What’s new and great in Technology this week?

A week after Apple’s Education focused event, I’m pleased to share the great news in technology this week.

After 18 months as a tool exclusively for iPad Pro, Apple this week made an iPad that starts at $329 ($299 for Schools) that will work with the Pencil.

If you’ve never tried the pencil, I’d urge you to go try it, there’s no stylus, at any price point I’ve seen, on any device that has the reaction time, features, or ease of use that the Apple Pencil has.

It’s sheer brilliance, and is the closest digital writing or drawing tool to writing on paper yet made. To make this available to people whose budgets for iPads are under $300 is fantastic.

That the iPad also comes with an advanced Apple designed chip, can run incredible apps like Swift playgrounds, business tools like Outlook, Word, Excel and more makes this iPad a phenomenal starting point.

If you’d like to know the advantages an iPad Pro offers over the new iPad, please do get in touch.

 

 

Caching for All!

A really great feature added to MacOS server a couple of versions ago, was the ability to become a cache for iCloud content, staff and family backups of phones, iTunesU content and more.

Enabling a Mac with OS server powers, and caching, meant your business, organization of family could get faster backups, app downloads, iCloud restores and much more, quicker and without consuming bandwidth, which has become to be more closely metered by several internet providers.

Good news came with High Sierra, because ANY mac, not just Mac’s running MacOS server, can now cache content. That means if you’ve two iMacs in your house, or Fifty MacBooks in your office, they can all turn on caching, and make iCloud backups, restores, app installs and more mac faster. (For those of you concerned about privacy and security, as I am, rest assured, because this is an Apple designed service, all data stored on those cache’s is unreadable to users, administrators and owners of those computers).

 

MacOS High Sierra Content Caching
MacOS High Sierra Content Caching

If I owned a Cafe, I’d immediately Enable a caching server on my network, my customers would see iCloud running especially quickly when in that cafe, and would start to favor that location to work, rather than on Starbucks sluggish (by comparison) network.

 

Phishing, Passwords and Apple Security

Some news making waves this week, reported on both Daringfireball.net and atp.fm, highlights the fact that any iOS app can popup a dialog requesting a password for your AppleID, (or theoretically any of your accounts).

While this is true, and it’s also true that phishers, and spear-phishes are getting very advanced in finding ways to trick people into giving away their passwords, I believe the important message to spread is: What a great job Apple is doing to pro-actively protect it’s users. Nonsense? Contrary to that article? Read on to understand my point of view, then tell me your arguments.

Two Factor Authentication.

Banks for many years, have required, a second, third or further way to verify you are who you say you are. As far back as 2001, I recall my bank asking me a second or third question when I attempted to login on a new device, or from a new location. These usually took the form: What is your favorite car? MacLaren (obviously) and such.

The sensationalist report about the kind of phishing that malicious App developers could do is just a reminder, that you should use, and services should offer Two Factor authentication for every service you use that holds any kind of personal information. From Photos to location, notes.

What makes Apple so Special?

Implementing two factor authentication for users of other services, like Google, Facebook etc has always been cumbersome and complex, with users having issues like this, and others that made them disable it.

It takes an mistake to improve, so, after some celebrity iCloud accounts were accessed in 2014, (these accounts were phished too, the bad guy found ways to get all the information he heeded to get into the accounts), Apple implemented one of the simplest two step verification systems in 2015.

In 2017, Apple made Two Factor Authentication mandatory for any device running iOS11 or High Sierra.

And so, If you are a user of Apple’s current software, you are instantly protected by two factor authentication, and EVEN if you get Phished, or give you iCloud password to your best friend, they will not be able to access your account without your explicit and subsequent consent.

This is what you’ll see on your Trusted Devices if someone tries to access your iCloud account:

Two factor Authentication pop up
iPad two factor Authentication Pop up
iPad two factor Authentication Pop up

How is this superior to others who do Two Factor Authentication with Text Message? Many researchers have already revealed how other Two factor authentication, done by phone or text message can easily be compromised.

Between the fact that Apple has now mandated two factor authentication, made it easy to use, and made it virtually invulnerable to compromise. (A user would have to click “allow, then copy the code that Apple presents  by hand (no copying and pasting of this code is possible).

With all of these facts, I believe that Apple should be praised for how well it protects users, compared to Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others. Do you disagree? I welcome discussion, it’s how we grow, please share your thoughts here, on twitter or by email, phone etc.

If we’re going to complain about Apple, how about we ask why Siri can speak on the new Apple Watch, but can’t read our emails to us, nor Wikipedia articles. Try that on iPhone or iPad, it’s life changing.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desk Computers, Pocket Computers, Wrist Computers, Thoughts on new Apple Technology

Since I can remember, I’ve chosen the tools that work best for particular tasks.

