Apple’s iOS 9 update may render your iPhone 6 useless

When iOS 9 launched some users had been hit with an “error 53” message at the end of the process. Rather than updating the device, it made some Apple iPhone 6’s owners a brick. Little was known about this cryptic error: Apple only knew that it was an unrecoverable system failure and the fix was to change the device with a new one (paying for it of course).

Error 53 would show up if the home button assembly had been repaired by a third-party rather than Apple itself: this is common practice among users as third-parties ask a fraction for the service compared to Apple. A large number of users found themselves forced to pay for a replacement when iOS 9 was made publicly available, and now we know why.

The home button on the iPhone 6 also houses the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. While it is extremely handy for unlocking the device, it’s also used for more important things like purchases on the App Store, Apple Pay and sometimes to access sensible information. The Touch ID sensor that comes with the iPhone has a unique pairing with the device itself: replacing the component causes this pair to fail, and locks you out permanently from using this feature at all, including all of those that depend on it. It’s meant to be a security feature to prevent that somebody could replaced the original Touch ID with a malicious one. When updating the device to a newer release of iOS additional security checks are the cause of the fatal error 53 that permanently makes the iPhone useless. Read More…

Steam server caching issue exposes user’s account details

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Right on December 25th the popular computer gaming platform Steam has been struck by a server issue that led to the exposure of user’s account details to potentially anyone. People who had visited any Steam-affiliated link such as the Steam Store or the Community could find themselves viewing it as seen by someone else’s account.

Users weren’t actually logged in as others and no login password could have been stolen in the process. The cache server is one that’s between the user and the actual server hosted by Steam. They hold a copy of a webpage for the intended user and keep it stored there for quick loading; it only gets reloaded if in the meantime the page has changed. In this case the server would mix them up and deliver someone else’s cached page (including the account details one) to a stranger instead of their own. Read More…

An ill-starred Retina MacBook Pro’s amazing odyssey (and why Apple’s amazing as well)

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Some time ago I talked about an ill-starred Retina MacBook Pro 15″, year 2012. Faulty computers happen, but this particular one was really unlucky to say the least. Quick recap: repaired a grand total of four times in 2015 alone, two times the upper clamshell and the logic board each.

We left ourselves with the logic board finally getting replaced; unfortunately video issues struck again. Weird artifacts were displayed when waking up the computer and once it even had a kernel panic. For me it was yet another visit to the Apple Store where, kindly, they agreed to replace the logic board again (and that was for the fourth intervention). It lasted for four days and then the issue returned. I wasn’t really excited to return to the Apple Store once more: of course it’s a great place, but in these circumstances I was sort of staggered. Read More…

How to have an actual chance of getting your MacBook back if you lose it

One of the handiest features of iCloud is Find my iPhone; if you lose track of it you can easily see its position on a map if its connected to the Internet. Chances are that you left the cellular connection on, so as long as there is signal and turned on you can see where it is. Lock it, emit a sound and remotely erase its data.

While it works for basically every Apple device configured with iCloud, retrieve a lost MacBook is trickier. You can only connect it through WiFi, and if its password locked there is no way someone can connect it to the web.  One can try through LAN cable, but since 2012 Retina MacBook Pro no Apple laptop ever had a LAN port anymore. Additionally there’s no way to identify the owner, and everybody is pretty much free to factory restore it.

What we’re going to do here isn’t anything that has to do with black magic or adding a GPS module inside it to track the Mac even in Siberia or other remote lands: we’re adding a way to let somebody know whose Mac it is if retrieved without the need of unlocking it. Read More…

Microsoft’s new Surface Book and 13″ Retina MacBook Pro: two faces of the same medal

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Something that Apple does great is designing software and hardware to work together. It’s a well known fact that finds proof every now and then like in the iPhone 6s that, although it has less powerful hardware on paper compared to other recent smartphone, it delivers much sleeker performance.

The MacBook Pro lineup received a dramatic update back in 2012 with the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro: soon after the 13″ model was fitted with a Retina display, becoming one of the most notorious Macs around. Notebooks of the same class actually had to compete with a formidable opponent. These notebooks had the disadvantage of running all the same OS and none of them was truly optimized like the MacBook.

Credits due where they’re due, Microsoft made quite an impressive job in releasing their first ever notebook that ships with their newest operative system Windows 10, and it seems to give a run for the money to the 13″ MacBook Pro. Read More…

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