WTF Weekly for July 16, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter to yell at me about typos or to talk with me about anything I’ve included here.

Before I get to the links for this installment of WTF Weekly, let me just say that the news in general is about as depressing as I can ever remember.

We have clear and powerful signs of climate change, but it seems like we’ve given up. We have Republicans doing their best to strip women of their rights, and not enough people are fighting back on that one. We have a president of the US telling American Congress members to go back where they came from and it’s largely being ignored, on top of all the things he’s done that are criminal and impeachable offenses.

It’s enough to make you want to bludgeon a Nazi and a male chauvinist or two.

As a result, I’m not going to focus on any of that on WTF Weekly for the foreseeable future. I’m of two minds about this – it’s certainly better for my mental health, and yours, but ignoring the problem is also how we’ve gotten into this mess. Still, I am not likely to solve any societal problems here, so I may as well try to keep it positive for as long as possible.

Here’s hoping sanity prevails at some point in our nation’s and world’s future.

In the meantime, let’s talk about space and a rather historically significant event!

In case you somehow missed it, it’s the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that put man on the moon back in July of 1969.

Photographer Dan Winters on His Apollo Obsession

NASA decided to commemorate Apollo 11 by restoring the Apollo mission control room in Houston back to the condition of its glory days. This article isn’t about that, per se. it’s really about the photographer who shot the restored control room for Wired, and his obsession with and love of all things Apollo related.

I’m not monstrously old (although I am old), but when I was a kid it was still close enough to the glory days of the space program that NASA and rockets and space captured our imaginations and inspired many an original imaginative space tale. We’ve lost a lot of that magic. Now the US is talking about the moon again, but when Mike Pence is involved… well, it’s just not the same, is it?

Why the Apollo missions made Florida synonymous with space

The Apollo command center may be in Houston, but as you’re probably aware, rockets usually launch from Florida. It’s not just that it’s renown for its weather and Disneyland, it’s that proximity to both water and the Equator work out well for things being shot into space.1

This is a great telling by National Geographic of just what the space industry has meant for the Florida Space Coast region.

Speaking of space, there’s one between your ears that’s filled with gray matter, unless you’re POTUS number 45. Elon Musk wants to communicate with that gray matter:

Elon Musk’s Neuralink wants you to type on your iPhone using your brain

On the one hand, things wired to your brain reading your thoughts are creepy and undoubtedly ripe for misuse by someone. On the other, typing on an iPhone sucks, even with iOS 13’s swipe keyboard (yeah, it’s nice, but it’s still typing on an iPhone).

I have all kinds of questions about this story.

I didn’t know, but am not surprised, that Elon Musk has a brain-computer interface company.

I did know, but have serious conflicted feelings about the fact, that people obviously want to bypass the inferior interfaces we use with computing devices everyday currently, and go straight from brain to machine.

It’s risky enough to decide to trust any computer engineers enough to let them wire one directly to the brain – it’s another when said computer then communicates wirelessly with the iPhone, increasing even further attack vectors and risks. Even if the people wiring things to your brains turn out to be good guys, bad guys love them some wireless communications to man-in-the-middle with.

And finally, speaking of dubious tech ideas:

Apple Plans to Bankroll Original Podcasts to Fend Off Rivals

Look, no one is enamored of all these companies trying to silo podcasts and make podcasting proprietary and dependent on terrible service-specific apps. But (assuming this rumor is true) I don’t know how Apple making its own exclusive podcasts really changes that.

Apple has been a good, although somewhat distracted, steward of podcasting in the sense that it has built up a huge directory while at the same time not ingesting the shows that make up its lists. It doesn’t host any podcasts, and all podcasts in the Apple Podcasts directory do (and must) have RSS feeds that enable them to be listened to by anyone, anywhere, using anything that can handle RSS, which includes a number of outstanding general purpose podcast apps.

So it is good that Apple is now looking at how to keep podcasting from becoming a Spotify thing, or a Luminary thing, or whatever. I don’t know how they go from public podcasts with open, freely available RSS feeds to exclusive content though without changing their model (and therefore that of podcasting in general).

I know a lot of the super wise pundits who believe themselves to be the only people capable of standing impartially outside the tech bubble will go on and on about how podcasting is already changing and we (the tech types) just don’t understand how the world works, but the fact that Apple institutes its podcast directory in the manner it does is what has kept podcasting open and non-proprietary to this point.

Whatever Apple does to modify its podcasting formula going forward, even if it’s just making closed feeds or services seem more acceptable or normal, could have big ramifications for the industry in general. Right now Stitcher and Luminary are fighting against the tide. Apple’s approach to exclusive podcasts could actually change that.

  1. Water receives huge metal objects falling from the sky more gracefully than do houses, for example.

WTF Weekly for July 8, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter to yell at me about typos or just to comment on anything I’ve included here.

WTF Weekly is something I do for fun and to keep me writing when I’m failing to otherwise. It’s actually provided me with minimal writing opportunity, however, since I link to several articles each time and usually provide very little commentary.

So starting today, I am going to link to fewer items in WTF Weekly and write more about each of them. This may sound great to you if you already have more than enough links and “read later” items in your life, or it may sound like utter hell if my opinions aren’t what you’re here for.

I guess we’ll find out. 😄

Two sides of the same coin:

Apple: Misunderstanding Design And Jony Ive’s Role


Jony Ive’s Fragmented Legacy: Unreliable, Unrepairable, Beautiful Gadgets

I know, I know. I’m tired of hearing about Jony Ive too. But that’s mostly because most people are talking about it in very black and white terms depending on whether they want to believe Apple is doomed without him, or whether they want to believe everything wrong with Apple is Jony Ive’s fault and it’s a relief that he’s leaving.

What I’m more interested in than the event itself is dispelling the simple-mindedness that pervades so much of Apple-related commentary these days.1

Like anything interesting in life, Jony Ive’s legacy is more complicated than a simple black and white narrative. There is no doubt that he has been key to several major Apple success stories that either saved the company (iMac) or allowed it to grow into the behemoth it is today (iPhone). Also true is the fact that his design sensibilities have at times led to less well-rounded or useful products, and certainly that applies to his takeover of the iOS UI with iOS 7.

Personally I think that Jony Ive without Steve Jobs is a less compelling situation for Apple than Jony with Steve. I don’t know (and probably no one knows) the exact nature of their interactions and who acted as whose reality check most often, but I think post-Steve Apple has proven that sometimes Ive’s design sensibilities need pushback in terms of final products for actual customers.

The reality of the situation is we won’t know for awhile what the long term effect of Jony Ive leaving Apple is. My belief is it’ll be less detrimental to modern Apple than some people think, while at the same time I acknowledge how important Jony Ive has been to Apple’s success (unlike some other people).

How NASA gave birth to modern computing – and gets no credit for it

As the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing nears, a lot of great stories about the mission, the people, and the technology involved are being written. It’s common now for people to joke about how each one of us has more computing power in our pockets than we sent men to the moon with in 1969, but in fact the Apollo command and lunar module computers were advanced for their day and led directly to integrated circuits becoming ubiquitous today.

Without knowing it, the world was witnessing the birth of “Moore’s Law,” the driving idea of the computer world that the capability of computer chips would double every two years, even as the cost came down.

In fact, Fairchild Semiconductor’s Gordon Moore wrote the paper outlining Moore’s Law in 1965, when NASA had been the No. 1 buyer of computer chips in the world for four years, and the only user of integrated circuits that Moore cites by name in that paper is “Apollo, for manned Moon flight.” Moore would go on to cofound and lead Intel, and help drive the digital revolution into all elements of society.

It’s true that the computing revolution would have happened anyway, but as Fishman notes:

Sure, we’d have iPhones if we hadn’t flown to the Moon, and word processors, and Jeff Bezos probably would have founded

But just because something would have happened anyway doesn’t mean you take credit from those who drove it. Apollo dramatically accelerated the pace of the digital revolution by transforming the technology at the heart of it: the integrated circuit.

The Terrifying Science Behind California’s Massive Camp Fire

This is not a new article, but it is one that I came across just today.

Most of us living on the west coast undoubtedly remember last winter’s horrific wildfire that destroyed Paradise, CA. 88 dead, hundreds missing, a little Northern California town lost. Matt Simon brings us the science behind why this fire was so devastating, and it’s not good news for the future:

This is what a climate change reckoning looks like. “All of it is embedded in the background trend of things getting warmer,” Lareau says. “The atmosphere as it gets warmer is thirstier.” Like a giant atmospheric mosquito, climate change is sucking California dry.

I worry about a lot of things I can’t control, and climate change is high up on that list. Fire, famine, uncontrollable disease, and mass-extinction events are all on the list of things happening or that will happen in our near future. I don’t think even now people are taking this seriously enough.

Frankly, if it was just me, I wouldn’t care that much. I’ve had my time and I don’t really care about traditional sunset years like so many other Americans. But I, like millions or billions of others, do have a child whose future is still ahead of them, and the belief that we’ve selfishly stolen her future and the future of all of our children is really saddening.

Finally, here’s one I truly do not understand:

Apple Updates Its Texas Hold’em iOS Game

A game that was originally for a non-iOS device, brought to the iOS App Store to celebrate that store’s 10 year anniversary… which was one year ago. Say what?

I don’t make ‘em up, people. I’m just a lowly commenter on the bizarre reality others have wrought.

  1. Let’s face it, it’s really the simple-minded, click-bait approach to writing almost all writers on every subject employ on the internet in recent years.

WTF Weekly for July 2, 2019

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I’m happy to be writing this installment on my iPad. I had the iPadOS version of the iOS 13 public beta installed, and it broke iCloud folders for iA Writer (but only inside iA Writer, for some odd reason). Today the iOS developer beta 3 came out, which is a newer version than the first public beta (and which will almost certainly become the next public beta). I installed the iPadOS update from the developer site, and iA Writer is back in business.

It’s a little flaky – files and folders appear and disappear from iA Writer’s iCloud list, but I can work around it and make it function.

Shortcuts in iOS 13 are a complete nightmare for me, but iA Writer is back in business.


The real reason Jony Ive left Apple

If you’re remotely interested in Apple, you already know that Jony Ive is leaving Apple to open his own design firm. Everyone in the universe has an opinion on why, what it means, whether or not Apple is doomed, etc, etc, but John Arlidge’s take on it isn’t bad.

John does fall into the “but Apple hasn’t had a hit in years” trap, which is a sure sign that the writer hasn’t counted how many years typically go between Apple blockbuster hits. And no, the Apple Watch isn’t the sales wonder the iPad has been, but few products are.