Desktop Computers provided me the ability to build HTML sites that let me communicate with the world.

MP3 players let me carry music anywhere I went, make custom playlists, and never hear skips in CD music or have chewed up tapes.

When Windows XP felt slow and unreliable, I found Debian Linux as a reliable software environment to do all my work.

When I shopped for a new MP3 player in 2004, there were few options besides iPods. And the iPod Shuffle was now only $79, cheaper than almost any other well reputated player.

I bought one, and from the first three days using it, I could see it was the most thoughtfully designed and well engineered technology I’d seen in a long time.

I’d seen Macs before this, and knew how beautiful and well engineered they were, but they seemed to cost $4000, twice most PC’s, and worse than that, had very little compatibility with my existing workflows, software and more.

The following year, 2005, Apple went Intel, and made Macs that could run Windows, Linux or their native OS X (now MacOS)

They were also about $1500, Same as my first Wintel PC had cost.

Though I was stubbornly determined to run a cumbersome power user operating system (Linux), just like the iPod Shuffle, the iMac immediately seduced me with the buttery smooth way it worked.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed using and sharing the news about how efficient we can live and work using well engineered, thoughtful technology solutions, sometimes that’s Apple technology, and sometimes it’s Amazon, Chevrolet, Ecobee, Salesforce, Microsoft Exchange and more.

In 2006, when the iPhone came out, it provided me with an easy and efficient way to get emails while out and about, freeing me from my MacBook, able to be out in the world, but within reach of anyone who needed help.

In 2010, Apple unveiled the iPad, unknown to many, the actual genesis of the iPhone project. The iPad is the vision of computing from the 70’s, direct manipulation of information on a paper sized device. The iPad has been always by my side, because it can show me more, let me interact in more ways with documents, pictures and music, and all around feels like the perfect computing device to me. All the more since Apple added split screen, multi tasking, and more features to it.

Now in 2017, Apple has unveiled what I think is the prefect companion to an iPad, the cellular Apple Watch.

Though the iPhone 8 and iPhone X are truly remarkable devices, and are getting features they deserve, like true tone, and have amazingly great cameras, to me, they do not add a tremendous work benefit, instead, I can see my day significantly improved by being able to be permanently connected to the world via my watch.

The watch, always on me, will alert me, and allow me to share any news I need to know or share.

Should there be something that requires review, or long form writing, I simply make it a task from my watch, and complete that task when I’m back at a larger screen, hopefully my iPad, but a phone if one is close I suppose.

I do want the X phone, not for any of it’s iPhone features, but for it’s camera.

Do you agree, do you find that your current iPhone accomplishes all you need from a ‘phone’ (aka pocket computer), and the new X pocket computer doesn’t add much besides an amazing camera, or do you believe that a pocket computer 8, or pocket computer X will significantly improve your productivity?

Thank you for your time reading this, and your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One great Feature: Security

security |səˈkyo͝orədēnoun (plural securitiesthe state of being free from danger or threat: the system is designed to provide maximum security

It’s so instinctual, that many people don’t give it a second thought, but in every action we take, and tool we use, we need to understand and beware of it’s risks.

The abstracted nature of modern computers, and complexity of them can be hard for our senses to judge, two phones, look identical, one taking all the data it can gather about you, and one, which takes no data from you, look identical to human eyes.

Cognitively, too, it can be hard to judge modern technologies. An NPR discussion on Minnesota Public Radio recently discussed the current crop of digital personal assistants, Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Now, frequently inaccurately describing privacy and security features of the various assistants, without understanding that a key ability of an assistant is discretion, to hide the fact that a partner just ordered flowers and diamonds for her partner is an example of a secret that an assistant shouldn’t make easily accessible to others.

That Alexa and Google Home make no allowances for multiple user interactions, and treat anyone talking to them as the “account holder” is a security concern that I believe many should pay attention too.

In my opinion, This and deeper levels of security should be considerations of any technology you choose to use, because without sufficient Security, a tool can do a lot more harm than good.

 

 

 

 

One great feature: Flexibility

One of my preferred features in Tools that I choose, is flexibility.

Yes, what this tool does for me is cool, but Can I perform this operation on any device? if I’m without one of my devices? In a cloud app? Even offline? Without Power? Does this interface with other tools I may use? What do I do when this tool is obsolete? Can I migrate to the next tool easily?

So, when looking for a tool to help you be more powerful, I’d recommend you consider the flexibility of the solutions you find.

 

Paper

Paper.

 

A technology available to much of planet earth nowadays, first created about three thousand years ago.

Advantages:

“Intuitive”, aka familiar.

Inexpensive.

 

Disadvantages:

Security;

most paper can be read by almost anyone who finds it.

when destroyed, there are generally no readily available copies available.

when lost, similarly, there is generally no easily retrievable copy.