TidBITS#1238/01-Sep-2014

Under pressure from competitors, Dropbox has boosted the base level of storage for its Dropbox Pro plan to 1 TB and added some welcome features, all while keeping the price at $9.99 per month — Adam Engst dives into the details. Decentralized workgroups can be great, but keeping up with time zones isn’t. Josh Centers takes a look at the new Time Zones app from developer Jared Sinclair, and also tells the tale of trying to get his iPhone 5 battery replaced by Apple. For TidBITS members, we have the penultimate chapter of Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server,” which focuses on running the Time Machine service to enable your users to back up to your server. Steve McCabe closes out the issue with an installment of FunBITS about CanOpener, an iOS app that uses some impressive tricks to improve the quality of audio heard through headphones. Notable software releases this week include Microsoft Office 2011 14.4.4, BBEdit 10.5.12 and TextWrangler 4.5.10, and LaunchBar 6.1.
 
Articles
 

This issue of TidBITS sponsored in part by:
Help support TidBITS by supporting our sponsors!

Dropbox Boosts Pro Storage, Adds Pro Features

  by Adam C. Engst: ace@tidbits.com, @adamengst

Dropbox may have set the standard for file sharing services, but with Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive lowballing the price of storage, Dropbox has found it necessary to tweak the details on its paid Dropbox Pro accounts to compete, now offering a 1 TB tier for $9.99 per month or $99 per year.

Previously, Dropbox charged $9.99 per month for 100 GB, $19.99 for 200 GB, and $49.99 for 500 GB. Users who had one of those plans now have ten times their previous amount of storage. Those who had 200 GB and 500 GB plans can opt to keep them (at the new quotas of 2 TB and 5 TB, respectively) or downgrade to 1 TB at the beginning of the next billing cycle.

In comparison, Google Drive also offers 1 TB for $9.99 per month, and for those who don’t need that much space, 100 GB for $1.99 per month. The personal OneDrive account is normally $1.99 per month for 100 GB or $3.99 per month for 200 GB, but a current promotion on OneDrive for Business drops the 1 TB price to $2.50 per month. Amazon’s Cloud Drive will probably be dropping its pricing soon, given that 1 TB costs a whopping $500 per year there.

More compelling for those who don’t need more space are the new features that Dropbox is adding to Pro accounts (free Dropbox accounts won’t get these features):

Thanks to Glenn Fleishman for alerting me to the fact that Dropbox has also rejiggered its Packrat unlimited version history feature. For free accounts, Dropbox maintains all older versions and deleted files for only 30 days, but in the past, Dropbox Pro users could pay an extra $39 per year for Packrat, which maintained all older versions and deleted files indefinitely. Dropbox has now renamed Packrat to Extended Version History and set it to preserve only 1 year of older versions and deleted files. The price of Extended Version History for Dropbox Pro users remains $39 per year, and existing Dropbox Pro users with Packrat can opt in to keep unlimited version history before 1 November 2014. (Dropbox for Business users continue to have unlimited version history.)

Needless to say, an update to Joe’s “Take Control of Dropbox” will be making its way onto Take Control’s publishing calendar, though the next few months are pretty booked as we gear up for Apple’s upcoming operating system revisions.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article


Chapter 13 of “Take Control of OS X Server” Now Available

  by Adam C. Engst: ace@tidbits.com, @adamengst

We’re known for beating the backup drum, both in TidBITS and in a variety of Take Control books, so hopefully it won’t be a surprise that this week’s chapter of Charles Edge’s streamed “Take Control of OS X Server” focuses on backup. In Chapter 13, “Backup,” Charles looks briefly at what’s involved with backing up your server (nothing unusual, though there’s a special tool for backing up just your settings) before moving on to explain how to turn on OS X Server’s Time Machine service.

That’s right, when you’re running OS X Server, you can enable its Time Machine service, point it at a large storage device, and instruct all your users to back up to your server over the network. It’s a great way to centralize network backup and make sure that users can’t forget to back up by failing to connect an external hard drive.

