YMUG Newsletter — 2020/02/16

YMUG Newsletter — for the 16th of February, 2020.  Got coronavirus yet?

A collection of news and views, rants and raves, and some goofy stories compiled by Jerad Zimmermann, Esq.


Lockdown launched last summer as the first open source firewall for iOS to block website and app trackers and it runs completely on-device. Now Lockdown has arrived for Mac as a free app.  If any of youse guys check this out let me know.


I was having a clear-out of old saved blog posts and I found this gem from a couple of years ago: 10 essential tips for using the macOS Finder more efficiently.  It’s a keeper.


Here’s another great tip from a while ago: How to make quick english-metric conversions using macOS Spotlight.


What do the F1, F2, F3, through F12 keys do on Mac keyboards?  I can’t always figure out the icons!!


Editing .pdf files with LibreOffice and Infix.


Working with Pins and Apple Maps.


Sending email with voice control.


Apple released a Catalyst-based Swift Playgrounds app for the Mac, which was built from the existing Swift Playgrounds app for the iPad.


What you need to know about SSD layer configurations.  If you don’t know what that is . . . maybe you don’t need to know?


Speaking of which: What’s the largest hard drive you can buy in these three categories: hard disk drives, solid state drives and flash storage.


StatusBuddy for macOS is a new app that makes it easy to quickly check the status of Apple’s various online services. If an Apple service is having problems, StatusBuddy makes it easy to quickly see the details of the issue.


Here’s another website building app: Blueprints Website Builder.


If you spend a lot of time browsing online, you might be wondering why your Chrome tabs keep refreshing, and whether there’s anything you can do to stop it. That annoying flickering out of the corner of your eye does drive some people mad. You might not know it, but Chrome has its own memory management function, known as “Tab Discarding and Reloading,” that helps to pause inactive tabs so they don’t use up too many resources.


How to change the default Google account.  How many Google accounts do I have?  Six?  Seven?  Something like that.


Hook is a macOS tool that connects all the parts of your work — or real — life together, whether they’re notes, emails, web pages, documents, or those never-ending to-do tasks.  There is a free trial and if you try it and figure out how it works let me know.  Tony and I had a go a couple of weeks ago and I don’t think we quite got it.


Popular email client Spark for iOS and Mac is out with an update today that brings a few new neat features including a Send Again feature that’s sure to save time and avatar support for Mac.


Download the new version of ‘Aerial,’ the best mac screensaver.  Trust me, it’s gorgeous.



How to unlock all iPhones.  While a lot of the information presented is geared towards American mobile providers there is some good stuff for us UKers.


How to enable low data mode on iPhone & iPad for wi-fi networks AND mobile data.



This week’s There’s An App For That: China has launched an app that allows people to check whether they have been at risk of catching the coronavirus.  The ‘close contact detector’ tells users if they have been near a person who has been confirmed or suspected of having the virus.


How to pick a hard drive for video editing on iPad.  What?  Really?  I guess.


How to unsubscribe from an app on your iPhone or iPad.


Speaking of which: Apple has added a new toggle to the top of the Subscriptions page on iPhone and iPad. By toggling the switch, users can choose not to receive email notifications every time a recurring In-App Purchase is charged.


With the release of iOS 11, Apple’s HEIC/HEIF file formats have given some users a bit of a headache. That’s not to say that there’s anything inherently wrong with this innovative format. After all, it boasts superior compression capabilities. But, it’s not as easy to read these files on every device. So, many users still need to convert their HEIC photos to regular JPEG, PNG, or other formats. The good news is that while this was difficult at first, it’s now become trivial. There are tons of HEIC converters you can appeal to, the majority of which are also free to use. Here are some top picks that won’t disappoint.


How to reverse image search with Google on iPhone; it’s not as easy as it should be.


Passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined on board because of the coronavirus, are to be given iPhones for communication and information about the situation. Some 2,000 iPhones with a new medical consultation app are being provided by Softbank, and will be shared with one phone per cabin or crew quarters.


iPhone 11 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S20 – $999 premium smartphones head-to-head



Hmm . . . not much to report this week.


