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  • Apple presses ahead with aim to replace paper passports and ID with iPhone

    I agree with Apple. It's going to happen, but it'll require some education, more-eyes-on-it scrutiny, and pull demand. By "pull" I mean that continuing along the current path with outdated methods creates an untenable impediment and gross inefficiencies that can no longer be tolerated. Those who need to move forward and break the logjam will seek out, or pull, solutions to solve their problem.

    Tech companies like Apple must be prepared for the time when government agencies start pulling, or demanding, a solution. It won't be Apple or any tech company pushing their technology on government agencies. But as we all know, there's always a bit of subtlety to persuasion ... so allowing the government agencies to "take credit" and declare victory for a solution that was handed to them by someone else helps move things along. Apple knows this and will be ready for the handoff and transfer of credit.

    My last 2 passports have been e-Passports, which are great for streamlining the customs processing significantly. The US and Canada NEXUS program uses biometric authentication to greatly speed customs processing. Programs like TSA-Pre greatly improve check-in times by establishing trust relationships. Some states, Georgia included, require a fingerprint to issue a drivers license, which is obviously digitized and stored for recall. There is already momentum to move things forward with the aid of technology, trust based relationships, and biometrics. It's just a matter of technology providers like Apple learning all the dance steps, protocols, and formalities of working with the agencies involved, which still have a few luddites hanging around, but their dinosaur days are numbered.
  • Google starts funneling Chrome users into groups to ease targeted advertising

    I agree with the EFF on this. This sounds more like a classification and categorization scheme that will streamline Google's ability to sell more tailored packages to their customers. The FLoCs sound like they are categories created by behavioral monitoring/snooping on users using web browsers.

    If you devote 90% of your browsing activity looking up information about cat pajamas, you might get thrown into a FLoC defined for “people who have a high interest in cat pajamas.” Google can then offer incentives for sellers of cat pajamas to get hooked up with individuals in the cat pajama lovers FLoC. 

    Maybe I’m oversimplifying this, but I don’t see how this does much of anything to improve privacy, other than putting you in a herd with ‘n' other people, which reduces your exposure to 1/n, assuming no additional fingerprinting techniques are employed.
  • Another $1 million scam app surfaces amid App Store legal battles

    In this case, feigning outrage by presenting a big raw number ($1 million!!!) is a red herring. The number of apps purchased from the App Store is a big number, so even tiny fractions of illegitimate bogus charges get amplified to result in a big number. It's like figuring out the raw cost of lost productivity due to 10 million computers that take 1 minute too long to boot up by calculating 1 minute of pay for 10 million workers earning some average hourly rate.  (If the average pay rate is $20/hr this wasted minute of boot time would cost $3.33 million per day or $100 million per month). Big numbers have an amplifying effect - because they are big numbers.

    What would be more meaningful to me would be to see the ratio of "scam apps" that make it through the verification process against the total number of apps that get submitted for review. With humans in the loop, either directly or by virtue of automation running using programs developed by humans, the failure rate of every process is going to be non-zero. Apple needs to know that number and track it to see how their review process is working. You cannot control what you cannot measure, and I'd bet that Apple measures, and feeds the error back into the control loop. Negative feedback, taken in context, is essential for tuning a process. Is running around like Chicken Little, spewing big numbers out of context, engaging lawyers, and throwing insults at Apple an effective feedback process that will help tune the system? I guess it is to some degree, but is he doing it to advance THE cause, or only to advance HIS cause. I think the latter, but that's my opinion.

    There are actually several agendas be pushed around this issue. One is the notion that because Apple is the sole curator of their system, they must be perfect, and if not perfect, they must be held accountable for not being perfect. This is an emotional perspective but one greatly lacking in perspective and pragmatism. What's greatly lacking is a proposed remedy that yields a better outcome than what is currently being done. It falls into the same empty hole that pervades too much current anger driven action. It's easy to say "blow the whole thing up because I don't like it," but it's enormously difficult to come up with a solution or way to make things better. It's like six year olds kicking over a sandcastle and walking away. But we're not talking six year olds, we're talking full grown adults, ones who are quite possibly equipped with six year old brains.  
  • Microsoft uses weak arguments to say Surface Pro 7 is better than iPad Pro

    I have a Surface Pro 4 - which was purchased in 2016. Right now, the Screen is swollen and is popping off. It cannot be used without an external monitor. 
    I also have the first generation iPad from 2010. It has no physical wear and still works how it did back when I bought it. 

    This sounds like a case of lithium-ion battery bloat. I would seriously caution against using any device that exhibits this type of battery failure. It's possible that the compromised battery could leak and/or explode.

    By the way, I currently have an iPad Mini that has the same condition. I'm not using it and I'm preparing to recycle it at the hazardous material recycling center. I've had two iPod Touch devices, one iPhone 6+, and an external hard drive with a built-in battery all exhibit the same lithium-ion battery failure mode.

  • Next-gen Apple TV could output 120Hz video, beta code suggests

    I see zero use for an AppleTV now I have the Apple TV+ app on my Samsung TV.
    What is the device’s purpose other than supporting users that don’t have such a smart TV yet?

    Unless Apple would positioned it more as a console as well, including an exclusive game line-up?
    The most important functionality that Apple TV provides for me:

    1. The Apple TV HD and 4K with the Spectrum app installed completely replaces the need for the cable TV set top box. This allows me to access all of my cable channels on any TV or monitor with an Apple TV attached, no cable connection required. 

    2. My best audio system is the one attached to my home theater system with AV receiver. I can listen to my entire Apple Music collection in the cloud or stream music from any of my Macs using Home Sharing. Setting the Apple TV screensaver to use my Apple Photos collection is a bonus. 

    3. The Apple TV user experience, from the UI to performance, for other apps is substantially better than what is provided by any of my smart or semi-smart TVs. I have mostly LG and Visio TVs so your experience may be different. 

    4. AirPlay

    5. Single sign-on for content apps tied to your TV provider

    6. Bluetooth keyboard support 

    7. HomePod support 

    8. HomeKit support

    Your experience and access to equivalent functionality may differ based on your TV and/or Apple TV alternative, e.g., Roku, but for me Apple TV is such a natural fit within Apple’s ecosystem, is very easy to configure, and has been super reliable (I have 4 of them). Yes, you’re paying a premium for the seamlessness, but that’s par for the course with Apple. 

    About the remote ... once I found an Apple TV silicone case for the remote all of the issues that I had with the remote went away. The lack of a mute function was never an issue for me, and still isn’t.