March 17, 2018

Meep Meep! The surprising history of classic cartoon sound effects

We all know what the scrambling cartoon caveman in The Flintstones sounds like, or the sound of a cartoon roadrunner sticking out his tongue. But these classic cartoon sounds don’t exist in real life. Where do they come from? How did somebody settle on a sound that’s so different from anything in the real world?

I love this video. These cartoon sound effects are as familiar to me as my own voice.

Open Culture:

For the uninitiated, the warp are the plain vertical threads of a weaving or tapestry, through which the colorful, horizontal weft threads are passed, over and under, on wooden needle-shaped bobbins (or shuttles).

As in the 17th-century, giant looms are strung with white warp threads, in readiness for the threads expert dyers have colored according to the artist’s palette.

This is an amazing video. I’ve seen these kinds of tapestries when I traveled in Europe and always wondered how they were created.

March 16, 2018

Metro News:

Amateur scientists in Canada have helped researchers discover a new type of northern lights.

The glowing ribbon of purple — and sometimes green — that runs east-west in the night sky has been observed and photographed by aurora borealis chasers for years.

Chris Ratzlaf said Steve was just meant to be a temporary name, but scientists have decided to keep it — only it now stands for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

Apparently, Canadian scientists are incredibly unimaginative.

Above Avalon:

After a brief lull, Apple’s R&D expenditures are once again exploding higher. Apple’s 2Q18 financial guidance implies the company will soon report the largest year-over-year increase in quarterly R&D expense in its history. Management is on track to spend $14 billion on R&D in FY2018, nearly double the amount spent on R&D just four years ago. The dramatic rise in Apple R&D expenditures raises questions regarding the company’s product pipeline and whether management’s overall approach to R&D is changing.

Apple’s pace of R&D expenditures is nothing like the company has ever seen. The $14 billion of R&D expense that Apple will spend in FY2018 will be more than the amount Apple spent on R&D from 1998 to 2011.

“Something wicked this way comes…”

Thanks to StackSocial for sponsoring The Loop this week. StackSocial has curated a collection of ten top apps to help you get the most out of your Mac in 2018. Highlighted by BusyCal 3, HoudahSpot 4, and the toolbar app used at Google and Facebook, uBar 4, The 2018 Mac Essentials Bundle will give your Mac (and you) a productivity overhaul. Get it now for less than $2/app — it’s just $19.99 (Orig. $525). The 2018 Mac Essentials Bundle includes the following:

  1. BusyCal 3 ($49.99 Value) – Customize calendar views to meet your needs
  2. Cargo VPN ($79.99 Value) – Protect your Mac while surfing public WiFi, bypass geo-restricted content, and more
  3. HoudahSpot 4 ($29.00 Value) – Find just about any file (documents, photos, emails) on your Mac
  4. uBar 4 ($30.00 Value) – Customize your Mac’s dock
  5. Cisdem DuplicateFinder ($39.99 Value) – Free up space on your Mac by easily deleting any duplicate files
  6. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 ($19.99 Value) – Construct and manage your own very theme park
  7. Systweak Anti-Malware ($117 Value) – Detect and remove malware on your Mac
  8. Concealer ($19.99 Value) – Keep sensitive files safe
  9. Movavi Photo Editor ($39.95 Value) – Edits photos on the fly hassle-free
  10. Flip PDF for Mac ($99 Value) – Easily batch PDFs into Flash & HTML5

Grab these 10 apps for just $19.99 at 96% off.

Apple announces education event in Chicago

Apple on Friday sent invitations to press outlets for a special event to be held in Chicago on March 27 at 10:00 am.

With the tagline, “Let’s take a field trip,” Apple’s invitation also says to join them “to hear creative new ideas for teachers and students.”

There is no indication that any new updated products will be part of this initiative, but it would make sense that perhaps iPads and Macs will play a role in the event.


We regret to inform you those widely circulated articles claiming astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA changed after spending a year in space were incorrect, according to an official NASA statement.

The Business Insider story claimed, “Roughly seven percent of Scott Kelly’s genes may have permanently changed as a result of his time in space.” The next day, Newsweek published a story about the same results with the headline “NASA Twins Study Confirms Astronaut’s DNA Actually Changed in Space.” The thing is, they’re both wrong, because neither NASA nor the researchers on the Twins Study ever said that.

I posted the original (now debunked) story on Tuesday and I’m happy to post the correction today. Interesting game of Telephone. Thanks to Loop reader Drew Leavitt for pointing it out.


