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Stuart Breckenridge

Made with ones and zeros.

A feed by Stuart Breckenridge

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■ SG Transit v2.0.0

Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-07 13:16

At the end of August, I started rewriting SG Transit with the following goals:

  • Better Performance
  • Siri Integration
  • Apple Watch Support

As I progressed, the following goals were added:

  • Rich Notifications
  • New UI
  • Additional LTA Data Mall API Functionality

All of this is now available in v2.0.0, which was released today.

Better Performance

SG Transit now uses Core Data instead of parsing large amounts of JSON each time the app is launched. This has improved performance of nearby bus stops, bus arrivals, and bus routes.

Siri Integration

SG Transit integrates deeply with Siri. You can add any bus stop to Siri, using your own voice command, ask Siri for the latest arrivals at that stop, and the results will be presented by Siri without opening the app.

Similarly, if you regularly check a bus stop at a particular time of day, Siri will learn about this behaviour and surface this as a suggestion to you via the lock screen.

Apple Watch Support

SG Transit Mini — SG Transit’s little brother — supports bus arrivals either using nearby stops or favourite stops. More features will come in future releases.

Rich Notifications

MRT & LRT service alerts and traffic alerts are delivered to the app as rich notifications. Simply pull down on the notification to see details like traffic incident locations.

Traffic notifications are configured by type (e.g. Heavy Traffic) and time (e.g. Afternoon 12:00 - 17:59).

New UI

The look-and-feel of the app (and icon) is completely new. It’s minimalist. but at the same time shows more information. For example, in v1 you could only see the the wheelchair, load, and bus type of the next bus, but in v2 you can see this information for the next three arrivals.

The tab bar has also seen some small changes with the introduction of haptics, animations, and, well, the removal of text.

Finally, you may have noticed from the screenshots above that the app has a brand new typeface: Hermes Maia1.

Additional LTA Data Mall API Functionality

v2 introduces a brand new traffic tab. This includes traffic incidents, traffic cameras, and car park availability.

Bonus - Ad Removal

Ads have been removed from SG Transit. Instead, I intend to support development through in-app purchases. The first of these is cosmetic: the Alternative Icon Pack.

  1. Which is now being used on this website. ↩︎


Chrome 69 Removes Trivial Subdomains

Permalink - Posted on 2018-09-07 05:11

The recently released Chrome 69 inexplicably hides “trivial” subdomains, e.g. “www”. It’s such an ill conceived change that it will likely confuse end users. For example, https://citibank.com.sg and https://www.citibank.com.sg are not the same website, though in the address bar they look the same.

What’s worse is that it’s badly implemented.

Comment 5:

Why is www hidden twice if the domain is “www.www.2ld.tld”?

Comment 8:

“subdomain.www.domain.com” displays as “subdomain.domain.com”.

Stupidity in the extreme.


Five Eyes Attorneys General on Encryption

Permalink - Posted on 2018-09-04 13:30

The Attorneys General of the Five Eyes1 have a released a statement entitled Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption. The outstanding sentence:

The Governments of the Five Eyes encourage information and communications technology service providers to voluntarily establish lawful access solutions to their products and services that they create or operate in our countries. Governments should not favor a particular technology; instead, providers may create customized solutions, tailored to their individual system architectures that are capable of meeting lawful access requirements.

In other words, the Governments of the Five Eyes are encouraging big technology companies to create backdoors of their choosing to weaken the encryption in their products in order to establish a lawful access solution.

This will not work. Bad actors, which the statement fails to mention, will work overtime to exploit such a solution. That, in turn, will put all sorts of data — from financial to communications — at risk.

  1. Which is beginning to sound more like a magician’s guild. ↩︎


Group FaceTime Pulled from Initial Release of iOS 12

Permalink - Posted on 2018-08-13 23:02

Juli Clover, for Macrumors:

Apple today removed Group FaceTime from the latest iOS 12 and macOS Mojave betas, which were released this morning, and has instead decided to release the feature at a later date.

One of the key features of iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Group FaceTime is designed to allow up to 32 people to chat together at one time via FaceTime audio or FaceTime video.

[…]

In release notes for both macOS Mojave and iOS 12, Apple says the feature has been removed from the initial releases of macOS Mojave and iOS 12 and “will ship in a future software update later this fall.”

It’s disappointing that Group FaceTime will miss the 12.0 cut, but if the feature isn’t ready then it should, quite rightly, be held back. That said, looking back at the iOS 11 announcement at WWDC 2017, Apple Pay Cash, Messages in iCloud, and AirPlay 2 were also pulled from the retail release and shipped later. Perhaps it’s time we treat WWDC announcements as feature sets that will be made available throughout the lifecycle of a major iOS release, rather than with the initial retail release of the software.


Sir Patrick Stewart Returning As Jean-Luc Picard

Permalink - Posted on 2018-08-06 13:31

Sir Patrick Stewart (tweet):

This is fantastic news.


SG Transit v1.1.4

Permalink - Posted on 2018-08-03 22:07

A small patch has been released for SG Transit. It contains minor fixes and accessibility enhancements.

Fixes:

  • Resolved an issue when sorting by Service Number or Arrival Time

New Accessibility Features:

  • Accessibility hints added to bus stop arrivals
  • Dynamic type now supported throughout the app

Performance Updates:

  • Drawing bus routes is a little bit faster

Other changes:

  • The distance a bus is from a bus stop is now localised instead of always being denoted in metres.


Banks Continue to Assist Victims as Fraudulent iTunes Transactions Continue to Appear

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-23 14:28

Nurul Aziliah Aripin, for Channel News Asia:

Banks in Singapore said they have responded with measures to assist victims after a series of fraudulent Apple iTunes transactions affected dozens of account holders.

The victims reported that hundreds to thousands of dollars were wiped from their debit accounts and charged to their credit cards from banks including Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), DBS and HSBC.

Even though the focus of the fraudulent transactions appears to be iTunes, at least one person has reported that they didn’t even have a credit card linked to their iTunes account:

“The shocking thing is, I don’t even have any credit or debit card details saved on my own iTunes account,” said Mr Lim. “Apple/iTunes was not even aware of the fraudulent transactions (in my account) until I informed them.”

It’s a worrying breach of credit card security for multiple banks in Singapore, at the same time.


European Commission Fines Google €4.34bn

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 12:10

The European Commission’s ruling on Google’s antitrust behaviour with regards to Android (via The Guardian):

Google has prevented device manufacturers from using any alternative version of Android that was not approved by Google (Android forks).

In order to be able to pre-install on their devices Google’s proprietary apps, including the Play Store and Google Search, manufacturers had to commit not to develop or sell even a single device running on an Android fork.

The Commission found that this conduct was abusive as of 2011, which is the date Google became dominant in the market for app stores for the Android mobile operating system.

The fine, €4.34bn, is sizeable1. What interests me the most, however, is the impact this will have on the Android ecosystem. If bigger handset manufacturers create multiple forks of Android it’ll fragment the ecosystem even more than it is now. That wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for consumers.

  1. It’s the largest fine ever imposed! ↩︎


Apple to Discontinue Photo Printing Service

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-12 23:54

Benjamin Mayo, for 9to5Mac:

Apple is discontinuing its Photo Print Products service, which has been integrated into iPhoto since its launch in 2002. The service expanded from simple prints, to albums, photo books, and calendars. It stayed around on the Mac when iPhoto was replaced with the Photos app a couple of years ago, but the service never made the leap to iOS.

Later this year, Apple will stop offering the service altogether. A new message in macOS 10.13.6 Photos app says that final orders for Apple’s built-in service must be placed by September 30, 2018.

This is hugely disappointing. For years I’ve been using the printing service for photo books and birthday cards, complete with custom typography, and they’ve always turned out really well. I’ve not tried any of the other third-party services that are recommended, but it seems I’ll have no choice but to give them a go.


Swindle in Singapore

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-10 14:26

I wanted the summit between Trump and Kim to yield something positive. One month later, I’m clutching at straws to find anything positive.

As Max Boot articulates for the Washington Post:

In the month since the Swindle in Singapore, it has become obvious that Kim is arming rather than disarming. On June 29, NBC News reported that, according to U.S. intelligence officials, North Korea was increasing production of fuel for nuclear weapons and working to conceal its activities from the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then canceled a meeting with the Indian foreign minister to fly off to Pyongyang, presumably to tell the North Koreans that they had better start delivering on their promises.

He continues:

North Korea didn’t even make good on its promise to repatriate the remains of Korean War POWs/MIAs.

