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Archive for January 2018

The Get-Noticed Edition Thursday, January 18, 2018

How A Two-man Vancouver Team Created Apple’s 2017 Game Of The Year, by Chad Sapieha, Financial Post

“We work wherever we want, but primarily home, coffee shops, and the Vancouver Public Library – anywhere that has power and internet, basically,” says Ringrose. “I’ve got a second bedroom and den that have been converted into a small office space where most of the magic happens. I’ve got a 2015 MacBook Pro to do all the heavy lifting, and a drawer full of old phones that I use as test devices. It’s simple, but that’s all you really need. Jason’s home office is a few blocks away, too, so it’s pretty convenient if we ever need to work in the same physical space.”

Such humble headquarters are common in the world of indie game design. The question is how Ringrose and Ennis managed to create a game that managed to get noticed and become a financial success when hundreds of other games developed in similar environments fall by the wayside daily.

Gorgeous 50-megapixel Panoramas Shot On An iPhone At 20,000 Feet, by Jason Kottke

Over on his Instagram account, photographer Vincent Laforet is sharing some 50-megapixel panoramic photos he shot for Apple. He strapped an iPhone 7 to the bottom of a Learjet, set it on Pano mode, and flew it over various landscapes at a height of 20,000 feet.

Tim Cook Says You’ll Soon Be Able To Turn Off The System That Slows iPhones As The Battery Gets Older, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch

And soon, it seems, you’ll be able to turn off the battery/performance balancing system all together. Tim Cook mentions the coming change in an interview with ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis.

Apple Throttling Woes: Blame Small Batteries, Not Planned Obsolescence, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

The backstory here is that lithium-ion battery technology has hit a brick wall. Dramatic gains in the power and lifespan of lithium-ion batteries have stopped. Yet device makers continue to use lithium-ion batteries because there’s just no viable alternative at the moment.

HomePods Rumors

Inventec Begins Shipping Long-awaited HomePods, by Lauly Li, Taipei Times

Inventec Corp, one of the two assemblers for Apple Inc’s HomePod, has started shipping the US company’s long-awaited “smart” speaker with an initial shipment of about 1 million units, industry sources said.

[...]

HomePod shipments this year are expected to reach between 10 million and 12 million units, with Inventec and Hon Hai each fulfilling half of the orders, the source said.

With HomePod Around The Corner, Siri’s “Give Me The News” Feature Exits Beta, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

When you say "Hey Siri, give me the news" to your iOS device, Siri will now immediately begin playing a daily news update from a popular news podcast—NPR by default in the United States. Coming shortly before the launch of the HomePod smart speaker, also powered by Siri, this small feature is the latest that brings some Alexa or Google Assistant-style interactions to Apple's ecosystem.

[...] The feature has to be activated by the hands-free "Hey Siri" prompt used in CarPlay or in the upcoming HomePod's screenless interface.

Money Movement

Apple Accelerates US Investment And Job Creation, by Apple

Apple expects to invest over $30 billion in capital expenditures in the US over the next five years and create over 20,000 new jobs through hiring at existing campuses and opening a new one. Apple already employs 84,000 people in all 50 states.

The company plans to establish an Apple campus in a new location, which will initially house technical support for customers. The location of this new facility will be announced later in the year.

Apple Unveils Plan To Repatriate Billions In Overseas Cash, Says It Will Contribute $350 Billion To The Economy, by Anita Balakrishnan, CNBC

It also said it anticipates a $38 billion tax bill for repatriated cash, as a result of the new tax bill. This implies it will bring back virtually all of its $250 billion in overseas cash.

[...]

The job creation will focus on direct employment, but also suppliers and its app business, which it had already planned to grow substantially. The new campus will focus on customer support.

The Apple Cash FAQ, by Horace Dediu, Asymco

As individuals we think that having lots of cash makes us rich. For companies it’s the opposite. Cash is a liability. If you come across a company that is cash rich and has nothing else, it’s enterprise value will be zero. Companies are valued on their future cash flows, meaning their ability to generate cash, not how much they managed to keep. In other words, cash is a measure of past success and investors are interested only in future value. That future value comes from the intelligent allocation of resources toward a valuable goal. A company rich in cash but poor in vision is likely to be taken private or broken up and shut down. Cash is an IOU to shareholders with a thank-you note for the support through the years.

Apple Gives Employees $2,500 Bonuses After New Tax Law, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. told employees Wednesday that it’s issuing a bonus of $2,500 worth of restricted stock units, following the introduction of the new U.S. tax law [...] Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the move demonstrated his “confidence in Apple’s future” and that both full-time and part-time employees across all departments are elgible.

Here’s The Full Email Tim Cook Sent To Apple Employees Announcing Bonuses & New Charity Donation Matching, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Notably, the email makes mention of a new charitable matching program inside Apple that will run through the end of 2018. Starting immediately, Cook says that Apple will match all employee charitable donations up to $10,000 annually, at a rate of two to one. Furthermore, Cook says that Apple will double the amount it matches for each hour of time employees donate.

Apple Bus

Someone Is Attacking Apple Buses Outside Of San Francisco, by Jack Morse, Mashable

On an internal Apple email thread viewed by Mashable, one Apple employee speculated that the culprit may be firing "rubber rounds" at the buses. At least one of the buses only had the outer pane of its double-paned windows broken.

In response, late Tuesday night, Apple emailed employees to alert them that an untold number of shuttles would be rerouted, adding 30 to 45 minutes to riders' commute.

Apple, Google Buses Rerouted On Peninsula After Apparent Shooting Damages Windows, by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, San Francisco Examiner

CHP knows of five incidents Tuesday — four with shuttles ferrying Apple workers and one shuttle with Google employees. [...] “As you know these are unmarked buses, so there’s no indication these are targeted incidents,” said Montiel, though CHP had no record of other types of vehicles being targeted.

Stuff

iPad Diaries: Transmit Replacements And FTP Clients, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

But this isn't a post-mortem for Transmit on iOS, which, according to Panic, may even relaunch as a new app on the Store someday. Instead, I'd like to take a quick tour of some of the alternatives for Transmit available on iPad today. In case Panic decides to pull Transmit from the App Store, or if the app stops working in a future release of iOS, these FTP clients and file managers should compensate for the features of Panic's app. Most of them don't offer the same sophisticated and polished UI design, but some of them may even turn out to be more flexible and better integrated with iOS than Transmit.

Nomad Wireless Charging Hub Review: It Might Be The Only Charger You'll Ever Need, by Lory Gil, iMore

With Nomad's Wireless Charging Hub, I'm able to toss my iPhone X down on the charging pad, plus, plug in my iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and Nintendo Switch so they all can charge up at the same time.

That's because there are four more ports hidden discreetly underneath the 7.5-watt charging pad.

Revolut Now Lets You Automatically Buy Travel Insurance Based On Your Phone's Location, by Matthew Hughes, The Next Web

If your GPS receiver picks up that you’re in a different country, a policy will automatically kick into action. In practical terms, this means that from the moment you get off the plane, you have medical and dental cover.

