• facebook,  lifestyle,  twitter

    Facebook Cannot Fix Itself

    Catching up on my backlog of Time Magazine (yes, the print edition), here’s Roger McNamee, writing at Time.com:

    Trump has long argued–without evidence–that Internet platforms are biased against conservative voices. In reality, conservative voices have thrived on these platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube have consistently allowed conservatives to violate their terms of service. Twitter recently fact-checked two of Trump’s tweets that contained falsehoods, the first time it had done so, which appeared to trigger the Executive Order. Twitter subsequently issued a warning on a Trump tweet for endangering public safety. These actions were long overdue efforts to treat the President’s posts the same as any other user’s. At the same time, Facebook refused to take action with identical posts on its platform.

    This should serve as a warning to companies who try to cozy up governments and politicians. Everything is fine until it is not. Section 230 has allowed large social media and tech companies to wash their hands of the hateful, untruthful, and hurtful content they allow users to post. It’s time to start holding social media and tech companies to the same higher standard as newspapers and other traditional news outlets.

    The benefits of Internet platforms are evident to everyone with access to a computer or smartphone. But like the chemicals industry in the 1950s, Internet giants are exceptionally profitable because they do not pay any cost for the harm they cause. Where industrial companies dumped toxic chemicals in fresh water, Internet platforms pollute society with toxic content. The Internet is central to our way of life, but we have to find a way to get the benefits with fewer harms.

    I think that progressive politicians are finally waking up to the fact that smartphones and reliable high-speed Internet connections are not nice to haves. They are essential to modern life. As the 70 and over crowd retire from politics, or are voted out of office, a new wave of politicians who understand how technology works come into office. The question I have is will they work for the people or align with large corporations, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, to get easy money.

    Thanks to the fight-or-flight instinct wired into each of us, some forms of content force us to pay attention as a matter of self-preservation. Targeted harassment, disinformation and conspiracy theories are particularly engaging, so the algorithms of Internet platforms amplify them. Harmful content crowds out facts and expertise.

    I agree with McNamee on this point. Anyone who disagrees only need to take an honest look the information that is being posted on social media sites about COVID-19 and the mask vs. no mask debate. As a resident of Connecticut, I take issue with Alex Jones’ outright lies out the Newtown school shooting.

    Algorithms need not fill our feeds with targeted and dehumanizing disinformation and conspiracy theories. They do now because amplifying emotionally dangerous content is a choice made to maximize profits. “Optimizing for engagement” undermines democracy and public health. It increases political polarization and fosters hostility to expertise and facts. It undermines journalism, not just by taking advertising dollars from the media but also by forcing news into an environment that discourages critical thinking–and by putting junk news, disinformation and harmful content on an equal footing with credible news sources.

    I really dislike the algorithmic ordering of posts in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds. It was one of the reasons why I chose to delete my Facebook account and try to avoid using Twitter on the web in favor of Tweetbot. The only way to fix this problem is to begin holding social media and large tech companies accountable for the information that is posted to their services by way of a federal law.

    While I am not a fan of Roger McNamee due to his poor influence over Palm, Inc. by way of his investment firm, Elevation Partners, I do agree with him that self-regulation of Facebook and social media companies just does not work and must change.

  • ipad,  ipados,  wwdc

    Scribble for iPad

    When Apple first introduced the iPad, then CEO Steve Jobs remarked that if you saw a stylus you failed to design a good iPad app. While many at the time agreed with that sentiment, I believe that in 2020 an iPad paired with an Apple Pencil is a far more powerful customer tool than an iPad alone.

    Photo Credit Apple, Inc.

    Last month, at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the iPad maker introduced a new feature coming to customers this fall called Scribble. Scribble is a new way to use Apple Pencil to handwrite text directly into input files and convert the handwritten characters into typed characters automatically. This means that if you are already holding Apple Pencil in your hand, you don’t have to put it down and switch to another form of input by using a hardware or software keyboard. The user interaction model is a natural as pen and paper.

