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4Aug/120

Hacked iCloud password leads to nightmare (updated)

Hacked iCloud password leads to nightmare

Updated. Former Gizmodo writer Mat Honan is having a pretty bad day. As you can read on his Tumblr post (not to mention elsewhere), hackers compromised his iCloud account. They used that access to reset his iCloud password, reset his Gmail password, gain control of his Twitter account (which in turn gave them access to Gizmodo's Twitter feed and 400K followers) and generally wreak mayhem.

Unfortunately, Honan's iCloud account was tied to his iPhone and iPad, which both had Find my iPhone/iPad turned on. In the attackers' hands, the FMI utility was turned against Honan and both devices were remotely wiped. It got worse: his MacBook Air had Find My Mac enabled, which meant the hackers could erase his SSD... and they did.

Honan's iCloud password was unique to that service, but it was also only seven characters long and hadn't been changed in years. Given the many points of exposure when iCloud accounts are compromised -- and the potential risk of serious consequences if remote wipe utilities like Find My Mac are controlled by malicious actors -- we recommend using a memorable but strong password for iCloud. (Strong and unique passwords are a good idea in general, but while Google's accounts have options for two-factor authentication with SMS or the Google Authenticator app, iCloud doesn't.)

[Honan was targeted by a hacker group that had previously gone after high-profile Twitter users, which is an unlikely scenario for most of us. However, the risks of an unintended or malicious data wipe if you lose control of your iCloud password are real whether you're an Internet celebrity or not. -Ed.]

The easiest way to come up with a strong password is to use a tool such as Diceware, but as our Twitter followers point out you do need to be able to enter your iCloud password quickly and easily on iOS devices if you plan to install or update App Store apps. It's not always simple to balance security and convenience, but it's important to consider the risks before you go with an easy-to-crack password.

Unfortunately there's no easy way to segregate the Find My Mac feature from the other Mac iCloud features like Photo Stream, Documents in the Cloud and Back to My Mac; if there was, you could have a 'shadow' iCloud account used only for that, with no email or App Store exposure at all. You can, however, set up separate iCloud accounts for email, calendars and contacts and/or App Store purchases -- but that rapidly defeats the "all your data, anywhere" advantages of iCloud in the first place.

A toggle switch to disable Find My Mac's remote wipe capability could also it a little more consumer-friendly, with a separate PIN code to turn the feature off or on; alternatively, with FileVault 2 Apple could replace the drive wipe with an encryption/lock pass to prevent thieves from accessing the data. But the odds of encountering a determined hacker clan set on wiping your computer remotely are arguably far lower than those of losing your MacBook to carelessness or theft; good backup strategy plus Find My Mac is a better choice for the latter risk.

Our sympathies to Mat; we wish him luck in recovering his data and piecing his digital life back together.

Update: Mat reports that he is working with Google to restore his account access (and, since his phone was linked to his Google Voice number, his ability to receive and send text messages) and has a Genius Bar appointment today to review his options for data recovery on his MacBook Air.

Continue reading Hacked iCloud password leads to nightmare (updated)

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogHacked iCloud password leads to nightmare (updated) originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sat, 04 Aug 2012 01:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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3Aug/120

Blurrycam Theatre Presents: Fakers gotta fake a next-gen iPhone dock adapter

Remember the fake "iPhone 5 website leak" from last year? To briefly summarize, Apple was supposed to have screwed up last August, with some unlucky soul in the web commerce group posting the "iPhone 5" section early on the Apple Store, accessible only through the internet equivalent of the Konami Code. If you knew where to look -- and our tipster "Peter" did, having sent us a video and everything -- you could see the "iPhone 5" well in advance of its launch. Very well in advance, as it turns out.

Peter's video was moderately clever, but there were some obvious clues that it was fake. With nearly a year of hindsight, it seems laughable now; the iPhone 4S that launched two months later looked nothing like the fake renders.

You'd think after being publicly ridiculed last year, "Peter" wouldn't bother to try faking out tech sites again. Even if he did, you'd guess he'd at least have the common sense not to do pretty much exactly the same thing he did last year. Failing that, maybe he'd be wise enough not to send another fake to the same website that vivisected his last one.

