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Bulk Convert jpg to HEIC (with metadata!)

Want to bulk-convert jpg files to the more space-efficient HEIC format, and preserve your metadata while you’re at it?

Here’s a few commands to do just that.

This will assume all images in the current directory have ‘.jpg’ extensions, and may have an ‘.XMP’ sidecar file with metadata in it. Most photo libraries, including macOS Photos, have an option to export files with metadata in an XMP sidecar file. Doing this is highly recommended, as it will pull in metadata from the sidecar file that may not be embedded in the original image.

These bash one-liners were run using bash 3.2.57. These also require the latest (as of this writing) ExifTool and ImageMagick installed and on your path. If you’re using macOS, ExifTool and ImageMagick can be installed using Homebrew with the following commands:

brew install exiftool
brew install imagemagick

Once you have those, you’re ready to go.

First, convert all the files to HEIC:

for x in *.jpg; do echo "$x"; magick "$x" "${x%.jpg}.HEIC"; done 

Next, import the metadata from each source image:

for x in *.jpg; do echo "$x"; exiftool -overwrite_original -tagsFromFile "$x" -all:all "${x%.jpg}.HEIC"; done

Last, import any additional metadata from XMP sidecar files, if they exist:

for x in *.jpg; do echo "$x"; exiftool -overwrite_original -tagsFromFile "${x%.jpg}.XMP" -all:all "${x%.jpg}.HEIC"; done

That’s it!

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Reimport an image and MOV file as a Live Photo in macOS Photos

If you have a Live Photo in your macOS Photos library, and export it using File > Export > Export Unmodified Original, you’ll end up with 2 (or 3) files:

  1. an image file that is the still image,
  2. an MOV file that is the video and sound portion of the Live Photo,
  3. and optionally an XMP file (if you selected Export IPCT as XMP)

Reimporting the image or the movie file will give you separate files in your photos library. If you want to reimport these, make sure they both have the same filename (except for the extension) and drag both the image file and the MOV file (and the XMP file, if you have it) to Photos at the same time. Photos will reimport them as a single Live Photo.

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Import XMP sidecar data into JPG file

This is a quick tip based on my experience handling image files with XMP sidecar files.

XMP sidecar files typically contain useful data such as GPS information and file keywords. Some asset management software may not handle the sidecar file as easily as an image file, so you can import the XMP data directly into the image file using exiftool.

Example:

exiftool -tagsfromfile IMG_1234.XMP -all:all IMG_1234.JPG

If you want to loop through a directory of files, try this:

for x in *.JPG; do exiftool -tagsfromfile ${x%.*}.XMP -all:all $x; done

References: https://superuser.com/a/1414490

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How to fix Elder Scrolls Online crashing on launch on macOS

If you’re trying to play Elder Scrolls Online on macOS Sierra or higher, you may encounter the application crashing on launch, especially on new installs. Specifically, this is likely to occur right after clicking Play in the launcher. The specific error message is:

Exception Type: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV)
Exception Codes: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS at 0x0000000000000078
Exception Note: EXC_CORPSE_NOTIFY

Termination Signal: Segmentation fault: 11
Termination Reason: Namespace SIGNAL, Code 0xb
Terminating Process: exc handler [0]

This appears to be caused by an issue with how the game handles the number of cores on your machine. I found the following fix on the Elder Scrolls Online forums, but it wasn’t well-documented, so it took me a bit of stumbling around to actually get things working.

This is a two-part fix. The first part involves changing the number of cores that ESO is allowed to use so that it will run once, and then adjusting it’s configuration file to fix it for every launch.

Some users have reported success with only creating a changing the UserSettings.txt file. When I tried this, it resulted in game freezes and instability. Your mileage may vary, but going through all of the steps below worked for me with a minimum of hassle and kept the game stable throughout.

First launch fix – Limit the number of cores

To do this, first go to the App Store and install Xcode.

Once Xcode is installed on your system, run Instruments.

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 3.31.36 PM.png

Once Instruments starts, go to Instruments > Preferences and limit the number of Active processor cores to half of whatever your maximum number is:

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 3.34.52 PM.png

After you make this change, start the game normally, log in to the game until you’re able to move your character around, then log out. Exit the game completely and change the number of cores back to the maximum in Instruments. then move on to the next section to find out how to make a change in the game’s config files to eliminate the need to use Instruments for subsequent game starts.

Subsequent Launch Fix – Edit the UserSettings.txt file

Open the UserSettings.txt file with TextEdit. The file is usually located at:
Documents/Elder Scrolls Online/live/UserSettings.txt

Find the following lines:

SET RequestedNumJobThreads "-1"
SET RequestedNumWorkerThreads "-1"

Change them to:

SET RequestedNumJobThreads "0"
SET RequestedNumWorkerThreads "0"

Save the document, and start Elder Scrolls Online once again.

