Intego Mac Security Podcast

WWDC: New Macs, macOS Sonoma, iOS and iPadOS 17, and Vision Pro – Intego Mac Podcast Episode 295

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We look at what Apple presented at this year’s worldwide developers conference. We discuss the key features in macOS Sonoma, iOS 17, and iPadOS 17, and we talk a bit about Apple’s new Vision Pro AR/VR headset. We also discuss some recent Chrome vulnerabilities.

Transcript of Intego Mac Podcast episode 295

Voice Over 0:00
This is the Intego Mac Podcast—the voice of Mac security—for Thursday, June 8 2023.

This week’s Intego Mac podcast security headlines include a quick rundown of recent issues affecting the Chrome browser. And then our first look at Apple’s announcements from the WWDC Keynote, including thoughts on the all new Vision Pro. Now, here are the hosts of the Intego Mac Podcast: veteran Mac journalist, Kirk McElhearn, and Intego’s Chief Security Analyst, Josh Long.

Kirk McElhearn 0:37
Good morning, Josh, how are you today?

Josh Long 0:39
I’m doing well. How are you, Kirk?

Another actively exploited vulnerability found in Chrome browsers.

Kirk McElhearn 0:41
I’m doing just fine. I hope you’ve had an interesting week, three days, it’s Wednesday when we record and you spent a lot of time like I did looking at Apple’s new products at the Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday. I’m going to talk about that later. There’s another actively exploited vulnerability in Chromium based browsers. In other words, there’s another Wednesday this month.

Josh Long 1:00
Well, okay, it’s not quite every week, or necessarily every month. But I think this is what, like, the fourth time this has happened already this year. So it’s an almost monthly occurrence, but it’s something you kind of have to know to expect. And when these things do happen, make sure if you haven’t restarted your browser in a while that you check for updates and restart your browser. This applies to, as usual, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, Vivaldi. If you’re using Opera, they’re probably not going to release an update for a week or two, because that’s kind of how Opera rolls. As we’ve mentioned before, probably just don’t use Opera because it’s not as safe to use as any of the other Chromium-based browsers.

Malicious Chrome browser extensions purged from the Chrome Web Store.

Kirk McElhearn 1:44
Okay, more chrome related stuff. There are tons of malicious extensions in the Chrome Web Store. In fact, there are no fewer than 34 malicious extensions, but these are used by 87 million users. It’s not like some random extension that someone planted in the store. These are really, really popular Chrome extensions.

Josh Long 2:05
Well, the good news is, these are no longer in the Chrome Web Store. One thing that I haven’t been able to definitively find out is, if you had any of these extensions installed, will they be automatically disabled. Google doesn’t really document this very well. Unfortunately, at least, I haven’t come across any really clear documentation from Google about this. But I have seen screenshots in years past, if they have disabled, certain extensions, then they should be disabled globally, for everybody who had them installed. It’s not really clear whether that’s the case here, but we’ll link to the article. If you want to know more about these particular extensions. Thankfully, they’re no longer in the Chrome Web Store.

Kirk McElhearn 2:49
Well, they’re no longer…the article is updated as of the 2nd of June and the second most widely used one at nearly 7 million weekly active users is still available, as of that date.

Josh Long 3:01
Right. I did check yesterday as of when we’re recording. So this was Tuesday this week, and none of them were available in the Chrome Web Store anymore.

Kirk McElhearn 3:11
Okay. How do these things get poisoned? Because we’re talking about dozens of extensions with millions of users, it’s not just like one that was hacked. What happens here?

Josh Long 3:21
Well, it could be a number of different things. Sometimes bad guys will clone a real extension, and then maliciously modify it and release their own version of it. Sometimes, a developer stops working on their extension, someone else comes along, offers them a bunch of money and says “Here, I’ll take over development.” And then they start developing it and add malicious things to it. There’s a number of different ways that something like this could happen. You really have to be careful with anytime you’re installing an extension in your browser, make sure that it’s been around for a long time comes from a developer you trust and is regularly updated is the other thing that I would make sure to check.

Kirk McElhearn 4:00
You always say “comes from a developer you trust.” How do I know if I trust the developer? I mean, my business is looking at apps. And I know a number of reputable Mac developers that have been around for years. But I don’t know all the others and someone who doesn’t look at apps as much as we do, they won’t know who’s reputable.

