The Could-Not-Be-Salvaged Edition Sunday, November 18, 2018

How Apple Tricked Me Into Buying A New MacBook Air, by Stan Beer, ITWire

So for $175 I got my computer completely fixed after being told both Apple and an Authorised Apple repairer that it could not be salvaged. Furthermore, I subsequently discovered through online enquiry that this particular keyboard had a design fault and that I was not to blame at all for the damage. I had been tricked into buying a new computer needlessly.

Inside Apple's Humans-first, Tech Second News Platform, by John McDuling, Sydney Morning Herald

On one of the lower floors of a skyscraper adjacent to Sydney's Martin Place, a small team of editors sift through story pitches from some of the country’s best known publications, and decide whether to promote them to millions of potential readers.

This the Australian outpost of Apple News, the aggregation platform launched by the iPhone maker back in 2015, which has become an increasingly important source of traffic for many publishers.

Is The Mac Dead In K-12 Education?, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

The Mac is a “heavy” device where iPad and ChromeOS are “light.” For students, I can’t think of something they would need a Mac for that they couldn’t do on either iPad or a Chromebook.


Weather Up’s App Can Give You Forecasts For Your Calendar Event, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

There are plenty of weather apps to choose from on the App Store, but the newly released Weather Up app is doing something different. Instead of just offering the daily weather, it will now offer Event Forecasts — meaning forecasts that sync with your calendars so you can see what the weather will be for your upcoming appointments and various events.


Executing AppleScript In A Mac App On macOS Mojave And Dealing With AppleEvent Sandboxing, by Jesse Squires

Over a weekend recently I built a tiny Mac app (more on that later). What I was trying to achieve required executing AppleScript, like so many things on macOS. It seemed simple enough, but of course new app sandboxing restrictions in macOS Mojave got in the way.

Please Stop Telling Me To Leave My Comfort Zone, by Melody Wilding, The Guardian

In a world of increasing demands on our time and attention, our comfort zones act as predictable spaces of mastery where we can seek refuge when the stress becomes too much. They act as containers to shore up confidence, gain momentum, and think clearly. When we spend less time grappling with discomfort, we can focus more on what matters most. If the people who routinely push themselves past their comfort zones are metaphorically skydiving out of airplanes, those of us who choose to operate from within our comfort zones are serenely laying bricks, creating a home we can thrive in.


Targeted Advertising Is Ruining The Internet And Breaking The World, by Nathalie Maréchal, Motherboard

Zuboff’s new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontiers of Power, examines surveillance capitalism’s 20-year history, from the birth of online advertising in the late 1990s to today’s era of democratic regression. "Surveillance capitalism was invented in the context of targeted advertising," she said. "This was the material, historical context in which it originated in a moment of financial emergency during the dotcom bust. Google was a fledgling firm, and its investors were threatening to bail– in spite of its superior search product. That's when Google turned to previously discarded and ignored data logs and repurposed them as a 'behavioral surplus.' Instead of being used for product improvement, these behavioral data were directed toward an entirely new goal: predicting user behavior."

Zuboff predicts that if left unchecked, surveillance capitalism will be just as destructive as previous variants of capitalism have been, though in wholly new ways. “We are talking about the unilateral claiming of private human experience as raw material for product development and market exchange," she said. "Industrial capitalism claimed nature for itself, and only now are we faced with the consequences of that undertaking. In this new phase of capitalism’s development, it’s the raw material of human nature that drives a new market dynamic, in which predictions of our behavior are told and then sold. The economic imperatives of this new capitalism produce extreme asymmetries of knowledge and the power that accrues from that knowledge. This is unprecedented territory with profound consequences for 21st century society.”

Computers Have Learned To Make Us Jump Through Hoops, by John Naughton, The Guardian

But, as the machine-learning Captcha (not to mention the business models of Google and Facebook) demonstrate, a significant proportion of digital tech now sees (and uses) humans as means to ends that are not ours. In the process, they reduce us to the status of cheery rats running on treadmills designed by people who do not have our interests at heart.

You Know What? Go Ahead And Use The Hotel Wi-Fi, by Brian Barrett, Wired

As you travel this holiday season, bouncing from airport to airplane to hotel, you’ll likely find yourself facing a familiar quandary: Do I really trust this random public Wi-Fi network? As recently as a couple of years ago, the answer was almost certainly a resounding no. But in the year of our lord 2018? Friend, go for it.

This advice comes with plenty of qualifiers. If you’re planning to commit crimes online at the Holiday Inn Express, or to visit websites that you’d rather people not know you frequented, you need to take precautionary steps that we’ll get to in a minute. Likewise, if you’re a high-value target of a sophisticated nation state—look at you!—stay off of public Wi-Fi at all costs. (Also, you’ve probably already been hacked some other way, sorry.)

But for the rest of us? You’re probably OK. That’s not because hotel and airport Wi-Fi networks have necessarily gotten that much more secure. The web itself has.

Bottom of the Page

I've hit a snag in my pursue of moving my day-to-day activities from the Mac to the iPad: websites that insist on giving me a watered-down mobile version. I know I can long-press the refresh button to get the desktop version, but I really don't want to do that everytime I visit these websites.

This browser user-agent thing has been getting useless in a world where every browser pretends to be Mozilla 5.0. All browser makers should just get together and agree to abandon the user-agent string.


Thanks for reading.