I'm Lance Somoza, a professional IT Consultant with over 15 years of industry experience and an obsession for technology. This is my tech soapbox.

Taylor Martin for CNET:

While Routines are still nowhere to be found, you can issue up to two commands to Google Home at once. You can say something like, “OK, Google, turn on the TV and what’s the weather?” Your TV with Chromecast ($35.00 at B&H Photo-Video) will power on and Google Home will tell you the weather for your location.

This worked with almost all the commands we tested. Traffic, however, only seemed to work sometimes. Other times Google Home just ignored the traffic request and responded to the second command. This feature is also limited to a string of two commands. Three or more commands will not work.

This is exactly what I asked for of smart speakers/assistants as a whole in this poorly-worded post.

Among the other examples given, for me, this would be extremely helpful to control two lights at once that aren’t exclusively part of a scene.

Previously, Google addressed my other request for adaptive volume with its Night Mode feature that lowers volume during preset times.

Too bad I don’t have a Google Home. Amazon needs to add this to their Echo line and Apple should take note for Siri/HomePod.


Apple has released macOS High Sierra Security Update 2017-001 to address the embarrassing security hole discovered yesterday. Funnily referred to as #IAmRoot on Twitter, the exploit allowed anyone to obtain the highest level of access to your Mac by using the built-in root account without a password. Most vulnerable to physical access, others on Twitter discovered it allowed for remote exploitation as well.

If you’re running a Mac with High Sierra, update immiediately via the App Store.

Apple released the following statement:

Security is a top priority for every Apple product, and regrettably we stumbled with this release of macOS.

When our security engineers became aware of the issue Tuesday afternoon, we immediately began working on an update that closes the security hole. This morning, as of 8 a.m., the update is available for download, and starting later today it will be automatically installed on all systems running the latest version (10.13.1) of macOS High Sierra.

We greatly regret this error and we apologize to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes to help prevent this from happening again.

This is an insanely-quick response from Apple, and that is fantastic. However, this never, ever should have happened to begin with. There’s no other word for it than ‘embarrassing’. An increasingly large amount of Apple’s value proposition is their stock as the privacy and security company. After a while, issues like these can begin to hurt their credibility.

I think it’s clear Apple really needs to institute a bug bounty program for Mac, like they have done for iOS. The Mac product line as a whole has been seen as neglected by pros over the past couple years, so huge missteps like this only add insult to injury. If Apple doesn’t want folks to think of Mac as the red-headed step-child, they need to start doing a much better job.


Finding My Way

I’ve always wanted to do something creative with my technical knowledge, but I never came up with a compelling enough idea to put myself to task. I always thought that if I could just think of the perfect name for whatever my thing was going to be, that it would just hit me. That’s exactly what happened with Gaddgict.

I remember waking up one day this past April with the name in my head. It sounded perfect, or so I thought. Inspired by the mainstays of tech blogging and/or podcasting (e.g. John Gruber, Jason Snell, Marco Arment, Walt Mossberg, Jim Dalrymple, Dave Mark, and others), I decided to start a tech blog — in 2017 — employing an ‘if you build it, they will come’ sort of approach.

Harnessing the ‘move fast and break things’ adage, I jumped right into it. I had considered a few other names before making sure Gaddgict was the best choice. 1 Before I knew it, I bought the domain, spun up a server, and designed the logo in the car during a road trip to the Bay Area.

I have learned a ton in the past seven months since Gaddgict launched, but something kept nagging me about the name. Now, I love a good portmanteau, 2 but Gaddgict didn’t seem to fit with what I’m trying to accomplish with my writing. It also didn’t sound as credible to me as I am striving to be. Plus, there were other … marketing problems: the portmanteau gets lost when verbalized, I’d have to spell it out letter by letter, it’s hard to remember, need I say more. Suffice it to say, I decided ’Gaddgict’ as a brand wasn’t a good fit.

Perhaps one day Gaddgict will find its true purpose.

