Inside Apple’s iPhone software shakeup after buggy iOS 13 debut

Apple Inc. is overhauling how it tests software after a swarm of bugs marred the latest iPhone and iPad operating systems, according to people familiar with the shift.

Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple’s development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system.

If the many issues with and complaints about iOS 13 are to be believed, this seems like a much needed intervention.

Tim Cook effectively endorses Donald Trump’s reelection

Yesterday, Trump visited a six year old factory where Mac Pros are being assembled, and Tim Cook appeared in a Trump campaign ad.

After Mr. Trump departed the factory, he tweeted, “Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America.”

About the only thing that’s true in this tweet is that the factory is located in Texas. First, Trump didn’t open the factory – it’s been in use for six years now. Second, it’s not major at all – it only assembles the Mac Pro with about 500 employees. Third, it won’t bring any jobs back because it’s been open for six years already. Lastly, it isn’t an Apple factory – it’s owned by another, independent company.

Cook stood next to him, and didn’t correct Trump at all.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump called Mr. Cook a “very special person” because of his ability to create jobs. He turned to Mr. Cook and said, “What would you say about our economy compared to everybody else?”

Mr. Cook replied, “I think we have the strongest economy in the world.”

“Strongest in the world,” Mr. Trump said.

The president then took questions on the impeachment inquiry and launched into a tirade against “the fake press.” Mr. Cook stood silently nearby.

John Gruber, longtime Apple blogger and one of the most outspoken defenders of Apple’s policies:

I’ve been on board with Cook’s stance on engaging Trump. Participating in Trump’s technology council does not imply support for Trump. Engaging Trump personally, in private phone calls and dinners, does not imply support. But appearing alongside Trump at an Apple facility in a staged photo-op is implicit support for Trump and his re-election.

[…]

A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it.

History rarely bestows consequences on companies cooperating with the far right and nazi extremists. IG Farben’s directors were all released by the US within only a few years, and IG Farben still exists today in the form of several highly profitable companies, namely Agfa, BASF, Bayer and Sanofi.

Volkswagen was founded by a Nazi labour union, produced what would become the Beetle for Nazi Germany, built military vehicles during the war using 15.000 slaves from concentration camps, and still exists today as one of the biggest automobile conglomerates in the world.

IBM aided the Nazi regime in the organisation of the Holocaust, while in the US, it orchestrated the concentration camps where Japanese Americans were held. Meanwhile, Henry Ford’s antisemitism and nazi sympathies are well-documented, and Ford, too, is one of the largest automobile makers in the world.

Point is, there’s zero risk for Cook to openly associate himself with someone like Trump. Extremists will praise him, centrists will excuse it away, and the rest will condemn Cook, but keep buying iPhones and Macs anyway – and Tim Cook knows it.

In a corporatocracy, companies and their leaders are untouchable.

Google outlines plans for mainline Linux kernel support in Android

It seems like Google is working hard to update and upstream the Linux kernel that sits at the heart of every Android phone. The company was a big participant in this year’s Linux Plumbers Conference, a yearly meeting of the top Linux developers, and Google spent a lot of time talking about getting Android to work with a generic Linux kernel instead of the highly customized version it uses now. It even showed an Android phone running a mainline Linux kernel.

Android is the most popular Linux distribution by far, so a move to a more generic Linux kernel benefits the ecosystem as a whole.

The Firefox UI is now built with Web Components

A couple of weeks ago, we landed a commit that took years of effort at Mozilla. It removed “XBL”, which means we’ve completed the process of migrating the Firefox UI to Web Components. It wasn’t easy – but I’ll get to that later.

[…]

It’s taken a couple years of work of remarkably steady progress by a small team of engineers along with the support of the rest of the organization, and I’m happy to report that we’ve now finished. This is a big accomplishment on its own, and also a foundational improvement for Firefox. It allows teams to focus efforts on modern web standards, and means we can remove a whole lot of duplicated and complicated functionality that wasn’t exposed to websites.

The fact the people at Mozilla have been able to do this without any major disruptions to Firefox users is pretty impressive.

Microsoft says yes to future encrypted DNS requests in Windows

Sean Gallagher:

In a post yesterday to the Microsoft Tech Community blog, Microsoft Windows Core Networking team members Tommy Jensen, Ivan Pashov, and Gabriel Montenegro announced that Microsoft is planning to adopt support for encrypted Domain Name System queries in order to “close one of the last remaining plain-text domain name transmissions in common web traffic.”

That support will first take the form of integration with DNS over HTTPS (DoH), a standard proposed by the Internet Engineering Task Force and supported by Mozilla, Google, and Cloudflare, among others. “As a platform, Windows Core Networking seeks to enable users to use whatever protocols they need, so we’re open to having other options such as DNS over TLS (DoT) in the future,” wrote Jensen, Pashov, and Montenegro. “For now, we’re prioritizing DoH support as the most likely to provide immediate value to everyone. For example, DoH allows us to reuse our existing HTTPS infrastructure.”

But Microsoft is being careful about how it deploys this compatibility given the current political fight over DoH being waged by Internet service providers concerned that they’ll lose a lucrative source of customer behavior data.

