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My iCloud security tips

The biggest tip from my setup is I have a dedicated email address for iCloud that’s separate from my iTunes account. This sort of happened by accident, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the advantages.

One big problem with iCloud security is it’s difficult to have a long and complex password on mobile devices. While TouchID makes big strides here, it’s still a real pain to keep typing in a quality password. And you do need a quality password for an account holding important things such as your device backup, phone location data, calendars, device kill switch, and of course photo stream. Certainly it would suck if someone got my AppleID, but I’ve got protection from my credit card on fraud. No one has my back on the iCloud stuff. So by having a separate, dedicated, and secret email for iCloud not only does it make it more difficult for someone to get my login info, but I can secure it with a proper password and not be a major inconvenience.

The key here is you don’t want to link your iCloud and AppleID as a backups. Also, you want to make sure this is a dedicated email address so no one can scrape it or phish it from you. Don’t email anyone with this account and don’t use it for a login anywhere else. I highly recommend 1Password for password management and keep the account in there. You can just cut/paste when you do need to use it.

The other stuff is pretty obvious, I think. Utilize 2-step verification. Your password is only as strong as the recovery system, and this is a good counter-measure. Also use 2-step verification on whatever email system you’re using for you’re iCloud account. Also, make use of the Notification Email Address. Send it to a work address or some other address not tied to your Apple accounts. This will at least alert you if someone makes changes to your account. And use the pin lock on your phone and keep track of your phone. Another thing to consider is avoiding free public WiFi, but that’s a tough one, so I’d say stick with the trusted hotspots and ensure you’re connecting to the correct network.

Beyond that, you’ll want to limit what is stored in the cloud. The cloud is super convenient, so one way to deal with privacy and cloud storage is to utilize encrypted disk images. iCloud doesn’t support this now, but it looks to with iOS 8 and Yosemite. OS X’s Disk Utility can create sparse bundle images with 256-bit keys that are very convenient and easy to use. In general, you don’t want to depend on a cloud’s encrypted system because if their security is compromised, an intruder may also have compromised their encryption system. But ultimately, how you use the cloud directly correlates to your risks.

Lastly, Apple can do better. On a recent podcast we talked about the idea Apple needs the ability to see what devices are active on the account. And then have the ability to revoke access via the AppleID system. Dropbox works similar to this. Not only does it give an overview of which devices currently has access, but lets users control that access.



Podcast: Brown M&M, Apple event, wearable, tattoos, Dropbox vs iCloud + More




That FLIR iPhone heat camera can steal PIN numbers

Interesting. Basically you can decipher PIN numbers within a minute or so after it was entered, pending on the key pad.






Apple special event set for September 9

Simple invite of a piece of Apple’s logo, 9.9.2014 and the tagline “Wish we could say more.” What does it all mean???? Probably nothing.

What is interesting is the event will be at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino. Apple hasn’t held an event there for quite a while and perhaps the people at Apple are feeling nostalgic. The Flint Center is where Apple launched the original Mac 30 years ago.



Dropbox changes to a single 1 TB Pro plan

Dropbox announced this week an overhaul of its paid storage options. The company is replacing its old tiers of storage plans with a single 1 TB option. Pricing is $10/mo or $99. On the old plan that would have bought you just 100 GB, so this is a significant boost.

Other new features are available to Pro customers. New sharing options let you assign passwords and expiration dates to shared links. Also you can share folders as view-only.

One really cool feature is the ability to remotely wipe your sync’d data from devices. This is handy if you lose access to your computer and are concerned about your data.

Another change is Dropbox is altering the pack rat file versioning feature. Pack Rat allows customers to restore previous versions of their data. The feature will now only go back 1 year. The company said most customers don’t restore files that old, although for a limited time it seems current customers can retain the unlimited version control.

The moves are likely addressing storage offerings from Google and Apple. Google also has a 1 TB plan for around $120 and Apple is planning to offer much more competitive pricing for its retooled iCloud storage. iCloud will offer 200 GB of storage for less than $50, which was half as much as Dropbox was offering 100 GB.



August Smart Lock begins shipping

Last year the August Smart Lock was announced and began pre-orders. What was originally due to ship by end of year slipped repeatedly. Now the August Smart Lock appears ready to ship. In a blog post the company announced limited quantities would begins filling pre-orders over the coming months.

The lock works by fitting over an existing dead-bolt door lock. The mechanism physically moves the lock when commanded via Bluetooth. It's priced at $250 for retail. Pre-orders were available for $200.

I ordered one and a over a year later I'm not too sure why. Yeah, it's neat, but it's pricy for a retrofit lock. As is the case with these startup products, by time they ship fast followers are already to market. There are a number of integrated Bluetooth locks available now for the same price or less.





iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program

Apple:
Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently. The affected iPhone 5 devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and fall within a limited serial number range.

If your iPhone 5 is experiencing these symptoms and meets the eligibility requirements noted below, Apple will replace your iPhone 5 battery, free of charge.

The program is currently available in US and China, and after August 29th will be available world-wide.



Otterbox announces Alpha Glass screen protector

Otterbox this week launched a new glass screen protector. The company says Alpha Glass offers good protection from scratches and impact, but also good clarity. The product also offers easy bubble free installation.

Lightly coat the glass with the provided alcohol wipe, clean the display with the included microfiber cleaning cloth to remove fingerprints and dust, and align the screen protector with the Alpha Glass application card. Gentle pressure safely secures the screen protector and pushes out any air for bubble–free coverage.

I prefer the glass screen protectors over the plastic films simply for the feel. It feels like the regular touch screen. Generally they’re a little thicker, so that could cause complications with cases and accessories, but if I do have a screen protector on my phone, it’s a glass one.

The Alpha Glass protector is available now stand-alone for $29.95.



OS X Yosemite allows screen sharing over iMessage

Mark Gurman for 9 to 5 Mac:
In June, we noted that Apple is adding a handy new feature to the upcoming OS X Yosemite: the ability for iMessage/Apple ID users to screen share via the Messages app. Screen sharing was a hallmark of early versions of Apple’s Mac “iChat” application, but it has always required an Aol Instant Messenger (AIM), Gmail, Jabber, or Yahoo account. With Yosemite, users can have the same screen sharing experience with just an iMessage/FaceTime/or Apple ID account.

This is pretty nifty. There is also the option to have audio chat, which basically turns it into a screencast chat. This can be particularly handy with family tech support situations.



Final Cut Pro suite gets minor updates

Apple Tuesday issued updates for Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Compressor. The changes across the line involve a bug fix related to burning Bluray disks and images. Final Cut Pro specific improvements deal with color correction, minor UX fixes, and improved stability and performance.

The updates are free to current users and bring Final Cut Pro to 10.1.3, Motion to 5.1.2, and Compressor to 4.1.3. Updates are available in the Mac App.





Recent Articles

Visual history of Apple designs

A neat slideshow of decades of Apple designs. It starts out with the wood-encased Apple kit and goes through various computers and devices. One of my favorites, the eMate, is missing, I’ve had a version of almost each of these products, especially from the late 80’s on. Not sure what that says about me, but a fun flashback.



Evernote Webclipper for Safari get big update

We have completely redesigned the Web Clipper to provide efficiency at each step. This update includes improved layout and annotation, as well as advanced options like highlighting and notebook selection.

I’m a big Evernote fan and the Webclipper is a reason why. Over the years the clipper has evolved to simply a way to shuttle webpages into Evernote to adding in tools for markup, organizing, and tagging. All these new features let you clip and forget, rather than going back into Evernote to make edits or organize.




Podcast: Looftlighter, Sapphire Glass, Robin Williams, Google Customer Service, plus more




Apple mission statement on its culture of diversity

Apple's report and this video seems to follow well the recent NYT article on Apple University. The video is a nice mission statement for the company's culture, or at least the goal for their culture.

CEO Tim Cook:

At Apple, our 98,000 employees share a passion for products that change people’s lives, and from the very earliest days we have known that diversity is critical to our success. We believe deeply that inclusion inspires innovation.

At Apple, we believe inclusion and diversity of experience and ideas drive creativity. As a company, we are committed to the advancement of equality and human rights. Narrated by Denise Young-Smith, VP, Human Resources, Apple.





A look at Apple University

Brian X Chen for New York Times:
In a version of the class taught last year, Mr. Nelson showed a slide of “The Bull,” a series of 11 lithographs of a bull that Picasso created over about a month, starting in late 1945. In the early stages, the bull has a snout, shoulder shanks and hooves, but over the iterations, those details vanish. The last image is a curvy stick figure that is still unmistakably a bull.

“You go through more iterations until you can simply deliver your message in a very concise way, and that is true to the Apple brand and everything we do,” recalled one person who took the course.

In “What Makes Apple, Apple,” another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons.

My understanding was at least some of this professional development was geared at Apple being Apple without Steve Jobs. A shared culture is important to any organization. Understanding why things happened is important, but also important to share this knowledge with people who weren't there when it happened.

