This week I’ve got some thoughts on Android vs. iOS market share and a possible root cause of the confusion on that topic. We’ve got three really interesting product interviews from Macworld – Corning’s glass fiber cables, Double Robotics Wheels for your iPad and PowerTrekk’s fuel cell charger. George from Tulsa steps in with a 1 minute review of the Turtle Beach M5 stereo headphones. I’ll give you an update on my adventures trying to learn to program for iOS using Kevin McNeish’s book I told you about last week and I won’t answer a dumb question from Professor Albert on what new iMac to buy. In Chit Chat Across the Pond we’ll have the 2nd half of Bart’s build your own Network Attached Storage server adventure – now with software!
Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday February 10, 2013 and this is show number 405. I think I’m going to give up on apologizing for a long show – as long as it’s long because there’s so much great content. This week I’ve got some thoughts on Android vs. iOS market share and a possible root cause of the confusion on that topic. We’ve got three really interesting product interviews from Macworld – Corning’s glass fiber cables, Double Robotics Wheels for your iPad and PowerTrekk’s fuel cell charger. George from Tulsa steps in with a 1 minute review of the Turtle Beach M5 stereo headphones. I’ll give you an update on my adventures trying to learn to program for iOS using Kevin McNeish’s book I told you about last week and I won’t answer a dumb question from Professor Albert on what new iMac to buy. In Chit Chat Across the Pond we’ll have the 2nd half of Bart’s build your own Network Attached Storage server adventure – now with software! Before we kick in though – I made a horrible omission last week – I forgot completely that Guy Serle of the My Mac Podcast was also a bouncer – and he had fancy clothes too – a black t-shirt that simply said “Mac Security” on it! My apologies Guy, now we can kick into this week’s show!
Android vs. iOS
I had a really interesting conversation with a co-worker. Her opening line was something like, “you know stuff about iPads, right?” Well that cost her about an hour of her life. The problem she had to solve was that her daughter was turning 14 and wanted an iPad. She asked what I knew and I gave her the pricing for the 4th generation iPad 4 with and without cellular. When I got to the cellular part she said that she wouldn’t be getting her a data plan. I’m pretty hard over that if you can afford it, buying it with the option to turn on is a good idea, even if you only turn it on when you go on vacation.
So then she says that Android tablets are cheaper. Being an Apple bigot, I told her that my understanding was that Android tablets are just harder. I was basing that on a lot of comments from Jeff Gamet over the holidays talking about how hard it was for him to get his niece’s Android tablets working over the holidays. As I said it though, I was feeling a bit disingenuous, since the Nexus 7 seemed pretty easy to set up to me. So I pulled that out too and told her the pricing on it. She mentioned that she actually has two daughters – twins both turning 14. I’d be very price conscious if I were her; looking at two concurrent college payments in just 4 years.
She didn’t seem that interested though. She said that she bought the girls matching Kindle Fires for Christmas and that one was gathering dust while the other one hadn’t even been removed from the box. I wasn’t super surprised, I know a few people who have Kindle Fire’s in boxes. We can see statistics that by many measures, Android has had a giant percentage of sales, and yet web traffic tells a different story. (BGR says that Android is outselling iOS, iOS web traffic is double that of Android.) I had thought maybe people were buying Android devices but not using them.
Then things got even more interesting. I started pushing on the topic of a data plan for the tablet to give to her daughters, and she said they wouldn’t be giving her a data plan. When I asked why, she pointed out that they have Android phones – and they don’t have data plans on them. I was dumbfounded! Why would you buy a smartphone and NOT get a data plan??? She looked at me and quite simply replied, “$30 a month”. Well she had me there! That got me to thinking even more, maybe people are buying Android phones, using Android phones, but not buying data plans on them? That would actually explain the vast discrepancy. Maybe if you look at a bunch of phones, and money is at a premium, not only is the free phone an advantage but not buying a data plan is also attractive. I’d be curious what you all think about this. I mean it as no disparagement on Android, just observations here.
It’s time to kick into some more interviews from the Macworld show floor – as I said we’ve got some great ones this week.
