Maccast 07.05.2012 - Show #402
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
V Sponsor
V Gazelle
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V News
V iMac supply slowing, refresh soon?
* AppleInsider claims their checks show that major 3rd party resellers are out of stock or have dwindling stock of the 2.7-gigahertz 27-inch iMac
* Best Buy apparently is just listing the units as "not available" with no indication of a restock date.
* It has been over a year since the 27-inch iMac saw a refresh and so an Intel Ivy Bridge update does feel likely.
* Apple's US site still lists full availability with "in Stock" status and 24 hour ship times.
* There are also rumors that an iMac update might not happen until the fall, so the 3rd party draw down might be starting, but it could be a bit longer before the new model start shipping.
V iOS app updates failure to launch
* A number of very popular apps, including GoodReader and Instapaper, are reporting that something in Apple's app store system might be causing apps to fail on launch after some customers update on their devices.
* Apple is being typically silent on the issue, but Good Reader posted a detailed blog post on the issue and offers a viable theory
* The issue seems to be related to recent changes Apple made in its app distribution engine which is why the problem isn't isolated to specific apps
* It's also not limited to specific version updates, it can impact new versions of the same app.
* Seems to only impact users who update directly on their devices, not via iTunes
* The main users who are effected seem to be those updating immediately after the release goes live and they get notified of it's availability.
* It seems like trhe notifications go out too soon, before the files get properly binary-encrypted and distributed across Apples servers.
* Users might end up with an corrupt binary that then won't open on their device. Deleting and re-downloading the app can fix it, but if you do that with some app, you also lose your App data.
* GoodReader offers a good step by step procedure using iTunes and you iTunes backups to restore the app and the data.
* For now, until Apple can address the issue, it might be best to wait until an update has been available for 24 hours before updating. That should give the binaries adequate time to propagate through the system.
* Apple has released a statement saying it identified the issue was related to a server that generated DRM code for some apps being downloaded and that the issue has been corrected
* Apple also said that the issue only effected a "small number of users"
* Apple said users with affected apps can re-download from the app store.
V Russian Trojan app in App Store
* Kesperky Labs posted a notice on their Securelist site about a malicious app found in the App Store.
* The app called "Find and Call" by IT Mobile when launched will ask if you want to 'find friends in a phone book' and if you do uploads the Address Book data in the background and then uses it to send SMS spam to the numbers it finds.
* The messages appear to promote the App.
* The website of this app allows you (after logging in to your account) to ‘enter’ your social network accounts, mail accounts (it seems that these details will also be used) and even PayPal to add money to your account.
V It appears the company behind the malicious app is, LABWEALTH.COM PTE. LTD out of Singapore.
* When contacted they claimed the system is in beta testing and that the sending of promotional messages was a bug they are fixing
* The app also had a variant in the Google Play store.
* All versions of the app reportedly have been pulled off the App Store.
* Obviously if you have this app you should delete it immediately.
V Apple threatened with shutdown in Italy
* Italy's AGCM antitrust regulatory authority is threatening Apple with a 300,000 euros (about $377,500) fine and a possible shutdown of their Italian operations if they don't do a better job informing customers of their right to a 2 year warranty under EU law
* Back in March the same organization successfully fought an appeal by Apple and fined he company 900,000 euros (1.2 million) over the same policy.
* The root of the issue is that the AGCM feels Apple isn't adequately informing customers of their rights up front in an attempt to better sell Apple Care extended warranties.
* The AGCM claims Apple has failed to comply with the terms laid out in the March ruling and that they need to comply in the next 30 days or face a 30 day shutdown in the region
* Apple issued a statement and claims to have, "introduced a number of measures to address the Italian competition authority concerns, and we disagree with their latest complaint" and is appealing the latest complaint.
V Small iPad still rumored
* If we say it and will it for long enough I guess it will someday be true.
* Actually the logic and timing behind this latest round of rumors make it plausible in my mind.
* Apple has a strong lead in the tablet market, like they did in the media player market with the iPod. A way to maintain that lead is to cover all price points and form factors
* With the Surface looming, the google tablet and the next Kindle likely on the way it may be time for Apple to get in.
* iMore claims and Bloomberg confirms a 7" iPad due possibly along side the new iPhone in the Fall.
