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Archive for March 2017

The Bread-And-Butter Edition Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nintendo Chases More Than Profit With 'Super Mario Run', by Masashi Isawa, Nikkei Asian Review

Nintendo aims to do more with its smartphone games than make money. The Japanese company seeks to bring its games and characters to a wider audience and create synergy with game consoles such as the new Switch.

The problems with the [freemium] model, such as the large amounts of money often required for success, risk undermining the value of Nintendo's characters, which in turn could dent the company's bread-and-butter console-game business. Nintendo's apparent goal with smartphone games is to attract more users even if the company loses out on some profits in the process.

Teardown And Exploration Of Apple's Magsafe Connector, by Ken Shirriff

The center pin of the connector - the adapter sense pin - controls a tiny chip that both identifies the charger and controls the status LED. It is part of a complex interaction between the charger and the Mac. Using an Arduino microcontroller, this chip can be accessed and controlled using the 1-Wire protocol. Is this useful? Not really, but hopefully you found it interesting.

Stuff

Head To Head: The Best Calendar Apps For iPhone, iPad, And macOS, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

The winner of the best calendar app for every user of macOS and iOS is...not included in this showdown. It's not that we're on a peculiar quest to determine which is the second best, though. Instead, it's because the best app for most people is Apple's own Calendar.

Develop

The Hidden Power Of Stack Overflow, by Brian Feldman, New York Magazine

In much the same way that Googling any proper noun will bring up its Wikipedia page as one of the first few links, or searching for a product will immediately bring up Amazon, searching for code will lead you to Stack Overflow. Given the amount of code currently being produced — not to mention the libraries of it undergirding essential and nonessential functions of daily life — this means that Stack Overflow is, quietly, one of the most important websites on the planet. Not to mention one of the most popular: Launched in 2008, the site now has an Alexa traffic ranking of 52, making it one of the top 100 sites on the web.

That means that in the semi-collaborative tech industry — where everyone is directly or indirectly building off of the ideas and innovations of one another — whole swaths of coders are being driven, by Google, to the same handful of resources for whichever problem they’re trying to crack. Of the 36,932 developers who responded to the site’s annual survey, fewer than 1 percent said that they had never heard of or used Stack Overflow as a resource. Furthermore, 90 percent of devs “find solutions that solve their coding problems here multiple times a month, and half of them find code snippets they can incorporate directly into their own work.” In other words, Stack Overflow often powers the programs that power… everything else. (It’s worth noting that the site’s own dev survey is not necessarily reflective of the industry as a whole. Case in point, 88.6 percent of respondents were male, which is readily apparent across the site’s many threads.)

Notes

(PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 Plus Gets Black Front In New Part Swap Video, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

This method essentially ruins the Jet Black iPhone 7 involved, making it a rather pricy project, and it destroys the waterproofing seal on the red iPhone.

It's also worth noting that this is a highly complicated process that essentially requires tearing apart two iPhones, melding them together, and hoping nothing goes wrong, something that the average person won't want to attempt.

Burned Once, Publishers Are Wary Of Medium’s New Subscription Offering, by Benjamin Mullin, Poynter

"It's almost as if Ev Williams wasn't concerned that he was pulling out the rug from underneath publishers who had placed their trust in his vision for the future of journalism," he said.

Medium, which sold publishers on being a home for quality journalism, is now putting the sites it recruited in jeopardy, Miller said.

"I sincerely hope it works out, but at this point there's a lot of uncertainty in the viability of Medium as a platform for independent publishers," he said. "We'd love to stay with them on this journey, but I worry that it will be impossible without significantly damaging our ability to operate our business."

Pokémon Sunday

The Strange Case Of The Phantom Pokemon, by Matthew Tompkins, BBC

In Moscow this past summer, a woman drifted-off to sleep after playing Pokemon Go on her smartphone. Later that night, she was awoken by a crushing pressure. She opened her eyes and reportedly saw that she was being assaulted by a real-life Pokemon character. Not a person in a Pokemon outfit, an actual Pokemon. Panicking, but unable to speak, she struggled with the creature while her boyfriend slumbered ignorantly beside her. Eventually, she was able to rise, and the Pokemon vanished. After a brief search of her home, the woman proceeded to report the assault the police.

News of the woman’s police report was quickly, and somewhat gleefully, picked up by a variety of international tabloids. It rattled about the internet, and eventually surfaced on my Twitter feed. But my first thought, as an experimental psychologist with a particular focus in anomalous perceptual experiences was, “Well, that could have happened to anybody.” Although it’s impossible to definitively explain this woman’s experience, I nevertheless felt quite confident that this late-night Pokemon assault fit neatly into our existing understanding of sleep. Indeed, given what we now know about this mysterious neuropsychological state – and the strange sensations it can bring – one might arguably describe her experience as ‘normal’.

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Now that Apple has bought Workflow, it is time for all app developers to step up and embrace URL schemes and automation.

For example: I want a single Play Stuff workflow, that will either start playing the current audiobook in Audible, the current podcast in the Downcast/Overcast/Pocketcast/Podcast/WhateverCast's queue, or a random playlist in the Music app, depending on my location and the time of day.

For example, I want a single Read Stuff workflow, that will bring me the next article in my Instapaper queue, or, if the queue is empty, my current iBook/Kindle/Kobo e-book.

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Thanks for reading.

The Can't-Be-Reset Edition Saturday, March 25, 2017

When Fingerprints Are As Easy To Steal As Passwords, by Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic

The fundamental trouble with biometrics is that they can’t be reset. If the pattern of one of your fingerprints is compromised, that’s fine; you have a few backups. But if they’re all gone—some law-enforcement databases contain images of all ten fingers—getting them replaced isn’t an option. The same goes for eyes, which are used for iris or retina scans, and your face. Unlike a compromised password, these things can’t be changed without unpleasant surgery or mutilation. [...]

To overcome the security risk of static fingerprints, irises, and face shapes, some research has turned to the development of changeable biometrics.

Microsoft Word Macro Malware Automatically Adapts Attack Techniques For macOS, Windows, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

A form of Word macro-based malware has been uncovered that can affect both macOS and Windows users when executed, with the malicious file modifying its attack method depending on which operating system it detects it is being run within. [...]

If macOS is detected, another python script is run which again extracts code from a base64-encoded string, which then downloads and executes a file from a specific URL. The downloaded "meterpreter" file is another python script, again modified from the Metasploit framework, used as a dynamically extensible payload that can run commands provided by a server.

Stuff

Apple Releases Revised Version Of iTunes 12.6, Eliminates Strange 'Profile Page' Toggle, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today released a revised version of iTunes 12.6, which appears to eliminate a hidden option that may have accidentally been built into the software release.

How To Set Up Two-factor Authentication For Your Apple ID And iCloud Account, by Susie Ochs, Macworld

Using two-factor authentication should protect you completely. It’s easy to set up, so take a minute and do it now.

Bear Is The Perfect Balance Between The Bloat Of Evernote And The Simplicity Of Plain Text, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

When it first launched, Bear was an intriguing alternative to bloated note-taking apps like Evernote and OneNote, but it was still a little too new to dive into. After a couple minor iterations, I’m convinced it’s a worthy alternative for those sick of the bloat of other notes apps and for those who like the take-home simplicity of plain text. Provided you’re in the Apple ecosystem, anyway.

Ticket To Earth Review: A Colorful, Intelligent, And Original Strategy RPG You'll Love!, by Luke Filipowicz, iMore

An original battle system that breathes new life into the strategy RPG genre. The Movement system offers an extremely deep and complex combat experience that never goes stale, as there is always new powers and abilities to acquire.

How To Free Up Storage On An iPhone Or iPad, by Kirk McElhearn, The Mac Security Blog

In this article, I'm going to show you some ways you can free up storage on your iOS device, so you have more room to add apps, music, and more. Let's get started!

Develop

APFS’s “Bag Of Bytes” Filenames, by Michael Tsai

iOS 10.3 is scheduled to ship in a matter of weeks or months, and it will convert existing volumes to APFS. It’s not trivial to make an app that was accustomed to working with a normalized file system work without one. And since there was no announcement, I doubt most developers have even thought about this. So this is bound to cause lots of bugs.

On Comments, by Soroush Khanlou

My perspective on comments comes from two facts: 1) Comments don’t compile. 2) Comments are usually a subdued color in your syntax highlighter. Because they don’t compile and because they fade away from sight, it’s very easy to ignore them as you make changes to the code. If you make changes and don’t update the comments, you end up with a comment that doesn’t accurately reflect the content of code.

Notes

The DOE Called This Queens School Newspaper "Fake News." The Students Responded With Journalism, by Max Rivlin-Nadler, Village Voice

Last week, the staff of the Classic, the student newspaper at Flushing's Townsend Harris High School, gathered in a third-floor hallway to discuss a plan of attack for reporting on a decision that could change their school forever. Following allegations that interim principal Rosemarie Jahoda had berated individual teachers, ignored students with disabilities at her previous high school, and bungled the handling of an Islamophobic incident at Townsend Harris, the New York City Department of Education was bringing in candidates who might replace her. The staff of the Classic, which had reported for months on the controversy, had decided to take it upon themselves to meet the contenders.

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So, here are the first three workflows I've created in Workflow:

a. Add current song to a playlist

b. Prompt for a song, and play the entire album

c. Play a particular playlist depending on the day of the week.

That last workflow is particularly hairy, because I can't find a switch…case-like action in Workflow, and had to use a whole bunch of if…otherwise actions. Maybe I should go read the documentation, eh?

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Is there no way to download shows from Beats 1 for offline listening?

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Thanks for reading.

The Make-Noise Edition Friday, March 24, 2017

Apple Beats 1 Chief Wants To Rekindle The Record-store Romance, by Joan E. Solsman, CNET

We try to make as much noise and create as much context and tell stories for records and artists, within a place where the music is. Imagine Apple Music as a store. We're the front window. We're the thing you see by the counter. We try and put music into a frame that makes you more excited about it, more than just its existence.

You could put the record in a playlist, put it in a library, just let it exist and hopefully we find it. But culture is what the artist wants it to be. They want to create layers of thought, excitement and vision, and tell you how the record was made. They want to share that experience with you. That's what Beats 1 really is designed to do. It was to keep pace with the culture, so that it goes perfectly with the commodity.

Apple iCloud Ransom Demands: The Facts You Need To Know, by Zack Whittaker, ZDNet

It's clear that there's something to the hackers' claims, given that they have some working iCloud account credentials. But it's not truly known exactly how many, or if the sample that was sent was representative of the wider pool or were carefully selected. [...]

We can't be sure that this is something big, but based on our reporting, we can't say that it's nothing.

Those using two-factor authentication or Apple's trusted device system should be protected.

But concerned users should change their Apple iCloud password through this link. Look for the green padlock icon in the address bar and that the web address clearly says "iforgot.apple.com".

New WikiLeaks Dump: The CIA Built Thunderbolt Exploit, Implants To Target Macs, by Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica

The latest batch of files, dramatically named "Dark Matter" (after one of the tools described in the dump), consists of user manuals and other documentation for exploits targeting Apple MacBooks—including malware that leveraged a vulnerability in Apple's Thunderbolt interface uncovered by a researcher two years ago. Named "Sonic Screwdriver" after the ever-useful tool carried by the fictional Dr. Who, the malware was stored on an ordinary Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter. It exploited the Thunderbolt interface to allow anyone with physical access to a MacBook bypass password protection on firmware and install one of a series of Apple-specific CIA "implants."

'Clearance Sale' Shows The iPad Is Over. It's Done, by Andrew Orlowski, The Register

But Apple mistakenly thought it could add bags of value to it every year to keep us upgrading regularly. All people wanted was a dumb display to save cranking out the laptop. And despite vendors' best efforts to make them slower every year with OS updates, tablets just don't need updating very often at all.

Apple's Strategy Hasn't Changed—and Neither Have Pundits' Takes, by The Macalope, Macworld

None of this is new at all. Apple used to make one kind of Mac. Then it didn’t. Apple used to make one kind of iPod. Then it didn’t. Not only is this not new, this is literally Apple’s strategy. Enter a market with one product that redefines the experience, then iterate it and continue to expand the lineup to take more profit share.

Stuff

1Blocker Adds Easy Page Element Hiding, by John Voorhees, MacStories

From a webpage, all you have to do is tap the share button, pick the 1Blocker action extension, and then ‘Hide Page Element.’ 1Blocker reloads the page in the extension with toolbars on the top and bottom of the screen. Find something you want to hide and tap it.

How To Use Siri With The Reminders App – The Sweet Setup, by Bradley Chambers, The Sweet Setup

Reminders is our favorite simple list app for iOS, and one of the reasons is that we love using the native Siri integration. Here are some ways that you can use it to add items to your list.

Notes

‘Apple II Forever’: Found Photos Offer Early Look At Icons, by Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

The April 24, 1984, press and exhibitor gathering was late to start and later to finish. Apple executives sat on the kind of metal folding chairs that one would find at a recreation center singles dance. Steve Jobs — hair feathered gloriously — hadn’t quite settled into his permanent turtleneck-and-jeans uniform yet, choosing a bow tie, suspenders and Velcro-strapped Nike high-tops.

But even at this early public launch of the Apple IIc computer, the marketing panache that would infuse countless future Apple events could be seen.

The 10 Most Influential Smartphone Apps, by Alex Hern, The Guardian

From Maps to Instagram, Uber to Snapchat – the top 10 app developments which have been copied, adopted or simply absorbed into everything else.

Food Friday

Hamburgers Are Bigger Than Ever, But The Meat Has Always Been Questionable, by Quinn Myers, MEL

For most of the world, the symbol most associated with America isn’t the bald eagle, George Washington or even the stars and stripes—it’s the hamburger and fries. But how much has this simple meal — a ground-beef sandwich with fried potatoes — changed since its glory days of the 1950s? Let’s find out.

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I truly wish there's an iPad mini Pro.

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Thanks for reading.

The Hook-Together Edition Thursday, March 23, 2017

Apple Has Acquired Workflow, A Powerful Automation Tool For iPad And iPhone, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Apple has finalized a deal to acquire Workflow today — a tool that lets you hook together apps and functions within apps in strings of commands to automate tasks. We’ve been tracking this one for a while but were able to confirm just now that the ink on the deal is drying as we speak. [...]

Workflow the app is being acquired, along with the team of Weinstein, Conrad Kramer and Nick Frey. In a somewhat uncommon move for Apple, the app will continue to be made available on the App Store and will be made free later today. [...] Workflow’s existing integrations with apps are extensive and will continue to be updated.

