Apple’s Should Pull Out of China →

February 20, 2018 · 08:36

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:

I wish that Apple would provide a definitive list of all types of data that goes through iCloud, showing what is end-to-end encrypted (iMessage and FaceTime?) and what is not. This whole situations reeks to high hell, but I don’t know what Apple could do other than pull out of the Chinese market entirely.

That’s exactly what they should do — pull out of China entirely. End-to-end encryption doesn’t guarantee complete security, since a lot can be obtained from analysing just the metadata.


macOS May Lose Data on APFS-Formatted Disk Images →

February 19, 2018 · 13:31

Mike Bombich, creator of Carbon Copy Cloner:

This week we reported to Apple a serious flaw in macOS that can lead to data loss when using an APFS-formatted disk image. Until Apple issues a macOS update that resolves this problem, we’re dropping support for APFS-formatted disk images.

Note: What I describe below applies to APFS disk images only — ordinary APFS volumes (e.g. your SSD startup disk) are not affected by this problem. While the underlying problem here is very serious, this is not likely to be a widespread problem, and will be most applicable to a small subset of backups. Disk images are not used for most backup task activity, they are generally only applicable when making backups to network volumes. If you make backups to network volumes, read on to learn more.

Another day, another serious High Sierra bug.


Nokia Screwed Up, Again →

February 19, 2018 · 13:29

Nokia PR:

Nokia today announces that it has initiated a review of strategic options for its Digital Health business, which is part of Nokia Technologies. Digital Health’s business portfolio includes consumer and enterprise products, and it manufactures and sells an ecosystem of hybrid smart watches, scales and digital health devices to consumers and enterprise partners.

This was the photo I posted in reaction to the news that Nokia was buying Withings in April 2016:

If they now kill Nokia Health (formerly Withings), I will have nothing but contempt for the company and all the people behind this decision. That’s my delicate way of putting it. If I wasn’t trying to restrain myself, I’d just call them fucking assholes outright, but I won’t, since that could be interpreted as vulgar.

I’m also using a Withings Body Cardio, which I bought partially due to the Pulse Wave Velocity feature, which was recently pulled. If Nokia kills Nokia Health, will this mean that my scale is now just an expensive paperweight?


Westworld Rewind Podcast — Quick Thoughts →

February 10, 2018 · 13:40

I just finished listening to the first two episodes of Westworld Rewind, hosted by Kelly Guimont and Don Melton, and since Don asked for some feedback, here it is:

  • Please don’t put a timer on the episodes. I can listen to you guys talk all day long.
  • I might have welled up inside towards the end of the first episode by just realising there’ll be at least nine more episodes to listen to.
  • Everyone who has watched Westworld needs to listen to this.

Thanks guys! ❤


Apple News in 2018 →

February 9, 2018 · 08:17

It’s 2018 and Apple News is still available in only a handful of countries, despite the fact that many people can read and write in English, even if it isn’t their first language.


iPhone iBoot Source Code Gets Posted On Github →

February 8, 2018 · 15:22

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, writing for Motherboard:

Someone just posted what experts say is the source code for a core component of the iPhone’s operating system on GitHub, which could pave the way for hackers and security researchers to find vulnerabilities in iOS and make iPhone jailbreaks easier to achieve.

The GitHub code is labeled “iBoot,” which is the part of iOS that is responsible for ensuring a trusted boot of the operating system. In other words, it’s the program that loads iOS, the very first process that runs when you turn on your iPhone. It loads and verifies the kernel is properly signed by Apple and then executes it—it’s like the iPhone’s BIOS.

The code says it’s for iOS 9, an older version of the operating system, but portions of it are likely to still be used in iOS 11.

Apple has already filed a copyright takedown request with GitHub, which resulted in the code being removed, but that won’t help much — the code is out in the wild.


FullRoom →

February 8, 2018 · 08:58

Matthew Panzarino, in probably the best edit I have ever seen:

I apparently completely invented a term — ‘FullRoom’ — for this feature that Apple says is not actually the name for this feature. I have no idea why FullRoom was in my notes, but it’s a figment of my imagination, not an actual thing. Apologies.


Intel Vaunt — Normal Smart Glasses →

February 5, 2018 · 16:31

Dieter Bohn, for The Verge:

At its core, Vaunt is simply a system for displaying a small heads-up style display in your peripheral vision. It can show you simple messages like directions or notifications. It works over Bluetooth with either an Android phone or an iPhone much in the same way your smartwatch does, taking commands from an app that runs in the background to control it.

One might say that this amounts to little more than a Pebble smartwatch on your face, especially because Vonshak designed Pebble’s excellent timeline interface before the company was acquired and shut down. But Intel has grand plans for the Vaunt’s tiny display.