[…]

Kim has played Trump like a Stradivarius. He has gotten everything he wanted — sanctions relaxation, international legitimation — without giving up anything in return. Vladimir Putin must be licking his chops. If Trump was fleeced so thoroughly by a tyro tyrant whom he was denouncing as recently as the beginning of this year, imagine how much he will give up to a veteran despot for whom he has had nothing but praise.

Skewered, justifiably.


Retiring Primes

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-29 23:21

I’ve decided to retire one of my older apps, Primes — Numbers Game. It’s been removed from sale as of today.

(If you want an app that borrowed my original icon try this.)


NY Times on the St. Regis

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-10 13:14

Motoko Rich, for The New York Times:

The St. Regis is less than half a mile from the Shangri La Hotel, where Mr. Trump is staying. But while the Shangri La is set on a residential stretch of road, the St. Regis sits on a busy commercial boulevard next to a run-down strip mall with two money changers, a pet store and “Maids R Us,” a hiring agency.

This is a somewhat misleading attempt to portray Trump’s hotel and its location superior to Kim’s.

St. Regis is next to Tanglin Mall, which is an older, Tudor style mall, but it’s certainly not run down. It’s also important to note that St. Regis is a five-star hotel and the Presidential Suite is $10,000-per-night, while the most expensive suite at Shangri-La — the Shangri-La Suite — is $7,000-per-night.1

  1. I priced up rooms for one night on 11th October. ↩︎


WWDC 2018 Predictions

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-02 14:19

I haven’t blogged about my predictions for WWDC since 2015, but here are three guesses and one warning for 2018:

  1. Continuous Integration will be added to the developer pipeline (remember Apple bought buddybuild?1)
  2. A replacement for Xcode
  3. Spec bumps on the iMac and MacBook ranges
  4. Outrageous Warning: macOS 11

It’s nice going into a WWDC knowning nothing.

Update 2018-06-03: It seems Xcode and macOS 10.x will be around for a while longer.

Update 2018-05-06: I got everything wrong. I still loved what was in the keynote.

  1. Perhaps for an extra fee on top of the developer subscription Apple will build and run test cases for you? ↩︎


Fortnite Coming to Switch

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-01 15:44

Robert Purchese, for Eurogamer:

World-conquering battle royale game Fortnite appears to be heading to Nintendo Switch.

The Korean game ratings board rated Fortnite for Switch this morning (via Resetera), not long after a separate sighting on a list of E3 games leaked on 4chan overnight - a list we independently heard is legitimate.

We also heard, prior to these events, Fortnite was coming to Switch.

This is great news, but I’m still unclear on what this means for a player’s Epic Games account. Currently, I have on Epic Games account tied to my Mac, iOS devices, and PS4; and another, on its own, for Xbox. It’s astoundingly annoying. (Thanks, Sony.)

Does Fortnite on Switch mean another Epic Games account!?


Apple Release iOS 11.4

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-29 23:58

Juli Clover, for Macrumors:

iOS 11.4 is an audio-focused update, introducing support for multi-room audio through a new protocol that supports multi-room audio on all AirPlay 2 enabled devices.

[…]

The iOS 11.4 update also introduces Messages in iCloud, a feature that has been in the works for several months and was first promised as an iOS 11 feature in June of 2017. Messages in iCloud is designed to store your iMessages in iCloud rather than on each individual device, allowing for improved syncing capabilities.

I’m looking forward to Sonos updating their Sonos One to support AirPlay 2 so that I can use it as a speaker for Apple TV. I’m of the opinion that no matter how good the speakers are on a flat screen TV, they are inevitably hobbled as they tend to be on the back of the unit, facing a wall. Apple TV through a Sonos One should be very good.

Messages in iCloud is a bit of a strange one: after I updated my iPhone had a ton of older messages (both SMS and iMessages) dating back to November 2016. They were not present on any other device until I updated to 11.4. It begs the question as to whether Apple had these messages on their servers all this time, and if they did, why did they have them.

Secondarily, I have over 8GB in iMessage history and I imagine anyone else that’s been in the Apple ecosystem for any reasonable length of time will have something similar. The measly 5GB iCloud storage limit is going to breached fairly quickly with Messages in iCloud. Apple need to increase the free storage limit.


