3rd Anniversary of Steve Jobs’ Passing

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On this, the third anniversary of Steve Jobs passing, we take a look back at the man we knew or thought we knew.  Many of us had passing experiences with the one person who changed so much about the way we do business and run our personal lives.   Where would the world be without the iPhone or the iPad or the iPod.  These three items made our daily lives different in the way we enjoyed our music, our movies and our phone conversations and chats.  It also changed the way that social media pursued the end user.

For me personally, the last time I saw Steve was in December 2002 in person.  Even at that time, he looked a bit grey and ashen as he delivered his keynote for Mac Word Expo 2002 in Tokyo.   The introduction of the iMac received thunderous applause and the introduction of the iPod, iTunes and other goodies just really lit up the faces of the people who attended the conference.

But alas, 12 years later we are marking his passing and even those in charge of his now monolithic company pay homage, with CEO Tim Cook writing to Employees this past week; ”

Team,

Sunday will mark the third anniversary of Steve’s passing. I’m sure that many of you will be thinking of him on that day, as I know I will.

I hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate the many ways Steve made our world better. Children learn in new ways thanks to the products he dreamed up. The most creative people on earth use them to compose symphonies and pop songs, and write everything from novels to poetry to text messages. Steve’s life’s work produced the canvas on which artists now create masterpieces.

Steve’s vision extended far beyond the years he was alive, and the values on which he built Apple will always be with us. Many of the ideas and projects we’re working on today got started after he died, but his influence on them — and on all of us — is unmistakeable.

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for helping carry Steve’s legacy into the future.

- Tim

As I think of Steve and his hard driving attitudes which people both loved and loathed, it is with a fondness for his vision that I say, “I wish he were still here but appreciate the time he was with us!”

Gold Master Candidate Releases of Yosemite and XCode Bring Apple Asking for App Submissions

 

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Apple this week released the Gold Master Candidates for Mac OS X Yosemite and XCode 6.1 also put Apple in the position of asking developers to submit their Yosemite based Apps to the app store.  The latest version of Mac OS X and also the development environment XCode are in the final stages of work correctly bugs and are expected to be released within the next couple of weeks.  For more information, check out the Apple Developer news website at:

https://developer.apple.com/news/?id=09302014c

Making Apple II Software Now Easier with Xcode

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Jeremy Rand has released Apple2BuildPipeline to simplify and facilitate making Apple II software on OS X with Xcode. Based on a project by Quinn Dunki, Rand says, “The big change is that I have created an installer which adds a template in Xcode for Apple II projects…So, the next time you are thinking of starting some new project in Xcode, you can think ‘should I build something for iOS, Mac OS X or maybe the Apple II.’  When you select an Apple II project, Xcode prompts you for the name of your program and then creates a new project with the entire build pipeline ready to go.  This makes it very easy to create new 8-bit Apple II projects.  And the build pipeline grows with your project.  You can add as many C and assembly files as make sense.  They are automatically built and linked in to the final executable.  It detects and handles header file dependencies.  If you change a header file, the incremental build should do the right things automatically. It should work with all cc65 linker configurations, including DOS 3.3.  The disk image it creates is ProDOS or DOS 3.3 depending on the linker config you select in the Makefile.”

The Northern Spy — Bashing Apple –The Bad Hair Week

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by Rick Sutcliffe
October 2014

iOS8 was introduced at WWDC with much hoopla but actually arrived with some problems, and has needed two updates since, the current one being 8.0.2. Also many users find it is too large to install without deleting a great deal of material from their iPuds. Hint: Use iTunes for the update. Given the usual spit and polish Apple puts into new releases, this whole episode seems odd, even a little Microsoftish–as if something has slipped there. Heads may roll.

ShellShock
As if that weren’t bad enough, the world learned this week that good old reliable, well-hammered-upon UNIX in many flavours, including BSD (beneath OS X) and Linux has been harbouring a flaw in the Bash Shell most people use that would allow arbitrary code to be executed under some circumstances. It appears that some form of access would be needed to do this, but many systems are potentially vulnerable, including Macs not behind a firewall or acting as servers. On most systems, shell users can test for vulnerability by typing check='() { echo this system is vulnerable; }’ bash -c check.  If the system allows a function to be defined with executable code sneakily appended in this manner, executing the improperly defined function will print the message in braces. If a patch has already been applied to prevent this by correctly terminating function definitions, it will not. The good news is that most Linux cPanel systems (including the Spy’s own servers) are already patched, and that Apple has released OX updates patching Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks systems. Owners operating under previous OSs are on their own to obtain and apply a patch. But for once, Windows dodges this particular nasty bullet–and how few times have we been able to say that over the decades? Malware remains remarkably rare in the Mac world.

