Announcing the First SHA1 Collision →

February 23, 2017 · 20:22

Google Security Blog:

Today, 10 years after of SHA-1 was first introduced, we are announcing the first practical technique for generating a collision. This represents the culmination of two years of research that sprung from a collaboration between the CWI Institute in Amsterdam and Google. We’ve summarized how we went about generating a collision below. As a proof of the attack, we are releasing two PDFs that have identical SHA-1 hashes but different content.

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star →

February 23, 2017 · 09:15

NASA:

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

I would love to live in an age, where space travel and the Millennium Falcon are the norm.

The Nvidia GTX 1080 — the Nail in the Coffin for the Mac Pro →

February 23, 2017 · 09:08

Marco Solorio, writing on the OneRiver Media Blog:

But as good as that juiced up Mac Pro Tower is today, I know at some point, the time will have to come to an end, simply because Apple hasn’t built a PCIe-based system in many years now.

The Nvidia GTX 1080 might be the final nail in the coffin. I can guarantee at this point, we will have to move to a Windows-based workstation for our main edit suite and one that supports multiple PCIe slots specifically for the GTX 1080 (I’ll most likely get two 1080s that that new price-point).

With all that said, I see (and have already seen) a huge migration of longtime Apple users (such as me) going to Windows systems for their main workstation needs. The sheer power and lower cost is just too huge at this point. The Nvidia GTX 1080 just compounded that point exponentially stronger.

The only way out that I can see, is building a Hackintosh, but that’s just not possible for pros who need to rely on their hardware and software every hour of every day.

I am personally starting to consider that I will have to go Windows at some point in the future, just on my desktop and just for my video and photography needs.

Reverse halo effect, anyone?

The Men at Uber Are Pigs →

February 22, 2017 · 12:28

Susan J. Fowler:

After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

I cannot imagine anyone I know behaving in the fashion described by Susan. I don’t know her, I do believe her words, yet I cannot fathom how something like this could happen. I have long since stopped using their service and this piece just reaffirms my decision to do so was correct.

9 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Ditch Your Mac and Take a Serious Look at the Surface Book →

February 22, 2017 · 12:23

A post on Photography Talk:

Here’s nine reasons why I think you’ll be ditching your Mac soon in favor of the Surface Book.

I can list ten things I love about these types of posts1.

Sure, the Surface Book outweighs the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro by nearly 300 grams. Of course, that’s due in part to the innovative design of the Surface Book that makes it a laptop and a tablet in one.

So, the extra weight and thickness of the Surface Book aren’t all bad because the Surface Book is just simply more versatile than the MacBook.

I’m willing to bet that if the Surface Book was lighter than the MacBook Pro, it wouldn’t be listed under cons.

But in this case, it’s not just the larger size but also the number of pixels. The Surface Book i7 sports 3000×2000 resolution compared to the MacBook’s 2560×1600 resolution.

This is valid — the new 2016 MacBook Pros should have a 2800×1800 px panel, to support the new default resolution of 1400×900 pt.

Microsoft’s offering also achieved a better Adobe RGB score in testing, as well as a higher contrast ratio. That means you get a higher quality picture with the Surface Book i7 than you do with the MacBook Pro because it’s 67 percent brighter with 25 percent more colors.

No it hasn’t. It covers 100% of sRGB, but still has a way to go to cover Display P3.

Put simply, the Surface Book shines when it comes to storage space.

Ooh, does Microsoft now offer 2 TB of storage?!

The i7 models range from 256GB to 1TB, giving you plenty of options for your storage needs. If you opt for the less expensive i5 version, you can choose between 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB.

Hmm, no.

But on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, your only options are 256GB or 512GB. Even an upgrade to the 17-inch model still only gets you 256GB or 512GB. To get the same 1TB of storage offered by the Surface Book, you have to order the machine straight from Apple.

