to stream anything, you need internet. I didn’t cancel our Xfinity internet service, but I did drop the speed from 100 to 25 mbps. That alone cost $65/month.

Everything was going fine. Between Sling and the antenna, we got every channel we cared about except two: Ion, a channel that shows Law & Order reruns that broadcasts over the air out of Atlanta but not with a strong enough signal for us to pick up; and HBO. I was leaning toward HBO Now because getting HBO on Sling was the same price — $15 — but lower video quality.

But I noticed some weirdness when I logged into my Comcast account. It showed that we had made an automatic payment on May 21, 2017 and that our next automatic payment was scheduled for May 22, 2017 — which was in the past.

I talked to Xfinity support via browser-based chat. The rep told me not to worry about the bill – we would be charged the correct amount — but that hey, we could get faster internet — 75 instead of 25 mbps — for less money — $40 instead of $65. And oh by the way, we’d also get Stream TV — including HBO. Great!

So of course the first thing I tried to do was log into HBO Go. Couldn’t do it. The next day I talked to support chat again. No HBO Go.

A day or two later I did some research and found this Xfinity support article. Among other things, it says that Stream TV customers get HBO Go.

A few days later I called Xfinity support. I spoke to four different people. Each of the last two told me I couldn’t get HBO Go, gave me the link to the Stream FAQs article, and then was surprised when I pointed out that the FAQ article says I should get HBO Go. The last person said the article was in error and would be updated.

About two weeks after that I looked at the Stream FAQ article again. Some text and formatting had changed, but it still said that Stream TV customers get HBO Go. So I tried to log in … and it worked.

HBO was the final piece of the puzzle. By eliminating (mostly) my Xfinity TV service, I had saved around $135 per month.

The Passion of the Comcast: Cutting the Cord

Windows 10 Creators Update Disabled My Touchscreen

Really strange.

I’ve had my Lenovo Yoga 11e for about eight months.  It’s not a powerhouse, but it’s a really great couch laptop.  And it has a touchscreen that can swivel all the way around to make it a bulky tablet.

When I got it everything worked, but there was some bloatware.  So I formatted the hard drive and did a clean Windows 10 install.  The touchscreen was not recognized by the OS.  After reading a lot of Lenovo forum posts, I found an Intel driver, installed it, and voilà.

Then Microsoft released the Windows 10 Creators Update.  I initiated the update rather than wait for it.  Booted up and … the touchscreen was not recognized by the OS.  I ran the Intel driver that worked before.  It had two choices:  remove or repair.  I chose repair.  It didn’t work.

I read some Lenovo forums — probably forums I already read eight months ago.  I tried one other driver but no improvement (Windows said I already had the latest driver).

I decided to try the driver installer that worked before, except I’d try the remove option and then run it again to install.  I did it, along with a reboot in between for good measure.

The touchscreen works!  Strange.  Maybe this is a fluke?

PS – I can’t find the driver anywhere online that I describe above.  I’ve had it in my Dropbox since I discovered that it fixed my problem, but what about other people who might need it?  The filename is IO_Win10_99.16.55518.zip and I’m considering posting it here.  But would I want to download my touchscreen driver from some random guy’s blog?

[Update 2018/02/07] I decided to create a download link for the driver. I did a few minutes of research to find a site to host it.


Windows 10 Creators Update Disabled My Touchscreen

Don’t Use jquery-latest.js!!!!!!!1

I’m guilty.

So guilty.

For years I have pointed pages to jquery-latest.js. Of course, I don’t think anyone would classify hack.premo.biz as a “production site.” I just want the latest damn version of code. I like to experiment with new features.

But I hate babysitting blogs, downloading point releases, and uploading them to my web server. So I used jquery-latest.js.

But now jQuery has taken this away. Sort of. jquery-latest.js is now frozen in time at version 1.11.1.

Well that’s no good. I can’t putter around on an old version for the rest of my life. But I hate babysitting blogs. And downloading point releases. And uploading them to my web server.

What’s a modern coder to do?

Scrape that s.

