June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

The latest unfortunate headline for Tesla comes courtesy of actress Mary McCormack, who on Friday tweeted a video of a Model S with flames shooting from it. “This is what happened to my husband and his car today. No accident,out of the blue, in traffic on Santa Monica Blvd….

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

Apple removed several years’ worth of Macs from the list of supported systems when it unveiled macOS 10.14, aka “Mojave,” earlier this month.

As the Cupertino, Calif. company has done before, its two-year cycle scratched out Macs that had been able to run the immediate predecessor, macOS High Sierra. Apple’s odd-even cadence has alternately retained the prior year’s models (odd-numbered years, odd-numbered editions) and dropped models (even-numbered years, even-numbered editions).

In 2016, for instance, macOS Sierra (10.12) struck 2007’s, 2008’s and some of 2009 Macs from support. Last year, High Sierra (10.13) stuck with the same models as Sierra.

Apple has not published an actual list of Mojave-works Macs, but when it rolled out the developer beta two weeks ago, the company said macOS 10.14 is “for Macs introduced in mid-2012 or later, plus 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro models with recommended Metal-capable graphics cards.”

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

This last week had a couple of interesting changes announced and rumored from Microsoft (disclosure Microsoft is a client of the author). The first was some needed changes to Office that will likely upset a lot of people. The second was the announcement of a Generation 3 HoloLens. (What happened to generation 2? Well, like Windows 9, Microsoft pretty much just skipped it.) And third was the application of AI in the patching process that could dramatically reduce the expense and aggravation attached to it. Let’s talk about each in turn. 

Office updates

Starting with the new Office updates; first a new simplified ribbon designed to help people better focus on their work and more naturally collaborate with others.  It is also more customizable, so the most used features will be easier to access. The appearance of the product better uses the improved graphics performance on newer PCs, so the product will look more modern. And finally, search has been improved with a stronger AI back end that will provide recommendations and a better connection to Microsoft Graph. Microsoft Graph is a new capability in across Microsoft applications that improve user onboarding, helps manage employee profiles, helps with document conversion, and improves email syncing. 

This mostly sounds wonderful (I’m still not all that clear on Microsoft Graph) so why will it likely piss off users? There are users who embrace change, generally younger users, and there are users that hate change which generally fall into older categories. This tends to make updating any product a lot more drama filled than you otherwise would expect. But if products aren’t updated then can fall so far behind the technology curve that a newer product from another vendor is likely to displace it. 

I’ve never really found an effortless way though this other than just listen to the complaints while keeping the comments on age, inflexibility and whining to yourself as they won’t help. In a few months this will pass, and these rigid folks will eventually adjust to the new capability. They’ll grow to like some of the changes but forget this process and get upset again the next time the product is changed.

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

Every successful wireless company rides several different growth waves. Wave after wave, time after time. Those who are not successful ride one growth wave up then down again. This is crucial for long-term success. We can learn some important lessons of exciting growth companies, and others who rode their one growth curve up then down again.

Let’s start with the handset side of the wireless industry.

Over several decades, Motorola was the number one handset maker in the wireless industry. They had been in wireless for decades. If you recall all those TV shows from decades ago, where actors would talk on wireless phones mounted in their cars. That was Motorola in Los Angeles in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Yes, wireless was around way back then, but different. That was back before the time where the service was available everywhere. Way back before it was affordable by the masses. It was a toy for the rich and powerful in certain cities.

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

You can look at the new KB 4056254 Win10 Update Facilitation Service and the re-emergence of Win10 Update Assistant V2 from two different perspectives. On the one hand, you have those poor hapless Win10 users who accidentally munged Windows Update. On the other hand, you have folks with bazookas and flamethrowers who want to keep some semblance of control over updating their machines.

Both groups now face two different Microsoft initiatives to reset Windows Update.

Susan Bradley was looking at some new KB articles over the weekend and stumbled onto KB 4056254, an announcement for a, uh, service known as the Windows 10 Update Facilitation Service. (If you have a hard time thinking of Win10 as a service, try wrapping your mind around the concept of a forced patching bulldozer as a service.)

We’ve seen KB 4056254 before. Microsoft apparently released it back in January, but it didn’t make much of a splash. I haven’t seen KB 4056254 in action as yet, so all I can relay is the official description, which goes like this:

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

Video: WWDC 2018: Does Apple still care about macOS?