When a mission launches into space, whether it is to Venus, Mars, or as far out as Pluto, we have to be able to track it, send commands, and receive data — all over a signal about as powerful as the wattage of a refrigerator light bulb. These faint whispers are hard to hear, and losing track of them for any length of time can be a harrowing experience. If the Deep Space Network goes down, if we permanently lose our connection to Cassini, it would not only be a loss of billions of dollars but also two decades of work.

The heart of the Deep Space Network started beating on Christmas Eve 1963, when JPL confirmed their long-term intentions of sending missions into deep space. It hasn’t been turned off since. Its dishes, operators, and radio astronomers around the world have worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past 54 years. The DSN has many vital roles, but one of its biggest is to serve as the communication link between Earth and its robotic emissaries in deep space — anything from the moon and beyond. Every image we’ve ever received from deep space, every relay of scientific data, even those famous words the Eagle has landed, was collected by the dishes of the Deep Space Network.

I love these stories of scientists quietly working behind the scenes to provide us with information like this.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs has written a memoir, called Small Fry, due out in September, available for pre-order now.

From the Small Fry book page on Amazon:

Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents―artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs―Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa’s father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.

Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents’ fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.

Fingers crossed, hoping this is a great book.

Austin Powell, Daily Dot:

Tommie King could be the next rapper to breakout from Atlanta. He’s well-connected, has obvious swagger, and he’s been quietly building a successful collection of singles on Spotify. His latest, “Eastside (feat. Cyhi the Prynce),” has already clocked more than 110,000 streams, driven largely by its placement on 14 independent playlists.


In the modern music economy, in which streaming services account for nearly two-thirds of the total revenue generated by recorded music, emerging artists are increasingly being tracked via big data. Spotify streams, YouTube views, Twitter interactions, and even Wikipedia searches are all being used to discover the proverbial next big thing. That’s why King’s manager has worked to land his music on a staggering 594 Spotify playlists to date.


There’s just one catch: King essentially paid to be added to those Spotify playlists. He’s one of countless artists who have compensated curators to check out his tracks—or in the case for some of his contemporaries, to be added to specific playlists—to gain valuable streams and attention.

The black market for Spotify playlists is booming. It’s cheaper than you might expect to hack the system—and if it’s done right, it more than pays for itself.

No doubt, Spotify’s playlists are its secret sauce. They’ve quietly built the modern big data equivalent of the Billboard top 100 genre charts.

If the pay-to-play is true, I’m surprised that Spotify would tolerate that behavior. They have an opportunity to own a significant chunk of music’s future. But if they allow artists to buy their way in, they’ll squander that chance, all credibility gone.

Notably absent from this article is Apple (just a single mention, in passing). Is this simple bias? Or is Spotify truly owning this space? Very interesting.

Brett Arends, Barrons:

“I have yet to meet anyone who owns an Apple Watch who’s passionate about the product,” he told investors at the Roth Investment Conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., adding that sales of the Apple Watch have mainly just piggybacked off sales of iPhones.

“If you don’t have an Apple phone, you’re not buying an Apple Watch… [and] 80% of the world is Android, not Apple,” he said.

Someone nudge John Gruber. A good candidate for the claim chowder vault of honor.

Google Maps blog:

We’ve brought the richness of Google Maps to the Unity game engine. We turn buildings, roads, and parks into GameObjects in Unity, where developers can then add texture, style, and customization to match the look and feel of your game. This means that they can focus on building rich, immersive gameplay without the overhead of scaffolding a global-scale game world.

This is fascinating. Google has taken their real world maps data and offered it up to game developers. No need to invent a world for your game, just use the real one.

To truly get this, watch the video embedded below. Is this a potential path for Apple and Augmented Reality?

Catalin Cimpanu, Bleeping Computer:

Iranian users have not been able to access Apple’s App Store all day today, in what appears to be a ban put in place by the US company.


Users were not able to connect to the Apple App Store to install or update applications. When visiting the App Store, they were instead greeted with the message “The App Store is unavailable in the country or region you’re in”.

This ban appears to be IP-based. Meysam Firouzi —an Iranian security researcher— told Bleeping Computer that he successfully connected to the App Store while using a VPN, despite having Iran-related details set on his account.


In August 2017, Apple removed all apps created by Iranian developers from the App Store, attributing the move to US-imposed economic sanctions.

Interesting. Wondering if we’ll ever know the behind-the-scenes on this.

UPDATE from Bleeping Computer:

As of around 1 AM EST, Bleeping Computer received a message from Firouzi stating that the App Store was once again accessible in Iran. Apple has still not comment or returned our queries, so we are unsure if this was a mistake or something else that caused the outage.

March 15, 2018


In late 2017, word of a new iPhone unlocker device started to circulate: a device called GrayKey, made by a company named Grayshift. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Grayshift was founded in 2016, and is a privately-held company with fewer than 50 employees. Little was known publicly about this device—or even whether it was a device or a service—until recently.