* The sources seem to differ on the screen resolution. iMore claims a 2048x1536 resolution with a 326ppi density. Bloomberg says its a more modest 1024 x 768 display.
* Both sources agree on the release date it having a $199 to $249.00 starting price tag.
* The units would likely feature small flash storage, think 8-16GB.
* Later in the week, the Wall Street Journal also piled on claiming production will ramp up in September with an October release date if the mini tablet.
* It seems odd at first, but this kind of device could help Apple maintain the App marketplace lead and be another reason for developers to favor the platform.
* They also would sell a number of the devices to customers who already own an iPad, but also buy a Fire or Google tablet.
V How we use our tablets
* Gartner did an interesting survey recently asking smartphone, PC, and tablet owners to keep diary of their daily activities.
* The study was conducted in the UK and Australia and revealed some interesting results, although if you've owned an iPad for a while you may just find that the results describe you.
* The main uses of tablets checking email (81 percent), reading the news (69 percent), checking the weather forecast (63 percent), social networking (62 percent) and gaming (60 percent).
V One in three respondents used tablets to read a book, compared with 13 percent for mobile PCs, and 7 percent for mobile phones
* Showing that eBook usage is growing among tablet users, but not taking off
* Tablets tended to be mostly used in the home and their highest usage was weekday evenings. Living room (87 percent), the bedroom (65 percent) and the kitchen (47 percent)
* Tablets are personal. 45 percent of users don't share their tablets
* Men tend to buy tablets while women received them as gifts
V Lost Steve Jobs interview on iTunes
* Robert Cringely's unedited interview tapes from the 1995 PBS documentary "Triumph of the Nerds" is available for rent on iTunes in the US.
* Only 10 minutes of the total footage made it into the PBS show
* Last year the full 70 minutes of tape was released as a documentary into theaters
* The interviews were taped while Jobs was at Next and cover a range of topics including the famous Blue Box that Steve Wozniak and Jobs built early in their careers and Jobs thoughts on the future of the personal computer.
V Next iPhone to go quad-core
* AppleInsider cites a DigiTimes report that the processor in the next iPhone will be quad-core
* The chip supposedly would be designed by Apple and made by Samsung based on their Exynos 4 architecture.
* The new iPad's A5X uses Samsung's 45-nanometer low-power architecture and has a dual-core design with an integrated quad-core GPU.
* Updating to a quad-core in the iPhone would help Apple stay in step with new phones announced by Samsung, HTC, LG, like the Samsung's Galaxy S III.
V Feedback, Comments and Commentary
V Apple Stores refusing out of US sales
* A little follow-up to the comments I made on the story of the Apple Store refusing to sell to a woman who was speaking Farsi
* First I want to clarify that in the statements I made I was not trying to imply that employees at that store in Georgia were racist. My intent was the exact opposite, but I received some feedback to the contrary.
* The main point I was trying to make is that the media immediately implied or outright accused the employees and Apple of acting in a racist fashion and I personally felt that based on a single incident and with limited facts that was wrong.
* Also, I now have more information from a direct source. The source claimed that the person attempting to make the purchase did say they intended to send the Apple product to Iran. The curious thing is that "he" said he was going to Iran with it. The iPad purchase that was denied was to a young woman, Sahar Sabet.
V So now we have a he said, she said argument, but it this all makes more sense with more info:
* Sabet's attorney issued a statement to clarify some misreportings in the media
* Sabet was at the Apple Store to purchase an iPad for a cousin who lives in North Carolina (not Iran)
* She had relatives from Houston, Texas with her, including an uncle who speaks Farsi
* While Sabet was attempting to make her iPad purchase the uncle asked a question about an iPhone which he was considering purchasing for his daughter in Tehran, Iran. Sabet translated and at that point the employee came over, asked about what language they were speaking, and denied the sale of the iPad to Sabet
V The EFF also points out that US companies have to be extremely cautious about any situation where they even think a product might be sent to an embargoed country.
V The US has an embargo against Iran and so they have a stated export policy that they cannot sell products to someone knowing they will be exported to an embargoed country.
* Criminal penalties for violations of the Iranian Transactions Regulations may result in a fine up to $1,000,000, and natural persons may be imprisoned for up to 20 years.