Corning Optical Cables
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I can’t figure out a use case for the Corning optical Thunderbolt cables but I really loved how this worked. It was just so darn cool how he bent the cables 180 degrees and crammed them into those holes and still the light transmission was there. Very cool stuff.
iOS App Development for NonProgrammers
Last week we played for you the interview we did at Macworld with Kevin McNeish of iOS App Development for non-Programmers. At the show he gave me a hard copy of Book 1 – Diving in. I didn’t think I was capable of doing this kind of programming – not because I’m not smart enough but because I have no recent programming experience. As you may recall my last programming class was Fortran IV with Wat5 in the late 70s. I also worry that I don’t have the powers of concentration that I used to have before the Internet became popular. How would I actually read a book on programming?
Well tempted by Kevin and taunted by Niraj that I could do it, on Thursday I buckled down and read all of Book 1. It was 100% pure fun. The book is $10 in hardcopy or Kindle and also as an iBook with animated videos. Book 1 – Diving In teaches you how to use the visual layout interface of XCode, the programming language used for iOS development. We dragged, we dropped, we changed fonts, we made a functioning program for the iPhone that ran in the iPhone simulator on the Mac! Yay – I can do this!
So Friday morning, with delighted anticipation I started Book 2 – Objective-C, this time in iBooks. I can best describe the transition as going from the kiddie pool, not to the deep end but rather to the high dive on the deep end. I was instantly mired in terminology that made my head spin. Classes, Methods, Instances, Inheritances, what the heck did it all mean? Book 2 is good enough that I actually made It 48 pages through before I started to have worries that I was getting lost. At that point I had Chit Chat Across the Pond with Bart and I decided to ask him to help me understand a bit better what all this terminology means. We spent a half hour or so and I got enough understanding that I had the energy to keep going.
I kept working through the book and finally got to some exercises, and I started having fun again. I got to start the littlest bit of code and got to actually something new show on the simulator. It was a small success, but a good one. I moved to the next lesson – by now I was 80 pages in, and felt that I was starting to get the hang of it. But then when I told the program to write to the simulator, all I got was a black screen. I read and reread all the commands I’d entered and couldn’t find a flaw, finally commenting them all out just in case, and still all I got was a black screen. In desperation I contacted my buddy Niraj and he had me pop open a quick join.me session so he could see my screen from his iPad. As we looked through the commands, he noticed that there was a Breakpoint marker in the program code. Now I have no idea what that is, why you’d want to have one, much less how I might have added it but when we got rid of it, my program began to work again.
I’m still slogging away at it and I highly suspect that I’ll succeed at learning to program for iOS but I also know now that just a book isn’t going to get you there; I’ll need the generous support of my friends to make it through this adventure. I’ll keep you posted on how I get on, and when I get past the “hello world” stage in iOS app development.
Double Robotics Wheels for your iPad
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I see a real use case for this type of device. I attend a lot of meetings where there are a bunch of people in a meeting room in another state, and a few of us distributed about the country on the phone and watching the presentations on our computers. That works well enough but a lot of the real work happens during the breaks. If you could wander into the halls with the other folks and have the casual conversations that you normally miss being on the phone. I love the future, don’t you?
George reporting from Tulsa on this beautiful Super Bowl Sunday that’s been warm and sunny all day.
Right now at nearly 9 o’clock its still nearly 54 and Bert the Schnauzer and I are out for an after dinner stroll accompanied by my daughter’s two Chihuahua mixes. I’m able to record this while walking three dogs because of my new Turtle Beach M5 stereo headphones. The M5s cover the whole ear, which blocks ambient noise and keeps ears warm in winter chill. Music and voice sound good.
What’s unusual about the M5 is its mini-jack allowing use with mobile devices. I’m recording this as a WAV fille with the M5s mic into my Google Galaxy Nexus using Tape Machine Recording and Editing App on Google Play Store.
The Turtle Beach M5, about $35. Check it out using the Podfeet.com link to Amazon and support the Nosillacast show we all enjoy so much.
