Apple software quality is slipping, or is it?

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite

The haters are at it again this month, making mountains out of molehills whenever anyone makes the slightest comment about the current state of Apple’s software quality. There is one story in particular that I’m watching now to see if it goes viral, it appears to be o the verge so it will be interesting to see what happens. This is a recurring event and is almost always precipitated by inexperienced users, jaded journalists or Windows switchers who still revel in bad mouthing Apple products, even though they are now using them. What is really happening is the normal growth cycle of software, Continue reading Apple software quality is slipping, or is it?

Apple raises shields against Thunderstrike attack

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite

Thunderstrike, the boot kit attack against 2011 and newer Macs garnered a lot of press lately as potentially being able to install an unfixable backdoor into its victims but before black hat hackers have had the chance to build attack kits and actually use them, Apple has responded with a very complex fix in Beta update 10.10.2 Continue reading Apple raises shields against Thunderstrike attack

Oki solves Yosemite printing problem by recycling old printer driver

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite

Six months after my Oki printer stopped print because I upgraded to Yosemite, Oki finally kludged together a workaround, which is to use their old Mountain Lion printer driver as is. Of course it would have been nice, maybe even professional, to mention this six months ago when I lost the ability to print. It would have been even nicer if they had adjusted the bug in the Mavericks driver so it could print in Yosemite since Mavericks and Yosemite are essentially identical as far as printing goes.

Here is the email I received today from Oki, you’ll notice when you do this that they do finally show a driver for OS X 10.10 Yosemite but its actually their Mountain lion driver

A driver is available for your C3200n to install in Yosemite.

http://my.okidata.com/pp-C3200n.nsf?opendatabase

Since your printer is connected over the network, prior to installing the
driver, if the printer has a static IP, it must returned back to acquiring
an IP automatically through DHCP.

Press Menu + until you have reached Network, then press Enter.
Press Menu + until you have reached IP address Set then press Enter. Press
Menu + to change it from manual to Auto. Press Enter, Back, Online.

After the driver installation, you will need to restart the computer and
Add the printer via Bonjour. 

The driver that they lead you to is:

OKI_MXMLion_DHC_eu_A2_020001_tcm3-146871.dmg which appear to be a digitally signed version of their recycled OS X Lion printer driver from 4 years ago (which is 3 OS X generations old).

Here is where it gets even more weird, if you instead just download the original Lion and try to launch that, OS X’s built-in Gatekeeper software will not allow you to install it because their software is not signed. I really wish Oki would get with the program and just release up to date printer drivers for OS X. Its really not hard since most of the time one driver will last for many years until the printing subsystem is updated.

Proof of that is in Oki’s ability to recycle the Mountain Lion driver which apparently works fine (a quick search on the net proves that) once they signed the software so that Apple’s Gatekeeper feature will allow it to install. So in reality had Oki just digitally signed their old Lion driver when Apple notified developers to digitally sign their software years ago.

Oki Lion driver workaround

Oki Lion driver workaround

Okie took more time to write a web page to show users how to turn off the GateKeeper security feature, so we can use and old and technically outdated driver (not a good idea) instead of just fixing their broken printer driver for us. Hysterically funny is how Oki describes the problem as being the default security setting in Apple’ GateKeeper security software, when in fact its that Oki neglected to take the 5 minutes to digitally sign their software as per the rules laid out by Apple for all developers. All other major printer manufacturers did it, why was Oi the only one to not bother? Yes its true that Fuji messed up their version of the driver but at least they updated the driver with a corrected version which allowed everyone of their customers to print normally again.  

 GateKeeper first appeared in OS X Lion 10.7.5, after prior notice from Apple that all Mac apps would have to be digitally signed by software developers in order to help protect the safety, security and privacy of Mac users. Developers received their copy of Lion and the need to digitally sig their apps in February 2011, giving developers plenty of time to invade the 5 minute process to procure and implement their digital signature.

CUPS to the rescue

CUPS is the standards-based, open source printing system developed by Apple Inc. for OS X and other UNIX-like operating systems. CUPS uses the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) as the basis for managing print jobs and queues, and adds network printer browsing and PostScript Printer Description (PPD) based printing options to support real-world printing.

OKI could serve the Linux community by offering them printer drivers, something they don’t do today. If they had thought this through they could use Apple software development kit to write one driver (CUPS drivers are super easy to write for, easier than Windows drivers) and then compile one version for Linux and a second version (that is identical other than being digitally signed) for OS X users. Who knows, the digitally signed version might work just fine for Linux also it would be worth the ten minutes it takes to test it. Either way Oki is ignoring two markets that require next to no development effort or support.

