Do your downloads Pause or Stop/Start?

Are you finding that your downloads behave strange from certain websites? Like, the download is still active but it seems to pause over and over again? Or has a Stop/Start pattern?

Try disabling UDP Flood Defence on your routers Firewall! On a Draytek Vigor, this is under Firewall > Defence Setup.

You can also just change the maximum packet threshold to 65535, however if you have a 1gbps internet connection then this will still result in an issue.

Happy Downloading 🥳💻

Apple iMessage “An unknown error has occurred” cannot sign in on MacOS – Solved!

The Problem:

For a number of months I have had an issue with being able to sign into the Messages (iMessage) app on MacOS on my Macbook Pro. What happens is that I try and login, but the loading circle will rotate for 2-3 minutes and then “An unknown error has occurred” will be displayed.

It doesn’t matter if you disable Firewalls, disable anti virus, or boot the Mac into safe mode, this issue seems to persist without a solution.

I did mange to find some related solutions that kind of half worked, but none of them seemed to correct the issue on a permanent basis. For instance, this command ran in a Terminal window did seem to force a reboot and allow Message to login ONLY if you ran it whilst keeping the above error & Messages app open.

sudo -v ; killall -9 accountsd com.apple.iCloudHelper ; defaults delete MobileMeAccounts ; mkdir ~/Library/Accounts/Backup ; mv ~/Library/Accounts/*.sqlite* ~/Library/Accounts/Backup/ ; killall -9 accountsd com.apple.iCloudHelper ; sudo reboot

That line essentially deletes some iCloud info and then forces the computer into an immediate reboot. As stated, though, this command only seemed to work for a limited time and then if Messages stop syncing correctly or SMS messages failed to delete correctly between an iPhone and a Mac then the “An unknown error has occurred” would return when trying to log back in.

The Solution:

The solution to my problems was quite a simple one, it is literally a few steps…

  1. Ensure that MacOS is updated to the latest version. At time of writing iOS 16 introduced a ton of syncing issues with MacOS Big Sur. However, on October 24th 2022 MacOS Ventura was released with an update to Messages which seems to have fixed the iCloud messages syncing and SMS not deleting issues.
  2. Try and login to Messages, and get the same “An unknown error has occurred” error as before.
  3. Close Messages using Command + Q to ensure it is fully quit.
  4. Open FaceTime on MacOS. It should be logged in if you have activated FaceTime on your Mac in the past. But if not, go ahead and login.
    1. If you have the same error message trying to login to FaceTime. Leave the error on the screen and then open Terminal and paste in the code above. This will force a reboot of your Mac and then it should allow you to login to FaceTime without any issues.
  5. Once logged into FaceTime, keep it open and reopen the Messages app.
  6. Messages *should* open without an issues.

You can then go into Messages > Settings > iMessage and ensure your emails and phone numbers are the same as on your iPhone. You can also sign out of Messages and then try and sign in again to ensure the issues is fixed.

I have found that it takes messages about 24hrs to properly sync messages with iCloud. For me, I will have a sort half baked sync happen, but then once I leave my Macbook Pro M1 with the lid down over night, the next day the messages seemed to be fully synced.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be on MacOS Ventura for iMessages to sync fully and for SMS messages to be correctly deleted between devices. Big Sur seems to have tons of issues due to the way that Apple reworked iMessages on its other devices with things like Editing messages and a Deleted Messages Folder.

Now I just need to work out how to get SMS messages to correctly delete on my Apple Watch (4+ years and counting). I have a Series 4 and an Ultra, but any SMS deleted from my iPhone or Mac will not delete on the watch. Also, if i delete an SMS on my watch it will not delete on the iPhone or the Mac. iMessages seem to delete fine, and SMS messages do change read state from Watch > Other Devices, but the “Delete Flag” never seems to sync between the Watch <> Other Devices 😡 It is so time consuming manually deleting SMS messages from the Watch interface and it drives me insane.

Fairways and Bluewater Resort – Boracay, Philippines Review

Fairways and Blue Water Boracay Resort

I am going to open this review with an important statement.

If you are planning to stay at Fairways and Bluewaters, you need to be aware that about 90% of the resort is completely closed down and that none of this is mentioned on their website. Almost all of the attractions and amenities that are front and center promoted on the site are completely off-limits.

I personally find this to be incredibly dishonest by not noting on the site or in an email just how much of the resort is closed. I booked the resort back in August, and before I booked, I actually emailed them to ask about the situation with COVID. I was told that the resort was closed until December 16th (this wasn’t noted anywhere on the site), but the resort should be fully operational when it opened.

I proceeded to book a room, which is confusing enough. There is no resort map on the website, and they have a lot of different areas spread across the 18 hole golf course. I settled on what I thought was the most premier room (outside of a suite) they had available and booked.

Between the time of booking and arriving, there was an email sent from the resort asking me to fill in a pre-arrival form. There was no information at all about nearly all the resort being closed.

We arrived at the resort on 24th December from Hennan Crystal Sands. The resort golf course is very nice, but you can clearly see that there is a lot of work being done on many of the holes that you pass by. I would later find out they are renovating the back 9 holes. Again, nothing on the website or emails noting this.

