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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

WTF Weekly 4

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The T2 chip increases Mac performance, according to AppleInsider. AppleInsider tested a Mac mini with the T2 against a 4k 2019 iMac with the same CPU but no T2, and concluded that video encoding is much faster on the Mac with the T2.

Initially my reaction to this was “it’s the hard drive, stupid”, but AppleInsider tried to account for the performance differences between SSD and 5400 rpm platter drives by using an external SSD on the iMac as well as also testing with an external laptop platter drive on the Mac mini. Personally I would have set them both up with the same external drives for each test, assuming that’s not what they actually did.

Either way, it’s getting harder to believe that an all-Apple-designed processor Mac isn’t on the roadmap.

Netflix hopes people believe its nonsense about why it removed AirPlay capability from its iOS apps. Unfortunately, less technical people probably will.

Truthfully, I don’t care about AirPlay from Netflix on iOS devices to a TV anyway because I have an Apple TV for that, but it’s just a jerky move with a completely laughable excuse as to why Netflix did it in the first place. Netflix clearly wants nothing to do with Apple’s attempts to TV-Appify the viewing experience. I wish they just had the courage to say so. Courage, Phil Schiller style!!

Can Apple News even Math? As a person living in the US who signed up for the News trial subscription the minute it was available, I have to say there are several things about the service that leave me scratching my head. Granted, the economics of it aren’t my problem, but the publishers involved absolutely have to wonder.

Also note the numbers in that article make the gigantic assumption that most people who signed up will keep News past the trial period1 or that replacement subscribers and then more people beyond that tally will sign up later.

I really have no idea how it’s all going to shake out, but this seems a lot to me like one of those Apple rollouts that the company swears will change the world and then eventually quietly abandons it.

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Big Japanese banks finally stop using 1800s technology. Don’t worry, it’s not their computing systems that are so old. It’s just that banks have finally noticed it is 2019 and have decided that personal mark stamps aren’t really modern identification verification technology.

I enjoyed this story immensely because when we lived in Japan in the 70s and 80s, my father of course had to acquire his own 判子 (hanko, typically written as ハンコ) for official paperwork of all kinds. And in Japan, there is definitely official paperwork of all kinds.

By the way, if you’re into nostalgia or cultural experimentation, you can buy your own hanko from an online hanko store. I’m thinking about it myself!

The AI knows when you’ll die. I’m always amused and bemused simultaneously when financial advisors ask “how long do you plan to live after you retire”, but now I think maybe this AI was created just for them.

The only thing creepier would be an AI that knows when you’re going to die because it’s planning to terminate you itself. I’m sure that’s coming in an upgrade.

Dear Leader, the mobile app. Continuing the creepy theme, the amount of mind control the Chinese are willing to endure just keeps setting new standards. Now they’re succumbing to pressure to get high scores in their knowledge of their country and their dear, dear leader.

This sounds like literal hell on earth to me. Having to spend hours and hours consuming official propaganda is bad enough, but being graded on it and shamed publicly and even having your paycheck lowered for poor scores out-Orwells even 1984’s grim vision of the future. I’m actually a bit surprised so little attention is being paid to what’s going on in China right now. Terrifying is by no means too strong a word for it.

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‘Exodus’ Spyware posed as legit iOS app. Really the thing to learn here, if you don’t already know it, is be cautious about apps you download. Unlike on Android, most malicious iOS apps have to operate by tricking you into giving them permissions to do certain things you really don’t want them to.

Which brings up another point – for all the complaints about the Apple walled-garden, mobile malware is a huge issue and Apple intended to prevent it from becoming pervasive on their devices. They’ve largely succeeded. The occasional bad actor sneaks through, and of course there are always nation state level attacks, but Android, with its “open” Google Play store, is a raging security dumpster fire.

Patch your Verizon Fios router. I’m never a fan of default routers for this very reason. Granted, a lot of third-party dedicated routers have security issues too, especially cheaper ones that aren’t worth the time and money for the vendor to keep secure, but quite often the ones the ISPs give out are embarrasingly horrible.

The bad thing about vulnerabilities exposing large numbers of devices that can be probed for across the internet is that they can be automated and turned into a large-scale attack, as opposed to the FaceTime bug that had people pooping their pants all over the internet, but that was a one-to-one exploit that by design had to alert the user that a call attempt was made.

People are really bad at understanding real risks versus scary sounding ones.

Hacker Eva Galperin has a plan to eradicate stalkerware. Stalkerware is a serious problem that doesn’t get enough attention, probably because security and tech in general are skewed heavily male in too many ways, and men don’t really worry about this kind of thing (or apparently care that it happens to women).

