Johnathan.org

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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Building a Moon Base Today

I came across this video by way of Kottke.org and immediately recognized the design. Kurzgesagt is an amazing educational YouTube channel. 

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Doctor and Medical Device Company Take Issue With Apple’s ECG Claims

Regarding Apple’s claims of 98% accuracy when detecting aFib (Atrial Fibrillation), Dr. Venkatesh Murthy, a cardiologist from the University of Michigan had this to say to Health News Review:

Neither of these sets of data have been published or peer-reviewed … In both of these data sets, researchers knew who had AFib. The numbers will change significantly when tested on a large population of people.

“The big problem with this conclusion is that this population has a prevalence of AFib that is probably 100-fold larger than Apple’s target market,” Murthy said. “This is not good. However, the major caveat here is that we are still lacking most of the information needed to be sure how this experiment was done, so we really are just guessing.”

I can understand his concern. It’s jarring, especially in the medical community, when a big-name tech company that’s never made mainstream medical devices before comes out and says they’ve added this medical functionality to their product and it’s 98% accurate.

The onus should be on Apple to provide the study data and prove that claim. 

Just as well, medical device company AliveCor had some beef with Apple when it said it was the first OTC (over-the-counter) device to receive FDA clearance, a claim they believe should rest squarely on their KardiaBand. Unfortunately they failed to consider the fact that the KardiaBand is not a smart watch, nor a single purpose device at all. The KardiaBand is entirely useless without an Apple Watch, itself; one cannot buy a KardiaBand alone and expect to be able to monitor heart rhythm. Therefore, while it technically is the first OTC product, it is not the first device. The article in Cardio Brief even calls it an “accessory.” 

The distinction is there for those who bother to look. 

Spending a few moments reading some of its reviews on Amazon, the KardiaBand doesn’t seem to be faring too well with consumers, running with a 2.5/5 star rating. 

Now, their new product is a much more substantial reader that can detect up to 100 different diseases. There isn’t much info on this new device besides the fact that it’ll have 6 leads which should be more accurate in measurement gathering. We don’t even have a name yet and certainly not a price. I wouldn’t be surprised if it landed in the same $400-500 price range as the Watch itself. 

For most consumers that want a watch, this won’t matter. Do you pick the dedicated device that’s likely to be expensive and still buy a Watch that does almost the same thing? Probably not. Those who have actual heart problems won’t rely on the Watch for a diagnosis. AliveCor should understand that. If I had to guess, AliveCor took the defensive position because they saw Apple build into the Watch something they spent a lot of time on and wanted to become a decent slice of the Watch band market. Now, their band has no purpose and the announcement of their dedicated device so early screams “don’t forget about us, we’re relevant, too!”

 

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September 18, 2018

Co-Founder of Salesforce Buys Time Magazine

Martin Crutsinger, AP:

Time Magazine is being sold by Meredith Corp. to Marc Benioff, a co-founder of Salesforce, and his wife [Meredith], it was announced Sunday.

“We’re pleased to have found such passionate buyers in Marc and Lynne Benioff for the Time brand,” Meredith president and CEO Tom Harty said in a statement. “For over 90 years, Time has been at the forefront of the most significant events and impactful stories that shape our global conversation.”

The prospective sale is expected to close within 30 days. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Benioff said he and his wife were investing “in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business. That’s what we’re looking for when we invest as a family.”

This sounds like fantastic news. The Washington Post has done well under Bezos’ wing and I’d expect Time to do well, too, under Benioff’s. 

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