Why One-Tech Mind?

For three summer breaks during my High School years, I interned at the technical trade school my Dad worked for. He wore a few hats there, but lastly served as the IT Manager. During my first summer there, while learning DOS commands and installing Windows 98, I was obsessed with building my first [gaming] computer from scratch. I scoured the Fry’s ad on Friday and checked Newegg constantly, desperately trying to piece together the perfect budget-friendly rig.

I wouldn’t stop once we left work, because for me, this subject matter wasn’t work. On our drives home, I continued to be a broken record full of “what ifs” and “what do you thinks”, most likely driving my Dad crazy. Suffice it to say, my Dad has always said I have a one-track mind. It’s true — I am incredibly obsessive by nature. Once I get locked on a subject, good luck pulling me away from it. That has always been the case with technology.

No name could ever reflect who I am better than One-Tech Mind. I grew up on computing towards the end of the DOS days and look incredibly forward to each new step we take towards the future of computing — in whichever shape it takes form.

Thanks for joining me for the ride. There’s plenty more to come.

Follow One-Tech Mind on Twitter


  1. Narrator: It wasn’t. ↩︎

  2. Hopefully you got it (gadget + addict). ↩︎


Aaron Byrd and Natalia V. Osipova for The New York Times:

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it planned to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.

The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers. Those limits are central to the concept called net neutrality.

[…]

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Mr. Pai said in a statement. “Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Complete and utter bullshit. ISPs are amongst the shadiest companies out there and Pai is a disgrace to the F.C.C. chairman office.

A brief example of what could theoretically be possible without Net Neutrality rules:

Big online companies like Amazon say that the telecom companies would be able to show favoritism to certain web services, by charging for accessing some sites but not others, or by slowing the connection speed to some sites. Small online companies say the proposal would hurt innovation. Only the largest companies, they say, would be able to afford the expense of making sure their sites received preferred treatment.

For an explainer, read my piece on this subject, Net Neutrality And You.

Please call your representatives and plead with them to pass legislature to preserve Net Neutrality. Visit Battle for the Net for more info and to find out what you can do to help. We may lose this battle, but as long as we keep pressing, we’ll win the war.


Keith Collins for Quartz:

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.

Explanation by Google:

“In January of this year, we began looking into using Cell ID codes as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery,” the Google spokesperson said in an email. “However, we never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded, and we updated it to no longer request Cell ID.”

Don’t be evil [and get caught]. ™

On a serious note, when location services are disabled, nothing better be using or logging my whereabouts. Furthermore, who is to say the data they collected was really discarded? Caveat emptor.


Sam Machkovech for Ars Technica wrote a great review on what sounds like a bad product — the new Pixel Buds, Google’s challenge to AirPods. As I started pulling out quotes to comment on, the common theme we as obvious — Pixel Buds sound like they are badly designed. I haven’t played with them myself, but I can see a trend emerging.

Design isn’t just about looks. It’s about the trade offs you have to make to accommodate underlying function. Here’s a quick parallel before we get into Sam’s review:

AirPods

No touch controls. You can set each pod to perform one function via double-tap. The choices are: Siri, Play/Pause, Next Track, or Previous Track. The input is recognized by a built in accelerometer, not a touch-sensitive pad. By the way, here’s my AirPods review if you haven’t read it.

Trade offs: while there is no way to have access to all functions at once directly from AirPods, the result is a nicer-looking earbud (in my opinion) that doesn’t get in the way. Most of the time, other people don’t even realize I’m wearing mine.

Pixel Buds

On the other hand, one Pixel Bud does have a touch sensitive surface for playback control via gestures.

Trade offs: while you do have access to all playback controls, you have these gaudy, circular pads sticking out of your ear that can be prone to accidental touches (see below). Its sheer obviousness is reminiscent of Google Glass.

Now, here’s a few quotes from Sam that illustrate this theme.