Kudos to Eva for not only addressing the issue, but for pressing US antivirus and security companies to care by getting Kaspersky onboard.

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Braves/Rockies snowed out one day after warm, sunny game in the same park. Colorado is weird.

Jolyon Palmer says pressure is mounting on Sebastian Vettel. If anyone should know about the pressure of not performing up to expectations in Formula One, it’s Jolyon Palmer (and I don’t mean that at all as a dig).

Vettel is not looking like a four time world champion right now, but his vastly less experienced teammate Charles Leclerc is definitely looking like a future one.

Magic Johnson doesn’t want to be Lakers president of operations anymore. I normally don’t care at all about basketball of any kind, including the NBA2, but even so the dynamics of the Lakers right now are intriguing.


  1. I’m not going to ↩︎
  2. I can’t even tell you the names of anyone on the current Portland Trailblazers roster. ↩︎

WTF Weekly 3

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Macstories likes the new Apple TV app. The Apple TV app redesign is going to go a long way towards curing my ambivalence about it. While I’ll probably never fall in love with it the way Vic Hudson is, being able to watch everything inside one app is a huge improvement.

Assuming everything besides Netflix that we watch (DirectTV Now, ESPN, Hulu, MLB.TV, YouTube) all show up in the app and work from inside the TV app, I may even use the bloody thing.

David Heinemeier Hansson is convinced Apple’s MacBook keyboard problems are worse than Apple knows. I wonder how much Apple is really glossing this over hoping it will go away and how much they realize they actually do have a problem on their hands (and under everyone else’s).

I’m completely onboard with the notion that Apple has got to fix this with a keyboard redesign. I’m not MAD about it, because I don’t use Apple laptops, but people who do use them should not be happy.

Over 200,000 readers signed up for Apple News+ during its first 48 hours, report says. I changed this headline slightly by swapping in the word “readers” for “users”, both because it’s applicable and because users really is a terrible word.

I wonder how many of these people will stay signed up? I started the trial immediately, but I am not going to stay subscribed.

It’s not that I don’t think News+ is pretty good (it is pretty good, but has some problems), but I had to choose between that or this season’s MLB.TV package, and I went with the latter. Even if I only watch a fraction of the games I want to this season, it’s worth it to me, whereas Wired is the only magazine I feel like I have to have as opposed to it just being nice to have.

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Japan’s name for the new emperor era is causing some concern. The Japanese government claims that the new era name to coincide with a change in emperors is all flowers and unicorns, but a lot of people, including some Japanese, aren’t so sure. Still, many reports claim it’s getting a majority positive response in Japan.

I suspect the truth of the matter is that the new name is a bit of an intentional Rorschach test.

Norway loves the Tesla. 58% of cars sold in Norway in March were zero emission vehicles. That’s pretty impressive. Gradually we’ll get to an electric car future. Right now price and range are still a concern for most people.

I’m going to be really pissed if we wind up with 4 more years of Trump because Biden is an idiot and the cult of Sanders sucks. I don’t know which is worse, the fact that Biden is at best a clueless moron who put himself in a position to be called out for being creepy to women, or that Bernie is somehow again going to be part of the distraction.

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Cloudflare may be about to change the mobile VPN landscape. Cloudflare gave us 1.1.1.1 months ago to shield DNS queries from ISPs. Now they’re going to add true VPN functionality to the service. Personally, I can’t wait to see it in action. It may be time to say bye bye to TunnelBear.

Poor Jeff Bezos. Maybe having a phone is a bad idea for him. Apparently Jeff’s mistress’s terrible brother isn’t the only guy he should worry about peeping at his text messages. The Saudis wanted dirt on him too. I think at this point Bezos should just get an old school pager and call it good.

It turns out Huawei isn’t just potentially evil, it’s also really stupid. The British government scored a major burn on Huawei by claiming the real security threat they pose isn’t due to intentional malware, but gross incompetence. Personally I have to ask if it can’t be both?

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We already knew that Charles Leclerc comprehensively outperformed his 4 time world champion teammate in Bahrain, but he also ignored team orders to stay behind Vettel. What a fascinating team dynamic at Ferrari we have to look forward to this season. Ferrari (at least publicly) wants to support and prioritize their multiple world champion, but I think Leclerc is going to make that difficult by being the faster and less mistake-prone driver of the two.

Today the Braves extended Ronald Acuna Jr’s contract 8 years for $100 million. It’s not Bryce Harper money, but it will hopefully keep him happy for a few years. This should work out well for the Braves.

