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macOS Sierra: Cannot Copy/Paste Properly

I’ve seen this new bug now in at least two places:

  1. Copy something, even plain text.
  2. Paste it somewhere.

PROBLEM: what’s pasted is some old material, not what was copied. The problem seems to be only when Apple software is involved (Spotlight and Apple Mail so far).

Today, I saw the same problem trying to copy plain text again, but from another app. I also have seen the bug in Apple Mail trying to copy/paste between windows.

Shown below is the problem in one case; I copied a simple plain-text filename so as to paste it into Spotlight search (cmd-space). Instead, what is pasted is some file name or some such that I don’t think I ever even copied.

Spotlight search (cmd-space) cannot Paste the clipboard properly!

Shame on Apple: it takes severe coding and quality assurance incompetence to ship a new OS that cannot even copy and paste properly, a feature present since day zero of the Mac.

Is it any wonder that a macOS 10.12.1 beta was out within days of Apple shipping its ship-by-calendar-not-quality dreck to customers? Keeps things on the release scheduled and to heck with the bugs seems to be the modus operandi: that iPhone has to ship, so macOS Sierra has to ship, regardless of readiness. This isn’t just incompetence, it shows a fundamental disrespect for customers.

Don H writes:

Without digging too deep, I seem to recall that a new feature in the latest *OS is some form of ‘coherent’ copy/paste across devices (probably involves a cloud somewhere). That might be the root of what you’re seeing.

MPG: that must be it, although I turn off as much Cloud crap as I can, after years of disappointments. There does not seem to be any other reasonable explanation for breaking a core feature that has existed for decades.

Consider also the destruction of Apple Disk Utility in El Crapitan leaving users twisting in the wind, the destruction of Apple Mail in macOS Sierra and the grossly degraded performance of the File Open dialog in OS X Yosemite, just for starters. These things are NOT a coincidence: it’s Apple Core Rot, which I detected well before I first wrote about it in early 2013.

Jim G writes:

This is just another example of why it is not unreasonable to think that Macs are no longer the priority they once were at Apple. The updates are further and further apart and the software just keeps getting buggier.

Wonder how much Steve is rolling over...

MPG: absolutely. As a longtime Apple customer, I now view all Apple products with cynicism, a far cry from the day decades in which I was an enthusiastic fan.

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iOS 10 Supports Color Spaces

Color gamut is going mainstream!

What does this mean for an average web use? More accurate color, more vibrant color, and particularly deep rich reds (think strawberries, bright red fabrics, sunsets, etc).

Far better color from an iPhone on a wide gamut display, the late 2015 iMac 5K, or any iPhone 7 model or presumably future iPad models.

But also on many printers that can print far wider range of color than any picture a previous iPhone could generate using the “sRGB” color space (laughably called “sad RGB”).

That’s because finally after years Apple now supports wide gamut color or simply “wide color”, via supporting the (moderately wide) DCI-P3 color space.

My workhorse display, the NEC PA302W, still has the best gamut and neutral grayscale out there.

For more, see iOS 10 Supports Color Spaces at diglloyd.com.

Half a BILLION User Accounts Compromised

Side note: I’ve never like Facebook (in part because it is a system that a police state must adore) and in part because Facebook pages are invariably visual garbage heaps. But I’ve also wondered how they can make so much money charging for difficult to document ad-to-finished-sales and amorphous benefits. Well, it helps to greatly overestimate usage.

..

The yahoos as Yahoo have compromised at least 500 million (half a BILLION) user accounts by poor security, allegedly by a state-sponsored actor; potentially the biggest data breach on record.

Of course Yahoo is “not to blame”, since it was done by hackers, possibly from a foreign state. Right? WRONG.

Yahoo stored unenencrypted user data, including all sorts of personal data that should be stored encrypted, but was not—gross security incompetence to maintain a dossier on every user. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The internet company, which has agreed to sell its core business to Verizon Communications Inc., said Thursday that hackers penetrated its network in late 2014 and stole personal data on more than 500 million users. The stolen data included names, email addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers and encrypted passwords, Yahoo said.

Yahoo said it believes that the hackers are no longer in its corporate network. The company said it didn't believe that unprotected passwords, payment-card data or bank-account information had been affected.

...

Yahoo said the stolen passwords were encrypted, but computer-security experts said a determined attacker could unscramble passwords—especially simple passwords—using commonly available “cracking” software. Once cracked, hackers could break into Yahoo accounts and—if the password happened to be reused on another web service—possibly other websites too.

MPG: “believes”? Is that faith-based and/or some evasive statement. Many people re-use the same password for many things, so “possibly other websites” is a huge risk.

When a name, date of birth, telephone number are stored unencrypted, that’s a very nice start to identity theft—core information all handy. Moreover, even the encrypted passwords were apparently done wrong, because using the same 'salt' and other factors can make password cracking far more difficult.

How about a $100 fine per user, plus unlimited liability for anyone who suffers identity theft as a result? Seems fair. This kind of flagrant security incompetence is unacceptable. Hackers break in, and always will. So even mildy sensitive data should never be stored unencrypted and should be compartmentalized (name and email are public and not worrisome, but if a dossier on a user is stored, those too should be encrypted to avoid having a nice complete record).

Password security

Which brings me to password security: get 1Password and use it religiously. NEVER re-use the same password for more than one purpose.

James G writes:

Yahoo apparently is run by utter morons. Maybe that's where Apple has been recruiting programmers of late. That none of this stuff was encrypted (or encrypted with a Captain Crunch secret decoder ring) is just unbelievable. And that it happened two years ago and we are just now hearing about it is even worse.

Bruce Schneier has not weighed in on this yet, but if the breach was done by "state actors" i.e. China or Russia then this enormous data trove has very serious implications for US national security. Imagine having access to a database that has personal information in the private accounts of tens of thousands of security-cleared NSA and CIA operatives, aerospace engineers, software and hardware engineers, employees of power plants and pipelines, and on and on. It may take awhile but with data mining and cross checking against other databases a serious entity with time and money can assemble a detailed profile of pretty much anyone they want. And the same process could yield hits that they otherwise would never have expected. It makes it all that much harder for the US to infiltrate those "state actors" and gives those state actors even more ability to phish and F&%$#K us all up.

I never had a Yahoo account as I found everything that company did to be complete drivel. But my advice to friends has been to go in to your account, change your password and then delete everything and never use it again.

MPG: It makes perfect sense that Apple hired yahoos for the destruction of Apple Mail. Humor aside, I also never had a Yahoo account because Yahoo was and is the biggest turd of an internet destination that I was aware of. The security implications are indeed immense.

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A Question for Readers: How to Print iPhone Photos

Here’s something that points out just how complicated computers and iPhones have made simple tasks—because I don’t know how to do it, not as described here.

An older friend of mine has used a compact point & shoot camera for years. His method of getting 4X6 prints is simple:

  1. Pull SD card from camera
  2. Hand SD card to camera store.
  3. Pick up prints later.

When I suggested using the iPhone 7 Plus as his sole camera (its image quality is better than his old P&S), the question immediately arose: how to make prints?

This is brilliant intelligent older gentleman, a true master at the top of his own field. But in terms of macOS or iOS competence, any 10 year old is far more advanced, and he is just not going to pick up the knowledge on macOS or iOS that we all take for granted, knowledge that seems trivial to us, but really is quite complicated. Heck, just doing a system update and updating apps or setting up a printer takes core knowledge that cannot be taken for granted. And Apple has failed miserably on iOS and macOS to make it easy, because it presumes a core competency on the part of novice users. [He has mastered messages on the iPhone, but that requires little training and few steps; email still flummoxes him].

So he wants a solution as simple as the above for printing iPhone photos. Maybe there is one, maybe a home printer that will never jam might work for direct prints from the iPhone (but then there is the tedious work of deleting them, just one more step). Or maybe there is a download/upload solution. But even getting the photos into the Photos app is a relatively complicated step, let alone mastering whatever process of selecting and uploading.

