The personal blog of Stuart Breckenridge

AirPods are a Run Away Success

I love my AirPods. The convenience they provide over wired (and other wireless) headphones is palpable. They pair immediately; allow me to charge my phone while listening to music, podcasts, or watching a video; and they don’t fall out as there is no cable to catch1. I also think they sound slightly better than wired EarPods.

The only downside is that they are a bit finicky when being removed from their cradle.

  1. I still find myself taking off my bag before removing my headphones as I think they are still wired. Old habits die hard. ↩︎


App Transport Security Requirements Delayed  

Apple:

App Transport Security (ATS), introduced in iOS 9 and OS X v10.11, improves user security and privacy by requiring apps to use secure network connections over HTTPS. At WWDC 2016 we announced that apps submitted to the App Store will be required to support ATS at the end of the year. To give you additional time to prepare, this deadline has been extended and we will provide another update when a new deadline is confirmed.

It’s a strange delay. The only time I required a workaround was to support Cloudfront almost a year and a half ago.


RealDonaldContext

Fantastic plugin for Chrome from the Fix team at The Washington Post:

Donald Trump’s primary means of communicating with the public is his Twitter account. Unfortunately, his tweets aren’t always entirely accurate, by mistake or by design.

The Washington Post’s Fix team has decided to help ensure that the public receives the most accurate possible information by creating this extension, which will add more context or corrections to things that Trump tweets.

RealDonaldContext in Action


Super Mario Run Out Now  

Super Mario Run is out now. I’ve played it for a few hours, it’s incredibly fun and, importantly, looks and feels like a Nintendo game. I’ve also spent £7.99 to unlock the full game.

Buy it now.


Yahoo Confirms Security Breach of 1 Billion Accounts  

Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer, Bob Lord, has announced in a Tumblr post that the data of over 1 billion Yahoo customers has been hacked:

As we previously disclosed in November, law enforcement provided us with data files that a third party claimed was Yahoo user data. We analyzed this data with the assistance of outside forensic experts and found that it appears to be Yahoo user data. Based on further analysis of this data by the forensic experts, we believe an unauthorized third party, in August 2013, stole data associated with more than one billion user accounts.[…]

For potentially affected accounts, the stolen user account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (using MD5) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. The investigation indicates that the stolen information did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information. Payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system the company believes was affected.

Worryingly:

We believe this incident is likely distinct from the incident we disclosed on September 22, 2016.

In that particular incident the security breach affected 500 million accounts.

While Yahoo are taking steps to invalidate forged cookies, invalidate unencrypted security questions, and forcing users to change their passwords, I am of the opinion that having an account with them is somewhat of a liability. As such, I’ve taken the decision to terminate my account and have it deleted. If you wish to do the same, simply log in to Yahoo and then visit edit.yahoo.com/config/delete_user and follow the instructions.


AirPods Now Available to Order  

AirPods are finally available to order with a pre-Christmas delivery.

Frankly, I can’t wait to be able to play music and charge my iPhone at the same time.

Update (2016-12-14): Shipping times have slipped to four weeks.

Update (2016-12-15): Shipping times have slipped to six weeks.


Super Mario Run Will Require an Internet Connection

Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, speaking to Mashable regarding the always-connected requirement of Super Mario Run:

We wanted to be able to leverage that network connection with all three of the [Super Mario Run] modes to keep all of the modes functioning together and offering the game in a way that keeps the software secure. This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.[…]

We had thought at one point that it would be nice to have the World Tour [story] mode available standalone, to be able to play without that connection. But then the challenge is when that’s operating in a standalone mode, it actually complicates the connection back to the Toad Rally and Kingdom modes. And because those two modes are relying on the network save, we had to integrate the World Tour mode as well.

This really does remind me of the debacle with the SimCity launch, which prompted this blog post from Lucy Bradshaw at EA:

Always-Connected is a big change from SimCities of the past. It didn’t come down as an order from corporate and it isn’t a clandestine strategy to control players. It’s fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity. From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind – using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world. […]

Cloud-based saves and easy access from any computer are another advantage of our connected features. You can pop from work to home, play the game and have your cities available to you anywhere.

While I appreciate Miyamoto-san’s forthrightness in stating that the always-connected requirement is for both security (DRM)1 and game capability purposes, I still don’t think it’s a customer friendly decision. If you don’t have a connection to the network Super Mario Run simply won’t work. That’s a huge disappointment.

It’s also important to note that SimCity launched as an always-connected game, was then hacked to play offline, and only then did EA release an official offline mode.

I’m guessing Nintendo will release a standalone game mode via an update at some point in the future.

  1. EA, on the other hand, continually stated that SimCity’s always-connected requirement wasn’t for DRM purposes. ↩︎


European Commission to Remove Roaming Charges from 2017  

Andreas Ansip, Vice President, Digital Single Market:

“We are providing a balanced solution which is in the interest of everyone who uses mobile phones and devices. Every European will be able to roam without extra charges, when travelling from the place they call “home”. Every European should also be able to benefit from the most competitive domestic offers. In close cooperation with European consumers, we have designed safeguards to ensure travellers benefit from “roam like at home”, while avoiding negative effects on the most competitive domestic data packages. We have listened, we have consulted, we have refined our proposals; I believe we provide legal certainty. It is now up to EU Member States to support what we are proposing in order to make Europeans’ lives easier, cut bills and keep prices down.”

Despite paying for roaming packages before travelling, I have still been hit with large bills. On one occasion, I reset my iPhone data usage counter just before I left for my travels and when I returned it showed I had used 237MB of data, well within the 1GB I had paid for. When my bill arrived, my carrier, o2, claimed I had used close to 3GB and were charging me just over £300.

When I emailed them a screenshot of the data usage statistics they claimed they couldn’t receive it as their email system didn’t allow images to get through. They then claimed that the statistics on the iPhone were more indicative than accurate. Finally, when I threatened to take action through OFCOM, the charges miraculously disappeared.

That bill-shock situations like this should no longer occur is great for European consumers.


Donald Trump is Time's Person of the Year  

Via The BBC:

US President-elect Donald Trump has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2016.

The property tycoon and reality TV star completed one of the biggest upsets in political history when he beat Hillary Clinton to the White House. […]

Time’s managing editor Nancy Gibbs said, adding that the choice of Mr Trump was “straightforward”.

Person of the Year implies that the person in question has done something good. Trump has certainly had a huge impact, but he’s not done anything in my mind that qualifies as good.


Microsoft Announce Windows 10 for ARM Processors  

Todd Bishop, for GeekWire:

Microsoft will again seek to expand the reach of its Windows PC operating system to devices running mobile-oriented ARM processors, through a partnership with Qualcomm announced tonight at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community event (WinHEC) in China.

The company has tried this before, through a version of Windows 8 called Windows RT that was designed for ARM processors. But that version flopped due in large part to the inability to run traditional Windows apps on those devices. This time, Microsoft will use emulation technology to allow Windows 10 on ARM to run x86 Win32 apps such including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, among many others.

Full Windows 10 on ARM-based PCs is big news. Hardware makers will be able to build PCs with ARM processors knowing that the full Windows 10 experience will be available and uncompromised. Consumers will also win: ARM processors contain cellular modems which will allow seamless connectivity to mobile networks1 and battery life will be vastly improved over Intel based machines.

Tangentially, it makes me ask the question (again): when will we see ARM-based Macs?

  1. I’m not entirely sure how this will work without a sim card. Perhaps something similar to the Apple Sim? ↩︎