Category Archives: Apple

Please Consider Helping to Remind Apple That Their Products Get Used in Our World

Here’s the gist:

“Apple made a change to iOS 11 which has impacted millions of iPhone users’ who use mobile apps to secure and troubleshoot their network.
With iOS 11, Apple has blocked third-party developer access to MAC addresses. Network utility apps such as Fing, NetAnalyzer, iNet and IP scanner used this information to let users see all the devices connected to a WiFi network.”

“On iOS 11 users can no longer use a third-party app to identify and recognize which devices are connected to their network. They can also no longer easily detect a device’s online/offline status.
Millions of professionals and home users have been impacted:
No access to MAC addresses affects a variety of different people and industries…”

That was scraped from the “Save Networking Tools on iOS 11” petition, originated by the Network Tools Alliance. As I draft this blog, well over 15,000 signatures have been added (including my own).

For the greater good- of those who use Wi-Fi and who support it- please consider adding your support. It’s free, and it just might help Apple to pull their head out of the sand on an important usability issue.

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No Thank You, Apple- I Don’t Buy Your Slanted Views on News Headlines

My relationship with Apple products has always been a warm-cold affair. I (mostly) love their device build quality, but loathe that Bonjour hasn’t yet been scrapped by a company that now wants to be seen as an Enterprise player. I’m thrilled with the the under-the-hood resources that the latest Macs have for WLAN support types to leverage, yet I’ve spent more than a decade dealing with Apple’s well-documented Wi-Fi bugs and the deeply flawed “I have an Apple device, if it’s not working right then it must be your network!” mentality that the company has carefully cultivated. The examples are many, and I only claim them as MY OWN feelings on Apple. If you disagree, I respect that. We all have our own frames of reference, live and let live, and all that…

Now, I find myself fed up with not so much a technical issue regarding Apple, but one of politics and what I would call an abuse of power. This takes the form of Apple’s extremely anti-Trump/pro-Clinton views being force-fed to the masses that own iDevices.

I’m not “for” either candidate, as in my mind we have a callous asshat running against a career criminal (you figure out who is who in that equation), and both lie, empty-promise, and shape-shift their way through this gloomy time in American history. But Apple only generally targets Trump with it’s choice of “Siri Suggested” headlines, largely giving Mrs. Clinton a free pass on her own many transgressions and unfulfilled promises. It seems like negative Trump headlines outnumber any mention of Clinton by at least 20:1, and all Clinton headlines are picked from friendly (to her) news outlets like CNN. If there was any modicum of equal shame, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

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I’ve been watching this anything-but-subtle campaign go on for weeks, and I’ve had enough. I opted to shut Apple up when it comes to their attempted swaying of public opinion on the iDevices I use, and you can, too. Here’s how:

Spotlight

It’s this simple:

  • Go to Settings, then General
  • Select Spotlight Search
  • You’ll find “Siri Suggestions” is enabled- simply disable it

After this, you won’t see any news headlines on that “Swipe All the Way Right” page again. You can’t choose what news outlets Apple cherry-picks it’s headlines from, so I opt not to have them pick anything.

In closing- I’m not the only one not digging Apple’s approach to presenting it’s own news selections. A quick search shows many a discussion like this.

(Thanks for reading- and though I have no interest in dragging politics into my blog, I also don’t tolerate unfair play very well. End of rant!)

 

 

A WLAN Doer Contemplates the Cisco/Apple Partnership

I’ve been in the wireless game with Cisco products since long before thin was in. These days, I support many thousands of access points and tens of thousands of Wi-Fi clients on those APs. At least half of those client devices are Apple products, and in some spaces in my environment, as many as 85% of all clients are Apple. Obviously, I hope for the best of outcomes from the new Cisco and Apple partnership, as my customers would benefit from those positive outcomes. There’s no meanness intended in what follows, just reflection on days past and what I hope comes of these two market leaders becoming more collaborative.

Code Counts as Much as Hardware

Cisco and Apple both put out beautiful hardware with premium price tags. Many purists who worship either or both companies have a hard time believing that anything defective could come in hardware that is so robustly built, pretty, and expensive. If my iDevice isn’t working, your network MUST be to blame. And if my WLAN is acting up, it must have been designed wrong because Cisco code isn’t cheap… and it comes from the market leader, by golly. Both Cisco and Apple are at the top of their games as measured by volume of devices in many large and small WLAN environments. And both frequently, too often, put out mediocre (or horrible) code that leaves people like me holding a bag full of smelly network pain.

In Cisco’s case, their WLAN controller code is just short of being chronically buggy, and a culture of “get it out the door and let our customers QA it!” seems to rule the product line. (Greg Ferro sums it up nicely in the opening paragraph of this article.) It’s not uncommon to spend days on the phone with TAC only to find out that randomly rebooting controllers or some oddball client behavior is actually a known bug.

For Apple, you never know what you’re going to get related to Wi-Fi behavior with OS and iOS upgrades and patches. Release notes are scant, and it seems that the Wi-Fi area of Apple devices is always being tinkered with back on the mothership. From a history of sticky-client behavior to curve-balls in how you are “allowed” to configure profiles to decidedly non-enterprise quality gimmicks like Bonjour, it has been an interesting ride administering business networks that have lots of Apple wireless clients on them. (This is not just me ranting, the Apple support forums are chock full of frustrations with Wi-Fi client behavior through the years.)

Features? What About Standards (and stability)?

Cisco networks also have to support a lot of non-Apple client devices. Making Apple’s consumer-centric AirPlay/Bonjour feature sets work in large business enterprises can be a nightmare. And though Cisco (and other vendors that do similar) mean well with mechanisms like band-steering and load balancing across APs, these enhancements cause their share of problems in the Wild West of widely varying client types found on big WLAN networks. It would be nice to see more focus on standards-based interoperability and feature sets rather than vendor-proprietary juju.

Looking Forward

I used to marvel a bit at Apple’s mastery of talking out of both sides of their corporate mouth when it came to their place under the network sun. Sometimes they were unequivocally not an Enterprise company, and sometimes they were. It seemed to depend on the audience, and how well their unyielding way of doing things fit into the general networking landscape where they were trying to gain specific market share. Now, with the Cisco alliance in play, Apple is emphatically stating that they are an Enterprise player. Hopefully, the company gives strong consideration to what that means to all of the users who love Apple gear but get frustrated because too much of the “Living Room, Single Class C Subnet Network” mentality is in play.

From the Cisco side, ideally my Wi-Fi vendor won’t skew their already frequently-frustrating code too far in the Apple direction at the expense of the rest of the client devices that have no use for Apple-specific features. Also ideally, Cisco would also find a way to end the code bug madness before it starts tweaking WLCs to do magic things for iDevices, lest bugs beget bugs.

This could be absolutely wonderful for environments like mine, or it could just be more of the same- but disappointingly amplified. I’m crossing fingers that both companies get it right…