March 20, 2019

Digg:

We are mesmerized by these unnecessarily fancy and extremely beautiful shoe-lacing techniques.

My friend Sly posted this on Twitter and now I want a slow-motion version so I can really see what’s going on and try it myself.

Apple:

Apple today announced new AirPods, the second generation of the world’s most popular wireless headphones.

Pricing:

  • Standard case, $159
  • Wireless case, $199
  • Standalone wireless case, $79

The new case will work with both old and new AirPods.

The new Apple-designed H1 chip features custom audio architecture to create a revolutionary audio experience and improved synchronization. H1 allows AirPods to deliver up to 50 percent more talk time compared to first generation AirPods.

And:

For the first time, AirPods now feature the convenience of “Hey Siri” making it easier to change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions simply by saying, “Hey Siri.”

Add to the mix free engraving, and this was an instabuy for me. Mine are ordered, with the engraving “Dark Mode Dave”, and should be in hand in time for next week’s Dalrymple Report.

I want to believe. Especially if and when Apple decides to release new AirPods with a charging case.

Wait. What’s that you say?

Sports Illustrated:

On the second floor of a Silicon Valley office complex, in a conference room crowded with a dozen workers and three times as many devices, Apple is watching sports for you.

They’ve been at it for almost a year now, keeping an eye on minor tennis tournaments, spring training baseball, college lacrosse, even curling. The team manages the sports subsection in Apple’s TV app and its Apple TV interface, highlighting what’s available around the clock.

And:

It’s been 18 years since Apple disrupted music by extracting the song from the album. Now, it’s joined other companies separating moments from their games. The goal is to offer the curated convenience of highlights without sacrificing the thrill of live. Don’t miss another moment, the pitch goes, but don’t wait for one either.

And:

Sports rights are deeply fragmented, with different owners split by platform and region. “You really can’t own all the rights, so therefore at some point you need to solve some other problems,” Cue said. “You can’t design for owning the rights because if that’s the only thing you’re doing you’re always going to be tiny.” And these days, Apple rarely does tiny.

And:

In a world of infinite supply, [Eddy] Cue wants to be the middleman, letting fans know what’s worth watching and offering one-click access to action rather than worsening the fragmentation. For Apple, there are financial benefits there. The company takes a cut of sports subscription services purchased on iOS and, on a high-level, can leverage its exclusive software into hardware profits.

This is a fantastic read and, seems to me, a giant hint at what’s coming in next week’s Apple event.

Gizmodo:

In a keynote at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today Google announced a new service, Stadia, that will allow gamers to play the biggest games on any Android or Chrome-based device (including any device with a Chrome browser).

And:

Google’s Stadia service works on any device that supports the Chromecast protocol, which means iOS, Android, Chrome OS, macOS, Windows, and even the Chromecast dongle. They all speak to one of Google’s 7,500 data center nodes (which span the globe) and recognize your specific account, allowing you to move from one device to the other without a bunch of messy handoffs between systems, because the actual game is running at the data center.

This is no small thing. First we had cartridges and disks, physical media, that meant you had to wait for a game to ship to you, then connect and install. Then we had downloadable content, which made things faster, catered to the impulse buyer who wanted their games right now.

But Stadia is a whole different spin on this model. Your games run on Google’s servers. Startup is pretty much instantaneous, with Google controlling everything.

A few obvious concerns: You’ll be running games under Google’s auspices, using a Google account. And then there’s latency and bandwidth.

But there have been two big problems with this: Latency, which might make games needing finesse, like shooter and fighting games, unplayable, and internet throughput. Streaming a game eats up a lot of data and even the Google Stream beta required about 25Mbps in order to stream anything remotely playable and attractive. Google has not yet disclosed the speed requirements for Stadia.

One solution it’s presented for handling latency is a new controller that connects directly to Google’s servers instead of to the device you’re playing on. That should, theoretically, reduce the amount of input lag.

All this is still a big bag of unknowns, an announcement and not a shipping product. But that controller looks real enough and Stadia does seem like it will see the light of day.