Publishers reportedly underwhelmed with Apple News+ so far, Apple promising improvements

I have zero knowledge of the financial math behind Apple News+, but I can’t say the assertion that publishers aren’t ecstatic about its impact so far surprises me at all. I wonder how many people who signed up for the trial stuck with it when it came time to pay up – I certainly didn’t.

It’s not that Apple News+ is a bad product. It’s nice, and I think if you subscribe to even 2 or 3 monthly magazines, this is worth switching to from a cost perspective. But news and magazines fall very low on the priority list when it comes to budget allocation for me, and I suspect for many.

Considering how many publishers the monthly fee has to be split between, it seems hard to believe that Apple News+ works in favor of those publishers.

Apple bolsters its chip team by hiring architect who worked at ARM, Intel, AMD

One man departs, another guy rolls into town. Really, in and of itself, this doesn’t mean anything other than that Apple still takes their CPU design team seriously, but of course as the article subtitle states, this will probably stoke expectations of sooner-rather-than-later Mac ARM processors.


Japanese Government Passes Law to Support Foreign Residents Studying Japanese

I don’t know what the practical outcome of this law will be, but even the fact that Japan recognizes that foreigners well educated in Japanese is something that would benefit them is kind of impressive.

‘Help’: Photos show hundreds of migrants squashed into cells, appealing for assistance

There’s really no solid argument that the US isn’t running concentration camps, at this point. This seems like major human rights violations are taking place on a daily basis at our borders.

I still remember paranoid white people saying Obama was coming for them and that all “gun loving Christians” (whatever that is) would wind up in internment camps.

Looks like it’s their party persecuting other humans instead. Non-white humans. It makes me sick.

Toy Story 2 casting couch ‘blooper’ deleted by Disney after Me Too movement

Pretty bad look for Pixar that they ever included this scene at all. As noted here, Toy Story 2 director John Lasseter wasn’t exactly at the top of the sensitivity and appropriate behavior ladder either.


Chinese border guards put secret surveillance app on tourists’ phones

Anyone who goes into China with their real phone instead of a burner dummy phone logged out of all important accounts is insane.

To be honest, I’d recommend it for anyone entering or re-entering the US also.

Airports in Japan to introduce facial recognition for foreign visitors

Speaking of creepy government behavior at the borders…

I really am not a fan of facial recognition used in this manner at all. I assume this will go into some giant database, which is both creepy and inevitably susceptible to hacking.

OpenID Foundation says ‘Sign in with Apple’ has critical gaps, urges changes

I’m not qualified to comment on OpenID Foundation’s issues with Sign in with Apple, but any input that results in better security is fine with me.

I don’t know how optimistic I am that Apple will join the OpenID Foundation as requested, but you never know. It might help Apple’s case with their requirement that developers include Login with Apple whenever they accept another third party login service such as Google or Facebook.


Spoiled Shores: Japan’s Tsushima on the Front Line of Marine Plastics

Continuing my recent theme of really depressing stories about nature, here’s one from Tsushima about the problem of plastics in our oceans.

It’s really hard to feel positive about what we’re doing to our planet these days.

Gene editing could help eliminate HIV

It’s incredible how long we’ve been combatting HIV. It’s not really in the consciousness of most people now, which probably says as much about us as a species as it does about the (admittedly vastly improved) state of HIV treatment.

And finally,

NASA’s restored Apollo Mission Control is a slice of ’60s life, frozen in amber

Ars Technica has some happier science related news, and it only cost $5 million to bring! Still, few things are cooler than the restoration of the Apollo Mission Operations Control Room 2.

WTF Weekly for June 22, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter if you notice any typos, or just want to talk about some of the stuff posted within!


If you’re still using an AirPort (or Time Capsule), you should upgrade your firmware ASAP.

I wonder if this is related to any of several recent vulnerabilities that have affected other routers and Apple is just late to the patching game, or if it’s something else entirely.

I quit using my Time Capsule not long after Apple announced they’re out of the router business anyway. Firstly, I don’t trust Apple to be interested enough now to worry about all security vulnerabilities, and secondly, my Time Capsule couldn’t cover my house adequately anymore for some reason. I now am basking in the glow of fast, ever-present radio waves from a Netgear Orbi mesh system.

Inside Apple’s team that greenlights iPhone apps for the App Store.

That’s a somewhat awkward headline to a somewhat interesting story by CNBC on the Apple App Store app approval team (talk about awkward phrasing). I think most of us probably already knew a lot of this from listening to podcasts like The Talk Show and ATP, but a couple interesting things caught my eye.

I find it intriguing that some App Store principals are named while others are kept anonymous (hi, “Bill”) for safety and security reasons. I’m sure there are angry developers, but are Apple execs really afraid of a handful of irritated app developers?

I would have liked to have seen a little better explanation of the kinds of things Apple is trying to prevent on iOS with the App Store, such as location tracking misuse, personal data leakage, etc.

3 products that would be hits for Apple if the company made them.

Speaking of Apple routers…

Dan Moren makes a good case on Macworld for Apple to address some unmet customer needs with a nice standalone display that doesn’t cost $6,000 and isn’t a reference monitor; secure and private networking in the form of a HomeKit router; and iCloud backup for Macs.

I’ll admit when Apple announced the HomeKit router spec at WWDC this year, my first thought was “Yeah, and you bastards killed the Airport, didn’t you?”. My second thought was “I wonder if HomeKit is coming to Netgear Orbi?” (Answer so far: No). As for the monitor, it seems like a no-brainer. The market for that $6,000 reference monitor pales in comparison to a stand-alone 5k display like that in the current iMac.


Trump approved cyber strikes against Iran’s missile systems.

According to the Washington Post, we just launched offensive cyber attacks on Iran to disable their middle launch control systems. This comes right after Trump first decided to militarily attack Iran and then decided otherwise.

Really, speaking of fake news, it’s hard to know what Trump is doing and what he isn’t, because he and his administration lie about everything. I think it’s safe to assume though, based on reports, that Trump really was about to go to war with Iran and then decided not to.

Militia threat shuts down Oregon Statehouse amid walkout.

Leave it to Oregon republicans to run away rather than vote on a climate bill. I try not to swear in print because it generally is a sign of a weak vocabulary, but I’ll just say it – these Republicans are cowardly assholes.

On top of it, a bunch of right-wing gun nuts threatened to provide armed guard for these GOP senators in the event that state police came to haul them back to the Capitol. Among them were the Oregon Three Percenters, a lovely group of individuals whose name apparently comes from the three percent of their brains they’re currently utilizing.

God bless Oregon and its merry band of nutty armed conservatives.

Rogue slug blamed for Japanese railway chaos.

Sure, blame the dead guy.


Florida city pays hackers $600,000 in ransom to save computer records.

This has to be a record ransomware payout. And it seems insane. Honestly, I’m not sure if the best advice is the FBI’s (don’t pay) or that of the unnamed security consultants (do pay). I guess we’ll know if we ever see an update on the outcome.

The Highly Dangerous ‘Triton’ Hackers Have Probed the Us Grid.

This story seems like some seriously bad news, and it’s even more unsettling when immediately followed by:

The US Has Allegedly Placed Malware Deep in Russia’s Power Grid.

One has to wonder if this is in response to the above story or vice versa, or if it’s all just wacky coincidence and everyone is all up in everyone else’s grids.

Either way it seems really hard for us to complain about the unsettling ticking time bombs in our own electric grid when we’re bragging about doing the same to other countries.

It’s a nutty time to be alive.


New Report Suggests ‘High Likelihood of Human Civilization Coming to an End’ Starting in 2050.

I thought my science report was going to be fun and cheerful this week to take your mind off all the electric grid hacking going on, but nope. It’s not. Instead we get to learn about the imminent demise of civilization.

This will make those gun nuts in the story about Oregon happy though.

Selling tickets to the space station is actually decades overdue.

If you think a lot of unqualified and incautious people have died on Mt. Everest in recent years, wait until you see what happens when rich people with more money than brains start touristing their way up into space!

I’ll watch from here, thanks.

New report finds NASA awarded Boeing large fees despite SLS launch slips.

I want a job where I can get nine-figure bonuses despite not meeting expectations and generally falling years behind schedule. Anyone want to hire me?

WTF Weekly for June 12, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter if you notice any typos, or just want to talk about some of the stuff posted within!

If you’re a long time Apple fan like me, you already know my excuse for my tardiness this week: WWDC, Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, which took place last week starting June 3rd and running through the 7th. No, I didn’t attend, but I did spend a lot of time watching Monday’s keynote and Platform State of the Union, as well as many subsequent hours of developer session videos.

I also spent a lot of time this past week playing with my new piece of Apple tech: a 2019 iPad Air.

The iPad has come a long way since the days of the iPad 2. Certainly the hardware is better, but more importantly, the operating system no longer makes the device feel like just a blown up iPhone. With iOS 13 on the horizon, things are about to get serious with iPad.

In celebration of WWDC and the many amazing things that Apple unveiled there, I’m going to deviate from my normal format a bit and devote the whole WTF Weekly to Apple related topics this week.



Apple’s New Mac Pro Is Powerful, Pretty, and Pricey

Apple has a long, rich history of serving professionals and enthusiastic doers with capable hardware and tuned, focused software. Over time, as Apple mutated into a more consumer device oriented company, primarily enriched by iPhone sales, they appeared to forget how to serve pro and power users. This mild but increasing case of corporate amnesia culminated in the 2013 “trash can” Mac Pro, which unhesitatingly showcased form over function, and appeared to be a poster child for genuine Apple hubris.

Many years passed, full of unhappy Apple power users and unhappy Apple designers, painted into a thermal corner with their literal trash can of a Mac Pro design. Then, after a few various hardware wake up calls, Apple appeared to snap out of their coma and remember that they were once quite good at making products people could perform demanding work on.

A couple years later, Apple’s post-coma rehabilitation is complete, and the proof is a beast of a computer that no one save production companies and unusually rich developers can afford, and it’s glorious. And it’s actually not uncompetitively priced, given its capabilities and custom components such as the Afterburner FPGA.

A lot of people who aren’t familiar with high-end workstations are grousing on Twitter about the price, but the fact is this appears to be a future-proof machine that is competitive with truly similarly equipped PCs.

iPadOS: The MacStories Overview

I’m tempted over and over again to write the words “possibly the biggest news from the WWDC keynote was” followed by various completely different Apple revelations, but the fact is that iPadOS is up there with the most important announcements Apple gave. I mean this both in terms of upgrades to the iPad’s software as well as the fact that they now refer to iOS on the iPad as iPadOS.

A lot of words have been tweeted and otherwise tossed around about how the term iPadOS is nothing more than a marketing gimmick, but I disagree. I believe Apple has decided to make it very clear they take the iPad seriously, and that iPad will continue to get the power user features demanding users require going forward. Combined with the fact that the iPad can still be used as it always has, as a much simpler consumption device, and iPad could easily become one of the most versatile computing platforms available.

