The Doors-Of-Opportunity Edition Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Technology Is Besting My Blindness, by Michael Schuman, Bloomberg

I was in Kenya to write a profile of a blind marathon runner, Henry Wanyoike, when he took me to the school for the blind where he learned to function after a stroke robbed him of sight. Wanyoike credits the place for saving his life. I found it depressing. The highly regarded school teaches the blind old-fashioned skills, like knitting or basic carpentry. In a country where opportunities are scarce for anybody, becoming an independent craftsman is the only way the disabled can support themselves. Entering a classroom was like stepping back in time. Watching students on benches cobbling together leather shoes with archaic tools, I realized that the only real difference between me and these people was the technology I had and they didn’t.

Looking back at that experience, however, I have reason to hope. As new technologies become more widespread and accessible, so many disabled who find the doors of opportunity locked will be able to break them down. We spend a lot of time worrying about how robots and other technologies threaten the world’s workers. What gets less attention is how many people can lead a more economically productive life because of such technology. And for the future? Who knows how my iPad will save me the next time I’m in Shanghai.

Musical Updates

Apple Launches Logic Pro X 10.3 With Customizable Touch Bar, GarageBand/iCloud Syncing, Refreshed UI & Top Requested Pro Features, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Not only does version 10.3 introduce Touch Bar support for MacBook Pro in a way that might be the most ambitious yet— they are fully customizable and go well beyond what Garageband has— the update also includes a refreshed user interface and many top requested features by pros.

Apple Releases GarageBand 2.2 For iOS With Alchemy Synth, FX Pane, Refreshed Design, Logic Integration & More, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Alongside an update for Logic Pro X today to version 10.3, GarageBand for iOS is also getting an update that introduces Logic integration, a refreshed design, and a handful of new features.

Security Matters

Newly Discovered Mac Malware May Have Circulated In The Wild For 2 Years, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

A newly discovered family of Mac malware has been conducting detailed surveillance on targeted networks, possibly for more than two years, a researcher reported Wednesday.

The malware, which a recent Mac OS update released by Apple is detecting as Fruitfly, contains code that captures screenshots and webcam images, collects information about each device connected to the same network as the infected Mac, and can then connect to those devices, according to a blog post published by anti-malware provider Malwarebytes.

'Fruitfly' Malware Patched By Apple Relies On 'Ancient' Mac System Calls, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Unusually the malware is said to rely on pre-OS X system calls, and even open-source "libjpeg" code not updated since 1998. Much of the software is said to be Linux-compatible, possibly suggesting the existence of a native variant. Related Windows executables are said to exist, but date back to at least 2013.

Sweet Talks

EU Antitrust Regulators Welcome Amazon, Apple Audiobook Deal, by Foo Yun Chee and Harro ten Wolde, Reuters

A decision by Amazon and Apple to scrap all exclusivity obligations in the supply and distribution of audiobooks will likely boost competition, EU antitrust regulators said on Thursday.

The companies announced their decision on Jan. 5 after talks with the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office. Such curbs had prompted a complaint from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association to both regulators, triggering an investigation by the German enforcer in November 2015.


Flying With AirPods: Airplane Mode, Ambient Noise, Battery Life, And More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The best practice would be to always have AirPods either in your ears or in the charging case, but I naturally want to put them loose in my pocket quickly a lot of times which is just asking for trouble.

Slack’s New Threaded Messages Tame Your Meandering Chats, by Davey Alba, Wired

Slack’s new trick is called threaded messaging, and it’s a way to connect related messages inside a given chatroom. The feature rolls out to about 10 percent of Slack users today, but the company says the goal is to get the feature live across all Slack users within a week.

Review: Prynt, The Fun Instant Printer For The iPhone That Brings Live Photos To Life, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

No, there’s no Harry Potter magic going on here: the prints are just prints. But embedded within them is effectively a hidden QR code within the pixels that allows the app to replay the Live Photo when viewed on any phone with the Prynt app installed.

How To Use The Touch Bar With Any App Thanks To BetterTouchTool, by Lory Gil, iMore

With Better Touch Tool, you can add an app launch button for any program to the Touch Bar: That includes both built-in and third-party apps. You can also add a variety of app functions when an app is open.

Zoho Notebook Is A Beautiful Notes App Alternative, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

It offers a distinguished set of features, while retaining a pleasant UX for its users.


Inevitable Sherlocking, by David Smith

In a weird way I’ve just come to peace with this reality and grown to understand that this isn’t something that I should really fear. While the indefinite nature of its arrival certainly gives me a bit of unease, once I accepted that it was inevitable things got much simpler.

I approach development now with a slightly different perspective.


Court Rules Against Man Who Was Forced To Fingerprint-unlock His Phone, by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

Had the defendant been forced to disclose his passcode (instead of depressing his fingerprint) to his phone, the constitutional analysis likely would have been different.

“Instead, the task that Diamond was compelled to perform—to provide his fingerprint—is no more testimonial than furnishing a blood sample, providing handwriting or voice exemplars, standing in a lineup, or wearing particular clothing,” the appellate court found.

Bottom of the Page

Between the popularity and ease-of-acquiring of audiobooks, and the pinch-to-zoom capabilities of iPhone and iPad apps, I'm glad I can continue to read widely even as my eyesights get worse and worse.

It sure is better than being restricted to large-print books. (If I remember correctly, there is only one or two shelves of such books in my local library.)


Thanks for reading.