We checked in and were upgraded to a pool room in the Montary Section of the hotel. This is a very kind gesture and of course, very welcome. I did, however, comment on how it seemed impossible to book these rooms on the website back in August.

The Montary pool rooms themselves are very nice. They are spacious and modern, and the bathroom matches the rest of the room in that regard. The pool has a beautiful view of the forested hills and across the 8th hole that golfers tee-off from and play upwards towards the pool area.

After we checked-in, we asked about the resort and asked for a map. We were told no map was available and that only two swimming pools (Kusina De Augusta and Laguna Cafe) of six are open.

We were then told that of the twelve or so bars and restaurants that only two were open and both of those have last food orders at 8:30 pm. These are little more than pool cafes with extremely limited menus with a large amount of cross-over.

In fact, partway through our stay, the management decided that people can no longer order food from one restaurant and eat it at the other. This would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that certain lunch staples, such as burgers, are only available in one restaurant and not the other. It is such an inconvenience for people as the two menus have a lot of overlap with Filipino food, but any western food is split unevenly between the menus despite the restaurants being right next to each other in the only open section of the resort. Even the Montary Café itself is only open for breakfast.

Finally, the dining areas are littered with stray cats, none of which have been spayed or neutered by the resort. I don’t mind cats, but these guys are constantly meowing and fighting for food. I like the fact that cats are around as it adds some charm, but they are not being looked after properly by the resort and can become a loud nuisance.

We had made our booking based on the promotional photos of the Kudetah district, which showed multiple bars and restaurants alongside beautiful infinity pools that overlooked the private beach. I have absolutely no qualms with resorts operating at limited capacity due to the pandemic, but in the case of Fairways, they have no information about such a high percentage of their resort being closed that it is simply dishonest, and they are obviously painfully aware that people will not book if they know how limited the resort is in its current state.

All of this is made even worse by the fact that almost every other resort on Boracay island is doing a much better job than Fairways. Both the Movenpick and the Hennan Crystal Sands that we stayed in during the same trip had nowhere near close to the issues that Fairways did.

We ended up getting a shuttle to the Movenpick for our 24th Christmas Dinner, since there was no entertainment put on at the Fairways, apparently due to the band not being able to make it, which I suspect is another excuse.

I decided to try out the golf course, which is obviously one of the main selling points of the resort. I was told that only the front 9 was playable (although you can play it twice) due to renovation on the back 9. Again, none of this is communicated at all. I played my round. As I left, I said to the caddy I’d see them tomorrow, she replied “oh sorry sir, we are shut for the next three days”. These aren’t national holidays, these are normal working days over a weekend that you would expect a golf course to be open. You may be shocked to read this, but none of this is communicated anywhere. There isn’t a single sign in the resort pointing this out.

So, let’s recap. We are staying at this resort from the 24th to the 28th over Christmas.

  • 90% of the resort is closed.
  • There is no notice nor communication that such a large portion of the resort is closed.
  • There are 2 pool bars open serving food with limited menus and both shut at 9 pm.
  • They have suddenly decided that you can no longer order food from one restaurant and eat it in the other despite them both being next to each other.
  • There is no Christmas entertainment because the band couldn’t make it despite no other resort on the island having this issue.
  • The golf course has the back 9 under repair and this is not communicated anywhere.
  • The golf course is closed for three days over the weekend, despite it not being any sort of public holiday and this is not communicated.
  • We were told we could play billiards in the basement sports bar (which is actually closed, surprise!) but we’d need to book a specific time slot.

I also bumped into another guest who was desperately trying to book another hotel last minute because he was annoyed at being deceived by what is shown on the website vs. what is available at the resort.

I will comment on two positives despite my complete and utter disappointment in this resort.

  1. Judy (I think that was her name, it is difficult to hear names with PPE on), the duty manager, was very graceful in hearing me complain about all the above to her. She tried to make amends by offering us a free shuttle service to the main Boracay beach, but I explained the very reason we booked this resort away from the beach was due to the amenities it promoted on its website. I will also note to Judy’s credit that during one of the golf-course-is-closed-days she allowed me to play, as apparently, the course wasn’t “technically” closed because there was a 4-ball VIP group playing. I do appreciate her allowing me that courtesy, but it seems a little off that the course is closed to guests yet open for VIPs.
  2. The second positive goes to Rey, who is one of the staff in the pool bar. Rey always greeted us with a smile (to be fair the entire staff did but Ray was notable). And despite our complaints about the resort, he did try in vain to paint it in a much brighter light. He was attentive and accommodating and made the disappointment of the above much more palatable.
  3. The staff in general are extremely polite and very helpful. Whilst expected in the service industry in the Philippines, I do appreciate it due to everything they must have been through and how difficult it must be to get back to normality

In closing (if you bothered to get this far). Everything about Fairways should be awesome. But with them being dishonest at best and outright deceitful at worst about the state of the resort, then it leaves a very bitter taste in one’s mouth.

There are absolutely zero reasons to choose this resort over the hundreds of others on the island when 90% of it is closed and nothing is communicated. I would possibly give the resort another try in a year or two if they can get things back to normal. But it seems to me, the owners have no intention of being forthright with their guests and are not currently in a position to fund redevelopment and staff costs.

