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The Mac Observer

Apple iPhone, Mac, Watch and iPad News, Opinions, Tips and Podcasts


Why We Hunger For the Latest Gizmo. Or iPhone

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 22:14

It’s called The Diderot Effect, and it explains modern consumerism, why you buy things you don’t need. It all started when we were told as kids that we just had to have the awesome decoder ring found in that special cereal box. Today, unless we’ve seen the latest superhero movie or have the latest iPhone, we are somehow less of a person. Our goods define our identity. This linked article provides some perspective on manipulated consumerism.

How to Interpret the 2018 MacBook Pro Thermal Issues Report

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 21:49

The Core i9 2018 MacBook Pro was tested with one particular app and experienced some thermal throttling. A fuss has ensued. How should we react?

MacBook Pro

There are complex issues related to the design and engineering of a modern MacBook/Pro/Air. In this case, a notable test of the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro (MBP) garnered a lot of attention. See:

[Core i9 MacBook Pro Thermal Issues Throttle Performance ]

My sense is that David Lee did an creditable job in his testing. He showed that under a heavy CPU load with Adobe Premiere, the MBP throttled back the CPU (in GHz) to avoid a heat overload. But here’s the thing. His particular test displayed only one aspect of the MBP’s capabilities. It’s just about all one person can do with one Mac and one app. A more complete test would:

  1. Compare to other identical Macs to look for any kind of hardware issue.
  2. Compare with other apps, especially those optimized for the Current core architecture.
  3. Take into account any macOS changes in the pipeline and speculative execution changes induced by Spectre protections.
  4. Look at CPU performance and heat as a function of workload to see if the curve reveals where on the performance curve one can work reliably. And if that’s remarkably different from previous models.

There may be other variables to test for.

The easiest trap we tend to fall into is to make grand assumptions from simple tests. Our patience for complexity, extensive testing and caveats is limited. We see ourselves as very technical, but love to jump to conclusions. Especially if the assertion is in an attractive, compelling, nicely produced video.

Apple’s MacBook Pro Case Design

All that said, it’s also interesting to see how Apple handled the demand for a higher performance, “pro” level machine. In earlier times, Apple was obsessed with the exterior design and a continuing effort to make the MacBook Pro thinner and thinner.  But real “pro” performance remained elusive.

Given the demand from professionals for more performance and more RAM (32 GB), Apple had to conduct some clever engineering. More glue, less metal. Larger batteries to compensate for the non-low-power DDR4 memory system. Better airflow.

Now, at least, we understand why competing PCs have an ever so slightly more clunky look. The laws of thermodynamics can’t be repealed.

My prediction is that a lot more needs to be learned about this new Mac. Testing of more variables will likely show that, like any computer, this new MacBook Pro, despite good engineering, also has its inherent limits. How and under what circumstances that impacts users is the task before us to understand.

Simplicity of thought does not lead to sophisticated understanding of complex technical issues. We’ll learn a lot more soon as Apple and others provide needed additional analysis.

Apple Interface Consistency, Storage Permutations, Walmart Streaming Video – ACM 471

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 21:47, modified at 21:48

iOS App Discount: Reigns Her Majesty Down to $1.99

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 21:20

Reigns Her Majesty game is now on sale for US$1.99, when it’s usually US$2.99. The game is the revolutionary follow-up to the smash swipe ‘em up hit Reigns. A cultural renaissance has bestowed the world with a new era of knowledge and enlightenment but greed and jealousy still conspire against the benevolent queen. Outwit and outlast those that would seek to depose you and your husband by swiping left or right, making just (or unjust) decisions on all manner of royal matters. Maintain the balance between the kingdom’s most powerful factions, use mystical items from your inventory, and navigate the increasingly complex politics and personal relationships of your dynasty.

Syncwire UNBREAKcable, MFi-Certified Lightning Cable: $10.99

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 21:15, modified at 21:18

Check out the Syncwire UNBREAKcable, an MFi-Certified Lightning cable bend-tested for 30,000 charging cycles. It features a TPE jacket exterior and tinplate wrapped inner wires. And it’s $10.99 through our deal.

Switching From a MacBook Air to an iPad Pro

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 21:13

Writing for ZDnet, Chris Matyszczyk tells us about switching from a MacBook Air to an iPad Pro. Apparently it didn’t go well for him.

[The 10.5-Inch iPad Pro’s 120Hz Refresh Rate Matters]


Apple says that an iPad Pro can be a computer for many users, so Mr. Matyszczyk decided to test that. He uses his iPad to watch movies and read media, but not anything else. He wrote his article on the iPad, but found the experience uncomfortable.

Apple's "Everyone Can Code" Swift education program expands around the world

Still, I didn’t want to be defeated. So I removed the keyboard, went back to my usual slightly slouchy typing position, and tried to use the built-in keyboard that pops up at the bottom of the screen. My, did autocorrect come in useful. This was like a five-year-old trying to play Chopsticks for the first time.

If it wasn’t for a couple of things that I need a Mac for, I could definitely switch to being iPad-only. Not everyone can though, and that’s okay. There will always be a computer for everyone.

[Brydge 12.9 Aluminum Keyboard for iPad Pro Exudes Class]

Online Retail Hackers Account for 90% of Login Attempts

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 21:04

Online retail hackers account for 90% of all login attempts. According to a report by cybersecurity firm Shape Security, hackers use special software with stolen data to login multiple times, called credential stuffing.

These attacks are successful as often as 3% of the time, and the costs quickly add up for businesses, Shape says. This type of fraud costs the e-commerce sector about $6 billion a year, while the consumer banking industry loses out on about $1.7 billion annually. The hotel and airline businesses are also major targets—the theft of loyalty points is a thing—costing a combined $700 million every year.