Happy adventuring!

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How to fix calendar invites not sending from iCloud accounts

If you use an iCloud calendar and invite an iCloud user to a calendar event, they’ll get a notification in the calendar app. If you invite a non-iCloud user, they’ll get an email notification — except when they don’t, and it might be confusing to figure out why.

To understand why this is happening, it’s important to realize that invitations sent from an Apple ID to another Apple ID are, by default, kept in Apple’s ecosystem and routed to the recipient as a notification rather than an email. If your recipient has an Apple ID that’s a third-part email address, such as a Gmail address, and uses the Gmail calendar, your invite likely won’t make it to them because of this.

The solution is to ask the recipient of your invite to sign into iCloud and change a setting within their iCloud calendar settings to enable email delivery of notifications. After signing in, the recipient should open Calendar, click the gear icon in the bottom left corner, click Preferences, Advanced, and change the invitations setting to “email to…”

I’ve prepared a snippet below that you can use to pass this information on, in case someone doesn’t get a calendar invite. Feel free to use this freely and modify it as the need arises:

If you were invited to a calendar event that I sent you, you should have received a notification to inform you of it, which includes an option to respond. If you didn’t receive this notification, it’s very likely that you have an Apple ID set up with the same email address. The reason that you didn’t receive my notification has to do with the way that notifications are passed through Apple’s system, and it may have redirected the notification to your iOS or MacOS calendar instead of your email, or vice-versa, depending on how you have it set up.

To make sure you don’t miss these notifications again, I encourage you to change the setting within your iCloud account to best fit your notification preferences. To do this, just follow the short instructions below:

First, sign into your iCloud account and go to your calendar by following this link:

Next, click the gear icon in the lower left.

Then click Preferences, Advanced, and locate the invitations setting on this screen.

Set it to email if you want an email, or in-app notifications if you want that instead.

Last, click Save.

I’ve had to do this once myself, so I can speak to it solving the issue.

Source: iCloud calendar not sending invites (StackExchange)

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Switching your Apple ID to your iCloud email address

When creating an Apple ID, it’s very likely that you set up an Apple ID based on a third-party email address, such as a Gmail or Outlook address. You may want to consider switching your Apple ID to your iCloud email address, especially if the email address that you first used was your primary email, and you’ve considered using your iCloud email address as your new primary email.

Apple has a great support article on how to change your Apple ID to your iCloud ID,  and it comes with one very important notice: That you need to sign out of every device that’s associated with your Apple ID before you start.

Once you do this, I recommend that you have a recovery email address set on your account.

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Taking Notes

Most people reading this blog carry around a computer every day, whether its a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Yet many of us still reach for paper and pen when it’s time to take notes.

For many of us, it’s because pen and paper are what we’re familiar with, and we know how they work. There’s a bunch of note-taking apps out there, and they don’t all work the same, or even similarly in many cases.

I recently decided that I was going to try to take notes in a digital format whenever possible and went on an adventure to see which of the most popular apps fit my needs. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted when I started, and I’ve spent a few days trying to find an app that was just the right fit for me.

I put together a few apps I found and a list of the features that I directly compared between them below, and hopefully it helps someone in the same position that I’m in decide which works best for them:

OneNote 2016 Evernote Bear Turtl Apple Notes
Publisher Microsoft Evernote Shiny Frog Lyon Bros Apple
Price Free Free-$7.99/mo Free-$1.49/mo Free Free
Platforms Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Web Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Web Mac, iPad, iPhone Windows, Mac, Linux, Android Mac, iPad, iPhone
Cloud Sync Yes, via OneDrive Yes, via Evernote Yes, via CloudKit (Subscription only) Yes Yes, via iCloud/CloudKit
Self-hosted sync option No No No Yes No
Offline access Yes Paid plans only Yes Yes Yes
Local storage option No Yes No No Yes
Organization Notebooks, Sections, Pages Notebooks, Notes Notes, Hashtags Boards, Notes Folders, Notes
File attachments within notes Yes Yes Images and photos only Yes No
OCR within attachments Partial Yes N/A No No
Encryption Yes, per section Yes, selected portions of notes No Yes Yes, per note
Encryption Strength AES-256 AES-128 N/A AES-256 AES-128
Encrypts media within notes Yes No N/A Yes Yes
Web Clipping Yes Yes No No No
Sharing Yes Paid plans only No Yes No
Drawing/Write anywhere Yes Mobile apps only No No No
Markdown support No Partial, as typing shortcuts Yes Yes No
Language syntax highlighting No No Yes No No
Note history No With paid plan only No No No
Import options Print to OneNote, Import from Evernote zip file Apple Notes, Evernote, DayOne, Vesper, Ulysses None ENEX
Export options OneNote, Word, PDF, XPS, mht ENEX, HTML HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG None PDF

There are a lot more options out there than just these. In fact, there’s a whole Wikipedia page here.