This is a big first step, but the wait for all the cool stuff will probably take more than I would like.

Movies have already shown us what we imagine is possible, and while I’m sure there’s a lot more usable information that we can use down the road, apart from displaying our most hated targets, things will get interesting once our own eyes will be either swapped out for augmented or computerised versions, or replaced completely with cameras.

Unfortunately, I probably won’t be around to see that happen, so please hurry up!


This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry →

February 5, 2018 · 14:14

Maureen Dowd:

Yes, Uma Thurman is mad.

She has been raped. She has been sexually assaulted. She has been mangled in hot steel. She has been betrayed and gaslighted by those she trusted.

And we’re not talking about her role as the blood-spattered bride in “Kill Bill.” We’re talking about a world that is just as cutthroat, amoral, vindictive and misogynistic as any Quentin Tarantino hellscape.

We’re talking about Hollywood, where even an avenging angel has a hard time getting respect, much less bloody satisfaction.


Bethany Bongiorno Talks About the the First iPad →

February 4, 2018 · 12:08

In a series of eight tweets, Bethany shared some interesting behind the scenes tidbits about the first iPad launch and other events surrounding it. One stood out to me:

(4) at one point steve wanted to turn UIKit elements orange. not just any orange, he wanted a particular orange from the button on a certain old sony remote. we got a bunch of remotes from sony with orange buttons to try and find the right one. in the end, steve hated it.

This sounds just like Steve Jobs — working to get every small detail perfect, but recognising a bad idea when he saw the final implementation.


Apple Working on Updated Macs →

February 3, 2018 · 16:31

Mark Gurman, for Bloomberg:

Apple is working on at least three updated Mac models with custom co-processors for release as soon as this year, including updated laptops and a new desktop, according to a person familiar with the plan.

We have the T1 in the Touch Bar MacBooks with Touch ID, the T2 in the iMac Pro, and I can’t help but wonder if the the next generation chip (or perhaps the current T2) will introduce Face ID to macOS. I have been living with this tech on my iPhone X for w few months now and it’s so much better than Touch ID, especially during winter, when I often have gloves on. Granted, I wouldn’t have this problem with a Mac, but by constantly and transparently authorising the user whenever a password is required, even when the Mac is already unlocked, should make things much more secure.


Backblaze Hard Drive Stats For 2017 →

February 3, 2018 · 16:21

Andy Klein:

Beginning in April 2013, Backblaze has recorded and saved daily hard drive statistics from the drives in our data centers. Each entry consists of the date, manufacturer, model, serial number, status (operational or failed), and all of the SMART attributes reported by that drive. As of the end of 2017, there are about 88 million entries totaling 23 GB of data. You can download this data from our website if you want to do your own research, but for starters here’s what we found.


Paywalls Make Content Better →

February 3, 2018 · 16:02

Eric Johnson, writing for Recode:

At the New Yorker, that shift in incentives changed not just how readers thought about the content, but how everyone — including writers and editors — did their jobs.

“[Before the paywall] I would interview writers for jobs and they’d say, ‘How do I know that you guys are going to stick to your ideals?’” Thompson said. “And the answer would be, ‘Well, trust me! It’s the New Yorker, we’ve been around for 90 years, of course we’re going to stick to our ideals.’”

“But actually, the argument works better when it’s, ‘Trust me, we’ve been around for 90 years and our business model depends on us doing that!’” he added. “It became easier to recruit.”

I completely agree. We had part of iMagazine paywalled a year or so ago, and I (extremely subjectively) loved what everyone was writing about. I also think I tried harder when writing myself. Furthermore, the writing also seemed to be much more personal.


Apple Financial Results — FY Q1 2018 →

February 2, 2018 · 10:27

Apple PR:

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2018 first quarter ended December 30, 2017. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $88.3 billion, an increase of 13 percent from the year-ago quarter and an all-time record, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.89, up 16 percent, also an all-time record. International sales accounted for 65 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold:

  • 77.3 million iPhones (78.29 million in FY Q1 2017)
  • 13.2 million iPads (13 million in FY Q1 2017)
  • 5.1 million Macs (5.374 million in FY Q1 2017)

Apple Delays iOS Features to Focus on Reliability and Performance →

January 31, 2018 · 12:34

Ina Fried, writing for Axios:

On the cutting board: Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.

What made it: There will be some new features, of course, including improvements in augmented reality, digital health and parental controls. In addition, Apple is prioritizing work to make iPhones more responsive and less prone to cause customer support issues.

This is a very good decision. iOS and macOS are currently very buggy and they are in need of care and polishing.

Also, I have not found a single reason to use AR yet.


iPhone X — Picking Up Scratches →

January 31, 2018 · 12:30

Stephen Hackett, on 512 Pixels:

Unfortunately, the stainless steel band isn’t the only thing that has picked up scratches on my iPhone X. This phone has picked up scratches across the front and back glass in a way no previous iPhone I have owned has. None of them are particularly long, but they are deep enough that I can catch them with the corner of a finger nail if I try.

I have now heard numerous reports about people having scratches on the band, front, and back glass. The strange thing is that I use my iPhone X caseless (white model) and it still looks pristine. I carry it in my jeans every day and use it in a vent mount in my car. Granted, I don’t throw it around and I am careful, but so were the people who have scratches now.


HomePod Will Support Lossless FLAC Audio Playback →

January 25, 2018 · 10:39

Peter Cao, writing for 9to5Mac:

HomePod specs are indicating that Apple is serious about the audio quality on the device. Today, we’ve discovered that the smart speaker will support FLAC out of the box.

For those unaware, FLAC is a lossless format, meaning there is no compression whatsoever and recordings are kept as is. Not to be confused with lossy, which is used by most music streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music and is usually compressed to 256 or 320Kbps.

How would this work, since the HomePod supposedly will not have access to music in our iTunes Libraries, which wasn’t purchased via the iTunes Store? Siri seems to be out of the question.

[…] AirPlay 2 will be able to transmit lossless audio to the Apple-branded smart speaker.

Can we store FLAC on our iOS devices in Apple Music on iOS 11.3? Or do we need to stream from a Mac, which means we would have to control playback from there?


Don’t Be Trustworthy Honourable Open Evil →

January 25, 2018 · 10:27

Jean Marc Manach, for The Intercept:

Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on NSA.gov, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” The agency vowed on the site to “be truthful with each other.”

On January 12, however, the NSA removed the mission statement page – which can still be viewed through the Internet Archive – and replaced it with a new version. Now, the parts about honesty and the pledge to be truthful have been deleted. The agency’s new top value is “commitment to service,” which it says means “excellence in the pursuit of our critical mission.”

Those are not the only striking alterations. In its old core values, the NSA explained that it would strive to be deserving of the “great trust” placed in it by national leaders and American citizens. It said that it would “honor the public’s need for openness.” But those phrases are now gone; all references to “trust,” “honor,” and “openness” have disappeared.


What Happens to the Traffic You Send to the App Store? →

January 19, 2018 · 10:42

From Information Architects’ blog:

No matter how good your product is, you need to be found. We send all our traffic to the stores. In return, we get higher sales and higher rankings. Recently, some of the numbers left us guessing. The more traffic we get the higher the sales. But, somehow, our ranking suffers.

This insightful post from iA details surprising behaviour from the App Store algorithms. They also mention skipping the Windows Store for their Writer début on Windows 10, which I’m guessing signifies that they’re considering leaving the Mac App Store. While developers have no such choice in terms of iOS apps, I’ve been recently reconsidering my stance that this is a good thing. Perhaps the option to install apps directly from trustworthy developers would be a net win, even at the risk of less security for less tech-savvy users…


Tim Cook: ‘I Don’t Think a Lot of Users Were Paying Attention’ →

January 19, 2018 · 10:15

Zunaira Zaki:

When asked about the [battery] incident, Cook apologized to Apple users who believe that the company deliberately slowed the processors down in older models.

He hypothesized that when Apple released software updates to slow down older devices in older models to keep up with the new features, people may not have been “paying attention” when they explained what it was.

“Maybe we weren’t clear,” he said. “We deeply apologize for anyone who thinks we have some other kind of motivation.”

We were paying attention. His statement isn’t just bad PR, it’s unacceptable. Watch the video on ABC to hear his full statement.


Tea if by Sea, Cha if by Land: Why the World Only Has Two Words for Tea →

January 14, 2018 · 01:49

Nikhil Sonnad, writing for Quartz:

With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term—té in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi.

Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.

Seems we’re one of the few exceptions — it’s called “herbata” in Poland and I now wish it wasn’t.


FBI Hacker Says Apple Are ‘Jerks’ and ‘Evil Geniuses’ for Encrypting iPhones →

January 12, 2018 · 10:29

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, writing for Motherboard:

On Wednesday, at the the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan, FBI forensic expert Stephen Flatley lashed out at Apple, calling the company “jerks,” and “evil geniuses” for making his and his colleagues’ investigative work harder. For example, Flatley complained that Apple recently made password guesses slower, changing the hash iterations from 10,000 to 10,000,000.

