Archive for January 13, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Most Upgradable Portable Mac Ever

Thomas Brand:

The PowerBook G3 Series was Apple’s most upgradable portable computer ever! It weighed 7.8 pounds, and cost anywhere between $2,299 to $7,000 fully loaded. Codenamed “Wallstreet” the PowerBook G3 Series was the second line of Macintosh portable computers to include a PowerPC G3 processor, and the oldest portable Macintosh capable of running Mac OS X.


The PowerBook G3 Series included two hot swappable docking bays on either side. The left hand bay could accommodate a battery, a 3.5" floppy disk, a Iomega Zip drive, a third-party magnetic optical drive, or even a secondary hard drive. The right hand bay was larger and could accommodate all of the above plus a full size 5.25" optical drive. A small internal nickel-cadmium battery allowed swapping of the main batteries while the computer was asleep, and with two batteries installed at the same time the PowerBook G3 Series could last up to seven hours on a single charge.

It’s hard to remember now just how useful the bays were. When working at my desk, I would often run it with no battery. There was no built-in Wi-Fi, and it was super thick. This particular model was much less reliable than today’s Mac notebooks. Often, mine wouldn’t turn on unless I reset the PMU.

Better Translation of Objective-C APIs Into Swift

Proposal SE-0005 has been accepted:

This proposal describes how we can improve Swift’s “Clang Importer”, which is responsible for mapping C and Objective-C APIs into Swift, to translate the names of Objective-C functions, types, methods, properties, etc. into names that more closely align with the Swift API Design Guidelines being developed as part of Swift 3. Our approach focuses on the differences between the Objective-C Coding Guidelines for Cocoa and the Swift API Design Guidelines, using some simple linguistic analysis to aid the automatic translation from Objective-C names to more “Swifty” names.

The new names will not be as Googleable, and this may make switching back and forth between Swift and Objective-C more difficult. But I think it’s a good move to leverage the type system to make the APIs more concise, but not overly so.

Update (2016-02-03): Nate Cook:

This is a concurring opinion with Drew’s review, agreeing that we should reconsider removing the “NS” prefix but providing my own reasons. The proposal as a whole is exciting and far-reaching, but this particular change is misguided.

1) The change will elide the different semantic expectations for Foundation and Swift standard library types.


2) The change may stifle the development of more Swift-oriented APIs.


3) The change will make it harder to find information about the revised APIs.

Drew Crawford:

No, the elimination of 2 characters is not significant enough of a problem to break all Swift programs, let alone to introduce literally thousands of new opportunities for shadowing.

Don’t Leave an iTunes Store Page Open in iTunes

Kirk McElhearn:

If you use a laptop, and your battery dies quickly, check and see if you accidentally left iTunes open on an iTunes Store page, even in the background. Look how much CPU it uses to simply display a front page, and rotate graphics in the carrousel at the top of the page[…]

If I have a store page open, I see constant 20-60% CPU use from iTunes, even when it’s hidden and not playing music.

Backblaze Mails Unencrypted Hard Drives

Tamara Burns (via Hacker News):

Plaintiff Scott Hellervik takes issue with Backblaze’s procedures for returning a large amount of information back to the user via an external recovery drive. When customers order an external storage drive, Backblaze then unencrypts the data that is loaded onto the drive, and ships it to the customer without added protection, according to Hellervik.

Additionally, when shipping hard drives, the physical packaging contained very concerning private information, the class action lawsuit alleges. According to a label displayed in the court documents, Backblaze has its full name and address, drawing attention to its status as a well-known data backup and recovery company, and includes the recipient’s name and address, of course, but also includes the customer’s phone number and personal email address. “USB Restore” is listed under the department number on the label, exposing the contents within.

According to the Backblaze class action lawsuit, “Sending highly sensitive unencrypted personal information through the mail is reckless. By failing to encrypt customers’ personal information before mailing it (and, in fact, actively unencrypting it), Backblaze allows nefarious parties to target these packages (given the sensitive information disclosed on the shipping labels), intercept them before reaching the intended customers, and access their sensitive personal information.”

CrashPlan used to mail restoration hard drives using its own encrypted format. However, on January 4 it discontinued the Restore-to-Door service. Its seeding service to speed initial backups was discontinued in late 2015. So I don’t know of any Mac backup services that get this right.

Update (2016-01-13): Gleb Budman:

we actually offer encrypted restore drives at no extra cost.