May 29, 2017


The Newton proved to be a flop, but its impact was huge. The product marked the beginning of a dark era for Apple, one in which the company nearly went bankrupt. Without those struggles, there’s a good chance Steve Jobs doesn’t return to Apple in 1997. With no Jobs back at Apple, who knows what happens to products like the iPod or iPhone.

A lot of the things we use today came from the Newton.

May 28, 2017

World’s heaviest weight

This is really geeky and really cool.

May 27, 2017

Ars Technica:

Almost 10 years ago, journalist David Kushner had a chance to interview Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the two creators of Dungeons & Dragons, before they died. Kushner’s reporting became a story for Wired, and now he’s expanded the scope of his tale into a graphic novel. Rise of the Dungeon Master, beautifully illustrated by Koren Shadmi, is both a moving portrait of two creative outsiders and a chronicle of how a new kind of storytelling changed pop culture forever.

Kushner recounts the story of Gygax and Arneson in the second person, addressing the reader as if Kushner were the dungeon master. “You” are young Gygax, the child of immigrants growing up in the midwest, seeking escape from ordinary life by exploring the wilderness, hunting, and eventually learning to break into an old, abandoned asylum. The narrative technique sounds gimmicky, but it works: you’re sucked into the story and into immediate sympathy with Gygax as he traces his fascination with adventure games back to his childhood, when he climbed around in the maze of tunnels below the creepy asylum’s rotting rooms.

I would love to read this not just for the story telling style of a graphic novel but because, even in middle age, I have a soft spot for D&D and would play it again this weekend if I could.


Shortly after I published my Cartography Comparison last June, I noticed Google updating some of the areas we had focused on. Coincidence or not, it was interesting. And it made me wonder what else would change, if we kept watching. Would Google keep adding detail? And would Apple, like Google, also start making changes?

So I wrote a script that takes monthly screenshots of Google and Apple Maps. And thirteen months later, we now have a year’s worth of images.

Some very interesting and very geeky comparisons between the two mapping services. I can confirm what he says about TomTom. My motorcycle GPS is a TomTom and frankly, it’s often not very good.

Washington Post:

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.

The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.

To say the very least, this is incredibly creepy.

May 26, 2017

CNN: > Lauren Kern will leave her role as executive editor of New York Magazine on June 2nd for the Cupertino-based company, New York Magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Moss announced on Wednesday in a staff memo obtained by CNN. >

“I am not happy to report that we are losing our beloved Lauren Kern to the Apple corporation,” Moss wrote. “I mean, I’m happy for Lauren certainly. It’s an exciting opportunity to be the editor in chief of Apple News, to bring a journalistic vigor and intelligence to an operation that has always seemed to me so full of promise.”

This broadening and focusing the scope of Apple News will be interesting to watch.

Apple video: Earth Day 2017

Much respect for your environmental efforts, Apple.

It always amazes me when I see artists using the iPad and Apple Pencil to make illustrations like this. There is a video on the page showing how the cover was made.

Thanks to Letter Opener for sponsoring The Loop this week.

Letter Opener for macOS

Working together with Windows users shouldn’t be problematic at all. Still, some email messages can not be natively read by the Mac and are packed into Winmail.dat or MSG files that have to be extracted and displayed somehow. Letter Opener for macOS does that with a simple double-click!

Letter Opener for macOS Mail

The plugin to stop the Winmail.dat file flood for good.

If Winmail.dat files are a reoccurring problem, Letter Opener for macOS Mail is the solution. Installed into Mail it opens and displays the files directly inside Apples Mail application, so the user can forget about Winmail.dat files entirely.

Use coupon code ROCKET88 for 30% off Letter Opener for macOS Mail.

May 25, 2017


Apple today added a new events page to its main website, confirming that its June 5 Worldwide Developers Conference will be live streamed and available to watch on the Apple website and through the Apple TV.

Apple previously said it would provide a live stream of the Worldwide Developers Conference through its Apple Developer website and through the WWDC app, but the new event page makes it clear the keynote event will be available for all to watch even without a developer account.

Expect big things.

This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere. I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at The Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.

Cheers, Walt!

Free tickets for my WWDC party are now available

I’m very happy to announce that free tickets for my WWDC party are now available. With the generous help of our sponsors iMore,, MacPaw, and Pixelmator, this year’s party is going to be bigger than ever!

The party will be held on June 5, 2017 from 8:00pm – 12:00am at the National Civic Center in San Jose, California. It’s directly across the street from WWDC.

