Category Archives: Technology

Shared Household Contact List on iCloud

Lena Shore's logoSomeone on Apple’s support discussion group claimed “this can’t be done.” Apple explicitly supports shared calendars, but not shared contacts. They probably haven’t figured out how to deal with two people updating things at the same time.

Then I found this terrific article by Lena Shore. Most of us have our contacts saved in a “personal” iCloud account. Shore’s approach is to set up a “household” iCloud account. You save the shared contact list to the household account. Then you enable Contacts under both accounts. Everyone who does this will see both their personal list and the household list.

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Rail Travel Fail

Riding a train instead of an airplane always seemsrailroad crossing sign with big X like a great idea. But railroad travel remains a half-century behind all other forms of passenger travel.

I’m going to the Boy Scout Jamboree this summer, and Amtrak stops at the Prince, West Virginia, station. This is within driving distance of Mt. Hope, site of the Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. But I can’t quite make it work.

The rail industry assumes that train riders are either traveling locally or are willing to do a lot of research and planning. Train travel also requires a super-flexible schedule and creative baggage management.

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Tech-choking Image of History

Excerpt of Adams SynchronologyThere’s something charming about Adam’s Synchronological Chart or Map of History, even if I am a secular scientific type. It shows the history of the world following (more or less) Ussher’s chronology which famously begins everything at 4004 BC. Adam’s chart begins in biblical times, and tracks the “flow of history” mostly in terms of prominent European rulers. The first edition ended in 1871. There are claimed to be editions updated through the 21st century.

I haven’t seen a version displaying dinosaurs.

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Ecobee Air Conditioning Update

Ecobee 3 thermostatIn honor of the bouncing seasons, I turned on my air conditioner a couple of weeks ago. In Minnesota that means you remove the wintertime weather covers from outdoor compressors and then turn on the dusty circuit breakers.

Fortunately I had performed a best-effort wiring of the AC into my new thermostats. All I needed to do was tell the Ecobees to look for AC, and to turn it on. It worked.

AC and heat in our home are completely different systems: while all air conditioners use blowers, not all heating systems do. Our heat uses hot water radiators. I set up a separate “comfort setting” in the Ecobee so that heat sensors wouldn’t confuse the AC system.

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The Final Ecobee

Ecobee 3 thermostatLast night I installed my third and final Ecobee 3 thermostat in our home. My children will no longer need to freeze/boil in their bedrooms just because the thermostat doesn’t know any better. Like the first two thermostats, this one required an isolation relay. This post explains the wiring. I also added a “C” wire to power the thermostats.

The people at Ecobee recommend that you hire an HVAC contractor to do this wiring. Follow these instructions at your own risk. Continue reading The Final Ecobee

Mushrooms and Thermostats

Ecobee 3I’m installing Ecobee 3 thermostats. I really like the one at our lake house (1990s heating plant) so I started installing them in our regular home (1900s heating plant).

Things did not go smoothly. I’m mixing late 20th century and early 20th century electrical technology. The simple job became complicated. This is called the mushroom factor  in some old-house maintenance communities: surprises in the infrastructure can make a normally easy task mushroom into a major project.

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Kohl’s doesn’t really do Apple Pay after all, I suppose

Kohl's doesn't read customer service queries[Update: Kohl’s has distributed new credit cards that actually work with Apple Pay]. Kohl’s and Apple have been merrily posting all sorts of stuff about how Apple Pay now works with Kohl’s charge card.

In my own experience, this celebration is premature.

I attach my interchange with Kohl’s “secure communications” to their credit card group. This is also consistent with a telephone conversation I had with one of their customer support people: nobody at Kohl’s knows anything about Apple Pay support.  

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