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Yesterday, I watched the WWDC 2018 keynote with anticipation.

WWDC is ultimately a developer event, not a consumer one, so you have to look at it from the view of someone who writes software for Apple’s OS platforms.

CNET: Here are the Macs that will work with MacOS Mojave | TechRepublic: How to download the macOS Mojave beta

I am not a software developer. I am by profession a systems integration expert and an infrastructure-oriented guy. Still, as a lover of technology, I was keenly interested in new advancements in iOS.

Apple’s big fix for iOS

With iOS 12, there is enough for me to ponder, but I still walked away with the feeling that it was very much a release focused on qualitative rather than feature improvements.

Read also: Will your Mac run macOS 10.14 Mojave?

This is not going to be the big re-write everyone wants, rather this is aimed at being the ‘big fix,’ which is fine because iOS 12 needs to be that big fix very badly.

But I was also keen on new hardware announcements. I was hoping that there would be new iPad Pros — because that is the device I have come to use the most next to my desktop PC for work.

It’s not that my current iPad Pro 12.9″ is particularly old, but iOS’s 11.x resource utilization has taken a toll on it, and it doesn’t feel as snappy as it used to be. My iPad needs more RAM and more CPU horsepower.

And, yes, I’m potentially interested in new iPhones. Even though I love my iPhone X, it’s on the upgrade program as a lease, so at some point in the next six months, I will have to turn it in for another model.

While I was disappointed there were no new pieces of iOS hardware, I know with reasonable certainty there will be new products to look at come September.

My VISA card and savings account have been given at least a temporary reprieve.

No new Macs at WWDC 2018

The big reveal at WWDC 2018 was not so much what was shown, but what wasn’t.

To dispell any rumors, Apple came right out and said that they had no plans whatsoever to converge iOS and macOS into a single platform.

It is instead engaged in a multi-year effort to provide iOS API support on macOS so that iPhone and iPad apps can be more easily ported to the Mac.

It sounds similar to convergence, but it really isn’t. True convergence would mean full touchscreen API support and multi-modality, which macOS doesn’t have today. It would also mean support for ARM processors on macOS, which doesn’t seem to be a near-future option either.

We did not get any new Macs at WWDC 2018. That breaks David Gewirtz’s heart. Sorry, dude.

This is going to be the new normal for Mac users. I hate to say that I told you so, but I told you so.

I’m not going to go into the reasons for why I think Mac is a dying platform. I’ve done that already ad nauseam.

Heck, all traditional personal computers in a consumer setting, even ones that run on Windows, are dying platforms. And that is because people — and I’m talking about consumers here, not businesses — can now do much more now with smartphones and tablets and IoT devices than ever before.

The Mac’s twilight years are here

The Mac is definitely in need of assisted living and hospice services. It is in its twilight years now.

There will be several iterative macOS releases over the next few years. That much is certain. But the feature improvements you are going to see will be much more along the lines of “Dark Mode” and Stacks (which, by the way, exists already with feature parity in Windows 10) than major architectural and UX changes.

The Mac is heading for its retirement into the desert. First, we will get Mojave. I guess we get Sun City and Scottsdale next. At least it’s not Boynton or Vero.

Don’t worry, Mac. It’s a dry heat.

Read also: Apple definitively confirms iOS and MacOS will not merge (CNET)

It is now patently obvious that Apple is not undertaking the equivalent of a Windows 10 project — where the fundamental DNA that makes up the end-user pieces of the OS is being completely re-written and legacy components are being discarded bit by bit through a continuous release agile development process.

In Microsoft’s case, it just plain had to be done; there are API and other code underpinnings that are literally decades old that Windows needed cleaning up. The Windows 8 and Windows 10 API modernization projects were absolutely essential for moving their products into a cloud-based future.

The entire Surface family of touchscreen PCs would have been impossible to create without this modernization effort.

If Mac had a user base that was similar in size to what Microsoft has, it would have been an essential project for Apple to undertake in order breathe life back into the platform.

But Mac doesn’t have Windows’ vast user base in consumer and business; it’s a boutique business by comparison, albeit a valuable boutique business, which generates about $26 billion in revenue a year — around 12 percent of its net revenue.

