How to watch The Tour De France

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This Saturday, July 4, The Tour de France starts. And you should watch it.

Granted, out of all the sports, professional cycling is, by far, the most impenetrable to outsiders. There are so many questions: Why do they all ride together in a group? Why doesn’t just one guy jump ahead and leave everyone behind? If there’s only one winner, why are there teams? What’s with the different jersey colors? Aren’t all of these guys on steroids? All understandable!

But read this humble primer to cycling’s most prestigious — and most grueling — race, and we promise that you will relish waking up at 8 am to watch a bunch of men in spandex ride bikes through the French countryside.

I love this race. The spectacle, the scenery, the drama, the controversies, all add up to a month of great viewing. I wouldn’t ride a bicycle if you paid me and the sport is, like boxing and The World Cup, tarnished (almost) beyond redemption but I’ll still watch every second of it.

An inside look at America’s weirdest Independence Day tradition

Politico:

“The hot-dog contest is a physical manifestation of the concept of freedom,” said George Shea, the mastermind behind the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. “The contest has come to represent the spirit of July 4th itself. That is why people go to the event. It is kind of a pilgrimage to the center of July 4th and the center of freedom.”

More than 30,000 fans of the absurd will pack the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues to watch the annual feeding frenzy—the Super Bowl of eating contests.

I love America but I don’t understand the fascination with competitive eating in general and certainly not with this particular event. It’s actually been broadcast on ESPN. If this is the “spirit of July 4th”, I fear for that spirit.

70% of drivers engage in smartphone activities while behind the wheel

AT&T:

When you see the driver next to you looking at their phone, it’s no longer safe to assume they’re texting. New research1 from AT&T* shows nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net. And surprisingly, 1-in-10 video chat.

7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. Texting and emailing are still the most prevalent. But other smartphone activity use behind the wheel is now common. Among social platforms, Facebook tops the list, with more than a quarter of those polled using the app while driving.

As a motorcyclist, this survey is not only disturbing but, sadly, not surprising. There’s not a day goes by I don’t see someone more focused on their phone than on their driving. There’s also generally not a day that goes by where I don’t have to take some kind of evasive action to avoid an accident with a distracted driver. Please, as AT&T is campaigning, “It Can Wait”.

Between Kickstarter’s frauds and phenoms live long-delayed projects

Ars Technica:

By this point, fairy-tales about successful funding and horror stories of projects that end in abject failure or corruption have led most of us to recognize the volatility of any Kickstarter project. But lost between these two extremes is a long, sometimes confusing road that is invisible, and sometimes even inaccessible, to the mildly interested passersby. In today’s Kickstarter Web storefronts, projects appear so singular to their backers that any unplanned activity can seem more erratic and suspicious than it actually is. In most cases, though, delays are normal.

This underreported grey area between funded and shipped (or sailed) isn’t necessarily something to loathe. Rather, it highlights many of the reasons crowdfunding is worth protecting—even if some of the practice’s worst contradictory forces are at play.

I’ve backed several Kickstarter projects over the last few years and have been universally disappointed for various reasons, not the least of which is failure to ship. I won’t be doing any more.

The Apple Music highlight so far is the shared listening experience

Quartz:

It is broadcast 24 hours a day, with real people picking songs, introducing them, and conducting interviews. Everyone around the globe hears the same thing at the same time—a rarity for internet-based media, which is rarely experienced in sync. As a result, everyone can also discuss in real-time.

It’s early, but tuning into Beats 1 on launch day and following along with other listeners on Twitter made it a fun, memorable, shared experience.

It’s hard to argue with the sentiment. Sure, some (many) don’t like the mix – “there’s too much ____ (insert music genre you dislike the most here)” but I’ve been listening to nothing but Beats 1 since the launch. The shared music aspect of it is really appealing to me. For the most part, I like the DJs. I especially like Julie Adenuga and her drum and bass mix. Sure, there are glitches and odd bits (the naughty language edits are particularly annoying) but, after only three days, it’s a remarkable achievement that will only get better, in my opinion.

Beats1 live on your Mac

It looks like Twitter has found the link to the live stream of Beats1 audio. Thanks to Benji R for the link. This will do until Apple posts their own link.

