Amazon Prime Video Arrives on Apple TV ★
Starting today, customers around the world can access the Amazon
Prime Video app on Apple TV to stream award-winning and critically
acclaimed titles including Prime Original Series and Movies. Also
starting this week, the Apple TV app — a unified place for
iPhone, iPad and Apple TV users to discover and start watching the
best shows and movies — supports live sports, giving fans in the
US a simple and seamless way to keep track of their favorite teams
and games in real time. Participating sports apps in the Apple TV
app include ESPN and the NBA, developed in partnership between the
NBA and Turner Sports, with more to be added soon. Starting
tomorrow, Prime members in the US can enjoy Thursday Night
Football on the Apple TV app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.
I’ve heard there is indeed a good story behind this delay. I don’t know the story, or even what the story is about (although my guess would be revenue-sharing politics, not software) — I’ve just heard that there’s a good story.
Update: Now that I’ve had a chance to install and try the app on my Apple TV 4K, I’m seriously wondering if the holdup was technical, not political. (Or technical in addition to political.) Justin Williams:
I’m half convinced that Apple granted Amazon an entitlement to
access a tvOS web view to get Prime Video on the Apple TV. It
looks and behaves nearly identical to the HTML5 / Smart TV app
that is deployed everywhere.
I have zero evidence of this. Just my dumb conspiracy theory.
I don’t know if it’s a webview, but if it is, that would have required a special entitlement from Apple because the tvOS SDK does not have a webview. Netflix, HBO, and Hulu all have Apple TV UIs that seem a bit alien, eschewing tvOS standard UI elements for custom branded UI elements. But this Prime Video app takes it to a new level. The UI doesn’t even play sound as you move the selection around — I’ve never seen that in an Apple TV app. The Prime Video app for Apple TV doesn’t just look alien, it feels and sounds alien too. I think it’s a web app. And if it’s not, Amazon’s engineers went to extraordinary lengths to make UIKit on tvOS look and feel like a web app.
Update 2: Steven Troughton-Smith poked around the IPA:
TL;DR it’s no wonder Amazon took so long in porting their app to
tvOS; it’s a giant, [presumably] in-house web-based multi-headed
hydra designed for a hundred different devices and consoles that
probably needed a new UI glue layer for tvOS (but probably doesn’t
I find it hard to believe that getting this custom cross-platform monstrosity running atop tvOS was less work (and would be easier to maintain) than just writing a goddamn native tvOS app. I can see why Amazon doesn’t want to create a new app from scratch for every single “smart TV” platform, but Apple TV is a big market.
Prime Video is, without question, the worst Apple TV app I have on my Apple TV (taking the crown from Hulu).
Google’s AlphaZero Destroys Previously Top-Ranked Chess Computer in 100-Game Match ★
Mike Klein, reporting for Chess.com:
A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against
the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero
has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.
Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation
tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017
Chess.com Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance.
AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72
draws, and zero losses.
Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry
humans, you had a good run.
That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the
DeepMind division of Google, had it use a type of “machine
learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly,
AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That
means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no
complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences between
center pawns and side pawns.
Forecast: Podcast MP3 Chapter Encoder ★
Marco Arment has released a public beta of Forecast, a Mac app for podcast producers. Among a slew of other great features, Forecast is hands-down the best MP3 chapter editor I’ve seen. If you’ve noticed the chapter support in The Talk Show that started earlier this year, that’s thanks to Forecast. Forecast is free of charge, too.
See also: Jason Snell’s review of Forecast at Six Colors:
There’s also a perceptual trick that Forecast uses to make
encoding seem quick: When you add a file to be encoded, encoding
begins immediately in the background. By the time you edit your
file’s metadata, the encode may have already completed in the
background. The first time I used Forecast, I thought something
had gone wrong — because when I typed Command-S to save the file,
it just saved. There was no wait. The file had already encoded —
it was waiting for me, the slow human, to finish typing in episode
titles and show descriptions.
