June 17, 2018

World of Indie:

Fifty years ago, 5 unmanned lunar orbiters circled the moon, taking extremely high resolution photos of the surface. They were trying to find the perfect landing site for the Apollo missions. They would be good enough to blow up to 40 x 54ft images that the astronauts would walk across looking for the great spot. After their use, the images were locked away from the public, as at the time they would have revealed the superior technology of the USA’s spy satellite cameras, which the orbiters cameras were designed from. Instead the images from that time were grainy and low resolution, made to be so by NASA.

What a great story.

Hodinkee:

Parmigiani Fleurier has had a long-standing relationship with Bugatti, going all the way back to 2006, when the Type 370 watch – inspired by the Bugatti Veyron – was first introduced.

The Type 370 and Type 390 both employ very unconventional movement architecture in order to show the time in a very unconventional fashion.

I may just be an uncouth peasant but good God that is one butt ugly watch.

TechCo:

It’s every backer’s nightmare. The ultra-cool bit of tech kit you crowdfunded, which is totally going to change your life in every conceivable way, has been hit by delays, silence, spec-alterations and missed backer rewards. Until, finally the company resurfaces in the comments to say that the money’s gone, the project has folded, and there is no product to launch.

So, how can you make sure that the product you back actually comes out, and that you’re not supporting the 1 project in 10 that doesn’t deliver?

I’ve been burned by a couple of failed Kickstarters and have had several more fail to meet their goals. This article has some good ideas on how to make sure you don’t get ripped off.

June 16, 2018

New York Times:

The World Cup started on Thursday. You may not be the world’s biggest soccer fan, but you want to at least pretend, right? Excellent. We’ve got you covered. Here is our six-step plan to sounding smart wherever you might be watching the 2018 World Cup.

For most of the world, The World Cup is “The Greatest Spectacle in Sport”. I’m not a huge soccer/football fan but when I lived in Vancouver, BC, I loved going to Commercial Drive (a wonderfully diverse ethnic area) and watch games with fans of a particular country. I was in a New York City Brazilian bar for the 1998 World Cup Final between Brazil and France and, even though the Brazilians lost, I’ve never had more fun watching a sports game.

MLB umpire Tom Hallion mic’d up

This deals with major league baseball and ejections so, needless to say, it’s very NSFW.

How this woman makes mind-blowing bubbles

Everyone loves bubbles.

Digital Photography Review:

Photographer Drew Gardner has been a photographer for more than 30 years, and since 1999 he’s worked mostly in the commercial world. Following a recent move into 360-degree imaging, he accepted a commission from British newspaper The Telegraph to shoot a gigapixel image of the queen’s birthday parade. Earlier this week we spoke to Drew to learn more about how the project came together.

This is a fun shot to zoom in on and scroll around. Don’t bother to check – I already looked to see if there were any staff in the windows of the palace.

June 15, 2018

Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN.

Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.

Apple is making its moves in the entertainment business and they seem very different than what competitors like Netflix are focused on.

My thanks to Bare Bones Software for sponsoring The Loop this week. Do you sling code or compose with words? Whether you’re an app developer, web developer, systems admin or just want a powerful writing tool that stays out of your way, BBEdit is worth checking out.

BBEdit is crafted in response to the needs of writers, web authors, and software developers, providing an abundance of high-performance features for editing, searching, and the manipulation of text.

Back in the 90s, we built our Web sites from scratch, so we used BBEdit to hand-code everything we needed to get the site up-and-running. We didn’t just use BBEdit for building and maintaining the Website, we also used it as our default word processing tool. Every word written for the stories we posted was done in BBEdit.

Now, as BBEdit celebrates its 25th anniversary, I can still say I am a proud user. Congrats to the crew at Bare Bones Software and thanks for making such a great product.

To celebrate BBEdit’s 25th Anniversary, Bare Bones Software is creating commemorative apparel. Learn more!

BBEdit 12 is 64-bit ready. Download and try it today!

NPR:

In the past 30 years, Gaskins and a handful of other psychologists have been documenting a remarkable phenomenon in indigenous families in Mexico and Guatemala: Young children in these homes are extremely helpful around the house.

They help do the laundry, help cook meals, help wash dishes. And they often do chores without being told. No gold stars or tie-ins to allowances needed.

So what on earth is these parents’ secret?

It’s a really interesting dynamic in my new family. I want our 12-year-old to do “his fair share” of the household chores (just like I did when I was his age) but it’s a struggle to get him to help with things he’s not used to helping with. It’s undoubtedly too late for many of you parents out there to implement this strategy but it might be something you can pass on to new parents.

Deadspin:

Here we have a highlight reel brimming with the exploits of Olivier Rioux, a 12-year-old basketball player who is said to stand at 6 feet and 9 inches. Since most 12-year-olds are not 6-foot-9, you can probably guess how this is going to go for Rioux’s poor opponents.

I was 6’1″ as a 12-year-old and played on those rims. I had a blast destroying the other kids in my school. Deadspin did their math wrong. The kid isn’t 6’9″ – he’s 6’11”. Not that it makes much of a difference here.

New Republic:

When she dies, she told me, she wants her body to be dunked in a high-pressure chamber filled with water and lye. That water will be heated to anywhere from 200 to 300 degrees, and in six to twelve hours her flesh, blood, and muscle will dissolve. When the water is drained, all that will remain in the tank are her bones and dental fillings. If her family desires, they can have her remains crushed into ash, to be displayed or buried or scattered.

This process is known colloquially as water cremation and scientifically as alkaline hydrolysis, or aquamation. It’s the most environmentally friendly method of death care, says Sieber, the vice president of research at Bio-Response Solutions. Founded by her father in 2006, the company manufactures aquamation equipment for funeral homes and crematories throughout North America. “This has no emissions, it’s greener, it’s a clean technology to work with,” Sieber said.

But Sieber may not get her wish of being aquamated when she dies.

I may be an outlier here but I really don’t much care what happens to my body after I’ve died. If it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly to be “aquamated”, then that’s fine by me.

The history of the Mac startup sound

Giant wave of nostalgia. This was on the front page of Hacker News this morning.

From Reddit:

When I was using an Amazon Echo, my biggest complaint was that each third party “skill” has a specific voice command associated with it, and any deviation from that syntax would cause Alexa to not recognize what I was asking for (Haven’t used one in about a year, so this may have changed). I always found this frustrating in comparison to Siri, which can make sense of natural language. i.e. Siri can hear “get me directions to…” or “take me to…” or “how do I get to…” and either way it knows you want help with navigation. Apple made a big deal of this capability when Siri first launched.

But with Shortcuts, Siri behaves more like Alexa in that even though the trigger phrases are customized by the user (which is a one-up on the echo), Siri still requires the exact phrase every time.

And:

Remembering one or two custom phrases isn’t a big deal. But if this is the way Apple is going to open Siri up to third party apps, requiring users to remember dozens of specific trigger phrases (custom or not) is, I think, a step backwards for Siri.

First things first, there is a muddying of the waters at work here. The term Siri Shortcuts is associated with the coming Shortcuts app, which lets you build your own custom workflows which you can fire off as you like. You can assign a trigger phrase to a shortcut which, as the Reddit user points out, must be an exact match for Siri to fire it.

If you build a lot of these, you might run into a problem, but this is a problem with an easy solution. Apple maintains a list of all your trigger phrases, in Setting > Siri > My Shortcuts. [H/T Marcus Mendes]

Interesting point, though. I wonder if Siri will eventually be able to “machine learning” its way to an educated guess as to the shortcut you wanted if you are pretty close.

Apple, Grayshift whac-a-mole

From this New York Times article:

Apple said it was planning an iPhone software update that would effectively disable the phone’s charging and data port — the opening where users plug in headphones, power cables and adapters — an hour after the phone is locked. While a phone can still be charged, a person would first need to enter the phone’s password to transfer data to or from the device using the port.

And from the Elcomsoft blog:

In the second beta of 11.4.1 released just days ago, activating the SOS mode enables USB restrictions, too. This feature was not present in the first 11.4.1 beta (and it is not part of any other version of iOS including iOS 12 beta). In all other versions of iOS, the SOS mode just disables Touch/Face ID. The SOS feature in iOS 11.4.1 beta 2 makes your iPhone behave exactly like if you did not unlock it for more than an hour, effectively blocking all USB communications until you unlock the device (with a passcode, as Touch ID/Face ID would be also disabled).

And this from Motherboard, with the title Cops Are Confident iPhone Hackers Have Found a Workaround to Apple’s New Security Feature:

“Grayshift has gone to great lengths to future proof their technology and stated that they have already defeated this security feature in the beta build. Additionally, the GrayKey has built in future capabilities that will begin to be leveraged as time goes on,” a June email from a forensic expert who planned to meet with Grayshift, and seen by Motherboard, reads, although it is unclear from the email itself how much of this may be marketing bluff.

And:

A second person, responding to the first email, said that Grayshift addressed USB Restricted Mode in a webinar several weeks ago.

My instinct is that this is, indeed, a marketing bluff. But one without teeth if it doesn’t work.

Whac-a-mole (note the spelling, a trademark thing, I think).

Apple launches new wave of Mac ads

All of these ads (embedded below) are posted under the campaign slogan Behind the Mac. I’ll post the short YouTube writeup for each ad, followed by the ad itself. Each ad ends with the phrase Make something wonderful, followed by Behind the Mac.

As a photographer who is legally blind, Bruce Hall edits and retouches photos behind his Mac. With the help of accessibility features, Bruce can see the world around him.

Behind the Mac people are making wonderful things and so could you.

Entrepreneur and app developer Peter Karikui coded SafeMotos on his Mac. The app connects passengers with safe motorcycle taxi drivers across Rwanda.

Using a Mac as a portable recording studio allows Grimes to make music on her own terms.

Quentin Carnicelli, Rogue Amoeba blog, posts this list of last updates from the indispensable MacRumors Buyer’s Guide:

  • iMac Pro: 182 days ago
  • iMac: 374 days ago
  • MacBook: 374 days ago
  • MacBook Air: 374 days ago
  • MacBook Pro: 374 days ago
  • Mac Pro: 436 days ago
  • Mac Mini: 1337 days ago

And:

Worse, most of these counts are misleading, with the machines not seeing a true update in quite a bit longer. The Mac Mini hasn’t seen an update of any kind in almost 4 years (nor, for that matter, a price drop). The once-solid Mac Pro was replaced by the dead-end cylindrical version all the way back in 2013, which was then left to stagnate. I don’t even want to get started on the MacBook Pro’s questionable keyboard, or the MacBook’s sole port (USB-C which must also be used to provide power).

As if by magic, Apple released four new Mac ads yesterday, obviously a coincidence, but a good sign nonetheless.

Follow the money. We recently posted this article quoting numbers from Apple’s last holiday quarter:

  • iOS revenue: $68 billion
  • Mac revenue: $6.9 billion
  • iOS units sold: 90.4 million
  • Mac units sold: 5.1 million

Going purely by the numbers, clearly iOS should have Apple’s attention. But the Mac remains a vital part of Apple’s ecosystem. Given the WWDC announcement of the effort to port iOS apps to the Mac, and the new ad campaign, I have to feel a bit optimistic that Apple is turning their massive battleship back towards the Mac.

June 14, 2018

AdAge:

“Welcome Home,” Apple’s fanciful spot from TBWAMedia Arts Lab, and the “It’s a Tide Ad” Super Bowl campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi, took top honors at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers Show at the Musieum of Modern Art in New York City Thursday night.

Apple’s musical short film was directed by Spike Jonze from MJZ and features FKA Twigs as a forlorn office worker who finds her world literally expanded by a song by Anderson .Paak played on her Apple Home virtual assistant. The spot won in the Advertising Excellence/Single Commercial category.

“Apple Home virtual assistant”? It’s a speaker. Call it that. Regardless, congratulations to Apple on the award.

The Ringer:

Released 30 years ago this week, the romantic comedy tells the tale of aging career minor league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), rocket-armed phenom “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), and wise English professor Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), who keeps the two in check.

The movie’s uniqueness stems from its conflicted feelings toward baseball. The characters, like Shelton himself, both love the game and curse how cruel it can be. This blend of devotion and irreverence led to the most honest on-screen portrayal of the sport ever made. He may not have been able to re-create the visuals of a World Series broadcast, but the director did manage to take us inside an athlete’s world.

I don’t think there’s any doubt – Bull Durham is the best sports movie of all time.

Bloomberg:

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about working with Steve Jobs, the values at Apple, including privacy and equality, and if he’d run for president. He speaks with David Rubenstein on “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations,” taped May 13.

As always, an interesting interview with Cook.

The Verge:

There were a lot of great features announced last week at Apple’s WWDC, but the one that’s going to have the biggest effect on my day-to-day life is the overhaul to how notifications are managed in iOS 12.

I suspect that the features Apple added to iOS 12 will go a very long way toward helping people get control over their notifications. Dealing with notifications was one of the iPhone’s most glaring UI deficiencies compared to Android, and I am glad to see something a little closer to parity coming.

I don’t get nearly the amount of notifications Bohn has (mostly because I manage them better than he does) but anything that helps tame them will be a big help.

Macstories:

While it’s still too early to comment on the long-term impact of Shortcuts, I can at least attempt to understand the potential of this new technology. In this article, I’ll try to explain the differences between Siri shortcuts and the Shortcuts app, as well as answering some common questions about how much Shortcuts borrows from the original Workflow app. Let’s dig in.

I’m not convinced Shortcuts will take off for the average user but it will be interesting to see how developers and techies take advantage of them.

Lifehacker:

Are you using Google effectively as possible? If you’re just entering words into the search field without using these totally basic but totally essential tricks to improve your results, you’re missing out. We like to think of ourselves as Google ninjas at Lifehacker, but even we need a reminder of these crucial shortcuts now and then.

As the “new” father of a 12-year-old, some of these tricks will come in handy when he starts doing research for school projects.

You can make the beautiful game even more beautiful. Just follow these tips and techniques to take your photos and videos to the next level.

With the start of the World Cup today, Apple made all of the new videos soccer focused. Regardless of the sport, these tips are always useful when you’re learning about your iPhone’s camera.

June 13, 2018

The Dalrymple Report: WWDC, Siri Shortcuts, and hockey with Dave Mark

Dave and I wrapped up some discussions on WWDC and talked about our overall thoughts on the conference, including some of our favorite features.

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LinkedIn: Go to LinkedIn.com/DALRYMPLE and get a $50 credit toward your first job post!

The New York Times:

Apple is closing the technological loophole that let authorities hack into iPhones, angering police and other officials and reigniting a debate over whether the government has a right to get into the personal devices that are at the center of modern life.

But privacy advocates said Apple would be right to fix a security flaw that has become easier and cheaper to exploit.

While this may be bad news for law enforcement, keep in mind what Rich Mogull says on Twitter:

In every conversation I have with people (at Apple) it’s about making things inherently more secure, not about trying to stymie any particular government or agency.

To get us started, we turned to Manhattan audio guru Chuck Zwicky, a platinum-selling producer, engineer and mastering ace who’s worked with Prince, Soul Asylum and Nine Inch Nails, Zwicky has helped create numerous UAD presets for the MXR Flanger/Doubler, Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb, Pure Plate Reverb, and, today’s focus, the acclaimed Manley VOXBOX Channel Strip plug‑in, which Zwicky played a key role in refining during its early stages.

This is a new series from Universal Audio called “Producer Presets Unpacked”. It is absolutely fascinating.

8 year old drummer nails Zeppelin tune

Her name is Yoyoka Soma and she’s 8 years old. Oh, and she rocks. As you’ll see. Great song choice, no easy drum pattern.

Per usual, Jeff Benjamin does a wonderful job walking through macOS Mojave. So much new stuff. Love the new screenshot capabilities. Another tick towards iOS with the screenshot hanging around in a floating window for you to edit.

Rene Ritchie, iMore:

Developers can tap into the Continuity-derived user activity to make locations available within their apps. And they can use a new Intents API to let the system know, more expansively, the actions available in the app.

Once that’s done, Siri keeps track of what you do with them and when you do it, and tries to guess when you’ll do it next.

Rene clarifies this with examples:

For example, if you always order pizza before the game on Sunday, instead of having to go to the pizza app, pick your favorite, and place your order, it’ll have a banner waiting for you right on your Lock screen ready with your favorite order.

If you always text your child to say you’re on your way home from work, instead of having to go to messages, find the conversation with your child in the list, and tap to start a new message, a banner will be waiting for you, ready and able to send that message with a single tap.

Rene’s article is long and full of interesting detail. But the part that struck me was the way he distinguished between shortcuts you create yourself (using the Shortcuts app, rebranded from Workflow), and the voice triggers you create to label shortcuts (Hey Siri “Get pizza”), and the shortcuts Siri creates (driven by user activity reported by various apps) and suggests to you.

I’ve been using the iOS 12 beta for a week now. In that time, my Lock screen has offered to put my phone into Do Not Disturb when a Wallet pass, Open Table, and even simply iMessage indicated I might be having dinner or breakfast.

I hasn’t offered to let me order my usual Philz Mint Mojito, because I don’t have the Shortcuts enabled version of that app — yet! — but it has offered me directions to Philz after I used Maps for walking directions the first couple days of the conference.

Read Rene’s post to take advantage of his iOS 12 experience, wrap your head around what’s coming. Good stuff.