How Did Someone Else’s Credit Card Get in My Apple ID?

Happy apple orderToday something truly disturbing happened with my Apple ID. It all started last night when I used my iPad Pro to buy a Hue Hub from the Apple Store using Apple Pay. When prompted I happily put my finger on TouchID and the website confirmed that my payment had been accepted. A few minutes later I got a confirmation that my order was being prepared. It included an order number ending in 9168.

In the morning when I got up, I had an email from Apple entitled “Action Required” and referenced the same order number 9168. In the email they politely explained that my credit card provider had declined payment. In the email was a link to Order Status that I was encouraged to click to verify my payment. Now I’m not one to click links in emails but clearly this was my order so I clicked away.

When I got to Order Status, the Hue Hub was not in the list of orders. I could see the watchband I bought last week, but not the most recent order. That was weird. Continue reading “How Did Someone Else’s Credit Card Get in My Apple ID?”

When Amazon Does You Wrong, Write to Jeff

Guest Post by Denise Crown

Pristine apple watch in original caseHello Castaways, this is Denise Crown.

I have a story to tell you with a surprise ending.

I recently treated myself to the water resistant AppleWatch 2. I love to swim, and really wanted to capture my swimming effort as part of my fitness history. This left me with my original Apple Watch to find a home for. I’m not a sentimental person, but I do get a little emotional over first generation Apple gear. I still have my original iPod and iPhone.

In this case, I thought I would part with my original 38mm aluminum watch with white sport strap, so I started researching my options. I don’t deal with Craig’s list or eBay so one of the Castaways suggested the Amazon trade in program. I checked and they offered $135 (US) for the watch. Because I am a fanatic about taking care of my Apple gear, I had the original paperwork, box, etc, so I lovingly packed it all up and shipped it off to Amazon. I actually felt a little pang of remorse the minute the box dropped into the UPS container.

A week or so later, I got an email saying my pristine watch was REJECTED. Rejected! For minute scratches! I was MORTIFIED. I was DEVASTATED they thought my watch was scratched. Was I a terrible watch parent without even knowing it? Would I be banned from future trips to Apple? All of this seriously went through my head.

Continue reading “When Amazon Does You Wrong, Write to Jeff”

CCATP #454 Lynda Gousha on Apple Announcements

This week our guest is Lynda Gousha and she’s here to talk about the big Apple announcements with me. We’ll talk Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, discuss camera specs and revel in “the best iPhone” they’ve ever made. You may have heard her on other fine podcasts, like Let’s Talk Apple with Bart Busschots

You can connect with Lynda on Twitter @llg4cdg

mp3 download

Mac App Store Rant

App Store OS X logoI listen to a lot of tech podcasts and many of them have had discussions lately about what’s wrong with the Mac App Store. The level of rant against the Mac App Store has become so high that I feel compelled to voice my own opinions. I’m going to try very hard not to call out any people or products but keep this a generic discussion.

Point of View

First of all, the rants I’ve heard are all from the point of view of the developers. While the developer’s needs and concerns are valid, theirs is not the only point of view to consider. None of these discussions seem to take into account the needs and desires of the Mac user.

I can only speak for myself, but I love the Mac App Store. I love that I can buy an app, and get it on all of my devices. I love the fact that those on my Family Plan can also get access to any apps I buy through the Mac App Store. I love that I can do a nuke and pave and get all of my apps back by just clicking in the store, instead of navigating to each developer’s website and hunting down my license keys.

A couple of years ago I bought a $100 app directly from a developer for which I get high value and I enjoy using. When I bought my MacBook to supplement my MacBook Pro, I was furious to discover that the license agreement didn’t allow me to use this very expensive app on my second Mac. I know that 30% of the cost of an app goes to Apple, but when a new version came out, you can be sure that I switched to the Mac App Store version, even though I could have bought an upgrade for far less money directly from the developer.

I love that the Mac App Store isn’t the only way I can get apps for my Mac. Utilities like App Delete will never be allowed in the Mac App Store, but I can still go get it on my own. TextExpander is too far reaching for the Mac App Store also but it’s 100% worth it to get it directly from Smile. We have the flexibility to get the tricky cool tools directly from the developers and to get mainstream apps through the Mac App Store. Best of both worlds.

Is 30% Too Much?

Apple’s 30% cut has been a sore point for a long time and recently this was highlighted with Spotify complaining rather loudly about it. I’m not sure having the same recurring fee for a subscription service as for apps makes any sense at all so I think Spotify may have a point. And let’s not forget that Apple is now taking 15% off subscriptions in the second year a user keeps the subscription. I’d rather talk about the 30% in context of normal, non-subscription apps.

One developer complained about the 30% during a podcast recently with the statement, “I think the richest company in the world could afford to take a smaller cut.” That evoked so many thoughts for me.

First of all, how do you think Apple got to be the richest company in the world? It wasn’t by having razor-thin margins, was it? This conversation drove me nuts because the argument for why Apple should cut their margin was because Spotify had a razor-thin margin! Why is it Apple’s responsibility that they chose to be in a business with such low margins? I don’t get that argument at all.

I think it’s a valid comparison to look at what cut Amazon takes when you self-publish an eBook. According to Amazon’s Direct Publishing guidelines for Kindle books, the author gets to keep the grand sum of 35% of the selling price of their book. Seriously, Amazon keeps 65%. And they give you a range of what you can charge for the book. That’s the standard policy, but if the author agrees to some further restrictions, she can get a better deal, keeping 70%. But to get the Amazon Kindle deal to be as good as the Apple deal is for apps, the author has to agree to have the book exclusively on Kindle, and it has to be part of the Kindle all-access program (where you don’t get full price for your book). So…is Apple’s 30% cut a bad deal for apps?

When people look at the 30% cut and declare it outrageous, I believe they’re only thinking about the cost of servers and storage. They know that disk is cheap , they know that linux boxes are cheap and they know that bandwidth is cheap. Therefore, storing their app should be cheap so Apple shouldn’t charge them so much. But here’s a sampling of what people don’t take into account. Apple has to pay for:

  • Cost of physical footprint for the server
  • Cost of electricity to run the server
  • Cost of system administration time to keep the server running and patched
  • Cost of paying someone to architect the server farm
  • Cost of redundant servers, offsite backups, and disaster recovery plans
  • Cost of someone to create purchase orders to buy the servers
  • Cost of developers to design the database for the store
  • Cost of UI designers to create the look and feel of the store
  • Cost of architects to design the store
  • Cost of Research and Development
  • Cost of help desk to answer calls about the store
  • Cost of financial billing software and people to manage the purchases
  • Costs paid to credit card companies for purchases made in the store
  • Cost of managers of all of these people
  • Cost of marketing for the store

I could go on and on but do you see how many things are behind that simple word “server”?

My point is not that Apple is barely scraping by. They’re clearly raking in money hand over fist. With average gross profit margins (profit before tax) at around 40%, they aren’t hurting. We don’t know exactly what margins they make on apps but their services business appears to be in line with that average. My point is that they built this business to make money, they’re responsible to the shareholders for making that profit, and to say that they should lower their margins just because someone else chose to be in a low margin business is just plain silliness.

Some of the people who complain so much about the 30% cut don’t take into account how much better their exposure to customers is with the Mac App Store. I know it’s hard to get noticed, but I believe it’s easier in the store than it is to be found on your own website.

But It Could be Better

I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I don’t think improvements could be made to the Mac App Store that would benefit both the developers and customers. For example, I think both sides would love to have the Mac App Store allow free trials. That benefits both sides. Just yesterday I spent 10 minutes pondering whether to part with the giant sum of $3 for an app just because I wasn’t sure it was going to do what I wanted it to do. You’ve been there, right?

I also think it would benefit both sides if developers had ways to contact their customers from the Mac App Store. Getting notifications of new versions, having a communications path for problems, being alerted to discount codes, all of these things would help the users and the developers.

But saying that the Mac App Store is a horrible disaster as some of these louder folks have said kind of makes my head explode.

Ok, I’m done with my rant, thanks for letting me get that off of my chest.

NC #580 Apple Watch Rescue, Neverware CloudReady Chromebook, RadTech ProCables, Zoom Audio Recorders

I’ll talk about how Steve wearing an Apple Watch helped him come to my aid when I smacked my little punkin’ head on the ground, then I’ll tell you how to turn an old Mac or PC into a Chromebook for free with CloudReady from If you’re rough on cables, you might want to check out the RadTech ProCable UHD lightning cables from…. In the last of our interviews from PhotoCon LA, we talk to the folks at Zoom about their portable audio recorders, the Zoom H5 and Zoom H6.

mp3 download
Continue reading “NC #580 Apple Watch Rescue, Neverware CloudReady Chromebook, RadTech ProCables, Zoom Audio Recorders”

When You Need a Heavy Duty Lightning Cable – RadTech ProCable UHD

RadTech ProCable UHD 10ftI’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they’re always destroying their Lighting cables by running over them with their chairs, or getting them caught on something, or bending them so that the wires fray at the connector joint.