Josh Long 4:17
Fair point. And I think this is a really big problem, because it’s not really clear to any average person, certainly. And I think even to more advanced users, it’s not necessarily really clear. Basically, I think the most important thing here is use as few extensions as possible. Yeah. If something sounds like it’s going to, you know, do something really great for you. Maybe ask an expert. I don’t know.

Kirk McElhearn 4:40
Ask Josh.

Josh Long 4:43
Oh Boy. Yeah, I don’t want to get emails from everybody. But

Kirk McElhearn 4:45
[email protected] ask Josh.

Josh Long 4:49
Be very cautious about installing any extension in your browser because frequently they have access to just about everything you’re doing in your browser, or they can anyway.

Invoice scams are increasing.

Kirk McElhearn 4:58
“Trust no one, Scully.” Okay, we mentioned on the podcast a few weeks ago about these fake invoice scams that we’ve been getting these invoices from the Geek Squad that are generated by Intuit QuickBooks. So these are not just random spams. It’s using the QuickBooks invoice generation feature and Intuit email server to send them out. We have a more extensive article on the Intego Max security blog that Josh wrote up discussing a number of these scams, different sources, different types of companies, and its PayPal. It’s Geek Squad, it’s Norton and McAfee, where they’re saying that, hey, you’re going to have to spend $350, to update your Norton antivirus,

Josh Long 5:33
Right. So if you’re an Intego product user, you probably are not also a Norton or McAfee user. But this is good to know. Because you may have friends and relatives who asked you about this and say, Hey, I got this Norton or McAfee invoice. And it looks like they’re going to be charging me like $400. And the course, just like we talked about recently, usually they’re trying to get you to call a toll free number, and talk with a support representative to make sure that you’re not actually going to be charged. And of course, this number actually goes to a bad guy, right? It’s a malicious call center. And it’s just scammers who are trying to get money out of you some other way, they’re gonna get you to log into your bank account, and then tell you oh, we’re having some trouble verifying just, you know, walk away from your computer for a while, we’ll check in on this later. In the meantime, they’re still connected to your computer. And they might actually steal money directly from your bank account or install malware or any number of other things. One interesting one on this is just like how, with Intuit servers being exploited, they’re using the QuickBooks service to actually send some of these invoices. Another thing that we’re seeing is that these Bitcoin scams are being sent through PayPal servers, basically, what they’re doing is PayPal actually has its own invoicing service. And you don’t necessarily have to be a PayPal user. If somebody just gets your email address, they can send you an invoice. So what they do is get email addresses from whatever random sources maybe from data breaches or something. And then they’ll send out massive numbers of invoices. And in the description of the invoice, that’s where the scam comes in, they’ll put a paragraph in there telling you about some bitcoin thing that they’re billing you for. And again, they give you a phone number to call. So they’re trying to trick people into calling a malicious call center.

Kirk McElhearn 7:37
The thing about PayPal invoices is the they say “view and pay invoice.” That’s the button on PayPal invoices. And I get these for a couple of things that I buy. So I guess what’s happening here is it’s taking you to a phishing website that set up to take a credit card number as well, right?

Josh Long 7:52
What’s interesting about this is because it’s being sent through the legitimate PayPal invoicing service, there’s one of two things that can happen either you call the phone number that is given in the description, right, that the scammer is sending you. Or maybe you actually pay the invoice and it will actually send that…those hundreds of dollars or whatever they’re requesting to the scammer. So be very careful about that too, because they might actually steal money from you in that way by just tricking you into paying an invoice. Where this could be a little bit more problematic is if those invoices get sent to a business, especially if it’s a business that does stuff with cryptocurrency, you might think, oh, you know, maybe this is that transaction. Well, you could fall for the scam potentially.

What new Apple hardware was announced at WWDC ’23?

