August 25, 2016

Frightening.

Google:

We went there so you can too.Follow rangers on a journey to places most people never go. Experience the sights, sounds, and adventures of Kenai Fjords, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon, and Dry Tortugas in stunning 360° video.

The teaser video above is gorgeous but take some time to go to the full videos. Utterly spectacular and in honor of this month’s 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service.

If you like to know exactly what Apple did to improve security in the latest update, you can read this update on the company’s Web site.

Alicia Keys, Bastille, Britney Spears, Calvin Harris, Chance the Rapper, Elton John, Michael Bublé, OneRepublic, Robbie Williams and The 1975.

Those are the headliners for the festival. Elton John!

Important to note that in order to watch the festival, you will need to sign-up for Apple Music. That wasn’t a requirement in the past. Seems like just another way to boost subscriptions, but it’s a numbers game these days.

Verge:

Microsoft has released a big update for its Word Flow keyboard on the iPhone this week. The biggest addition is a new search interface that lets you find GIFs, emoji, images, contacts, and anything from Bing search results without leaving the keyboard. Microsoft’s GIF search feature copies the animated pictures into your clipboard, allowing you to paste them in. Word Flow will even pick out GIFs from words you type, so if you say “deal with it” in a message you’ll get a GIF icon that brings up the relevant image.

Interesting to see the keyboard as a point of search competition between Google and Bing.

A final tour of NYC’s “Original Apple Store”

The doors closed for good yesterday. Terrific video by Gizmodo, sad to see this day come.

MacRumors:

An Apple collector who was selling his vintage Apple software collection on eBay received a surprise earlier this month when Apple itself bought out much of his software inventory for its software archives (via MacGeneration).

According to seller “Marcoguy,” he made several listings of various Apple CDs and received a message from someone asking to buy a dozen discs. When he went to ship the package, he noticed it was going to 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, Apple’s corporate address. Upon asking the buyer about the purchase, he was told that Apple maintains a lab at its headquarters containing archived materials. “We were missing some of the disks that you placed on eBay,” wrote the buyer.

Fascinating.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc., seeking to capitalize on the popularity of social networks, is developing a video sharing and editing application and is testing new related features for its iPhone and iPad operating systems.

The early plans are part of a newly directed focus to integrate social networking applications within Apple’s mobile products and are a response to the success of social media-focused companies such as Facebook Inc. and Snapchat Inc., according to people familiar with Apple’s strategy. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

And:

Now Apple is starting to develop a video sharing app that allows users to record video, apply filters and drawings to the media — much like Snapchat does — and send it to contacts or via existing social networks such as Twitter Inc., according to the people familiar with its development. The software is currently being designed to be used mostly with one hand and with the intention that video could be shot, edited, and uploaded in less than 1 minute, the people said. At least one of the prototype designs for the app would shoot video in an Instagram-like square shape, one of the people said.

It’s easy to be skeptical when you read Apple and social in the same sentence. Brings back memories of Ping and Connect and the potential of what could have been. But photo and video have long been in Apple’s sweet spot. Getting social right is tough, a bit like catching lightning in a bottle.

No matter, if and when this emerges from the secret lab, sign me up.

Love Xcode? Now you can drive one.

[H/T Adrian Kosmaczewski]

Emojipedia:

Unicode this month released a draft update to TR-51, or in human terms, the document that describes what’s-what’s what in emoji standards.

This draft is for Unicode Emoji Version 4.0: an update to Unicode’s emoji documentation which can be released outside of the annual Unicode Standard release schedule.

Five notable additions:

  • Gendered Emojis
  • New Professional Emojis
  • New Flags
  • Emoji Upgrades to Non-Emoji Characters
  • Additional Skin Tone Support

Read the original post for full details.

Terrific tweet-storm. Incredibly galling. Makes me wonder what’s lurking in the cavernous depths of my Mac.

Wired:

Google is in the midst of rolling out its newest mobile operating system, Android N, and with it comes a new logo. And it looks maybe a little … familiar? The N that folds over itself like a piece of ribbon? Graphic design trends—like all trends, really—come and go. And right now designers can’t get enough of these 3-D visual identities. Look around and you’ll begin to notice colorful, angular graphics that wrap around and fold over themselves like materials from a craft store.

Follow the link, scroll through the sequence of logos. There’s definitely a trend emerging here.

August 24, 2016

Orcas hunting seal, seal jumps in boat

We were out with the family looking for whales and a pod of 12 transient killer whales were chasing the seal. It ripped towards the boat in a desperate escape and scrambled on the deck. It fell off three times in panic and finally stayed on until the whales gave up after about 30-45 minutes. Most intense epic experience ever.

He thinks it was intense for him and his passengers. Imagine how that poor little seal felt.

The Washington Post:

A new book called “New Deal Photography. USA 1935-1943“ (Taschen, 2016) brings together a comprehensive survey of the work done by the FSA, including that more rarely seen color work. From street scenes to pictures of field laborers and train yards, these images show us what the United States looked like in a bygone era, one rife with economic struggle. Here are a few of the incredible images produced by photographers Marion Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, John Vachon, Fenno Jacobs and Russell Lee.

We’ve all seen these kinds of images in black and white but the color photos are just as interesting. What’s even more interesting to me is the comparisons to small towns I’ve ridden through in the US South. You still see these kinds of buildings and signage.

Ars Technica:

Airlander 10’s second test flight, which took place this morning, ended with the giant airship nosediving into the ground. The cockpit was damaged, but Hybrid Air Vehicles says the crew members are “safe and well.”

HAV told Ars that the flight lasted for 100 minutes and that it “completed all the planned tasks.” HAV said the incident was not an unplanned dealtitudinal craft-terrafirma conflict, but rather “a heavy landing” as the craft returned to Cardington Airfield.

Hard to describe this giant, ungainly looking aircraft’s end of flight as a crash. More like a bouncy castle coming to earth too rapidly.

This is a feature I’m really looking forward to using. I haven’t slept well in many years, so it will be interesting to me to try to get on a schedule and track my patterns. Using the fitness rings and other health features in Apple Watch and iPhone have worked really good for me, so I’m confident this will help me too.

Backchannel:

This story of Siri’s transformation, revealed for the first time here, might raise an eyebrow in much of the artificial intelligence world. Not that neural nets improved the system — of course they would do that — but that Apple was so quietly adept at doing it. Until recently, when Apple’s hiring in the AI field has stepped up and the company has made a few high-profile acquisitions, observers have viewed Apple as a laggard in what is shaping up as the most heated competition in the industry: the race to best use those powerful AI tools.

While other companies do their innovation in public, Apple has always been very good at making things behind the scenes and only releasing them when they are ready for the general public to use.

New York Times:

The words are stenciled on the front of the Apple Store, a glass box sandwiched between a nondescript Thai restaurant and a CVS pharmacy in downtown Palo Alto: “This store runs on 100 percent renewable energy.”

If Apple’s plans play out, it will be able to make that claim not only for its operations throughout California but also beyond, as the company aims to meet its growing needs for electricity with green sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

And:

The motives may be economic as much as they are environmental. As a wholesaler, Apple could reduce the cost of its electricity load, which reached 831 million kilowatt-hours in the last fiscal year — enough to power about 76,000 homes for a year. But like a growing number of corporations, Apple is intent on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production — one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

If Apple can run all its operations, all of them, on 100 percent renewable energy, that would set the bar for all other companies. If one of the largest companies in the world can do this, you should do all you can to reach this level as well.

CBS Denver:

Jeannine Sedlacek has battled with rheumatoid arthritis since she was an infant. Getting around can take a lot of effort, especially her trips to the library just so she can access the internet.

“The only way I can get around is by bus,” she said.

You can imagine how happy she was to hear about a new pilot program launched by Denver Public Library, which offers free, unlimited high-speed internet to patrons through certain Wi-Fi hotspots.

The hotspots can be checked out like a book for up to three weeks.

I love this idea.

In a nutshell, ask Siri a question on your Mac, then tap the plus sign (upper right corner of the results) to add those results to Notification Center. They’ll stick around until you delete them (tap the x in the upper right corner).