Thanks to an anonymous source, we now know what this mysterious device looks like, and how it works. And while the technology is a good thing for law enforcement, it presents some significant security risks.

This is not a “the sky is falling!” situation but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on. I’m sure Apple is.

The Globe and Mail:

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc, the iconic toy retailer, will shutter or sell its stores in the United States after failing to find a buyer or reach a deal to restructure billions in debt, putting at risk about 30,000 jobs.

The closure is a blow to hundreds of toy makers that sell their products at the chain’s U.S. stores, including Barbie maker Mattel Inc, board game company Hasbro Inc and other vendors like Lego.

“This is a profoundly sad day for us as well as the millions of kids and families who we have served for the past 70 years,” Chief Executive Officer Dave Brandon said.

Devastating news for the industry, the employees and all of us, young or old, who loved going to Toys ‘R’ Us.

Damien McFerran, Nintendo Life:

Chances are, you know the name Alexey Pajitnov. Arguably the most famous game designer to come out of Russia, he gave the world Tetris, which is regularly referred to as one of the greatest video games of all time.

However, the name Vladimir Pokhilko might be less familiar – despite the fact that he is often credited as co-creating the game alongside Pajitnov, and would later work with him on other video games. While Pajitnov continues to live off the fame of his most famous creation, Pokhilko has faded into history.

A quick read, well worth your time if you are interested in the history of video games. Tragic indeed.

David Smith:

From a development perspective the Series 3 is a delight to work with. It is fast, capable and LTE allows a wide variety of new applications.


In daily use the Series 0 is probably “good enough” for many customers, especially with the speed/stability improvements added in watchOS 4, but as a developer I can’t wait until I no longer have to support it.


The Series 3 is being adopted incredibly quickly and just last week became the most popular Apple Watch overall amongst my users with 33% of the overall user-base. The Series 0 is steadily falling, currently at around 24%.

Lots of interesting Apple Watch adoption data in this post. Will Apple drop Series 0 support? I hope Apple continues to offer a path for Series 0 buyers to receive watchOS updates, even if 3rd party apps stop supporting Series 0.

Joao Medeiros, Wired:

Hawking lost his ability to speak in 1985, when, on a trip to CERN in Geneva, he caught pneumonia. In the hospital, he was put on a ventilator. His condition was critical. The doctors asked Hawking’s then-wife, Jane, whether they should turn off the life support. She vehemently refused. Hawking was flown to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where the doctors managed to contain the infection. To help him breathe, they also performed a tracheotomy, which involved cutting a hole in his neck and placing a tube into his windpipe. As a result, Hawking irreversibly lost the ability to speak.

This is a fascinating story, starting with a program that ran on an Apple II, then evolving over the years, all while keeping that original synthesized voice.

Josh Constine, TechCrunch:

Spotify has a new voice search interface that lets you say “Play my Discover Weekly,” “Show Calvin Harris” or “Play some upbeat pop” to pull up music.

If this was an app that someone created as an experiment, that’d be one thing. But this comes from Spotify’s own R&D.

Hard to say what kind of impact this will have on Apple’s music and smart speaker ambitions. After all, Apple Music, HomePod, and Siri are all part of a much larger ecosystem. And though Spotify does dominate the paid music sector, it’s reach does not extend into anything larger. Yet.

I can’t help but think that Spotify would be an enticing partner for Google or Amazon, more so if they built a bridge to marry their musical intelligence (they have access to a massive trove of user data) with intelligent musical speech command processing and, say, Amazon’s Echo installed base.

This is an interesting development, worth keeping an eye on.

Ina Fried, Axios:

A new page on Apple’s website details its efforts to make Macs and iPhones family friendly, including parental controls and other safety features. The move comes as Apple and other tech giants are under fire over whether their products are addictive, especially for children.

From this letter to Apple from a collective of Apple investors:

We have reviewed the evidence and we believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner. By doing so, we believe Apple would once again be playing a pioneering role, this time by setting an example about the obligations of technology companies to their youngest customers.

Apple’s new page is here. Definitely a step in the right direction, a single stop for learning about tools and resources for keeping your family safe.

March 14, 2018


To demonstrate the power of iMac Pro, Apple invited a group of renowned filmmakers, CG artists, and motion graphics designers to create a personal piece of work using its advanced technologies. The project was an opportunity for each of them to use this incredibly capable tool to define power through the films they made. From concept development through final preparations for render, iMac Pro proved to be the ultimate creative partner.

How cool must it have been to have Apple come to you and say, “Could you give us a hand with something?”


8K resolution. Time lapse. 360º view. Aurora borealis. Lunar eclipse. I’m not really sure how you could pack much more into this video.