    Let’s assume that I am sitting in a conference room discussing the upcoming work for the week. In this meeting I might be jotting down notes in an iPad note taking app, such as Noteshelf by Fluid Touch. While the app is open, a Messages notification appears. Using Pencil, I can pull down the notification to read the message, and right there, jot out a quick response with Pencil and then tap the send button.

    There will also be two new Scribble editing gestures that iPad and Pencil can use. the first is text selection. When using an app that has been updated to work with Scribble, such as the Reminders or Notes apps, you will be able to draw a straight line through some text to select it for editing. The text will automatically highlight and the standard editing tools will appear. Then there’s my favorite, scratch to erase. This feature works just like it sounds. To delete some text, just make a wavy scratch out motion with Pencil over the text to delete and it will disappear. This gesture, minus the poof cloud animation, was taken directly out of Apple’s Newton PDA product from the 1990s.

    Apple has made Scribble part of the iPadOS system experience. Developers get these new features with minimal effort when they use Apple’s standard application programming interfaces (APIs) as part of their apps. In iPadOS 14, Apple is adding the new UIScribbleInteraction and UIIndirectScribbleInteraction APIs alongside of the existing Standard Text Controls and UIKit Text Input APIs. Scribble features will be available in apps by default and will allow users to use Pencil to interact with text input fields without having to tab any extra buttons or switch input modes. Scribble will keep track of where the users are writing on the screen to make sure that the converted type written text is entered into the correct input field. Finally, user privacy is maintained because all of the machine learning character recognition is performed on the iPad. No Internet connection required. As a design consideration, the handwriting passwords is not supported. Apple recommends that customers and developers rely on password autofill from Keychain.

    Overall, I am looking forward to Scribble support in iPadOS 14. I like to use Apple Pencil with my iPad Pro or taking notes in meetings. (Remember when we were able to have in-person meeting with our teammates?) I also think that using Scribble to fluidly enter text into fields without having to switch input modes will be a frictionless productivity boost for people who already use Apple Pencil. I do think however, that there is a high barrier to entry for people who prefer to write in paper notebooks. The loss of the tactile feel of pen on paper and the $99 starting price of Apple Pencil, makes me think that Scribble will be an additive experience feature for current Pencil owners rather than a feature that draws more pen and paper fans to the iPad.

  • apple,  business,  dell,  ipad pro,  ipados,  lifestyle

    The iPad Pro as a “Real” Computer

    Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.

    The iPad Pro is a real computer. You might be thinking “Yeah, duh!” right now. Let me explain.

    I was recently working in my office – my corporate office for my job-y job, not my fun-with-computers home office – and I was using my company issued Dell Latitude laptop. I needed to jump on a conference call, so I undocked my laptop, opened the lid, and moved closer to the window for better lighting. I also wanted to charge my work-issued 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I decided to try to charge my iPad Pro from the USB-C cable from my Dell WD19TB USB-C/Thunderbolt dock.

    As expected, my iPad started charging immediately. What I wasn’t expecting was a few seconds after that, iPadOS 13.4 “attached” to the dock and started mirroring the screen, accepting input from my Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, as well as connecting to the network.

    iPadOS 13.4’s wireless mouse and system-wide pointer support worked with my Logitech Unifying Receiver connected K750 keyboard and M510 mouse just as smoothly as it does on the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard or a Magic Trackpad 2. I am also using a Dell 32-inch 4k UltraSharp U3219Q monitor, which displayed the video output from the iPad crisply. With an Ethernet connection, I was able to use Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Mobile client to connect to Windows 10 and Windows Server machines. Files was able to connect to my frequently used SMB server, and I was able to use multiple FileMaker applications hosted on FileMaker servers with FileMaker Go.

    There are a few things that I found a little disorienting while using my iPad Pro in place of my Windows laptop. I am confident they will become second nature quickly, but I think that they are worth mentioning in case you, dear reader, want to try your own iPad Pro at work experience.

