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  • Chamberlain pulls the plug on its HomeKit smart home bridge

    loopless said:
    We have one of these, and it's the only way to bring our garage door into HomeKit - the garage door uses RF to communicate with the bridge.  It has been very reliable in general with only one off-line incident in several years.
    I'm not sure what those other 99% of people are doing? 
    It’s not the only way. I use a combination of the Bond Bridge device and an Eve door sensor. 

    This is a work-around, but it actually adds a layer of security. Bond Bridge is an RF device typically used to operate “dumb” ceiling fans with RF remotes. Bond Bridge is not a HomeKit compatible device, but it will function with Siri Shortcuts. If your garage door operates via RF remote, chances are the Bond Bridge can duplicate the signal and thus issue a toggle to activate the garage door. 

    Add an Eve (or other HK) door sensor at some creative place in the garage door mechanism, and you can tell if it’s open or closed. 

    Then, create a Siri Shortcut to activate the garage door toggle signal. This is where the added security comes in. First, it’s up to you what verbal command will trigger the shortcut, so you can create whatever code word you like, obvious or cryptic. Second, all shortcut commands are keyed to the specific user. So someone standing outside your window (or inside your house) yelling the toggle command to your HomePod will likely be rejected, because Siri will only operate a shortcut command issued by a recognized user’s voice. HomePod also sends a notification to the user’s iPhone that it has run a shortcut command, so with that and a door sensor notification, you’ll know when it’s been activated and the garage door has been opened or closed. 
  • Apple's latest security update is important, but the mass-media response is unhinged

    Hewing to “the narrative” is the most dangerous aspect of mainstream media right now. Put simply, reporters and editors spend inordinate amounts of time reading and reacting to social media. When a news item starts to trend, they all race to affirm the trending thing with sources (some spend less time bothering with sources) and push out reports that fit “the narrative,” which are then link-posted on twitter, further affirming the trending item as both “significant” and “factual.” This is literally an algorithm-based human confirmation-bias feedback loop. At its most basic, this is dangerous because it promotes things as important that may not actually be important, and it confuses feedback-loop repetition with factual verification.

    What makes this effect truly dangerous is its susceptibility to manipulation by those with agendas. For instance, FoxNews does run stories based on talking points established by their management. In some cases, the talking points are meant to promote specific political ideas. In others, they are meant to capture the attention of their viewers as a means to distract them from noticing disfavored information in the news. So Fox runs their talking points, then promotes them on social media, and they’re picked up and re-shared by conservative politicians and other like-minded people. That feeds the algorithms with trending data, and primes the pump to generate a “narrative.” Soon after, mainstream media is responding to things that “people are saying” as though they are both important and given fact.

    In this case if, as has been suggested by others here (I have not independently verified the timeline), FoxNews started running with the Apple security update as a distraction from other news, it simply followed the well-worn path and became “the narrative.” Information of this sort can be particularly vulnerable to such narrative-based spin-up because the mainstream reporters have no idea how computers work or what actually constitutes a critical vulnerability. It sounds scary so it must be both important and true. It also makes great click-bait, so everyone is happy. 
  • Finding a perfectly sized Apple Watch band may get easier in the future

    Using a tape measure on your wrist is perhaps low-tech and vaguely inelegant, but calling watch band sizing the “single most confusing choice buyers have to make” is just a bit (or a lot) hyperbolic, isn’t it?

    I’m imagining a slow motion, black-and-white Ronco commercial clip of a complete imbecile getting hopelessly tangled up in a tape measure. 

    But hallelujah! We’ve got a LiDAR wrist measurement tool! It’s easy! It slices! It dices! It makes a perfect omelette in seconds!
  • Seven years later, Apple was right to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack

    I mean, the folks at Edison Labs would’ve been fascinated by the trick of putting three channels in one plug, and at the manufacturing advances required to miniaturize the plug. (Even more than that, they’d be amazed by the ability to travel back in time to show them a headphone plug…)

    Still, eventually some clever guy at Edison would raise an eyebrow and ask if, after 130 years, the best we could do was miniaturize and add channels to the same plug he had in his desk drawer. 
  • Seven years later, Apple was right to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack

    I have to laugh a bit when people still get worked up over Apple moving on from a connector that would’ve been recognizable at Edison Labs in the late 1800s. The overwrought angst over the switch from USB-A connectors to USB-C is dwarfed by this one.