I made a two part solution. Part one scans the file structure on includes.premo.biz for files that look like jquery 2.x and returns the newest one it finds. It also sends a custom header so the browser reads it as JavaScript. I’m not going to give the URL here because I don’t want to be the next jquery-latest.js. But here’s the (PHP) code:

header( 'Content-Type: application/javascript' );
$contents = scandir( './' );
foreach ($contents as $file) {
if ($file !== '.' && $file !== '..') {
$ext = '';
$parts = explode('.', $file);
$ext = $parts[count($parts) - 1];
if ($ext == 'js') {
if ($parts[0] == 'jquery-2') {
include $file;

The second part is more complicated. It pulls in the jQuery Blog RSS feed, looks for a post about a new release, reads the version number, determines if it is newer than the version my server already has and if so pulls it down, then archives the older version. Here’s the PHP for that:

// run on cron.
// check jquery blog rss for updated version news
// http://blog.jquery.com/feed/
header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8');
// what's the latest version we've got? (current?)
$ourVersion = '0';
$contents = scandir( './' );
foreach ($contents as $file) {
//if( strpos( $file,'.' ) !== 0 ) {
if ($file !== '.' && $file !== '..') {
$ext = '';
$parts = explode('.', $file);
$ext = $parts[count($parts) - 1];
if ($ext == 'js') {
if ($parts[0] == 'jquery-2') {
//include $file;
$ver = $file;
$ver = str_ireplace('jquery-', '', $ver);
$ver = str_ireplace('.min.js', '', $ver);
$ver = str_ireplace('.js', '', $ver);
$ourVersion = $ver;
echo 'ourVersion : ' . $ourVersion;
$rssString = file_get_contents('http://blog.jquery.com/feed/');
$xmle = simplexml_load_string($rssString);
$articles = $xmle->channel->item;
foreach ($articles as $article) {
$titleLength = strlen($article->title);
$check = trim(substr($article->title, (strlen($article->title) - 8)));
if (trim(substr($article->title, (strlen($article->title) - 8))) == 'Released') {
if (strstr($article->title, 'RC')) {
echo 'release candidate. BOO!';
if (stristr($article->title, 'beta')) {
echo 'beta. BOO!';
echo $article->title;
// find '2.'
$words = explode(' ', $article->title);
$ver = '0';
foreach ($words as $word) {
if (substr($word, 0, 2) == '2.') {
$ver = $word;
if (strlen($ver) == 3) {
$ver = $ver . '.0';
echo 'version : ' . $ver;
if ($ver > $ourVersion) {
echo $ver . ' is greater than ' . $ourVersion . '!';
$jqFilename = 'jquery-' . $ver . '.min.js';
$jqUrl = 'http://code.jquery.com/' . $jqFilename;
echo $jqUrl;
// http://code.jquery.com/jquery-2.1.1.js
$jqueryContents = file_get_contents($jqUrl);
file_put_contents($jqFilename, $jqueryContents);
// move old version
rename('jquery-' . $ourVersion . '.min.js', './jquery_archive/jquery-' . $ourVersion . '.min.js');
break 2;
} else {
echo $ver . ' is NOT greater than ' . $ourVersion . '!';
echo '----------';

And that’s that. My very own jquery-latest.js.

Don’t Use jquery-latest.js!!!!!!!1

iOS 7 and the Death of the Button

If you were to log into the dashboard of this blog and look through the drafts — posts that I haven’t published yet — you’d find one from January 31, 2013 — about nine months ago — titled “Buttons Should Look Like Buttons.” And if you looked at the body of that draft post, you’d see a big blank space.

Well, buttons should look like buttons.

Firefox Buttons
Firefox Buttons

A great example of buttons failing to look like buttons — right next to buttons succeeding at looking like buttons — is Firefox. Let’s just focus on the reload button and the home button. When I am moving the mouse pointer on the screen, it’s very easy for me to tell where I have to click in order to trigger the home button. It looks like a button. It has clearly defined edges.

When I want to click the reload button, it’s very hard for me to tell where I have to click. I know the white area inside the black arrow/line/loop would almost certainly register. But what about the white space outside the arrow/line/loop? Can I click all the way out to the edge of the white area? Where is the border between the reload button and the button to the left of it (the menu dropdown)? Is there dead space between the reload button and the menu button? Do they butt up against each other?

It’s impossible to tell by looking.

Firefox is particularly infuriating because there are buttons with precisely defined edges immediately next to buttons with no button edges at all.

With iOS 7, Apple has done away with some clearly defined buttons. I believe that button borders are only gone in places where the button contained only text. In this respect, the button has been replaced — at least visually — by the equivalent of a hyperlink. And we’re all used to text hyperlinks.

I believe there’s one othe reason Apple can get away with that. Fingers are imprecise. And because we know that when we tap on a screen we don’t have single pixel precision, we know that there is compensation for imprecision. We are not anal about our precision, or lack thereof.