Apple Acquires Workflow, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Workflow has been the driving force behind my decision to embrace the iPad as my primary computer. Workflow is a shining example of the power of automation combined with user creativity and its underlying mission has always been clear: to allow anyone to improve how iOS can get things done for them in a better, faster, more flexible way. Workflow is the modern bicycle for the mind. There's nothing else like it.

The Case For And Against Apple's Purchase Of Workflow, by David Sparks, MacSparky

They could simplify it and incorporate Workflow into the operating system so everybody has a bit more automation but nobody has the vast library of options Workflow currently offers. We certainly aren't going to get the frequent updates once Apple takes the reins. [...]

If, however, Apple absorbs Workflow into the operating system with the intention of bringing real power user tools to iPhone and iPad users, I believe they could go even further than the current third-party version of Workflow. [...] Once (if?) Workflow gets inside the iOS security sandbox and becomes an integrated Apple product, Workflow could become much more powerful.

Apple Responds To Hacker's Threat To Wipe Millions Of iPhones, by Robert Hackett, Fortune

Apple is reassuring customers that its systems have not been breached while a hacker, or hackers, threaten to remotely wipe hundreds of millions iPhones of all their data, including photos, videos, and messages. [...]

"There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID," the spokesperson said. "The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services."

Apple’s Cheap iPad Is Tailor-made For Education, by Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

When Apple announced on Tuesday that the new 9.7-inch iPad (basically the iPad Air with a better processor and screen) would cost education institutions $299, I thought, “that’s interesting.” Then they told me about the partnership with Logitech and the new $99.95 Logitech Combo case and Keyboard. A custom-built device designed to turn the new iPad into a true ultra-portable. [...]

I’m sure that’s coincidental, but the intention here is clear: Show that the iPad can be just as functional in the classroom as a Chromebook, all it needs is this add-on.

Tim Cook Confirms Apple Will Make Global Fund Donations From Sales Of Red iPhone 7 In China, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Whatever the truth of the matter, it appears Apple will be upholding its (PRODUCT)RED charitable donations commitment with or without said branding.

Stuff

Notes On Blindness VR (For iPad), by Tony Hoffman, PC Magazine

Notes on Blindness VR is a free iPad app that creates an immersive experience to help sighted people better understand the experience of blindness. The app is based on the audio diaries of John Hull (1935-2015), a writer and theologian who was completely blind for the last 32 years of his life. It combines eloquent clips from Hull's diaries, sound effects, and visual elements to explore some of the realities he faced while coming to grips with living in a sightless world. Notes on Blindness is an exceptional educational app that earns not only our Editors' Choice, but also a rare 5-star rating.

Swipeable App Makes Sharing Panoramic & 360° Photos On Instagram A Breeze, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Taking advantage of Instagram’s new carousel album feature, Swipeable for iOS allows users to easily share panoramic and 360° photos on their Instagram accounts.

Universe, A Mobile-only Website Builder, Lets You Create Pages In ‘Under A Minute’, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Cohen said that a lightbulb went off when he realised that the range of website builders that exist today approach the concept in a very constrained way that is just “not casual enough.”

Super Mario Run 2.0 Arrives, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Nintendo has been criticized by some for making too few levels available for free. Version 2.0 addresses that criticism by letting players unlock courses 1-4 after completing one of Bowser’s challenges. Clear courses 1-4, and new Toad Rally courses are unlocked too.

Develop

Switching From A Japanese Keyboard?, by Ash Ryan Arnwine

Fifteen years, 4 personal Macs, and several company Macs later, I am starting to reevaluate my keyboard layout of choice.

Why?

Because programming and accessory availability.

Notes

Apple Setting Down Deep Roots In China, CEO Says, by Zhang Erchi and Yang Ge, Caixin

“We’re not just someone who’s here to access the market,” Cook told Caixin. “We’ve created almost 5 million jobs in China. I’m not sure there are too many companies, domestic or foreign, who can say that. … There’s deep roots here. I think very highly of the country and the people in it. We’re here to stay.” [...]

“You want to keep [globalization] going because it’s great. But we must fix this,” Cook said. “I do think there are ways to address it. I don’t think it’s an impossible task. I hope the politicians will put their attention on fixing that problem. … I’m optimistic. We must be. There are so many good things in the world. We just have to make sure we focus on the thing to fix.”

Maybe Apple Should Consider Selling Apple Watch Cases And Bands Separately, by Serenity Caldwell, iMore

It's not a path that fashion watchmakers would follow — the band pairing is part of the art of the watch, after all. But as much as Apple's design ethos follows that of a fashion house, the company might benefit from adopting a more modular style.

We Need A Software Revolution For The Greater Social Good, by Jim Fruchterman, Recode

Even with these efforts, the great irony is that the social sector has not fully benefitted from what Silicon Valley does best: Using software to achieve scale and using the data inherent in software solutions to continuously improve services, identify new opportunities and demonstrate impact. That is the big unmet need, and the reality is that the social sector must learn from Silicon Valley’s software prowess if it ever wants to achieve the incredible lasting scale and penetration that the world’s most successful software companies have achieved. Software must eat the social-good world too — but with a focus on maximizing social impact, not profit.

The social sector is long overdue for a software and data revolution characterized by delivering greater social impact to more members of society. The need is especially acute given that so much of what the social sector does is push information around.

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You know that little button thing on the top-left corner of iOS which allows one to tap and go back to the previous app? I've accidentally tapped on that button more than I've intentionally tapped on that button.

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I'm finally motivated to download and try out Workflow... Maybe.

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Thanks for reading.

The Tricky-Subject Edition Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Apple’s Drops AIDS Charity Branding For Its Red iPhone In China, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

Despite the potential for sales in China — where iPhones are status symbols, and a unique color can make a limited edition release particularly desirable — the red iPhone is not being promoted using the (PRODUCT)RED branding. [...]

That’s not an oversight on the part of Apple or its website team. HIV and AIDs are a tricky subject in China. Aid agencies and media have often warned of China’s “looming” AIDs crisis. Despite making some impressive progress among students and young people, government policies haven’t stopped the rise of the disease among gay men in China, as The Global Post reported in some detail last year.

Hackers: We Will Remotely Wipe iPhones Unless Apple Pays Ransom, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

A hacker or group of hackers is apparently trying to extort Apple over alleged access to a large cache of iCloud and other Apple email accounts. [...]

Now, the hackers are threatening to reset a number of the iCloud accounts and remotely wipe victim's Apple devices on April 7, unless Apple pays the requested amount.

The Old Dream Of The Information Appliance Is Now Real — So What’s Next?, by Walt Mossberg, The Verge

We’ve already begun the next stage. You might call it the quest for the Starship Enterprise computer — the one that you can just talk to when you need information, or to get a task done, to be entertained or to record a moment. It will require perfect conversational ability, sensors of every kind and limitless storage, prodigious, always-learning artificial intelligence, access to almost infinite personal data, and knowledge about nearly everything. These are all huge steps to take, and they will all require massive investment and more than a few failed first attempts.

But every major computer company is pursuing this goal, in one form or another, as are researchers and smaller companies unknown to us yet. So far, we see only the glimmers of this future in things like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and the Google Assistant.

Stuff

Apple Releases iTunes 12.6 With Cross-Device Movie Rental Access, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

iTunes 12.6 introduces a "Rent once, watch anywhere" feature that lets iTunes users watch iTunes movie rentals across all devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

Magnet For Mac Is The Window Management Tool I've Desperately Needed, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

What sets Magnet apart from other options is the sheer amount of polish. It doesn't get confused by multiple displays (and in fact supports up to six external displays) and you can customise the keyboard shortcuts to suit your needs. It also supports any combination of window areas.

Pixure 2.2 With PanelKit, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Pixure is Louis D'hauwe's excellent pixel art studio app for iOS that lets you create retro-styled illustrations. Pixure was already best suited for the iPad's bigger display, but the latest version 2.2 adds PanelKit – a UI framework created by D'hauwe himself to turn traditional iPad popovers into floating panels.

Interact Scratchpad For Mac Takes The Pain Out Of Adding Contacts, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Adding information to contacts is tedious. Too often I find myself switching back and forth between a webpage and the Contacts app typing information into field after field or copying little bits of text and pasting them into those fields. Scratchpad does the monotonous part for you by automatically recognizing all kinds of contact information.

Kindle iOS App Adds ‘Send To Kindle’ Feature To Save Articles From Safari, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

The Kindle iOS app receives an update today that brings a new “Send to Kindle” feature, allowing users to save content from Safari directly to their Kindle library for reading later.

Bear Receives Version 1.1 Update, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

In what developer Shiny Frog described as its largest update yet, note-taking app Bear today received a version 1.1 update featuring new fonts, importing and exporting features, and more.

Mac OS IM Tool Adium Lagging On Library Security Vulnerability, by Richard Chirgwin, The Register

A developer is warning Adium users to pick a different messaging app because of an exploitable vulnerability in its underlying libpurple version.

Notes

Word Up! This Is The Story Behind The New York Times’ Most Famous Tweet (Which Is 10 Years Old Today), by Joseph Lichterman, Nieman Lab

Another weekend, a custodian accidentally unplugged a cord on the server, prompting the Times’ main Twitter account to stop tweeting for a weekend.

“I wasn’t at work, so I was like, ‘Whatever, it’s just a side project,'” Harris recalled. “But I came into work and there were several different emails asking who did support for this product, what the contingency plan was. That’s sort of the time when I realized: Oh, I guess this is a product.”

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I have never rented movies from iTunes, and I didn't know until today that movie rental is not rent-once-watch-everywhere until today.

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If Apple ever do paid podcasts, I fully expect this to be part of Apple Music. You purchase a podcast episode or a podcast season pass via the iTunes Store and then sync it over to Apple Music via iCloud Music Library -- just like your regular MP3 purchases today.

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Thanks for reading.

The Simply-iPad Edition Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Apple’s New $329 9.7-inch iPad Replaces Air 2, Has No Pro Features, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

The company's new mainstream 9.7-inch tablet, called simply "iPad," includes an Apple A9 SoC (not an A9X), but its most exciting feature is its starting price of $329, $70 less than the previous starting price of the Air 2. The tablet will be available to order starting March 24, and will begin shipping next week.

Now, for that price, it actually appears that you take a step back from the design used for the Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. At 1.03 pounds (469g) and 0.29-inches (7.5mm) thick, the tablet is actually almost identical in size to the original iPad Air, not the Air 2. Hopefully this doesn't also mean that the screen or any other aspect of the tablet is also taking a step backward, but we'll have to wait to get one in our hands to know for sure.

iPad Mini 4 With 128GB Of Storage Now Starts At $399, 32GB Model Discontinued, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple today announced that the iPad mini 4 now offers more capacity for the same price. The 128GB model with Wi-Fi now starts at $399, which was previously the price for the 32GB model with Wi-Fi, which has been discontinued.

Ready For Red

The iPhone Is Finally Going (RED), by Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

Apple is finally bringing iPhone into the (RED) fold a decade after it first started producing special edition, red-clad devices to help promote and fund Product (RED)'s efforts to combat HIV and AIDS. [...]

Choosing to finally do a (RED) iPhone is "a nice recognition of our partnership with the (RED) team in fighting HIV and Aids," said Apple VP of Marketing Greg Joswiak.

Apple Doubles iPhone SE Storage To 32GB And 128GB, by Chris Welch, The Verge

Apple today introduced an iPhone SE with larger storage capacities of 32GB and 128GB of storage, doubling the capacity of the 16GB and 64GB models that have been available since the SE was released one year ago today. The prices remain the same at $399 and $499 unlocked.

Wait Wait, There're More

Apple’s New Clips App Makes Social Videos For Other Social Networks, by Lauren Goode, The Verge

The company just announced a new Apple-made app called Clips, which borrows features from Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, Prisma, iMovie, and Qwiki (remember that one?), and puts them all into a video-making mobile app that’s completely separate from Apple’s core camera app on iPhone and iPad. [...]

The thing is, Clips still isn’t a social video app, because the videos aren’t hosted in the cloud and blasted out publicly or semi-privately. There are no ads. The videos can be long, they’re stored locally on the phone, and from there, they’re uploaded (in HD) to other third party apps, from Instagram to YouTube to Twitter to Tumblr. You can send through Snapchat and others, too; but you’ll have to save the video locally first. You’re also not messaging through the Clips app.

Apple Watch Gets New Bands For Spring 2017, Nike Sport Bands Now Sold Separate, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Among the new bands are 3 new colors for the Sport band, 6 new colors for the Woven Nylon band, and 3 new options for the Classic Buckle which also now sports a new buckle design.

Apple Launches New Silicone And Leather iPhone 7 Case Colors, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The colors of the new silicone cases are described as Azure, Camellia, and Pebble [...] The leather case options have expanded to include shades of Sapphire, Taupe, and Berry.

Stuff

Spendee — Frictionless Expense Tracking App For iPhone & Android, by Rajat Sharma, Beautiful Pixels

Logging an expense in the app is a breeze — press the big ‘Plus’ button in the app, type in the amount, and you’re done.

Screen Commander Is New 'Screen Blanking' Software For The Mac, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Screen Commander lets you blank other displays while watching a movie, playing a game, or focusing on some work on a particular screen. You can blank out other screens when they’re not needed and quickly unblank them again on demand.

An Ideal iPad Case For Little Kids, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

The highlight of the HDE case is its hinged handle, which makes it easy for small hands to carry and hold the iPad safely — my three-year-old son Harris often holds his like a painter’s palette.

Notes

WebMD’s Pregnancy App And Study Will Use Apple’s ResearchKit, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

The Healthy Pregnancy Study will use WebMD’s newly redesigned and enhanced Pregnancy app for iPhone; it’s available at the Apple App Store. Incorporation of the Apple ResearchKit software framework will enable survey participants to eConsent, easily and anonymously answer questions, and share connected device data about their pregnancies with researchers for analysis, says Dr. Eric Topol, director of STSI and editor-in-chief of Medscape.

How Aristotle Created The Computer, by Chris Dixon, The Atlantic

The history of computers is often told as a history of objects, from the abacus to the Babbage engine up through the code-breaking machines of World War II. In fact, it is better understood as a history of ideas, mainly ideas that emerged from mathematical logic, an obscure and cult-like discipline that first developed in the 19th century. Mathematical logic was pioneered by philosopher-mathematicians, most notably George Boole and Gottlob Frege, who were themselves inspired by Leibniz’s dream of a universal “concept language,” and the ancient logical system of Aristotle.

