Safari Content Blocker Evaluations — 2018/9/26 Edition →

October 11, 2018 · 09:50

Ben Brooks:

I ran another round of content blocker testing for Mobile Safari in order to take a look at which ones are the ‘best’ right now. To be fair: it’s really hard to find these content blockers on the App Store now, so I grabbed the ones which looked the most popular to me (top lists, and top search results) and then did the testing to see which was the best.

My favourite is 1Blocker X, which I have been using exclusively — it gets the job done, doing excellent work saving me LTE bandwidth (and battery at the same time). It is, in fact, so good, that my wife asked me to install it on her iPhone, and she’s not the type of person who enjoys the additional overhead of using a content blocker.


Apple Frames: A Shortcut for Framing Screenshots From Every Apple Device →

October 11, 2018 · 09:45

Federico Viticci, on MacStories:

When I published my iPhone XS Frames shortcut two weeks ago, I noted that my goal was to eventually support screenshots and device templates from other Apple devices, starting with the Apple Watch and MacBook Pro. After two weeks spent rebuilding the shortcut and asking Silvia to prepare several more templates, I’m happy to re-introduce my shortcut as the new and improved Apple Frames – a comprehensive custom shortcut to frame screenshots taken on every Apple device. Well, at least most of the current ones that the company is still selling.

Federico has two versions of the shortcut for Apple’s Shortcuts app — with and without the Macs. They’re both brilliant.


Amazon Orders Female-Driven Fantasy Series ‘The Wheel of Time’ →

October 11, 2018 · 09:42

Elsa Keslassy, for Variety:

Amazon Studios has ordered “The Wheel of Time,” an action fantasy series based on Robert Jordan’s bestselling fantasy novels, which have sold more than 90 million copies worldwide. Rafe Judkins (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) adapted the material into a series and serves as showrunner.

I read the first ‘Wheel of Time’ book in 1995 (or thereabouts) and the last one was published in 2013, so this is a universe in which I spent close to 20 years in. I hope the TV series is at least as good as ‘Game of Thrones’.


Why It’s Hard to Read the Time on the Infograph Apple Watch Face →

October 10, 2018 · 15:42

Marco Arment:

The Apple Watch is an amazing feat of technology. It’s a computer. It can display anything. With no mechanical or physical limitations to hold us back, any watch-face design from anyone could plausibly be built, enabling a range of creativity, style, and usefulness that no single company could ever design on its own.

But they won’t let us. In a time when personal expression and innovation in watch fashion should be booming, they’re instead being eroded, as everyone in the room is increasingly wearing the same watch with the same two faces.

Open this door, Apple.

Apple could hand pick a few designers and developers for all I care. The current selection of Watch faces is stale and long in the tooth too. They need to address this sooner rather than later.


Google Discloses Privacy Security Flaw Kept Quiet Since March →

October 9, 2018 · 17:30

Gerrit de Vynck, for Bloomberg:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it found a “software glitch” in its Google+ social network in March that could have exposed the personal data of as many as half a million users, but decided not to tell the public until Monday.

Google chose not to disclose the flaw out of concern it would trigger regulatory backlash, especially in the wake of criticism against Facebook Inc. for its privacy failures, according to the Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the news Monday. In a statement posted to its blog minutes after the report, Google said it plans to shut down Google+ for consumers and introduce new privacy tools restricting how developers can use information on products ranging from email to file storage.

Unsurprising.


Movie About Church Sexual Abuse Is a Contentious Hit in Poland →

October 9, 2018 · 11:49

Alex Marshall, writing for The New York Times:

“Clergy,” a new movie by the director Wojciech Smarzowski, starts with three priests drinking vodka until they can barely speak. One then drives drunk to a parishioner’s apartment and mumbles his way through the giving of last rites.

The picture of Poland’s priesthood only goes downhill from there. The priests steal money from their congregations, spy on each other, and exploit their connections with politicians, journalists and the police.

But much of “Clergy” focuses on one issue: Clerical child abuse, which the movie says the church covered up. In one scene, it incorporates accounts from real people who say they were abused.

This may not sound like the plot for a blockbuster movie — let alone one that features a heavy dose of comedy — but “Clergy” is a smash hit in Poland. It opened on Sept. 28, and more than 1.7 million people saw it during its first week, according to Kino Swiat, the movie’s distributor. That is a huge figure for a country of 38 million.

I thought that our current “democratic” government wound actually ban it outright.


Facebook Portal →

October 9, 2018 · 11:18

Portal was created with privacy, safety and security in mind. And it has clear and simple settings, so you always stay in control.

