Archive for October 19, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

1pass

1pass is an open-source Python library for reading 1Password’s .agilekeychain file format (via Jonathan Wight).

Spotlight Suggestions and Privacy

fix macosx (via Landon Fuller):

If you’ve upgraded to Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10) and you’re using the default settings, each time you start typing in Spotlight (to open an application or search for a file on your computer), your local search terms and location are sent to Apple and third parties (including Microsoft).

Mac OS X has always respected user privacy by default, and Mac OS X Yosemite should too. Since it doesn’t, you can use the code to the left to disable the parts of Mac OS X which are invasive to your privacy.

I think previous versions of Mac OS X did have Safari send partial searches to Google by default. However, Spotlight searches have not previously left your Mac.

Update (2014-10-19): To be clear, you don’t need this script to improve your privacy. The Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches boxes are readily uncheckable in System Preferences. Rather:

There’s no single “local search only” toggle, and you have to cross-reference the documentation provided in System Preferences against the list of “Search Results” to figure out which of the options actually sends your queries to Apple.

I wanted something simple, that I knew worked, and I could just tell family to run themselves, so I put this together. It’s a convenient way to apply the settings, a jumping-off point for a more involved effort to resolve some of the other remaining privacy issues on Yosemite, and a handy way to get the privacy message across.

Since Apple hasn’t provided a single switch, it makes sense to have a single script that can be kept up-to-date.

Update (2014-10-19): There is also another checkbox called “Include Spotlight Suggestions” in Safari’s preferences.

Update (2014-10-20): Ashkan Soltani and Craig Timberg:

Apple officials said Monday that the data collection is intended only to improve the quality of searches conducted through Spotlight, a standard feature on both Mac computers and Apple’s mobile devices, such as the iPhone and iPad. The user identification number rotates after 15 minutes to a new identifier, they said, and the location and search query information is not used to create profiles of users or to deliver targeted advertising.

[…]

Testing by The Washington Post found that the locations revealed in Spotlight searches can be strikingly precise, placing a user within a particular building in Washington, D.C., even though the disclosure box on Spotlight refers to collecting “your approximate location.”

Update (2014-10-21): John Gruber:

The only thing Apple could do differently is make this another one of the you-have-to-explicitly-opt-in stages when you first upgrade to Yosemite or create an account on a new Mac.

Update (2014-10-22): Rich Mogull:

To manage your session, Apple uses a one-time session ID that lasts for 15 minutes. Neither the session ID nor the search query use your IP address or any other device identifier. Session IDs also aren’t coordinated or correlated, so there is no way for Apple to track historical usage by chaining session IDs together. In short, your query exists within a 15-minute bubble that isn’t tied to you directly. This is different, for example, than Siri, which uses a more persistent device identifier since it requires more context over time (due in large part to the overhead of voice recognition).

Apple:

Information on the three most recently used apps on the device is included as additional search context. To protect the privacy of users, only apps that are in an Apple-maintained whitelist of popular apps and have been accessed within the last three hours are included.

Search feedback sent to Apple provides Apple with: i) timings between user actions such as key-presses and result selections; ii) Spotlight Suggestions result selected, if any; and iii) type of local result selected (e.g., “Bookmark” or “Contact”). Just as with search context, the search feedback is not tied to any individual person or device.

Apple retains Spotlight Suggestions logs with queries, context, and feedback for up to 18 months. Reduced logs including only query, country, language, date (to the hour), and device-type are retained up to two years. IP addresses are not retained with query logs.

In some cases, Spotlight Suggestions may forward queries for common words and phrases to a qualified partner in order to receive and display the partner’s search results. These queries are not stored by the qualified partner and partners do not receive search feedback. Partners also do not receive user IP addresses. Communication with the partner is encrypted via HTTPS.

Update (2014-11-21): Mac OS X 10.10.1 (via Ashkan Soltani):

The initial connection made by Spotlight or Safari to the Spotlight Suggestions servers included a user’s approximate location before a user entered a query. This issue was addressed by removing this information from the initial connection and only sending the user’s approximate location as part of queries.

New iWork File Formats

The new versions of the iWork apps change the file formats again, but it’s not as drastic a change as last year. Numbers 3.2.2 created a package folder with some metadata and a ZIP archive containing the .iwa files. Numbers 3.5 seems to use the same structure except that the .numbers file itself is the ZIP archive.

I repeated my CSV file import test from last year, and I don’t see any speed or size changes between the two versions of Numbers.

Aperture Import Plug-in for Lightroom

Adobe:

As promised in a blog post here, we are proud to introduce the Aperture and iPhoto import plugin for Lightroom 5. The plugin allows Aperture and iPhoto customers to migrate their images and key metadata (such as keywords, events, project structure) into Lightroom catalogs in a seamless way.

The problem remains that I don’t really want to use Lightroom. Also, it is significant that image adjustments and stacks don’t import.

It’s About the Encryption Keys

Stefan Reitshamer:

There’s a lot of talk on the interwebs about encryption. Encryption is a necessary but not sufficient condition for maintaining control of your data. Controlling access to the encryption key is just as important.

Lots of articles that reference encryption fail to mention this, and that’s confusing for people who are not crypto experts.

The iPad Zombie

Allen Pike (via John Gruber):

Apple still sells the original iPad mini. Today, they announced that not only would they continue to sell it, but cut the price to $249, making it the cheapest iPad ever. If they follow their usual pattern of leaving the iPad line as-is until next fall, the iPad 2’s internals will live on for 4.5 years.

[…]

We already see this pain on the App Store, especially with games. There is no mechanism to specify on the App Store which CPU is required for your app.

Yosemite’s Speakable Scripts

Christopher Breen:

In Yosemite, Speakable Items are gone. Their functionality has been merged with the Dictation architecture of the OS and morphed into a new feature called Dictation Commands. But unlike Speakable Items, Dictation Commands are not separate from the rest of the speech architecture. Turn on Dictation and you automatically gain access to Dictation Commands. At any time—even during a dictation session—you can speak the title of a command to have it recognized and executed.

[…]

When you launch the Automator application in Yosemite, the workflow template chooser offers a new option: Dictation Command. Using this new workflow template you can create a system Dictation Command that automates any process or task that Automator is capable of performing.

Daniel Jalkut:

It seems the scripts are run not as the streamlined items that they are but are instead sort of wrapped in an automator action and run. It’s nice that you don’t have to go out of your way to translate a script into an Automator Workflow, but unfortunately this means that “Speakable Scripts” do put up the little Automator gear icon in the menu bar, and are probably ultimately slowed down at least a bit by being run as a full-on workflow.

I wonder if saving a script as an application would work any better.

Update (2014-10-19): Daniel Jalkut:

Wait a minute, maybe it is running them as native scripts. There’s just a change on OS X Yosemite with how the system runs scripts, such that they always show an Automator-style progress indicator in the menu bar. I find this pretty irksome as a default behavior because for example short-lived scripts don’t need progress to be indicated at all.

Mutable Collections in Swift

Mike R. Manzano:

How do you create an var that holds an immutable Array? As in a var that you can assign different immutable Arrays to?

BJ Homer:

Because Swift arrays and dictionaries can never be shared, there is no distinction between mutating an existing collection and re-assigning a new collection. The behavior of the code is exactly the same. In either case, the owner’s setter method is called whenever the array is modified.

So to answer the original question, there is no syntax to specify a variable that holds an immutable array because there is nothing that such syntax would add. Swift addresses the issues that made NSArray and NSMutableArray necessary in the first place. If you need a shared array, you can still use the Cocoa types. In every other case, Swift’s solution is safer, simpler, and more concise.

On the whole, I think this is probably a good direction. The downsides would seem to be that the performance model is less clear and that it’s more work to write your own data types as struct-class pairs.

One somewhat common pattern in my Objective-C code is a (often recursive) method that takes a mutable array or dictionary as a parameter and builds it up. You can’t do this with var in Swift because that only lets you modify the collection within the method. However, you can use inout to have Swift “return” the last value to the caller.

This is not the same as passing around an NSMutableArray, though. For example, consider what would happen if there were multiple threads involved. Also, inout only lasts for the duration of the method; the collection cannot (as far as I know) be stashed in another object and then mutated (back in the caller) later.

Update (2014-10-19): Christoffer Lernö responds via Twitter.