Archive for January 31, 2023

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Disk Mount Conditioner

Peter Hosey:

TIL about Disk Mount Conditioner, a macOS feature like the Network Link Conditioner but for file I/O. Throttle throughput or add latency to make a device behave like something slower. See man dmc(1) for details.


The Disk Mount Conditioner is a kernel provided service that can degrade the disk I/O being issued to specific mount points, providing the illusion that the I/O is executing on a slower device. It can also cause the conditioned mount point to advertise itself as a different device type, e.g. the disk type of an SSD could be set to an HDD. This behavior consequently changes various parameters such as read-ahead settings, disk I/O throttling, etc., which normally have different behavior depending on the underlying device type.


CNET’s AI-powered SEO Money Machine

Mia Sato and James Vincent:

CNET is the subject of a swirling controversy around the use of AI in publishing, and it’s Jaffe’s team that’s been at the center of it all. Last week, Futurism reported that the website had been quietly publishing articles written using artificial intelligence tools. Over 70 articles have appeared with the byline “CNET Money Staff” since November, but an editorial note about a robot generating those stories was only visible if readers did a little clicking around.


Daily mortgage rate stories might seem out of place on CNET, slotted between MacBook reviews and tech news. But for CNET parent company Red Ventures, this SEO-friendly content is the point.


This type of SEO farming can be massively lucrative. Digital marketers have built an entireindustry on top of credit card affiliate links, from which they then earn a generous profit. Various affiliate industry sites estimate the bounty for a credit card signup to be around $250 each. A 2021 New York Timesstory on Red Ventures pegged it even higher, at up to $900 per card.

Via Nick Heer:

It seems to me there are actually two controversies here. The first is the publication of miserable articles generated by some computer program, but these are all bland crappy articles that nobody should be reading. The second concern is, I think, much worse: these are financial articles often presented as advice — on a technology news website, no less — which are designed to exploit search engines to get extraordinary kickbacks.


Reverse Engineering the MacBook Clamshell Mode

Alin Panaitiu:

You notice you never use the MacBook built-in display anymore, and it nags you to have it in your lower peripheral vision.

Closing the lid is not an option because you still use the keyboard and trackpad, maybe even the webcam and TouchID from time to time.


Why isn’t there a way to actually disable this screen?


In the pre-chunky-MacBook-Pro-with-notch era, the lid was detected as being closed using magnets in the lid, and some hall effect sensors. So you were able to trick macOS into thinking the lid was closed by simply placing two powerful magnets at its sides.


I usually search for code on SourceGraph as it has indexed some large macOS repos with dyld dumps. Looking for RequestClamshellState gives us something far more interesting though[…]

But to call the private API he needed private entitlements, which must be signed by Apple, unless that check is disabled after turning off System Integrity Protection. Even then he ran into a blocker. Still, it’s an interesting tour through how to dig into macOS.

Disabling the MacBook Screen Lock Key

Mark Dominus:

If you tap the mystery button momentarily, the screen locks, which is very convenient, I guess, if you have to pee a lot. But they put the mystery button right above the delete key, and several times a day I fat-finger the delete key, tap the corner of the mystery button, and the screen locks. Then I have to stop what I am doing and type in my password to unlock the screen again.


This question was tough to search for. I found a lot of questions about disabling touch ID, about configuring the touch ID key to lock the screen, basically every possible incorrect permutation of what I actually wanted. I did eventually find what I wanted on Stack Exchange and on Quora — but no useful answers.


The key to the mystery was provided by Roslyn Chu. She suggested this page from 2014 which has an incantation that worked back in ancient times. That incantation didn’t work on my computer, but it put me on the trail to the right one.


defaults write DisableScreenLockImmediate -bool yes

Update (2023-02-01): Robin Kunde:

I actually want to use the button to lock the screen, but for me it is too unreliable. It locks only half the times I press it, and if I rest my finger too long after pressing, Touch ID immediately unlocks the screen again.