Having all of Facebooks privacy scandals in mind, this product feels like the perfect companion device to their portfolio… if it was released on April Fool’s.

Do not buy this product. You probably shouldn’t be using Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa either.


My Photography (56) — City Across The Thames, London, UK, 2018

October 8, 2018 · 12:42

I was disappointed with The Weather Channel’s forecast for my recent UK trip — it was supposed to be clear skies, sun and warmth. This shot portrays exactly what I got instead — cloudy skies, no sun, and an extremely chilly wind. That prompted me to attach my ND filter and shoot a few long exposures, despite it being noon. This was my favourite one.

Shot with Sony A7R II + FE 28 mm f/2: f/11, 13 s, ISO 50.


Microsoft Now Has the Best Device Lineup in the Industry →

October 4, 2018 · 22:21

Owen Wilson, on Charged:

The company took just an hour to unveil sweeping updates to its existing hardware, and what’s clear after the dust has settled is that Microsoft’s hardware division is a force to be reckoned with. Apple’s dominance on the high-end laptop space looks shakier than ever, because Microsoft’s story is incredibly compelling.

Rather than building out a confusing, incompatible array of devices, Microsoft has taken the time to build a consistent, clear portfolio that has something to fit everyone across the board […]

I really loved one thing about the Surface Book (review unit) I had a while back — when I was done typing, I could just detach the screen and use it as a tablet… or run desktop Lightroom, which I can’t do on my iPad Pro.

Microsoft, it seems, has removed all of the barriers to remaining in your ‘flow.’ Surface is designed to adapt to the mode you want to be in, and just let you do it well. Getting shit done doesn’t require switching device or changing mode, you can just pull off the keyboard, or grab your pen and the very same machine adapts to you.

It took years to get here, but Microsoft has nailed it. By comparison, the competition is flailing around arguing about whether or not touchscreens have a place on laptops. The answer? Just let people choose.

This coherency is what I had come to expect from Apple, but iPad and MacBook look messier than ever. Sure, you can get an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, but you can’t use either of them in a meaningful way in tandem with your desktop workflow. It requires switching modes entirely, to a completely different operating system and interaction model, then back again.

I won’t even bother writing about the sorry state of Apple’s hardware updates but there is one thing that frustrates me daily. I usually start work on my iPad, and when I get to the tougher stuff, I pull out my MacBook Pro. It’s not even because I can’t do that work on the iPad, but because I can get it done 50% faster on MacOS. I would love to just attach/detach the screen or keyboard, instead of switching computers.


iPhone XS: Why It’s a Whole New Camera →

October 2, 2018 · 12:45

Sebastiaan de With:

iPhone XS has a completely new camera. It’s not just a different sensor, but an entirely new approach to photography that is new to iOS. Since it leans so heavily on merging exposures and computational photography, images may look quite different from those you’ve taken in similar conditions on older iPhones.

But unlike previous cameras, exactly because many of its leaps in quality are based on software, we can expect it to change, and even improve. This is just the first version of iOS 12 and Smart HDR.

Likewise, us developers need to update apps to take full advantage of the new iPhone XS and XS Max’s very capable sensor. Since it is such a different animal, simply treating it as any other iPhone will yield subpar results. We’re almost done doing our first take at it and we’ll no doubt have to work more on it in the future.

Sebatiaan also notes a few specific RAW quirks with the XS:

As it stands today, if you shoot RAW with an iPhone XS, you need to go manual and under-expose. Otherwise you’ll end up with RAWs worse than Smart HDR JPEGs. All third-party camera apps are affected. Bizarrely, RAW files from the iPhone X are better than those from the iPhone XS.

I’m going to test Halide’s Smart RAW function, which should allow to extract the maximum quality out of the camera.


My Photography (55) — Banking Above London, UK, 2018

October 2, 2018 · 10:16

I rarely get the chance to capture a nice shot during takeoff or landing — I’m usually lucky enough to be seated on the wrong side of the aeroplane, or the weather’s bad, or it’s pitch black, or the light is terrible. I made sure to pick the right seat this time but the weather and timing weren’t perfect — it was a bit misty (or smoggy) and just a bit too early in the day. Still, I tried to make the most of it.

As to what you can see in the shot… That’s the Thames in the middle, with the London Eye on the left of the frame. Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster are just on the other side of the river. That blob of light to the right of the London Eye is Waterloo Station. That black line crossing the Thames, more or less in the middle of the shot, is Millennium Bridge, which was destroyed by Death Eaters in one of the Harry Potter books/movies — it leads to St Paul’s Cathedral. The City of London is the part which is lit most north of the river and the rightmost bridge is Tower Bridge. That’s the one from the Sherlock Holmes movie, where it was still being built and where the villain met his demise (it’s often mistaken as London Bridge).