A Baby’s First Memory is Likely False

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 20:58

recent study in the Psychological Science journal asked 6,641 residents in the U.K. to describe in writing their first memory, and the age they were in that memory. Around 40% of people found out that that memory is probably false.

It might seem dismissive to assume that these memories are false, but memory researchers have good reason to conclude that people aren’t truly remembering being a baby. Research on infantile amnesia, the official term for the phenomenon in which we forget things that happened to us as babies and young children, has shown that it’s close to impossible to retain declarative memories at that young age.

It Turns Out That Venmo Transactions are Public by Default

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 20:49, modified at 20:50

A security researcher analyzed over 200 million Venmo transactions. She discovered something disturbing:

Anyone can track a Venmo user’s purchase history and glean a detailed profile – including their drug deals, eating habits and arguments – because the payment app lacks default privacy protections.

[Could ‘Apple Cash’ Take on Venmo?]

Public Venmo Transactions

Berlin-based researcher Hang Do Thi Duc used a public application programming interface to access the data. She was able to see the names of every user who didn’t change their privacy settings. The information included names, transaction dates, and the message sent with each payment.

Conversation between two users about Venmo transactions.

She created a website called Public by Default to call out Venmo’s policy. Ms. Do Thi Duc found entire conversations between couples, users buying weed, and a person who ran a food card near the University of Santa Barbara campus.

One young woman nicknamed the YOLO-ist eats a lot of junk food based on her transactions. Ms. Do Thi Duc said this information could be used by health insurance companies.

[iPhone Privacy for the Paranoid: What You Can Do]

New Mophie Battery Packs Charge via Lightning Cable

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 20:31

New Mophie battery packs charge via a Lightning cable. This means you can cut down on yet another cord from your collection. Right now they’re only available in Apple retail stores, Apple online store, and Mophie’s website.

[5 Wireless Charging Pads for Your iPhone 8 and iPhone X]

Mophie Battery Packs

As I loaded my backpack with a couple of battery packs a couple of days ago, I wished that I could find one that charged with a Lightning cable. My wish came true.

New Mophie battery packs charge via a Lightning cable.

Each Mophie Powerstation includes an LED indicator and will give you anywhere between 20-70 hours of battery life, depending on the model. One model is a standard battery pack, and the other comes with its own built-in Lightning cable to power your iPhone.

Both models come in two sizes. The smaller models are US$60 and US$80, while the bigger models are US$100.

[Pay Less for Your Next Apple Product]

Core i9 MacBook Pro Throttling, When to Buy a New Mac – TMO Daily Observations 2018-07-18

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 19:39, modified on 2018-07-19 00:06

Pay Less for Your Next Apple Product

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 18:33, modified at 18:35

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #287

Most people think the prices on Apple products are pretty much fixed. A new Mac costs about the same regardless of whether you buy it directly from Apple, or from Best Buy, Fry’s, Amazon.com, or any other retailer. That’s mostly true, but did you know that Apple itself offers a way for you to pay as much as 30% less than SRP (Suggested Retail Price) for most current and some previous generations of Apple products?

What’s that you say? You’ve never seen a MacBook Pro or iMac offered for less than list price? And you didn’t know Apple even sold products at a discount?

Well, it’s true. Other than a handful of iPhones I ordered for delivery on the first day they were available (don’t judge me), I haven’t paid retail for a Mac or iDevice in at least a decade.

If you’re thinking my secret is the black (or even the gray) market, you’re wrong.

And, if you think it’s some shady Internet reseller, you’re wrong, too.

Here’s the Good News!

If you thought there were no deals to be had on Apple gear, I've got good news!

The good news is that Apple runs its own Refurbished and Clearance Store. To shop for your bargain on Apple gear, scroll to the bottom of any page on the Apple website and click the Refurbished and Clearance link.

You’ll next see the Apple Certified Refurbished Products page with eight sections: Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, iPod, Apple TV, Accessories, and Clearance.

Click any of the Shop Now button to begin shopping.

What Kind of Deals?

Here are several examples of the kinds of deals you will find:

Remember Darth, the iMac Pro I told you about last week? It lists for $4,999 but a refurbished unit goes for just $4,250—saving you 15% ($750).

How about a refurbished 15.4-inch MacBook Pro 2.9GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 with Retina display (June 2017) for $2,249? Its SRP is $2,649, so, again you save 15% ($400).

Most of the refurbished iPhone 7s and 7 Pluses are discounted 9%.

Which brings up something you should know: Inventory changes, sometimes from hour to hour. So, if the particular model and configuration you’re looking for isn’t available today, try again tomorrow or the next day.

For example, there were no refurbished iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X models available last Friday when I checked. But there were plenty of refurbished iPads—current and earlier generations—discounted by up to 29%! And current generation Series 3 Apple Watches are available in most configurations for 14-16% off SRP, with prices starting below $300.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the Clearance section. The selection is often meager, but the discounts are better and you’ll occasionally find a real bargain.

By the way, if you’re worried about the quality of refurbished gear, it carries the same warranty as new products. You can even add AppleCare, just as you can with brand new products. Most significantly, though, every one of the refurbished products we’ve purchased over the past decade looked “good as new” when we received it.

There is one more thing: Because the inventory fluctuates, the configuration or model you’re looking for may not be available when you shop. Never fear—there’s a website for that. It’s called Refurb-Tracker.com. Just tell it what you’re looking for and (optionally), the minimum or maximum price you’re looking for, and you’ll receive an email as soon as the refurbished product you desire becomes available.

