May the New Year be filled with all the best for you and your family.
May the new born Christ Child bring peace, love, mercy, and tolerance toward others to our world. Amen.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from your friends at Smartphone Fanatics!
Byte Magazine Archive Available
While doing some research into the Apple IIe (1983) and the Apple IIGS (1986), I came across a large Byte magazine archive that is available on the Internet Archive.
The magazine archive is labeled as “complete” and has issues from Sept. 1975 through Apr. 1989. And while I can’t vouch for the entire archive, the three issues that I looked at had clean and easy to read articles from the issues that I wanted to read. Here are the links to the articles I was reading earlier this week.
Feb. 1983 – Apple IIe Review by Robin Moore pg 68
Oct. 1986 – Apple IIGS Preview by Gregg Williams and Richard Greham pg 84
Apr. 1987 – Apple IIGS Review by Philip Chien pg 223
I really appreciate that these archives exist. Reading computer magazines before I started my professional IT career was a fun way that I learned about computers. A+ and inCider were two of my favorites. Once I started working in IT, I loved to read Windows NT Magazine, PCWeek/eWeek, MacWeek, and Information Week.
Archive Your Twitter Account in Case You Get Hit with a Ban
If you are like me and have no patients for Elon Musk’s jackassery, you might be looking to move to another smaller social media community. I have opened a Mastodon account and am reconnecting with other retro computing fans.
Under Musk’s “leadership”, Twitter has gone from a stable mismanaged platform to a mismanaged platform under constant churn. Take last night’s unforced error. In a now deleted tweet, Twitter Support posted a notice that the company would begin removing accounts promoting or linking to other social networks. You can read The New York Times and CNN coverage of the latest dust up if you can stomach it.
Since I have a pinned tweet redirecting folks to my Mastodon account, I was expecting that either the tweet would be deleted, or that I would end up being banned from Twitter. So, I decided to request an archive of my account.
Here’s how to request your own archive.
Step 1: Login to your account.
Step 2: Click or tap on More > Settings and Support > Settings and Privacy
Step 3: Then, click or tap on Your Account > Download an Archive of Your Data
Step 4: Click or tap the Request Archive button.
Assuming that Twitter.com is still functioning at a basic level, within 24 hours you will receive an email with a download link to your archive download.
I’m not a prolific social media user and do not have any regrets about deleting my Facebook account years ago. As it stands now, I am fine if I get banned or suspended because I am reconnecting to other retro computing enthusiasts, as I said, on Mastodon. I am also supporting my favorite creators on Patreon. When a paid subscription also includes a Discord server, I also occasionally stop in there to hang out with other like-minded nerds. It’s nice to not be bombarded by ads and accounts that just want to cause chaos.
So, will I delete my Twitter account? I honestly don’t know. As it stands now, I probably won’t delete it yet. I am spending less time on Twitter these days. Just like discussion boards gave way to blogs which stepped aside for Twitter, I’m ready for the next thing. If Musk speeds up that transition to the next thing, so be it. Buckle up!
This year, I am thankful for everyone who reads my blog. I do appreciate it.
I am also thankful for the many things that I have, including my family and our healthy, and my job.
I am also thankful that, finally, COVID-19 is starting to shift into the background of everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 is still a global pandemic and we should still continue to get vaccinated and wear high quality masks where appropriate.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Toot, toot! I’m on Mastodon!
I tend to like my drama on TV, not on my social media platforms. So, after Elon Musk’s $44B takeover of Twitter and the corporate chaos that followed, I started looking for alternate services.
I ended up on the noc.social distributed Mastodon server as @AlanGrassia@noc.social.
Mastodon is a distributed open-source social network that is not driven by algorithms or junked up by ads. This means that you have a nice chronological feed of posts, called toots, by the people you want to see.
The noc.social server that I joined is a Mastodon community for sysadmins, engineers, and tech people in general. Noc’s Code of Conduct is pretty simple. It all boils down to don’t be a jerk and everything will be fine.
The cool thing about Mastodon is that it doesn’t matter which server you are on, you can still see and talk with people on other servers. This is due to the ActivityPub and other open web protocols.
So far it has been a wonderful experience. Mastodon is full of other retro computing and technology enthusiasts just like me. The Mastodon web UI and iOS/iPadOS apps are nice too.