V So with all the facts you can see how this whole mess is a huge and very unfortunate misunderstanding and miscommunication
* Sabet should have been allowed to purchase an iPad for a cousin who lives in the US
* The uncle should have been the only one told he couldn't make a purchase and take it to Iran
* The employee, probably should have been trained to have a better answer about why the sale was denied other than, "our countries have bad relations".
* My point still stands with this story and ALL stories that we get from the media. They are often much more complex and go much deeper than the 2 minute news clip or 250 word blog post.
V I also got another bit of feedback
* A Maccast listener, Carlos, from Brazil, was told he couldn't purchase an iPad for a friend in Brazil when he tried to purchase one from the Apple Store in Atlanta, at the Perimeter Mall.
* In his case everything was fine until he mentioned the device was for a friend in Brazil.
* He was told that they could not sell him the device because he intended to re-sell it in Brazil
* Carlos ended up having to leave the Apple Store without the iPad and go over to Best Buy to buy it.
V My biggest problem with all this is that if these policies exist, and of course the non-export one does, Apple is making their employees have to act on policies that in many cases could be construed in a discriminatory fashion.
* I don't think employees need to, not should they, be put in a position to have to act like enforcement agents
* It's awkward for the employees, insulting to the customers and can create a very bad customer experience as we've seen with these two examples.
V Podcast app feedback
V Play comments from Arne
* Someone else pointed out that older iPod Touches, 1st gen, still just have the Music app, so what happens if Apple eventually removes podcasts from that App entirely
* Also, older iPods if Apple were to move to a Podcast app on the desktop and remove Podcasts from iTunes entirely.
* On the last show I covered a trick on how you could subscribe to protected podcast feeds in Apple's new Podcast app by entering the feed URL into the search box and including your username and password in the URL (GET request)
V I also mentioned a few caveats about security.
* Make sure the URL uses SSL
* Make sure you don't use the sharing options on protected podcasts
* I had one listener follow up with concerns that even with SSL since the URL needs to resolve that it is still possibly sent unencrypted and there might be a risk
* I am not an expert, so this obviously concerned me, so I looked into it further.
* This is what I discovered, but I also want to ask the community for help. If you are an expert on TCP/IP, the HTTP protocols, and SSL please chime in.
* The answer seem to be that with SSL an encrypted TCP connection is established between the client and the server before any HTTP request is sent. That means the GET URL string is passed over an encrypted connection
V That said there are a couple other potential points of exposure you should be aware of when making a decision if you want to use this method.
* The URL is stored in the iOS app and on the device and is probably unencrypted in the app settings. Someone with physical access to the device could get access to that login
* On the server side there is an SSL access log and the GET request would be stored in that log. So if the server were hacked then it's possible someone could get access to that log and to your credentials
* All this said, if you are practicing safe password procedures and using separate logins for EVERYTHING, then your exposure should be minimized. The worst that could happen is that an attacker would have access to the protected podcast. likely more of an issue for the podcaster than for you. ;)
V Taking Apple support to the top
* Play comment from Brian
* I totally agree that this is amazing, but more and more we are hearing this is a common scenario
* I think it's probably fairly obvious that there is a small staff of Apple employees that monitor, filter, and respond to email that comes in for Tim Cook.
* My only concern about this trend of emailing Steve Jobs or Cook is that as the practice becomes more common that it will begin to be come abused as a default route for support rather than an exception to be used in more extreme cases.
* As Brian pointed out, they used the default support channels and spent a lot of time trying to resolve the issue before sending the email to Tim Cook
* I have numerous stories of customer getting excellent, even phenomenal, support from the default support channels, so try there first.
* The Genius Bar, if you have access to one, is also a great resource even when your machine is out of Applecare. Often people hesitate to go in thinking Apple won't help, or that it will cost too much, but you'd be surprised.
V Apple's max RAM, not always "max"
* Peter just got a new 15" (non-retina) MacBook Pro, but wants the maximum RAM.
* Apple states that the system maxes out at 8GB, but Peter noticed several sites mentioning that you can actually install 16GB (2x8GB)
* Apple sells an 8GB upgrade for that model (2x4) for $100. Current rate through is around $54.00
* I'm not sure why Apple understate max RAM, but it may have something to do with just the max option Apple offers on BTO. Or it may be all they had tested or was shipping with at the time they started selling the system.