Kirk McElhearn 8:40
Okay, WWDC. As usual, we see all the new operating systems, but we got new hardware this week, I predicted that we would get a new Mac Pro didn’t I? You weren’t too sure about it. But we got a new Mac Pro. I want to say something that’s really interesting about the new Mac Pro. It starts at $7,000. And if you fully loaded with the maximum of memory, and the maximum storage and everything else, it gets a bit above $12,000. Now, just today, I updated my article on the Intego Mac Security blog, I’ll link in the show notes about which Mac to choose among all the Macs. And the previous version had the Intel Mac Pro that was upgradable for more than $50,000. So the difference is, well, it’s 1/4 as expensive if you go to the high end of the Mac Pro. So the Mac Pro has an M2 Ultra remember the ultra chips are the ones were they fused to pro chips together, (Max) No, it’s a max chip. Pro. Max. Ultra. Two max chips together. And that gets twice the data, washes twice as white and things like that. The Mac Pro is still ridiculously expensive, but it’s got seven PCI slots. Now you don’t really need PCI for a lot of things. But what you can do is you can add storage to PCI slots. And when you look at how much Apple charges for storage upgrades, I believe it’s $2,800 to get eight terabytes in the Mac Pro. You can save a lot of money if you need storage for the device. Not many people need the Mac Pro, but a lot more people might want that 15 inch MacBook Air.

Josh Long 10:08
Right, I saw a lot of people talking about, you know how the new MacBook Air compares to the MacBook Pro that was updated early this year, as well as some other MacBook models that came out last year. If you were somebody who wanted an Air before, it probably still makes sense to get an Air. If you were somebody who really wanted a Pro before to have more performance, you probably still want the Pro

Kirk McElhearn 10:34
But what if what you really wanted was the larger display.

Josh Long 10:38
Now if you if you really want the larger display, then it really depends at that point on what kind of processing power you really need for what you’re doing. Right. If all you want to do if the main things that you’re doing with your computer are checking email and looking at websites, you don’t need a super powerful computer for that. And you’re just fine with an Air for sure.

Kirk McElhearn 10:58
Unless you want to run Chrome and Slack.

Josh Long 11:01
Okay, so you might want a little bit more RAM, but you could probably still get away with having an Air just fine. I use Chromium based browsers, I use Slack. And I’m doing okay on an older model of MacBook Air.

Kirk McElhearn 11:13
Yeah. We also got a new Mac Studio using M2 processors. If you anyone who has been paying attention to this, remember that the Mac Studio, when Apple introduced the Mac Studio, they introduced the M1 max and M1 pro processors. So now the Mac Studio is moved to M2. All of the Mac’s currently available with one exception are running M2 processors, they’re still selling the M1 MacBook Air, they dropped the price of the M2 13 inch MacBook Air by $100. So it’s only $100 more than the M1 which means don’t buy the M1 MacBook Air. It’s almost three years old. It’s still plenty fast, but it’s not worth saving $100 for something like that.

Josh Long 11:54
Yes, as I like to remind people frequently it’s not a good idea to buy an older Apple product, you know if Apple’s still selling it, but they started selling it years ago. And it’s probably not a great idea to buy if you want longevity for that device, if you want to be able to get all the latest security updates as long as possible.

Kirk McElhearn 12:13
Okay, we’re gonna take a break when we come back, we’re to talk about all the new operating systems and we’re gonna have to talk about Vision Pro right?

Josh Long 12:19
I guess so!

Voice Over 12:24
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What new features are in Apple’s new operating system updates?

Kirk McElhearn 13:40
So new operating systems and Apple opened up their presentation of macOS Sonoma, which was in the list of names that you mentioned last week by showing screensavers (Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.) And then they went on to talk about Stickers in Messages. And if these are the biggest features in macOS Sonoma, they’re not. But these are the ones that they wanted to highlight. It’s actually kind of interesting, because there aren’t a lot of new features in these operating system. Now I was talking with Josh yesterday, I was talking to our producer, Doug on Monday, saying that, usually they have a preview page. And at the bottom of the page, they have a link to click to see more where they have a list with no screenshots, just text of all the additional features. This year, there’s no additional features, there’s really not much that’s new, other than screensavers. And a couple of other things we’ll talk about.

Josh Long 14:31
You know, this is kind of where we are with these operating system updates. So Apple comes out with a new macOS version every year. And you know, it’s, they’re incremental updates. If we’re being really honest, most of the time.

Kirk McElhearn 14:44
I think it’s good. I honestly think it’s good. I think we don’t need too many big changes. I like this slow, steady approach.

