Archive for November 22, 2021

Monday, November 22, 2021

Chromium’s URL Blocklist Can Now Prevent Viewing Page Source

Thomas Claburn:

Future Chromium-based browsers under administrative control will be able to prevent users from viewing webpage source code for specific URLs, a capability that remained unavailable to enterprise customers for the past three years until a bug fix landed earlier this week.


Evidently, tech savvy students were viewing the source code of web-based tests to determine the answers.

Nick Heer:

The rationale for this bug seems pretty weak. If exam software is revealing answers in the page source, it should be rewritten. In this case, it was Google Forms, which makes this bug fix from Google’s Chromium project look especially hinky.


If the web were still primarily a venue for document viewing, as I naïvely believe it ought to be, I would see this through a more debilitating lens. But the web is basically an operating system and viewing the source tells you little these days. I think that is a bigger regression, but it is only tangentially related to this bug.

Reviewing Content Instead of the App

Sean Hollister (tweet):

You pissed off people by somewhat breaking your app, and they’re leaving angry reviews. How can you salvage your reputation? Apple just found one incredibly effective way — get listeners to submit better reviews by interrupting their podcast experience with an in-app prompt to submit a rating.

That’s how the Apple Podcasts app went from a publicly embarrassing 1.8-star score all the way to 4.6 stars in a little over a month without any actual fixes, as developer and App Store watchdog Kosta Eleftheriou points out.


But do those people actually love Apple Podcasts? Because if you really look at the reviews, it seems like some funny business is going on. There are new, positive reviews, but they aren’t reviews of the Apple Podcasts app at all — they’re reviews of podcasts themselves.

Juli Clover:

The top review in the App Store right now starts out with “Best Podcast Ever!”, with the reviewer lauding the podcast they had been listening to at the time the review prompt popped up.

The rest of the reviews are a mix of one star comments about the design of the Podcasts app and positive reviews for podcast content.


Looking at the reviews of third-party podcast apps, the majority of the ratings are for the apps themselves, and customers do not seem to be accidentally offering reviews for podcast content as is happening with the Podcasts app.

Kuba Suder:

people reviewing content is unfortunate, it’s maybe a UI problem, but I know it happens in other apps too (eg. Yelp)


Update (2022-02-04): Sean Hollister (tweet):

But in the nearly three months since I helped point this out at The Verge and brought it directly to Apple’s attention, the only thing that’s changed is Apple Podcasts’ rating has gone up from 4.7 to 4.9 — and each of its five little gray star marks is now completely filled in, for a five-star rating overall.

The app hasn’t received any updates during this time, by the way. Every bit of newfound goodwill is people suddenly submitting reviews for podcasts instead of reviews for the app.

Safari Forgets Your History

Jeff Johnson:

Clicking a link in a web browser changes the URL, and if you look at the browser’s history after clicking, you’ll see both the old URL and the new URL. The URL can also be changed programmatically, using the JavaScript Location API. After a new location is assigned in JavaScript, you should also see the old URL and the new URL in the browser’s history. You should, and you do in Chrome and Firefox. But not in Safari! For some reason, Safari forgets the URLs. This bug appears to be many years old: it occurs in the latest version 15.1, and it occurs in the oldest version that I could test, Safari 11 on macOS 10.13 High Sierra. You can reproduce the bug by simply clicking the button below.


If you want to see how this Safari bug plays out in “the real world” as opposed to just my contrived test, take a look at your history after searching the web with DuckDuckGo. Below you can see that I’ve clicked on a DuckDuckGo search result, but the new URL is missing from my Safari History.

This bug has been bothering me for years, and it does seem to primarily affect pages that I visited via search results.

The Unexpected Return of JavaScript for Automation

Armin Briegel:

One reason python became so popular with MacAdmins, was that the pre-installed python on Mac OS X, also came with PyObjC, the Objective-C bridge for python.


I’ll be honest here and admit that working with JXA seems strange, inconsistent, and — in weird way — like a step backwards. Putting together a Command Line Tool written in Swift feels like a much more solid (for lack of a better word) way of solving a problem.

However, the Swift binary command line tool has one huge downside: you have to install the binary on the client before you can use it in scripts and your management system.


However, as flawed as it is, JXA can be a simple replacement for the classic python “one-liners” to get data out of a macOS system framework. Other interesting use cases are being discovered, such as JSON parsing.

Python is no longer the favored choice because “Monterey will now throw up dialogs warning the user.”

AppleScriptObjC is built-in, however.


Update (2021-11-26): See also: Hacker News.

The Reincarnation of the Touch Bar

Luc P. Beaudoin:

The obvious advantage was providing configurable, direct access to context sensitive commands.


To reduce the need to look down towards the physical keyboard, macOS could present a virtual command bar on the main screen. This would be triggered by some event, such as a physical key, keyboard shortcut, Siri, hand gesture, eye gesture, or facial gesture (see next section). This virtual keyboard could be presented as a single row of buttons, or a 2-D array of buttons.

As someone who really hated the actual Touch Bar, I do think there’s something to the idea of providing similar functionality in other ways. (Ideally it would be much more configurable than the Touch Bar was.) I’m thinking something like the old System 7 Control Strip, but with an area for application-specific functionality, too. To a certain extent, this idea lives on in menu bar status items. But the menu bar fills up easily, and the old Control Strip could be resized, hidden, and shown, including via keyboard shortcut. In Big Sur, Apple freed up some menu bar space by consolidating popular status items into a single Control Center icon, but it doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut and isn’t keyboard navigable. It doesn’t even activate via the “Move focus to status menus” shortcut.