Preventing Spam iCloud Calendar Invites

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I woke up this morning seeing two notifications of calendar appointments I just couldn’t miss. [sarcasm]

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Annoying, right? Here’s the best part. No matter what I do – Accept, Maybe, Decline – the sender of the spam appointment receives the notification of my action. There’s no way to just simply delete the damn invitation from your calendar without sending the reply! Well I guess that means 章兴言 & 历昭 are going to get a sad decline from me.

How do I prevent this from happening in the future? How the hell did it happen? Turns out it’s Apple again – thinking they know better for how you want to use e-mail and calendars. Thankfully there is an option to prevent the forced invites.

The Answer Lies in iCloud.com

These calendar invites aren’t coming from some magic hacked portal in your phone. The invites are coming as e-mails into your iCloud.com e-mail account and then being automatically converted into in-app push notifications to both iOS and macOS. Once that’s done the original e-mail is deleted. Gone. Poof. Magical, yet stabby.

Let’s turn off this magical conversion so we have the ability to spam the incoming e-mails and never have them hit your calendar.

  1. First, open iCloud.com up in a web browser.
  2. Log into using the account you use on your phone (where your calendars are stored).
  3. Click on Calendar.
  4. Click on the settings gear 2016-11-25_08-50-07.png in the lower left of the screen.
  5. Click on Preferences.
  6. Click the Advanced tab.
  7. Under Invitations set the option for Receive event notifications as to the second option, as an Email to rather than an in-app notification.
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Going forward then all of the invites you receive to your iCloud e-mail account will be received as e-mails.

Damn you, spammers!

~A

[update]

Deleting Spam Invites Without Sending Notifications

Taken from the Apple Discussion Forums, here’s a workaround to delete invites without sending the response to the spammer using macOS:

  1. Create a new iCloud calendar (not “On My Mac”).
  2. Move the spam event to the new iCloud calendar.
  3. Delete the new iCloud calendar.
  4. Calendar will now prompt you with “Delete and Don’t Notify” and “Delete and Notify”.
  5. Select “Delete and Don’t Notify”.

Original post: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3705591?tstart=0

Summarizing Text in macOS

There’s a cool service in macOS called “Summarization” that takes a block of text and figures out the most important sentences or paragraphs in it. I’ve used this service before to help reduce the amount to read on longer posts and conversations. It is definitely not perfect but it can help provide some clarity where our TL;DR brains need it.

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In this example screenshot you can see I’m looking at a Wikipedia article. The summarize service gives you the option to summarize by paragraph or by sentence. There is a slider to indicate how much detail you want to retain. While less seems better, I’ve found the algorithm loses accuracy roughly around 40%.

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Using the Summarize Service

It’s really easy to use the service. First you have to turn it on.

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  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Keyboard.
  3. Select the Shortcuts tab and then select Services.
  4. Scroll down to Text and check the Summarize service.

Now find text in any app, right click it and choose Summarize from the list of services.

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Enjoy!

Changing the volume on a USB Headset on Mac OS X

Do you use a USB headset for video/audio conferencing on your Mac? Ever been frustrated that you can’t really change the volume of just the headset if you keep your main audio coming through your speakers? There is a solution – use the Audio MIDI Setup app nestled in Applications/Utilities.

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  1. Look for the device that matches your USB device – sometimes it only shows the manufacturer of the USB to Analog converter if its a cheapie device.
  2. Look for the “out” device if you’re looking at changing what you hear, the “in” device for your microphone audio level.
  3. Slide the master control to the right if its available. If master isn’t selectable, slide the individual left/right channels. The individual channels don’t stop at any specific points along the line so you might want to manually match up the dB (gain) value so each ear is an identical volume level.

Pinning Safari Tabs for Mental Focus

Have you heard about pinning tabs in Safari? If you have Mac OS X El Capitan then you have Safari 9 which includes tab pinning. From Apple’s Support documentation:

Pin Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Gmail, or any other website you visit frequently throughout the day. Pinned Sites stay put on the left side of your tab bar so you can easily get to them at any time.

I frequently keep several tabs open on my work computer – the three Gmail instances I’m in and WordPress.com’s Reader. Battling with my attention requires me to analyze my behaviors and continuously adapt to prevent problems. I recently discovered I frequently flip back over to Safari to look for the unread count in the tab titles and will derail my current thought process to read the email. My solution? Pinned tabs.

Safari Regular Tabs
Unpinned Stabby Tabs

As you can see I have an unread count in the far left Gmail instance. I’m driven to see what’s behind that (1). Now with the tabs pinned:

Safari Pinned Tabs
Pinned, Less Stabby Tabs

I know the email is still there and I’m super familiar with what order those tabs are in. The miracle though, is, I no longer see the title of the tab and am not driven to read the unread messages. When my mind has a moment to change course during the day, I’ll check my email.