On earbud design:

[…] Instead of a stem extending from the primary earbud unit, Google attaches a larger plastic bubble. Thankfully, this increased size doesn’t add significant weight or bulk when wearing the things, but it also doesn’t seem to add particularly improved battery life or other hardware tweaks. (I also actually think the round design looks surprisingly cool in my ear canal. […]

And:

However, the Pixel Buds lack one of AirPods’ best features: sensing when they’re in your ears. Without this ability, the Pixel Buds’ touch-sensitive right earbud can easily get activated when you’re pulling it out or trying to firmly stick it in the charging case. […]

Sam likes the looks of the round disc, but it’s a hard pass for me. Here’s also what I meant about accidental touches.

On the case design:

But Google’s carrying case is definitively worse than Apple’s version. When you want to charge your Pixel Buds, you have to situate them perfectly into the case’s holes, and this requires fitting them in as if the holes were your ear canals, as opposed to the way the AirPods’ stems just fall into place. This isn’t necessarily difficult, but there is more of a required push-to-confirm feeling, and getting that wrong means you can miss the Buds’ crucial battery-charging connection via little golden connectors.

Sounds like a far cry from the AirPods case.

On audio quality:

With a lot of modern pop music, like the latest Kesha and Taylor Swift albums, these equalization effects add a noticeable “sparkle” to high-gloss production elements […] The issue comes from Google’s desire to emphasize the Buds’ speaker placement, which is split into three little openings—two for normal/higher frequencies, and one for bass resonance.[…]

[…] When the effect appeared to sound the way Google wanted, it was enough to make me say, “oh, these headphones are unique.” But I never felt like they made songs sound better and clearer, and they never drew out particular instruments in compelling ways.They did, at least, appear to find the right bass balance […]

[…] older songs sound decidedly flatter and muddier, and bass tones get lost in the mix. I even found this distinction played out in different decades of hip-hop production. […]

This sounds really bad. I hate when earbuds apply their own audio dressing to my music. I wouldn’t have AirPods if they pulled this crap.

On lack of function:

[…] I held a finger on my right Pixel Bud panel, said “set timer for 30 seconds,” and started pouring hot water. Thirty seconds later, the timer began beeping… but I couldn’t turn it off. Tapping my Pixel Bud did nothing.

Double-tapping will dismiss a timer (among other things) on AirPods.

On the language translation feature:

During a reveal event, Google demonstrated the Pixel Buds’ additional perk: hold a button down on your Buds and talk, and the translation will project from a Pixel 2 phone. Then the other person can speak in the other language, and the resulting translation will be piped directly into the Pixel Buds. Nifty!

Trouble is, that’s not exactly how it works. For one, in this use case, the non-Bud speaker has to be close enough to the phone to hold down an on-screen button and only when he/she speaks, at that. Additionally, when my Pixel 2 was in sleep mode or doing something else, and I held my finger on the right earpiece and said, “help me translate Spanish,” I’d run into Bud-phone sync issues. Either the Google Translate app wouldn’t boot as promised, or the app would boot but with the Pixel Buds not working. This happened a few times in public, often while describing this seemingly wondrous feature to a person at a coffee shop counter, to my utter embarrassment.

This is a really cool feature, but I’m sad to hear it doesn’t work as well as it could.

Here’s the truth: Google is still learning how to design their own hardware. Stemming from issues with Home Mini and Pixel 2 XL, this is just the latest development. Should we give them a pass? No. Do I think they are serious about making their own hardware? Yes. However, time will tell if they have the resolve to deliver without these issues. I hope they do.


Brian Heater for TechCrunch:

A spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”

On the last two Fatherboard episodes, I speculated this might be the case since we hadn’t heard anything more from Apple on a release date.

This isn’t one of those must-have-on-day-one products, so I doubt there will be any backlash in Apple taking the time to get it right. Furthermore, delaying past the holiday shopping season speaks volumes on how much they care about their products. They don’t want to rush something out that is unfinished.

