August 18, 2017

Last week, I met Louis and we walked down a memory lane, talking about our publishing lives, disappointments and emotional challenges of breaking up with something you create. We pondered about the state of the media, the emergence of President Trump and why we need to be optimistic about the future.

Such a great interview. It’s like we’re listening in on two friends sitting down for a chat.

Getting the most out of your iPad Pro is as easy as it looks. Just watch and learn.

Great idea for Apple to put out these videos showing people how to get the most out of the iPad Pro and the upcoming iOS 11.

The Dalrymple Report: iPhone photography with guest Shawn King

This week I chat with Shawn King about photography and how people can take better pictures using their iPhone.

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Starting Point Photography

Thanks to BlackPods for sponsoring The Loop this week. At BlackPods, we’ve developed a proprietary coating system specifically for Apple’s AirPods. Our three-phase finishing procedure utilizes the latest in solvent-based painting technology to yield a luxurious finish that exceeds U.S. Military specifications. Every pair of customized AirPods we produce is hand-finished by a team of skilled artisans. Whether you purchase them through us or send yours in, each pair of AirPods is subjected to a rigorous visual and quality inspection.

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Use promo code THELOOP at checkout for $20 off anything in our store.

National Geographic:

Many cultures thought solar and lunar eclipses occurred when the celestial bodies were consumed by supernatural forces, like the fire dogs of Korea, the sky-wolves of the Vikings, or the disembodied head of a Hindu demon.

This year, sky-watchers are gearing up for the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental U.S. since 1979. Take a look through these photos of historic eclipses from around the world (including the one that made Albert Einstein famous).

There are some great photos here, some of which you’ll recognize.

Wired:

Potassium hydroxide is being mixed with water heated to 150°C. A biochemical reaction is taking place and the flesh is melting off the bones. Over the course of up to four hours, the strong alkaline base causes everything but the skeleton to break down to the original components that built it: sugar, salt, peptides and amino acids; DNA unzips into its nucleobases, cytosine, guanine, adenine, thymine. The body becomes fertiliser and soap, a sterile watery liquid that looks like weak tea. The liquid shoots through a pipe into a holding tank in the opposite corner of the room where it will cool down, be brought down to an acceptable pH for the water treatment plant, and be released down the drain.

Fisher says I can step outside if it all gets too much, but it’s not actually that terrible. The human body, liquefied, smells like steamed clams.

This, Fisher explains, is the future of death.

Unless you have a religious belief against it, is there really a need to have your remains put in a specific spot in the ground? I read a while back about burying people under trees, allowing their remains to fertilize and nourish the tree. I’d love to be buried under an apple tree in Nova Scotia.

August 17, 2017

As part of his new role, the legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist is currently developing new products with three of Gibson’s guitar brands, Gibson Custom, Gibson and Epiphone. Details of the new products will be announced beginning later this month.

Cheers, Slash.

On Wednesday, Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it had disabled Apple Pay support for a handful of websites that sold sweaters with Nazi logos, T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “White Pride,” and a bumper sticker showing a car plowing into stick figure demonstrators. Following Saturday’s Charlottesville demonstrations, where one woman was killed by a car driven by a white nationalist, the iPhone-maker blocked three white nationalist sites from using Apple Pay.

Good.

Uber Technologies Inc on Thursday won a victory in its effort to keep unhappy customers from suing in court, persuading a federal appeals court to send a Connecticut passenger’s price-fixing case against the ride-service company into arbitration.

Meyer accused Uber and Kalanick of conspiring with drivers, whose earnings are shared with Uber, to charge “surge pricing” fares during peak demand periods.

It’s supply and demand. If he didn’t read the agreement when he signed up, that’s on him, not Uber. People will sue for any reason.

iDownloadBlog:

Say hello to macOS High Sierra, Apple’s newest operating system update for Macs. Whether you’re on an iMac or one of the Touch Bar-outfitted MacBook Pro models, there is a lot to love in this latest release of Apple’s desktop operating system.

This possibly may be the biggest macOS update to date, though not all of it is visible on the surface. We are going to take a look at some of the biggest changes, leaving the rest to our accompanying list and a hands-on video walkthrough.

There are several features I’m really looking forward to. Do you have a favourite?

BuzzFeed:

On Wednesday evening Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to all global employees condemning racism and bigotry as well as President Trump’s response to the tragedy in Charlottesville, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“Hate is a cancer,” Cook wrote to employees, noting that Apple must be “unequivocal” about fighting and denouncing bigotry in all forms.

I don’t usually care what most CEOs have to say about social issues but Tim Cook is not shy about wading in to some of these issues.

