Apple Dropped Plan for Encrypting iCloud Backups →

January 21, 2020 · 15:11

Joseph Menn, reporting for Reuters:

More than two years ago, Apple told the FBI that it planned to offer users end-to-end encryption when storing their phone data on iCloud, according to one current and three former FBI officials and one current and one former Apple employee.

Under that plan, primarily designed to thwart hackers, Apple would no longer have a key to unlock the encrypted data, meaning it would not be able to turn material over to authorities in a readable form even under court order.

In private talks with Apple soon after, representatives of the FBI’s cyber crime agents and its operational technology division objected to the plan, arguing it would deny them the most effective means for gaining evidence against iPhone-using suspects, the government sources said.

When Apple spoke privately to the FBI about its work on phone security the following year, the end-to-end encryption plan had been dropped, according to the six sources. Reuters could not determine why exactly Apple dropped the plan.

“Legal killed it, for reasons you can imagine,” another former Apple employee said he was told, without any specific mention of why the plan was dropped or if the FBI was a factor in the decision.

That person told Reuters the company did not want to risk being attacked by public officials for protecting criminals, sued for moving previously accessible data out of reach of government agencies or used as an excuse for new legislation against encryption.

If this is true, then Apple’s pro-privacy campaign is only true if you refrain from using iCloud. Unfortunately, iCloud Backup is the only automatic backup system supported by iOS, although you can go back to making local and secure iTunes backups instead. We of course have no real clue whether our particular backups were accessed or not, but I assume nobody is searching people’s data who stay away from legal trouble.

That said, Apple should definitely introduce end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, or educate its users about the dangers of using iCloud Backup at the very least.


The Apple Archive by Sam Henri Gold →

January 17, 2020 · 09:35

Sam Henri Gold created The Apple Archive and it contains the most amazing collection of videos, photos, PDFs, screenshots, and other memorabilia, published since Apple’s conception. Make sure to go check it out (click the title of this post to get there) and if you like what you see, you can help Sam keep the lights on by donating some money — it costs him around 456 USD per year to keep the site running.


Marco Arment: Making the Case for Low Power Mode for Mac Laptops Again →

January 14, 2020 · 12:45

Marco Arment:

When Turbo Boost is enabled, the fans annoyingly spin up every time the system is under a heavy sustained load. Disable it, and it’s almost impossible to get them to be audible.

Marco is testing this on a 16-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i9 CPU. I have been using a Core i7 extensively for two weeks and have found that it takes longer to spin up that some of the i9s that I’ve heard of. As an example, after fully loading the CPU and GPU with a longer (30 minute), intensive task, it took 30-40 seconds before that fans spun up past 3000 rpm (that’s around the time they start to be irritating) and got up to 4800 rpm after 90 seconds (that’s around the region I cannot tolerate them any more). The case itself doesn’t seem to heat up as much as in the i9 too. So basically, for short bursts of power, lasting up to 30 seconds, the i7 doesn’t seem to spin up the fans noticeably.

Either way, I have been using Turbo Boost Switcher Pro for years and can heartily recommend it. An Apple-sanctioned Low Power Mode would be even better.


The Witcher — Interactive Map of the Continent →

January 13, 2020 · 14:53

Netflix released a wonderful interactive map and timeline of events from The Witcher. You can choose a specific point in history at the bottom of the screen (scrolling works on mobile devices too) and a small pop-up will give a short summary of what transpired in that specific point in time. If you click the pop-up itself, you’ll get a sidebar with even more information. There’s a lot of reading in there, so have fun!


My Photography (73) — Il Duomo, Firenze, Italy, 2019

January 10, 2020 · 15:40

The view from Palazzo Vechhio is truly stunning. It is unfortunately closed on rainy days but well worth standing in line and then walking up all those steps. Another great vantage point is Piazzale Michelangelo on the other side of the river.

Shot with Sony A7R II + Zeiss ZF 100 mm f/2 Makro-Planer T*: f/8, 1/250 s, ISO 100.


Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ Dethroned ‘The Mandalorian’ as the Biggest TV Series in the World — Just Make Sure You Read The Books Too →

January 3, 2020 · 14:13

Travis Clark:

“The Witcher,“ based on the fantasy novel series by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, is the most in-demand TV series in the world across all platforms, according to the data company Parrot Analytics. The company’s ranking is based on “demand expressions,“ its globally standardized TV measurement unit to reflect the desire, engagement, and viewership of a series, weighted by importance.