Mathematical logic was initially considered a hopelessly abstract subject with no conceivable applications. As one computer scientist commented: “If, in 1901, a talented and sympathetic outsider had been called upon to survey the sciences and name the branch which would be least fruitful in [the] century ahead, his choice might well have settled upon mathematical logic.” And yet, it would provide the foundation for a field that would have more impact on the modern world than any other.

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I am disappointed that we are probably coming to the end of the iPad mini line. I am wondering why Apple didn't release the red iPhone earlier -- like during Chinese New Year where everything red is in fashion. And I'm liking the new watch bands, even though I am still not convinced that I should go buy a watch.

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Thanks for reading.

The Door-Access-System Edition Monday, March 20, 2017

Mystery Apple 'Wireless Device' Turns Out To Be Door Access System, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

One of Apple's "wireless devices" recently submitted for approval by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission turns out to have been a door access system, likely for the Apple Park campus opening in April, according to a manual and photos published by the government body on Sunday.

How To Take Best Advantage Of iCloud Desktop And Documents Across Macs, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

You have an option on every Mac with macOS Sierra installed whether or not you want to use iCloud Desktop and Documents. If not, you can still access those files via iCloud Drive. However, if you turn it on for multiple Macs with Sierra, the same Desktop and Documents folders appear on each Mac.

TypeShift Is A Slick And Beautiful New Word Game For iPhone, by Andrew Webster, THe Verge

Its structure and playful nature makes it feel intrinsically mobile, a perfect game to pull out for a few minutes each day to unwind.

Apple Wants To Bring Augmented Reality To The Masses, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple is working on several AR products, including digital spectacles that could connect wirelessly to an iPhone and beam content—movies, maps and more—to the wearer. While the glasses are a ways off, AR features could show up in the iPhone sooner.

Young Aussies Would Bank With Apple: Byres, by AAP

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority chairman Wayne Byres says there's a ready-made Australian market for the likes of Apple and Google should the US tech giants expand into the financial services industry.

"Financial services ultimately is an industry that's built on trust and if you think about the next generation that's coming through, certainly when I think about my kids, the brands they trust - Apple, Google - it's the technology brands," Mr Byres said on Monday.

"They wouldn't have a clue about the four major banks that we have here ... (and) as far as my kids are concerned, they have accounts with Apple so we're not actually that far away."

Meet The Man Whose Site Mark Zuckerberg Reads Every Day, by Charlie Warzel, BuzzFeed

Rivera’s taste in that day’s news often dictates what stories are followed and chased by newsrooms across the country. Without writing a word himself, Rivera is shaping tech’s story for the legion of reporters and editors tasked to tell it.

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You mean Apple will not be selling me a door-access-system that uses Touch ID or Apple Watch proximity sensor? I'm so disappointed...

Or maybe this is Apple trying out something that will eventually end up on the doors of your iCar.

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Thanks for reading.

The Buy-In-Bulk Edition Sunday, March 19, 2017

iPads In Every Hospital: Apple’s Plan To Crack The $3 Trillion Health Care Sector, by Christina Farr, Fast Company

An iPad might not seem revolutionary in the internet age, but it’s actually a big step forward for patients to have digital health information at their fingertips. Many doctors, like Cedars Sinai’s Shaun Miller, remember a time even five years ago, when many processes were still paper-based and medical information sat in silos. It took a $35 billion investment from the federal government back in 2009 with the HITECH Act to kick-start the process to digitize health data. Even today, many patients still receive their health data on a USB stick or CD-ROM, making the shift to mobile at some hospitals truly cutting-edge. [...]

For Apple, the $3 trillion health care sector offers a lot of potential for growth for its iPad. The company is likely to restate its commitment to the tablet device as early as next week, with the rumored announcement of the 9.7-Inch “iPad Pro 2.” From an enterprise sales perspective–a priority for the iPhone maker in the wake of recent partnerships with Cisco and IBM–large hospitals and health systems that shift to iOS tend to buy devices in bulk. “We now have hundreds of iPads for patients to use,” says Miller, who uses a compliant iPhone app called Voalte to text with other providers. “As we expand to more wards, it’ll be thousands.”

Ida Tin’s Battle To Build Clue, A Period-Tracking App, by Lindsay Gellman, New Yorker

Tin’s experience highlights a blind spot in the global investment community, which has been eager to throw cash at the next food-delivery or ride-sharing app but tends to shun products by and for women—or else hangs back and lets them twist in the wind for too long. When it comes to menstruation-related products, and technologies catering to women’s health more broadly, Tin said, “there’s still a social taboo.” This squeamishness may come as little surprise, given the demographics of the venture-capital world. A recent study of the top hundred V.C. firms around the world found that just seven per cent of active investing partners are women, and that companies founded by women have received just a tenth of global venture-round funding. Yet the demand is inarguably there. The international market for feminine-hygiene products—physical items like tampons and sanitary pads—is projected to hit forty billion dollars by 2020, according to the market-research firm Global Industry Analysts. For decades, the space has been dominated by consumer-goods giants like Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark, which have had little incentive to develop new technologies. And the barrier to entry for newcomers, no matter how scrappy, is enormous. It took more than a year for Ridhi Tariyal, a Harvard engineer, and her business partner Stephen Gire to find investors willing to stomach their invention—a “smart” tampon dubbed NextGen Jane, capable of testing menstrual blood for warning signs of cancer and reproductive diseases.

A ‘Community’ Of One: The Times Gets Tailored, by Liz Spayd, New York Times

Scholars of mass media long ago established the theory that part of a society’s bond comes from the shared experience of consuming the same news. We shape our worldview, our opinions — however different they are from one another — after reading about and watching many of the same things. We gain a sense of community, however false or fleeting.

Even as social media and algorithms started changing all that, there remained media giants like The New York Times that gave millions of readers around the world a unified news experience.

Or at least that’s how it used to be. By midyear, The Times will begin an ambitious new effort to customize the delivery of news online by adjusting a reader’s experience to accommodate individual interests. What readers see when they come to The Times will depend on factors like the specific subjects they are most interested in, where they live or how frequently they come to the site.

Apple Engineer Converts Used Van Into Mobile Laundromat, Offers Free Loads To Homeless, by Garvin Thomas, NBC Bay Area

Driving the streets of Santa Cruz in a van he outfitted with two washers and dryers, the Scotts Valley resident visits homeless shelters and encampments, offering to help keep what few clothes they have clean. The service he offers, Powers said, is not only a chance to do some good but make a connection.

“It's one thing to wash someone's clothes, even to feed them and help them, but it's another to feed the soul,” he said.

Stuff

Four Of The Best Casual Photography And Filter Apps For iPhone, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Unlike a traditional filter app where you add after you take the picture, Hipstamatic allows you to pick films, lenses, and flashes and layer them together before the picture is taken.

Hipstamatic is designed to emulate the feeling of using a traditional camera with specialty lenses and films. However, the apps more modern incarnations actually let you change the filters in case you're not a big fan of the result.

'Incidence' Review - Follow The Bouncing Ball, by Chris Carter, TouchArcade

Puzzle fiends should have a grand old time picking it up while it lasts.

Notes

Apple Dodges Questions Over NZ Tax, by Radio New Zealand

Technology giant Apple has dodged questions over a report it paid no tax in New Zealand in a decade.

Instead, Apple responded by saying it paid most of its tax in the United States, where the company was based.

Tim Cook Says Apple Not Aiming For Specific China Market Share, by Bloomberg

China has unique characteristics, in that its mobile payment market is well ahead of the U.S. and local consumers have a greater willingness to change habits, Cook said at a panel discussion at the China Development Forum in Beijing. He added that Apple’s new research and development centers in the country should help the company reach China’s university community.

How I Became Addicted To Online Word Games, by Liesl Schillinger, New York Times

This revelation came after a friend spotted a battered Boggle box on a shelf in the rental house and asked me to join her in a round. I hadn’t played the physical, letter-dice-and-egg-timer version of the game in a decade, but in my teens I had been a Boggle demon, the terror of my high-school word nerd crowd. Afraid I would demoralize my friend if I unleashed my full word-seeking powers, I resolved to lose the first game. And then she flipped the timer, and I looked down at the letters on the tray, and despaired. I saw F-E-E-N and F-E-A-N; F-E-A-Z-E, F-A-N-T and F-E-N-T; S-P-E-E-R and E-T-H-S.

Were they real words? I had no idea. I had played them countless times in Words With Friends, but couldn’t remember which ones had scored points and which had been rejected, or what any of them meant, if anything. Unlike the tabletop games Boggle and Scrabble, Words With Friends has no penalty for guessing.

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Doesn't the sale of Apple products carry Goods & Service Tax (GST) in New Zealand? And, if I am reading that Wikipedia article correctly, even Apple services -- iCloud, Apple Music, etc -- incurs the collectio of GST? I am genuinely confused.

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Given Apple's apparent love of the album covers, I am surprised to find there are screens in iTunes where album covers are not being prominently featured. For example: Library > Genres > * in iTunes for macOS.

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At the rate which we, all over the world, are voting people to destroy civlisation, I will like a newspaper for one, where it only brings me news that I can stomach.

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Thanks for reading.

The Fine-Details Edition Saturday, March 18, 2017

Looking Up, by Amanda Kimble, The Flash Today

While he may have always been able to see the special in everyday things, he started taking photos about four years, using an iPhone – first his mothers and now his own – to capture the fine details. The camera is always close at hand, as are the subjects of his work, which can be found in the flower beds outside his family’s Stephenville residence or out the window of the family car.

Other people soon noticed his talents. A kind-hearted soul, Jud would present photos of flowers and butterflies to mother, Dori, who would share the images on Facebook. Julie Crouch, CTFAC executive director, saw his work online and invited Jud to participate in the youth exhibit series.

Bypassing Apple’s iOS 10 Restrictions Settings – Twice, by Jon Bottarini, Security And Bug Hunting

By default, Apple has a feature that allows all of their iOS devices to be assigned restrictions, so that employees and mostly children cannot access naughty websites and other types of less-desirable content. You can enable these settings by visiting Settings > General > Restrictions on your iPhone or iPad.

Around the beginning of every year I try to break Apple’s restrictions settings for websites. It’s a pretty nerdy thing to do and its not really classified as a “vulnerability” – but it’s a fun challenge and leads to some pretty interesting bugs, so I wanted to talk about a few of them here.

Square Outage Forces Restaurants To Turn Customers Away, by Vince Dixon, Eater

A Square service outage yesterday lasting roughly two hours forced restaurants, coffee shops, and food carts around the country to turn away customers and lose sales, bringing into question whether relying solely on new technology and software to make business transactions is a good idea.

At Pip’s, where Square handles everything from credit card transactions to printing receipts, Snell and employees had to quickly re-think their checkout strategy, writing and processing all orders by hand. “It was a challenge, for sure,” Snell says. “Some of the customers were pretty frustrated obviously.” Patrons who didn’t have cash were turned away with Pip’s apologies and a voucher for a free order of a dozen doughnuts. In the end, the shop lost about $900 in revenue, not including the 60-70 free vouchers, which were worth $6 a piece.

Futures Of Computing

Your Future Password Is… Your Entire Body, by Jane Porter, Backchannel

When Apple introduced the iPhone 5s, in 2013, its built-in Touch ID launched the race to invent creative, personalized passcodes. Sure, the old-fashioned password model had worked for decades, but why not opt out of the finger-tap tap-dance of having to remember (and type) a login?

Apple’s Touch ID offered up the fingerprint as a means of authentication, but that was just one early, outward sign of companies’ growing interest in biological data. From voice timbre to body movement patterns to the rhythm of your heartbeat, the human body offers a half-dozen sexier, less hackable ways to key in a passcode.

Soon We Won’t Program Computers. We’ll Train Them Like Dogs, by Jason Tanz, Wired

But whether you like this state of affairs or hate it—whether you’re a member of the coding elite or someone who barely feels competent to futz with the settings on your phone—don’t get used to it. Our machines are starting to speak a different language now, one that even the best coders can’t fully understand.

Over the past several years, the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley have aggressively pursued an approach to computing called machine learning. In traditional programming, an engineer writes explicit, step-by-step instructions for the computer to follow. With machine learning, programmers don’t encode computers with instructions. They train them. If you want to teach a neural network to recognize a cat, for instance, you don’t tell it to look for whiskers, ears, fur, and eyes. You simply show it thousands and thousands of photos of cats, and eventually it works things out. If it keeps misclassifying foxes as cats, you don’t rewrite the code. You just keep coaching it.

Stuff

AppleCare+ Can Now Be Purchased Up To One Year After Buying An iPhone, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The change means that AppleCare+ can now be added to an iPhone as long as the device remains within its standard one-year limited warranty period. This brings AppleCare+ for iPhone in line with AppleCare for Mac and Apple TV, which can also be purchased up to one year after those devices are purchased.

A Few Mac Apps I Use To Stay Focused, by Shawn Blanc, The Focus Course

I figured that there is surely an app or two here that you could get some value from if you were to incorporate it into your own workflow.

Here are 10 apps I use on a regular basis to stay focused.

Organizing Windows With Magnet, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

Magnet increases your options for snapping windows into pre-defined positions from just two to over fifteen. Rather than just choosing which side you’d like each window on, you can display a window in several different ways, including in the top right, bottom half, or left third. The value of Magnet is in the flexibility and freedom it enables.

How To Turn An Old Mac Into A Server With macOS Server, by Nick Peers, TechRadar

With the future of AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule routers apparently under threat, you may be looking elsewhere for a device to centralise Time Machine backups for all the Macs in your home.

Many third-party network drives come with Time Machine support, but you could press an older Mac into service instead.

Google 'Motion Stills' Update Lets Users Customize Default Frame Of Live Photos, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

With the new update, Motion Stills now lets users customize the displayed frame that appears automatically in the camera roll of the iOS Photos app.

Amazon Will Now Tell Prime Members What To Wear Via A New “Outfit Compare” Feature, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Outfit Compare works as you’d think. It prompts shoppers to share two photos of themselves wearing two different outfits they’re deciding between.

A minute later, you’ll get a response from an Amazon stylist who will tell you which outfit looks better on you. This determination will be made based on a number of factors, Amazon explains, including how the clothes fit, what colors look best on you, how they’re styled, and what’s on trend.

Notes

Apple CEO Tim Cook Says Globalization Is 'Great For The World' In China Speech, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

During his speech, Cook said globalization "in general is great for the world," but noted socioeconomic gains may not be evenly distributed within or between countries. Despite globalization's shortcomings, countries should not shy away from such development, he said. [...]