Great tip.

John Gruber:

In December 2012, I started a company with my friends Brent Simmons and Dave Wiskus. We named it Q Branch. In June 2013, we launched our first and only product: an iPhone notes app called Vesper.

Yesterday, we announced that development was ceasing, and we’ll soon be shutting down our sync server. I am terribly sad about this. I love Vesper. I use it every day. I mean that in the present tense. I still use it. When we pull the plug on the sync server, I’ll stop, but until then it’s my go-to notes app. In my career, the only things I’ve done that I’m prouder of are writing Daring Fireball and the creation of Markdown.

What went wrong was very simple. We never made enough money. Why we didn’t make enough money, what we should have done differently to make more money — those are complex questions (which I’ll tackle below).

A transparent look at the business of selling an iOS app in modern times, one that anyone with even the slightest interest in app development should read with great interest. A cautionary tale.

Speed test: Last year’s iPhone 6s vs. Samsung’s just released Galaxy Note 7

Should be no contest, right? The iPhone 6s was released almost exactly a year ago and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was just released.

Nope. The iPhone 6s absolutely smokes the Note 7. Watch for yourself.

MacRumors:

Upon reaching the five-year mark, Cook has today unlocked previously awarded stock bonuses currently worth over $100 million. The bonuses are tied to both his tenure and Apple’s performance under his leadership, including its total shareholder return relative to the S&P 500 index.

Cook’s bonus includes 700,000 tenure-based restricted stock units that vested today as part of a larger compensation package of over 4.7 million shares awarded on August 24, 2011, in addition to his first of six annual installments of 280,000 tenure-based restricted stock units that vested today. The combined 980,000 shares are valued at nearly $106.7 million based on AAPL’s closing price of $108.85 on Tuesday.

Helluva day for Mr. Cook. Buy yourself something nice.

Terrific piece from The Telegraph, an objective look at Apple then and now, from Tim Cook’s first day as CEO through today, with lots of charts and infographics that really tell the tale.

Five years ago today, Steve Jobs officially passed the CEO torch on to Tim Cook. From the Wall Street Journal:

Now Apple is the world’s largest company by market value and remains one of the most influential. Its $53 billion in net income last year was greater than the combined earnings of technology behemoths Facebook Inc., Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Apple recently sold its billionth iPhone.

Let that soak in. These are amazing accomplishments, proud laurels for any CEO, especially when you consider that Apple has, at the same time, fought harder than most large companies for social and environmental change.

At the same time, though, Apple’s growth is slowing, its stock is stagnating and it is facing more concerns than ever about its future. Underscoring all of this is one key question that Mr. Cook will likely never escape: Are Apple’s best days behind it?

That second paragraph is indeed key. Not the question, but the phrase “will likely never escape”. Five years in, and Tim Cook is still looked upon suspiciously, as an interloper riding on Steve Jobs’ coattails. Sadly, for many, that will never change.

August 23, 2016

The Verge:

NASA has reestablished contact with its STEREO-B spacecraft, nearly two years after losing communication with the vehicle. The space agency has been trying to get in contact with the spacecraft since October 1st, 2014, when the last signal from STEREO-B was received on Earth. Finally on Sunday, NASA was able to pick up a signal from the vehicle using the Deep Space Network, or DSN — an international network of large radio antennas used for communicating with spacecraft.

Why does this feel like the beginning of a sci-fi horror movie?

With SampleTank for iOS, you now have the power of desktop virtual instruments — without compromise — with a massive number of over 1,900 high-quality instruments and the most advanced sound and groove workstation for the mobile platform.

IK Multimedia makes some great stuff for musicians on iOS.

Tesla Motors Inc. is adding versions of its Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle with a more powerful battery pack that the company said makes the Model S the world’s quickest production car and gives it range of 315 miles on a single charge.

Tesla said it can go from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds.

Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at the New York Times and other US news organizations, according to US officials briefed on the matter.

I wonder what they were looking for at media organizations.

Janice Gervais wrote a great article about asking the right questions of your client, and understanding why it’s important to have a clear picture.