Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

Google Wants to Change Uniform Resource Locators

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One of the big headlines of the day is how Google wants to “kill” Uniform Resource Locators, or URLs.

Google is keeping tight-lipped on its ideas for future URLs and is aware of the enormous uphill task ahead of it. URLs are ubiquitous, and any major change will inevitably be resisted. For now, the Chrome engineers are working to better understand how URLs are used in various contexts before making a new recommendation.

It sounds to me like Google doesn’t want to get rid of URLs. It just wants to hide them like Apple’s Safari does. In 2014 Google did have a project like that called origin chip, but abandoned it because of complaints and security concerns.

Is Apple Really Privatizing Public Space?

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Paris Marx writes that Apple is privatizing public space by changing its Apple retail stores. Angela Ahrendts wants Apple retail stores to be town squares, a.k.a. community gathering places. Mr. Marx has an issue with this for some reason.

The issue is with Apple’s plans for the exterior of its stores. The company wants more green space, and more places for people to hang out even if they aren’t shopping. Essentially, Apple intends to create privatized public spaces centered around its pseudo-religious glowing white apple. It hopes these public-private spaces will entice people to indulge their consumerist temptations — to take a bite out of the apple, as it were.

Ah yes, because comparing Apple to a religion hasn’t been done before. He also says that Apple retail stores use private security to “remove those who did not serve these spaces’ newly commercialized purpose (read: poor and homeless people).” I highly doubt Apple is kicking out poor people. As for homeless people? That’s what a homeless shelter is for, which any retail store, let alone that of Apple, is not. But sure, let’s blame “the libruls.”

Credit for the featured image I used goes to Michael Steeber of 9to5Mac.

Learn Over 100 iOS 12 Tips and Tricks With This Book

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Author Liz Weiman is publishing a new book called 100+ iPhone/iPad Tricks You Can Do Right Now, which will cover iOS 12 tips and tricks. Ms. Weiman is the author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Concordance, published in 2010 by the American Bar Association, 50+ iPhone/iPad Tricks You Can Do Right Now (iOS 10) (2016), and 80+ iPhone/iPad Tricks You Can Do Right Now (iOS 11) (2017). The new OS will receive a major makeover with new features include upgrades to Portrait Mode, Live Photos, Apple Pay, Safari, Siri, and a bunch more. Ms. Weiman will be launching and presenting the new book at the iWorkshop Academy. She will give a 45-minute lecture demonstrating seven tricks from the book. After the presentation there will be a wine and cheese reception. The presentation is September 29 in Houston, Texas from 4PM to 6PM. To RSVP, visit iWorkshop’s website.

Learn Over 100 iOS 12 Tips and Tricks With This Book

This Person Predicted the iPhone Two Years Before Launch

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Redditor u/FizzyBeverage (You can tell I’m on Reddit a lot) found an old forum post on A person with the username Cortland predicted the iPhone with an entry called “Why Apple Must Come Out With iPhone:”

This is an important opportunity for Apple. And the window is a good three years. Right now Windows phones are stuck in a dead end with bugs, crashes and an operating system that needs to be purged. But their ego and inertia won’t let them backpedal.

Whether Cortland had inside information or just did some educated analysis, it’s an interesting comment. Not many people believed him/her either. User MacThrasher wrote in response: “I think the phone market is well saturated enough that the iPhone would not be much money for Apple.”

Want to Build a Drone? Check Out The PlutoX

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Want to build a drone? There’s a build a drone kit on IndieGogo right now called PlutoX. It’s a complete aerial robotics kit that comes with a nano drone, a learning manual, 10 DIY projects, hardware accessories (including wifi camera, range sensor and DC geared motors), easy-to-code software and modular hardware. “Instead of slowing down tinkerers with a cumbersome process to add hardware like cameras, sensors or even another board to their drones, we want to make development easy for them. We want to fuel their imagination and encourage them to explore more possibilities while tinkering,” says the CTO and co-founder, Prasanna Shevre. With 30,000+ students trained on drones and with the Pluto Racing League–India’s first nano drone racing league, Drona Aviation has made a mark in the Indian drone industry. You can fund the project with rewards starting at US$169.