Bad news for Prince fans: These artists are missing from Apple Music

a few artists are still not ready to commit to Apple Music. The Beatles are a big—but expected—holdout. It took Apple years to bring The Beatles to the iTunes Store and when it finally did in 2010, the company did an entire ad campaign about it. If Apple Music included The Beatles’ catalog, we would have heard about it weeks ago.

Another notable holdout is Prince, who has an artist page on Apple Music—but it’s completely blank. It’s possible that Apple and Prince are still sorting out negotiations, but as of launch day, Apple Music subscribers won’t be able to work out to “When Doves Cry.”

It’s a real shame for me – I’m a huge Prince fan – and there are a lot of other popular artists not included, to the great detriment of their fans.

Trent Reznor on Apple Music: other services “left me feeling lacking”

Rolling Stone:

Reznor is taking his own stab at a streaming service, with an eye toward connecting with fans, with Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio.

I want that feeling of walking into an independent record shop, if there are still any that exist, like Amoeba [Records], and being delighted by the choices and the way music is presented to you with love and care. It’s exciting. And you leave with stuff you wouldn’t have dreamed you wanted and you’re excited to listen and share it and experience it.”

I love Reznor’s intensity both in his Nine Inch Nails days and now as the guy who seems to be the driving force of Apple Music.

Apple Music is coming to Sonos by the end of the year

The Verge:

Sonos let its fans know weeks ago that the company’s multi-room, wireless speakers would not support Apple Music at launch. But there is some good news: we now know that Apple and Sonos are trying to make it a reality. A Sonos spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that the two companies are working together to bring Apple Music support “before the end of the year.”

I’ve never used the Sonos system but those I know who have rave about it. Good to see they and Apple are going to work together. Also interesting to see Apple confirm this “rumor”.

Tim Cook’s Apple is the Apple we need

Macworld:

Cook’s specialty is the running of the business, and at that he excels. But he also knows when to let his team do its job, and doesn’t try to replicate the way Jobs ran the company.

The more I consider it, the more I’ve begun to think that even were Jobs still around, Cook might still be the better choice for CEO in this day and age. Can you imagine Jobs being as receptive as Cook was to calls for improved diversity at Apple? Or embracing social media? Or posing for selfies? Yeah, me neither.

Any discussion that Cook isn’t a good CEO in general or “good enough for Apple” is utterly ridiculous. Cook is arguably a better CEO for Apple, at least right now, than Jobs would have been.

Molson and Google built a beer fridge that unlocks via voice translation

Techcrunch:

The key ingredient here is Google’s Speech Recognition API (though others like its translation services are also at work). The API lets the fridge recognize voice input in up to 40 different languages, with the ultimate goal of recognizing the single phrase “I am Canadian” (Molson’s longtime marketing slogan).

Molson makes some spectacularly awful beer but they do some really interesting promotions around the theme of “I am Canadian”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger goes undercover as the Terminator

Schwarzenegger may be a real life jerk but he is a publicity machine and will do whatever it takes to promote his projects. This is a great stunt. I can’t wait to see the movie. The theme music alone gives me chills.

Zane Lowe, the D.J. scratching out Beats 1 for Apple

The new York Times:

For the last 12 years, Mr. Lowe has been a top tastemaker on the BBC’s Radio 1 by championing brand-new music, landing interviews with stars like Kanye West and running his show with a frenetic production style inspired by hip-hop itself. Now he is preparing for a much broader role as the guiding voice of Beats 1, a free Internet radio station from Apple that on Tuesday will begin broadcasting to smartphones and laptops around the world — an experiment, of sorts, to reinvent live radio.

I hope we see profiles of the other two featured DJs for Beats 1. This is an aspect of Apple Music I find especially interesting and, I think, will make or break the service.

Apple’s Lisa Jackson to lead all of Apple’s social policy initiatives

The Washington Post:

Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Apple’s top executive on environmental issues, will become the company’s lead on all policy initiatives, including the environment, education and accessibility. Her new title will be the vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives.

In a memo to employees, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that Jackson’s new role is in line with the company’s dedication to “leaving the world better than we found it.”

Another good sign that Apple’s commitment to environment issues isn’t just lip service. Even better, they wisely see this as part of making the company better and more successful.

Apple’s “World Gallery” campaign wins outdoor Lions Grand Prix at Cannes

Fast Company:

Apple’s “World Gallery” campaign, by agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab, that showcased iPhone photos taken by amateur and professional photographers around the world, has snapped the top prize in the Outdoor Lions at Cannes this year.