Jason Snell on iOS Laptops ★
Jason Snell, writing for Macworld:
Which is why, when someone tells me that it’s stupid for there to
be an iOS laptop because it wouldn’t run Xcode and couldn’t be
used by professional developers or pro video editors or power
users who have spent a decade building up productivity-boosting
workflows based on macOS, I don’t have much of a response for
them. The iBook wouldn’t be for those people. It would be for
people who don’t need all of the features and flexibility that
macOS brings. It would be one in an array of products Apple makes
— iPhones, iPads, desktop Macs, laptop Macs — that appeal to
different users with different needs.
There are simply some use cases where a laptop is the best form factor. An iPad with a keyboard cover is laptop-ish, but not a laptop. If you prefer to use iOS in a scenario that calls for a laptop, you’re stuck between making a go of it with an iPad with a keyboard, or using a proper laptop and another OS.
You could throw this right back at me — and my firmly held belief that MacOS should not support touchscreens — and point out that there are other scenarios where a tablet is the best form factor, and if you prefer MacOS, there therefore ought to be a Mac tablet. I don’t think that argument holds, though. The difference is that I think iOS could work in a laptop form factor (especially if Apple added support for a trackpad, in ways like Snell suggests, but even if they don’t), whereas the Mac interface as it stands would not work well with touch, and changing the Mac interface to work well with touch would (I say) ruin it for use with a mouse pointer.
HP and Asus Announce First Windows 10 ARM PCs, Due in Spring 2018 ★
Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:
This ability to upgrade is particularly important because the new
Always Connected PCs are different from Microsoft’s previous
Windows-on-ARM attempt, Windows RT. Windows RT was a version of
Windows 8 for ARM processors, and it too could only run
applications from what was then called the Windows Store. But
Windows RT had two constraints not found on these new systems:
there was no facility to unlock it, and run non-Store apps, and
there was no facility to run existing x86 programs. On Windows RT,
not only did software have to come from the Store, it also had to
be compiled specifically for ARM processors.
That’s not so with Always Connected PCs. They contain an x86
emulator that will enable most 32-bit x86 applications to run
unmodified. This includes x86 applications in the Store and, when
upgraded to the full Windows 10 Pro, arbitrary desktop
applications. Full details of the x86 emulator haven’t been
disclosed yet, with the performance in particular currently
unknown, but we do know some broad elements of its design.
The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of
x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is
cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to
be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the
program should be faster, as they can skip the translation).
Moreover, system libraries — the various DLLs that applications
load to make use of operating system features — are all native
ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling
them “Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables” (or “chippie” for
short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a
way as to let them respond to x86 function calls.
A few years ago I would have wagered a small sum on Apple shipping ARM-based Macs before ARM-based Windows PCs arrived. (It could still happen, I suppose, given that these PCs aren’t set to arrive until spring.) What’s interesting to me is that these ARM CPUs are fast enough to emulate x86 software. If that’s true for a Snapdragon CPU, then Apple’s even-faster ARM chips are certainly more than capable of doing the same.
Oath and Mozilla Are in a Legal Battle Over a Yahoo Search Deal ★
As I reported at the time, under terms of a contract, whoever
acquired Yahoo was required to pay Mozilla annual payments of $375
million through 2019, even if it does not think the buyer was one
it wanted to work with and walked away. It was Mayer who struck
the deal in late 2014 to become the default search engine on
the well-known Firefox browser in the U.S.
Mozilla switched to Yahoo from Google after Mayer offered a much
more lucrative deal that included an unprecedented term to protect
Mozilla in a change-of-control scenario. It was a scenario that
Mayer never thought would happen, which is why she apparently
pushed through the problematic deal point.
According to the change-of-control term, 9.1 in the agreement,
Mozilla had the right to leave the partnership if — under its
sole discretion and in a certain time period — it did not deem
the new partner acceptable. And if it did that, even if it struck
another search deal, Yahoo was still obligated to pay out annual
revenue guarantees of $375 million.