Harpers:

From the jury selection process that took place over three days in June for the trial of Martin Shkreli, an investor and hedge fund founder who is facing eight counts of securities and wire fraud. In 2015, when Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company raised the price of its drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent. In 2016, Shkreli was widely criticized for defending the 400 percent increase in the price of EpiPen, an emergency allergy injection sold by Mylan. More than two hundred potential jurors were excused from the trial. Judge Kiyo Matsumoto presided. Benjamin Brafman is a lawyer representing Shkreli.

I guarantee this will be the funniest thing you read about Martin Shkreli all year. Thanks to my friend John Welch for the link.

August 16, 2017

The Street:

Apple Stores turn out to be very good neighbors, and have become the new mall anchor store, a role once held by department stores, because they draw lots of foot traffic, which also benefits the smaller stores.

The presence of an Apple Store in a mall also increases the value of a mall and allows mall owners to raise square-footage rates for other tenants.

While it’s not all sunshine and lollipops for fellow tenants, an Apple store in a mall at least gives those retailers a fighting chance to capture some of the dollars those customers are bringing to the mall. I’d be curious to know if, like the prime spots near Apple during Macworld Expos, whether mall owners charge more for stores the closer they are to Apple.

BoingBoing:

Helen Keller became deaf, blind and mute at the age of 19 months old due to an illness. Later in life, she remarkably learned to speak.

Absolutely amazing. We all know about Helen Keller but these are the first videos I’ve seen of her and her method of communication. Seeing her speak is even more remarkable.

Mental Floss:

In essentially a one-woman play, Karen Black portrays a character hoping to impress her anthropologist boyfriend by gifting him with an African “Zuni fetish doll,” a fearsome-looking warrior cast in wood and grasping a spear. Alone in her apartment, Black finds that the doll is more spirited than your typical toy. As he hacks and slashes at her feet and hides behind furniture, it’s not quite clear whether Black will conquer her tiny terror, go mad, or both.

I saw this as a kid and, to this day, the thought of that little doll still creeps me out. Literally, the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on TV.

Rene Ritchie, iMore:

Apple hasn’t even announced Face ID, the rumored facial identity scanner that would join or replace Touch ID, the fingerprint identity scanner, on the next generation of iPhones 8, but already we’re seeing a great deal of concern and even fear over how it will and won’t work.

And:

One of the biggest areas of fear, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding a potential Face ID facial identity scanner is that it will make it easier to law enforcement and government agencies to gain access to our devices.

Rene digs into the concern itself (someone could grab my phone and point it at my face to unlock it) and explores the validity of that worry.

A solid read, all the way through. Rene is a smart cookie.

Personally, I see Face ID and Touch ID as roughly equivalent in terms of someone using me to break into my phone. Add to that, Apple has not yet announced such a product. I’d prefer to save my worry for something a bit more tangible.

Accidentally Famous: The story behind the original voice of Siri

This is from a Ted Talk Susan Bennett gave last year.

One particular nugget (about 1:17 in):

One of the original engineers was from Norway. His name was Dag Kittlaus. He was responsible for naming Siri. In Norwegian, the name Siri means “beautiful woman who guides you to victory”.

Fascinating to see Susan Bennett tell these origin stories. My sense, from the iOS 11 beta, it that Siri is moving toward a more generic, machine generated voice. Yet, in the latest commercials (with The Rock), Susan appears to do all the Siri voice work.

It’ll be interesting to see how all this will play out. Will Susan be “classic Siri”?

Motherboard:

During its initial printing run, International Data Group printed just 7,500 copies of DOS for Dummies.

And:

By 1993, the series had sold 1.3 million copies on its own. Now there are 1,950 individual books in the series, covering a whole lot of things that have nothing to do with computing, and the books have sold upwards of 300 million titles.

And:

Recently, I bought a book—quaint, I know—and I’m probably the only person to have purchased this book or anything like it in more than 20 years.

It’s a reference book, the kind that you can still pick up at Barnes and Noble today. But it’s best described as what you’d get if you combined a phone book, a Matthew Lesko free money guide, and the internet.

That book is really the crux of the article. A fascinating look back at a time before Google, when the Internet was but a toddler.

Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner on Carpool Karaoke

Fan of Game of Thrones? Then this edition of Carpool Karaoke is for you. Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) join the carpool and surprise some fans.

I am looking forward to this one. Karaoke is coming.

Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) has set a budget of roughly $1 billion to procure and produce original content over the next year, according to people familiar with the matter–a sign of how serious the iPhone maker is about making a splash in Hollywood.

Combined with the company’s marketing clout and global reach, that immediately makes Apple a considerable competitor in a crowded market where new media players and traditional media companies are vying to acquire original shows. The figure is about half what Time Warner Inc.’s HBO spent on content last year and on par with estimates of what Amazon.com spent in 2013, the year after it announced its move into original programming.