LEGO James Bond Aston Martin DB5: Shut Up and Take My Money

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 15:53, modified at 15:57

James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 is an incredibly cool car, which is why I’m inappropriately excited it’s now a LEGO kit. Just like the car Sean Connery drove as agent 007, it has retractable tire slashers, rear window bullet shield, headlight machine guns, hidden tracking computer, and ejection seat that really works. It has the frakking ejection seat! The 1,295 piece kit is available now to LEGO VIP members and the general public can buy it soon, too.

Apple releases macOS Movaje Public Beta 3

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 15:38

Apple released the third macOS Mojave public beta just a day after releasing the fourth developer beta.

macOS Mojave beta

macOS Mojave includes a new Dark Mode interface for the Finder and apps, Stacks for organizing files on the desktop, Quick Actions for working with files in the Finder, markup in Quick Look, improved screenshots, Camera Continuity so photos you snap with your iPhone appear in documents on your Mac in real time, group FaceTime calls, and more.

Apple showed off macOS 10.14 Mojave at its Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. You can sign up for the public beta at Apple’s website. The official release is coming this fall as a free upgrade.

Fantastical 2.5 for the Mac Adds Meetup Support

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 15:00

Flexibits rolled out Fantastical 2.5 for the Mac on Wednesday with Meetup support so you can see the events in your groups. The update also adds the ability to time proposals in iCloud, Google, Echange, and other CalDav accounts.

The update also gets you improved event views, the ability to see the current calendar week in the dock and menu bar, better labeling for custom anniversary dates from Contants, and more.

Fantastical 2.5 costs US$49.99 and is a free upgrade for current Fantastical 2 customers. You can get it from Apple’s Mac App Store.

How to Make Your iPhone Default to Speaker for Calls

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 14:23

I’d say about 80 percent of the time that I answer my phone, I’m at home in my pajamas. (And for those of you who actually have to call me, I apologize for putting that image in your head.) Because of this, I almost always use the speaker on my iPhone during calls if I don’t have my AirPods handy, as I hate holding the phone up to my ear. Hate it. How can I simultaneously browse Reddit during a call if one of my hands is occupied? I can’t! And that’s a dealbreaker.

So what I’ve done is set my default call audio routing on my iPhone to be the speaker, which saves me a tap more often than not. Here’s how it works: If you open your Settings app, scroll down and touch “General,” and then select “Accessibility,” you’ll find a “Call Audio Routing” section.

iPhone Call Audio Routing Setting

As you can see, mine is already configured the way I like it, but if you tap that section, you can set up how you’d like yours to behave.

iPhone Call Audio Routing Set Speaker as Default

The beauty here is that this affects both incoming and outgoing calls, so if I invoke Siri and ask it to call a pal, for example, that call will be automatically put on speaker. For incoming calls, of course, you’ll answer them as you normally would…

Answering a Call on iPhone with Call Audio Routing set

…but then the “speaker” toggle will be on for you by default.

iPhone Call Is Automatically on Speaker from Call Audio Routing settings

Nifty! And very useful to those of us who work from home. Pajama-wearers and Redditors alike.

Core i9 MacBook Pro Thermal Issues Throttle Performance

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 14:07

Apple’s new top of the line Touch Bar MacBook Pro with an i9 processor upgrade looks blazing fast on paper, but may not be in real world use. Dave Lee’s video review shows the i9 processor slowing down dramatically—also known as throttling—when under a heavy workload.

YouTube product reviewer David Lee tested the MacBook Pro with a 6-core 2.9 GHz Core i9 processor and found that after only a few seconds of rendering in Adobe Premiere the speed drops down to about 2.2 GHz. That’s in line with the base speed of Core i7 processor in the lowest cost version for the new 15-inch 6-core laptop.

The reason for the throttling is heat, according to Lee. The i9 processor is running so hot that it has to slow down to avoid damage. Lee was able to get good performance from the chip with his Premiere rendering tests when he put the laptop in his freezer, keeping the whole system cooler.

That’s pretty damning, and makes for some serious fried egg on Apple’s face. If the new MacBook Pro can’t dissipate heat fast enough for the i9 processor to perform at even its base speed, it isn’t much of a pro-level machine. Considering its pro-level price tag, users are expecting to get the performance they’re paying for.

That said, this was one computer running software that Adobe never bothered to optimize for the Mac. It’s possible the i9 chip performs as it should with other apps, or that this is a production issue with just this one laptop.

I’d like to see performance tests on more Core i9 MacBook Pros before passing final judgement, but until then I’m skeptical Apple’s new top of the line laptop offers true top of the line performance.

Walmart Mulls Streaming Video Service to Compete with Netflix, Amazon

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 01:42, modified at 16:43

Walmart is mulling its own streaming video service to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon (and YouTube and Hulu and DirecTV Now and eventually Apple). According to The Information. The company is considering some kind of bottom feeder service priced as little as less-than-US$8 a month, and it could even include a free, ad-supported version.

That last bit would an interesting competing angle, as all the legit streaming services to date are paid-only. But here’s the thing: a streaming service without original content is no competition for Netflix, Amazon, or any of the other services above.

Sad TV

Original Content Is Clearly King

Original content is what turned Netflix into a giant, and it’s what allowed Amazon to compete with Netflix. Hulu Live is a fairly good service for cord cutters (I’ve used it), but it’s the company’s original content that keeps Hulu competitive. The same is true for YouTube, which is trying to increase its library of original content, and we all know now that Apple is building its own empire of original content to finally get its door into the streaming video/cable-replacement biz.