Get it? Nothing beats the trivial simplicity of pulling a small card out and just having it done. I’m stumped in finding anything that easy.

Suggestions welcome. But remember, what core knowledge and competency is required cannot be assumed. Review the steps above.

Airprint

A number of users have suggested an AirPrint capable printer (I had thought of that, but I need to see it work for myself). But when I go into the Camera app or Photos app on the iPhone, I can’t find any print option. See the step-by-step list above: this is the whole point: a few steps is a few too many for some people (and me).

Charles E writes:

My Dad is like that, he’s 90 and has trouble even dialing his iPhone. I have done one-on-one training since the early 1980s. A good trainer knows the majority of the task is assessing the student and assigning tasks to their skill level.

The Print option is at the bottom of every photo in Photos.app. You look at the photo and tap the little square with the arrow going up. It’s at the bottom left. Yes, it’s not obvious that Print would be under Share. Yes, that is the #1 problem with the iOS interface, tasks are sometimes not easily discoverable. Someone has to tell you where it is.

MPG: looks like I need to test an AirPrint printer to see just how well it works.

The print choice is HIDDEN on my iPhone until (a) unless I swipe right and (b) that’s after I touch the Share icon. Two steps just to *see* the Print option. So minimum three steps to print. Still, that's acceptable and so I’ll have to get an AirPrint printer and see how it actually works (there are lots of printer deals at B&H Photo). Something like the Canon Selphy might be appropriate.

Kiso writes:

I know what you mean, for my aging parents the easiest is to use an app like Shutterfly or Smugmug which will ask to access the 'photos on the phone. Simply select the photos they want to upload/order and check out of the shopping cart from the app. A few days later the photos will arrive via mail. They also have the benefit of viewing their photos on their grandkids on their phone at any time.

You can print if select a photo, hit the ‘share’ icon and since i have an AirPrint printer there’s the print button in middle. However, i’d recommend a service over fiddling with inkjets.

I have seen 3rd party lightning to SD card readers/writers, but have no experience using them. The Apple branded lighting to SD card was 1-way only, a SD card reader not a writer.

MPG: Good ideas (Shutterly, etc), so long as its simple, and it looks reasonably so.

The Sandisk iXpand Flash Drive with Lightning connector might be an option, but I’m not sure how complicated the transfer is.

Greg J writes:

It’s actually really simple. The kiosks have built in cables for the iPhone. Once the phone is connect, the machines display all the photos on the device.
The user can select which photos to print using the touch screen. In many locations, the photos are ready within an hour. Many stores now allow the photos to be uploaded via mobile apps and picked up later making the process more convenient.

Most Walmarts now have these kiosks too. Lightning cables are provided at the kiosk. I know some of the Kiosks allow you to load only some of the images, ex. first 100, 200, or ALL.

It’s probably the easiest way to print from a camera phone. The kiosks are not meant for professional photographers who want to edit RAW images.

MPG: this might be a good solution.

Cycling

macOS Sierra: Compatibility Issues

The arrival of macOS Sierra is not problem free—some apps have issues and some serious.

This list is just a brief “for example”; presumably there are far more issues given the numerous apps out there.

As usual MPG recommends WAITING AT LEAST 3-4 weeks for working professionals to make a major OS upgrade, with 3-4 months advised for production shops, testing the waters with just one machine to start. Those with “special needs” like a dedicated Mac for printing to large format should probably never upgrade the OS once a machine dedicated to that task is operating well—keep such Macs as “toasters”.

Broken software

  • Apple Mail: performance is so slow that MPG may be forced to seek out an alternative mail program. One reader suggests Airmail.
  • Fujitsu SnapScan has numerous problems.
  • Google Chrome (latest version as of 21 Sept) hangs frequently when quitting and sometimes crashes.
  • Dragging files to applications in the Dock sometimes goes DEAD—no response, the file cannot be dropped on the app to open it. I’ve never seen this bug before, but it’s terribly annoying.
  • Good 'ol Copy and Paste are BROKEN, at least with Spotlight (cmd-space invocation). Many, many times, I copy something to the clipboard, and Paste pastes something copied from some previous action into the Spotlight search. It is really frustrating when this starts happening. How Apple can break something this fundamental is mind boggling.
    Spotlight search (cmd-space) cannot Paste the clipboard properly!

Drawing problems

  • RawDigger has a minor drawing problem in its histogram. The developer says it will be fixed soon.
  • Adobe DreamWeaver has problems in its File Open dialog, as shown.
    Drawing problems in File Open dialog in macOS Sierra (Adobe DreamWeaver)

macOS Sierra: Severe Apple Mail Performance Problems

Apple Mail in macOS Sierra:
pegs CPU for 30 seconds or so

New Apple Core Rot, and in a key area of functionality, at least for MPG.

Apple Mail in macOS Sierra has severe performance issues (and continuing bugs), just as in El Capitan and Yosemite. But is is far worse now, which speaks to the continuing incompetence by the programmers working on Apple Mail. Performance was notably degraded with the arrival of El Capitan; it seems that Apple is trying to engineer in bad performance. I think it is related to badly done search algorithms, similar to the performance losses in save and open dialogs. Continuing Apple Core Rot.

Clicking on my Sent mailbox (and others) results in delays of up to 30 seconds in showing the mailbox, along with multiple rainbow beach balls. The system has had ample time to do whatever it is it does after a system upgrade. Then trying to open one message may take another 20 seconds. Apple mail pins a CPU or more during this time.

The mailboxes have thousands of messages... a trivial task for software to manage if designed competently. If the issues are indeed related to the number of emails, then one half-assed and unpalatable solution may be to archive older mails.

The behaviors are so troublesome that MPG may be forced to abandon Apple Mail and to seek out an alternative mail program. One reader suggests Airmail.

Other mail problems:

  • As usual, Apple requires non-reversible “updating” of stored mail. A not so nice move by Apple (every release!), since there is no going back.
  • Certain Apple Mail preferences get whacked, including ones useful for security, so re-check mail preferences. This Apple Mail behavior violates good mail hygiene in a security sense (e.g. enabling loading of remote content in messages, removal of the display of custom mail headers, etc).
  • The password for certain types of mail accounts get removed, and they must be re-done (this happened in El Capitan also).
  • VIP senders remain 100% broken (non functional), just as in El Capitan.
  • Unread mail icon shows 8 unread messages, but there is only one shown.
  • Apple Mail beeps sporadically for no apparent reason.
  • Switching between mailboxes can take 30 seconds.
  • Messages can take 10-30 seconds to draw (blank message window). These are messages on the local SSD, not remote messages (nothing to download).
  • Frequent rainbow beachball hangs, often for several seconds.
  • Half-second delays after deleting an email.
  • Search is almost unusable even for the simplest one: multi-second delays.
  • Half-second to a second or longer pauses while typing a short email.
  • Many more sluggish performance problems.
  • Unable to copy and paste with some types of content that I have done many times before. This is an all-new bug. Repeatable, even after quitting and restarting mail.

Apple Mail is a nearly unusable disaster in macOS Sierra aka clusterf**k. Perhaps it works fine with iCloud or diddling around with a few dozen messages, but it is too slow to be usable; everything I do is subject to multi-second delays. Just about everything in macOS Apple Mail involving selection or search or delete or so on has multi-second delays and pins a full CPU core at 100% during that time. Searches and/or examining my Sent mailbox can take up to 30 seconds to respond. This is not a one-off issue, but a constant problem. Never before has Apple broken Apple Mail this badly; It looks like I am going to have to abandon Apple Mail.

The sheer wanton incompetence necessary to code, let alone ship this excrement to customers is mind boggling.

The good news (should I have to switch), that Spam Sieve (which I consider essential) supports many mail clients. The bad news is there might not be any rock solid email clients to switch to, see comments below.