Screeny 2.0: Delete Unwanted (Live) Photos, Videos, Panoramas & Screenshots, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

Screeny still offers the ease of deleting unwanted screenshots from the Camera Roll of your iPhone and iPad, but now also offers support for Live Photos, Photos, Panoramas, and Videos.

Develop

App Store Trials: No More Free IAPs?, by Michael Tsai

Apple is currently promoting apps with free trials, but these seem to be based on subscriptions (which aren’t allowed for all apps) rather than in-app purchases. It does seem like the DeviceCheck framework would make it possible to implement trials, with the tracking handled by your server instead of Apple’s.

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Location of the new Apple office? I'm guessing Austin, Texas.

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Thanks for reading.

The Viable-Companion Edition Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Using An iPad For Photography Workflows, by Marius Masalar, The Sweet Setup

To be practical, an iPad photography workflow has to encompass everything from shooting, importing, culling, editing, and the final export. The ideal scenario is to be able to trust the iPad to replace a laptop as my daily photography companion. It needn’t do so entirely — I’m happy to continue using my desktop-based collection of apps when I’m at home and need their specific capabilities — but I should feel confident taking nothing but an iPad with me when I head out on a shoot or take my next trip.

And I do.

Things aren’t perfect yet, but depending on your tolerance for doing things differently, we’re finally at a place where the iPad is a viable companion for the working photographer.

PSA: This Link Will Crash Messages On iOS And macOS, Cause Resprings & More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In some instances, sending the link would cause both the sender and recipient’s device to respiring or cause the Messages app to instantly freeze and crash. Furthermore, reentering the thread would cause the Messages app to crash again and again, making the only viable solution to regain access to that thread to delete it and start a new one.

Is BMW Going To Make You Pay For Apple CarPlay Every Year?, by Zac Estrada, The Verge

The automaker next year will turn CarPlay into a subscription-based service rather than treating it as a one-time option, Don Smith, technology product manager for BMW North America, told The Verge at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday.

“This allows the customer to switch devices,” he said. “A lot of people buy [CarPlay] and think it’s okay, but sometimes they stop using it or switch to Android.”

Innovator To Innovator: Apple CEO Tim Cook Interviewed By High School Senior Rebecca Kahn, by Rebecca Kahn, Aspirations in Computing

It was my senior year, and I wanted to interview not just a real leader in technology, but one whose philosophy and ideas about life were motivating as well. As soon as the assignment was announced, one name immediately came to mind: Apple CEO Tim Cook. He is not just in charge of the world’s largest tech company, but he personally advocates and stands up for things he believes are right. He travels the world and meets with political and innovative leaders. What was the likelihood of him even responding to me?

Amazingly, Tim Cook actually read my email, asking for a few moments of his time to complete my computer project. When the interview actually took place, I was surprised to hear his southern personality and mannerisms when I first heard him say “Hello, Rebecca.” He immediately put me at ease: “Call me Tim -- Mr. Cook is my father’s name.”

It’s Time For Apple To Build A Less Addictive iPhone, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

And there’s another, more important reason for Apple to take on tech addiction: because it would probably do an elegant job of addressing the problem.

[...]

For one thing, Apple’s business model does not depend on tech addiction. The company makes most of its money by selling premium devices at high profit margins. Yes, it needs to make sure you find your phone useful enough to buy the next one, but after you purchase your phone and sign up for some of its premium services, Apple doesn’t really need you to overdo it. Indeed, because it can’t make infinite battery life, Apple would probably be O.K. if you cooled it with your phone a little.

Stuff

Apple's 500th Store And First In Korea Opening January 27 Ahead Of 2018 Winter Olympics, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The store is located in the upscale Garosu-gil shopping area in the Gangnam District of Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

PhotoLemur V2.2 Spectre Photo Software Review, by Smythe Richbourg, The Gadgeteer

The first version of PhotoLemur was a one-trick, one-shot, stand-alone deal: Here’s your photo, or here’s your photo with our program applied. Take it or leave it. In version 2.2, they have the same singleness of purpose and application (you can’t select a single area and change just it – it’s still all-or-nothing on the photo itself), but the level of change and enhancement can now be modulated. Also, in addition to stand-alone, there are plug-ins for the two largest photo-editing programs: Adobe LightRoom and Apple Photos.

Apple Is The Only Place You Can Buy Colgate's New Artificially Intelligent Toothbrush, by Avery Hartmans, Business Insider

Called the E1, the "smart" electronic toothbrush gives you real-time brushing feedback, maps your mouth, and uses "sonic vibrations" to remove more plaque, and can upload the data it collects to an iPhone app called Colgate Connect.

Develop

Apple And WeChat Resolve Disagreement Over App Store Cut On Tips, by Tom Warren, The Verge

It’s not clear if Apple will still take a small cut on tips, but the iPhone maker did alter its App Store rules again in September to allow users to gift money to each other in apps without Apple taking a cut. Gifts need to be true gifts, and not related to access to content or services.

Notes

The Popularity Of Microsoft’s Surface Is The Least Realistic Thing On TV, by Adrianne Jeffries, The Outline

I’m a tech writer. My friends are all nerds. They have every device. Some of them even own Surfaces. But nobody just casually… pulls out a Surface. Unless they live in the alternate universe of Hollywood-produced TV and film, in which case, they do. Constantly.

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This is what I wish can happen:

1) Come in to work and review my Todo list, 2) Start doing the tasks in my Todo list according to what the Todo list software tells me to do.

This is what is actually happening many-a-days:

1) Stare at my Email Inbox and trying to comprehend through the list of read emails that are still residing in the inbox, 2) Being called away to do something new and urgent and that should have been completed yesterday.

Waiting for my permanent sabbatical:

1) Wake up and stare at my Todo list, 2) Play video games and watch Netflix, 3) Stare at my Todo list and remind myself that death is near and I need to get to my bucket list and promise tomorrow will be better.

And after my permanent sabbatical: 1) Don't have to care about anything in this world, 2) Remain dead.

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Thanks for reading.

The Data-Loss Edition Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What To Do If Your iPad Gets Disabled Through Too Many Passcode Entries, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

First, let us turn it off! I don’t even see why it exists — iOS already has a feature that will wipe the device if the passcode is entered incorrectly enough times. I understand and appreciate Apple’s dedication to security, but some devices need less than others.

[...]

Worse, this feature can render a device completely useless and potentially cause a user to lose data, if the device wasn’t set to back up or its backups were failing for some reason. I’ve never seen a non-optional security feature that could brick a consumer-level device even if an authorized user could later authenticate themselves.

Apple Is Getting Very, Very Serious About Enterprise IT, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

IBM calls Apple “pervasive in the enterprise," while Jamf CEO Dean Hager notes that his own internal company research suggests 75% of enterprise users would choose a Mac for their next computer if given the choice.

Apple recognizes its growing stature in enterprise markets. It drips out more information about its achievements in this space each time it releases financial results.