On the other end, DirecTV Now isn’t offering its own original content, but that company has its original satellite TV business to draw on, and it’s charging more in line with Hulu Live and YouTube Live as a cable replacement. If Walmart were to do streaming, it would most likely be something more akin to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, but again, without the original content. Think Vudu, but with a subscription.

Is the market clamoring for that? Maybe that “free,” ad-supported version, but there’s no way Walmart can compete with Netflix and Amazon without original content.


Which brings me to my knee-jerk reaction when I saw this news: can a company with no taste even make good, original content? Call me a doubter, and call me a doubter that Walmart can have success in this market without it.

$100 iTunes Card for $85 from Ebay

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-18 00:46, modified at 03:30

Ebay has $100 iTunes gift cards for $85, a 15% discount. As deals on iTunes cards have become rarer, this is one of the best offers out there. You can use them to pay for apps, books, music, songs, movies, Apple Music, in-app purchases, and even subscriptions to third party services through the App Store.

[How to Save Money on Subscriptions to Netflix, Pandora, and Other Services]

iTunes Gift Card Deals

These are digital gift cards delivered via email, usually within two hours. You can also send them directly to someone else as a gift. I’ve ordered scores of these discounted cards through Ebay and PayPal over the years, and they’re great. Here’s what they look when they’re delivered.

Digital iTunes Gift Card from Ebay

Note that these tend to go fast after we post them. Get ’em while you can.

[Update: Link to the Ebay deal added.]

Watch as Supersonic Rocket Goes Through Cloud of Ice Crystals

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 22:09, modified at 22:11

Ice crystals refract light. That’s what causes a sun dog. But when a rocket goes supersonic and vibrates the ice crystals in a cirrus cloud, the effect we see is even more astounding. I’ve never seen this effect, and  I think it’s pretty cool.

Silicon Valley Socialists Want Workers to Have More Power

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 21:45, modified at 21:46

A group of Silicon valley socialists want to take power from billionaires and give it to workers and local communities. At a protest on July 9, about 40 people chanted things like “Caging children is a crime. Salesforce, f*ck your bottom line!”

That Monday, they were protesting a Salesforce contract to supply services to human resources operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the sister division within the Department of Homeland Security to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)–the unit infamous for detaining children of asylum seekers.

How to Predict When Apple Will Ship New Macs

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 21:40, modified at 23:31

It’s not an exact science by any means. But there are often subtle hints when Apple is ready to ship new Macs. Here are some recent tips and signs that stood out for me.

One of the new Macs: Apple's 2018 MacBook Pro.

Analysts. Ming-Chi Kuo, now with TF International Securities, has a good record when it comes to understanding Apple’s supply chain and predicting new Apple products. On July 11th, the day before the MacBook Pro update, he made his most recent predictions.

[Ming-Chi Kuo Predicts All of Apple’s New Fall Products ]

So far, he’s been spot on with the MacBook Pro (MBP).

Regulatory Filings. On July 5th, our Bryan Chaffin pointed to new European regulatory flings for five new Macs (as well as iPads.) He wrote: “In several instances in the past, Apple has launched new products roughly a month after making similar filings with the EEC.” This news surfaced on July 4th, when most U.S.journalists have the day off, but a sharp-eyed French site caught it, and then so did everyone else.

Submitted Benchmarks. On June 13th, right after WWDC, there was a benchmark submitted for a 6-core, 32 GB MacBook Pro that was most certainly the next generation model. Beside the 32 GB giveaway, the 6-core reference was a giant flag for the new Coffee Lake CPU seen in PCs.

That leads into the next topic. Watching Intel and the PC world.

New Intel CPUs. Watching Intel’s CPU release schedule is helpful. When next generation CPUs start showing up in PCs, we know Apple isn’t far behind with the Macs Apple updates most often.

[What to Know About the New Intel CPUs: Coffee Lake & Cannon Lake ]

Intel introduced the Coffee Lake series in October, 2017. So they weren’t ready for the 2017 MacBook Pros and iMacs in June, 2017. The notable feature of Coffee Lake is the number of cores for mobile and desktop CPUs. The Core i7 (desktop) has six cores (and hyperthreading, taking it to 12 threads).

Based on the above benchmark submitted, that pretty much clinched the deal on new MacBook Pros with a six core Coffee Lake CPU. But when?

Apple Ads. In June, Apple launched a new Mac-centric ad campaign, “Behind the Mac.” The four ads showed several different professionals using their MacBook Pros to good effect in their work. This happened right after WWDC. It was a subtle sign, to me anyway, that Apple was trying to generate some fervor for future Mac products that didn’t make it into the WWDC keynote. We remember how new MacBook Pros (Kaby Lake) made their appearance at WWDC 2017. Speaking of timing….

Historical Record. For some Macs, there is no known release schedule. This applies to the Mac Pro during the dark years (2014-2017) and the Mac mini even today. For other Macs, especially, the MacBooks, the releases have been a bit more regular. Skylake MBPs were announced in October 2016 followed by a remarkable follow-up with Kaby Lake MBPs at WWDC 2017. Given Apple’s newfound enthusiasm for the Mac, one could guess that Coffee Lake MBPs would eventually come along.

Given the keyboard issue Apple has had with the recent MBPs, one might surmise a slight delay this year. That’s what we got.

2018 Touch Bar MacBook Pro keyboard membrane

New Macs: a Case In Point

David Gerwitz at ZDNet writes about a developer who needed a new MacBook Pro. When Apple didn’t announce new ones at WWDC 2018 back in June, he concluded they weren’t forthcoming. He bought a 2017 MacBook Pro (Kaby Lake). Author Gerwitz tells the tale, relating the anguish of the developer on July 12 when the new (Coffee Lake) MacBook Pros shipped.

