January 20, 2019

The 30th anniversary of the beloved Macintosh SE/30

Nick Punt:

Just want to point out that today is the 30th anniversary of the beloved Macintosh SE/30. Small in stature but huge in performance, expansion, and overall likability. The king of the compact macs, and considered by many to be the Best Mac Ever.

In the 30 years since launch, the SE/30 has become a bit of a cult classic among Mac enthusiasts by virtue of its expandability.

This Twitter thread is great. The Macintosh SE/30 was my first Mac and I absolutely loved it. I don’t know if it’s the “Best Mac Ever” but it certainly is my favourite if only for the path it put me on.

New York Times:

The people of Cremona are unusually sensitive to noise right now. The police have cordoned off streets in the usually bustling city center and traffic has been diverted. During a recent news conference, the city’s mayor, Gianluca Galimberti, implored Cremona’s citizens to avoid any sudden and unnecessary sounds.

Cremona is home to the workshops of some of the world’s finest instrument makers, including Antonio Stradivari, who in the 17th and 18th centuries produced some of the finest violins and cellos ever made. The city is getting behind an ambitious project to digitally record the sounds of the Stradivarius instruments for posterity, as well as others by Amati and Guarneri del Gesù, two other famous Cremona craftsmen. And that means being quiet.

What an incredible undertaking. I know nothing about violins or their sound and couldn’t tell the difference between a Stradivarius and a Nova Scotia fiddle but I love that these people are undertaking the effort to capture the sound of these magnificent instruments.

‘Order!’ Why Europeans are turning to John Bercow for light relief in Brexit chaos

Our American readers may not realize this but the role of the Speaker of the House in the British Parliamentary system is significantly different than that of the House of Representatives. They act more as a referee in the chamber than a politician. Most of the time, the Speaker is fairly innocuous but John Bercow is a lot of fun to watch and listen to.

Google Arts and Culture:

An identitary art. A world heritage. Understand the Portuguese “azulejo” and why it is such a unique decorative language.

Islamic culture was the first great reference for azulejos in Portugal, which lived on in future applications through the aesthetic taste conveying the horror vacui or “fear of the empty”.

These tiles are presented at the National Azulejo Museum in Lisbon, Portugal where I’ll be in March of this year leading a “Photo Tourism” workshop. Not only are the tiles spectacularly beautiful, the presentation by the Google website is very well done.

January 19, 2019

How does a “Pull-Back” toy car work?

Not only is this a really good explanation of what’s happening inside these little cars, the animation is really well done.

MacRumors:

Four months after being discontinued, the beloved iPhone SE has made a sudden return to Apple’s online store this week.

Apple is offering the iPhone SE with 32GB of storage for $249 and with 128GB of storage for $299 on its clearance store in the United States. These are brand new, unopened, and unlocked models with unchanged tech specs, including a 4-inch Retina display, A9 chip, Touch ID, and 12-megapixel rear camera.

The iPhone SE is still a beloved “little” phone, suitable for a lot of people. This is the best deal Apple has ever offered on it.

MacStories:

Apple shared five new videos on its YouTube channel today, all of which center around working on an iPad Pro. Each video covers a different iPad workflow.

What I love about these videos, each of which are just over a minute long, is that they demonstrate the actual apps and workflows you can use to accomplish these tasks on the iPad Pro. For example, the podcast hosting video features Anchor for recording, editing, and publishing the podcast, Files for adding audio from an external source, and GoodNotes for holding your speaking notes. The video on taking notes features Notability exclusively, highlighting the app’s versatility for handwritten and typed notes, drawings, and audio recordings.

As the iPad “matures”, its ability to do the things formerly requiring a desktop or laptop becomes greater and greater.

FastCompany:

In 2016, the Sierra Club sent volunteers to more than 300 dealerships around the country to record their experience shopping for an electric vehicle. The results were dismaying, to say the least. More than 1 in 5 Ford and Chevy dealers had failed to charge an EV so it could be taken for a test drive. Only around half of salespeople explained how to fuel a plug-in vehicle, and only a third discussed the tax credits available to buyers.

Researchers further explained that EVs need less maintenance than conventional cars, which puts a dent in the dealer’s bottom line.

There’s plenty of blame to go around as to why EVs are not more popular but with dealerships being some of the frontline troops when it comes to first information and then sales, they take on a good percentage of the responsibility for the lack of sales.

January 18, 2019

Gizmodo:

A lot of people don’t like drones. Flying robots with increasingly powerful cameras and a growing number of tools sounds like the scariest parts of the dystopian future we were warned about. But as is often the case with emerging technology, there’s another story to tell. Outside of the stunts and spectacles, a growing number of drones are doing work. Some of them are doing police work, which is potentially scary, but the vast majority of enterprise applications for drones is refreshingly positive.

