Systems Admin, Mac Geek, Network Nerd, Developer
907 stories
·
16 followers

The End of ICQ

1 Comment

ICQ (via Hacker News):

ICQ will stop working from June 26

You can chat with friends in VK Messenger, and with colleagues in VK WorkSpace

Wes Davis:

ICQ was started in 1996 by Israeli company Mirabilis, which AOL bought in 1998. ICQ grew to 100 million registered users at one point, at least according to a 2001 release from Time Warner, which had combined with AOL in a famously doomed merger. AOL sold the service to Digital Sky Technologies, the firm that owned VK, then known as Mail.ru, in 2010.

Via Mark Christian:

ICQ really was something special to me. I was absolutely glued to it for most of 1998 in particular, although I used it for years and years. I made some great friends on there[…] ICQ was the first social media platform I ever made a home on, and the uh-oh! notification sound will be etched in my mind forever. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a quarter of a century since I was using it all day long; it’s even harder to believe that I’m still talking to some of those internet friends on a regular basis.

John Gruber:

Pre-mobile, “instant messaging” had a surprising number of popular platforms.

[…]

They all worked more or less the same way, and using any of these protocols was a lot like messaging today with iMessage, WhatsApp, or Signal. But there was one big difference: with the old “instant” messengers, you were only available while your computer was online. And even then, you could set your “status” — green for “sure, hit me up, I’m free”, and red for “I’m online, but don’t bother me right now”. And if you quit your messaging client or, you know, closed your laptop, poof, you were offline and unavailable.

If you wanted to contact someone asynchronously, you sent them an email. If you wanted to chat with messaging, you both needed to be online simultaneously.

The other key difference was that there used to be clients like iChat and Adium that worked with more than one service. It felt like you had some control and could use these services on your own terms. Now everything is all locked together. The only iMessage client is Apple’s. You can only use it on Apple’s platforms. And even then you can only log into one account at a time.

Previously:

Read the whole story
peelman
11 days ago
reply
another bit of internet history that’s being consigned to the dustbin.
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

Concerning News About Gearwrench & Crescent Tool Company

1 Comment
Gearwrench Tools More Set Less Debt Screen Capture

Bain Capital, a private equity company, acquired Apex Tool Group in early 2013. Apex Tool Group (ATG) owns Gearwrench, Crescent, and a number of other tool brands that cater to different industries.

Apex Tool Group has been the focus of news and credit ratings reports recently, and I found the implications to be concerning.

From what I can gather, it seems that Gearwrench and Crescent Tool’s parent company is saddled with debt, and is also considering selling their Sata tool brand to help generate cash,

While some of the reports use extremely esoteric financial language, there are enough clues to provide context.

Let’s start by going back a few years.

Apex Tool Group Brands

Here’s what Apex Tool Group’s portfolio of tool brands looked like in 2014.

Apex Tool Group Brands 2023

And here’s what it looks like now. Some of their brands were shuttered, but many were regrouped.

In 2017, Crescent Tools announced a new brand identity. Crescent essentially absorbed several formerly independent ATG brands – Lufkin, Wiss, Nicholson, and HK Porter.

Addition brands were folded into Crescent in the years since then, such as Jobox. Erem and Xcelite are now part of Weller.

In 2019, ATG closed down Armstrong and Allen tool brands. ATG didn’t explicitly confirm this until directing Armstrong shoppers to replacement brands. They later launched Sata in the USA as an Amazon-exclusive line of lower priced mechanics tools. Sata tools are available internationally.

Last year, we posted about Bain Capital’s reported efforts in 2021 to sell Apex Tool Group to the Wanxiang Group, a Chinese company focused on the automotive industry.

It was reported that the deal fell through due to “a snag in valuation.”

A report in late 2021 said:

Apex’s inability to generate a material amount of earnings hampers recovery in key debt metrics, the ratings agency said in the report, adding that the owner Bain was unlikely to infuse much-needed cash so that debtholders could be made whole and Apex’s looming maturity profile could be solved.

An “inability to generate a material amount of earnings?” “Much-needed cash” that they presumably weren’t getting from their parent company or sales? This didn’t sound good.

Let’s fast forward a few years to 2024.

Back in February 2024, Apex Tool Group credit ratings was downgraded. Their debt exchange rating was downgraded to SD (selective default), and term loans due in 2029 and 2030 were given D (default) ratings.

A default happens when debts are not paid by a certain time or according to the terms of the loan. A loan rating is an assessment of a company’s ability to repay loans or other payment obligations – they’re essentially a measure of risk.

