Google apps will stop certain tracking to avoid the iOS “Allow Tracking” prompt

With iOS 14, Apple is requiring app developers to tell users about and have them opt-in to tracking. Google today announced that “when Apple’s policy goes into effect, it will no longer use information (such as IDFA) that falls under ATT for the handful of our iOS apps that currently use it for advertising purposes. As such, we will not show the ATT prompt on those apps, in line with Apple’s guidance.”

I don’t use Google’s apps but for those of you who do this should be a welcome change.

Firefox 85 adds supercookie protection. What about Safari?

In technology news today Mozilla announced that it has added built-in protection from supercookies to Firefox 85. “Firefox now protects you from supercookies, a type of tracker that can stay hidden in your browser and track you online, even after you clear cookies,” Mozilla explains in a blog post. “By isolating supercookies, Firefox prevents them from tracking your web browsing from one site to the next.”

With Safari being my main browser and Firefox being secondary I wondered if Safari might have the same protection from supercookie tracking? To my surprise, it does and has since 2018.

“Quietly and without fanfare Apple has rolled out a change to its Safari browser that munches one of the web’s most advanced “super cookies” into crumbs.” Apple burns the HSTS super cookie WebKit blog: Protecting Against HSTS Abuse

Stand Down, Stand By, Stand Trial

“Not only have there been no incidents of violence at state capitols on Wednesday as of 4 pm ET, but at many of them, the number of MAGA protesters could be counted on one hand.” Vox: The pro-Trump inauguration protests at state capitols were complete duds.

CNN: Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs arrested in Florida in connection with the Capitol riot

Lock em up and through away the key including the In-sighter and Chief.

Consider this

“Once Warnock and Ossoff took their seats, the Democratic half of the Senate will represent 41,549,808 more people than the Republican half.”

Lindsay Graham is calling for the 2nd impeachment of Donald Trump to be called off in the Senate because it will further divide the country. Here’s my message to Lindsay Graham, not impeaching Donald Trump would also further divide the country because more Americans are in favor of impeachment than against it.

Reuters: “The national public opinion poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, found that 51% of Americans think Trump should be found guilty for inciting the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. His trial in the Senate is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Another 37% said Trump should not be convicted and the remaining 12% said they were unsure.

When asked about the former Republican president’s political future, 55% said Trump should not be allowed to hold elected office again, while 34% said he should be allowed to do so and 11% said they were unsure.”

A keyboard shortcut for a markdown link in Drafts – Keyboard Maestro

Lately, I’ve been doing more of my writing in Drafts. One thing that I miss is a keyboard shortcut for a markdown link. In other writing apps like iA Writer, Byword, Ulysses, and etc, ⌘K is the keyboard shortcut for a markdown link. Since I use links fairly often I miss not having it when I’m writing in Drafts.

I solved this by creating a Keyboard Maestro macro for ⌘K to insert a markdown link when I’m writing in Drafts. Now when I press ⌘K in Drafts I get the markdown link syntax []().

Here’s the macro setup:

First, you have to create a Drafts group. When you do this be sure to set Available in these applications: to Drafts.

Now the macro:

Hold off buying the current M1 MacBook Air

According reporting from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is developing a new MacBook Air model that will launch later this year or in 2022. “It will include Apple’s MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company’s in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed making the laptop smaller by shrinking the border around the screen, which will remain 13-inches. The current model weighs 2.8 pounds and is just over half an inch at its thickest point.”

He ended up as nothing

Roxane Gay, The Last Day of Disco(rd)

I am tired of reciting all his crimes, misdeeds, and failures. Trump was a cruel, petty tyrant of a president who surrounded himself with similarly terrible people, slobbering sycophants, and political operatives who knew they could advance their agendas so long as they told him what he wanted to hear.

Trump is the living embodiment of shamelessness. He cannot be shamed. He does not care about the 400,000 dead Americans he has barely acknowledged. He does not care about the suffering he has caused. He does not care about anything that happens beyond the country’s borders. He does not care that he has disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. He is a catastrophe and he does not care. His children are exactly like him. His wife is exactly like him. I wish nothing but the very worst for them, for the rest of their days.