Josh Long 14:53
Yeah. The potential disadvantage of this is that usually with every new version of macOS comes out, they dropped some older hardware, and then some of your older Mac’s might be stuck on an N minus one or N minus two operating system, which means it’s not going to get the full range of security updates that only the current operating system gets. So that is a potential problem. If you care about security, which of course you do, because you’re listening to this podcast,

Kirk McElhearn 15:24
There you go. We want to talk about some of the features, we’re not going to give a deep dive into this. But one of the things I like is having widgets on the desktop in macOS, I don’t find the current way that you can set up widgets in that thing that slides out from the side, I don’t like that very much, I’d rather be able to position them on the desktop, they’ll fade away in the background, this looks like it’s going to be a useful tool. I kind of don’t understand how you can use iPhone widgets on the Mac. But I assume that means if your iPhone is close enough, it’s Continuity that can transfer not just the information, but the actual widget from the app that you have on your iPhone that you don’t have on your Mac.

Josh Long 16:03
This was kind of confusing to me, because the way they presented it, they said that if you have your iPhone on the same Wi Fi network or nearby your Mac, then you can get the data from those widgets showing up on your Mac. And then like, okay, so it’s not it’s not that the actual widget actually exists for Mac? Is it the kind of thing where you can also potentially in some cases get the widget for Mac? Or are you 100% relying on widgets for iOS?

Kirk McElhearn 16:35
That’s the Venn diagram, right? So are you using the weather widget that’s on macOS are using the weather widget that’s on iOS, but if it’s an Apple widget, they probably know. So it’s not a confusion. I think for the others, basically, what it’s doing is it’s transmitting the display, all the code is running on your iPhone. But this can be useful if you have certain widgets on your iPhone, and you want to keep the visible on your Mac, while you’re working right in the background. I think this can actually be useful. We’ve got some new Safari features, and one of them that I never really thought of, but a lot of people I saw on social media were happy about is that you can have different profiles in Safari, where each profile has your history extensions, tab groups, cookies and Favorites separate. And of course, you think of work versus personal, right?

Josh Long 17:20
Yeah, this is a very good feature. I’m very happy to see this. Now some websites, of course, do have this built in if you if you are a Google user, and you’re using some Google property or other, and you have multiple Google accounts, then this is something you’re already seeing when you’re accessing, for example, Gmail, you’ll be able to log into multiple Gmail inboxes at a time, you can have them open up in different browser tabs without having to have like one of them be in private browsing and the other not. So this is something that now Apple is basically expanding for other websites that don’t really support having multiple people logged in at the same time. So I see this as a really brilliant move. I’m kind of surprised that mainstream browsers haven’t done this, at least to my knowledge to date. So it’s great to see Safari with that feature now.

Kirk McElhearn 18:15
My guess is that this is going to also work with Focus. So if you set up a Work Focus, you can specify in the Work Focus which Safari profile is active and a Personal Focus, you can specify which Safari profile is active.

Josh Long 18:27
Now, the other feature that they are adding to Safari, which is interesting, is that correct me if I’m wrong, what I understood is that if you have a private browsing window, open in Safari, and you haven’t accessed it for a while, maybe you walked away from your computer. Now it’s going to lock in a way that people walking by your computer are not going to be able to see what’s in that private browsing window. Did I get that right?

Kirk McElhearn 18:54
Yeah, that’s “Porn Mode.”

Josh Long 18:56
Well, okay.

Kirk McElhearn 18:58
Among other things, maybe it’s your banking website. But yes, I’m guessing you’ll set a time in Safari settings, like you said, a time for your your screen to lock or your screensaver to come on. And this way It locks when you’re not using them. So no one can look over your shoulder and see what you’re doing, which makes sense. So the marquee feature for iOS for the iPhone is what they call Contact Posters, where you can create a I guess it’s going to be in your Contact card, you can add a photo, you can design a poster with your name on it, choose the font and everything. And when you call someone or when you FaceTime them, this is what they’ll see instead of just seeing your name. Now, of course, at the same time, Apple was rolling out a feature to detect potentially sensitive images and to blur them because you can imagine people are going to randomly call with Contact Posters of naked people on them just for lulz.

