Jason Snell, hands on with the new MacBook Pro and Touch Bar

Jason Snell, writing for Six Colors:

My first impression of the Touch Bar is that the “keys” looked… like keys. It didn’t feel like I was looking at a screen, but at an extension of the keyboard. That was an intentional choice on Apple’s part. Unlike the display and the keyboard, the Touch Bar’s brightness is not manually adjustable.

Instead, the Touch Bar’s brightness varies based on lighting conditions, using the light sensor. I wasn’t able to try and trick it or confuse it, but the entire time I was using it—in a dark room and in a much more brightly lit one—it seemed to match the keyboard well. This is not a bright, glowing screen above a dark keyboard—it’s an extension of the keyboard.

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The trackpad on the 13-inch model is more than half again as big as on its predecessor, and on the 15-inch model it’s doubled in size. As Phil Schiller said on stage Thursday, Apple can make the Trackpad bigger now that it’s a Magic Trackpad rather than an older hinged model because even at large sizes the entire surface is clickable.

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The trackpads are large enough that Apple has had to build in more palm-rejection intelligence, because when you’re typing on these things, you’re going to inevitably slide your palms across them. In my experience writing this article on a 13-inch MacBook Pro, the palm rejection worked well—I never felt that I had to change my typing approach just to avoid weird mouse movements.

There’s lots more interesting tidbits in Jason’s review, but I wanted to highlight the parts that were of most interest to me.

Jim Dalrymple on the 13-inch MacBook Pro (and the location of the escape key)

Jim Dalrymple:

We might as well talk about the Touch Bar first. Going into the keynote, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the Touch Bar. However, having used it a bit, I like it a lot more than I thought I would.

Touch Bar is more contextual than just changing for apps—it can change for the different things you do inside of the app as well. This makes the Touch Bar infinitely more useful because you’ll be able to do things in each app and with each task.

The Touch Bar is smart too. For instance, if you want to turn the volume down, you can tap on the volume button and then touch on the slider to control the volume level. Pretty simple. But you can do it even quicker—you can tap and hold on the volume button and just scrub left or right to control the volume level. The volume slider still appears and moves when you scrub your finger, but it’s much quicker to just tap and hold.

You can scrub through a lot of things including, songs, video, pictures, and I’m sure many other things in Apple’s built-in apps.

The types of things you can get in the Touch Bar seems to be very wide ranging. Emojis, buttons, sliders, scrollers, pictures, timelines, and the list goes on.

Since the Touch Bar is configurable, exactly how people use it will become a personal choice. It’s impossible for me to say how much use I’ll get out of it with the limited time I had yesterday, but I can see using it a lot, especially with music.

The Touch Bar has an ambient light sensor built-in so it’s always at a comfortable brightness for the conditions you’re working in. When the computer is not in use, the bar will dim after 60 seconds and then go dark after about 75 seconds. Touching the keyboard will wake it up instantly.

The Touch Bar is designed to be seen at a normal working angle when sitting at the computer. In other words, you don’t need to be looking straight down at the computer to see it properly.

There are a lot of details in the Touch Bar that exemplify Apple’s attention to detail. This is exactly what we expect from the company.

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The last major feature is the display. This is Apple’s first MacBook that features the use of a wide color gamut. They’ve used it in the iPhone 7 and iPad Pro, but it’s important that Apple also used it in the MacBook Pro—this is the computer that photographers and film people will be using, so it should be there.

The display is 30 percent more power efficient than the previous generation and it’s also brighter and has a higher contrast ratio.

The touchpad also features a virtual escape key for those who are panicking over Apple removing it.

The escape key appears on the trackpad just as it appears on the bottom of the screen with the iPad Pro and a smart keyboard cover. Not entirely the end of the world.

It also has a headphone jack.

Apple delays AirPod rollout, don’t expect them in October

“The early response to AirPods has been incredible. We don’t believe in shipping a product before it’s ready, and we need a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers,”

From what I’ve heard from AirPod users, they work great with only some minor issues that are typical for most bluetooth ear buds, but I can understand Apple wanting to iron out as many bugs as possible before shipping

Microsoft’s Surface Studio

Microsoft’s answer to the iMac is a 28 inch desktop with a touch screen and a keyboard that looks a lot like the USB Mac keyboard.

Otherwise, I know a bunch of graphic guys who would love this machine.

Images of New MacBook Pro With Magic Toolbar Leaked in macOS Sierra 10.12.1

Macrumors:

macOS Sierra 10.12.1, released yesterday, includes hidden Apple Pay images that depict the brand new MacBook Pro with an OLED touch panel that’s set to be announced by Apple on Thursday, October 27.

In addition to confirming that such a product is in the works, the images give us our first full look at the redesigned MacBook Pro ahead of its launch. An OLED touch panel is located on top of the keyboard, where the function keys would normally be placed, and it very clearly supports Touch ID, as it is seen used with Apple Pay.

Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa Bowl

What you need

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake, turning once, at the 10 minute mark, for a total time of 20 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and slice or shred.
  6. Meanwhile, place peppers, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, paprika, and cumin in a mini food processor. Puree until fairly smooth.
  7. Combine quinoa, red onion and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl.
  8. To serve, divide the quinoa mixture among 4 bowls and top with equal amounts of cucumber, chicken and the red pepper sauce.
  9. Sprinkle with feta and parsley.

Hacked webcams that helped shut down the internet last week are being recalled

Chinese electronics company Hangzhou Xiongmai is recalling its webcams in the US following last week’s massive distributed denial-of-service attack that shut down multiple websites, including Github, Amazon, and Twitter.

Some security researchers, including security firm Flashpoint, blamed the attack on Xiongmai’s lagging security practices and use of a default username and password in its software and camera components.

That weakness, and similar weaknesses in other IoT products, allowed criminals to create a massive botnet of compromised connected devices. Xiongmai told the BBC that its webcams didn’t make up the majority of the devices in the botnet, however.

The DDoS attack relied on a malware called Mirai to compromise connected devices that use default passwords and usernames. (Friendly reminder: always change your connected device’s username and password!)

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Mirai’s source code was publicly released earlier this month, which researchers said would lead to higher profile attacks.

So far, Mirai has infected at least 493,000 devices. Before the source code was released, only 213,000 devices had been compromised. This is likely only one of many DDoS attacks we’ll see as Mirai continues to search out and exploit vulnerable devices.

Hacked Cameras, DVRs Powered Friday’s Massive Internet Outage

Brian Krebs:

A massive and sustained Internet attack that has caused outages and network congestion today for a large number of Web sites was launched with the help of hacked “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices, such as CCTV video cameras and digital video recorders, new data suggests.

[…]

According to researchers at security firm Flashpoint, today’s attack was launched at least in part by a Mirai-based botnet. Allison Nixon, director of research at Flashpoint, said the botnet used in today’s ongoing attack is built on the backs of hacked IoT devices — mainly compromised digital video recorders (DVRs) and IP cameras made by a Chinese hi-tech company called XiongMai Technologies. The components that XiongMai makes are sold downstream to vendors who then use it in their own products.

“It’s remarkable that virtually an entire company’s product line has just been turned into a botnet that is now attacking the United States,” Nixon said, noting that Flashpoint hasn’t ruled out the possibility of multiple botnets being involved in the attack on Dyn.