April 30, 2017

The Wirecutter:

A 360-degree camera is great if you want to capture the full view of the summit on Half Dome or take in all of the surrounding architecture in the Piazza San Marco in Venice and share that experience on Facebook or YouTube so friends can pan around a scene and fully be there in the moment.

After researching 360-degree cameras for 30 hours and testing four top contenders, we think the Ricoh Theta S is the best affordable, user-friendly entry point into this rapidly-developing new category of photography.

I’ve used the recommended camera and, while it’s very specific in its application, can produce some interesting pictures and video. Here’s an example:

Yeah – it was cold but so much fun even only for a little while! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Cook’s Science:

Salt is imperative for far more than cooking. It’s essential for life. For digestion and respiration, for the transportation of oxygen, and nerve transmission. Your heart would not beat without salt. The amniotic fluid that surrounds us as we begin life is salty. Salt has been part of religion and mythology for centuries. It’s associated with fertility. It’s been a driver of commerce and of war. It’s inspired countless engineering feats.

There are many intense-tasting sea salts on the market, and more than one way to make them. At Maldon Salt Company in Essex, England, they simmer concentrated brine until pyramid-shaped crystals form on the surface and sink to the bottom, where they can be raked off and dried in industrial ovens. In Guérande, France, highly prized fleur de sel (flower of salt) forms on the surface of shallow marshes of seawater concentrated through solar evaporation. Once the seawater brine is fully saturated with sodium chloride, all it takes is a gust of wind to evaporate a small amount of additional water at the surface, causing crystals to form, or “bloom.” These delicate crystals are gently raked from the surface before they can settle to the bottom.

And believe it or not, the ocean is not the only place to source seawater for sea salt.

Settle in for a long but very interesting read on one of the things you rarely think about but can’t live without.

Big wave surfing in Portugal

Just watching this video makes me want to go in a corner and weep in fear. I can’t imagine the courage of a surfer willing to try and ride these waves.

April 29, 2017

Apple:

Apple premiered its newest store in the Middle East, Apple Dubai Mall, with a 186-foot curved storefront and balcony overlooking Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain. Envisioned as a space for the community to gather, learn and be entertained, Apple Dubai Mall will also serve as a venue to watch the spectacular evening fountain shows and will host Apple’s new global in-store experience, “Today at Apple”.

The inside of the store looks pretty much like every other Apple store. But Apple has really taken advantage of the location and the outside of the store is magnificent.

Variety:

Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown: They all reunited for the 25th anniversary retrospective screening of “Reservoir Dogs” at the Tribeca Film Festival April 28. Cast members Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and writer-director-actor Quentin Tarantino all got together to reminisce after the 1992 movie screened to a packed house at the Beacon Theater. Here are seven fun facts they revealed.

I would pay significant amounts of money for a tape of that reunion. Dogs is one of my top 10 favorite movies.

This website is loading the images as they come. The Cassini team is seeing them at the same time you are.

If you’re an astronomy nerd, do not go to this site. Your weekend will be shot. There are 383,000+ and counting images.

Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” ad

Hey Pepsi – here’s how you do socially relevant advertising. I showed this to The Publisher and he couldn’t post it through his tears of joy so I’m doing it on his behalf.

Bloomberg:

It’s hard to think of another movie from the past 50 years that’s had a bigger impact on modern comedy. Spinal Tap pioneered a mock-doc genre that’s influenced everything from the long run of improvisational films directed by Guest (Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show among them) to docu-styled sitcoms such as The Office and Modern Family. This made it all the more surprising when, about four years ago, Shearer became the first of his fake bandmates to learn lesson No. 2 in Hollywood: No matter how well your movie does, there’s no such thing as net profit.

Spinal Tap is one of the most fun movies you’ll ever watch and it’s a travesty it’s creators have been screwed out of millions of well-deserved dollars.

April 28, 2017

A supposedly opulent music festival on a private island in the Bahamas, which was plugged as an unprecedented V.I.P. event by Instagram influencers including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski, descended into dysfunction and disarray as soon as it began on Thursday and has since been postponed indefinitely, organizers said.

