The personal blog of Stuart Breckenridge

S/MIME Configuration in macOS Sierra

Previously, in macOS, you were able to configure which certificate was to be used for encryption in the Mail app:

Unless I am mistaken, it appears to have been removed in macOS Sierra:

I assume Apple is confident in its ability to select the right certificate for you.

iPhone 7 at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix

Last night I was at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix and, in advance, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the new camera in the iPhone 7 Plus. I was in the standing area at turn 12, 15 feet away from cars travelling at over 100 miles-per-hour. Single-shot, burst mode, using camera zoom or not using camera zoom (not that that would make a difference), the cars were just too fast for the iPhone camera:

4K video, on the other hand, worked well:

A lack of good pictures from the iPhone aside, it was incredible being that close to the track and I’ve still got to look through the pictures from my Nikon to see if I managed to capture anything coming close to decent.

AssistiveTouch in Asia  

John Gruber, on AssistiveTouch usage in Asia:

Here’s what I think is going on: in countries around the world, particularly Asia (China, Korea, Singapore), and also Brazil, iPhone users don’t use their home buttons. Really. They turn on AssistiveTouch, an iOS accessibility feature designed for people with motor skill problems. AssistiveTouch allows you to navigate across the system, in and out of apps, without ever clicking the home button. Why don’t they click the home button? Because of a widespread misconception that the home button will wear out, thus reducing the resale value of the iPhone.

I moved to Singapore in early 2013 and — truth be told — most of the phones I saw people using on my commute weren’t iPhones. They were larger screened Samsungs.1 When I did see an iPhone in use, it was overwhelmingly being used with AssistiveTouch turned on. It was a feature that was alien to me, I had never seen it in use in the UK.

I don’t see AssistiveTouch in use as much now and my belief is that usage started going down with the introduction of the iPhone 5s, and TouchID, in late 2013. Subsequently, usage really plummeted with the introduction of the larger screened (and, importantly, gold2) iPhone 6 in 2014. (At this point, I also started seeing far more iPhones in use than Samsungs.)

It’ll be interesting to see if usage habits, including mine, change with introduction of this year’s force touch sensor in place of the Home Button.

  1. Which I mocked at the time. ↩︎

  2. Gold is exceptionally important in Chinese culture↩︎

New Instagram Profile

89 weeks ago I setup a separate Instagram profile and then never did anything with it. The purpose of the profile was to keep dSLR pictures separate from pictures taken with an iPhone.

I’ve finally started uploading pictures to this profile. All photos are taken with a Nikon D750, touched up in Lightroom, and uploaded to Instagram (with no filters added).

Losing the 3.5mm Headphone Jack

I ordered an iPhone 7 Plus today, well aware of the fact that it wouldn’t have an 3.5mm headphone jack. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about as Apple have covered the whole gamut of user needs.

Continued Use of 3.5mm Headphones

This is possible using the included1 Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter. There is simply no need to abandon 3.5mm headphones at this stage. You’ll be able to charge and listen using Apple’s Lightning Dock while at a desk. On the go, things are more complicated. Using Belkin’s Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar in conjunction with the 3.5mm adapter, you’ll be able to charge and listen on the go. One can only imagine what this will look like:

iPhone -> Belkin Connector -> 3.5mm adapter -> Headphones

All In On Lightning

The EarPods bundled with the iPhone 7 are Lightning EarPods. If using an iPhone 7 (4.7”), I am positive you will be able to use the iPhone Smart Battery Case to charge and listen and the same time.2 Alternatively, charging and listening at the same time is also possible using Belkin’s Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.


Coming in October, Apple will release their new AirPod wireless headphones. All I can do now is reserve judgement — I’ve not been overly impressed with any wireless headphones I’ve tried. However, their introduction does fit with Apple’s long term vison of a wireless future, as Jony Ive put it.

So, what’s the fuss about?

  1. When have Apple ever given away an adapter for free? ↩︎

  2. Unconfirmed conjecture! ↩︎

Dropbox' Dirty Little Security Hack  


If you have Dropbox installed, take a look at System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Accessibility tab. Notice something? Ever wondered how it got in there? Do you think you might have put that in there yourself after Dropbox asked you for permission to control the computer?


There’s at least three reasons why it matters. It matters first and foremost because Dropbox didn’t ask for permission to take control of your computer. What does ‘take control’ mean here? It means to literally do what you can do in the desktop: click buttons, menus, launch apps, delete files… . There’s a reason why apps in that list have to ask for permission and why it takes a password and explicit user permission to get in there: it’s a security risk.


Moreover, Dropbox is either clearly storing your Admin password in its own caches (very bad) or giving itself complete root privileges (also very bad); otherwise, it would have to ask you for the password again after you delete it from the list of apps allowed Accessibility privileges. This strikes me as not only underhand (because there’s no indication that it’s going to assume that kind of control) but also over the top.

It’s quite shocking that Dropbox would do this. It makes me want to move over to iCloud Drive. (Read the followup post to understand exactly how Dropbox are hacking their way around Apple’s security.)

iPhone 7 Prices  

Husain Sumra, writing for Macrumors:

While the iPhone 7 Plus introduced today saw a general $20 increase compared to the iPhone 6s Plus it will replace, customers in some countries are finding prices on both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and other products increasing by even more due to fluctuations in exchange rates.

Strangely, prices in Singapore have decreased.

On the State of U.K. Broadband Infrastructure  

As we wrap up this three month beta testing cycle for iOS 10, watchOS 3, and macOS Sierra, I estimate I’ve downloaded roughly 50GB across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac devices. I would also estimate that it’s taken, collectively, around an hour to download all that data on my 100Mbps cable connection. These beta cycles constantly remind me of when I lived in the U.K. and had an 8Mbps (best case (i.e. never)) copper connection. An iOS beta would take up to four hours to download.

It turns out that the U.K. was very nearly going to go all in on fibre in the early 90s, until the Conservative government put an end to the process.

Jay McGregor, writing for TechRadar:

The story actually begins in the 70s when Dr Cochrane was working as BT’s Chief Technology Officer, a position he’d climbed up to from engineer some years earlier.


He was asked to do a report on the U.K.’s future of digital communication and what was needed to move forward.

“In 1979 I presented my results,” he tells us, “and the conclusion was to forget about copper and get into fibre. So BT started a massive effort - that spanned in six years - involving thousands of people to both digitise the network and to put fibre everywhere. The country had more fibre per capita than any other nation.

But, in 1990, then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, decided that BT’s rapid and extensive rollout of fibre optic broadband was anti-competitive and held a monopoly on a technology and service that no other telecom company could do.

“Unfortunately, the Thatcher government decided that it wanted the American cable companies providing the same service to increase competition. So the decision was made to close down the local loop roll out and in 1991 that roll out was stopped. The two factories that BT had built to build fibre related components were sold to Fujitsu and HP, the assets were stripped and the expertise was shipped out to South East Asia.

“Our colleagues in Korea and Japan, who were working with quite closely at the time, stood back and looked at what happened to us in amazement. What was pivotal was that they carried on with their respective fibre rollouts. And, well, the rest is history as they say.

In this particular instance, Thatcher et al. had the collective foresight of a gazelle. The TechRadar article goes on to cover the U.S., where a similar decision was made to split AT&T, which inevitably hindered the rollout of fibre.

Indeed, reviewing Akamai’s State of the Internet[PDF] report for Q4 2015, the U.K. and the U.S. don’t feature in the top 10 for Global Average Connection Speeds:

Country Q4 2015 Avg. Mbps
South Korea 26.7
Sweden 19.1
Norway 18.1
Japan 17.4
Netherlands 17.0
Hong Kong 16.8
Latvia 16.7
Switzerland 16.7
Finland 16.6
Denmark 16.1

Seriously short-sighted decision making.