August 6, 2019

Snippet: Apple Subsidiary FileMaker Inc. Changes Its Name (Back) to Claris ☍

Frederic Lardinois for TechCrunch:

Remember Claris, the 1987 Apple spin-off that made applications like MacWrite, MacPaint and FileMaker? In 1998, Apple brought all of those products in-house again, with the exception of the low-code application platform FileMaker . With that move, Claris changed its name to FileMaker Inc. Today, however, the Claris name rises from the dead, as FileMaker Inc. is changing its name to Claris International. The name of the FileMaker product itself, though, remains the same.

I wasn’t expecting this today, but it makes sense if the product lineup will be more than FileMaker and nice to see an old name return. I also wonder if this will be a way for Apple to eventually silo off in-house apps from the operating system and App Store with more scrutiny and potential regulation on keeping things competitive. Moof!

August 2, 2019

Snippet: Apple Suspends Siri Response Grading in Response to Privacy Concerns ☍

Matthew Panzarino for TechCrunch:

In response to concerns raised by a Guardian story last week over how recordings of Siri queries are used for quality control, Apple is suspending the program world wide. Apple says it will review the process that it uses, called grading, to determine whether Siri is hearing queries correctly, or being invoked by mistake.

In addition, it will be issuing a software update in the future that will let Siri users choose whether they participate in the grading process or not.

The Guardian story from Alex Hern quoted extensively from a contractor at a firm hired by Apple to perform part of a Siri quality control process it calls grading. This takes snippets of audio, which are not connected to names or IDs of individuals, and has contractors listen to them to judge whether Siri is accurately hearing them — and whether Siri may have been invoked by mistake.

Although the terms and conditions to use Siri had language to indicate this was happening, I’d venture to guess that most people didn’t fully understand it or even take the time to read the fine print. The easiest way to make voice assistants better is by analyzing what was heard versus what was interpreted, and real humans analyzing that makes sense. I think it’s a good move that Apple still is erring on the side of transparency and also offering a control—the data may not be as good or widespread, but I think they’ll still have enough to work with.

July 30, 2019

Snippet: Capital One’s Breach Was Inevitable, Because We Did Nothing After Equifax ☍

Zach Whittaker for TechCrunch:

Another day, another massive data breach.

This time it’s the financial giant and credit card issuer Capital One, which revealed on Monday a credit file breach affecting 100 million Americans and 6 million Canadians. Consumers and small businesses affected are those who obtained one of the company’s credit cards dating back to 2005.

That includes names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, self-reported income and more credit card application data — including over 140,000 Social Security numbers in the U.S., and more than a million in Canada.

There is no perfect situation where data will be 100% secure, but from everything I’ve read about this so far (including some armchair quarterbacking on Twitter), it sounds like Capital One was a bit careless with how they stored their data and what kinds of permissions were allowed. Beyond that, there was no alerting mechanism when an intruder was siphoning large amounts of data. Rather than Equifax being a learning moment for the industry, this will probably continue:

The Equifax incident should have sparked a fire under the credit giants. The breach was the canary in the coal mine. We watched and waited to see what would happen as the canary’s lifeless body emerged — but, much to the American public’s chagrin, no action came of it. The companies continued on with the mentality that “it could happen to us, but probably won’t.” It was always going to happen again unless there was something to force the companies to act.

Companies continue to vacuum up our data — knowingly and otherwise — and don’t do enough to protect it. As much as we can have laws to protect consumers from this happening again, these breaches will continue so long as the companies continue to collect our data and not take their data security responsibilities seriously.

July 26, 2019

Snippet: T-Mobile & Sprint Get Department of Justice Approval to Merge ☍

Brian Heater for TechCrunch:

The U.S. Department of Justice this morning gave the green light to T-Mobile US and Sprint for their proposed $26 billion merger. The deal, which would combine the nation’s third and fourth largest carriers (by subscriber number) has been green lit on the condition that Sprint sell its prepaid assets (including Boost Mobile) to Dish Network.

As part of the deal, some nine million prepaid subscribers will move over to Dish, which will also have access to T-Mobile/Sprint’s network for a period of seven years.

I found Dish to be an interesting player in this whole process—they’ve owned spectrum for years and haven’t necessarily had an interest in actually using it. If they do use this opportunity to really compete, they could be a much more formidable competitor than Sprint has been lately. Plus, with traditional video services dying, this could be an opportunity to get into the home Internet business and selling Sling in a new way.

July 16, 2019

Snippet: The “Almost” Device ☍

Niko Kitsakis:

The other users of iPads I see are the occasional old man on the train and, of course, toddlers. The former thinks he’s being young and hip and the latter can’t hold a real game controller in his hands yet. I have never ever seen anybody use an iPad – or any other tablet – to do what I consider real work: writing, design, calculation, science, engineering… you name it. And no, people on stage at tech conferences with proofs of concept don’t count. Nor does using it for a couple of hours a month.

While there are some good points brought up in this article, I think the vast number of pro-iPad articles out there are mainly to show the neat things that people are doing on these devices. It’s no different than every obscure computing platform in the 1980s having its own group of fans. iOS is my main operating system for work without another computer anywhere near my desk. It’s nice that things are scalable from my phone to a larger device (12.9″ iPad Pro) and jumping on a random Mac or PC feels out of place and inconsistent. I also think there’s room for all sorts of devices and workflows, but for me, I prefer iOS and how it lets me focus on the task at hand.

…Like I said: I certainly see the iPad in the future of computing but it is not the be-all and end-all of computing. It’s a nice device for certain limited tasks that works best in conjuncture with a “big” computer. The sheer fact that access to the file system is something of an afterthought (the crippled “Files” app, released seven years after the iPad) tells you everything you need to know about the real scope of the device. And don’t even get me started on the topic of not being able to freely install applications from any source you like.

Even at home, a “big” computer is something that I could probably ditch at this point, but lower resale value and never knowing what the future holds are the reasons I’m keeping it around at this point. While I’m looking forward to USB drive support and SMB server support in iOS iPadOS 13, the lack of full file system access hasn’t been a detriment. I suspect if I was the kind of person who was regularly dealing with large quantities of files, I’d probably still want a Mac or PC, even after iPadOS 13. Finding the best tool for the job is important and mine happens to have a touchscreen.