Shot with Sony A7R II + Zeiss ZF 100 mm f/2 Makro-Planer T*: f/2.8, 1/60 s, ISO 5000.


My Photography (54) — Peacock Backside, Royal Łazienki Park, Warsaw, 2018

September 30, 2018 · 21:58

I went out shooting with the iPhone XS today and was not only surprised by this here peacock sneaking up on me, but also at the result of Portrait Mode and its bokeh. It has a much more natural, analogue look to it, reminiscent of what SLR lenses are capable of producing. It’s not there yet but I like what I see.

Shot with iPhone X @ 52 mm: f/2.4 (simulated f/1.4 by Portrait Mode), 1/122 s, ISO 32.


My Photography (53) — Another Look at a Rainy Scilla, Italy, 2017

September 28, 2018 · 13:11

Scilla is a truly beautiful city. We spent two days there in 2017 and I still fondly recall the amazing views. I already posted a photo from our second day there — it was cold but sunny. The weather wasn’t as kind to us on our first visit however. It was raining heavily, the streets turned into small rivers, but the colour of the sea rewarded our perseverance. This panorama was stitched in Lightroom from a few (handheld) photos to get the field of view I wanted and was shot from Castello Ruffo (see photo below) — a small castle towering over both sides of the city.

Shot with Sony A7R II + FE 28 mm f/2: f/5.6, 1/60 s, ISO 160.

See a shot of Castello Ruffo below →


My Replaced MacBook Pro’s Keyboard Is Having Issues Again

September 28, 2018 · 12:24

I had my 2016 MacBook Pro Escape’s keyboard replaced in April 2018, because some of the keys were expanding under heat, making them “sticky”, e.g. when using it in the sun.

I’m extremely happy to report that today my Control key has gone on strike and will only work when it feels like it should, which translates to registering maybe one in ten presses.

This keyboard is great to type on, when it works, but it’s generally a disaster.


Export Your Messages and Texts to TXT Files With Image Attachments via Baskup

September 25, 2018 · 15:29

I have been having some issues with Messages in the Cloud on my Macs — both show less texts and iMessages than my iPhone and iPad. I guess I could go through Apple Support but their software solutions usually are to log out and log back in to iCloud or to start fresh (seriously). Instead, I spent a few hours pruning old conversations, which I didn’t need anymore. This still didn’t solve the issue of the multi-year threads that I have with my wife — I have three of those on my iOS devices and only one on my Macs. Since Messages only loads a page or two of messages at a time and requires the user to constantly scroll up to load older messages, its close to impossible to get to the beginning of the thread anyway (I don’t have the patience to scroll-wait-scroll for hours). This led me to the decision to just export our message history as a txt or PDF file and then clear Messages.

Continue reading →


Thee Shalt Not Mention iPhones XS & XR in Thy App’s Releaseth Notes →

September 24, 2018 · 15:34

Greg Knauss, on App Store Review rejecting release notes, mentioning the iPhones XS and XR by name:

You’ll note that I didn’t mention the names “iPhone XR” or “iPhone XS Max.” However, Apple again responded with a rejection […]

Apple apparently considers referencing the devices that an application is designed to run on not relevant to its functionality.

So on September 20, 2018, I squared my shoulders, modified the release notes again, and resubmitted the app:

A change was made. We can’t tell you what the change was, because that’s disallowed by Section 2.3 of the Program License Agreement. But we can’t not tell you what it was, because that’s disallowed by Section 2.3 of the App Store Review Guidelines. This leaves the app in a state of quantum indeterminacy, and the waveform can only collapse when someone doing App Store reviews stops observing it.

Apple — sensing that I might not be taking the process seriously — responded […]

We had the same situation and I was as baffled as Greg. Hats off to him for standing his ground and fighting absurdity.


An Oral History of Apple’s Infinite Loop →

September 17, 2018 · 14:52

Steven Levy published a whole trove of anecdotes from Apple’s execs, including Steve Jobs, on Wired:

Espinosa: When Steve returned, I drove down to the local Flag and Banner store, bought a pirate flag, stuck an Apple sticker on it and cable-tied it to the bridge across the atrium. It was there for about four hours before security took it down.

I’m halfway through. They’re a must-read.


