Archive for July 19, 2021

Monday, July 19, 2021

Owner Accounts on M1 Macs

Howard Oakley:

In the next few days those using M1 Macs will be updating to Big Sur 11.5, blissfully ignorant of how, as an admin user, their Mac could refuse to update. Because now, in addition to regular users, admin users and root, there’s another class of admin user: the Owner.


If you install a second operating system, on internal or external storage, the Owner needs to agree to hand over Ownership to users of that second system. And that’s where problems can occur, with a combination of puzzlement and frustration. Last week, when trying to perform a macOS update on a second operating system on my M1 Mac mini, I only succeeded at the third attempt, after a total of five hours.


Update (2021-07-26): Howard Oakley:

So during this creation of the default state, the OIK, the private half of a public-private key pair, is generated and stored in the Secure Enclave. Also created is a new User Identity Key (UIK) for Activation Lock. This is sent to Apple for certification, where it’s checked to see if it’s associated with a lost Mac using the Find My Mac service. If it is, then certification is refused and that attempt to set that Mac up fails. If the UIK is certificated successfully, then that User Identity Certificate (ucrt) is used to sign in RemotePolicies, which provide constraints for LocalPolicies.


Creating and maintaining LocalPolicies requires a user to have access to the private OIK in the Secure Enclave, making that user an Owner. Apple states: “Access to the Owner Identity Key (OIK) is referred to as “Ownership.” Ownership is required to allow users to resign the LocalPolicy after making policy or software changes.”


M1 Macs always start their boot process from their internal storage, even when they’re then going to boot from a second operating system stored elsewhere. To be able to boot from that second OS, it requires a LocalPolicy with an OIC attached, and Ownership has to be handed off to an Install User created when that OS is installed.


Handing off Ownership to the Install User is more of a problem, as users are only created once the installation is complete. To accommodate that, macOS offers to copy a user from the current boot system as the Install User, and the primary admin user, on the second OS.

He notes that the process doesn’t “always work as expected, particularly when using beta releases,” and that there is “no way to identify Owners or Install Users.”

The Print Shop Club

Benj Edwards:

In 1984, Brøderbund Software released “The Print Shop,” a pioneering desktop publishing app that allowed anyone with a PC to easily make large banners, signs, and greeting cards at home for the first time. Here’s what made it special.


One of the coolest features of The Print Shop was that you could type in any message, and the program would automatically format it so that it could be printed in a large font horizontally on a continuous feed of paper. Since graphics capability wasn’t common in printers in those days, the letters of the words in the banner were usually composed of simple blocks or many smaller characters grouped together to form the shapes of larger letters.

This was one of my favorite Apple II apps. I used it to make lots of foldable greeting cards, posters, and banners—where the flaw of the tractor-feed printers of the day was turned into a feature.

The Print Shop Club (via Brad Fitzpatrick, Hacker News):

We’ve created this website as a tribute to David, Martin, and The Print Shop, and all of the fond memories children, parents and teachers from the 1980s have of it. On this site we’ve emulated the Apple II and The Print Shop software, so that visitors can easily use The Print Shop to create their own cards, posters and banners. See the Documentation page to read The Print Shop manual, or just get started by clicking on the application window on the Application page once the Click to Start message appears.

It prints by downloading a PDF file.


New Apple Podcasts App Still Unreliable

Dan Moren (tweet):

Apple, the de facto leader in podcast discovery, seems to have screwed up what was once its biggest asset in favor of trying to capitalize on a new feature.


Unfortunately, when Apple started rolling out the podcast subscription feature, it came with a (presumably unintended) side effect: new podcast episodes sometimes don’t show up. Back in May, Jason speculated about some of the possible causes, the most likely culprit being Apple changing how it handles podcasts behind the scenes.

But more than two months later, this problem persists.


I haven’t seen any direct acknowledgment from Apple about this issue over the last two months, much less any indication of what went wrong and how it plans to fix it.


Update (2021-08-09): Marco Arment:

ATP fell out of Apple Podcasts search and API again. We’ve changed nothing recently. Haven’t even logged in.

Still seeing constant missing-episode reports from other shows, too.

In case you thought things were back to normal over at Apple Podcasts… they’re still far from it.

Update (2021-09-08): Ashley Carman (via Nilay Patel):

But in the months since Apple Podcasts’ announcement, podcasters say the platform has failed them in various ways. For a company that prides itself on functionality, design, and ease of use, the new backend’s bungled launch is a mess. Podcasters say Apple Podcasts Connect, which they’re required to use in order to take advantage of subscriptions, has a confusing interface that often leads to user error scenarios that have them pinging Apple at all hours of the day in a panic — one podcaster’s entire show was seemingly archived until Apple stepped in to help and explain what happened.

The updated app’s been buggy since launch.

Jason Snell (tweet):

I talked to Apple reps about this back in June, and basically made all the points raised in the article. The weaknesses of Apple’s initial subscription offering, most particularly the burdens placed on podcasters to use Apple’s limited back-end tools, were apparent the moment the feature was announced.

The real question is, who at Apple decided this product was good enough to be released? Especially given the related changes made to the Podcast app that managed to break podcast updates in a serious and lasting way.

Jot Kailay:

Podcast app Base features:

  • new episode list primary feature
  • reliable syncing between devices & homepods
  • clear interface without duplication
  • listened to episodes removed
  • easy to subscribe / remove subscriptions
  • widget shows current whats playing

All of this broken

SwiftUI Examples for macOS

Gavin Wiggins (tweet):

There are plenty of books, videos, and online resources for developing iOS apps. Despite the fact that iPhone and iPad apps require a Mac for code development, there is little information about actually creating native Mac applications. The examples provided below demonstrate various aspects of Mac app development using the latest versions of Swift and SwiftUI. Hopefully these examples will provide a useful resource for Mac developers.