I cut Apple out of my life. It was devastating

Kashmir Hill, writing for Gizmodo, in the latest of her six part series on dumping Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and, this week, Apple from her life. Fascinating read.

Angela Ahrendts and Deirdre O’Brien

Personally, I was gobsmacked by the announcement.

As we posted last night, Apple formally announced that Angela Ahrendts would be leaving Apple this April, naming Deirdre O’Brien as the new senior vice president of Retail + People.

I’ve long been a fan of Angela’s. Hard to know what aspects of Apple Retail success she should get credit for, how much of those plans were in place when she arrived, but that aside, I’ve always appreciated her intelligence and her well spoken representation as the public face of Apple Retail.

Here’s a little publicized interview from a few years back that CNBC just posted, with Angela talking about retail.

And if you are unfamiliar with Deirdre O’Brien, here’s a short backgrounder to fill in a few of the details.

From Apple’s announcement:

In her expanded role, Deirdre will bring her three decades of Apple experience to lead the company’s global retail reach, focused on the connection between the customer and the people and processes that serve them. She will continue to lead the People team, overseeing all People-related functions, including talent development and Apple University, recruiting, employee relations and experience, business partnership, benefits, compensation, and inclusion and diversity.

It is interesting to look at the updated Leadership page, where Deirdre is the only person with a “+” in their title (Senior Vice President, Retail + People). Plenty of “and”, but no other “+”.

Retail and HR are such different spaces, I can’t help but wonder if that + is a stopgap, a temporary assignment until they find someone else to take over one spot or the other. Or, perhaps, that + is simply a typo, and Deirdre is in both camps for the long haul, with an and in her future.

The 230 new emoji heading your way

Good piece from Emojipedia.

The more emoji that join the list, the more we need a re-roll of the emoji interface in iOS. At the very least, I’d love for iOS to steal the customizable Favorites list from macOS, allowing me a favorites pane that I control, in addition to the dynamic pane populated with the most recently used emoji.

Security researcher demos macOS exploit to access Keychain passwords, but won’t share details with Apple out of protest

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Security researcher Linuz Henze has shared a video demonstration of what is claimed to be a macOS Mojave exploit to access passwords stored in the Keychain. However, he has said he is not sharing his findings with Apple out of protest.

Henze has publicly shared legitimate iOS vulnerabilities in the past, so he has a track record of credibility.

However, Henze is frustrated that Apple’s bug bounty program only applies to iOS, not macOS, and has decided not to release more information about his latest Keychain invasion.

As Apple explores changes to its bug reporting process, this should join the FaceTime eavesdropping bug as case studies for how information like this flows back to Apple.

Provocative Pixar short

[VIDEO] Pixar shorts always deliver a message, some more subtle than others. Take a look at this latest entry (embedded in the main Loop post). What do you think?

Detailed sculpture, zoomed in, reveals a whole new world

Watch the video embedded in the tweet below. It’s short. And incredible.


I struggle to wrap my head around the fact that the artist sees the zoomed out image in the collection of materials they used.

Thomas Deininger, I salute you.

High level Apple exec flies to Tucson to meet with 14-year-old who discovered FaceTime flaw


Grant Thompson, the 14-year-old who found Apple’s FaceTime flaw, may get a bounty for his discovery.

“I kind of found this one on accident, which is pretty surprising to me that like Apple didn’t get this and a 14-year-old kid found it by accident,” Thompson told CNBC.


[Grant’s mother] said a high-level Apple executive flew to Tucson, Arizona, on Friday afternoon to meet with Grant. The executive, whom she declined to name, “thanked us in person and also asked for our feedback, asked us how they could improve their reporting process.”

“They also indicated that Grant would be eligible for the bug bounty program. And we would hear from their security team the following week in terms of what that meant.

I do hope Apple finds ways to improve their reporting process. Ideally, the new process would help egregious, widely reported bugs quickly find their way to the appropriate team at Apple, perhaps with a more publicly exposed status system that makes it clear the reported bug is valid, with a fix in the works.

The idea of tons of iPhone owners duplicating the work of others by reporting a known bug, all in an attempt to get it to rise to the right team at Apple seems incredibly wasteful to me. No easy fix here, glad Apple is working on this.