* Sometimes the design has a limitation. Some of the 2007-2008 Macbook Pros for example could take 4GB modules in their two slots, but the architecture would only recognize put to 6GB, so Apple stated the max at 4GB.
V Apple also sometimes will not service the system under Applecare if it is outside the stated RAM spec.
* Adding more RAM will not void the warranty, but you may be asked to restore the RAM to factory specs before they will work in it.
V If you want to see what the maximum your Mac will take I recommend using Mactracker
* Find your specific model and go to the 'Memory and Graphics' section.
* They will list the Apple and 'Actual' amounts under the maximum memory listing
V I buy most of my RAM from Crucial or OWC (
* Crucial's memory configuration tool will also help you see what the max RAM for your model is.
* They typically list the max as the recommended memory "kit" for your model.
V Removing iCal "leather" look
* Frankly this is one thing about Lion that hasn't ever really bothered me, but I know a lot of people truly hate it.
* Apple has been changing the look of a number of apps to make things look more like virtual versions of real objects.
* The general term people seem to be giving these types of UI's is "skeuomorphism"
* I have had a few people ask if it is possible to undo the "leather" and torn calendar "ink blotter" look from iCal in Lion.
V You can do it, but it's a bit of a hack, so the general caveats apply. Back-up first. Make a copy of the iCal app.
* Be aware that restore iCal you will have to remove the hacked copy from the command line
* I found two solutions (I'm sure there are others).
V Both basically are installers that go into the Application packages and replace the image resources that create the effect. They don't alter the app data, so while "hacky" solutions they should be relatively safe.
* MacNix has an installer and some instructions for backing up and restoring your files. They also have a similar hack that works on the Address Book if you hate it's new look too.
V The app, Lion Tweaks, has a "Change iCal Leather to Aluminum" button that launches an installer
* This app also lets you "tweak" a number of other things in OS X. Including also hacking the Address Book look.
* You can use the other hacks as well, but again have backups first and be careful
V Using an external as primary boot volume
* Daniel is getting a new Retina Macbook Pro and wants to keep his old Mac at work and the new one at home but wanted to share an OS between them.
* His idea was to get an external USB 3.0 drive and install the core OS and everything on that and then just boot off it moving between machines seamlessly.
* Sounds like a great idea, but he ran into some issues and had some questions
* I have only ever operated off an external in an emergency capacity, so I'd be curious to hear from anyone in the community who does something like this on a daily basis
V The first issue Daniel ran into was testing the set up with the USB 3,0 drive and his brothers new Macbook Air. The drive wouldn't boot on that system, but it would work from another Mac
* Daniel wondered if it was a USB 3 issue with booting and it may be
* I found a forum post from Mike Bombich, the developer of Carbon Copy Cloner, and he says that he has fond USB 3 drives to be inconsistent in their bootablility. It could be a firmware issue, but you'd think with new Macs that have 3.0 ports that it wouldn't be an issue
* You could try different brand drives
V Daniel also wanted to know if it was possible to encrypt the bootable external drive for security in case it got lost or stolen in transit.
* I thought this one might be a bit more tricky, but found a procedure from someone who did it by creating an encrypted external volume using Disk Utility, then used Super Duper to clone the drive, and then set it up in system preferences as the boot drive.
* He worked with Dave from Shirtpocket on the procedure and posted about it on his blog
* I would think also you may be able to just set up FileVault 2 once your booted onto the external, but I may be wrong on that.
V Daniel wonder if there may be any issues taking a single boot external drive between two different Macs
* I thought possibly firmware and different hardware might pose problems, but John Foster on the Maccast forums helped me out
* OS X is a uni-driver system. When installing on a Mac it doesn't do an install based on specific hardware.
* So there should be no issues there
V Daniel asked also about performance and both John and I agree on this
* Booting from an external, especially a USB device connected under USB 2 will be slow
* Alternatives would be to use Firewire 800 or eSATA or Thunderbolt, but universally across systems that might be tricky
* The best bet might be to just use the Macbook Pro exclusively and carry it between work and home.
V The final question was about running Bootcamp on the external and that isn't an option from what I know.
* The best bet there would be to run Parallels or VMWare Fusion
* But it was for gaming, so performance probably won't let that happen
* In that case OS X and Bootcamp on the internal drive is likely the only way to go and eating up 30GB if the limited flash storage might make it painful.
V Closing
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