Around the Bend
And we also saw claims that the new iPhone 6 and 6+ were susceptible to bending in people’s pockets. As many have pointed out, the initial video documenting this appears to be fraudulent. Apple responded by inviting journalists to its testing lab to see what they actually do to deal with such potential problems and stated for the record that only a handful of complaints have been received from among the millions sold. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports has tested the phones and found the claims overblown. Bending the phone requires nearly. as much force as breaking it.  That said, one would tend to think that something that thin ought not to be sat on, or placed in a the pocket of pants tighter than one’s own skin. Still, the Spy sees a possible class action suit coming from someone with nothing better to do than throw sand in someone else’s gears.

iAnnounce b
Apple will drop the lesser shoe on its product announcements in October, as suggested here last month. This time around, expect three or more of a twenty-seven inch retina iMac, iPad lineup changes, possibly another new monitor, and a significantly improved Mac Mini. Given the dropping of the iPod Classic, though, the Spy has to  wonder whether the iPhone IS the new iPod Touch, and there won’t be another.  After all, the iPhone lineup has models in the 16G, 64G and the new 128G capacities. The first is too small for anyone needing significant storage, and the last too rich for most, so the vast majority of people will opt for the 64G model. The only ones buying the 16G model will be those needing only phone functions and little or no storage for music or photos. Given that all these are now sold unlocked, it makes sense to the Spy that some people will buy an iPhone and not activate it except when out of country or in areas remote enough to lack w-fi, but still be in range of cell. This is in fact exactly what the Spy has decided to do, and his iPhone 6+ is on order for delivery next month sometime–a worthy replacement for his five-year old Touch.  Also on the way–a twenty-seven inch Thunderbolt monitor. He edits too many large documents these days and needs the real estate. He’ll let you know on both scores. Pity, though that he has to buy all new cables and cradles. Besides, the day is coming when cell, per se, will be replaced by ubiquitous wi-fi, something already happening in many cities, towns, coffee shops and fast food restaurants. Since it makes no sense to use a pone while driving, once all the locations a body is like to lite and set are covered, cell towers will be irrelevant.

a Tixi a Taxi
If all that weren’t bad enough, Apple is facing an EU probe into the legality of its having sheltered income from taxes in friendly Ireland. Should this go badly for the company, billions in taxes could be payable, not to mention fines. The U.S. government has also grown restive over the practice of parking profits overseas to avoid paying its taxes, and may consider changing its laws. The net potential: governments attache multi-ten-billion dollar siphons to Apple’s nest-egg bank account. The Spy’s never been one to knock success, but Cupertino ought to be paying its share, like we of hoi polloi.

iBM also reprised
The Spy notes with interest that iBM has now sold its server business to Lenovo, effectively removing it altogether from any semblance of being a small computer provider, and adding cachet to last months proclamation here that to be iBM compatible now means that you use a Mac. Hey, so-called PC sales are in serious decline while Apple continues to ramp up Mac production. True, it’s small potatoes now compared to the mobile business, but it’s the company’s heritage, and more profitable all the time with the slow but inevitable demise of the dated and inefficient W*nd*ws. But where is the “machine” in iBM, given that it now only makes the big iron? Perhaps a name change to iERC (for “enterprise research and consulting”) is in order.  Remember the day when IBM could have bought Apple from chump change? Now the foot is in the other shoe, though it would take more than mere change, and isn’t likely to happen, for reasons detailed here last month.

Mac World reprised–or not
It’s only in the geek stage of a new technology that it needs many magazines, not when it is mature. So, it isn’t too surprising that yet another magazine will no longer publish a paper edition, but go entirely digital. The Spy rations his online time, and is therefore likely to be lost as a reader in the transition Mac World is making. Too bad, but that’s life.

