MIT and Harvard develop a tool to make webpages load 34% faster

Dave Gershon, Popular Science: James Mickens, a Harvard professor who’s visiting at MIT, explains the system in terms of a travelling businessperson. If there are 20 cities on the agenda, it’s far more efficient to plan travel from one coast to another, rather than unnecessarily flying back and forth from New York to Los Angeles to Washington D.C. to San Francisco. The Polaris system works in much the same way, making a graph of which objects can be loaded in tandem.

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Apple event on the 21st of March

Apple has sent out press invites for an event on the 21st of March at its campus (via. John Gruber). The invite reads ‘Let us loop you in’. As with all events, the invite usually holds a teaser in the form of a hidden meaning that becomes clear in retrospect. This one has Rose Gold as a constituent colour. Possibly a hint on Rose Gold being one of the colour options for the eminent smaller iPhone? UPDATE: Live streaming is confirmed. Apple’s official page lets you mark the time on your calendar.

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Google releases Android N for developers

Dieter Bohn, The Verge: We’re expecting to hear much more about Android N at Google IO this May — including what we presume are new features that Google hasn’t unveiled yet. Strange that an OS with a sizeable amount of changes is in the public’s hands before its even announced. Also, go have a look at the video The Verge put together. The new multitasking seems rather familiar. UPDATE: One of the possible explanations to this unexpected release comes from this article on The Verge: Google wants developers working on split-screen support. Especially for tablets.

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The Galaxy S7 industrial design

The Galaxsy S7 reviews are out and a lot of them are giving Samsung a pass on its design since it didn’t change much compared to last year. The equation being with the iPhone update cycle where design changes every other year. Esenitially, a lot of people refer to this year’s Galaxy S revision to be an ‘S6s’ (I call it a fatter, faster S6). I don’t think that’s quite what Samsung did. Samsung, to me, seems like the type of company to increase the screen-size of a phone in every iteration just so they can wave their ‘more is better’ flag. I found the S6 good to look at, but poorly designed. Whatever one’s opinion, you can’t deny that Samsung made a big design leap last year compared to years past. The S6 was, by all means, better designed than its predecessors. With the S7, experimenting may have resulted in a disaster. If (one of) the biggest company in the world manages to get away with bi-yearly design changes, why can’t Samsung? ‘Instead, let’s capitulate to the biggest demand everyone wants with design these days – make the phone thicker in favour of a better battery.’ If a bi-yearly design change is what Samsung set out to target, the previous sentiment is perfectly acceptable. But I think Samsung actually did want to ship a redesign this year and fell short. I have no more evidence to support my theory that Samsung’s design team simply came out flat this year and so I can’t prove the musings of my mind 1. Keep in mind, though, that this year is one where the iPhone launches with a new design (if history grants me that assumption). Based on pure intuition, I’ll bet money the folks at Cupertino shared a good laugh over the S7. Previously: Thoughts on the Galaxy S7 1. It still beats me why the team at Samsung allowed this shit.↩

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Edward Snowden calls BS on the FBI

Ben Lovejoy, MacRumors: […] Edward Snowden has now taken things a step further, suggesting that the FBI’s claims that they need Apple to access the iPhone are … not true His comments were reported by The Intercept, which posted video of the discussion at a civil liberties conference. “The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’” to unlock the phone, Snowden said during a discussion at Common Cause’s Blueprint for Democracy conference. “Respectfully, that’s bullsh*t,” he said, over a video link from Moscow […] The method, posted on the ACLU website, relies on the fact that the ‘passcode attempt’ counter is store in NAND flash memory, in what is known as Effaceable Storage. All the FBI needs to do to avoid any irreversible auto erase is simple to copy that flash memory (which includes the Effaceable Storage) before it tries 10 passcode attempts. It can then re-try indefinitely, because it can restore the NAND flash memory from its backup copy […] Oversimplification: Assuming there is an auto-erase triggered on the iPhone after 10 failed passcode attempts, Snowden suggests creating multiple bit-by-bit replicas of the storage on the iPhone and try 10 different passcodes on each replica. At this point, I’m willing to bet no one who is well-versed with this case still thinks it’s about ‘just this one iPhone’. Not even the FBI director.

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FBI ‘picked the lamest case you ever could’ – Steve Wozniak

Ben Lovejoy, MacRumors: [Wozniak] argued that there is absolutely no reason to think the FBI would learn anything from the iPhone in question. They picked a lame case. They picked the lamest case you ever could […] [For the shooters’ own phones] Verizon turned over all the phone records, all the SMS messages. So they want to take this other phone, that the two didn’t destroy, which was a work phone, and it’s so lame and worthless to expect something’s on it and get Apple to expose it. […] Once you create it, there’s a good chance hackers will get into it – and what if China says ‘Apple, you’ve got to give us a backdoor so we can get into any phone, even [those belonging to] your government officials.’ Conan said he was convinced by Woz’s arguments. Succinct.