A boutique business

But a boutique business for who? Well, for that increasingly dwindling subset of content creators who absolutely must use a Mac to get work done — edge-case folks like David Gewirtz and folks who write software for iOS.

But even when you look at software development for iOS, owning a Mac is not really a hard requirement anymore. You need access to a Mac running XCode to produce the object code, but it isn’t necessary to use it as your primary development environment for most types of apps.

The current software development trend is to be multi-platform so that you have as many device targets as possible to consume your software. If you are a small shop, that’s the smart way to do things and the most efficient use of developer resources.

Modern development environments such as Microsoft’s Visual Studio allow you to work from a single unified codebase, and from there, deploy to Windows (on any architecture), Android, the Web, iOS, and, yes, the Mac.

Microsoft is all about being the home for your code if its $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub means anything to anyone.

Developers use GitHub today as the repository of repositories to download, compile, and test their code using their own systems. But when it is ported to Azure, they will be able to do it all in the cloud much faster without pulling and pushing code over the internet.

While Microsoft doesn’t currently have a solution in Azure to directly output application code for iOS and Mac, this is not something that would be difficult for it to implement, especially if it did this in partnership with Apple.

In fact, third parties such as MacStadium and MacinCloud already do this. As a one-man development shop, you don’t need to actually own a Mac for the purposes of compiling the code. You just need access to one, or an on-demand cluster of them as shared resources.

Indeed, if you’re one of the big game development shops producing a popular 3D title for multiple platforms, you’re probably going to want a whole bunch in-house. But this is the exception rather than the rule.

Apple is shifting its priorities

I’m under no illusion that there won’t be more Macs in the offering. You can pretty much guarantee there will be new Macs, but I think that Apple is now shifting its priorities.

To paraphrase a famous old man that lived in the desert: These are not the Macs you — as a Gewirtz-style edge case and power user — are looking for.

It’s not unreasonable to assume there will be further consolidation of the line, and the company is going to focus on getting by with the least amount of SKUs to address the widest base of users.

We will probably see the MacBook line whittled down to just the Pro, the iMacs reduced to two models, and the elimination of the Mini.

And given Apple’s enthusiasm for eGPUs, I think its a given that this is the way the company sees being able to scale performance for Macs going forward. Need more compute for that 3D visualization or model running on your MacBook or iMac? Add an eGPU. Or two. Or three. Or eight.

By the way, I wrote about this seven years ago as a fanciful prediction of the future.

I don’t think it’s a guarantee we are going to see a new Mac Pro if developers and content creators can get better bang for the buck with more modular system designs, especially if you combine this with cloud-based resources that can be provisioned on demand and paid for when they are really needed.

What about ARM?

I have no doubt that Apple has a Marklar-style project, which has the objective of creating a next-generation computing platform using that architecture.

It is investing a lot of resources in producing new A-series semiconductor designs, no doubt with the ARM Cortex-A76 architecture that has performance rivaling true desktop PCs and Macs.

So, yes, Apple is creating new computers. But I don’t think these will be Macs. And it won’t be iPads. Not as we recognize them now. They will be something else.

At this point, the fundamental software architecture of Mac and iOS is approaching 30 years old, if you count everything that came out of NeXT in the late 1980s as part of modern Mac and iOS device DNA. So, everything needs a re-write and replacement.

Apple does not have the problem Microsoft faces with trying to bring legacy users into the future with a hybrid OS like Windows 10, which incorporates both new and old technology in order to maintain compatibility with application code in very wide use that is very old and to provide functionality for new features and modernized applications.

For Microsoft this is a difficult tightrope to walk on: To find that balance that is acceptable to everyone. Ditching legacy baggage is extremely difficult for it, and it is probably its No. 1 challenge going forward.

Entirely new platforms are coming

Because Apple isn’t Microsoft, it can afford to throw babies out with the bathwater, which would be a very Apple — even Jobsian — thing to do. So, rather than re-writes of OSes, I believe it intends to create entirely new platforms that have little or no ties to the past.

What types of platforms are systems are we talking about?

We are talking about platforms that use modern systems architectures, such as ARM, rather than Intel, which has decades of power-consuming cruft included for backward compatibility, something that such a future platform would not need.

These will be built from the ground up to be secure with fault domains built into the hardware and the operating system working together — rather than have security features bolted on in order to address threats from everywhere and everyone.