    First, the iPad Pro will go to sleep a lot faster than Windows will put my laptop to sleep. I am apprehensive leaving my iPad constantly connected to power for multiple hours after 100% charge was reached. Second was getting the K750 keyboard to wake up and work with the iPad was occasionally problematic. The M510 mouse never had an issue. As a security feature, the contents of password fields are not mirrored to the external monitor. I kept clicking into the password field thinking I missed the target for the cursor until I realized what was going on. Finally, I discovered that while the iPad saw the USB powered speaks that are connected to the dock, I was not able to play audio of audio of any kind from the iPad through the dock speakers. I will have to keep playing with the speakers to figure out what’s going on.

    Overall, I had an enjoyable afternoon working on my iPad Pro in place of my Windows 10 laptop. There are few specific tasks that I probably could have done on the iPad, but muscle memory makes those technical IT tasks quicker for me in Windows. Enabling hardware support for USB-C docks and accessories is not a glamorous headline grabbing iPadOS feature, but I’m glad it is there.

  • apple,  education,  enterprise,  wwdc

    WWDC 2020 Sessions for Enterprise and School IT Admins

    Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.

    You would think that Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, WWDC, is just for software developers writing apps for the fruit company’s devices. After all, “developer” is in the name of the conference. Like me, however, you would be wrong.

    This year, Apple has elected to take this year’s WWDC conference online and make content available to anyone who is interested in learning about what’s new in their software platforms. I was surprised to see the Enterprise, IT, and Apps section of talks.

    This year’s sessions include topics for IT system administrators who use Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager. IT admins can learn more about automated device enrollment in mobile device management systems, customized onboarding and account creation, and app and software update deployment. One of the features that I am particularly interested in is “zero touch” device deployment. Zero touch deployments allow business or school IT teams to simply hand out Apple devices to their customers, have them unbox them, turn them on, connect to a Wi-Fi network and be setup in minutes. As an IT operations manager, I am very much interested in ways to improve the speed and consistency of deployments of PCs, mobile devices, and servers.

    If you are an IT administrator who supports Apple devices in the enterprise or at school, you will want to take a look at this year’s Enterprise, IT, and Apps videos near the bottom of the Apple Developer website or by downloading the Developer app.

  • apple,  ipad pro,  ipados,  keyboard

    Portrait or Landscape – Rethinking the iPad Pro

    Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.

    The iPad, and now the iPad Pro, has been positioned by Apple as the Windows PC laptop alternative for the last few years. I feel that the time has come to make the iPad Pro a true laptop alternative. Three things have happened in the last year that has really changed my opinion.

    The first is iPadOS 13.4 and the iPad Magic Keyboard. Since the April release of iPadOS 13.4 I have been using a wireless mouse with my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It has been a game changer. Excel and Numbers are now usable with pointer support. For the last two and half months, I have been using a wireless mouse with a USB-A wireless receiver. That required that I use a USB-C to USB-A adapter cable. The resulting dongle hanging off the right side of the iPad Pro felt like a clunky solution to an otherwise clean design of the iPad Pro. After purchasing an iPad Magic Keyboard, it felt like a complete work solution that was designed together. The new scissor switch keys feel great and the trackpad is capable of getting the job down without having to carry around another accessory and dongle. I briefly considered buying a Magic Mouse 2 or a Magic Trackpad 2. They would get right of the unsightly dongle, but neither would fix the extra accessory problem. The iPad Magic Keyboard is an integrated clean solution that feels great to use and compliments a 2018 or 2020 iPad Pro nicely. In 2010 Apple said that there is no wrong or right way to hold the iPad. In recent years however, with the release of Apple’s Smart Keyboards for iPad Pro, the iPad has been undergoing a subtle transformation into a landscape-oriented device. The landscape oriented embossed Apple logo on the back of the iPad Magic Keyboard is further evidence of the acceptance that the iPad Pro is a landscape-oriented device.