Josh Long 19:46
Right. So I mean, it’s good timing, right? If they’re going to allow people to set up their own posters. Well, you probably don’t want to receive random calls from people that show their poster because you don’t know what kind of posters they’re gonna have. So it’s good, it’s good that they’re putting some — Apple never uses the term artificial intelligence. They always say machine learning, but they’re using some machine learning.

Kirk McElhearn 20:11
Well, it’s not the same. But yeah, (Yeah) they’re using the neural processor on the chip, whatever they call it.

Josh Long 20:16
Yeah, they’re using machine learning to determine whether there’s some might be some nudity or something in those posters, when people call you.

Kirk McElhearn 20:24
Now, one feature I like is called Standby. If you’re charging your phone and you put it sideways, you can have things display like widgets, they show an example of a music player, if you’re playing music, kind of looks like Car Play, the way you get the album art and the play controls, different kinds of clocks or even photos. And I think that’s pretty cool. It’s the kind of thing where I actually just bought a stand for my phone to stick a MagSafe charging disc in to be able to put that on my desk that when I’m not using my phone, there’ll be something I put on the phone that will be visible.

Josh Long 20:56
I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t already have this. I mean, we do have iPhones that have an always-on display now, just like we’ve had for the Apple Watch for a few generations. So it’s not terribly surprising to see that the next version of iOS is going to allow you to have a better experience with your always-on display. I feel like it was an obvious thing, but also kind of a nice new feature to have.

Kirk McElhearn 21:23
I like this new AirDrop feature that if you start air dropping something to someone, you can walk away, even if it’s a big file, and it continues over the internet. So basically, it’s uploading to your iCloud account then downloading to your user. It’s making the connection to identify the user who’s receiving it. But even if you’re not close enough, the data goes through the internet. And of course, this will be a problem. If one of the two people doesn’t have a lot of bandwidth, when you use AirDrop and you’re close to someone, the devices create a point to point network, they don’t use your Wi Fi, they don’t use 4G or 5G. So if you go away, then bandwidth applies. But I think this is really useful. If you want to transfer a large file to someone, you don’t have to stay next to them until it’s finished.

Josh Long 22:07
Or multiple pictures, for example. So if you are camping with somebody, and you’ve taken a whole bunch of pictures, you want to share them with the other person, you can start air dropping when you’re right next to them. And even if you’re in a place, presumably where you don’t have a great signal, eventually those photos will get to them, they’ll they’ll gradually upload over time.

Kirk McElhearn 22:30
Apple made a recent change to its developer accounts. Before, if you wanted to get beta versions of its operating systems, you either had to have a developer account that costs $99 a year, or you had to wait for the public betas which came out about a month after the first betas. Now — and please don’t do this — f you go to software update on any of your devices. And you look for beta updates you can download the betas for macOS Sonoma, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, don’t do it. You don’t want to do it unless you have a device that you only use for betas. I don’t know why they’re doing this. But we’ll link to Apple’s developer program membership page where they explain that all you have to do is sign into your Apple ID and you can access beta releases. But you can also access Xcode developer tools. And I think that’s why they’re doing it because they want more people to play around with Xcode to learn to code to enhance the Apple app ecosystem.

Josh Long 23:22
One of the important distinctions here is that to my understanding, you have to have a paid developer account in order to get your apps notarized, right. So if obviously, if you’re going to submit something to the App Store, or even if you’re gonna distribute an app on your own, and you want it notarized, you’re gonna have to pay for a developer account If you’re just using an app on your own system that you’re developing, you know, for personal use or whatever, you don’t necessarily need to pay for an Apple developer account anymore. But if you want to distribute an app publicly, one way or another, that’s when you would get a paid developer account.

Kirk McElhearn 23:58
Okay, Vision Pro. Now, this is really hard to talk about. We haven’t had hands on (or face on) this device. We’ve seen Apple’s presentation, I’ve read a number of reports from people who have tried it out. Everyone says it’s mind-blowingly impressive. And I think the technology is just extraordinary. I think what they’ve done here, with all the sensors and cameras, in fact, you can control it with your hands, instead of having to hold a controller. I think this is just amazing. There are a couple of downsides. It’s $3,500. But not if you wear glasses, if you wear glasses, you have to pay more for special lenses that go into the thing. I looked this afternoon to see what percentage of adults wear glasses. And apparently it’s 75% of people between 18 and 65. So this means that only 25% of people, adults will be able to use this device without wearing glasses. Now I know this means people don’t. Not everyone wears glasses all the time, but still.

