April 11, 2014

Link: NSA Reportedly Exploited Heartbleed for Years ☍

Michael Riley for Bloomberg (via Stephen Hackett):

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts.

If this is true (the NSA denies it), I really hope this is the tipping point for taking the NSA to task on the sneaky surveillance of Americans. Although this might have served them for spying, it also left these sites open for attack, and ended up not protecting Americans, the whole point of the NSA and other government security organizations.

I was trying to sum this up for someone and basically used the analogy of knowing that your neighbor’s garage had a faulty lock, and rather than letting them know, you used it for your own benefit (let’s say borrowing items). In addition, by not telling them, anyone else would have access. How is this okay?

“Yes, Steve could be intense at times. But he was also a real person. He had to deal with the ordinary and mundane aspects of life like everyone else. Maybe even enjoy them.”

April 10, 2014

Link: France Made It Illegal to Check Emails After Work ☍

Lucy Mangan for The Guardian:

Well, sort of. Après noticing that the ability of bosses to invade their employees’ home lives via smartphone at any here of the day or night was enabling real work hours to extend further and further beyond the 35-hour week the country famously introduced in 1999, workers’ unions have been fighting back. Now employers’ federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm.

Under the deal, which affects a million employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones – or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita. And companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure to do so. Thus the spirit of the law – and of France – as well as the letter shall be observed.

As much as Americans joke about the French, I think this is a great idea, especially since I know plenty of people who voluntarily obsess over work email after hours.

Article: Requiem for Windows XP

Earlier this week, Microsoft officially stopped supporting Windows XP. Although it continues to function as expected and is installed on millions of computers worldwide, it’s ancient—it came from an era before notable gadgets like the iPod or RAZR, where a computer was truly the only way to get real work done. Considering all of this, it is truly amazing how the Windows XP’s customers kept it popular much longer than most computer operating systems typically last…

April 9, 2014

Link: Apple Human Interface VP Greg Christie Retiring ☍

Matthew Panzarino:

According to multiple sources inside and outside the company, Christie’s exit has been known for weeks — and planned for even longer. His stepping aside has been designed to allow for a transition of leadership inside the Human Interface group. Christie worked under Forstall for many years, and there may have been plenty of times he didn’t agree with Ive, but there has reportedly been a distinct lack of drama in this transition.

If there was any ill-will between Christie and Ive, it doesn’t appear to have taken the form of any open conflict and a flare-up of friction was apparently not behind this exit. We hear Christie will stay at Apple a bit longer working on “special projects,” in a similar manner to former SVP of Technology Bob Mansfield, until he exits. From what we understand, Christie was recently moved into a role with no direct reports, which is often the harbinger of retirement at Apple.

Christie brought a lot to the table over the years, from making OS X look both visually appealing and professionally restrained, and giving iOS obvious enough cues to help bring the idea of a smartphone to the masses. Some early reports pointed at clashes between Christie and Jonathan Ive as the reason for his departure, but it seems to be much more amicable. Still, this will obviously be a major loss for Apple.

April 8, 2014

“Both skeuomorphic and flat extremes have uniquely beautiful and useful qualities, but merging the two styles allows us to leverage the strengths of both.”

Link: Twitter Redesign Looks a Lot Like Facebook ☍

Vlad Savov:

Visuals have been growing increasingly important for Twitter and the new design pushes them even further to the fore, with larger background images and more prominent profile pictures. There’s an unmissable similarity to Facebook’s profile pages, with the user’s photos and friends both being tucked into a tile layout on the lower left.

Just…no. I understand Twitter needs to find ways to make money, but they need to stop fiddling with the design—it’s losing focus much like the every-few-months rework of Facebook.

April 7, 2014

Link: The Ultimate Guide to Solving iOS Battery Drain ☍

Scotty Loveless:

I worked on the Genius Bar for almost two years, and the most difficult issue to solve was short battery life. It was extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why someone’s battery was draining.

I made it my mission to discover the specific reasons for iOS battery drainage. This article is a product of my years of research and anecdotal evidence I gathered in the hundreds of Genius Bar appointments I took during my time as a Genius and iOS technician, as well as testing on my personal devices and the devices of my friends.

As someone who gets asked about battery drain on iOS devices by friends and people at work, this article summarizes a lot of tips I’ve been sharing for years. I use the Airplane-Mode-on-with-Wi-Fi-re-enabled trick when I go to games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, as it has pretty good Wi-Fi, but basically kills any sort of cellular signal coming in.