Beyond economics, Cook touched on cybersecurity and user privacy, both highly sensitive subjects in China. Parroting past statements on the matter, Cook said Apple employs end-to-end encryption to protect its customers from nefarious actors. He fell short of taking a stand against Chinese cybersecurity policy that requires companies to furnish authorities with technical assistance in investigations and data gathering operations.

Chance The Rapper Declares Apple Paid $500K For Exclusive 'Coloring Book' Debut On Apple Music, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

"I just wanna remain transparent, folks out there without a deal need to know they're doing everything right just keep at it," Chance wrote in a series of Tweets after the reveal. "I feel like if I didnt clear it up people would keep trying to discredit all the work we did to make Coloring Book what it became."

Chance also believes that the "streaming wars" can benefit artists, as long as they "remain in control" of the music.

The Tiny-Project Edition Friday, March 17, 2017

How We Built Bumpr As A Tiny Side Project—in Just Four Years!, by Khoi Vinh, Subtraction.com

When my pal Scott and I finally released Bumpr last week, it was both a moment of pride and a great relief. As I mentioned in my launch post we had been working on it as a side project for years. It was the first collaboration he and I talked about after we sold our company Mixel way back in 2013. Mixel had been a big effort with big ambitions; we were both very proud of what we had done but its ultimate failure was exhausting. So we picked a tiny project just to get us back in the swing of things quickly. Cut to: four years later.

That’s the nature of side projects, though. Somtimes they come together very quickly, sometimes they trundle along aimlessly for many moons until they die quiet, unnoted deaths, and sometimes they manage to drag themselves across the finish line.

Paper Airplane Icons, by Daniel Jalkut, Bitsplitting

I was curious to know if another email app used paper airplanes to represent drafts before Apple Mail did. I went out Googling and found all manner of representations, usually employing the paper envelope, or another snail-mail related symbol. None of them, except mail, uses a paper airplane.

Stuff

Apple Music Ambassador Program Offers Twitter Promoters 3 Free Months For Pushing Streaming Service, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

Starting Thursday, Apple Music launched a new user-driven promotional program on Twitter with the hashtag "#MusicForEveryMinute", promoted by student ambassadors who will be rewarded with an extra three months of free subscription.

Notes

How The Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing It, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

In the last few years, and with greater intensity in the last 12 months, people started paying for online content. They are doing so at an accelerating pace, and on a dependable, recurring schedule, often through subscriptions. And they’re paying for everything.

You’ve already heard about the rise of subscription-based media platforms — things like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Spotify and Apple Music. But people are also paying for smaller-audience and less-mainstream-friendly content. They are subscribing to podcasters, comedians, zany YouTube stars, novelists and comic book artists. They are even paying for news.

Why Aren’t Facebook, Google, Apple And Amazon Joining The New Anti-travel Ban Legal Brief?, by Kurt Wagner, Recode

Why are tech’s biggest players stepping away from this brief after supporting the last one? We don’t know. The companies won’t provide explanations.

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One of the more frustrating thing I encounter on Microsoft Windows is the modal nature of modifier keys. Two of the four modifier keys -- Alt and Windows -- switch modes when pressed. Worse still, if I didn't notice that I have accidentally invoked either the menu bar (by pressing Alt) or the Start menu (by pressing Windows key), not only the next few keystrokes be lost to my document, they may even trigger commands. When this hapens, it will usually take me quite a while to figure out what's wrong, and what need to be undone.

(And, yes, in both the macOS and Windows machines that I use daily, I've turned off Caps Lock key.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Type-Confusion Edition Thursday, March 16, 2017

Researchers Uncover macOS And Safari Exploits At Pwn2Own 2017, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Independent hackers Samuel Groß and Niklas Baumstark landed a partial success and earned $28,000 after targeting Safari with an escalation to root on macOS, which allowed them to scroll a message on a MacBook Pro Touch Bar. [...]

Later in the day, Chaitin Security Research Lab also targeted Safari with an escalation to root on macOS, finding success using a total of six bugs in their exploit chain, including "an info disclosure in Safari, four type confusion bugs in the browser, and a UAF in WindowServer". The combined efforts earned the team $35,000.

This Is Apple’s Mysterious ‘iPhone Calibration Machine’, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

"It was a big clunky machine that honestly looked like someone built it in their backyard," a former Apple Genius told me. "There were different 'moulds' that different iPhone models would go into before going in the machine, and it would take around 30 minutes … there was some weird liquid that needed to be placed in the machine that we would have to wear gloves with to fix it. Lots of gas type valves and whatnot. It literally looked like some backyard home job. Not very Apple-like at all."

What's Apple Doing

An Update On What Apple Is Doing With 3,600 Acres In Eastern North Carolina, by Lauren K. Ohnesorge, Triangle Business Journal

Jena Thompson Meredith, vice president of business partnerships at The Conservation Fund, says that through Apple’s forest purchases in North Carolina and Maine, the organization has been able to protect 36,000 acres of sustainable forest. In 2016, the group harvested more than 13,000 metric tons of wood between the two forests, she says, though she did not break that number down by state. [...]

She says the collective annual production from the forests in North Carolina and Maine was equivalent to about 30 percent of the virgin fiber used in Apple’s product packaging for 2015.

Apple Music Threw An Awkward Rap Party At SXSW, And We Were There For The Weirdness, by Kerry Flynn, Mashable

The most jaw-dropping moment was finding my friendly neighborhood bartender, and learning that I needed to dig out cash. Yes, the most valuable company in the world was running a cash bar. And yes, iPhones offer a fancy way to pay called Apple Pay, but at Apple Music that didn't fly.

The Curious State Of Apple Product Pricing, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

Apple's pricing strategy is ultimately about bringing new users into the Apple ecosystem. While the iPhone remains the most effective tool for accomplishing this, Apple wearables will increasingly represent another new user tool at management's disposal. It may be difficult to believe, but AirPods likely represent the first Apple product for more than a few people. Additional value will flow to companies selling multiple wearables products to the same user. As it currently stands, the average Apple user owns more than one Apple product. This trend will only intensify as time goes on when considering Apple Watch and AirPods.

The trickiest aspect of Apple's pricing strategy is running with lower prices while at the same time, becoming more of a luxury brand. In essence, Apple is redefining luxury. While other luxury brands have utilized lower-priced items to serve as brand entry points, Apple is taking the practice to an entirely new level by pricing products below the competition. Apple is making luxury much more accessible with the idea that low-priced gadgets can create an experience just as luxurious as that of premium gadgets. It's going to be difficult for other consumer tech companies to play in this game.

What's Apple's Next Chapter In Podcasting?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Apple could potentially build a paid podcast subscription system, using Apple’s payment infrastructure and its podcast-playing apps, and open it to all podcast publishers. Listeners would still need to download a specific app—Apple’s app—but they could mix the free podcasts in Apple’s catalog with the ones they’re paying for.

This one feels a whole lot more likely to me. Yes, it means that Apple’s podcast directory would shift from its current emphasis on the open standards of RSS to a hybrid model that also features limited-access content. But if Apple wanted to encourage the commercial growth of the podcast world, it would be entirely within its powers to make it happen.

Apple Maps Updated With Proper Apple Park Details And Satellite Imagery, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple’s new Apple Park campus is officially set to open next month, and ahead of that, the company has recently updated Apple Maps with satellite imagery of the new campus and a proper description.

McApp

McDonald's, Late To Mobile Ordering, Seeks To Avoid Pitfalls, by Lisa Baertlein, Reuters

Unlike many others, McDonald's app will track a customer's location to ensure that orders are sent to the right restaurant and timed so that food is not left to wilt under heat lamps.

When the customer arrives at the restaurant, the app asks for confirmation and payment before sending orders to the kitchen. "If they don't start your order until you pull in the lot, are you really gaining that much time?" investor Sampson asked. The final version of the app will also ask customers to choose table service, counter or drive-through pickup, or curbside delivery.

Stuff

Working With Email URLs On macOS, by Mike Schmitz, The Sweet Setup

When you use a link to a specific email message, it allows you to go straight to that message and bypass the rest of your email. That means you won’t get distracted by what might have appeared in your inbox since you last looked, and you are free to focus on the thing that you need to take action on. It also means you don’t need to search through your archive or dig through project folders to find the exact message.

Chrome 57 Restricts Background Tabs To 1% CPU, Prolonging Battery Life, by Sebastian Anthony, Ars Technica

In September last year the Chromium team said changes were coming to Chrome's handling of background tabs, but they've landed in the stable branch of Chrome a little sooner than expected. Basically, from now on, background tabs will be limited to an average CPU load of just 1 percent on a single core.

Spark For macOS Adds Email Management Features, by John Voorhees, MacStories

With version 1.2 for macOS, Readdle has begun to tackle email organization, which should make Spark a more attractive option for people who like Spark’s approach to email but want a little more control over how their messages are managed.

Develop

CoderDojos Get Kids Psyched About Programming By Turning Them Loose, by Chris Berdik, Slate

On a recent Saturday, a squad of Lego robots fitted with markers limped, hopped, and spun dizzily across the table. Some flipped over or trailed broken Lego limbs as they covered butcher paper with ragged squiggles. But the kids who were building and programming these bots weren’t deterred. They made repairs and tweaked their code. A similar persistence was on display at nearby tables where groups of young people created computer games and websites.

The freedom to mess up, repeatedly, is a core appeal of this club known as CoderDojo, a loosely connected global network of coding workshops for kids ages 6 to 18, including this Boston outpost that meets in the borrowed offices of the tech company LogMeIn.

Notes

Siri Sends Users Who Ask For Prostitutes To A Toronto Bar, by Peter Goffin, Toronto Star

Meltdown is a so-called “eSports” bar, a place where patrons play and watch video games and compete in tournaments.

Acyapan said he and the other owners guessed the mix-up may have been caused by the similarity of the words “eSports” and “escorts.”

“It’s only one letter difference,” he said.

Apple Rumors: What's So Great About A Curved iPhone Screen?, by Edd Gent, Scientific American

But Samsung said the main goal was to tackle "FoMo," or fear of missing out, reported The Daily Telegraph. The phone allows users to assign a color for up to five contacts, and the screen lights up in that color if they call. When the screen is face down, users can still see the curved edges, so it's possible to tell if a friend is calling even if users are in a situation where it would be rude to check their phone.

FBI Can't Release iPhone Hacking Tool Because It Might Still Be Useful, Says Court Filing, by Zack Whittaker, ZDNet

It's long been believed that the hack targeted a weakness in iPhone 5c devices, namely that it didn't come with a secure enclave processor, a key part in the phone's full-disk encryption that even Apple wasn't supposed to be able to break.

Apple previously said that the hack would be "short lived." Months later, Apple retired the iPhone 5c in favor of newer iPhones, all of which now come with the secure enclave.

But the Justice Dept. says that the hacking tool may still have some shelf life left.

It Took A Court To Settle The English-speaking World's Debate Over The Oxford Comma, by Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz

The serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma for its endorsement by the Oxford University Press style rulebook, is a comma used just before the coordinating conjunction (“and,” or “or,” for example) when three or more terms are listed. You’ll see it in the first sentence of this story—it’s the comma after “milk”—but you won’t find it in the Maine overtime rule at issue in the Oakhurst Dairy case.

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I am in the pro-Oxford-comma camp.

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There are many times when I couldn’t figure out how an article ended up in my Instapaper queue.

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Thanks for reading.

The Phishing-Gang Edition Wednesday, March 15, 2017

If Your iPhone Is Stolen, These Guys May Try To iPhish You, by Brian Krebs, Kerbs On Security

Today, we’ll take an insider’s look at an Apple iCloud phishing gang that appears to work quite closely with organized crime rings — within the United States and beyond — to remotely unlock and erase stolen Apple devices.

Victims of iPhone theft can use the Find My iPhone feature to remotely locate, lock or erase their iPhone — just by visiting Apple’s site and entering their iCloud username and password. Likewise, an iPhone thief can use those iCloud credentials to remotely unlock the victim’s stolen iPhone, wipe the device, and resell it. As a result, iPhone thieves often subcontract the theft of those credentials to third-party iCloud phishing services. This story is about one of those services.

'Proton' Mac Trojan Has Apple Code-signing Signatures, Sold To 'Customers' For $50K, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Security researchers have discovered the existence of a new trojan dubbed "Proton" being marketed in hacking forums to online criminals, claiming to ship with genuine Apple code-signing signatures that could make it a greater risk to victims.

Apple Hires iPhone Security Expert Jonathan Zdziarski, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

iPhone forensics expert, security researcher, and former jailbreak community figure Jonathan Zdziarski today announced he has accepted a position with Apple's Security Engineering and Architecture team. He did not reveal his official starting date or responsibilities at the company.

iPhone Photog Shoots Gritty Street Scenes 'From The Hip', by David Pierini, Cult Of Mac

To a photojournalist like Strazzante, the iPhone eliminates another barrier – camera awareness. Ethics dictate a storyteller like Strazzante mustn’t stage moments or request a do-over of something missed. Still, even as a photographer tries to blend into a scene to capture candid interactions, there is still a nagging feeling that the camera’s presence is somehow stunting what would otherwise be natural.

“I don’t like when people are aware they are being photographed and that is something I have always struggled with,” said Strazzante, who has more than 56,000 followers on Instagram. “Throughout my newspaper career, I would have to shoot from the hip, especially with kids. I got tired of kids looking right into the camera.”

The Apple Watch Is Still The Best Designed Smartwatch, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

Apple simply designed its way around the shortcomings of smartwatches better than everyone else. The company seems to have been conscious of the fact that, like a parked car, the watch will sit inactive most of the time, and so it needed to have an appearance that was appealing even without surfacing a time. Ideally, an appearance that made it look like a cohesive thing that didn’t have a screen at all. That’s part of why the Apple Watch looks the way it does: it’s a sculpted black monolith, whose darkness spills over the edges and either blends into a black metal frame or contrasts nicely with a lighter color.

Stuff

Feeling Lonely? There’s An App For That, by Taylor Beck, Nautilus

Press a button and you reach a supportive voice. That’s the pitch made by Happy, a new app launching on March 21. It may seem like the latest in a trend of mental health apps—Talkspace, for example, connects patients with therapists by phone, and PRIORI, designed for bipolar patients, tracks the timing and frequency of calls and texts to predict shifts into mania or depression. But Happy’s goal is simpler—and more radical. Its founders want to help everybody who could use a sympathetic ear. The role “givers” play is less therapist, more bartender-without-the-booze. They are peers, not professionals, and the people who call are not typically mentally ill or in extreme distress.