    The second thing is that the iPad Pro needs to change the front facing TrueDepth camera from the top bezel to the right bezel when the iPad Pro when held in portrait orientation. There has been a debate about the iPad for a long time. In keeping with the theme that the iPad Pro is a landscape device, having the TrueDepth camera along the left bezel, results in webcam video that is off center. With many people still working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, webcams and video conferences are going to remain an important tool for working and learning collaboratively. Embedding the TrueDepth camera along the top bezel, when docking in the Magic Keyboard, where it is on the MacBook, means that you will center centered video in tools like Microsoft Teams without negatively impacting the Face ID feature. For the non-Pro iPads, I would leave the camera right where it is. The camera location would then become another feature that distinguishes the two iPad lines from each other.

    The third thing that I would change with the iPad Pro would be the addition of a second USB-C port. The iPad Magic Keyboard, with its charging-only USB-C port attempts to mitigate this change. The USB-C charging port, on the left side of the Magic Keyboard, is nice. I can plug-in the charger and not have to worry about the iPad battery while I’m working at my desk. My personal preference, however, is that the USB-C port for data and input devices shouldn’t be so high along the right side of the device. I feel that using USB-C to A dongle adapters or hard drive cables up that high on the right is inviting disaster. By having the ports and cables lower on the iPad chassis, there is less chance that the iPad Pro or accessories will be damaged while reaching for something that is on my work surface.

    I have always thought of the iPad as a portrait device that goes landscape when being used for content creation. The 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros and the iPad Magic Keyboard are challenging me to think differently about how these devices are used. Taking into account the new design language of the iPad Pro models and the impressive utility of the iPad Magic Keyboard and the enhancements in iPadOS 13.4 for pointer support, I consider the iPad to be a device that fits the user’s needs, regardless of which way the logo appears on the back.

  • apple,  wwdc

    Online WWDC 2020

    On Monday, June 22, Apple is set to hold its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). An annual event since 1987, this year’s event will be unlike any other. Due to COVID-19, WWDC20 will be a completely online event this year.

    The WWDC conference is an opportunity for developers of applications on Apple’s platforms to come together to learn about new features, attend technical sessions, and have one-on-one appointments with Apple engineers who are responsible for building and maintaining the operating systems and platform features that application are built upon. In previous years, developers would enter a lottery to purchase a $1,600 ticket to attend the weeklong conference. Anyone one has attended a business software user conference already has a good idea of what’s packed into WWDC week.

    There are two important keynote presentations during the week. The first is the morning’s Special Event Keynote lead by Apple CEO Tim Cook and his lieutenants. This presentation is intended for the media and customers as it focuses on the flashy new software that will start rolling out in September and throughout the coming 12 months. In short, this is the sneak peek at what will be included in the next release of iOS and Apple’s other operating systems and online software services. The second is the afternoon’s Platforms State of the Union keynote address. This is the first developer-y presentation of the week. This presentation lead by the software engineers lacks all of the glitz of the morning’s session but is the meat and potatoes that software developers who write for Apple platforms are here for.

    In addition to all of the first-party Apple events that take place during WWDC week, an entire cottage industry has sprung up around WWDC. During the same week, third-party conferences, most notably, Layers and AltConf take place. There are the live shows for popular Apple-focused podcasts such as The Talk Show Live, Accidental Tech Podcast (ATP) Live, and Relay FM’s Connected Live. These are all great conferences and podcasts to be sure and I enjoy watching them each year. For me specifically, a non-developer tech enthusiast, the proposition of attending WWDC, third-party conferences, or podcast live shows is just too costly. I really do miss the regional shows, like MacWorld Expo and New York Tech Expo. In 2020, holding large independent consumer shows just isn’t economical anymore when so much tech news is available online. (I also miss the printed MacWorld, MacWeek/PCWeek, and ComputerWorld magazines, but now I’m just showing my age as a cranky old man.)

    This year, COVID-19 has completely turned the tables for the week’s plans. The all-online format for WWDC should be more inclusive for everyone. The online format, for this year at least, eliminates the expensive ticket price. To gain full access to pre-release beta software and one-on-one sessions, a very reasonable $99 annual fee must be paid by serious developers. The added expenses for hotels, meals, and travel are also eliminated this year. In year’s past, being selected for the privilege to buy a ticket and then having to pay for all of the extras made attending WWDC a very costly endeavor. This year, the online format is a much more equitable situation that reduces costs and should allow more developers to participate. And that is a good thing for everyone, in my opinion.