The developer was upset, but there’s a difference between wanting to be the one on the block with the latest Mac and mission critical work. If the developer truly needs (incrementally) more speed, or 32 GB RAM, to get the job done, why did he jump the gun in spite of all the signs? In any case, the very best Mac is the newest shipping Mac you buy on the day you need it.

Another argument was that Apple should have announced the new MacBook Pros at WWDC, even if they weren’t ready to ship. In fact, pre-announcements haven’t gone well with Apple lately in the case of the HomePod and the AirPower. It’s Apple’s prerogative to ship a product when it’s ready, and that’s what Apple did.

The argument that Apple needs to stick to a cadence so that professionals can plan purchases is without merit. Advanced product development doesn’t happen on a predetermined schedule. Goals are set, but they’re sometimes missed. Issues come up in QA testing. Staff turnovers happen. We all understand this and always have. Especially the technical and creative professionals.

Buying The Best Mac

Buying new Macs means understanding how it can serve the immediate and future intended purpose. Outside those rare cases when a totally busted Mac, out of warranty, must be immediately replaced no matter what, we’re generally happy with any new Mac we might buy.

It’s very rare that the features of new Macs make the purchase of their predecessor preposterous. We all move ahead gradually, and the best Mac is the one we just bought and are using productively. Any other approach is going to cause much frustration.

Still, for those who want to be smart shoppers and avoid buying multi-year old technology, there are often subtle hints floating around. My hope is that the above tips will help with future purchase decisions.

Funny Cops Posting Online? Yabba Dabba Don’t

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 21:39, modified at 21:53

Writing for Vice, Alex Norcia argues that cops shouldn’t be allowed to be funny online. Alex uses the example of an incident where a lost pug was found by local police, and they posted a “pugshot” onto social media.

Yes, everyone appreciates a solid laugh. And sarcasm, irony, and good cheer are generally great things. This is especially true of life online, which can be especially toxic. But the fuzz should not have this luxury. The fuzz should not be funny on social media, because the fuzz are not (and, again, should not be) funny people. Particularly in the face of Black Lives Matter and when the public’s distrust in the institution is so deservedly high. It is a serious job, and these are serious times.

I may be wrong but isn’t the word “fuzz” supposed to be derogatory? I’ll take humor over insults any day.

These Artificial Gills Could One Day Help Divers

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 21:23, modified at 21:24

Jun Kamei, graduate of the Royal College of Art, designed artificial gills using 3D printing. They consist of a gill and a respiratory mask, and it lets people breathe underwater. Mr. Kamei has built a working prototype, and it successfully extracts oxygen from water, and releases carbon dioxide back out. Right now it doesn’t product enough oxygen for a human though. His idea was that artificial gills would be essential in the future when the ocean rises due to climate change.

By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the megacities situated in the coastal areas.

Apple Granted a Smart Clothing Patent Today

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 21:15, modified at 21:16

Apple was granted 40 patents today, which cover stretchable displays, smart clothing, gaze controls, and a whole lot more (via Patently Apple).

[Patent Holding Company SMTM Sues Apple Over Do Not Disturb While Driving Feature]

Apple Smart Clothing

It could be smart clothing, but also smart furniture, smart vehicle seating, etc. Combined with the stretchable displays and we could have a wide range of interesting products.

image of the apple smart clothing patent

Another patent involves gaze controls. One or more gaze detection sensors can figure out if a person is looking at the device, and presumably where on the screen. My thoughts automatically jumped to the rumored Apple Glasses, but they could also be used in other devices.

Check out Patently Apple‘s article for the full list.

[An Apple Patent Hints at an Apple TV Gaming System]

Apple Pulls Right-Wing Conspiracy QDrops App From App Store

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 20:39

Apple pulls right-wing conspiracy QDrops app from the App Store. It sends users alerts about a conspiracy that has ties to “Pizzagate.” An inquiry from NBC News seems to be the reason it was pulled. Why it passed Apple’s review team is baffling.

[How to Sort iOS App Store Reviews]


The conspiracy theory is called QAnon, and it’s an offshoot of Pizzagate, which is an insane, extremist theory that Hillary Clinton runs a child sex trafficking ring out of the basement of a pizza shop in Washington that doesn’t even have a basement.

Image of QDrops app.

QAnon originates from 4Chan, a social media website that seems to originate many of these batsh*t crazy people. As Gizmodo puts it,

QAnon is an incredibly elaborate online conspiracist yarn that more or less boils down to a series of posts on message board 4chan and its bastard offspring 8chan from “Q,” supposedly a government agent with high security clearance, claiming that Donald Trump is preparing to turn the tables on deep state agents guilty of everything from child sex trafficking to false flag mass shootings in a coming purge called “The Storm.”

The QDrops app was developed by Richard and Adalita Brown under the name Tiger Team Inc,. Embarrassingly for Apple, at one point it was the number 10 app on the App Store soon after it launched in April, as well as number one in the entertainment section.

Apple released a statement to NBC, saying:

The App Store has always supported all points of view being represented, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions and the quality of the experience is great. We have published clear guidelines that developers must follow in order for their apps to be distributed by the App Store, designed to foster innovation and provide a safe environment to all of our users. We will take swift action to remove any apps that violate our guidelines or the law—we take this responsibility very seriously.

According to the QDrops Twitter account, the developers claim to have it back in the App Store soon.

[Apple Allows Developers More Options for App Store Search Ads]

New Walnut Creek Apple Store Opens July 28

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 20:21

A new Apple retail store is opening in Walnut Creek, California. The Walnut Creek Apple Store has a beautiful, modern design and will be opening on July 28 at 10:00 AM.