The only solution seemed to be to buy cheaper cables but buy them in bulk because they were so easy to destroy. Cheap cables can get really expensive after a while though, and you hate to be caught out with one that has failed when you really need it.

If you’re this rough on cables, you might want to take a look at the RadTech ProCable UHD. RadTech sent me two of these cables and they really are industrial strength. The cables themselves have a really nice looking black and grey woven jacketing over them that makes them stiff but still flexible enough to bend. RadTech says that they’re double-shielded to protect against interference from RF noise. The strain relief at the connector joint is super stiff plastic and I couldn’t get a tight bend to form to even test whether it would wear. Continue reading “When You Need a Heavy Duty Lightning Cable – RadTech ProCable UHD”

NC #577 Two-Factor Authentication with Google and then Apple, Hazel Video Field Guide, Security Bits

I bit the bullet this week and turned on two-factor authentication for both my NosillaCast Google Account and my Apple ID. It was an “interesting” adventure in the same vein as the Chinese curse, “May you have interesting times.” The two experiences were really different and I’m not sure which one was better. In-between those two discussions we’ll cleanse our palettes with a discussion of David Sparks new Hazel Video Field Guide. After we’re done with the two-factor discussion, Bart joins us for Security Bits.

mp3 download
Continue reading “NC #577 Two-Factor Authentication with Google and then Apple, Hazel Video Field Guide, Security Bits”

Apple 2-Factor Authentication – Now With Fewer Paper Cuts

Apple 2fa explanationAfter my someone painful and tedious experience with two-factor authentication on Google, I wasn’t sure I could face doing it on my Apple ID. Since I wrote the previous article, I’ve continued to add to the count of times I’ve had to do the 2FA dance with Google, like when my friend Diane wrote a blog post on her Tumblr account and I wanted to leave a darn comment. The paper cuts have slowed way down over the week but this “you only do it once per device!” claim is pure horse pucky.

In spite of this, I decided to go ahead and try two-factor authentication on my Apple ID. I made this decision because somehow I actually got locked out of my Apple ID. I feared that my account was being targeted by the bad guys but after it happened a second time two days later, I decided to take to the Twitters to see if anyone else was getting locked out.
Continue reading “Apple 2-Factor Authentication – Now With Fewer Paper Cuts”

NC #572 Apple did not Admit to Planned Obsolescence, PRC & Hardcore History

This show is guest-hosted by Bart Busschots. The show starts with a little rant about how Apple did not accidentally admit to practicing Planned Obsolescence, no matter what the tabloid press (or Irish radio) say. Allison teleports in from the past with an interview with PRC from CES 2016, Bart recommends the Hardcore History podcast, and finally, Bart does a solo Security Bits.

mp3 download

Continue reading “NC #572 Apple did not Admit to Planned Obsolescence, PRC & Hardcore History”

Estimated Usage does not equal Planned Obsolescence

In case you can’t tell from the tone of this post, this is Bart here standing in for Allison this week.

This morning I was listening to the radio, like I always do when getting ready for work. I listen to RTÉ 1, Ireland’s national radio station for serious adults (lots of talk, very little music), and at the time I’m getting ready for work, I get to listen to the first half of Ryan Tubridy’s show.

The news came on at the top of the hour, we still don’t have a government, and then Ryan got stuck into his hour. His first main topic was Apple – ruh roh – I always get a little nervous when RTÉ take on tech topics. In my experience they have generally proven to be about as technologically literate as my cat. Ryan had a supposed tech expert come on to explain that in their environmental report, Apple had accidentally admitted to practicing planned obsolescence. In case anyone didn’t understand what that was, they explained that in the early years of the last century the lightbulb manufacturers had a cartel which they used to artificially shorten the lifespan of light bulbs to boost sales. The implication was clear, Apple is doing the same kind of thing, designing their iPhones to die early so they can sell more.

Really? Could this really have happened and it not show up on any of the many tech news sites I read? Colour me VERY sceptical.

Continue reading “Estimated Usage does not equal Planned Obsolescence”

Posts navigation

1 2 3 4 5 6
Scroll to top