  • apple,  lifestyle,  macintosh,  newton,  vintage

    These Old Macs

    One of the things that I have been doing to keep myself busy during the craziness that is the COVID-19 pandemic (please keep wearing your face coverings in public) is to refurbish some of the old Macintosh computers in my collection.

    In particular, I am working on a PowerMac G4 Quicksilver (2001) restoration and a PowerBook G3 (1998) repair. Neither machine is working right now, which is understandable since they are 19 and 22 years old, respectively. Rather than talk about each repair project, I figure it would be more helpful to share some of the resources that I have found online to help others repair and overhaul their vintage and obsolete status Macs.

    Repair Information and Manuals

    When many Mac enthusiasts think of repair guides and tear down instructions, we think of iFixit.com. They offer a great service for sure and I have ordered my share of repair kits from them. But they are not the only game in town.

    If you are looking to repair or restore an old PowerBook, you will want to take a look at PowerbookMedic.com. They have repair guides and reasonably priced spare parts to get your old MacBook back in top condition. They also offer some parts and repair services for the iMac and Mac mini.

    Another great site is AppleRepairManuals.com [http://www.applerepairmanuals.com/index.php#tools]. They have a wealth of information in the form of Apple service guides as well as other helpful tips that you will need while servicing your new and old Mac, iPod, Newton, or Lisa.

    Finding Spare Parts for Your TLC Project

    Once you have found the part number for the component that needs replacing, sure, you can use eBay. Many of my component searches start there. But there are other online retail options that specialize in vintage hardware. Depending on the Mac, Other World Computing (OWC) might have the part. I recently purchased an inexpensive PRAM battery from them for the G4. OWC also has a neat IDE/ATA to SATA adapter and SSD conversion kits. Once I have the G4 booting again, I plan to replace an old spinning hard disk with a 120GB SATA SSD. That should give that old boy a nice little speed bump.

    One of my new favorite sites for spare parts is UsedMac.com. Need a replacement IDE drive for your Mac, a floppy drive for your PowerBook, or an external Jaz drive? No problem. I just recently ordered a 6GB 2.5″ IDE notebook drive from them. It was super cheap.

    The Newton

    I came to the Newton late in its life. Like weeks before Steve Jobs came back to Apple and killed it late. I am still intrigued by the Newton and how cool it looks. Old Newtons and eMate portables can still be found on eBay. But sometimes you need that special part. For all things Newton, you will want to check out these great resources.

    Newton Research offers a modern version of the Newton Connection Utilities that will run on modern versions of Mac OS. I was able to connect my Newton MessagePad 2100 to my Macbook Pro 2016 with Mojave.

    Chuma.org has a good write up for how to get Ethernet working on your MessagePad.

    Don’t forget UGreen’s USB 2.0 Type A to RS232 DB9 serial cable. This UGreen cable has a built-in FTDI serial converter so you won’t need a driver on the Mac / Windows PC side to get your Newton to connect and sync.

    Software

    Restoring hardware is only half of the equation. Once you have restored your computer, you may need to download and OS for it. Let’s face it, 1.4MB floppies, in my collection at least, aren’t holding up well. CDs are holding up much better. Regardless if you are the victim of bit rot, scratched discs, or may not be the most organized person in the world, the Internet has you covered.

    MacintoshRepository.org has a wide selection of Apple system software for the Mac, Apple //, and the Lisa. WinWorld’s library of Apple-related software is rather extensive with disk images for System Software 0-6, Mac OS and Mac OS X. You can also download A/UX and NeXTStep.

  • apple,  hackintosh,  mac,  mac os x,  vintage

    Apple Clones and the “Hackintosh”

    In the world of technology, there are clones and then there are hacks. Depending on who’s point of view is being used and when, clones and hacks can have both positive or negative connotations. Take for instance the well documented case of Samsung outright cloning, or copying, many aspects of early iPhone hardware and software. When talking about personal computers, Macintosh and Apple // clones are fully licensed machines while “Hackintosh” PCs are unauthorized illegal work-alike machines.