The basic configuration isn’t hard, but Charles offers some advice about how to estimate how much storage to devote to backups, and what to do if you run out of space on your backup destination.

This is the last chapter we had promised back when we started, but we decided that we needed one more chapter about maintaining OS X Server once you’ve set it up. In the next and final chapter, Charles will be offering a number of tips on this topic, along with suggestions for other resources that offer useful information about running OS X Server. So, if you have specific questions about maintenance, let us know and we’ll try to make sure they’re covered in this upcoming chapter.

We encourage everyone to read the first two chapters of “Take Control of OS X Server” to see where the book is going — all subsequent chapters are available only to TidBITS members for now. If you have already joined the TidBITS membership program, log in to the TidBITS site using the email address from which you joined. The full ebook of “Take Control of OS X Server” will be available for purchase by everyone in PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle) formats once it’s complete.

Published chapters include:

Publishing this book in its entirety for TidBITS members as it’s being written is just one of the ways we thank TidBITS members for their support. We hope it encourages those of you who have been reading TidBITS for free for years to help us continue to bring you more of the professionally written and edited articles you’ve become accustomed to each week. For more details on what the membership program means to us, see “Support TidBITS in 2014 via the TidBITS Membership Program” (9 December 2013).

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article


Find the Time, Worldwide, with the Time Zones App

  by Josh Centers: josh@tidbits.com, @jcenters
  1 comment

TidBITS is a small, yet global, operation. Our official base of operations is in Ithaca, New York, but my office is in Tennessee, and most of our editors are in California and Washington State. We also have regular contributors who work from Arizona, Nevada, Minnesota, the UK, and even as far away as New Zealand. On top of that, we have volunteer translation teams in the Netherlands and Japan, and of course readers in innumerable countries. The sun never sets on the TidBITS empire.

For the most part, things run smoothly via email and chat, but I have a lot of time zones to keep track of. It can be a challenge to make sure meetings are penciled in for the correct time, to make sure I’m not expecting an article while the author is asleep, and to know if a last-minute editing question will interrupt someone’s dinner.

It’s tempting to contemplate the Doc Brown route of having an arm full of smartwatches, but then I’d have to remember which watch tracked each particular time zone. My calls for everyone to settle on Greenwich Mean Time have been ignored, and Swatch’s Internet Time never caught on.

Luckily, tools to display the time in other time zones abound. The iOS Clock app can do it, but it’s restricted to major cities. Then there’s the cleverly designed Every Time Zone Web app, but it isn’t configurable and doesn’t scale well on the iPhone.

Oodles of iOS developers have taken a whack at the problem, but most of the apps I’ve found are either poorly designed or out of date. The latest, and most successful, is the new Time Zones app from well-known developer Jared Sinclair. Time Zones is free in the App Store and requires iOS 7.

Sinclair is one of the good guys in independent iOS development, developing high-quality but ill-fated apps. Riposte is the best App.net client out there, and Whisper is a great group-messaging client for App.net; unfortunately, App.net has slipped into a death spiral (see “App.net Sheds Full-Time Employees, Still “Self-Sustaining”,” 7 May 2014). OvershareKit, which Sinclair developed with Justin Williams of Glassboard fame, is a terrific sharing library for developers that has been made obsolete by iOS 8’s Extensibility features. Unread is one of the slickest RSS readers out there, but Sinclair had to abandon non-essential development on it due to poor sales (despite loads of positive press).

With Time Zones, Sinclair has fallen back on simplicity. It’s a utilitarian app, supported by ads, which you can disable with a $4.99 in-app purchase.

Time Zones shows the day, date, and local time. Below that is a gear button for settings, then a list of tracked time zones, their hour offsets, and the local time in that location. To add a new city, tap the gear button and tap Add a Location. Not every city is available; my home town isn’t, but Ithaca is. However, there’s a workaround I’ll mention shortly. Other options enable you to use 12- or 24-hour time and hide the offsets.


