AirPods get stuck in low-quality 16 kHz audio mode when starting a VM

I always love when I find a really dumb solution that works reliably to fix a problem that should never really be a problem in the first place. But having worked with audio devices before—though nothing nearly as complex as the AirPods—I am willing to cut Apple some slack in building a seamless aural experience with using AirPods across phone calls, VOIP, iOS devices, Macs, music, and Apple TVs... it's hard to execute perfectly, and as I said in my review of the AirPods two years ago, these little earbuds are as close to perfection when it comes to a wireless sound solution for someone like me.

Anyways, here's the problem:

Sometimes (maybe 10% of the time) when I run vagrant up to build a local development environment for one of my software projects, and I'm listening to music, my AirPods suddenly switch into super-low-quality audio mode. It sounds like you're listening to a song played through a long subway tunnel or something.

Review: AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard Blue Switch with RGB Backlighting

This is a review of the AUKEY 'Blue Switch' mechanical keyboard, available for a little over $50 on Amazon.

AUKEY closeup of RGB blue keycap mechanical gaming keyboard

For years, I've used the various versions of Apple's USB and Bluetooth keyboards, mostly because they lasted forever (I still have a couple spares that have most of the home row letters worn off), and they're pretty comfortable for my typing style. Also, they're pretty quiet. And the switches are robust. And the body is sturdy aluminum so there's no flexing while typing (a lot of plasticky keyboards have that problem).

Fixing Safari's 'can't establish a secure connection' when updating a self-signed certificate

I do a lot of local development, and since almost everything web-related is supposed to use SSL these days, and since I like to make local match production as closely as possible, I generate a lot of self-signed certificates using OpenSSL (usually using Ansible's openssl_* modules).

This presents a problem, though, since I use Safari. Every time I rebuild an environment using my automation, and generate a new certificate for a domain that's protected with HSTS, I end up getting this fun error page:

Safari Can't Open the Page - Safari can't open the page because Safari can't establish a secure connection to the server servername.

Safari Can't Open the Page – Safari can't open the page because Safari can't establish a secure connection to the server 'servername'.

Fixing a 2011 MacBook Pro booting to a Grey Screen - AMD Radeon Video Glitch

I've been a Mac user for years, and I've repaired hundreds of different Macs, from the early II series to the latest 2015 and 2016 model MacBook Pros, iMacs (and other Apple hardware to boot!), and there is almost never a hardware situation where I've thrown in the towel and told someone to ditch their Mac.

The 2011 MacBook Pro has, for almost a decade, been the exception to that rule. There was a major flaw in the AMD Radeon GPUs included with that model year's logic board which seemed to cause GPU failure either due to overheating, internal chip problems, BGA solder joints getting broken, or a combination of the above. The problem was so rampant, Apple was forced to set up a free repair program for affected MacBook Pros—though the 2011 model has since been dropped from that program. I've handled three 2011 MacBook Pros (none of them my own—I had an Air back then), and all three of them were scrapped because of the GPU issue.

Mount a Raspberry Pi SD card on a Mac (read-only) with osxfuse and ext4fuse

So you're telling me I can read files from a Raspberry Pi microSD card?

For my Raspberry Pi Time-Lapse App, I find myself having to either copy hundreds (or thousands!) of 3+ MB image files, or a 1-2 GB video file from a Raspberry Pi Zero W to my Mac.

Copying over the WiFi network works, but it's extremely slow (usually topping out around 5 Mbps... which means it could take a couple hours to copy). So I decided to finally try to mount the Raspberry Pi's drive directly on my MacBook Pro (running macOS Sierra 10.12). This is normally a bit tricky, because the Raspberry Pi uses the Linux ext4 filesystem—which is not compatible with either macOS or Windows!

AirPort Extreme showing 'Device Not Found'? Here's a fix

If you've had an AirPort Extreme for a while, and recently (within the past year or two) had it go missing from your network (when you open AirPort Utility you get 'Device Not Found'), there's a good chance you ran into the same issue I did. Basically, everything was running great, then one day around August 2016, my Extreme disappeared from the network—even though it was routing Internet traffic for all the devices in my house just as good as ever!

The fix?

  1. Open AirPort utility (it will likely show "Device Not Found").
  2. Unplug your AirPort Extreme, and wait 10 seconds.
  3. Plug it back in, and connect to the WiFi network as soon as possible, then immediately go to the AirPort Utility.
  4. The AirPort should appear and be manageable (by clicking on it) for a brief period—quickly click on it, click Edit, then clear out any Apple IDs in the 'Back to My Mac' section.

AirPort Extreme Back to My Mac Apple ID listing

How to make Safari accept Google search strings in the Location bar quickly

A few months ago, I switched to Safari after having used Google Chrome exclusively for the past four years (before that it was a mix of Safari and FireFox). Safari is lean and fast, but the one thing that really bothered me was the fact that I would often try searching for something by entering keywords in the location/address bar, then hit enter, and nothing would happen.

I quickly realized that if I did this and nothing happened, I could jump back into the location bar (⌘-L), press the left arrow key to get my cursor in the beginning of the string, then hit space and enter to perform the search.

Until today, I've begrudgingly used that workaround. But then I was checking Safari's preferences to see if I might be missing something obvious, when I decided to uncheck some options and see if it made a difference. And it did!

Safari Search Preferences

Raspberry Pi Zero W as a headless time-lapse camera

tl;dr: There are many ways to capture time-lapse videos. But this one is cheap, completely wireless, and mine. If you want to skip the post and go straight for the glory, grab a copy of my Time-lapse app for the Raspberry Pi.

Time-lapses transform subtle, slow processes into something beautiful, and often make us think about things in new ways. For example, have you ever thought about just how heavy a wet snow is? The trees in your yard might know a thing or two about that! Check out a time-lapse I recorded this morning some mighty oak tree branches, as they relaxed upward as if in relief from the wet snow falling off:

How I discovered my left AirPod was bad

tl;dr: My left AirPod had some hardware issue. I got a new one. Now the AirPods work great.

The morning Apple's AirPods went up for sale, I was boarding a plane, and had just gotten to my seat on the plane. I knew they'd be in short supply (though I didn't know just how short—my local Apple Store only gets a small batch every week, and they're sold out in hours!), so I quickly ordered a pair, then set my iPhone in airplane mode for takeoff.

AirPods on Brown Paper
These things are awesome... though a little pricey.

Getting low input level with a USB mic or audio interface? Check your hub

A few months ago, I decided to get more serious about my recording setup in my home office. I do a lot more screencasts both for my YouTube channel and for other purposes than I used to, and I can't stand poor audio quality. Therefore I finally decided to get some sound absorption panels for my office, rearrange furniture a little for better isolation, and—most importantly—buy a proper USB audio interface and microphone.

So, after purchasing and connecting a U-Phoria UMC202HD and an Electro-Voice RE320 microphone, I was quite pleased with the sound quality!


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