    In Apple’s long history of making computer for the rest of us, few companies have received special status from Apple to make Macintosh clones. In the mid-1990s, PowerComputing’s PowerWave 604/132 and the UMax SuperMac S900/200 are two examples of favored status Macintosh clones.

    A Hackintosh computer on the other hand, is an unlicensed personal computer built from commodity hardware and modified in such as way as to boot the macOS/MacOS/OS X operating system. To do so, one must bypass Apple’s licensing restrictions and copy protections. Hacked copies of Apple’s computers are nothing new. Dating back to the 1980s, the VTech Laser 128 and the Franklin Corporation Franklin Ace 100 were two popular, and unlicensed, Apple // clones. The name “Hackintosh” itself is an amalgamation of the words “hack” and “Macintosh”. In Apple’s view, a Hackintosh is a very bad thing. From the point of tech enthusiasts, a Hackintosh is a call back to the early days of computing when tinkering with hardware and software to make something new or work in ways that were not intended by the original thing is exciting and challenging.

    In my view, having worked with both PowerComputing PowerWave “Macs” and a “Hackintosh” or two, the experience is a little bit of both. While PowerComputing boxes were fully licensed clones of the Apple PowerMacintosh PCs of the day, and could boot and use current versions of classic MacOS, I always felt that the commodity hardware was inferior to the more expensive components in Apple’s PCs. For example, after ordering a fleet of 12 PowerWave towers, six of them were defective right out of the box.

    Tinkering with a Dell Mini 9 netbook to coax it into running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was both a fun science project and an oddity in the office after many of the Macs had been replaced with Windows PCs. The amount of hacking the Dell netbook to install a modified version of the computer’s BIOS and hardware driver software was not for the uninitiated.

    One the plus side, a Hackintosh offers an enthusiast a number of configuration and optimization options that are just not possible with an official Macintosh. The ability to use any case style or video card are just two examples. One big draw of a Hackintosh PC is price. Hackintoshes offer a means to get the same or better raw computing performance out of readily available hardware at a much lower price. I remember the point about price being promoted in an old computer book I purchased in the early 1990s titled “How to Build a Cat Mac”. Remember the time when we actually went to a book store to buy books? The premise of the book is that you would take the motherboard out of an old Mac and retrofit it into a PC case and use PC components with it. Unable to afford a Mac as an early teen, let alone take it part to tinker with it, building a Cat Mac was not an option back then, even if I did find the idea of building my own customized Mac fascinating.

    However, there are some significant downsides to using clones and Hackintosh PCs. For one, Hackintosh computers are not legal from a software licensing perspective. While not usually a serious issue for a home enthusiast, trying to build a business around selling Hackintosh computers to consumers is a precarious position at best. Such was the case for Psystar Corporation and OpenCore Computer currently. For me personally, inferior battery life on the Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh was a deal breaker as was having to wait for authorized clone makers to update and release their modified versions of MacOS and driver software after Apple released the software for the Macintosh. For me, not having the latest and greatest software bits to play with is a deal breaker. While I am glad that Hackintosh computers exist from a hobbyist standpoint, I much prefer to have a computer and operating system that just work. While I don’t have my Laser 128, my Dell Mini 9 netbook, or even my old Cat Mac book, I do remember all three fondly and am grateful that I was able to learn from and tinker with them.

  • airport,  eero,  networking

    Retiring My Airport Network

    After many years of trouble-free service, I will be retiring my Apple AirPort network next week.

    This was not a decision that I made lightly. Apple quietly discontinued their AirPort Extreme, Express, and Time Capsule devices a several years ago. Since then, Apple did release a few software updates for the Extreme and Time Capsule base stations. With Apple’s growing focus on customer privacy, I was hoping against hope that the iPhone maker would have a change of heart when they announced HomeKit Wi-Fi router support during the 2019 WWDC event. The announcement I am optimistically hoping for hasn’t come yet. A year later, with everyone working from home, my poor six-year-old Wi-Fi network is having trouble keeping up with the myriad of devices on the network. And, to keep the peace in the house, the time to act is now.