Want to Build a Drone? Check Out The PlutoX

Don't Idolize Rich People, Especially if They're Jerks

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Jennifer wrights (ha) about how we should stop worshipping rich people who are jerks. Ms. Wright is talking more about the fans of these people than the people themselves, but I’m going to talk more about the people.

Now, it’s possible to be both brilliant and cruel, innovative and un-self-aware, successful and miserly. People can create things we enjoy and still be bad people. But you wouldn’t know that from their fan bases. It’s not that they’re grappling with the idea of their heroes being complex individuals, it’s that they see these men as wholly aspirational. Their fans think that they are perfect and are willing to go to war with anyone who thinks otherwise.

I largely agree. When I criticize Elon Musk as I did in a past teaser, I’m not saying that he hasn’t done good in the world. I’m saying that if he goes on Twitter rants and accuses a guy of pedophilia because his submarine would’ve been a waste of everyone’s time, then he shouldn’t be looked up to as some sort of hero.

But this isn’t anything new. Cutthroat capitalism tends to favor sociopathic traits. Henry Ford was a jerk. Bill Gates, notable philanthropist, built his fortune by turning Microsoft into a ruthless monopoly. Jeff Bezos builds spacecraft while his employees suffer.

At the end of the day, it becomes a series of philosophical questions. At what point do their good deeds outweigh their sins? At what point does their money stop being tainted? I don’t hate the rich, really. I just think that hero worship of public figures is silly, especially if they have questionable ethics.

Smart TVs Could Get Smarter About Tracking You

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It’s estimated that smart TVs will make up 70% of televisions shipped this year. This will give companies new data on the shows we watch and how long we watch them, which means better TV ad targeting.

Typically, TV and app makers say they don’t collect your data unless you’ve opted-in to share it, and what data they share isn’t linked to any personally identifiable information, but to an identifier that connects to a wealth of other data about you. In any case, Navin and other TV techies generally like to emphasize all that you get in exchange for turning over your viewing data. Samba’s software, for instance, can recommend shows for you to watch based on what you’ve already seen.

Can This California Privacy Law Bring Back Net Neutrality?

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On Thursday, the state’s State Assembly voted 58-17 on a California privacy law called S.B. 822. It would implement the strongest net neutrality provisions in the U.S.

Here’s where it goes above and beyond the policy developed under the Obama administration: The bill also bans zero rating, which allows service providers to charge customers for data use on some websites but not on others. If you want to dive deeper into the nitty-gritty, take a look at the bill here.

How Google Will Win the War Against Adblockers

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Technology or not, at the end of the day Google is an advertising company. So how is it going to make money when a large percentage of people are blocking ads? Nothing short of offline surveillance.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Mastercard Inc. brokered a business partnership during about four years of negotiations, according to four people with knowledge of the deal, three of whom worked on it directly. The alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Inc. and others.

Google made a secret deal with Mastercard to track your purchases in the offline world. And I’m sure it will move to partner with other banking institutions as well. This is how it will win the war against adblockers.

Middle East Espionage Involves Hacking Macs

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A hacking team called WindShift has been responsible for hacking Macs for the past couple of years. They target certain individuals working in government departments in the Middle East.

Karim, a researcher at cybersecurity company DarkMatter, said the attackers had found a way to “bypass all native macOS security measures.” Once they’d penetrated those defenses, the malware would exfiltrate documents of interest and continuously take screenshots of the victims’ desktops. The attacks have been ongoing from 2016, through to today, the researcher added.

Scary stuff, and it sounds like whatever vulnerabilities WindShift is finding affect all Mac models. That being said, these are highly targeted attacks, so the rest of us probably don’t have to worry.

Original iPhone Designer Shares Thoughts on Apple's Flaws

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Imran Chaudri—an original iPhone designer—worked on the first iPhone’s user interface, and was once director of Apple’s human interfaces group. He talked to Fast Company about his time at Apple and some of Apple’s flaws.

There are issues any time you do something unnatural, when you ask humanity to interact with machines. It’s that simple. The side effects of interfacing with machines, whether it’s knobs and dials, or clicks and taps, or swipes and gestures, are always going to be there. You have to be smart enough to be ahead of them and anticipate what they are.

Even when using the first iPhone, Mr. Chaudri knew that a feature like Do No Disturb would be important.