Stuff

Apple Offers Ways To ‘Serve Your Community’ Along With Other MLK Focused Content, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Apple has shared a few editorials on the iOS App Store in addition to featuring a homepage photo and quote on its website. The top billed story is Serve Your Community, which looks to help users give back by highlighting several apps and services.

Apple-owned FileMaker Debuts Ad Campaign Starring ‘The Office’ Cast, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The ad stars actors Kate Flannery, Leslie David Baker and Paul Lieberstein who all had key roles in The Office. It somewhat follows the format of the failed spin-off of The Office, called The Farm. Flannery, Baker, and Liberstein are all working on a beet farm, using FileMaker software to power it all.

Develop

Apple WebKit Team Releases Speedometer 2.0 For Benchmarking Web App Responsiveness, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Speedometer allows developers to simulate user interactions in web apps and has been used “as a proxy for real-world use of popular frameworks for a number of years.” Apple notes, however, that the web developer world has changed a lot since Speedometer 1.0 was released in 2014.

With the release of Speedometer 2.0 today, Apple says there’s now support for modern JavaScript frameworks and libraries.

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What's one of the worst thing that can happen while you are getting ready to go home from work?

You click on the Start button, click on the little "power" button, and, instead of clicking on the "Shut Down" menu item, you accidentally click on the "Restart" button, and you are forced to wait for Windows to shut down and start back up, before finally clicking on "Shut Down".

Happened to me earlier this evening. Again.

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Thanks for reading.

The Passing-the-Buck Edition Monday, January 15, 2018

Dear Apple, Parental Controls Aren't The Answer, by Zibby Owens, Huffington Post

I’m glad people are writing letters to Apple about taking responsibility for iPhones and iPads and how they affect kids. I hope that they don’t respond by passing the buck onto parents. We didn’t create this problem. We’re just charged with managing the effects and protecting our kids. It’s like asking a tobacco company to do a better job helping parents tell their kids not to smoke. How about fixing the product itself? Help us parents! We’ll probably buy more if you do. We’re the ones writing the checks. (Remember checks?)

Seeing The Future In A Reblink Of An Eye, by Deema Abu Naser, The Medium

Imagine this: You stand in front of a painting created in the 1600s, and you blink. Suddenly, you hear sounds emitting from the piece, and see objects flying around in the frame. The people in the painting have suddenly gained the power of movement, like in an animation, and start stretching and yawning.

How Google Arts And Culture's Face Match A.I. Actually Works, by Eileen Guo, Inverse

Artificial intelligence is everywhere these days and humans can’t seem to decide whether to be creeped out by how far it might go or laugh at how far it still has to go.

That’s part of what made the viral Google Arts and Culture feature allowing users to compare their faces with a work of art so fun. It played up our natural vanity, for sure, but it also gave us a chance to test out what AI is capable of.

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Things that I find annoying:

1) having to shave;
2) having to go to the toilet;

Things that I hate:

1) havng to go to the dentist.

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Thanks for reading.

The Liberate-Yourself Edition Sunday, January 14, 2018

Free Advice: Turn Your Phone's Damn Battery Percentage Off, by Damon Beres, Mashable

What does a number offer you that this icon cannot? Nothing! Unless you're trying to diagnose exactly how much battery life having Snapchat open on your screen for five straight minutes will consume (the answer is one entire percent), there's no meaningful gain to the numerical value over the icon.

[...]

Untether your mind from your phone. Disable the battery percentage indicator. Liberate yourself.

The Existential Struggle Of Dealing With The iPhone’s Red Update Icon, by Christina Bonnington, Slate

You had to weigh your decision: Were the features and issues worth the possible frustration? But with the choice not to update would come a persistent shame and nagging on the part of Apple: the red update icon. For many, this quandary verged on an existential crisis.

[...]

If you’ve decided not to update your phone, that’s your choice—you shouldn’t have to deal with this annoying badge making itself comfortable on your screen. For those who want—or need—order on their phone, that red icon isn’t merely a mild nuisance; it’s a full-on offense.

The Behind-the-scenes Story Of Why Apple Received A Letter From 2 Huge Investors About Child Safety Features, by Julie Bort, Business Insider

As to why Jana chose Apple, "Apple was a logical place to start," this person said, because Apple is "socially responsible and they are perfectly positioned because they are the gateway for teens to get to these things. If you are trying to stop water from coming out of a hose it's more effective to grab the hose than try and grab every drop of water coming out of the hose."

Interestingly, the motivation behind targeting Apple in this way wasn't Apple at all. It was Facebook.

Stuff

Apple's New iPad Pro Ads Tout Augmented Reality & Mobile Notetaking, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple on Saturday released a pair of video ads for the iPad Pro, concentrating on some of the possibilities brought with September's iOS 11.

5 ARKit Apps You Can Use In Your Daily Life, by Jen Karner, iMore

When you think of AR, chances are you aren't thinking about an app that's actually useful. Fun, whimsical, silly, sure, but practical? While it may seem strange there are actually some awesome ARKit apps available that you can use going through your normal routine. Measuring a room, sizing new furniture, amping up your run, and more can all get an upgrade in experience with the help of one of these apps.

How To Get Started With Scrivener For Mac, by Nathan Alderman, iMore

When you create a new Scrivener project, choose the category and template that best fit what you're writing -- whether that's a novel, short story, screenplay, research paper, or more. Scrivener's templates come with helpful features customized for each type of project. The Novel template, for example, includes categories to list characters and places, examples of the front matter you'll need for manuscripts, paperbacks, or ebooks, and samples of how your finished work will look.

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No, I don't have the battery percentage on my iPhone's status bar. Anyway, there isn't any choice presented to me on the iPhone X.

And, no, I don't miss it.

(Although, I do have the battery widget enabled on the Today's screen. I tell myself that the widget is more for looking at the battery level of my bluetooth earphone.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Luscious-Illustrations Edition Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Making Of Apple’s Emoji: How Designing These Tiny Icons Changed My Life, by Angela Guzman, Medium

It was the summer of 2008, and I was one year away from receiving my MFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). It was the same summer I landed an internship at Apple on a team I was eager to meet. The same design team responsible for the iPhone; a magical device that launched the year prior at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. One could only imagine the size of my butterflies as I flew to Cupertino and arrived at 1 Infinite Loop. To add to the uncontrollable fluttering, I had no idea what project I would be given, the size of the team, where I would sit, or if I could really bike to work (I’m terrible on bikes).

Soon after my arrival and meeting the team (oh and biking to work!) I was handed my project. I was still trying to make sense of the assignment I’d just received when someone asked if I knew what an emoji was. And well, I didn’t, and at the time, neither did the majority of the English speaking world. I answered ‘no’. This would all change, of course, as the iPhone would soon popularize them globally by offering an emoji keyboard. Moments later I learned what this Japanese word meant and that I was to draw hundreds of them. Just as I was looking down the hallway and internally processing, “This isn’t type or an exercise in layout, these are luscious illustrations,” I was assigned my mentor.