One thing I loved, was that old school gamer Easter egg on the underside of the controller.

Malcolm Owen, Apple Insider:

Announced in July 2018 following a bidding war with Comcast, the acquisition of 21st Century Fox completed early on Wednesday morning.

And:

Alongside ESPN+ and Disney+, Disney also increases its holdings in existing streaming service Hulu, combining Fox’s ownership stake with its own to give it a sizable level of control over the firm.

And:

While Apple has invested significantly into original content production, acquiring more content may be problematic if Disney extends its exclusivity policy to other content producers it operates.

The sheer size of both the firm and its content library will also give Disney more leverage when in negotiations with Apple concerning its online stores, which could allow it to gain more favorable terms for movies and TV shows offered to consumers.

This Disney Fox deal will have repercussions far down the road. Note that Disney CEO Bob Iger is on Apple’s board. At one point, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was on the Apple board (from 2006-2009). A number of conflicts pushed him off the board.

March 19, 2019

The Verge:

Apple had developed the iPhone in secret over those two and a half years, and for many inside the company, the device had only been known by the codenames “M68” and “Purple 2.” Apple was focused on surprising everyone with the iPhone, and that meant that many of the engineers working on the original handset didn’t even know what it would eventually look like.

To achieve that level of secrecy, Apple created special prototype development boards that contained nearly all of the iPhone’s parts, spread out across a large circuit board.

I knew this was one of the ways Apple showed the protoype iPhones but it’s the first image I’ve seen of it.

Video of Coney Island rides from the 1930s and 1940s that would never fly today

BoingBoing:

Michael Hearst, composer of the classic “Songs for Ice Cream Trucks” and author of the excellent Unusual Creatures, shares this delightful video of seemingly quite dangerous rides at Coney Island in the 1930s and 1940s.

These are great but I can’t imagine many of them would be allowed today.

This is just so much fun to play with. Before you jump to the page, note that as soon as you tap/click it will instantly make noise, so throw on some headphones if you are not alone.

Tap and drag just about anywhere on the interface. Imagine that you are moving your tongue, mouth, and lips to make these same sounds.

Fun and interesting.

Apple:

Apple today updated its iMac line with up to 8-core Intel 9th-generation processors for the first time and powerful Vega graphics options, delivering dramatic increases in both compute and graphics performance.

The details:

  • The 21.5-inch iMac now features 8th-generation quad-core, and for the first time 6-core processors, delivering up to 60 percent faster performance.

  • The 27-inch iMac now for the first time features up to 9th-generation 6-core and 8-core processors, delivering up to 2.4 times faster performance.

The 21.5-inch ranges in price from $1099 to $1499. The 27-inch ranges in price from $1799 to $2299.

All of these prices are with the default of 8GB of RAM. Before you buy, be sure to dig into the specs. Not all the RAM is the same speed.

John Gruber’s list of reasons the new iPads only support the original Apple Pencil:

  • The Pencil 2 requires an iPad with flat sides for the magnetic charging and pairing.

  • The flat sides of the newest iPad Pros go hand-in-hand, design-wise, with the edge-to-edge (or “edge-to-edge” if you prefer) round-corned displays, and Face ID instead of Touch ID. Those things all add to the price of iPad Pros.

  • In theory Apple could have given these new iPads flat sides just to support the new Pencil, sticking with the square-cornered display, larger chin and forehead, and Touch ID — but that’s not how Apple rolls. Such design elements are integrated with the whole.

And:

If Apple had wanted the new Pencil 2 to work on all new iPads, they would’ve had to put a Lightning plug on the new Pencil in addition to supporting conductive charging and pairing. But that’s really not how Apple rolls — that would have ruined one of the things that makes the new Pencil so much nicer than the old Pencil. Better to have a messy product lineup where some new iPads only support the new Pencil and others only support the old Pencil than to have a messy new Pencil.