In fact, if you look back through the lower rating reviews here on Tripadvisor, you can see people already pointing out these issues earlier this year and late last year before Covid hit.

It pains me to say the above because the resort is so beautiful and the 10% that is open is great, the staff is great, but the negatives so far outweigh the positives, it is laughable.

It wouldn’t be beyond reason to ask for a refund due to this. They have had nine months to weather the storm of Covid but ignored that time to get things up to speed, opened literally a week before Christmas, have not communicated anything about the resort closures, and have not changed the prices of their rooms enough to reflect such a drastic reduction in available facilities. It is not difficult to communicate everything above clearly on the website. But as far as I can tell, the site and the terrible booking engine that accompanies it hasn’t been updated for a number of years.

Movenpick Resort & Spa – Boracay, Philippines Review

Movenpick Resort & Spa - Boracay

Beautiful grounds, beach, and pool with superb staff.

I stayed at the Movenpick back in January of 2020 before the Covid pandemic but was unable to write a review. I have now just come back from a pleasant 8-night stay over the New Year.

One of the main reasons we have chosen the Movenpick is for the location and the grounds. The resort is located in Station 0, which is essentially a private beach shared between the Movenpick, Crimson, and the Shangri-la. This beach is not connected to the main Boracay beach, which makes it a perfect way to experience Boracay sands without all the hustle and bustle of the main beach (although you can get a shuttle/trike to the main beach should you wish).

The grounds themselves are also very nice with a huge pool at the very center of the resort. With the pool being so large, it means that there are usually plenty of sun loungers for guests. The resort has three restaurants, although two were essentially closed, and as such, the menu was much more limited than usual. You can walk freely between Movenpick, Shangri-la, and Crimson, so if you fancy a spot of lunch or dinner at one of those resorts, then it is easy enough to walk down the beach for five minutes to them.

We stayed in a Junior Suite on this occasion. Despite the room décor looking a little tired, the room was spacious and in a very nice location near the beach and Sol beach bar. The bathrooms in these types of suites are huge with two sinks and a bathtub. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the shower, which seemed to have issues with both pressure and temperature control. I did, however, find the bed very comfortable. The hotel decorated our room and provided a cake for our birthdays, which was a nice touch.

On our previous visit, we stayed in the premier room which is located in the main area of the hotel and requires a bit of a walk down to the bar and the restaurants. So if you have the cash to upgrade to the junior suite, then it is preferred.

The resort Spa was closed, which was a big shame as it was very relaxing last year when I was able to use it and slightly surprising considering health spas in Manila and elsewhere on the island are now operating. The Sol bar closes a little earlier than I would like, with last orders being around 9:30 pm. I appreciate this is also being dictated by the island curfew and the need for staff to travel home.

Shout out to Emil who was always greeting us with a smile and did everything he could to make our stay in and around the bar special. In fact, the staff was great in general, with them going out of their way to know your name as you walk around the grounds and many helping me out with an emergency purchase I needed to make as we were checking out.

The New Year’s Eve celebration was well handled, with the staff doing a great job of having to move the festivities in and out of the restaurant from the beachfront due to rain. The general manager, Franck came to each table and wished everyone a happy new year, which was a nice gesture.

In my opinion, the Movenpick is great value for money so it makes sense to stay in the rooms here, enjoy the large pool and beach, and then just head over to Crimson or Shangri-la should you wish for arguably a better menu and drinks that tend to flow much later into the night. I will certainly be coming back to the Movenpick for future breaks.

Henann Crystal Sands Resort – Boracay, Philippines Review

Henann Crystal Sands Resort, Boracay

Second stay in almost a year, still very good.

I wrote a long review last year after I stayed at Henann Crystal Sands, so I am just going to note a couple of bullet points here due to staying a few days before Christmas.

Good:

  • The hotel has done a great job of getting back up to speed and operating as well as it did before it was forced to closed during the pandemic.
  • The staff continues to be extremely polite and very helpful.
  • The hotel seems to be operating at about 70% capacity, so things aren’t super busy, and it allows you to get sun loungers and the like fairly easily.
  • The Sky Pool bar is one of the best of any hotel I have stayed at and is a great place to spend the day.
  • The hotel is in an ideal location in Station 2, Boracay.

Bad:

  • The rooms all face each other, so there is zero privacy unless you close all blinds. The issue with this is twofold: 1) The wooden blinds covering the main door to the balcony are far too heavy to stay up (You must move them upwards to close them, which doesn’t help with gravity being a thing). 2) All the other blinds completely stop any light coming in and the room lights are not exactly bright. As such, the room ends up dreary and dark.
  • They are charging 300 pesos per day to use the gym as a hotel guest. This is nothing short of a money grab and extremely poor form if you ask me.
  • The breakfast buffet continues to leave a lot to be desired.

Despite the bad points, the hotel is priced very well, and the location + the Sky Pool more than makeup for any shortcomings. I would recommend staying here.

But do note that Boracay as a whole is still very much closed with only about 40% of the establishments open for business.