That was… not a good deal for Yahoo.
Painting With Microsoft Excel ★
Great find from Tina Roth Eisenberg:
For over 15 years, Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi has rendered
the subtle details of mountains, cherry blossoms, and dense
forests with the most unlikely tool: Microsoft Excel.
Modern-Day Payola ★
Jon Christian, reporting for The Outline:
People involved with the payoffs are extremely reluctant to
discuss them, but four contributing writers to prominent
publications including Mashable, Inc, Business Insider, and
Entrepreneur told me they have personally accepted payments in
exchange for weaving promotional references to brands into their
work on those sites. Two of the writers acknowledged they have
taken part in the scheme for years, on behalf of many brands.
Mario Ruiz, a spokesperson for Business Insider, said in an email
that “Business Insider has a strict policy that prohibits any of
our writers, whether full-time staffers or contributors, from
accepting payment of any kind in exchange for coverage.”
One of them, a contributor to Fast Company and other outlets who
asked not to be identified by name, described how he had
inserted references to a well-known startup that offers email
marketing software into multiple online articles, in Fast
Company and elsewhere, on behalf of a marketing agency he
declined to name. To make the references seem natural, he said,
he often links to case studies and how-to guides published by
the startup on its own site. Other times, he’ll just praise a
certain aspect of the company’s business to support a point in
an otherwise unrelated story. […]
The Fast Company writer also defended the practice by arguing that
it’s enabled by editors who are hungry for cheap or unpaid blog
content. Many high-volume sites, including the Huffington Post,
Entrepreneur, and Forbes, maintain networks of unpaid contributors
who publish large amounts of material.
That’s a pathetic defense. Everyone is guilty in this racket — the “sponsors” who pay for this bullshit, the writers who accept the payola, and publications that blindly run these stories. There’s a complete and shameless lack of integrity from all three sides.
Google to Pull YouTube From Fire TV Over Spat With Amazon ★
Janko Roettgers, reporting for Variety:
In an unusually frank statement, a Google spokesperson squarely
blamed Amazon’s unwillingness to strike a business deal with
Google for the step:
“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give
consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon
doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home,
doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last
month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this
lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo
Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve
these issues soon.”
Amazon shot back Tuesday afternoon, sending Variety the following
“Echo Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of
YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube’s existing
website. Google is setting a disappointing precedent by
selectively blocking customer access to an open website. We hope
to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.”
So Amazon Prime is (supposedly) coming to Apple TV any day now, just as Amazon’s spat with Google is escalating. Google seems to be in a strong position here — it seems hard to me to sell a TV box that doesn’t support YouTube. Is a web view of youtube.com really a good experience on a TV? But this also goes to show how powerful Amazon’s retail store is — Google obviously cares that Amazon isn’t selling these Google hardware products.
iOS 11 Adoption Now at 59 Percent ★
Juli Clover, MacRumors:
iOS 11 is now installed on 59 percent of iOS devices, according to
new statistics Apple shared this week on its App Store support
page for developers. That’s up from 52 percent on November 6,
indicating iOS 11 adoption has grown just 7 percentage points over
the course of the last month.
iOS 11 adoption has been slower than iOS 10 adoption. Based on
Apple’s official App Store numbers, for example, iOS 10 was
installed on 54 percent of devices in October, a month after the
operating system had been released. Comparatively, iOS 11 was only
at 52 percent in November, a month and a half after launch.
I don’t think a difference between 54 and 52 percent is meaningful, especially this year, when many people were waiting for the iPhone X. The iPhone X alone could account for that 2 percent. I think it’s fair to say iOS 11’s adoption rate is about the same as iOS 10’s last year.
iPhone X Charging Speeds Compared ★
Comprehensive testing from Juli Clover for MacRumors. Looks like the 7.5-watt contact charging (enabled by iOS 11.2) using the Belkin and Mophie charging pads is a nice improvement over 5-watt charging.
