April 22, 2017

The Atlantic:

Will you pay more for those shoes before 7 p.m.? Would the price tag be different if you lived in the suburbs? Standard prices and simple discounts are giving way to far more exotic strategies, designed to extract every last dollar from the consumer.

This is the part of online shopping that pisses me off the most – the blatant price gouging and fluctuations based on factors not found in brick and mortar stores.

Adweek:

It’s a conversation that happens across the country—how many times a day? A hundred? A thousand? Warily eyeing middle age bearing down on him, a fella goes out and buys a motorcycle on a whim. He’s plunked down his 10 grand, and he’s had a swell time getting bugs in his teeth out on the open road.

Now there’s just one problem: He hasn’t told his significant other about it.

This squirmy conversation is the topic of the latest advertising spot debuting today from Zero Motorcycles.

It’s a weird ad but funny because I’ve heard these arguments and more made by dozens of potential motorcycle owners trying to convince themselves or their significant other to “let” them have a bike. And if you want some personal views on the Zero electric bike, check out my post on a test ride here.

Galaxy S8 vs 7 Plus vs LG G6 vs Pixel vs 3T speed test

Ultimate Speed Test of Top 5 Smartphones in 2017 So Far! Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs LG G6 vs Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3T!

If speed is all that matters, this video is for you.

April 21, 2017

NPR:

In 2017 alone, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 words to its dictionary. Noah Webster himself might have struggled to define these new English terms — such as binge-watch, humblebrag, photobomb, NSFW, truther, face-palm and listicle.

But language is a “living thing,” says lexicographer Kory Stamper, an associate editor at Merriam-Webster — and it’s constantly shifting in use and meaning.

Adding words to the dictionary sounds mundane but it is actually a fascinating process.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is introducing a program to promote young musicians with a monthlong barrage of videos, playlists and new music, deepening the technology giant’s direct investment in artists through Apple Music.

The first performer to benefit from the Up Next program is 6lack, a 24-year-old Atlanta singer who released his debut album last fall. Apple will promote 6lack’s songs on Apple Music playlists, Beats 1 and the iTunes store. Similar promotions with other artists will follow in the months to come.

Discovering new artists is hard for everyone – listeners and labels alike. Anything that brings awareness to new voices is probably a good thing.

Gizmodo:

An incident report compiled by an Environment Health and Safety contractor working for Apple mistakenly sent to hundreds of Apple employees and leaked to Gizmodo includes tantalizing clues about some of the new products the notoriously secretive tech company may be cooking up. The report includes over 70 different incidents.

There’s a lot more chaff than wheat here but it hasn’t stopped the tech press from losing their minds over what may or may not be hinted at.

Macworld:

I’ll agree that making these apps (which were already provided no charge to people who bought new Macs, iPhone, and iPads) free across the board is largely a positive move. But that decision does have some consequences that could be a downside for end users, developers, and even Apple.

While the concerns are valid, I don’t think Apple looks at it the same way Moren does. Features will get added if Apple wants to add them. Not for any profit or loss reasons. That’s not better than what Moren argues though.

April 20, 2017

A Slovakia-based company unveiled the commercial design for a flying car priced at more than $1 million on Thursday, saying it was ready for pre-orders with first deliveries expected by 2020.

This may surprise some of you, but the flying car concept is not new. The interesting part of the puzzle here will be the regulations that it will have to overcome.

Heartfelt shout-outs to Tim Cook from the Emmys and Oscars stages — how would that sound? Or lest we get too ahead of ourselves, how about a title card that reads “Apple Films” or “An Apple Original Series” in front of your favorite new movie or TV show?

It all has a bit of a ring to it, right?

This is a fascinating read. We all know that Apple is interested in expanding into video, but they are going to have to do something more than a series featuring Dre or Planet of the Apps if they want to be serious about it.

The “Silence of the Lambs” as a romantic comedy

The 1991 classic is such a thrilling crime drama but wouldn’t it be as creepy and (quite frankly) hilarious if Hannibal Lecter fell in love with Detective Starling? No? Well, we think so!

This is almost as creepy as the original. Really well done editing.

Petapixel:

Sony just raised the bar on high-speed sports photography with their latest “groundbreaking” (but actually) camera release. The newly-announced Sony a9 is a 24MP high-end full-frame mirrorless sports camera that can fire off an insane 20fps with no blackout. Sony is calling this “the most technologically advanced, innovative digital camera that [we have] ever created,” and this descriptor doesn’t miss the mark.

With 20fps blackout-free and distortion-free silent shooting, high-speed tracking with 60 AF/AE calculations per second, a 693-point AF system with 93% frame coverage, a 3,686k-dot EVF that runs at 120fps, and 5-axis in-body stabilization that offers up to 5 stops of shake reduction, the camera is looking to challenge entrenched sports cams like the Canon 1DX Mark II and Nikon D5.

The a9 can also shoot full-frame, full-sensor 4K that is actually downsampled from 6K worth of pixels; it features an Ethernet port for quick file transfer and dual SD card slots for plenty of storage; and the new battery Sony put inside boasts twice the capacity (480 shots per charge) of previous models. If you need even more charge, the optional battery grip holds two of these batteries, for a total of 950 shots.

On specs alone, this camera will make many sports shooters drool. The price ($4,500) puts it out of reach of most sane beginners and enthusiasts but the feature set will (slowly) make its way down the Sony line. Regardless, Sony has thrown down the gauntlet to Canon and Nikon.

Xudong Zheng:

Punycode makes it possible to register domains with foreign characters. It works by converting individual domain label to an alternative format using only ASCII characters. For example, the domain “xn--s7y.co” is equivalent to “短.co”.

From a security perspective, Unicode domains can be problematic because many Unicode characters are difficult to distinguish from common ASCII characters. It is possible to register domains such as “xn--pple-43d.com”, which is equivalent to “аpple.com”. It may not be obvious at first glance, but “аpple.com” uses the Cyrillic “а” (U+0430) rather than the ASCII “a” (U+0061). This is known as a homograph attack.

Wow. This is really scary. Take a look at his example of making Apple.com’s URL look correct but end up at a potential phishing site.

Yeah, you can now find and play specific songs. And albums. But, Pandora Premium is so much more than music on-demand. With Premium, you can find the music you love, but maybe more importantly, the music you love finds you. Effortlessly. It adapts to you by using all the signals – thumbs, replays, skips and stations adds – you’ve given us over the years to help curate your Pandora stations. You’ll see it from the moment you open Premium for the first time.

When Pandora Premium launched it was only available for people that directly paid the company. Now you can upgrade to premium if you subscribe through iTunes. I’ve been using it since the day it was released and it does a damn good job of knowing my musical tastes and playing songs that I love.

Funny(ish) Apple Earth Day 2017 videos

In honor of Earth Day 2017, Apple has posted some interesting and (mildly) funny videos about their efforts at sustainability.

Billboard:

Just as it seemed as if music exclusives were drying up on streaming services, news comes today that a documentary starring one of the music businesses’ most lauded executives will be appearing exclusively on Apple Music.

The five-time Grammy winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and recipient of The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award has, as the press release says, “signed, influenced and driven the careers of many of the most important music artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries.”

Davis is one of the most influential figures in music and this is just one of many similar exclusives Apple Music will get over the next few months and years.

mashable:

Live broadcasts can be cool — and they’re not as intrusive on IG as they are on Facebook — but you probably shouldn’t subject all of your followers to a livestream unless something really exciting is going down.

Live video arguably goes against the whole appeal of Stories, and Instagram on the whole: meticulously curating the most hyper-visual aspects of your life for your followers. So if you’re sick of getting pinged every time one of your favorite accounts bucks that purpose and starts a broadcast, you’re going to want to mute your notifications.

It’s really easy to shut off the pop-ups. Just follow these simple steps.

The previously mentioned niece has discovered the constant fun of Instagram video. I couldn’t turn off notifications fast enough. Sorry Emily.

Daily Hive:

An iceberg floating in the waters just outside of Ferryland, Newfoundland has caught the world’s attention. And it’s not hard to see why.

Photos of the stunning, 150-foot tall frozen palace floating serenely in the bay in front of the picturesque Newfoundland town have been shared by the BBC, The Telegraph, Lapresse, The Guardian, and many more.

Icebergs are a fairly regular occurrence off Newfoundland but this one is especially huge.

iMore:

If you have an old iPhone lying around, chances are you’re not getting much use out of it. I still have my iPhone kicking around here somewhere, but does it ever get turned on anymore? Not when I’ve my trusty iPhone 7 close at hand. But if you have kids, there’s really no need to let a perfectly good device go to waste. They’re probably bugging you to play with your newer iPhone anyway, so give them a device of their own.

Just kid it up first. Here’s how.

My “baby” sister did this for my niece. It’s a great way to re-purpose an old iPhone and gives the child a cool new toy.

Federico Viticci and John Voorhees from MacStories have teamed up to talk about apps on a new weekly podcast called AppStories. AppStories launches today, but has been in the works for more than a year.

I’ve had the chance to listen to the premiere episode and I have to say, I found it fascinating, well worth the listen. The focus is on the app store, the apps we love, and the developers behind those apps.

Listen to the first five minutes. You’ll have a real sense of the show. My two cents? This is a podcast worth your time.

Here’s a link to the first episode. If the link is not yet live, give it a bit of time and try again.

Kids react to AC/DC

This is so good.

Vice:

Apple has one of the most aggressive sustainability and recycling programs in tech, but it still pulls plenty of metals and toxic rare-earth materials out of the ground to make iPhones, iPads, Macbooks and other products.

That’s about to change. The company is set to announce a new, unprecedented goal for the tech industry, “to stop mining the earth altogether.”

