This week I’m actually holding back additional topics for next week. Feast or famine, it seems.


If you’ve ever been responsible for proofreading your or someone else’s work, there’s a good chance you’ll know a trick or two — read it backwards to look for spelling errors, read aloud to find unwieldy sentences, etc. But that’s not what I want to write about here.

I want to learn some tricks for proofreading the world around me. A particular event spurred this piece. I received a marketing email for “Black Friday” deals from a local appliance and electronics retailer. The last product on this particular mailer was a 3TB WD My Passport portable hard drive. The price was an excellent $99.

It was very opportune because we had just decided to clear out our DVD collection and I was planning on making sure I had digital copies of the ones that mattered to me — a new, large hard drive would be ideal to place those DVD images on.

So off to the retailer I went. I searched around the store without finding them until a staff member asked if I needed any help. He pointed me to the drives on a rack right by the counter. I scanned the many products hanging there but they were all marked as 1TB or 2TB. “Oh, you don’t have any of the 3TB ones you advertised,” I said. He began to look in the store app on his phone. I fished out my own phone to find the email.

I opened the email, scrolled to the bottom and pointed it out to him… “there, ‘WD My Passport, 3TB’ for $99.” He gestured for me to hand him my phone, which I did. “USB 3, 2TB” he said. I took the phone back. He was right.

Embarrassed, I said 2TB would be fine and apologised for my misreading of the deal. He was very kind about it, but probably in his mind I was an idiot.

I read that email at least twice before I went into the shop. I read it again when I brought it up to show him. This was not an isolated occurrence. Apparently, my brain is wired such that certain key facts are taken for granted, even if they’re not facts. It happens at work, it happens at home, and it happens out in the world. I can only hope that my brain is discerning in what it is happy to gloss over like this.


So this time… it is about Apple OS bugs. Having had issues with iCloud and other network-related tasks on my MacBook Pro, I decided maybe the run of macOS Catalina betas had hosed it, so I wiped the SSD and reinstalled from scratch. At which point, the iCloud problems became even more pronounced!

One of the issues I specifically sought to fix was that Ulysses — which I use to write the majority of these posts — was not synching from the MacBook Pro to my other devices. The fine folks who support Ulysses were great, getting me to try things before asking me to send logs, but they couldn’t figure out what the problem was. After much mucking around, I found and fixed the problem. Or so I thought.

But first, I made the problem worse. You know how in the iCloud settings you can see which apps have permission to use iCloud? DO NOT UNTICK AN APPLICATION IN THIS LIST! I basically robbed Ulysses of any view of iCloud and while it gracefully reverted to local documents only, there was no way to get it back. After multiple abortive attempts to uninstall and reinstall Ulysses, I ended up restoring the entire system from iCloud. That got Ulysses back the ability to “see” iCloud, except now every document was showing as needing to be uploaded.

At this point I decided to have a dig into the system logs via the Console app, where I found this little gem.

“User is not signed into iCloud.” Oh, really? That’s not what the iCloud preference pane was saying. I signed out of iCloud, prayed to the data loss deities, and signed back in. Everything seemed to be OK except iCloud Drive was essentially empty.

After ascertaining there were processes running that looked related to iCloud, I left the laptop connected to power with the lid closed overnight. When I returned to it the next day, there were all my files. I launched Ulysses and watched as it sorted itself out, removing all those cloud symbols. This included showing documents I had written on iOS after the synching had stopped. Could it be fixed, finally?!

Well… no. Once it had all synched, I started writing up this topic and noticed that the cloud upload symbol stayed firmly in place. A day later it was still there. This lead me to contact Apple. So far I have dealt with Rhodel, Barbara, briefly Andrew, and then Rachel. Every one of these people was helpful and efficient. Not once did I get the feeling I was the victim of script-following. Everything I said was taken into account and everything they said added value.

After some basic troubleshooting with Rhodel in the first instance, I did some further steps which showed me that the odd situation was this: every aspect of iCloud Drive was working fine except new and changed files on the MacBook Pro will not sync to the cloud nor therefore any other devices. Files created or changed anywhere else will sync fine, including to the MacBook Pro. Folders created, renamed, or deleted anywhere, including on the MacBook Pro, will sync properly.

Rachel got me to run a sysdiagnose which has been sent to engineering and I am awaiting their response. The support process has been stellar, but the bug is infuriating.

That concludes this edition of Echoes. The comments are open, but will be moderated for civility. Alternatively you can hit me up on Twitter, where I go by @zkarj.

Categories: Echoes


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