Suicide takes 44,193 American lives a year, but everyday alienation is a stealthier killer. Loneliness is deadlier than diabetes, a 2015 analysis showed, raising the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Psychotherapy access, meanwhile, is often limited to those who can afford it, in communities with less stigma around mental illness. Poor and minority communities tend to go untreated. Plenty of people who aren’t ill also need someone to talk to. Happy hopes to reach them, too.

LiquidText 3.0: A Uniquely Digital PDF Experience, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

What makes LiquidText unique is how it uses the Pencil not just as a tool for annotations, but also as a tool for gestures.

Chrome For iOS Gains New 'Read Later' Feature, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Google today updated its Chrome browser for iOS devices to version 57, adding a new "Read Later" function for saving articles to a Reading List so they can be viewed at a later time even when an internet connection is unavailable.

The Chrome Read Later function is similar to the "Reading List" feature that's available in the Safari web browser for Macs and iOS devices.

Notes

Apple Found Guilty Of Price-fixing In Russia Over iPhone Prices, by Henry Foy, Financial Times

Apple had instructed 16 Russian retailers to hold the prices of its iPhone models and contacted them in the event that any products were being sold at “inappropriate” prices, the FAS said in a statement after a seven-month investigation, adding that it suspected Apple was able to terminate sale agreements with retailers if pricing guidelines were not met. [...]

On Tuesday, a spokesperson said: “We worked closely with FAS during their investigation and are glad to put this matter behind us. We work hard to make the best products and services in the world for our customers and are deeply committed to making sure our resellers are able to compete fairly in the markets where we do business.”

Apple, Amazon, And Microsoft Are Helping Google Fight An Order To Hand Over Foreign Emails, by Shona Ghosh, Business Insider

In the brief, the companies argue: "When a warrant seeks email content from a foreign data center, that invasion of privacy occurs outside the United States — in the place where the customers’ private communications are stored, and where they are accessed, and copied for the benefit of law enforcement, without the customer’s consent."

They claim that handing over foreign data "invites" other countries to demand emails from US citizens, stored on US soil, in the same way.

Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful To Women?, by Liza Mundy, The Atlantic

The dozens of women I interviewed for this article love working in tech. They love the problem-solving, the camaraderie, the opportunity for swift advancement and high salaries, the fun of working with the technology itself. They appreciate their many male colleagues who are considerate and supportive. Yet all of them had stories about incidents that, no matter how quick or glancing, chipped away at their sense of belonging and expertise. Indeed, a recent survey called “Elephant in the Valley” found that nearly all of the 200-plus senior women in tech who responded had experienced sexist interactions. (And just as the print version of this article went to press, a former Uber engineer added to the evidence of Silicon Valley’s gender problem when she wrote a blog post detailing what she said was a pattern of sexist behavior at the company.)

As Bethanye Blount’s and Susan Wu’s examples show, succeeding in tech as a woman requires something more treacherous than the old adage about Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels. It’s more like doing everything backwards and in heels while some guy is trying to yank at your dress, and another is telling you that a woman can’t dance as well as a man, oh, and could you stop dancing for a moment and bring him something to drink?

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Some days, the first thoughts that came into my mind in the morning are: are these what my life has to offer, and is this all that I do with my life...

On some other days, the first thoughts that came into my mind in the morning are: I'm satisfied in what life has to offer and what I have to offer, and I am okay with all these.

~

Today, I am happily married for 21 years. Thank you.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Fairly-Accurate Edition Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Apple's ResearchKit Generates Reliable Health Data — At Least For Asthma Patients, by Angela Chen, The Verge

Health data collected entirely from smartphones can be reliable, research from Mount Sinai Hospital claims. The researchers involved found that Apple’s ResearchKit platform and an app for asthma were fairly accurate when compared to existing patient studies.

Apple News Is A Traffic And Subscription Driver For The Telegraph, by Lucinda Southern, Digiday

A key benefit of Apple News is that it pushes readers to The Telegraph’s app through ads. The Telegraph’s own app became free to download last October, but only since last week were app users able to subscribe to its premium content through the app. Bridge wouldn’t share how well the app has been in converting casual readers to subscribers, but early signs are encouraging, he said. Interestingly, the publisher said 65 percent of those who have been driven into The Telegraph app from Apple News are its most engaged app users, returning to the app more than five times in a month. They also index higher on other engagement metrics it measures, like dwell time and number of articles read.

Homing In On HomeKit

Apple’s Website Now Has A Useful List Of Smart Home Gadgets That Work With HomeKit, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Apple’s list of HomeKit-compatible devices just got a whole lot better. While Apple has offered a list on its website that tracked which devices work with HomeKit, the new version is far more useful. It now sorts products by category instead of brand, and notes whether or not the devices are actually available for purchase or not (along with links to purchase those that are).

Apple Snubs Nokia's Withings On New HomeKit Accessories Webpage, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

It seems Apple is carrying forward a no-Withings policy to its new HomeKit accessories webpage, as Home Plus is nowhere to be found. Only two devices, the D-Link Omna 180 CAM HD and Kidde RemoteLync Camera with RemoteLync bridge, are listed in the "cameras" category.

Withings once enjoyed happy retail alliance with Apple for more than two years, even after Nokia purchased the French accessories firm for $192 million last April. The partnership quickly soured when Nokia filed suit against the iPhone maker for allegedly violating 32 patents. Apple released its own legal hounds and lodged a lawsuit against nine patent holdings firms and Nokia itself, claiming the entities are participating in a licensing conspiracy.

More Musical Buffet

Pandora Premium: The Original Music Streaming Giant Is Ready For Prime Time, by Micah Singleton, The Verge

Just over 15 months after Pandora acquired key assets from Rdio, and three months after it announced its plans, the company is ready to launch its full-fledged on-demand music service, Pandora Premium.

For the most part, Pandora Premium is exactly what you would expect it to be: a $10-a-month service with millions of songs that you can listen to at will and save offline whenever you want. There are workout and driving mixes and — of course — a radio feature. But Pandora has worked to separate itself from the rapidly growing pack of streaming services with a slew of personalization features and the least complicated music app to date. The goal is to make a music streaming experience more approachable for many who may not have given Apple Music or Spotify a try.

Pandora Premium Launches Today, But It Doesn’t Offer Anything New, by David Pierce, Wired

Pandora bought Rdio in November of 2015, and it was late to the on-demand party even then. The new app looks lovely, and it’ll certainly suit some of Pandora’s existing users. But as industry analyst Bob Lefsetz recently pointed out, “having Pandora and iHeart in the on demand streaming market will increase the overall pool, it will get newbies to dip their toes. But they’re gonna go where everybody else does, Spotify or Apple.” The streaming wars might be over, and Pandora might have missed them.

Stuff

Apple Releases New Ad With Real-life iMessage Stickers, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

It’s a cheerful ad filled with teenagers running around and slapping stickers on people, food and objects. It is turning a boring messaging app into a pop culture symbol — are you team blue bubbles or team green bubbles?

Develop

Why Employees At Apple And Google Are More Productive, by Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company

The average company follows a method of unintentional egalitarianism, spreading star talent across all of the roles, says Mankins. Companies like Google and Apple, however, follow an intentionally nonegalitarian method. “They select a handful of roles that are business critical, affecting the success of the company’s strategy and execution, and they fill 95% of these roles with A-level quality,” says Mankins. “The rest of the roles have fewer star players.”

Any Vs AnyObject Vs NSObject In Swift 3, by Craig Grummitt

What is the difference between these three enigmatic types? A sometimes confusing topic, and to confuse things further Swift 3 has shaken it up by removing implicit bridging between Foundation and native data types. Aagh!

Notes

It’s Possible To Hack A Phone With Sound Waves, Researchers Show, by John Markoff, New York Times

A hacking that would allow someone to add extra steps to the counter on your Fitbit monitor might seem harmless. But researchers say it points to the broader risks that come with technology’s embedding into the nooks of our lives.

On Tuesday, a group of computer security researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of South Carolina will demonstrate that they have found a vulnerability that allows them to take control of or surreptitiously influence devices through the tiny accelerometers that are standard components in consumer products like smartphones, fitness monitors and even automobiles.

Silicon Valley Is Having A Meltdown Because It Can't Use Uber And Lyft At SXSW, by Henry Grabar, Slate

The outrage is dumb: Cities don’t function so differently now, by any metric, than they did before the ride-hailing apps debuted five years ago.

But it's also pernicious. It also illustrates how a happy reliance on Uber has blinded a whole group of influential Americans to a real mobility crisis in the U.S. that is getting worse, not better.

Most Americans Are Too Afraid To Ride In Self-Driving Cars, by Pete Bigelow, Popular Mechanics

Although it's not specified in the AAA research report, those fears may be rooted in a loss of control. The 1012 adults surveyed aren't keen on self-driving cars, but they change their tune when it comes to automated features that assist human drivers and represent the building blocks of autonomous technology.

Boaty McBoatface Gets Set For Its First Antarctic Expedition, by George Dvorsky, Gizmodo

Later this week, an Antarctic expedition will set off to map the undersea currents that play a critical role in regulating our planet’s climate. To assist them, the scientists will use an autonomous submarine that was famously named Boaty McBoatface by the collective genius of the internet.

Can You Solve It? Pi Day Puzzles That Will Leave You Pie-eyed, by Alex Bellos, The Guardian

In recent years Pi Day has gone from a geeky American eccentricity to a global celebration of maths, and I’m getting my r’s in a day early with two puzzles from the brilliant minds at Brilliant.org. (That’s r for radius, obvs.)

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Stephen Fry has started reading (almost) all of the Sherlock Holmes stories to me. In my ears. For the next 62 hours of happy happy commute.

~

Thanks for reading.

The File-System Edition Monday, March 13, 2017

Here's Why You Must Back Up Your iPhone And iPad Before Upgrading To iOS 10.3, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

iOS 10.3 sounds like a minor update, but it actually contains a pretty big change. Apple is using this update to change the file system that iPhones and iPads use from the 30-year-old HFS+ file format to the new Apple File System. [...]

What this means is that when iOS 10.3 is installed, every file stored on the device will be converted from the old format to the new format. And while we can expect that Apple will put a lot of effort into making this conversion process as smooth and painless as possible, upgrading a file system always opens up the possibility that something can go wrong.

Apple To Start Treating Cobalt Mined In The Democratic Republic Of Congo As A Conflict Mineral, by Tefo Mohapi, iAfrikan.com

Apple has announced that it will start treating cobalt, an important mineral in the making of its devices, mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a conflict mineral amid child labor allegations. Furthermore, the iPhone maker is said to have instructed smelters it uses to stop buying cobalt from artisanal mines that use child labour as the owner of the accused mines, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, continues to investigate the allegations.

ShatChat, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish

And so if Facebook has to leverage all 1.8 billion active users in a ground war, they’re going to do it. And as we’re seeing now, the plan is actually even grander than that. Because Facebook controls not only their core social network, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. They’ve decided to weaponize all of these networks, user experience be damned.

Stuff

Hands On: BusyCal's Long Development Benefits Feature Set For Mac, iPhone, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

The more you use BusyCal, the more you can so very clearly see the sheer depth of experience that its makers have.

Euclidean Lands Is A Clever iPhone Strategy Game Crossed With A Rubik’s Cube, by Andrew Webster, The Verge

Euclidean Lands, which launches today on iOS, looks like what would happen if you crossed the beautiful, impossible architecture of Monument Valley with the turn-based action of Hitman Go… and then you set the game on a Rubik’s Cube. It’s a seemingly strange combination, but it works, offering an experience that’s somehow relaxing and challenging at the same time.

Develop

Think Like A Bronze Medalist, Not Silver, by Derek Sivers

The metaphor is easy to understand, but hard to remember in regular life. If you catch yourself burning with envy or resentment, think like the bronze medalist, not the silver. Change your focus.

Instead of comparing up to the next-higher situation, compare down to the next-lower.

Notes

The Real Problem With Crowdfunding Health Care, by Anne Helen Petersen, Buzzfeed

There’s a politics to who gets funded and who gets left behind, who collapses under the weight of the broken health care system and who’s temporarily buoyed. And as Congress weighs a potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, it’s essential to think through what crowdfunding can’t fix — and how even the best of intentions can perpetuate devastating, systemic inequalities.

Singapore Films Like Ilo Ilo And Mee Pok Man Available For The First Time On iTunes, by Genevieve Sarah Loh, Channel NewsAsia

Objectifs’ director Yuni Hadi said platforms such as iTunes could help broaden the audience base for Singapore films, especially for independent projects that want to find exhibition beyond the festival circuit and generally receive limited theatrical release. "Independent filmmakers are still learning about the rules of digital distribution and understanding contracts and technical deliverables. We have to participate in order to get to the next step of where we want to take Singapore cinema," she said.

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You should always backup your computers -- MacBooks, iPhones, Apple Watches -- before applying upgrades from Apple.

~

Dear Apple Music on my iPhone: you were just playing this song one minute ago, and when you were done playing this song, I just tapped on the same song, hoping to hear the song again, and, wtf do you mean "This media may be corrupted" and refuses me?

The solar flares must be real strong today...

~

It may not be a good idea to watch Santa Clarita Diet while having breakfast...

~

Thanks for reading.

The Star-Struck-And-Inspired Edition Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Teen Programmer Met Apple's Tim Cook And Craig Federighi Then Built An App To Improve Your Commute, by Julie Bort, Yahoo

Tim Cook always makes an appearance with the teen scholarship winners at WWDC. When Royzen met him, he was both star struck and inspired, he says. "I felt so much appreciation. This is the man who makes my work possible. I asked him to sign my iPhone. I look at the signature to push myself harder as a developer and even as a human."

But it was an interaction with Federighi that really influenced him. The head of software spent a few minutes talking to Royzen about his work and some of Apple's new dev tools.

The result is Royzen's latest app called Ryde, which will helps you manage your daily commute so you always arrive on time. Royzen built it because he noticed that some days it took him longer to get to school than other days, he said.

I Invented The Web. Here Are Three Things We Need To Change To Save It, by Tim Berners-Lee, The Guardian

I may have invented the web, but all of you have helped to create what it is today. All the blogs, posts, tweets, photos, videos, applications, web pages and more represent the contributions of millions of you around the world building our online community. All kinds of people have helped, from politicians fighting to keep the web open, standards organisations like W3C enhancing the power, accessibility and security of the technology, and people who have protested in the streets. In the past year, we have seen Nigerians stand up to a social media bill that would have hampered free expression online, popular outcry and protests at regional internet shutdowns in Cameroon and great public support for net neutrality in both India and the European Union.

