Maccast 2018.01.15 - Show #640
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
V Sponsor: Casper
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V News
V What you need to know about Spectre and Meltdown
V What are the “flaws”
V A couple of design flaws in recent chips from Intel, AMD, and others.
* Intel appears to be the most impacted, ARM says “some”, and AMD claimed “near zero” chance at first, but later admitted Spectre "is applicable to AMD processors,"
V “Meltdown” supposedly is an Intel only flaw that “melts down” the hardware security boundary in the chips kernel memory
* Possibly in CPUs going back to 1995
* “Spectre” is a flaw in how processors from Intel, AMD, and ARM handle something called "speculative execution".
* Without getting too deep, the issue could allow an exploit or rogue program to access protected kernel memory.
V Typically hidden from user processes, like you apps, because it is meant for secure system info. Passwords, login keys, cached files, can live in this memory space.
* Would be a protected space only accessible by the kernel, but assumed the design flaw negates this security.
* Impacts Macs, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, etc.
* Could possibly be exploited via a browser attack
V Do you need to worry?
V As far as anyone knows there is not anything in the wild exploiting these flaws and details are sparse on purpose.
* There is a Spectre “proof of concept” JavaScript attack.
* Patches are already pushed out and more will be coming.
V What’s the fix?
V Kernel Page Table Isolation patches move the kernel into a completely separate address space
* Basically they move the memory so the running processes can’t see it, this also means the system processes
* Means the processors must dump cached data and reload information from memory.
V Possible slowdown of CPUs, some reports claim 5 to 30 percent depending on the situation.
* The reason is the patches remove some of the memory performance capabilities that were built into the chips.
* Things like databases, virtualization, and compiling software will be most impacted by the performance hits.
V How do I protect myself?
* Apple has released updates for the latest aversions of iOS and macOS to address Meltdown. They also issued Safari updates for macOS going back to El Capitan that should deal with Spectre
* Bottom line is as it always is. Patch your stuff and be careful about the websites you visit and the software you install on your Macs and devices.
V Another “small” password bug in macOS
* MacOS High Sierra had a flaw that would allow anyone logged into an admin account to access and change the App Store System Preferences using “any” password.
* When you click the “padlock” icon
* You need to be logged into and admin account already, so unless there is auto login, you would presumably have to already know the admin account password.
* Still more egg on Apple’s OS security teams faces.
V Apple investors want more parental control
V Two major investors in Apple, New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, penned an open letter urging Apple to offer more controls to manage kids access on their mobile devices.
* Together the two investment groups control $2B worth of Apple shares
* They cited studies that reveal the negative effects of smartphones and social media on children's mental and physical health.
V Apple responded in a statement to the Wall Street Journal basically saying that they agree.
* pointing out that their products also have many tools and technology built in to help parents oversee the content and apps being used by children
* Also stating they are continuing to look at was to improve things and that even more robust parental controls will come in the future.
* Two big ones I get emailed about are timed controls both for the device and also “internet” or “cellular data” access and better content filtering control.
* I generally agree with having more controls, but I also think there are big problems in our society with many using technology as a substitute for active parenting and engaging with your children.
* Devices are often used as “babysitters” and I’m not judging because it’s an essay trap to fall into. I know I’ve been guilty of it.
V Apple clarifies store roof “flaw”
* I can’t remember if I brought this up on a previous show or not.
* Apple’s new “MacBook Air” roof on their new Chicago store had the stairs outside blocked off and warnings put up for customers to be ware of snow and ice falling off the roof
V Many alleged this was a sign that Apple’s architecture firm forgot which city the store was designed for and that they had put form over function
* I heard from many in the region that these signs are not uncommon for may buildings downtown
* At the time the story broke I thought why would they have not built in a “warming” system to simply melt any snow that would possibly accumulate on the roof?
* Turns out they did!
* The problem was the software controlling it malfunctioned according to an Apple spokesperson
V And what about the water pouring on customers heads?
* The store uses internal support columns to funnel water off the roof.
V Even more Apple “shows” lined up
* As we discussed on may of the previous shows Apple Entertainment seems to be signing up new content left and right and this week is no exception.
V First we have a drama TV series called “Are you Sleeping”
* It’s based on a novel by Kathleen Barber and will reportedly star Octavia Spencer who was in the movies “Hidden Figures” and “The Shape of Water”
* It sound like it riffs a bit on the recent popularity of “true crime” podcasts
* The series is described as a “psychological thriller”, and in fact is about a podcast that re-opens a murder case and deals with how that impacts the life of the victim’s daughter.
* Sarah Koenig, from Serial Podcast, is reportedly consulting and the series will be produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine and Chernin Entertainment/Endeavor Content
* They are also reportedly working with Apple on another drama series focused around a morning show that will star Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.
V There is also according to Variety a series called “Home”
* This is a documentary series that will focus on ‘extraordinary’ houses and their creators.