A new report from Motherboard dives into a few iOS and Mac email apps/services that aren’t being very transparent about selling users’ personal data. Notably, one of them is even in Apple’s App Store ranked in the top 100 for productivity apps.


Political parties have left voter records exposed before, but seldom on this scale. Haaretz has learned that Likud, the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, uploaded Israel’s entire voter registry to the Elector voting management app, which had glaring security issues that effectively left the data wide open for days. You could even access the info through a web browser without tools or expertise. The collection included personal details (such as addresses and ID numbers) for nearly 6.5 million Israelis, including Netanyahu and other top politicians.


When London’s Metropolitan Police Department announced its decision to adopt the controversial and intrusive ClearView AI surveillance system at the end of January, a global cacophony of protest erupted. Concerns, fear and trepidation surrounding facial recognition technologies, especially those like Clearview which can ID people in real-time, have been simmering for decades, but the Met’s decision has finally caused public outrage to boil over.


The UK government wants to put Ofcom in charge of regulating social media. Digital secretary Nicky Morgan and home secretary Priti Patel said they were “minded” to appoint the watchdog due to its experience and “proven track record” overseeing the UK’s media and telecommunications industries.  This story was posted before the cabinet reshuffle so . . .


Apple’s Secure Enclave set a precedent in smartphone security that has so far been followed by many Android brands. A new research study found that Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Vivo, LG, Oppo, and Sony all now have models with equivalent embedded hardware security features…


Puerto Rico’s government has lost more than $2.6 million after falling for an email phishing scam, according to a senior official. The finance director of the island’s Industrial Development Company, Rubén Rivera, said in a complaint filed to police Wednesday that the agency sent the money to a fraudulent account.


February 16th is the 47th day of the year and is also Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong-il’s Birthday) in North Korea.

Happy Birthday to:  Ernst Haeckel, German biologist, physician, and philosopher (b 1834, d 1919); Hugo de Vries, Dutch botanist, geneticist, and academic (b 1848, d 1935); Eugénie Blanchard, French super-centenarian (b 1896, d 2010); Edgar Bergen, Swedish-American ventriloquist and actor (b 1903, d 1978); Vera-Ellen, German-American actress, singer, and dancer (b 1921, d 1981); John Schlesinger, English actor and director (b 1926, d 2003); Sonny Bono, American actor, singer, and politician (b 1935, d 1998); Iain Banks, Scottish author and playwright (b 1954, d 2013); Margaux Hemingway, American model and actress (b 1954, d 1996); LeVar Burton, German-born American actor, director, and producer (b 1957); Ice-T, American rapper and actor (b 1958); John McEnroe, German-American tennis player and sportscaster (b 1959); Andy Taylor, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b 1961); Christopher Eccleston, English actor (b 1964); Cathy Freeman, Australian sprinter (b 1973).

Rest in peace these folks who died on the 16th of February:  Brownie McGhee, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b 1915, d 1996); William Masters, American gynaecologist and sexologist (b 1915, d 2001); Doris Troy, American singer-songwriter (b 1937, d 2004); Tony Sheridan, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (b 1940, d 2013); Lesley Gore, American singer-songwriter (b 1946, d 2015); Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egyptian politician and diplomat, 6th Secretary-General of the United Nations (b 1922, d 2016); Bruno Ganz, Swiss actor (b 1941, d 2019).

Some notable historic events that took place on February 16th:  Colombo in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) falls to the British, completing their invasion of Ceylon (1796); Howard Carter unseals the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun (1923); Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba after dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown on January 1 (1959); the first computer bulletin board system is created, the CBBS in Chicago (1978); the Kyoto Protocol comes into force, following its ratification by Russia (2005); the last Mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) is decommissioned by the United States Army (2006).


The Mobile World Congress, a major smartphone trade show event held each year in Barcelona, Spain, has been canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.


