Notes

iOS 8.3 Blocks Sideloading

Craig Grannell on Apple's decision to lock users out of the filesystem in iOS 8.3.

I wish I’d heard about this a lot earlier, but it turns out Apple’s essentially blocked access to app folders in iOS 8.3. This means that unless a developer has specifically enabled file sharing, utilities such as iExplorer, iMazing and Phone View can no longer access the Documents and Library folders of any app you’ve installed on your device. And that means no saving game data and/or sideloading it across devices.

I am not surprised. Rummaging through application sandboxes to transfer data was never a feature of iOS, and was probably only used by power users in a pinch. That being said, I wish there was an Apple condoned way of restoring data from individual apps. The all or nothing mantra of iCloud/iTunes backup leaves a lot to be desired.

Defrag a Mac

I still get questions about dragging a Mac, so I published some tips on how to do it. For most of you this will not apply.

When Mice Had Balls

Christopher Phin, writing for Macworld, about his favorite ADB Apple Mouse.

This mouse, introduced in 1986, has a gloriously sculptural, simple shape. Its unapologetically blocky, almost brutalist form looks terrific sitting on the desk, but once you’re holding it, somehow it feels completely natural and comfortable. There’s something honest and essential about it, and about how, in contrast to today’s solid surfaces and enigmatic features, the single mouse button is audaciously and conspicuously incised into its skin, sharply delineated as if to point out to people that here, this is where you press.

I love the left-aligned, debossed Apple logo too. Today, everything is symmetrical, with any adornment studiously, slavishly centered on the face of Apple’s hardware. On this mouse, though, the simple logo—luxuriously, part of the actual manufacture rather than just being silk-screened on at the end—is knocked off-center, creating a playful tension on what appears otherwise to be quite a simple geometric shape.

Having balls didn't make these old mice great. It was the best tracking technology we could produce at the time. No, what made these old mice great was character. Having an Apple Desktop Bus Mouse on your desk meant you used a Macintosh.

Apple Watch Diagnostic Port

MacRumors reports on the presence of an Apple Watch diagnostic port:

The presence of the diagnostic port was first reported in March by TechCrunch with speculation that it could eventually open up the market for "smart" band accessories that can interface with the Apple Watch, Apple, however, has made no such promises and doesn't even acknowledge the presence of the port in any official documentation.

If I was Apple, I would keep the port; I assume it interfaces with USB. "Smart" band accessories aside, Mac Genius will need a way to reinstall the system software should the watch experience an HFS+ failure, or becomes unbootable.

John Gruber reports the port is visible, albeit covered up, on his review unit.

Apple Acknowledges Adware on the Mac

Kirk McElhearn highlights a new technical document in Apples knowledgebase: Remove unwanted adware that displays pop-up ads and graphics on your Mac.

Ad-injection software is advertising-supported software that can come from third-party download sites. Software that you download from such sites may have been customized to install both the software you want and the ad-injection software. If your Mac has ad-injection software installed, you might see pop-up windows, ads, and graphics while surfing the web, even if "Block pop-up windows" is selected in Safari preferences. Ad-injection software might also change your homepage and preferred search engine.

For a long time, Apple shied away from discussing any types of malware: viruses, trojan horses, even adware. But with a recent increase in adware, from once reputable third-party companies, it appears Apple is on the defensive.

The article names popular adware that is affecting the Mac today, and the steps required to remove it. For an automated removal I recommend AdwareMedic.

The True Price of the Apple Watch

Kirk McElhearn reveals the true price of the Apple Watch.

Apple has made this pretty clear, but in case you missed it, you will need to have an iPhone to use the Apple Watch. If you don’t have one yet, this means the new smartwatch will set you back at least $900. That’s $349 for the cheapest Apple Watch – the Sport model – and $549 for the cheapest iPhone (the 5s; I don’t count the 5c, because it’s too limited). This is the unlocked price for the iPhone, of course; you can get one cheaper if you commit to a contract.

As he points out in the article, this brings the price of the average iPhone + Apple Watch combination to over $1,000.