[…]

And he will have to live with the knowledge that once, he was the most unpopular president in American history and still, he ended up with nothing. Still, he ended up as nothing.

The New York Times, “as Trump left the White House for the last time today, the Proud Boys, once his staunchest supporters, have also started leaving his side. In dozens of conversations on social media sites like Gab and Telegram, members of the group have begun calling Trump a “shill” and “extraordinarily weak,” according to messages reviewed by The New York Times. They have also urged supporters to stop attending rallies and protests held for Mr. Trump or the Republican Party.”

Good riddance!

No Switching!

Do you know what one of the hardest things to do is? To not be switching apps all the time. Especially writing, todo, and notes apps. Switching to the latest new shiny thing is unproductive and can be expensive.

Here’s an interesting thread about the subject over on Talk – Mac Power Users:

Resolving to not switch apps

For 2021 I’m sticking with the apps that I wrote about in my 2021 Essential Apps articles. No more switching!

My 2021 Essential Mac Apps

My 2021 Essential iOS Apps

What’s coming to the MacBook line in 2021

I recently wrote that I was thinking about holding off on buying an M1/8GB MacBook Air.

This week we got more information about what we might expect in 2021. According to a 9to5 Mac article, it sounds like we’ll be getting MacBook Pros with no Touch Bar, more ports, and the return of MagSafe. There’s also mention of a redesigned MacBook Air late in the year.

That said, I would love to get in on all the excitement around the M1 MacBook Air but I think it’s worth waiting to see what’s to come.

2021 MacBook Pro to charge faster via MagSafe – 9to5Mac

Following a report from Ming-Chi Kuo offering a variety of new details on the 2021 MacBook Pro refresh, Bloomberg is out with its own report on the changes. The report adds additional details on the return of MagSafe, and teases a redesign for the MacBook Air.

In case you missed it overnight, Kuo reported that Apple has some major changes in store for the 2021 MacBook Pro, which will be available in 14-inch and 16-inch variations. The new MacBook Pro is rumored to adopt a flat-edged design similar to the Phone 12 and iPad Pro, add more IO ports on the side, bring back MagSafe charging, and ditch the controversial Touch Bar.

Finally, the Bloomberg report teases that Apple is also “planning a redesigned MacBook Air,” but that it will not be released until “long after the next MacBook Pros.”

Notably, we’d previously heard that Apple would release a more affordable MacBook Air in 2022. It’s unclear if this is the same machine, or if Apple could be planning a redesigned version and keeping the current MacBook Air around at a lower price.

Mac security explained

Great show today on Mac Power Users podcast. David and Stephen go into detail explaining Mac security. I walked away from the show with a better understanding of Mac security and a better feeling about the security built into my Mac. I recommend listening to this episode if you would like a better understanding of Mac security.

Episode #570 Mac Power Users – Security Explained

From the beginning, Mac OS X was designed with security and privacy in mind, but over the years Apple has worked to make both the Mac’s software and hardware more even more so. This week, Stephen and David cover what’s what when it comes to Mac security.

Notes and more to Devonthink

The year has just begun. A few days ago I published my Essential Mac Apps story and guess what? I’m making changes.

I wrote that I’m using Apple Notes for all my notes. Last week I began to have regrets. The reason, I’m uncomfortable having my notes in a proprietary database system.

I started considering other options including moving back to text files. The advantage of text files being there is no lock-in. They are more accessible and reliable. Another benefit is the ability to change client apps seamlessly. Edit one file with iAWriter, edit another with 1Writer, and a third with Byword. So I settled on moving my notes back to text files.

Over the holidays DEVONtechnologies put all their apps on sale at 30% off including upgrades. I took advantage of the discount and upgraded Devonthink to version 3 even though I wasn’t currently using it.

