UK surveillance bill could bring ‘very dire consequences’

The Guardian reported on Tim Cook warning that the UK surveillance bill could bring ‘very dire consequences’.

“You can just look around and see all the data breaches that are going on. These things are becoming more frequent,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “They can not only result in privacy breaches but also security issues. We believe very strongly in end-to-end encryption and no back doors. We don’t think people want us to read their messages. We don’t feel we have the right to read their emails.

“Any back door is a back door for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a back door can have very dire consequences.”

Let’s hope the authorities finally see the light.

Apple Music offers a peek into the future of Apple Inc, and its stark contrast to Google and Microsoft

AppleInsider reported on how Apple Music offers a peek into the future of Apple Inc, and its stark contrast to Google and Microsoft.

In 2012, Google executives were reported to be upset with the lack of interest in Google Music, and particularly dismayed its inability to bring in revenue. One aspect that hurt its adoption was the lack of a mobile app for iOS.

That means Google Music is a lot like Google Wallet: years ahead of Apple, but so poorly planned and implemented that it completely squandered its vast head start.

Google apparently expected its paid on-demand streaming music service to be quite popular among Android users, but instead got a taste of what its Android developers had already been eating: the platform does not attract people who want to pay for things, particularly not anything that can be pirated. Google Music mostly demonstrated the weakness of Android as a platform for supporting commercial apps and services.

On the other hand, these users are willing to sit through ads to use the services for free.

PageFair hacked

The Economist released a statement on PageFair being hacked.

On Oct. 31, 2015, one of’s vendors, PageFair, was hacked. If you visited at any time between Oct. 31, 23:52 GMT and Nov. 1, 01:15 GMT, using Windows OS and you do not have trusted anti-virus software installed, it is possible that malware, disguised as an Adobe update, was downloaded onto your PC.

I leave websites as soon as I realise they have anti ad-blocker measures. One more reason to avoid such sites.

Also, uninstall Adobe and avoid Windows.

Websites can keep ignoring “Do Not Track” requests after FCC ruling

Ars Technica reported on websites being able to continue ignoring “Do Not Track” requests after FCC ruling.

Consumer Watchdog had petitioned the FCC to “initiate a rulemaking proceeding requiring ‘edge providers’ (like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn) to honor ‘Do Not Track’ Requests from consumers.” The group’s proposed rule would prevent online services from requiring consumers to consent to tracking in exchange for accessing Web services, preventing online services from sharing personal information of users with third parties when consumers send Do Not Track requests.

When consumers enable the Do Not Track setting in their browsers, they send an HTTP header in an attempt to opt out of third-party tracking conducted by analytics services, advertising networks, and social platforms. Some companies have committed to honor Do Not Track requests, but they are mostly ignored.

The solution is to stop using these websites and use ad-blocking tools that also block tracking. Instead of Google, switch to DuckDuckGo.

Three new malware strains infect 20,000 Android apps, impossible to wipe

AppleInsider reported on three new malware strains infecting 20,000 apps, impossible to wipe, only affect Android.

“For individuals, getting infected with Shedun, Shuanet and ShiftyBug might mean a trip to the store to buy a new phone. Because these pieces of adware root the device and install themselves as system applications, they become nearly impossible to remove, usually forcing victims to replace their device in order to regain normalcy,” noted researcher Michael Bentley.


The contaminated apps Lookout found were harvested from Google Play, infected with a payload and then republished on third party app sites enabled by Google’s open app model allowing Android users to find and download apps from multiple stores.

Apple has repeatedly maintained that Android’s permissive software installation “features” were a security risk, but Android’s architects, partners and enthusiast users denied this while portraying Apple’s App Store model—providing a single, vetted source for iOS apps—as being an unnecessarily restrictive “Walled Garden.”

It is quite serious when the infection survives even a factory data wipe.

Facebook is going to start giving video makers a cut

Wired reported on Facebook giving video makers a cut.

While Facebook’s video numbers continue to grow, some critics, such as well-known YouTube creator Hank Green, have questioned Facebook’s standard for counting video views (a view is any video seen for 3 seconds or more). YouTube, for its part, counts a “view” as someone watching a video for 30 seconds or more.

Another big issue is how some Facebook pages are stealing videos and using them to gain a following and to get view counts, often without crediting the creator and disfiguring the videos with text slapped over them. Will Facebook be more active in taking down such videos to protect creators?

The background data and battery usage of Facebook’s iOS app

Federico Viticci wrote about the background data and battery usage of Facebook’s iOS app.

Every time I take a look at a friend’s iPhone, Facebook is the app with the highest amount of battery usage in the background – even with Background App Refresh turned off. This has been going on for years, and instead of fixing the issue, it does seem like Facebook is always coming up with new ways to circumvent user control and consume more energy.

The fact that a company the size of Facebook can’t optimize energy consumption of their iOS app is simply ridiculous. If they can but don’t want to (because of processes they want to run in the background, constant notifications, etc.) – well, that’s even worse.

My solution has been the same for the past couple of years: never install the Facebook app, and always access Facebook from Safari.

I uninstalled Facebook almost more than a year ago and have noticed improvement in the battery life. Whenever friends or relatives complain about battery life, Facebook always tops the battery usage list. I surf Facebook in Safari and it is more than enough.

