Getting Apple News in the UK

Those who have upgraded their iPhones to iOS 9 may have noticed that Apple News isn't on their home screen. For some reason, UK phones aren't showing it.

There is, however, a way to fix this. It involves a few configuration changes in the Settings app:

  • General > Language & Region > Region: Set to "United States". This is the change which will cause the app to appear: the rest of the steps just fixes location specific items back to UK settings.
  • General > Language & Region > Language: Set to "English (U.K.)"
  • General > Date & Time > 24-Hour Time: Turn on
  • General > Keyboards > Keyboards: Confirm "English (UK)" is being used

You may need to reboot your phone in order for Apple News to appear.

There will be a couple of places which still use US formats, such as dates, but I've used my iPhone like this for the past few months and I haven't noticed any big problems.

To put your phone back to how it was, simply change the Region (the first step above) back to "United Kingdom".

Pricing iPhones competitively

Jason Snell, on the new iPhone Upgrade Program:

At the very least, the iPhone Upgrade Program gives Apple an alternative way to sell iPhones in Apple retail stores. And wouldn’t it be nice if more people weren’t under contract with wireless carriers and if they could take advantage of an unlocked phone to buy a foreign SIM when traveling internationally?

Is Apple competing with the carriers here? Subverting them? Something else? I don’t know, but it’s an announcement that took me by surprise, and I’ll be curious to see how it shakes out.

Remember the rumours about Apple launching their own mobile network?

Looks like, they aren't: they're just competing with the networks when it comes to selling the iPhone.

I like it: iPhones are expensive to buy outside of a mobile contract, and hopefully this will encourage more providers to price their contracts competitively.

Some Ashley Maddison Passwords Cracked

A fair number of passwords from the Ashley Maddison hack have now been cracked. Click through if you want to see the (NSFW) top 100 list, but you wont see many surprises.

ARS Technica:

As bad as it is that 11.7 million accounts were protected by weak passwords, there's yet another number the underscores just how careless the Ashley Madison masses were: Only 4.6 million of the 11.7 million recovered passwords were unique.

If I did my maths correct, around 5% of all accounts (or 1 in 20) had passwords in that top 100 list.

Apple's Genius Bar Just Isn't Working Anymore

It wasn't so long ago that when you had a problem with any of your Apple products, you could drop by your local Apple Store and a friendly fellow geek would sort you how: in the case of hardware, usually by confirming the issue and giving you a replacement there and then.

But Apple products are getting more popular, and the Stores are getting busier. Gone are the days where you could just pop in: you've needed to book an appointment for some time now. And gone are the days where you knew you were talking to a fellow Apple geek who could get you on your feet there and then. Now, it's a pleasant surprise if you get this.

Those who listen to ATP will know, possibly to their own frustration, about the issue where part of the front-facing camera is shifting to give an appearance of a grey crescent moon. (And for those who hadn't: I'm sorry, you can no longer un-see it). And earlier today, Casey sent a tweet reminder:

iPhone 6 users with the crescent moon: if you got yours launch day like me, your warranty runs out ~18 September.

So far, so good. There's a clear defect with your phone and you have just over a week to get a fix or replacement under regular warranty.

But then I delved into the replies to this tweet. And the results were mixed, to say the least:


@caseyliss Casey thanks to you pointing it out on ATP I booked genius appointment. Genius replaced mine with a brand new iPhone 6.


@caseyliss took mine in a couple of weeks ago with this issue. fix took about 10 minutes.


@caseyliss I was told as long as it wasn’t interfering with the function of the camera to live with it.


@caseyliss I was told that this was a "normal variance" and couldn't get it fixed until it affected the photos taken by the FaceTime camera.

It would appear Apple Genius support is being inconsistant with this issue, with some owners being told it isn't a problem.

Is it time Apple re-thought their after-sales support strategy?

"You have to be a moron to stick this in the wrong way"

The Loop:

As you’ll see in the video below, if you insert the [Samsung Galaxy Note 5] stylus wrong way in (and that appears to be pretty easy to do, as Leo demonstrates), the stylus gets stuck, held in place by a mechanism inside the phone.

The embedded video demonstrating the issue is amazing, and worth watching for Laporte's reaction when he realises what he'd done.

Lightning talk - PHPNW

A quick run-through of things you can check during your code review, but which you probably aren't.

One of a number of lightning talks, part of a lightning talks evening, at PHPNW on 4th August.


Autoplay video and mobile bills

Money Saving Expert:

As playing videos on a phone or tablet via a mobile network requires the internet, it eats into your data allowance at a rate of knots, and once the allowance is breached, it becomes mega-expensive. Networks charge up to 20p/MB in the UK if outside your inclusive allowance, and up to £8/MB abroad to use internet data.

An interesting reminder about how the little things that we don't think twice about can be a huge deal for real world users.

Writing a good commit message

You see, I don't like the term "code review". I prefer "peer review": because you're not just looking at the code.

One thing I like to look at, and which I increasingly find an important part of a commit is the commit message itself.

You may be writing to your future self, to a colleague in another office (or even country), or trying to explain to a project lead why you did what you did. And the commit message is the best way to achieve this.

I can't pretend to be the best writer on the planet: I've done my fair share of "bug fixes" messages, but here's a few things I've picked up:

  • Ticket number goes first: it doesn't matter how you do it (although a standard is always good), but if there's a bug tracker ticket number associated with the commit, it should be the first thing you write. It helps automated systems, and makes it easy to pair an issue with a commit.
  • One issue per commit: I've been burnt enough times doing this. Nobody enjoys picking out code that isn't ready yet!
  • Use the text editor: it may be possible to use a flag such as -m to include an in-line message, but it's worth avoiding using it. Your message will be better for it.
  • Include a one-line summary as the first line. Go into more detail after a carriage return. This makes it easy to scan logs, and improves automated systems. Make sure this summary makes sense without the rest of the message!
  • Why did you do this? Yes, I can see you've modified the CSS stylesheet. Would you like to tell mewhy?
  • Include discussions: future readers may not be privy to a conversation you had with a colleague. Write down what was discussed, with who, if you're doing something out of the ordinary.
  • Write a novel if you have to, but keep it succinct. Provide too much information rather than not enough. I'd rather have to skip a paragraph than have to interrupt you in order to ask why you did what you did.

HSBC now on Apple Pay

HSBC and First Direct customers in the UK can now use Apple Pay, two weeks after Apple Pay launched in the UK.


Would be interesting to know how many HSBC customers considered moving banks because of this.

I certainly did.

CIRP: iPhone 6 Plus sales are jumping

The Loop:

iPhone 6 sales dropped from 56% down to 53% and iPhone 6 Plus sales jumped from 22% to 29%. The survey is based on 500 Apple customers. Large enough to be a trend indicator, small enough to have a significant margin of error.

I am surprised there's a jump in iPhone sales in the March–June quarter, but I'm not surprised that the 6 Plus is the one that increased.

I was one of those who laughed at the larger size and wondered who would buy such a thing. But turns out, I got it wrong. From what I understand, the Plus is better.

I still prefer the iPhone 5 generation size, but when it comes between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the larger one is easier to use. The middle ground of the iPhone 6 compromises too much, and it still doesn't feel comfortable to hold (also, it's too easy to drop).

If given the choice again, hands down I'd pick the Plus.