Oki stuck in the Eighties 

Maybe Oki just can’t be bothered with OS X users, they seem to be stuck in the neanderthal 1980s anti-Apple mindset,  if that is the case why not just be honest and not offer a printer driver at all.

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HGST still makes the most reliable drives

Backblaze 2015 Hard Drive Annual Failure Rate

Backblaze 2015 Hard Drive Annual Failure Rate

Backblaze thrills us again with another annual report about hard drive reliability. If you recall my report from last year, Backblaze did what I proposed 25 years ago, to use low cost consumer hard drives in enterprise datacenter RAID arrays. This approach benefits both consumers and enterprises. Consumers because enterprise testing of disk drives is scientific and will give us useful data as to which drives we might prefer. It benefits enterprises because they finally get to realize the unfulfilled promise of their RAID arrays. Continue reading HGST still makes the most reliable drives

Aviator web browser promises to protect your online privacy, but can it?

Aviator Browser

Aviator Browser

WhiteHatSec has released their new web browser, Aviator,  with the promise to protect your privacy from online snooping. This is an admirable and desirable premise since more companies are spying and tracking Internet users every day, so I was rather excited to check out this new browser, but once I went to their website my balloon was popped Continue reading Aviator web browser promises to protect your online privacy, but can it?

Apple will not be replacing Intel CPUs in their Macs with ARM chips any time soon

Apple

Apple

Contrary to popular opinion, and the annually recurring speculation by the computer media, I think that its unlikely that Apple will stop using Intel CPU chips in its Mac lineup. It does make sense that Apple would switch to their own series of ARM microprocessors, better known as the Apple A4 through A8 SOC chips because this would finally give Apple full control over their own CPUs and not get bogged down by Intel’s broken promises again and again. Apple designs its own ARM variants, with an industry leading in-house design team, which gives them a very distinctive performance and power savings advantage in its mobile products. Unfortunately Continue reading Apple will not be replacing Intel CPUs in their Macs with ARM chips any time soon

UK to outlaw privacy in your favorite messaging service

NSA by EFF

NSA by EFF

Using  fear of our persona security as a bludgeon, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has clearly and publicly stated that he and the UK government are against “message encryption”, in other words they are against the protection of your personal privacy in any and all of your personal and private communications. Continue reading UK to outlaw privacy in your favorite messaging service

iDICT cannot hack iCloud accounts

iCloud

iCloud

As quickly as news got out that iDICT was able to hack iCloud accounts, Apple adjusted its anti-bruce force timers to neutralize this hacking tool, which wasn’t that much of a threat to begin with because it simply tried each of the 500 words in its microscopically small dictionary to see if any could get them in. Considering that English alone has nearly a million words in it (when you include all professions) and its easy to see that this hacking tool was a very wimpy attempt to begin with. If you don’t use a dictionary word as your password (like I’ve been advising you for over 30 years) then a simple dictionary attack like this one just cannot work. Continue reading iDICT cannot hack iCloud accounts

Internet Explorer is officially dead, get over it

Microsoft

Microsoft

Its been twenty years since I first started advising my corporate consulting clients that they should not lock in their web apps with Internet Explorer exclusively. They didn’t listen and what ensued was millions of support dollars wasted every year on trying to customize these apps to a web browser that never really did work well. In effect these companies took a vendor agnostic feature of the Internet, The Web, and turned it into a proprietary feature, the hard way. Continue reading Internet Explorer is officially dead, get over it

Home Internet routers vulnerable to attack, Apple Airport units are safe

Apple

Apple

Apple once again protest its users, this time from attack to home Internet routers. Most companies that sell home internet routers and router/WiFi combination units buy generic chips or generics boards (already prorated with chips) and just have the plastic case customized to their trademark look. This way the consumer thinks they are getting something different but the manufacturer saves a ton of money by selling you exactly the same product as all the other mass merchandizers are selling. This has proven to be a very profitable model, and home router prices have been pushed down to below $20 for a perfectly usable unit, but the downside is that when a serious problem appears, they all suffer from the same problem and the consumer has no where to go, except to Apple which designs their own chips and do not suffer from all the various router vulnerabilities that have been in the news this year. Continue reading Home Internet routers vulnerable to attack, Apple Airport units are safe

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