You may have seen the news about KRACK, a Wi-Fi exploit that can allow a determined invader to sniff traffic on your network encrypted with the latest and greatest WPA2 protection and decipher some or all of it. There’s a reason to be concerned: it affects every Wi-Fi radio ever made that uses WPA2, which is all of them since about 2003. However, in practice, someone has to be close to your network and use cracking software that doesn’t yet exist: the researcher who discovered the set of flaws exercised responsible disclosure, and thus malicious parties still have to figure out how to take advantage of these defects.
The flaws largely exist on the client side, so operating system and firmware updates on computers, phone, tablets, gaming devices, smarthome switches, and other equipment will take care of the problem. Base stations will be updated, too, preventing misuse of any device (even an unpatched piece of equipment) on updated networks.
What do you need to do? Apple already has updates in the latest betas for all its operating systems that will prevent these attacks from being used. iOS 10 and earlier users who can’t update or don’t want to will be in an awkward position, however, because their devices will remain vulnerable on networks that have unpatched or non-upgradable access points. Read more about this in my article at TidBITS, “Wi-Fi Security Flaw Not As Bad As It’s KRACKed Up To Be.”
Minor update to “Take Control of Upgrading to High Sierra”
Just hours after releasing version 1.1 of Take Control of Upgrading to High Sierra today, I learned about a few last-minute issues, not the least of which was that Apple had changed the minimum system requirements for installing High Sierra and I hadn’t noticed before version 1.1’s publication. (It was OS X 10.7.5, but now it’s 10.8.) A few other small things cropped up too, enough that I decided to push out a quick version 1.1.1 to address these small issues.
The Apple Watch sits solitary on your wrist, but it’s never been entirely alone. Every model since the beginning has relied heavily on the wireless Bluetooth connection to an iPhone for most of its smarts: running apps, looking up weather, interacting with Siri, and more.
Starting with the just-announced Apple Watch Series 3, that invisible tether can be snipped—mostly. The new models incorporate a radio chip that enables the watch to communicate with LTE cellular networks on its own. You can go for a run and leave the phone behind without worrying that you’re incommunicado.
A cellular Apple Watch has a few advantages: Siri is apparently faster, according to Apple, because the request isn’t being routed through the phone first. You can place and receive phone calls directly (although doing so drains the battery significantly, to the tune of about one hour of talk time). If you have an Apple Music subscription, you can stream Apple’s entire catalog via the watch (presumably to a set of AirPods, although the speaker will work, too).
Personally, I’m geeking out at the fact that Apple is using the entire OLED screen as the cellular antenna, which means the watch remains the same size and design as previous models. There’s a lot of sophisticated circuitry under that water-sealed case.
The Series 3 watches (which are also available in non-cellular configurations) boast improved performance thanks to a faster dual-core processor and elevation sensing via a new barometric altimeter. For more details, see Apple Watch Series 3 Goes Cellular.
Of course, Apple also offers a bunch of new bands (although I’ve found perfectly good alternatives that cost decidedly less online), and if you’re looking for something different in terms of style, a new gray ceramic model is now available.
All of the Series 3 watches are available for pre-order now starting at $349. They start to ship Sep. 22.
MacVoices Interviews Joe about Second Edition of Mac Automation Book
Chuck Joiner of MacVoices interviewed Joe Kissell about the huge update to Take Control of Automating Your Mac. Watch Joe and Chuck discuss the latest in Mac automation topics and explore what readers will learn in this book.
Versions 9.1 of both PDFpen and PDFpenPro, released on 26 July 2017, add several new conveniences in addition to the usual bug fixes and performance improvements.
Bookmarks have been added to PDFpen’s bag of tricks. You can set bookmarks on any page in your PDF so you can quickly go to the bookmarked page later. Choose Edit > Bookmarks > Add Bookmark. The bookmark is added to the first page that appears in the PDFpen window; that is, if the bottom of page 23 and the top of page 24 both appear in the window, the bookmark is associated with page 23.
To go to a bookmark, choose choose View > Table of Contents. The bookmarks appear at the top of the Table of Contents sidebar and are named for the page with which they are associated. Click a bookmark to go to its page. To delete a bookmark, select it in the sidebar and then choose Edit > Bookmarks > Remove Entry.
Although bookmarks by default are named for the page with which they are associated, owners of PDFpenPro can rename individual bookmarks in the Table of Contents to provide reminders of why those pages have been bookmarked.
The latest versions of PDFpen and PDFpenPro also remember the location of each PDF document window on the screen so it will appear in the same place when you open the document again. This is especially useful when you are working on multiple documents at a time and have carefully arranged your windows. You need do nothing to use this feature: it happens automatically.