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Editorial 1.3 up for beta testing

Back in November, last year, I switched to writing on my iPad and Editorial was my tool of choice. The Python-based automation helps but with the power of hindsight, I think I loved it so much because it worked – rock solid – like no other alternative I’ve tried since. The reason I was forced to try alternatives was because Editiorial didn’t support iOS 9’s multitasking — a deal breaker for me. The lack of alternatives is what has brought me back to writing on my Mac ever since. You can imagine, then, seeing Ole Zorn’s tweet that announced Editorial 1.3 is available for beta-testing. This version adds support for iOS 9 multitasking and the iPad Pro. I’ve signed up as a tester; you can do so here.

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Tony Fadell’s interview

Tony Fadell, the man credited for the iPod at Apple, creating Nest and presently heading the Google Glass division at Google was recently interviewed by Kevin Surace, CEO of Appvance. Venture Beat has a transcript of the interview (via. The Loop). Here are the parts that caught my attention: Fadell: [in days leading up to the development of the iPod] I turned to Steve and said, “We can build anything. Give it enough time and money. But how can you guarantee to me that you can sell and market it? Look at Sony. They own every audio category. How do we go up against that?” He said to me, “Look. You make it, and I guarantee I’ll use every marketing dollar I’ve got. I’ll starve the Mac to do it.” I said, “Okay, you do what you want.” He was really passionate about it. He was crazy. It wasn’t just me. I had to hire a team. I had to convince them to come to this dying company that might get shut down at any time […] VB: When did you finally wake up and realize [The iPod] was a success? Fadell: It took two and a half years. Really. The first one was awesome. Every Mac owner bought it. But there weren’t many Mac owners! Then, flatline. This is where the arm-wrestling happened with Steve. I had a team making it compatible with the PC and Steve’s like, “OVER MY DEAD BODY! Never! We need to sell Macs! This is going to be why people buy Macs!” I said, “Steve, the iPod is $399. But really it’s not. Because you have to buy a Mac!” We had to give people a taste. VB: What happened to sales after the PC? Straight up. Fadell: Straight up. And then what happened was Mac sales started taking off. People got a taste of Apple. It was good on a PC, but it was great on a Mac, so let’s go get a Mac. That was the drug, like people talk about the gaming drug. […] When asked about the current state and future of Virtual/Augmented Reality: Fadell: […] I’ve seen compelling use cases for AR and VR in industry, in virtual activities, in medical. I see a lot of it. I see a lot of consumer possibilities. But we’re still in the very early stages. […] We’re in those stages with VR and AR today. It’s going to continue. We need to learn so many things. For me to tell you what I think it’s going to look like, I really don’t know. But I do see that there are tangible applications for it. I just don’t think the way we think of it today …There won’t be all these fun-and-games kinds of things. There’s a lot of real work that will accomplished with this – medical, manufacturing, construction. That will be more important than consumer applications, which is different from the way people are thinking about it now. My thoughts are pretty much the same. Concluding: VB: You worked for many different bosses, including Steve and Larry, two very different people. How would you describe their management styles? Fadell: Larry’s an incredible scientist and technologist. He respects product and is fascinated by product. Steve is an incredible marketer who loves product and wasn’t necessarily so involved in technology. They come from very different places. Larry has more of a research background — small teams thinking about things but not necessarily all the business concepts. Steve was all the marketing and all business. It’s very different. Not that either one’s bad or good, but they’re very different. I’m a product guy. I love technology, but I’m not a guy who’s going to sit in a lab and be a scientist. I love marketing, but marketing is not the only thing I do. I leave a lot to marketing experts. I sit in the middle. I was so relieved reading this — I am not crazy for thinking so too. I see Apple as a consumer/product-first company and Google as an organisation that focuses on research and materialises successful researches into products. Here’s how I see it, in broad strokes: Google would spend time developing a faster, more efficient way to count from 1 to 100. If they succeed, they would try and build a business out of it or incorporate it towards the betterment of an existing business. Apple would first assess the consumer market for the need of some product/service that requires the creation of a faster way to count 1 to 100 and then work towards building it. This is why Apple gets more bang for its buck than any other company. Both models bring their own to the table and, in turn, lead to the betterment of the industry. Its just fascinating to see how well the values and ideas of these companies’ leaders have morphed into the companies themselves.