Apple Mail in macOS Sierra: frequent rainbow beachballs while pegging a CPU core

Possible improvement, suggestion by Arne E

Mail does seem to become laggy on its own after a certain time, and until now rebuilding the Mail index has always helped. It doesn't become OS9-snappy, but at least I don't have to wait 10 or 30 seconds for a message to appear. Don't know if this solution works in Sierra, but you should test it.

The vacuum command will rebuild the email database, not the mailboxes (see below). Makes me feel like I’m running Windoze or something, that is, having to crap like this that ought never need to be done by any end user.

  1. Quit Mail
  2. In Terminl, paste this command and hit return:
          /usr/bin/sqlite3 "$HOME/Library/Mail/V4/MailData/Envelope Index" vacuum
  3. Restart mail.

I’ve tried this. Still getting spinning beachballs, but it may be more responsive. TBD.

Daniel M writes:

That’s why I moved to Outlook for Mac since early this year. I can’t stand the poor performance of Apple Mail. I have an IMAP professional email hosting, and an Exchange Online Office 365 and both have a custom domain. Apple mail handles both accounts very poorly especially the exchange account. It doesn’t matter if the mailbox and folders contain tens of thousands of messages because if it is done correctly the system can handle this task very easily. I also encountering slowing down when loading folders, and at the same time, the unread counts are very unreliable.

Surprisingly, Outlook performs really well. It is fast responsive and handles various types of accounts very well.

MPG: I run my own mail server also, but it is POP3. One reader suggests Airmail as the client, see below.

Mark E writes:

I’m surprised you are still using Apple Mail. Maybe you could go into what features keep you in Apple Mail. It did get a lot better a few years ago, but then stagnated.

It seems obvious that the new Apple won’t put any serious development resources to freebie apps. If it sends and receives email, it’s good to go. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Dev did the testing as well. :^}

I’m using Airmail and find it extremely robust.

MPG: looks I may have to move to something like Airmail.

Martin D writes:

The mail situation just keeps getting worse and worse and I don’t know what to do.

I’ve tried AirMail. It has lots of problems, too… different problems.

It’s as if there’s a global conspiracy to bury email unusable.

MPG: (I know Martin and trust his feedback)—I don’t know if I can tolerate AppleMail much longer, but if AirMail has issues I’m hosed.

Mike C writes:

I read your post regarding Apple Mail bugs and potential third-party mail apps. I've been using MailMate on Snow Leopard for several years and am mostly happy with it. As a default, it blocks external content links in messages, and the user has the option to load the content or not upon opening the message.

The developer is one guy against the giants; I think he's doing a pretty good job.

MPG: another potential replacement candidate for Apple Snail Mail. It’s useless to me however, because it is an IMAP client only, not POP3.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

macOS Sierra: Stable Release

UPDATE: MPG now recommends waiting six (6) months to go to macOS Sierra. Key functionality has been destroyed, like Apple Mail and Copy/Paste. And some of it might not be fixed any time soon. And bottom line is that there is ZERO benefit to macOS Sierra.

MPG is contemplating downgrading back to El Crapitan, but this is difficult because at the least, AppleMail destroys (updates) mailboxes to some new format that is irreversible.

...

Unlike the past 3 or 4 releases, macOS Sierra is probably safe to go ahead with right away. Finally, relief from the Apple quality failure onslaught.

The macOS Sierra install has been running on the late 2015 iMac 5K and 2013 MacBook Pro Retina with no issues for 12 days now. Today I installed on the 2013 Mac Pro, based on stable results with those two machines.

There are at least some compatiblity issues with macOS Sierra; as usual MPG recommends WAITING AT LEAST 3-4 weeks for working professionals to make a major OS upgrade, with 3-4 months advised for production shops, testing the waters with just one machine to start. Those with “special needs” like printing should probably never upgrade the OS once a machine dedicated to that task is operating wel.

  • There was an install glitch and it happened on BOTH the late 2015 iMac 5K and 2013 Mac Pro: the install hangs with a dark screen, and the computer has to be forcibly powered off. Installation resumes after powering on and is was successful after that one glitch.
  • The usual issues crop up: Apple removes certain software such as the version of Java required for Adobe DreamWeaver to work, which requires reinstalling the legacy Java package.
  • diglloydTools works fine, with no obvious issues.
  • My daily tools including Photoshop, DreamWeaver, TextWrangler, RawDigger, Safari and so on, and all seem to be OK. Exception: Adobe software update window has drawing problems on one computer, and so does RawDigger. So there are some glitches.
  • Apple Mail has severe performance problems and other bugs.
Eastern Sierra Nevada
__METADATA__
Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
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OWC Drive Dock Now Available in USB 3.1 Gen 1 for about $75

Get OWC Drive Dock at MacSales.com.

OWC Drive Dock

Back in late 2015 MPG reviewed the OWC Drive Dock. That version of the OWC Drive Dock offers both Thunderbolt and USB 3.1 gen 1 connectivity. But because of the high cost of Thunderbolt-based peripherals, its about $240 price tended to make it more of a product for professionals.

OWC has now released the OWC Drive Dock USB 3.1 gen 1 model for about $75. MPG has not yet tested the USB 3.1 gen 1 version, but performance should be identical when using the USB port (that is, almost as fast as the Thunderbolt port).

  • Two drive bays each accommodate 2.5 or 3.5-inch SATA drives
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 port
  • Read up to 434 MB/s, write up to 406 MB/s
  • Supports drives up to 10TB or greater
  • Mac & PC compatible
  • Each bay features an independent power switch and LED activity indicator
  • Universal auto-switching internal power supply
  • Professional aluminum enclosure
  • Two year OWC Limited Warranty including award-winning technical support
  • Includes 24-inch (.6m) USB 3.1 Gen 1 cable

The OWC Drive dock accepts either 3.5" or 2.5" drives—SSD or hard drives in either size. Bare hard drives and fast high-quality bare SSDs are the least expensive way to expand storage, since there is no enclosure (case) or power supply or cabling involved. With the OWC Drive Dock, just insert the bare drive and go.

OWC Drive Dock: Thunderbolt + USB3 Connectivity Using Dual Bare Hard Drives or SSDs

The OWC Drive Dock is an excellent solution for anyone needing to work with bare hard drives or SSDs for backup or similar. For example, videographers who need to download and backup SSDs in a single portable solution.

Bare hard drives and fast high-quality bare SSDs are the least expensive way to expand storage, since there is no enclosure (case) or power supply or cabling involved. With the OWC Drive Dock, just insert the bare drive and go, swapping drives as needed. For example, inserting two bare 6TB HGSG Desktar NAS hard drives into the OWC Drive Dock delivers 12TB of capacity at low cost. Swap more drives as needed.

OWC Drive Dock

iPhone 7: Apple will not sell unlocked iPhone with both GSM and CDMA, but maybe in a a few weeks

NewerTech NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Get NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus at MacSales.com.

MPG called Apple to try to buy an unlocked any-carrier phone (with both GSM and CDMA support) and was told that as of Sept 12, Apple does not offer an unlocked iPhone supporting both GSM and CDMA that is not tied to a carrier, but that it may be coming in a few weeks.

At present (12 September), Apple will only sell iPhones tied to a carrier (even unlocked ones!); see Apple iPhone 7: can an Unlocked Model Actually be Bought at Apple Store?. When I called, my attempt to purchase an unlocked Verizon model was refused because I am not an existing Verizon customer. Apple simply will not sell unlocked phones not tied to a carrier—not yet, but perhaps in a few weeks.

MPG doesn’t like or agree with this anti-customer approach, but there it is.

See Apple iPhone 7 Caution: GSM-only model lacks CDMA network support, precluding future use with Verizon or Sprint for why one might want to buy a iPhone 7 for Verizon when intending to use it with AT&T (for now).

Initial choice of iPhone 7 network may preclude use in the future on other networks
Apple iPhone 7 support for cell phone spectrum

 

Altitude on iPhone: ProAltimeter app

The barometric altimeter on iPhones is not exposed as a built-in app or other info feature, such as on the home page of the phone, so I didn’t realize that there is a barometric altimeter on the iPhone 6s Plus (and iPhone 6 and 7).