Creating Saturday Night Live’s cue cards

[VIDEO] Had no idea how much work went into creating the SNL cue cards. But when you watch the video (embedded in the main Loop post), it’s clear how important a role they play, and how complex the process of keeping them in sync with the ever evolving scripts.

Amazon and fake books

No Starch Press is a longtime publisher of books for developers. Over the weekend, they posted this tweet, calling out Amazon for selling a fake version of one of its books (H/T Robert Walter).

The book had the same title, same author, and a similar cover. But it was not printed by No Starch Press and, presumably, none of the money will make its way to No Starch or the author.

Book fakes have been around forever. Pretty early in my book writing career, I found out the ugly truth. When a book with any kind of demand appeared in print, the fake machinery kicked in. Someone (for me, it usually started in China) would buy a copy of the book, use a saw to cut off the spine/binding, then feed the pages into an optical character reader, creating a PDF of the book.

Once they had the fake book in hand, they could print a fake and sell it, or add the fake PDF to a torrent web site. Happened to me with every book I ever wrote.

But this particular fake appears to be surfaced by Amazon, the number one bookseller in the world. Here’s a link to what appears to be the fake. If I had not seen the original, I would never have known.

Amazon, you going to do anything about this?

A brilliant primer on CSS

Ever want to wrap your head around CSS? This guide from Ali Spittel is well written, with lots of images to help bring the concepts home.

Bookmark. Share.

Jean-Louis Gassée: A short Steve anecdote and the heart wrenching birth of Be

This is another entry in Jean-Louis’ terrific 50 Years in Tech memoir.

One bit that struck me:

As described in the Firing Frankness Monday Note, my exit arrangement with Apple involved staying another six months or so as a ”minister without portfolio”. As I pondered my next move, I got a pair of phone calls from Steve Jobs. First, he asked me how it felt to be fired, a smirking question that I deserved given that I was instrumental in his own dismissal. A few days later, another call. This time, Jobs offered to talk because “we could do great things together”. I declined. As discussed before, I knew I didn’t have the emotional strength to work for the charismatic NeXT founder.

The whole thing is worth reading. Makes me hungry for the next entry in the series, even though I know how this part ends.

The 25 most influential movie scenes of the past 25 years

If you love movies, this is a terrific multi-media project to make your way through. For each movie, there’s a highlighted scene snippet (sadly, no sound), followed by a writeup on the importance of the scene, followed by a take from someone involved, like the actor, director, or writer.

Yes, it’s a list, so there are no doubt omissions, or bits you think shouldn’t be on the list. But, in my opinion, a terrific read, worth your time.

My favorite? The section titled “But wait…” from Iron Man. It introduced something fun to the movie going experience.

For AirPods early adopters, Apple’s hit wireless earbuds are showing their age

Zac Hall, 9to5Mac:

Batteries are consumable, we all know so well now, and that’s proven true for the tiny batteries inside AirPods after two years of daily use. Battery life that once exceeded five hours now struggles to power AirPods through three hours of continuous usage at the same volume.


In practice, I used to never hear the low battery alert during usage. I rarely listened to audio with AirPods for five straight hours before charging in the carrying case without thought. More recently, I’ve heard the bloop sound much more regularly, frequently followed by AirPods dying before I’m ready to recharge.

Yup. I’ve had my AirPods for about two years, and the loss of battery life is noticeable. And, as Zac points out, though I do feel the tug to buy a new set for fresh batteries, a product refresh is rumored to be on the horizon.

I wish Apple offered an inexpensive battery replacement program. Or a trade-in program, replacing aging AirPods with a new set, for a fee. I’d absolutely go for that.

UPDATE: To be clear [H/T, Gabriel Jordan], Apple does have an official AirPods battery replacement program. The cost seems to be $49 per AirPod. So $98 for a battery refresh. Plus tax and shipping. Though there’s an out-of-warranty fee of $69 per. Going to assume that’s for non-battery repair.

No matter, $98+ to refresh the battery is incentive for me to wait and apply that money to the next generation. Just hope it comes soon.