Looking ahead, I have seen screenshots of OS X Mavericks. It looks a lot like iOS 7. I am hoping Apple does not do away with button borders in the desktop OS, because when I use a mouse, I want clearly defined buttons.

iOS 7 and the Death of the Button

Star Trek Into Darkness and Physical Media

I really liked Star Trek Into Darkness.

For some reason I had middling expectations going in. It didn’t do quite as well as its predecessor, 2009’s Star Trek, in North America. This informed my opinion. I really liked the 2009 film, and had expected a Pirates of the Caribbean style “box office take of each movie reflects audience appreciation of previous film in franchise” explosion. It didn’t happen. I concluded that Into Darkness must have had something wrong with it.

I saw the previews. It looked like the USS Enterprise got destroyed. My brain replayed a remembered or imagined fanboy’s voice: “How many times can you destroy the Enterprise?” Another question, too dark even for my inner dialogue to whisper: “Is this the film that ends the new Star Trek franchise?”

No, it’s not. Into Darkness is really good. I don’t know why more people didn’t go to see it. I need to watch it a couple more times, but currently I believe I like it better than the previous film. And I really liked the previous film!

Okay, time for side note/personal trivia/minutia that no one except me cares about. The previous film — 2009’s Star Trek — was the first movie I bought on Blu-ray. For years I had held out. I had decided that it wasn’t a big enough jump from DVD, and the next format I was going to adopt was digital download. I had already gone digital with music; I hadn’t bought a CD in years.

Then I bought a PS3. In 2009, when Sony released the Slim model. Suddenly I had a Blu-ray player. Then I saw Star Trek for sale at Walmart … and the Blu-ray was less expensive than the DVD.

My theory is that the some industry was trying to push consumers toward the bright Blu-ray future. Maybe it was the Blu-ray consortium. Maybe it was retailers. Maybe it was both. I went for it hook, line, and sinker.

Somehow I had never redeemed a digital copy of a movie. Today, I can’t remember what my reasoning for this was. After Christmas of 2012, sitting in my basement, I decided to redeem all of the digital copies I had previously ignored. Some had expired. Some I was able to redeem despite their expiration date having passed.

Several weeks later, my wife and I were going to watch The Bourne Legacy. I took the Blu-ray disc out of its case and pushed it into our Blu-ray player. No dice. It wouldn’t play. I took the disc out and looked at it, then put it away. I took the HDMI cable out of our Blu-ray player and put it into our Apple TV. We then watched the film with no issue. That was the moment I decided I don’t need media anymore.

Steam. Digital PC games. It’s great. There are no boxes to take up space. There are no discs to take up space. I rearranged the media center in our basement about a month ago, and now I have all these DVDs and Blu-rays with no place to put them. I already sold the majority of my Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii games — but I still own the games I purchased digitally. I’ll probably hold onto my 360 and PS3 because I have digital libraries. I can store those systems with very little footprint, and bring them out if I feel nostalgic. (This is a hypothetical future. I own several 360 and PS3 games that I haven’t finished yet.)

So I had made the decision to go digital only. Then Star Trek Into Darkness came out on iTunes before DVD and Blu-ray. And I missed this film — the first film I was really looking forward to that I missed because my wife was very pregnant and didn’t want to do much of anything (I still love you Julie). So I bought it. On iTunes.

So 2009’s Star Trek was the first film I purchased on Blu-ray, and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness was the first film I purchased digitally, on iTunes. They’re sci-fi movies set in the future.

Now I plan on buying or receiving as gifts two more Apple TVs — one for each remaining TV in our home. I wouldn’t mind if Apple announces a new model next month. I’ve got to sell off these DVDs, Blu-rays … and CDs? Digital — I’m in!

Star Trek Into Darkness and Physical Media

My PS4 Logo

Sony’s PS4 Logo (top) and My PS4 Logo (bottom)

Last night Sony announced the Playstation 4. At the event, the new controller was shown, a new Kinect-like camera peripheral was shown, games were shown. And the system’s logo was shown. And I don’t like it.

The “PS” part of the logo is identical to the same part of the PS3’s logo. This is fine. But when I look at the new PS4 logo, I honestly think that Sony had someone design the (current) PS3 logo three years ago, then had someone else design the “4” for the new system’s logo. It doesn’t fit.

The 4 doesn’t look futuristic the way the P, the S, and the 3 do. In fact, when I stare at it, I think of a wooden fence on a farm. The two lines crossing each other are inconsistent with the P in the logo, where no line intersects or meets another line.

So I fired up Paint.net and came up with something I like better. I’ll admit that I got some inspiration from the 1980s-era WIVB logo.

My PS4 Logo