In March 2024, S&P Global upgraded the Apex Tool Group back to a rating of CCC+. This was an improvement, but suggests that ATG remains a high credit risk.

There are some plain-language assessments buried in the S&P Global analysis, including:

Though marginally improved, we continue to view Apex’s capital structure as unsustainable absent a significant improvement in its profitability.

According to a Bloomberg report in early April 2024, Apex Tool Group restructured some of their loans, paying less than originally promised to their creditors.

As an aside, Gearwrench, in their recent marketing campaign, has been advertising how their lower prices could help users avoid long-term debt associated with tool truck brands (such as Snap-on). There’s a bit of irony here, with reports suggesting their parent company needs a boost in sales to help pay off loans and long-term debt.

At the end of April 2024, Bloomberg reported that Bain Capital was considering the sale of Apex Tool Group’s “China business,” which “includes the Sata brand, at $300 million to $500 million.”

It was reported that the intent was to “offload non-core assets to raise cash.”

Sata launched on Amazon in late 2019, and became available at Lowe’s online store in early 2023.

On the Sata USA website, the company describes themselves as the fastest-growing premium-quality mechanics hand tool company in the world over the last 20 years. It seems potentially ominous that Bain Capital wants to “offload” Sata to “raise cash.”

It’s difficult to piece together a complete picture of what’s going on at Apex Tool Group, as they’re privately owned by Bain Capital.

But, none of what is revealed or suggested by financial analysts, ratings bodies, or business news reports sound good.

Debt is not necessarily bad for a company. However, it’s not a good sign when a company cannot pay back its debts in full.

Gearwrench is a solid tool brand, and Crescent is consistently decent. I highly doubt their stories are ending anytime soon, but all this news of debt, the fallen-through acquisition talks, and Bain now seeking to sell chunks of ATG is definitely concerning.

As a reminder, Apex Tool Group owner Bain Capital was also part owner of Toys R Us, which closed all stores and was liquidated in 2018.

Read the whole story
peelman
11 days ago
reply
Private Equity needs to be highly regulated or outright outlawed. They have destroyed so much to enrich a scant few, while stifling innovation (that they sit back and amass via a scattershot approach, riding high on shoulders of others, not unlike patent trolls).
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

Charles Edge, RIP

1 Comment

Adam Engst:

News started to spread this morning on the MacAdmins Slack, Rich Trouton’s Der Flounder blog, and Tom Bridge’s site about how our friend and Take Control author Charles Edge died suddenly and unexpectedly on 19 April 2024. He was in his late 40s, and yes, his standard bio picture below gives you a feel for his sense of humor and irreverence.

I met Charles at a MacTech event in New York in 2012, but I already knew that he had written a bunch of tech books and thousands of Krypted blog posts on sysadmin topics. We exchanged some email about the possibility of him writing a Take Control book then, but it wasn’t until early 2014 that we came up with the idea that turned into Take Control of OS X Server.

[…]

He left Jamf in 2020 and was most recently working on Secret Chest, a password manager aimed at quantum-proofing Apple’s Keychain.

Previously:

Update (2024-04-24): See also:

Read the whole story
peelman
51 days ago
reply
damn. this is hard to read. Charles was a huge resource and wealth of information in my sysadmin days. stuff i learned from him i still use today.
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

Home Depot Launched 2 More Ridgid Drawer Tool Boxes

1 Comment
Ridgid 2-Drawer Tool Box on Rolling Dolly on Stairs

Home Depot has been promoting new Ridgid Pro Gear 2.0 tool boxes with drawers on social media.

Ridgid added a 3-drawer tool box to their modular tool storage line last year, and after a lengthy delay and period of scarce availability, it can now be found online and at many Home Depot stores nationwide.

Tool users have expressed a lot of interest in the 3-drawer tool box, and so it comes as no surprise to see Home Depot and Ridgid launch 2 new sizes.

Ridgid Modular Tool Boxes with Drawers Product Family

There is a new 2-drawer tool box, and a 4-drawer tool box.

Ridgid Pro Modular Tool Box with Drawers on Rolling Cart

As I showed off with the 3-drawer tool box, Ridgid’s drawer units are fully compatible with their rolling tool box cart component. This means that you can add wheels to ANY of the drawer tool boxes, and at any time.

There is a catch, however. At this time, I can only find the all terrain rolling cart bundled with an XL tool box. That is, you can buy the XL tool box with or without the cart component, but the cart is only available with the XL tool box.

Ridgid 3-Drawer Tool Box at Home Depot Store

I finally found the 3-drawer tool box in-stores. Readers provided news of sightings, and it seems that Home Depot finally rolled it out to most if not all stores.

I tested the drawer unit, and it’s pretty good, although I recently passed it and my purchased and provided Ridgid modular tool boxes to a new tester. Of course Home Depot debuted the two new sizes of drawers a few days later.

My only complaint about the 3-drawer unit is that I would have preferred for 3 equal-depth drawers, rather than 2 shallow and 1 deep. My complaint about the system in general is that Home Depot and Ridgid haven’t brought a lot of useful-to-me accessories to market, such as a 4-wheel dolly or work top.

Other than that, everything has been solid. The ability to swap the XL tool box – or drawer tool box – that’s attached to the 2-wheel rolling cart is an incredibly convenient feature that’s unique to Ridgid. I can talk more about this in another post – let me know if you have any questions about my experiences with the Ridgid system.

Ridgid XL Tool Box and 3-Drawer Tool Box on Rolling Carts

Users have demanded “drawers on the bottom,” and Ridgid is so far the only brand to listen.

ToughBuilt is soon coming out with rolling drawers as well, but I feel that Ridgid’s ability to pair any drawer tool box to the rolling cart provides for more flexibility. ToughBuilt already has more mobility options, with more on the way.

Speaking about what’s on the way, Milwaukee Tool is working on rolling drawers for their Packout system, and Dewalt recently announced a supersized ToughSystem DXL system.

Ridgid 2-Drawer Tool Box

The new Ridgid tool boxes are pretty similar in construction to the existing 3-drawer unit.

The 3-drawer tool box has 1 deep and 2 shallow drawers. Shown here is the new 2-drawer tool box, with both being deep drawers.

Ridgid 4-Drawer Tool Box

The other new tool box has 4 shallow drawers.

While this isn’t a huge product expansion, it’s definitely welcome.

Some of Ridgid’s tool boxes come with wall-mounting brackets, and so I would hope other shop-friendly components and accessories are in the works, such as a 4-wheel cart.

Ridgid Drawer Tool Box Prices

  • 2-drawer tool box – $109, on sale for $99.98
  • 3-drawer tool box – $119
  • 4-drawer tool box – $129

The 2- and 4-drawer tool boxes are only available online right now. If you want to get a feel for them in person, check out the 3-drawer tool box that’s now in stores.

The 3-drawer tool box did not have dividers for every drawer. It’s unclear whether the same is true for the new models. From the product images, some of the drawers appear to lack dividers.

Read the whole story
peelman
55 days ago
reply
just need a four wheel caster cart and this will be amazing.
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

Apple Terminates Epic Games’ Developer Account Again

1 Comment

Epic Games (Hacker News):

We recently announced that Apple approved our Epic Games Sweden AB developer account. We intended to use that account to bring the Epic Games Store and Fortnite to iOS devices in Europe thanks to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). To our surprise, Apple has terminated that account and now we cannot develop the Epic Games Store for iOS. This is a serious violation of the DMA and shows Apple has no intention of allowing true competition on iOS devices.

[…]

Apple said one of the reasons they terminated our developer account only a few weeks after approving it was because we publicly criticized their proposed DMA compliance plan. Apple cited this X post from this thread written by Tim Sweeney. Apple is retaliating against Epic for speaking out against Apple’s unfair and illegal practices, just as they’ve done to other developers time and time again.

Phil Schiller:

We welcome all developers to the Developer Program so long as they follow the rules. Those rules, including the DPLA and the App Store Review Guidelines, are intended to protect the integrity of the ecosystem, developers large and small, and - most importantly-users. Accordingly, developers who are unable or unwilling to keep their promises can’t continue to participate in the Developer Program.

In the past, Epic has entered into agreements with Apple and then broken them. For example, you testified that Epic Games, Inc. entered into the Developer Program with full understanding of its terms, and then chose to intentionally breach the agreement with Apple. You also testified that Epic deliberately violated Apple’s rules, to make a point and for financial gain. More recently, you have described our DMA compliance plan as “hot garbage,” a “horror show,” and a “devious new instance of Malicious Compliance.” And you have complained about what you called “Junk Fees” and “Apple taxes.”

Your colorful criticism of our DMA compliance plan, coupled with Epic’s past practice of intentionally violating contractual provisions with which it disagrees, strongly suggest that Epic Sweden does not intend to follow the rules. Another intentional breach could threaten the integrity of the iOS platform, as well as the security and privacy of users.

You have stated that allowing enrollment of Epic Games Sweden in the Developer Program is “a good faith move by Apple.” We invite you to provide us with written assurance that you are also acting in good faith, and that Epic Games Sweden will, despite your public actions and rhetoric, honor all of its commitments. In plain, unqualified terms, please tell us why we should trust Epic this time.

Tim Sweeney:

Epic and its subsidiaries are acting in good faith and will comply with all terms of current and future agreements with Apple, and we’ll be glad to provide Apple with any specific further assurances on the topic that you’d like.

Mark A. Perry:

Apple recently reached out directly to Mr. Sweeney to give him an opportunity to explain why Apple should trust Epic this time and allow Epic Games Sweden AB to become an active developer.

Mr. Sweeney’s response to that request was wholly insufficient and not credible. It boiled down to an unsupported “trust us.” History shows, however, that Epic is verifiably untrustworthy, hence the request for meaningful commitments.

[…]

Given the past and current conduct of Epic, Apple cannot allow Epic Games Sweden AB to be part of its ecosystem.

Please be advised that Apple has, effective immediately, terminated the Developer Program membership of Epic Games Sweden AB.

This is now the second time Apple has said they would let Epic have their account back if they agreed to follow the rules, Epic agreed, and Apple reneged, saying it didn’t believe Epic. In this case, it seems like Apple ignored Sweeney’s offer to provide “specific further assurances,” so unless there are key parts of the communication omitted it seems like Apple’s offer was not made in good faith. There is nothing in the rules saying that you can’t criticize Apple.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple shared the following statement with MacRumors:

Epic’s egregious breach of its contractual obligations to Apple led courts to determine that Apple has the right to terminate “any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.” In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple chose to exercise that right.

Zac Hall:

In short, Apple is leaning on a court ruling from 2021 that upholds its ability to terminate developer accounts that violate its guidelines. That’s the legal basis for which Apple is relying upon globally — not just in the EU. As recently as last month, Epic Games accepted existing rules of the Apple Developer Program like all other developers.

Note that this ruling was in the US, and the Swedish account had not violated the guidelines.

Michael Love:

If Apple doesn’t want to have to have a business relationship with Epic, a great way to achieve that would be to do what every other platform maker has done for decades, and allow companies to distribute apps without going through Apple.

But if you insist that everything go through you then you’re obligated to treat everyone equally, even those that criticize you.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Putting Phil Schiller in charge of the App Store is going to be a hundred billion dollar mistake that all-told leaves Apple with a pile of legal, perhaps criminal, liability and a raft of draconian regulations around the world that massively compromise the iOS experience. This was clear years ago; it is unimaginable that he’s still calling the shots.

Previously:

Read the whole story
peelman
103 days ago
reply
yeah. this just looks bad on Apple. this wasn’t Epic being malicious. this was apple being proactively dickish
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete

Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

1 Comment
Apple has canceled all plans to release an autonomous, electric vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been working on an Apple Car for more than a decade and invested millions of dollars into development before deciding it was not a viable project.


Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams today told approximately 2,000 employees working on the ‌Apple Car‌ that the project was canceled, and the information reportedly came as a surprise.

Work on the ‌Apple Car‌ is winding down and many of the people that were working on the car will move to Apple's artificial intelligence division to work on generative AI under AI chief John Giannandrea.

There are a number of hardware engineers and car designers that were on the ‌Apple Car‌ team, and there will be layoffs. Some of the employees may be able to shift to other divisions within the company.

Earlier this year, there were rumors that the ‌Apple Car‌ project had been scaled back, with Apple abandoning plans for a full driverless car with autonomous capabilities. Apple shifted focus to an electric vehicle with fewer self-driving features, and the vehicle would have been on par with Tesla's technology. Apple was aiming to release the car sometime around 2026, but now those plans have been shelved completely.

News of the ‌Apple Car‌ first surfaced in 2014, and since then, the project has been rife with problems. The focus of the work has changed and evolved multiple times, and Apple has had several leadership changes due to internal strife. Apple Watch chief Kevin Lynch took over the project in 2021, and he worked to scale down the project while still putting out a viable car.

According to Bloomberg, senior Apple executives made the decision to wind down the ‌Apple Car‌ project in recent weeks.
This article, "Apple Cancels Electric Car Project" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Read the whole story
peelman
107 days ago
reply
let’s hope this means some renewed focus on their core platforms.
Seymour, Indiana
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories