If you’re here, you probably have some questions about Sqwarq, so let me introduce myself.
Who are you?
My name is Phil Stokes. I’m basically a one-man-band independent software developer, troubleshooter and blogger (over on my other site, applehelpwriter.com). Either here or elsewhere, I tend to slip into referring to Sqwarq as a ‘we’, as in ‘what we do is make troubleshooting software’, but really it’s mostly just me. I do get a helping hand from a few (largely) unpaid (except in beer) but richly-thanked volunteers with marketing, design and light admin duties, but if you’re ever conversing with ‘someone from Sqwarq’, it’ll be me. “The buck stops here” simply because it’s got nowhere else to go!
What do you do?
I make troubleshooting software. I’ve been doing it since 2013, and I’ve been troubleshooting macs since 2009. I started learning my craft on Apple Support Communities back when, and learned pretty much everything I know about Apple macs by spending anything between 2 and 12 hours-a-day voluntarily ‘manning the boards’ for nearly five years. ASC (as it is widely known) changed format sometime around 2014, and I moved away to focus on developing software solutions to the problems I saw users repeatedly encountering with their macs.
Why is your software free? Is it free?
Technically, it’s shareware, but I’ve had all sorts of problems trying to find the right way to make my solutions available while still ensuring I get enough love to keep on doing what I’m doing. Although I’ve been troubleshooting macs for 8 years or more, I have only been ‘running a business’ for the last couple, and that has been as much if not more of a learning process for me as learning to navigate the innards of Apple’s operating systems and hardware configurations ever was!
The short answer to “why free?” is that people have a right to see whether my solutions are going to work for them before paying out money for something they’ve never tried. Trials & demos (both of which I’ve experimented with) tend to let you down right when you need them, and I’d rather my apps were available and functional for people whose macs are in trouble at the time when they most need them.
If you think the product has done a good job, then feel free to buy a registration key. If not, don’t worry about it. You can keep the software and use it again at no charge, or trash it (though we’d love to hear from you if things didn’t work out!).
Are you a registered Apple developer?
Yes, I am. All my apps are codesigned with my Apple Developer signature, and if you have your mac on default Gatekeeper security settings, all will pass Gatekeeper when you download and install them.
Why aren’t your apps in the Apple App Store?
The App Store requires apps to be ‘sandboxed’, which in basic terms means they can’t talk to other apps, they can only “play on their own”. Obviously, word processors, image editors and games don’t need access to other apps, and that’s why you’ll find many of those kinds of apps in the App Store. A troubleshooting app, though, needs to communicate with the processes that are causing trouble. Imagine trying to referee a football game but not being allowed to interact with the players! That, in a nutshell, is why my apps aren’t sandboxed, and why – as a result – they’re not in the App Store.
Are your apps safe?
I’m glad you asked. Because my apps aren’t sandboxed, I take the extra precaution of having them run only in ‘user space’. What that means is that my apps, unlike almost all other security and troubleshooting software, do not require Admin (aka ‘root’) privileges to install. That’s an extra level of safety for users because it means that even if an attacker were to hijack my code, they couldn’t gain access to root privileges to take over your system. This is not true of almost all other security/troubleshooting software that you’ll find for macOS (which, of course, also isn’t sandboxed), and it’s one of the main philosophical and – perhaps more importantly – practical differences in my approach compared to other developers in the same field.
What if I want to know more?
Feel free to ask. My email is here, and you can follow me on Twitter @sqwarq. If you want to know more about me, my products, or how to keep your mac out of troubled waters, just drop me a line. I love to chat about macs!
And what on earth does ‘sqwarq’ mean, anyway?
Is it a noun or a verb? Is the vowel sound ‘’ar” as in “Car” or “or” as in “Walk”? These are all mysteries, but lets face it, some things don’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. To Sqwarq, or not to Sqwarq? Now, that is the question!