Already iOS has been developed in a divergent manner between iPhone and iPad. There are no split-screen apps on iPhone and no pencil support, for example, both of which are features that iOS 11 brought specifically to iPad only. The goal here isn’t device and OS fragmentation, although that will happen in ways that are natural and sensible, it’s to make better use of the increasingly powerful iPad hardware and larger screen combination. Having an iPadOS to ensure Apple is focused on iPad specific features and updates every year is, in my mind, a necessity if the iPad is going to remain a viable platform.

I’m extremely happy about iPadOS.

A few things I’m really looking forward to with the iPadOS variant of iOS 13:

  • The ability to rotate between slide-over apps rather than have to remove one and replace it with another.
  • A more powerful Files app, including iCloud folder sharing, the ability to rename documents while saving them, local storage, and a column view.
  • Native file zipping and unzipping (handy for sharing podcast and video projects with others).
  • Safari as a full-desktop browser (this is my favorite one by far).

A first look at SwiftUI: Apple’s declarative new UI framework

As exciting as all the user-facing stuff in iOS 13 and iPadOS is, even more mind-blowing to me is the surprise rollout of SwiftUI, a declarative UI framework for Swift developers to more easily create iOS interfaces with.

As John Sundell explains in his article, declarative UI programming is popular, but to date has been implemented in iOS development using third-party frameworks. Now Apple has this functionality natively built in to Swift and Xcode.

As I watched the SwiftUI Essentials session video, I couldn’t help but think that my now long-past Asp.NET web development experience actually will go a long way towards preparing me to understand declarative UI programming. The concept all looks comfortingly familiar, although the details are quite different, of course.

There’s no way I can fit everything from WWDC that I’m excited about into this one hijacked WTF Weekly. This WWDC really was a huge WTF for anyone who has followed Apple for very long. This is the biggest WWDC I can remember for sheer number of important updates and initiatives from Apple. Apple really seems to be firing on all cylinders at the moment, they seem to have a solid direction and real plans for platform development, and it feels like they’re really back in the zone in a way they haven’t been for awhile.

I haven’t felt this excited (and, to be quite honest, relieved) about Apple’s direction in a long, long time.

WTF Weekly for May 27, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter if you notice any typos, or just want to talk about some of the stuff posted within!

This weekly collection of links and thoughts is rapidly becoming a biweekly event. I’ll claim Memorial Day as my excuse this time, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with my tardiness.


Functioning Apple-1 with unique accessory lot sells for $471K at auction. I can’t believe I didn’t pick this up for myself.

What we won’t see at WWDC 2019. The “Pie in the sky” section is one that should be rolled out before every WWDC. Every year people moan about being underwhelmed by the WWDC keynote based solely on their own ridiculous and unrealistic expectations.

iOS 13 concept visualizes many of the features Apple is expected to unveil at WWDC. Normally I really dislike Apple product concept videos and drawings, but this one is really nice. The sad thing is that I don’t trust Apple’s design sensibilities enough anymore to believe iOS 13 will look this good. Apple has a reputation as being the best at software UI design, but quite frequently they disprove that theory with their own apps and OSes.


New York Times: Trump requests paperwork to pardon accused US war criminals. We already have a severe lack of accountability with respect to our military and war crimes, and now Trump just wants to take it to 11. Our nation’s love affair with war and its insistence on placing the military on the national altar has to end at some point.

A vigilante militia defends an imaginary border. All these groups calling themselves Patriots are nothing more than brainwashed nationalists. I wonder what’s it like to go through life always fearing and hating people who aren’t like you?

Farmers get impatient with Trump’s trade war: ‘This can’t go on’. Every single person who voted for Trump performed a major self-own. How these people didn’t see that the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train is beyond me.


Hackers reportedly used a tool developed by the NSA to attack Baltimore’s computer systems. This is part of the problem with the government’s desire to have their security cake and eat it too – any vulnerabilities they don’t report to vendors so they can exploit them can be used by others too. Worse, this shows that the NSA can’t even keep their tools and data out of the hands of others.

macOS Gatekeeper ‘easily’ fooled into running malicious apps, says researcher. Apple has a mixed security record. On the one hand, for example, they’ve hardened iOS much more than other mobile OSes and keep improving and fixing security holes in it, on the other hand there are things like this macOS Gatekeeper vulnerability that show that sometimes they just fail to manage the basics.

Google says some G Suite user passwords were stored in plaintext since 2005. It’s hard to overstate how badly internet companies manage user data. There’s seemingly no sense of responsibility or care with some of these services.


The Earth’s magnetic north pole is shifting rapidly – so what will happen to the northern lights? I have other questions about the effects of magnetic north pole wandering besides what happens to the northern lights, but this is fascinating nonetheless.

NASA’s full Artemis plan revealed: 37 launches and a lunar outpost. On the one hand, these NASA lunar plans are kind of exciting. On the other, I don’t know what we really want Mike Pence of all people determining our space strategy.

Space Mining Could Ruin Our Solar System If We Don’t Establish Protected Places Now, Researchers Warn. Look, humans don’t have to settle for just trashing planet earth. We can destroy the solar system too!


App developer Panic reveals ‘Playdate’ handheld gaming system. Want. Big time Want. I haven’t been this intrigued by a piece of gaming hardware since the Nintendo Game & Watch series.

