Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 112: Twitter Trickery, Charging Insecurity, Cryptocurrency Malware, and More

We follow up on our Black Friday purchases, then talk about some Twitter trickery, some Russian rigidity, some charging insecurity, some location confusion, and some new Mac cryptocurrency malware.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Apple says it cares about the climate. So why does it cost the earth to repair my Macbook? – The Guardian

“My beloved MacBook Air was only two years old when it died. It had seemed perfectly healthy the night before, but when I tried to turn it on in the morning there was no response.

Panicked, I rushed to the nearest Apple store. A ‘Genius’ told me gently to give up hope: there had been an electrical failure; it was a goner. Apple could repair it, the Genius said, but it would cost at least $600 (£460) and take weeks; in the end, it would be cheaper just to buy a new one. So, with a lot of grumbling, that is what I did.”

This brief article on The Guardian seems quite problematic. The journalist had a failure on her MacBook Air. It’s not clear what the cause was. She obviously did not have AppleCare, which covers the device for three years Given that the Sale of Goods act in the UK protects you for six years, and the journalist could probably have found this out, she’s making broad statements without really understanding her options.

What I wonder is whether she might have spilled something on the laptop, which would render any remedy under the Sale of Goods act null.

It’s a shame when a publication like The Guardian publishes these short, uninformed blog posts, whereas these “journalists” could actually do some “investigation” to find out a bit more about the situations and their rights.

Source: Apple says it cares about the climate. So why does it cost the earth to repair my Macbook? | Arwa Mahdawi | Technology | The Guardian

Hand Off Music from Your iPhone to HomePod; I Also Want to Hand Off from My Mac to My iPhone

New in iOS 13 is the ability to “hand off” music from an iPhone to a HomePod. If you’re playing any audio on your iPhone, just go near your HomePod (or near one HomePod of a stereo pair), and after a few seconds, the audio will switch from the iPhone to the HomePod.

What this essentially does is switch the output from the iPhone via AirPlay to the Home Pod.

HandoffAs you can see here, the iPhone shows all available AirPlay devices that are active in my home. Music that I was playing on the iPhone (top) then started playing in the bedroom.

As you can see in this interface, you can control a number of AirPlay devices from your iPhone or iPad, sending music to each of them, or controlling playback from Apple Music or your music in the cloud.

What I’d like to see in addition to this is the ability to hand music off from my Mac to my iPhone. If I’m listening to something on my Mac then want to go out, it would be great to pass the music over to that device. It wouldn’t be the same as with the iPhone to the HomePod, which is essentially just playing the music via AirPlay, but it would be more like when you open a web page in Safari, and can then load the same page quickly on an iOS device. Naturally, this would only work with Apple Music or with your music library in the cloud, but it would be a useful addition to the web of Apple devices.

The chain of trust in Apple’s devices

A lot of computer security is based on trust. Your devices verify that you are, indeed, an authorized user, through the use of user names and passwords. And your devices trust services and servers, through a series of certificates and “trusted third parties” who work through a cascading system of verification and authentication.

If you use Apple devices, the company has its own chain of trust that allows you to use multiple devices in concert. Each link of this chain is carefully designed to ensure its reliability, and each link also enhances other links in the chain. This can seem complex, but when you break it down into its component parts, it’s a lot easier to understand.

In most cases, you don’t need to know how all these elements work together, but it can be good to be aware of how Apple ensures the security of your devices, your accounts, and even your payment methods.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 111: The Chain of Trust

Apple’s two-factor authentication system sets up a chain of trust from one device to another. By ensuring your identity on one device, that device can then authenticate you on another device, and provide you with enhanced features, such as an Apple Watch unlocking a Mac, or an iPhone authorizing Apple Pay on a Mac. Understanding this chain of trust helps you better understand how Apple protects you.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Why Is Account Management on Newspaper and Magazine Websites So Bad?

I have long been a reader of newspapers and magazines. It might be my age, but as much as possible, I like to get my news in a slower format that rapid-fire articles on the web. As such, I have subscribed to a number of magazines and newspapers – both in print and digital – over the years. After an experience this morning, I scratch my head and wonder why, of all the categories of subscription content available on the internet, why are these websites so bad?

Today’s experience was with the Times Literary Supplement. I subscribed to a print and digital package last month, but hadn’t yet browsed the website beyond the number of free articles I’m allowed to see. I went to log in with the email and password that I had saved during the subscription process, and that failed. I clicked a Forgot My Password link, got a new password, and that failed.

So, I had to call the TLS’s customer support. After a first call dropped when I was being put through to the appropriate support person, I got through to someone who said that I must not have followed through with the entire process when I subscribed. in fact, he found no trace of my digital account at all, even though it should have been created when I subscribed.

I’ll fast forward to the part where, ten minutes later, after he gave me a very simple temporary password to log into the website, I went looking for a My Account link to change it to a secure password. It turns out that there is no such link. You have to go to a different website, for which the patient Will at customer service could send me a link.

(It must be easy to log into people’s accounts on the TLS website; the support person said that there are a lot of problems like this, and he clearly gives everyone the same temporary password, which I assume most people do not change.)

Think about that: you cannot access your account from a website to which you are subscribed. You have to know that there is a different website, and you have to have the link.

In any case, I changed the password, then promptly cancelled my subscription. I’m tired of these websites not working. When I give a company my money for a subscription, I don’t expect to have to waste time with customer service. And I’m particularly worried about the TLS’s cavalier approach to accounts, and how secure people’s data is.

Here are some examples of what I’ve experienced in the past with other publications.

  • When one subscribes to the New York Times, there is no way to make changes to your subscription, or to cancel a subscription, online. You must call customer service. For a company providing a high level of digital content, this is ridiculous. I can understand that, say, ten years ago, this was the case, but it hasn’t changed.
  • For several years, I subscribed to Harper’s. Then I was unable to log into my account. No password reset link worked, emails were not successful, and I was not pleased about having to make an international call to customer support. I got access again, but the next year, after re-subscribing, the same thing happened. I let that subscription lapse.
  • I subscribed for a while to Aperture, a magazine about photography. I didn’t want to continue the subscription after the first year, but there was no way to cancel the subscription online, and the company did not answer my emails. When they charged my credit card for a second year, I had to contest the change, and the company did not respond to my bank’s communications; I was eventually advised by my bank to cancel my credit card and have them issue a new one to ensure that they wouldn’t bill me again. That was in 2018. In August 2019, I received an email saying that they were having payment issues trying to renew my subscription again.
  • I had subscribed to the New Yorker off and on for many years. A few months ago, I re-subscribed, to a digital only package, and was not sent any information about how to log in. I emailed the company repeatedly, and, a few days after I subscribed, they said that it can take up to a week for foreign customers to get their login information. I immediately cancelled my subscription.

To be fair, there is one subscription that works as it should: The Washington Post. I’ve never had a problem subscribing, logging in, or renewing. The only complaint I have about the Washington Post is that they are very aggressive at logging people out, and it seems like I have to constantly log in again, whenever I want to read something.

I don’t know why this happens, but I have a feeling that in the US, since magazines and newspapers tend to outsource their subscription management and related customer service, that these companies are archaic in their operation, having existed managing print subscriptions for a long time, and just haven’t understood that the process online is different. In no other industry do I have this sort of problem with subscriptions: not for web services, digital content, or subscription-based apps.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 110: Black Friday Safe Shopping Advice

It’s Black Friday again, either the day we release this episode if you’re in Europe, or next week, if you’re in the US. It’s the day when you can get some good deals on things you need, discounts on things you don’t need, and, if you’re not careful, you could get scammed. We discuss some best practices for buying new and used on Black Friday, and warn you about buying a used iPhone.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Apple iOS 14: Features, Changes, Testing After iOS 13 Bugs – Bloomberg

“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.

[…]

When the company’s iOS 13 was released alongside the iPhone 11 in September, iPhone owners and app developers were confronted with a litany of software glitches. Apps crashed or launched slowly. Cellular signal was inconsistent. There were user interface errors in apps like Messages, system-wide search issues and problems loading emails. Some new features, such as sharing file folders over iCloud and streaming music to multiple sets of AirPods, were either delayed or are still missing. This amounted to one of the most troubled and unpolished operating system updates in Apple’s history.”

Yep. I still have problems with Mail, on my iOS devices and my Macs, along with many other issues. And, with Apple’s support being so unreliable, I still can’t use CarPlay with my iPhone.

Source: Apple iOS 14: Features, Changes, Testing After iOS 13 Bugs – Bloomberg

Apple Devices that Aren’t Available in “Pro” Versions

Remember when every Apple device had an “i” in front of its name? Many still exist: the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, for example.

Now, Pro is the new i.

Pro

There are:

  • iPhone Pro
  • iPad Pro
  • MacBook Pro
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro
  • AirPods Pro

I would argue that in a couple of those areas, there really is a difference: the iMac Pro and the Mac Pro. But the MacBook Pro isn’t really that “pro,” and the AirPods, well, that’s just weird marketing.

So why don’t we have an Apple TV Pro? Or a Mac mini Pro? How about an Apple Watch Pro? (I know, they have the Apple Watch Edition, which, instead of meaning “better” means “expensive.” I don’t know much about the vocabulary of the fashion world, but I find the use of the word “edition” to be a bit odd.)

I doubt we’ll ever see an iPod touch Pro, but I did speculate about an iPod Pro some years ago.

The problem is that Apple has diluted the meaning of the word “pro” to simply mean a device with higher specs. And they’ve proed themselves into a corner: after the pro modifier gets tired, where can they go next?

“Legacy Software” in macOS Catalina

If you’ve been using a Mac for a while, and upgraded to macOS Catalina, you’ve probably seen some mention of 32-bit software. Catalina is a 64-bit operating system, and cannot run 32-bit apps. If you want to know more, here is an article I wrote about this.

In the article I link to above, I explained how to find 32-bit apps on macOS Mojave, using the System Information app. Since there is no 32-bit app support in Catalina, System Information no longer shows the bitness of apps. However, it does have a “legacy software” section.

Legacy software

But I have deleted or upgraded all the software listed here. I’m guessing that this list was made when I upgraded to Catalina, and hasn’t been updated. But what’s the point of having such a list? Even if I hadn’t acted on all this software, the list doesn’t make it that easy to find where it is located. One item has a path of:

/Volumes/Steinberg Download Assistant/Steinberg Download Assistant Setup.app/Contents/MacOS/Steinberg Download Assistant

This suggests that the software is, perhaps, in a disk image that was mounted on my Mac at some point, which is likely, as I did install some Steinberg software a while back. But how can that path be listed? When was this snapshot of software made?

This list is quite unhelpful.