I'm curious how things are understood within Apple when there's a high level of compartmentalized secrecy. I wonder if these programs help current employees feel connected to things or if its purely presented within historical context?



iPhone 6 prank

Oh, Jonathan... making fun of random people with a bad knock-off 4.7-inch iPhone 6 running Android with an iOS skin.




Podcast: iPhone announcement date, traffic school, Apple-Samsung lawsuit, plus more




iPhone event reportedly set for September 9th

John Paczkowski for ReCode:
As with September events past, the focal point of this one is to be Apple’s next-generation iPhones, which are expected to feature larger displays of 4.7 and 5.5 inches and run speedy new A8 processors.

Surprise! Apple will launch a new iPhone in September. And it will be faster with a bigger screen. Anyway, the here is it appears we have a specific date.



Apple, Samsung work towards burying the patent hatchet

Joint statement:
Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” the companies said in the statement. “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”

Apple has spent a good deal of attention and resources in battling Samsung. None of that adds any value to its customers, so best to button this up. At one time the lawsuits may have made some strategic sense, but likely that is long past.



OWC adds software RAID option for ThunderBay external storage

Other World Computing announced a bundle solution of its ThunderBay 4 RAID 5 enclosure with SoftRAID. OWC says the software RAID solution offers greater performance for the money vs hardware solutions.
“Going this route offers an extremely competitive price point with exceptional flexibility, advanced RAID / drive health monitoring features, and up to 35% higher performance compared to other RAID 5 hardware solutions that typically cost twice as much,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, OWC.

The software solution promises performance of up to 675 MB/sec sustain read/write speeds in a RAID 5 configuration. RAID 5 offers redundancy with a spare drive. If one drive goes down, the RAID will continue to perform. Once the failed drive is replaced, the RAID will rebuild itself.

In addition to flexibility and performance, SoftRAID offers unique tools for Mac users with drive monitoring and email notifications.

The ThunderBay 4 features dual Thunderbolt 2 ports, which allow daisy chaining other Thunderbolt devices. The ThunderBay 4 supports a 4K display or up to six additional ThunderBay enclosures.

Pricing starts out at $689.99 for 4 TB model and options go up to 20 TB. A bare kit is also available for adding your own drives.



The Verge: Comcast’s internal customer retention guide

The Verge has posted Comcast’s “Quality Guidelines” for customer retention. This goes back to the Ryan Block interaction with a customer retention rep a few weeks ago. Nothing is really shocking, but still interesting. There are a few situations where a Comcast rep is instructed to not press for retention, such as the account holder dying.

This gave me a chuckle though:
If a customer wants to check with their roommates before agreeing to a sale, the rep is supposed to communicate urgency by reminding the customer how tough it is to get an installation appointment.

So, the reason you need to stick with Comcast is because their service is so crappy you might have a hard time getting an appointment later? OK.



Lightning dockStubz connector helps solve problem of docking with a case

CableJive recently released a lightning version of its dockStubz line of adapters. The adapter is essentially a male/female pass-through spacer using Apple’s Lightning connector. The adapter allows users to dock their iPhone 5/5s/5c even with the most bulky of cases. So, for example, if you have a speaker dock, you can dock the phone with say an Otterbox Defender or a waterproof case.

I’ve been playing around with the adapter and it seems a good solution.

The dockStubz for Lightning comes with the adapter and an additional spacer. This allows for some flexibility for the specific case used. dockStubz for Lightning is available now for $18.95.



iPassword offering extension for third party iOS 8 apps

AgileBits announced support for third party developers to link into iPassword. Basically app developers can hook into iPassword for user credentials. iOS 8 for the first time allows app to talk to each other, which will greatly simplify keeping strong credentials for apps and services.

1Password App Extension for iOS from AgileBits on Vimeo.




MacBook Pro lineup gets Haswell CPU bump, more memory

Tuesday morning a refreshed line up for the MacBook Pro appeared on Apple’s online site. Changes include speed bumped processors utilizing recently released Haswell chips from Intel. New stock CPUs now go up to 2.5 GHz quad-core i7 in the 15-inch version and 2.8 GHz dual-core i5 in the 13-inch. The 15-inch also got upgraded to 16 GB of memory across the board.

Build to order options allow for 2.8 GHz quad-core Core i7 in the 15 inch with up to 1 TB flash storage. On the 13-inch, customers can add on a 3.0 GHz quad-core i7, 16 GB of memory, and the same 1 TB storage options.



Podcast: Walkie-talkies, iOS 8 betas, CES and much more

This week we reminisce about Walkie-talkie adventures, iOS 8 betas, lack of new Apple products, and CES.






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