When you’re researching for travel, Wikivoyage is a great place to start. You’ll get a better sense of a place’s vibe from Wikivoyage’s conversational pages than from Wikipedia’s dry encyclopedic text. Wikivoyage contributors are allowed to insert opinions; they just have to be “fair.”

Wikivoyage pages include lists of landmarks, restaurants, bars, hotels, things to do, and sections like “Understand,” which describes a location’s history and je ne sais quoi, and “Stay Safe,” which tells you where to watch out for pickpockets or scams or other dangers. City pages, like the page for Brooklyn, break down neighborhoods and districts. There are also directions from major airports, trains, and highways.

Whenever I travel, I do research on the city and country I’m going to, no matter how big or small. I like learning new things about new places and Wikivoyage can help a lot.

Technology Review:

Next week, at YC’s “demo days,” Nectome’s cofounder, Robert McIntyre, is going to describe his technology for exquisitely preserving brains in microscopic detail using a high-tech embalming process. Then the MIT graduate will make his business pitch. As it says on his website: “What if we told you we could back up your mind?”

So yeah. Nectome is a preserve-your-brain-and-upload-it company. Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation. That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere.

This story has a grisly twist, though. The product is “100 percent fatal,” says McIntyre. “That is why we are uniquely situated among the Y Combinator companies.”

At first blush, this seems idiotic but on reading the article, I understand and appreciate the point of the “service”.

Chrysanthe Tenentes,

Here you have songbird Stevie Nicks, every makeup artist’s worst nightmare, belting out an early version of her song “Wild Heart” during an Annie Leibowitz cover shoot for Rolling Stone in 1981.

This is a little gem. Think about how hard it is to sing when you are sitting down. Stevie Nicks really lets us have it, making the whole thing effortless.

And listen for the other folks joining in. This is off-the-cuff, and wonderful.

Good list. It’d be nice to have this as a constantly updated resource.

As Apple’s media plans mature, seems to me they should add a page to their main site that makes it easy to follow along.

John Voorhees, MacStories:

Home is both too complex because of the way it splits things into rooms, zones, groups, scenes, and automations and too simple because it lacks features like robust state awareness and, in some places, timers. However, the problems with the Home app run even deeper. They are compounded by a generic UI and complex navigation.

Read John’s post to really get a sense of his point. Or just spend some time trying to edit the HomePod’s now playing queue.

All this said, it is early days still, both for HomeKit and HomePod. Even though HomeKit dates back to iOS 8 (a bit more than two years ago), I see it as still early in the adoption cycle, still in its infancy. As more and more people start using HomeKit compatible gear, the use cases are becoming better defined.

John makes the case that it is time for Apple to re-roll the interface.

Take a look, on the highest resolution screen you have. Beautiful work.

What’s it all mean? Are there clues in this art? The most common thing I’ve heard (and what sprang to mind for me, instantly) is a design language for Augmented Reality.

This from John Gruber:

Now, if we want to play Cupertino-ology, does the graphic offer any hints about planned announcements (like, say, a unified cross-platform set of UI frameworks for Mac and iOS) or it just a cool graphic?

That’s an interesting take.

Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider:

The fastest growing segment in global smartphones isn’t Google’s vision for super-cheap, simple Android phones. Instead, according to new market data, it’s refurbished high-quality phones that carry a desirable brand but can be sold at a more affordable price, a segment where Apple is “leading by a significant margin.”

And from the original study from Counterpoint Research:

The low growth of the new smartphone market in 2017 can be partially attributed to the growth of the refurb market. The slowdown in innovation has made two-year-old flagship smartphones comparable in design and features with the most recent mid-range phones. Therefore, the mid low-end market for new smartphones is being cannibalized by refurbished high-end phones, mostly Apple iPhones and, to a lesser extent, Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

This is a pretty interesting development. Apple has added another layer to this market, a layer that it dominates.

I read a number of appreciation articles this morning, but this Wired piece by Adam Rogers was my favorite.

A few highlights:

He and the physicist Roger Penrose described singularities, mind-bending physical concepts where relativity and quantum mechanics collapse inward on each other—as at the heart of a black hole.


His calculations helped show that as the young universe expanded and grew through inflation, fluctuations at the quantum scale—the smallest possible gradation of matter—became the galaxies we see around us. No human will ever visit another galaxy, and the quantum realm barely waves at us in our technology, but Hawking envisioned them both.

And, perhaps my favorite:

He proved time travel didn’t exist by throwing a party for time travelers, but not sending out invitations until the party was over. No one came.

Notably, Stephen Hawking died on Albert Einstein’s birthday and on Pi-day (3.14).