So… both offer a max of 1 TB, but since Apple’s MacBook comes from Apple it’s worse than Microsoft Surface Book which comes from Microsoft? I see no logic in this statement. None at all. And the 17-inch model (which doesn’t exist; I assume the author is referring to the 15-incher) goes up to 2 TB.

(…) the Surface Book wins in the battery life department.

The new MacBook can last about eight hours unplugged. The Surface Book offers about the same amount of time.

The Surface Book wins because it gets the same 8 hours as the MacBook Pro? Gotcha!

The fact that Apple removed the SD card slot won’t be a big deal for some people, but for a lot of photographers, it could be a deal breaker.

I do miss my SD card slot, but it’s not a deal breaker in real life. It’s not even a hassle.

Where the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro runs $1,499, the entry-level Surface Book is a mere $1,299.

First of all, the Surface Book is currently on sale. Its regular price is $1499. For that money, you get a 128 GB SSD, while the MacBook Pro has a 256 GB of flash storage. The i5 Surface Book with 256 GB of storage comes in at $1699.

A bump up to the entry-level Surface Book i7 will set you back $2,099. To get similar processing speed and storage capacity, you have to upgrade to the entry-level MacBook Pro, which runs a cool $2,399.

The i7 Surface Book is indeed $2099 and it includes a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM. For $1999 you can get a MacBook Pro with a Core i7, a 256 GB SSD, and 16 GB of RAM. So the Surface Book is more expensive in all regards, with the top model maxing out at $3199 (1 TB SSD, 16 GB of RAM, dGPU). The MacBook Pro (13” with Touch Bar) maxes out at $2899 with the same specs, although I have to note that it does not include discrete graphics. You could just get a 15” model for almost the same money. It comes in at $3199 for the Core i7 2.7 GHz (which is a quad-core CPU!), 1 TB of storage, a dGPU, and 16 GB of RAM.


I’m sure that the Surface Book is a great machine, but the author’s arguments unfortunately aren’t.

  1. That’s sarcasm, yes.

Quincy Larson: “I’ll Never Bring My Phone on an International Flight Again” →

February 18, 2017 · 14:33

Quincy Larson:

It’s only a matter of time before downloading the contents of people’s phones becomes a standard procedure for entering every country. This already happens in Canada. And you can bet that countries like China and Russia aren’t far behind (…)

When you travel internationally, you should leave your mobile phone and laptop at home (…)

Is all this inconvenient? Absolutely. But it’s the only sane course of action when you consider the gravity of your data falling into the wrong hands.

If you bother locking your doors at night, you should bother securing your phone’s data during international travel.

At this point in our history, seeing what’s happening in the US, I would definitely not bring my iPhone with me. A cheap, secondary smartphone, which I can configure with what I need after I’ve been let in, would be more than sufficient.

Phil Schiller: ”It Feels Like WWDC is Going Home“ →

February 16, 2017 · 21:33

John Gruber:

Apple doesn’t like to explain itself. I don’t know why Apple moved WWDC to San Francisco in 2003. But my guess is that they sought more media attention. Apple went to where the attention was. Today, the attention comes to Apple. They could hold WWDC in the middle of a desert and it would still sell out in an instant and there’d be the same convoy of media trucks outside the hall the morning of the keynote. If a large corporation can be described as a homebody, Apple is it. And San Francisco is not Apple’s home turf.

Schiller has been at Apple (and on stage at WWDC) throughout this entire run, and he seems ready to go back. “It feels like WWDC is going home,” he told me.

It’s still one of my dreams to go to WWDC, but since I’m not a developer, it wouldn’t feel right taking part in the lottery. The costs are an issue too, of course, but the former is a primary deterrent for me.

WWDC 2017 Will Be Held in in San Jose on June 5-9, 2017 →

February 16, 2017 · 16:50

Apple PR:

Apple® today announced its 28th annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) — hosting the world’s most talented developer community — will be held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose. The conference, kicking off June 5, will inspire developers from all walks of life to turn their passions into the next great innovations and apps that customers use every day across iPhone®, iPad®, Apple Watch®, Apple TV® and Mac®.