Safari Tab Search on the Mac ★
Gabe Weatherhead, writing at Macdrifter:
Here’s a little Safari trick that is just gold. Hit Shift-⌘-\ to
enter the Safari “Show all tabs” mode. From there it’s just a
simple ⌘-F to search the open tabs.
Notice that the search also covers tabs open on other devices too?
Whoa, this is cool. Had no idea you could search in this mode.
But there’s a huge shortcoming: it only searches the tabs in the current window. It seems crazy to me that you can use this to find tabs open on other devices, but not tabs open in other windows on the Mac you’re currently using.
Update: Turns out you don’t need to type Command-F. Just type Command-Shift-\ and start typing, and whatever you type will go into the search field.
Russia Banned From Winter Olympics by I.O.C. ★
Rebecca R. Ruiz and Tariq Panja, reporting for The New York Times:
Russia’s Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 Winter Games
in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The country’s government officials
are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the
opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound.
Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to
compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform,
and the official record books will forever show that Russia won
That was the punishment issued Tuesday to the proud sports
juggernaut that has long used the Olympics as a show of global
force but was exposed for systematic doping in previously
unfathomable ways. The International Olympic Committee, after
completing its own prolonged investigations that reiterated what
had been known for more than a year, handed Russia penalties for
doping so severe they were without precedent in Olympics history.
I’m curious if Old Happy Thumbs will fire up his iPhone to comment on this one.
Wes Meltzer’s Review of MarsEdit 1.0 for ATPM ★
Wes Meltzer, in his MarsEdit 1.0 review back in January 2005:
A brief historical diversion, if you will: going all the way back
to LiveJournal clients, weblog editing clients have tended to be
non-document-based, until quite recently. I used the original
Windows LiveJournal client, which was modal way back when, and
there weren’t a lot of alternatives. Sure, if you had a Radio
blog, you had a document-based application — but the huge
proliferation of blogs, as Maciej Ceglowski demonstrated in
the NITLE Weblog Census, means that most people use Movable
Type (about 44,000) or the big hosted services, BlogSpot and
LiveJournal (707,690), all of which now support some form of
remote posting. Between Ecto and MarsEdit, though, the future is
clearly in document-based weblog editing.
Movable Type, Blogspot, and LiveJournal are all still around, but today they’re dwarfed in usage by WordPress and Tumblr. It’s a testimony to the strength of MarsEdit’s engine-neutral design that it remains relevant today, despite a nearly complete change in the publishing systems people use to blog.
MarsEdit 4 and Try-Before-You-Buy on the Mac App Store ★
MarsEdit 4 also brings a new sales approach that aims to unify the
trial, purchase, and upgrade experience between the Mac App Store
and direct-licensed versions of the app. The app is free to
download and can be used full-featured for a 14 day trial period.
After the trial expires, all features of the app continue to work
except for actions that update published content on the web. This
ensures that all of MarsEdit’s powerful offline features,
including download/archiving of posts, can be used in perpetuity
MarsEdit 4.0 ★
Major update to one of my very favorite and most-used apps. I’ve been using MarsEdit ever since it was first spun off from the built-in blog editor in NetNewsWire back in 2004. MarsEdit 4 is a terrific update — it both works and looks better than ever. The basic premise — a native Mac blog editor that follows the basic layout and structure of an email client — remains as sound today as it did 13 years ago. MarsEdit is great for both its integration with various blogging platforms and its integration with MacOS as a native app.
I’ve said for years that almost everything I write for Daring Fireball goes through MarsEdit. The only posts that don’t are the ones I write on my iPhone (or, very rarely, iPad). But now that I think about it, it’s not just that almost everything I post now goes through MarsEdit — given that I’ve been using it since mid-2004, almost everything I have ever posted to Daring Fireball has gone through MarsEdit.