    The big question on my mind was what company should I turn to for home wireless networking? And what kind of network did I want? Did I want a traditional Wi-Fi network with a single base station? Or would I prefer one of the newer multi-node mesh networks? And, finally, how much was all of this new gear cost?

    eero Pro (Second Generation)

    As it turns out, I knew that I wanted to have one of those fancy new Wi-Fi mesh networks. Netgear was an obvious choice. Synology, best known for their network attached storage devices, also make wireless mesh network gear. D-Link was also an option. I turned to the New York Times’ The Wirecutter crew for help sorting out the best products to look at.

    After much internal debate, I chose erro as the vendor for my next Wi-Fi network. I have to admit, that I am concerned about data being leaking between eero and parent company Amazon. Zack Whittaker has a good write up of Amazon’s purchase of eero and what it means for customers over on TechCrunch. Considering how much purchasing my family and I do on Amazon, I quickly realized that Amazon already has close to two decades of purchasing history for me. The other consideration is that I’m sure my ISP is harvesting every bit of data they can from my connection for marketing insight or to package and sell as a revenue booster. With all of this in mind, shouldn’t I maximize my ease of use? I felt that I wanted something as easy to use and robust as my outgoing AirPort network. So eero it is then.

    But, what system should I get? My cable modem is in the basement. The heaviest network consumers, my teenage kids, are two floors away in their bedrooms. Any solution I decide on needs to cover all three floors of our home’s living space. To make sure that I have the best signal possible for all three floors, I took what I hope is the overkill option: three eero Pro base stations, with two acting at extender satellites. I decided on the three eero Pro option because it is rated for more than twice the footprint of my home. The second generation eero Pro also has a dedicated wireless band for data backhaul between the nodes in the network. I also like the modularity of the eero system. It will be easier to include newer eero nodes to the network as needs change and updates are released.

    Satisfied with my decisions, and looking forward to years of trouble-free service, I am looking forward to installing the new Wi-Fi gear. As a tech nerd, who doesn’t love new toys to play with.

    Epilogue

    As I have learned from many years of reading comic books, no one ever really dies in comics. The same is true for my AirPort network. With all of the HomeKit accessories that I have purchased and that I am planning to install in the near future. A repurposed AirPort network seems like a good reuse of my existing equipment.

  • ios 13,  iphone

    Optimizing Battery Charging

    This morning when I picked up my iPhone from it’s Qi charger, I was greeted by a new message – Optimized Battery Charging Enabled.

    I was fortunate enough to be get my iPhone 11 Pro on launch day, and in the six months of ownership, today was the first time I saw the message. I had to go look this feature up. At first, I got is confused with the Peak Performance Capability – the feature that throttles iPhone performance when a battery becomes chemically degrades. But, this was something different. While all batteries degrade over time, the Optimize Battery Charging feature is intended to prolong the useful life of the battery. In the iOS 13.0 release notes, Apple states that “optimized battery charging to slow the rate of battery aging by reducing the time your iPhone spends fully charged.”

    Optimized Battery Charging is a pretty niffy feature. To prolong the useful life of your iPhone’s battery, iOS will only charge the battery to 80%. The AI features of the A13 Bionic chip works out how you charge your iPhone and then only charges the last 20% so that it will complete charging just before you need it. For example, my iPhone will learn when I put it on the charger before going to bed and will charge it up to 80%. It will also work out when I get up in the morning and take it off the charger. Optimized Battery Charging will charge that final 20% just before I wake up.

    When the iPhone is put on the charger, and the feature is enabled, a notification will appear on the lock screen letting you know that optimized battery charging is on. In a hurry and want to charge up to 100% right now? Tap and hold the notification and then tap the Charge Now option.

    You can enable and disable the Optimized Battery Charging feature, and check the health of your battery by going to Settings > Battery > Battery Health.

    For more information, you can read the About Optimized Battery Charging on your iPhone support article.