The killer feature of Time Zones is how it lets you rename cities. I added Ithaca to my list of cities, and then renamed it “Adam and Tonya,” since I think about time zones not by where they are, but by who lives in them. So if the person you’re thinking of doesn’t live in an included city, just find any other one in the same time zone and rename it as desired.

To delete a time zone entry, tap it, then tap Delete. From this menu, you can also view the entry’s city on a map, in case you forget where someone is located.

Being able to see what time it is now in other time zones is useful, but I also need to look forward in time when scheduling meetings with people in other time zones. For that, the Quick Check feature of Time Zones is perfect.

To access it, tap the gear button, set a date and time, and tap Quick Check in the upper-right. The app returns to the main view, with the time set to what you specified, the background color is an orangish yellow, and all your time zone entries now reflect the local time that matches the date and time you entered. To leave Quick Check, tap the gear button and tap End Quick Check.


That’s it. Time Zones is simple, pretty, and free. What makes it special is that I can use it to build a dedicated database of the time zones my contacts reside in. If you also deal with people around the world, it’s worth the download, and if you find yourself using it a lot, $4.99 will turn off the ads and thank Jared Sinclair for his efforts.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article


Replace a Dying iPhone 5 Battery: Take Two

  by Josh Centers: josh@tidbits.com, @jcenters
  9 comments

I can’t remember exactly when my iPhone 5’s battery began to fail, which is often the trouble with such things. I do know that, after installing iOS 7, it seemed to die occasionally when hitting the 20% or 30% mark. What I had assumed was a software quirk was not only not fixed by any of iOS 7’s updates, but grew worse this summer. The battery had gotten so bad that it would even die in the 40% range, and would sporadically drop several percentage points in a few seconds.

With my AppleCare+ plan due to expire soon, and with a big project that requires iOS 8 (which, after installing, will effectively void my warranty), I decided to pay my first visit to the vaunted Genius Bar. I’m no stranger to tinkering, but after Adam Engst’s trials and tribulations replacing his iPhone 5 battery (“Replace a Dying iPhone 5 Battery,” 5 March 2014), I decided to err on the side of caution. My closest Apple Store is about 90 minutes away, but I was going to be in the neighborhood anyway.

Long story short, the Genius confirmed that yes, my battery was shot, but not so bad that it qualified for warranty replacement, which flabbergasted me. Apple will replace the battery under AppleCare+, but there’s a catch in the terms and conditions: “…the capacity of the Covered Equipment’s battery to hold an electrical charge has depleted fifty (50%) percent or more from its original specifications…” In other words, unless your battery is half-dead, you still have to pay the $79 replacement fee, which I declined to do, because I’ll probably have a new phone in about a month anyway, and I had already paid (or, you might say, wasted) $99 on AppleCare+.

I had decided to just deal with the dead battery until I heard about “Apple Replacing Defective iPhone 5 Batteries” (25 August 2014). “I have been vindicated!” I exclaimed to the empty room, since I’d bought my iPhone in the covered date range between September 2012 and January 2013 and its serial number was recognized by Apple’s eligibility page. But what I had thought would be an easy fix turned out to be more of a headache than anticipated.

First, instead of driving 90 minutes to the Apple Store, I decided to call a somewhat-closer Apple Authorized Service Provider, which the battery recall support article lists as a possibility. But I was told no, they were not currently allowed to replace iPhone batteries under this program. “Very well, then,” I once again said to the empty room, “I shall return to the original Apple Store where I previously suffered defeat to reclaim victory.” Then I whipped out the Apple Store app and made another appointment with the Genius Bar, hoping that I’d get exactly the same Genius who wouldn’t help me before on the off chance I’d get an apology as well as a new battery.

Alas, after the next 90-minute drive, not only did I not get the same Genius, but it also wasn’t a quick fix. The Genius confirmed that my iPhone’s serial number was included in the recall, verified that my battery was indeed defective, and then informed me that they were out of replacement batteries, but might have more in a day or two.

