Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

Americans Don't Upgrade Phones as Often Anymore

· Andrew Orr · Link

It seems that people don’t upgrade phones as often as they used to. More expensive phones, fewer carrier subsidies, and the death of two-year contracts may have led to this.

Carriers in recent years have offered less-generous promotions and separated the cost of a phone from a customer’s monthly service fees, leading to the demise of the two-year ritual of upgrading devices and service contracts simultaneously.

iPhones are now more expensive than ever. At the same time, Apple also has great support for older iPhones, so there’s not much incentive to upgrade every year anymore.

iOS 12.0.1 Bug Gives Anyone Access To Your Photos

· Andrew Orr · Link

Amatas reports that an iOS 12.0.1 bug lets anyone obtain access to your photos by doing a special bypass at the lock screen.

People believe that this smartphone brand is extremely secure, but it is now emerging that all iPhone users are vulnerable to a distrustful partner, a curious colleague, an outrageous boss, because absolutely anyone can access your iPhone’s photo album, look through the photos and can send them to whom he wishes.

Poorly written article aside, this smartphone brand is extremely secure, but no system can be 100% secure. iOS 12.1 is reported to launch tomorrow, and it’s possible it will include a bug fix for this.

Here's a Wallpaper Generator Shortcut For Those Apple Logos

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

Redditor u/wexford001 made a neat wallpaper generator shortcut. It uses the Apple logos (all 370 of them) that Apple created for tomorrow’s event. Every time you tap the shortcut it generates a random image based on your device. There are both white and black versions, in case you have an iPhone with an OLED screen.

All the code to actually get the image from imgur was the work of u/hinapupina in his “imgur downloader” shortcut. I modified it a bit, but i don’t understand it well enough to have done this on my own. Thanks!

You can download the shortcut for white wallpapers here, and the black version here.

Here’s a Wallpaper Generator Shortcut For Those Apple Logos

Rich People are Banning Screens in Classrooms

· Andrew Orr · Link

Rich people are banning screens in classrooms, in a surprising turn in the digital divide debate.

It wasn’t long ago that the worry was that rich students would have access to the internet earlier, gaining tech skills and creating a digital divide…But now, as Silicon Valley’s parents increasingly panic over the impact screens have on their children and move toward screen-free lifestyles, worries over a new digital divide are rising. It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction.

At one point when I was growing up, my dad got rid of the television because us kids were glued to it. I didn’t like it then, but looking back I think it was a good decision. And I’ve already written about how kids are being raised by YouTube.

Feds Say It's Legal to Hack DRM to Fix Your Devices

· Andrew Orr · Link

In a new decision, the Librarian of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office proposed new rules that make it legal to hack DRM to fix your electronic devices.

The move is a landmark win for the “right to repair” movement; essentially, the federal government has ruled that consumers and repair professionals have the right to legally hack the firmware of “lawfully acquired” devices for the “maintenance” and “repair” of that device. Previously, it was legal to hack tractor firmware for the purposes of repair; it is now legal to hack many consumer electronics.

This is a great decision, and although Apple opposes the right to repair, it’s a pro-consumer choice.

This Website Lets you Compare Smartphones in 3D

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

A website called Hotspot 3D lets you compare smartphones in 3D. It’s really neat because you can compare different iPhone and Android models to give you an idea of how they compare in terms of size. The phones are displayed side by side and you can spin them every which way around. The available iPhones are: iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone X/XS/XS Max, and iPhone XR. The Android phones are: Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, Samsung Galaxy S8/S8 Plus, Galaxy S9/S9 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Huawei P20/P20 Lite/P20 Pro, Sony Xperia XA2/XA2 Ultra, Huawei Mate 10/Mate 10 Lite/Mate 10 Pro, and the LG Q6. You can also compare every phone to a credit card.

This Website Lets you Compare Smartphones in 3D

U.S., China, and the AI Cold War

· Andrew Orr · Link

When Google’s AlphaGo system beat Chinese players at the game twice, this set off a sort of AI cold war between China and the United States.

On October 18, 2017, China’s president, Xi Jinping, stood in front of 2,300 of his fellow party members, flanked by enormous red drapes and a giant gold hammer and sickle. As Xi laid out his plans for the party’s future over nearly three and a half hours, he named artificial intelligence, big data, and the internet as core technologies that would help transform China into an advanced industrial economy in the coming decades. It was the first time many of these technologies had explicitly come up in a president’s speech at the Communist Party Congress, a once-in-five-years event.

Rare Inside Look at Apple News Human Curation

· Andrew Orr · News

Ms. Kern is a former executive editor of New York Magazine. Working with her team, they hand pick the top stories of the day to feature in the Apple News app.

Government is Outsourcing Surveillance to Silicon Valley

· Andrew Orr · Link

Sean Captain writes about a report that shows how the government is increasingly outsourcing surveillance to Silicon Valley companies.

While Amazon plays the leading role, the report also details the involvement of companies including Peter Thiel’s Palantir, NEC, and Thomson Reuters in storing, transferring, and analyzing data on both undocumented residents and U.S. citizens.

“There is a transfer of discretion and power from the public sector to the private sector in the form of these contracted technological services,” says Shankar Narayan, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the ACLU in Washington State, which was not involved in the report.

The future sounds more dystopian every day.

Russia, China Are Spying on Trump's Insecure iPhone

· Andrew Orr · Link

U.S. intelligence agencies discovered that Russia and China are spying on conversations President Trump has on his insecure iPhone.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

Inflamed by Russian bots, an issue during the 2016 election was Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, because there was a possibility it could be compromised. Now we find that Trump’s iPhone has confirmed to be compromised.

Google Adds Privacy Controls in Search

· Andrew Orr · Link

Google will start showing privacy controls on its search page, instead of forcing users to navigate their My Activity page.

Google calls the new feature Your Data, and has experimented with offering information about data privacy in different formats like video, illustrations, and text. The idea, Miraglia says, is to help as many users as possible understand what data a service collects, why, and what controls are available.

I think it’s a good move by Google, but like Douglas Schmidt said in the article: “It never hurts for people to be reminded that their online activities are being monitored, but I’m not sure it would make anybody feel better about what’s being done with it.”

Fiber Optic Breakthrough Could Make Internet 100X Faster

· Andrew Orr · Link

Researchers have had a fiber optic breakthrough, and it could significantly speed up existing networks and boost efficiency. The secret is twisted light.

Fibre optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information, but currently information can only be stored through the colour of the light, and whether the wave is horizontal or vertical.

By twisting light into a spiral, engineers effectively create a third dimension for light to carry information: the level of orbital angular momentum, or spin. “It’s like DNA, if you look at the double helix spiral,” said Min Gu from RMIT University. “The more you can use angular momentum the more information you can carry.”

I wonder how much current ISPs would throttle this 100X faster internet?