Sounds like an incredible scam. Tickets sold for $1,000 to $12,000 for the festival.

My 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.

[WARNING: AutoPlay]

ABC2 News:

“She kept going, and then I heard a crunch, and I was like ugh, now my car’s going to be in the shop for like two weeks this sucks. The next thought I had was you’re upside down.”

College student Casey Bennett was stuck in his car, had the wherewithal to press and hold his Apple Watch side button to place a call to 911. Great story.

Recode:

Musical.ly lets its users create and share their own music videos, using snippets of songs. Starting on Friday, Apple Music will be the service that supplies the songs, replacing U.K.-based provider 7digital, according to people familiar with the companies’ plans.

If you’ve never experienced Musical.ly, check out the video embedded below. Some of these are very good. I can see the attraction, the fun of putting one of these together. Good connection for Apple.

Bloomberg:

The white Lexus RX450h SUV emerged from an Apple facility this week and was kitted out with an array of sensors, according to a person who saw the vehicle and provided photos to Bloomberg News. The sensors included Velodyne Lidar Inc.’s top-of-the-range 64-channel lidar, at least two radar and a series of cameras. The sensors appear to be products bought off the shelf from suppliers, rather than custom-made, according to an industry expert who saw the photos.

Picture and animated GIF embedded in the Bloomberg piece.

Recode:

The company has recently held discussions with payments industry partners about introducing its own Venmo competitor, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The service would allow iPhone owners to send money digitally to other iPhone owners, these people said.

Not sure I see the logic in offering a Venmo-type service if it is not universal. When I need to send someone money, I never want to check to see if they have an iPhone first.

Amazing. I would definitely give this a go. Take a look.

Nikkei Asian Review:

Chairman Terry Gou of key iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, is set to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Thursday, according to people familiar with the plan.

The sources did not disclose details of the first-ever encounter between the two. But with Trump’s persistent pledge to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., and Gou’s dogged determination to acquire the memory chip business of embattled Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, the two will likely exchange their views on related issues.

A lot at stake here. Trump wants Apple to build in the US. Lots of resistance to that, both in terms of logistics and financial impact.

April 27, 2017

Savage guitar jokes

I’ve heard a lot of musician jokes in my time, but there are a few new ones in here.

“A music service needs to be more than a bunch of songs and a few playlists,” says Iovine, 64. “I’m trying to help Apple Music be an overall movement in popular culture, everything from unsigned bands to video. We have a lot of plans.” Apple Music’s foray into video programming could be a temporary dalliance, but if Iovine succeeds, the world’s wealthiest company could increase its investment, routinely competing for top projects. “We have the freedom, because it’s Apple, to make one show, three shows, see what works, see what doesn’t work until it feels good,” Iovine says.

He’s right. Apple has the luxury to be very patient while it searches for the exact video strategy that works. They don’t have to fund new TV series just to jump into the mix with everyone else doing the same thing. Even those companies are watching to see what Apple will do.

Son of a bitch. Give me a drink.

I’ve heard this song here and there, but stumbled across the video today. Just me, or does the lead singer here, Nathaniel Rateliff, remind you of Jim? And he says this to me a lot.

Bézier curves are everywhere, from the interfaces on our phones and computers to the various drawing packages that bring those interfaces to life.

Once you’re done playing, spend some time learning the details in this free online book. [Via DF]

Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac:

In a previous article, posted shortly after Nvidia announced its new Pascal Mac drivers, I briefly discussed my plans to build a new Hackintosh. I’ve been planning and working on the machine for over a week, and I’m finally at the point where I can share the results of my journey.

This isn’t my first Hackintosh build, but it’s the first build where I decided to go about it without the assistance of the excellent tools over at tonymacx86. I’ve been long interested in building a Hackintosh using just the Clover EFI Bootloader, and that’s exactly what I did for this build.

Going about it this way allowed me to learn more about the process, and helped me to see that the entire premise, while tedious at times, is actually fairly straightforward. In this initial post, I’ll talk about some of my reasoning behind my hardware choices, and share some initial experiences and benchmark results.

If you are interested in building your own Hackintosh, I would certainly start my journey with tonymacx86. It’s just too great a resource to ignore. But I get Jeff’s logic. Now you can follow along with Jeff, learn as he learns.

Ars Technica story about Masahiro Sakurai the creator of 1992’s Kirby’s Dream Land:

Sakurai recalled how HAL Laboratory was using a Twin Famicom as a development kit at the time. Trying to program on the hardware, which combined a cartridge-based Famicom and the disk-based Famicom Disk System, was “like using a lunchbox to make lunch,” Sakurai said.

As if the limited power wasn’t bad enough, Sakurai revealed that the Twin Famicom testbed they were using “didn’t even have keyboard support, meaning values had to be input using a trackball and an on-screen keyboard.”

Amazing story. Be sure to follow the link to the full story, complete with pictures.

[H/T Carlos Oliveira]

TechCrunch:

Google and Intertrust today announced the launch of PatentShield, a new program that aims to help defend startups from patent litigation — in return for a stake in those companies.

The basic idea here is to give startups that join the program ownership of a selection of patents from Google’s and Intertrust’s portfolio that they can then use as a deterrent against potential patent litigation from established players in their fields. Google is seeding the program with a selection of its own patents and Intertrust, which itself has built up a patent portfolio around media streaming, IoT, security and other areas, will also give these startups access to some of its own patents and its intellectual property team.

If a startup gets sued, it can then choose patents from the PatentShield portfolio to defend itself by countersuing its opponents.

This truly is ingenious, a terrific use of Google’s patent portfolio. The cost to Google is relatively small, and it gives a big club and shield a startup can use to defend itself against patent trolls. There is potential for misuse, certainly, a chance for a startup to turn bully. Time will tell if that becomes an issue.

The benefit to Google is immense, leveraging existing patents to bring in a steady trickle of startup equity. Smart business. I think Apple should do the same thing. A perfect act of benevolence that’s well in Apple’s wheelhouse.

UPDATE: For some reason, the interview appears to have been taken down. Not clear what’s going on, but will update if and when it pops up again.

UPDATE 2: Looks like Medium and/or Backchannel was hacked. Being fixed, check back in a bit for the interview.

This is a phenomenal interview, as you might expect from the excellent Steven Levy. I was surprised to learn that Twitter was not invited to any of Trump’s tech roundtables or advisory councils.

One highlight that stands out:

Q: There have been well-publicized instances where women have been exposed to horrible treatment. What was your feeling when you understood how common it was for women like Leslie Jones to be harassed? Did you feel that was something that you failed at?

Dorsey: We recognized that the very nature of the product was giving unfair advantage to people who wanted to harass. So we needed to change the product experience. We made it a priority last year, but to be very frank and honest, we only shipped one meaningful thing all year. So our progress is not something that we are proud of.

And:

Q: Why was that? Why did you fall short?

Dorsey: A variety of reasons. We recognized that at the end of the year, in December, and we just took on a completely different mindset. We had people drop what they were doing and really focus on this as an issue. And in the past three months we’ve been shipping every single day against this, and I think have made meaningful progress, [even though] it’s not felt as much. We also, in the previous year, put a lot of burden on the victim instead of taking the burden upon ourselves So we learned a bunch in that past year around how slow we were, and we just completely shifted our mindset.

There’s not going to be an endpoint where we can say we’re done. But the progress we’ve made in the past few months has just been phenomenal. It just took a mindset shift, and we had to go through that year of really learning that and the previous years before that. We didn’t prioritize it in the right way, but now we have. So I feel like we have a real strong handle on what it is and, most importantly, how to bring it into a steady state instead of it being an emergency state.

Not seeing it. Anyone else see this mindset shift?

April 26, 2017

Humble Bundle:

Head back to Bloom County with us! This time, not only do we have the complete digital collection for you, we also have the volume of all-new recent strips (Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope) AND Berkeley Breathed’s pre-Bloom-County work (Academia Waltz & Other Profound Transgressions). His entire Opus, if you will.

All together, these comic strips would cost over $114. Here at Humble Bundle, though, you name your price of $1 or more and increase your contribution to upgrade your bundle!

