Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of November 27th
Apple’s Mistake of the Century

On the heels of Apple’s horrendous “iamroot” security debacle, the fix entailed a problem with some Macs accessing file servers. The Macalope called out Apple with the best combination of maturity and harsh scolding of a major screw up. Then, OSXDaily pointed out that a second, automatic update fixed the associated file sharing issue. Make sure you’re fully updated to macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 version 17B1003.

Apple UNIX

Apple UNIX logo. The luster has been tarnished.

As a long-time UNIX nutcase and professional user of UNIX systems during my career, I’ll confess that I’m apoplectic about this security snafu.  With regret, I’ve noticed that Apple has de-emphasized the UNIX foundation of its OSes, but notably macOS, in the past few years. Technical professionals no doubt notice things like that because it smacks of a lack of internal attention to and celebration of the Mac. Now we’ve seen the results.

Apple might consider hiring an accomplished UNIX graybeard, a “VP of UNIX Integrity and Security.” And give him/her veto authority over any macOS/iOS/tvOS/watchOS release until it’s been properly audited, QA’d and blessed. Clearly, something has gone wrong at Apple, and mild public statements need to be replaced by firm executive action that’s both public and makes sense. (Apple has already apologized.)

Apple has fixed the problem and is, I imagine, suitably sobered. We will move on but never forget.

More Debris

• Every product has a set of hardware features and a user interface design philosophy. But where products really shine is when you learn how to make them operate, within a technical environment, to achieve personal goals. Here’s a great example of that process. “How to cut the cord with Apple TV 4K.

ElcomSoft made a fuss this week about changes in iOS 11 security that, they claim, weakens its security. Then Rene Ritchie at iMore really dug in and explained what’s going on. Here’s Author Ritchie’s excellent response: “iOS 11 security isn’t a ‘horror story’, it’s a balancing act for your protection.” If you read only one of these links, read author Ritchie’s.

• Is it a good idea to personalize our (AI) voice assistants? Does the act of giving Amazon’s voice assistant a friendly female name, “Alexa” somehow, insidiously tie us into a Big Brother entity that permeates and controls our lives? At Slate, author Will Oremus writes: “OK, ‘Computer’ – The case for renaming—and dehumanizing—Alexa, Siri, Google, and Cortana.

It’s not an accident that tech companies have (mostly) given their voice bots human-sounding names, voices, and even distinct personalities. As I wrote in 2016, their anthropomorphic qualities subtly encourage people to trust them and build relationships with them. That benefits the companies who make them, because it gives them not only more data on us, but ever-greater influence over our choices.

If Siri is sometimes obtuse, just remember that the opposite of a mildly obtuse AI is a creepy one. Especially one that’s recording your voice and selling you stuff.

Amazon Echo and Echo Spot

The missing label: “Caution. Use with care.”

• You may have previously read that the physics and mathematics of quantum encryption makes it un-hackable. That’s true, and here’s an update from infosecurity magazine. “Researchers Demonstrate ‘Un-Hackable’ Quantum Encryption.”

I can’t wait.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weekends.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Jony is brilliant, the best in the world, at hardware and fails miserably at software, there ought to be a law… This isn’t his fault, but Cook’s.


As to the the sub heading to the Amazon devices photo: Where was the warning from Apple with texting on the iPhone? How many motor vehicle deaths occurred before Apple added a simple software update to deactivate features while in a moving vehicle while denying culpability? How many deaths might occur with AR glasses as people focus on fake images super imposed on reality? Will there be advance warnings? Ever been in a car where the driver watched the falling snow and not the road in front of them? Does Apple push subscription to Apple Music? Does Apple insist you… Read more »


John: Rene Ritchie’s article on iOS 11 security is a worthwhile read, and takes a measured tone on an otherwise divisive topic, which can be neatly summarised in one excerpt from that piece, “…I understand the need to balance loss vs. theft. I understand that, for some of my friends, losing access to the photos of their children because they couldn’t remember a backup or account password would hurt them far more than some theoretical attacker gaining access to them. And it is absolutely not my place or right to judge them or anyone else based on that difference in… Read more »


As far as anthropomorphising AIs, There is a school of thought that sentient is not really meaningful. Consciousness and self awareness are just the result of more complex programming. Therefore who is to say Siri is less sentient and self aware than the guy on the buss with his nose buried in his phone, oblivious to his surroundings. As we cannot know what’s going on in another’s mind, though my wife believes I should be able to, we cannot say what sentience really means. There reaches a point where a programmed AI is indistinguishable from a person. If Siri reaches… Read more »


Some people work better with a certain amount of pressure, call it an extra level of challenge. I suspect Ive doesn’t have that lanky observer/patron/mentor pushing him anymore and he’s becoming lost. This happens to a lot of creatives, heck people in general. The effective boot camp DI pushes you to the next level, to go beyond what you think your limitations are. “Stood there boldly, sweating. in the sun. Felt like a million, felt like number one. The height of Summer, I’d never felt that strong, like a rock….” “…My walk had purpose, my steps were quick and light… Read more »


Now that the Ring is done, I hope Ive gets back to devices and systems. This fixation on thinner and blanker has gone too far. Maybe he can pay more attention to what we really need. I am fear though, that his best design years are in the past.


Amen !

Lee Dronick

Maybe he can pay more attention to what we really need

Convincing Craig Federighi to add a send button to Messages in OSX so that Return adds a carriage return.. If can be done in the iOS version it can be done in OSX.