Maccast 2015.12.29 - Show #554
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
V Sponsor
V Squarespace
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V News
V Apple working on Hi Res audio
* Reports that Apple is working bringing higher resolution higher bit rate audio to Apple Music.
* This could go along with the rumors that Apple could be looking to use the Lightning connector for audio output. Possibly ditching the standard 3.5mm audio jack.
* The rumor says Apple is exploring the idea of distributing Apple Music at 96kHz and 24bit
V The report come from the Japanese site Macotakara
* The claim the info came from companies working with Apple who were exhibiting recently at the Portable Audio Festival
V Apple did announce a new Lightning connector audio specification at the last WWDC back in June
* So far only a handful of Lightning equipped headphones have surfaced though.
* Lightning could allow for higher quality 24-bit digital to audio conversion (DAC)
* Lightning can deliver power and you could allow apps that could control features in the headphone hardware
V But would anyone, beyond extreme audiophiles, really care?
* Dave Hamilton at the Mac Observer has a great piece called, "Digital Music: Can You Hear Above 16-bit/44.1kHz?",
* In it he explains bit depth and sample rate
* A digital audio file's bit depth determines its dynamic range, the difference between the softest and loudest sounds. 16 bits gives us 96 decibels (dB) of range. 24 bits give us 144dB.
The sample rate of an audio file determines the frequency range that can be reproduced. Perfect fidelity reproduction is possible with a sample rate equal to twice the maximum frequency we wish to reproduce. A 44.1kHz sample rate can reproduce frequencies up to 22.05kHz. Most human children can hear from about 20Hz up to about 20kHz.
* So, most humans cannot hear anything beyond 44.1KHz and 16-bit, a fact proven by many studies and double blind tests.
V Recording and mixing is different. In a way similar to any other kind of digital production
* Film at 8K, shoot in RAW format, record in 24-bit.
* Then distribute as 1080p (or 4K), JPEG, or 16-bit, why? Because our human analog receptors are inherently flawed and can't tell the difference.
* Why waste the bits, bandwidth, or file size.
V Still it might not stop Apple, why?
* Two words, information basis.
* If I tell someone it's better they will believe it and then claim they can tell the difference. They will actually start to believe it, even if science says otherwise.
V Those two words, plus it's a bullet point that can get customers to buy new stuff.
* Apple Music, has higher quality than the competitors
* iOS devices have pure digital audio at higher bit rates through the Lightning connector.
* Sell more headphones, Beats.
* There is also the added benefit that audiophile customers tend to buy a lot more music than your average consumer.
* Placebo or not Apple has a vested interest in selling more products and services and if this accomplishes that then they are likely to do it.
V Apple has filed trademarks for Beats Two, Beats Three, Beats Four, and Beats Five
* Does this really surprise anyone?
* Does it mean they have new stations planned, yes.
* Does it mean we'll have them soon or ever? Who knows?
* My guess it's all based on the success of Beats One, and at this point only Apple really knows how that's going.
* Apple's licensing terms with record labels reportedly give the company permission to create up to five additional radio stations without renegotiating, so it wouldn't be too hard for them to expand.
* Do you listen to Beats One regularly?
V What's next for iPhone?
V New iPhone 6c details
V What we've heard so far
* 4-inch display with curved cover edge glass like the iPhone 6s line
* 2 or 3 color options. Anodized aluminum case.
* Apple A9 processor
* 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1.
* Touch ID, but no 3D Touch
* New rumors that it might have a larger, 1,642mAh battery, up the 1,570mAh in the iPhone 5s
* Also, reports that Apple could bump the RAM to 2GB.
V China Mobile recently held an event discussing its upcoming plans for 2016 and seemed to indicate an April 2016 for a new Apple device, assumed to be the rumored 6c
* It's expected Apple will have a special event in March to announce Apple Watch 2 and might also unveil the new smaller iPhone 6c
V Many analysts have been predicting Apple will have an unusual iPhone sales slump in the first quarter of 2016
* Most of the predictions are coming based on supply chain indicators that Apple has slowed production of iPhone 6s series units
* Could just be there are enough devices already in channel
* Still the Spring launch of a lower priced new model could be seen as an attempt to pump up slowing iPhone sales in the run up to a Fall launch of new flagship iPhones.
V Still over the holidays Apple was able to gain the most mobile device activations according to Flurry analytics
* 49.1 percent of all new devices activated were Apple devices, but that number is slightly down from last year's 51.3 percent.
V iPhone 7 rumors
* A10 processor
* 3GB of RAM in 5.5-inch 7 Plus model
V DigiTimes is reporting that Apple's chassis component supplier is working on new designs and possibly materials for the iPhone 7
* They claim the new casings will be designed to be water-proof
* They also say Apple might be looking to incorporate the antennas into the case and could use "new compound materials
* There have been other rumors that Apple was experimenting with possible moving away from a metal case for the iPhone.
V They have also been slowly improving water resistance
* The latest iPhone 6s designs added gaskets and silicone seals
* Ports would be the biggest issue, but if they remove the headphone jack that's one less hole to plug.