Like so much of technology, good or bad depends on how we use it. I had a blast flying my DJI Mavic 2 Pro (until it plummeted out of the sky and into our local harbour, never to be seen again), but there are enough horror stories of improper drone flying to make many of us understandably concerned about their use – not just by hobbyists but also by our governments.

FastCompany:

Thirteen years ago, during an unassuming Sunday football game on Fox, America suffered a mass hallucination–and it’s never woken up.

There was no explanation as to why a cyborg football player had suddenly appeared, hopping, stretching, and flexing across millions of TVs. He had no name, no origin story, and no fundamental logic justifying his existence.

No one outside Fox knew where the robot–named Cleatus–came from, or which creative director summoned him from the depths of the network’s psyche. So, nine months ago, I reached out to Fox Sports–because I needed to know. I would blow this story wide open.

There are few things I find more annoying during my sportsball viewing than this stupid robot.

The Dalrymple Report: Apple Watch, Netflix and Facebook with Dave Mark

Dave and I discuss the Apple Watch and health, more disastrous news for Facebook, and Netflix’s blockbuster numbers.

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Road Racing World:

Motorcyclists have long championed riding as their main road to stress relief and positive mental health. Today, the results of a neurobiological study conducted by a team of three researchers from UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior yielded pioneering scientific evidence revealing the potential mental and physical benefits of riding. Funded by Harley-Davidson, the study found that motorcycling increased metrics of focus and attention, and decreased relative levels of cortisol, a hormonal marker of stress.

Researchers recorded participants’ brain activity and hormone levels before, during, and after motorcycling, driving a car, and resting. While riding a motorcycle, participants experienced increased sensory focus and resilience to distraction. Riding also produced an increase in adrenaline levels and heart rate, as well as a decrease in cortisol metrics results often associated with light exercise and stress-reduction.

Even though the study was funded by a motorcycle manufacturer which may throw its conclusions into question, I’d bet everyone who rides agrees with the study’s results. For me, I know that riding relaxes me while, at the same time, increases my focus. While it’s the most dangerous thing I do, it’s also one of the best things I do.

Close up look at the new iPhone smart battery cases

Rene Ritchie offers a look at the new iPhone smart battery cases, with lots of closeup and lots of detail. Excellent work.

Nathan Halverson, Reveal News (via DF):

A trove of hidden documents detailing how Facebook made money off children will be made public, a federal judge ruled late Monday in response to requests from Reveal.

A glimpse into the soon-to-be-released records shows Facebook’s own employees worried they were bamboozling children who racked up hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars in game charges. And the company failed to provide an effective way for unsuspecting parents to dispute the massive charges, according to internal Facebook records.

And:

When the bill came, his mom requested Facebook refund the money, saying she never authorized any charges beyond the original $20. But the company never refunded any money, forcing the family to file a lawsuit in pursuit of a refund.

And:

In one of the unsealed documents, two Facebook employees deny a refund request from a child whom they refer to as a “whale” – a term coined by the casino industry to describe profligate spenders. The child had entered a credit card number to play a game, and in about two weeks racked up thousands of dollars in charges, according to an excerpt of messages between two employees at the social media giant.

It’s like letting a child into a Vegas casino with their parents’ credit card, then sending the parent into a maze of twisty passages if they wanted a refund. This whole thing is awful.

FXGuide:

The film’s genus lies in two key choices: firstly, the film makers did not hide away from the fact that there have been so many different tellings of the Spider-Man story previously, but rather embraced it. Secondly, they designed an original comic book visual style unlike any other film. Together these elements have been perfectly combined to produce a surprisingly original film that delivers the most inventive visuals seen this year.

This is amazingly informative. Each section of the article starts with a panel that shows off a specific technique, then digs into what went into making that look so compelling.

What a great movie.

[H/T @brisance]

Edward C. Baig, USA Today:

Apple and Johnson & Johnson are teaming up on a study to determine whether the latest Apple Watch, in conjunction with an app from the pharmaceutical company, can accelerate the diagnosis of a leading cause of stroke.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that causes about 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations each year in the U.S., Johnson & Johnson said. Up to 30 percent of cases go undiagnosed until life-threatening complications occur. Worldwide, about 33 million people have the condition.

And:

Burton believes “the study has the potential to show that there is a lot more atrial fibrillation out there in the real world in older people than we ever imagined, and if you use a tool like an Apple Watch to detect and funnel people to care, you can really drive down stroke risk in those patients.