Mark your calendars.

Confide: A Quick Look →

February 16, 2017 · 13:05

Jonathan Zdziarski:

My inbox has been lighting up with questions about Confide, after it was allegedly found to have been used by staffers at the White House. I wish I had all of the free time that reporters think I have (I’d be so happy, living life as a broke beach bum). I did spend a little bit of time, however reverse engineering the binary and doing a simple forensic examination of it. Here’s my “literature in a rush” version.

Making More Outside The App Store →

February 11, 2017 · 13:48

Paul Kafasis, on Rogue Amoeba’s blog:

I certainly won’t state that every developer will have this same success if they remove a product from the Mac App Store and distribute it exclusively through their own site. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary.

In our case, however, it’s clear that we were serving Apple, rather than Apple serving us. By removing Piezo from the Mac App Store, we stopped paying a commission to Apple for the many customers who had found Rogue Amoeba on their own. Better still, we were able to improve the quality of the product while simplifying our work considerably. Ultimately, that alone was enough to convince us that leaving the Mac App Store was the right move. The subsequent revenue increase we’ve seen is merely a nice bonus.

Paul’s whole analysis is worth taking a look at — the results surprised me. Personally, I theoretically prefer purchasing through the Mac App Store, mostly due to the fact, that if I ever need to reinstall or re-download a program, I just pull up the Mac App Store list and click one button. No need to register, no need to find my registration details. Having said that, I actually purchase software directly from developers if possible, because I know that they earn more this way, at no any real cost to me, and I also usually get more timely updates.

Most of the new software that is submitted to the Mac App Store is garbage — I don’t remember when I last found something of true value from an unknown developer that I don’t follow. I can’t help but wonder when it will be forsaken by developers completely.

Magic Variables in Workflow 1.7 Are Magic →

February 10, 2017 · 11:54

Federico Viticci:

Magic Variables mostly remove the need to manually save variables. They leverage Workflow’s Content Graph engine to automatically keep track of variables in the background, allowing you to access them at any time with the ability to change their type (format). It’s a novel idea, and it’ll take a few minutes to fully grasp, but it’s drastically superior to Workflow’s old variables. Magic Variables will change how you build workflows.

I started using the new Magic Variables this morning, trying to rework one of my older workflows. The one which I am in fact using to create this post. Thanks to the new system, I’m down to 6 steps instead of close to 20. There are two huge benefits: quicker workflow creation and much more readable workflows.

Awesome work!

Counter-Forensics: Pair-Lock Your Device with Apple’s Configurator →

February 10, 2017 · 11:39

Jonathan Zdziarski:

(…) This article is a brief how-to on using Apple’s Configurator utility to lock your device down so that no other devices can pair with it, even if you leave your device unlocked, or are compelled into unlocking it yourself with a passcode or a fingerprint. By pair-locking your device, you’re effectively disabling every logical forensics tool on the market by preventing it from talking to your iOS device, at least without first being able to undo this lock with pairing records from your desktop machine. This is a great technique for protecting your device from nosy coworkers, or cops in some states that have started grabbing your call history at traffic stops.

Apple Hires Amazon’s Fire TV Head to Run Apple TV Business →

February 8, 2017 · 10:34

Mark Gurman:

Apple Inc. has hired Timothy D. Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV unit, as a vice president in charge of Apple TV product marketing and shifted the executive who previously held the job to a spot negotiating media content deals.

The moves suggest a renewed focus on the Apple TV and on providing more content for the device, an effort that has been stalled in the past by failed negotiations.

I use my Apple TV 4 every single day. It has potential, which is currently wasted by inadequate software, bugs, and missing apps. I truly hope this means that Apple is taking strides to make this the best platform possible.