It took a bit of willpower at this point not to be rude, since trying to get my battery fixed had already wasted hours of my time, and I had made an appointment. But, it wasn’t this guy’s fault, and I told him point blank that if I had to drive all the way back again, I probably wouldn’t bother. He checked again to see if there might be a spare battery, but to no avail. However, he did tell me that more might be coming in that day, if I could hang around the area. I agreed to do so, and left my number with him.

Thankfully, about an hour later, I got a call from the Apple Store telling me a battery had been reserved for me. So I rushed back, only to be told that it would take about two hours for them to replace it. At this point, I wasn’t going to say no.

Unfortunately, the mall surrounding this particular Apple Store has absolutely nothing I find interesting. No video game stores, no outdoor stores, no arcades, no movie theaters, not even a place to grab a burger. And thanks to a near-constant traffic jam surrounding the mall (it sits between one of the only three Whole Foods in the state and one of only two Trader Joe’s in the state), I didn’t dare venture far, though I did manage to find lunch.

Thankfully, there’s a happy ending: I did get a new battery for free, or, rather, in exchange for six hours of my life.

Why am I telling you my first-world sob story? Because I know many of you have the same battery issue (there were three other people picking up phones when I finally got mine), and I want to help you avoid my mistakes.

  1. Before leaving for the Apple Store, call first and make sure they have batteries in stock.

  2. Ignore Apple’s instructions to wipe content and settings from your iPhone. Unless you’re carrying extremely sensitive information in plain view, there’s no need, and you might want your phone to be functional while you wait. (I didn’t make this mistake, but neither should you.)

  3. Expect to wait a couple of hours. Either scout the area for something of interest or bring along a book or something to work on.

  4. Alternatively, you can opt to mail your iPhone in to Apple, but you’ll be without a phone for a few days.

  5. If you don’t have a local Apple Store and mailing it in isn’t feasible, you can try following the steps Adam did and fix it yourself (read “Replace a Dying iPhone 5 Battery,” 5 March 2014, and be sure to go over all the comments on the iFixit page).

What really irks me is that I had to make two trips in the first place. Apple should have just replaced the battery the first time. It would have saved both them and me a lot of time and trouble, not to mention helping that “customer sat” rating Tim Cook is supposedly obsessed with.

Apple should make a choice: either cover batteries under AppleCare+ completely or make them user-serviceable. I’ve heard compelling counter-arguments to both points. My pal Peter Cohen of iMore informed me that batteries are considered wearable parts — like a car’s brake pads — and others have said that if batteries were user-serviceable, they’d be smaller and have less capacity.

Those are good points, but let’s return to the ever-popular car comparison here. Manufacturer warranties don’t usually cover brakes, because they’re designed to be worn out and replaced. But here’s the thing: I can replace my car’s brake pads and rotors myself (and I have) or take them to a third-party shop without voiding my warranty. To insist that a part is both non-user-serviceable and not covered under warranty is unfair.

More practically, Apple has numerous opportunities to improve the support process. Let’s start with checking to see if my phone was covered by the recall. Why do I have to look up my serial number and type it in manually? Apple already has that information on file, and the Settings app could compare the serial number to a recall database on its own. Furthermore, why did I have to even write an article telling you how to check to see if your phone was covered? Shouldn’t Apple have notified everyone who was covered via email, iMessage, or even a push notification along the lines of those for Software Update?

Let’s proceed to the process of making the Genius Bar appointment. When you book via the Apple Store app, there is no machine-readable way of indicating what the problem might be, just a comment field, which I’m guessing rarely gets read.

What if, at least for recalls like this, since Apple knows that my device is affected, the app provided a checkbox I could mark to indicate that I’m coming in for a battery? Then, Apple could have iMessaged me that morning to let me know the battery wasn’t in stock, and sent me another message later when it came in.