All fair points. To get a sense of how Apple is handling this, take a look at the Apple Pencil buy page. If you are buying an Apple Pencil, Apple steers you here to make sure you don’t buy the wrong product.

My only quibble is with the product name. The original Apple Pencil is clearly very different from Apple Pencil 2. Both belong to the same product line, but Apple has a traditional of calling out the differences. Consider Apple Watch Series 4, or MacBook Pro 2018. Not sure why they didn’t do that here, but c’est la vie.

I love this appreciation piece for GarageBand. It’s full of interesting details, both past and present, and worth a feet up, sprawled on the couch read.

One nit. The original headline calls it Garageband. It’s GarageBand.

Engadget:

The iPad mini and iPad Air Apple quietly announced ahead of its big March event will come with eSIM support. Cupertino’s latest iPad Pros have eSIM support, as well, but these new entries are the first non-Pro models with the feature. While the Apple SIM works similarly — and present in older non-Pro iPads — it’s only compatible with the tech giant’s partner carriers. By giving these devices eSIM support, they’ll be able to work even on the networks of non-partner carriers.

A small thing, but really important for folks who travel.

Peter Kafka, Recode:

Apple is planning a big announcement to unveil its new video strategy next week, and there is a long list of unknowns about Apple’s plans. Now we know one thing: Netflix won’t be a part of them.

And:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed Monday that the company won’t be selling subscriptions to its video service through a hub that Apple plans on launching, similar to one that Amazon already uses to sell video subscription services like HBO and Showtime.

And:

In 2016, for instance, when Apple launched a new “TV” app, designed to be a digital TV guide, Netflix never signed on. And late last year, Apple stopped selling subscriptions to its service via Apple’s store.

Will Apple lose because they won’t have Netflix on their hub? Will Netflix lose because they isolate themselves from the core of clustered services that consumers see most? Or is this much ado about nothing?

Six days until the event.

Fast Company:

A decade ago–long before the current controversies over what big companies are doing with our data–a lot of people were already irate about ad networks that followed their activity across sites in order ever more precisely to target marketing messages. A feature called Do Not Track arose as a simple, comprehensible way for browser users to take back their privacy. To opt out of being tracked, you’d check a box in your browser’s settings.

Notably, this didn’t opt out of advertising–just the technology used to target ads. With Do Not Track checked, no web server or embedded code would associate your behavior at a given site with actions elsewhere on the web. It was a great idea.

And now it’s dead.

The death of Do Not Track is the reason why I don’t give a damn about ad publishers and their moaning about adblockers and other efforts to thwart them. We tried being nice to you and you were jerks about it. No sympathy.

March 18, 2019

Inside Game of Thrones: a story in stunts

“We burn more people than anyone else!” he said gleefully.

Krebs on Security:

Phone numbers stink for security and authentication. They stink because most of us have so much invested in these digits that they’ve become de facto identities. At the same time, when you lose control over a phone number — maybe it’s hijacked by fraudsters, you got separated or divorced, or you were way late on your phone bill payments — whoever inherits that number can then be you in a lot of places online.

How exactly did we get to the point where a single, semi-public and occasionally transient data point like a phone number can unlock access to such a large part of our online experience? KrebsOnSecurity spoke about this at length with Allison Nixon, director of security research at New York City-based cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint.

I avoid like the plague giving anyone my phone number or Social Security/Social Insurance number. If a company demands I include one, I’ll give them a fake number whenever possible. It doesn’t work in all situations but I try to limit it as much as I can.

TechCrunch:

The ARPANET, as it was called back then, was designed by government, industry and academia so scientists and academics could access each other’s computing resources and trade large research files, saving time, money and travel costs.

The network grew exponentially from its earliest days, with the number of connected host computers reaching 100 by 1977, 100,000 by 1989, a million by the early 1990’s, and a billion by 2012; it now serves more than half the planet’s population.

It sounds utopian, but in those early days, we enjoyed a wonderful culture of openness, collaboration, sharing, trust and ethics. That’s how the Internet was conceived and nurtured. I knew everyone on the ARPANET in those early days, and we were all well-behaved. In fact, that adherence to “netiquette” persisted for the first two decades of the Internet.

Today, almost no one would say that the internet was unequivocally wonderful, open, collaborative, trustworthy or ethical.

The growth of the internet was unimaginable by these guys 50 years ago just like we can’t imagine what it will be like 50 years from now but it sure as hell isn’t likely to be “unequivocally wonderful, open, collaborative, trustworthy or ethical.”

motherboard:

Don’t get me wrong: Adobe’s software is great, if a bit expensive. But I do think that its business model highlights just how consolidated its power actually is—and it’s not talked about nearly enough in the creative space.

Let’s discuss how Adobe’s became the center of the creative ecosystem, and why that should be of concern.

I don’t think CC is “too powerful” but it is a conversation worth having. A lot of people aren’t happy with where the Creative Cloud is going and how locked in many of us are to it.

Bare Bones, makers of BBEdit, is one of my favorite software companies—in fact, I’ve been using their software for more than 20 years. Now, with the opening of their new online store, you can also own some Bare Bones clothing. T-shirts, hoodies, pins, fleece jackets, sweat pants and combinations of all of the products in a bundle are available from the store.

Visit the store to get your Bare Bones Official Merchandise!

Apple on the new iPad Air:

Apple today introduced the all-new iPad Air in an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, offering the latest innovations including Apple Pencil support and high-end performance at a breakthrough price. With the A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine, the new iPad Air delivers a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability, and the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20 percent larger with over half a million more pixels.

Apple on the new iPad mini:

Apple today also introduced the new 7.9-inch iPad mini, a major upgrade for iPad mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology. With the A12 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini is a powerful multi-tasking machine, delivering three times the performance and nine times faster graphics.3 The advanced Retina display with True Tone technology and wide color support is 25 percent brighter3 and has the highest pixel density of any iPad, delivering an immersive visual experience in any setting.

From what I can tell, both devices only support the first generation Apple Pencil. All the images show the first gen and the linked footnote specifically says, “The first-generation Apple Pencil sold separately.”

Both iPads are available to order right now and in stores next week.

One side thought: The iPad mini is the smallest iPad to support Apple Pencil. It does not have a magnet for charging and attaching the Apple Pencil. Seems achingly close to Apple Pencil support for the larger iPhone. Would you like Apple Pencil support on your iPhone?

The list of projects is at the end of the article, which also includes these two nuggets:

People involved in the coming series also said that Apple executives had expressed squeamishness when it comes to the portrayal of technology in the shows — how exactly are you using that iPhone? Or that Mac laptop?

And:

Executives at the company bristled when they discovered there would be scenes involving crucifixes in Mr. Shyamalan’s new thriller for the service, as The Wall Street Journal reported in September. But Apple ultimately allowed the crucifixes to remain, according to two people familiar with the series.

The list of shows detailed in the article:

  • Untitled Series With Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston
  • “Amazing Stories,” a Steven Spielberg Reboot
  • “Are You Sleeping?” a Mystery Starring Octavia Spencer
  • “For All Mankind,” a Ronald D. Moore Sci-Fi Series
  • “See,” With the “Aquaman” Star Jason Momoa
  • A New Shyamalan Thriller
  • “Little America,” From the Writers of “The Big Sick”
  • A Comedy From the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Duo
  • “Central Park,” a Cartoon Musical
  • “Home,” From the Documentary Filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer
  • “Dickinson,” an Emily Dickinson Comedy

Remember, this is a list of shows that are finished (or close to finished) filming. Still lots of work to do, but this is a substantive achievement.

Really looking forward to seeing this unfold.

Reddit:

About a year ago, all music on MySpace from 2015 and older stopped working. At first MySpace said they were working on the issue, but they eventually admitted they lost all the data (and apparently didn’t have backups?).

From MySpace:

As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest that you retain your back up copies.

And this screen cap.