So what does AFib have to do with stroke? From this article from the National Stroke Association:

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) affects an estimated 2.2 million people in the U.S. AFib is a type of irregular heartbeat, often caused when the two upper chambers of the heart beat unpredictably and sometimes rapidly. These irregular heartbeats can cause blood to collect in the heart and potentially form a clot, which can travel to a person’s brain and cause a stroke.

I do get how the Apple Watch can detect AFib. Not clear exactly what additional role the Apple Watch will have in predicting/preventing stroke. But that’s what the study’s for.

Recode, summarizing a detailed letter Netflix sent out to shareholders:

At the end of December, Netflix said that 45 million people had watched Bird Box, a Netflix-owned thriller starring Sandra Bullock that came out just before Christmas.

That is a ridiculous number. Compare that to the viewing numbers for one of the most watched shows on cable, Game of Thrones. From The Telegraph:

Game of Thrones has long smashed records for HBO, the cable network it is broadcast on in its native US: it beat The Sopranos as the network’s most-watched series ever in 2015, after crossing the 18.2 million viewers-per-episode mark.

But that’s small fry in comparison to the average 31 million viewers per episode that season seven has witnessed, an 24 per cent increase on 2016’s ratings.

Think about this. Bird Box is new. It has no lead-in, no history, not much in the way of marketing. And it crushed Game of Thrones. Right out of the box. Because Netflix.

The Academy Awards, which was one of the few high-water mark audiences on network television, had 26.5 million viewers last year. At its absolute height, it hit 46 million viewers. Bird Box out of the gate numbers.

And:

Netflix says that Bird Box, which was released late last year, added another 35 million households in the first four weeks after its release, bringing its total audience to 80 million households.

And:

Netflix says that both You, a young-adultish thriller, and Sex Education, another show with a young-adult bent, should each reach 40 million households in their first four weeks on the service.

Apple has the right idea, I think. They have the distribution, already in place. Only question is, can they build compelling content? And, to me, that comes down to picking the right partners.

January 17, 2019

Global News:

Skygazers are set to be treated to a total lunar eclipse this weekend, on top of a “super blood wolf moon.”

The cosmic event is the convergence of a few stellar lunar events — an eclipse coinciding with a supermoon turning an eerie blood red.

The eclipse will be visible to much of the Western Hemisphere, including Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America on Sunday, Jan. 20, and finish early Monday, Jan. 21 (ET time).

Ignoring all the silly qualifiers, this will be a pretty incredible event, especially for those of us on the West Coast of North America. Sadly for us here in the Vancouver area, the forecast is for rain Sunday evening.

Jeremy Burge did some side-by-side low light shots, showing the iPhone camera vs Android’s Night Sight. Scroll through the tweets below:

To me, this is my iPhone camera’s biggest weakness, the one feature that tempts me to carry a Pixel 3, just for the ability to capture better low light images.

Google has a fantastic writeup on Night Sight in this blog post. Jump to the section titled “Capturing the Data” for the details.

As you make your way through the Twitter thread, don’t miss the interaction between Jeremy and Rene Ritchie. It’s not clear that my iPhone is not capable of producing similar, or even superior low light images. It may be simply that Apple chose not to ship a low-light mode that did not deliver pictures that met their standards. But as is, I’d rather have the oversaturated Night Sight images than ones that were simply dark.

Rene Ritchie lays out his vision for the future of iOS. Some great ideas here. My favorite (and I’ve been cheering for this concept for a while now):

Lock Screen Complications

Apple Watch provides rich, on-demand information, through complications. With them, not just the time, day and date, but everything from the temperature to your next appointment, stock prices to your current activity level are instantly, glance-ably available. And so are the apps behind them, both the ones made by Apple and many from the App Store.

A variety of Android phones do this as well. Some persistently through always-on displays.

Unlike notifications, which bring event-based information to you as it happens, complications are just always there, chill, hanging out, available whenever you want them. And that makes for a huge improvement in convenience.

If Apple delivers just one thing from Rene’s wish list, customizable iPhone lock screen complications would top my list.

Even if you don’t have a single bit of developer in you, this is a fascinating look at an Apple product that never made the official catalog.

A taste, from the beginning of Stephen Hackett’s MacStories writeup:

In his keynote introducing the switch to Intel, Steve Jobs introduced the weirdest Mac of all time: the Apple Developer Transition Kit.

After announcing the change, Jobs revealed a secret. The Mac he had been using to demo software all morning actually had a 3.6 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor inside.

Needless to say, the crowd went wild.

Great read.

This is a really well organized list of habits and resources to improve your online privacy and security. Spend a few minutes just scanning the list. Are you following these habits? If not, dig in a bit, follow the links.

