Apple (N)One

Apple One is no use to me. Currently I pay A$119 annually for Apple Music & A$1.49 per month for 50 GB of iCloud. I may take up the Apple TV + subscription in Feb next year, if so it would be an additional A$79.99 annually. These add up to A$216.87. Paying for Individual at A$19.95 per month comes to A$239.40 and I’ll never use Arcade.

If I wanted Apple News +, that’s A$14.99 per month or A$179.88 annually. Add the services I currently use to News+ = $396.75 annually, or A$33.06 per month.

Apple One Premier is A$39.99 per month or A$479.88 annually. Sure, I'd get 2 TB of iCloud but 50 GB is sufficient for my needs. I’ll never use Arcade. I have no Apple Watch nor do I plan on getting one, so I’ll not need the Fitness workouts.

So, no Apple One for me.

Selfie tripod.

I modified the base of an 1080p webcam so it would fit a standard tripod mount, the plan being to use one of a couple of mini tripods to position the camera above the top edge of the screen of my 13-in MacBook Pro for use in video conferencing.

But neither of the two tripods was really very stable and the one with telescoping legs wanted to telescope downwards, not the desired effect at all. A new small tripod was needed.

Retail stores had come out of lockdown two days earlier so the local photo & electronics shop was open. I found a nice handy one (terrible pun, it’s a selfie stick) with a handle incorporating a sturdy wide-angled tripod with a Bluetooth shutter release clipped to one of its legs.

That remote release is positioned so it can be pressed while holding the tripod/handle closed or it can be worn on a lanyard if necessary. A wrist strap-style lanyard is included in the packaging along with a neat carry bag. There's also an adjustable holder to support most smart phones which had no trouble accomodating my 2020 iPhone SE.

In regard to the selfie componentry, there are six telescoping sections which all drop down into the handle. It measures 21.5 cm when collapsed & 100 cm at full extent.

I could have bought the same thing for $3 less on Amazon (Benro BK15 Mini Tripod and Selfie Stick) but it’s a US import & wouldn’t arrive for over a week.

Vaulting over obstacles

I’d recently experienced 1Password issues on my iPads & iPhone, noticed since the recent respective system updates to version 14.1. Namely, the inability to view any entries saved on those three devices. The only way I had of seeing any saved entries was to use 1Password on my iMac, MacBook Pro or Android phone.

I checked with the 1Password Community online, but couldn’t find anything remotely close to the issue I was having. I used Twitter to query this problem & their prompt reply was to send an email to [email protected] quoting a certain case number.

This I did then thought I’d check which combination of vaults I was using, in case there was an anomaly somewhere.
This proved to be correct. Somehow I’d set the vault being directly accessed as the old iCloud one which had been used prior to setting up a 1Password account in 2019. The Personal vault on my account was chosen as the vault where new entries were saved.

Once I swapped to accessing this Personal vault, the “missing failed” login entry saves were all visible, as were recently entered software licences, which I’d also noticed had been absent while experiencing the invisible saving issue. I sent responses to 1Password on Twitter & via email to their support area letting them know I’d solved the difficulty & what my error had been.

Free EpocCam alternative

I’ve posted earlier of EpocCam, which allows an iPhone or suitably-equipped iPad to work as a webcam via USB or WiFi. This is not a free app, costing around A$13 and uses downloadable drivers on the Mac.

A suitably-equipped iPad is any that has a FaceTime camera in excess of 1.2 MP. This excludes all standard iPads, even the new iPad 8. FaceTime cameras of 5, 7 or 12MP can be found on iPad Pros, iPad Airs & the iPad Mini 5th generation models. The first series of iPadAirs & 12.9 in iPad Pros also have the basic 720p 1.2 MP FaceTime cameras and offer no improvement over a Mac’s 720p camera.

The only Macs that have a 1080p FaceTime camera are the 2017 iMac Pro and the 2020 iMac 27-inch models. Having used one of the latter types I can say it makes a massive difference in performance.

Getting back to the subject matter: there’s an alternative to EpocCam called Iriun Webcam, which is free on the App Store, unlike EpocCam, it doesn’t use drivers as such. Instead there’s a free Mac app from the developer’s website that acts as a server when running.

Iriun webcam offers only two settings: you can choose between the front & rear cameras and to use the rear camera’s flash as a steady illumination source. It can connect via USB or WiFi and really, those are all the settings needed to replace/replicate a webcam. The extra capability of EpocCam, while nice to have, is unnecessary fluff.

Go to to download Mac, Windows or Linux versions of the computer app. There are also links to the mobile versions from the Apple App Store & Google Play Store.

Salvaged after being scammed

That was supposed to have been a Zoom training session, I suppose I did help the other bloke with screen & app sharing but in the main part we were trying to regain control of his iCloud account.

Stupidly (his own words) he had clicked an email link that looked legitimate & thought he’d reset his iCloud password. In fact, he’d given access to a scammer , the realisation that something was amiss was when he could no longer access his Contacts which are all in iCloud.

We went through the password recovery process three times, the first two occasions the connection timed out & the new password(s) didn’t take.

I suggested he start the 3rd attempt with a new sheet of paper to write down his new password so he didn’t get it confused with the earlier attempts.

This all worked & we eventually got the 2-Factor authorisation 6-digit number to appear on an iPhone. Entering that into the Mac worked. And just to be certain he went back to the Apple ID support page, entering his new credentials. Once he noted they were accepted, he then checked his Keychain passwords in Safari, cleaning out the no-longer-working passwords in the process.
Great relief was expressed by both parties.

Crapalina - aka a poor macOS Catalina experience

Since July 2020, my MacBook Pro (Escape key model) had been gradually losing drive space in significant amounts. It worsened in September, to the extent that I'd lost 20 GB of space somewhere. Detailed searches revealed the main Library had picked up cache files in the Application Support folder, I was unable to delete them.

I tried a couple of Time Machine restorations, to no avail. Still the excess was being stored. Apps such as Tech Tool Pro & Clean My Mac X showed the theoretical free space to be 140 GB but I could only access 118 GB of that. Desperation set in.

I cloned the Home folder to a folder on an external SSD then started the Mac in Recovery mode. From there I used Disk Utility to erase the Mac's APFS volumes and restored ti OS from the internet. Much downloading of apps & updates plus copying from other clones let me finish the process in about 18 hours, including sleep time. Then I had to re-enter the credentials for dozens of apps. This is made easier by the use of a password manager, I use 1Password.

I think it's all done, I have my free space back & the thing is running better & starting a lot quicker, too.

Padding along.

I bought my first iPad in September of 2010, it was a 16 GB one with WiFi & a SIM card. It was very useful a month later, my nephew on the other side of the country was getting married & I used it a lot while visiting & touring for three weeks.

This was replaced by an iPad 3, of almost the same spec as the first one but in 32 GB capacity. (A friend bought the old iPad.) This was the first with a Retina display & frankly, it was a disappointment in performance. I added a 16 GB iPad Mini with WiFi only to try that out. It had 512 MB RAM compared to the 1 GB of the larger unit. Both had (admittedly different) 1 GHz processors. I gave them both a shootout on Geekbench, to my surprise the Mini was actually faster, due no doubt to the fact it didn’t have to drive a fancy screen.

Later, the iPad Mini 2 came out, this time with a Retina screen. I took both my existing iPads (in their original packaging) to an Apple reseller who at the time offered generous trade-ins on new Apple kit. They paid me $400 for the iPad 3 & $170 for the Mini. In return I paid $179 and came out with a new Retina WiFi & Cellular iPad Mini of 32 GB capacity.

This lasted me until March of 2017 when the iPad 5 arrived & for a change I went with 128 GB capacity, so I could have all my photos & all my music on one device. It was a WiFi & Cellular one, too. I managed to sell the Mini 2 to another friend.

Then in December of 2019 I won a 64 GB iPad Mini 5, 2nd prize in a Mac User Group annual raffle. Initially I was disappointed not to have won first prize, a top-spec iPad Air 3. Then a bit later I compared the two units & realised the Air 3 & Mini 5 shared the same internals, the only difference being WiFi vs Wifi/Cellular & a bigger battery.