Apple Delays iPhone 6 Plus Battery Replacements Until March-April Due To Limited Supply, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple says iPhone 6 Plus replacement batteries are in short supply and won't be available until late March to early April in the United States and other regions, according to an internal document distributed to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers this week and later obtained by MacRumors.

Apple Says iCloud China Data Migration Notice Sent To Some Users In Error, by Lucas Matney, TechCrunch

Apple has informed users that these emails were sent in error, reiterating that only users with their Apple ID country set to China will have their iCloud data migrated to GCBD servers.

Stuff

Apple Hypes iPhone X Portrait Lighting Photography In ‘A New Light’ Ad, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The clip includes examples of each Portrait Mode lighting effect in action with tons of examples of Portrait Mode shots from the iPhone X.

Review: Beam Authentic Is A Fun OLED Smart Button To Display Images, GIFs And Slideshows, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

I think the reality for most people is that this is going to be used mostly to display fun images – the real-world equivalent of emoticons. So ultimately your perception of value will depend how much fun you think the idea is.

Develop

Apple Made A Section Of The App Store To Highlight Apps That Offer Free Trials, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

For those who want to test out an app before making a purchase, Apple is now promoting a new section in the App Store, “Try it for Free,” that highlights apps that offer a free trial period before you have to pay for a subscription. The introduction of the new feature makes sense as Apple is also trying to promote its subscription-based apps as a new business model for app developers.

Notes

How An Industry-breaking Bug Stayed Secret For Seven Months, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

When Graz University of Technology researcher Michael Schwarz first reached out to Intel, he thought he was about to ruin the company’s day. His team had found a problem with their chips, a vulnerability that was both profound and immediately exploitable. His team finished the exploit on December 3rd, a Sunday afternoon. Realizing the gravity of what they’d found, they emailed Intel immediately.

It would be nine days until Schwarz heard back. But when he got on the phone with someone from Intel, Schwarz got a surprise: the company already knew about the CPU problems and was desperately figuring out how to fix them. Moreover, the company was doing its best to make sure no one else found out. They thanked Schwarz for his contribution, but told him what he had found was top secret, and gave him a precise day when the secret could be revealed.

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I'm in the mood to comb through my RSS subscriptions to find feeds to unsubscribe from. There are certain news in this world that I don't want to follow anymore.

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Thanks for reading.

The Unlocked-With-Any-Password Edition Thursday, January 11, 2018

macOS High Sierra's App Store System Preferences Can Be Unlocked With Any Password, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

A bug report submitted on Open Radar this week reveals a major security vulnerability in the current version of macOS High Sierra that allows the App Store menu in System Preferences to be unlocked with any password.

Is Apple Even Paying Attention To macOS Security Anymore?, by Justin Pot, HowToGeek

Practically, this isn’t much of a problem: again, the panel in question isn’t locked down by default, and unlocking this panel does not give you access to any other locked panel.

The problem is we don’t know why this is happening, and whether the bug that allows it may exist elsewhere. As with the earlier bug, it’s amazing no one caught this problem in testing, and it really makes you wonder how much you can trust macOS to keep your data locked down.

Sharing Links From iOS Twitter Appends Garbage To The URL, by Benjamin Mayo

There’s been a change to the official Twitter app in the last few months that affects anyone who tries to share a URL from inside the app. Using the standard activity view controller, recognised as the system share sheet, the Twitter app surreptitiously appends some query string parameters to the original URL.

[...]

The important thing to note here is that the mechanism is innocuous and uses valid APIs provided by Apple. Twitter is not exploiting private APIs to achieve this. A cursory look at the app review guidelines suggests to me there are no grounds for Apple to scold Twitter (or any other app) for doing it.

Apple’s China iCloud Data Migration Sweeps Up International User Accounts, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

However, after talking to a number of users, we found that Apple has included iCloud accounts that were opened in the U.S., are paid for using U.S. dollars and/or are connected to U.S.-based App Store accounts in the data that will be handled by local partner Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) from February 28.

Jimmy Iovine Shoots Down Rumors He’s Leaving Apple, by Paula Parisi, Variety

“I am almost 65, have been with Apple for four years and in 2 1/2 years the [Apple Music] service has gotten to well over 30 million subscribers and Beats has continued its successful run. But there’s still a lot more we’d like to do. I am committed to doing whatever Eddy [Cue], Tim [Cook] and Apple need me to do, to help wherever and however I can, to take this all the way. I am in the band.”

[...]

As an example of what “more interesting might be,” Iovine drew from subscription television. “Netflix has a unique catalog, because they don’t buy HBO and they have their own catalog. Then on top of that they have a little thing called $6 billion in original content. HBO has $3 billion, Amazon probably has $4 billion. Well, guess how much original content streaming has: zero! Fundamentally. All the catalogs are exactly the same,” he told the crowd.

Stuff

5K iMac Vs. iMac Pro: The Pro's Silent Fans Made A Fan Out Of Me, by Stephen Hackett, iMore

It really seems to strike the right balance between performance and usability for those of us who use Macs to record and edit audio on a regular basis.

Apple Carries First-ever In-store, Third-party Wi-Fi Router In Form Of Linksys Velop, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple is now selling Linksys' Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System in stores and online, signaling a break from a policy of only selling its own AirPort routers.

Dallas Architects Create 'Life-Changing' App For People With Vision Loss, by Jewels Clark, Dallas Innovates

The WayAround app, developed by co-founders Darwin Belt and Armand Fisher, uses tags that can attach to anything; files, clothes, food, and more. Those tags have information coded into them that allows the visually-impaired user to hear information about the item the tag is attached to.

“The app allows blind or low-vision [individuals] to get information not just in a recording, but in a structured data format,” Belt said. “You don’t have to listen to all the information, you can choose.”

Outing Death, by Ruth La Ferla, New York Times

I was hauling my wheelie toward the boarding gate for a New York-bound flight when an alert popped up on my iPhone. Its message was terse: “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”

I was rattled, weirdly clammy, but finally resigned.

I had, after all, signed on for this sobering reminder, parting with 99 cents for WeCroak, a jaunty little app devised to notify users like me, five times a day at seemingly random intervals, that try as we may to ignore it, there will be no dodging The End.

Going Dark For A Day

MyAppleMenu will be taking a break tomorrow, and will return on Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018.

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Thanks for reading.

The Enormous-Liabilities Edition Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Looming Digital Meltdown, by Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times

We have built the digital world too rapidly. It was constructed layer upon layer, and many of the early layers were never meant to guard so many valuable things: our personal correspondence, our finances, the very infrastructure of our lives. Design shortcuts and other techniques for optimization — in particular, sacrificing security for speed or memory space — may have made sense when computers played a relatively small role in our lives. But those early layers are now emerging as enormous liabilities. The vulnerabilities announced last week have been around for decades, perhaps lurking unnoticed by anyone or perhaps long exploited.