This clearly isn’t the sexiest of subjects, but there’s an important tug of war happening here between ISPs and privacy advocates.

Updated Debian 10: 10.2 released

The Debian project is pleased to announce the second update of its stable distribution Debian 10 (codename buster). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

Debian users probably already have this installed, because Debian package management is awesome and you can pry APT from my cold, dead hands and yes I’m totally biased when I say that APT is massively better than any of its alternatives.

Sue me.

Writing userspace USB drivers for abandoned devices

I recently found some USB devices on eBay (Epiphan VGA2USB LR) that could take VGA as input and present the output as a webcam. Given that I was keen on the idea of not needing to lug out a VGA monitor ever again and there was claimed Linux support I took the risk and bought the whole job lot for about £20 (25 USD).

When they arrived, I plugged one in under the expectation that it would come up as USB UVC Devices but they did not. Was I missing something?

Turns out that he was, and that was the start of a rather wild ride.

Developer runs Windows 10 IoT Core on a graphing calculator

An independent developer has managed to hack a Calculator to run Windows 10 operating system, but it’s not a basic or scientific calculator that we normally use. According to the photos, the device is actually the HP’s Prime Graphing Calculator which comes with a touch screen interface, and good industrial design.

The photos shared by the developer Ben shows off Windows 10 IoT (Internet of Things) edition running on the HP Prime Graphing Calculator.

Perhaps not the most useful hack in the world, but still very cool.

Supreme Court agrees to review disastrous ruling on API copyrights

Ars Technica reports:

The Supreme Court has agreed to review one of the decade’s most significant software copyright decisions: last year’s ruling by an appeals court that Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights when Google created an independent implementation of the Java programming language.

The 2018 ruling by the Federal Circuit appeals court “will upend the longstanding expectation of software developers that they are free to use existing software interfaces to build new computer programs,” Google wrote in its January petition to the Supreme Court.

In a sane world, this idiotic ruling would be overturned and Larry Ellison cries in his huge pile of money. Sadly, this world is far from sane, so this could really go either way.

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X review: 16 cores on 7nm with PCIe 4.0

Deciding between building a mainstream PC and a high-end desktop has historically been very clear cut: if budget is a concern, and you’re interested in gaming, then typically a user looks to the mainstream. Otherwise, if a user is looking to do more professional high-compute work, then they look at the high-end desktop. Over the course of AMD’s recent run of high-core count Ryzen processors that line has blurred. This year, that line has disappeared. Even in 2016, mainstream CPUs used to top out at four cores: today they now top out at sixteen.

Does anyone need sixteen cores? Yes.

Does everyone need sixteen cores? No.

Do I want sixteen cores? Yes.

1Password takes 200 million in venture capital

I wanted to be the first one to tell you: I’m incredibly proud to announce that we’ve partnered with Accel to help 1Password continue the amazing growth and success we’ve seen over the past 14 years. Accel will be investing USD$200 million for a minority stake in 1Password. Along with the investment – their largest initial investment in their 35-year history – Accel brings the experience and expertise we need to grow further and faster.

I use 1Password, and I’m deeply skeptical of venture capital investments like these. 1Password has been profitable since its founding, so this investment is not a make-or-break kind of thing, which makes me worried about the future. Password managers require a lot of trust from their users, and trust is not something I give to venture capitalists.

Microsoft is working to bring 64-bit Intel app emulation to Windows on ARM

With Microsoft’s launch of the Surface Pro X last week, questions were once again raised about the apps that can run on it. The answer is that like any Windows 10 on ARM PC, it can run native ARM (ARM and ARM64) apps, and it can run emulated 32-bit Intel (x86) apps. This leaves out 64-bit Intel (AMD64, or x64) apps, so if you want an app that’s only available in an x64 flavor, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Photoshop Elements, you can’t use it.

That’s going to change though. Speaking with several sources, I can confirm that Microsoft is indeed working on bringing x64 app emulation to Windows on ARM. When that will happen is a bit more unclear, but it seems like it could be in Windows 10 21H1, which would mean that the general public will have access to it in the first half of 2021, and Windows Insiders will be able to test it out next year.

Developing tools and technologies like this always carries an inherent risk – if it’s slow and cumbersome, people will complain and won’t want to use your operating system. If it’s fast and seamless, however, developers have little to no incentive to develop native ARM64 applications for Windows on ARM. That’s a fine line to tread, and definitely something Microsoft will have issues with.

On a related note, the ARM64 version of Microsoft’s new Edge browser has been released.

Windows 10 to disallow WEP encryption

Microsoft is planning to remove WEP encryption from Windows 10.

Since the 1903 release, a warning message has appeared when connecting to Wi-Fi networks secured with WEP or TKIP (which are not as secure as those using WPA2 or WPA3). In a future release, any connection to a Wi-Fi network using these old ciphers will be disallowed. Wi-Fi routers should be updated to use AES ciphers, available with WPA2 or WPA3.

WEP is very old – it entered the scene in 1997 – and was cracked in 2001. It’s incredibly easy to crack, so it only makes sense to remove this outdated feature from Windows.

Apple debuts new MacBook Pro with working keyboard

The updated 16-inch MacBook Pro features a larger display with slimmer bezels than the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which it has replaced in Apple’s notebook lineup. The display has a resolution of 3072×1920 pixels with up to 500 nits of brightness.

The notebook features an updated “Magic Keyboard” that does away with the unpopular butterfly mechanism, returning instead to a more reliable scissor mechanism with 1mm key travel, along with Intel’s latest 9th-generation processors with up to 8 cores. It also has up to 64GB of RAM and up to 8TB of SSD storage.

Above the keyboard, the Touch Bar lives on, but the 16-inch MacBook Pro marks the return of a physical Esc key. In line with the latest MacBook Air, the Touch ID sensor has also been separated from the Touch Bar.

It took them 4 years, but Apple finally remembered how to make a keyboard. Aside from the new MacBook Pro, Apple also announced the new Mac Pro will be available in December.

BBC feature on Terry Davis of TempleOS

When a homeless man was accidentally killed by a train on the 11/08/18 in The Dalles, Oregon, no one realised how many people it would effect. The man was a computer programmer called Terry Davis and he was on a mission from God.

He’d designed an entire operating system called Temple OS and according to Terry its creation had been a direct instruction from God himself. As a fellow programmer explained it, ‘you can imagine how over time one man might build a house, but this is like building a sky scraper, on your own!’ And this was all done while Terry battled a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Aleks Krotoski searches the emails, web posts and live streams to piece together the life of a remarkable individual who’s work touched so many and is now celebrated not just as a technological achievement but an artistic one.

Davis’ story was a sad one, and partially intertwined with OSNews and the crew here. His behaviour meant we eventually had to ban him from the site, but even after that, then-OSNews editor Kroc Kamen worked with him for an OSNews article.

Tearing apart printf()

If ‘Hello World’ is the first program for C students, then printf() is probably the first function. I’ve had to answer questions about printf() many times over the years, so I’ve finally set aside time for an informal writeup. The common questions fit roughly in to two forms:

Easy: How does printf mechanically solve the format problem?
Complex: How does printf actually display text on my console?

My usual answer? “Just open up stdio.h and track it down”

This wild goose chase is not only a great learning experience, but also an interesting test for the dedicated beginner. Will they come back with an answer? If so, how detailed is it? What IS a good answer?

This is incredibly detailed and definitely over my head, but I’m sure many of you will enjoy this one greatly.

Google’s secret ‘Project Nightingale’ gathers personal health data on millions of Americans

Google is teaming with one of the country’s largest health-care systems on a secret project to collect and crunch the detailed personal health information of millions of Americans across 21 states, according to people familiar with the matter and internal documents.

[…]

The data involved in Project Nightingale includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth.

Neither patients nor doctors have been notified. At least 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data on tens of millions of patients, according to a person familiar with the matter.

There’s a lot of money to be made in healthcare, and it was only a matter of time before creepy technology companies like Google would want a piece of this pie – through massive amounts of personal information.

Technically, this is all above board, though. It’s fully within federal regulations and laws, so this practice is unlikely to stop.

Viral tweet about Apple Card leads to Goldman Sachs probe

A Wall Street regulator is opening a probe into Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s credit card practices after a viral tweet from a tech entrepreneur alleged gender discrimination in the new Apple Card’s algorithms when determining credit limits.

A series of posts from David Heinemeier Hansson starting Thursday railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got. The tweets, many of which contain profanity, immediately gained traction online, even attracting comment from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Hansson didn’t disclose any specific income-related information for either of them but said they filed joint tax returns and that his wife has a better credit score than he does.

The whole Twitter thread by David Heinemeier Hansson is an exercise in inflexible bureaucracy and an unshakable belief in the black box algorithm that nobody even seems to understand. Bias in algorithms is a real problem, and it will only become a bigger problem as they become more and more important in every aspect of our society.

IBM, sonic delay lines, and the history of the 80×24 display

What explains the popularity of terminals with 80×24 and 80×25 displays? A recent blog post “80×25” motivated me to investigate this. The source of 80-column lines is clearly punch cards, as commonly claimed. But why 24 or 25 lines? There are many theories, but I found a simple answer: IBM, in particular its dominance of the terminal market. In 1971, IBM introduced a terminal with an 80×24 display (the 3270) and it soon became the best-selling terminal, forcing competing terminals to match its 80×24 size. The display for the IBM PC added one more line to its screen, making the 80×25 size standard in the PC world. The impact of these systems remains decades later: 80-character lines are still a standard, along with both 80×24 and 80×25 terminal windows.

As noted, a follow-up to our earlier discussion.

What happened if you tried to access a network file bigger than 2GB from MS-DOS?

One of my friends is into retrocomputing, and he wondered what happened on MS-DOS if you asked it to access a file on a network share that was bigger than what FAT16 could express.

My friend was under the mistaken impression that when MS-DOS accessed a network resource, it was the sector access that was remoted. Under this model, MS-DOS would still open the boot sector, look for the FAT, parse it, then calculate where the directories were, read them directly from the network hard drive, and write raw data directly to the network hard drive.

This is not how it works.

Raymond Chen is an international treasure.