Johnathan.org

September 25, 2018

Amazon Plants Fake Packages to Catch Delivery Driver Theft

Business Insider:

The company plants the packages — internally referred to as “dummy” packages — in the trucks of drivers at random. The dummy packages have fake labels and are often empty.

“We might pull something out of our pocket and put it in there” to give it some weight, a former Amazon logistics manager told Business Insider. This person, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said instructions for the practice came from Amazon’s corporate offices in Seattle.

“It’s meant to be a trap … to check the integrity of the driver,” he said.

I’ve had an Amazon box show up already opened (cut, not hastily taped) so whatever Amazon thinks is necessary is entirely fine by me. The contents were left behind probably because it was a water filter for my refrigerator… not something valuable or of interest to most individuals. I had one other package never “arrive” (a Philips Hue bulb, about $50 in value) though it was marked as delivered. It took several hoop jumping events to convince Amazon customer service that it never arrived. I had to explain to them that 99.95% of my deliveries landed in a secure package locker (even from Amazon’s own delivery cronies) and that if it wasn’t here, it really wasn’t here. There was no where else to put the package. 

I would just as well prefer Amazon stopped using their delivery drivers so much, too. They tend to be quite haphazard in their delivery processes and always seem to be stumped when they encounter a building that requires an access code (like mine) or a package locker. It might help if I was able to give Amazon more detailed instructions on how to delivery properly, but as of right now, that’s too much to ask.

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September 24, 2018

TechCrunch: Zoho Pulled Offline After Phishing Complaints

From TechCrunch:

The web-based office suite company, which also provides customer relationship and invoicing services to small businesses, tweeted that the site was “blocked” earlier in the day by TierraNet, which administers its domain name.

In an email to TechCrunch, Zoho boss Sridhar Vembu said that TierraNet “took our domain down without any notice to us” after receiving complaints about phishing emails from Zoho-hosted email accounts.

It’s a smart move that Zoho is moving registrars. Might I suggest one that people have actually heard of? 

Adding fuel to the un-professional fire, TierraNet openly shared details of the cancellation with a random user:

One Twitter user mentioned that by doing this, Tierra violated an ICANN policy (I’m assuming this one in eliminating access to 40 million email addresses. 

Another Twitter user (see a trend, here?) mentioned something about Google’s domain being suspended for phishing. The difference here is google.com is registered with MarkMonitor, a brand reputation company, not just any registrar with a generic site. 

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Mathematician Claims to have Proof of the Riemann Hypothesis

From NewScientist:

If a solution to the Riemann hypothesis is confirmed, it would be big news. Among other things, the hypothesis is intimately connected to the distribution of prime numbers, those indivisible by any whole number other than themselves and one. If the hypothesis is proven to be correct, mathematicians would be armed with a map to the location of all such prime numbers, a breakthrough with far-reaching repercussions in the field.

Before I posted this, I didn’t know anything about the Riemann hypothesis so I did some digging. The Wikipedia article is full of technical terminology so if you’re a layman like me, this’ll make more sense (from the Simple English version of Wikipedia):

The hypothesis is named after Bernhard Riemann. It is about a special function, the Riemann zeta function. This function inputs and outputs complex number values. The inputs that give the output zero are called zeros of the zeta function. Many zeros have been found. The “obvious” ones to find are the negative even integers. This follows from Riemann’s functional equation. More have been computed and have real part 1/2. The hypothesis states all the undiscovered zeros must have real part 1/2.

The functional equation also says all zeros (except the “obvious” ones) must be in the critical strip: real part is between 0 and 1. The Riemann hypothesis says more: they are on the line given, in the image on the right (the white dots). If the hypothesis is false, this would mean that there are white dots which are not on the line given.

If proven correct, this would allow mathematicians to better describe how the prime numbers are placed among whole numbers.

Short version: it deals with prime numbers and if Atiyah has a proof, it’ll make prime number discovery and understanding much easier. 

Atiyah has a paper on this topic, too, if you’re really into math.

(h/t Kottke.org)

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September 22, 2018

The Counterfeit Apple Accessories Market

From USA Today:

The knockoff power adapters and chargers, which Apple says could cause electrical shocks, allegedly traveled from a manufacturer in Hong Kong to Amazon.com, with stopping points at the Brooklyn location and New Jersey electronics companies.