Nick Heer on the Deregulation of ISPs ★
Nick Heer wrote a terrific response to Ben Thompson on the FCC’s move to overturn Obama era net neutrality regulations:
Even if you believe that the American broadband market is
sufficiently competitive — it isn’t — that ISPs can be trusted
to not discriminate against some forms of traffic once given the
freedom to — doubtful — and that existing regulatory structures
will allow any problems to be fixed on a case-by-case basis, it
still seems far more efficient to prevent it in the first place.
There’s an opportunity to treat internet service as a fundamental
utility; let’s keep it that way, whether that’s through Title II
classification or an equivalent replacement.
Where Is Amazon’s Prime Video App for Apple TV? ★
Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:
“Amazon is coming to the TV app and all Apple TVs later this year
with Amazon Prime Video,” Cook said at Apple’s WWDC keynote,
before rattling off a string of original Amazon shows including
Mozart in the Jungle, Man in the High Castle, and Transparent.
Tomorrow will mark six months since that news.
There has to be a good story here, but no one seems to know it.
Josh Centers checked with Amazon PR, and they told him it’s still coming this year:
But it’s December, and Amazon Prime Video for the Apple TV remains
vaporware. Is it still due in 2017? Surprisingly, yes. Amazon
public relations told me, “Thanks for checking in. Yes, you can
expect the launch this year.”
Text Replacements Now Sync Reliably Between Macs and iOS Devices Via CloudKit ★
Remember back in September, when Brian Stucki dove deep into an investigation of why text replacements didn’t sync reliably between iOS devices and Macs? I was told the next day by an Apple spokesperson that an update that moves text replacement syncing to CloudKit should be rolling out to iOS 11 and MacOS 10.13 High Sierra users in the “next month or so”.
In an update to his original report, Stucki reports that as of last week, this is now the case. So far so good for me personally. I think this deserves a non-sarcastic finally.
How the Minnesota Viking Uniforms Came to Be ★
Paul Lukas, writing for ESPN:
Here’s the backstory: The Vikings’ first general manager was
former Los Angeles Rams public relations director Bert Rose, and
their first coach was former Rams quarterback Norm Van Brocklin.
When it came time to create the new team’s look in 1961, they
turned to a prominent Los Angeles sports cartoonist named Karl
Hubenthal, whom they knew from their days in L.A.
It was Hubenthal — not a Vikings employee, not a Minnesota design
firm, not the NFL Properties office — who designed the Norseman
logo and the team’s original uniform set, including the
distinctive horned helmet. Per Rose’s instruction, Hubenthal
executed the designs in purple and gold. Why those colors? Because
those are the colors of the University of Washington, where Rose
had attended college. So with the L.A. and Washington connections,
the look of this quintessentially midwestern team had strong West
The Vikings have stayed true to Hubenthal’s original design to this day. Classic.
‘My Butler Has Two Butlers’ ★
Bob Vulfov, writing for McSweeney’s: “Hello, I Am the Mythical Middle-Class Person Who Republicans Say Will Benefit From Their New Tax Bill”.
On Apple Embracing YouTube ★
In terms of getting content in front of as many eyeballs as
possible, Apple’s decision then makes perfect sense. However, it
is significant in terms of Silicon Valley power politics.
Combine this with Apple’s official channel, which is now home to
Apple Music Carpool Karaoke content, and you can see a pattern.
Apple has accepted that it has, for the moment at least,
completely lost the video platform battle. If it wants to get its
video message out, it has to play nicely with Alphabet/Google.
I’d argue that it’s not so much that Apple has lost the video platform battle to YouTube, but that the open web has lost the battle. Apple has never attempted to create a rival service to YouTube. Prior to its embrace of YouTube, what Apple used to do was publish video content on its website, using the HTML5
There are silos for text content — Facebook, Medium, AMP, Apple News, and more. But none dominate the web. Apple’s own relatively new Newsroom section at apple.com is updated frequently and is just a good old-fashioned blog (although its RSS feed is effectively useless). Still images can still go anywhere on the web. Technically that’s true for video as well, but the discoverability and network effects of YouTube are so strong that practically speaking, it’s the only place anyone puts shareable video content.