[Apple Retail Store Experience Hardly Needs Fixing]

Walnut Creek Apple Store

Image of Walnut Creek, California. The Walnut Creek Apple Store opens July 28.

The store will be located at the Broadway Plaza outdoor shopping mall, where construction has been underway for over a year. The location used to be a California Pizza Kitchen. It’s a prime location where pedestrians and shoppers will see it from every direction.

Apple’s website says it will be called the Apple Broadway Plaza.

[Ageism Is Not an Institutional Problem at Apple Retail]

iOS 12 Developer Beta 4 Available for iPhone, iPad

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 18:01, modified at 18:02

Apple released iOS 12 Developer Beta 4 on Tuesday for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

iOS 12 Developer Beta

Apple first showed off iOS 12 at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. The new operating system includes several new features such as Screen Time for managing how much time you spend in apps, Group FaceTime, ARKit 2, real-time photo effects, Notifications groups and management, Shortcuts for automating actions, improved performance, and more.

iOS 12 is compatible with the iPhone 5s or newer, iPad mini 2 or newer, and sixth generation iPod touch. You need an active Apple Developer account to get the beta.

iOS 12 will be a free upgrade this fall.

Ginger Page Premium 1-Year Subscription: $29.99

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 17:49

We have a deal on a 1 year subscription to Ginger Page Premium, a writing platform that aims to help you write better. Ginger Page can read your sentences back to you, has its own grammar checker, can help you explore different ways to phrase your text, and more. There’s an iOS app, and on the Mac it will work in Safari. A 1 year subscription is $29.99 through us, with longer subscriptions available on the deal page.

Apple’s New AI Boss, Leaked iPhone Glass Photo – TMO Daily Observations 2018-07-17

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 17:40

Apple Seeds tvOS 12 Developer Beta 4

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 17:19, modified at 17:20

Apple released tvOS 12 Developer Beta 4 for the fourth generation Apple TV and Apple TV 4K on Tuesday. The update follows macOS Mojave Developer 4 on Monday.

tvOS 12 beta

tvOS 12 includes new features like Dolby Atmos audio support, the ability to auto-fill passwords from user’s iPhones, and Zero Sign-on for cable TV services. Zero Sign-on lets Apple TV detect which cable service you have and automatically sign in and download apps for available channels.

Developers can add their Apple TV to the tvOS beta program at Apple’s developer website. Apple is also offering tvOS 12 as a public beta, so we should see that update soon.

tvOS 12 will officially launch this fall as a free upgrade for the fourth generation Apple TV and Apple TV 4K.

Amazon Stumbles with Prime Day Server Problems

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 16:01

Considering how massive Amazon’s web server infrastructure is you’d think the online retailer would have enough horse power to keep up with the network load during its Amazon Prime Day sale. Turns out that wasn’t the case.

Amazon Prime Day server failure

Amazon Prime Day kicked off on July 16th and wraps up today, July 17th. The company promised deals on thousands of products and it seems everyone was hoping to score a better price on something. That isn’t, however, how it played out. Shoppers complained of order failures and incessant “something went wrong” errors. Amazon said it was working to fix the issues, but even late last night we were still seeing search failures where products that should appear didn’t return any results.

There were more people looking for deals this year compared to previous years. In a statement where the company essentially said, “Look, everyone is shopping just fine. It’s only you that’s having a problem,” it noted that there were as many sales in the first hour this year as there were in the first four last year. That’s great for Amazon, but not so much for the customers who felt cheated because they couldn’t make a purchase. Maybe Amazon can make it up to them with Black Friday deals in November.

US House Finally gets a Republican to Back Net Neutrality

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 15:29, modified at 16:27

Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) says he’s ready to take action and restore net neutrality protection. The rules were overturned and ultimately expired on June 11th, opening the door for ISPs to control internet traffic passing through their networks as they see fit. Coffman says the bill he’s introducing will create an “internet constitution.” Reuters reports,

The bill would ensure “no throttling, no blocking, no paid prioritization and oversight of interconnection” rules between internet providers and backbone transit providers, his office said in a statement.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been hell bent on removing any restriction and regulations protecting net neutrality. With one GOP member breaking ranks and supporting net neutrality maybe, just maybe, we’ll see more follow suit.

Leaked Photo Shows Front Glass for Bigger iPhone Lineup

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 14:43

A leaked photo shows what appears to be the front glass panel for three iPhone models. Assuming the pic is legit, Apple’s screen sizes are getting bigger across the board, and all the models get the iPhone X-style notch. The photo comes courtesy of Ben Geskin. He posted the image on his Twitter account, just as he did for the iPhone X.

According to his post, Apple is releasing 5.8-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.5-inch iPhone models this fall. They’re the iPhone, iPhone X, and iPhone X Plus, respectively.

If he’s right, that means the iPhone line is getting physically larger. The iPhone 8 is currently the smallest modern iPhone with a 4.7-inch display, the iPhone 8 Plus sports a 5.5-inch screen, and the iPhone X measures at 5.8-inches.

Apple is expected to introduce new iPhones in September.

iFixit 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals Bigger Battery, More

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-17 14:04

iFixit finished tearing down the mid-2018 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro and along with the redesigned keyboard they found a higher capacity battery, a T2 chip, and no chance for user upgrades.

iFixit teardown showing mid-2018 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro in pieces

Apple said the keyboard was redesigned to be quieter. iFixit found silicone membranes between the key tops and butterfly switch mechanism, which could potentially help dust and other debris out.

iFixit noted the battery array has more power compared to the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro. The teardown team said,

At 58.0 Wh, this battery has gotten a significant boost over the 49.2 Wh unit we found in our original 13″ Touch Bar teardown. Turns out that extra ‘oomph’ comes from a slightly bigger battery—arrayed into six cells this time, instead of five. It’s also heavier, weighing in at in at 232.7 g, versus the old battery’s 196.7 g.