TechCrunch tears down Facebook’s non-apology internal memo, brick-by-brick

Your twitter feed is no doubt filled with discussion about Facebook and Google misusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate system and Apple canceling those certificates.

Consider this small quote from Google’s official response to this situation:

The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize.

“This was a mistake, and we apologize.” Such simple words to say. Facebook could easily have ended all this discussion with something similar.

Instead, they denied accountability, insisted that they did what anyone would do. They even sent out a company wide internal memo, just to make it clear to their employees that this was all a big misunderstanding.

TechCrunch, who was named in the memo, took the memo apart, brick-by-brick. Brilliantly.

Follow the headline link, read the Facebook memo and TechCrunch’s interstitial comments. There’s some real insight here.

Bloomberg: Apple Is planning 3-D cameras for new iPhones in AR push


Apple Inc. plans to launch iPhones with a more-powerful 3-D camera as soon as next year, stepping up the company’s push into augmented reality, according to people familiar with the plans.

The rear-facing, longer-range 3-D camera is designed to scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world. It will work up to about 15 feet from the device, the people said. That’s in contrast with the current iPhone 3-D camera system, which points toward users and operates at distances of 25 to 50 centimeters to power Apple’s Face ID facial-recognition feature.

I tend to avoid rumors but, right or wrong, this article is full of fascinating detail. If and when AR gains enough traction to be part of our day to day lives, I think Apple will be perfectly placed to sell an entirely new generation of iPhones.

NOTE: Do not confuse AR with VR. AR (augmented reality) layers simulated information on top of what you see through your iPhone’s camera. VR (virtual reality) is a virtual world, fed to you through special interface devices, like gloves and helmets.

I see AR as eminently useful, letting you measure rooms and place virtual furniture, or helping map your trip through the grocery store, finding items and comparing prices. The use cases are here, the hardware and software is still in the works.

AirBuddy: Instantly connect your AirPods to your Mac

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was on the road this week. One thing I looked forward to when I got back to my Mac (I did the whole road-trip on my iPad, no complaints) was installing AirBuddy, the phenomenal Mac utility from iOS and macOS spelunker Guilherme Rambo.

Worth the wait.

In a nutshell, AirBuddy gives your Mac the same AirPods magic that you see on your iPhone. Open your AirPods case near your iPhone, and a popup instantly appears that shows you the battery status of your AirPods, lets you know the AirPods are ready to connect.

With AirBuddy’s helper app in place (launch the app once and the helper app is installed), that same magic happens when you open the AirPods case next to your Mac.

AirBuddy eases the friction of connecting your AirPods to your Mac. No more going into Bluetooth, clicking your AirPods, then Connect, and waiting for the connection. Instead, AirBuddy sits there, waiting for you to open your AirPods case and brings up that familiar interface.

AirBuddy is $5+ (meaning you can pay more). To me, the price is worth it to support Guilherme’s spelunking efforts. It certainly is a fun experiment.

Apple inks Apple Music deal with American Airlines


Starting Friday, Apple Music subscribers can enjoy their access to over 50 million songs, playlists and music videos on any domestic American Airlines flight equipped with Viasat satellite Wi-Fi with no Wi-Fi purchase required. American Airlines is the first commercial airline to provide exclusive access to Apple Music through complimentary inflight Wi-Fi.

The way I read this, the experience will be the same as using Apple Music on the ground. Not a limited version of Apple Music, but straight-up Apple Music without having to buy the plane’s Wi-Fi package.

I love this idea, hope other airlines follow suit.

Legendary drummer shows how its done

[VIDEO] You’ve most likely heard Bernard Purdie play. He’s been on a ton of classic albums, did some incredible drumming on Steely Dan’s Aja. He’s my favorite.

In this video (embedded in the main Loop post), Purdie starts with a simple 1-2-3, 1-2-3 waltz time tapping, then slowly incorporates different techniques to create different feels.

Watch, even if you know nothing about drumming. Just keep that 1-2-3 beat in your head the whole time. Marvelous.

