The Listen-without-Consent Edition Thursday, July 11, 2019

Apple Disables Walkie Talkie App Due To Vulnerability That Could Allow iPhone Eavesdropping, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Apple has disabled the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie app due to an unspecified vulnerability that could allow a person to listen to another customer’s iPhone without consent, the company told TechCrunch this evening.


Apple was alerted to the bug via its report a vulnerability portal directly and says that there is no current evidence that it was exploited in the wild.

Apple Has Pushed A Silent Mac Update To Remove Hidden Zoom Web Server, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant told TechCrunch that the update — now released — removes the hidden web server, which Zoom quietly installed on users’ Macs when they installed the app.

Apple said the update does not require any user interaction and is deployed automatically.

The MacBook Error, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

As such, it’s probably true that Apple doesn’t need to sell three distinct MacBook products and three distinct iPad products. And given the volumes we’re talking about, again, the MacBook was likely the easiest candidate to cut. Especially if a new, larger MacBook Pro is on the way.

But I’m still holding out hope for the MacBook to be resurrected with ARM power. Until then, I’m hanging on to mine. That nearly one pound difference to the Air matters to me. And my keyboard hasn’t broken here — yet.

Sweeping Glass Facade Of Apple Jewel Changi Airport Unveiled In Singapore, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple Orchard Road has grown in distinction thanks to its exclusive Today at Apple sessions featuring talented creative professionals. That won’t change. But for the first time, travelers stopping on a layover or those who can’t make it to the downtown store will have access to Apple’s free educational resources. The team staffing the store collectively speaks 11 languages.

Goodnight and Goodbye

Flint Center’s Half-century Run As Silicon Valley Entertainment Hub Comes To An End, by Thy Vo, San Jose Mercury News

It’s where a young Steve Jobs unveiled the first Macintosh computer in 1984. Where singer Johnny Cash, actor Cary Grant, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and every U.S. president since Richard Nixon except George W. Bush and Donald Trump took the stage over the decades.

But Silicon Valley’s iconic Flint Center for the Performing Arts recently closed and eventually will be torn down. Its last act was a Palo Alto University graduation ceremony, on June 22.

Photos: Where Steve Jobs Introduced The Original Apple Macintosh For The First Time, by Dai Sugano, San Jose Mercury News

The Flint Center for the Performing Arts, the place where Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the first Macintosh computer in 1984, will close its doors after nearly 50 years.


How I Kept My iMac Running For A Decade, Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

Spoiler: It was pretty easy, although it required some simple home surgery from time to time. The only sad part is that the current lineup of iMacs almost certainly won’t last as long, at least not without professional attention.

Collecting Your Thoughts Is Good. Organizing Them Is Even Better., by J. D. Biersdorfer, New York Times

Whether the task is making a simple grocery list or organizing a complex projects like a home renovation, there is a note-taking program for you. Here’s how to sort through the options and get started.

How To Automatically Clean Up Your Desktop With Hazel, by Rose Orchard, The Sweet Setup

If you’re anything like me, your desktop gets cluttered with screenshots, random documents you wanted easy access to, and (above all) duplicate files! Thankfully, there’s a program out there that can help people like me handle this automatically, and it’s called Hazel. I’m going to walk you through my setup here, which you can customize to meet your needs, of course.


Searchable Transcripts Of WWDC 2019 Session Videos Now Available, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Individual transcripts can be searched by keyword or phrase, and clicking on search results will jump you straight to the corresponding timestamps in the video.

I’ve Been Designing Offices For Decades. Here’s What I Got Wrong, by Verda Alexander, Fast Company

Fast forward another decade. Open offices are in full swing, and so are their critics. O+A is firmly established as a creator of work environments with an almost endless variety of amenity spaces. Remember the early interactive drumming game Rock Band? The year it debuted, several clients asked us to design rooms exclusively to play Rock Band in. We did skateboard ramps with DJ turntables, lots of game rooms with pool and ping-pong tables; we did music rooms and cafeterias with sophisticated barista bars and beer taps. We did many, many “living rooms.”

We continue to design these pleasure assets today and have found new reasons to justify them: for recruitment and retention, to increase creativity, to satisfy the introverts and the extroverts. But at the back of my mind, one thought nags: Do these spaces really help us get our work done? Do they really make for better work, more creative work, a more productive day? Or is that claim just our version of sinking a dunk shot 24/7?


Google’s 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is A Secret History Of The Internet, by CHARLIE WARZEL Charlie Warzel, New York Times

The late 1990s was a simpler time for Google. The nascent company was merely a search engine, and Gmail, Android and YouTube were but glimmers in the startup’s eye. Google’s first privacy policy reflected that simplicity. It was short and earnest, a quaint artifact of a different time in Silicon Valley, when Google offered 600 words to explain how it was collecting and using personal information.

That version of the internet (and Google) is gone. Over the past 20 years, that same privacy policy has been rewritten into a sprawling 4,000-word explanation of the company’s data practices.

This evolution, across two decades and 30 versions, is the story of the internet’s transformation through the eyes of one of its most crucial entities. The web is now terribly complex, and Google has a privacy policy to match.

Here’s Why You Can’t Escape Instagram Swimsuit Ads, by Rebecca Jennings, Vox

“I kept clicking them because the women in the ads were hot,” writer Jamie Lauren Keiles told me over DM. “Then I guess because I click them, Instagram serves me more and more, which I keep looking at because I am horny, which begets more ads for a product I don’t wear or buy. Anyway, now my whole feed is bathing suits.”

Besides our collective horniness, the real reason Instagram has transformed into one giant bikini store is multifold. It relates to quirks in the algorithm, the sudden explosion of swimwear brands in the 2010s, and the foundational difficulties of shopping for the tiny pieces of clothing in which most people, multiple brands reminded me, will be the most naked they’ll ever be in public.

The Messy Reality Of Personalized Learning, by E. Tammy Kim, New Yorker

A half hour west of downtown Providence, Rhode Island, past potholed highways lined with maple, ash, and pine trees, is the town of Foster, population four thousand and seven hundred. Its residents live on small farms and in aging, widely spaced homes; the closest grocery store is in Johnston, twenty miles away. Down Route 6, not far from the Shady Acres Restaurant and Dairy, is Captain Isaac Paine Elementary School. Kristen Danusis, a former school psychologist who became the principal in 2013, tells me that many of her students live “off the grid,” in households that earn little regular income.

Yet, inside Isaac Paine, tech abounds. Teachers project lesson plans onto interactive screens, and little hands reach for black Chromebook laptops, which are stacked like cafeteria trays in a large box called a Chromecart. In one class, Danusis introduces me to a lanky child in rain boots, who clicks through an online math program while chatting about a baby goat that’s being weaned in her back yard. In another room, children rotate through learning stations, sometimes at screens, sometimes putting pencils to paper. Kids work alone and in small groups; they sit at tiny desks and on beanbags and sofas scattered around the classroom. It looks unlike any school I ever attended. The ratio of children to Chromebooks, in grades three through five, is one to one.