Look, I’m a realist. I understand that no other company is likely to give me better service. If this had been one of the many Android phones, I’d be lucky to get any support at all two years out (on the other hand, I could probably have changed my own battery). And I commend Apple for the battery recall; it was a large-scale problem that the company could have easily ignored.

But Apple has raised the bar, for itself and for us. If Tim Cook wants Apple to remain the exemplar of top-notch service, there’s still work to be done.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article


FunBITS: Get The Most Out Of Your iPhone’s Music With CanOpener

  by Steve McCabe: steve@stevemccabe.net
  1 comment

Apple introduced the EarPods with the iPhone 5 in 2012, to generally positive response — the clarity of the sound they reproduced was better than their predecessors (see “iPhone 5: The Best Yet, But Still an iPhone,” 26 October 2012). But no matter how well a set of earbuds or headphones might reproduce the sound they receive, even the most high-end headphones can do only that: reproduce an audio source. If you want to enhance the sound quality of the music you play on your iPhone, you’ll need to work on the quality of the signal sent to your cans.

The iPhone’s native Music app plays music, and offers a few equalizer presets, but that’s all it does to your music. The $2.99 CanOpener — For Headphones, is an excellent, if awkwardly punctuated, app from GoodHertz that provides a significant boost to the iPhone listening experience.

CanOpener’s primary trick is crossfeed. Listen to music on full-sized stereo speakers, and while you notice clear separation between the outputs of the two speakers, each ear also hears the opposite ear’s sound; your right ear, for example, hears the right-hand speaker’s signal loud and clear, but then, a fraction of a second later, also hears the left-hand speaker’s output. Headphones don’t provide this crossfeed without additional signal processing, and as a result, the sound you hear on even the very best headphones will sound slightly less rich and full than the music you can enjoy with full-sized speakers. Crossfeed adds warmth, which is good for enjoyable listening, at the cost of crispness, which is more important for audio production.


The enhancement that CanOpener provides is subtle but noticeable, especially on older recordings with a less dynamic soundstage than is standard today. As I write, I’m using CanOpener to listen to the marvelous Sympathy for the Devil, the Rolling Stones’ 1968 masterpiece, and I’ve selected CanOpener’s Music before 1970 preset. Keith Richards’s thrilling bassline fills the soundstage; Charlie Watts’s cymbals shimmer with clarity and sharpness; Mick Jagger’s sneering vocals spread over the full range of both speakers, lending a new dimension of malice to the song — the overall sound can only be described as richer and fuller. While there is, by definition, less stereo separation with crossfeed applied, the sound feels stronger, more powerful, more intense. CanOpener includes a bypass button; tap it and you can hear the song without any processing applied, and suddenly everything is a little duller — Keef’s bass stays firmly in the left channel, and there’s something missing in the middle.

Other presets offer differing degrees of crossfeed: Lifelike reduces the extent of crossfeed, while Wide Soundfield simulates speakers placed further apart. Any of these effects can then be modified and customised further in a user-friendly interface, about which more presently.

CanOpener also features a noise dosimeter to measure the sound pressure levels that are being applied to your ears as you listen to your music. It tracks the current pressure level of your music, as well as the typical sound pressure levels you’ve exposed your ears to over the total time you’ve been listening to CanOpener, which the app also conveniently tracks for you.


CanOpener also offers a well-designed and powerful graphic equalizer. Its presets contain half a dozen usual suspects: Bump is, essentially, a bass booster, while More Air and Brighter lift the high end to varying degrees. I tend to favour A Lil’ Mo Hi-Fi, which lifts both bass and treble. Pencil equalizer, a graphic equalizer with a drawing interface that marries sound-shaping with vector graphics, is powerful but available only as a $3.99 in-app purchase. While CanOpener includes only six presets, compared to the myriad options you can access via Settings > Music > EQ when you’re playing your music in the Music app, it has another significant benefit — you don’t need to leave the app to change your EQ setting.


