This Is Why HomeKit Is Secure

IoT BotNets are a thing.

Bruce Schneier, on Motherboard:

Much has been written about how the IoT is wildly insecure. In fact, the software used to attack Krebs was simple and amateurish. What this attack demonstrates is that the economics of the IoT mean that it will remain insecure unless government steps in to fix the problem. This is a market failure that can’t get fixed on its own.

I disagree with this sentiment. A lot of people have written about how Apple’s HomeKit is never going to work because it requires proprietary chips and a licencing fee.

This is EXACTLY the reason Apple set these limits. They’re not making HomeKit secure because they don’t want randos turning your Hue lights on and off.

They make it secure so hackers don’t have a 7-billion-node botnet.

When you control the stack...
iOS and tvOS Playing Nice

Just noticed a nifty thing watching Netflix’s Luke Cage tonight on my AppleTV. If you enter a search box, you get a push notification on your phone (and iPad). Force-press the notification, and pop into a keyboard to type your search without even unlocking your phone.

Neat.

A few off-the-cuff impressions, unedited
On the iPhone 7 Plus
Image source: Apple

After a few days with the new phone, I have some thoughts…

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Materials Are Hard

Nick Heer, on the Apple Watch Editions use of gold, and now ceramic:

Both of these materials are new to Apple, and because the Edition sells in such low quantities, there’s plenty of space to try them on a more sedate production line. I don’t know if the next iPhone will be ceramic — in fact, I doubt it will — but their process for making it might yield unique results that are applicable to other product lines.

I couldn’t agree more. The Edition line of watches sells in very low numbers, but it’s where Apple can play with new materials and manufacturing techniques for future products.

I can easily see a 2018 or 2019 iPhone that replaces the scratchtastic Jet Black with a black ceramic shell. And ceramic is radio-transparent, so no antenna lines.

Just A Shit Ton of Famous People

Save the Day. Vote.
Just A Shit Ton of Famous People

Remember to vote. Find out how here.

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Am I doing this right?

Am I doing this whole "pallet" thing right?

A photo posted by Jimmy Little (@jimmylittle) on

About That 'Courage' Comment

This never would have happened if Steve Jobs was around

Phil Schiller said Apple displayed “courage” in removing the headphone jack. He got a lot of flack for using that term, and maybe rightfully so.

It was explained as such (emphasis mine):

We’re trying to make great products for people, and we have at least the courage of our convictions to say we don’t think this is part of what makes a great product, we’re going to leave it out. Some people are going to not like that, they’re going to call us names […] but we’re going to take the heat [and] instead focus our energy on these technologies which we think are in their ascendancy and we think are going to be the right technologies for customers. And you know what? They’re paying us to make those choices […] If we succeed, they’ll buy them, and if we don’t, they won’t, and it’ll all work itself out.

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Take care of your shit, y'all
AirPod Paranoia

People are really irresponsible and paranoid, judging by their reactions to Apples AirPod announcement.

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It's pronounced bo-kay
Apple's September Event

Tomorrow is Apple’s big fall event, and we’re all expecting new iPhones. I sat out last year’s upgrade for the first time ever, so I’m certainly ready for a new phone. But will anything else be there to tempt my wallet?

What We Know

Nothing. It’s all rumors and fairy dust as of now, as usual.

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Spring cleaning in the Fall

Apple has announced to developers that they are cleaning up their app store. This is good news. The two big steps Apple is taking are cleaning up metadata by limiting title lengths and being more strict on keywords, and clearing out the old apps that no longer work. This is welcome news, but in my opinion, they should have been doing this all along.

Two Many Millions

The App Store currently houses over two million apps. And, dare I say, most of them are crap. There are probably a million and a half pieces of shit we have to wade through to get to the half-million or so acutal functional apps, and them dig even further to get to the couple of thousand that are worth downloading.

Apple could easily get rid of half the crap just by doing a sweep of all apps that are not updated for a 4” screen. We all moved into a 4” screen world with the iPhone 5 in 2012. If you haven’t updated your app to fit the modern minimum screen size in over 4 years, I’m just going to assume your app is abandoned.

The next step is for Apple to go through their automated testing, and any app that crashes on launch with iOS8,9, or 10 gets booted. If you don’t launch on a modern OS, you’re out.

Those two simple steps can be done with automation, and very little human interaction. This will leave out the judgement calls of whether an app is still useful. I still use an app or two that has iOS6 aesthetics, and I hate it, but they still work.

In the next year or two, I’d argue that apps that don’t use AutoLayout to properly fit 4.7” and 5.5” phones or split-screen on iPads should be booted as well, but for now they can be encouraged to update through search algorithms.

Clearing out the cruft will improve search. Less junk automatically means more releavant results. To go further, Apple should also promote apps to up the search ladder based on:

  • Title and keywords (obviously)
  • Star ratings (obvioulsy)
  • Age (newer updates get more search juice)
  • Adoption of modern features (favoring apps with AutoLayout and SplitScreen, for instance)
  • Review favorability (algorithms can easily determine if a written review is positive or negative)

The best part is, these two things (App Store cleanup and Search improvemets) can be done mostly by machines, clearing time for App Store staff to properly review apps and keep the App Store running from the editorial side without interruption.

Vindicated

When the gatekeepers can't keep the gate.

I’m not a big fan of Business Insider, but there are some good quotes and links in this story.

Most in the technology community rallied around Apple at the time, arguing that weakened encryption might help government investigators, but it would also make customers vulnerable to hackers.

Now, with a massive top-secret archive of some of the NSA’s own exploits having been leaked online, it appears they were right.

Are search engines biased? (Spoiler: No)
Search Engine Bias in Politics

I’ve been seeing a lot of hoopla lately about people thinking search engines were biased for or against certain candidates. So, being a numbers guy, I decided to find out.

I went to the 4 major search engines and tried a couple of searches. First, I searched for “2016 presidential candidates” on Duck Duck Go, Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Then, I searched for the candidate’s name plus the word “is”. The results are below.

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Do these guys even talk to each other?

Part of a Hugh Hewitt interview with VP nominee Mike Pence, quoted on Vox.

High Hewitt asks Pence about Obama calling Trump a demagogue:

HUGH HEWITT: So you dismiss the demagogue?

MIKE PENCE: But I’ve found him to be, well, you know, I don’t think name-calling has any place in public life

Meanwhile, on Twitter…