Silicon Valley Is Having Its “Just Say No” Moment, by Maya Kosoff, Vanity Fair

But neither Palihapitiya, nor other born-again tech critics, need worry about the hand that feeds them. Silicon Valley is changing in real ways. As my colleague Nick Bilton recently noted, social media might one day seem as antiquated (and dangerous) as Cocaine Toothache Drops—an artifact of a bygone era. Other tech products, however, are only becoming more integrated into our lives. If society decides that device addiction is a real problem, Apple isn’t going to respond by renouncing the iPhone—it’s going to find a way to take away the screen. Mark Zuckerberg isn’t going to shut down Facebook—he’s going to ensure it merges so seamlessly with your daily routine that you’re no more aware of liking a photo than smiling at a co-worker.

China Firm To Run Apple iCloud Accounts, by BBC

Apple's iCloud services in mainland China will be operated by a Chinese company from next month, the tech giant has confirmed.

It has contacted customers based in China, advising them to examine new terms and conditions.

[...]

Apple said it had made the move to comply with the country's cloud computing regulations.

Apple Exec Angela Ahrendts Recalls Telling Tim Cook, 'I'm Not A Techie,' In First Meeting, by Anieze Osakwe, ABC News

When Apple came calling, Ahrendts had several years in the fashion industry under her belt. But technology, not so much. What drew her to the tech giant was the opportunity to step into a new industry, but also Apple’s strong emphasis on company values.

She recalled reading about Steve Jobs’ early approach to opening the first retail stores saying, "When he was hiring teams for the very first retail store 16 years ago, he told them their job was to enrich lives and that has so stuck in retail all these years.

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Singapore-style noodles, as the always-right Wikipedia reminds us, does not exist in Singapore.

It's not that we Singaporeans do not enjoy a plate of fried noodles. It's just that there are many styles of fried noodles in Singapore, and there isn't one Singapore-style in frying up some noodles in a wok. (Or pan.)

My favorite Singapore-style noodle, when growing up here, is the Mee Goreng. A good blend of soy sauce and chilli will give it a hot spicy flavour with just a good hint of sweetness.

But lately, I've rather enjoyed a variation of this traditional dish: Maggi Goreng, which uses the thinner instant noodles instead. Perhaps I didn't open my eyes big enough, but I don't really recall having this in Singapore when I was younger. Now, this dish is readily available everywhere I look.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Mitigation-for-Spectre Edition Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Apple Releases iOS And macOS Updates With A Mitigation For Spectre, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

Apple just released iOS 11.2.2 with some Safari and WebKit improvements to mitigate the Spectre vulnerability. macOS is also receiving an update. It’s a supplemental update to macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 and it includes the same fix.

As always, you should update your devices with the latest security patches. In this case, Meltdown and Spectre are serious vulnerabilities. With Meltdown, a malicious application running on an unpatched device can read the unencrypted kernel memory. You don’t want anyone to grab your password and private encryption keys.

Apple: New Parental Control Features Planned For The Future, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

"Apple has always looked out for kids," an Apple spokesperson told iMore, "and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online. We lead the industry by offering intuitive parental controls built right into the operating system."

The Wireless Charging Wars Are Over (For Now), by Russell Holly, iMore

One of the things that helped this process over the last couple of years has been the consolidation of competing technologies into the Wireless Power Consortium. Today, the last major competitor to the WPC announced it was joining and sharing its technology to advance the Qi standard of wireless charging.

Your Smartphone Is Making You Stupid, Antisocial And Unhealthy. So Why Can’t You Put It Down?, by Eric Andrew-Gee The Globe and Mail

Ten years into the smartphone experiment, we may be reaching a tipping point. Buoyed by mounting evidence and a growing chorus of tech-world jeremiahs, smartphone users are beginning to recognize the downside of the convenient little mini-computer we keep pressed against our thigh or cradled in our palm, not to mention buzzing on our bedside table while we sleep.

[...]

Socrates was wrong about writing and Erasmus was wrong about books. But after all, the boy who cried wolf was eaten in the end. And in smartphones, our brains may have finally met their match.

"It's Homo sapiens( minds against the most powerful supercomputers and billions of dollars …. It's like bringing a knife to a space laser fight," Mr. Harris said. "We're going to look back and say, 'Why on earth did we do this?'"

Stuff

Apple Finally Finds A Hit With Strange Headphones, by Molly McHugh, The Ringer

We all had our fun with the strange design and troubled launch only to see AirPods score a 98 percent customer satisfaction rate and dominate the market by September 2017.

Lifesum Health Tracking App Adds New AI Image Recognition Feature For Food Logging, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Lifesum, a popular calorie counter and nutrition tracking app on iOS, is rolling out a new image recognition feature that allows users to snap a picture of their food to log ingredients and nutrition information.

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I've enjoyed many of my meals in fast food restaurants, especially when I am eating alone. It wasn't the food, though I do enjoy some fast food items. What I enjoy about fast food restaurants is the slower pace. I can eat my meal slower -- especially the sides, which is typcially french fries. I used to slow-read newspapers in fast food restaurants while sipping my drinks. (Nowadays, Reeder, Instapaper and Kindle on iPhone have replaced the papers.) I can't do that in food courts, kopitiams, and hawker centers.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Screen-Time-Limitation Edition Monday, January 8, 2018

Apple Faces Activist Pressure Over Children’s iPhone Use, by Leslie Hook, Financial Times

Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, a pension fund that holds more than $1.5bn of Apple shares, issued a letter to the company over the weekend outlining their concerns.

They say there could be “unintentional negative side effects” of smartphone use by children and teenagers, and call on Apple to research the issue and provide phone settings limiting children’s screen time and content.

[...]

Other tech companies have recently started to acknowledge and address their youngest users. Facebook launched a messaging app last year for children as young as six, which includes heavy parental controls.

How So Many Researchers Found A 20-Year-Old Chip Flaw At Once, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

In fact, the bizarre confluence of so many disparate researchers making the same discovery of two-decade-old vulnerabilities raises the question of who else might have found the attacks before them—and who might have secretly used them for spying, potentially for years, before this week's revelations and the flood of software fixes from practically every major tech firm that have rushed to contain the threat.

The synchronicity of those processor attack findings, argues security researcher and Harvard Belfer Center fellow Bruce Schneier, represents not just an isolated mystery but a policy lesson: When intelligence agencies like the NSA discover hackable vulnerabilities and exploit them in secret, they can't assume those bugs won't be rediscovered by other hackers in what the security industry calls a "bug collision."

Colorful Banners Reading ‘Nice To Meet You’ Rise Outside Apple’s First Korean Store Ahead Of Opening, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Ahead of the opening of Apple’s first ever retail location in South Korea, colorful new banners have been installed to cover the store’s glass entryway from prying eyes. When translated from Korean, the banners read “Nice to meet you.”

Stuff

Putting Apple’s iMac Pro Through The Paces, by Oliver Peters

This shop has a mix of NLEs (Adobe, Apple, Avid, Blackmagic Design), but our primary tool is Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018. This gave me a chance to compare how these machines stacked up against each other in the kind of work we actually do.

Belkin Releases Wemo Hub With Apple HomeKit Support, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Belkin is releasing a new version of its Wemo smart home hub that allows its connected home system to integrate with Apple’s HomeKit. The new hub costs $40 and is going on sale today — it was originally announced early last year with a fall release window that came and went.

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Once upon a time, I've ate practically the same breakfast almost everyday for more than half a year.

Sometimes, I enjoy predictability.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Inexpensive-Replacement Edition Sunday, January 7, 2018

Run, Don’t Walk, To Replace Your iPhone Battery For $29, by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post

Still, inexpensive battery replacement is the right thing for Apple to do. A good reputation is its best selling point in an era where smartphone features are reaching parity. Battery life is most people’s No. 1 complaint about their phones, and maintenance is a long-overdue part to smartphone ownership. When Apple makes repairing phones as easy buying new ones, it saves us money and it’s better for the environment.

Meltdown And Spectre Fixes Arrive—But Don't Solve Everything, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team and others initially believed that the only way to protect against Meltdown and Spectre would be total hardware replacement. The vulnerabilities impact fundamental aspects of how mainstream processors manage and silo data, and replacing them with chips that correct these flaws still may be the best bet for high-security environments. In general, though, replacing basically every processor ever simply isn't going to happen. CERT now recommends "apply updates" as the solution for Meltdown and Spectre.

As for those patches, well, some are here. Some are en route. And others may be a long time coming.

Behind The Scenes Of A Bug Collision, by Anders Fogh, Cyber.wtf

In this blog post I’ll speculate as to how we ended up with multiple researchers arriving at the same vulnerabilities in modern CPU’s concurrently. The conclusion is that the bug was ripe because of a years long build up of knowledge about CPU security, carried out by many research groups. I’ll also detail the rough story behind the research that let me to the bug. My story is probably different than that of the other researchers, but while unique I relatively sure that it’s the same for all researchers on most security issues: Security research is a long haul thing. This remainder of this blog post is semi technical.

The Demise Of Transmit And The Future Of Pro Level iOS Apps, by David Sparks, MacSparky

Software is the weak link right now on the iPad and iPhone and Apple should be doing everything it can to encourage the development of professional level apps.

The Plaza-Subsidy Edition Saturday, January 6, 2018

What's Wrong With This Australian Apple Store?, by Kriston Capps, CityLab

The whole reason for consolidating cultural institutions in a purposively designed (if funky and angular) civic square is to ensure their mutual success and their access for all. Apple, which is currently the largest public company in the world, does not need the public subsidy of a beautiful plaza to thrive. And as Melbourne residents have shown over the last 15 years, Federation Square doesn’t need an Apple Store to get by, either.

Track Hyper-Local Weather Conditions With The Netamo Weather Station, by John Voorhees, MacStories

If you enjoy the geeky data side of tracking the weather, there’s no better way satisfy that interest than by collecting measurements yourself with a weather station like the one made by Netatmo.

Panic To Discontinue Development Of Transmit iOS, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Panic has announced that it will remove Transmit iOS from the App Store soon. In a blog post today, Cabel Sasser explains that the revenue generated by the paid-up-front app was insufficient to justify its continued development.

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There are at least two paths to address the productivity-apps-not-suriving-on-iOS problem. One path, as many app developers are experimenting now, is to raise prices while doing a subscription model. I am not sure a FTP-app can move into that business model.

The other path is for Apple to make software development less labour-intensive, so that something like Transmit can be continously developed with less than half a developer. An unintented consequence, though, could be competition will drive the selling price down such that the business doesn't make sense again?

~

I don't think there are any public square here in Singapore.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Speculative-Execution Edition Friday, January 5, 2018

About Speculative Execution Vulnerabilities In ARM-based And Intel CPUs, by Apple

Security researchers have recently uncovered security issues known by two names, Meltdown and Spectre. These issues apply to all modern processors and affect nearly all computing devices and operating systems. All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time. Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store. Apple has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 to help defend against Meltdown. Apple Watch is not affected by Meltdown. In the coming days we plan to release mitigations in Safari to help defend against Spectre. We continue to develop and test further mitigations for these issues and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

The T2 Chip Makes The iMac Pro The Start Of A Mac Revolution, by Jason Snell, Macworld

I’ve spent the last week with Apple’s new iMac Pro, and in most ways it’s just a faster Mac. It's the first pro Mac desktop in over three years and the fastest Mac yet made, granted, but still entirely familiar. And yet in many ways—some noticeable, some entirely invisible—this new Mac is completely different from all past Mac models.

The iMac Pro may be an outlier today, but in the future we’ll probably look back on it as the start of a new era for the Mac, all because of the Apple-built T2 chip it carries inside. Here’s how the T2 makes this iMac Pro unlike all other Macs.

3 Reasons Apple Joined The Alliance For Open Media, by Jeremy Horwitz, VentureBeat

Apple can now guarantee that its HEVC video streams are playable on its own devices, but it can’t guarantee that they’re playable on non-Apple devices — not every manufacturer is willing to pay HEVC licensing fees, or deal with the sort of messy licensing issues Microsoft encountered when adding HEVC to Windows 10. If Apple wanted its videos to enjoy the bandwidth-saving benefits of HEVC on non-HEVC devices, AV1 may be the only viable alternative.

[...]

AV1 could enable Apple to stream videos to Android devices, which aren’t currently supported by iTunes but do have access to Apple Music. If Apple’s going to launch a video subscription service, it’s likely going to want to reach Android users like it does with its music service. AV1 might be the smartest way to do so.

Apple Sues French Tax Activists Who Occupied Paris Store, by AFP

Apple has filed a lawsuit against the Attac activist group after about 100 of its supporters occupied the tech giant's flagship store in Paris last month, protesting alleged "wide-scale tax evasion" by the firm.

An Apple spokesman told AFP on Thursday that while it respected the group's right to expression, its recent actions had "put the security of our customers and employees at risk."

Stuff

Remote Control A Mac From An iPhone Via Workflow, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Workflow is the tool we’ll use to trigger remote events on the Mac. You can have as many of these as you want, since each workflow can trigger a different event. I’ll show two examples, one of which is implemented as a share extension (so you can share a URL), the other of which runs from the Workflow widget in Notification Center.

[...]

This approach uses Noodlesoft’s [...] Hazel Hazel utility, which can act on files and folders automatically when they appear on your Mac. In this case, Hazel will be processing a file added to the Remote Scripts folder in Dropbox, so you’ll need to add that folder to Hazel’s Folders list and then make a new rule.

Notes

Chrome Is Turning Into The New Internet Explorer 6, by Tom Warren, The Verge

Chrome is now the most popular browser across all devices, thanks to Android’s popularity and the rise of Chrome on Windows PCs and Mac computers. As Google continues to dominate our access to the web, information through its search engine, and services like Gmail or YouTube, Chrome is a powerful entry point in the company’s vast toolbox. While Google championed web standards that worked across many different browsers back in the early days of Chrome, more recently its own services often ignore standards and force people to use Chrome.

