Here's everything I've written throughout September 2018.


Apple has released watchOS 5.0.1 PP

Less than a fortnight after watchOS 5 was released, Apple have already followed it up with a smaller update to correct a smattering of issues. MacRumours reports the 5.0.1 update corrects an issue that could cause exercise minutes to be recorded incorrectly, a bug that would see users not receiving their stand credit and a problem in charging.

28 September, 2018

Apple is rolling out public TestFlight invitation links PP

Benjamin Mayo for 9To5 Mac:

Apple is rolling out a new TestFlight feature which enables developers to share a public URL for an app beta. Customers can simply open the link on their iPhone or iPad and automatically enroll into the beta testing group through the TestFlight app.

What’s most interesting about this to me is how anyone registering to test via one of these links does so anonymously with the developer; unless you submit feedback, whereby your email address is disclosed. This fits in perfectly with Apple’s privacy mantra of wanting to know as little about you as possible, but I’m on the fence with this one.

On the one hand, if a developer wants to stress test an application and doesn’t need to know who the people are that are running a TestFlight build then that’s great. If, however, you’re wanting to open up your testing group through social means and you find a genuine need to be able to identify those involved, then you must continue to enrol the traditional way. I suppose you could identify people if your app requires a user account, but that’s not going to fit everyone.

Public links can be enabled and disabled at any time, with a total of 10,000 testers per app permitted. Sadly there’s still no Mac platform support.

27 September, 2018

Clean install macOS Mojave with macOS Recovery PP

TL;DR. Go here.

Yesterday was a big day for macOS, as Mojave reached general availability after a whopping eleven beta releases. If you’re like me then you’ll be doing a clean installation rather than an in place upgrade. (Whilst macOS doesn’t suffer the same kind of slowdown over time that Windows does, I like starting over with a clean slate from time to time).

I’ve been running the Mojave betas and noticed a subtle change in behaviour from that of older OS upgrades. When I went to get the golden master from the Mac App Store it threw me into System Preferences and began the download there. No standalone app-like installer this time, so I couldn’t create my usual USB install stick.

If you’re in a similar predicament then never fear. So long as your Mac officially supports macOS Mojave you can cold boot into Internet Recovery mode. There are a few options but go with Option-⌘-R, as this will provide the latest OS to you. I opened Disk Utility and wiped my APFS SSD first so that it had to carry out a bare bones installation.

Nice and easy. All things considered it didn’t take too long and I do see a slight improvement in the boot time of my Mac. Some additional space has been reclaimed on the SSD and I get that warm fuzzy feeling that only a fresh installation provides. (Yes, I know I’m strange).

25 September, 2018

Apple Watch Series 4 Teardown PP

Apple Watch Series 4 Teardown

iFixit’s infamous teardown’s never fail to disappoint. Whilst this is still not a device you can quickly repair in the average home, improvements for servicing are certainly there. This has me wondering whether Apple are going to tool up their stores with equipment and procedures to carry out select repairs on-site.

On another note, the volume consumed by the Haptic Engine is near enough that of the battery. I mean, just look at it (!)

24 September, 2018

ElementaryOS – Juno Beta 2 PP

ElementaryOS Juno Beta blueprint

It’s that time again: another beta release! Before we get too far, I want to remind you why we do beta releases: they’re a special release intended for our 3rd party developers and highly technical users. Developers need a pre-release in order to test and take advantage of new platform features and to publish their apps so that we don’t release with an empty store. We also invite highly technical users to test Beta in non-production environments to find major regressions and show-stopping issues.

Since Beta1, we’ve fixed over 200 issues and gotten back up to over 50 apps in AppCenter built specifically for Juno.

ElementaryOS is quickly growing on me as a cracking Linux district that’s worth watching closely. The team have a keen eye on usability and a great UX, whilst making great use of its Ubuntu underpinnings. Believe it or not, their development team don’t want me telling you that this beta is available as they’re worried the reporting of bugs and other unfinished gubbins will tarnish their eventual release.

The thing is, so long as you know what you’re letting yourself in for by trying Juno beta 2, then I say check it out and see what Elementary has in store.

