November 22, 2014

My sincere thanks to FoundSounds for sponsoring The Loop’s RSS feed this week.FoundSounds is a unique new mobile app blurring the line between a social network and a collaborative art project. The premise is simple: if you find a sound you like, record it and share it with the world. Recordings are geotagged, and you can browse them by scrolling through a timeline or exploring a map. You can also construct sound collages that create intriguing sonic geographies. If enough sounds have been recorded in your area, consider taking a sound walk, which allows you to listen to recordings made near you. Walking past a concert venue would allow you to hear previous performances from that location, while passing by a new building would trigger the sounds of its construction. The vision of FoundSounds is to create a space where people can listen to sounds they might not normally hear. FoundSounds costs $0.99, the same as the price of a song on iTunes. FoundSounds is available on the iOS app store now.

MythBusters’ brilliant take on Gorilla Glass

Watch as MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman take on Gorilla Glass, the super strong glass that protects your mobile phone.

First things first, know up front that the video below was produced for Corning. But that said, I found it incredibly fun to watch and I learned a lot along the way.

There are two parts to this video. Part one is here. But to me, the more interesting of the two is the one below, the one that focuses on the compressive strength technology that makes Gorilla Glass so strong. Enjoy!

[h/t Stu Mark]

As a reminder, Aereo built a series of antenna farms to gather local US TV broadcasts, then attempted to build a business based on rebroadcasting those signals over the net.

But we encountered significant challenges from the incumbent media companies.

While we had significant victories in the federal district courts in New York and Boston and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the reversal of the Second Circuit decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court has proven difficult to overcome. The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo’s technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome.

Accordingly, today, we filed for Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings.

You can read the full letter from Aereo on their new front page.

November 21, 2014

The biggest change for some of you, however, will be that we have decided to remove the commenting function from the site. We thought about this decision long and hard, since we do value reader opinion. But we concluded that, as social media has continued its robust growth, the bulk of discussion of our stories is increasingly taking place there, making onsite comments less and less used and less and less useful.

I’ll admit, I’ve considered this too.

A draft motion seen by the Financial Times says that “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services” should be considered as a potential solution to Google’s dominance. It has the backing of the parliament’s two main political blocs, the European People’s Party and the Socialists.


Apparently, the new iPhones can do it right out of the box.

Dan Goodin for Ars Technica:

As already alluded, the threat stems from the use of the Android clipboard, which acts as a temporary cache for text that is being copied and pasted, either within the same app or from one app to another. Android has no official programming interface that secures the clipboard. By design, its contents are available to any app installed on the phone, from the highest privileged banking app to one with no privileges at all.

Android wins.

Washington Post:

If you have an Android phone, that device may log your location and velocity data. If you have a YouTube account, Google knows not only what videos you upload, but which you watch, too. There’s Google Maps. Google Play. Google Voice, if you use it to transcribe your missed calls. Between Google Contacts and Chat, the site has a pretty good idea who you’re friends with.

And while browsing data is aggregated differently than information from Google services, if you visit sites running Google Ads or Google Analytics software, Google also generally knows what you look at and what you click. According to one report from UC Berkeley’s School of Information, Google can track user behavior on 88 percent of all Internet domains.

Google is in a position of tremendous trust and responsibility. Not sure I can think of any other company that comes close. Facebook? Not quite the same thing. Facebook doesn’t bottleneck as much activity as Google does, in part because Facebook is a specific solution, not a generic solution like Google. As an example, Google handles a tremendous amount of email. Facebook generates email, but does not store it, and much of Facebook’s email traffic travels over Google’s servers.

Ben Einstein on fit and finish:

What happened when Apple wanted to CNC machine a million MacBook bodies a year? They bought 10k CNC machines to do it. How about when they wanted to laser drill holes in MacBook Pros for the sleep light but only one company made a machine that could drill those 20 µm holes in aluminum? It bought the company that made the machines and took all the inventory. And that time when they needed batteries to fit into a tiny machined housing but no manufacturer was willing to make batteries so thin? Apple made their own battery cells. From scratch.

Pretty much no company, big or small, can afford to do these things. Yes, Apple has done a great job building many of these products and yes, consumers have come to love many of these difficult-to-manufacture features. But you are not Apple.

Interesting take on some design elements that require economies of scale that Apple, and almost no other manufacturer, can afford.

Dan Moren, writing for Six Colors:

You’re listening to a song on your Mac when you have to leave the house. And, if you’re anything like me, there are few things more annoying than stopping a song mid-play. Great, now I have a guaranteed earworm for the rest of the day.

Of course, you could queue up the same song on your iPhone, fast forward to the same place in the track, pause it on your Mac, then press play on your iOS device. Just the kind of delightfully smooth experience we’ve come to expect from Apple, right?

Automatic music handoff from one device to another is on my wish list too. And while we are wishing, please add in integration with my favorite podcasting apps.

Know the difference between iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream? Katherine Boehret, writing for re/code, walks you through the basics. Good read.

A while back, I posted this on the BlackBerry/Samsung alliance:

Fantastic idea. It further legitimizes the concept of an enterprise/consumer product partnership and gives enterprise managers a valid alternative to IBM and Apple. And by valid, I mean, who in their right mind would choose Samsung/BlackBerry over Apple/IBM? Where’s the beef in the Samsung/BlackBerry alliance? Certainly not with the malware riddled Android.

This New York Times article calls out a specific piece of malware, but there appear to be many others:

A particularly nasty mobile malware campaign targeting Android users has hit between four million and 4.5 million Americans since January of 2013, according to an estimate by Lookout, a San Francisco mobile security company that has been tracking the malware for about two years.

Lookout first encountered the mobile malware, called NotCompatible, two years ago and has since seen increasingly sophisticated versions. Lookout said it believes, based on attempted infections of its user base of 50 million, that the total number of people who have encountered the malware in the United States exceeds four million.

That’s what I mean by malware-riddled.

That’s the new tag line for the Apple Store’s front page. That text is against a background of two kids surrounded by shadowy, soft-sided fantasy. One object in the picture stands out: a hard-sided, rounded rectangle.

Beautiful work.

November 20, 2014

Like most things on the Web, Dropcaps have been done poorly over the years, but perhaps a new CSS property will help.

But for type lovers, WatchKit contained a nice little surprise: a folder containing 23 different variations of the Apple Watch system font, the first one Apple has designed in-house in almost 20 years. Even better, that typeface finally has a name: San Francisco.

I really like the typeface.

Boston Globe:

More than 6 feet of lake-effect snow was dumped in the Buffalo, N.Y., area over the last few days with reports of more on the way. Storms closed a 100-mile plus section of the New York State Thruway, and the US National Guard has been called in to help dig out.

Some amazing photos included in this story. Being from Canada, I’ve experienced these kinds of snow falls when I was a kid – it was a lot of fun then but as an adult, I’m glad I don’t live somewhere I’d have to deal with this on a regular basis.


There’s no way to anticipate the emotional impact of leaving your home planet. You look down at Earth and realize: You’re not on it. It’s breathtaking. It’s surreal. It’s a “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” kind of feeling. But I’ve spent a total of 55 days in space, over the course of five missions for NASA, and I’ve learned that being out there isn’t just a series of breathtaking moments. It’s a mix of the transcendently magical and the deeply prosaic. It can be crowded, noisy, and occasionally uncomfortable. Space travel—at least the way we do it today—isn’t glamorous. But you can’t beat the view!

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. Hell, I still do.

Tina Roth Eisenberg finds some really interesting things.

More trouble for Sorkin’s homage to Steve Jobs. I do hope this film gets made, does not get butchered. [h/t Stu Mark]


Customers have misused Wal-Mart’s price match promotion to obtain $400 PlayStation 4 consoles for less than a quarter of the retail price using third-party sellers on Amazon.

The company announced on Nov. 13 that it would price-match select online retailers, including

However, any Amazon member with a registered selling account can create authentic looking pages and list items “for sale” online. Consumers need only take a screen capture of the page and show it to a cashier at checkout in order to request the price match.

That’s a helluva scam.

When the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were first released, the PaintCode app folks put together this web page to demystify the various screen sizes and pixel configurations. Great stuff.

But Ole Begemann was not satisfied with that stock analysis. He dug deeper, using a closeup camera rig to take pictures of the iPhone 6 Plus screen doing its downsampling magic. Pretty pictures, and he published all his code on GitHub for folks who want to try this themselves.

Know anyone that uses a remote webcam or baby monitor so they can keep an eye on things while they are not at home? You might want to pass this along.

It’s chilling to think that someone in Russia has access to a webcam placed in a child’s room. Ironic that that device was placed there for safety’s sake.

Apple scrubs the term free from the App Store (mostly)

This past July, the European Commission asked both Google and Apple to implement changes to the way they sell “free” games that contain in-app purchases. Yesterday, Apple unveiled a design change that addresses this ruling.

The first thing you’ll notice is the change from “FREE” to “GET”. Where an app with no upfront cost used to be marked with the word “FREE” instead of a price, it is now marked with the word “GET”. This is not a perfect solution (FREE is a price, GET is an action), but it does the job and I suspect it’s something we’ll stop noticing pretty quickly.

The problem is one of nomenclature. What should Apple call the list of free apps if they can’t use the word free? Apps formerly known as free? A list labeled “Get Apps” would just be confusing.

Apple’s current approach is to leave the word FREE as a list label, with a tiny “In-App Purchases” under the GET price rectangle.

My 2 cents: This all feels very forced. It lacks elegance. Presumably, it is a reaction to the European Commission ruling, a change Apple was forced to make and not a purposeful design implementation.

Could this be the tipping point that brings out a total redesign of the App Store or, perhaps, a stopgap solution put in place because a broader solution was not ready for the masses?

From Intel’s site:

The Code For Good Campaign will help support, CodeClub, and GirlsWhoCode globally to educate, inspire, and equip the next generation of developers with the computing skills they need to pursue 21st century opportunities.

Retweet any of the tweets on the page (here’s one of them) and you’ve done your part.

November 19, 2014

This kind of stuff is amazing and unacceptable.

I’ve seen a lot of people misunderstand what a prototype is. I should send this link to them.

iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 6 Plus split among The Loop readers

Yesterday, John Gruber posted an article on which mobile devices Daring Fireball users were viewing his site with. I thought it was very interesting—interesting enough to take a look at what devices The Loop readers were using. Here’s what I found in Google Analytics:

Device% of Mobile Total
All iPads31%
iPhone 5/5S/5C23%
iPhone 615%
iPhone 6 Plus5%
Older iPhones3%

Interesting article from Jacob Gube.

The report notes that Beats will continue to be a paid service and will likely be rebranded under the iTunes umbrella. The move could come alongside the launch of the Apple Watch, with users able to push Beats music from their iPhones to the wearable device.

This makes perfect sense to me.

On this episode, Jim and I talk about Uber, the Mac’s “Second Act”, how to learn to play guitar and what effects pedals are!

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