In Hong Kong Protests, Faces Become Weapons →

July 31, 2019 · 08:14

Paul Mozur, reporting for The New York Times:

The police officers wrestled with Colin Cheung in an unmarked car. They needed his face.

They grabbed his jaw to force his head in front of his iPhone. They slapped his face. They shouted, “Wake up!” They pried open his eyes. It all failed: Mr. Cheung had disabled his phone’s facial-recognition login with a quick button mash as soon as they grabbed him.

Apple is not always on point but their implementations of Touch ID and Face ID are spot on.


Apple Contractors ‘Regularly Hear Confidential Details’ on Siri Recordings →

July 27, 2019 · 01:09

Alex Hern, reporting for The Guardian:

Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or “grading”, the company’s Siri voice assistant, the Guardian has learned.

Although Apple does not explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world. They are tasked with grading the responses on a variety of factors, including whether the activation of the voice assistant was deliberate or accidental, whether the query was something Siri could be expected to help with and whether Siri’s response was appropriate […]

“There’s not much vetting of who works there, and the amount of data that we’re free to look through seems quite broad. It wouldn’t be difficult to identify the person that you’re listening to, especially with accidental triggers – addresses, names and so on.

This is unacceptable.


Half of Top Free VPN Apps Affiliated with China →

July 19, 2019 · 09:08

Simon Migliano:

Our investigation uncovered that over half of the top free VPN apps either had Chinese ownership or were actually based in China, which has aggressively clamped down on VPN services over the past year and maintains an iron grip on the internet within its borders. Furthermore, we found the majority of free VPN apps had little-to-no formal privacy protections and non-existent user support.

Apple and Google have let down consumers by failing to properly vet these app publishers, many of whom lack any sort of credible web presence and whose app store listings are riddled with misinformation.

People will generally prefer not to pay for something when there is a free alternative. The thing is, there is no such thing as free — you just pay via alternative means. In the case of VPNs, you’ll be paying with your privacy and security, which is what a VPN is supposed to help with. Do not use free VPNs.


Think FaceApp Is Scary? →

July 19, 2019 · 09:03

Brian Barrett:

Faceapp is a viral lark that takes a convincing guess at what you’ll look like when you’re old. FaceApp is also the product of a Russian company that sends photos from your device to its servers, retains rights to use them in perpetuity, and performs artificial intelligence black magic on them. And so the FaceApp backlash has kicked into gear, with anxious stories and tweets warning you off of its charms. Which, fine! Just make sure you save some of that ire for bigger targets.

When the last wave of Faceapp photos hit the internet a few days ago, after they added their new filters, I was again tempted to install the app, just as I was a few years ago, when the exact same concerns were raised. Resisting the temptation was pretty easy though. Why is it so hard for others? And how did they forget so quickly?


Keep a Stiff Upper Lip (WWDC Feedback) →

July 11, 2019 · 13:05

Daniel Kennet:

I’m a person that would describe myself as “slightly introverted”. I cannot begin to describe how deeply uncomfortable it was to walk into the registration room on Sunday to multiple employees cheering and clapping at me, trying to give me high fives. I understand the want to make people excited, but this needs to have its limits. During the conference, I got cheered and high-fived pretty much the entire week for things like:

  • Picking up a bag of chips.
  • Walking down some stairs.
  • Coming out of the toilet.
  • Walking back up the earlier-mentioned stairs.
  • Walking down the street outside the conference when I was going somewhere else.

I’m not especially introverted and I generally find Apple’s “high five culture” strange.


July 9, 2019 · 20:20

The Surface Pro 6 got a quad-core 8th gen. 15W CPU in October 2019 2018. It took Apple 9 months to add 15W Intel parts to 13-inch MacBook Pros.

It’s things like this, that piss me off most.


My Photography (70) — Downtown Dubai, UAE, 2019

July 9, 2019 · 20:14

I managed to get on the roof of Libery House in Dubai, which has a great view of Downtown. Unfortunately, it was so humid today, that my “big” camera completely fogged up and wouldn’t clear up for over 30 minutes. I gave up and pulled my iPhone out of my pocket. I hate failure.

Shot with iPhone XS @ 26 mm: f/1.8, 1/35 s, ISO 400.


I Won’t Buy Another MacBook Pro Until Apple Drops the Touch Bar (Or Makes It Optional) →

July 9, 2019 · 15:53

Apple PR:

In addition, the entry-level $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors, making it two times more powerful than before. It also now features Touch Bar and Touch ID, a True Tone Retina display and the Apple T2 Security Chip […]

The Touch Bar is just bad design. Not only does it not provide any feedback whatsoever, I cannot use the keyboard without actually taking my hands off of it to look at what I want to touch (I use it primarily on my knees).

If Apple hadn’t added the Touch Bar to the non-Touch Bar model and just upgraded the CPU, I would be ordering one right now — the new CPUs are exactly what I have been waiting for. Unfortunately, they did, so that probably means no more Macs for me, at least until they get rid of the Touch Bar. And no, the Air is not sufficient for my needs — it lacks Display P3 and a proper processor.

Update

Clarified that I’m all for making the Touch Bar optional. I would actually consider paying a small premium not to have it.


My Photography (68) — The View from the 124th Floor of Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE, 2019

July 5, 2019 · 22:19

So this happened! I actually had a minute or two of vertigo after looking straight down. The view really is quite stunning. Just try to avoid the haze if possible (which I didn’t).

The Burj Khalifa has a number of terraces and it’s actually cheaper to go up to the 124th floor than the one even higher up (150+) and I’m not sure if that one offers an outdoor terrace. The one I was on has viewports that can fit a lens, if it’s not very big in diameter. I managed to fit my Sony FE 28 mm f/2 without major issues but I couldn’t use my Zeiss ZF 100 mm f/2 Makro-Planar T*. Forget trying to use any larger zoom lens, e.g. a 24-70 f/2.8 or 24-105 f/4. You can shoot through the glass itself of course, but there are so many reflections, you might want to use one of those special flexible anti-reflection hoods.

Don’t forget to look at the fountain show down below!

Shot with Sony A7R II + FE 28 mm f/2: f/8, 75 s, ISO 100.


My Photography (65) — Level 43 Sky Lounge View, Dubai, UAE, 2019

July 3, 2019 · 21:08

The Four Points by Sheraton has a pool and restaurant/club on the roof — Level 43 Sky Lounge — with outdoor seating and a beautiful view. It’s not cheap but then you are paying for more than just the drinks and food.

Notes on the photo: The shot above is heavily compresed and you might see banding in the sky. The original has enough tonal capacity not to exhibit this effect but I had to compress it, to save on bandwidth and load times.

Shot with Sony A7R II + FE 28 mm f/2: f/8, 8 s, ISO 100.