You might think these things, but you'd be wrong.

New iPhone Dock Connector Adapter leaked on the Apple Online Store proclaims some blogger you've never heard of, complete with screenshots and a seemingly convincing YouTube video. Here we find rather convincing "photographs" of a Dock connector adapter, one that's rumored to bring compatibility for old 30-pin iOS device accessories to the new iPhone and its smaller connector. It comes in two varieties: black and silver. The "leaked" page even says which devices it's compatible with, none of which have actually been announced yet.

Once again, cleverly done. Unfortunately, our in-house detectives are much cleverer. Although our faker went to great pains to correct his obvious mistakes from last year, Mike Rose immediately spotted a telltale marker of the video's fakery. We've embedded the video at the bottom of this post and invite our sharp-eyed readers to see if they can spot it, too (watch it in 720p).

We confronted "Peter" (who first claimed to be a US resident originally from Germany) with his hoax and asked him why he went to so much trouble.

Yes everything is fake. I'm in the last year of high school in Switzerland and for our final exams we have to make big documented project. My Topic is Viral Marketing and spreading of Rumors in the Internet.

Sooo please don't show that all is fake, because the first day is very important for my analytics. After a few days you can do whatever you want.

By the way, I'm also the Guy who did the "iPhone 5 Website Leaked" Video last year.

Apologies in advance for your project grade, "Peter," but you spins the wheel, you takes your chances. We're not your lab rats. We're not your teachers, either, but it's a good bet that your school's academic policies don't look kindly on sending hoax emails to media outlets as a means of completing assignments.

Speaking of fake iPhones, though this one isn't from "Peter," check out this next Photoshop abomination anyway. Aside from obvious image editing artifacts, the phone's lock screen has little widgets on it we know from personal experience aren't included in iOS 6. The entire phone seems to be made of aluminum, betraying the faker's complete ignorance of the words "Faraday cage." There are no volume buttons or mute switch. The date on the screen is Thursday, 22 December -- a calendar date from 2011.

Blurrycam Theatre Presents Fakers gotta fake

Actually, wait. With that date, it makes perfect sense now. This is the real iPhone 5 Apple actually wanted to release last year, but they were forced to settle for the iPhone 4S because of swamp gas reflecting off of Venus and the reverse vampires.

The fake Apple Store/iPhone mini-dock adapter video is below. Sorry if you fail your project, "Peter" -- you'll always have a C-minus in our hearts.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogBlurrycam Theatre Presents: Fakers gotta fake a next-gen iPhone dock adapter originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 03 Aug 2012 13:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2Aug/120

Mountain Lion Downloads Top Three Million

Apple today announced that downloads of OS X Mountain Lion have exceeded three million in four days, making it the most successful OS X release in Apple’s history. With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion — the ninth major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system — is available through the Mac App Store as an upgrade to Lion or Snow Leopard users for $19.99 (US).

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1Aug/120

Thunderbolt to Firewire cable appears, disappears on Apple Store

The long-awaited Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter made its debut on Apple's online store this morning, but the product page appears to be appearing and disappearing at will. I wasn't able to see the cable listing, but Erica Sadun and Dave Caolo did; as of 11am ET, it appears to be down again. Assuming it does go on sale today, the cable will cost $29.99 and apparently will ship in one to three business days.

A Thunderbolt update was pushed out in June to provide compatibility with another new Thunderbolt goodie: the Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

[hat tip 9to5Mac & The Verge]

Continue reading Thunderbolt to Firewire cable appears, disappears on Apple Store

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogThunderbolt to Firewire cable appears, disappears on Apple Store originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 01 Aug 2012 11:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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31Jul/120

Reminder: iWork.com beta shuts down today

iWork.com is dead. Long live iWork.com!

Today is the last day that you'll be able to sign into the iWork.com beta. Apple's first attempt at creating a document sharing environment for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents never did make it to prime time. Tomorrow, iWork.com goes the way of the dodo and MobileMe.

Apple has built in the capability of sharing your documents between your own devices via iCloud, with a recent update to the OS X version of iWork adding the ability to save to and read from iCloud.

Any documents you have stored on iWork.com should have been moved to your iCloud account, provided that you used the same Apple ID to sign into both iWork.com and iCloud.