What was that kerfuffle about the PM’s holiday and £15,000?


Over 21,000 fines have been issued to people for using their mobile phones while cycling since a new law was introduced in the Netherlands in July last year. The offence is punishable by a fine of €95 plus costs.


Engineer Justine Haupt built this novel cellphone that uses a rotary dial instead of a touchscreen to dial numbers.  It’s pretty cute actually.


IKEA’s sprawling blue and yellow stores are usually located on the outskirts of cities, so for most people a trip to the Swedish furniture kingdom is a big event in itself. To reward its customers for making the trek, the company has now launched an initiative called “Buy With Your Time,” where shoppers can purchase products with currency accumulated on the basis of their travel time to the store.


A follow-up to a previous post: A single man who made a plea for love by advertising himself on a billboard has bagged a Valentine’s date. Mark Rofe, 30, took drastic action and paid £425 for the roadside sign after becoming fed-up with online dating.


The world’s oldest living man at 112 years-old is still enjoying a full and fruitful life and says smiling is the secret to longevity.


Staff at a branch of Currys PC World called police during a row with a man trying to return a washing machine.  Carl Warburton, of Stoke-on-Trent, bought the £419 machine on 2 February, but it flooded his kitchen.


A British woman has claimed she was answering the call of nature at a London cafe when she stumbled upon members of a “satanic sex cult” eating pork pies and scotch eggs.


Customers at Lucky Candy in the Bronx get an entirely different experience, and it’s all thanks to cashier Ahmed Alwan. Two weeks ago, Alwan decided to start playing a game with shoppers — and it’s since gone viral.  The rules are simple: If you can solve a math equation, you get five seconds to grab anything you want off store shelves and have it for free.  Why is this not in York?


There are ugly handbags… and then one step below, there’s this rubber chicken purse.  I’ve seen worse.


These are worse: KFC makes pretty good fried chicken. Crocs are all about styleless comfort. But what do you get when the two companies enter a unholy partnership? These absolutly horrendous KFC themed CROCS shoes, featuring a fried chicken print and a striped base, complete with a pair of Jibbitz charms that are made to resemble and smell like fried chicken.


Florida Highway Patrol troopers pulled over a speeding vehicle in the panhandle. Both occupants were arrested after troopers noticed the car had some unusual cargo: meth, the “date rape” drug GHB, cocaine, MDMA (or “ecstasy”), a large volume of cash, and more. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office assisted, and provided a clue as to what helped troopers figure out there was illegal cargo. “Note to self,” the department posted on Facebook. “Do not traffic your illegal narcotics in bags labeled ‘Bag Full Of Drugs’.” (RC/WTSP Tampa)

A man entered a Lafayette, Ind., convenience store, pulled a knife, and demanded money from the two clerks. The clerks simply closed the security enclosure they were in, and the man left without any money. Police were able to quickly identify Shawn Yoakum, 42, and arrested him on charges of attempted robbery and resisting law enforcement. The reason for the quick capture: Yoakum was readily identified by one of the clerks — his brother. (MS/Lafayette Journal & Courier)

The owner of a gas station-convenience mart combo in Hamden, Conn., logged in to the store’s security cameras to check on his overnight-shift employee: it was his first night on the job. The owner rushed over when he found the store completely unattended. The employee was gone, he says, along with $17,183 worth of lottery tickets, cigarettes, and cash. But he couldn’t even tell police the man’s name, since as the thief fled, he took one more thing: his folder from the personnel file with all of his identifying information. (RC/WTIC Hartford)


Chief Bottle Washer and television reviewer — Tony Crockford: support@ymug.org

Head of Department of Redundancy Department — Chris Brady: ymug@csjbrady.org.uk

with help from: Anzir Boodoo and Tim Pinder.

Items for the newsletter . . . reviews, rants, raves, revelations and reflections to: Jerad Zimmermann, your participatory social mores editor: news@ymug.org

Thanks to Ian Thomas, Martin Pickering and Brendan Rowland who send me items of interest. And jokes.

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