FCC Chair Ajit Pai Cancels His CES Appearance Days Before Show

Jon Brodkin writing for Ars Technica:

Ajit Pai was scheduled to appear at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 9 to speak and answer questions in a “candid conversation” about Federal Communications Commission policy-making. But Pai canceled his appearance, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which runs the CES conference.

“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018,” CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said in an announcement emailed to journalists attending CES yesterday.

If I were the head of the organization who decided they were going to take away Net Neutrality and whose reasons for doing so were shown to be false by their own report, I wouldn’t want to avail myself for questioning by people who strongly disagree with that decision either. As I’ve said before, no one likes being called out on their bullshit.

rams.com Is Exactly What You Think It Is … a Site About Rams

Alden Gonzalez writing for ESPN:

The Los Angeles Rams are finally good and exciting again. And the guess here is that a lot of you have probably typed “rams.com” in your search bar for the first time in recent weeks, which means you were probably surprised by what came up — a site about rams.

Not the Rams. Rams. The male sheep — the bighorn sheep, specifically — with those distinctive curved horns. And it is a pretty thorough website, too. There’s a helpful “About The RAMS” section (they recently migrated 1,800 miles west) and others that explored ram threats (probably Falcons, Panthers and Seahawks), ram behavior (suddenly assertive after years of acquiescence) and ram types, with surprisingly no mention of Todd Gurley or Aaron Donald or Jared Goff.

This guy has jokes. And I have in fact ended up at this website by mistake. Almost every time I want to go the therams.com I inevitably forget “the” and end up with a eye full of Rams.

Advanced Truedepth Camera, Face ID “Major Drivers” of iPhone X User Satisfaction

Daniel Dilger writing for Apple Insider:

A consumer sentiment report of early iPhone X adopters indicates that its TrueDepth camera is a “major driver among positive ratings,” and that the features it enables—including [Face ID] and Animoji—are key market differentiators driving interest in the high end phone

Face ID is the killer feature for me on the iPhone X. It makes so many interactions more natural when the authentication just happens rather than having to actively do something to make it happen. Touch ID is still great, but Face ID is definitely better.

Corker on Media: ‘I Had a Newfound Empathy’ for Trump

Louis Nelson writing for Politico:

Sen. Bob Corker, among Donald Trump’s most frequent Republican critics, said Thursday that he has developed a new empathy for the president’s “fake news” crusade against the media after reports swirled about a “Corker kickback” that some allege prompted the senator to change his vote on the White House-backed tax reform bill

No one likes being called out on their bullshit.

A Recount Just Knocked Virginia’s Statehouse out of Republicans’ Hands — by a Single Vote

Andrew Prokop reporting for Vox:

The recount of the vote tally for a key race in last month’s Virginia House of Delegates elections concluded on Tuesday. And incredibly enough, when the dust settled, the Democratic challenger led the Republican incumbent by just one vote — an outcome that would deprive Republicans of their majority in the chamber.

This one’s for those of you out there who say your vote doesn’t matter.

iPhone Performance and Battery Age

John Poole writing on the Geekbench Blog about decreased CPU performance as the battery ages:

First, it appears the problem is widespread, and will only get worse as phones (and their batteries) continue to age. See, for example, the difference between the distribution of iPhone 6s scores between 10.2.1 and 11.2.0.

Second, the problem is due, in part, to a change in iOS. The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition. I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.

He goes on to note that this is a reaction to a problem iPhone 6s were having where the device would shutdown at 40% or so battery life due to low voltage from the battery.

I agree with John’s assessment that the sudden slowdown isn’t something users would attribute to a bad battery. Instead, they’d feel it’s a processor problem and and upgrade is the only way to solve it. While this may “fix” legitimate technical problem the iPhone is having, now that it’s know to be a purposeful slowdown of the hardware, it doesn’t look good to people who already feel Apple slows down hardware solely to gain more upgrades and make more money.

Apple says it immediately contacted FBI about unlocking Texas shooter’s iPhone

Nick Statt writing for The Verge:

The Washington Post is reporting that an FBI official even acknowledged Apple’s offer of assistance late yesterday evening, but that it did not need the company’s assistance as experts in the bureau’s crime lab were determining whether there was another method of accessing the data.

In other words, the FBI appears to be playing fast and loose with the facts regarding the timeline here, in an apparent effort to drum up support for weakening tech industry encryption.

In the case of Kelley, because 48 hours had passed without him using his fingerprint to unlock the iPhone in question, the access code security feature kicked in and locked the FBI out. Had law enforcement accepted Apple’s offer for assistance right away, perhaps they would already have what they’re looking for. But in that case, the FBI wouldn’t be able to blame encryption for its failure.

Or maybe the FBI is doing this on purpose.

FBI may have lost critical time unlocking Texas shooter’s iPhone

Stephen Nellis and Dustin Volz reporting for Reuters:

The Reuters source said that in the 48 hours between Sunday’s shooting and Comb’s news conference Apple had received no requests from federal, state or local law enforcement authorities for technical assistance with Kelley’s phone or his associated online accounts at Apple.

The delay may prove important. If Kelley had used a fingerprint to lock his iPhone, Apple could have told officials they could use the dead man’s finger to unlock his device, so long as it had not been powered off and restarted.

But iPhones locked with a fingerprint ask for the user’s pass code after 48 hours if they have not been unlocked by then.

One of these days, the FBI will learn to just ask Apple for help from the get go rather than trying to do it themselves then getting mad when it’s too late for Apple to do anything.

Hackers Using iCloud’s Find My iPhone Feature to Remotely Lock Macs and Demand Ransom Payments

Juli Clover reporting for MacRumors:

Over the last day or two, several Mac users appear to have been locked out of their machines after hackers signed into their iCloud accounts and initiated a remote lock using Find My iPhone.