If your documents somehow failed to make the transition to iCloud or if you just want to move them back to your Mac, Apple has full instructions here on how to download those precious files.

Continue reading Reminder: iWork.com beta shuts down today

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogReminder: iWork.com beta shuts down today originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 31 Jul 2012 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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31Jul/120

iBook Lessons: Take Control of iBooks Author

iBook Lessons is a continuing series about ebook writing and publishing.

Michael E. Cohen is an ebook designer, instructional software developer and the author of "Take Control of iBooks Author". This new book introduces iBooks Author to users, and discusses publication through the iBookstore.

Cohen agreed to sit down with TUAW to talk about ebooks, the iBookstore, and creating books using the iBooks Author tool.

TUAW: Michael, you've been doing this a long time -- and by "long time," I mean since before the dawn of the ebook. Can you tell us a bit about your experience in the ebook world, and where you're coming from?

Cohen: It all began on Bloomsday in 1990 (for those unfamiliar with James Joyce, June 16 is the day his novel Ulysses was set, and is Bloomsday to Joyce fans). The Voyager Company had just made a name for itself in the Mac world by producing the first interactive CD-ROM for consumers, Robert Winter's HyperCard exegesis on Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Bob Stein, who ran Voyager, and who came from a publishing background, was interested in what could be done with text on a computer and he got a grant to bring a bunch of scholars and geeks together to discuss it at an in-house conference. I was working at UCLA at the time as a technical advisor for the Humanities Computing Facility (actually the job title was User Relations Liaison).

One of the invitees was Richard Lanham, a professor of English and specialist in rhetoric. Dick and I were friends, and he invited me to tag along to the meeting (I had turned some of his book, Revising Prose, into a computer program for the Apple II a few years earlier, and had done a sample version of his Handlist of Rhetorical Terms as a HyperCard stack).

It was at that meeting that Voyager began what become known as the Expanded Books project. At the end of the meeting, Bob Stein offered me a job -- jokingly, I thought. But it wasn't a joke; a few months later I had left UCLA to work at Voyager, ostensibly on a CD ROM edition of Macbeth but also as part of the Expanded Books team.

So that's how I came into this business.

TUAW: What were some of the Expanded Books projects you worked on, and what lessons did you learn while creating them?

Cohen: Oh, my. Got an hour?

TUAW: I do! But the condensed version is fine. We're on your schedule here...

Cohen: I began working with the people who were trying to imagine just what it would mean to put a book on the computer (specifically the just released line of Mac PowerBooks). So we spent a lot of time doing mock-ups, trying to imagine what qualities/features/functionality people expected from books and how to best express them simply and cleanly on the PowerBook, in HyperCard.

Some lessons were simple: how to mark pages and passages. We came up with interfaces for that (dog-ears, margin lines, and slideable paper-clips). The issue of how to show where one was in a book was another: we developed a hideable "page gauge" for that.

Fixed versus variable pagination was another. We went with fixed pages...BUT we also developed a way to double the text size while retaining the same pagination for those who were older and wanted larger print.

Taking notes was another. We came up with an in-book notebook.

We also looked to the past. We were asked to look at Elizabeth Eisenstein's treatise about the 100 years following Gutenberg, and how printing changed the world. We were very interested in how that was being replicated at a much faster pace with the invention of digital technology.

Basically, we came up with an interface that was a book-like as possible. And we consciously decided not to patent or copyright it. We were interested in publishing books and figured that if we made the interface available for others to copy, we could help establish ebook conventions.

That way, there could emerge a vibrant ebook market.

And it would have worked, too, if that rascal Tim Berners-Lee hadn't unleashed the World Wide Web, and destroyed the nascent interactive media market in the process!

I helped write the HyperCard scripts for the first ebooks, and personally laid out the first three ebooks Voyager published: Jurassic Park (before the movie!), The Complete Annotated Alice by Martin Gardener, and Douglas Adam's Complete Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

TUAW: Many of those revolutionary aspects you worked on are now available in iBooks Author. Looking at iBooks Author with all your experience, how do you evaluate this tool? What ground does it break and what does the software mean in the overall ebook world?