23 September, 2018

Weblings 2.0 is now available for Google Chrome PP

Weblings 2.0 screenshot

Speaking of Chrome, I published a whole new version of Weblings, my Google Chrome extension, to the Chrome Web Store yesterday. If you’ve not heard about Weblings before, let me get you up to speed.

Add a little colour and joy to your new browser tabs with Weblings.

Every time you open a new tab or Google Chrome window, one of the Weblings will appear with a heartening compliment or a light-hearted quip to brighten up your day. The Weblings are an assortment of characters of my own creation.

Version 2.0 includes:
🎨 An all new Material inspired design, updated for high resolution displays.
🔍 Optional search bar, which uses the fantastic DuckDuckGo engine.
☁️ Options synchronise across your devices using Google Chrome Sync.
🌈 Larger, clearer images of the Weblings.
💬 More compliments and quips for you to get a smile from.
➕ Even more Weblings than before, including a very happy 💩.

Existing users will get the update automatically, but if you’re yet to see Weblings, I’d love for you to give it a try.

07 September, 2018

Chrome 69’s changed behaviour with Flash PP


If you’ve recently updated Google Chrome to version 69 and wondered why your Flash preferences were being ignored, it’s because of a changed default behaviour. Up until now you could whitelist URL’s within the settings which would persist through restarts and Chrome updates. As of version 69 this has changed. The whitelist has been purged and anything you add back to it will be removed when you restart the browser.

Disable the new Flash preference in Chrome 69

I wish that my dependency on Adobe’s deprecated Flash was a huge fat zero, but I need VMware’s vSphere Web Client that uses – you guessed it – Flash. Having to keep whitelisting the website is going to be a real thorn in my side, so I’m pleased to say the behaviour can be reversed for now. If you still have something you need to access that uses Flash. Go to chrome://flags and disable the Enable Ephemeral Flash Permissions option.

07 September, 2018

Fortnite’s not so Epic installer PP

Fortnite. A game the whole world has become addicted to, except for me and my cat, has reached Android. Though with a twist. You won’t find it within the Play Store as Epic have decided to distribute the game outside of Google’s walled garden. Supposedly this is to save on the percentage Google takes for providing a storefront, backend CDN, payment processing and other ancillary services. In reality though, there’s a darker truth.

To install Fortnite you’ll need to carry out a procedure known as side loading also referred to as allowing unknown sources. This is where a device is told to install a program that hasn’t come from an authorised location, like Google Play or the App Store on iOS. Enabling side loading isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do but it’s dangerous. You’re opening a metaphorical back door to your phone or tablet, allowing other potential nasties inside. All so Epic can save a few pennies per installation, per user.

Now sure you can disable side loading just as quickly. But I’m thinking about the huge swathes of younger players without device security in mind and simply want to play the game. I can see a lot of devices with their side loading features being inadvertently left on.

This is where the ‘fun’ starts.

Mark my words. It’s more a matter of when, not if, hackers start producing viral payloads, Cryptocurrency miners and all sorts of digital nasties, masquerading as the Epic Fortnite installer. If an app asked you to lower your defences, I’d hope you’d think twice about it. Yet, Fortnite cannot install without Android’s side loading capabilities turned on. I fear this will not only leave many devices unsecured, but will train end users that this sort of behaviour is OK. The next time malware tries to get onto a phone it could well be a easier prospect.

Still, at least if you grab the truly official Epic installer it will be trustworthy, right?

Google has just publicly disclosed that it discovered an extremely serious vulnerability in Epic’s first Fortnite installer for Android that allowed any app on your phone to download and install anything in the background, including apps with full permissions granted, without the user’s knowledge.

[…] Google’s Issue Tracker page for the exploit has a quick screen recording that shows just how easily a user can download and install the Fortnite Installer, in this case from the Galaxy Apps Store, and think they’re downloading Fortnite while instead downloading and installing a malicious app, with full permissions — camera, location, microphone, SMS, storage and phone — called “Fortnite.” It takes a few seconds and no user interaction.

Andrew Martonk, Android Police.

Oh for the love of…

01 September, 2018