These comics are available in multiple formats including CBZ, PDF, and ePub, so they work on your computer, e-readers, iPads, cell phones, and a wide array of mobile devices!

This is an amazing deal on an amazing strip. Thanks to Andy Ihnatko for the link.

TidBITS:

I wasn’t sure at first what to make of Apple’s new Clips app for iOS, which joins a crowded field of phone and tablet apps for video recording, editing, and sharing.

Is it a rival of sorts to Snapchat and Instagram Stories with its own set of emojis, visual effects and the like for zany social-media-style video sharing? Or is Clips more of an iMovie-style app for cobbling together moderately complex video productions from an array of individual clips?

It’s both. Apple has essentially retooled iMovie for the Snapchat age in an attempt to make video editing more accessible, enjoyable and, well, social. At least, that’s the intent. In its current 1.0 state, Clips is a flawed app, though not irretrievably.

I completely recognize I am not the target audience for Clips. That being said, are any of you using it on a regular basis? Do you know others who are? What are your thoughts on the app, given it is a version 1.0?

Vox:

If you’ve never seen the original trailer for Alien, or if you haven’t seen it in a while, take a moment, turn up the volume, and immerse yourself in it.

Spoiler — it’s scary as hell.

The Alien trailer is a perennial entry on lists of the scariest trailers ever, and helped establish a template for how to edit an impactful horror trailer. You can see its influence in countless horror trailers today, to the point where its beats have practically become horror clichés in their own right.

Let’s break down the ingredients.

I still remember seeing the original trailer in theaters. It was wonderfully terrifying and left you with the feeling of, “I have no idea what that was but I want to see that movie!”

This supercar collection is worth millions

This is, without a doubt, the oddest place to display cars worth millions of dollars you have ever seen.

Using an Apple Watch without an iPhone

I recently switched to the gorgeous new iPhone 7 Plus (PRODUCT)RED, but one thing I didn’t do is setup my Apple Watch with the iPhone. It was a simple oversight, but I realized very quickly how much I’ve come to rely on the Apple Watch/iPhone combination in my daily life.

I’ve said before that using my Apple Watch has changed the way I use my iPhone. I receive notifications of emails, messages, phone calls, reminders, use Apple Pay, and a host of other things.

With my Apple Watch on my wrist, I only needed to make sure my iPhone was somewhere nearby to get all of these alerts. If it was something I needed to deal with, I could grab the iPhone and do it. Otherwise, the notification was enough to keep me up to date on what was happening.

Because I used the Apple Watch and relied on those notifications on my wrist, I turned off the sound and vibrate on my iPhone long ago. There was no need for it. Unless you don’t pair your watch to your phone.

I learned how much I relied on the combination of those two devices. I began missing calls and messages because my watch wasn’t getting the notifications from the phone. I would eventually see them when I grabbed my iPhone, but obviously that isn’t what you want.

Instead of immediately syncing my watch to fix the problem, I decided to turn on the vibrate feature of the phone just to see how that might change things. (Because pairing the watch would have fixed the problem immediately, but apparently I like to punish myself). The end result was that I began to use my phone like I did before the watch was released.

I would always have the iPhone with me and I checked it all the time—every vibrate meant checking my phone to see what was going on, and that often led to a trip down the rabbit hole. If I check one thing, I might as well check everything else. It was more disruptive to my work than what I ever realized.

I missed other things too. I sat down at my iMac and waited for it to unlock automatically, which it didn’t do because my watch was no longer authorized. I’m sure I must have looked like an idiot sitting there waiting for the Mac to unlock.

When I used Maps, my watch wouldn’t vibrate as I neared a turn. Not a big deal since Siri gives you turn-by-turn directions, but it’s surprising how much I relied on the watch to alert me to an upcoming turn.

Other simple things that I take for granted were gone too. I had a playlist synced to my watch for my walks so I didn’t have to bring my phone with me when I exercised. That doesn’t work without a connection to the iPhone.

I love my Apple Watch and my iPhone 7 Plus. I love the combination of the those two devices even more. Using the two devices is a very efficient way to keep up with everything in your life.

I paired my Apple Watch to my iPhone yesterday and I’m much happier.

The Onion is just brilliant sometimes.