Keanu Reeves: ‘Grief and loss, those things don’t ever go away’. I don’t know how it suddenly came about that Keanu Reeves is our universally loved national good guy, but he seems to deserve it. There are a lot of non-decent humans in show biz, and then there’s him.

Star Wars Goes All in on Game of Thrones Creators. All I have to say is, do we really want to entrust these guys with any part of the Star Wars universe?

WTF Weekly for May 16, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter if you notice any typos, or just want to talk about some of the stuff posted within!

As you may have noticed, I skipped publishing a week of WTF Weekly. And then I almost missed another. You know what they say about habits, right? Well… tell me! I need to know!

Sorry for the lapse. I’ll try harder.


Apple TV app – stuttering its way to success. I’ve given the Apple TV app a lot of grief in the past (just ask Vic Hudson), but I like the direction it’s headed. Getting the content to play in-app versus the previous way of popping out to the specific content provider’s own app is really a big improvement that I noticed many people downplaying and underestimating. They’re wrong – it’s a great change.

You have to wonder about Apple and games sometimes, but they’ve finally allowed Steam Link on iOS and tvOS. This could be an interesting way for gamers to get desktop class games on the Apple TV (in a way), finally. It sure isn’t going to happen the App Store way.

Designing a dark theme for OLED iPhones. One of the many things I truly love about my iPhone XS Max is the giant OLED screen. True black dark modes look amazing on it. So my natural inclination is to assume anything less than 100% black is undesirable, but Vidit Bhargava writes a compelling argument that this is indeed not the case.


The Reiwa era is off to a terrible start. This is going to make that time Bush barfed on prime minister Miyazawa seem like a smashing success of a visit.

Alabama wants to be the birthplace of a real life Handmaid’s Tale. I wish the GOP loved people as much after they’re born as before. We could end war, get rid of guns, and fund universal healthcare and education.

Tesla issues the fire patch! Ok, technically it’s not a fire patch, but it is a software patch ostensibly designed to help prevent fires.


It’s almost impossible to tell if your iPhone has been hacked. This might make some real Apple apologists mad, but I’ve long thought this myself… part of what makes the iPhone secure is its sandboxed nature, but that also makes it really hard to know exactly what’s going on all the time on your iPhone.

Errr… yikes? Apparently nothing is safe anymore.

Aaaand Cisco poops the bed again, security-wise. It’s generally considered bad when you can’t trust the internet infrastructure. This, of course, is just one instance.


NASA plans to crash into an asteroid. I wonder where Bruce Willis is going to be that day… hmmm.

Dying of depression… and science. Climate change is incredibly depressing. This won’t help that. Still, I think people need to get their minds wrapped around this so we can start combatting the idiots of the world who want to pretend nothing’s happening or just harp on humanity not being responsible (hint: humanity is at least partially responsible).

If it sounds too good to be true… is it? I don’t fully understand this yet, both in terms of implications and solidity of the findings, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.


The internet is angry about GoT – and some of the cast may not exactly disagree. I don’t watch GoT, but I do listen to my friends talk about it on Bubblesort TV Game of Thrones episodes. My therefore half-informed conclusion is that the writers are a bit lazy, and they’re entirely to blame for the episode no one could watch. I do not sympathize with fans asking for a rewrite though. Get over it, entitled people. It’s a sucky ending, but it IS a sucky ending.

WTF Weekly for May 02, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter if you notice any typos, or just want to talk about some of the stuff posted within!

This week’s WTF Weekly has fewer entries than normal because I’m in a technical training class for work this week and ran out time.

Still, it’s been an interesting week! For me personally, the most exciting news was – yes – Marco’s update to Overcast for easily sharing podcast clips with others.

Less exciting is how The Verge handled their commentary on Apple’s decision to rightfully disallow some parental control apps that used MDM, which gives those app creators too much control over a person’s iOS device. Sometimes Apple really does do the right thing, Nilay.


Apple responds to the NYT regarding removal of parental control apps from the iOS App Store. My awareness of this story began when Zac Cichy tweeted to Nilay Patel regarding the framing of his reaction. I like Nilay Patel, I think he’s smart and talented, but he tries so hard to be objective about Apple that he really says some stupid things about them sometimes.

Also grating is his tendency to frame anything from Apple’s POV at all as coming from Apple fanboys, therefore dismissing all conversation as fake news. I hate to compare Patel to Trump like that, but he really does have a major blind spot here.

Overcast adds simple podcast video clip sharing. Honestly, this update to Overcast may just have been the highlight of my week.

Beats Powerbeats Pro preorders start May 3rd. Beats Powerbeats Pro aren’t going to be cheap ($249.99), but man, do they look tempting. Longer battery life and better fit and applicability for working out sounds good.


It says a lot about this country that two people getting shot and killed on a university campus barely makes the news. I wonder how long it will be before we look back at our gun worship and wonder why we let it go on so long?


JetBlue spills the beans on its use of biometrics provided by the DHS. Welcome to the new creepy America.

Oregon is a testing grounds for Amazon’s Rekognition software. This isn’t news to me, but the details of why a county near Portland, Oregon become the testing ground for Amazon’s creepy and probably unreliable facial recognition software is both eerie and interesting.

Amazon isn’t just listening to you, they let the employees doing so have your personal information too. Remember the story about how your conversations with Alexa (even the accidental ones) are recorded and played back by Amazon employees? Turns out the privacy invasion doesn’t end there.