V Apple cuts pricing in India again
* Back before Christmas Apple just about cut the pricing on the iPhone 5s in half in India
* The price dropped from 44,500 Rupees (about $665 USD) to 25,000 Rupees (about $370 USD).
* The Times of India now says Apple has dropped the prices on the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models about 16 percent in response to what they say is lagging sales
* The Times piece says Apple was hopeful for the iPhone in India in October when sales appeared to be strong, but since the launch things have declined quickly.
* In October Apple is believed to have shipped about 320,000 units to the region but now shipments have dropped 62 percent down to around 120,000 in November.
* India is a market Apple really wants to capitalize on. It doesn't have same size or rapidly growing middle class as Chine, but it is the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market.
V Import taxes are also an issue driving up costs
* Foxconn plans to build 10-12 factories in India by 2020, but it's not clear if any of those factories will supply products for Apple.
* Still Tim Cook has also had talks with India's Prime Minister and they did discuss the possibilities of local manufacturing
* Apple has been targeting the education and enterprise markets in India and has hopes the country could someday account for 15-20 percent of Apple's revenues
* But at the moment India seems to be price sensitive and seems like between the price drops and the rumored iPhone 6c maybe Apple is responding.
V Apple stays firm in encryption battle
* I typically don't like to get into issues like this, but I'll do my best to be impartial.
V Tim Cook did a recent 60 minutes interview and while a little bit "fluffy" it did give us a glimpse of the Jony Ive design studio which is cool
* It's a free watch in the CBS app or on the CBS site right now
* Showed off some of the new Apple Campus
* Also Tim Responded to some questions on the issues re-patriating money back to the US and Apple's stance on encryption
* The encryption issue is heating up and Apple is caught in the middle, though they are far from the only tech company impacted. Google and Facebook are also in the governments line of fire
* The basic issue is that Apple, and other companies, have been securing our devices and data to protect our privacy and information
* The issue the governments have is that the same protections that keep my iMessages private and my banking information and credit cards safe can also be used by bad guys to evade law enforcement and government agencies
* The government wants a "backdoor" they can use to get at data when subpoenaed. The issue is that a the backdoor use to catch criminals is really a revolving door that would let criminals get at our data.
V Recently the UK proposed an investigatory powers bill that would effectively make it impossible for Apple to keep the protections and encryptions in place and still sell phones in the UK
* Apple is obviously fighting against the bill
* So do you decrease the privacy and security of all users to make it easier to catch criminals, but at the risk of making it easier for personal information to be hacked and identity theft and fraud to take place?
* Apple says no, and I think they're right.
* With a backdoor it just means the criminals will find another way to protect their communication, and there are plenty of ways without iPhones, and your average consumers will just be more vulnerable.
V Sponsor: Smile
V TextExpander
* There is one tool that is installed on every Mac and iOS device that I own and it's usually the first or second app I install
* Let's you create snippets of text to expand in any app.
V You can use it in so many great ways
* Expand addresses and signatures
* Use it to automatically add accents and fix your common misspellings
* Create "autocomplete" for code in ANY app
* TextExpander 5 now suggests abbreviations, making it even easier to find ways to save time
V Then once you've got the basics there are power user features
* Fill in fields
* Optional text
* Even Applescript support
* Use snippets on your iPhone and iPad with TextExpander touch and the TextExpander custom keyboard. Sync your snippets using Dropbox or iCloud.
* Visit to download a free demo of TextExpander and improve your communication today.
V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V When a 'Genius' isn't a genius
* Unfortunately I recieved an email this week that was cause for some concern and I wish it was the only time I've had a report of something like this happen.
V Laurent was troubleshooting his Mac and noticed that some of the files had a user listed called 'wheel'.
* If you select a file in the finder and choose File > Get Info… (Command+I) you can look under the 'Sharing & Permissions' section to see the lists of users and groups that have access to the file
* Laurent not know why or where this "wheel" user came from took a trip to the Genius bar to get advice on how to proceed.
* The advice from the "Genius", delete the user, after which Laurent could no longer boot the Mac.
* Needless to say this was terrible advice.
* So what happened and how do you fix it.
* First thing to know is despite all it's pretty UI and easy of use OS X under the hood is UNIX, based on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD)
* UNIX is designed from the ground up as a multiuser OS and because of this has a history of user security built in
* Central to this is a user and groups permission system that ensure each user only has the appropriate access it needs.
V Apple has taken this system even further in OS X and restricts access to specific groups and controls. Most recently with System Integrity Protection (SIP) in OS X El Capitan.
* SIP protects certain system processes, files and folders from being modified or tampered with by other processes even when executed by the root user or by a user with root privileges (sudo)
* On the case of the 'wheel' user that you were seeing Laurent, it's actually a group that is critical to the system, or at least was. As you discovered removing it made your Mac unbootable.
* I did some research and turns out that Apple stopped using the 'wheel' group after OS X 10.3 in favor of the 'admin' group.
V Even though in looking through my install of OS X 10.11 there are still many system files that are listed as in the 'wheel' group.