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Removal of Comments

Comments have been a part of this blog since its creation, and I won’t deny that they’ve opened the door to interesting conversation. Allowing comments does have a few drawbacks, and those are the potential for spam, pingback/trackback abuse, and comments containing malicious links or code. Comments also restrict the potential for future development, as they limit the types of services and platforms that this blog might be migrated to in the future, though I haven’t made any decisions just yet.

For all of these reasons, I’ve made the decision to completely disable comments, and I’ll be purging all of the user-submitted comments from the site soon. I appreciate everyone who has submitted constructive comments, and to keep a channel open for folks to provide their thoughts on articles on this site, I’ve added a contact form which will submit an email to me.

I realize the potential for contact form spam as well, which is why I removed it in the past, but I think this is the right way to go here.

Thanks for reading.

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YubiKey GPG key for SSH authentication

In this post I’m going to go over the steps to configure your YubiKey for SSH authentication using a GPG key stored on the YubiKey itself.

This guide goes through the steps for setting this up on a Mac running OS X. Although the concepts of doing this under Linux and Windows are the same, the exact steps will be different.

Ensure your YubiKey has CCID mode enabled

Per Yubico’s site, this is usually enabled by default:

“Note that all YubiKey NEOs shipped after November 2015 come preconfigured with all modes enabled.” — yubico.com

If you’re using an older YubiKey and need to enable it, you’ll want to download the YubiKey NEO Manager from Yubico’s website and run it to ensure that your YubiKey has CCID mode enabled. The link to this tool and instructions to run it are here.

Once you’re certain that CCID mode is enabled, you can move ahead with the next section.

Install GPG

The remainder of the steps in this guide use the command line interface for GPG tools. If you don’t have either GPG Tools or GnuPG installed, install one of them. If you already have one installed, you can skip on to the next section.

GPG Tools provides a nice set of GUI tools and is recommend for most users, but if you’re not afraid of the command line and have Homebrew installed on your Mac, you can install GnuPG2 using Homebrew with the following command:

brew install gnupg2

Decide if you want to require touch

YubiKey will prompt for your PIN during SSH authentication. Starting with YubiKey version 4, YubiKey can also require a touch on the sensor during authentication. Enabling this will require a touch confirmation on the touch sensor for each and every SSH connection.

If you want to enable this, it is highly recommend that you install and use the Yubikey Manager CLI using the instructions from this page. Once installed, you can enable touch using the following command:

ykman openpgp touch aut <'on'|'off'|'fixed'>

If you want more information on these specific policies, please see this page under the heading “Yubikey 4 touch”. IMPORTANT NOTE: A link to a bash script to enable touch is found on that page. Because the behavior of that script requires providing your admin key on the command line, it should be considered insecure. I highly recommend using the ykman tool instead whenever possible.

Unless you set ‘fixed’, (ON_FIXED), you can always come back and change this setting later. If you set fixed, you can’t change it until you put a new secret key onto the YubiKey.

Change the YubiKey PINs

Before continuing, it’s you should change the YubiKey PINs from their defaults if you have not already. The default PIN is 123456 and the default admin pin is 12345678.

To do this, start by running: gpg --card-edit

Once you have the card editor open, allow admin commands by running admin

Then, open the PIN change dialog with passwd

From here, set your PIN, Admin PIN, and reset code. Store these in a safe place.

Once you’ve set your PINs, you can further personalize the data on the card. Here’s the full list of commands available after running admin:

gpg/card> help
quit       quit this menu
admin      show admin commands
help       show this help
list       list all available data
name       change card holder's name
url        change URL to retrieve key
fetch      fetch the key specified in the card URL
login      change the login name
lang       change the language preferences
sex        change card holder's sex
cafpr      change a CA fingerprint
forcesig   toggle the signature force PIN flag
generate   generate new keys
passwd     menu to change or unblock the PIN
verify     verify the PIN and list all data
unblock    unblock the PIN using a Reset Code

Generate and move a GPG key to the YubiKey

If you already have a set of GPG tools installed and your own key generated and available within those tools, good on you! Run the following commands to be sure:

gpg --list-keys
gpg --list-secret-keys

If your public and secret keys do show up as expected, there’s no need to generate another key. You simply need to move your existing key to the YubiKey.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to make use of the ability to revoke your key in the future, then you must generate the revocation certificate before moving the key to your YubiKey. Once you move a key to your YubiKey, it is not possible to generate a revocation certificate unless you have a full backup of the secret key somewhere and are able to re-import it to your GPG keyring.

