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Josh Centers

Josh Centers

Josh Centers is the managing editor of TidBITS, as well as the author of Take Control of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Take Control of Notes, Take Control of Apple Home Automation, and Take Control of Apple TV, and co-author of Take Control of Preview. He's also a contributor to The Prepared and USA TODAY.

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After Nearly 20 Years, the Eolas Patents are Dead

An East Texas appeals panel has effectively put a stop to the Eolas patents, which threatened the Web for nearly 20 years. A man named Michael Doyle, with the help of the University of California, gained a patent over essential Web technologies. He then founded a company called Eolas, which then spent years successfully collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements from major technology companies, including Adobe, Amazon, and Apple. A Texas jury struck down the patents in 2012, and the subsequent appeal denial should end Eolas’ lawsuits forever.

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Apple Celebrates One Billion Podcast Subscriptions in iTunes

The iTunes Store has reached one billion total podcast subscriptions, spread out over 250,000 separate podcasts. While not every podcast subscription is through iTunes — some are from third-party apps, such as Instacast — it’s still an indicator that podcasting is a booming medium. Despite the iOS Podcasts app having a rocky history and Apple discontinuing the Podcast Producer tool in OS X Server after Lion Server, podcast support remains prominent in many of Apple’s products, including GarageBand, iTunes, and the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Apple TV.

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Researcher May Have Caused Apple Developer Center Shutdown

Turkish security researcher Ibrahim Balic says he reported a Developer Center security vulnerability hours before Apple shut down its developer Web site. The vulnerability enabled Balic to access the email addresses and real names (but not passwords) of more than 100,000 users. Balic told 9To5Mac that he promptly reported the vulnerability to Apple and plans to delete the information he collected.

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MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update 1.0

Fixes intermittent loss of Wi-Fi connectivity, screen flicker when using Photoshop, and audio volume fluctuation during video playback. (Free, 3.35 MB)

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Attack Closes Apple Developer Center

The Apple Developer Center has been offline since Thursday, 18 July 2013, and after days of silence and much speculation, Apple finally sent email to developers on Sunday, explaining that it had detected an intruder and shut down the developer Web site. Apple says that it is completely overhauling its developer systems, updating server software, and rebuilding the entire database, so it is uncertain when the system will be available again. In the meantime, developers can’t obtain identities, certificates, or provisioning profiles, making it impossible to distribute an app for testing or submit it to the App Store. Apple developer forums are also offline.

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FunBITS: FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL is a challenging, yet short space game for the Mac where you never know what will happen next. Josh Centers describes what’s fun about FTL, and shares a few of his hard-won tips.

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Setting Up a Home Office with Josh Centers

Josh Centers shares his home office setup — from the computer to the coffee — along with how to choose the best equipment at the best prices. His choices may not match what you would need, but his thinking is worth keeping in mind as you equip or update your own work environment.

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Why the iBookstore Should Go DRM-Free

Over at Macworld, author Kirk McElhearn argues that Apple should eliminate DRM in titles sold in the iBookstore, citing Steve Jobs’s 2007 open letter, “Thoughts on Music,” as an example of how Apple could pressure publishers. The core problem is that titles purchased in the iBookstore are readable only on iOS devices and not on a Kindle, other ebook reader, Android device, Windows PC, or even a Mac until iBooks arrives with OS X 10.9 Mavericks. However, titles purchased on a Kindle can be read in the Kindle app on nearly all of those platforms. As a result, McElhearn says he usually buys from Amazon instead of Apple, a strategy we’ve heard many other ebook aficionados adopting as well. Like all other Take Control titles, McElhearn’s most recent book, “Take Control of LaunchBar,” is DRM-free.

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Apple Backs Request for Increased National Security Transparency

Apple has signed on to an open letter asking for more transparency from the U.S. government’s national security requests. Joining Apple are AOL, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Tumblr, Twitter, Yahoo, Wikimedia Foundation, Y Combinator, and many other groups. Notably absent from the list are any major telecom companies, which reportedly refused to sign the letter. The signing companies want permission to publicly report statistics on government requests related to the USA PATRIOT Act, FISA, and National Security Letter statutes. The letter is addressed to President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and a variety of other prominent members of the House and Senate.

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TextWrangler 4.5.3

Maintenance release to the free text editor that mirrors many of the fixes in BBEdit 10.5.5. (Free, 9.8 MB)

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BBEdit 10.5.5

Maintenance release with over 30 fixes and improvements. ($49.99 new, free update, 12.6 MB)

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T-Mobile and AT&T Offer Frequent Device Upgrades — For a Price

Is it worth paying a monthly fee to be able to upgrade your smartphone or tablet more often? Maybe. Josh Centers analyzes what the new T-Mobile and AT&T plans mean for Apple users.

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Data That Can Be Sniffed at Wi-Fi Hotspots

You may have heard that the Tumblr app inadvertently transmitted passwords in the clear on Wi-Fi networks, but what else might be at risk? Over at PCWorld, Eric Geier performed an experiment to see what he could intercept over an unsecured Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop. Using a Windows laptop with a wireless network analyzer and a rooted Android phone, he was able to see the Web pages other connected users were viewing, as well as email and unsecure logins. Geier offers a number of tips to improve Wi-Fi security while in public, including always using SSL connections to Web sites, when available.

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App.net Introduces PourOver RSS Publishing Tool

Social network and infrastructure service App.net has released a new tool called PourOver that enables you to publish RSS feeds on App.net. PourOver will be especially appreciated by bloggers who wish to send new post links to App.net automatically. The open-source syndication tool supports Pubsubhubbub for real-time publishing and flow control to space out posts.

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Bugshot Brings iOS 7-Style Image Annotation to the iPhone and iPad

Need to point out visual errors in iOS, or just want to get a chance to play with iOS 7? Josh Centers tells you why you want to check out Bugshot.