* The series will include 10 one hour long episodes produced by Matt Tynauer and Corey Reese of Altimeter Films
V Finally we have a “epic” wold-building drama series set in the future called “See”
* This one is reportedly being written by “Peaky Blinders" creator Steven Knight and will be directed by Francis Lawrence who work on "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay."
* This is supposedly an eight episode deal, but not a lot of other details are available
* This one is also being produced by Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content, who is also producing “Are You Sleeping”.
* These join a growing list of “Apple Original” series reportedly in the works.
* At this point we have no idea when or how Apple plans to release this content, but it’s feeling like we’ll hear something maybe this year?
V Iovine leaving Apple? Nope.
* Early last week Billboard reported that Apple Music exec Jimmy Iovine is planning to leave Apple in August
* The rumor started on a music site called “Hits Daily Double”, but Billboard said it’s sources confirmed the rumor.
* The report claimed the exit was being timed with the vesting of Apple stock Iovine received when Apple acquired Beats back in 2014.
* Iovine doesn’t have a official title at Apple, but he has been instrumental in the success of Apple Music by negotiating a lot of the content and streaming deals.
* The report didn’t have many details about where or what Iovine planned to do when he left Apple, nor why, nor who would replace him if anyone.
V Thing is, at least according to Iovine himself, he not done at Apple quite yet.
* In a Q&A session at the Grammy Museum to promote the documentary “The Defiant Ones”, which is about his career and friendship with Dr. Dre, he said, “…there's still a lot more we'd like to do. I am committed to doing whatever Eddy [Cue], Tim [Cook] and Apple need me to do”
* He did say, “My contract is up in August,” but also said he didn’t have a contract, but a deal.
* He also pointed out that the bulk of his stock vested a long time ago and there was only a small final potion set to vest in August.
* He also expressed “annoyance” at the rumors because they made it sound like it was all about the money.
* If you watch the Defiant Ones, you get the sense that very little of Jimmy’s motivation is about the money.
* He said in multiple interviews that he thinks it’s important for home to help the music industry with streaming and that he thinks they still have a ways to go to “get it right”.
* He also mentioned helping streaming music “come to scale” and then pointed to the catalogs and original content from places like Netflix, Amazon, and HBO. Pointing out that streaming (Music services) have “zero” original content.
V Rumors of iPhone SE 2
* Fans of the smaller iPhone form factor rejoice, maybe?
* I "sketchy" rumor says Apple will update the iPhone SE this year with an A10 fusion chip, but also a glass back and possible wireless charging support.
V I believe they will probably update the iPhone SE with a processor bump, but I wouldn't expect much more.
* Would be nice if they upped the base storage to 64GB and in fact I think just one model at 64GB would be the way to go.
V Kantar Worldpanel says Apple's iPhone had "mixed" results for the three months ending November 2017.
* Losing marketshare in Europe by just 0.6 percent and 3.8 percent in the USA, but gaining 4.6 percent in China.
* They still did OK in some markets with the iPhone X being the best selling model for Apple in Great Britain in November with 14.4 percent of sales. The iPhone X was also the top selling Smartphone in Japan in November, grabbing an 18.2% share, followed by the iPhone 8 at 17.2%
* In the US though the iPhone X was beat out by the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, but still Apple's devices were the top three sellers for November. Samsung's Galaxy S8 landed highest for them at number six.
V No major Macbook Pro update this year?
* A DigiTimes report claims that Apple is moving a large portion of current Macbook Pro production from their supplier Quanta over to Foxconn later this year
* Reportedly the move is being made possible because according to the site Apple isn't planning any major Macbook Pro hardware update this year.
* Foxconn supposedly has about 20 percent of Macbook Pro production right with Quanta having the other 80 percent. If the change happens the split will be 50/50.
* Apple likes to have multiple suppliers so it can avoid bottlenecks and get the best deals so the move seems like it would make sense.
* Since Apple did a major design revision with the Touchbar Macbook Pros last year I also don't find it too surprising that they wouldn't be planning any major design changes to the line.
* I would expect we see the typical refinements and updates to things like CPUs, memory, graphics, etc.
* Apple will hopefully address some of the 'butterfly' keyboard design flaws, if they haven't done that already.
V Apple at CES in 'stealth' mode
* Apple doesn't do many trade shows anymore including CES
* Still that doesn't mean they don't have people there on the ground and this year was no exception according to rumors.
* Bloomberg says Apple reps were in town and talking with suppliers of Augmented reality parts.
* The speculation being that Apple is planning to to produce some sort of augmented reality accessory, possibly a headset, sometime in the near future.
* Tim Cook has said on many occasions that he believes AR has a big role in the future of technology (and Apple)
* We've also heard headset rumors before with a possible time frame of a 2020 release?
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V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V Yet another bookmark manager
* A couple shows back we had someone ask about syncing bookmarks locally across all the browsers on his Mac.
* We've had great response from out community and already give out a couple options.