Still crickets on that iMac Pro, though…


Remember the delight of experiencing iPhone for the first time back in 2007? That vision of the future, free from flip phones, T9 texting, WAP websites, carrier logos plastered all over your device — the list goes on.

Ten years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and there is still no mistaking the clear and apparent magic dwelling in every iPhone. Never has that been more apparent than iPhone X — Apple’s modern masterpiece.

As much as the original was a vision of the future, so is iPhone X, as a wondrous piece of magic glass.

Apple has never been afraid of changing the iPhone experience on us when new technology demands it. Never before, though, have they changed it so radically than is apparent with iPhone X. Never before has Apple released three different flagship phones with differing interface elements. You know what they say — never say never. Apple is keeping us on our toes.

It’s a year of massive change for iPhone, so let’s dive in with my most extensive review yet.


Summary

After brief woes on the Dodgers, we dig into our amazing experiences using iPhone X over the past week ahead of Lance’s forthcoming review.

Note: In this episode, we may have accidentally said the phone has been out for two weeks, when it really has been one.

Topics

  • iPhone X

    • Pick Up/Delivery Experiences
    • Design
    • Screen
    • Gestures
    • Face ID
    • Other
  • Other

    • A [?] bug
    • Apple’s AirPower mat may cost $199.
    • A $12,000 Beatles Jukebox

Links

How to Listen

Contact/Follow Us


Warning: you are entering first world problem territory.

The car I bought earlier this year has Apple CarPlay, and it’s fantastic. If you’re not familiar with the functionality, CarPlay allows your iPhone to display a specially-designed iOS interface on a compatible car’s touchscreen. You can then access a set of stock iOS apps like Phone, Messages, Maps, and Podcasts, etc., along with a few select third-party apps such as Overcast, Tune In Radio, and Spotify. In other words, your car’s touchscreen acts like a secondary display for your phone. It is highly simplistic by nature, but leaps and bounds better than crappy ‘infotainment’ systems and their crappy interfaces.

I love CarPlay mostly for Maps 1, as it displays directions on your car’s screen just like a standalone GPS would. Siri is also super helpful in the car when composing an iMessage or placing a call — the usual stuff.

The only downside of CarPlay is that I have to plug in my phone every time I get in the car. I don’t have the freedom to just start the engine and have it connect automatically like it would if I were using a standard Bluetooth connection that’s been around for years. Sure, it’s nice that the phone also begins charging since it’s plugged in, but unless I’m on a road trip, I would be more than happy with a slower charging rate say via… wireless charging. I think you know where I’m going with this.

You see, Apple launched a wireless implementation of CarPlay in September 2015 along with iOS 9, but it has yet to be widely adopted. Only a few automakers and/or third-parties support it. Hell, standard CarPlay is just now seeing larger adoption amongst automakers and third-parties, but I digress. To use wireless CarPlay, your car must meet Apple’s standard CarPlay requirements in addition to having a Wi-Fi radio 2 and appropriate automaker support. And I don’t think I need to tell you how slow automakers are when it comes to adopting this kind of technology.

With the introduction of Qi charging in the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, I’m hoping we’ll see increased adoption of wireless CarPlay sooner rather than later. Think about it — this setup has the convenience of Bluetooth audio, the huge convenience of CarPlay itself, and the convenience of charging without plugging in a cable. I want to get in the car, rest my iPhone X down on a Qi charging pad (or not) 3, all while having it connect to wireless CarPlay automatically.

Some cars come with Qi chargers built in, so automakers are sort of getting there. Now that iPhone 8 and iPhone X have launched, there’s no better time for Apple to push for rapid adoption.


  1. Yes, Apple Maps. In my experience, it’s on par with Google Maps nowadays. ↩︎

  2. Which my Honda does have, so it’s even more frustrating that they haven’t turned on support for this. ↩︎

  3. It would have to be grabby or cushioned to ensure the phone stays put. ↩︎