Roll on 2020, the iPad 5 was showing its age, the battery life wasn’t good and it would have been nice to use the Apple Pencil & Sidecar with my Mac as a second screen but the hardware wasn’t good enough, had to be the iPad 6 for that. Or the Mini 5, except it was too small to use as a monitor.

I did a bit of thinking, learned the iPad 5 was worth $230 as a trade-in on a new iPad 8 with a 10.2 in screen, 128 GB & the A12 processor as used in the existing Mini & the old iPad Air 3. I’m well pleased with the decision, as a second screen beside a 13-in MacBook Pro it’s quite useful and the extra screen area (½ an inch more on the diagonal) compared to the iPad 5 make a surprisingly large difference.

I took the iPad 5 to the Post Office with a printed QR code. Scanning this spat out an adhesive postage-paid mailing label & instructions to provide padded packaging to send it to Apple’s trade-in partners. Now waiting for it to arrive at their place where it will be examined for any defects: there are none other than a tired battery. All my iPads, iPods & iPhones over the years have been in durable cases, as I can be somewhat clumsy. The protection has paid off.

Once it’s been checked over, I’ll receive a $230 refund on my credit card. This figure represents 27% of the purchase price of the iPad 8.

Mounting an iPhone as a webcam.

Yes, you can use EpocCam to enable an iPhone/iPad as a webcam on Mac or PC. But how do you mount the thing so you’re not looking up the user’s nostrils?

I took a bit of Meccano and attached it to the top of the back of my iMac with 2M Command adhesive strips & added a powerful magnet from my Sugru with magnets kit.

Then I placed the iPhone into a case that has a steel plate attached to its back (normally used in to car on another magnetic mount). Then I positioned the iPhone in landscape view (the only orientation that works with Epoccam) with its edge sitting on top of the iMac. Then I adjusted the angle of the Meccano plate until a suitable position was achieved.


EpocCam HD turns iPhone/iPad into a high resolution webcam in Zoom.

The first time I tried this app (invisible drivers on Mac/PC & app on iOS) it just flat out refused to work. An associate also failed to get it working. I requested & received a refund from Apple.

Make sure you use the Pro or HD version of EpocCam on the iOS store, it costs $13. If you get the ordinary app you can select the update path from that version.

However, last week, another friend mentioned it worked for him, so today I tried it again. First, open the app on the phone & select your connection method. You can choose between wifi, USB or NDI (Network Device Interface). You can choose different video bitrate per pixel between 1.0 & 10, the default being 3.0. As the bitrate per pixel increases or decreases, the bandwidth increases, from 2 Mbps at 1.0 per pixel to 19.8 Mbps at 10 per pixel.

Then open Zoom & select EpocCam in the Video Settings section of Zoom.

Make sure you have quit using EpocCam Viewer app on the Mac. This is why I failed to get it working that time a few months ago, I thought I had to be using the a dedicated Mac app. Instead, the Mac uses the drivers downloaded from here:

Once connection has been made over wifi or USB, make sure to swap from the iPhone's rear iSight camera to the front FaceTime camera. The control for that is in the top right corner of the phone's display.
Note: EpocCam only works in landscape orientation. EpocCam also works in Skype & QuickTime X.

There are hardware issues involved. All plain iPads (including current 7th gen), Minis prior to the current 5th gen, 1st & 2nd gen Airs, iPod Touches "feature" 1.2 MP FaceTime cameras. Therefore, with the FaceTime camera selected the experience is horrible unless the rear camera is used.


iSight insight.

Fascinating. The original Firewire 400-connected Apple iSight (VGA) webcam works after a fashion in macOS 10.15.6, with the right adaptors, that is. The microphone part is no longer operative but the camera does work, but in Zoom it's best without virtual backgrounds active.

The connectors I used are the Thunderbolt 3-to-Thunderbolt 2 adaptor, the Thunderbolt 1-Firewire 800 adaptor & a Firewire cable with the 9-pole 800 connector at one end & the 6-pole 400 connector at the other.

Being only a VGA camera, the quality isn't great but it is usable.