Saturday, July 8, 2017

"How Can I Extend the Range of My iPhone's Personal Hotspot with Airport?"

I recently had this question myself but couldn't find any answer that was reasonably non-geeky, even when it didn't deny the possibility outright -- so I had to invent one. The trick is to extend your hotspot as a separate, alternate wi-fi network, not try to connect it to your primary one! To do this, I used an old Airport Express I had lying around.

Also, note I was using AirPort Utility on my Mac, not on my iPhone -- though you can probably do it with the iOS version, too. Of course, you'll need a data plan from your carrier.

First, in your iPhone Settings, make sure Wi-Fi, Cellular, and Personal Hotspot are all turned on. Now follow the directions shown in Settings under Personal Hotspot to join the network with your Mac over wi-fi. (In your iPhone Settings, you can change the wi-fi password, if you like.) The easiest way to switch wi-fi networks on the Mac is on the menu bar, so make sure your Network Preferences are set to "Show Wi-Fi status" there. Also, when you switch to the hotspot network, be sure to tell your Mac to "remember" the network, so you don't have to reenter the password next time.

Now take your AirPort device and reset it. On my AirPort Express, the procedure is to unplug it, plug it back in, and depress the Reset button with a paper clip end for about five seconds, till the amber light flashes rapidly. (To reach the button, I plugged the device in upside down.)

Finally, open Airport Utility. Your AirPort device should show up under "Other Wi-Fi Devices" on the home screen a minute or two after the reset. Select the device and follow the directions to set it up automatically to join your iPhone's wi-fi network. (If you're given a different network choice by default, click the button for "Other Options.") Be sure to set up for secure login, using the wi-fi password from iPhone's Settings.

If all goes well, that should do it! After the AirPort device's restart, you should see the device on the AirPort Utility home screen with a nice green light beside it. Now you can easily switch your Mac back and forth between the hotspot and your primary wi-fi network -- and with the password, so can any other computer or mobile device within your newly extended range. To deal with the added battery drain on your iPhone, you can keep it plugged in to charge while the hotspot is active.

Update -- July 17, 2017

As I've discovered, things get a bit more complicated if you're trying to set this up while your regular wi-fi is down, if you don't have a data plan in place. That's because, without exising wi-fi, you can't use the T-Mobile app to get the plan!

If you get stuck this way, you can add funds to your account by calling *ADD and going through the automated system. Then call T-Mobile's customer service to buy the plan. (Or maybe the T-Mobile app will work if you turn on Wi-Fi Assist in the iPhone's Cellular settings -- but I haven't had a chance to try that yet.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"For Adobe InDesign CS5 or CS6, How Do I Fix Crashing on Exit, Disappearing Text, Disappearing Menu Fonts, and Limited Undos in El Capitan or Later?"

There are good reasons to resist the siren call of Adobe Creative Cloud, especially when relying on an Adobe app like InDesign that produces files in a proprietary format. If you stop your subscription -- ever -- you may not be able to access the files you created while subscribed. The price of sticking with an older version, though, is that you must contend with dwindling support from Adobe.

InDesign users have been facing this for a while now with versions CS5 and CS6. Crashes on exit, text disappearing when any is selected, font names disappearing from menus, and undos being limited to one or two, have become standard occurrences. Fortunately, these problems have fixes, though some may cost you.

Let's start with crashes on exit, a problem with InDesign CS5 (and Illustrator CS5 too). This is actually a new manifestation of a recurrent problem with Adobe apps: Adobe sets them to automatically access a server on the Internet that Adobe then eventually decommissions. The app can't access the missing server, so it crashes.

The solution is to stop InDesign CS5 from trying to access the server. The trick, though, is to do it permanently. You can find a number of methods on the Web involving deleting or renaming Adobe support files or cache files, but they only work till the app restores those files, which it does automatically.

Still, there's a simple way to do it. First, shut down InDesign CS5 and any other CS5 app. From your root drive -- not your User directory -- go to Library > Application Support > Adobe. (The Library directory is normally hidden, but you can reach it through the Finder's Go menu if you press the Option key.) Find the folder CS5ServiceManager and drag it to the trash.

Now, here's the important part. In a text editor like TextEdit or BBEdit, create an empty text file -- a file with no content. Name it "CS5ServiceManager" -- the same as the folder you trashed -- and move it to the same folder -- Library > Application Support > Adobe. With this empty file in place of its support folder, InDesign will no longer be able to attempt online access, and it won't crash again.

Why does this work while other prescribed fixes don't? Because when InDesign tries to overwrite your empty file with the proper folder of support files, MacOS won't let it. A file can overwrite a file, and a folder can overwrite a folder, but a folder is not allowed to overwrite a file!

OK, that deals with the crashes. But what about the other wonkiness? This seems to be due to obsolete memory handling in this fairly old software -- obsolescence that MacOS versions starting with El Capitan no longer accommodate. And no, increasing the memory on your computer won't help, as I learned from expensive experiment.

It took Adobe about a year to fix this for Creative Cloud customers -- which seems about typical for Adobe's lethargic customer support nowadays. But complaining owners of previous versions have regularly been told in  forums that Adobe would NEVER fix it for them, because those versions are no longer supported. The only solution, supposedly, was to subscribe to Creative Cloud.

Fortunately, this was only half-true. Yes, InDesign CS5 is completely unsupported and will never be fixed. And yes, no new features are being added to InDesign CS6. But Adobe HAS supported InDesign CS6 to the extent of keeping it functional on later MacOS versions. So, when InDesign CC got its fix for these memory problems, so did InDesign CS6.

If you're having these problems with InDesign CS6, the simple solution is to go to InDesign's Help menu and check for updates. Sad to say, if you're using InDesign CS5, the only solution really is to update -- but if you don't want Creative Cloud, you can update to InDesign CS6 (then install its available updates.) Adobe itself has stopped selling it, though, so you'll have to find it elsewhere, new or used.

A quick note about moving from InDesign CS5 to CS6: I resisted this for a long time, because CS6 seemed much buggier. But most of that bugginess is now gone, and I appreciate this version's improved display of graphics. One big sticking point for me was CS6 opening document windows partially under panels. But it turned out I just had to select "Application Frame" from the Window menu to stop this.