Air-Gapped MacBook Air Helped Rian Johnson Avoid Leaks When Writing 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. RedKite macrumors regular


    Dec 19, 2017
    What an interesting story. I never thought to airgap machines like that, I suppose it would be useful. I wonder what additional security was on it. I assume an encrypted drive, password protected document, super complex log in password, some kind of remote wipe feature. Would like to hear more on it from this guy and other writers. I’ve had a few books published but obviously nothing on the scale of a Star Wars movie.

    What’s with people complaining about the film? I really enjoyed it, as did my wife and our kids. I’ve been a fan of the series since I was a kid and my wife a bit, but mostly she jumped on board with Episode VII due to its inclusive and diverse cast and characters. When I first came out of the theatre I thought perhaps I preferred the rollercoaster of VII and the meaningfulness of Rogue One. But after hours of talking it over and thinking more and more on it it has rapidly become my favourite in the series. Cannot wait to get it on 4K BluRay and watch it on loop.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 13, 2018 ---
    “But I wanna go to Toshi Statiooonnn”

    I wonder if there was any hardware considerations to make it airgapped. Of course ones first thought is WiFi was turned off. But I wonder if they deleted the WiFi driver or completely disabled it as one can do on Windows. I wonder if it also involved activating a firewall to block everything out. Was bluetooth also disabled? I’m sure they were paranoid over it. As I say would love to hear more about their process.

    I recently bought a 13” MBP, one with a touch bar, to write my next book. I’ve gotta say writing on a PowerBook was so great back in the day. It felt much nicer than any other keyboard I used at the time. And now the butterfly keyboard on the MBP also makes it such a joy to write on. I didn’t expect the touchbar to be so useful too but the command shortcuts on it actually do come in handy.
  2. JimmerJabber macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2018
    The MBA was so good at preventing leaks, that it managed to stop any evidence of a plot from ever making it into the film.
  3. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    Maybe he should have used a Retina display for this script. Still be disconnected from the world and be secure. I kinda wish people could have contributed some ideas to improve the script.
  4. mazz0 macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2011
    Leeds, UK
    Wouldn’t have hurt to let a few more people review that script before filming...

    You need to run code to exploit Meltdown and Spectre, I don’t see how they weaken the security of a locked machine at all.
  5. BWhaler macrumors 68020


    Jan 8, 2003
    Only interesting Apple tidbit is the use of the Air model, not MacBook.

    The Air is the Only Apple tportable left for professional writers with a decent keyboard. And yet, Apple ignored updating it for years. One of Tim Cooke’s sell it event though it’s been discontinued from the product pipeline. The operations guy selling 3-5 year old technology at current utter disgrace.

    Shows how much Apple really missed the needs of its professional customers. Let’s hope they learned their lesson.

    And don’t forget. No dongles.
  6. lec0rsaire macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2017
    The Speedmaster Pro is just a great watch. It must be the hesalite, manual-wind version though. The automatic is not a true SMP and not the true Moon watch. I hope to add one to my collection one day. It’s a cheap watch and the reason why I haven’t done so already. I will get it after buying a 15400st Royal Oak and 5711 or 5712 blue Nautilus.
  7. tsevanson macrumors newbie


    Jan 2, 2018
    If you want accurately portrayed physics in a sci-fi movie, you're gonna have a bad time.

    I absolutely loved the movie. Of course, I went to be entertained and I am not emotionally invested in any of the Star Wars lore, so that may have made a difference.
  8. imagesjb macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2018
    The latest Star Wars was not good. Gone was the humor from the days of Harrison Ford.
  9. Gameboy70 macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2011
    Santa Monica, CA
    I don’t see how this is clever at all. Most script leaks happen when the file is emailed to someone after a draft is completed, not before. There’s pretty much zero chance that no one else had access to the script between the first and final draft. This "hack" reminds me of the big deal people made about Peter Jackson FedExing dailies to editors on iPods.
  10. ignatius345 macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2015
    100% agree. I bought and returned the rMB because the keyboard sucked so badly, and went back to MacBook Air.