Bert the Schnauzer, Podcaster
PowerTrekk Fuel Cell Charger
Next up this is Steve’s favorite device we saw at Macworld:
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I hope that wasn’t too much chemistry for you but Steve and I both really loved it. As Steve said after the interview, you could easily keep a pile of these little canisters in your garage in case of a giant blizzard, a hurricane, an earthquake or even to take with you camping. It’s not cheap but when you’re stuck in a power outtage, how much would you pay to be able to connect to the Internet? I can’t wait till the PowerTrekk fuel cell charger comes out – it seems an obvious addition to our earthquake kits!
Dumb Question from Professor Albert
Hello Allison, dis is Professor Albert and I need your help again. I have some good news and I have some bad news. Let me start vith da good news. The good news is my vife Elsa von 1 Billion dollars in the Frankfurt Lottery. She is so happy. I am so excited. She says I still have to pay half of my rent but she is going to buy me a brand new 27 inch IMAC! Oh my Got, I am so excited! So here’s da Bad news: I DON’T KNOW VAT TO BUY!
I vent to da Apple site, and I clicked da box for da best thing on da bottom dere on everything, oh oh da highest processor, da most RAM, all da good things… and den I came to da DRIVES… Dere vas da 54 hundred hard drive, dere vas da 72 hundred hard drive, dere vas da 1 TB Fusion hard drive, dere vas da 3 TB Fusion hard drive, dere vas da SSD 758 hard drive! Oh my Got, I vas so conFUSED, it vas DRIVING me crazy!
So here’s my dumb question: Vat type of hard drive should I get? Should I get da very expensive SSD dats only 758 Gbs dere, or should I get da Fusion Drive vich is 3 Tb or 1 TB, or should I get da normal drive. Vat is da best thing for me to get dere? I vant da very best – I have all da money in da vurld, but I vant to make sure dat it is da right thing for vat I need to do.
Help me out, Allison. You are so smart!
Well Albert, I’m so glad you asked. I have a few thoughts of my own but I’m actually not going to tell you the answer. Cruel, I know. The reason I’m not going to answer you though is because next week’s guest on Chit Chat Across the Pond is notable disk drive junkie, Victor Cajiao! I booked him weeks ago, hoping he can give us his thoughts on how these new fusion drives are supposed to work and whether he thinks they’re better than say a combination of an SSD and an HDD without the super cool fusion stuff piled on. I’ll give him your question ahead of time as maybe a starting point for our discussion. I hope you can wait that long!
RunRev Kickstarter Project
Last week I told you guys about a Kickstarter project that’s pretty important to the future of ScreenSteps and Clarify. The BlueMango Learning guys use RunRev’s development tool called LiveCode, and RunRev has decided to let it go Open Source. Before they can let it out in the wild though, they have to do some work reorganizing it – it’s over 20 years old so some core modules need to be rewritten.
The success of LiveCode will directly impact the quality of ScreenSteps and Clarify, which I know is important to a lot of NosillaCastaways. When Livecode succeeds as an Open Source project, it will be free for educators, hobbyists and even companies that make internal tools for their employees. If you’re old enough to remember HyperCard, they say that LiveCode is Reinventing HyperCard for the 21st Century.
If you think this is important, please go over to the link in the shownotes to the RunRev Kickstarter Project and throw them a few bones. I embedded a link in the shownotes so you could learn more about it too. I watched the video myself and I pledged enough that I can learn to make the game they demonstrate in the video too. Check it out and go help out!
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Chit Chat Across the Pond
- I’m pleasantly surprised by how few people in my circles are affected by the UPnP issues – so far, it’s zero!
- My educated GUESS is that many ISPs have heeded the advice to block UDP port 1900 to protect their customers
- It’s not all roses though – Steve Gibson has added a UPnP test to his Shields Up scanner on grc.com, and he has a counter of how many negative test results his test has found. Last I checked it was at about 1,000.