GPS elevation can be subject to errors of hundreds of feet or more, so I don’t like to use it. As shown below, the error is 28% as the actual altitude is 504 feet yet GPS says it is 358 feet—GPS can be much more in error in the mountains. Also, a good GPS signal may not be obtainable under tree cover or in a tight canyon. Finally, a barometric altimeter is an excellent cross-check.

When I hike, I often know the exact altitude at certain points, at least when I start a hike. So a barometric altimeter is a reliable way of tracking altitude, at least for some hours. And frequently I know the altitude of key points, such as lakes or summits, so exact recalibration is possible.

The Pro Altimeter app for iPhone can be calibrated from GPS automatically, or most critically, one can enter the known altitude. Perfect for my needs (manual entry) and the GPS altitude is a plus for when there is a good constellation of satellites, as shown below.

At fixed altitude, the barometer is useful for showing air pressure, which can hint at weather changes. Too bad the app doesn’t graph the pressure every 30 minutes or so. It has two choices of display as shown, one better for day and one better for night.

 
Barometric pressure and altimeter: one inaccurate and one accurate reading, same location
ProAltimeter iPhone app for iPhone

macOS Sierra: Uneventful Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina

I wrote about relatively trouble-free upgrading on a late 2015 iMac 5K a few days ago. Another in-place upgrade with the MacBook Pro Retina also went smoothly.

It has almost been a non-event: in comparison to previous OS releases the transition to macOS Sierra has been the most seamless update in years.

While issues could arise, MPG attributes this at least in part to a relatively minor upgrade that looks to be a major macOS upgrade as a marketing event only. Siri is just an app that could have been tacked on to macOS El Capitan and ditto for the new APFS file system support.

MacOS Sierra is thus a minor release, which is a godsend to users sick and tired of constant feature distruption and new bugs that have characterized previous macOS major releases. By disabling Siri on macOS Sierra, MPG can (gratefully) hardly tell any difference with OS X El Capitan.

Oneida Lake, Just Past May Lundy Mine
f/11 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 100; 2016-08-17 12:56:00
Sony A7R II + Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon

Cycling

Startup Key combinations for Intel-Based Macs

A nice summary I found at Apple. I can’t remember all these myself

Press and hold the keys immediately after powering on, and keep holding down until the described behavior occurs. These combinations work with Intel-based Mac computers.

  • Shift ⇧ = start in Safe Mode.
  • Option ⌥ = start to Startup Manager (allows booting from any connected bootable volume).
  • C = start from a bootable CD, DVD, or USB thumb drive (such as OS X install media).
  • D = start to either Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics, depending on which Mac you're using.
  • Option-D = start to either Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics over the Internet.
  • N = start from a compatible NetBoot server.
  • Option-N = start from a NetBoot server using the default boot image.
  • Command (⌘)-R = start from OS X Recovery.
  • Command-Option-R = start from OS X Recovery over the Internet.
  • Command-Option-P-R = Reset NVRAM. Release the keys after you hear the startup sound again.
  • Command-S = Start up in single-user mode.
  • T = start in target disk mode.
  • X = start from an OS X startup volume when the Mac would otherwise start from a non-OS X startup volume.
    Command-V start in verbose mode.
  • Eject (⏏), F12, mouse button, or trackpad button = Eject removable media, such as an optical disc

See other general Mac keyboard shortcuts.

Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
✓ Get the best system for your needs the first time: diglloyd photographic consulting.

What I Want in an iPhone: Dual Carrier Support Simultaneously

NewerTech NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Get NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus at MacSales.com.

See Apple iPhone 7 Caution: GSM-only model lacks CDMA network support, precluding future use with Verizon or Sprint for background.

What I (Lloyd) really want in an iPhone is simultaneous dual-carrier support. Specifically:

  1. Internet connectivity (cell phone hot spot) on either or both phone networks simultaneously, ideally using bonding for increased bandwidth. Reason: I travel where cell phone coverage is spotty and often weak, a serious challenge for years now.
  2. Dual phone numbers live at the same time on the same cell phone: one AT&T and one Verizon. Reason: spotty coverage where I travel, but also to separate types of calls and callers.

Most of the hype and hooplah is about 4G and LTE and such. What I care about is real-world coverage, that is, any coverage in the areas I frequently travel in. Coverage maps, even the best, are phony baloney where I travel—useless.

This idea seems so obvious that I don’t know why business travelers don’t demand it. I already take dual iPhones with me when traveling, because I cannot risk the loss of connectivity.

Apple iPhone 7 support for cell phone spectrum
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential

Reader Question: diglloydTool IntegrityChecker

diglloydTools

Guy G writes:

I trust you are doing well and thankyou for continuing such a high quality website.

I am interested in purchasing the IntegrityChecker software. Although most folks feel that copying files for archiving purposes is trivial, I have had an experience where a number of my RAW files were silently corrupted - only could tell when opened in Lightroom. Luckily I had backups. I have been using ExacFile but it appears to be unsupported and for such software my main concern is about the quality of the software and ongoing support.

I am a PC user and have no intention as yet to delve into the world of the MacPro. So it is wonderful news that you have made your software tools available for those that use Windows!!

I am interested in purchasing the software over the longer term and was wondering what the best option would be? If I purchase download access for 5 years does that include upgrades to the software? Or should I be purchasing the download access for a month and then an upgrade option for the longer term?

MPG: IntegrityChecker (icj java version) runs on any computer that can run Java: macOS, Windows, Linux, etc.

The value of IntegrityChecker comes over time: once hashed, files can be checked on any drive, any OS, including DVDs and BluRay and other read-only devices. This is important for long-term storage, particularly for professionals with data having long-term value, like image files. IntegrityChecker (icj) can also find duplicate files.

The 5-year option offers a no fuss, and you can download any new version any time you like. It costs less in total, although the difference is modest amortized over 5 years.

It is my intention to expand the Java-based capabilities going forward, for cross-platform and long-term viability.

Excellent Search Tool: HoudahSpot

HoudahSpot

HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool for OS X. A trial version is available. Single-user, family license and site licenses are available.

I (Lloyd) use Spotlight a great deal via its cmd-space shortcut. But Spotlight has degenerated in various ways, including not being able to find file names at times, and finding wholly irrelevant things when all I want is source code. It is also a messy business to find specific things in Spotlight without jumping through hoops with qualifiers and such.

Enter HoudahSpot, which offers all sorts of features for searching, including default search settings (a big deal for me), templates for specific types of searches, and much more. Simple as it is, the dialog below works like a charm every time without the mess Spotlight generates for me with the same search. Here, I want to find source files with a certain name. Or, it might be a function name within those source files. By using HoudahSpot, all the other gunk is filtered out (binary files, jar files, log files, etc) simply by requiring files of type java (Spotlight does not do this correctly with name:.java as tedious experience shows).

So as simple as this example is, it already is a big deal for finding what I want. Summary as per the developer:

Find important documents, mail messages, photos, image files and more:

  • Start with a simple search
  • Refine it by adding and combining criteria
  • Search several folders at once. Exclude others
  • Add and sort by any of the hundreds of columns available
  • Preview files and text matches
  • Find files by name, text, content kind, file extension, author, recipient, pixel count, etc.
  • Combine criteria to quickly zero in on the files you need
  • Customize columns in the search results list
  • Filter the results to see only relevant files
  • Set up templates for recurring searches

HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool. It uses the Spotlight index ‐ which comes preinstalled with OS X ‐ to get you to your files in no time.

HoudahSpot search window

An uncomfortable 2 Days with Amazon Dash Buttons

The Amazon Dash Button is a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button. That it exists is proof that the iPhone with an app doesn’t solve everything.

And that convenience can become very, very specific, and also exceptionally wasteful of resources (how many millions of these things and their batteries will end up in landfills?). But I use hardly any of these consumer products, so what do I know.

Amazon Dash Button is a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button.

Personally I think it’s going to be a very uncomfortable two days.

A very uncomfortable 2 days
Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
✓ Get the best system for your needs the first time: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Apple iPhone 7: can an Unlocked Model Actually be Bought at Apple Store?

Get NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus at MacSales.com.

NewerTech NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Update 12 September: I called Apple to try to buy an unlocked any-carrier phone (with both GSM and CDMA support) and was told that at this time Apple cannot/will not sell an unlocked carrier-free phone supporting both GSM and CDMA, but that it may be coming in a few weeks.

...

See Apple iPhone 7 Caution: GSM-only model lacks CDMA network support, precluding future use with Verizon or Sprint for why one might want to buy a iPhone 7 for Verizon when intending to use it with AT&T (for now).

The Apple web store blocks purchase of an unlocked paid-in-full contract-free iPhone 7, because it demands existing account information, making it impossible to proceed unless one already has an account with that carrier.

So, for example, I have AT&T currently (and intend to use the iPhone 7 on AT&T, but I want an all-carrier model, as per the above link).

Since Apple demands existing Verizon customer info, I am not able to buy the unlocked paid-in-full contract-free iPhone 7 for Verizon. Ditto for any other carrier choice except T-Mobile (why?), but that doesn’t help if the goal is a phone with GSM and CDMA support.

Maybe an unlocked Verizon phone can be bought by purchasing via telephone?

UPDATE 10 September: Apple’s own sales force was ignorant of the online stuff below. I was unable to get an answer/confirmation when I called Apple business sales.

Unable to buy paid-in-full contract-free iPhone 7: not an existing Verizon customer

Here’s the other reason I wanted the Verizon model: it can be had in about a week. AT&T models are all 2-3 weeks.

Verizon 256GB model readily much better availability

Don H writes:

You mention that you can't buy an unlocked phone via the Apple online store. This may be frustrating, but not unprecedented. In the past the fully-unlocked models of each new phone weren't available for purchase for the first few weeks immediately following the product announcement. While this (again) isn't spelled out on Apple's site, it's something that that the Apple rumor/news sites discuss each time a new iPhone comes out.

I'm guessing that Apple is supply-constrained and may even have sales obligations to the carriers that takes precedent over the unlocked models until things settle down.

MPG: MPG doesn’t know the timing or details.

 

Cycling

Apple iPhone 7 Caution: GSM-only model lacks CDMA network support, precluding future use with Verizon or Sprint

Get NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus at MacSales.com.

NewerTech NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Update 12 September: I called Apple to try to buy an unlocked any-carrier phone (with both GSM and CDMA support) and was told that at this time Apple cannot/will not sell an unlocked carrier-free phone supporting both GSM and CDMA, but that it may be coming in a few weeks.

...

If you think you might use your iPhone on Verizon or Sprint in the future, which carrier support is chosen initially matters, even if you do not intend to initially use that carrier.

Here’s the deal, which is a change from the iPhone 6 and 6s Plus. It involves the cell phone wireless technology, which is GSM (AT&T, TMobile, European countries and most of the rest of the world) or CDMA (Verizon and Sprint, and not much overseas).

  • Buying an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus for AT&T or TMobile means that it can never support Verizon or Sprint.
  • Buying an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus for Verizon or Sprint allows use on any of the carrier networks.

It appears that the model sold as for Verizon is actually a model supporting all networks, whereas the AT&T/Sprint model supports only AT&T and Sprint (GSM). The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus supported either type of network.

For those buying an unlocked phone, what this means is that it might make more sense to buy the Verizon/CDMA iPhone 7, even if planning to use it on an AT&T or TMobile network in the short term, since the iPhone could then be used on Verizon/Sprint in the future.

At least that’s what it seems; the Apple statement contradicts itself in saying that “it will use CDMA technology for voice and data” (conflating ostensible choice of carrier vs actual) and then says “it will work on AT&T and TMobile”: but it cannot work on AT&T if it uses CDMA for voice and data. Very poorly written.

All this may be for naught: the Apple Store page won’t let you buy an unlocked Verizon or Sprint iPhone without providing existing account information! Ditto for AT&T and TMobile. It’s non-functional, since one may want to *add* (not replace) a phone (“You'll keep your existing number and rate plan, Your current phone will work until you set up your new iPhone”).

The information on this is right on Apple’s sales page in fine print but only on the sales page FAQ (at least as this was written it was not on the iPhone 7 info page), and only if you expand the hidden information and only if you then expand the right question/answer:

Initial choice of iPhone 7 network may preclude use in the future on other networks
Apple iPhone 7 support for cell phone spectrum

This is bad of Apple to hide critical information so well, as it may be a real issue for users looking to switch carriers in the future, effectively forcing purchase of another phone. It’s one thing to have a pretty and simple sales page, it’s quite another to hide information of great import to some prospective customers*. Maybe Apple saves a little money by making this distinction with the AT&T/TMobile model, which is why the information is so carefully put in tiny text in hidden footnotes?

* This reminds MPG of the soldered-on memory fiasco in the Apple MacBook Pro (Apple later made that information visible)

Don H writes:

I have no intention of ever using Verizon or Sprint myself (in the past they have locked phones to their network and locked out US GSM carriers while still functioning overseas), but on general principles I would just as soon have a single phone that works under all circumstances if there are no other compromises to its design or performance. It also opens up more possibilities for future resale.

To Apple’s credit, they do seem to strive for a more simplified product matrix (at one point Samsung had 97 different SKUs in their phone lineup), but this schism with GSM/CDMA is puzzling. If the CDMA phone already has *all* the radio technology needed to handle every carrier in the US/world market (except for China who is their own special case), why make a non-CDMA model at all?

I can only think of the added licensing costs associated with CDMA technology, but that certainly isn’t reflected in the retail price of the different models. Perhaps enabling CDMA does cost a few bucks more, but Apple is willing to swallow that for those customers because many others don’t want that feature for their GSM-specified phones.

MPG: probably a savings of a few dollars per phone for the GMS model by leaving CDMA out (parts and licensing), which might add billions to the bottom line.

Don H writes again:

Apparently Apple is now using Intel as well as Qualcomm modems (to diversify vendors) for their GSM model. Unfortunately, the Intel modem doesn't include CDMA compatibility, so that complicates marketing, support, etc. Here's an explanation:

http://www.recode.net/2016/9/9/12863302/apple-iphone-7-intel-qualcomm

I'm sure more will be verified after the inevitable teardowns. So while we may not like the end results (or ambiguity when purchasing), this does make sense from a business viewpoint.

MPG: If the limitation were stated upfront, who in their right mind would choose a phone effectively locked to AT&T or TMobile? Particularly since it will be a phone with lower resale value, since it works only on GSM networks. The only reasonable conclusion here is that Apple buried the difference in a hidden Q/A question in a hidden FAQ by design, for, as noted, solid business reasons. It smells bad, at the least. But since the vast majority will be happy, who cares at Apple, since no one will be able to do anything about it very long after purchase, and those for whom it matters later will be a minority— let ’em just buy another phone—ka ching!

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina

macOS Sierra: Some Small Issues, but Mostly Good So Far

The 'production' system (2013 Mac Pro) can and should wait at least a few weeks as a precaution, but I’ve installed macOS Sierra GM (Golden Master) on the late 2015 iMac 5K using an in-place upgrade. There was only glitch: the install hung and the iMac had to be forcibly powered off. Installation resumed and was successful, though taking quite a very long time as usual.

The usual issues crop up: Apple removes certain software such as the version of Java required for Adobe DreamWeaver to work, which requires reinstalling the legacy Java package.

diglloydTools works fine, with no obvious issues. My daily tools including Photoshop, TextWrangler, RawDigger, Safair and so on all seem to be OK.

Apple Mail has some issues, just as in El Capitan and Yosemite, speaking to the continuing incompetence by the programmers working on Apple Mail:

  • As usual, Apple requires non-reversible “updating” of stored mail. A not so nice move by Apple (every release!), since there is no going back.
  • Certain Apple Mail preferences get whacked, including ones useful for security, so re-check mail preferences. This Apple coding choice violates good mail hygiene in a security sense (e.g. enabling loading of remote content in messages, removal of the display of custom mail headers, etc).
  • The password for certain mail accounts get removed, and they must be re-done (this happened in El Capitan also).
  • VIP senders and other features not yet tested (it was broken in the past two OS X releases).
Saddlebag Lake, eastern Sierra Nevada near Yosemite
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Apple iPhone 7: New Features I Like

NewerTech NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Get NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus at MacSales.com.

The whole blogosphere is alight with iPhone 7 stuff, so I’m going to focus on what is of interest to me personally.

  • Dual cameras: when shooting iPhone panoramas, a longer focal length is hugely helpful for image quality (when not so wide a field of view is needed). Ditto for closeups without the problems of perspective distortion or shadows that come from getting too close to the subject. Too bad Apple did not include an infrared camera option.
  • Wide Color support: vast improvement with the P3 color gamut. Better images taken, and better display of those images. See iPhone 7 Sports Retina HD Screen with DCI-P3 Color Gamut and “Wide” Color Capture
  • More powerful speakers: I listen to audiobooks for hours when driving to the mountains for trips, and the iPhone 6s Plus speaker has been barely adequate in my car while driving (older car has no USB connector and the FM transmitter dongle often gets interference).
  • Splash and water resistance: well, see the trout below for an idea of where (besides a toilet or a cup of coffee) that liquid could be an issue. Still, it’s one reason the much superior grip of the Nuguard KX case comes in so handy.
  • Barometer: I’m hoping this means that a barometric altimeter app is included (GPS is notoriously poor for altitude). UPDATE: heck even the iPhone 6s Plus has a barometer, a carefully hidden feature (why can’t it show up on the lock screen?).

A longer focal length lens will be very helpful when making closeup shots like this image of a Brook Trout. The trout appears to bow outwards with a too-small tail and head; this is partly due to the close-range of the camera to the subject aka “perspective distortion”.

Brook Trout - Salvelinus fontinalis
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Cycling

NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 7 / iPhone 7 Plus (saved my iPhone 6s Plus several times)

NewerTech NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Get NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus at MacSales.com.

I wouldn’t use my iPhone without a NewerTech KX case on it, particularly when cycling or when hiking in the mountains making iPhone panoramas. See My iPhone 6s Plus Saved From Cracking Again by NewerTech NuGuard KX Case.

My wife and one of my daughters have both cracked their iPhone screens, not having had the KX case on their phones, but my iPhone 6s Plus has been dropped rudely many times now, and it remains intact. The KX case 'rocks', so to speak.

NewerTech introduces the NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

NEWERTECH ANNOUNCES NUGUARD KX CASE WITH MILITARY GRADE PROTECTION FOR UPCOMING APPLE IPHONE 7 & 7 PLUS

Incredibly Thin at ½”, State-of-the-Art Military X­Orbing Case Provides Extreme Protection Against Accidental Drops, Impacts & Scratches without the Bulk

Stylish in Black, Midnight, & Crimson for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Woodstock, IL, September 6, 2016 – NewerTech http://www.newertech.com, a leading performance upgrades and accessories company for Macs and other Apple products since 1984, announced today the NewerTech NuGuard KX case for the upcoming iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Unlike other protective cases for iPhone, the KX case uses state­-of-­the-­art military-grade X­Orbing Gel Technology to absorb and evenly distribute kinetic energy. This revolutionary technology is engineered into a one-piece design that features a hard outer shell integrated with a soft interior core, providing protection and style at a price you’d pay for a regular case. Incredibly thin at ½”, it protects your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus against accidental drops, impacts, and scratches, while still easily fitting in your pocket.

Innovative Design, Incredible Impact Protection, and Lifetime Replacement Guarantee

Like NuGuard KX cases for other iPhone models, the KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus provides enhanced protection around the device’s screen without interfering with edge­to­edge touch accessibility. Easily type messages with full access to the keyboard and organize apps across multiple screens. Simply use your new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus as you normally would, but with the peace of mind of military-grade protection. Precision cutouts give access to all of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus ports and buttons. The new KX case features a unique crosshatch-texture on the back and sides for a comfortable grip in your hand and a strong grip on smooth surfaces, while still being able to quickly slip out of your pocket or bag. The strongest case also deserves the best warranty -- KX cases ship with a lifetime-replacement guarantee.

NuGuard KX Case Features:
• Revolutionary X­Orbing Gel Technology absorbs and evenly distributes kinetic energy.
• One piece design: hard outer shell integrated with soft interior core.
• Exceptional protection without being bulky.
• Fast and simple to install -- takes seconds.
• Easy access to all ports and buttons.
• Crosshatch-texture design offers secure hand grip, yet easy pocket removal.
• Lifetime replacement guarantee.
• No risk, no hassle 30­-day money-back guarantee.

Availability & Pricing

The KX cases for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are available starting September 7, 2016 from NewerTech.com at: http://www.newertech.com/ipad-iphone-ipod/iphone.php.
Pricing:

KX Case for iPhone 7 MSRP: $49.99 ($29.99 at most outlets).
KX Case for iPhone 7 Plus MSRP: $59.99 ($33.99 at most outlets).

NewerTech NuGuard KX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Why Pay Top Dollar for a New Mac for Most All Purposes?

MacSales used Macs (all models)

See previous post regarding factor-sealed Apple MacBook at huge savings.

Macs have not changed significantly in capability for several years now, at least not for the purposes of many if not most users—a model that is not the latest and greatest will perform essentially the same as the very best and newest model for 90% of what most people do—hence the robust market in used iPhones for the same reason.

Used Macs, particularly ones delivered free with a money-back guarantee and certified and warranteed by MacSales.com offer excellent value: why pay a premium price for some email/web browing or casual work? Like buying a low-mileaged warranteed used car*, used is the new new. Buying new carries a big premium for minimal value (special purposes excepted of course).

Why consider used?

Lots of people have kids who need computers (I do), and businesses are often under budget pressure, etc. It makes a lot of sense to save on such areas. The truth is, Apple has done little to enhance total performance over the past few years (nada for Mac Pro for 3 years now and modest gains on iMac and MacBook Pro). Consider MPG usage:

MPG strictly avoids buying new except in the case where the long term value is there (e.g., the 2013 Mac Pro some years ago, or the late 2015 iMac 5K, both of which met specific thresholds not otherwise obtainable for professional photography purposes). The one probable exception coming along this year is laptops: a new high-end MacBook Pro (maybe). But Apple is constrained by Intel chipsets and it’s unclear how it will be appreciably better, or just different, e.g., a hassle for existing users, as in USB-C ports and Thunderbolt 3 requiring adapters—a chore for those with existing stuff already: existence proof being the adapters needed for the Apple MacBook. Time and money rectify such things, but those features may not matter for the vast majority of users, and will not come cheaply.

View all used Macs at MacSales.com

See all Labor Day specials (special prices end September 5)

* My current SUV is 9 years old, bought used when 2 years old.

MacSales used Macs (all models)
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Big Discount on *Factory Sealed* 2015 Apple MacBook at MacSales.com

See previous post regarding a MacBook for travel. For the photographer on the go, MPG recommends models with the 512GB flash/SSD drive, since OS X and applications will eat up 50-70 GB (leaving only about 180GB on a model with a 256GB flash/SSD drive). But for just web browsing and email and no particular storage needs, the 256GB model will do just fine.

MPG has confirmed with MacSales.com that these are FACTORY SEALED units (description as “refurbished” is erroneous and will be corrected Tuesday).

These are brand new, original box sealed - MacSales gets special warranty extension we fulfill, but brand spanking new and sealed original.

Additional savings apply when purchased with the OWC USB-C Dock (recommended, given the single USB-C port on the MacBook).