■ SG Transit v1.1

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-22 00:08

Today I released v1.1 of SG Transit. Here are the release notes:

New Features:

  • Deleting all favourite bus stops has been moved from Settings to Favourites. Before deleting all favourites, the app will (now) very kindly give you the opportunity to change your mind.
  • You can provide feedback via email on the Settings screen.
  • You can pull-to-refresh on the bus arrivals screen (in addition to the existing auto refresh every 30 seconds).
  • Enhanced the auto-refresh-countdown indicator with a NUMBER!
  • Added visual indicators to show whether the next arrival for a particular service has wheelchair access.
  • Added visual indicators to show if a bus is a double-decker.
  • Added visual indicator to the tab bar when there is an MRT disruption.
  • The Start/End markers of bus routes are now colour coded. (A loop route uses the ∞ mark.)
  • Sorting by arrival time is now the default, although you can configure this in Settings.
  • The distance a bus is from your chosen bus stop is now displayed.
  • If you think ads suck and want to get rid of them, you can remove them via a small, one-time, in-app purchase.
  • iPad support. All iPads. 9.7inch, 10.5inch, and 12.9inch. (New screenshots included.)

New Privacy Features:

  • EU USERS: If, for some reason you use this app in the EU, you will be prompted to provide consent to see personalised adverts.
  • The Privacy Policy is now available in the app, via the Settings screen.

Fixes:

  • The auto-refresh continues its countdown when the user is scrolling.

Data Updates:

  • The latest bus route and bus stop data has been added.

You can download the app here.


Twitter Prices Third Party Developers Off of Platform

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-17 06:13

Juli Clover, for Macrumors:

Third-party Twitter app developers will be required to purchase a Premium or Enterprise Account Activity API package to access a full set of activities related to a Twitter account including Tweets, @mentions, Replies, Retweets, Quote Tweets, Retweets of Quoted Tweets, Likes, Direct Messages Sent, Direct Messages Received, Follows, Blocks, Mutes, typing indicators, and read receipts.

Premium API access, which provides access to up to 250 accounts, is priced at $2,899 per month, while enterprise access is more expensive, with pricing quotes available from Twitter following an application for an enterprise account.

$2,899 per month is an insane amount of money for third party developers like Tapbots or The Iconfactory to be paying each month. As pointed out on Apps of a Feather, this will equate to over $16 per month for each user. It’s unaffordable and it would therefore appear that August 16th, 2018 will be the end of the road for third party clients.

What I don’t understand is why there is no middle ground for Twitter and third party clients? For example, make the Activity API available to third party client developers for free on the proviso that they include Twitter ads in the stream1? (My assumption is that this is mostly about monetisation.)

  1. And just live without streaming and push notifications. ↩︎


Critical Vulnerabilities Discovered in PGP and S/MIME

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-14 12:39

eff.org:

A group of European security researchers have released a warning about a set of vulnerabilities affecting users of PGP and S/MIME. EFF has been in communication with the research team, and can confirm that these vulnerabilities pose an immediate risk to those using these tools for email communication, including the potential exposure of the contents of past messages.

The full details will be published in a paper on Tuesday at 07:00 AM UTC (3:00 AM Eastern, midnight Pacific). In order to reduce the short-term risk, we and the researchers have agreed to warn the wider PGP user community in advance of its full publication.

Our advice, which mirrors that of the researchers, is to immediately disable and/or uninstall tools that automatically decrypt PGP-encrypted email. Until the flaws described in the paper are more widely understood and fixed, users should arrange for the use of alternative end-to-end secure channels, such as Signal, and temporarily stop sending and especially reading PGP-encrypted email.


Excel Gains JavaScript User Defined Functions

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-08 00:22

Frederic Lardinois, writing for TechCrunch:

Microsoft is launching a couple of features to Excel today that make the ubiquitous spreadsheet software a bit more powerful. Among the new features is support for Azure Machine Learning and custom JavaScript functions to Excel to extend its capabilities.

[…]

Developers could already write their own complex scripts with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). There are some advantages to using JavaScript, though, not in the least its popularity and ability to easily connect to third-party services, but also the simple fact that these functions can run on any platform. Microsoft first tested custom functions through the Office Insider Program, and it’s now ready to roll it out to a wider audience.

The instructions seem a little convoluted at this stage 1, but I’m keen to try this out.

  1. It is early access. ↩︎


Github, Twitter Stored Passwords in Clear Text

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-04 00:55

Github:

During the course of regular auditing, GitHub discovered that a recently introduced bug exposed a small number of users’ passwords to our internal logging system […]

Twitter:

Due to a bug, passwords were written to an internal log before completing the hashing process.

It seems that Github and Twitter are using the same underlying technology. Regardless, you should change your password.