About that root user bug in macOS

November 29 2017

Yesterday, a huge story about a bug in macOS that allowed anybody to easily log in as the root superuser on your Mac made (and broke) the new cycle. That’s a particularly condemnable bug. It’s shameful that it made it past QA; Apple shouldn’t have let it slip.

Even for an Apple apologist, this is a difficult bug to defend.

But I want to take a moment to dispel the notion, currently making the rounds, that bugs in the Mac are more prevalent than ever before. I don’t know if that’s the case.

I think two things are happening:

  1. The Mac is in the hands of a wider audience than ever before, which means bugs are more likely to be reported and analyzed. As Apple becomes even larger, the company faces more scrutiny for bugs they would have got a pass on in years prior. You could make a very strong argument that, because of a large audience, each macOS bug now affects significantly more people. If a bug affects 1% of users, and one million people use Macs, then that affects about 10,000 people. If twenty million people use Macs, then that 1% user base is now 200,000 people. Viewed within that metric, little numbers become significantly larger.
  2. When the Mac shedded its skeuomorphism, a lot of the little bits of joyful interaction you find in macOS got lost in the process.1 When that joy is removed from the process, I think bugs become a lot more obvious — and a lot less forgivable.

Only Apple knows if the Mac is buggier than it’s ever been before. No matter what the truth of the matter is, though, Apple has a huge perception problem they need to sort out over the coming months (and years). Most of my friends (particularly the non-tech ones) don’t say Apple products “just work” anymore.

  1. This isn’t the first time the Mac has lost personality in exchange for highfalutin design. A lot of old-timers hated early versions of OS X because it lost so much of the Mac’s personality. This isn’t a new problem for Apple.

Adobe’s iOS app failure →

November 23 2017

Over at Six Colors, Jason Snell wrote a piece I wish I wrote about the lack of proper Adobe apps on iOS:

I’ve got a bunch of web and podcast art templates that are saved as layered PSD files-that’s the Photoshop file format-in my Dropbox. How would I crack one of those open on iOS and use them? So far as I can tell, nothing Adobe makes will do the trick… but I can open those files in the $20 Affinity Photo without any trouble. Procreate for iPad will do the same. iOS is apparently a wasteland for active Photoshop users unless they buy and learn someone else’s app.

This is a huge problem for Adobe, but an even bigger problem for users.

The biggest problem, though, is inertia. Adobe remains the standard for almost every client I’ve ever worked with. They want all the final print work archived as Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign files. And I can’t say I blame them, because the competition is still too volatile to wholly rely on for enterprise.

This all drives me nuts. I think Creative Cloud is over-priced, particularly compared to the competition. I also think Adobe’s apps are hot messes. The UI is needlessly complex, and the competition is almost universally easier to use.

One other note: no competitor has tackled a full InDeesign replacement, which makes switching difficult for anybody who does some print work (like I do). InDesign is an annoying and buggy app — possibly the buggiest app in all of Creative Cloud — but the linchpin that keeps many professionals from trying out other services.

And like Jason says, all of this could be fixed if Adobe embraced the iPad. Native iOS apps that offered proper Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign would be a boon for iPad users and Adobe. They’d offer a chance to reboot the apps, much like what they’ve recently done with the new Lightroom CC.

The time has long been coming for full iOS versions of Adobe’s apps.


Nintendo is releasing a massive Splatoon 2 update →

November 22 2017

Between Skyrim, Super Mario Odyssey, and Stardew Valley on my Switch, I haven’t spent as much time as I used to playing Splatoon 2. That’s all going to change though, I think. Nintendo’s latest update (which hits on November 23rd) is a big one. From The Verge:

This week will see the addition of new maps, an increased level cap, more hairstyles and music tracks, and a whopping 140 pieces of gear, followed by a new competitive mode in December. It’s substantially larger than any previous update, and Nogami says that this deluge of content is designed in part to make Splatoon 2 more enticing ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.

Works for me. The best news is hidden further down, though:

…you’ll now finally be able to switch up your gear without having to leave the multiplayer lobby.

I’m excited to play the update for this ability alone. Splatoon 2 is the only competitive shooter I’ve enjoyed playing online. This update is going to make it a whole lot better.


DisplayMate’s review of the iPhone X’s display →

November 16 2017

If you haven’t yet, you should make some time to read DisplayMate’s review of the iPhone X’s OLED display. It’s rather good.

The money quote:

The iPhone X is the most innovative and high performance Smartphone display that we have ever tested. First we need to congratulate Samsung Display for developing and manufacturing the outstanding OLED display hardware in the iPhone X. But what makes the iPhone X the is the impressive Precision Display Calibration that Apple developed that transforms the OLED hardware into a superbly accurate, high performance, and gorgeous display!!”

Generally speaking, I always say to take these things with a grain of salt — this review included. It’s just one person (or one group’s) opinion, complete with included biases. But this is a pretty scientific review, and Raymond makes a strong case for the iPhone X’s display being among the best panels available for any device.

And the screen is absolutely jaw-dropping. It makes every other device my wife and I own look like mud.


charity: water, 2017 edition →

November 15 2017

tl;dr: I’m starting another charity: water fundraiser. I want to raise at least $1,000. I would love your help.

Two years ago, I created my first charity: water fundraiser in honour of my 25th birthday. Together, we raised $150 USD. This year, charity: water completed work on the well that many of you helped me partially fund. That well gives 550 people in a community in Mozambique clean water.

Here’s what makes this so cool: now, children are able to go to school for the first time. Instead of walking miles every day to get clean water for their family, they go get educations. This well changes the future of the village.

And the well was planned and built with the community! Local residents formed water committees, which were trained to promote the best hygiene practices for health and sanitation among the community.

The photo you see above is a photo of the well that the last fundraiser paid for.

I started the last fundraising campaign because I believe in charity: water’s vision. Today, I’m doing it again.

Our last campaign raised $150 USD. This time, I’m reaching for a more lofty goal. I want to raise at least $1,000 USD. I’d love to knock that goal out of the park, but I need your help to do it.

Please donate to my campaign — anything you can give is a huge help.

100% of the money will be used to build clean water projects, and when they’re complete, charity: water will send us photos and GPS coordinates so we can see the exact community we helped.

Many of us have no idea what it’s like to be thirsty. But many people around the world don’t have that luxury. Every day, about 1,400 children die from diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple solutions like drilled wells, spring protections and BioSand filters that help provide clean water to communities around the world.

Even a small donation will make a huge difference in the lives of those in need.