To move your secret key from your GPG keyring to your YubiKey, go to this page and start where it says “To import the key on your YubiKey”

If you need to generate a GPG key for SSH authentication, take a look at this guide and follow one of the two methods provided.

Once your key is generated and moved to the card, you’re all set to move on to the next section.

Making it all work locally

This part requires editing just a few files to make gpg-agent work as expected.

Really important note: Starting with GnuPG 2.1, the –write-env-file is obsolete. See the GnuPG 2.1 FAQ for more informationThe following instructions have been updated with configuration information for versions both below and above GnuPG 2.1. A reader, Nick, confirms these instructions work for versions starting at 2.1, and eliminate the error message that appears regarding write-env-file being obsolete.

If any of the below configuration instructions do not work for you, I recommend that you reach out to the GnuPG mailing list for more help.

You can check your GPG version with:

gpg-agent --version

A precautionary note:

For GPG versions before 2.1, add the following to ~/.bash_profile:

[ -f ~/.gpg-agent-info ] && source ~/.gpg-agent-info
if [ -S "${GPG_AGENT_INFO%%:*}" ]; then
    export GPG_AGENT_INFO
    export SSH_AUTH_SOCK
    export SSH_AGENT_PID
else
    eval $( gpg-agent --daemon --write-env-file ~/.gpg-agent-info )
fi

For GPG versions at or above 2.1, add the following to ~/.bash_profile:

GPG_TTY=$(/usr/bin/tty)
SSH_AUTH_SOCK="$HOME/.gnupg/S.gpg-agent.ssh"
export GPG_TTY SSH_AUTH_SOCK
gpgconf --launch gpg-agent

For GPG versions before 2.1, add the following to ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf:

enable-ssh-support
write-env-file ~/.gpg-agent-info
pinentry-program /usr/local/MacGPG2/libexec/pinentry-mac.app/Contents/MacOS/pinentry-mac

For GPG versions at or above 2.1, add the following to ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf:

enable-ssh-support
~/.gpg-agent-info pinentry-program /usr/local/MacGPG2/libexec/pinentry-mac.app/Contents/MacOS/pinentry-mac

Restart gpg-agent:

sudo killall gpg-agent
source ~/.bash_profile
source ~/.gpg-agent-info

Get your SSH public key

Use the following command to get the SSH public key that corresponds to the key installed on your YubiKey:

ssh-add -L | grep cardno

This can be installed on any server that you want to use your YubiKey-stored key to access.

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Why I am canceling my Ham Radio license

I’ve been a licensed member of the Ham Radio community for a few years now. While I haven’t been active much in the past few months, there’s always been one thing has really been a sore spot for me: the need for the Ham radio community to know your physical location.

The FCC considers Ham Radio licenses to be in the public record. That includes your name and mailing address. You can use any address that you can receive mail at, such as a neighbors house, a PO Box, or a private mailbox service, and the FCC is perfectly fine with this. The Ham Radio community is big on geolocation data when exchanging messages, and frequently query the FCC database and use the information that you’ve provided to direct antennas, mail you QSL cards, or even to provide you other things. So, having an address that isn’t immediately near your actual, physical location will get you questioned, or sometimes even scolded, by your fellow operators.

In 2015, the FCC sought comments on an NPRM that would increase the privacy of previous address information on licenses. The FCC themselves admitted that this was a “partial solution,” as previous address information would still be visible. To date, there haven’t been any significant changes made in the ULS system that would help protect the privacy of individual operators, and previous address information is still available for licenses. Some ham radio forums even publish your address information as part of their site updates, which writes that information onto the internet with ink — an ink that’s hard, or even impossible, to remove.

In an age of almost-daily security breaches and compromises involving sensitive or compromising information, everyone should be conscious of the information that’s available about them in public databases. Maintaining a publicly searchable database of addresses is in stark contrast to this, and keeping an address that’s not near to your physical address or location seems to run afoul to standard operating practice in the community.

With this, I’m filing an FCC 605 form to cancel my license, and I strongly encourage the FCC to consider privacy-supporting changes for the ULS system for the future.

If you too are interested in canceling your Amateur Radio license, you’ll need to file an FCC 605 Main Form to the FCC to get it done. Use Application Purpose “CA” (Cancellation of License) on that form. You can find the full form and instructions on the FCC’s site here (FCC 605 Main Form direct link). Once you’ve submitted your cancellation notice, it will take about 2-3 weeks for your license cancellation to be reflected within the ULS system. You will typically receive a cancellation letter in the mail as well.

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