eXtensions - Thursday 8 December 2022
Thursday Review: CSAM Cancelled; 75 years of Transistors; iPad News Delivery; AirTags Good and Bad
By Graham K. Rogers
The authorities want this and seem to dismiss the risks, particularly changes that might be forced on Apple in the future. The scanning used hashes (sometimes called digital DNA) that could identify altered versions of the photographs stored on a specific child abuse database in the USA. There was no guarantee that if Apple were forced to add other hashes (say of persons who opposed a particular regime) they would be able to refuse.
A look at how China has forced Apple to make changes on some software in the past is an indication of the potential. It is not unknown for law enforcement (particularly in the USA) to try and force Apple to unlock iPhones. Sometimes they have resorted to 3rd party hacking methods; all of which suggests that the secure hashing system could be abused in the future.
It is now reported by Lily Hay Newman on Wired (and several other online sources) that "the CSAM-detection tool for iCloud photos is dead." Instead Apple is to focus on other, more palatable safety features. These changes come at the same time Apple has announced it is "expanding its end-to-end encryption offerings for iCloud, including adding the protection for backups and photos stored on the cloud service." Apple writes,
With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can verify they are communicating only with whom they intend. With Security Keys for Apple ID, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account. And with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple's highest level of cloud data security, users have the choice to further protect important iCloud data, including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.
Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is already available in the USA. It will be rolled out to the rest of the world next year, while the other features will start to become available in 2023. It is not known at this time if all the features will be available in all countries.
Like the British Post Office research establishment at Dollis Hill that was used by Turing and his team when developing hardware for cracking Enigma code, Bell Labs looked at many ways in which the telephone service could be improved, including for example, the optimum distance between telegraph poles. As with Apple now, there was considerable research into materials and the industrial processes used to improve manufacturing. With the list of successes, the court-enforced break up of Bell led inevitably to the selling off of Bell Labs, which ended up, after being bought by Lucent, as part of Nokia. The patents must be worth a fortune.
When I was a child, televisions and radio had valves: vacuum tubes. So did Colossus, the first analytical computer built as part of the Enigma project. In the mid-50s cheap transistor radios became available and as the use the technology increased, so transistors and other solid state devices, were improved. The size was reduced too: now we can put several billion inside a small laptop computer, giving any user more computing power than the room-sized computers of the 1950s and early 1960s; and certainly more power than NASA had for its lunar program. Instead of going to the planets we play games.
A number of online sources, including PetaPixel (Jaron Schneider), reported on the announcement and included some test shots from Harman showing the potential of the ISO 100 and 400 films which are apparently available for $5.80 per roll directly from Ilford Photo's website. However, when I link to the site I am always directed to find a local retailer. My usual supplier is not showing this yet. It is worth noting that the decision to produce these films in 120 format was as a result of a global survey. Some companies do take note of customer's opinions.
Medium format film cameras
iPad Pro x2
There have been other aggregators between The Daily and Apple News with one or two showing some potential, but for one reason or another they faded away. As for magazine subscriptions, I prefer direct access, not that Apple News is available to me. Instead, my news is delivered through headlines and short summaries via RSS feeds (I use Newsify on the iPad) and Twitter from a wide variety of sources.
On Newsify I choose the feeds I want to access and while some are news/politics, there is also a wide selection of technical sources. On Twitter, I have little choice about what is delivered as even the limited number of those I follow, will Like or Retweet news from others. This puts ideas in front of me that I might not otherwise have seen, although a recent algorithm change also adds in Tweets based on my likes. Well, that is fine: as with all, I look at the outline and either move on or examine deeper.
A teacher in India found that her materials were being disseminated on Telegram and, according to Manish Singh on TechDirt, sued Telegram "for not doing enough to prevent unauthorised distribution of her course material on the platform". A court in India "ordered Telegram to adhere to the Indian law" and give her the details of those breaking her copyright, but the company was reluctant as its servers are in Singapore where different laws apply regarding user data. As this was just sending the information to those with an interest in the matter of the materials distribution, it was not in breach of security rules an appeal court decided.
A surprise for me was seeing Percy Hynes Whyte as one of the more interesting students. I first saw this actor in an otherwise dull series, Between. When he arrived in series 2 (after a brief appearance in series 1), even though in his early teens, his sheer presence marked him out as a face to watch. Much taller now and no longer a teenager, he has since done several TV series and movies. He won an award for his part in The Gifted a couple of years back.
Wednesday is not to be taken seriously of course. Nor was the original Addams Family series, but there are some beautiful quips on life, on death and social interaction. It is beautifully made and totally improbable, like Frankenstein or Dracula; but people read the books and watch the movies. There is a hint of the Salem Witch trials here, with a villain who is far worse than those he killed. It is fun and had me hooked.
I looked around for something else when I finished that and found Servant of the People, with the current president of Ukraine, Volodomyr Zelenskyy, before he was President. In another case of Life mirroring Art, this is about a history teacher secretly recorded by a student in a tirade about government bureaucracy and all that was wrong in society. It went viral and as a result of his popularity he was elected to the high office. After a deliberately ridiculous beginning where he is led by the bureaucrats, he looks to deal with corruption.
I saw the first two episodes and will be back for more, but was interrupted by the arrival on AppleTV of Slow Horses, Series 2. There are a couple of additions to the cast, led by Gary Oldman, who apply skills and background knowledge in their quest. The first 2 episodes appeared this week with another episode to follow each subsequent Friday.
On a less than positive note, two women are suing Apple because AirTags were used to track them (Sami Fathi, MacRumors). One involved a former boyfriend, the other a husband. The women claim that the safeguards Apple has provided are "woefully inadequate". The woman whose husband allegedly tracked here, claims the AirTag was placed in her child's backpack. I may be missing some information, but that does not sound like she was being tracked and a lawyer would argue strongly that this was for the safety of the child. The case of the other woman sounds more substantial in that it was her ex- and that the AirTag was placed in the wheel of her car.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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