Dubbed the Beard Bash (because I have a big beard, and no, you don’t have to have one to attend), this party is a way to say thanks for all the great work developers, designers, and others in this industry do every day. This is an all ages event, so anyone can attend.

We will have a live band called The Department of Rock playing throughout the night.

Thanks to our sponsors, we will provide free beer and wine for all attendees of legal drinking age. You will need to show ID in order to get a wrist band when you enter the venue. Other beverages will be available to purchase.

When you register for a ticket, you will receive an email confirmation with your RSVP. You must bring that to the party so it can be scanned before you enter. Each ticket allows one person to enter. For your convenience, there is a link in the confirmation email to add your RSVP to your Apple Wallet.

I have posted an FAQ about the party if you have questions.

I hope you enjoy the party—go get your ticket!

Sir Jony succeeds Sir James Dyson OM, Provost of the College (2011–17), as this key honorary role is renamed. The Chancellor is head of the College, presiding over meetings of the Court, a member of its governing body, Council, and conferring degrees at Convocation. Baroness Gail Rebuck remains Chair of Council and becomes Pro-Chancellor of the university. The posts of Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor are non-salaried.

Congrats, Jony.

Nearly a quarter of American adults sold or traded in a vehicle in the last 12 months, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll published on Thursday, with most getting another car. But 9 percent of that group turned to ride services like Lyft Inc and Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] as their main way to get around.

About the same percentages said they planned to dispose of cars and turn to ride services in the upcoming 12 months.

This makes a lot of sense in urban areas and for people that don’t like to drive. I enjoy driving, so I wouldn’t do that, but it seems to be a growing trend.


In a new study comparing the accuracy of seven different fitness trackers, the Apple Watch was found to have the lowest margin of error when measuring heart rate, beating the Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and Samsung Gear S2.

Researchers set out to determine the accuracy of wrist-worn devices at measuring both heart rate and energy expenditure, aka calories burned via physical activity. 60 volunteers participated, including 29 males and 31 females, each of whom wore several fitness trackers and completed activities like cycling, running, and walking.

If these numbers are important to you (and they are for a lot of people), it’s good to know the Apple Watch comes out ahead.


Last week at the Google I/O developer conference, Google announced a raft of forthcoming additions to its Google Photos service. Since Google Photos runs on iOS and in any web browser, it’s a serious photo-storage option for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users—and in many ways, it’s way ahead of Apple’s Photos apps and iCloud Photo Library service.

Then again, WWDC—Apple’s own developer conference—is in just two weeks. It’s an opportunity for Apple to declare where it’s taking Photos and iCloud Photo Library next. In the meantime, though, it’s worth pointing out where Google Photos is beating Apple’s offerings, and where Apple’s ahead—and how WWDC could be poised to change both sides of the equation.

I don’t use either to manage my photos. Any Loopers want to weigh in on their particular pros and cons?

The Sweet Setup:

You don’t have to wear a tin foil hat to understand the benefit of removing GPS info from your photos. In this workflow post, we’ll show you how to remove this metadata from your photos on both your Mac and iOS devices.

Removing GPS data on your Mac is simple to do with the built-in Preview app. You can also remove GPS info from photos on your iOS device, but you’ll need a third-party app in order to do so.

My life is an open book so I don’t care about the GPS data on my photos but many people do have legitimate concerns. These are easy steps to take.

May 24, 2017

The Dalrymple Report: With guest James Dempsey

James Dempsey joins me this week to talk about his event happening during the week of WWDC. James shares some stories about his time attending WWDC, from singing his first song on stage during the conference, to what it’s like being a developer and attending WWDC.


Show Info / Tickets

James Dempsey and the Breakpoints Album

Subscribe to this podcast


Cone is a beautifully designed iOS app that uses the phone’s camera to pick Pantone colors from the world around you.

The $2.49 app samples colors along with their Pantone name in real-time. Cone is a very handy way to create satisfying color palettes from real life scenes, and it also provides the hex color values for use in web or graphic design.

I don’t know that I have a use for this app but it’s a very clever implementation.

Chaos Computer Club blog:

Biometric authentication systems – again – don’t deliver on their security promise: The iris recognition system of the new Samsung Galaxy S8 was successfully defeated by hackers of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). A video demonstrates how the simple technique works.

The video is embedded below (with a German voiceover). This seems incredibly easy to replicate. Did Samsung even try to break their own iris recognition system?