Chrome, in other words, is being used in the same way that Internet Explorer 6 was back in the day — with web developers primarily optimizing for Chrome and tweaking for rivals later. To understand how we even got to this stage, here’s a little (a lot) of browser history. If you want to know why saying "Chrome is the new Internet Explorer 6" is so damning, you have to know why IE6 was a damnable problem in the early ‘00s.

The Meltdown-and-Spectre Edition Thursday, January 4, 2018

Researchers Discover Two Major Flaws In The World’s Computers, by Cade Metz, New York Times

The two problems, called Meltdown and Spectre, could allow hackers to steal the entire memory contents of a computer. There is no easy fix for Spectre, which could require redesigning the processors, according to researchers. As for Meltdown, the software patch needed to fix the issue could slow down computers by as much as 30 percent — an ugly situation for people used to fast downloads from their favorite online services.

[...]

Microsoft, maker of the Windows operating system, and Apple, maker of the Mac operating system, will need to distribute software code that can patch the first flaw, the researchers said. The worldwide community of coders that oversees the open-source, Linux operating system, which runs about 30 percent of computer servers worldwide, has already posted a patch for that operating system.

These software patches could slow the performance of affected machines. Andres Freund, an independent software developer who has tested the new Linux code, said that the fix could slow performance 20 to 30 percent in some situations. The researchers who discovered the flaws voiced similar concerns.

Apple Has Already Partially Implemented Fix In macOS For 'KPTI' Intel CPU Security Flaw, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Multiple sources within Apple not authorized to speak on behalf of the company have confirmed to AppleInsider that there are routines in 10.3.2 to secure the flaw that could grant applications access to protected kernel memory data. These measures, coupled with existing programming requirements about kernel memory that Apple implemented over a decade appear to have mitigated most, if not all, of the security concerns associated with the flaw publicized on Tuesday.

[...]

Our sources, as well as Ionescu, say that there are more changes in the macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 —but both declined comment on what they may be, or what else is required to totally secure users.

What’s Behind The Intel Design Flaw Forcing Numerous Patches?, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

These rings are used to protect the kernel memory from user programs. The page tables aren't just mapping from virtual to physical addresses; they also contain metadata about those addresses, including information about which rings can access an address. The kernel's page table entries are all marked as only being accessible to ring 0; the program's entries are marked as being accessible from any ring. If an attempt is made to access ring 0 memory while in ring 3, the processor blocks the access and generates an exception. The result of this is that user programs, running in ring 3, should not be able to learn anything about the kernel and its ring 0 memory.

At least, that's the theory. The spate of patches and update show that somewhere this has broken down. This is where the big mystery lies.

Solving A Washed-Out Display Problem, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

I don’t expect that anyone would experience this exact problem, but if you feel like your screen is brighter or whiter than it should be, check the Accessibility preference pane to make sure the Display Contrast slider is all the way to the left. Also, it’s worth taking a spin through your keyboard shortcuts and disabling anything you don’t recognize so accidental keyboard presses don’t cause unexpected behavior.

The ‘App’ You Can’t Trash: How SIP Is Broken In High Sierra, by The Eclectic Light Company

Thus SIP prevents the user from uninstalling a third-party app which the user installed, even though the kernel extension might be rendering macOS unstable, or have other significant side-effects.

SEC Mixes Message On Apple Shareholder Proposals, Activists Say, by Ross Kerber, Reuters

Apple Inc was allowed to disregard one activist shareholder proposal on greenhouse gas emissions but told to hold a vote on another concerning human rights issues, in closely watched securities rulings that tested new guidance from U.S regulators.

[...]

SEC staff on Nov. 1 gave companies potentially more room to disregard shareholder proposals related to “ordinary business,” so that investors are not micro-managing executives. Apple quickly cited the new guidance.

Stuff

Are There Any Good Portable MP3 Players For Blind And Visually Impaired People?, by Jack Schofield, The Guardian

The iPod Touch is the only surviving member of the iPod family, and it’s much like an iPhone without the phone. You might dismiss it for being a touchscreen player or, more likely, because it’s expensive at £199/£299 or $199/$299. However, it does have a number of features that may make it usable by blind and visually impaired users. These include the VoiceOver screen reader and Voice Control, which recognises command such as shuffle, pause and next song. See Apple’s help page, Use Accessibility features on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Better still, the latest iPod Touch has Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled digital assistant. Experiment with Siri on an iPad or iPhone to find out if you can operate an iPod Touch successfully.

Early Apple Park Design Concepts Shown In New Norman Foster Foundation Book, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Spaces, photographed by José Manuel Ballester, is a new publication detailing the walls of the Norman Foster Foundation. Fortunately, those walls happen to contain early architectural renders of designs considered for Apple’s new campus in Cupertino. The aerial images reveal a wide variety of shapes and building layouts, including clusters of small structures, a three blade “propeller,” and what almost resembles a spider.

Best Weather Apps For iPhone, by Lory Gil, iMore

There are hundreds of weather apps in the App Store. It's a very popular category. Sure, Apple's built-in weather app is a great option with nice graphics and animations and useful hourly forecasting. But, each person has a different idea of what makes a great weather app. Some want simplicity, while others want all the data. We've got a list of the best weather apps across a variety of styles. Which one is right for you?

Develop

Some Useful URL Schemes In Xcode 9, by Cocoa Engineering

Not many people know that Apple introduced some interesting automation capabilities in Xcode 9 via URL schemes. I sometimes use them, and as I didn’t see them publicized anywhere, I decided to document them in this blog post.

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Based on my layperson understanding of the Meltdown and Spectre issues, I don't think Apple would have totally avoided the security problems if they were making their own CPU. It seems to me the flaws discovered are in some fundamental design that Apple would have also designed in similar manner. These current issues alone should not be the motivation for Apple to switch away from Intel.

(Actually, I do believe Apple has already decided on their Mac roadmap for, I don't know, next five to ten years, and this incident will not change the decisions already made.)

(I don't think Apple has any plans, currently or previously, to stop producing Macintosh computers.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Local-Access Edition Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Researcher Drops 15-year-old Zero-day That Affects All Mac OSes, by CSO Online

While the vulnerability is now in the wild, the bug is a local privilege escalation (LPE) flaw that can be exploited only if an attacker has local access to the Mac — or previously pwned the computer. However, exploiting it would give an attacker root access.

Some Apple Watch Users Are Reporting Unexpected Reboots Possibly Caused By ICU Equipment, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The common thread appears to be using the Apple Watch in the intensive care unit of some hospitals. This suggests there may be specific ICU-related equipment used in hospitals that could be interfering with Apple Watch Series 3 with or without cellular.

Apple's Warranty Coverage Check Website Now Demands Apple ID For Access, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple is now asking visitors to checkcoverage.apple.com to enter their Apple ID for verification, where previously they just needed to enter a device's serial number or IMEI, causing problems for second-hand buyers.

Apple’s “Rare” Apologies Aren’t As Rare As They Used To Be, by Will Oremus, Slate

It’s true that Apple’s apologies under Jobs tended to come grudgingly. Still, he did say he was sorry on multiple occasions over the course of his tenure—including, eventually, to customers affected by the iPhone 4’s antenna problems.