WTF Weekly 2

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Cardhop for iOS debuts with natural language parsing, contact notes, and business cards. I have been a sad, sad bear ever since Greg Pierce decided to discontinue support of Interact for iOS. Apple’s own Contacts app doesn’t allow group management, among other things, and I honestly have been thinking about writing my own janky iOS app to move people in and out of Contact groups.

But then came Cardhop, and it looks great! I mean it literally looks great. Also it has nice group features, quick actions, everything except the scratchpad that Interact still will be mourned for.

AirPods, the sequel: people seem to like them. Not gonna lie, when AirPods 2 were announced, I thought about it. Mine are definitely going down the “much shorter battery life” path to unsuccess (yes, I made up a word). However, I may just wait for the rumored truly wireless PowerBeats. Longer battery life and better fit for workouts sound tempting.

AT&T’s Randall Stephenson claims viewer data will be given to media companies by Apple. It’s really hard to know about this with any certainty at all because A) Stephenson is a bit of an a%%holio, B) He didn’t actually mention Apple by name but just threw them in by implication, and C) Did I mention that he’s a bungholio?

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Republicans block US Senate Democrats’ move on making Mueller report public. It is possible there are things in the Mueller report that should not be made public, but really the Republicans are just acting like the vile humans they are at this point. The GOP has long since given up even pretending to care about right or wrong and is concerned solely with winning.

John Hinckley says he’s happy, but he still creeps out everyone who meets him. I don’t know why, but this part kind of made me laugh:

He doesn’t like to exercise and in recent years has gained as much as 40 pounds. He walks with a limp and suffers from arthritis and hypertension.

Maybe someone should recommend the Apple Watch to the guy.

Mike Pence’s brain is on the moon. Mike Pence doesn’t seem to realize that the U.S. going back to the moon within 5 years is never going to happen without some serious funding. But then again, reality isn’t this administration’s strong suit.

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Asus really screws the firmware doggy. You know what’s more interesting than stories by Bloomberg about security threats that never actually happened? Stories from Vice about ones that did. It’s generally considered bad news when malicious actors use your own firmware update system to dump malware onto customer motherboards.

As of the 25th, Asus still had not notified their customers about the issue (probably still gathering data, according to the authors). Yikes.

The NSO group wants you to like them. Really. It’d be almost touching if it weren’t so ludicrously stupid.

From the “your parents must be so proud!” department. I didn’t intend all my security links this week to be from Motherboard and Vice, but this one is worth reading. Most people have probably forgotten all about Ross Ulbricht, but his parents haven’t. His mother also hasn’t forgotten what it feels like to find out your son is an amoral criminal.

Also, anyone else find it odd that the author of this article found it hard to believe that Ross’ mom didn’t know what Silk Road was prior to her son’s arrest? Why the bloody hades would she??

WTF Weekly 1

While I was toiling away and ignoring the world to earn a paycheck this past week, weird things happened.

Beta O’Rourke was outed as a former Cult of the Dead Cow member. This is fascinating on many levels. First there’s the obvious oddity of a politician who may actually be quite tech savvy. Then there’s the whole history of the Cult of the Dead Cow itself. I knew about cDc from the beginning because my brother and I were deep into computers at the time.

Black boxes are as fascinating as ever. It’s just tragic that their near indestructibility has been required more than once recently thanks to the Boeing 737 Max.

The iPad mini lives, and the new iPad Air may be the most compelling iPad ever for many. Apple quietly released two new iPads, and and in doing so filled a couple gaping holes in the iPad lineup. I saw a couple grumbles online about there being two many choices, but I completely disagree – the gap between even the 11” iPad Pro and the $329 9.7” iPad was too great, and of course the iPad mini was basically a zombie at four years old. This is a welcome bolstering of iPad options for almost all buyers.

Click Here to Kill Everybody is a book by Bruce Schneier. I’m reading it, and so should you. Really you should read everything by Schneier. At the very least, subscribe to his blog for bloody sake. Our digital future is far more fraught with opportunity for failure than we imagined when I was coming of age in the Apple II and early Mac eras, thanks to what Bruce terms “Internet ”, but maybe there’s hope. Maybe.

To whom it may concern, !@# you! Valtteri Bottas heard you, critics (which definitely included me last season). Not only did the Finn beat his 5-time world champion teammate in the F1 season opener in Australia fair and square, he also colorfully told his detractors where they could stick it while pulling his car into parc ferme. This could be an interesting season if Hamilton decides he doesn’t like the new rugged individualist Bottas as much as the formerly compliant one.