Yosemity Handoff – What’s really happening?

It should be obvious to people that the more and higher levels of integration of devices like the Mac and the iWhatever will have some kind of impact on your privacy.  The problem with the new handoff feature in OSX Yosemity is that it actually makes a lot of decisions for you.  The basic gist of it would be easily described using a comparison with Dropbox.

When using a system like Dropbox the essential core sharing model is “opt-in” meaning that the only files Dropbox gets are the ones that you have chosen to include in your local Dropbox file structure or explicitly uploaded to the Dropbox service.  However, when using the Handoff feature it basic will have to upload any files for the compatible apps you are using to the iCloud Drive service in order to then subsequently edit on another iCloud linked device.

The problem here is that this will upload ALL files for these devices and it also won’t ask your permission first it will make the assumption that you will do this and it will therefore need to upload it to Apple servers.

OSX uses a “Saved Application State” in order to power such features as restarting the OS without use intervention and also restarting apps where you left off.  All files are stored in this application state structure on disk, this is now also all going to your iCloud Drive if you have handoff enabled.  So basically everything is on their servers if you want it there or not.

Hmm … that isn’t exactly private is it.

You can see all this stuff on your hard disk here:

~/Library/Saved Application State/"

You can read a bit more about this here, an article by a security researcher.

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PIXMA MG7150 Photo Printing Tests

Believe it or not I’ve only just got around to getting some serious photo printing done on my new Canon PIXMA MG7150.

Using nothing but Lightroom 5.6 you can get some seriously impressive prints from this printer.  I’m still to really put the extra grey levels to the test with some difficult black and white prints but so far things look really good.  I decided to start with a difficult print of a shot of my daughter.  You can see this image below:

_MG_1574

As you can see this is the type of image that can really challenge printers due to the nature of the colour processing that has been applied to the image in post processing.  After having printed this image via Lightroom I was actually blown away by the accuracy of the print the MG7150 produced.  I was using Kodak 280gsm Ultra Premium Photo Paper (High Glass, ultra brilliant) the the stock branded ink cartridges that came supplied with the printer so the inks are also premium.

So far I cannot fault the output.  Obviously it isn’t up there with the links of Metro Print but to get the results I have from a £150 all-in-one printer is really impressive to say the least.  The accuracy in terms of the dynamic range is what struck me the most, it really is faithful to the image on the screen.  No doubt the correct configuration of the ICC profiles helps here a lot.  Also the print was made using Lightroom 5 on my MacBook Pro which as I understand it employs Black Point Compensation by default (configurable on PC) which goes a very long way to making sure the shadows aren’t blown out.  This is obviously working very well.

In fact I’m so impressed with the printing that if I could source the inks and paper cheaper by buying them in bulk and provided the client wanted A4 or smaller prints I’d be happy supplying the output of this printer to clients and final product.  It really is that good.

All in all to be able to use a single machine to scan, photocopy, print documents and then do some pretty impressive “fine art” printing is laudable to say least.  Thank you Canon, you have done really very well indeed.

So to carry on with these tests I’m looking for my favourite papers to use for printing fine art prints.  Unfortunately one of the only drawbacks I’ve encountered is the printer only supports upto 300/gsm papers and the paper I would really like to use is Hahnemühle Photo Rag but that clocks in at 308gsm and I don’t feel adventurous enough to whack a load of this into my new shiny printer just in case it kills it.

Anyway, I currently have a nice test pack of St Cuthberts Mill Somerset Enhanced papers on their way to me for more lovely playing around.

Printing Problems

The only problem I’ve encountered whilst using this printer has been the paper feeding.  The MG7150 is rated good for paper upto 300gms which is actually pretty thick paper.  I’ve noticed that as soon as the paper supply is down to around 5 sheets in the lower paper tray this becomes a problem for the printer and it struggles to pick up the sheets.  Not a massive problem in real terms but it does get slightly annoying when doing long runs.  I’ve done a lot of 4 x 6 printing on upto 255gsm paper, these smaller print sizes makes use of the upper tray and this doesn’t suffer from the same issue at all.

Just something to bear in mind.

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Using Older Versions of Adobe Photoshop under OSX Yosemity

I’ve already made the leap to using Yosemity on my MacBook Pro and so far all seems really stable and good.  However I have a number of older version of Adobe applications on my machine like Photoshop CS4.

As soon as I tried to launch any of the Adobe applications after upgrading to Yosemity simply showed an error message sayin “In order to run Photoshop CS4 you need to install Java SE 6 Runtime”.  After hunting around the Oracle site for the version of Java SE 6 for OSX I simply couldn’t find it.

I eventually found the correct download on the Apple site.  And you can get it here.

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Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac and Yosemity Compatility Fiasco

I’ve been using Window 8 on my MacBook Pro for well over a year now.  The combination of the two really are great (yes I do like Windows 8 on the other hand OSX is a mixed bag).  Anyway, I’m digressing.

For the past few months I have been getting emails from Parallels informing me that PD (Parallels Desktop for Mac) is not compatible with Yosemity.  These messages started roughly around the time Apple released the preview of Yosemity to their newly minted public beta program.

The emails where always very clear in their message of informing all its recipients that PD8 will not work with Yosemity.  These messages carried on appearing in my inbox periodically but I ignored them as I wasn’t running the preview and had no intention of doing so.  After a subsequent update to PD8 whenever I launched PD the application itself started to flash up the message informing me of the same issue.  So now I’m receiving emails and software pop-ups delivering the same message of impending doom when your apps stop working post OSX update.