If you think the TV show is good, you have to read the books — they’re actually much (much!) better. Please note that some of the stories and threads from the books have been altered for the TV show — the originals not only make more sense, but the characters (Yennefer and Ciri especially) are better developed.


MacOS Catalina System Issues — I’m Not Upgrading Anytime Soon →

December 23, 2019 · 23:28

This round-up by Michael J. Tsai shows what a cluster fuck Catalina was and continues to be. I was going to update over Christmas but I’m probably going to hold out until March or longer — at this point in time there is zero benefit for me to upgrade and a lot of incentive not to (I still run a few 32-bit apps with no replacements). I’m also terrified of the new Music app replacing iTunes.


I Switched to ExpressVPN →

December 23, 2019 · 18:46

So after the recent acquisition of Private Internet Access, which I used for these past few years, I decided to switch providers. After weeks of wondering which one to choose, I settled on ExpressVPN — it seems to have the best balance of features that suit my needs.

I am not endorsing ExpressVPN at this point — it’s much too early for that — but they seem to be a solid company with proper care for our privacy. If you’d like to try them out, and use this link, you’ll get 30 days free.


Study Claims Features Like Night Shift and Dark Mode Might Actually Be Worse for Your Sleep →

December 18, 2019 · 22:34

Chance Miller:

Several years ago, Apple introduced its adaptive color temperature feature “Night Shift,” while iOS 13 includes system-wide Dark Mode.

These features are designed to change the temperature and color of your display based on what time of day it is. New research suggests, however, that features designed to reduce blue light before bedtime might not be as effective as initially thought.

I never accepted what F.lux did on Mac before Night Shift was conceived and I haven’t used the latter since it was introduced. I also have no trouble falling asleep, even while holding my iPad and reading. I do like Dark Mode though — it’s so much easier on the eyes.


Earthquake in Florence, Italy →

December 9, 2019 · 09:30

Reuters:

An earthquake hit north of Florence on Monday morning and led to trains across the country being canceled or severely delayed, including those on the national high speed line.

The tremor hit Italy’s central Apennine mountains at 3.30 a.m. (0230 GMT) with a magnitude of 4.8, the U.S Geological Survey said. There are no reports of casualties, the fire brigade said.

It woke me up and I sleep as hard as a rock. When my wife asked me what’s happening, I said that it’s either an earthquake, or our apartment building is collapsing, after which I rolled over on my other side and went back to sleep (it’s not as if there was anything I could do). Luckily, our building didn’t collapse and there don’t seem to be any damages to anything in the city itself.

Update

My wife just told me it wasn’t the earthquake that woke me but her, since I was snoring and she wanted me to turn over. And that was when the earthquake hit. Possible and maybe even probable but I’m sticking with my version.

Shot with iPhone 11 Pro @ 26 mm: f/1.8, 1/4464s, ISO 32.


Introducing the New Microsoft Edge →

December 3, 2019 · 12:43

Yusuf Mehdi:

The release candidate of the new Microsoft Edge for Windows and macOS can be downloaded right now with general availability targeting Jan. 15 in more than 90 languages. Microsoft Edge runs on the same Chromium web engine as Google’s Chrome browser, offering you best in class web compatibility and performance […]

We believe you should know who has access to your data and have the control to choose what you share. Microsoft Edge starts with tracking prevention on by default, so you don’t have to take any actions to immediately start having a more private browsing experience. With SmartScreen and Tracking prevention, we help protect you from phishing schemes, malicious software and new types of malware like cryptojacking.

I wish they’d chosen WebKit instead but at least Edge should be a decent alternative for people who need to use Google’s cursed Chrome.


Sony Overtakes Canon and Nikon to Lead the Full-Frame Camera Market in Japan →

December 3, 2019 · 12:22

Brittany Hillen, on DPReview:

Sony has overtaken Canon and Nikon to claim the top slot for full-frame camera market share in Japan, according to BCN Ranking. Sony showed growth in the overall full-frame, APS-C and fixed-lens digital camera categories from November 2018 to October 2019, as well.

Ultimately, Sony saw its total full-frame camera market share in Japan increase from 31.6% to 38%, while Canon was bumped down to second place at 36% market share compared to last year’s 37.8%. Nikon came in at 24% of the full-frame market, a decrease from last year’s 29.1%.

Quite frankly, I’m not surprised. Both Nikon and Canon have been resting on their laurels for a decade or so now, not innovating at all. Fuji and Sony are the only two “mainstream” brands that are actually trying something different and unique.


Epic Apple Debugging Story →

December 2, 2019 · 22:27

Cameron Esfahani on Twitter:

My first full time job at Apple was working on QuickDraw. The team was very small: the manager and one other engineer. Right before I started, Apple shipped the first PPC Macs. The QD team had done a lot of work for that so they took long, deserved, multi week vacations.

Read the whole thread.

(It would be so much better if these kinds of stories were posted to blogs, not Twitter.)


November 28, 2019 · 14:12

I was listening to @atpfm today, when I paused the audio to talk to a person at the post office. Not more than 30 seconds later I pressed play to resume and instead of hearing the podcast, I heard a random song from my music library.

Perhaps the number 13 in iOS 13 really is that unlucky?


Apple Changes Crimea Map to Meet Russian Demands →

November 28, 2019 · 14:05

BBC:

Apple has complied with Russian demands to show the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russian territory on its apps.

Russian forces annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, drawing international condemnation.

The region, which has a Russian-speaking majority, is now shown as Russian territory on Apple Maps and its Weather app, when viewed from Russia.

But the apps do not show it as part of any country when viewed elsewhere.

It appears to be a limit based on what App Store a user has chosen (Russian in this case) and this is yet another appalling case of Apple bending over backwards to please an authoritarian regime.

Google, which also produces a popular Maps app, also shows Crimea as belonging to Russia when viewed from the country. The changes happened in March.

Apple is, however, not alone.


The Taycan’s Brakes Are Mushy →

November 28, 2019 · 13:59

Sean O’Kane, for The Verge:

It was a shame, then, to discover that the Taycan’s braking feels so mushy. Porsche made a somewhat controversial decision with the braking on the Taycan, and it’s been one of the more divisive parts of the driving experience in the early going as automotive journalists get their first seat time with the car.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of Porsche’s E-hybrid models, and the pedal feel there is far from what I expected.

The lack of regenerative breaking on throttle lift-off is probably the only disappointing aspect that I found with the Taycan. I really hope they go back, fix their original designs, and allow for one-pedal driving.


My Photography (72) — AirPods Pro & Think6.5°

November 26, 2019 · 10:16

The AirPods Pro are probably the best all-rounders for iPhone users and their ANC is more than good enough, even during flights. Most importantly, they fit into that small jeans pocket without issues, so they’re always with me.

Shot with Sony A7R II + Zeiss ZF 100 mm f/2 Makro-Planer T*: f/4, 1/60 s, ISO 5000.


Inside Apple’s iPhone Software Shakeup After Buggy iOS 13 Debut →

November 21, 2019 · 21:04

Mark Gurman:

Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple’s development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system.

I expected the iOS 13 betas to be as stable as last year’s iOS 12 betas. Unfortunately, we’re at iOS 13.2.3 and I’m still encountering problems, especially on iPad. I really hope they go back to what made iOS 12 so great.


iPhone 11 Pro Smart Battery Case Has A Dedicated Camera Button →

November 20, 2019 · 23:55

The case features a dedicated camera button that launches the Camera app whether the iPhone is locked or unlocked. A quick press of the button takes a photo and a longer press captures QuickTake video. It works for selfies, too.

I wouldn’t mind a dedicated button on the phone itself. The iPhone is a camera first and foremost for many.

The Smart Battery case is available for all three new iPhones:


Apple Has Locked Guilherme Rambo Out of His Developer Account →

November 20, 2019 · 18:50

Guilherme Rambo:

I’ve been unable to access my Apple developer account since August. When I try to access any part of the developer portal, like the beta downloads page or the certificates control panel, I get redirected to a contact form that reads “Need assistance with accessing your developer account?”. My developer team doesn’t show up in Xcode anymore. I’m also unable to manage certificates or send builds of my employer’s developer team apps while logged in to my developer account in Xcode because it says it’s “disabled for security reasons”. The push notification service denies any requests I make to it. Back when the issue first began, I filled out that form and got a case number (20000057023991), with the promise that support would get back to me “in one to two business days”.

No explanation given since August and this situation has started to affect his income and his users. Stuff like this should not take place.

Update

Apple has resolved Gui’s issues.


Goldman Sachs’ Response to Apple Card Sexism Claims →

November 15, 2019 · 13:04

Ben Lovejoy:

The bank originally issued a brief statement stating that each person’s credit line is evaluated uniquely, based on a range of factors that include income, credit score, debt, and how debt has been managed. Taking all of this into account, it says, different family members could be offered different limits.

When the controversy didn’t go away, Goldman issued a new statement stating that its evaluation system is not aware of the gender or marital status of the applicant, and offered to re-evaluate the credit limit of anyone who felt an error had been made.

I’d guess they have no clue how the algorithm works and are scrambling to find anyone that does.


Private Equity Company Acquires .Org Registry →

November 15, 2019 · 06:23

Andrew Allemann:

Fresh off ICANN’s blunder letting Public Interest Registry set whatever price it wants for .org domain names, Internet Society (ISOC) has sold the .org registry Public Interest Registry (PIR) to private equity company Ethos Capital.

Game. Set. Match.

This gives Internet Society a huge (as yet unkown) endowment rather than worrying about what the future of the .org domain name holds. PIR generated $101 million in revenue in 2018 and contributed nearly $50 million to Internet Society. It contributed $74 million to ISOC in 2017.

ICANN made this deal much more valuable by removing all price controls on .org.

While Internet Society might not have wanted to raise prices, a private equity company surely will try to maximize the value of the registry.

Manton Reece on Twitter:

After reading this article about pricing uncertainty with the .org top-level domain being sold, I just renewed ‪http://manton.org ‬ registration until 2029. Still wish domain names were easier and cheaper.


Apple’s Phil Schiller on Reinventing the New MacBook Pro Keyboard →

November 14, 2019 · 06:16

Roger Cheng, interviewing Phil Schiller about the new keyboard design in the 16-inch MacBook Pro:

Will this keyboard find its way to other MacBooks? There are folks who don’t need the power of the MacBook Pro, but may appreciate the tactile experience.

Phil Schiller’s answer:

I can’t say today. We are continuing both keyboard designs.

It will be a sad day in Mac world if the new keyboard doesn’t propagate to all the other models as soon as possible, in their next updates.

I’m personally waiting for the new 13- or 14-inch MacBook Pro but it’s not a Mac I’ll be interested in, if it doesn’t get the new keyboard.


Apple (Once Again) Loves Computers As Much As We Do →

November 13, 2019 · 14:50

Marco Arment:

We haven’t had long enough to fully test it yet. There may be flaws or shortcomings discovered over time — there usually are (and always have been). But frankly, it could catch fire twice a week and it would still be my favorite laptop Apple has made since 2015. Fortunately, upon initial usage, nothing bad really jumps out.

The new MacBook Pro has no massive asterisks or qualifications. It’s a great computer, period, and it feels so good to be able to say that again.

For the first time in years, without any major exceptions, we can see that Apple loves computers as much as we do.

So when’s the updated 13-inch model coming out?


Apple Introduces 16-Inch MacBook Pro; Fixes Keyboard →

November 13, 2019 · 14:39

Apple:

The 16-inch MacBook Pro features a new Magic Keyboard with a refined scissor mechanism that delivers 1mm of key travel and a stable key feel, as well as an Apple-designed rubber dome that stores more potential energy for a responsive key press. Incorporating extensive research and user studies focused on human factors and key design, the 16-inch MacBook Pro delivers a keyboard with a comfortable, satisfying and quiet typing experience. The new Magic Keyboard also features a physical Escape key and an inverted-“T” arrangement for the arrow keys, along with Touch Bar and Touch ID, for a keyboard that delivers the best typing experience ever on a Mac notebook.

They fixed it! This setup is the best next thing after having no Touch Bar at all.


New 16-inch MacBook Pro to Debut This Week →

November 13, 2019 · 10:55

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

The 16-inch MacBook Pro will replace the current 15-inch model, which starts at $2,399. The new laptop will cost about the same and is expected to go on sale this week, the people said. It won’t be the last Mac launch of the year. Apple plans to release the revamped Mac Pro desktop computer in December, one of the people said. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

I’m most curious about the starting price (was rumoured to be around 3000 USD) and the new keyboard. Will it really be fixed? Finally?


Mechanical Keyboards as a Hobby — My Collection [2019/11]

November 13, 2019 · 09:53

I’ve previously written only a few short words about one of my newer hobbies — mechanical keyboards — which has been a fantastic journey, keeping me occupied, teaching me new things, while providing a superior tool for all my writing at the same time. This all started over 30 years ago, when I used my first mechs, but which I left behind when I switched to laptops. Unfortunately, I listened a little too much to Jason Snell and John Gruber talking about their mechanical keyboards on their podcasts, so here I am, and I’d like to share what I’ve collected so far…

Continue reading →