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First ever Mac ransomware works by encrypting files

The Guardian: Ransomware, one of the fastest-growing types of cyber threats, encrypts data on infected machines, then typically asks users to pay ransoms in hard-to-trace digital currencies to get an electronic key so they can retrieve their data. Ryan Olson, threat intelligence director at Palo Alto, said the “KeRanger” malware, which appeared on Friday 4 March, was the first functioning ransomware attacking Apple’s Mac computers. “This is the first one in the wild that is definitely functional, encrypts your files and seeks a ransom,” Olson said in a telephone interview with Reuters. An Apple representative said the company had taken steps over the weekend to prevent attacks by revoking a digital certificate from a legitimate Apple developer that enabled the rogue software to install on Macs. The representative said he could not immediately provide other details. Irony is a bitch.

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Craig Federighi writes about the FBI vs Apple case

Craig Federighi, The Washington Post: That’s why it’s so disappointing that the FBI, Justice Department and others in law enforcement are pressing us to turn back the clock to a less-secure time and less-secure technologies. They have suggested that the safeguards of iOS 7 were good enough and that we should simply go back to the security standards of 2013. But the security of iOS 7, while cutting-edge at the time, has since been breached by hackers. What’s worse, some of their methods have been productized and are now available for sale to attackers who are less skilled but often more malicious. I was taken aback when I realised this article was written under Federighi’s name. You don’t see one of the biggest names in software be upfront about a cause on a personal level everyday; let alone one from Apple. This paragraph is the only segment of interest to a tech-savy audience (Gruber concurs).

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Apple Support on Twitter

@AppleSupport: We’re here to provide tips, tricks and helpful information when you need it most. We’re available every day to answer your questions, from 5am-8pm PST. After Apple releasing videos on YouTube, Apple Music advertising on Instagram (and releasing an Android client), Apple Support is the next step in acknowledging  and embracing a platform for its greater good — things that seem unlikely during Jobs’s regime.  A cursory glance tells me that the account  has been prolific in its attempts to help customers. Props to Apple.

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Exclusive Apple Merchandise

Shawn King recently quoted a Business Insider article titled ‘This is the exclusive Apple merchandise you can only get at its Silicon Valley campus‘: […] There’s really only one place on the Apple campus that welcomes visitors: A small Apple Store, located right at 1 Infinite Loop, and open to the public. But in addition to the standard selection of Apple gadgets, it’s the only place anywhere on Earth where you can buy a special selection of official Apple merchandise. Later, Shawn writes:  I love (and own a bunch of) the stuff at the Apple Campus Store and it’s always confused me why, when Apple knows how much merchandise they sell at that location, Apple doesn’t sell similar items in their retail locations or even online. I once asked Steve Jobs about it and he said, “We don’t sell t-shirts online because it devalues the brand….” There’s some really enticing stuff here; presented in classic Apple fashion. The merchandise is packed in a way that reminds me of Apple’s iPad Smart Case packaging– playfully suggestive, eloquent, with the product packaged concisely behind a translucent plastic.  Meanwhile, here’s a poor man’s Apple-art I tried my hand at one evening.

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Google asked 9To5Google to change its name and then back-pedaled

Seth Weintraub, 9To5Google: We have learned that Google’s Public Policy Team has decided that, after 5 years of publishing under the 9to5Google name, we have been violating their trademark. Sure we’re on Google+, News, Apps, Ads and just about everything else Google as 9to5Google but I guess something changed. We are a news site dedicated to covering Google, not trying to masquerade as Google, so we’re appealing this decision (and if you know anyone at Google please have them run this up the ladder). But there is a big chance we’ll have to change our name. An update to the story: A Google rep now tells us: Our Policy Team has taken another look at this and decided to reinstate ad serving to your site. No further action is needed. Please reach out if you still have any issues with ads on your site. So we’re back..for now – but obviously we’re exposed and it might make sense to make a change anyway. Typical Google.

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Siri coming on the Mac -9To5Mac

Mark Gurman, 9To5Mac (a week ago): […] for 2016, Siri is planned to finally make its way to the Mac. […] If [your] Mac […] is plugged into power, a “Hey Siri” command will work much like with recent iPhone and iPad models. Ever so often I have my iPad Air 2 charging and I try activating Siri on my iPhone 6S by calling out ‘Hey Siri’ (the 6S’s mic is always on and listening for the ‘Hey Siri’ keyword). As a result the iPhone and iPad, both, trigger Siri. Add a Mac to the mix and I’m dealing with two redundant devices listening in for voice commands. At what point do these devices form some form of sync between them for only one to activate? An update to Handoff, perhaps? Also, why does a MacBook need to be charging to have its mic be always-on? Sure current MacBook batteries would take a hit if their mic is constantly listening for a voice-trigger but I would image it wouldn’t be significant enough1. If Siri-on-the-Mac truly is the ‘tentpole feature’ Mark Gurman reports, it needs to be a shot-in-the-arm version of Siri, not just a port from iOS. 1. Maybe there are older MacBooks that would have significant battery impact from an always-on mic. In that case why not just limit them to newer Macbook models?  ↩

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