Friday, 20 November 2015

Apple HomeKit, the 'Internet of Things' and security

Apparently some manufacturers are criticising Apple for the 'excessive' security required in order to gain HomeKit certification. Some of them and some pundits may be thinking this is another fiendish scheme by Apple to achieve lock-in to yet another Apple only eco-system.

They are wrong.

Apple have shown themselves to be very much concerned about security and gone to great lengths for example to provide excellent security for iOS devices including end-to-end encryption in iMessage - so much so that the FBI is pretty unhappy.

Funnily enough on the topic of the FBI, some of you may have seen a new TV series called CSI: Cyber which about a cybercrime fighting division in the FBI, the first episode in the series was about a baby monitor being hacked over the Internet. This is actually based on true events, baby monitors have and are being hacked over the Internet. See

So Apple is being well ahead of the field in building in extremely robust security in to HomeKit ready for when the 'Internet of Things' really takes off, it is after all far easier to do this at the beginning rather than trying to figure out how to fix things afterwards.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Apple Lossless music files and Windows, an update

As per my previous article here - Using Apple Lossless (aka. ALAC) in Windows the situation is unchanged for Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 however if you are currently testing Windows 10 or plan to upgrade to it when it is released then there is significant news for you.

Microsoft with Windows 10 have added official built-in support for a number of additional music and video formats and this includes Apple Lossless. This is provided in the form of a brand new MediaFoundation codec, both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are included. In fact there seem to be both decoding for playback and encoding versions provided although at this point I have not found any way to utilise the encoding versions. Playback is of course via Windows Media Player.

Furthermore with a subsequent update to Windows 10 preview Microsoft have also fixed the deliberate crippling of Apple Lossless files which previously resulted in such files being moved to the 'other' section of the Windows Media Player library. Apple Lossless files now correctly end up in the 'music' section at least in Windows 10. The previous workaround using WMPTagPlus is still needed for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1.

As a result of these two changes it is no longer necessary to install any additional software at all in Windows 10 and you can now straight away fully utilise Apple Lossless files. As before Windows Media Player still is able itself to read the meta-tags in these files including any embedded album artwork.

One of the supposed benefits of using a MediaFoundation codec over a DirectShow equivalent is that MediaFoundation codecs are supposed to support the ability to use the 'play-to' feature in Windows Media Player so that you can stream the music to a compatible DNLA client device. With DNLA being in my opinion a poorly designed and implemented system and with very few DNLA clients supporting Apple Lossless I have not yet been able to confirm whether this works for Apple Lossless files. If anyone else has had success please post a comment detailing what DNLA client you successfully tested an Apple Lossless file with.