It has taken all of us to build the web we have, and now it is up to all of us to build the web we want – for everyone.

Stuff

Pocket Casts 6.5 Review: iOS Podcast App Emphasizes Graphics And Simplicity, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Pocket Casts' simplicity targets people who have figured out the podcasts to which they want to listen, and who don’t spend a lot of time building playlists and switching between them, or triaging among a lot of episodes of subscribed podcasts to figure out which to listen to.

Hands On: Microsoft OneNote Is Powerful, But Needs Office To Shine, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

The strength and weakness of Microsoft's note taking app, OneNote, is that it works best alongside Word and Outlook.

Notes

Google, Microsoft Still Waiting On Wikileaks To Deliver CIA Hacking Tools, by Thomas Fox-Brewster, Forbes

Google did not offer official comment, but two sources close to the company's security staff said there had been no contact. One said there was now concern Wikileaks had duped the public with a PR move of little to no substance, though on Thursday one external Android security expert who'd reviewed the CIA files said it appeared there were multiple vulnerabilities Google would need to address.

"We've seen Julian Assange's statement and have not yet been contacted," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday, originally sent to press on Thursday, the same day Assange claimed Wikileaks would help provide "antidotes" for CIA exploits before publishing them. As of Saturday, Microsoft had not provided any further update, after Forbes' enquiries. Wikileaks had not returned requests for comment.

Resist The Internet, by Ross Douthat, New York Times

But what if we decided that what’s good for the Silicon Valley overlords who send their kids to a low-tech Waldorf school is also good for everyone else? Our devices we shall always have with us, but we can choose the terms. We just have to choose together, to embrace temperance and paternalism both. Only a movement can save you from the tyrant in your pocket.

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I wonder if Amazon somehow knew I was watching "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" on my iPhone, and just when I was about to finish watching the series, the Kindle store popped up with a discounted "box set" of the two Douglas Adam's books.

(I enjoyed the BBC/Netflix series, but not as much as I would liked.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Speed-So-High Edition Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Little-known iPhone Feature That Lets Blind People See With Their Fingers, by David Pogue, Yahoo

A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice’s speed so high, I couldn’t understand a word it was saying.

And here’s the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phone’s battery lasted forever.

Ever since that day, I’ve been like a kid at a magic show. I’ve wanted to know how it’s done. I’ve wanted an inside look at how the blind could navigate a phone that’s basically a slab of featureless glass.

The Surprising, Creepy Things Algorithms Can Glean About You From Photos, by Andreas Weigend, Slate

Many of the algorithms being developed will improve our lives—helping us to make better decisions about our personal relationships, work lives, and health by alerting us to signals we are not yet aware of. The problem comes when others have access to this data, too, and make decisions about us based on them, potentially without our knowledge.

Taking a photo or video in public isn’t illegal, nor is taking one with a person’s permission. It’s also not illegal to upload the file or store it in the cloud. Applying optical character recognition, facial recognition, or a super-resolution algorithm isn’t illegal, either. There’s simply no place for us to hide anymore.

Post CIA Leak, Intel Security Releases EFI Rootkit Detection Tool, by IDG News Service

Intel Security has released a tool that allows users to check if their computer’s low-level system firmware has been modified and contains unauthorised code.

The release comes after CIA documents leaked Tuesday revealed that the agency has developed Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) rootkits for Apple’s Macbooks. A rootkit is a malicious program that runs with high privileges, typically in the kernel, and hides the existence of other malicious components and activities.

Stuff

iOS Podcast Apps Review Roundup: Castro 2.3, Overcast 3, And Pocket Casts 6.5, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Each of these three alternatives to Apple’s Podcast app has its strengths, and unlike some app categories, in which many apps produce similar results, you can examine the differences to figure out which appeals most to you.

For some people, Castro lacking any silence-slicing option is a non-starter. While I love that feature in Overcast, the podcast app I used the longest, Castro 2’s triage feature won me over and I cope with a few extra seconds here and there.

Because each of these apps is made by independent developers, teams that range from one person to a handful, your suggestions for features to add are more likely to be taken seriously, and each new release from these companies reference the most-asked-for changes and additions that their users want.

Overcast 3 Review: iOS Podcast App Adds A Queue And Perks Up Its Interface, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Overcast 3 is the final icing on a cake that’s been perfected over three years. All of the tiny flaws coupled with the inability to create a simple queue have been reworked. Improvements at this point are only about massaging the app rather than achieving a new apotheosis.

Food Genie Review: The Perfect Restaurant Selection Tool, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

Food Genie cuts the unnecessary back-and-forth by offering random suggestions based on criteria set by the user. Through location data, restaurant identification and a spinning wheel of food, your next set of weekend dinner plans can be a lot less stressful.

Notes

Inside The Cruellest RollerCoaster Tycoon Park Ever Created, by Wesley Yin-Poole, Eurogamer

Beverley P is stuck in a maze. She's spent the last 50 years toiling away near its entrance. Starving, thirsty and exhausted, Beverley ekes out a desperate, endless existence, alone and without hope. If she were able to talk, she might whisper: "kill me".

Regina F. managed to make it past Checkpoint 1, and is currently circling Checkpoint 2. 47 years after she began her journey through the maze, there is a sliver of hope that she may find the exit. But she still has a long way to go; there are five checkpoints in total. Miserable, exhausted and desperate for a drink, Regina soldiers on. Maybe, in another 50 years, she'll have reached the half-way point.

Is this the most evil RollerCoaster Tycoon creation ever? Probably.

These Failed Apps Discovered A Hidden Rule Of The Web, by Miranda Katz, Backchannel

At their height, Secret and similarly anonymous apps like Yik Yak and Whisper were hailed as the future of social media — an antidote to the real-name controversies on Facebook and the highly polished, hyper-curated look of Instagram. Anonymous apps harkened back to the bare-bones message boards that brought early internet culture to life, but reinvented them for the social network age. Yet despite a collective $200 million in funding, anonymity has remained a kind of kryptonite for social apps. The reason is simple: An online social network serves one purpose, to connect people. Without names attached, people’s words become either mean — or meaningless.

Breaking Down The Father On BBC Being Interrupted By His Children, by Ben Thompson, Medium

I’m sure there are plenty of videos that have gone viral faster, but given that my Twitter feed is a mix of journalists, tech analysts, and NBA folks, there seemed to be a special resonance to a video of a father in South Korea commenting on the removal of once-President Park Geun-hye, only to be interrupted on live TV by his kids breaking into his home office.

If I might say so myself, I am uniquely qualified to break this video down: I’ve been on TV from a home office, I have children, and, crucially, I am a man (who like Robert E Kelly, our protagonist, lives in Asia). As you will see, that is the key to understanding how this went down.

The Broken-In-iOS-10 Edition Friday, March 10, 2017

MAC Randomization: A Massive Failure That Leaves iPhones, Android Mobes Open To Tracking, by Thomas Claburn, The Register

Apple, meanwhile, introduced MAC address randomization in iOS 8, only to break it in iOS 10. While the researchers were evaluating devices last year, Apple launched iOS 10 and changed its network probe broadcasts to include a distinct Information Element (IE), data added to Wi-Fi management frames to extend the Wi-Fi protocol.

"Inexplicably the addition of an Apple vendor-specific IE was added to all transmitted probe requests," the paper explains. "This made identification of iOS 10 Apple devices trivial regardless of the use of MAC address randomization."

​Use An iPhone If You Care About Secure Communications, Says Cryptographer, by Liam Tung, CSO

Cryptographer and professor at John Hopkins University, Matthew Green, chimed in, saying that journalists — or for that matter, anyone who is targeted by a well-resourced attacker — should “use an iOS device exclusively” for handling sensitive communications, pointing to the threat of malicious attachments, such as malware-laced Word files.

“If you routinely download email attachments on a machine, just assume it's cooked/cookable,” he said on the thread to Elder’s question, referring to attachments downloaded on a PC or Mac.

Greene said that hacking an iPhone via a malicious attachment was harder than compromising a Mac or PC this way.

WikiLeaks Will Help Tech Companies Fix Security Flaws, Assange Says, by Scott Shane, New York Times

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, said on Thursday that the anti-secrecy organization would work with Apple, Google and other technology companies to fix flaws that have allowed the C.I.A. to hack into the phones, computers and other devices they produce.

Speaking from London in an online news conference, Mr. Assange accused the C.I.A. of withholding information about the vulnerabilities the agency was exploiting in American technology even after it realized that documents describing the flaws had been leaked weeks ago.

The Truth About The WikiLeaks C.I.A. Cache, by Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times

If anything in the WikiLeaks revelations is a bombshell, it is just how strong these encrypted apps appear to be. Since it doesn’t have a means of easy mass surveillance of such apps, the C.I.A. seems to have had to turn its attention to the harder and often high-risk task of breaking into individual devices one by one.

Which brings us to WikiLeaks’ misinformation campaign. An accurate tweet accompanying the cache would have said something like, “If the C.I.A. goes after your specific phone and hacks it, the agency can look at its content.” But that, of course, wouldn’t have caused alarm and defeatism about the prospects of secure conversations.

How To Crash Safari By Typing Simple Words, by Keir Thomas, Mac Kung Fu

There’s a handful of basic words and letters that when typed into the URL field will instantly crash Safari on the Mac. Versions of Safari on iPhone and iPad don’t seem to be affected.

Geniuses In The Loop

Apple Retail Ends Genius Training In Cupertino, Moves To In-Store Web Seminars, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple's off-site Genius Training program has been replaced by an in-store, self-guided experience using company-provided reference materials, according to a source. The training now involves watching web-based seminars through the Apple Technical Learning Administration System, or ATLAS, another source said.

Apple Genius Training In Cupertino Reportedly Coming To End, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

I went to Cupertino for my training in October 2007. While I am confident that the experience has changed in the intermediate decade, I can say that the two weeks I spent in California were well worth it. [...]

Beyond all of it though, getting to go to Cupertino was a real mark of pride for myself and other Geniuses. It made me feel like I was part of something much bigger, and much more important, than just my local retail store.

Stuff

App Store Featuring Indie Games As Part Of New Promotion, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today updated its App Store with a major "Celebrating Indie Games" promotion that highlights a huge range of games created by independent developers and small app development companies.

On The 'To-do' List, Figure Out The Best Task Management App, by Peter Moon, AFR

On balance, we rate Things, for Apple devices, and Wunderlist, for practically any platform or device you can imagine, as the best task managers on offer right now, with a curious special mention for Reminders, an Apple freebie.

Half The AirPods For A Tenth The Price, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

So what if I told you that you could buy a competing product for less than a tenth the price? Seriously. Don’t expect it to be as good as the AirPods, not by a long shot, but for somewhere between $5 and $20, you can buy a single Bluetooth earbud that does basically what the AirPods do — put a speaker and microphone in your ear without awkward wires.

Plex Cloud Exits Beta, Lets You Instantly Create A Media Server Using Dropbox And Other Storage Services, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Plex Cloud lets you connect your account to existing cloud storage services including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive personal accounts to create an always-on Plex Media Server run from the cloud.

Readdle's PDF Expert For Mac Gains Improved Search, New Toolbar Layout, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Readdle today updated its popular PDF Expert app for the Mac to version 2.2, overhauling the app and adding new features to make editing and annotating PDFs even easier than before.

Pocket’s New iMessage App Just Made Sharing Stories Via Chat A Whole Lot Easier, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

The iMessage integration potentially means an end to copy and pasting links into chat windows and/or using Apple’s extensions. Plus, if like me you use Pocket a lot to stash good reads away for a rainy day, a newsletter or other reasons, your sharing of wisdom with others is about to become a whole lot more organized.

Bumpr Expands Your Choices Of Where Links Open, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Instead of opening a particular app, Bumpr intercepts the link and opens a menu of options for each of the browsers or email clients installed on you Mac depending on whether you click a web or email link.

Develop

Developers Can No Longer Edit App Store Descriptions Without App Review Approval, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Developers are no longer able to edit descriptions, update notes or any other metadata for their apps without making a new version, which must be submitted to App Review for approval.

Notes

Are Apple AirPods The New Earrings? Kristen Stewart Thinks So, by Maria Ward, Vogue

The thing about short hair is it can bring a whole new meaning to the transformative power of statement earrings. But what about cool girls who lean toward a more lo-fi use of accessories? Enter Kristen Stewart. The Personal Shopper actress only recently stepped out with a radical new buzz cut—all the more reason to show off a pair of just-released Apple AirPods, as she demonstrated today in New York when she lent a quietly edgy touch to wearable tech.

Bottom of the Page

What do you get when you combine an iMac with the current Mac Pro to create an iMac Pro?

A computer that looks like an old-fashioned Kodak film roll.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Dialect-Of-Wu Edition Thursday, March 9, 2017

Apple's Siri Learns Shanghainese As Voice Assistants Race To Cover Languages, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

At Apple, the company starts working on a new language by bringing in humans to read passages in a range of accents and dialects, which are then transcribed by hand so the computer has an exact representation of the spoken text to learn from, said Alex Acero, head of the speech team at Apple. Apple also captures a range of sounds in a variety of voices. From there, a language model is built that tries to predict words sequences.

Then Apple deploys “dictation mode,” its text-to-speech translator, in the new language, Acero said. When customers use dictation mode, Apple captures a small percentage of the audio recordings and makes them anonymous. The recordings, complete with background noise and mumbled words, are transcribed by humans, a process that helps cut the speech recognition error rate in half.

Apple Engineers Working To Address Remaining CIA Exploits, But Two Factors Hampering Efforts, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The first is lack of any access to the code itself. [...] The second challenge is that the vulnerabilities described to date may be just the tip of the iceberg. It has been claimed that the 8,761 documents so far released by Wikileaks amounts to just 1% of the material in holds – meaning that a great many additional vulnerabilities exist.

WikiLeaks Says The CIA Can “Bypass” Secure Messaging Apps Like Signal. What Does That Mean?, by Yael Grauer, Slate

So, should Signal users do anything different in light of the leaks? If you use Signal on an iPhone, Nexus, or Pixel, Weaver recommends looking at your threat model. If you don’t think you’re at risk of the CIA or another government risking a $1.5 million zero-day exploit to access your phone, you can rest easy. But he recommends other Android users toss their phones in the trash. “Most Android phones don’t meet the security requirements of a teenager,” he says. But that’s not exactly a secret. These phones have long been criticized for slow updates and out-of-date software that makes users vulnerable to a whole host of publicized security flaws.

Stuff

Skoove Is A New iOS App That Transforms Your iPad Into A Private Piano Instructor, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The app includes more than 250 interactive lessons and courses that you can follow along with at home as if your iPad was a private piano instructor.

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick Is A Convenient (Though Not Fast) Mobile Flash Drive, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Despite its flaws, the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick USB flash drive offers a simple way to transfer or stream files to and from your phone or computer — at a price.

Develop

Rollout.io Responds To Apple’s ‘Hot Code Push’ Policy Shift, Says Its SDK Is Fully Compliant, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In a statement posted on the Rollout.io website, Rusovsky explained that the central purpose of the service is to allow developers to quickly fix bugs after an app has been released. In response to security concerns, Rusovsky also explains that Rollout is secured from any man-in-the-middle attacks and furthermore allows developers to patch vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

Notes

Do You Know Anything About Apple’s Mysterious ‘iPhone Calibration Machine’?, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

In the back room of every Apple Store in the US is something called an iPhone Calibration Machine. No images of this machine have ever been made public, it is kept under constant video surveillance, and its full functionality is unknown outside of Apple.

I learned about the existence of the calibration machine from two former Apple Geniuses and one current Apple Genius. According to those people, the calibration machine is a microwave-sized device that costs tens of thousands of dollars and has a mechanical arm that can run the iPhone through a battery of tests to make sure it's working properly. More interestingly, the calibration machine can change the settings on the iPhone to allow Apple to replace broken Touch ID buttons, which is impossible outside of Apple.

The Next iPhone Could Put 15,000 Repair Companies Out Of Business, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the next iPhone will have some significant changes. The report notes that the next iPhone will not have a home button and will instead be made of a single piece of glass, a long-rumored and seemingly inconsequential move that is in fact central to an ongoing and hugely important legislative struggle between America's largest company and thousands of independent smartphone repair shops.

Moving the Touch ID fingerprint-reading sensor from the home button into the screen itself will have the side effect of giving Apple a straightforward path to monopolizing screen repair. The move could give Apple unprecedented control over the ownership and repairability of your phone, which means that in the very near future, it's possible that the only company that will be able to do a simple iPhone screen replacement will be Apple itself.

The Identified-Vulnerabilities Edition Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Apple Says That ‘Many’ Of The Exploits Exposed In Today’s WikiLeaks Dump Have Already Been Patched, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In the statement Apple explains that it is deeply committed to safeguarding the privacy and security of its customers. While it says that “many” of the issues leaked today have already been patched, Apple also says that it will continue to work to address any identified vulnerabilities.

Targets Of C.I.A. Hacking Revealed By WikiLeaks: Smartphones And Smart TVs, by Steve Lohr, New York Times

Apple’s iPhone software, according to the documents, was a particular target, including the development of several “zero day” exploits — a term for attacking coding flaws the company wouldn’t have known about.

Though Apple has only 15 percent of the global smartphone market, the intensive C.I.A. effort was likely explained by the “popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.” [...]

In 2010, the Obama administration promised to disclose newly discovered vulnerabilities to companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft. But the WikiLeaks documents indicate that the agency found security flaws, kept them secret and then used them for surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Stuff

Finances 2 — Beautifully Detailed Bookkeeping App For iOS And Mac, by Rajat Sharma, Beautiful Pixels

Finances 2 seeks to bring modernity to an already polished interface of its predecessor, additional features such as multiple accounts and currencies, a better sync engine, as well as bring the power of its bookkeeping features to macOS.

The Lofree Mechanical Keyboard Is Both Nostalgic And Practical, by Bryan M. Wolfe, AppAdvice

The Lofree’s unique design featuring round, concave buttons, does present a learning curve. Even Lofree admits that it might take of few days until your fingers are used to the experience. I would agree.

It took me nearly a week before I was entirely comfortable with the process. The wait was worth it, however. Thanks to Lofree, I enjoy typing at my desk again.

I Wish My Fingers Could Get Used To This Adorable Mac Keyboard, by Sam Byford, The Verge

I’m a writer, after all, and much as I may care about dinky design and clicky keys, I do need to be able to write on any keyboard that’s going to stick around on my desk.

Your fingers may feel differently, however, and even if they don’t I wouldn’t write the Lofree off altogether. Its compact, attractive, wireless design and ability to switch between devices makes it perfect as a keyboard you can leave out on display and use around the house for light tasks.

Develop

Apple Cracking Down On Developers Who Use SDKs Like Rollout To Update Apps Without App Store Approval, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has started informing developers that use “hot code push” SDKs that it will soon start rejecting their applications. In a thread on the Apple Developer Forums, developers are reporting that they have started receiving messages from the company explaining that the code must be removed before any further updates will be approved.

Notes

Judge Blocks FBI From Forcing Fingerprints From Targets To Unlock iPhones, by Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune

In the latest skirmish over privacy in the cellphone age, a federal judge in Chicago has rejected a law enforcement request to force potential targets in an ongoing investigation to provide fingerprints to unlock any iPhones or other Apple devices.

Apple Accused Of Banning iPhone Ads From Chinese Newspapers Critical Of China, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Apple is claimed to have interfered with advertising campaigns cellphone carriers in Australia posted in local Chinese-language media outlets, with a report alleging the iPhone producer did not want to be seen as supporting newspapers critical of the Chinese government.

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I have no idea why I've placed some of these products in my Wishlist.

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Thanks for reading.

The Tweaky-Capabilities Edition Tuesday, March 7, 2017

macOS Hidden Treasures: Dominate The Dock, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

The Dock has been a core aspect of the Mac experience since the earliest days of Mac OS X. In fact, the Dock actually predates Mac OS X, since it was also prominent in NextSTEP. It displays open applications, offers a quick way to launch favorite apps, and holds shortcuts for documents and folders.

You’ve probably used the Dock so often and for so long that you don’t think about it. I’ll explain everything the Dock does, from the basics to tweaky capabilities that may be new to you.

An Artist Helps iTunes’ User Agreement Go Down Easy, by Joe Coscarelli, New York Times

For his new graphic novel, “Terms and Conditions,” out on Tuesday, Mr. Sikoryak (who often signs his work “R. Sikoryak”) upped the difficulty level for his long-term conceptual project: Instead of abridging a book, he lifted the complete text of Apple’s mind-numbing corporate boilerplate, which users must agree to before accessing iTunes, and mashed it up with art invoking more than a century of comics. Rather than merely drawing in the loose style of another artist, Mr. Sikoryak modeled each page after specific bits of others’ work, mimicking panels from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” and Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home,” among dozens of others.

The result, Mr. Sikoryak explained, combines his childhood love for Mad magazine spoofs with John Cage’s theories of art and the influence of Art Spiegelman. “I felt that my work was kind of derivative, and I didn’t want to be a second-rate version of what was happening in comics elsewhere,” Mr. Sikoryak said in an interview, recalling his days as an art student at Parsons School of Design in the late 1980s. “The answer to all my issues with unconscious pastiche was to just make it conscious.”

The Empathy Layer, by Ben Popper, The Verge

Executives at Kik wanted a system to identify, protect, and offer resources to its most vulnerable users. But it had no way of knowing how to find them, and no system in place for administering care even if it did. Through their investors, Kik was put in touch with a small New York City startup named Koko. The company had created an iPhone app that let users post entries about their stresses, fears, and sorrows. Other users would weigh in with suggestions of how to rethink the problem — a very basic form of cognitive behavioral therapy. It was a peer-to-peer network for a limited form of mental health care, and, according to a clinical trial and beta users, it had shown very positive results. The two teams partnered with a simple goal: find a way to bring the support and care found on Koko to Kik users in need.

But as the two companies talked, a more ambitious idea emerged. What if you could combine the emotional intelligence of Koko’s crowdsourced network with the scale of a massive social network? Was there a way to distribute the mental health resources of Koko more broadly, not just in a single app, but to anywhere people gathered online to socialize and share their feelings? Over the last year the team at Koko has been building a system that would do just that, and in the process, create an empathy layer for the internet.

Stuff

Adobe Lightroom For iOS Updated With Authentic HDR Capture, Raw Exporting, Widget And More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Authentic HDR is a new mode that rivals competing high-dynamic-range methods. Version 2.7 also includes exporting raw images and a new widget for 3D Touch and the Today view in Notification Center.

Wake Up With Dawn Chorus, An Alarm App That Uses Soothing Bird Sounds, by Amanda Waltz, NEXTpittsburgh

Dawn Chorus allows smartphone users to create their own alarms using real recordings of 20 birds native to Western Pennsylvania. Alarms can be customized to combine up to five bird sounds, creating an effect similar to walking through the woods on a pleasant day.

iPad App Lets Plant Specialists Assess Disease Severity, by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell Chronicle

A new iPad app, called Estimate, connects plant professionals with a portable database of photographs of diseased leaves to help determine plant disease severity.

You Can Now Live On After You Die. In An App, by Rod Chester, The Courier Mail

In what was either the sweetest or creepiest news of last week, depending on your point of view, a South Korean technology firm unveiled the app With Me. In short, it’s a way of keeping your loved ones around when the die by turning them into a poor man’s Siri with all the realistic humanity of those freaky stone-eyed characters in The Polar Express.

Develop

Apple Details New WWDC 2017 Scholarship Rules And Deadlines For Student Developers, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple’s WWDC Scholarships program makes it possible for students and new developers to apply for a chance to attend the conference with most expenses covered. This year WWDC is moving from San Francisco to San Jose, and the WWDC Scholarships program has a new application process as well.

Notes

Apple Fails To Remove UK Import Duty For Apple Watch Sport Bands, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Sport bands for the Apple Watch continue to be a taxable accessory in the United Kingdom, after a tax tribunal ruled the strap should not be exempt from import duty, despite Apple's insistence it is an essential part that allows many of the wearable device's functions to work.

Steve Jobs’s First Reaction To The Genius Bar: ‘That’s So Idiotic! It’ll Never Work!’, by Eric Johnson, Recode

The next day, Steve called Apple’s general counsel to trademark the phrase “Genius Bar.”

The Man Who Made Apple Famous On The Danger Of Frothy Startup Narratives, by Rick Tetzeli, Fast Company

Brand, by definition, has a history. You can’t have a brand that has no history, because brand is a memory. That memory builds your brand, it’s more of who you are than a label on a product. The quality of the product, the reputation of the company that produces it, the way in which they implement it in the marketplace, all of that becomes part of their brand. You can’t have a brand without a history. It’s impossible.

Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens, by Claudia Dreifus, New York Times

I’d suggest that they be more mindful about how they are allowing tech to invade their life. Next, they should cordon it off. I like the idea, for instance, of not answering email after six at night.

In general, I’d say find more time to be in natural environments, to sit face to face with someone in a long conversation without any technology in the room. There should be times of the day where it looks like the 1950s or where you are sitting in a room and you can’t tell what era you are in. You shouldn’t always be looking at screens.

The Little-Plastic-Capsule Edition Monday, March 6, 2017

Apple’s New BeatsX Headphones Are A Better Buy Than AirPods — Here’s Why, by Jeff Dunn, Business Insider

There’s only one little plastic capsule for the battery here; the rest is either other electronics or simple cable. In that light, the BeatsX is a little more impressive — it lasts long enough, but is comfortable throughout.

Bear 1.0.6 Gives Mac And iOS Users A Simpler, Friendlier Alternative To Evernote, by Nick Peers, Betanews

It shares Simplenote’s "less is more" approach, but still manages to provide a richer array of tools than simple plain text notes.

Pioneer Rayz Plus Headphones Let You Charge Your iPhone 7 While Listening To Music, by Helen Clark, The Marshalltown

The headphones come with a Lightning port compatible for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices, and it has a pass-through built-in tiny dongle that houses a separate Lightning port for charging. The sleek dongle blends seamlessly with the earphones, and allows users to charge and listen to music at the same time. It also eliminates the need to carry a special adapter, as the earphones are made keeping in mind current generation iPhone handsets.

Workouts With Friends: Owings Mills Start-up Brings Social Interaction To Home Fitness, by Brittany Britto, Baltimore Sun

The concept of allowing users to invite others to workouts in real time is a novel idea, according to Julie Sylvester, a producer of the annual Sports and FitnessTech Summit, but she's not convinced that peer pressure and competition is the future of home fitness technology. She's noticed a trend toward giving users the ability to log and share.

"It's a matter of being able to have somebody bear witness. And I think that's true across all platforms, not just in fitness. That's why people take pictures of their food" and share them on social media, she said.

Notes

A $12 Million Dollar Civil Rights Lawsuit Has Been Filed Against Apple For Alleged Racial Profiling By Apple Store Staff, by Jack Purcher, Patently Apple

The lawsuit claims that "Plaintiffs were subjected to race discrimination while shopping and purchasing Apple, Inc. products at the Apple Store located at 4860 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814 and denied the privileges afforded to White and non-Black/African American customers and shoppers.

Plaintiffs were racially profiled before, during and after the purchase of their Apple products at the location in question, were subjected to unlawful detention by local authorities at the behest of Apple for appearing "suspicious" before, during and after their purchase of Apple Store products, and were subjected to racial profiling in violation of their constitutional rights when the Apple Store employees called 911 to report two suspicious black men at the store and summoned the local police department to the location."

The Secret History Of A Fleeting Pre-Internet Digital Media Channel, by Cecilia D'Anastasio, Motherboard

The digital revolution happened regardless of Time Teletext, but nobody is calling it a utopia. And it's unlikely that anything we've made in the shadow of that utopia, from the endless joys and abuses of the iPhone to Twitter's instantaneous news updates, owes anything to teletext. That's not to over-inflate the comparison between teletext and the internet. Teletext's older cousin, videotex, was a more foreshadowing technology. A videotex system like Telidon, Canada's doomed pre-internet web from the late 70s, was "online" whereas teletext was a broadcast signal.

Teletext remains largely forgotten as the history of digital media has become subsumed by the history of the internet. Yet like a fair-weather psychic, teletext did anticipate things to come. Despite the technology's futility in the end, it presaged an array of features and user experiences characteristic of the modern web.

Bottom of the Page

I have a song stuck in my head for the entire day, but I can't decide if the song is "Born This Way" or "Perform This Way."

~

Thanks for reading.

The Unknown-Links Edition Sunday, March 5, 2017

National 911 Cyber Attack Was First Detected In Tarrant County, by Bill Hanna, Star-Telegram

McCarley said individuals need to be just as cautious with their phones as they are with their computers. Don’t click on any unknown links.

“I think you have to realize there are security issues with mobile phones,” McCarley said. “This time, it was an iPhone. The next time, it could be some other type of mobile phone.”

‘Artificial Intelligence’ Has Become Meaningless, by Ian Bogost, The Atlantic

In science fiction, the promise or threat of artificial intelligence is tied to humans’ relationship to conscious machines. Whether it’s Terminators or Cylons or servants like the “Star Trek” computer or the Star Wars droids, machines warrant the name AI when they become sentient—or at least self-aware enough to act with expertise, not to mention volition and surprise.

What to make, then, of the explosion of supposed-AI in media, industry, and technology? In some cases, the AI designation might be warranted, even if with some aspiration. Autonomous vehicles, for example, don’t quite measure up to R2D2 (or Hal), but they do deploy a combination of sensors, data, and computation to perform the complex work of driving. But in most cases, the systems making claims to artificial intelligence aren’t sentient, self-aware, volitional, or even surprising. They’re just software.

Stuff

How I Discovered My Left AirPod Was Bad, by Jeff Geerling

So after doing all that, and considering asking my Dad (who's an awesome electrical engineer and well versed in RF as he works in radio) to bring over a spectrum analyzer, I finally found a neat utility from Apple, 'Bluetooth Explorer'. This handy app lets you monitor many aspects of Bluetooth connections in real time. This was extremely helpful in finding the culprit.

Notes

The Story Of Firefox OS, by Ben Francis, Medium

As an engineer on the project I don’t quite have the full picture when it comes to the high level decision making, financials and business partnerships. But I was involved in the project for a long period of time, longer in fact than any of its co-founders, and gained quite a lot of insight at the engineering, design and product levels.

So I’d like to tell you my version of the story of Firefox OS, from the birth of the Boot to Gecko open source software project as a mailing list post and an empty GitHub repository in 2011, through its commercial launch as the Firefox OS mobile operating system, right up until the “transition” of millions of lines of code to the community in 2016.

Why Newspaper Subscriptions Are On The Rise, by Tien Tzuo, TechCrunch

Why are readers and publishers alike embracing paid subscriptions for content services over ad-based business models? There are several reasons, but the dismal state of online advertising is a big one.

Bottom of the Page

I need to be super-aware of not letting myself spent the bulk of my time 'managing' my To-do list than actually doing my To=do list.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Cobalt-Supply-Chain Edition Saturday, March 4, 2017

Apple Cracks Down Further On Cobalt Supplier In Congo As Child Labor Persists, by Todd C. Frankel, Washington Post

Apple said it has temporarily stopped buying cobalt mined by hand in Congo while it continues to deal with problems with child labor and harsh work conditions.

A Washington Post investigation last year detailed abuses in Congo’s artisanal cobalt supply chain, showing how miners — including children — labored in hazardous, even deadly, conditions. Amnesty International and other human rights groups also have alleged problems. Earlier this week, British broadcaster Sky New published an investigation that alleged continued problems in the cobalt supply chain.

It’s An Apple For Teacher As iPad Learning Booms, by Andre Rhoden-Paul, The Argus

Hove Park School has been re-awarded recognition as an Apple Distinguished School for its iPad digital learning scheme.

Each student at the Nevill Road school has an iPad with a number of specialised apps, giving students more creative freedom.

The Sleakening, by Silvia Killingsworth, The Awl

Humans are constantly looking for little cubbies to put their secrets in. You should just accept right now that the Slack leak can and probably will happen, but you shouldn’t let that change the way you use it. Even if you take things to Signal, you will never achieve true vacuum-sealed privacy, because privacy is a system and not a space. It’s a contract, not a stipulation.

Stuff

Apple’s Latest iPad Pro Videos Highlight Note Taking And Decluttering, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple released two more short ads on YouTube highlighting features of the iPad Pro. The first, called ‘take better notes’ starts, like similar recent videos, with a tweet: ‘My math notes are a mess since I’m half asleep.’ In response, the narrator explains ‘You know, iPad Pro and Apple Pencil have revolutionized the way we take notes.’

Develop

Implicit Swift Dependencies, by Daniel Jalkut, Indiestack

So “Always Embed Swift Standard Libraries” doesn’t always embed them.

Notes

Apple Execs Vying For Original Movie, TV Deals, by Claire Atkinson, New York Post

There have been reports in recent weeks about Apple looking to kick-start a business in original TV programming.

But the meetings last week — including sit-downs between Apple SVP Eddy Cue and Paramount Pictures and with Sony TV and film units — make it appear as though Apple may be aiming at a bigger deal.

Scientists Can Now Store Digital Data In DNA With 100 Percent Accuracy, by Farnia Fekri, Motherboard

Scientists have been talking about using DNA to store data for years, but the application's been limited so far by high cost and errors in the data. Today, in a study published in Science, researchers announced they've made the process 100 per cent error-free and 60 per cent more efficient compared to previous results—approaching the theoretical maximum for DNA storage.

Ode To The Void, by Kyle Paoletta, Real Life

The internet is a void to pour these thoughts into, without any expectation that they will be noticed or commented upon. It is a record — lasting, but ephemeral — that can be left bobbing on the sea, bumped into and noted by the Blogspot trawlers, and then swiftly forgotten with the rest as our attentions wander. And our indifference does not nullify their existence. They have a weight that the constant conversations happening in other, more fashionable quarters of the internet don’t: They are borne not of the attempt to share information — breaking, just in, updated — that will pass almost immediately into history, but rather of an earnest attempt to do just that: exist. They ask nothing of us, no like, no cartoon heart, no signal boost. They simply exist as lodestars in our noisy void, intimate resting places for our screen-soured eyes. It cannot be said enough: they exist. They do what we all hope to continue doing, and they are reminders that that goal should not be taken lightly.

The Lost-Ground Edition Friday, March 3, 2017

Apple’s Devices Lose Luster In American Classrooms, by Natasha Singer, New York Times

Over the last three years, Apple’s iPads and Mac notebooks — which accounted for about half of the mobile devices shipped to schools in the United States in 2013 — have steadily lost ground to Chromebooks, inexpensive laptops that run on Google’s Chrome operating system and are produced by Samsung, Acer and other computer makers.

How A Typo Took Down S3, The Backbone Of The Internet, by Casey Newton, The Verge

On Tuesday morning, members of the S3 team were debugging the billing system. As part of that, the team needed to take a small number of servers offline. “Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended,” Amazon said. “The servers that were inadvertently removed supported two other S3 subsystems.”

The subsystems were important. One of them “manages the metadata and location information of all S3 objects in the region,” Amazon said. Without it, services that depend on it couldn’t perform basic data retrieval and storage tasks.

Stuff

Bare Bones Software Sunsetting TextWrangler, Focusing Fully On BBEdit Text Editor Development, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

With TextWrangler going away, Bare Bones instead points users to their main text editor product BBEdit which now has the same feature set without requiring a license.

Why I Finally Replaced Evernote With Bear, by Casey Newton, The Verge

But after months of use, I’ve come to love Bear for the way it tackles just the right number of tasks, and accomplishes them in a way that feels effortless. I kept waiting to miss Evernote, but I never have.

Notes

Tim Cook Introduces Al Gore’s New Movie ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power’ In Silicon Valley, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Cook gave the introduction for the film, talking about climate change as a whole and initiatives currently in place to combat it. The Apple CEO explained that countries are coming together to push towards a cleaner environment and that there are a lot of reasons for optimism.

Bottom of the Page

Didn't Apple use to ship iPod charging cables that had a 30-pin connector on one end, while having both USB-A and FireWire connectors on the other ends? Maybe the new charging cables that comes with this year's iPhone still have a Lightning connector on one end, but have both USB-A and USB-C connectors on the other end, and maybe this is why this cable is confusing the heck out of all the rumor-mongers?

~

I am, in general, satisfied with EverNote. I do want to use this note-taking app on macOS, iOS, and Windows, and EverNote is probably ahead of many competitors in terms of supported platforms. The main problem I have, though, is that user-interface on macOS, iOS and Windows are all different enough that I feel I am not as productive as I want to be.

~

Today, I am extra careful when typing in Unix commands at work.

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Thanks for reading.

The Provisioning-Profiles Edition Thursday, March 2, 2017

Apple Kicks Provisioning Profile Expirations Down The Road, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

Apple has “solved” this problem by making it so that Developer ID provisioning profiles generated after 22 February 2017 will be valid for a whopping 18 years, regardless of the expiration date of the associated certificate!

Uber Case Could Be A Watershed For Women In Tech, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

Still, the Uber scandal feels different. It feels like a watershed. For gender-diversity advocates in the tech industry, Ms. Fowler’s allegations, and the public outcry they have ignited, offer a possibility that something new may be in the offing.

What could happen? Something innovative: This could be the start of a deep, long-term and thorough effort to remake a culture that has long sidelined women — not just at Uber but across the tech business, too.

The Not-So-Surprising Survival Of Foursquare, by Aaron Gell, New Yorker

Shortly after he joined the company, in 2012, Foursquare’s president, Steven Rosenblatt, stumbled upon an insight many consumer-technology companies were having around the same time: that the user data it had been scooping up for years, carefully sifted and repackaged, were exceedingly valuable to marketers. “The more I started to get under the hood, the more I was like, ‘I don’t know if you guys have realized it but you’re actually sitting on a tremendous amount of gold,’ ” Rosenblatt said. Ben Horowitz, a co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, who sits on Foursquare’s board, agreed. “I said, ‘I swear to God, there’s ten million dollars a year you can just scrape off the ground,’ ” he recalled.

Stuff

Prisma Photo App Update Adds Filter Store, User-Created Filters Coming Soon, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Prisma says the new store will bring even more originality to user's creations, with the promise of new styles being added to the store every week, and possibly every day further down the line.

ClassPass Founder Wants To Revolutionize Lunchtime, by Vince Dixon, Eater

There are three types of office lunches: one brought from home, one delivered, and one carried out from a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Until now, the tech startup scene has all but gobbled up consumers of the first two via delivery apps, online-only restaurants, and prepared-meal delivery. But Mary Biggins — who co-founded ClassPass in 2013 — and her co-founder in Mealpal, Katie Ghelli, hope to capture the third with their one-year-old startup.

Medium Launches Snapchat Stories, But For Medium, by David Pierce, Wired

The easiest way to explain Series is this: It’s Snapchat Stories, except they don’t expire after 24 hours and you can’t swipe down to open a link. Also you can’t do any of the fun things you can do in Stories.

Notes

The PC Is Being Redefined, by Walt Mossberg, Recode

But the signs of a shift to ARM only set the stage for a bigger development: The migration of the most important modern software platforms, Android and iOS, to laptops and other traditional hardware that once defined the old kind of PC.

This is an exciting idea, for sure. But, I believe it won’t matter much until Apple builds an ARM-based laptop running GPS. Here’s why.

U.S. Appeals Court Tosses Patent Verdict Against Apple, by Jan Wolfe, Reuters

The trial judge vacated the large damages award a few months after a Texas federal jury imposed it in February 2015, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said on Wednesday the judge should have ruled Smartflash's patents invalid and set aside the verdict entirely.

The Creative-Field Edition Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tim Cook Calls AirPods A ‘Cultural Phenomenon’ At Shareholders Meeting, Says Apple Will ‘Do More In The Pro Area’, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Cook also hinted at Apple’s product pipeline by promising Apple will “do more in the pro area.” Cook called out the creative field as especially important to Apple while pushing back against the notion that Apple is too consumer focused now. “Don’t think that something we’ve done or something we’re doing that isn’t visible yet is a signal that our priorities are elsewhere.”

Top Shelf, by Michael Rockwell, Initial Charge

Every previous iteration of my home screen has featured apps without Top Shelf extensions in the top row. But this is a waste of a slot and limits my ability to access the content I’m interested in as quickly as possible. Because of this, I have no interest in placing an application in my top row unless it includes a Top Shelf extension. Developers should take note, if a user thinks so highly of your application that they’re willing to place it in their top row, at least put in the effort to make good use of the Top Shelf area.

Facebook Artificial Intelligence Spots Suicidal Users, by Leo Kelion, BBC

The social network has developed algorithms that spot warning signs in users' posts and the comments their friends leave in response.

After confirmation by Facebook's human review team, the company contacts those thought to be at risk of self-harm to suggest ways they can seek help.

Stuff

Apple Trashes Office Printers In Latest iPad Pro Ad, by Chris Matyszczyk, CNET

In the latest of its new iPad Pro campaign, Apple claims that its computer-not-computer is perfect for doing clandestine business.

Is Apple iCloud Down? It's Now Easier To Find Out Why A Service Hasn't Worked, by Bryan M. Wolfe, AppAdvice

The newly revised iCloud System Status site ditches the timeline format. Instead, the site now lists every iCloud service and whether there’s been a recent issue. When there has, you’ll see a hyperlink indicating when the issue was resolved.

AOL Will Cut Off Third-party App Access To AIM, by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

On Tuesday, AOL (yes, it’s still around) suddenly announced to users of AOL Instant Messenger (including yours truly) that it would be disabling access to its network through at least one third-party messaging app (Adium) as of March 28.

Notes

After 3 Years, Why Gmail’s End-to-End Encryption Is Still Vapor, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

Nearly three years have passed since Google announced it would offer an end-to-end encryption add-on for Gmail, a potentially massive shift in the privacy options of a piece of software used by more than a billion people. It still hasn’t materialized. And while Google insists its encryption plugin isn’t vaporware, the company’s latest move has left critics with the distinct impression that Gmail’s encrypted future looks cloudy at best—if not altogether evaporated.

Last Friday, Google quietly announced that E2EMail, an extension for Chrome that would seamlessly encrypt and decrypt Gmail messages, was no longer a Google effort. Instead, the company has invited the outside developer community to adopt the project’s open-source code. Google was careful to emphasize in a blog post describing the change that it hasn’t given up work on its email encryption tool. But cryptographers and members of the privacy community see the move as confirmation that Google has officially backburnered a critical privacy and security initiative.

A Software Engineer Was Detained For Several Hours By U.S. Customs — And Given A Test To Prove He’s An Engineer, by Caroline Fairchild, Recode

To Omin — who now hadn’t slept in more than 24 hours — the questions seemed opaque and could have multiple answers. While he is a skilled software engineer with more than seven years of experience, Omin later tells me that the questions looked to him like someone with no technical background Googled something like, “Questions to ask a software engineer.”