And:

Programming costs can range from more than $2 million an episode for a comedy to more than $5 million for a drama. An episode of some high-end shows such as “Game of Thrones” can cost more than $10 million to produce.

The back-to-back success of the original shows “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” is credited with building Netflix’s business. At the time they were released the company’s annual budget for original and acquired programming was about $2 billion; this year it is expected to spend more than $6 billion.

Personally, I would not judge Apple’s chances here based on shows like Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. That would be like judging a developer on the apps they write as they learn how to program.

Key to Apple’s success will be setting aside enough cash (which they appear more than willing to do) and ability to bring on board the right mix of people, people with experience and craft. With the hire of Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and the addition of Matt Cherniss to oversee development, Apple has the start of a significant original programming effort.

Deadline:

In one of their first major moves since joining Apple as heads of worldwide video programming, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht have brought in Matt Cherniss to oversee development.

As a reminder, Van Amburg and Erlicht were hired away from Sony, where they shepherded hits like The Crown, Breaking Bad, and The Black List through production.

Cherniss, a respected veteran network development executive, had been in demand since he recently stepped down as president and general manager of WGN America and Tribune Studios.

Cherniss will be a lieutenant to Amburg and Erlicht. Apple is building a formidable team here. Now all they need is money.

August 15, 2017

Fast Company:

The task of maintaining the individuality and values that propelled its initial success became more challenging when ComiXology integrated itself into a conglomerate the size of Amazon in 2014. Three years on, Steinberger—who continues as ComiXology CEO and also helms the digital comics business on Amazon’s Kindle ebook platform—has not only expanded upon the two companies’ common corporate values, but is creatively incorporating assets from Amazon to hone ComiXology’s business.

I remember when this buyout happened and many predicted doom and gloom for ComiXology. Good to hear they’ve been able to survive and even thrive under Amazon.

Ford Thunderbird automatic transmission rebuild time lapse

The inner workings of the automatic transmission are a mystery to most (us included), so we decided to crack one open and find out what sort of black magic makes it go.

I knew this stuff was complicated but I had no idea just how involved it was. Much respect to mechanics who do this well. Thanks to Horace Dediu for the link.

Ars Technica:

Hundreds of Internet-connected locks became inoperable last week after a faulty software update caused them to experience a fatal system error, manufacturer LockState said.

The incident is the latest reminder that the so-called Internet of Things—in which locks, thermostats, and other everyday appliances are embedded with small Internet-connected computers—often provide as many annoyances as they do conveniences. Over the past week, the Colorado-based company’s Twitter feed has been gorged with comments from customers who were suddenly unable to lock or unlock their doors normally. Complicating the matter: the affected LockState model—the RemoteLock 6i—is included in an Airbnb partnership called Host Assist. That left many hosts unable to remotely control their locks.

As convenient as these kinds of things are (and their convenience may be minimal), stories like this make it crystal clear why I personally will never own or install these kinds of IoT devices.

iMore:

Sometimes your Mac isn’t running properly, so you need to reset the NVRAM and PRAM. Sometimes you need to boot in Recovery Mode in order to reinstall an OS or recover your hard drive via the internet. Whatever your needs, you can boot your Mac in a variety of modes in order to complete a task before startup; all you need to do is press some keys down and wait for the chime (unless you have a later MacBook Pro, in which case I’m sorry).

Here are all the keyboard shortcuts you can use when starting up your Mac!

I had a kernel panic situation a couple of weeks ago and was glad I had a cheat sheet of these lying around.

Mac Observer:

ARKit, Apple’s answer to augmented reality (AR) on iOS, has become tremendously popular already. Folks have posted quite a few ARKit demos on YouTube since Apple’s announcement of of the software development kit at WWDC 2017.

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what developers are going to create with ARKit but even some of what we already can see is amazing.

CNBC:

Google is paying Apple billions of dollars to remain the default search engine on iPhones and iPads, Bernstein said in a note to investors on Monday.

The firm believes that Google will pay Apple about $3 billion this year, up from $1 billion just three years ago, and that Google’s licensing fees make up a large bulk of Apple’s services business.

It stands to reason that, if they are paying billions, they are making billions more.

People are awesome

Thought you all would enjoy watching Jim go through his daily workout routines.

This is a fascinating story about how Winamp squandered its opportunity to be the dominant force in the music universe.

Great read, all the way through, but this bit amazed me:

Amazingly, given all the time elapsed, AOL still makes a decent amount of money on the site and on the program—while the company has declined to release official figures, former employees who worked on Winamp estimate its current revenue at around $6 million annually.

Wait, what? I find that astonishing.

This piece originally ran on June 24, 2012 (and Winamp finally called it quits in November 2013).

Ah, that explains it. Still, a great read.

This is as of today. It’s all about smuggling. Pretty interesting.