And in the six years since Jobs’ death, Apple has struck a more conciliatory stance, apologizing at least a half-dozen times for various snafus. Three of those, including the Batterygate letter, have come in 2017 alone.

[...]

Regardless, the next time Apple apologizes, we should probably think twice before calling it “rare.”

Stuff

Review: Modsy – The (Relatively) Affordable AR-inspired Alternative To Your Own Interior Design Consultant, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The emphasis is on making the process as easy as possible for you, while still coming up with designs and product suggestions which will be a good match for your tastes – and allowing you to adapt them as you wish.

Develop

Apple Buys App Development Service Buddybuild, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The iPhone giant has now acquired Buddybuild, a Vancouver-based app tools startup that describes itself as “mobile iteration platform” focused on continuous integration and debugging tools — essentially giving an app development team a simple workflow for iterating and pushing their apps out into the world through GitHub, BitBucket or GitLab.

[...]

As part of the acquisition, Buddybuild will be rolled into Xcode, Apple’s suite of development tools for iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, although Apple and Buddybuild have not given a specific timeline of when that will happen.

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For some reason that is unknown to me, I've learn to write the sentence-containing-the-entire-alphabet as "The quick red fox jumps over the lazy brown dog." I prefer this version, with that redundant 'red', because I enjoy the symmetry.

~

My day job has mostly turned from one which involves making stuff to one making sure stuff still works. My night hobbies nowadays mostly involve consuming stuff. I guess I need to make a change so that I can be happy again. Therefore, my resolution is about making more stuff -- even if no one else sees these stuff.

The first question that need to be answered by me: what stuff?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Without-Further-Checks Edition Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Apple Clarifies That All iPhone 6 And Later Devices Are Eligible For $29 Battery Replacements, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has clarified its policy on battery replacements. As long as the owner of the iPhone 6 (or later) handset is willing to pay the $29 fee, and the device is not otherwise damaged, Apple will process the repair without requiring further checks of condition.

Augmented Reality On The Rise In Silicon Valley, by Seung Lee, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Yet in the increasingly crowded race to build the first popular AR headset, Apple is best positioned for two reasons, said Bajarin: Its enormous developer community gives Apple an edge in producing apps and content for its developing headset, and it has a track record of making sophisticated technology — like wearables — commercially attractive.

[...]

“We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said about AR glasses in an October interview with British newspaper The Independent. “But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with.”

What Apple’s New Office Chairs Reveal About Work In 2018, by Cliff Kuang, Fast Company

Barber and Osgerby first began thinking about a chair such as the Pacific while designing interiors for the first Ace Hotel in London, which opened in 2013. “In America, people were already starting to work everywhere with their laptops and coffee,” recalls Ed Barber. “But in Britain, it was alien to be designing this lobby for people to work in even if they weren’t staying the hotel.” Moreover, the offices at companies such as Uber and Airbnb were far more similar to the Ace Hotel than they were to the Seagram Building. So when Vitra came asking for ideas about the future of work, Barber and Osgerby argued that if work spaces were coming to resemble living rooms, then work furniture had to take on an entirely new look. “To get the best people you have to have an environment with less formality,” says Osgerby.

Stuff

The Appy Wanderer: Smartphone Walking In Our Cities' Green Spaces, by Alan Franks, The Guardian

The business of social walking is setting off into a largely unexplored area of navigation. A community-based group in the wooded hinterlands of south-east London has developed a system in which the conventional map of coloured lines and contour patterns has been replaced by photographs of the way ahead.

An app created for the purpose leads walkers from starting point to finish by means of a chain of photos, each image taking over from where the previous one leaves off. This means that in a stroll of, say, two hours, there will be between 20 and 40 guiding pictures. The group is called Go Jauntly and it is run by Hana Sutch and Steve Johnson, both of whom have careers in interactive design; more importantly, both have young children, whose energy and curiosity they wanted to channel into an exploration of the outdoor world.

7-minute Workout Apps: I Tried 30, Here Are The Best, by Jennifer Jolly, USA Today

The best 7-minute workouts on the planet are the ones you’ll actually do. This is what I know for sure after testing out more than 30 of them over the past few months. That and yes, they really do work. Adding in short blasts of high intensity interval (HIIT) training consisting of various strength, cardio, core, and flexibility exercises whenever I have a spare seven minutes in my day, have helped me get stronger, leaner, faster, and to feel better overall.

My favorites are all free, though you can subscribe for more features to most of them as well. But free works just fine. They’re all available on iOS and Android (except for one). They’re all built around the science-based concept of high-intensity circuit training using body weight, so you don’t need any fancy equipment. I’ve done these in hotel rooms, my office, parks, and even in a quiet corner at the airport waiting to get on a plane.

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Should I just do a battery replacement for my brand new iPhone X before the end of 2018, just for the heck of it?

~

I was thinking I do not need an Apple Watch when it was announced. I do already trimmed a lot of notifications out of my iPhone, and I didn't think I need a watch to read the remaining few notifications. I also did not need to transmit my heartbeats to anybody.

Then, Apple moved into the health and medical space, and kept on improving these aspects of the Apple Watch. As I am getting older (and nearer to events that can lead to my death), suddenly the Apple Watch starts to look like something I do need.

Today, I am thinking I do not need the HomePod.

Most of the audio programmes that I do listen are spoken words: podcasts, audiobooks, and BBC Radio 4. And these programmes do sound perfectly fine to my old ears when played on my iPhone's speakers at my desk. I do not need a speaker that promises great audio, because I don't listen to programmes that need great audio.

(I do listen to Apple Music and BBC Radio 3 occasionally, though.)

The Siri aspect of HomePod doesn't sound appealing to me too. Of course, I am basing this opinion partly on the performance of Siri on my iPhone, which isn't great. Also, many of the apps that I do use -- Audible, Downcast, BBC iPlayer -- are not supported in Siri-land. How much better can Siri in HomePod be than in iPhone?

I do wonder: what can Apple do to evolve the HomePod in the future?

A better Siri is the obvious route. But I have my doubts. (The few years of evolution of Siri on iPhone didn't do much for me.) Maybe Apple will hit a point where Siri turned useful for me. Or maybe a talking-and-listening personal assistance is never going to be compatible with how I use computers?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Happy-New-Year Edition Monday, January 1, 2018

Apple Watch Celebrates The New Year With Fireworks On The Clock Face, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

To watch the fireworks play again, tap the Happy New Year notification in the Notification Center.

Pythonista 3.2 Syncs Scripts With iCloud, Supports Open-in-Place Via iOS 11’s Files App, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Pythonista now supports the iPhone X and drag and drop for importing scripts, but, even better, the app can open scripts and edit them in-place (saving changes back to the original location) just by opening them with the built-in Files picker.

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To ring in the new year, I was watching the new season of Black Mirror. And was pleasantly surprised when the credits for the second episode started up.

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