* These are also mostly owned by the 'root' user and the 'root' user is the only member of the 'wheel' and 'admin' groups.
* So, it's unclear what the current relationship of 'wheel' is to the current OS, but it does seem clear that removing that group from files or completely from the OS can break the system.
* So long story short, don;t remove or modify the 'wheel' group.
V If you do, how to recover?
* First make sure you have a full recent backup
* Then boot into Recovery Mode, hold Command+R while starting up
* Then run the OS X installer.
* This should re-install OS X right over top of the existing system and you should be back up and running.
V Finally, what about encountering a Genius who isn't a genius?
* Look, we all make mistakes and give the wrong advice from time to time.
* That said, if you're given advice that seems iffy, get a second opinion.
* Unfortunately you might not always know if you've been given wrong advice. This is where having good backups might be the only way you're saved.
V OS X Startup modes and keys
V In working on an answer from Laurent I cam across this awesome support article on 'Startup key combinations for Mac'
* These are for Intel based Macs only.
* It lists all the ways you can boot your Mac into special 'modes' and I thought it be cool to go over what you can do and why
V Safe Mode
* Hold down the 'Shift' key while booting
V A way to start up your Mac so that it performs certain checks, and prevents some software from automatically loading or opening.
* Verifies your startup disk, and attempts to repair directory issues if needed
* Loads only required kernel extensions
* Prevents Startup Items and Login Items from opening automatically
* Disables user-installed fonts
* Deletes font caches, Kernel cache and other system cache files
* Can be helpful in troubleshooting a background, startup app, or kernel extension issue.
* Also a way to clean out caches that might be corrupt.
V Startup Manager
* Hold Option key while booting
* Lets you select a different startup volume
* Boot from a USB key or bootable backup.
V Start up from a bootable CD, DVD, or USB thumb drive
* Hold the 'C' key while booting
V Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics
* If your Mac was made before June 2013 you'll get the Apple Hardware Test
* Boot while holding down the 'D' key
* Let's you run Apple's hardware tests.
* Check RAM, CPU, graphics, logic board, controllers, etc.
* Before starting Apple Diagnostics, be sure to disconnect all external devices except the keyboard, mouse, display, and Ethernet adapter. Also disconnect any external optical drives.
* Make sure you're plugged into AC
* If you startup holding Option+D you can startup to these tests over the Internet (assuming you have a connection)
V NetBoot server.
* Hold 'N' at startup
* Option-N will boot to the default boot image
* This is if you have a OS X Server that offers net boot images. Basically let's you boot the OS from the network
V Recovery Mode
* Command+R
V Command-Option+R to boot Recovery mode over the internet
* Needed if you have a completely failed hard drive
* Reinstall OS X
* Run Disk Utility
* Set Firmware password (not advised unless you know what you're doing).
* Hold Command+Option+P+R hear the startup sound again and then release
* I'm old skool and wait for 4 chimes, but that's likely just voodoo
V Clears the "non-volatile random-access memory" which holds
* Speaker volume
* Screen resolution
* Startup disk selection
* Recent kernel panic information, if any
* If you're having issues with these settings it can help reset them.
V Single User Mode
* Command+S while starting up
* Basically puts you into a command line mode
* Can possibly help you see any startup issues
* You can type 'reboot' at the prompt to exit this mode.
* If you have FileVault enabled you need to first pick a user account and enter the password before you can access single user mode.
* You can use the 'fsck' command in this mode to check your hard disk
V Verbose Mode
* Command+V during startup
* Basically just like single user mode
* Verbose mode will also show text as you shutdown
V Target Disk Mode
* Hold the 'T' key while booting up
* Lets you share files between two Mac computers with FireWire or Thunderbolt ports
* Connect two Macs together. The "target" Mac mounts as a hard disk on the other Mac it's connected to.
V Eject removable media
* Hold down the Eject (⏏) key, F12 key, mouse button, or trackpad button while booting
* Will eject any removable media, like an optical disk
V Thing of the Moment: Tickle
* The Tickle App for iOS lets you write your own programs on iOS
* Give you access to all your iOS devices sensors.
V Can interact with other real world connected devices
* Sphero, Ollie, BB-8, SPRK
* Parrot Drones
* Phillips Hue bulbs
* Dash & Dot robots
* Arduino Bean
* Library of animated characters and sprites.
V Uses a visual drag and drop "block" programming language so good for kids
* Motion, move sprites and objects over time
* Looks, control colors, visibility, scale, effects
* Sounds
* Devices, accelerometer, pitch of device, gyroscope
* Events
* Loops and logic statements
* Sensors, including the iOS devices touch screen
* operators and variables
* It's a fabulous way to get into programming and really well done.
* Best of all it's "Free"
V Closing
V Android help
* We were having issues with AAC playback on Android devices.
* I have changed something that should fix it, but don't have a device to test with
* Can someone check and report back.
* Pocketcasts for Android should be able to playback and access the chapters and links.
V Podcast Marketplace
V Thanks to my sponsors
* Smile
V Gazelle
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