- Adobe release an EMERGENCY Flash update that fixes zero-day exploits being used in the wild against Windows AND OS X – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/02/08/adobe-patches-flash-heads-off-attacks-on-windows-and-apple/
- If you use Flash only on Chrome, Google takes care of your Flash updates for you
Important Security News:
- The recently reported attacks on SSL/TLS are NOT a problem in the real-world, don’t panic! – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/02/07/boffins-crack-https-encryptionin-lucky-thirteen-attack/
Interesting Security News:
- Ars technics starts beginners guide to web safety series – http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/01/keep-it-secret-keep-it-safe-a-beginners-guide-to-web-safety/
- Sophos explain how the File:… bug in OS X came to. Thankfully it is a ‘safe’ type of crash, not a buffer overflow or anything easily exploitable like that – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/02/06/anatomy-of-a-bug-how-mac-os-x-chokes-if-you-type-file/
- Microsoft & Symantec team up to take down the Bamital botnet – http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/02/microsoft-symantec-hijack-bamital-botnet/
- Opera patch highlights security concerns with Mac App Store update process -http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/01/30/opera-security-mac-app-store/
- Cisco annual report highlights the fact that web ads are a major source of malware – http://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/ads-huge-source-of-malicious-content-java-vulnerabilities-behind-80-percent-of-exploits/
- FED hacked during Super Bowl – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/02/06/federal-reserve-hack/
- Twitter advertise for people with two-factor authentication experience – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/02/06/twitter-two-factor-authentication/
- A very graphic illustration of the security problems posed by Android’s fragmentation, Verison’s two-year-old Thunderbolt only now gets the 15 month old Android 4.0 – http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/02/two-year-old-phone-receives-15-month-old-software-update/
- A disturbing illustration of the privacy effects of FaceBook’s new Graph Search – http://actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com/
- Security company Bit9 suffers very embarrassing compromise which puts it’s customers at risk – http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/02/security-firm-bit9-hacked-used-to-spread-malware/
Dumb Question Corner – Security Question
- Kevin 2.0 aka 383ChargerFan lost control of his admin password on his Mac and went searching for a way to get into his system and was rather frightened when he found a way to do it. He asked whether this means the Mac isn’t secure?
Main Topic – part 2 of Bart’s File Server (recorded 2 weeks ago)
How I Configured The Server:
I have three disks installed in the machine ATM, all disks that I already owned. I have an old small 160GB SATA disk on which I have installed the OS (Ubuntu Server 12 LTS), a 500GB SATA disk which I have configured to act as a time capsule for our laptops (I prefer a physically attached time machine on desktops since you can control when backups are happening with the power switch on the drive!), and a 3TB drive for my backups (I will be adding more drives for my partner to use for what ever as soon as I free them up).
The mobo supports RAID, and Ubuntu supports hardware RAID, but I have decided to use neither – for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t trust RAID, and I especially don’t trust software RAID, and secondly RAID wants disks of the same size, but I’m going to be using a hodgepodge of different disks in this machine, both now and into the future. Thirdly, the purpose of this machine is to store backups. Because I can’t afford to re-wire the house ATM, I’m going to keep using the old Dell as the primary home for my data, and I’m going to set the Dell to back up to the new server. I have Gig ethernet in my room, but not in the rest of the house. The Dell is turned on and off as needed (boot time of 30 seconds), so I literally use it like the world’s biggest external hard drive!
If you were building a file server like this at home you would probably not choose Ubuntu as the OS. It would make a lot more sense to use a NAS-specific OS like FreeNAS (http://www.freenas.org/) or Openfiler (http://www.openfiler.com/learn/how-to/text-based-installation). That would certainly make configuring the NAS elements of the server a lot easier.
So why did I choose Ubuntu Server? Firstly, because I’m a Linux sysadmin, I am completely comfortable setting up network file shares the hard way, and secondly, because I plan to use this server for more than just NAS.
The server will be used for at least the following things, and probably more:
- NAS with Mac (AFP), and Windows (SMB) file sharing protocols
- An rnsapshot backup server for my web servers
- A smoke ping server to monitor and graph network performance
- A nagios server to monitor my websites and servers and alert me of any problems
- A development server for developing web sites and apps – i.e. a LAMP stack.
Configuring Windows File Sharing On Ubuntu 12:
All you have to do to get SAMBA working on Ubuntu server is check the box for a SAMBA server during the install. This will give you a running SAMBA server that is not configured to share anything (a good default!). All you have to do is edit the file /etc/samba/smb.conf in your favourite text editor and uncomment the standard shares and features you want to use (the homes section is a good one to start with, that will share everyone’s home dir to them over SAMA). Then, if you want to share out other folders just add your own shares to the end of the file, something like:
path = /media_3tb/bart
valid users = bart
read only = No
create mask = 0770
The SAMBA documentation (http://www.samba.org/samba/docs/man/manpages-3/smb.conf.5.html) lists all the possible options and explains what they do, in general, you don’t need much more than the few options shown above for each share. Each share is defined by the share name in square brackets, then a list of options, one per option in the lines following it. Each option is defined as a key-value pair with the = sign separating the key from the value.