Cohen: Some of our inventions (like bookmarks and page gauges) are still in use by most ebook makers. Ah, iBooks Author. How do I evaluate it? I have two perspectives on it: one as an educator (and trainer of educators) and one as a crazy geek who likes to customize and extend technology.

As one who has worked training teachers to use digital technology in instruction, I have to say that iBooks Author is the bee's knees and cat's pajamas. Really. It is something that offers most of the features one would want in a digital textbook, and, more importantly, one that I could teach intelligent faculty to use profitably (in the educational, not remunerative sense) in a few hours.

As a geek I am disappointed that it is not more extensible, and uses a proprietary framework (but one that IS very close to the EPUB 3 standard). But, overall, I am delighted to see it...and very sad that it took over 20 years since we started making ebooks for it to emerge.

As for what it means...gosh, I could speculate. My hope is that it creates a thriving marketplace for ebooks in education. I think Apple is being clever here: use education as a way to expand the capability of ebooks, and then extend that capability to non-instructional books over time. Meanwhile, it solves the ugly problem of ever larger and more expensive textbooks that kids have to carry around.

TUAW: What are some of the features in iBooks Author that excite you the most?

Cohen: Well, obviously its existence itself is the biggest feature. It's a way to create attractive inexpensive textbooks? That's huge.

The various widgets are the other big features: they are suitable for so many different kinds of instructional use. And I'm personally intrigued by the misnamed HTML widget (it's actually more of a way to host Dashboard-style HTML/Javascript widgets inside of the iBooks framework). Had I world enough and time, I'd spend hours and hours playing with ways to use it.

The templates are another big feature. They provide an easy way for novices to quickly produce attractive materials, but are also extensively customizable for the more professional book developer.

TUAW: Are there some features you feel could still be improved?

Cohen: What don't I like? The fact that it is proprietary. I understand why it is, but I don't like that it is. And I don't like that it doesn't easily support collaborative work: many textbooks have multiple authors, but iBooks Author doesn't lend itself well to distributed authorship. Also, there's no change tracking and no sidebar comments, the kinds of tools available in Word and Pages

TUAW: Who is the target audience for your book, and what will they get out of it?

The target audience is really anyone who wants to learn how to use the software. More specifically, though, I did write it with textbook authors and educators in mind, because that is who iBooks Author itself is really designed for.

It is not a general ebook creation tool; it is exquisitely tuned for creating a specific family of book-types: textbooks. For use in the classroom and for home study. iBooks Author can be used for creating catalogs and similar books that require lots of images and interactive sidebars associated with the text, but it really is a textbook creation tool.

If I were a novelist, I wouldn't choose it as my ebook platform, unless my novel was in the form of a textbook, of course (which could be interesting to try to do).

TUAW: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to talk. It's both a pleasure and an honor to meet you. You bring an amazing history of ebook creation to the table, and I'm sure there are still many stories to share that we didn't have time for. Would you be open to coming back and talking further?

Sure. Ebooks are something of a passion of mine. You may have picked up on that!

Take Control of iBooks Author (US$15) by Michael E. Cohen is available from Take Control Books. Michael E. Cohen taught English composition, worked as a programmer for NASA's Deep Space Network, and helped develop the first commercial ebooks at the Voyager Company.

Continue reading iBook Lessons: Take Control of iBooks Author

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogiBook Lessons: Take Control of iBooks Author originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 31 Jul 2012 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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31Jul/120

Apple adds Hulu Plus to Apple TV

Apple has quietly added Hulu Plus to the Apple TV. The new channel is available not through a software update for Apple's set-top box, but via restarting the device. Users are offered a one-week trial, or can log in with their existing account (or, apparently, buy service through iTunes). See our gallery for images of the new channel.

Gallery: Hulu Plus on Apple TV

Hulu Plus is a service in the United States that allows viewers to watch TV shows and movies from some of the biggest networks and studios including Disney, NBC, ABC, and Fox. As of 2011 Hulu Plus had 1.5 million users.

Apple TV users outside of the United States will not be able to take advantage of the new Hulu Plus channel. The addition of Hulu Plus is promising for those outside of the US though. Here's hoping that Apple continues to add more streaming content outlets to the AppleTV -- like BBC's iPlayer.

[hat tip MacRumors]

Continue reading Apple adds Hulu Plus to Apple TV

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogApple adds Hulu Plus to Apple TV originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 31 Jul 2012 09:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30Jul/120

Mountain Lion Downloads Top Three Million

Apple today announced that downloads of OS X Mountain Lion have exceeded three million in four days, making it the most successful OS X release in Apple’s history. With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion — the ninth major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system — is available through the Mac App Store as an upgrade to Lion or Snow Leopard users for $19.99 (US).

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30Jul/120

Rumor: Apple holding an iPhone event on September 12

We've been doing our best to keep unfounded rumors to a minimum around here, just because Apple hype can sometimes get a little high. But this is one that's passed the sniff test already, so much so that you might as well try keeping your calendar clear for September 12.

That's the rumored date of a possible iPhone event held by Apple, according to a growing list of sources. iMore heard the date first, then AllThingsD's sources also corroborated, saying there will be an event that week. Now Jim Dalrymple at The Loop has given his confirmational "Yep" to the pile of evidence.

TUAW's sources give 9/12 a "99%" thumbs-up as well, but we should point out that Apple's fiscal forecasting calls for profit margins to drop based on a product transition in the quarter ending September 30. That means that any new products coming that late in the quarter would have to be high-impact indeed to have a substantial an effect on profit margins. Pre-orders for a new iPhone (or a revised, smaller iPad) starting in mid-September, assuming that both products are more expensive to manufacture than the current incarnations, might move the needle enough to make the margin guidance come out as expected.

At any rate, it's enough to circle the date -- in pencil, at least. Don't get out the pen until Apple gives an official announcement, but if September 12 is indeed the day, we'll expect that to show up in the next couple of weeks.

[hat tip Engadget]

Continue reading Rumor: Apple holding an iPhone event on September 12

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogRumor: Apple holding an iPhone event on September 12 originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 30 Jul 2012 17:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30Jul/120

Three million Mountain Lion downloads in four days, says Apple

Impressive. Most impressive. Apple today highlighted Mountain Lion sales in a press release, with three million downloads delivered via the Mac App Store in just four days. This represents "the most successful OS X release in Apple's history."

Technically "downloads" don't directly equal sales, as some small number of customers may have downloaded OS X on more than one eligible Mac. You don't need to do that, though -- just cancel out of the initial install, then copy the Install OS X Mountain Lion multigigabyte application over to the other Mac by removable media or AirDrop. You can also build a bootable installer USB stick, if that's your bag.

Contrast with the 2011 press release for Lion, which cited a million copies "bought and downloaded" in just one day. Still, the adoption curve for the latest big cat is steep.

Show full PR text
Mountain Lion Downloads Top Three Million
CUPERTINO, California-July 30, 2012-Apple(R) today announced that downloads of OS X(R) Mountain Lion have exceeded three million in four days, making it the most successful OS X release in Apple's history. With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion is the ninth major release of the world's most advanced desktop operating system and is available through the Mac(R) App Store[TM] as an upgrade to Lion or Snow Leopard users for $19.99 (US).

"Just a year after the incredibly successful introduction of Lion, customers have downloaded Mountain Lion over three million times in just four days, making it our most successful release ever," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Mountain Lion features include the all new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, Facebook integration*, Dictation, AirPlay(R) Mirroring and Game Center. iCloud(R) integration makes it easy to set up your Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Reminders and Notes, and keep everything, including iWork(R) documents, up to date across all your devices. For more information or to download Mountain Lion visit apple.com/osx/specs.

In addition to Mountain Lion, the Mac App Store offers thousands of apps in Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity, Utilities and other categories, and is the largest, fastest growing PC software store in the world. Users can browse new and noteworthy apps, including apps that take advantage of new features in Mountain Lion, as well as check out staff favorites, top charts for free and paid apps, and user ratings and reviews. For more information visit apple.com/mac/app-store.

*Facebook integration will be available in an upcoming software update to Mountain Lion.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

TUAW - The Unofficial Apple WeblogThree million Mountain Lion downloads in four days, says Apple originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 30 Jul 2012 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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