Most importantly, they will have user experiences that are not just the desktop and icon paradigm, which we have been used to for 30-plus years, but also new experiences such as augmented and virtual reality, holographic interfaces with computer vision, machine learning, and voice control.

Read also: How to download the macOS Mojave beta (TechRepublic)

They will have sensors that are not just on our bodies using wearables like Apple Watch, but also all over the home, in our vehicles, and in public spaces that will anticipate our needs and inform us at all times.

In essence — to paraphrase Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella — everything we interact with in our world will be our “computer.”

These won’t be Macs. They won’t be iOS devices. They will be something else. It’s not entirely apparent as to what these are, but I believe we are at a transition point where these plans will become much more self-evident in the next 18 months or so.

Is the Mac now entering its twilight years? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

Video — iOS 12: First look at the developer beta.

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Apple has announced a new feature coming in iOS 12 that will automatically share the location of an iPhone with emergency services when users ring 911.

The iOS 12 feature is aimed at providing faster and more accurate information to first-responders and cutting emergency response times.

Apple says about 80 percent of 911 calls come from mobile devices, but outdated infrastructure makes it difficult for 911 centers to locate a device’s location.

Apple launched its HELO or Hybridized Emergency Location system in 2015 as part of its answer to this problem. It uses cell-tower data, GPS, and Wi-Fi access points to estimate a mobile 911 caller’s location.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that AT&T and T-Mobile recently started using Apple’s HELO, while Verizon and Sprint were testing a similar system from Google.

Apple is partnering with the firm RapidSOS on the iOS 12 feature, using its IP-based “data pipeline” to securely share HELO location data with 911 centers. RapidSOS’s technology integrates with 911 centers’ existing software.

SEE: How we learned to talk to computers, and how they learned to answer back (cover story PDF)

Given Apple’s firm stance on iPhone user privacy, the company stresses that user location data cannot be used for any non-emergency purpose, and only the 911 center will have access to the user’s location during an emergency call.

“Communities rely on 911 centers in an emergency, and we believe they should have the best available technology at their disposal,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“When every moment counts, these tools will help first responders reach our customers when they most need assistance.”

iOS 12 is due out this fall and the combined systems could go a long way to helping carriers meet FCC rules that require them to be able to locate callers within 50 meters at least 80 percent of the time by 2021.

“This will accelerate the deployment of Next Generation 911 for everyone, saving lives and protecting property,” said Rob McMullen, president of the National Emergency Number Association, the 911 Association.

Tom Wheeler, former FCC Chairman from 2013 to 2017, said: “Lives will be saved thanks to this effort by Apple and RapidSOS.”


The new iOS 12 feature aims to get accurate location data to first-responders more quickly, cutting emergency response times.

Image: Apple

Previous and related coverage

Apple patent: iPhone to send responders to emergency location

A new patent awarded to Apple has technology for the iPhone to send 911 responders to the emergency location.

Apple files patent for emergency detection system for Apple Watch

A new patent application describes using Apple Watch sensors to detect emergencies and summon help when the wearer cannot do so.

Apple iOS 12: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

With iOS 12, Apple adds security features, performance enhancements, Group FaceTime, ARKit 2, and more.

Here’s how to disable Emergency SOS on iPhone and Apple Watch

Apple’s iOS 11 includes a great SOS feature for when you feel unsafe in an emergency, but you may want to disable the feature on your iPhone or Apple Watch to avoid accidentally calling 911.

Apple’s iOS 12 will automatically share location data with 911 responders (CNET)

The company wants first responders to get to emergencies more quickly.

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

Video: Should Apple spin off the Mac into a separate company?

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Apple’s new series of ads promoting the Mac as the choice for creatives could backfire and simply draw attention to how infrequently it updates its Mac lineup.

Just before Apple released the Mac ads, Mac app developer Quentin Carnicelli of Rogue Amoeba, posted a scathing assessment of the sorry state of the Mac. Basically, Mac fans are out of luck if they’re looking for a fresh Mac from Apple.

Also: Why the Mac you know has no future | No new Mac hardware leaves me feeling pretty dark mode myself | TechRepublic: Apple macOS High Sierra: A cheat sheet

“It’s very difficult to recommend much from the current crop of Macs to customers, and that’s deeply worrisome to us, as a Mac-based software company,” Carnicelli writes.