A Useless Analysis of macOS (OS X) Release Dates →

February 8, 2017 · 09:40

Rob Griffiths:

Below the break is a table showing all major releases of macOS (previously Mac OS X) from the public beta through the latest public version, which is macOS 10.12.3, as of January 23, 2017.

Interesting. Not useless. If you like geeking out over such things.

Apple Financial Results — FY Q1 2017 →

February 1, 2017 · 10:35

Apple PR:

Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2017 first quarter ended December 31, 2016. The Company posted all-time record quarterly revenue of $78.4 billion and all-time record quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.36. These results compare to revenue of $75.9 billion and earnings per diluted share of $3.28 in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold:

  • 78.29 million iPhones (74.7 million in FY Q1 2016)
  • 13 million iPads (16.1 million in FY Q1 2016)
  • 5.374 million Macs (5.31 million in FY Q1 2016)

More Patent Prints on Etsy →

January 26, 2017 · 09:54

My friend just pointed me to Etsy, where you can find patent prints of all sorts — real and fake — including the Millennium Falcon, AT-AT, Death Star, Browning 9 mm hand gun, and a roll of toilet paper.

Retro Patent Prints →

January 26, 2017 · 09:35

Retro Patents:

Discover limited edition vintage patent prints that helped shape the technology, design and gaming industries.

From IBM’s vacuum tube computers to Nintendo’s first cartridge based gaming consoles.

We have designed beautiful bespoke prints based on some of the keystone inventions of our generation from companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Sony, AirBnB and more.

Each patent has been designed and printed using HDR ink-jet technology on Ultra Premium Luster Photo Paper with a basis weight of 180 gsm.

A great idea and awesome execution.

How Travel Photography Inspires Lisa Bettany to Battle Injury and Heartbreak →

January 25, 2017 · 14:14

Lisa Bettany:

Like many young Canadians growing up on the prairies, I learned how to skate on an outdoor rink. I was a feisty 3-year-old with a zest for dramatic expression and an insatiable hunger to compete. Figure skating became my passion and purpose until I was 21. One slight miscalculation lead to a horrible fall which broke my back and plunged my life into a spiral of pain and hopelessness.

I spent the next 8 years in darkness. Immobilized in my bed, I would stare up at the ceiling and feel so powerless. I cut out photographs of beautiful places from travel magazines and stuck them on my walls. At the time, I felt like I would never get to see those places in real life. I could hardly walk and couldn’t sit for longer than 5 minutes. Traveling to the next room was trouble enough, let alone traveling the world.

I started following Lisa Bettany’s work shortly after she embarked upon her journey with photography. I knew that she had some sort of injury, which led her to hanging up her ice skates, but I never knew it was so serious.

She has always been an inspiration, and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and on her site.

Photo credit: Lisa Bettany

The Death Star and the Final Trench Run →

January 25, 2017 · 14:06

Todd Vaziri:

Star Wars fans pride themselves on knowing each and every detail from the original trilogy. But there’s one little detail from “Star Wars” (1977) that might surprise a lot of fans, and the reality of this detail is different than our collective head canon.

I never thought about it this way and did not connect the two trenches together. At this point, I’m not even sure if I assumed it was the equatorial trench or not.

Micro.blog on Kickstarter →

January 20, 2017 · 11:48

Manton Reece:

Hi, my name is Manton Reece, and I’m writing a book called Indie Microblogging. I’m also launching a brand new platform for microblogs.

Do you remember how the web used to work? How the web was supposed to work?

In the earlier days of the web, we always published to our own web site. If you weren’t happy with your web host, or they went out of business, you could move your files and your domain name, and nothing would break.

Today, most writing instead goes into a small number of centralized social networking sites, where you can’t move your content, advertisements and fake news are everywhere, and if one of these sites fails, your content disappears from the internet. Too many sites have gone away and taken our posts and photos with them.

I want to encourage more independent writing. To do that, we need better tools that embrace microblogs and the advantages of the open web. We need to learn from the success and user experience of social networking, but applied to the full scope of the web.