The new laptop doesn’t weigh any more than the previous model, so Apple managed to shave the extra weight off in other places.

The T2 chip is an Apple-designed processor that made its first appearance in the iMac Pro. It packs in the SSD controller, image signal processor, audio controller, system mangement controller, Siri voice control, as well as the Secure Enclave.

If you’re hoping to install upgrades or do your own repairs, think again. The RAM and SSD are soldered to the circuit board, and the keyboard, speakers, and battery are part of a single unit. In other words, there’s nothing inside you can fix yourself.

Apple introduced new Touch Bar MacBook Pro models last week without any fanfare. The updated models sport new Intel quad-core and 6-core processors, more RAM, True Tone Retina displays, Bluetooth 5.0, and more. They’re available in stores and on Apple’s website now starting at $1799.

Apple Seeds macOS Mojave Developer Beta 4, Supports 2018 MacBook Pro Models

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 23:45, modified at 23:46

Apple seeded macOS Mojave Developer Beta 4 on Monday. The biggest known change is support for the new 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models that shipped last week.

macOS Mojave beta

macOS Mojave

macOS Mojave includes a new Dark Mode interface for the Finder and apps, Stacks for organizing files on the desktop, Quick Actions for working with files in the Finder, markup in Quick Look, improved screenshots, Camera Continuity so photos you snap with your iPhone appear in documents on your Mac in real time, group FaceTime calls, and more.

Apple unveiled macOS 10.14 Mojave at its Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. Developers have been testing the OS since, with

[macOS Mojave 10.14 Beta Supports Most 2012-and-Later Macs]

[Apple’s macOS Mojave is Stunning. What We’ve Waited For]

macOS developer betas require an Apple Developer account. Apple also has a website for public betas.

macOS Mojave will be available this fall as a free upgrade for compatible Macs.

Apple Leadership Page Gets Memoji Makeover for World Emoji Day

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 23:17, modified at 23:18

Hop over to the Apple Leadership page for cartoonized version of the company’s top executives. Apple redid its executive profiles using the upcoming Memoji feature in iOS 12 for iPhone X (and new iPhone models to be announced this fall), all as part of its World Emoji Day celebration/blitz.

Each executive’s studio headshot was augmented with that person’s Memoji, a new feature in iOS 12 that allows users to make their own Animoji avatar. Other features in iOS 12 allow that Animoji to be used in photographs, video chats, and more. If you click through to those individual profile pages, you’ll see the Memoji version of their avatar there, too.

Apple also teased some of the new emojis that will be released in iOS 12 for World Emoji Day.

Apple Leadership Emoji

Apple Leadership as Memoji More of Apple's Leadership in Memoji

More Details on the 8th Gen. Intel CPUs in New MacBook Pros

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 21:15

Page 2 of Particle Debris takes us to an exploration of the 8th generation Core CPUs used in the new MacBook Pros. Plus, the re-emergence of Spectre—and the continuing work on how to defend. Also, honoring Python’s Guido van Rossum.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Amateur Astronomer Mike Weasner

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 20:44

This Chat App Combines Multiple Chat Services Into One

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 18:49

There’s an app called One Chat for Mac and iPad that combines multiple chat services into one. The chat app supports WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Google Hangouts, Twitter, and more. It auto-locks when you’re away, and you can use a password or Touch ID to lock it. You can schedule messages to send to friends, generate “Auto Smart GIFs), customize notifications, and a whole lot more. It also supports file transfer, so you can send and receive photos, videos, DOC, TXT, PDFs, with drag-and-drop support. It costs US$17.99, and you can buy multiple copies in case you have a business.

Phone Calls Are Dead. Is Voice Chat the Future?

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 18:38

Not many people like to make and take phone calls nowadays. But David Pierce writes that sending text messages removes the humanity from communication. Is voice chat the future instead?

In the swing from calls to texts, we lost the warmth and humanity that made the phone work in the first place. I’m not pining for the days of the loudly spinning rotary phone, though. Better ways to actually talk to people already exist. A few companies are building tools that improve upon what didn’t work about phone calls, making them less disruptive and more productive.

At the same time, a new type of chat is sitting right under our noses. It’s called voice messaging, and it deserves a place alongside text and video as core parts of how we chat in the digital age.

Cell Phone Carriers Share Your Location With Cops

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 18:33

Cell phone carriers have to directly ask you to list your phone number, share your address, and send you promotional emails. But when it comes to sharing your location, major carries turn to third-party companies (via The Wall Street Journal).

[Turning Off Significant Locations on Your Mac]

Cell Phone Carriers

Cell phone carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile rely on companies like Securus Technologies Inc. and 3Cinteractive Corp. to obtain your permission to share your location. To whom and for what purpose? Everything from preventing credit card fraud to providing roadside assistance…or surveillance.

Logos of cell phone carriers on iPhone.

That’s not all though. Securus, which is a prison phone operator, created a website that lets law enforcement find the location of citizens (read: non-inmates) without their permission. In June, the four major U.S. cell phone carriers said they would stop two companies that handled data Securus had accessed.

Georgetown Law expert Laura Moy testified in a House subcommittee last week on internet privacy, saying:

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re probably just seeing what could be the beginning of a massive investigation and a lot of privacy violations.

Blake Reid, an associate clinical professor at the University of Colorado Law School, said this process probably violates Section 222 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. An FCC spokesman told WSJ that its enforcement bureau is “looking into the matter.”