MacRumor’s Buyer’s Guide sums up the state of the Mac: not a single model in its current line-up is rated as ‘Buy now’. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were last updated over a year ago, while the Mac Pro was updated 436 days ago. The Mac Mini was last updated over three and a half years ago. The only ‘fresh’ option Mac fans have is the $5,000 iMac Pro.

SEE: 10 Terminal commands to speed your work on the Mac (free PDF)

Age is just one problem though. Apple’s recent butterfly keyboards and TouchBar on MacBook Pro laptops, and the sole USB-C port on the MacBook have drawn criticism, too. And fans are wondering why Intel’s eighth-generation chips aren’t present.

The critique follows Apple’s omission of any new hardware updates at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference.

Given the current choice of Mac hardware, Carnicelli says for testing the company ended up buying used hardware rather than having to “compromise heavily on a new machine”.

Another problem facing Mac users is the consistency of updates. As Apple writer John Gruber points out, the iPhone is updated not just “annually, but predictably”.

However, no one can say for certain when the next MacBook or MacBook Pro will be available, leaving buyers wondering whether to settle for current hardware with known problems that could be addressed soon, or might not be until 2019.

With iPhones making up the vast majority of Apple’s business these days, Mac users have become a shrinking part of Apple’s user base and are likely to continue to take a backseat to mobile gadgets, content, and services.

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF)

Carnicelli nonetheless hopes Apple returns to its more frequent updates to the Mac it was capable of in the days before the iPhone.

“Rather than attempting to wow the world with ‘innovative’ new designs like the failed Mac Pro, Apple could and should simply provide updates and speed bumps to the entire lineup on a much more frequent basis,” he writes.

“The much smaller Apple of the mid-2000s managed this with ease. Their current failure to keep the Mac lineup fresh, even as they approach a trillion-dollar market cap, is both baffling and frightening to anyone who depends on the platform for their livelihood.

“Apple needs to publicly show their commitment to the full Macintosh hardware line, and they need to do it now. As a long (long) time macOS developer, one hesitates to bite the hand that feeds. At a certain point, however, it seems there won’t even be anything left worth biting.”

Previous and related coverage

Apple suddenly remembers the Mac (or remembers you care about it)

Out of nowhere, new Apple ads celebrating the Mac. How strange.

MacOS Mojave: Everything you need to know (CNET)

See what changes are headed to your Mac.

Why Mac users don’t really matter to Apple

Sorry Mac users, but you’re not a high priority for Apple these days. The iPhone changed all that.

Apple adding its own co-processors to three Macs in 2018, Bloomberg reports

A new report claims that two new MacBooks and a Mac desktop will feature custom chips that assist Intel CPUs with some processing duties. Could Macs using only Apple’s own chips be in its future?

WWDC 2018: Does Apple still care about macOS? (TechRepublic)

Apple still makes computers. Larry Dignan and Jason Hiner examine why Apple treats the Mac as a second-class citizen, and explain the latest productivity updates coming to macOS.

June 18, 2018 brianradio2016

Chef has been a leading open source tool for automating the provisioning and configuration of servers for the better part of a decade. In recent years the company added InSpec and Habitat to the portfolio, open source projects that automate policy compliance testing and the deployment and configuration of applications, respectively. The company’s flagship commercial offering, Chef Automate, brings all of these pieces together.  

Chef Automate provides a suite of enterprise capabilities for workflow, node visibility, and compliance, and integrates with the open source products Chef, InSpec, and Habitat. Chef Automate comes with support services for the entire platform, including the open source components. In addition to providing views into operational, compliance, and workflow events, it includes a pipeline for continuous delivery of infrastructure and applications.

Chef components and workflow

The Chef DK (development kit) workstation is where users interact with Chef. On the workstation users author and test cookbooks using tools such as Test Kitchen (to generate test VMs) and interact with the Chef server using the command line tools. For instance, Knife is a command-line tool that provides an interface between a local Chef repo and the Chef server. Knife helps users to manage nodes, cookbooks, data bags, and the installation (bootstrap) of the Chef client onto nodes, among other tasks. Most files in a Chef cookbook are written in Ruby, although some configurations are written in YAML.

chef architectureChef

The Chef architecture.