After moving my notes to text files actually, .md markdown files, I decided to put Devonthink to use. I indexed all my working files notes included to Devonthink. I chose indexing over importing so that the files would still be accessible in Finder.

Now, my bookmark collection, notes, personal files, research projects, and writing files are all in Devonthink.

Maestral: An open-source Dropbox client for Mac

Dropbox has taken a lot of heat from users lately. They aren’t happy with the app that’s now part of the Dropbox install. Like me, most users would like to have the Finder integration only. That said, I only have a couple of Dropbox folders that I would like to have on my Mac but I don’t want them enough to have the new Dropbox app installed.

Last week macosxguru mentioned Maestral in his 2020 Review. Maestral is a light-weight and open-source Dropbox client for macOS and Linux. It uses the public Dropbox API and integrates with Finder just like Dropbox used to do. I’ve been using it for a few days and have had no issues.

If you’re interested in Maestral an app bundle is provided for macOS High Sierra and higher and can be downloaded from the Releases tab on the Maestral GitHub page.

Adobe Ends Flash Player Support, Recommends Uninstalling Immediately

Adobe Flash Player has always been a source of malware for Mac and PC users. Now is the time to remove it if you still have it installed. The below article also explains how to remove it.

Adobe Flash Player End of Life

Since Adobe will no longer be supporting Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems.

ldstephens for 2021

We’re hours away from the end of 2020. The last 12 months have been like nothing that has gone before. What a shit-show it has been.

I’m looking forward to 2021 with hope. We now have a vaccine that will bring an end to the pandemic. We have a new administration taking office that will bring an end to the craziness of Donald Trump. Although the next year will be impossible to predict there’s hope that by mid-year we’ll be back to something resembling normal.

What’s ahead for 2021

I write because I like the process of writing. It helps me think through things that I have going on in my mind. It helps me get shit off my chest. And I like writing about technology tips, tricks, and how-to’s. In fact, eight of my top ten viewed posts for 2020 fall into that category.

For 2021 I’ll be publishing on two different platforms. I’ve found over the last 12 months that each platform is a different audience for my writing.

ldstephens.net – is my main blogging platform where I continue to write about Apple hardware, apps, and news.

Medium – is where I write about things other than Apple. With that said, I do repost most of the articles published on ldstephens.net to Medium because I have a sizable tech following here too.

I wrote this article to help organize my thoughts about how I want to approach my writing in 2021. Thank you for being a faithful reader.

Happy New Year

My 2021 Essential iOS Apps

Every year towards the end of December I evaluate the apps that I’ve been using and what I will use for the next year. I find that writing this out helps me better evaluate the apps that best fit my workflows. Once I complete my evaluation, I summarize it in a post on this blog.

Another reason for this post is that visitors are always asking me which apps I use for specific tasks. To keep from repeating myself over and over, here’s the list of apps that I use.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro early–2015 13” (soon to be replaced with a MacBook Air M1/8gb)
  • iPhone 11
  • iPad 5th Generation (which I rarely use these days)
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Table of Contents

Web

Safari – Safari is my browser of choice. I use Wipr with Safari to block ads, trackers, cryptocurrency miners, and other annoyances.

Communication

Fastmail – I’ve been using Fastmail for email ever since I left Gmail over 6 years. I also use it for calendar, and contacts.

Fastmail has an iOS app, that I use.

Messages – Messages is how I communicate with family and friends.

Calendar and Tasks

Fantastical 3 – Fantastical is my calendar and task app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events and Apple Reminders tasks.

Due – Due is where I keep all my reminders. What I love about Due is that it repeatedly notifies you of overdue reminders until I mark them complete or reschedule them.

Reading

Reeder – Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds. Anything that I want to read I save to Instapaper for reading later.

Twitter – Twitter is for news and the feeds for apps that I use.

Writing

Drafts 5 – I’ve been using Drafts for several years. Drafts is a launching-off point for text – use the actions to copy it, share it, or deep link into other apps and services.