If you are looking for a replacement for the dumpster fire that Twitter is becoming, Mastodon might be the place for you.
iOS 16.0 Tip: Turn on Keyboard Haptics
New in iOS 16.0, which many of us are just experiencing for the first time, is the Keyboard Haptics feature.
The Keyboard Haptics feature gives the user and extra form of feedback while typing on a glass screen by buzzing the Haptic motor. In my opinion, turning on key clicks along with the Keyboard Haptics tricks my mind into thinking that I am typing on a traditional keyboard. Nothing replaces the feed of typing on a good keyboard, but the additional feedback just feels good, in my opinion.
To turn on Keyboard Haptics on a current model iPhone running iOS 16.0:
- Tap on Settings
- Tap on Sounds & Haptics
- Tap on Keyboard Feedback
- Tap on Haptic
Yes, I am one of those people who leaves the software keyboard click sounds enabled and the Haptic software feedback, I feel, asks a nice touch (no pun intended) to typing on an iPhone.
iOS 16.0 was released back on Monday, September 12, for iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone SE (2nd generation), and later. The full list of iOS 16.0 features can be found on the Apple website.
Tip: Turn Off iPhone 14 Pro Always on Display at Bedtime
The new Always on Display on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max is a nice quality of life feature that our Android friends have had for some time now.
Except, when you A) are trying to go to sleep and B) need to charge your iPhone 14 Pro on a Qi charger.
Fortunately, you can configure an iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max to turn off the Always on Display with a Sleep Focus so that you and your iPhone can get a good night’s sleep and be recharged when you wake up.
- Go to Settings
- Tap on Focus
- Tap on Sleep
- Scroll to the bottom of the Sleep Focus page
- Under Focus Filters, tap + Add Filter
- Under System Filters, tap Low Power Mode
- Tap Add
When you are ready for bed, turn on the Sleep Focus mode, press the Side button (Power button), and then place your iPhone 14 Pro on its Qi charger. The iPhone 14 Pro Always on Display feature will be disabled until you turn off the Sleep Focus mode in the morning.
You can further customize the Sleep Focus mode to fit your needs. I kept mine simple.
If you are so inclined, you can also configure a Shortcut to turn on Sleep mode and specify a time to automatically turn off using the Set Focus script step.
Another Reason to Secure Your iPhone While Traveling
Stephanie Condon, writing for ZDNet has an interesting piece about smartphone data dumping by the US Customs and Border Protection service. According to Condon, the downloading, storing, and potential searches of American’s smartphones came to light by way of a letter sent to the agency by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) about the practice.
According to Wyden, CBP agents get American travelers to unlock their devices and then proceed to download the data into a government-controlled database. He calls such searches “warrantless” and I completely agree. On his official Senate.gov website, Wyden is quoted as saying:
“Innocent Americans should not be tricked into unlocking their phones and laptops,” Wyden wrote. “CBP should not dump data obtained through thousands of warrantless phone searches into a central database, retain the data for fifteen years, and allow thousands of DHS employees to search through Americans’ personal data whenever they want.”
Senator Wyden’s full letter to Chris Magnus, Commission of the US Customs and Border Protection service is available online.
While I agree, all US citizens should comply with legally obtained and executed search warrants, I do not agree with the in discriminant downloading of American’s smartphones just because they are crossing the US border.
One way to protect yourself if to ensure that you have a strong passcode on your iPhone. A couple of words long passcode is a strong defense to unauthorized access to the contents of your iPhone. A 6-digit or longer PIN code in place of a passcode is a good option too.
Strong security and data privacy is a constant trade off with usability. Who want to keep entering a 18-characher passcode/PIN just to unlock their iPhone? Not me. Biometric security, such as Face ID or Touch ID are good tradeoffs for most people. They offer good security and ease of use.
When learning about reports such as the one Wyden is claiming of the CBP, I have to think twice about my personal information data privacy. As we learned with John Eastman, courts are willing to uphold requests to unlock smartphones using biometric systems. What courts aren’t willing to uphold, is the forced compliance with requests for passcodes and PINs.
A good strategy that iPhone owners can use is to hard lock their device by pressing and holding the Side Button (Power button) and either one of the Volume buttons for 3-seconds. This can easily be done while an iPhone is still in your pocket, purse, or bag. Once activated, Face ID, Touch ID, and Unlock with Apple Watch will no longer unlock your iPhone until the owner enters their passcode/PIN code.
Starting with iOS 16, the new Lockdown Mode security feature will help protect customer’s and their data from common security vulnerabilities by trading convenience for security. Most people will never need this feature, but for those who do, it will help protect their privacy. Sometimes, security is hard, but necessary.
Back Market Saves You Money and the Planet Too
Earlier this week, Back Market – a refurbished electronics reseller – had an interesting ad campaign that really caught my attention. As part of their “Hack Market” advertising effort, Back Market, in essence, AirDrop spammed customer and demo devices inside Apple retail locations with a link to their website that promotes the purchase of used devices.
Back Market’s purpose is to purchase used electronics, “renew” them, and then resell the used equipment at a substantial savings to customers. By promoting the purchase of used devices is that it keeps perfectly good devices from becoming e-waste and going into a landfill. In my opinion, this is a win-win for gadget fans. It allows you to get a recent device at a great price and helps the planet. But more on that a little bit later.
According to Romain Dillet and Ingrid Lunden, writing for TechCrunch.com Back Market, based in France, is a marketplace for customers to sell their used electronics and offer them to customers who are looking to save money by purchasing used equipment at varying price points. The company has been established in Europe for several years. Buying used electronics extends the useful life of the device. This use, sell, reuse process has become known as the “circular economy.”
In 2018, Back Market opened an online store front and began operations here in the US.
They offer a wide range of electronics including laptops, gaming consoles, cameras, home appliances, and yes, Apple hardware. They even offer a student discount. That’s a pretty cool company if you ask me.
I hadn’t heard of Back Market before this week. Previously, I had purchased used and refurbished devices either directly from Apple, Gazelle, or eBay. So, I watched the YouTube video that is part of the “Hack Market” campaign.
Naturally, I had to check out their website and ended up buying something. Mission accomplished.
I started by looking at refurbished iPads and MacBooks, but I really didn’t have a need for one. I thought that I might buy one and leave it at the office so I had a personal device that I could tether to my iPhone to check email, surf the web, and those sorts of things. But, after some thought, I could just do that on the iPhone 13 Pro Max that was already in my pocket. Then I took a look at renewed Apple Watch Series 6 stock. I immediately gravitated to the Series 6 44mm Stainless Steel Watch. I had been considering trading in my Series 6 44mm Aluminum Nike+ edition towards the purchase of a Series 7 45mm Stainless Steel model. But, wow, the new price even with the trade in was a bit steep given that I have a new Mac Studio and Studio Display on the way.
Back Mark, on the other hand, was selling an Apple Watch Series 6 44mm Stainless Steel watch in excellent condition for $299 plus tax. The refurbished Stainless Watch was on sale for less than a new Series 7 Stainless with an Apple trade in for my current Aluminum 44mm. I thought about it for a couple of days, and I purchased the new-to-me Stainless on Thursday. I picked 3-day shipping. It arrived the next day from New York.
The Watch that I received was, indeed, in excellent condition. Looking closely at the used Watch, I was not able to detect any scrapes, scuffs, dents, scratches, or knicks. Clearly this Watch’s previous owner took as much care of their gadget as I do.
Back Market ships their devices is a standard bubble back mailer. Inside the mailer is cardboard box that has some bubble wrap that contained my Apple Watch, a knockoff Sport Band, charger, and power brick all in inexpensive plastic packing. My first impression was that there was a lot more plastic than I was expecting, but I didn’t think it was excessive. Conversely, Apple’s use of paper packaging is remarkable, however, their refurbished devices are more expensive. I’m chalking up Back Market’s packing methods up to overall operating cost reductions.
I have purchased a lot of Apple bands over the years since the introduction of the original Watch. I also have at least two Apple Watch chargers and power adaptors. So, I set the Back Market accessories aside. I probably will bring the charger to the office incase either I or one of my coworkers forgets to charge their watch overnight.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my purchase and I would definitely buy more renewed electronics from them again in the future. The Back Market website was easy to use. I felt that the prices were reasonable, and as I get older, the idea of refurbishing and extending the service life of our electronics makes a lot of sense.