The mystery tracks being ‘forced’ on Spotify users


Mysterious musicians have cropped up on Spotify, racking up thousands of listens and (perhaps) hundreds of pounds. It’s a phenomenon that experts say could indicate a security flaw.

But while Spotify denies that accounts have been hacked, the music streaming site has not explained in detail how the playlists of some users indicate they’ve “listened to” musicians that nobody’s ever heard of.


Many listeners (including this reporter) never actively searched for or played tracks by bands like Bergenulo Five, but found that their music ended up being logged in their listening history anyway.

The BBC asked Spotify for contact details for the artists in question. It declined, and all of our attempts to contact the bands were met with silence. But within a few days of our query, most of the mystery artists had disappeared from the music streaming site.

Amazing story. This does sound like account hacking or, at the very least, hacking of Spotify’s master database. How else to explain non-existent artists mysteriously appearing on people’s listening history?

Apple gets patent on health sensor that detects poisonous gases, like carbon monoxide

Patently Apple:

Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to future iDevices being integrated with poisonous gas detectors. Carbon monoxide (or CO) is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is sometimes called the silent killer because it poisons and kills many people each year, without them ever being aware of the danger. Having a miniature gas sensor built into an iPhone or Apple Watch will be able to notify a user that they could possibly be in a dangerous environment at home, at work or in the public.

Carbon monoxide detectors are usually mounted on the ceiling. And carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air. Might Apple have plans for their own HomeKit-enabled, ceiling mount detectors?

The patent (and a related patent) does show the sensor in an iPhone and MacBook.

Apple shifts gears, will pay license fee to top 10 winners of their shot on iPhone contest

No doubt due to the public outcry, and to avoid the appearance of using people’s work for “exposure”, Apple added this paragraph to the very end of their recent press release:

Apple believes strongly that artists should be compensated for their work. Photographers who shoot the final 10 winning photos will receive a licensing fee for use of such photos on billboards and other Apple marketing channels.

Good solution.

Hands on with Dell’s massively wide display

[VIDEO] This display is crazy wide. So wide that my first reaction was, it’s just too wide to be useful.


Watch the video embedded in the main Loop post. You can fit a ton of information on the screen (as expected), and you can even run two different computers, each taking up half the display.

As of this post, the price is $1250. Seems a good deal for an ultra wide 5K monitor, though it only runs at 60Hz, so not sure it’d be good for gaming.

Be sure to watch the very end to see this monitor running in portrait mode.

Siri, the HomePod and story time, redux

Last week, we posted a piece called Siri, the HomePod and story time. In it, we quoted this Apple press release announcing the release of the HomePod in China:

HomePod is a convenient way to check the weather or the latest sports scores, set multiple timers and reminders, make and receive phone calls and more. Siri on HomePod also offers storytelling for children, just say “Hey Siri, tell me a story.”

Try as I might, I could not get Siri to respond to the “tell me a story” request. There’s a good reason for this.

Apple has now updated their press release (H/T Sébastien Page):

In China, Siri on HomePod also offers storytelling for children, just say “Hey Siri, tell me a story.”

Clearly, this is a feature that only works in China. I still wonder about the mechanics. Does this only work in conjunction with books you purchase? Does Siri read to you, or are these canned audio books that Siri fires off? Is there a fixed set of stories?

I also wonder why this only works in China. Is it a rights issue? Will this feature eventually make its way to the US?

Just me being curious.

Apple just dismissed more than 200 employees from Project Titan, its autonomous vehicle group

Apple, via CNBC:

“We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple. As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple,” the spokesperson said.

“We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever.”

No Sweethearts this Valentine’s Day

ABC Radio:

The popular, colorful, heart-shaped conversation candies featuring sayings on them like “Kiss Me,” “Cutie Pie” and “Be Mine,” will not be produced this year, according to the Spangler Candy Company, which purchased Sweethearts and NECCO Wafers in 2018.

NECCO went out of business last year. Never liked the taste of those Valentine’s Day classics, but they’ve been part of Valentine’s Day since I was a kid. Looks like they’ll be back next year.

Odd seeing brands shift manufacturers. Like Twinkies, which disappeared from US shelves when Hostess went through bankruptcy.