Sigh. Oh, Samsung. [H/T Robert Davey]

The new Microsoft Surface Pro: What that $799 price really means

Microsoft just rolled out the latest and greatest version of its Surface tablet/laptop hybrid, branded as the Surface Pro. Here’s a link to the official Surface Pro product page.

Much has been made about the Surface Pro’s price of $799. But what do you get for your money?

The $799 Surface Pro ships with:

  • Intel® Core™ m3 processor
  • 128GB SSD
  • 4GB RAM
  • Intel® HD Graphics 615

That’s a pretty bare-bones machine. Apple’s cheapest machine (the $999 MacBook Air) comes with 8GB of RAM. I can’t imagine using a modern version of Windows or macOS with less than 8GB. Let’s tweak that so we can compare apples with Apples.

Bumping the Surface Pro to a minimally livable (in my opinion) 8GB brings the price to $1299. There’s just no cheaper way to get to 8GB without bumping the processor up to the Intel® Core™ i5, which is the same processor in the $999 MacBook Air. To be fair, these are different processor and screen generations, but the price bump from $799 to $1299 to get to 8GB is an important factor.

If you are considering buying a Surface Pro, take a few minutes to step through the configurations and compare the specs with the MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro. And keep in mind the inherent differences between Windows and macOS.

Apple press release:

Apple today launched a new app development curriculum designed for students who want to pursue careers in the fast-growing app economy. The curriculum is available as a free download today from Apple’s iBooks Store.

App Development with Swift is a full-year course designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach students elements of app design using Swift, one of the world’s most popular programming languages. Students will learn to code and design fully functional apps, gaining critical job skills in software development and information technology.

Here’s a link to Apple’s Everyone Can Code page.

And here’s a link to the ECC curriculum in iTunes.

Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac:

Apple’s head of Worldwide Human Resources Denise Young Smith will now run diversity programs for the company under a newly created VP position, according to sources familiar with the move. The executive shuffle will see the creation of a new VP role for Apple’s Inclusion and Diversity team with Smith reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook. Sources say Smith has long had a passion for diversity initiatives at the company and the newly created position reflects an increased focus on the company’s efforts.


Smith has been at Apple for over 20 years and was first promoted to VP of worldwide HR back in 2014 from her previous role as head of HR for just Apple’s retail stores, a role that Steve Jobs handpicked her for during the early days of Apple’s retail efforts.


Yes, this is an hourglass. You turn it over and it measures out 10 minutes as the particles inside run through the small hole in the center of the glass. But that’s where the similarities with hourglasses you know end. It’s hard to think of a simple object hiding more complexity than this one.

You start off thinking, “Well, this is stupid. It’s just an hourglass.” You read more and think, “Kinda cool design though.” Then you get to the price and think, “There are 100 people out there with more money than sense….”

May 23, 2017


Travel Mode is a new feature we’re making available to everyone with a 1Password membership. It protects your 1Password data from unwarranted searches when you travel. When you turn on Travel Mode, every vault will be removed from your devices except for the ones marked “safe for travel.” All it takes is a single click to travel with confidence.

I think we’ll see more companies implement these kinds of security features in their apps.

The Verge:

The steady rise of the company’s profile is proof that it’s possible to meet one very specific consumer need and ride that wave as it continues to ripple out to other markets. A majority of Anker’s sales come from cables and wall chargers, and it’s now moving into the smart home and auto market — anywhere a plug and a cable can solve a problem.

Yang saw a desire for a better type of accessory — one that wouldn’t cost as much as a replacement straight from the original manufacturer, but that would be of a high enough quality to earn consumers’ trust.

I have a couple of Anker cables and battery packs. I think they are very good quality and certainly cheaper than the ones I’ve bought from Apple.

Apple has settled a patent dispute with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to buy more of its network products and services, sending Nokia shares up 7 percent.

I’m surprised this was settled so quickly.

“Today at Apple”

Looks like fun.


If you’ve never tried Spotify Premium, you can get three months for just $1 for a limited time. That’s three months of no ads, better sound quality, offline listening, and full mobile access.

The usual caveats apply: Only for US-based customers and only for those who have never signed up before.

Apple Watch versus GPS reference clock

Watch the video embedded below on a big screen if you can, so you can really see the movement of the Apple Watch second hand. Not sure I’d expect anything different, but there is something quite satisfying watching the digital and analog line up so precisely.

[H/T Mac Kung Fu]