May 16, 2023

Snippet: Researchers Find Security Flaw in Wemo Smart Plug, Belkin Says It Won’t Release a Patch ☇

Michael Potuck for 9to5Mac:

IoT security company Sternum has discovered a vulnerability in one of Belkin’s smart home devices. Read on for the details about how the Wemo Mini Smart Plug V2 flaw can be exploited for remote command execution and why Belkin has decided not to patch it.

Sternum found the flaw specifically with the Belkin Wemo Mini Smart Plug V2 which works with HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa.

After reaching out to Belkin about the security issue, Sternum was told that “the device is at the end of its life and will not be patched.”

This is a frustrating situation in that the Wemo Mini Smart Plug V2s were sold in 2019. Conceivably, someone could’ve bought them new more recently, but sure, saying that a device is at the end of its life because you’ve moved on is a great look and instills confidence in future Wemo products.

I’ve got a few of these around and pulled them in favor of the Philips Hue Smart Plug, which connects to the Hue Bridge via Zigbee. This cuts down on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi devices and everything is funneled through the Bridge’s ethernet port—it’s been more stable and still works with HomeKit.

May 10, 2023

Snippet: The iPhone Mini is a Fun Phone That’s Not for Me ☇

Matt Birchler:

I’ve been using the iPhone 13 mini and it’s the first time I’ve ever used a mini in my life. In fact, I’m more of a Max phone guy, but people love the mini lineup and I had to know what was up. So I’ve set my iPhone 14 Pro Max side for a week and have gone all in on the mini lifestyle. Here’s how it went.

As someone whose daily driver has been a 12 mini since launch, I agree with most of Birchler’s assessments. Although still tolerable, battery life has been my biggest gripe (along with battery wear, leading me to get my battery replaced in December), but the other “downgrade” items from the Pro phones have been a non-issue for me, too. It’s a shame that Apple hasn’t found ways to develop and improve the minis or even repurpose the 12/13 mini design as a future SE (rumors sound like it might be XR/11-based).

May 8, 2023

Snippet: Into Thin AirPods ☇

Casey Johnston for Defector (via Nick Heer):

This is the part where I say I’m aware that everyone—Apple, law enforcement, any friends with good judgment within earshot—strenuously discourages ever, under any circumstances, trying to do vigilante justice with the Find My app. If you so much as mention the possibility, like four people will jump out of the woodwork with stories about someone they knew who was shot or assaulted trying to confront a thief in the act. I’d like to emphasize that I’m firmly on the side of reason, and a steadfast believer that having crime done to me is not an occasion to show off how brave I am.

But! I have watched Veronica Mars so many times. I dream idly of mysterious cases falling into my lap, and solving them through the careful piecing together of data, clues, and information, plus the judicious application of wiles and streetwise know-how. And, honestly, I did want my ridiculously expensive AirPods back.

The fact that this story referenced the long-forgotten Veronica Mars is exactly why I raced to read it and yes, it does feel like an episode that would feature the antics of the 09ers and solving mysteries using pretty run-of-the-mill tech.

May 5, 2023

Snippet: Apple’s Unionized Store Wants to Start Accepting Tips from Customers ☇

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg (via John Gruber):

Workers at Apple Inc.’s unionized store in Maryland are asking for higher pay and additional time off, along with changes that could affect the company’s tightly controlled retail experience, such as letting customers tip employees. […]

The workers’ negotiators also want Apple to adopt a tipping system, letting patrons offer gratuities in increments of 3%, 5% or a custom amount for in-store credit-card transactions.

“This will allow thankful patrons the ability to express gratitude for a job well done without any obligations,” the union wrote Apple. “All monies collected through this manner would be dispersed to members of the bargaining unit biweekly based on any hours worked.”

I’m all for higher pay and additional time off for workers and in many cases, a union is the only way to expand it. However, like Gruber, I have reservations about the tipping portion from a bigger picture standpoint. From what I’ve always understood, Apple Store employees cannot accept tips—there probably have been a few instances where someone provided one-on-one support or went above and beyond and some customers have wanted to throw some money their way. I think the better ask would have been to allow accepting tips/gifts if it’s currently not permissible (if someone offers, fine, but you can’t ask).

Instead, it hardly feels that patrons would be prompted “without any obligations” since many people feel guilty hitting the “no tip” button. The other problem is that most customers would see this as a directive from Apple, not the employees at the Apple Store at Towson Town Center—further contributing to our fatigue of every payment prompt having a tip option.

Finally, Gruber mentioned that tipping at a retail store is a “backdoor commission” and I see the slippery slope—let’s say people are inclined to tap a 3% or 5% button at checkout—why wouldn’t employees upsell someone on a MacBook Pro over a MacBook Air?

May 4, 2023

News: Apple Reports Q2 Results

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2023 second quarter ended April 1, 2023. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $94.8 billion, down 3 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.52, unchanged year over year…