Anyway, cue Apple releasing the official first cut of OSX 10.10 Yosemity.

I updated my MacBook Pro on the Friday (October 17th) following the release on Thursday October 16th 2014.  After having had a play around I decided to try and launch Parallels and boot into my Windows 8 VM.  Well, well … what a nice little surprise I had.  All working despite the advisories for Parallels themselves.  As of this writing (23rd October 2014) my instance of PD8 is still launching and is advising me that it won’t work which is slightly baffling.  As a developer myself if my apps work on an OS I don’t feel inclined to wonder around shouting the opposite …

Screen-Shot-2014-10-23-at-00.08.01

So what gives?

I have been over to the Parallels forums writing about this as I know there are people out there spending a significant amount of money on this program in order to keep all their machines running.  How many PD8 users blindly splashing out cash on multiple instances of the update when in fact they didn’t need to?

On the PD forum in this thread the Parallels support staff have made statements like this:

“Parallels Desktop 8 is not compatible with OS X 10.10 and I’m surprised to hear you were able to launch it – that was not the case when we tested it in the labs.”

So according to their support staff the application shouldn’t even launch, let alone run an instance of a VM.

The problem is that there seems to be a growing number of people reporting the same as me.  Their instance of PD8 under Yosemity is working just fine.  This goes to some distance to proving that it’s not a fluke of my particular system.

What does this mean?  I’m convinced that the insistence of Parallels that it doesn’t work is simply an opportunity to capitalise on OSXs compatibility model.  Windows has for a long time been berated for being a lumbering dog due in some ways to it’s backwards compatibility.  I’ve got code from Windows 95 running on my Windows 8 box.  No such luck in Apple world and I believe Parallels are capitalising on this with a chance for a provable deniability approach to exclaiming their old products no longer work when in fact they do.

This really is so counter-intuitive from a developers point of view.  Compatibility is usually a massive plus to developers (albeit a pain in the ass for the sales teams).

the main problem I have with this is that I believe Parallels have broken UK advertising standards laws.  The UK laws are very sophisticated when it comes to advertising and consumer protections and I think these have been breeched frankly.  Part of the government web site states:

Advertising to consumers
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations mean you can’t mislead or harass consumers by, for example:

  • including false or deceptive messages
  • leaving out important information
  • using aggressive sales techniques

Read ‘The consumer protection from unfair trading regulations’ for the rules on advertising legally.

Really to boil it all down either the support staff have not been kept up to date, Parallels are simply lying in order to boost sales of PD10 or their testing labs are completely useless in modelling even the average users environment.  None are good.

I chipped into a thread that had been started by another PD8 user that had the same experience I did.  You can read that thread here.

The last email I received on the subject from Parallels is show in the image below:

Screen-Shot-2014-10-23-at-02.30.26

 

There really isn’t any interpretation of that email, it’s pretty explicit in informing people that this combination absolutely won’t work.

In the thread on the Parallels support forum one of the support staff (Eugene@Parallels) sent this message in the thread:

“Hi People,
Thanks for feedback and replies.
Please consider, this set up: Host Yosemite Mac OS X and Parallels Desktop 8 is _not_ recommended to use.
This is not the pushing to upgrade. This message about safe usage of the product and getting proper support.
lets say the virtual machine runs and then crashes. Then user upgrades to Parallels Desktop 10 and it won’t launch at all. The fix will be really time-consuming and sophisticated. And all because the system requirements were not met.”

This itself isn’t accurate as there is no mention in these emails that the incompatibility is merely labelled as “not recommended” it clearly states that it simply will not work.  I’ve included a screen shot below showing my VM running under OSX Yosemity.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-23-at-01.14.44If you go hunting around the Parallels forums there is no shortage of people proving that the combination of Parallels 8 and Yosemity work fine together.  You can read more in these threads:
Parallels Desktop 8 and Yosemite Update
Parallels Desktop 8 and OSX Yosemite – guess what?…

In every thread there are very annoyed PD customers complaining about this issue and Parallels appear to be VERY quiet in those threads.  I alone with a lot of other people are seriously pissed off and with in my opinion very good reason.

UPDATE

So as of Wednesday 29th October all my posts to the Parallels forum have been set to require moderation before posting …

Interesting response from Parallels to say the least.  So, I’ve asked why …

Hi Eugene,

I was just wondering if you could let me know why my posts to the forum are now being pre-screened (“awaiting moderator approval”) before appearing on the Parallels forum?
This strikes me as an odd response since I certainly have not breached any of the forum guidelines.
Thanks,
J
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Nefarious Yosemity Spotlight Feature

With the new version of OSX just released there is a rather naughty feature that is switched on by default.  By default any searches you do using spotlight will be sending these search terms off to various web services in order to fetch results.  Personally I think this is a very dodgy situation and I’ve turned these features off in order to grapple back some control over my privacy.  I don’t want all my local search terms broadcast to anyone.

To fix this you need to do the following:

  1. Open “Spotlight” Preferences
  2. Turn *OFF* “Spotlight Suggestions” as well as “Bing Web Searches”
  3. Open “Security and Privacy” Preferences
  4. Under the Privacy tab, select “Location Services”, and then the “Details” button of “System Services” item in the list on the right. (You may need to “Click the lock to make further changes” first…)
  5. Turn *OFF* “Spotlight Suggestions” in the “Allow system services to determine your location” section.
  6. Turn *ON* “Show location icon in menu bar when System Services request your location.

Once you have completed these steps Spotlight will no longer be broadcasting your searches and will also indicate when your location services are being queried by applications.

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