Hi, I’m Dwayne. I’m a freelance web developer. I spend most of my time writing code, reading random things on the internet, and playing PC games. I created this website to share what I’m working on and reading about. Check out the about me page for info about me, and the tech page for more about the website.

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Re: “Please someone help me.” FaceTime users bombarded with group call spam

Dan Goodin from Ars Technica on FaceTime users receiving group call spam:

FaceTime users are getting bombarded with group calls from numbers they’ve never seen before, often as many as 20 times in short succession during late hours of the night.

Griefers behind the pranks call as many as 31 numbers at a time. When a person receiving one of the calls hangs up, a different number will immediately call back. FaceTime doesn’t have the ability to accept only FaceTime calls coming from people in the user’s address book. It also requires that all numbers in a group call must be manually blocked for the call to be stopped.

I get these “spam” calls every once in a while. I still have a bunch of numbers in my Blocked Contacts list in FaceTime from when they all called over and over for like half an hour one night. They all share my New Jersey area code.

I couldn’t tell at the time if it was legit spam or just a prank/wrong number situation.

A user can also turn off FaceTime in iOS settings or in the macOS app, but that prevents users from receiving wanted calls as well. Last, people can uncheck their phone number under the FaceTime setting “where you can be reached.” Once again, however, this will prevent wanted calls that are initiated using the user’s number.

I almost considered turning off FaceTime for a while, but I eventually blocked enough of the numbers for it to stop. It’s a shame Apple doesn’t provide any options to help with this yet.

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Re: Support Black-Owned Businesses: 181 Places to Start Online

A reader sent me a link to a blog post that lists 181 black-owned businesses by category. They wrote:

The events of last summer (BLM protests and COVID-19) saw many people rally to support Black-owned businesses. Sadly, since summer ended, people forgot to keep sharing and supporting these businesses.

I just found a new article with links to more than 150 Black-owned businesses. I was so happy to see that people still care about helping these companies thrive!

Thanks for the resource!

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Stadia Continues to Struggle

Bloomberg just published an article about Google’s struggles with Stadia. Things really haven’t been going well.

From Jason Schreier:

Players also didn’t like Stadia’s business model, which required customers to buy games individually rather than subscribe to an all-you-can-play service à la Netflix or the Xbox’s Game Pass. Paying as much as $60 for a single game, for it only to exist on Google’s servers rather than on your own PC, seemed a stretch to some. After all the hype, gamers were disappointed. Stadia missed its targets for sales of controllers and monthly active users by hundreds of thousands, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. A Google spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

There’s something deeply embedded in Google’s DNA that makes it great at solving huge (like exabytes of data huge) technical problems, but consistently struggle at creating actual products. If you need to manage lists of data (photos, documents, search results, messages), Google’s got you covered, but good luck getting an actual product that you’re happy holding onto for years from them.

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LastPass Free might not be worth using soon

Any time I talk about passwords with people, I always end up recommending password managers. I don’t really expect average computer users to have amazing password practices1 considering just how many different accounts you need for things these days. I’ve been using 1Password for a while, but I’ve been keeping an eye on some of the others (Bitwarden, Dashlane, LastPass, etc) too.

LastPass just recently decided to severely restrict the service’s free tier. Right now, you can sign up for LastPass for free and get access on all your devices. After March 16th, you’ll have to choose between having access on your computers (laptops, desktops, etc) or on your mobile devices (phone, tablet, watch, etc). Full access starts at $3 per month.

From the support page:

As a LastPass Free user, your first login on or after March 16, 2021 will set your active device type. You’ll have three (3) opportunities to switch your active device type and explore what’s right for you. Please note that all of your devices sync automatically, so you’ll never lose access to anything stored in your Vault or be locked out of your account due to these changes, regardless of whether you use computers or mobile devices to access LastPass.

I have no problem with having to pay for the service (1Password has no free tier at all), but springing this kind of change on people who have already been using it feels pretty shitty. It’s clearly not really useful this way since most people with more than one device are probably using one of each of the device types (phone and laptop), so they’re just kicking people off the free service without being direct2 about it.

Most of the people I’m seeing talk about this today are mentioning Bitwarden. It’s free for use on all devices (and has paid plans with more features) and is also open source.

  1. It mostly just comes down to length as far as I understand. The longer your password, the harder it is to crack. Sometimes it’s recommended to use passphrases (just put like 4 different words together) instead of passwords if possible. ↩︎

  2. Obviously there’s no easy way to tell your customers you gotta start charging more, but if it were up to me I probably would have wanted to announce a restructuring of the pricing tier, eliminating the free tier, and lowering the prices slightly and/or adding more value to the other ones. ↩︎

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Driverless Apple (Kia) Cars

There’s been some Apple Car news this week. According to this Cult of Mac article, a source for CNBC said that the first Apple Cars will be completely driverless (like Waymo). My guess is something like an Apple version of Uber, with self-driving cars.

It sounds more Appley to me than self-driving cars that people own. Some features I would expect to see that would be convenient for the user and pushes them further into the Apple ecosystem:

  • Integrates with Maps and Apple Pay. Open Maps, search for a location, hit a new “Request an Apple Car” button, then double click the “side button” to Pay. You can watch the car drive up on the map and get an alert when it’s close.
  • “Hey Siri, send me a car to go to Mom’s house.”
  • Uses the phone (or watch) to enter the car of course.
  • Personalization with your Apple account. All your Apple shit (News, Apple Music, Messages, accessibility settings, etc) is available on the touch screen where the steering wheel would be by the time you sit down. When it comes to Privacy, Apple will emphasize always-on encryption for any data that is ever transferred to or from the car, and complete destruction of encryption keys when exiting.
  • Optional spoken alerts.
  • “Homepod quality” speaker system with virtual surround sound and all the other audio tech Apple’s been into.
  • Safety built in with always-on GPS and monitoring of routes. If anything unsafe happens, you’ll be contacted through your phone, watch, and/or the car touch screen.
  • Everything as wireless as possible so you don’t have to deal with dirty or broken USB cables and like… food stuffed in the ports.

On that last point, I’m not sure how they’re gonna keep that Apple image of clean perfection when you’re sharing the car with other people. How often will they have to clean/inspect?

Earlier in the week, Bloomberg reported that Apple is about to sign a $3.6 billion deal with Kia Motors (owned by Hyundai). The plan is to introduce the Apple/Kia cars in 2024.

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Re: Cyberpunk 2077’s new 1.1 update introduces a game-breaking bug

New Cyberpunk updates, new bugs.

I have a feeling this is the fate of the game. It seems pretty obvious that whatever company/process/development/management problems fucked up the launch haven’t been addressed in any real way (and I don’t know how they would under these circumstances).

I would really hate to be a dev at CD Projekt Red right now.

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Apple announces new projects related to its $100 million pledge for racial equity and justice

I was very happy to hear about Lisa Jackson leading Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.

From the Apple’s press release yesterday:

Apple today announced a set of major new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. These forward-looking and comprehensive efforts include the Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit; and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. Together, Apple’s REJI commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of color across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders.

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Re: Razer has created a concept N95 mask with RGB and voice projection

…I don’t know about this.

I mean, considering we’ll be wearing masks for a while still (right??? please wear your masks), I definitely appreciate any attempts at making them better. I like the idea of having your mouth be visible but illuminated tho? Also, I thought there was kind of an unspoken agreement that relying on people to replace filters on masks like these is not a good idea.

It sounds like it’s still very early in the concept phase, so I guess they have time to figure things out but… I’m not really expecting this to go anywhere.

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