I first set out to build a new service just for microblogs. It has a timeline experience like a social network, with replies and favorites, but it’s based on RSS, with the main posts pulled from independent sites.

Looks like he’s on to something. Backed. Can’t wait to get my hands on the final product, to see what’s what.

Mac Malware of 2016 →

January 4, 2017 · 19:47

Patrick Wardle:

Due to sheer volume, Windows malware generally dominates the malicious code and news scene. Of course, Macs are susceptible to malware as well and 2016 saw a handful of new malware targeting Apple computers.

In this blog, I wanted to discuss all Mac malware that appeared this year. While each sample has been reported on before (i.e. by the AV company that discovered it), this blog aims to cumulatively cover all in one place. Moreover, for each, we’ll identify the infection vector, persistence mechanism, features/goals, and describe disinfection.

You will also find all the locations of where the malware installs itself.

P.S. I have never been infected in the decade or so as a Mac user.1.

  1. *knock on wood*

New MacBook Pros Fail to Earn Consumer Reports Recommendation Due to Battery Life Inconsistencies →

December 23, 2016 · 07:11

Jerry Beilinson:

The MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next.

For instance, in a series of three consecutive tests, the 13-inch model with the Touch Bar ran for 16 hours in the first trial, 12.75 hours in the second, and just 3.75 hours in the third. The 13-inch model without the Touch Bar worked for 19.5 hours in one trial but only 4.5 hours in the next. And the numbers for the 15-inch laptop ranged from 18.5 down to 8 hours.

Those were just a few of the results; we tested battery life on these laptops repeatedly.

Expecting my replacement MacBook Pro 13″ with Touch Bar today. If things don’t improve, I was going to swap it out for a non-Touch Bar model, but now starting to consider getting the 2015 MacBook Pro.

This is unbelievable.

The Problem With the Mac Is Apple →

December 21, 2016 · 12:56

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

Mac upgrades, once a frequent ritual, are few and far between. The Mac Pro, Apple’s marquee computer, hasn’t been refreshed since 2013. The affordable and flexible Mac mini was last upgraded in 2014. And when a new machine does roll out, the results are sometimes underwhelming, if not infuriating, to devotees.

I decided to switch to the new MacBook Pro 13″ with Touch Bar because of the new P3 display. I also needed a larger SSD. I chose the base model (Core i5 2,9 GHz, 8 GB RAM), because it is more than fast enough for my needs. Like I often mentioned, I expected at least 8 hours of battery life under my light workload, but I am constantly getting around 6 for these past two weeks (Safari with a few tabs, Tweetbot, Ulysses, perhaps 10 minutes of Photoshop). I have had days where I topped out at 8, but those were due to having just one app open.

After two weeks, I am extremely disappointed that I don’t get a minimum of 8-9 hours when using the computer lightly. I have also yet to find a use for the Touch Bar — I am quite adept at using keyboard shortcuts and I find them to be much faster.

Interviews with people familiar with Apple’s inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company’s software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers.

I love the Mac, which is perhaps why I get so frustrated that it doesn’t perform as well as my expectations expect it to. If the above is true, then this is a dark day for the whole platform — I actually want more work put into the Mac than into iPhones. I would also like the company to focus more on iPads too.

If more Mac users switch, the Apple ecosystem will become less sticky—opening the door to people abandoning higher-value products like the iPhone and iPad.

I have been looking around for alternatives already, but luckily for Apple, have not found anything really worth considering. However, I have seen people switch to Windows after the latest MacBook Pros rolled out. I am pretty sure some of them will probably also get rid of their iOS devices too, in favour of cheaper alternatives. Others are building their own hackintoshes in the meantime, because Apple’s current desktop line-up does not satisfy their needs. It doesn’t satisfy mine either.