1Writer – I don’t write on iOS but I do some proofreading and editing and for that I use 1Writer.

Apple Notes – Notes that I want to keep long-term go in the Notes app.

Day One Journal – I keep a lifelog in Day One.

Utilities / Productivity

Bitwarden – Gotta have a password manager.

Scanner Pro – Scanner Pro is also part of my paperless workflow. I use it to scan paper documents into PDFs with OCR that look clean and professional.

TunnelBear VPN – TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

PCalc – PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

Health and Fitness

Apple Fitness – I use the Workout and Fitness apps with my Apple Watch to track my daily activities.

To keep my mind occupied during workouts I listen to podcasts in Overcast.

My 2021 Essential Mac Apps

My 2021 Essential Mac Apps

Every year towards the end of December I evaluate the apps that I’ve been using and what I will use for the next year. I find that writing this out helps me better evaluate the apps that best fit my workflows. Once I complete my evaluation, I summarize it in a post on this blog.

Another reason for this post is that visitors are always asking me which apps I use for specific tasks. To keep from repeating myself over and over, here’s the list of apps that I use.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro early–2015 13” (soon to be replaced with a MacBook Air M1/8gb)
  • iPhone 11
  • iPad 5th Generation (which I rarely use these days)
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Table of Contents

Web

Safari – Safari is my browser of choice. I use Wipr with Safari to block ads, trackers, cryptocurrency miners, and other annoyances.

As we all know some websites don’t play nice with Safari. In those situations I use Firefox.

Communication

Fastmail – I’ve been using Fastmail for email ever since I left Gmail over 6 years ago. I also use it for calendar, and contacts.

Fastmail has an iOS app, that I use, but none for the Mac so I use the Fastmate app which is a native Fastmail-wrapper.

Messages – Messages is how I communicate with family and friends.

Calendar and Tasks

Fantastical 3 – Fantastical is my calendar and task app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events and Apple Reminders tasks.

Reading

Reeder – Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds. Anything that I want to read I save to Instapaper for reading later.

Twitter – Twitter is for news and the feeds for apps that I use.

Writing

Drafts 5 – I’ve been using Drafts for several years. It’s the launching-off point for text for me. I use the actions to copy it, share it, or deep link into other apps and services.

iA Writer – iA Writer is my current writing app of choice. For preview I use Marked 2 side by side with iA Writer. Everything that I write goes through Grammarly for proofreading grammar and spelling.

Apple Notes – Notes that I want to keep long-term go in the Notes app.

Utilities / Productivity

Bitwarden – Gotta have a password manager.

Alfred – Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it.

Keyboard Maestro – Keyboard Maestro is another app that I can’t live without it. I use it for keyboard shortcuts, launching apps, opening files and folders and automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do amazing things. I’ve written about Keyboard Maestro here.

PopClip – I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Hazel – Hazel watches whatever folders I tell it to, automatically organizing my files according to the rules that I’ve created.

Yoink – Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Dropzone – Dropzone makes it easy to copy or move files to my favorite folders, open applications and uploading files to the Internet right from your menu bar.

App Cleaner – AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you drag the app icon to the trash.

Moom – I use Moom for window management.

Witch – Witch is my app switcher.

Bartender 4 – Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat – ScreenFloat is my app for taking screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN – TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and for web browsing privacy.

PCalc – PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

My 2021 Essential iOS Apps

 

What I’ve read recently – December 18, 2020

Each week I post links to a few articles that I’ve read and found deserving of sharing.

Links

My Hunt for the Original McDonald’s French-Fry Recipe | Atlas Obscura

This is a fun read especially if you’re old enough to have eaten the original McDonald’s French-Fry as I did.

From Julia Child to Paul Bocuse to James Beard, some of the biggest names in food history are also people who have professed their love for the same french fry—a french fry that, in no exaggerated manner, birthed an empire. A french fry that no one has eaten in more than 30 years.

