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Apple falls from the tree, the internet has a nap, and the trade war heats up – it’s The week in Geek 

It’s been a week of highs and lows at Trusted Towers. Monday saw the internet have a major hiccup courtesy of a Verizon error, while Bill Gates admitted a mess-up with Microsoft’s handling of mobile, and then finally, we wake up on Friday morning to see that Jony Ive, Apple design mainstay responsible for that Apple project you like, has flown the coop to start his own design firm. 

With so much hitting the headlines you may have justifiably succumbed to information overload and missed some key announcements. But don’t worry we have you covered with our latest Week in Geek column, where we breakdown the biggest news to break over the last seven days.

Jony Ive, and Tim Cook, at the iPhone XR launch event

Ive got to go

Jony Ive, emerging from whatever interior design task Apple has set him this week, has announced he’ll be leaving Apple after a 30 year stint that has seen him design most of the company’s most impressive products. 

His new venture? He’s off to start his own independent design company, LoveFrom, in July next year – with Apple as his first client.

Essentially, when people talk about Apple’s design legacy under Steve Jobs, it’s a legacy that Ive is just as essential to. He’s had his grubby design mitts over nearly everything in the company during his tenure, and he was a key part — alongside Jobs — of transforming an ailing tech brand into something hip and cool.

Ive plugged away for some two decades in Apple’s industrial design team, aiming to design things you’ll never notice. The spin wheel on the original iPod for example, or the tiny form factor of the MacBook Air. 

Ive’s influence goes so deep that when he wasn’t redesigning this year’s must have consumer tech, he also turned his hand to designing Apple Park, the company’s new office campus, which opened in 2017.

Despite his involvement as a contractor, he’ll be a real loss to the company, and nearly everyone else’s gain, as it seems there’s very little he won’t turn his hands to in the name of design.

Ive joined Apple in 1992, but leaves as multimillionaire Sir Jonathan Ive. Not bad for a teenager from Chingford with a passion for design.

“The Internet had a small heart attack” 

On Monday, the internet had a bit of a moment, with access to several key services offered up by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Cloudflare experiencing intermittent faults, meaning parts of your favourite websites were out of action. 

But why? The problem lies with telecoms outfit Verizon. 

Tom Strickx, a network software engineer for Cloudflare, said: “Yesterday at 10:30 UTC, the Internet had a small heart attack. A small company in Northern Pennsylvania became a preferred path of many Internet routes through Verizon (AS701), a major Internet transit provider. This was the equivalent of Waze routing an entire freeway down a neighborhood street — resulting in many websites on Cloudflare, and many other providers, to be unavailable from large parts of the Internet. This should never have happened because Verizon should never have forwarded those routes to the rest of the Internet.” 

As a result, the congestion and all of the associated problems that were thrown up led to critical errors across the internet for around three hours, as traffic was accidentally rerouted through a speciality metals company, Allegheny Technologies, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A smaller company was responsible for setting up 20,000 IP address prefixes — that’s about 2 percent of the entire internet — incorrectly, before Verizon accepted and passed on this data worldwide. The problem was that all of the traffic for these 20,000 IP addresses now has to pass through Allegheny.

Allegheny wasn’t set up to take 2 percent of the internet’s traffic, with traffic coming from Facebook, Cloudflare, AWS and several other internet giants. They folded under the strain, and suddenly it became the digital abyss, with traffic going there to never return. 

Misconfigurations are a fairly daily problem when it comes to the internet, but the size and scale of this has eyes rolling and brains exploding for those in the tech industry who busy themselves with the internet, with many engineers claiming this erroneous set-up should never have been accepted. 

It was a hell of a mess for a Monday lunchtime, that’s for sure. 

trump 2

Trade war heats up 

The US government’s proposed 25% tariff on all goods produced in China has got tech giants around the world in a spin. 

Many companies are speaking up, including Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, sending an open letter claiming that some 96% of all consoles located in the US in 2018 were manufactured in China.

It’s a huge increase that is going to hit consumers and businesses hard. These tariffs are fairly complicated, but in a general sense the tariff on goods made in China was 10%. This hike to 25% has a lot of company’s thinking about where they can base their production to get around it, while in the meantime, a lot of consumer tech could suddenly get remarkably spendy. 

It’s nothing new from the US government, which under President Donald Trump has picked fights in most corners of the world, and even slapped Chinese tech giant Huawei with a ban that has stopped them being able to collaborate with US companies on their smartphones.

The two countries have agreed to meet for resumed trade talks in Japan this weekend, which will hopefully cool things off a bit between them, in a game that has the potential to do serious damage to businesses in both countries, and the wider world.

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