Four years ago at Apple’s annual developer conference, marketing chief Phil Schiller pledged to keep the computer front and center in the company’s product arsenal. “Nobody turns over their entire line as quickly and completely as we do at Apple,” Schiller said. “We’re really proud of the engineering team and the work they do to do this quick so you can get the exact product you need.”

I almost got a Mac Pro in 2013, but I held off, waiting for the next generation. Meanwhile, 1098 days and two Xeon updates have passed us by without a new model appearing. The iMac, however beautiful, is not enough for my needs — I need a full GPU.

To be fair, Apple depends on Intel Corp., which still makes key chips for Macs. Like the rest of the PC industry, Apple’s innovation and product cycles are sometimes constrained by when Intel produces new chips—a process that’s getting more difficult.

Apple has been skipping generations. I don’t know the reasons behind this decision, but this is not acceptable for so many reasons.

Making a laptop stand out is also harder these days. But when Apple has tried to leapfrog the competition, it has fallen short. Take the company’s attempt to create a longer-lasting battery for the MacBook Pro. Apple engineers wanted to use higher capacity battery packs shaped to the insides of the laptop versus the standard square cells found in most machines. The design would have boosted battery life.

In the run-up to the MacBook Pro’s planned debut this year, the new battery failed a key test, according to a person familiar with the situation. Rather than delay the launch and risk missing the crucial holiday shopping season, Apple decided to revert to an older design. The change required roping in engineers from other teams to finish the job, meaning work on other Macs languished, the person said. The new laptop didn’t represent a game-changing leap in battery performance, and a software bug misrepresented hours of power remaining. Apple has since removed the meter from the top right-hand corner of the screen.

Since Apple planned a larger capacity battery, but reverted to an older design (which is a good decision — safety is paramount), then they should have forsaken the thinness, which would in turn have granted more space for the older generation battery. This would have perhaps allowed my machine to actually get the claimed 10 hours, instead of 6.

In the Mac’s heyday, people working on new models could expect a lot of attention from Ive’s team. Once a week his people would meet with Mac engineers to discuss ongoing projects. Mac engineers brought prototypes to Ive’s studio for review, while his lieutenants would visit the Mac labs to look at early concepts. Those visits have become less frequent since the company began focusing more on more-valuable products like the iPhone and iPad, and the change became even more obvious after the design team’s leadership was shuffled last year, according to a person familiar with the situation.

In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there’s no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.

Apple is currently losing the market and users which got them where they are — the creatives to whom they catered to. Microsoft is now actively trying to get them on their side (and succeeding!) with products such as the Surface Studio.

That’s part of a broader shift toward making Macs more like iPhones. Apple prioritizes features, like thinness and minimal ports, that sell its iPhones and iPads, which generated about 75 percent of revenue this year. Those are contrary to professional needs, like maximum computing power.

This does make sense on a MacBook, but not on the MacBook Pro. While footprint and weight are important factors for my travels, the previous generation MacBook Pro was easily small enough. There is so much Apple could be doing in this space, to cater to consumers and pros. They could make the MacBook Pro thicker, with faster components, while reintroducing a Retina MacBook Air (perhaps based on the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro) with ULV CPUs and lower weight. This is just but one quick example — I’m sure Apple could have made more people happy instead of constantly reducing their target audience by making the Mac more and more of a niche machine.

In recent years, Apple managers have also become more likely to float two or more competing ideas, meaning designers and engineers must work on more than one concept at a time. In the past, managers pushed a more singular vision. Engineers are now “asked to develop multiple options in hopes that one of them will be shippable,” a person familiar with the matter said.

This sounds like another change in Apple’s traditions, which probably results from the fact that the Mac department doesn’t have a visionary to lead it.

For a 2016 MacBook update, some Apple engineers wanted to add a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and a second USB-C port (which would have made some power users happy). The update instead included a new rose gold color option alongside a standard speed increase.

The first option would have made for a much more compelling machine for many. I would love to know how it went down though.