The announcement, part of Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report released Wednesday, will commit the company to making devices entirely from recycled materials such as aluminum, copper, tin, and tungsten. But there’s one hiccup: Apple doesn’t know exactly how it’s going to make that happen.

That’s a pretty big hiccup but, if anyone can do it, Apple can.

April 19, 2017

Privacy advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have again outlined how Google is successfully dumping millions of low-cost Chromebooks on U.S. schools, enabling the mass collection and storage of information on children without the consent of their parents or even the understanding of many school administrators.

Come on, Google.

Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone customers by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling the information without permission, a lawsuit charged.

In order to do this, customers need to download an app from Apple or Google and fill out their information. Technically, he probably had to agree to the terms of service, but still, not a good move by Bose.

Tim Cook’s acceptance speech for Newseum 2017 Free Expression Award:

“We know that these freedoms require protection,” Cook said of First Amendment rights. “Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us. The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They’re the ones that need protection the most. It’s no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights.”

“This is a responsibility that Apple takes very seriously,” Cook said. “First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves. Because companies can, and should have values.”

Cheers, Tim.

15 Minutes in the Morning:

The upsides are many. Lots of wondrous shots from places I’ve never heard of. Lots of “how’d they even get that shot?!” photos of animals. Despite that I don’t use the site like I used to (and none of my friends do either), Flickr is a worldwide phenomena and still a place where very good photographers share their best works. And the Explore page changes every single day, replaced by another several dozen amazing new photos.

I tell all my students to check out the photographs on Flickr’s Explore page, either to see how others shot the same thing or to use it as a way to train their eye for composition and other elements.

The Telegraph:

The juxtaposition of peerless landscapes and compelling cities, of modern distractions and timeless comforts, is found across Canada. And, of course, they’re part of the reason you might want to take a holiday here, and this year more than most. For 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation – the moment Canada effectively became a country – with celebrations planned to mark the occasion.

Of course, I’m biased but, if you’re looking for a vacation this year, you’ll find a lot to like about my home country, especially on the occasion of our 150th anniversary.

All Blacks AIG commercial

Pretty great commercial. [H/T Daniel Mark]

1981 Nightline interview with Steve Jobs

The whole thing is fascinating, but the Apple/Steve part kicks in around 4:20. Love how they refer to him as Steven Jobs. It was before he was Steve to all of us.

Note: Someone sent this to me, but can’t for the life of me remember who. Was doing some heavy traveling when it came in. Apologies for the lack of a hat tip.

Tim Carmody, writing for Kottke.org:

This week, I am proposing an experiment. I am asking you — all of you: readers of Kottke.org, my friends, my colleagues, my strangers, my citizens of the World Wide Web, people who have known the grandeur of the best webcomics, the best YouTube videos, the best memes, the best stories and articles and entire blogs and games and nonsense with which we entertain and edify ourselves every day — I am asking you:

WHAT’S THE BEST THING YOU GOT

This is a chance to help select your favorite internet thing. Here’s a link to the questionnaire. Can’t wait to see the results. Me, I’m going with the classic, David After Dentist (Is this real life?)

Wired, talking about Steve Lacy:

Last year, he was nominated for a Grammy for executive-producing and performing on the 2015 funk-R&B-soul album Ego Death, the third release from The Internet and Lacy’s first with the band. He’s a sought-after producer, featured on albums like J. Cole’s “4 Your Eyez Only” and Kendrick Lamar’s new “Damn.” Earlier in 2017, he released his first solo material, which he’s playing as part of the setlist for The Internet’s worldwide tour. (Somewhere in there he also graduated high school.) The only connection between his many projects? All that music is stored on his iPhone.

And on his process:

He paged through the drum presets in GarageBand for a while before picking a messy-sounding kit. With two thumbs, he tapped out a simple beat, maybe 30 seconds long. Then he went back to the Rickenbacker. He played a riff he’d stumbled on while tuning, recording it on a separate GarageBand track over top of the drums. Without even playing it back, Lacy then reached down and deleted it. It took three taps: stop, delete, back to the beginning. He played the riff again, subtly differently. Deleted it again. For the next half hour, that’s all Lacy did: play, tap-tap-tap, play again. He experimented wildly for a while, then settled on a loose structure and began subtly tweaking it. Eventually satisfied with that bit, he plugged in his Fender bass and started improvising a bassline. A few hours later, he began laying vocals, a breathy, wordless melody he sang directly into the iPhone’s microphone. He didn’t know quite what he was making, but he was feeling it.

All night, Lacy goofed around. He found a sword in the studio, and made up a shockingly catchy song called “Sword in the Studio” that’s still rattling around in my brain.

This really resonated with me, a terrific read. Steve Lacy sounds like a bunch of people I know, kicking around in GarageBand, laying down a base track, then layering in guitar, vocals, what have you. But while most of this work ends up in a far corner of some hard drive or SoundCloud, Lacy’s efforts got him nominated for a Grammy and a bunch of high profile gigs.

And much of it done on an iPhone. Amazing.