‘AirPower Really Is Well and Truly Fucked’ →

September 17, 2018 · 11:52

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:

What I’ve heard, third-hand but from multiple little birdies, is that AirPower really is well and truly fucked. Something about the multi-coil design getting too hot — way too hot. There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work, thermally, and now those same engineers have that “told you so” smug look on their faces. Last year Apple was apparently swayed by arguments that they could figure out a way to make it not get hot. They were, clearly, wrong. I think they’ve either had to go completely back to the drawing board and start over with an entirely different design, or they’ve decided to give up and they just don’t want to say so.

Meanwhile we now have two generations of iPhone’s supporting inductive charging and one of the best chargers for them are from Samsung, though the new Logitech Powered seems like an interesting proposition.


The New Heart-Monitoring Capabilities on the Apple Watch Aren’t All That Impressive →

September 17, 2018 · 11:34

Katherine Ellen Foley:

The new Apple Watch, however, has the equivalent of one lead on your wrist, the company’s website says. “The tech that Apple is working with is very rudimentary compared to what we’d do for someone in a hospital or health care setting,” Moore said. Although the watch can detect changes in the patterns of a person’s heart rate, these changes really only show a user if she has a heart rate that is too fast, too slow, or beating irregularly—signifying AFib. The watch won’t necessarily give the full picture a doctor would need to diagnose a medical issue […]

Apple got two FDA clearances through a “de novo” pathway, meaning it had to use data to show that its device worked, and that it was safe. For the ECG clearance, the FDA reviewed a study conducted by Apple and Stanford University in California. This study, called the Apple Heart Study included 588 individuals, half of whom had AFib and the other half of whom were healthy. The app was able to identify over 98% of the patients who had AFib, and over 99% of patients that had healthy heart rates. Cardiologists were able to read 90% of the total readings, although about 10% of them were unreadable.

I’m no doctor but those results look pretty impressive.


How Apple Watch Saved Jason Perlow’s Life →

September 12, 2018 · 12:08

Jason Perlow:

Ultimately, though, I owe my life to my Apple Watch. Because it started this whole machine rolling. And I was very lucky to have my Afib caught during the last three months of public enrollment in the Heart Study, which ended in early August.

I’ve decided that I will be an Apple Watch customer as long as that product exists. That means I’m also going to be an iPhone customer for life as well. So heck yeah, I’m getting a new iPhone XS when the upgrade program kicks in. And a new iPad Pro.

But most importantly, I’m also upgrading to an Apple Watch Series 4 as soon as it becomes available.

I guess you can say I am now an Apple fanboy of circumstance — and of necessity. But I am incredibly thankful this product exists and we now have the technology to detect and correct these kinds of conditions in people. Apple’s leadership in early diagnosis is commendable and is a shining example to the rest of the health wearables industry.

Thank you, Apple. I owe you my life. And I guess we are going to be friends for a very, very long time.

This is probably the only mainstream tech product which saves people’s lives on the side.


Geekbench Cracks Down on Boosted Benchmark Results →

September 12, 2018 · 11:59

John Poole:

Primate Labs is taking several steps to prevent our users from being misled by “boosted” Geekbench results, and to discourage device manufacturers from adding this behavior to future devices.

Primate Labs will exclude the following Huawei phones from the Android Benchmark Chart and the Mobile Benchmark Chart, and will add an alert to individual results for the following Huawei phones that the phones attempt to manipulate benchmark results:

  • Huawei P20
  • Huawei P20 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 10
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Primate Labs also will conduct a review of handsets from other manufacturers to determine if they are also manipulating benchmark results. An initial review which included several handsets from Google, HTC, Samsung, LG, and OnePlus is already complete, and no other handsets were discovered to be boosting.

Finally, Primate Labs will make the “private” build of Geekbench available to trusted journalists to discover and hopefully discourage this behavior by device manufacturers.

Good call.


Tesla Model S Burns Down in Poland →

September 10, 2018 · 10:54

A Tesla Model S burned down in Poland, as reported by Boguszów Fire Brigade:

We were sent to an electric car fire a few minutes after 17:00 (on September 9, 2018), which was parked outside Dzikowiec Sports & Recreation Centre. We found the car completely engulfed in flames upon arrival at the scene. Three more fire engines arrived at the scene (one carrying GBA-Pr extinguishing powder, because of the specifics of the fire) […]

We (the general public) don’t yet have enough experience with electric cars to fully understand when and how they can burst into flames. This scares people and is one of the many reasons news about electric car problems is controversial and popular. ICE1 car fires? Boring.

You can find more photos of the wreck on the fire brigade’s Facebook profile.

  1. Internal combustion engine.