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Buzzing About the Neat Worker Bee

A High Quality and Affordable Microphone

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 9:56 PM

My work has become highly dependent on live streaming since COVID hit. I wanted a good quality microphone to improve live stream quality without breaking the bank. I found a lot of options that were of uncertain quality, but affordable, and plenty of well known quality with a price to match. Then, I found something neat: the Neat Worker Bee.

Apple and Parler

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:00 PM

I hear a lot of consternation from quite a few people I know about Apple removing Parler. I’ve spoken out against deplatforming on a number of occasions — whether I agree with the views or find them distasteful — but I think this particular case is a more nuanced issue. I also suspect, if anything, Parler was given an extra long leash, not a short one. Here’s why I say that.

So far, I take Apple at their word, because I think they’ve earned it by years — or rather decades — of consistency. In the 12 years since the App Store was first offered, I’ve seen them remove both Left and Right leaning apps that, for example, fail to meet Apple’s standards for illegal content moderation. Most often this requirement has been invoked due to failure to moderate explicit or illegal drug related content — something much of Big Tech rarely seems to care about, but Apple consistently has.

I strongly believe Apple is sincere in saying Parler would be allowed back on if they implemented an effective form of moderation, something Parler actually agreed to do by submitting the app to the App Store in the first place. I doubt many people have read the App Store agreement every single app submitted is required to agree to, but the terms are clear and Parler was violating Apple’s terms of service (this wasn’t a new requirement Apple created).

No Sound and All Fury

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:12 PM

Modern technology makes hard things — like live streaming — that would have all but required a full behind the scenes staff just a few years ago relatively possible with just a couple of people.

Until something malfunctions.

As we’ve been preparing at FaithTree and Little Hills for the FaithTree Online Community Prayer Walk, we’ve had more of the issues possible with streaming pop up than ever before. Today almost every aspect of the live streaming setup for Steadfast (pictured) malfunctioned at some point in preparation for the livestream and, if you tried to watch it live, you noticed the audio was missing (please check out the reposted version with audio here).

Like every other aspect of life, of course, this is a good opportunity for prayer. I would be most appreciative for prayers both for what I expect will be an incredible day on Thursday for the Prayer Walk and also for the livestreams to come at Little Hills. I’m grateful for your prayers and also your patience if you “attend” Steadfast on Monday nights and couldn’t hear anything tonight. On to Thursday and then next week’s Steadfast! :-)

CNet: The iPhone SE "outclasses all Android phones"

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:22 PM

Need a new phone? The iPhone SE (2020) “outclasses all Android phones.” Seriously, no matter how much you spend on an Android, Apple’s $399 “budget” phone will be faster. While it doesn’t have all the other features of the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, it shares the same, incredibly high performance processor as its brain.

To put it in perspective, the iPhone 11 Pro, in its tiny size with no cooling, can achieve over 50% of the performance of a maxed out 16” MacBook Pro running Intel Core i9 processors and the 2020 iPad Pro bests numerous laptops. When Apple is confident enough if its engineering to put its best processor design in its cheapest phone, what exactly does it have ahead that it could put into the rumored in-house designed processor for Macs? An ARM based future could be very, very exciting despite the pains of a transition.

NBC Reports Zoom Usernames and Passwords for Sale on the Dark Web

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:31 PM

Seriously, friends, it’s time to move on from Zoom. They seriously don’t know how to do security and, if you reused a password from elsewhere with Zoom, now you are at higher risk of identity theft. No one who takes security seriously should even consider installing Zoom on their computer at this point or using it for any communication.

NBC News’ Ezra Kaplan and Kevin Collier report:

Zoom users who reuse the same passwords from other accounts can face an ugly unintended consequence — having their login information sold on the dark web.

Personal account information including email addresses, passwords and the web addresses for Zoom meetings are both being posted freely and sold for pennies. One dataset for sale on a dark web marketplace, discovered by an independent security firm and verified by NBC News, includes about 530,000 accounts.

(HT: Christopher Wright)

Zoom is Past Three Strikes...

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:14 PM

Here’s more motivation to consider Microsoft Teams, Skype, Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, etc., in lieu of Zoom. Days after the company was caught for a second time within a year using the same tactics as malware to install its software on computers, and days after it turned out it was leaking recorded calls online, it also admits to routing calls “accidentally” and insecurely through China. Facebook isn’t the epitome of privacy and security, but Facebook Messenger is end-to-end encrypted; Zoom is not.

Zack Whittaker for TechCrunch:

Hours after security researchers at Citizen Lab reported that some Zoom calls were routed through China, the video conferencing platform has offered an apology and a partial explanation.

To recap, Zoom has faced a barrage of headlines this week over its security policies and privacy practices, as hundreds of millions forced to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic still need to communicate with each other.

Bible Study Unhindered

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:42 PM

In line with my blog post from last night, the photo below is another example of technology being a blessing that allows us to continue ministry unhindered: doing Bible study over FaceTime. It felt a little weird at first, but it worked!

If you are doing Bible study or other group meetings in this manner, what platform are you using? We used FaceTime, as I said, which worked great for a group that happened to be all iPhone users, but next time I anticipate needing something cross platform and, ideally, still free. Facebook Messenger looks the most suitable, but is there another alternative you are using to good effect?

Tip for Getting Live Streaming Up Quickly

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:10 PM

A know a lot of churches all over are scrambling to implement live streaming thanks to the coronavirus situation. I thought I would share a suggestion that may not help for tomorrow’s services, but will help for the weeks ahead when live streaming remains an unusually important part of worship. In a word: Mevo.

We have been using a Mevo live streaming camera at FaithTree for several years now for our worship nights and will also be using one at Little Hills (including for a live stream event this Monday). You can see FaithTree’s Mevo in the photo above — it’s the tiny white and red camera on the tripod. I had been intrigued by the concept and nabbed one for a great price on Prime Day 2017. The great thing about it is that all it requires of you is that you put it on a tripod (or something else of appropriate height) and connect to it via an app on a phone (your phone or an old phone you don’t use any more but that can connect to Wi-Fi) or iPad.

Apple Pay Use Predicted to Rise

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:04 PM

MacRumors reports:

Juniper Research argued that customer dissatisfaction at the slower speeds of chip-and-PIN card transactions will further increase the adoption of smartphone-based payments, an area currently dominated by Apple Pay.

Apple Pay is simply a better experience than chip-and-PIN or chip-and-sign transactions from beginning to end. It is much faster to wave your phone over the reader than to pull out your credit card, insert it into a slot and wait for 10 seconds or so. You also have to do some additional step far less frequently. On top of that, at places like Walgreens, where you can put your loyalty card in Apple Pay, too, it not only is faster to pay, it also saves you from having to carry the ever increasing mountain of loyalty cards.

Limiting the All Writs Act

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:31 AM

A very encouraging ruling today in New York concerning the All Writs Act and the government's desire to force Apple to sabotage its security model:

“Apple is not doing anything to keep law enforcement agents from conducting their investigation. Apple has not conspired with [the defendant] to make the data on his device inaccessible,'' the judge wrote. “The government's complaint is precisely that Apple is doing nothing at all.”

The judge also offered an opinion, which I believe is correct, on why the government would try to accomplish this through the courts rather than through new legislation:

“It is also clear that the government has made the considered decision that it is better off securing such crypto-legislative authority from the courts…rather than taking the chance that open legislative debate might produce a result less to its liking,” he wrote.

I fear legislation could easily pass in our current political climate that values security more than liberty, but it would at least be more challenging than trying to move this through the courts further away from the spotlight.

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