Still, Apple hasn’t given up on Macs. In a recent company Q&A session, employees asked whether Mac desktop computers remain strategically important. “We have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said, according to a transcript of the discussion obtained by Bloomberg News.

Tim Cook’s words were carefully worded. I’m pretty sure that the Mac Pro is dead, which will most probably leave many pros abandoning the platform altogether. The iMac has its own issues, but while it can be (and is) used for professional work, it is not a pro machine. It never was. Having said that, I hope and expect Apple to return to regular updates of the Mac Pro and Mini.

Apple designers are already exploring standalone keyboards with the touch strip and a fingerprint reader for desktops. Apple will decide whether to release these based on how well the features do on the MacBook Pro.

I feel like the old Apple would have been certain enough of their technology and its future, that it would have gone ahead and released the keyboards along with the MacBook Pros. In the meantime, I find the Touch Bar useless. Touch ID is a nice touch though.

Mac fans shouldn’t hold their breath for radical new designs in 2017 though. Instead, the company is preparing modest updates: USB-C ports and a new Advanced Micro Devices Inc. graphics processor for the iMac, and minor bumps in processing power for the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. Cue the outrage.

Since my 2016 MacBook Pros battery performance is so bad, I’m getting a replacement unit in the next week or so. If the new one does not behave any better, then I will most probably replace it with a non-Touch Bar model. I will miss Touch ID, but realistic battery life is one of my priorities.

Reader Poll Finds Largest Group of 2016 MacBook Pro Owners Get Half Claimed Battery Life or Worse →

December 15, 2016 · 16:04

Ben Lovejoy:

A poll of 9to5Mac readers has found that experiences of both battery life and accuracy of estimates with the new MacBook Pro models are very mixed. The largest group – a full third of those taking part – reported that they were seeing no more than half Apple’s claimed battery life, at five hours or less …

A quarter reported 6-7 hours, while only 15% got 8-9 hours, and just 6.7% the full claimed ten hours.

After the 10.12.2 update, I am averaging 5-6 hours (no more than 6), which is a small increase. I am however only using Safari (3-5 tabs open), Ulysses, ImageOptim, and Affinity Photo. The last two programs contribute to no more than 10 minutes of those 5-6 hours.

Considering my light workload, I expected 9-10 hours, easily. Not pleased.

Apple Removes the ‘Time Remaining’ Battery Estimate in New macOS Update →

December 14, 2016 · 14:29

Sean O’Kane:

Apple has picked a rather interesting way of dealing with the unpredictable (and underwhelming) battery life on its newest MacBook Pros: the company is eliminating the “time remaining” estimate that shows up when you click the battery icon in the status bar. The change is being made in the newest version of macOS Sierra — 10.12.2 — which hit the Mac App Store today.

This is like removing the average fuel consumption mode from the trip computer of a car, because it uses more fuel than the manufacturer specifies in its lab controlled tests.

Apple Has Temporarily Pulled the watchOS 3.1.1 Update Due to Reports of It Bricking Devices →

December 14, 2016 · 14:28

Chance Miller:

Yesterday afternoon, Apple released watchOS 3.1.1 to Apple Watch users, offering support for Unicode 9.0 emoji, bug fixes and performance improvements, and more. Shortly after the update was released, however, early adopters started reporting that the update process had effectively bricked their device.

Now, following those reports, Apple has pulled the update…

Why is this still happening?

More People Are Switching From Macs to Surface Than Ever Before →

December 12, 2016 · 16:34

Brian Hall:

More people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before. Our trade-in program for MacBooks was our best ever, and the combination of excitement for the innovation of Surface coupled with the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro – especially among professionals – is leading more and more people to make the switch to Surface, like this. It seems like a new review recommending Surface over MacBook comes out daily. This makes our team so proud, because it means we’re doing good work.

I have been considering this too, but the Performance Base Surface Book is just too expensive (and not available for purchase in my country) — the model that fits my needs best costs $2400. That’s 15″ MacBook Pro territory.