Facebook ‘Messenger Kids’ ★
Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch:
For the first time, Facebook is opening up to children under age
13 with a privacy-focused app designed to neutralize child
predator threats that plague youth-focused competitors like
Snapchat. Rolling out today on iOS in the US, “Messenger Kids”
lets parents download the app on their child’s phone or tablet,
create a profile for them, and approve friends and family who they
can text and video chat with from the main Messenger app.
Tweens don’t sign up for a Facebook account and don’t need a phone
number, but can communicate with other Messenger and Messenger
Kids users parents sign-off on, so younger siblings don’t get left
out of the family group chat. “We’ve been working closely with the
FTC so we’re lockstep with them. ‘This works’, they said” Facebook
product management director Loren Cheng tells me. “In other apps,
they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone”
Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus notes.
This is like Philip Morris introducing officially licensed candy cigarettes. You’re nuts if you sign your kids up for this.
Safari Technology Preview Now Allows Animated-GIF-Like Videos Using ‘img’ Tag ★
Colin Bendell on a new feature in Safari Technology Preview:
- Now you can
<img src=".mp4"> in Safari Technology Preview
- Early results show mp4s in
<img> tags display 20x faster and
decode 7x faster than the GIF equivalent — in addition to being
1/14th the file size!
- Background CSS video & Responsive Video can now be a “thing”.
- Finally cinemagraphs without the downsides of GIFs!
- Now we wait for the other browsers to catch-up: This post is
46 MB on Chrome but 2 MB in Safari TP
It’ll take a few years for this to catch on web-wide, but the benefits are massive. It’s really rather ridiculous how popular the GIF format is in 2017.
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
It’s natural to speculate how a bug as egregious as the now-fixed High Sierra root login bug could escape notice for so long. It seems to have been there ever since High Sierra 10.13.0 shipped on September 25, and may have existed in the betas through the summer. One explanation is that logging in with the username “root” and a blank password is so bizarre that it’s the sort of thing no one would think to try. Like the classic “1-2-3-4-5” scene in Spaceballs, but with the ultimate weak password — none at all.
More insidious though, is the notion that it might not have escaped notice prior to its widespread publicization yesterday — but that the people who had heretofore discovered it kept it to themselves.
This exploit was in fact posted to Apple’s own support forums on November 13. It’s a bizarre thread. The thread started back on June 8 when a user ran into a problem after installing the WWDC developer beta of High Sierra:
I am hoping someone might know how to fix this - after updating to
High Sierra, the two admin accounts on this machine are all of a
sudden standard accounts. There is no admin account at all, which
means I can’t seemingly fix this problem because there is no admin
I can log into. Any changes to the system or software installs I
try to do that require admin approval, I have no way to grant it.
And no way to create a new admin user without an existing.
A user posted a solution involving Single-User mode, and the thread mostly died down. But on November 13, a user under the handle “chethan177” posted the following:
Note: This solution might be specific to High Sierra
- On startup, click on “Other”
- Enter username: root and leave the password empty. Press
enter. (Try twice)
- If you’re able to log in (hurray, you’re the admin now),
then head over to System Preferences → Users & Groups and
create a new Admin account.
- Now restart and login to the new Admin Account (you may need
a new Apple Id). Once you’re logged into this new Admin Id,
you can again proceed to your System Preferences → Users &
Groups. Open the Lock Icon with your new Admin ID/Password.
Assign “Allow user to administer this computer” to your
original Apple ID. Restart. […]
- If you’re unable to login at startup using username: root
and empty password, then login with your existing account
- Again, head over to System Preferences → Users & Groups.
Click on the Lock Icon. When prompted for username and
password, type username: root and leave the password empty.
Press enter. This might throw an error, but try again
immediately with the same username: root and empty password.
