Johnathan.org

October 19, 2018

Apple CEO Tim Cook is Calling for Bloomberg to Retract Its Chinese Spy Chip Story

From John Paczkowski and Joseph Bernstein over at BuzzFeed News:

“There is no truth in their story about Apple,” Cook told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. “They need to do that right thing and retract it.”

“I was involved in our response to this story from the beginning,” said Cook.

“I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell, who was then our general counsel. We were very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions,” said Cook. “Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed, and each time we investigated we found nothing.”

In addition to disputing the report itself, Cook also took issue with the lack of evidence he said Bloomberg supplied to document its claims. Cook said the reporters never provided Apple with any specific details about the malicious chips it is alleged to have found and removed. He added that he thinks the allegations are undergirded by “vague secondhand accounts.”

This story is getting so damn strange. Listening to the most recent episode of The Talk Show with John Gruber, Gruber mentioned his theory that this is more of a plot by folks within the Trump Administration to paint China in a bad light as a move to bolster the trade war with the country.

This quote at the end made me chuckle:

Meanwhile, companies that might possibly be among the 30 alleged to have been compromised are doing all they can to steer clear of the story. “We investigated and we found nothing,” an executive at one Fortune 50 company told BuzzFeed News. “Please leave us out of this. We weren’t mentioned and I don’t want us to be. I don’t know what the fuck is going on here.

Happy Friday!

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How Your Brain Works When You’re Brave

From Axios:

If science can find ways to make us braver — not stupidly brave, just better able to face danger — we might all be more functional people and be more willing to take risks, from starting businesses to living more adventurous lives.

Check out their summary and the original WSJ article, too. It’s a great read. 

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October 17, 2018

Apple’s New Data Privacy Tool

Apple revamped their Privacy page and launched a new privacy/data management tool. Now, everything you need is in one place

Apple's Privacy portal

This is exactly how it should be done. Every tech company should be putting in the effort to make data management this easy for their users.

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October 16, 2018

The Paper Prop Master

Incredible. Absolutely Amazing to watch.

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Facebook Could Use Data Collected from Portal Device to Target You with Ads

Kurt Wagner over at Recode:

Last Monday, we wrote: “No data collected through Portal — even call log data or app usage data, like the fact that you listened to Spotify — will be used to target users with ads on Facebook.”

We wrote that because that’s what we were told by Facebook executives.

But Facebook has since reached out to change its answer: Portal doesn’t have ads, but data about who you call and data about which apps you use on Portal can be used to target you with ads on other Facebook-owned properties.

Anyone who thought this would turn out differently is either living under a rock or has no idea what Facebook Portal even is. They make money by advertising stuff and to do that well, they need to know things about you. There’s absolutely no chance Facebook will turn down an opportunity to be always on in your home and always sampling your life. No Facebook.com or Facebook app access required. 

Granted, they didn’t outright say they’ll target you, but it’s only a matter of time before “we could” turns into “we do.”

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October 12, 2018

Busting Cloudflare Cache when Posting to WordPress via XML-RPC

I love Cloudflare. I’ll come right out and say that now. It’s a great service and makes for incredibly performant sites if used right (aggressively). I don’t feel like I’m getting the most out of it until it’s caching just about everything possible. Most of my content is static and never changes (save for the home page and each paginated set of posts thereafter). Even then, the homepage changes maybe a couple times a day. It makes a lot of sense for Cloudflare to cache them all. I use pretty aggressive Page Rule-based caching to accomplish that.

Part of my regular blogging workflow involves posting using MarsEdit. It’s a great tool and uses XML-RPC to post content. One of the problems with this workflow is that most caching-management plugins for WordPress don’t consider any kind of content changes via XML-RPC, only via the WordPress Admin UI. This means that there’s virtually no support for engaging all the cache-cleaning activities when XML-RPC events take place and thus Cloudflare is never notified for purging.

Luckily, there’s a solution to this problem. It involves a bit of duct-tape-like hooking into core WordPress, but in my testing, it’s been pretty painless, and posting doesn’t seem to be noticeably slower (XML-RPC posting takes a few seconds, anyway, adding another second isn’t a big deal, in my opinion). All we need to do is add a filter to xmlrpc_publish_post.

Sounds easy, you say? It is!

function clear_cache() {
$curl = curl_init();
curl_setopt ($curl, CURLOPT_URL, CACHE_PURGE_URL);
curl_exec ($curl); curl_close ($curl);
}

add_filter( 'xmlrpc_publish_post', 'clear_cache');

I set CACHE_PURGE_URL in wp-config.php to be a local path that when triggered with a GET request, makes a POST request that looks like the equivalent of this CURL request:

curl -X POST "https://api.cloudflare.com/client/v4/zones/YOUR_ZONE_ID/purge_cache" \
-H "X-Auth-Email: YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS" \
-H "X-Auth-Key: YOUR_API_KEY" \
-H "Content-Type: application/json" \
--data '{"purge_everything":true}'

Replace YOUR_ZONE_ID, YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS, and YOUR_API_KEY and you’re set.

By making this request after xmlrpc_publish_post using add_filter(), we’ve already established our updated content so the trigger will have Cloudflare pull the freshest and not accidentally re-pull stale bits.

Right now, it’s an entry in my theme’s functions.php. If I was to do this truly right, I’d make this a plugin. Someday!

DuckDuckGo climbs to 30 million daily searches, up 50% in a year

I came across this tweet via TechCrunch:

This is fantastic news! I love that a true alternative to the mammoth that is Google (and distant second mammoth Bing). Before the end of the year, I’d like to seriously consider converting to DuckDuckGo and Proton Mail for email. We’ll see.

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Sometimes Dead is Better

Looking forward to this one.

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Stratechery: The Battle for the Home

Ben Thompson:

If the first stage of competition in consumer technology was the race to be the computer users went to (won by Microsoft and the PC), and the second was to be the computer users carried with them (won by Apple in terms of profits, and Google in terms of marketshare), the outlines of the current battle came sharply into focus over the last month: what company will win the race to be the computer within which users live?

This is a great read that everyone should comb over. Ben takes a look at each of the four (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook) and their strengths, weaknesses, their go-to-market status,  business models, and their overall strengths and weaknesses. In general, Ben creates great content and if you agree, consider a Stratechery membership.

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Kanye West pitches Trump on ‘iPlane’ built by Apple, delivers table-top Apple store ‘keynote’

From 9to5Mac:

Kanye West was in Washington D.C today to meet with President Trump in the Oval Office. As you might expect from such a combination of two people, the day wielded some interesting tidbits: an “iPlane” replacement for Air Force One designed by Apple, West’s uber-secure iPhone passcode, and a table-top keynote at the Georgetown Apple store.

That’s the only paragraph you really need from this story because he said this, in all seriousness:

A piece of work, for sure. 

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Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography