Wednesday, 23 March 2011

iOS and MACos destroyed (again) at Pwn2Own security conference

    The Pwn2Own event, held at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, allows companies to challenge hackers to exploit their software, i.e. operating systems or web browsers.

    Charlie Miller and Dion Blazakis have managed to yet again hack iOS thanks to a security hole in the mobile version of Safari. They managed to access the contacts and inbox of an iPhone 4 (iOS 4.2.1) by simply loading a web page.
    The vulnerability isn't patched in iOS 4.3 and it looks like ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) won't be able to protect you from this one.

    This year French pen-testing firm VUPEN has hacked Apple’s Safari web browser using a zero-day flaw to win the coveted Pwn2Own hacker challenge.
    The exploited computer was a fully patched MacBook running Mac OS X (64-bit). Co-founder of VUPEN, Chaouki Beckar, lured the Mac to a fake website and managed to bypass the ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and DEP (Data Execution Prevention) execution procedures that were built into the OS. He then launched a calculator app successfully and wrote files to the machine.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

2011 MacBook Pros can't stop freezing and crashing

     Just when we were about to think MACos is on the right track - since it's the last OS to finally get TRIM support to properly use SSD drives - it looks like the shabby build quality(1)(2) and software issues, just won't give it a break!
     Starting with the launch of Apple's new flagship MacBook Pros in late February, there have been hundred of reports of "hard freezes", the device locking up when users are running multiple programs - yes, don't be afraid to lol, multitasking seems to be quite an intense issue for Apple. Despite Apple's attempt to cure the problem with an update to OS X 10.6.7, users are reporting the issue still occurring.

    The issue is stemming from the 15 and 17-inch models, each of which feature Sandy Bridge Core i7 quad-core CPUs and AMD Radeo HD graphics processors.
    A thread entitled "MacBook Pro 2011 17" hard freeze" on the Apple discussion forum is nearing 70 pages, with most users complaining about the crashes whenever using multiple apps, especially video intensive ones like iMovie or gaming.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Net Promoaner Part 18

Check out how dread this one is:

"3 years ago, I had been late twice within a 90 day period - which you know means if you're late or call off FOR ANY REASON within the 90 day period for two more times, you're fired. No considerations. I had a miscarriage, and guess what? It counted against me. Even with me bringing in the paperwork. It was humiliating to deal with management and HR not caring, while dealing with the emotional trauma of losing a child. A week later, I was fired as Genius Admin, and given a job as "Phone Concierge." The Admin position was given to a strapping young lad who, obviously, wasn't planning on getting pregnant any time soon.

3 months later, I became pregnant again, and was very ill during my first trimester. Some mornings, I could not get out of bed. They began counting this against me, and had me do FMLA through Matrix, so they legally couldn't fire me. I continued to get comments from the managers about me "dealing with it" and "not letting it get to me." The managers even denied my maternity leave for my last month of pregnancy - until I called HR on them.

Luckily, I was smart enough to let them pay my maternity leave for 5 months after I had my daughter, and I quit and never looked back. Coming from pre-iPhone Apple Retail, I am incredibly disappointed on where the company has gone. Thank you for your blog."

Thanks Jill, and thanks for sharing.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

iPhone: the worst browsing experience out there

    How does the tasteless, Flashless iPhone browsing compare to a full web experience? Well, after 45,000 page loads the answer was clear, Android wins by a huge margin even with Flash support.

    For the tests the company Blaze used iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3 and Google Nexus S running Android 2.3 Gingerbread along with custom apps that automatically load pages and measure the speed.

     The chosen websites were the thousand homepages of the Fortune 1000 companies. Each page was loaded multiple times on different days. Tests were run over Wi-Fi.

The two charts below summarize the results:
Android’s browser managed to load 84% of the websites faster than Safari, with whopping 52% faster load times on average.

Lower load times represent faster performance

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Core Training

As if you'd get that much literature nowdays
    The lies start at Core Training. I should have known when strangers cheered and whooped me as I walked in. They'll tell you things that you will find to be not true, and they'll also miss out things that will quickly rear their prospective ugly heads. Let's start with what you'll be told:

Apple is an amazing place to work.

There are tremendous growth opportunities.

You will be first to touch the products.

Here's some things that they won't say:

     In order to make the job permanent, you will need to hit 2 out of 3 attaches. Otherwise you can fuck off. We don't want people that won't help me get my fat bonus.

If you are here wanting to be a Family Room Specialist, you will be a bitch and do all the jobs instore, including being shouted out and called a liar on the Genius Bar, and also teach people who paid to learn from a trainer on subjects you know nothing about.

We will treat you like shit.

iFixit tears appart new MacBook Pro, isn't impressed

   The new MacBook Pro left the teardown team completely unimpressed.They found that the subwoofer enclosure was being held in place by a stripped screw and that there was an unlocked ZIF socket connecting the IR sensor, which the team described as "not fitting for an $1,800 machine." Additionally, iFixit discovered "gobs" and "absurd amounts" of thermal paste on the CPU and GPU upon removing the heat sink. "The excess paste may cause overheating issues down the road, but only time will tell," said iFixit.
    Oh you Foxconn rascals you, if this would be all it wouldn't even be so bad. Unfortunately if you look at the picture to the right you can see how small the heat spreaders are compared to the heatpads. We appreciate the nice symmetry, but this is in no case thermal efficient. For $1,800 you should probably get a PC that admits it's a PC and doesn't sacrifice cooling efficiency and build quality for aesthetics and probably has a dedicated and much more powerful graphics card as well.

Via: iFixit

[iPhone jokes] The truth about the iPad 2

Apple Retail Stories: The most ridiculous cases of life enrichment

Jenny has her little story to tell:

"This guy comes (obviously with no appointment, and on a Saturday) with a broken first gen iPod touch. The Concierge/LOF/AQM/bar-bitch points out the HUGE queue of people waiting and explains that unfortunately he cannot be seen today, as all these people have appointments and are waiting ahead of him. Causing a massive scene, the manager skips over to see what all the fuss is about. He complains that the screen has cracked on his 3/4 year old iPod, (the iPod is battered), the battery is terrible, and he can't use Skype to call people. So yep, you've guessed it, manager gives him an iPhone 4. I swear I nearly walked out."

That truly is a disgusting story. But it's OK 'cos he'll go and tell all his friends what a fabulous life enriching time he had at the Apple store! Or will he go home laughing tell other scum that he knows that you can go in and be a prick and walk out with a free iPhone? I just can't decide...

Goodbye my dear uncompetitive, insecure iTunes

    Confession: I still buy my music online instead of torrenting it. And after years of enduring an unfulfilling relationship with iTunes, last month I finally broke things off. I headed over to Amazon. I haven't looked back yet.
      It all started when I was browsing for some holiday gifts a few weeks back. Somewhere down the Amazon rabbit hole was this: Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy for five bucks. Five! One-click purchase, please. And even though that deal has passed by, it's still selling for $9 on Amazon, compared to $12 on iTunes. And these type of deals have been going on for months?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Net Promoaner Part 17

This one comes in from another human:

"I have to say, the part that is worst about working in an Apple Store is the lies. I am very happy to work in an environment that is all about numbers and sales figures as long as the company is honest about it. Before joining Apple, we were told that this wasn't a company that cared about sales figures or targets and yet all we hear about in downloads is the targets and sales figures we didn't meet and how it was entirely our fault (and not remotely circumstantial) that we didn't meet them on a day-to-day basis."

True, it's aaaalllll about the figures.

Another fine sample of cheap build quality: iPad 2

    Now that many of you have collected and used your second generation iPad tablets for a few hours, we're starting to see the inevitable reports of defects. Thus far, two issues have bubbled to the surface. The first issue -- yellow spots beneath the LCD glass -- is reminiscent of the same fresh-from-the-factory iPhone 4 issue that resolved itself just as soon as the bonding agent used for the LCD glass had time to evaporate. The second issue, which is being conflated with the first, is characterized by light bleeding through from the outer edges of the LCD panel. The bleeding is most noticeable when watching a dark scene in a movie or using an app with a black background as demonstrated in the picture below.
    This does not come as a surprise after the iPhone launch fiasco and Apple is already taking steps to distract the public by releasing overrated performance benchmarks. Keep in mind the iPad has the lowest resolution compared to most of the tablets released so far, hence a lesser strain on the GPU. Also keep in mind the CPU/GPU frequency will be lowered in the future firmware updates, similar to the iPhone 4, to preserve the battery.
     Since most of the tablets use the same hardware and even have more ram then a the 512 of the iPad 2, you should base your purchase on build quality since other devices get performance boosts with updates rather than the routine underclocking Apple products get. USB support should also be of concern since it seems to be completley broken even on Apple's expensive adapters while on most competitor's tablets full USB support can be enabled by editing a text like and a 1$ cable.

Video After the break:

Friday, 11 March 2011

Save A Genius!!

Why not do your bit to help out a random Genius, by making their Saturday go a little easier? But how can you do this from the comfort of your own home? Book some fake appointments!!

Geniuses all over the world have been doing this for a long time to try and stretch out their day, so I've decided to help out some of our soldiers by seeing if the readers will step up and help a random store.

The lucky store in question is.......

As it stands, the appointment availability for Saturday 12th February is as follows, with Mac appointments on the left, and iPhone on the right.

Right then, let's get started! I'm pretty sure Immanuel Goldberg has a problem with his topcase....