And that thing about freezing your credit? Sound advice.

Christine Chan, iMore:

When you charge your iPhone in the Smart Battery Case, the iPhone will usually have priority when normal or fast charging. Once the iPhone reaches about 80 percent charged, the charging is split and allocated to the Smart Battery Case instead. However, if you use a power adapter that can provide more power, such as a MacBook Pro USB-C power adapter, then it can fast charge both the iPhone and Smart Battery Case at the same time. What has priority depends on how much power is being taken in.

Good to know.

Tim Cook, writing for Time Magazine:

That’s why I and others are calling on the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation—a landmark package of reforms that protect and empower the consumer. Last year, before a global body of privacy regulators, I laid out four principles that I believe should guide legislation:

First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge—to know what data is being collected and why. Third, the right to access. Companies should make it easy for you to access, correct and delete your personal data. And fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.

And:

One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer—something most of us have done. But what the retailer doesn’t tell you is that it then turned around and sold or transferred information about your purchase to a “data broker”—a company that exists purely to collect your information, package it and sell it to yet another buyer.

The trail disappears before you even know there is a trail. Right now, all of these secondary markets for your information exist in a shadow economy that’s largely unchecked—out of sight of consumers, regulators and lawmakers.

I applaud Tim’s efforts here. But this road is a difficult one. Just think about all the efforts made to prevent spam, both in your email, and via your phone.

The national do-not-call registry was a solid idea. But it lacked teeth. Like most people, I still regularly get phone calls from spammers and scammers, some spoofing local numbers to make me think the call is from someone I know.

Ridding ourselves of the spammers and scammers takes legislation with teeth. Ridding ourselves of behind the scenes data-brokers will take the same.

Again, I applaud the effort, but it won’t be easy. As always, follow the money. If what you want to get rid of is enriching someone, they’ll use that money to hamper your efforts, via lobbying and political donations. Fortunately, in this case, Apple has deep enough pockets to make a difference here.

Go get ’em Tim.

January 16, 2019

Wired:

If you use social media, you’ve probably noticed a trend across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter of people posting their then-and-now profile pictures, mostly from 10 years ago and this year.

In various versions of the meme, people were instructed to post their first profile picture alongside their current profile picture, or a picture from 10 years ago alongside their current profile picture. So, yes: These profile pictures exist, they’ve got upload time stamps, many people have a lot of them, and for the most part they’re publicly accessible.

But let’s play out this idea.

We’ve mentioned often here how we give up way too much data voluntarily. Some of it, like this “challenge”, while seemingly innocent, may actually be sneaky and insidious.

Tom Bridge:

I bought my Apple Watch Series 4 when Apple announced it this summer, an upgrade from my Series 2. I was attracted by the fall detection (I’m an award-winning accident prone fellow) and also by the new ECG feature. I have a family history of atrial fibrillation, and I’m now 40, so some precautions seemed wise.

This afternoon, I was helping a client move offices, mostly just deconstructing a simple network rack and moving access points into new space. I was doing some physical work, but nothing anyone would mistake for exercise. But, then I felt it. My heart was pounding. I got dizzy. Tunnel vision. I had to sit down.

We’ve heard a lot of these stories and we’ll hear a lot more. If nothing else, the Apple Watch is making many more people much more aware of the overall health and well being. I know it’s already helped me lose weight and I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks.

lifehacker:

Adobe appears to have upset a number of users with another price increase for its app subscriptions. While the hit only appears to be targeting specific countries at this point—you’re spared, North American users—there’s no reason to think that you won’t have to pay more to subscribe to an Adobe app (or its whole suite of creative apps) at some future point.

I created this list of 27 good alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps based on what people appeared to be excited about.

This is a great list for those of you who are looking for and can use alternative apps. There are a couple of apps I’m going to test out for color grading my drone footage.

The insurers are exploring ways to subsidize the cost of the device for those who can’t afford the $279 price tag, which is the starting cost of an older model. The latest version of the device, which includes the most extensive health features including fall detection and an electrocardiogram to measure the heart’s rhythm, retails for a minimum of $399, which many seniors could benefit from but can’t afford.

This makes perfect sense for Apple. The health features of the Apple Watch continue to help people of all ages and save lives. Getting these devices into the hands of seniors is the right thing to do for all involved.

Composer, sound designer Joel Corelitz has a gift for you. It’s a collection of music he created that is free for you to use in your own projects.

Bookmark the page, as I suspect this collection will grow over time, and you never know when the need will strike.

Pull up Siri and ask these two things:

  • How many days since December 17th?

and:

  • How many days since December 17th, 2018?

You’ll get two different responses. Now go read the linked post. Very interesting.