July 9, 2019

Snippet: MacBook Air Price Cut, Entry-Level MacBook Pro Updated, MacBook Dead ☍

Apple:

Apple today updated MacBook Air, adding True Tone to its Retina display for a more natural viewing experience, and lowering the price to $1,099, with an even lower price of $999 for college students. In addition, the entry-level $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors, making it two times more powerful than before. It also now features Touch Bar and Touch ID, a True Tone Retina display and the Apple T2 Security Chip, and is available for $1,199 for college students.

Missing from the press release and now Apple’s web site are the 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Air, which appear to be discontinued. It appears that Apple is taking some positive steps to simplify the portable Mac lineup.

Snippet: Vulnerability in the Mac Zoom Client Allows Access to Camera ☍

Jonathan Leitschuh:

This vulnerability allows any website to forcibly join a user to a Zoom call, with their video camera activated, without the user’s permission.

On top of this, this vulnerability would have allowed any webpage to DOS (Denial of Service) a Mac by repeatedly joining a user to an invalid call.

Additionally, if you’ve ever installed the Zoom client and then uninstalled it, you still have a localhost web server on your machine that will happily re-install the Zoom client for you, without requiring any user interaction on your behalf besides visiting a webpage. This re-install ‘feature’ continues to work to this day.

Yikes. There’s plenty of criticism about how Apple has made the Mac more iOS-like, but things like this demonstrate why locking down certain aspects of the platform and denying permission to some system resources may not be a bad idea. Fortunately, at the end of the post, there are instructions to mitigate some of the issues.

July 2, 2019

Snippet: So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend ☍

This has been a summer of mostly dull, often depressing technology news, and the Women’s World Cup has been a delight. Since I can put whatever I want on this site, I thought this essay was worth a read if you’ve been paying any attention to the USWNT, Megan Rapinoe, or just want a fun read.

Sue Bird for The Players’ Tribune:

I’m back!! I was done, I swear!! No, really, I SWEAR. Last year I broke my nose, and then I wrote about it, and then I seriously did think that was going to be it for me in the writing game. I remember telling my editor here something like, “It would take the President of the United States going on a hate-filled Twitter spree trolling my girlfriend while she was putting American soccer, women’s sports, equal pay, gay pride and TRUE LOVE on her back, all at once, scoring two majestic goals to lead Team USA to a thrilling victory over France and a place in the World Cup SEMIFINALS, for me to ever even think about writing again.” But I’m a woman of my word. So here I am.

Snippet: Say No to Convenience Store Facial Recognition ☍

Tristan Greene for The Next Web:

A convenience store in Tacoma has installed a facial recognition security system to deny customers entry unless they’re approved by an AI. This news has likely been well-received by the city’s discrimination attorneys. […]

The store in question, Jackson’s Food Store in Tacoma, appears to be aware of the privacy concerns surrounding the use of such products. It issued a statement assuring the community it won’t sell or share the data, but didn’t address the technology’s problems recognizing non-white faces.

I have problems with this for two reasons: AI is inherently racist right now (even as mentioned in the main article), and I’m not sure I really trust a convenience store chain with my privacy. Both feel like a losing battle already, but if consumers wholesale reject the technology, maybe we can defeat it. Fortunately, we have choices right now, but this seems like one of those half-baked “technology will fix everything by just existing” moves.

June 28, 2019

“…Jony Ive had moved beyond designing computers. And let’s be clear: the entire point of Apple has always been and should always remain designing computers. Everything they make is a computer. Their genius in recent years has been making things that don’t seem like computers but really are computers…”