March 5, 2015

Link: Microsoft Office 2016 Preview ☍

Microsoft is offering a free preview of Office 2016, the forthcoming version of Office for the Mac, due in the second half of this year. Even though it has its critics, Office still has an important place on the Mac. From a cross-platform standpoint, the screenshots really look and feel like Office 2013 on Windows, but with the appropriate Mac-ification. I’m downloading it right now, and I’ll be excited if the feature set and usability are on par with the Windows version. The current version, 2011, is feeling a bit long in the tooth.

Link: Oracle Starts Bundling Adware with Java on Mac ☍

Rich Trouton:

You will be prompted to set as your browser homepage, with the choice to do so checked off by default. If left checked, Safari’s homepage will be set with a URL and a Safari extension will be used to install an toolbar.

In addition to these changes, the installer is now a custom-designed application, making it harder for large-scale deployment situations. At work, there’s a few places where we need to have Java installed, but I’ve eradicated it from any personal Macs and really hope Oracle gets some pushback on this—idiots. Still, if you want to complain, use their feedback form.

March 4, 2015
March 3, 2015

Review: iMagnet

iMagnetAlthough we’ve covered quite a few in-car solutions for iOS devices, there is often the question of where to keep your device when driving. Some cars inconveniently route a cable through the glove compartment, while others have a place in the center console. If there isn’t a predetermined location, most people will mount their phones on their dashboard or windshield, much like GPS units of the past. Most of those mounts simply hold the phone with some sort of clamp system, but the $23 iMagnet mount takes a different approach…

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.