    Sure, it's outdated but to be honest the only thing I'm really supposed to be doing on it is writing anyway, so while it's nice to look at, I don't need a retina display. It's fast enough, runs current versions of everything and I just picked up a brand new battery for it from OWC. I just need to crack it open and do the transplant, which I'm actually looking forward to. And like you said: no dongles.
  11. notabadname macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2010
    Detroit Suburbs
    Loved the film. Cracks me up when people say the film is too “PC”. Some people have been more specific in their remarks, be it the female lead, Finn or the new Love-interest of Finn. In a galaxy populated by every creature and species imaginable, sad it really bothers people that the humans featured in the film are not ALL Caucasian. Fortunately the films are NOT being made for the generation during which they were conceived. Instead, Disney understands the long-term sustainability brought to the franchise by the same diversity we see in the world today. It’s critical success is well deserved, even if the so-called fans give it a 50% approval.

    And It would’ve been so preditable (and stupid) to have Luke be some superhero Jedi, force-crushing the walker onslaught that they faced in the end. Thank you Rian Johnson for not making this a Star Wars-meets-the-Avengers script.
  12. spiddyman007 macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2017
    IKR. The new movies are so focused and leave me fully satisfied. I love daytime television soap opera dialogues with no action. I also love the new soundtrack. A-mazing!!
  13. Glockworkorange macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2015
    Chicago, Illinois
    I feel the same about the original trilogy. Wore out the VHS tapes as a kid and liked the Special Editions (except the whole "Jaba, you're a wonderful being").

    I think that makes me "tasteless" in Star Wars circles.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 13, 2018 ---
  14. Jmausmuc macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2014
    Stop spinning the arguments.
    I doubt most people are complaining about minorities being represented.

    But when a women with pink hair assumes control and immediately tells the male fighter pilots that their opinion isn’t relevant anymore because all they want to do is blow things up, irbid a little bit annoying.
  15. Mathias Denichi macrumors 6502

    Mathias Denichi

    Jun 21, 2013
    Is there another way to view a film other than that of a chair or other sitting furniture?
  16. Grey Area macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2008
    Yeah, that makes me wonder, too. To be honest, going by the article their security effort seems a bit lackadaisical.

    At my workplace we have some security areas for work with sensitive information. The rooms are shielded, and the computers are not just air-gapped by turning off the WiFi, they come without wireless hardware (no chips, no antennas) from the factory. No webcams on them either. Business laptop manufacturers like Dell and Panasonic offer configurations just for that purpose. The MacBook Air on the other hand has the WiFi integrated in the motherboard, as far as I know, no way to get it out or to get one without it.(?) It would not be allowed to be used for sensitive information, it would not even be allowed into the room. Software settings cannot be trusted, as long as the hardware is still there the risk remains.

    Given that the article says the computer was used only for script writing and nothing else, I also do not see any strict software need that could only be met using an insecure hardware like that. But of course, there may be a lot of details missing that were not mentioned in the interview.
  17. travelsheep macrumors regular


    May 30, 2013
    Lots of butthurt teenagers who expected to see a Star Wars themed Marvel boom boom pew pew movie.
  18. Mike MA macrumors 68000

    Mike MA

    Sep 21, 2012
    What makes me more concerned is the new trilogy Johnson is working on. I hope Johnson and Disney do listen to the viewers feedback. Audience reception truly is mixed as never before, also the box office has shown some disinterested in the last two weeks. I mean, you can be as proud as you want when producing and publishing a progressive and forward thinking movie, but still it has to be received well by the fans. Else you will lose in the long term. Period. I guess a mixture of Abrams‘ and Johnson’s still might be the best choice. But maybe I‘m also a bit to much into the nostalgia, as I loved Rogue One and looking forward to Han Solo.
  19. Jmausmuc macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2014
    Have you read a single criticism of the movie? This is as far from the truth as it gets.
  20. RedKite macrumors regular


    Dec 19, 2017
    You wanted realistic physics in a space film? Do you want reminding about some of the physics missteps in previous films Lol.

    People who don’t like PC really come across as delicate snowflakes or whatever that term is. I mean remember the original films that had about 3 female characters in the whole trilogy. Amazing that some people would think, especially those into realistic expressions of science, would expect a universe made up of two sexes to be represented that way. Makes us all wonder what you’re actually interested by.... science or bias/delicate emotions. Or is it the race thing that bothers you? Because if you like just seeing your race in films I’m sure there are other films you can watch.

    Please do enlighten us. And tell us what part of the movies where some people have magic powers, cyborgs, ghosts, explosions are heard in space, cities can cover entire planets, faster than light travel.... are realistic.
  21. Grey Area macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2008
    Why care about "canon"? It is just a label. These are just stories, they are only "real" in the sense that the movies themselves exist. Removing an episode from "canon" will not make the movie go away. But we are free to ignore those movies we do not like. I do not like the prequels, for me they are not Star Wars, so I do not watch them again and I consider my Star Wars collection complete without them. No matter how much the franchise owners stomp their feet and declare the prequels "canon", they do not get to decide what I consider to be proper Star Wars.

    Given that these are just stories, I am even willing to entertain a fragmented idea of the whole thing. E.g. I am nostalgic about the original trilogy, and to me RotJ will always end with the characters living happily ever after and peace forever. But I still enjoy episodes 7 and 8 and find them an interesting addition to Star Wars, even though they contradict my idea of episode 6. So what, I do not need all of this to be consistent, those characters can live forever here and die over there. Comic readers have all their parallel universes for this, no problem.
  22. Jmausmuc macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2014
    Relax, why does this make you so mad?
    I don’t care what races are represented in a movie as long as it feels natural.
    Some of the decisions made do not seem natural but forced and that is the problem.

    I don’t care about race or gender or whatever one bit but I don’t need in-your-face-PC with a “strong women” telling an “irrational and aggressive men” what to do without having to explain her motives to anyone.

    Also, this PC stuff isn’t even the biggest problem, I would have enjoyed a good movie with or without it but the story itself is just weak in my opinion.
  23. notabadname macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2010
    Detroit Suburbs
    I guess that it doesn't "feel natural" to you is exactly my point - not my spin (as you referred to it). And I have seen plenty of remarks on numerous forums regarding the film, and heard a lot people say the same. And, btw, welcome to the reality of Military service. People in command don't have to explain their rationale to their subordinates. And her rationale as scripted was sound. And it's not that Poe was irrational, but his rationale was not formulated of the complete picture, which his superior had.

    "I don’t care about race or gender or whatever one bit but I don’t need in-your-face-PC with a “strong women” . . . "

    I love contradictory statements. They stand on their own. No "spin" required.
  24. Coffee50 macrumors 6502

    Apr 23, 2015

    Yeah, I’m sure they are aware of the divisive reaction this film has received. It’s possible they’ll take that into consideration......Johnson may want to take creative choices, but Disney wants the most mainstream, popular reception as possible.

    I do wish Johnson would’ve kept the Luke scene at the end. There was a montage of different stories from around the galaxy recounting how Luke took on the First Order, making him a legend (inspiring the “hope” & a new set of allies for the resistance.) The montage ended with the scene of the kids telling their version.

    I think this would’ve given the character a more “heroic” send off. Alot of complaints were about how Luke didn’t do anything....I feel like these scenes would’ve shown how Luke became an even bigger hero in the Star Wars universe.
  25. Gameboy70 macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2011
    Santa Monica, CA
    They still sell the 2015 15” MBP, the one I have, and it still uses a scissor switch keyboard that’s decent. But i do remember having an 11” Air, and that was hands-down the best keyboard ever.

    I think Apple’s next line of laptops will use the Magic Keyboard design. It has slightlyless travel than the older keyboards, but uses scissor switches and traditional keycap widths—16mm rather than the 19mm on the butterfly keyboards that cause so many typos.

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