Cautionary tale: Keep multiple offsite backups of anything you can’t afford to lose.

Men’s Health:

In an exclusive interview on the eve of the publication of the study, Sumbul Desai, M.D., Apple’s VP of Health, said that during the conceptualizing and design of the product, Apple worked with the medical community, especially around the concern of how to ensure that it won’t drive unnecessary use of medical resources through false positives.

And:

“Before a notification is given to a person, the feature has to see five instances that look like Afib.” Notes Dr. Desai. “By doing that gating within the algorithm, Apple designed toward specificity and toward avoiding unnecessary alerts.”

And this from Dr. Christopher Kelly, cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, on whether early detection helps people who are risk of Afib:

“A successful screening test is not one that just detects something earlier; it detects it earlier at a time where earlier intervention improves outcomes,” he says. “Over time we’ll figure out how to best use this stuff.”

Another nugget:

Through the flow of the study, Apple learned other facts about participants’ health: 38 percent were obese based on body mass index, 21 percent had high blood pressure, 5 percent had diabetes, 1 percent had a prior stroke.

Feels like we are just getting started here. Can’t wait to see what Apple Watch 5 has in store.

Apple:

Stanford Medicine today reported results of the Apple Heart Study, the largest study ever of its kind, which enrolled over 400,000 participants from all 50 states in a span of only eight months. Apple and Stanford created the study to evaluate Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notification, which occasionally checks the heart’s rhythm in the background and sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm appears to be suggestive of atrial fibrillation (AFib). As part of the study, if an irregular heart rhythm was identified, participants received a notification on their Apple Watch and iPhone, a telehealth consultation with a doctor and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for additional monitoring.

To me, this is Apple at its best, bringing change to the world that helps us all.

Add to this the incredible business win for the Apple Watch and the iPhone.

March 17, 2019

FinerTech:

I have soured quite a bit on the current leaders in social media. When Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (owned by Facebook) aren’t making user-hostile decisions like algorithmic timelines and invasive tracking, they do everything possible to avoid their responsibility to curb hate speech in the name of Wall Street and profits.

I don’t want to support these platforms anymore, so I’m working on moving away from them. Fortunately, there are more positive places to hang out online that are built with more ethical foundations and respect for us regular folks. Some are even community-built and run, and they already have millions of users.

I’m less and less likely to post to Instagram, if only because of the ridiculous amount of advertising I see when I use the app. I’ve just recently re-upped my Pro membership on Flickr and will likely check out some of these other services Chartier mentions.

VinePair:

Specialized firms like The Irish Pub Company (IPC) and ÓL Irish Pubs Ltd., both based in Dublin and backed by Guinness, along with smaller, more locally focused outfits like Love Irish Pubs, have helped install prefab pubs everywhere from small-town Ireland to Lagos, Nigeria.

Drinking in these retrofitted spaces is oddly comforting, akin to visiting Colonial Williamsburg or MGM Studios in Orlando. Fake-real pubs have unusual, undeniable appeal: They are grounded in something tangible and knowable, yet they exist apart from reality, and free from chaos and uncertainty.

Can these artificial Irish pubs be everything we want them to be? (Yes, of course they can. That’s the point.)

Even though many are “cookie cutter”, I still love the look and feel of a “true” Irish pub. My favorite was a hole in the wall Irish place in New York City off of Times Square we found during one Macworld Expo. Everyone who worked in the pub was actually from Ireland, many with accents so thick we could barely understand them. We closed the place down over several nights.

March 15, 2019

The Dalrymple Report: WWDC19 and an Apple event with Dave Mark

It was a big week for Apple. First they announced an event for March 25 where they are widely expected to announce a video and news service. Then they officially announced the dates for WWDC19. Lots to discuss this week!

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Michael Tsai, gathering responses to Apple’s Spotify post. A lot of excellent points. Certainly great food for thought.

Rene Ritchie: Why Spotify is suing Apple — Kinda victimy

This is a great backgrounder on the whole Spotify vs Apple situation.