Needless to say I don't own an iPhone and didn't order an Apple Watch last Friday.

USB Target Disk Mode

Dan Frakes shares the news that USB Target Disk Mode is possible on the new MacBook.

Your MacBook supports USB Target Disk Mode when you use it with a compatible, full-featured (“super speed”) USB-C cable. Note that the USB-C Charge Cable (included with MacBook) does not support USB Target Disk Mode.

To enable Target Disk Mode, hold down the T button on your keyboard while starting your MacBook. Then connect the USB-C cable. Use a full-featured USB-C to USB-C cable to connect to another MacBook, or a full-featured USB-A to USB-C cable to connect to a Mac with standard USB-A ports.

I always thought Target Disk Mode wasn't possible over USB because it didn't support DMA. Apparently I was wrong.

It should be also noted that the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter and USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter both draw power even when not in use.

This adapter will draw power from your MacBook even when the MacBook is asleep. Be sure to unplug the adapter to avoid draining your battery if your computer isn't connected to AC power.

And that the USB-C port on these adapters charges your computer, but it doesn't transfer data. It is always recommended you test your adapters with the desired devices before leaving on a trip. It has already been observed that these power-siphoning video adapters do not work with some USB devices that do not have a power supply of their own.

3-2-1 Backup

The Backblaze Blog has an article on my favorite backup strategy, 3-2-1.

A 3-2-1 strategy means having at least 3 total copies of your data, 2 of which are local but on different mediums (read: devices), and at least 1 copy offsite. We’ll use “kitten.jpg” as an example for this scenario. Kitten.jpg lives on your computer at home, it was a picture that you took of your cat in 2012. That’s one copy of the data. You also have an external hard drive that you use for backing up your computer, if you’re on a Mac, you might be using it as a Time Machine drive (and Backblaze loves Time Machine). As part of its backup process, that external hard drive will back up kitten.jpg. That’s a second copy, on a different device or medium. In addition that external hard drive, you also have an online backup solution. The online backup continuously scans your computer and uploads your data offsite to a datacenter. Kitten.jpg is included in this upload, and that becomes the third copy of your data.

I have been practicing 3-2-1 backup as long as I can remember. First by cloning my computer's hard drive, and sending floppy copies to my parent's house. Late by using Time Machine, Dropbox, and my employer's offsite backup service. If you don't have three copies of your data in two places, you don't have a backup.

Gold is the New Black

Stephen Hackett on the rumored MacBook build-to-order pricelist.
  • 1.1 GHz with 256 GB storage: $1299
  • 1.3 GHz with 256 GB storage: $1549
  • 1.2 GHz with 512 GB storage: $1599
  • 1.3 GHz with 512 GB storage: $1749
And to compare, the current MacBook Air offering.
  • 11-inch, 1.6 GHZ with 128 GB storage: $899
  • 11-inch, 1.6 GHZ with 256 GB storage: $1099
  • 13-inch, 1.6 GHz with 128 GB storage: $999
  • 13-inch, 1.6 GHz with 256 GB storage: $1199
As Stephen points out, "the 13-inch Air can be maxed out with a 2.2 GHz i7 processor, 8 GB RAM and 512 GB of storage for $1749."

A 0.1 GHz speed increase, or an 18% improvement in performance, is practically imperceptible. Kind of reminds me of another $150 build-to order-option that was equally superfluous.

Get In Line Online

Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts has issued an internal memo to retail employees that encourages store staff to direct customers to the Apple Online Store.

The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers. The Apple Store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives.

This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order. You'll make their day.

Ten years ago when I worked in Apple retail, we always tried to persuade our customers to order online when we were out of stock. Back then there were no pre-orders, and there were no waiting lists. There was the line for the cash wrap, and the line for the Genius Bar, and if you didn't want to wait you came back another time.

Oh how Apple has changed. Apple is much bigger than it was before. The outstretched line, once a sign of prosperity is no longer necessary. I applaud Ms. Ahrendts and her position as head of both Apple retail and the Online Store for making this happen.