Configuring AFP & Time Machine Support On Ubuntu 12:
Getting your Ubuntu server to appear on the network like a Mac, and enabling it for Time Machine is a three step process. First you have to enable and configure Apple File Sharing Protocol (AFP) on the server, then you need to configure Bonjour (mDNS) on the server, and finally you need to tell you Time Machine on each of your Macs to trust shares on non-Apple servers.
Step 1 – setting up AFP:
The best open-source implementation of AFT is Netatalk (http://netatalk.sourceforge.net/), and it is conveniently available via the standard Ubuntu repositories, so it can be installed from the command line with the simple command:
sudo apt-get install netatalk
Once netatalk is installed you need to make a small change to the configuration to get it to work with OS X 10.8. You need to open the file /etc/netatalk/afpd.conf (as root or with sudo), and add the following line to the end of the file:
- -tcp -noddp -uamlist uams_dhx.so,uams_dhx2_passwd.so -nosavepassword
You’re now ready to configure your share by editing the file /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default and adding a directive for each folder you want to share out. Note that by default everyone’s home folder is already shared out, so if that’s all you need you can skip this step (note that the standard home folders will not work for Time Machine). You add shares by adding a line of the following form at the end of the file:
/media_500gb/tm BWTM allow:bart,wing options:usedots,upriv,tm
Note that the tm option on the end enables Time Machine on the share, and bart and mrb are the usernames of the people who will have access to the share, you can add as many or as few as you want.
Finally re-start the netatalk service so it picks up it’s new config with the command:
sudo service netatalk restart
Step 2 – configuring Bonjour:
The ubuntu package that provides mDNS (Bonjour) support is avahi-daemon. When I selected SAMBA file server during the setup of Ubuntu this package was installed by default. If it’s not there you need to install it and a helper package with the command:
sudo apt-get install avahi-daemon libnss-mdns
Now you just need to tell avahi that you have AFP installed by creating the file /etc/avahi/services/afpd.service and adding the following content to it:
<?xml version="1.0" standalone='no'?><!--*-nxml-*-->
<!DOCTYPE service-group SYSTEM "avahi-service.dtd">
Note that the above config tells OS X to use the Xserve icon for your server, you can use any other valid Apple model identifier if you prefer a different standard icon.
Finally, re-start the service so it picks up it’s new config with:
service avahi-daemon restart
Step 3 – Configure Time Machine to trust non-Apple servers:
You can now connect to your new share from any Mac. It will show up in the Shared list in the Finder side bar just like any Mac. However, Time Machine will not list the drive as an option to back up to because Apple did not make the server. You can get Time Machine to get over it’s prejudice by issuing the following Terminal command once:
defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1
(you can re-instate the prejudice by issuing the same command with the 1 on the end changed to a 0)
You need to run the defaults write command on every Mac you want to use your server for Time Machine.
The above AFP/mDNS/Time Machine instructions are a mashup of the instructions in the two tutorials linked below. Neither tutorial worked perfectly on it’s own for me, but together they had all the needed info.
Well that was enough content I hope! The funny thing is these shows are really easy for me because Steve does all the work! I may be the on-air talent during the live interview, but from then on it’s Steve who pulls the video off of his camcorder, edits it in Final Cut Pro X, adds in the music and intro and outtro content, posts to Youtube, and then pulls the audio out for me to play in the show. These next few weeks are like a vacation for me, so I wanted to make sure he gets the thanks he deserves here.
That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsor for helping to pay the bills, Blue Mango Learning at bluemangolearning.com makers of ScreenSteps and Clarify. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter at @podfeet. Check out the NosillaCast Google Plus Community too – lots of fun over there! If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time and join the friendly and enthusiastic NosillaCastaways. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.