Twelve of 400 fake iPhone adapters tested in a study unrelated to those in Apple’s lawsuit were so badly constructed that they posed “a risk of lethal electrocution to the user,” U.S.-based safety standards leader UL warned.

Apple said it decided to sue after the company bought a number of its power adapters and charging and syncing cables “that were directly sold by Amazon.com – not a third-party seller – and determined that they were counterfeit.”

Reading this article, I can’t help but think that Amazon is complacent in this practice. All they care about is selling shit, sometimes literal technological shit.

This article goes into insane depth about the process and path these fake Apple accessories took to land on Amazon.com, weaving their way through a few businesses in the United States before landing on the digital storefront. 

For the majority of my accessories, I stick to first-party options. Are they more expensive? Absolutely. There are way too many no-name, probably total garbage, Chinese-made turds on Amazon and other marketplaces. There is no vouching or vetting for these brands. Amazon puts in very little effort (yes, that’s six unique articles about the problem) to make sure reviews are legitimate. I have probably a small handful of 3rd-party manufactures I buy from–Anker and Mophie are two that come to mind immediately–and that’s about it. I don’t care that I’m paying more. I’m paying for something that actually works, not something that can kill me because someone wanted to make a quick buck.

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September 21, 2018

College and the Fear of Change

An Internet friend of mine, John Saddington, created a blog post about College that really got me thinking. The purpose of this post is to share some of those thoughts.

I spent 8 years, off-and-on getting my Bachelor of Science degree. I hopped around a few schools and could never really find my groove until 2013 when I landed at Western Governor’s University. Looking back on it, I wish I had done things a lot differently. Namely, just getting a basic Associates degree and transferring would have saved me a lot of time and money.

Getting my degree from an online not-for-profit, I feel like I missed out on some of the interactivity and community-building. You hear stories about how someone spent time in a fraternity/sorority, was a part of X, Y, and Z clubs, and did all these cool things with people they shared dorm buildings with. Would I have been super active in all that? Probably not, but there’s a definite networking aspect to college that one might not ever get by taking alternative paths, depending on the alternative path they take. As much as we don’t want this to be the case, some recruiters and hiring managers see degrees as an indicator that this person was able to complete a long-term project/commitment successfully.

Putting all the fluffy parts aside, there’s a part I still struggle with when thinking about the amount of time I spent on my education. I can’t help but wonder if it’ll make a difference at this point. My degree is in Information Technology. It came with a handful of industry certifications that say on pieces of paper that I know enough about a list of topics to qualify for said pieces of paper. I learned most of that information not from my college studies, but from the real world. Learning as I went. Doing. Getting things wrong. Fixing them. Getting things right. Repeat.

That’s not to say the education I received would not have been valuable to someone. I know for a fact that some find it entirely useful, though I imagine that’s more because of the material than how it was delivered. There’s nothing unique about the delivery method. Alternative forms of education exist and should be encouraged. The idea that a college is the only way to learn a certain set of skills is a tired one, even considering hands-on training.

This thought process creates a very fine line, though. No one paid close enough attention and “schools” like DeVry and ITT Tech popped up, promising quality educations. Most of the time, the only thing that happened was the student ended up being out of way too much money for an education that didn’t mean anything.

How do we find a solution to this that involves both breaking the mold and maintaining quality, trustable educational pathways?

Are coding bootcamps the answer? Probably not. There’s no good set of standards for ensuring it’s not just a $10 Udemy course wrapped in a $14,000 tuition price tag. We just trust that because they have a building and teachers and dedicated learning times that it’ll be something that just works. We’re trading one set of problems for another.

Most of this got John and I talking about the hard requirement aspect of some careers. Right now, in order to become a lawyer, you have to go to school, take a test, go to another school, and become a member of the Bar Association. Without that, no lawyering for you. Are we sure that’s still the best way to make such a career happen for someone? Obviously everything up to the Bar Association admission is useless without said admission if the goal is to be lawyering your way around a court room, so what if we could change some of that? Why is it important for someone to go to Harvard if they want to work for a quality firm? (This is part rhetorical, part genuine question).

Technology has the power to change the way we learn and establish ourselves. There’s nothing that says the way things are will stay the same forever–literally all of society is a great example of that. Innovation and disruption are a required component of moving forward as a society and sometimes (a lot of times) it also comes with some discomfort. There are always individuals who wish to keep the status quo. It’s a comfortable position to take. I’m guilty of this sometimes, too.

There isn’t one right answer, here, and whatever form this disruption takes, my generation won’t likely be around to see it. I hope my children are offered more unique and high quality opportunities than I had. In fact, if they exist, I want to encourage them. One should be able to do whatever they so desire and establish themselves along the way in the manner and format they see fit. If that means spending time in a classroom, learning from pre-defined sets of materials in a certain order or if that means a virtual environment that includes hands-on training at an affiliated location, it all sounds good to me. If 100% of it was real-world, apprenticeship-style learning right next to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, that’s also fantastic!

I say yes to all of it! Put those who wish to excel in business next to those who have actually excelled in business, not just in a classroom. if someone wants to become an expert in animal husbandry, they should learn from the experts themselves.

Education is education and education is valuable. We should be finding as many ways to enhance that value as possible.

iFixit Teardown of the iPhone XS and XS Max

iFixit has their hands on the latest iPhones (and they do): 

Last year’s iPhone X had a weird name and the most advanced internals we’d ever seen in a teardown. This year Apple turns it up to eleven with the bafflingly-named iPhone XS and XS Max. In a teardown first, we’re taking apart both phones simultaneously—so grab ahold of your Roman numerals and let’s get started.

Go go go.

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September 20, 2018

AirPower’s Continued Development Hinted in iOS 12.1 Beta

If you recall, I mentioned AirPower’s almost-dead state based on anonymous communications from within Apple. Guilherme Rambo at 9to5Mac has some new information:

The complexity of AirPower has apparently caused a slew of issues for engineers, which is why it’s still not for sale more than a year after its announcement. Originally, Apple said AirPower would be available “in 2018,” so while the company technically hasn’t missed its deadline, it’s clearly running down to the wire.

However, new evidence from the iPhone XS and iOS 12.1 suggests that, while it may be delayed, development of AirPower continues.

Looking into iOS 12.1, we noticed that the component of iOS responsible for managing the charging interface that appears when using AirPower has been updated, which means that Apple is still actively working on the project.

Furthermore, a picture of the “getting started guide” that comes packaged with the iPhone XS clearly mentions AirPower. “Place iPhone with screen facing up on AirPower or a Qi-certified wireless charger,” it reads. The image was shared on Twitter by Gavin Stephens.

Fantastic news.

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Hodinkee: ‘How Apple’s Awesome Motion Watch Faces Are Made’

From Stephen Pulvirent at Hodinkee:

“We probably could have done this digitally, but we actually shot all of this practically in a studio” says Alan Dye, Apple Vice President of User Interface Design, of the motion faces. “What I love about the fact that we did this is that it’s just so indicative of how the design team works. It was really about bringing together some of our various talents to create these faces. There are of course art directors, and color experts, and graphic designers, but also model makers who helped build these structures that we would eventually, you know, set on fire.”

There’s a video, too, that’s frankly mesmerizing. It is so cool to watch (sorry/not sorry) how they accomplished this. Using real materials and filming them versus coming up with something on a computer lends credence to Apple knowing how to do something just that much better than what was required. I look forward to giving these a try soon.

(h/t Daring Fireball)

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All the iPhone XS and XS Max Reviews in One Place

Launch day for the iPhone XS is tomorrow. While we wait, it seems only pertinent to round up all the reviews for the iPhone XS and share them in one page. 

Note: I didn’t bother splitting them out by XS and XS Max. There is no need. Both phones are the same except for their size. It doesn’t make sense to differentiate them just as little as it makes sense to review two different sizes of the same model television. 

September 19, 2018

Tim Cook on Good Morning America

Tim Cook sat down with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America and did an exclusive interview. This was nothing short of the softest of balls as far as interviews go and of course he prepared his remarks, but like Dave Mark over at The Loop said, he nails the enthusiasm. 

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