Ben Lovejoy


Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer who started his career on PC World and has written for dozens of computer and technology magazines, as well as numerous national newspapers, business and in-flight magazines. He has also written two novels.

He is old enough to have owned the original Mac, and still has his Mac Portable in a cupboard as he can’t quite bear to part with it, despite the fact that he has no idea where the power supply is. He is occasionally tempted to turn up to a Genius Bar with it.

He currently owns a rather upgraded MacBook Pro 17 which he will reluctantly replace with a 2016 MacBook Pro 15, a MacBook Air 11, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPhone SE and Thunderbolt Display 27 – and suspects it might be cheaper to have a cocaine habit than his addiction to all things anodised aluminum.

He thinks wires are evil and had a custom desk made to hide them, known as the OC Desk for obvious reasons.

He considers 1000 miles a good distance for a cycle ride, and Chernobyl a suitable tourist destination. What can we say, he’s that kind of chap.

He speaks fluent English but only broken American, so please forgive any Anglicised spelling in his posts.

If @benlovejoy-ing him on twitter, please follow him first so that he can DM you if appropriate. If you have information you can pass on, you can also email him. If you would like to comment on one of his pieces, please do so in the comments – he does read them all.

Ben Lovejoy's Recommended Gear

October 7

AAPL: 114.06

Stock Chart

A statement by the FBI has raised the possibility of a second legal battle with Apple in a very similar case to the San Bernardino shootingWired reports that an FBI agent speaking about the case of the man who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall last month has said that the agency was considering legal as well as technical options.

At a press conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota today, FBI special agent Rich Thorton said that the FBI has obtained the iPhone of Dahir Adan, who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall before a police officer shot and killed him. (The fundamentalist militant organization ISIS claimed credit for the attack via social media.) As in Farook’s case, the attacker’s phone is locked with a passcode. And Thorton said the FBI is still trying to figure out how to gain access to the phone’s contents.

“Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked,” Thornton told reporters, “We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.”

The similarities in the two cases are notable …

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We were impressed by AI-powered photo editing app Prisma when it launched in July, and more so when it added offline access to most filters, but the app has now gone even further. The latest version of the app now supports video too – though it is limited to short clips of up to 15 seconds.

We’re excited to bring you a new way of self-expression. You can now turn your memories into moving artworks using unique video styles!

Pick a file from gallery or shoot up to 15 seconds of video through the Prisma camera to add an artist’s touch to it. The processing is done locally. No Internet connection is needed. You just need an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 10 …

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There are many reasons you might want to use a VPN service, from protecting your web access on a public hotspot to blocking trackers, but let’s be honest: probably the number one reason is to bypass geo-restrictions by pretending to be located in another country.

This can apply to YouTube and news websites, where you will sometimes see a message stating that the content you’re trying to access is not available in your country, but top of most people’s lists is Netflix

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The best way to practice your language skills is through conversation; easy if you live in the country concerned, or are surrounded by those who speak the language, not so easy otherwise. This is the problem Duolingo has set out to solve with the latest update to its language-learning app.

Duolingo’s iOS app now allows you to have text chats with AI bots. The bots will converse with you in the form of three different ‘personalities,’ and will help you out with suggestions if you’re struggling to reply …

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October 6

AAPL: 113.89

Stock Chart

Tech research giant Gartner is forecasting that the year-on-year decline in iPhone sales will continue through the rest of 2016, but that Apple will return to growth next year.

Overall stats released by the company relate to the mobile phone market as a whole, where it expects total shipments to fall from 1.917B units in 2015 to 1.887B this year before a slow growth beginning in 2017. The company does, though, make specific reference to the role the iPhone will play …

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As regular readers will know, I’m a long-time fan of Siri. It’s my default way to interact with my iPhone: from checking the weather forecast through opening apps to dictating text messages. It was the sole reason I upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the 4S back in the day.

At the same time, I’ve also long wanted Siri to do more. Last month, Apple finally granted the request I made last year: to give her access to third-party apps. But I was also hoping then for more – much more – while Apple seems to be content to expand Siri’s capabilities at a relatively leisurely pace.

Many of Siri’s original developers, it turned out, had also grown frustrated at Apple’s apparent lack of ambition for the intelligent assistant. They wanted to proceed at a much faster pace, and finally parted company with Apple to develop a next-generation assistant, Viv. The demonstration they gave back in May seriously impressed me, and I said then than Viv was what Siri should always have become …

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Security researcher and former NSA staffer Patrick Wardle is this afternoon demonstrating a way for Mac malware to tap into live feeds from the built-in webcam and microphone. His presentation is being delivered at the Virus Bulletin conference in Denver later today.