We hear a lot about the anti-vaxxers, but there are other people who are committed to helping bring new vaccines to market. Not everyone has to keep learning the lessons of history over and over again like an exceptionally stupid combination of Groundhog Day and What About Bob.


Peter Mayhew dies at 74. I’m not one to wax sentimental when famous people I’ve never met die, but this one is really sad. Peter Mayhew wasn’t just Chewie, he was by all accounts one of the nicest people to walk the earth.

WTF Weekly for April 24, 2019

Hit me up on Twitter if you notice any typos, or just want to talk about some of the stuff posted within!

As of this week, I’m officially replacing the baseball and F1 section of WTF Weekly with a new Space/Science/Nature section. Enjoy.


Want some AirPods with your AirPods? Ming-Chi Kuo is fully onboard the “multiple AirPod models” train. No details whatsoever are given about what features these new, additional, supplemental, highly speculative AirPods will have that existing ones don’t already.

Tim Cook says non-existent regulation of technology is a problem. Honestly, I think so too. I’m not one of the many angry people I went to high school with who thinks unfettered capitalism is the only true way to come to Jesus. However, anytime the government tries to understand technology, there’s more than ample opportunity for failure.

We need it, but will we like it?

Bruce Schneier has also often expressed a belief that shoddy IoT security (and security in general) will continue to be a major problem until the government starts regulating companies who scoop up all our personal information, and I have to say I agree.

CalZones, the MacStories review. This is not a news item, but it is sort of a new item. See what I did there?

I am using CalZones as my main iOS calendar app (I also use Apple’s calendar for things like clearing out event invites, etc) and I really like it. Although CalZones is built around the necessity to coordinate with people in other time zones, that’s secondary to how well the rest of the design and functionality works for me.


Facebook made a huge amount of money, and their stock is up – despite potentially being faced with what most people would think is a massive fine. This article raises a lot of questions for me. I supposed FB might be legally obliged to warn investors of a financial hit that’s coming, but I don’t know if that’s the case.

Also, $3 billion is a LOT of money, unless you’re FB and you rake in $15 billion. It’s still more profitable for them to be scummy and evil and abuse our private information than it is for them to worry about FTC fines.

You can’t talk to Trump about national security issues. This is nuts. We have a president in charge who can’t be trusted with information about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2020 elections. Just shoot this country in the head and get it over with already – we’re insane for choosing this guy and we’re insane for letting this nightmare continue.

Rich people are really worried about the health of capitalism. Meanwhile, everyone else has known how sick it is for a long, long time.

Black Feminists saw the rise of the alt-right coming, and were ignored. For me, one of the most discouraging things about modern life and our dependency on the internet is the amount of hateful people that congregate on it and encourage each other’s vile attitudes.

Everything from Gamergate to the recent “honest questioning” (misogynistic badgering) of scientist Katie Bouman is evidence that not only is society cranking out loser misfits incapable of seeing women as human, we’ve also given them a free platform to slither in a snake pit of loathing and venom.


Chrome update stops websites from tracking you in Incognito mode. Google’s a weird company. On the one hand, they’re basically breaking the web with Chrome and taking us back to the 90’s and browser compatibility wars, and on the other, they’re also trying very hard to protect your online privacy.

Sorry, I had to pause for a minute because tears of laughter are rolling down my face.

I’m glad they’ve installed this feature in Chrome, but trusting Google to really care about your privacy is like trusting a sex offender to babysit your child because he’s good at making sure they cross the street safely. Obviously it’s not as terrible as that, but it’s equally naive.

Blockchain Bandit – guessing keys, scoring coin. You know me, I’ll take any opportunity that comes my way to bash on cryptocurrency believers, but this story should be interesting to more moderately opinionated people too. I love this kind of research and reporting.

CIA claims it has proof Huawei has been funded by China’s military and intelligence. This is one of those cases where the evidence needs to be released, because if it’s true, companies and countries need to be able to believe it so they can avoid Huawei entirely.

On the other hand, just avoiding Huawei is not going to solve the supply chain issue, the Chinese vendor issue (hi, Lenovo), and many other security problems due to China’s role in our technology, but at least we can stop dealing companies that are certain security risks.


The emergency launch abort systems of SpaceX and Boeing explained. Space and space technology have a habit of trying to kill people on a regular basis, but engineers try to stop it from happening. I’m ok with that mission.

Get ready for tens of millions of climate refugees. I can’t wait until our idiotic orange-in-chief learns about climate change and its effects on population migration. He can’t even handle the present-day situation without categorizing people as animals and trying to “other” the entire rest of the planet.

Eat breakfast or die! This article is from Inverse, and it’s a classic question of correlation vs. causation, but still it’s entertaining reading. Maybe this will work on my daughter when she’s not hungry in the morning. Parent of the year, that’s me!


The gentle side of Twitch. I love this. People using Twitch for activities that are definitely the opposite of twitch-based entertainment.

Yesterday Vision. If you’re into retro games and have a spare $2800.00, Love Hultèn has something for you!

The Matrix code came from Sushi recipes. Which recipes were used is a secret.

WTF Weekly 5

Notably absent from this edition of WTF Weekly is any mention of the released but redacted Mueller report. That’s because I wrote this prior to Thursday and then got busy and didn’t click the publishing type buttons.

I’m also not really sure what form and format I want WTF Weekly to take, so sorry, but you’re all guinea pigs in a grand (minuscule) experiment. So be it.


iTunes must die, says everyone. Jason Snell ponders what that might look like. No doubt the coming of Marzipan portends changes both good and bad for Mac owners, but one thing’s for sure: it will be interesting.

Chances are high not many people love iTunes, but the question remains whether or not its replacement apps will be as satisfying as we like to imagine. This question extends to future Mac software in general (this week’s ATP has a great discussion on the dumbing down of software in general).

Publishers are griping about News+, but does it mean anything? My biggest concern for News+ is that Apple really isn’t sure how to make others’ lives easier, when others = media publishers. I know Apple thinks they know what’s good for them, but I don’t know how well they truly understand what’s good for newspapers and magazines.

The hard part about articles like this though is that there will always be complaints about any collaborative project, and the people complaining are usually the ones looking for someone to listen.

iOS 13 will bring dark mode and more. Guilherme Rambo says iOS 13 will have dark mode, better multitasking on iPad, standard undo, Safari and Mail improvements, and more. It sounds great, as far as it goes, but I hope we finally seem some home screen changes and some improvements to the iPhone experience too.


This is the kind of stupidity that happens when you have a president who promises things he can’t do and doesn’t even understand: Foxconn makes asses out of Walker and Wisconsin. This whole Foxconn thing is bizarre (and ultimately destructive to Wisconsin), but it’s what happens when you have a president who wants to make headlines and then move on before anyone notices it’s all a room of funhouse mirrors.

Both Trump and Walker must be two of the worst businessmen on the planet.

It’s really unusual when China makes the right call socially on technology, but Forbes thinks that’s the case with China and cryptocurrency. I hate to agree with China on this one, because usually they restrict things to suppress humanity, but in this case I have to say it – cryptocurrency is a waste of natural resources and is a religion for the extremely gullible.

Wired Magazine reports on 15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook, and it should scare you. I have a lot of theories about Facebook and the Internet and the unwashed masses. I don’t think people who aren’t tech savvy enough to distinguish fact from fiction on the Internet were ready for the Internet in general and Facebook specifically. It bulldozed over people and they never even noticed.

One of the reasons Facebook has been the worst things to happen to humanity in recent history is because humanity wasn’t and isn’t ready for information they aren’t smart enough to judge the trustworthiness of. And Facebook is nothing if not full of information that is untrustworthy, and people who can’t tell the difference.

As bad as we all know Facebook is, though, this report is still damning and alarming. Facebook is arrogant and incapable of doing the right thing, and I don’t believe that will ever change.

And yet another damning look at Facebook I’m telling you, these guys are as morally bankrupt as any corporation can be.


Amazon workers are listening to what you tell Alexa. This is kind of a weird one. Bloomberg makes it sound like a lot of audio is being processed, while Amazon would probably characterize it as very little.

The first time I saw an Echo in action was at a relative’s house and the first thought that came to mind was the type of scenario laid out in this article. I think the idea that you’re talking to a digital assistant precludes the notion of human involvement in the minds of Echo owners.

I don’t like the price of HomePods but if I were to plop an always-on mic connected to a remote service down in our home, it would absolutely be an Apple device. They care about privacy to the extent that they sacrifice Siri accuracy and comprehension because of it. You can argue that’s bad, but there’s no doubt that it’s also a good thing in terms of individual privacy and security. Right now none of the digital assistants are useful enough to make any amount of human listening remotely acceptable.

Google is a creepy company sometimes, and Sensorvault is a really creepy name. Honestly, Sensorvault is an NSA-worthy name. And apparently, it’s an NSA-worthy tracker too.

The Hotel Hacker – a fascinating look at the mess that hotel keycards really are. Andy Greenberg hits another security reporting home run with this interesting dive into hotel keycards and the people who exploit them.


Red Bull is already whining about Honda. I knew there was no way these guys could go for even a partial season without pointing the fingers at their engine supplier. Honda is in for a really fun ride.

Seven years, $35 million for Ozzie Albies. I’ve always thought the salaries in baseball for the top players are nuts, but given the projections on Ozzie Albies, 7 years for $35 million is the bargain of the century for Atlanta. It’s honestly kind of hard to believe he agreed to those terms.

Sebastian Vettel blames the media for the fact that Ferrari don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Ferrari shot themselves in the foot Sunday by moving Leclerc aside for Vettel and then keeping him out on old tires for a long time in order to hold off Vettel’s competition. Now Vettel is blaming the media for accurately assessing the situation, which is that Ferrari are creating a nightmarish team dynamic.

This is all nothing new – Raikkonen was routinely sacrificed on pit strategy the previous few seasons for Vettel’s benefit. Only near the end of last season when Vettel had well and truly stuffed his chances of a world championship that Ferrari let the guys race, and a victory for Kimi in Austin was the result.

I like Vettel as a human, but he’s been given his way for years at Ferrari and still hasn’t managed to capitalize, even when Ferrari were clearly faster than Mercedes.


Winter is coming, and so are Bubblesort TV Game of Thrones episodes! If you’re one of the billions who pretends to like GoT for something other than the softcore porn, you’ll love Bubblesort TV’s GoT podcast episodes. Clay, Vic, and Phillip are all about the death and destruction.

The Mandalorian preview looks pretty good! I’m not one of the Star Wars haters. I think this looks good. I also think the Episode 9 teaser looks good. I’m not afraid of Disney and I’m not afraid of Star Wars either.

Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes is completely unrecognizable. I wouldn’t have believed this was Russell Crowe if the article didn’t say so.