February 19, 2015

News: Apple Starts 2011-2013 MacBook Pro Repair Program

Got a fussy 15-inch or 17-inch MacBook Pro from the last couple of years? Some graphics-related issues have been well-documented, and Apple is finally doing something about it. Machines sold between February 2011 and December 2013 may be eligible for a new repair program that will cover issues between now and February 27, 2016 or now and three years from the original purchase date, whichever is longer. This does not affect the 13 inch model nor the MacBook Airs…

Link: Lenovo Includes Superfish ☍

Robert Graham for Errata Security:

Lenovo, a huge maker of laptops, bundles software on laptops for the consumer market (it doesn’t for business laptops). Much of this software is from vendors who pay Lenovo to be included. Such software is usually limited versions, hoping users will pay to upgrade. Other software is add supported. Some software, such as the notorious “ Toolbar”, hijacks the browser to display advertisements.

Such software is usually bad, especially the ad-supported software, but the SuperFish software is particularly bad. It’s designed to intercept all encrypted connections, things is shouldn’t be able to see. It does this in a poor way that it leaves the system open to hackers or NSA-style spies.

This has been reported in a few other places this morning, and there’s even a test. Lenovo should be ashamed of themselves for including such software, but any sort of crapware seems to be par for the course with consumer PCs. Maybe this will drive more people to buying business PCs or Signature Edition PCs? Probably not.

February 17, 2015

Link: Podcast Ranting ☍

The Verge’s John Lagomarsino wants you to listen to podcasts at 1x speed:

There are a few ways podcast apps go about speeding programs up. The most common is simply to run the audio at faster-than-normal speeds, often 1.5x. Thankfully, this process doesn’t tend to affect the pitch of the material. At best, it forces our brains to work in overdrive; worst, it destroys the art of timing.

Like Stephen Hackett, I wasn’t going to comment on this, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to chime in a bit. For the shows I listen to, missing a dramatic pause here or there is not a big deal, since I listen to podcasts most often while I’m doing other things. Regardless of if the content is super-artsy, my attention is never at 100% anyway. Therefore, I run Overcast at almost 2x and with Smart Speed and enjoy more shows in less time and also consume a greater variety. It is a bit like skimming, but it works for me.

As someone who co-hosts two different podcasts, I don’t mind if the listeners on the other end are enjoying them at a faster speed, too. Since a lot of the discussion is organic, there is a lot of fluff that some may want to skim over. Some editing gives a more professional feel, but most podcasts don’t have the tightness or overproduced feel of a scripted television show or movie. I’d rather people discover the shows I’m involved with and give them a try, rather than possibly bumping another show or eventually bumping them for something new.

Link: Jonathan Ive and the Future of Apple ☍

The New Yorker’s Ian Parker provides a lengthy, well-written look at Jonathan Ive’s work. As others have mentioned, it’s more worthwhile of a piece regarding a number of things about Apple and even the second stretch of Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO than Walter Isaacson’s biography. If you don’t have the time to read it (about 40 pages printed in Safari’s Reader View), be sure to save it for later.

February 12, 2015

Link: Brianna Wu on Gamergate ☍

Brianna Wu shares some of the things she deals with on a daily basis that seem to go largely ignored by the tech and law enforcement community:

My name is Brianna Wu. I develop video games for your phone. I lead one of the largest professional game-development teams of women in the field. Sometimes I speak out on women in tech issues. I’m doing everything I can to save my life except be silent. […]

The reality is, this circus has sucked every bit of joy from a career I once felt destined for. Zoe recently Tweeted a picture of a vending machine with a sign: “The light inside is broken, but I still work.” There’s not a single day I don’t ask myself why I’m here, and why I keep doing this.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not qualified to speak on the matter and don’t have pull at large tech companies, but I applaud Wu’s bravery and the least I can do is share her story—I just hope someone in a place to do it will put a stop to this kind of behavior (she even includes some suggestions). I also think Casey Liss’s comments are worth reading, as they echo my sentiment entirely:

What Brianna Wu (among many others) has gone through is not only stupefying, but also terrifying. I don’t know how she has the will, the tenacity, and the stamina to continue to fight every day. To continue to fight for something that should already be a given. To continue to fight for her right to be a woman with an opinion.

February 11, 2015

Link: Genius Bar Logos Being Removed ☍

Gary Allen for ifo Apple Store:

An original and significant element of Apple’s retail stores is disappearing. Over the past month workers have been removing the “atom” symbol that has pinpointed the Genius Bars since the first store opened in 2001, and they are replacing it with wall graphics to match those recently installed in back-lit wall displays. The Corte Madera (N. Calif.) store was the latest to make the change. The symbol was based on the chemistry depiction of an atom, meant to signify “genius.”

I still enjoy the aesthetic of the newest Apple Stores, and how some locations have been worked into old construction, but I’ll be sad to see this remnant from the early days go, especially when the original stores had a bit of a art gallery or museum feel. The store near me is still a very early one with the glass dividers and wood floors, so maybe the Genius Bar sign will also be forgotten and left there.

That being said, some feel Genius Bar/Genius position names need to go, and I don’t disagree with that—I’m just not sure what Apple could switch to instead.

Link: Tim Cook Speaks at Goldman Sachs Conference ☍

Serenity Caldwell provided a nice transcript of Tim Cook’s remarks at the Goldman Sachs Conference. There are way too many great items to blockquote, so take some time and read it (preferably by attempting his Alabama twang).

February 6, 2015

Link: Twitter Blames Apple For Loss of New Users ☍

Ben Popper for The Verge:

Twitter says its growth would have been double the 4 million users it added in the quarter if not for issues with iOS 8. After the switch from iOS 7 to iOS 8, 1 million Twitter users disappeared, either because they forgot their password or didn’t download the app again. Another 3 million users were no longer counted as active due to a change in the “Shared Links” section of the Safari mobile browser. In iOS 7, Shared Links — which pulls in content shared by the people you follow on Twitter and other social networks — fetched content in the background automatically. As of iOS 8, Shared Links only fetches content when you visit that section of Safari. Because of this change, 3 million people who were counted as active users of Twitter in the previous quarter no longer were considered active.

I like Twitter as much as the next person, but the fact that they were counting active users who weren’t really using it and are now complaining about that fact is just an excuse. If someone forgot their password and didn’t bother resetting it, or didn’t re-download the app, maybe they decided Twitter wasn’t for them? Either way, blaming an operating system change for your service’s shortcomings nonsense and I’d expect better from Twitter. Actually, with the way Twitter has been treating users, developers, and partners, this seems completely in line with changes.