Here's the all important link:

Apple completley breaks iPad and iPad 2 USB compatibility

    Apple has reduced the amount of power that the iPad’s 30-pin connector can emit from 100mA to 20mA. The good part about this is that your iPad’s battery will probably last longer but the downside is that Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit is crippled for many people. The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit includes two adapters: 1 USB connector and 1 SD card reader.
    The core issue is that connected devices that require power of more than 20mA will no longer work. That means that many USB keyboards (Apple’s included) as well as USB flash drives will no longer work with the iPad. When the user connects a device that is not self-powered and requires more than 20mA of power from the iPad they get the following alert: “The connected USB device requires too much power.”
     This problem not only pertains to camera-related devices but also is an issue for microphones. USB microphones were compatible with the iPad running iOS 3.2.2 but now some of them apparently use more than 20mA of the iPad’s power. Although many users are unhappy that they cannot use many of their USB flash drives, USB keyboards, or USB microphones anymore, users are even angrier that many of their USB cameras no longer work with the iPad.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Net Promoaner Part 16

Whoa, someone who wishes to remain anonymous shares a story with us, regarding the midnight Genius repair shifts.

"It started last June 2010 when all of the Genii where pulled into the managers office one by one. Everyone else was outraged and stated that they would quit before working until midnight. It was kind of ironic though, I had the least reaction compared to the other Genii. I don't have a problem with change and said that I would give it a try. This change was supposed to give us more time during the day to help customers at the bar. Possibly even extending our time per appointments beyond the 15 minute mark. It was promised that we would even have the opportunity to do "while you wait" repairs for the easier fixes. This midnight shift was also focused on giving the Genius team an uninterrupted 4 hours each night to do repairs. It was mandatory that each one of us worked at least 3 midnight shifts per each work week. 

I was lucky compared to most of the others. I didn't have any of the "cl-open" shifts (close one night, open the next day). These "cl-open" shifts resulted in about 8 hours between shifts. I couldn't believe that this was possible let alone legal. They weren't even flexible if we had kids to drop off at school early the next morning, and had complete disregard to our personal life.

I remember that I started to condition myself a week prior to my first midnight shift. I had to force myself to stay up late which was very difficult. My whole family was involved in attempting to keep me up until the stroke of midnight. After about 3 months of these midnight shifts I started to realize that I couldn't fall asleep when I returned home after my shift. I would find myself falling asleep later and later each following week, sometimes as late as 5 AM. I had gone to the manager with my concerns and they said that if it was a problem to go find a different job. Seriously, they told me to quit and get a different job, with no compassion whatsoever. 

This sleep deprivation really started becoming a health concern as I was urged by my wife to see the doctor to discuss my poor sleep habits. The Dr. was outraged that a big company like Apple, is mandating that I change my lifestyle, creating such an unhealthy work environment. As all American Drs do, she prescribed medication to correct it. The only other option I had, was to quit and I couldn't afford that option. The new medication was supposed to help me fall asleep better. The new med worked, but with some side effects. I feel like I'm only awake to work and I can't even enjoy my time off with my wife and family.

In October I had contacted Matrix to see what they could do. After about 2 months I was turned over to HR and there has been no change. According to HR part of the Genius requirements are to work 3 midnight shifts a week. They asked if I could at least do 2 as an exception, but they are completely missing the point.

Currently I wake up, eat, work, sleep repeat. I have no energy to do anything before or after my shift. The quality of life has diminished. I spend my days off napping and lazy. My wife cries on a monthly basis as she is frustrated that I am unable spend any time with her. I've asked to be on all late shifts or all early shifts just have some consistent sleep patterns. They said it's not an option.

The worst part of the whole deal is that I don't see any improvement with our abilities to help people at the bar or repairs. Their studies showed that we are better off doing repairs later in our shifts rather than first thing in the morning. I can't see how that is possible when I and the rest of the team are completely exhausted. They said that we would be able to do "while you wait" repairs. That can't happen due to the lack of personnel working during the daytime to accommodate the night shifts. They said that the late shifts would result in uninterrupted repair time. We are still being interrupted between the 8 to 9 o'clock hour. The studies also showed that there was no need for the Genius Bar to be open between eight and nine o'clock. That doesn't make any sense either.

I hope that this doesn't get me fired. I'm a little worried about retaliation from Apple so please make this post anonymous. I'm just curious to know if this is normal amongst all stores and if there are others that feel as I do.

Thanks for hearing me out."

Boom. We all felt, and in many cases/stores still feel exactly the same. It's unhealthy, fucking boring, no better for the customers, moral is much lower, tiring... I could go on. Why don't Apple actually ask the Genius Teams for their input? Surely being on the bar all day everyday they have a good idea of when the bar works best? Apple would rather leave the decisions to some corporate idiot who has never worked a day on the shop floor in their entire life, let alone the bar, who sits their looking at figures, stats, and probably the value or their shares. They'd rather make the change, then ask for 'feedback' only to ignore any negative comments. It's like talking to a fucking brick wall.

Apple, are you reading this?? I think that you are, so take it on board and actually go and 'enrich the lives' of the people who are, remember, 'the most important resource, the soul' of the company, as these are the people that worked their asses off so you could drive home tonight in that fancy car.