I’m glad his work is made harder and I can’t help but wonder what smartphone he uses privately and if he would want it to be unencrypted.


iMac vs. iMac Pro — Apple’s Bad Design Priorities →

January 11, 2018 · 12:51

Stephen Hackett, writing for iMore:

I decided to take the conservative route, so I ordered the regular iMac. It showed up the day after Christmas. I slapped 32GB of OWC RAM in it — for a total of 40GB — and migrated my data from my trusty 2015 model.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to realize that I had made a mistake. Even during the migration, I could hear the new iMac’s fan blowing, and once I was logged in, it was even louder.

After any data migration, a Mac has a lot to do behind the scenes. Photos.app was busy reindexing my library, and Dropbox was working hard to make sure everything in its folder was supposed to be there. I let things run over night, thinking that by the next morning, this new iMac would be as quiet as my old one in normal usage.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I’ve heard very mixed things about this from people on Twitter and friends with 2017 iMacs, so I can’t say this is a universal truth, but the Core i7-powered iMac on my desk seemed to ramp up its fan far more often than my older i5, and when it did, the noise was noticeably louder than before.

Indexing Photos and Dropbox is not something that should make a powerful iMac, equipped with a Core i7, costing close to $3K, sweat. I know that because I built a Hackintosh based on an iMac’s specs — it has a much beefier GPU but it’s basically a 2013 iMac on paper. Its fans still spin at their slowest speed when the machine is chugging along, crunching 4K data in Final Cut Pro X. If the top-of-the-line iMac starts screaming at the top of its lungs during the basic stuff, then something’s wrong. It could be a software issue, but I’ve heard enough people complaining about the fans in various scenarios, that this sounds like a bad design decision.

Granted, the iMac Pro does seem to solve the problems Stephen’s having, but to me it sound as if his issues are the most basic tasks, which most Mac users do. A $5K+ iMac Pro should not be a “solution” to this problem. An iMac Pro is a workstation, aimed at demanding workflows. And I still have my doubts whether this is the appropriate machine for the task, especially since a 2010 Mac Pro equipped with a Vega 64 is still faster in OpenCL than a 2017 iMac Pro.

Apple’s crusade for making everything thinner and sleeker is ruining their machines. They are making their products more and more niche, while not providing computers for the masses. I’m sure there’s a market for a desktop computer like a Mac Pro, but with cheaper hardware and full-sized GPUs – I know I’d switch to that from my Hackintosh in a heartbeat, if the GPU was upgradeable, and I’m sure many more would too.

 


Dell’s ‘Maglev’ Keyboard →

January 10, 2018 · 16:05

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

Among the most interesting quirks is the laptop’s keyboard: though it looks and feels just like typical Dell keyboard, it’s built using a brand-new mechanism that relies on magnets. The keys are still physically held in place at their corners, but there are now magnets beneath them to provide feedback. By controlling the strength of their repulsion, Dell can create a deeper, clickier feeling for the keys than their 0.7mm travel would normally allow.

The new “maglev” keyboard felt perfectly normal, at least during my brief use of it. I wouldn’t say it’s among the best keyboards I’ve ever typed on, but I didn’t feel any issues related to key travel, either.

This sounds like something Apple should have implemented instead of their new failure-prone butterfly switches. I am however curious how much vertical space this ‘Maglev’ implementation takes up, in comparison to the latter.


Safari’s Privacy Feature Costs Ad Companies Millions →

January 10, 2018 · 16:02

Alex Hern, writing for The Guardian:

Advertising technology firm Criteo, one of the largest in the industry, says that the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature for Safari, which holds 15% of the global browser market, is likely to cut its 2018 revenue by more than a fifth compared to projections made before ITP was announced […]

In response, Apple noted that: “Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the internet.”

This is great news (!) and means that Apple is on point with the implementation details of their new feature. The practices of the ad industry are horrific and should have been addressed years ago. I strongly believe their shady practices have basically killed their own business — people basically hate most web ads — which is in stark contrast to podcast ads.


Measuring macOS Meltdown Patches Performance →

January 10, 2018 · 15:57

fG, writing for Reverse Engineering Mac OS X:

My tests demonstrate that the syscall interface is definitely much slower in High Sierra 10.13.2. This could lead to some drama, that in most cases, is not justified (I witnessed some minor drama because I released an early chart to see what happened). What my tests appear to point to is that some workloads will be slower but they are probably not relevant unless you are doing millions of iterations. Maybe a 10% impact on your build times is not reasonable at all or you don’t even notice it. The most important thing that users and systems administrators need to do is to measure their specific situation. It’s the only way to be sure if this patch is a problem or not, and build their threat case under this new assumption. One thing is sure, this appears to be here to stay in the medium to long term until all hardware is replaced.

Interesting and varying results, depending on the workload, tested on a MacBook Pro and Mac Pro, running Sierra and High Sierra.