Updated: Diglloyd Photoshop Benchmarks

diglloydMedium Photoshop benchmarks

Follow the download link on this page:

diglloyd Benchmarks for Photoshop CC

These tests work on Photoshop CC or Photoshop CS6 and are what MPG has been using for years for the Photoshop tests on this site. For example most recently the Photoshop tests with the Apple 2016 MacBook.

The various tests give a good look at performance based on CPU and GPU and memory configuration variations.

diglloydMedium Photoshop benchmark on 2016 MacBook 1.3 GHz / 512GB
Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
✓ Get the best system for your needs the first time: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Risky “Zero Day” Exploit Bugs Fixed in iOS 9.3.5 for iPhone, also in OS X

See also Apple Mail Security: Viewing Mail Headers in the Setting Up Your Mac For Better Security section as well as all security topics.

See my post two days ago on the frustrating experience of trying to update iOS—shame on Apple for making it so hard to install a critical security fix—there are simple ways to fix the software to not stand in the way of updating iOS, if only Apple would do it (e.g., just allow a backup to some other drive).

A “zero day” exploit is a security bug that remains unknown to the world at large, including the manufacturer of the device. When a zero day exploit can compromise a system, it can sometimes sell for big money—typically to spy agencies (including our own morally-impaired agencies here in the USA*). Thus some zero-day exploits can be extremely valuable. And potentially fatal, such as to activists whose phone and/or computers are compromised.

ComputerWorld reports in Apple patches iOS security flaws found in spyware targeting activist:

To spy on a human rights activist, hackers allegedly connected to a Middle Eastern government used three previously unknown vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS.

The claims -- from research at Toronto-based Citizen Lab and mobile security firm Lookout -- focus on spyware that targeted Ahmed Mansoor, an activist in the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier this month, Mansoor received an SMS text message on his iPhone claiming to offer “new secrets” about tortured detainees in his country. However, inside the message was a link that, once clicked, can infect an iPhone with spyware, using three zero-day exploits of iOS, the research found.

The exploits work by remotely jailbreaking the device to secretly download the spyware – which can then access the iPhone’s camera, microphone, and messages.

Lookout called the attack the most sophisticated it’s ever seen on a device. The researchers have already informed Apple about the exploits, and iOS version 9.3.5 -- which was released on Thursday -- fixes the issues. The attack is rare because it used three previously unknown vulnerabilities, suggesting the hackers were well-funded. Just one of these exploits can be worth $1 million.

...

Apple apparently felt strongly enough about the bug to issue an emergency iOS and macOS update—kudos to Apple. Details on the Sept 1 security update page. Be sure to update macOS on your computer, and iOS on your iPhone or iPad.

MPG has long advised not clicking on links in emails or any similar behavior (OTOH, any at-risk activist willing to click on a hyperlink in an email is a sort of Darwinian fool).

This case makes a strong argument for Apple (and other companies) to offer an option so that hyperlinks are disabled in mail messages—why has Apple not done this yet? Such an option could allow a bypass of some kind, such as control-click. It would surely prevent 99.99% of casual users from opening hyperlinks by accident or cluelessness; most users simply cannot be trained to be smart about how to assess the risk. It ought to be standard fare for corporate and government email at the least.

* While tens or hundreds of millions of users may be at risk from a zero-day exploit, this country as yet does not have a policy of protecting people by getting zero day exploits fixed. Rather the NSA and CIA and FBI policies seems to be to exploit the bugs as long as feasible. This is a political and moral question which has arguments on both sides but since foreign governments also adore zero-day exploits, the obligation of our government to protect its own citizens seems to rise to the fore as something worthy of public debate (in Congress).

Apple Sept 1 2016 security update for zero-day exploits

Viewing and Backing up Files from a Digital Camera on a Trip

Sanjin D writes:

OWC Mercury Envoy Pro

I’m having soon a trip to Scandinavia and I’m thinking what to buy to back up my pictures during my journey.

Apple iPad is with me too and 2 Transcend 32GB SHDC cards for Leica camera.

Any suggestions from your side? Shall I take an external 2.5" USB hard disk?

MPG: Assuming that only modest computing power is needed, but an excellent viewing experience for RAW or JPEG, I’d skip the iPad and take an Apple MacBook, that is, a MacBook with 512GB flash drive (SSD) internally. At about 2 pounds, it’s an excellent travel companion, a real computer able to handle raw files and with a nice Retina display.

Also, a diminutive bus-powered 512GB or 1TB OWC Mercury Envoy Pro for backup (always kept separate from the laptop for reasons of potential theft), as a backup drive.

A card reader for downloading camera cards to the MacBook, but be sure to get the Apple USB 3.0 Type-C Male to USB Type-A Female Adapter or Apple USB Type-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter for compatibility with the USB-C port of the MacBook.

For extended usage, get an Anker 20100+ USB-C battery for powering the MacBook in the field.

iPhone Software Update Failure: ‘“Not enough free space is available on this computer” (8.81TB not enough space for 0.128 TB iPhone)

All I want to do is install iOS 9.3.5 for a security bug fix. That is a critical zero-day exploit security fix. I was left with zero backups of my iPhone, I wsa unable to backup the iPhone and I was unable to update to the latest iOS. Finally I figured out a fix (see far end of post).

iTunes: not enough space on “this computer” — which volume?!

The iPhone in question is a 128GB iPhone 6s Plus with 42.6GB available, so about 85GB is in use on the iPhone (nearly all of of it for music and recorded books). Nearly all of that stuff already exists in the media folder, so there should be a need for only ~2GB of space for a backup (confirmed by seeing previous backup of 1.8GB).

Below, a lovely designed-by-nitwits error message stemming from the mindset of “all Macs have one drive, the internal one we geniuses at Apple build into the Mac”. It’s actually worse than that:

  • Which volume has inadequate free space?
  • How much free space is required to make a backup? Because it always worked before, so “what gives” now?
  • Why can’t I just proceed with the update? Nothing is on the phone except my own (already downloaded) photos and my own music in the iTunes library.

Deleting the one and only backup of this iPhone results in no backups and a refusal to backup the iPhone (not enough space). So now there are zero backups and iTunes won’t backup the iPhone, let alone update iOS. Joy.

 

Apparently 8.81 terabytes is inadequate to backup a 0.128 TB iPhone. Either that, or backups MUST go onto the boot drive (yet another Apple Core Rot bug).

What’s wrong with backing-up the iPhone to the Media folder?

So which volume doesn’t have enough free space? The startup volume Boot which has 25GB free? Or the ArchivePV volume containing the iTunes Media folder with 8.81 TB free (8810GB)? No backups, no iOS update, ship listing and dead in the water.

Cannot backup an iPhone with 32TB of free space

Figuring the brain-dead behavior of iTunes could be fooled, I symlinked ~/Library/iTunes to a folder on another volume with ample space—no go. But later I realized that it is ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup that contains iPhone backups, more on that below.

Next, I wondered: why is there not enough space? Apple Photos app says there are no photos on the iPhone. But iTunes begs to disagree. The bar graph in iTunes does not give a figure for space usage of photos on the iPhone, but it looks to be ~32GB at least. Except that there exist no photos on the iPhone as per Photos on the Mac and Photos app on the iPhone itself. WTF? This remains true even after rebooting the iPhone.

Cannot backup an iPhone with 32TB of free space

Resolution

Technology is supposed to make things easier, not harder. When simplification (ill-conceived ideas on backing up) confuse and harrass even well-informed users, something is fundamentally broken in the design.

I finally went into the iPhone itself, and manually deleted some photos that the Photos app claimed were not there (“0 photos”, see above) This cleared up enough space for the iPhone backup and then the update to work. But why can’t it just work right? The screen shot above shows a fundamental flaw (bug).

Moreover, why can’t I backup the iPhone to some other volume when the boot drive has too little space? Or to the iTunes Media folder? It’s fragile software enginnering: is this the best the richest company in the world can do? And it is a fundamental design flaw: what if a user has a 128GB or 256GB boot drive, and a 128GB or (future) 256GB iPhone or iPad? It will be impossible to backup the device or update the software, as seen above.