McDonald’s original french fries were cooked in beef tallow. For that fact, they were bullied out of production by a well-funded, well-intentioned businessman and self-proclaimed health advocate named Phil Sokolof, who unknowingly dethroned what many fans claim was the greatest french fry to ever meet mass production. “The french fries were very good,” Child said in a 1995 interview, “and then the nutritionists got at them … and they’ve been limp ever since … I’m always very strong about criticizing them, hoping maybe they’ll change.”

Why use a HIPAA-compliant password manager

Bitwarden is officially HIPAA-compliant, after receiving a HIPAA Security Rule Assessment Report from AuditOne in December 2020. This acknowledgement adds to our other notable regulatory compliance including GDPR, CCPA, SOC 2, SOC 3, and Privacy Shield.

iOS 14 users report missing notifications from Messages app – 9to5Mac

A bug resulting in missing text message notifications is continuing to affect iPhone users with iOS 14. While the issue appeared to at first to be exclusive to the iPhone 12 series, it appears to be affecting nearly any iPhone model running iOS 14 — and the early signs are that iOS 14.3 doesn’t fix the problem either.

Anti-tracking rules will be enforced, Federighi warns developers – 9to5Mac

Apple’s software engineering SVP Craig Federighi has warned that developers must follow the company’s anti-tracking rules, or else their apps will be removed from the App Store…

The new App Tracking Transparency rules were initially meant to be part of iOS 14, but were delayed after protests by Facebook and advertisers. They are now expected to come into force during the summer, at which point apps will have to display a privacy pop-up asking permission to enable ad-tracking.

Federighi issued the warning in uncompromising terms during an interview with the British newspaper the Telegraph.

Apple launches recall program for iPhone 11 display with touch issues – 9to5Mac

Apple today announced another Replacement Program, this time for iPhone 11. According to the company, some iPhone 11 users are experiencing problems in which the display stops responding to touch.

Ecosia now a default search engine option on iOS, iPadOS, macOS | AppleInsider

Ecosia is a search engine that promotes privacy first and plants trees around the world, and with Mondays updates, it is now available as a default search engine setting on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Cloudflare and Apple design a new privacy-friendly internet protocol – TechCrunch

Engineers at Cloudflare and Apple say they’ve developed a new internet protocol that will shore up one of the biggest holes in internet privacy that many don’t know even exists. Dubbed Oblivious DNS-over-HTTPS, or ODoH for short, the new protocol makes it far more difficult for internet providers to know which websites you visit.

Apple doubles down on iOS App Tracking Transparency

According to Craig Federighi, The aim of ATT is “to empower our users to decide when or if they want to allow an app to track them in a way that could be shared across other companies’ apps or websites”.

With Apple requiring developers to share privacy details needed for the new privacy labels on December 8 iOS App Tracking Transparency (ATT) has made its way into the news again thanks to the hysteria of adtech and with particular criticism coming from Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

Apple has used a speech to European lawmakers and privacy regulators to come out jabbing at what SVP Craig Federighi described as dramatic, “outlandish” and “false” claims being made by the adtech industry over a forthcoming change to iOS that will give users the ability to decline app tracking.

It’s good to see Apple standing strong on ATT to protect the privacy of its users.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to Craig Federighi’s speech.

Toggle Control Center with a keyboard shortcut in Big Sur

I installed Big Sur on my 2015 MacBook Pro the other day. One area that I wanted to customize was the menubar. There is so much blank space between the icons, it’s a gigantic waste of space and looks awful. Even after installing Bartender 4 to organize my menubar I wanted to move some items to the Control Center for better organization.

Now that I have items in the Control Center, that used to be visible in the menubar, I’ll be accessing Control Center more frequently. Rather than clicking Control Center, I wanted a keyboard shortcut to toggle it open and closed. I did this with a Keyboard Maestro macro.

Credit maxwellj02 for the apple script:

tell application "System Events"
    tell process "Control Center"
        tell menu bar item "control center" of menu bar 1
            click
        end tell
    end tell
end tell

By the way, my Big Sur install went perfectly and I haven’t had any issues.