Why Apple is permanently protecting working forests

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives:

Today, Apple and The Conservation Fund are announcing a collaboration designed to help America’s working forests stay working forests. For Apple, this is the beginning of a worldwide effort, one that represents a new approach as it reassesses its impact on the world’s paper supply chain.

Apple believes that paper, like energy, can be a renewable resource. So Apple is striving to supply 100 percent of the virgin fibers used in its paper and packaging from sustainably managed forests or controlled wood sources.

As usual, an interesting manifesto from Apple regarding its environmental initiatives but I also find it fascinating this is a story on Medium, not a press release. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these kinds of articles directly from Apple.

L.A. school district ditches iPad curriculum, seeks refund from Apple

LA Times:

The Los Angeles Unified School District is seeking to recoup millions of dollars from technology giant Apple over a problem-plagued curriculum that was provided with iPads intended to be given to every student, teacher and administrator.

To press its case, the Board of Education on Tuesday authorized its attorneys in a closed-door meeting to explore possible litigation against Apple and Pearson, the company that developed the curriculum as a subcontractor to Apple.

This story has been ongoing and includes an FBI investigation, resignations of officials and plenty of blame for all to go around.

CEO raises his company’s minimum wage to $70,000 by cutting his $1 million dollar salary

Inquisitr:

Dan Price, the CEO of a start-up company located in Seattle, has just raised his employee’s minimum wage to $70,000 by cutting his $1 million salary to that of his lowest-paid employees.

Price is taking upwards to 80 percent of his credit card processing company Gravity Payments’ $2.2 million expected profit and putting it into his employee’s salaries.Price recently announced that over a three-year period, Gravity Payments will be offering its 120 employees a salary of at least $70,000.

Fantastic news for the company’s employees. Some say this will become the model for other companies but I’d be hugely surprised if anyone else followed suit. It’s just not The Corporate Way.

One thing bothered me about this story though.

Price recently told the New York Times that he was motivated to make the radical change after he read a newly released study about how pay raises increase the happiness of those receiving them.

Seriously? You had to read a study to know this? He’s obviously never been poor a day in his life. The vast majority of us know all too well how important money can be to peace of mind, health, happiness and security.

My criticism aside, I couldn’t be happier for the employees of Gravity Payments.

OS X reviewed

John Siracusa:

Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote my first review of Mac OS X for a nascent “PC enthusiast’s” website called Ars Technica. Nearly 15 years later, I wrote my last. Though Apple will presumably announce the next major version of OS X at WWDC this coming June, I won’t be reviewing it for Ars Technica or any other publication, including the website you’re reading now.

Siracusa’s name was known to many long before he started to write his incredible in-depth reviews of Apple’s Mac OS X but he will be forever known as the guy who wrote in the most detail about the OS.

He says:

Someone else can pick up the baton for the next 15 years.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen. No one can replace Siracusa or his writing style or his passion for writing the most complete reviews humanly possible of Mac OS X.

Don’t be so happy about that tax refund

FiveThirtyEight:

Americans hate filing tax returns, but they love getting refunds. More than three in four taxpayers get refunds, and the average amount they get back is close to $3,000, according to IRS data. That means that for many Americans, their annual refund is the biggest single check they’ll get all year.

But if you’re among the millions expecting a payout from the IRS this spring, make no mistake: That money was yours all along. Getting a refund means you paid too much in taxes last year and the government is paying that money back — without interest.

I’m no tax expert but I’ve always told people they should work their taxes so they get the smallest refund possible. Otherwise, you’re just giving the government an interest free loan of your money.

Would Steve Jobs have liked the new biography? I don’t think so

Andy Hertzfeld:

I suspect that Steve Jobs would not be thrilled with Becoming Steve Jobs, a new business biography by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. While it’s a worthwhile book filled with previously unheard stories and insightful industry analysis, Steve would have disliked it because of the persistent negative spin it applies to the first half of his career.

That’s why it’s puzzling to see Apple throw their considerable weight behind it.

Interesting comments from Hertzfeld, a guy who was there in the beginning. While he acknowledges his own biases, he does bring up some interesting questions about the descriptions of the early part of the book, the lack of interviews of the people involved in those early days and why Apple threw considerable weight behind this book.

He does say the book is interesting and still worth a read. Like most biographies, it takes several versions and editions to get a complete picture of the subject and even then, you are looking through a foggy window to do so.

Remove unwanted adware that displays pop-up ads and graphics on your Mac

Apple:

Ad-injection software is advertising-supported software that can come from third-party download sites. Software that you download from such sites may have been customized to install both the software you want and the ad-injection software. If your Mac has ad-injection software installed, you might see pop-up windows, ads, and graphics while surfing the web, even if “Block pop-up windows” is selected in Safari preferences. Ad-injection software might also change your homepage and preferred search engine.

Use these instructions to uninstall or remove ad-injection software—sometimes called adware.

These are step by step instructions from Apple on how to remove this garbage. It’s a little involved and fidgety but worth it if you or someone you know has this issue. I also use the donationware software, AdwareMedic, periodically to ensure I remain adware free.

An Apple Watch meta-review reimagined

Monday Note:

As the first wave of Apple Watch reviews shows, waiting for impressions to settle down isn’t part of the Product Review genre. The psychoactive toxicity of Apple product launches that I made fun of two weeks ago is in full display as reviewers climb to the rooftops in a race for income-producing pageviews.

There’s no doubt that “page view journalism” has taken its toll on, at the very least, reviews of Apple’s products.

Why Popcorn Time’s ‘jailbreak-free’ iOS hack is a bad idea

Macworld:

Popcorn Time for iOS tries to offer a version of sideloading, but there are far too many pieces of its process to worry about. Further, it’s not likely to be reliably available.

It’s unimaginable that Apple would ever allow something like Popcorn Time in the App Store. It’s also inadvisable by any standard to install software like it through the method the developers provide.

Leaving aside the legality of this app, the process you have to go through in order to install it makes it a non-starter for me.

Snapseed hits version 2.0 with new tools, filters and more

iMore:

Photo editing app Snapseed gets its first major update since 2013 with version 2.0, adding a number of new editing tools to help you get the most out of your photos.

Snapseed is my favourite iOS editing app and it’s free. The interface has changed significantly but it’s not awful. If you’ve used previous versions, you’ll get the hang of this new UI fairly quickly. If you’ve never used it, you really should. It’s easy to figure out. Every photo I take on my iPhone gets passed through Snapseed.

The age of notifications

Steven Levy:

A few weeks ago I was crossing the street. It was cold — late February in the Winter From Hell here on the east coast — and I was wearing a heavy coat with an inside pocket for my iPhone. The device buzzed and vibrated. My heart quickened. I ran the remaining few yards to the curb. I pulled off my gloves, fumbled to open the buttons of the coat, and almost dropped my bag in the process. Finally I managed to pull out the phone. On the screen was the following message:

“Braves OF B.J. Upton has changed his name to Melvin”

This was delivered to me in the standard message format, no different than a New York Times alert informing me a building two blocks from my apartment has exploded, or an iChat message that my sister is desperately trying to reach me. Please note that I am not a blood relative of B.J. — sorry, Melvin — Upton, nor am I even a fan of the Atlanta Braves. In other words…this could have waited.

I reflexively deny permission to 99% of the apps that ask to notify me of every stupid little thing so I have less of an issue with this but I do understand where Levy is coming from. One of the things that jumps out at me from some of the Apple Watch reviews is the idea that, if you set it up right, only those notifications that are truly important will be sent on to your wrist. But that’s the way I have my iPhone set up already.

Apple rescinds policy against hiring felons for construction work

San Jose Mercury News:

Apple has opened the door for construction workers with recent felonies on their records to help build its new campus.

The tech giant has lifted a requirement that people who had been convicted of felonies within the past seven years could not work on the massive Cupertino construction project, Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock told this newspaper Thursday. After the policy came to light this week, Apple came under fire from union leaders and advocates, who say construction jobs are a key source of work for felons trying to transition back into society.

I’m glad they did this. Now I can apply for a job on the Apple Campus 2 construction crew.

Where Apple products are born: a rare glimpse inside Foxconn

Re/code:

Foxconn is eager to present a different face, and agreed to give Re/code a tour of a sprawling manufacturing facility in Shenzhen in the south China province of Guangdong were it makes iPads and Macs. To be clear, we were not allowed unfettered access. A special assistant to CEO Terry Gou traveled from Shanghai to escort us on a tour that appeared to paint a picture of workers being treated well. We weren’t permitted to observe the factory floor — an unidentified customer wouldn’t allow that.

I think it’s fair to assume we all know who the “unidentified customer” was.

The definitive oral history of 1980′s digital icon Max Headroom

The Verge:

On Thursday, April 4th, 1985, a blast of dystopian satire hit the UK airwaves. Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future was a snarky take on media and corporate greed, told through the eyes of investigative journalist Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) and his computer-generated alter-ego: an artificial intelligence named Max Headroom.

I loved the character in the short snippets we saw. If you ever want to show your kids how weird the 80′s were, you can start by having them watch Max Headroom bits.

Homeless Canadians brought to tears by the mean things people say about them

CBC:

Usually a “mean tweets” video ends in laughter, but this one ends in tears.

A new campaign by the non-profit organization Raising the Roof features people dealing with homelessness reading the mean things people have said about them on social media aloud.

The goal? To get people to see that those who have nowhere to live are human beings too.

Having been homeless myself for a period of time, I felt the pain these people went through as they read these cruel and pointless tweets. If you can help, please do. If you can’t, leave these people alone.

The Beast of Turin awakens and it’s very, very angry

Autoweek:

This unbelievable Fiat S76, the so-called Beast of Turin, is the one surviving example of a pair of speed-record contenders the Italian automaker built before WWI. Its gargantuan 28.5-liter inline-four was capable of providing an impressive 300 hp — enough to propel the car to 116 mph, and a one-mile land speed record, in 1911.

Plus, it spits hellfire and sounds meaner than anything an army of 10,000 Carlo Abarths could have ever dreamed up.

Watch the video above if you don’t believe us.

First of all, turn your volume down.

I posted about this back in December when they had first restored this fire breathing monster. Now they’ve actually got it out on public roads, scaring humans and livestock alike. Thanks again to Glenn Ramsey for the link.

Baselworld, where the watch is still the greatest gadget

The new York Times:

For one week in March, this glittering watch and jewelry show (which ran March 19 to 26), attracts 150,000 industry insiders, collectors and fans, emerging from the digital mists of the 21st century like Brigadoon. It is a village unto itself with its own language, values and celebrities.

And a curious village it is. In an iPhone-toting era, where millions go out in public every day flaunting naked wrists, this is one corner of the globe where the wristwatch — that centuries-old feat of micro-engineering once considered as obsolete as the rotary phone — is the only personal productivity device, status symbol and idea on earth that seems to matter.

Interesting how an article about watches can be written this day without ever mentioning the Apple Watch by name. The reporter must have had to twist himself into knots to not get a single relevant quote from any of the assembled “150,000 industry insiders”.

AT&T’s plan to watch your Web browsing—and what you can do about it

Ars Technica:

If you have AT&T’s gigabit Internet service and wonder why it seems so affordable, here’s the reason—AT&T is boosting profits by rerouting all your Web browsing to an in-house traffic scanning platform, analyzing your Internet habits, then using the results to deliver personalized ads to the websites you visit, e-mail to your inbox, and junk mail to your front door.

In a few select areas including Austin, Texas, and Kansas City, Missouri—places where AT&T competes against the $70-per-month Google Fiber—Ma Bell offers its own $70-per-month “GigaPower” fiber-to-the-home Internet access. But signing up for the deal also opts customers in to AT&T’s “Internet Preferences” program, which gives the company permission to examine each customer’s Web traffic in exchange for a price that matches Google’s.

If users don’t push back on this AT&T “service”, you better believe every other ISP that has the capability will do the same “deep packet inspection”. The worse part of it is the surcharge to opt-out of this service. It will disproportionately affect those who can’t afford to protect themselves from AT&T’s snooping.

If Steve Jobs made Apple cool, Tim Cook is making it human

The Washington Post:

Jobs himself didn’t often weigh in on political issues, and rarely had Apple do so as a company. Cook has stepped up Apple’s philanthropic efforts (he’s also said he’s going to give a majority of his wealth to charity after his death, but hasn’t said to which charities.) But, generally speaking, Cook hasn’t deviated much from the Jobs playbook — and has received harsh criticism when he has.

That makes the timing of this op-ed all the more interesting.

While I agree to a certain extent with the premise of the article, I don’t think there’s anything to be read into the timing. The writer conflates this issue with the release of the Apple Watch:

To be willing to stir the pot even a little bit and risk distracting from that focus shows that this means a lot to Cook and that he’s fairly confident that Apple, the world’s most valuable company, can weather whatever controversy his view might throw its way.

I can be fairly certain in saying Cook isn’t worried about weathering a storm. He’s doing what he feels is right for Apple and damn the consequences. If you don’t want to buy Apple products because Tim Cook is standing up for what he believes in, he has no problem with that.

The most unforgettable hockey game requires the most unbelievable rink

Huffington Post:

A four-month contest to reward Canada’s most dedicated hockey players could only end in a place like this.

The lucky winners of Molson Canadian’s #AnythingForHockey campaign were flown by helicopter this month to a professionally built rink on a glacial B.C. lake to play an epic game of shinny.

These ads have been all over Canadian TV for months and, while you couldn’t pay me to drink Molson Canadian, their ad campaigns have always been wonderful examples of what it can mean to be Canadian and what hockey means to us. Now, excuse me. After watching that video, I’ve got some dust in my eyes I need to get a tissue to wipe out.

Periscope won’t change the world – but it appeals to journalists’ vanity

The Next Web:

The desire of so many to just bang the drum for these companies without asking too many questions. Technology writers shouldn’t be carnival barkers for startups and their VC backers. They shouldn’t be so easily seduced by a nicely designed interface and the opportunity to indulge their narcissism.

Periscope and Meerkat have flooded our social streams with hours of awful new content, just like Snapchat and Vine before them. Very few people stop to think whether their thoughts are worth sharing. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I have been doing live streaming video for over ten years. The only thing new about Periscope, Meerkat and others is the app – the tech has been around for the average person for years – and it has never really caught on for the masses. I don’t believe this latest round of hype for these apps will change that.

Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous

Washington Post:

America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges.

Another example of Tim Cook making Apple a company in his own image. And that’s a good thing.

Stars and writers of “NewsRadio” look back on the show that refused to play by the rules

Uproxx:

Twenty years later, though, you can mention NewsRadio in a conversation about the best shows in TV history and faces light up. But we wanted to go straight to the heart of the WYNX studio, so we talked to some of the show’s stars — Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Maura Tierney and Khandi Alexander — as well as writers Brad Isaacs and Joe Furey, to find out how they feel about this series two decades later.

It really was an amazingly good television show.

Apple’s Tim Cook leads different

Fortune:

Since replacing the legendary Steve Jobs, Cook has led the iBehemoth to even greater financial success. Along the way he’s changed the culture of the company—and found his public voice as a leader.

Another profile on Cook. I like reading these because he seems to be more open about things than Jobs was.

Fantastical 2 for Mac review

Macstories:

While the original Fantastical was a companion to the full Apple iCal experience, Fantastical 2 reinvents itself as a full-blown calendar client that retains the most important aspects of the app’s debut and adds a whole new calendar interface to the mix.

You can’t swing a dead cat today without hitting any number of (at least a dozen so far) reviews of Flexibits new version of their popular calendaring app but, at $50, you better be really serious about needing a calendar app.

Our favorite OS X launcher – Alfred

The Sweet Setup:

Being the new kid on the block can have its advantages, but only if you know how to leverage them properly. Our favorite — Alfred — is able to do just that when compared to LaunchBar, Quicksilver, and even Spotlight.

What Alfred does best is incorporate different features from its competitors and implement them in a distinctive, easy, and understandable way — all while offering more power for advanced users to take things further.

I’ve used Alfred for years and agree with this review. Even in its free version, it’s a great launcher but the Powerpack is well worth the price for power users.

How a lousy football game birthed a bastard and led to the greatest hockey game of all-time

.

Ken Baumgartner – 6’1”, 205 pounds, with a penchant for doling out punishment – was not the kind of guy you wanted to see angry. Baumgartner was a left wing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. More specifically, he was their enforcer; a man paid literally to inflict pain on opponents. But in 1992, the target of his aggression was not another player; nor was it a coach or referee. It was a videogame producer at Electronic Arts named Michael Brook.

‘Hi, I’m Ken Baumgartner,’ he said flatly by way of introduction. As a lifelong hockey fan, Brook already knew who he was, and indicated as much with a tiny flinch of a smile. Despite the recognition, the thuggish enforcer felt compelled to further introduce himself:

‘I’m the guy you gave a zero rating to for Intelligence.’

Great story about the development of a game many of us Canadians, and not a few Americans, wasted many an hour playing. Thanks to Kottke for the link.

1Password’s “open letter to banks”

1Password:

TD Canada Trust made quite a splash recently when it launched its redesigned iPhone app which disabled pasting in the password field. Users who embrace password managers for their online security were quick to point out their … well, ‘unhappiness’ with this decision. TD Canada’s original response to those users was unsettling.

I had something similar happen to me over the weekend. Canada Post limits passwords to “8 to 12 characters using only numbers and letters”. These institutions need to realize longer, more complicated passwords are better for security.

Apple opens up to praise new book on Steve Jobs, and criticize an old one

New York Times:

Steve Jobs prized secrecy from his executives and employees during his tenure at Apple. Now his top lieutenants are speaking out — to help shape the legacy of Steve Jobs.

Through interviews and tweets, Apple brass, including the chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, are throwing their weight behind a new unauthorized biography of the Apple co-founder, “Becoming Steve Jobs,” which goes on sale on Tuesday. In the book, executives take aim at another title, “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, an authorized biography published shortly after Mr. Jobs’s death in 2011.

Not unexpected but interesting to think there might be a concerted, organized PR campaign, not just from the book’s publisher, which is to be expected, but also from Apple.