[iOS: Use Predictive Text to Share Your Location]

Organize Your Apple Accessories with BentoStack: $42.95

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 18:29, modified at 18:31

Check out the BentoStack, an organizer for your Apple accessories. Borrowing its design from a Japanese bento box, BentoStack fits everything just so. It includes four adjustable compartment dividers and two 2 silicone straps, and it’s $42.95 through our deal.

Apple Highlights Fitness in Apple Watch ‘Close Your Rings’ Ads

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 17:48, modified at 17:49

Apple’s latest collection of ads show off Apple Watch as a fitness tracker. The series, called “Close Your Rings,” highlights three people with different fitness lifestyles using their Apple Watch to stay on top of their daily activity.

The 15 second-long ads show three different people with their own fitness routines ranging from serious workouts to daily life in the city.

A Cashless Society is a Discriminatory Society

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 17:45, modified at 17:46

Tim Cook wants to see a cashless society, but Gene Marks writes that it’s an inherently discriminatory system. Not accepting cash excludes service to people (usually poor people) who may be unable to get a credit or debit card. But a new bill would make it illegal for restaurants to refuse paper money.

However, one city in the US is resisting that trend: Washington DC. In the nation’s capital cash is still king, and a new bill introduced this week wants to keep it that way. The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018 would make it illegal for restaurants and retailers not to accept cash or charge a different price to customers depending on the type of payment they use.

An iPhone Just Survived a 1,000-foot Drop With No Damage

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 17:36, modified at 17:37

Sarvinder Naberhaus took a ride in a vintage biplane, and when she pulled out her iPhone to take pictures, it fell out of the plane in a 1,000-foot drop.

[How to Use Find My iPhone Without Your Trusted Devices]

1,000-foot Drop

According to WHO TV in Iowa, where the incident happened, the iPhone was found after the plane landed via Find My iPhone. It took two tries to work, but Ms. Naverhaus found it amidst tall grass in a residential area.

An iPhone survived a 1,000-foot drop from an airplane, pictured here.

The second passenger, Donna Johnson, said:

I literally went into shock. I asked this is this for real? Is that the same phone? This is a miracle phone, you can’t drop a phone 1000 feet and have it still work!

There is no indication if the iPhone had a case or not.

[You Can Use AirPods on Airplanes]

Apple Celebrates World Emoji Day with Animated Look at Hair Options in iOS 12

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 17:36, modified at 17:37

Apple is using World Emoji Day as an opportunity to tout some of the new emojis coming in iOS 12. The company showed off new animals, foods, and characters, as well as this great animated look at new hair options for emojis.

Apple animated GIF of new hair options for emojis in iOS 12

Note the red hair and bald options, as well as the new hair styles.

New Expressive Faces

Apple also provided a preview of other new emojis, including these expressive characters.

Superheroes and Infinity

Apple is also adding an infinity symbol, or an infinite loop as math nerds have quipped for generations. Superheroes and an all-seeing eye are also in the works.

Infinite Loop, Superheroes, and an All-Seeing Eye

Food and Animals

Lastly, Apple showed us new food and animals being added in iOS 12. The peacock is stunning (for an emoji) when blown up, while the icing on the cupcake is a little suspect.

New food and animal emojis in iOS 12

All in all, if you like emojis—and I luuuurrrrrvvvveeee emojis—iOS 12 is going to be a good update.

MacBook Pro Keyboards, Laptop Reviews – TMO Daily Observations 2018-07-16

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 17:27, modified at 17:33

MDM Hack Targeted 13 iPhones With Malicious Apps

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 17:26

A highly-targeted attack via MDM (mobile device management) software installed malicious apps onto 13 iPhones. Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group discovered the MDM hack.

[Apple is Making iPhone Hacking A Lot More Difficult for Law Enforcement with iOS 11.4]

MDM Hack

The attack appears to be in India, and involved the attackers getting 13 iPhones registered with rogue MDM servers. It then pushed out malicious apps that let the attackers track the location of the phones and read SMS messages.

Flowchart of the MDM hack.

It used a “BOptions” sideloading technique to modify versions of apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. Talos researchers Warren Mercer, Paul Rascagneres, and Andrew Williams wrote a blog post:

The malicious code inserted into these apps is capable of collecting and exfiltrating information from the device, such as the phone number, serial number, location, contacts, user’s photos, SMS, and Telegram and WhatsApp chat messages. Such information can be used to manipulate a victim or even use it for blackmail or bribery.

Two servers identified were:

  • hxxp://ios-certificate-update[.]com
  • hxxp://www[.]wpitcher[.]com

MDM software lets an administrator manage multiple iDevices to install/remove apps, install/revoke certificates, lock devices, change password requirements, etc. The servers were registered with mail.ru addresses.

[MDM Archives – The Mac Observer]

What Does Apple Have to Show for its R&D Budget?

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 15:30, modified at 15:31

Apple sure is spending a lot of money on research and development, but doesn’t seem to have much to show for it. Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Apple 3.0 got ahold of an investor not from Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi that states,

Perhaps most importantly, despite R&D spending more than quintupling over the last 6.5 years, Apple’s pace of new product/services introductions does not appear to have accelerated. We note that Apple cumulatively spent $11.5B between 1998 and 2011, a period in which it introduced the iPod, iPad, and iPhone – last year alone, Apple spent a similar amount. We believe that Apple’s R&D productivity has declined (which is not uncommon as companies scale, but may also be attributable to the loss of Steve Jobs). That said, it is also possible that the recent surge in R&D spending could translate into accelerated product and services announcements in the near to medium term.

So maybe Apple is going to surprise us with some huge product announcements, or maybe it’s R&D has just become a giant money pit.