As can be seen, fresh backups of both my iPhone 5S and iPhone 6s Plus take only 84 MB = 0.084 GB, making the refusal to backup/update even more infuriating.

Cannot backup an iPhone with 32TB of free space
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Emojis in File Names on macOS

Emojis in macOS file name

Unicode, while essential, never excited me much since I had little use for it in everyday work. But what it does allow is for Emojis to be used in filenames.

Emojis are extremely popular, so I thought this might appeal to some readers. And some of them might be useful as distinct visuals for organizing file.

 

An interesting idea is how Emojis or something like it could bring a more useful and friendly view to computers. For example, in some cases I’d rather have the Emoji be the entire icon and the file name simultaneously—used sparingly for making visually distinctive items stand out.

The files below are all real file names, with Emojis. Pronouncing them is another matter, and I cannot seem to get rid of the file extensions (even with the Finder preference off).

Emojis in macOS file names
Choosing Emojis

ers.

OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide for MacBook Pro/Air/Retina, iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

java.nio.file.Path and java.io.File Forward Slash and Backward Slash in File Names on HFS+ and FAT or ExFat File Systems

OS X uses the HFS+ file system (soon to also use the new APFS). But FAT and ExFAT can also be mounted on the desktop. Maybe NTFS also (though perhaps read only). NFS can be mounted remotely.

In developing IntegrityChecker Java version (icj) I wanted to be fully cross-platform, but I’ve been stymied by a Java API bug: there is no way to designate a file or folder name that contains the path-separator characters / and \ (forward and backward slashes).

Not in the traditional java.io.File, and not in the newer java.nio.Path. The API just does not deal with file names that use path separators. Attempting to create a File or Path with slashes yields a “file not found” error, since the slashes are interpreted as folders separators. Listing files as in File.listFiles() or walking the file tree as in java.nio.file.SimpleFileVisitor deliver files with the colon ':' character substituted for the forward slash '/'. Yikes.

For example the filename “_forward_ 03/05/1998.txt” becomes “_forward_ 03:05:1998.txt”. On OS X at least, using the mangled name actually works—the APIs interpret the color character as a slash. But that’s OS X, and I don’t know what Java does on Windows or Linux or etc.

I’ve tried escaping, as in “//” and “\/” and so on—no luck. I’m stymied.

When a slash is a colon

Apple has its own odd behaviors: some file system API calls substitute the colon ':' character for forward slashes in file names, either on FAT or ExFAT or HFS+. But not all!

So does Java, since it apparently gets the names from Apple APIs that do this substitution.

This is true in the traditional file system APIs (PBGetCatalogInfo) as well as in Terminal:

diglloydMP:yikes! lloyd$ ls -l
total 64
-rwxrwxrwx@ 1 lloyd staff 9 Jul 30 12:09 _back_ 08\17\1998.txt
-rwxrwxrwx@ 1 lloyd staff 9 Jul 30 12:09 _forward_ 03:05:1998.txt <=== / characters become :
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diglloydTools IntegrityChecker Java Version: Finds Duplicates, Saved me 100GB!

diglloydTools

A cool new feature of diglloydTools IntegrityChecker 'icj' (Java version) is finding duplicate files; it saved me a whopping 100GB! Over the past few years, I had inadvertently made copies when intending to move files due to a silent Finder bug: if files are marked as locked, the Finder makes copies—yikes!

By using the SHA-1 hashes, exact matches can be found unerringly and all but instantly (once the hashes are done via the 'update' command).

This example is after the 100GB duplications were found and deleted, so there is only 2.4 GiB left of duplicates.

Note: this listing is not displayed fully or properly due to bugs in web browsers.

# find all duplicates on volume Archive
diglloydMP:DIGLLOYD lloyd$ icj dupes Archive  
# icj version 1.0 beta 5 @ 2016-08-13 17:38
# Copyright 2016 DIGLLOYD INC. All Rights Reserved
# Use of this software requires a license. http://macperformanceguide.com/Software-License.html
# Sat Aug 13 20:33:49 PDT 2016
[1]={/Volumes/Archive}
Finding folders...4240.6920.9043.12381.14350.16676.16676 12003 ms to find 16676 folders
Loading hash data concurrently for 16676 folders... 0.100.200.300.400.500.600.700.800.900.1000.1100.1200....16500.16600....waiting for I/O to finish...15652.16676 Loaded hash data for 16676 folders in 23822 ms

995 ms to find duplicates

1 duplicate of "/Volumes/Archive/WebSiteOriginals/Infrared-S3-D70-5D/2006-0829-IR-camera-compare-all-orig/S3/091/DSCF0472.RAF" waste = 24 MiB
/Volumes/Archive/WebSiteOriginals/Infrared-S3-D70-5D/2006-0829-IR-camera-compare/S3/091/DSCF0472.RAF
1 duplicate of "/Volumes/Archive/ArticlesAndReviews/D2XColor/materials/2005-0423 ManyTests/1/color-balance-correction/LCDPhotos/IMG_0044.JPG" waste = 1644 KiB
/Volumes/Archive/ArticlesAndReviews/D2XColor/LCDPhotos/IMG_0044.JPG

... lines omitted for brevity ...

4 duplicates of "/Volumes/Archive/ArticlesAndReviews/D2X-vs-1DsMII/publish/logos/diglloyd36.gif" waste = 2644 bytes
/Volumes/Archive/ArticlesAndReviews/ShiftLensStitching/publish/logos/diglloyd36.gif
/Volumes/Archive/ArticlesAndReviews/D200-vs-D2X/publish/logos/diglloyd36.gif
/Volumes/Archive/ArticlesAndReviews/TheSharpestImage/original/publish/logos/diglloyd36.gif
/Volumes/Archive/ArticlesAndReviews/CoastalOptics60f4/CoastalOptics_60f4/publish/logos/diglloyd36.gif 1 duplicate of "/Volumes/Archive/WebSiteOriginals/Infrared-S3-D70-5D/2006-0829-IR-camera-compare/D70/no-filter/_DSC5742.xmp" waste = 4380 bytes
/Volumes/Archive/WebSiteOriginals/Infrared-S3-D70-5D/2006-0829-IR-camera-compare-all-orig/D70/no-filter/_DSC5742.xmp
....

WASTED SPACE from duplicate files: 2388 MiB
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diglloydTools IntegrityChecker 'icj' beta 6 now posted

diglloydTools

Purchase diglloydTools.

See NEW! Cross Platform Java-Based diglloydTools IntegrityChecker for details.

No changes to native macOS version. Changes to IntegrityChecker java version (icj). See the diglloydTools release notes page and download page.

Java-based IntegrityChecker ('icj') is now beta 5, and it is rocking fast.

Update 14 August: beta 6 is out. See the diglloydTools release notes page and download page.

I’ve never seen anything so fully utilize the system resources: disk I/O up to 128 outstanding buffers, multithreaded up to 64 threads and basically using everything there better than 99.9% of the apps out there. And it’s cross-platform: macOS, Windows, NAS operating environments, Linux, etc.

I had fun coding it, but maybe there are some more tweaks. The trickiest thing is optimizing for 4/6/8/12 cores and different speed drives since the interaction is complex. The program defaults do extremely well on the late 2015 iMac 5K and the late 2013 8-core Mac Pro. The main issue is that I don’t have a fast enough SSD on the 8-core 3.3 GHz Mac Pro to drive the program hard, so I have to test with dual instances on both the internal SSD and a RAID-0 stripe of two OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSDs.

A cool new feature is finding duplicates; it saved me a whopping 100GB! By using the hashes, exact matches can be found unerringly and all but instantly (once the hashes are done via the 'update' command).

diglloydTools IntegrityChecker ('icj' Java version) pushing 3.3 GHz late 2013 Mac Pro to its limits
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