This should unlock the Lock Icon. If it does, try Solution 1
P.S. Solution 2 worked for me. No idea how or why. Hope this
That’s yesterday’s bug. And in fact, this forum post is where
Lemi Orhan Ergin — who publicized the vulnerability on Twitter — saw it as well:
A week ago the infrastructure staff at the company I work for
stumbled on the issue while trying to help one of my colleagues
recover access to his local admin account. The staff noticed the
issue and used the flaw to recover my colleague’s account. On Nov
23, the staff members informed Apple about it. They also searched
online and saw the issue mentioned in a few places already, even
in Apple Developer Forum from Nov 13. It seemed like the issue had
been revealed, but Apple had not noticed yet.
Yesterday, after the issue exploded, “chethan177” was asked in the thread how he discovered the exploit. His response:
Didn’t realise this was a full blown security issue. I’d messed my
login credentials trying to change my apple id and voila I was no
longer an admin. Then began my extensive search on all Apple
related forums for a solution. Tried everything, didn’t work.
As to how I stumbled on this, the answer is simple. Pure
frustration. I’d read on one of the forums where in a user
suggested we try using “root” for username and leaving the
password field empty. I did, it failed. Out of sheer frustration,
I tried again, and voila the **** thing unlocked my admin account
much to my relief.
Then I posted it here assuming someone stuck just like me might
find it useful. It was purely accidental.
Which forum was that, where he found this suggestion? Alas:
Unfortunately, I don’t remember. I looked up several forums trying
to look for a solution. Trying the “root” username entry method
without a password was definitely mentioned somewhere. I just
happened to try it twice.
So the exploit was floating around, under the radar, for weeks at least, but it seems as though no widespread harm came of it. ★
Thursday, 9 November 2017
J.K. Rowling, on Twitter raising the per-tweet character limit to 280:
Twitter’s destroyed its USP. The whole point, for me, was how
inventive people could be within that concise framework.
USP is “unique selling proposition”. By doubling the character limit, Twitter has eliminated what made them unique. Yes, there were many trade-offs with the 140-character limit, both pros and cons. But one of the pros is it made Twitter unique. Twitter timelines now look more like Facebook — but Facebook is already there for Facebook-like timelines. Twitter trying to be more like Facebook is like basketball trying to be more like football — a bad idea that won’t work.
Stephen King was more succinct:
280 characters? Fuck that.
I like the word-Tetris of making a complete thought fit in a
John Dingell, 91-year-old retired Congressman from Michigan (who is truly excellent at Twitter):
99% of you people don’t even deserve 140 characters.
It’s no surprise that writers, in particular, object to this change. I agree with Ihnatko — the 140-character limit made it a challenge. Fitting certain complex thoughts into a mere 140 characters sometimes felt like solving a small challenge, like one of The New York Times’s tiny little 5 × 5 crossword puzzles.
But perhaps the best commentary comes from William Shakespeare:
Brevity is the soul of wit.
Given 280 characters, people are going to use them, even to express thoughts that could have fit in 140. Given unlimited characters, such as in email, people ramble aimlessly.
That’s why email feels like a dreary chore, and Twitter feels like fun. The fewer tweets that fit in a single screen at a time, the less fun Twitter feels. I’m sure Twitter considered this change carefully, but I’m convinced they’ve made a terrible mistake. ★
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Because I’ve only had about 24 hours with the iPhone X, I’m in no position to write a review yet. But my quick take:
- Face ID works great. In practice it’s like not even having a passcode on the phone. You just swipe and you’re in. It’s also very quick to set up — way quicker than setting up even a single fingerprint in Touch ID.
- I don’t really notice the notch while using it.
- I do notice the lack of a home button. I think I’ll get used to the new no-home-button UI soon, but 10 years of habits die hard.
- The device feels great.
I was far from alone in not getting an extended period of time to test the phone before the review embargo lifted.
Here’s what others are saying in their reviews.