I use the Facebook Messenger app more than the actual Facebook app so there’s no need for the app, which is a big source of distraction on top of being a battery sink.

Fixing Evernote

Bradley Chambers wrote about fixing Evernote.

For a service I pay for, Evernote had become quite annoying. Instead of making its core features even better, it adding features like Work Chat, and became seriously annoying with notifications about explaining new features….over and over again. I do not want another chat client. I do not care about Evernote for Teams. I simply want Evernote to work how I have always used it. Over the past 3 years, the application seems to get in my way more than it helps me. A perfect example is that on iOS, the reminders section is easier to get to than the search bar.

This resonates with me. I used OneNote heavily to sort out my ideas, research materials and writings. It had many shortcomings and I searched intensively for a replacement but never found one until Evernote was launched. I imported my OneNote library into Evernote and loved working with it so much that I subscribed for a Premium account.

The service has been stagnant for a while, and as Chambers pointed out, the app has been bogged down by unnecessary features. Why build a chat client? Hook Evernote to Slack and it would help immensely. It might even bring in new users.

Plain Text Option
This would allow people to easily get their text in and out of Evernote. Exporting notes out of Evernote also generates a .html document. They’d be better off to export files as a .docx than .html.

One of my main complaints about Evernote is the lack of plain text support. Evernote text is stored in some form of proprietary syntax based off xhtml. You can copy and paste rich text, but your mileage may vary depending on the input or output sources.

This is why I prefer to work with plain text. Rather than risk having my formatting mangled by the various ways different apps style rich text format, I type in Markdown. This ensures that my final output would always be the consistent.

Evernote doesn’t even have to explicitly support Markdown. It just needs to allow us to save notes in plain text and Markdown users can work with our preferred Markdown converter to get our desired output.

This is where Apple’s Notes app comes in. The latest update with iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan has made the app a big contender as a replacement for Evernote, in my personal workflow at least. I tested iCloud sync across iOS and Mac. It is basically watching yourself type on the one device and watch the text appear on the next. Of course, you need a stable internet connection for that to happen. But I suspect you don’t need a fast connection, especially if you’re working with only text.

The initial impressions of the new Notes app have been positive and I’m optimistic that it will eventually become my primary, or even sole, note-taking app.

Evernote open sources its localisation tool

Interesting. I’m also still keeping an eye on the recent hurdles that Evernote is facing.

We at Evernote are fans of Open Source, and use a good deal of Open Source products and libraries. Now it’s time to give back to the community. During the last half year we’ve been busy preparing our localization system, writing documentation, cleaning up code. And today we’re proud to release it publicly as an open-source product! It’s called Serge, an acronym standing for ‘String Extraction and Resource Generation Engine’.

_via [Evernote Tech Blog The Care and Feeding of Elephants](

Thoughts on Evernote’s recent troubles

That resulted in inferior products with lots of bugs, drawing bad reviews and heavy criticism from its users. PenUltimate, a handwriting app Evernote acquired in 2012, received a lot of complaints when it rolled out an updated version for the first time in 2014, causing the company to issue an apology and another update within a week.

Skitch, an app that lets you add captions or markups to photos, has a three-star rating (out of five) on the Apple App Store, while Work Chat, the new messaging feature it released last year, is seeing a lot of negative feedback on its own forum.

Evernote Food, a standalone app that lets users share recipes and food photos, entirely shut down last month, as did other experimental products like Evernote Hello and Peek.

via Evernote is in deep trouble – Business Insider

I’ve used and loved Evernote for a long time. However over the past year, I’ve been making many attempts to migrate away from it. It’s not exactly one specific reason/issue that is causing me to move away, but many little quirks that give you the feeling of death by a thousand cuts. Sadly they’ve also killed Evernote Food which I quite liked, but that’s understandable, as it always felt like some kind of a side project.

Nowadays I seldom use Skitch or Penultimate, as they now feel clunky and troublesome. It’s not entirely Evernote’s fault, as there are other factors that count against it, such as the current version of OS X offering pretty good annotation fools, and a solid Notes app. However, Evernote’s feature set is still powerful enough that they should be able to get through this tough period.

If anything, I feel Evernote should get back to sorting out some core issues, such as:

  • Sync speed
  • Sync conflict handling
  • Stability of offline notes
  • Ease of use

I’ve since tweaked my workflow to use these apps (Evernote is still a part of it):

  • Simplenote: Still my current favourite quick note-taking app due to lightning fast sync, plain-text only notes, and support OS X, iOS, and web.
  • OneNote: For offline notes. Evernote’s offline notes feature is still horrible, and what makes it worse is that it’s a paid service. I’ve had too many instances where I needed an offline file while traveling and couldn’t get to it.
  • Evernote: Functioning more like an “archive of everything else” which I search slowly (because it really is very slow and clunky) for random bits of information.
  • Apple’s Notes: The latest update of Notes with iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan offers support for images and PDF, which I’m currently testing as a replacement for OneNote as my travel notebook. Useful information such as scans of my passport, boarding passes, etc, can be stored in here now. So far so good. If it works out, I’ll be switching from OneNote to this. It also supports multiple levels of sub-folders, which is really useful to me.

I’m still a paying Evernote customer, but unless they get these core issues fixed, I probably won’t renew my subscription and will revert to the free tier.