In addition to the Pencil equalizer, CanOpener offers two more features as in-app purchases, Speaker+ and Hi-Fi Pack. The Pencil equalizer allows fine tweaking of the app’s audio output, and many users will, I’m sure, find it a worthwhile purchase. It’s harder to make a case for the $2.99 Speaker+, which purports to enhance the output of the iPhone’s built-in speakers, but since I rarely listen to my phone this way, I’ve been unwilling to spend as much as the total cost of the basic app for one additional feature that seems to be of marginal utility. I’ve similarly shied away from the Hi-Fi Pack; I have no need for an add-on that claims to resample sounds recorded at a 192KHz/24-bit sampling rate. I’m happy with the boost my music receives from CanOpener, and I’m satisfied that it has been worth the $2.99 price, but in-app purchases that bring the total cost up to almost $15 seem significantly less essential. The Pencil equalizer at least offers three-minute trials before you buy; with Speaker+ and Hi-Fi Pack, you’re taking your chances sound unheard.

CanOpener is almost as much fun to look at as it is to listen to. In equalizer mode, its spectrum analyser provides its information via colour, rather than the more typical waveform shapes. Navigating through a song is also unusual — scrubbing is done in a circular motion, rather than in a straight line, as though one were using an original iPod. A lot of thought has gone into the design of the interface of this app.

CanOpener has full access to the music files on your iOS device, playing MP3, AAC, and Apple Lossless files. It can also — appropriately enough for an app aimed at music lovers looking to get the best sound possible from their music — handle FLAC files, setting it apart from Apple’s Music app. Add FLAC files to your desktop iTunes library and send them to your iPhone via a sync, and while the native Music app won’t know what to do with them, CanOpener will add a FLAC tab alongside those for artists, playlists and so on.

What CanOpener can’t do is play streaming files, so it can’t work its musical magic on, for example, streamed music from iTunes Match, iTunes Radio, or independent services like Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora. There is a potential workaround for services that offer APIs — the app Djay, for example, can work with music from Spotify, so CanOpener’s developers could in theory incorporate a similar capability.

It might seem a little strange to try to produce audiophile-quality sound with headphones connected to a smartphone or a tablet playing compressed audio files. But CanOpener does a surprisingly good job of wringing the last bits of detail out of a song, and as I listen, over my Sony MDR-V6 studio monitor headphones, to the Cowboy Junkies’ unspeakably beautiful Postcard Blues, from their wonderful 1988 album “The Trinity Session,” I can close my eyes and believe I’m in Toronto’s Holy Trinity Cathedral. It’s that good.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article


TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 1 September 2014

  by TidBITS Staff: editors@tidbits.com

Microsoft Office 2011 14.4.4 -- Microsoft has updated Office 2011 to version 14.4.4, a short but sweet maintenance release that should alleviate a few frustrations. The update improves keyboard language detection in Word to prevent incorrect updates, and adds descriptions for supported account types in Outlook to help you choose correctly when configuring an Office 365 account. It also fixes an issue in PowerPoint that caused slides to display random artifacts when displayed in Presenter View mode on a screen with a high resolution (such as a 4K monitor). (Free update from the Microsoft Download Center or through Microsoft AutoUpdate, 113 MB, release notes, 10.5+)

Read/post comments about Microsoft Office 2011 14.4.4.

BBEdit 10.5.12 and TextWrangler 4.5.10 -- Bare Bones Software has released BBEdit 10.5.12 and TextWrangler 4.5.10 with but a single change added to the two text editors — implementation of new code signing procedures that will ensure compatibility with “future releases of OS X” (in particular, the upcoming OS X Yosemite). If you’re running the public beta of Yosemite, you’ll definitely want to update to these latest versions. ($49.99 for BBEdit, free update, 12.5 MB, release notes; free for TextWrangler, 9.4 MB, release notes, 10.6.8+)

Read/post comments about BBEdit 10.5.12 and TextWrangler 4.5.10.

LaunchBar 6.1 -- Up until now, Objective Development’s LaunchBar has relied on five superpowers — Abbreviation Search, Browsing, Sub-search, Send To, and Instant Send — to help you carry out tasks on your Mac more efficiently. But with the release of version 6.1, LaunchBar gains a sixth superpower called Staging, which enables you to select multiple items and work on them all at once. Objective Development’s blog post introducing Staging includes several examples (such as selecting multiple files and attaching them to an email message, or opening a Web search in multiple search engines), the basics of creating multiple selections in the staging area, and a list of keyboard shortcuts. (Kirk McElhearn will cover Staging in depth in the next version of “Take Control of LaunchBar.”)

The keyboard-based launcher also improves the flexibility of adding calendar items (accepting description, location and date/time in arbitrary order, though still requiring the location to come after the description). Additionally, LaunchBar 6.1 improves the Zip archive compression action to support multiple selections, permanently displays contact labels while browsing, adds support for LaunchBar Actions implemented as Automator workflows, improves the Move to Trash action with undo capability, adds support for Tower 2 repository bookmark indexing and browsing, and changes the shortcuts for Info Browsing and Show Siblings for better consistency with Staging. ($29 new with a 20 percent discount for TidBITS members, free update, 10.0 MB, release notes, 10.9+)

Read/post comments about LaunchBar 6.1.


ExtraBITS for 1 September 2014

  by TidBITS Staff: editors@tidbits.com

This week in ExtraBITS, Managing Editor Josh Centers appears on The Tech Night Owl podcast to discuss iPhone 5 battery replacements and the iWatch, the man behind AnandTech heads to Apple, The Atlantic reveals Google’s secret delivery drone plans, Marco Arment compiles an epic headphone review, and John Siracusa talks to the Columbia Journalism Review.

Josh Centers and The Tech Night Owl on iPhone Batteries -- Managing Editor Josh Centers once again joined the Tech Night Owl podcast to discuss his recent odyssey to replace his iPhone 5 battery, his growing annoyance with planned obsolescence, and the one thing that will keep him from buying an iWatch.

Read/post comments

Anand Shimpi Goes to Apple -- Anand Lal Shimpi of the respected hardware review site AnandTech is retiring from tech publishing at 32, but he’s far from done with the tech world. Shimpi is reportedly heading to Apple, but it’s not yet known in what capacity. AnandTech will continue on, with Ryan Smith as editor-in-chief.

Read/post comments

Google’s Secret Delivery Drones -- Google has revealed its previously secret drone delivery program to Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic. The program, dubbed Project Wing, has been in development for two years by the company’s Google X research lab. Google is “cautiously optimistic” that it will be able to work something out with regulators, who have so far shot down the idea of delivery drones, likely to preempt citizens from shooting down the actual drones. Regardless, Madrigal’s story is a fascinating look into the technical issues faced by Google and delivery drone programs from Amazon and others.

Read/post comments

Marco Arment’s Mega Review of Portable, Closed Headphones -- Overcast developer Marco Arment wants to find the perfect pair of headphones, and in the service of that quest, he has acquired and reviewed 19 pairs of portable, closed headphones to identify the best in that category. Surprisingly, the oft-derided Beats Studio, which Arment credits for popularizing high-end headphones, wasn’t the worst of the lot. The winner in both sound quality and comfort might surprise you, as it was one of the least expensive models tested.

Read/post comments

The Columbia Journalism Review Interviews John Siracusa -- John Siracusa sat down for a Q&A session with the Columbia Journalism Review to discuss his nearly fourteen years of annual Mac OS X reviews for Ars Technica. Siracusa talks about how Apple’s interactions with the press have changed, and what drives him to be so hypercritical.

Read/post comments


This is TidBITS, a free weekly technology newsletter providing timely news, insightful analysis, and in-depth reviews to the Apple Internet community. Feel free to forward to friends; better still, please ask them to subscribe!
Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Others please contact us. We do not guarantee accuracy of articles. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TidBITS ISSN 1090-7017.
Copyright 2014 TidBITS; reuse governed by this Creative Commons License.