Latest Updates to Pages Bring Welcome Enhancements
Apple has released new versions of its Pages apps, which is good news for everyone except me and my publisher, because we now have to find time to revise the just-recently revised Second Edition and put an update into production. But it’s worth doing, because a lot of good stuff got added to Pages:
Remember linked text boxes? After having gone missing with the release of Pages 5.0, this powerful feature is finally back, and it is better than ever. See Add linked text boxes in Pages.
When you use comments in your documents as you collaborate with others, you’ll find you can now carry on comment conversations by using the new comment reply feature, as described in Add and reply to comments in iWork.
Apple has vastly expanded the library of shapes you can add to documents, including many shapes, such as the map of Europe, that can be broken apart into their constituent shapes. Get started with shapes provides details.
If you use Pages to create EPUBs, you may be pleased to learn you now can export fixed layout ebooks as well as the usual flowable kind. Create ePub files in Pages, though still mis-capitalizing EPUB, tells you how it works.
The Take Control of Pages, Second Edition MacVoices Interview
A few days before the new edition of my book was published, Chuck Joiner of MacVoices and I sat down for our usual new book release tête-à-tête. As is customary, Chuck asked a series of questions about what was new in the book and the apps it covered, and, as is also customary, I tried to answer them as clearly as I could while also looking for opportunities to make Chuck crack up on camera. We both succeeded in meeting our respective goals.
We have big news! It is with great pleasure that Tonya and I want to tell you that, after nearly 14 years of publishing, we’re selling Take Control Books — lock, stock, and bit barrel — to Joe Kissell and his wife, Morgen Jahnke. (According to the lawyers and accountants, what’s actually happening is that TidBITS Publishing is selling the Take Control Books assets to Joe and Morgen’s company, alt concepts. Sure, fine, whatever. This is really one mom-and-pop company transferring a functional business to another mom-and-pop company, and as I’ll explain, Tonya and I only earn anything if Take Control stays successful.)
For you, dear reader, little will change. After all, Joe has written more Take Control books than anyone and has contributed greatly to both the editorial and technical direction of Take Control. Plus, all our authors and editors are on board with the move, and Lauri Reinhardt will continue to help with any troubles you hit.
What will change is that announcements of new books will come from Joe and Morgen, and the required server move will mean that Take Control and TidBITS accounts will have to be managed separately from now on. Not a big deal, we hope.
Of course, Joe has lots of things he wants to do with Take Control in the future, so you’ll see new books, new authors, and more after he gets past the initial work of the transition. He’s also totally open to ideas from readers — he has set up a virtual guestbook where you can leave feedback for him or tell us what Take Control has meant to you.
So where did this acquisition come from? It was our idea, and Joe was literally speechless when we first floated it. Here’s the thing. In 2017, Tonya, Joe, and I all turn 50, which is one of those ages when you start reflecting on where you want your life to go next — doubly so for Tonya and me, since our son Tristan will be entering Cornell University in August.
Put simply, we were all stuck in our own ruts: Joe writing books, Tonya juggling multiple authors and titles, and me wrangling servers and whatever else needed doing. But since we all rely on Take Control for our livelihoods, it was hard to see any alternative.
The key came from a friend of mine who is a high school principal. He recently explained why K-12 school principals tend to last only 3–5 years in the job now (as opposed to when we were students, when principals were fixtures for decades). He said that, as a new principal, you’d come into a job full of energy, ideas, and solutions, and many of the problems you faced were low-hanging fruit. But after a few years, you’d done most of what you came to do, and the remaining troubles seemed intractable. That’s when, he said, you knew it was time to switch schools, since your intractable problems were someone else’s low-hanging fruit, and a new position would give you back your drive.
No, Tonya and I aren’t going to become school principals — once Tristan graduates in six weeks, we are so done with all things related to secondary education. But we do want to focus more attention on our new TidBITS Content Network service, which provides syndicated content to Apple consultants and resellers. And I desperately want to update the ancient infrastructure underneath TidBITS. As I said when writing about TidBITS’s 27th anniversary, we see this as Life 2.0. Maybe we’ll start writing about that too!
By selling Take Control to Joe, we get the comfort of knowing that we’re putting a successful business in highly capable hands, especially when it comes to taking care of our people. Numerous authors and editors rely on Take Control for income, and it was important to us that they be able to continue to do so. And when it comes to readers, we know Joe shares our commitment to quality, so you’ll be able to continue to trust what you read in Take Control’s pages. There’s no room for alternative facts in our books.
Finally, I want to emphasize that as much as Tonya and I appreciate your support over the last 14 years, we really need you to keep supporting Take Control in the future too. As is common in small business acquisitions, we’re financing the deal from future revenues, which means that we only earn anything if Joe is successful. To that end, we’ll be helping Joe during and after the handover, so it’s not like we’re just walking away from everything we’ve built with Take Control.