Matthew Panzarino used iPhone X for a week, and stress-tested it with a family trip to Disneyland. (He did the same thing with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus three years ago — it’s a great conceit for a review.) He also got on-the-record interviews with Phil Schiller, Dan Riccio, Craig Federighi, and Alan Dye. Riccio flatly denied reports that Apple was scrambling to get Touch ID working with iPhone X:
“I heard some rumor [that] we couldn’t get Touch ID to work
through the glass so we had to remove that,” Riccio says,
answering a question about whether there were late design
changes. “When we hit early line of sight on getting Face ID to
be [as] good as it was, we knew that if we could be successful we
could enable the product that we wanted to go off and do and if
that’s true it could be something that we could burn the bridges
and be all in with. This is assuming it was a better solution.
And that’s what we did. So we spent no time looking at
fingerprints on the back or through the glass or on the side
because if we did those things, which would be a last-minute
change, they would be a distraction relative to enabling the more
important thing that we were trying to achieve, which was Face ID
done in a high-quality way.”
Panzarino, on the iPhone X’s OLED display:
I hate to say it, but it makes the iPhone 8 Plus LCD look kind
of like butt. I love it, even though it is flawed in one
The one area where this display falls prey to standard OLED gripes
is in off-axis viewing. Apple tells me that it has done work to
counter the drop in saturation and shift to blue that affects OLED
screens traditionally. I can tell you that, compared to other OLED
screens, you have to get further “off of center” to see a real
shift in color, holding the phone 30 degrees or more off of dead
on. But it is still there. For people who share their phone’s
screen or use it at odd angles a lot, it will be noticeable. On
some phones, OLEDs go super blue. On the iPhone X it’s more of a
slight blue shift with a reduction in saturation and dynamic
range. It’s not terrible, but it definitely exists.
I see the same thing with mine.
Nicole Nguyen also used iPhone X for a week and wrote a great review for BuzzFeed:
Whatever. I don’t feel strongly about the notch either way, but
it’s really the other end of the screen that feels awkward. It’s
when the keyboard, in any app, is on screen (which, for me, is
most of the time): There’s all this dead space on the bottom,
where Apple could have put common punctuation, frequently used
emojis, or literally anything, but instead left it blank. Other
full-screen apps on other phones put navigation or other design
elements in that area, and it doesn’t look crowded or crammed. It
looks fine. It’s puzzling why Apple didn’t put something more
useful down at the bottom, or why it didn’t add a row of numbers
or emojis up top and push down the keyboard to make it more
It does look like a waste of space, but I wonder if testing showed that there needs to be some space under the keyboard to separate it from the virtual home button? If there weren’t a gap under the keyboard, you might hit the home button while trying to hit the space bar, and vice versa. Update: I’ve heard from a little birdie that my speculation is correct; also: it’s about typing comfort.
For a normal human who isn’t aware of the 30,000 invisible dots
being projected on their face or the 3D map of their head
encrypted somewhere deep inside their phone, there’s nothing
“futuristic” about these interactions. Using Face ID is what life
without a passcode — life before we all became paranoid
technofreaks — felt like.
That’s my take too. It’s like not having a passcode set.
Lance Ulanoff, in his review for Mashable:
During my first 24 hours of using the iPhone X, I helplessly
pressed the space where a button should be. It’s a kind of Phantom
Home Button Syndrome that I expect all iPhone X owners will
experience in the early days.
It fades, though, and rather quickly, thanks to a smartly designed
gesture interface and something Apple calls Face ID. […]
One important limitation of Face ID: It only lets you register one
face. That may strike many as unnecessarily limiting since Touch
ID lets users register up to 10 fingerprints, but Apple says it
found the number of people who register more than one person’s
fingerprints is miniscule. There’s also the simple and obvious
fact that humans have 10 fingers, but just one face.
I’m surprised it’s only a minuscule number. I’ve got a fingerprint registered on my son’s iPhone — I’m sure other parents do the same thing. And last week my wife let me put a fingerprint on her iPhone so I could use Apple Pay while pre-ordering her iPhone X while she slept. ★