Although any unauthorized access to the webcam will light the green LED – a firmware-level protection that is exceedingly difficult to bypass – Wardle’s presentation shows how a malicious app can tap into the outgoing feed of an existing webcam session, like a FaceTime or Skype call, where the light would already be on …

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October 5

AAPL: 113.05

Stock Chart

Interbrand’s annual brand value report lists Apple as the world’s most valuable brand for the fourth year running, estimating the total worth of the brand at $178B, up 5% on the previous year. Apple first knocked Coca-Cola out of Interbrand’s top slot in 2013.

Apple is a technology company that leads innovation with their products and software platforms, providing seamless experiences across devices, and empowering people with breakthrough services.

The company says that Apple’s ecosystem is the biggest contributor to the value of the brand …

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When the largest company in the world changes the date of a quarterly earnings call, there has to be a good reason. It’s not the sort of thing you do on a whim.

Apple has done this once before, and there was indeed a very good reason, which it shared with us: to allow senior Apple execs to attend the memorial service of long-standing board member Bill Campbell.

This time, however, no explanation has been offered, and enquiries by reporters have received no response. I’m with Philip Elmer-DeWitt in thinking that there’s one very plausible explanation …

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While some have questioned the need for strong encryption to protect simple chats between friends, the continuing revelations of mass surveillance by governments does make the issue a matter of principle for some. Just yesterday it was revealed that Yahoo likely allowed the government to scan all of its users’ emails. And, as I’ve argued before, we all have perfectly innocent things to hide.

Facebook began testing Secret Conversations – Facebook Messenger chats protected by end-to-end encryption – back in July, promising a wider rollout later in the year. The company has now told Wired that the rollout is complete, and that the feature is now available to all Facebook users …

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October 4

AAPL: 113.00

Stock Chart

Much as I adore my B&W P5 headphones (recently upgraded to the wireless model), I must admit that even I would think twice about buying the company’s latest top-end model: the P9 Signature. These over-ear wired headphones cost a cool $900, but they do come with one extra: register them on B&W’s website and the company will send you a Lightning upgrade early next year.

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A number of friends have recently forwarded me examples of some relatively convincing-looking phishing emails purporting to be from Apple. These include fake Apple Music subscriptions or purchases, inviting the user to login to the Apple website to cancel the transaction if it wasn’t made by them.

The link, of course, goes to a fraudulent site, but many of them are close copies of the real thing. No 9to5Mac reader would be taken in by any of them, but a non-tech person might be. So if you’re the person who acts as unofficial tech advisor to your friends, you might want to ensure they are up to speed on these …

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Long-standing rumors that Apple plans to embed the Home button into the display of future iPhones became more concrete when Bloomberg, the WSJ and NYT all reported that Apple plans make this move in 2017.

We’ve seen a succession of Apple patents for this technology, and another one published today appears to describe a technology that would allow a fingerprint to be recognised almost anywhere on the screen, not just in a fixed location … 

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Apple Pay has now notched up ten countries as it goes live in Russia today. The country joins Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and U.S. in supporting Apple’s mobile wallet service.

The launch was marked on Apple’s Russian website, though the company has yet to update the Apple Pay availability page of its U.S. site.

Support in Russia is currently limited to one bank and one card type …

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October 3

AAPL: 112.52

Stock Chart
Aarhus University Research Center, Foulum
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Apple announced plans for two new European data centers back in 2015, one in Ireland, the second in Denmark. The Irish one hasn’t had the smoothest of rides when it comes to planning permission, so it’ll be hoping for better luck with the Danish project, now confirmed to be situated in Foulum, a small village in Central Jutland.

The Danish foreign minister Kristian Jensen told CPH Post that the DKK6.3B ($950M) project would represent the largest foreign capital investment in the country’s history. Tim Cook said back in 2015 that the Irish and Danish projects combined would also be Apple’s biggest investment in Europe to date.

Apple had already confirmed that the new center would run on 100% renewable energy, but Jensen says that the company’s commitment to renewables in the area goes further than this …

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Facebook has long been a convenient place to sell unwanted items, but the audience for your sales has so far been limited to your friends and followers. With the addition of a Marketplace feature on mobile, Facebook allows you to expand your audience to everyone in your local community.

Facebook is where people connect, and in recent years more people have been using Facebook to connect in another way: buying and selling with each other. This activity started in Facebook Groups and has grown substantially. More than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month — from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world.

To help people make more of these connections, today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.

Interestingly, Facebook isn’t getting involved in the transactions themselves …

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