CONnections
Enough for this week’s ramblings. There is his tenth novel to work on, a book on the new programming language he’s partnered to design, material to ready for this weekend’s VCON panels (including a reading) and assorted administrivia for Church and the university to prepare for budget and board meetings. See y’all next month.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher’s Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed.): http://www.arjay.bc.ca/EthTech/Text/index.html
URLs for items mentioned in this column
VCON: http://http://www.vcon.ca/

Apple Partially Patches Bash Vulnerability

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Apple released a patch for the bash UNIX shell to address two serious security vulnerabilities known as ‘shell shock.’  The updates don’t appear to be in Software Update and can be manually installed for OS 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9.

Two additional vulnerabilities have been discovered.  Those not wanting to wait for Apple, or needing to patch OS 10.6, can refer to articles on MacIssues or WonderHowTo.

Wasteland 2 Released by InXile

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The logn awaited return of the Wasteland series has arrived.  Brian Fargo announced the release of the latest rendition of Wasteland, Wasteland 2, on twitter this evening.  The game will be IS available through Steam as well as GOG.com.

Brian made the release video available through YouTube this evening as well:

Retro Computing Roundtable Episode 83 Posted

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The crew at the Retro Computing Roundtable have posted Episode 83rd their podcast.  This weeks panelists include Paul Hagstrom hosting the Roundtable with Michael Mulhern and Mike Whalen.  This week the panel discusses a number of Apple related items including

  • Which Apple II, if you can only have one?
  • Why didn’t 6502 computers get faster?
  • History of Personal Computing podcast
  • Newly discovered Apple I up for auction
  • Chris Osborne on using modems without a land line and his Level 29 BBS
  • Macworld Magazine is no more
  • OzKfest dates announced: April 17-19 2015

To listen to this weeks episode of the Retro Computing Roundtable, go to:

http://rcrpodcast.com/episodes/2014/9/14/rcr-episode-83.html

 

Apple Creates U2 Album Removal Tool

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In the aftermath of the outrage over forcing users to download the U2 Album, Songs of Innocence, Apple has relented and created a website tool which allows users to remove the album.  Many users found the album automatically added to their purchases who had absolutely no interest in the album and no way to remove the album from their purchases.

The SOI removal tool webpage is at:

https://buy.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/offerOptOut

Apple Watch Marks Beginning of New Road

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On September 9, Apple unveiled the long-anticipated Apple Watch, to be released in early 2015.  It will be available in three designs – Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, starting at $349 presumably for the Sport version.

As demonstrated, it is clearly the most advanced and innovative smart watch, featuring a reimagined iOS Multi-Touch interface and a Digital Crown for scrolling and navigation.  Beyond technical features, Apple has endeavored to make the watch very fashionable through customizable watch faces, numerous practical and elegant interchangeable bands, and a choice between 38mm and 42mm case sizes.

The watch has health and fitness apps, a walkie-talkie, and Siri along with standard iOS apps like Calendar, Messages, Mail, and Phone.  Users can send sketches to other Apple Watch users, as well as taps and heartbeats that will be subtly felt by the recipient.  Apple’s new, secure payment system Apple Pay is included.

There is potential for improvement and new innovations, especially in the area of health-related sensors that appear to be absent in this initial release.  It is unclear if the watch will sync with a Mac in addition to a required iPhone 5 or newer.  Developers will likely create many compelling apps for this new platform.

For more on the release of the Apple Watch, check out the website at:

http://www.apple.com/watch

Next OZ KFest Dates Decided

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From Andrew Roughan — The next Australian retro computing gathering, Oz KFest, will be happening in Melbourne, Australia, April 17-19, 2015. Come join us downunder for a few of days of retro inspiration, Aussie ingenuity and camaraderie!

The goal of the event is to provide a user group style environment to exchange ideas and discuss new developments in retro computing hardware, software, preservation, emulation and other related topics. There will be a few attendees of past KansasFests and Oz KFests and we hope to imbibe the spirit of these events into Oz KFest once again.

The presentations during the weekend will come from the participants and therefore an invitation is extended for session proposals to be made via email to ozkfest@gmail.com  If you have an idea for a session that you’d like to present, please let us know so we can allocate a time slot for you. If you would like to learn something, let us know what that is and we will try to find a presenter for that topic.

Registration for the event is not yet open. However, now is the time to block out the dates in your calendar, arrange how to get there and where you’ll stay. If you need help, let us know how we can help.  Reminder that the ‘Downunder Chat’ happens every Friday night from 9pm Australian EST in irc.a2central.com #a2.chat

For more information on registration for the OZ KFest event, check out the event website at:

http://ozkfest.net