With access to an iCloud user’s username and password, Find My iPhone on iCloud.com can be used to “lock” a Mac with a passcode even with two-factor authentication turned on, and that’s what’s going on here.

Apple allows users to access Find My iPhone without requiring two-factor authentication in case a person’s only trusted device has gone missing.

And this, my friends, why you should never used the same password accross multiple sites. It’s also a great idea to use a password manager — such as 1Password or Apple’s own iCloud Keychain — to be able to make longer, more secure passwords and not have to remember them all.

French photographer uses an iPhone and a Big Mac BOX for portraits

Germania Rodriguez writing for Daily Mail:

Philippe Echaroux, 34, specializes in celebrity portraits and, while he’s usually armed with the best camera equipment that money can buy, he decided to push himself and his photography skills out of the box, with what he called The Big Mac Portrait Challenge.

Using nothing but his iPhone for shooting and retouching, Philippe then allowed himself the use of a straw, a flashlight and a Big Mac box to construct the rest of his set-up – with which he still managed to take a series of stunning portraits of strangers.

These portraits are absolutely gorgeous. It’s no wonder even ex-Googlers say that if you care about photography, you choose an iPhone.

Apple Acknowledges Siri Leadership Has Officially Moved From Eddy Cue to Craig Federighi

Joe Rossignol reporting for MacRumors:

Apple’s leadership page is only now reflecting Federighi’s role as head of Siri, but the transition has been apparent for several months, based on recent interviews and stage appearances at Apple’s keynotes.

Eddie Cue is in charge of the products that require deal-making with third parties. Apple Music & Apple Pay fall under his purview. Siri did start off by integrating directly with services via deals with third parties such as Wolfram Alpha, but that seems to have stopped in favor of an API. So now, having Craig be in charge of another core piece of the OSes he manages seems like a no-brainer.

Starting a Bullet Journal Again

It’s been two year since I last used a Bullet Journal. Originally I only used it out of necessity. I had lost my iPhone and had to two months without a smart phone while I waited for the new iPhone to be announced and shipped. It was a long two months, let me tell you, but Bullet Journaling help me through it.

Lately I’ve had the thought that maybe I’ve been forcing myself to be digital first when my mind doesn’t work that way. I can’t say this for fact, but how am I supposed to figure it out if I don’t see what the alternative to what I’ve been doing is? My last attempt at this ended because when I got my new and shiny iPhone, I couldn’t figure out where it needed to go or how to marry my digital and analog life successfully. In the end, I opted to go fully digital, because I attributed the friction as being caused by the journal, and not the phone.

But maybe I was wrong, maybe the friction was in trying to force the phone to take too much from the journal, which had been working perfectly up until then, and instead I should relegate the phone to a supportive role. This is made easier by the existence of a Bullet Journal Companion App. The key feature of which, for me, is the temporary Rapid Logging feature. Let’s be real, there are many times when carrying the journal around is impractical, but your phone is almost always around. The point isn’t to serve as a substitute for the Bullet Journal, but more as a notepad. And to ensure that you aren’t tempted to use it as a permanent journal, any rapid logging done in app disappears after 48 hours. So in this way, it serves as a notepad to log thing while you aren’t near your journal for transfer into it later.

But beyond the app, and a new term (“Stacks”) not much has changed in either the Bullet Journaling system or the community. You still only need a pen and a notebook to get started. I chose some Uni-ball 307’s and a Moleskine. If you want to go barebones basic, the basic structure hasn’t expanded beyond the 5 original modules, with the fifth, collections, being the wild card that could expand into infinite possibilities.

Hopefully I can stick with it this time. I truly believe it has a place in my life if I am correct about my mind working better with the analog. For now I’m sticking with the basic setup, and maybe expand into some permanent collections in the future. But for now, it’s experimentation time again.

The Rock x Siri

I’ve seen the Apple / Rock / Siri ad 4 times now, and I’m laugh out loud every time. This could have been truly terrible, but I’m happy to report that it’s absolutely awesome. Click the title of this post to take a look for yourself.

Senate GOP is trying really hard to avoid the Democrats

Sarah Kliff Reporting for Vox:

This exemption could have the effect of ensuring that members of Congress have coverage for a wider array of benefits than other Americans who purchase their own coverage.

A Senate Republican aide confirmed that the exemption existed but was unable to comment as to the specific effect it would have. The aide said it was included to ensure that the bill hewed to the chamber’s strict reconciliation rules that limit the policies this health bill can include.

It was already made clear they wanted not help from Democrats when it was decided that there would be no formal hearings on the bill. This exemption serves to further emphasize the lengths to which Republicans are willing to go to avoid the filibuster and, by extension, having to work across the aisle.

John Gruber Speculates on the Price and Strategy Behind This Year’s iPhone

John Gruber writing at Daring Fireball:

[…] if Apple expects severe supply constraints on these iPhones, I think prices of $1199 (64 GB) and $1299 (256 GB) are more likely. I honestly don’t think something like $1249/1399 is out of the question.

The prices for these iPhones need to be high enough so that tens of millions of people still want to buy the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. If the “iPhone Pro” or “iPhone Edition” or whatever it is that Apple is going to call this phone starts at $800 or even $900, who is going to buy an iPhone 7S or 7S Plus? Not enough people, that’s who. Apple needs tens of millions of people to buy the 7S and 7S Plus because they aren’t going to be able to produce the “Pro/Edition” model in sufficient quantity.

He’s right. I don’t want him to be because this would price me out of the new hotness, but it makes sense. I encourage you to read his whole analysis / reasoning, it’s quite good.