* This week Douglas chimed in with another one that he's been using.
* [URL Manager Pro](, USD $22.99 on the Mac app store
* It uses a menu bar items to let you access your bookmarks system wide. Then you can also access them from your browser menus or the dock as well.
* It will also automatically backup your bookmarks to a file and you can export to services like Dropbox.
V More detail on Apple’s iPhone battery program
V Can get one on an iPhone 6 or later even without failing a diagnostic test.
* I've had some contradictory reports from listeners who have gone through the process at the Apple store
* One listener said they tested his battery twice and it had to fail before they'd issue a replacement.
* Will only be allowed on battery per device, after that you WILL have to fail the test to get a second replacement at $29.00
* Batteries are designed to keep at least 80 percent of their original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles.
V I’ve been getting some reports from listeners that their replacements are going well once the battery comes in.
* Can take a week or more for the part to come in, but appointments to replace go quickly. One listener said it took about 45 minutes.
* Lead times can vary by region, so plan ahead
* Reports there are shortages of iPhone 6 Plus batteries and appointments are being scheduled as far out as March or early April at this point.
* I expect things now and at the end of the year to be pretty congested.
* Remember an Apple Authorized Service Provider can also do replacements so it may be worth checking if you’re lucky enough to have that as an option in your area.
* Program ends December 31st, 2018.
* Mention that Battery widget apparently only becomes available in iOS 11 if you have pair some sort of bluetooth accessory?
V ‘Affordable’ mo-cap with iPhone X
V iMore had [a story]( about an indie game studio called KNL Studio who are developing a game called Bebylon Battle Royale
* I recommend watching the full [youtube video](
* As part of the development they need to animate a bunch of 3D ‘babies’ for the game.
* Traditionally large studios use actors and expensive 3D motion capture rigs and sessions
* KNL Studio has developed a custom system using a motion capture suit and an custom built DIY helmet rig and iPhone Xs to capture facial expressions.
* The rig and a custom app feeds the data in real time into Maya and then they can use that data to fully animate the characters
* The cool thing is the helmet rig cost just under $200 not including the iPhone X's (they use 2)
* But still the full setup is thousands less than a pro mo-cap session and setup.
* They can capture full facial expressions including eye movements and then feed that data straight into the modeling software.
* This is the kind of power just a few year ago took desktop class machines and it's now being done on an iPhone.
V Multiple App Store dilemma
* Some of you may or may not have heard that Apple is changing over it's iCloud operations in mainland China to use a government-owned local partner Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry (GBCD).
* This is to comply with Chinese government policy, that requires data on Chinese citizens is stored within the country.
* Apple has promised users there would be no backdoors in the Chinese iCloud, in line with its global policy.
* So as part of the switch over Apple has notified customer in China about the change and for those who are NOT Chinese citizens residing in the mainland of China, Apple is recommending that they switch their accounts to use the one from their country of origin.
* Listener Gavin is one such person. He is Australian and has lived in China for six years.
* He emailed me because this change possibly has a significant impact for him as, mostly for convenience, he has made App Store purchases, subscribed to Apple Music, and iCloud all with Chinese bank cards.
V The trouble is mainly the App purchases. While you can re-redownloaddownload and install purchases from another store into you current countries account those purchase do not show up in the "Purchased" section unless they were purchased from the country which account you are currently logged into.
* You can search for an app you know you own and "re-download" it by clicking the "buy" button, but the "This will download for free" message only appears "after" you click "buy"
* Other than memory there really isn't a way to know.
* So the question is what are those of you who have multiple international iTunes Store accounts going to deal with this?
V One thing I can think of is maybe use iMazing's new feature that lets you download your "purchased" app IPA files and manage them with iMazing.
* You could download all your purchased apps from the Chinese app store, then switch accounts, then install and manage them using iMazing. I just don't know if it support all international stores?
* Maybe the community has some other ideas.
V Problems for Wallet and Apple Pay
* William had something happen to him recently with and Air Port bus shuttle ticket and a "QR" ticket
* He purchased it and had an email that sent the QR code to his phone.
* The issue was when he went to use it the QR scanner in the bus was also a contactless NFC reader.
* Each time he got close to the scanner it would trigger Apple Pay on the phone.
* Luckily the driver just let him on.
* In doing more research turns out this is not an isolated or uncommon occurrence.
* Luckily it seems if your "ticket" is in Apple's wallet app it knows not to trigger the NFC for Apple Pay
* But other apps might not be as smart. In fact I verified that the Photos app is not immune and other have reported this issue with PDF "tickets" saved to apps like Dropbox.
* Seems like Apple needs to get smarter about being able to detect when an NFC is for a payment and when it's just something else, like a restaurant pager.
V William asked if there was a known way to temporarily disable NFC for Apple Pay.
* I can't think of one beyond turning off Apple Pay and that loses all your card data so don't do that.
* Any ideas?
V Closing
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