Josh Long 24:53
Well, that’s certainly the way that it seemed from Apple’s presentation and there’s other sources now to sort of back that up. if that’s really the case, if there’s no way to use this with glasses, then that is potentially problematic now, because already $3,500 is not cheap. I mean, Meta just announced, I think last week, their new Meta Quest 3, which is kind of the new Oculus type device, it’s still got those paddles that you’ve got to carry in your hands. Technologically, it’s completely in a different class from Apple’s Vision Pro, but Meta Quest 3 is going to cost 500 bucks instead of 3500 bucks. So it’s a pretty big difference.

Kirk McElhearn 25:38
Plus more for prescription lenses.

Josh Long 25:41
Well, right. So Apple’s not trying to compete on price, obviously, they want to have the best experience, no matter the cost, right. And eventually, I’m sure that Apple will come out with newer models that are going to come down in price, but only so much, right? Because they’ve got to have all the cameras in order to be able to see your hand movements and all that kind of stuff. They’ve got to have the special technology that’s unique to Apple, right? They talked about, like how they have tons of patents… [Kirk: 5000 patents.] 5000 patents, yeah, and many of these patents are all related to being able to see that person’s eyes through the display, but you’re not actually seeing their eyes through the display. It’s a simulation of seeing that person’s eyes.

Kirk McElhearn 26:30
That’s one of the creepiest things. And I’m looking at the photo. Now on Apple’s website, there’s two people on a couch, and they’re talking and there’s a man on the left, he’s got a beard, but he’s not wearing a headset. And there’s a woman on the right, and her eyes are looking at him through the thing. And they’re talking and she’s got the thing on her head, and maybe watching a baseball game or something else and smiling at him. And it looks like it just look, there’s something sad about all of the images that they showed of people alone, sitting still, like they were good children in school sitting up straight on a couch. If I was watching a movie with this device, I’d be lying on my back, I wouldn’t be sitting up straight, or the one of the guy at his daughter’s party, who’s wearing the goggles at his daughter’s birthday party. I mean, there’s something oddly Black Mirror-ish about this. The technology is extraordinary. I don’t see where this is going to go. We’ll know in a few years. I think this is really a trial balloon for Apple. And I think one of the things that they’re doing is they wanted to create this device so developers can get their hands on it, to see what kind of apps they can come up with, because maybe there will be a killer app that Apple didn’t even think of.

Josh Long 27:37
Yeah, it’s no surprise that they announced this at the Worldwide Developers Conference, right? They really want developers to start working on apps, because they’re planning on releasing this device early next year. So you know, they can’t have no apps available on launch day, right? They want to have as many developers, I’m presuming that a lot of developers are just going to take their existing apps that they created for the Meta Quests or the Oculus, you know, and port them over. Because a lot of this stuff really could be easily ported. I imagine. (Or existing Mac apps.) Yes, some of it could be existing Mac apps to or existing iPadOS iOS apps. They had a game developer who presented something that looked pretty impressive. That’s the thing I think is going to be one of the places where Vision Pro really excels compared to the competitors in the market, being able to actually use your hands and not have these awkward controllers that take away from the experience. I think this is going to be a big plus for Apple. If you really want more immersive gaming experiences. It’s a lot of money. I mean, the average person is not going to be able to afford this. And that’s I think the biggest sad thing about this, it’s just not available to the average person.

Kirk McElhearn 28:56
Okay, that’s it for this week. Next week, we’re going to take a deep dive into the new security and privacy features in macOS Sonoma, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and even WatchOS 10. Until next week, Josh, stay secure.

Josh Long 29:07
All right, stay secure.

Voice Over 29:10
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About Kirk McElhearn

Kirk McElhearn writes about Apple products and more on his blog Kirkville. He is co-host of the Intego Mac Podcast, as well as several other podcasts, and is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS, and several other websites and publications. Kirk has written more than two dozen books, including Take Control books about Apple's media apps, Scrivener, and LaunchBar. Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn. View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →