Archive for January 13, 2021

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

An Otter RSS 1.0

Josh Holtz (tweet, 9To5Mac):

An Otter RSS doesn’t do much but it does everything I want it to. My goals were:

  • Subscribe to RSS feeds (sync over iCloud)
  • List new articles for each feed (sync over iCloud)
  • Show read/unread status of articles (sync over iCloud)
  • Support for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS
  • Background refreshing with local notifications

2021 Backup Strategy

David Sparks:

At any particular time, there is a curve for hard drive storage in price. Ideally, you want your backup to fit within that sweet spot where it can be contained on an affordable drive. If you have more data to back up than will fit on the current affordable drive capacity, you’ll need to split your data or look at a more complex NAS system. One of the reasons I spent time ditching files was so I could keep it simple. My data needs are just under 5TB right now, and there are several affordable 5TB storage options. I’ve bought three separate Seagate portable 5TB drives. They are small and light, and they are USB-powered.


I’ve heard from some readers that mounting drives under the desk leads to unwanted vibration. I think I dodged this bullet because I mount them with attachable Velcro tape. The drives are so light that the Velcro is fine to hold them, and it offers a buffer. Either way, they are entirely unnoticeable when working on top of the desk.

I’ve been using a GO-Oblong Cable Organizer and a similar box from IKEA to contain my USB hub and various bus-powered drives on my desk. But I really like this idea for freeing up more desk space by putting them underneath. Unfortunately, I still rely on higher capacity 3.5-inch hard drives for some auxiliary storage, and Time Machine and bare 3.5-inch drives for most of my clones. Those go in drive docks that would need to stay on top.

Update (2021-01-26): Dr. Drang:

But this week I got both of my external disks—one for Time Machine and the other for a nightly backup—off the top of my desk and down underneath it. I went with a more prosaic solution: a shelf.

Amazon’s “Brushing” Scam

Susan Hogan and Meredith Royster:

Seventeen Amazon packages have been delivered to Catherine Mayfield’s home in Temple Hills, Maryland, since October. She didn’t order any of them.


According to Alex Hamerstone, a cybercrime expert from TrustedSec, sellers do this to boost their ratings. They make a fake account using a real name and address they can easily find online. The seller buys the product from themselves and sends it to the address.

“In order for you to have a validated purchase so that your rating carries more weight, they actually have to ship something,” said Hamerstone. The seller then writes a fake review and gives themselves five stars.

Via Dave Mark:

Amazon created this process. Surely they could tweak their system so verified purchases are actually “verified”. Make it easy to report unordered packages, then have Amazon note on the product pages that the product has an active brushing scam.


Growth in Desktops, Mac Marketshare

Tom Warren (Slashdot):

The PC was supposed to die 10 years ago, but it’s just experienced its first big growth in a decade. Market research firm Canalys reports that PC shipments reached 297 million units in 2020, up an impressive 11 percent from 2019. IDC puts the year at 302 million shipments, up 13.1 percent year over year. Gartner also agrees that 2020 was a big year for PCs and the biggest growth we’ve seen since 2010.

PC shipments are up thanks to demand related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Supply constraints made it difficult to buy a new laptop halfway through the year, and demand continued throughout 2020.

Juli Clover:

Apple’s worldwide Mac shipments were up in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to new PC shipping estimates shared this afternoon by Gartner. Apple shipped an estimated 6.9 million Macs during the quarter, up from the 5.25 million it shipped in the year-ago quarter, marking growth of 31.3 percent.

Apple was the number four vendor during the quarter, and its market share also grew to 8.7 percent, up from 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.


Update (2021-04-16): Sami Fathi:

The Mac experienced momentous growth in the first quarter of this year, with shipments growing by 111.5% compared to the same time period last year, according to market data from IDC.

Lost Persistent AppleScript Properties

Shane Stanley:

Native code for Apple silicon Macs has a new, inviolable, requirement: it will not run unless it is code-signed. In practice, that means all universal apps have to be code-signed.


Script Editor running on Big Sur will produce universal applets. This will be the case on both Intel and Apple silicon Macs. So every time an applet is saved in Script Editor while running Big Sur, it will be signed to run locally.

This signing will be noticeable in two ways. First, saving will be a little slower — signing takes a certain amount of time. Second, because the point of signing code is to ensure its integrity, and because the whole applet is signed, the applet will only continue to work as long as it is not altered after signing. And the normal persistence of property values — where you change a property’s value and the change is reflected the next time you launch the app — works by modifying the contents of an applet.

So properties will not persist in universal applets run under Big Sur.


Setting Your Default Web Browser on Big Sur

Jeff Johnson:

macOS 11 Big Sur has a bug that prevents some apps from appearing in the “Default web browser” menu in the General pane of System Preferences, which of course makes it difficult to set one of those apps as your default web browser.


The developer API for changing your default web browser still works correctly on Big Sur. My workaround is to call that API from the python command-line tool[…]


It’s important to keep in mind that this workaround does not fix the “Default web browser” menu in System Preferences. In fact, even after you change your default web browser to Link Unshortener, it still won’t appear in the menu, which will incorrectly show Safari as the default web browser.

It’s odd that 2020’s iOS and macOS releases both contained (different) bugs related to setting default apps.

Why doesn’t he just call the API from his app? Because the app is in the Mac App Store, and the API doesn’t work from sandboxed apps.