That said, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, so long, and thanks for all the fish!
cheers… –Adam and Tonya Engst, former Take Control publishers
We’re pleased to announce that Take Control Books has been acquired by author Joe Kissell’s company, alt concepts. All our authors and editors are on board with the move, so little will change for readers in the near future. Longer term, we’re looking forward to seeing what new authors and titles Joe publishes, and what other publishing innovations he comes up with!
You can watch Adam, Tonya, and Joe discuss the transition with Chuck Joiner in this MacVoices interview.
Here are our responses to some additional questions you may have:
Adam & Tonya: Why are you selling Take Control?
Adam: Publisher is one of those important-sounding titles that comes down to doing whatever needs to be done, whenever it needs to be done. As a result, I end up having to juggle a huge number of tasks simultaneously, and since large amounts of Take Control production, distribution, and marketing fall to me, a book release would completely take over much of my week, derailing whatever other plans I might have had. So handing the business off to Joe should mean a significant reduction in my to-do list that will let me focus more attention on other projects.
Tonya: As Take Control’s editor-in-chief, I’ve spent the past 14 years handling the day-to-day operations of the Take Control series. In the tech world, that’s a long time to be in the same job, and, in fact, I’ve been responsible for over 50,000 pages of manuscript, all in the same series. It’s time for me to tackle something new! Because Joe knows our customers and systems so well, I can’t think of anyone else who I’d rather have running the series in my place.
Joe: Why are you buying Take Control?
It was the best possible solution for everyone involved. Adam and Tonya get some much-needed free time, along with the liberty and money they’ll need to explore new opportunities. Our customers, authors, and editors get stability and continuity. As for me, I’ll get to upgrade my title from Author to Publisher, learn new skills, and have the freedom to guide Take Control in interesting directions. It also seems probable that I’ll get a raise, in a manner of speaking.
Adam & Tonya: What does this mean for TidBITS?
In the near term, very little will be changing for the TidBITS Web site and mailing lists, although changes made to your TidBITS account will no longer also be reflected in your Take Control account. Looking to the future, Adam hopes to put some quality time into improving the TidBITS Web site and mailing list infrastructure, as well as working on a Web site redesign. Tonya hopes to contribute TidBITS articles on a more regular basis. They will also both be focusing more time on their TidBITS Content Network service for Apple consultants, resellers, and other professionals.
Will TidBITS members still receive their Take Control-related benefits?
Yes. The 30%-off coupon enjoyed by TidBITS members will work as it always has for the foreseeable future.
Will my Take Control account still work?
Yes. Nothing about your Take Control account will change, except that it will no longer be connected to your TidBITS account. The two will function independently, even though they will initially use the same password (until you change one or both of them).
Joe: What will be changing under the new ownership?
Initially, not much. We’ll keep publishing and updating high-quality books from your favorite Take Control authors, same as always. Everything will look and work pretty much as it has for years. Email messages (such as announcements of new and updated books) will come from me instead of from Adam and Tonya, and the Web site will have a few little changes. But apart from small, behind-the-scenes adjustments like those, it will be the same Take Control our customers know and love.
Over time, I would like to make improvements to a number of our systems and processes. I’d also like to do significantly more to publicize our books and expand our audience. We may even venture into additional subject areas and formats. But I expect changes to be slow and gentle, with an eye to maintaining or increasing the happiness quotient of our customers, authors, and editors.
Joe: Will you be running Take Control by yourself?
Not at all. My wife, Morgen Jahnke, who is a talented writer with a professional background in fundraising for nonprofits (and who has helped out with a number of Take Control books over the years), will be in charge of marketing and publicity, among other tasks. Most or all of the freelance editors who have worked for Take Control in the past will continue to do so, and other contractors will likely contribute as necessary. In addition, employees of TidBITS Publishing Inc. (including Lauri Reinhardt) will supply customer support services, at least in the short term.
Joe: In addition to publishing other authors’ books, will you continue writing your own books for Take Control?
I do plan to continue writing Take Control books, but because my duties as publisher will require a great deal of time, I imagine the percentage of Take Control books written by me will decrease.
Joe: What will happen to Joe On Tech?
I started Joe On Tech to provide a home for some of my favorite Take Control books that could no longer be maintained otherwise. Those books will continue to be updated, and most likely I’ll reintegrate them into the Take Control brand at some point. As for the rest of Joe On Tech, I think it has served its purpose, and I don’t currently expect to do more with the site or add new Joe On Tech book titles.
On MacVoices, Joe visits with Chuck Joiner to discuss the current state of online privacy. Drink the Kool-Aid with Joe (literally), as he lets you know what you can (and can’t) do about the proliferating risks that populate today’s privacy landscape. Bears, border agents, and bad actors in the VPN game highlight this important, and sometimes alarming, discussion.