Category Archives: Mobile

Bluetooth woes

After spending the best part of 4 hours trying to get Bluetooth to work on my Dell Win 7 laptop, I gave up and went to Best Buy and bought a MS mouse that uses some proprietary protocol.  I have shit to do and I can’t spend hours trying to track down why Bluetooth stopped working at some point in the past week following the usual 40 or so updates.

I was initially going to complain about Microsoft’s piss-poor implementation of BT, but then I remembered that while the BT mouse works fine on my mac, the BT audio to my 30-pin iPod dock has become so lossy and unreliable to be unusable.  So neither Microsoft or Apple can apparently deliver basic functionality and reliability to Bluetooth – which may explain why momentum is dying.

The only thing that “just works” is BT pairing between cars and phones and between phones and hands-free headsets, so perhaps that’s where this promising technology is going to remain.

Apple “just works”?

Marco started the conversation with his posting questioning whether Apple had lost the plot – an article which he now says he wishes he hadn’t posted.  I can see why he would rethink the language and tone of the piece, but he does raise an important point that the quality of software execution at Apple has been markedly poorer in the last 1-2 years.

I’ve been an Apple user since 1988 and shareholder since 2000.  I sold most of the shares I bought at $15 in late 2000 when the stock split and then hit $100 in 2007; it covered most of the downpayment on my apartment (may have been a poor choice in retrospect, but I needed a place to live).  Historically Apple didn’t release major OS updates very frequently and that frequency of release has accelerated since Lion in 2010.  It’s clear to anyone who pays attention that software quality has been problematic since then and is getting worse.

  • iTunes has major issues that haven’t been addressed for years
  • Yosemite had major functional problems in the initial release, and many serious OS X users have still not upgraded because of this (including me)
  • Apple Mail is outdated, inflexible, and barely functional
  • User security for iCloud is terrible and risks damaging Apple’s reputation altogether.

I could go on.

Five years ago I would have recommended OS X and iOS to friends and relatives because things were simpler and easier to use.  The hardware is higher quality and the integration between devices is still better than the other options, but this is mainly because the other options are so terrible. Microsoft lost the plot with Windows 8 and I almost never see it in the wild. Desktop linux is still reserved for enthusiasts and is still not an option for most users. I spend too much time in the work day wrestling with linux and solaris servers, I don’t need that for a desktop platform.

Apple is still my OS of choice but I worry that they really need to improve their software development and release process.  This probably means slowing major releases to 18 or 24 month intervals, but who would complain about that?


Update and clarification on my WinMo phone posting


That last blog posting generated the most traffic of anything I have ever posted here.  I certainly did not intend to enter the religious wars of the middle ages.

People certainly are invested with their choice of mobile device OS.  I didn’t think of that, because I don’t feel strongly either way.  I like my iPad and iPhone, but I don’t think it would be a great hardship to switch platforms (apart from the learning curve and repurchasing costs). I certainly don’t identify myself by those choices.

Happy New Year!

Encryption – iOS8, Google, and OSX

When Apple announced that iOS 8 would enable encryption of the on-device files by default, there was a lot of ill-informed outrage by various pundits and law enforcement types around the world.  After Google also announced plans to follow suit in the next release of Android, FBI director, James Comey, described this as allowing “people to place themselves above the law.” Predictably, various politicians, police, and spies complained that it would make their lives somewhat more difficult and trotted out the standard disinformation tactic that only terrorists and paedophiles would need this capability.

The trouble with the argument that only people of bad intent would need to encrypt their phones or computers is that there is clear evidence in recent history of who considers themselves to be “above the law”. Hint: it’s not consumers. Could it be the FBI illegally searching call records for years without warrants? Perhaps the NSA’s illegal surveillance of US citizens? Even the Daily Mail was driven to report that over 25% of searches by UK police were illegal. There are similar stories in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, not to mention all the countries we were supposed to be better than because their police and government undertook this kind of surveillance.

Not content with state actors breaking the law, we find that companies are also stealing data and information from individuals.  Not Chinese state authorities, but stalwarts like Verizon who were hijacking and tracking all traffic using a “perma-cookie”, LinkedIn illegally slurping users email contacts against their express wishes, Google illegally collecting wifi network info, and AT&T illegally copying all internet traffic and passing that traffic to the NSA.

So who are the bad people in this equation? I have to add the various police and security forces of most of the countries in the world to the list of people who will break the law to steal my personal data and files.  Faced with overwhelming evidence of illegal activity going on all around me, I’m currently in the process of encrypting all my external and internal hard drives (using FileVault on OS X).  I’m very happy to see that this is default behavior in the latest Yosemite release of OS X – although I’m holding off upgrading for other reasons.  I will happily embrace two factor authentication wherever offered and encryption of all traffic and stored files as far as practical.

If the police or legal authorities of whichever country I am in at the time wish to follow the laws of that land and swear a warrant for lawful access to my machines, I will respect that process. Until then I’ll be using 256-bit encryption as widely as possible.

As an interesting aside, the RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers) Act  in the UK makes it a criminal offence, punishable by up to two years in prison, to refuse to provide encryption keys to police. Many other countries have similar laws, but the USA appears to be currently upholding the 5th amendment.