Archive for October 30, 2020

Friday, October 30, 2020

25 Years Ago: BeOS

Benj Edwards (via Daniel Sandler):

BeOS was unique among the computer operating systems of the ’90s due to its lack of legacy code. By the mid-’90s, Windows, Mac OS, OS/2, Solaris, Linux, and even NeXTSTEP, were evolutionary operating systems with at least a decade of history. With BeOS, though, Be dared to create an entirely new operating system from scratch to meet the needs of the era: multimedia and internet support.


BeOS supported multi-threaded applications and included support for multiprocessor machines from the start. After an upgrade, it also included a multi-threaded, 64-bit journaling file system called BFS. This had a built-in database designed to support digital multimedia recording and playback, which was novel in the mid-’90s.


Today, you can download and use a functional modern descendant of the desktop BeOS called Haiku. This free, open-source project is still in beta, but it’s compatible with legacy (and new) BeOS applications. It’s a joy to experiment with, on either a virtual machine or as a direct install on Windows-compatible hardware.

Bill Bumgarner:

I was on the pre-order list until I got the dev docs.

Everything C++ — OK.

Every app starts as one window w/three threads; main, window draw, window event handler.

“Concurrency is difficult. Use locks sparingly. Good luck.” was basically the docs.

No, thanks.

Alastair Houghton:

I keep looking back at screenshots of the old Mac “Platinum” UI, the BeOS/Haiku UI and a handful of others of similar vintage and thinking that they’ve aged remarkably well by comparison to newer UI designs (XP, Aero, early Mac OS X).

More Big Sur UI Refinements

Riccardo Mori:

As I was saying before, I expected the first betas to be a rough design sketch, bound to be drastically improved upon (not simply refined) from beta release to beta release. Instead, all visual changes at the UI level so far have been surprisingly restrained. You may think, Well, that’s a good sign. It means that Apple really believes in this redesign. In a sense, it’s true. Apple believes to be doing good work with Big Sur’s user interface. They have a plan and they’re demonstrating they’re willing to stick with it. That doesn’t mean it’s a great plan, though.

No matter how hard Apple tries to spin it, when I’m using Big Sur, I’m not feeling that the reasoning behind all these UI changes was Let’s take the great Mac OS user interface we’ve been perfecting for years and make it better. What I feel, instead, is that behind this user interface redesign there was one simple major directive that came from above: Make it look more like iOS.


The transparency of menu listings has also been reduced over time: Beta 10 here is slightly less transparent than even Beta 8. And the selected menu name in the menu bar is more prominent (the background behind the text is darker).

System Preferences now shows more slices of dynamic desktops.


Update (2020-11-07): Daniel Martín:

If you don’t like Big Sur’s new title style and want to revert to how it looks in Catalina:

defaults write -g NSWindowSupportsAutomaticInlineTitle -bool false

and relaunch Finder.

Update (2020-11-20): Nick Heer:

I have some thoughts on overarching themes and trends in Apple’s operating systems that I want to more carefully consider. But I wanted to share some brief observations on Big Sur’s design direction that, I think, feel suited to a bulleted list. I have been using betas of Big Sur since they were released in June, and have used the final release candidate since yesterday. If you have yet to install the update, I think Andrew Cunningham’s review at Ars Technica and Stephen Hackett’s screenshot library are excellent resources if you would like to follow along.


Alas, the vast majority of UI elements in Big Sur have far poorer contrast than Catalina. Many toolbar elements have either entirely no background or a very subtle one.


Big Sur is a victim of Apple’s current preoccupation with hiding things that only become visible when hovering.

Brena Andring:

Find you someone who looks at you the way Craig Federighi looks at Big Sur 🤣

Update (2021-01-04): Mario A Guzmán:

Re: NSToolbar in Big Sur. I get the new design is so new, so “clean” but it’s just not useful. I spend more time looking at each icon making sure I click the right one, especially if labels are turned off by default.

Update (2021-01-05): David Sparks:

I have received more email about confusion over the active app in the few months since Big Sur was released. Big Sur is brighter, and figuring out which window is active is more difficult than it ever has been before.

MAC Address Randomization in iOS 14

Jon Baumann:

What caused my issue was the fact that Apple was now defaulting to using “private Wi-Fi addresses” in iOS 14. This did not appear anywhere in the list of “All New Features” on the iOS 14 website, but there was some buzz about it for those that follow iOS news. As I am woefully behind on iOS news, I learned about it when I hit Settings->Wi-Fi->[My SSID], saw that “Private Address” was checked to “Yes”, and noted that the different MAC address my router was complaining about was being displayed on my phone. Once I turned that setting off, my expected MAC address was back and I got network access again.

To be clear about the term “Private Address”, this is Apple’s term for MAC address randomization. MAC address randomization is just a systematic way of doing what many of us have done for decades: talking to your network using a different MAC address than what is actually burned onto your network card. In this case, Apple gave out a link-local MAC address which is not guaranteed to be globally unique, in an OUI which was not reserved for Apple. With “private addresses”, Apple provides a different MAC address for each network you connect to in hopes of protecting your privacy. I say “in hopes of” because I generally find it comical for a company to implement a “turn off Wi-Fi button” which helpfully says “turning off Wi-Fi until tomorrow“ and then force “private addresses” by default. Or for the same company in the same iOS release to openly say they’ll bounce the pictures you have tagged on your phone against your security cameras and tell you who they think is at the door. Or for the same company to accidentally tell you all networking is turned off when it clearly isn’t.


More Notarized Mac Malware

Joshua Long (via Catalin Cimpanu, tweet, Patrick Wardle):

For the second time in six weeks, Apple has been caught notarizing Mac malware.

Intego previously reported that Apple inadvertently notarized more than 40 malware samples in August.

This time, rather than the notarized malware belonging to the OSX/Shlayer and OSX/Bundlore families, the latest malware is from the OSX/MacOffers (aka MaxOfferDeal) family.


The new malware uses a technique called steganography to hide its malicious payload within a separate JPEG image file, which is likely why the malware was able to slip past Apple’s notarization process.


Update (2021-06-05): ConfiantIntel (via Patrick Wardle):

@lordx64 found yet another @Apple notarized App, this time it is a backdoored Electrum Wallet