According to the jury president Juan Carlos Ortiz, creative chairman at DDB Americas, the judges didn’t so much choose “World Gallery,” it chose them. Praising the Grand Prix winner, Ortiz said: “It’s not just a great idea, it’s a game changer. It’s really opening a new way of doing things and changing behavior.”

Congratulations not just to Apple for the win but to all the photographers who had their work showcased. It really brought to the fore how a creative person with an iPhone can create amazing images.

Apple Music signs Beggars Group, Merlin

Billboard:

Apple Music, the hardware giant’s soon-to-launch streaming service, has landed an eleventh-hour coup, striking deals with the independents’ digital rights organization Merlin and with Martin Mills’ indie powerhouse Beggars Group, sources tell Billboard. Label group PIAS has also announced it has signed on.

In a letter sent to Merlin members, CEO Charles Caldas writes, “I am pleased to say that Apple has made a decision to pay for all usage of Apple Music under the free trials on a per-play basis, as well as to modify a number of other terms that members had been communicating directly with Apple about. With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.”

I think independent music will be a big deal for Apple Music and, like many, am getting more and more excited to see what Apple Music will offer in terms of real world use.

Apple becomes “Promoter Member” of Bluetooth SIG

Bluetooth Special Interest Group:

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced today that Apple, Inc. has become a Promoter member of the Bluetooth SIG. Promoter members are the sole voting class on Bluetooth SIG corporate matters and hold a continual seat on the SIG Board of Directors.

Current Promoter members Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Nokia, and Toshiba unanimously welcomed Apple to the highest membership level of the organization.

As the press release states, Apple has been a member of the group for years. This new status obviously means they will have more of a say over the future of Bluetooth.

Emulsion for Mac is a simpler alternative to Adobe Lightroom

Petapixel:

While Adobe provides an excellent range of products, some photographers are looking to expand their horizon with more affordable alternatives.

Emulsion is described as a 3rd party photo cataloging software designed to replace Apple’s in-house Aperture photo editing and management program.

For $50 you can pick up Emulsion, which allows non-destructive editing, metadata manipulation, photo organization, and more. A free thirty-day trial is also available for those who would like to give the software a thorough run before purchasing. Current requirements for Emulsion include Mac OS X Yosemite and 4 GB of RAM.

As the review points out, if you’re already a Lightroom user, this app isn’t any better. But, if you don’t need all the features of Lightroom, Emulsion looks like a good alternative.

The safety truck could revolutionize road safety

Samsung:

Have you ever found yourself driving behind a semi-trailer truck? If you’re on a single-lane highway or road, it can be a nightmare. Even though the truck is driving relatively slowly, you cannot overtake it due to its size, and because you cannot see what is happening in front of the truck.

However, Samsung has developed a solution that may make this problem a thing of the past.

This is a very clever idea but likely far too expensive for most trucking companies. There’s also likely a lot of regulations that would have to be changed as well as assurances companies won’t simply use the technology to show even more advertisements to motorists stuck behind semis.

Cook Says Chinese tastes considered in Apple product designs

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. takes Chinese consumer tastes into account when it designs many of its products, Chief Executive Tim Cook said, underscoring the country’s importance to the iPhone maker.

The company considers details including color palettes to suit local tastes, Cook said in an interview in the June 17 Chinese-language version of Bloomberg Businessweek, published under license by Modern Media Holdings.

The decision to offer a gold iPhone last year reflects in part the popularity of that color among Chinese users, he added. Greater China, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, is now Apple’s second-largest market and has become a battleground for the company as it vies with Samsung Electronics Co. and Xiaomi Corp. for smartphone supremacy.

This is a statement that will surprise some but really shouldn’t. China is poised to take over as Apple and the world’s largest market for consumer goods. It makes good business sense to cater to it whenever possible.

IMAX’s absurd attempt to censor Ars Technica

Ars Technica:

IMAX’s letter is part of a disturbing trend in which some companies believe that owning a trademark actually allows them to control any speech about their product. Too many examples abound already of trademark owners that believe they’re entitled to control how movies and TV shows portray their brand.

IMAX has taken that to the next level here, believing it is entitled to literally silence someone speaking to a journalist because the name of a corporation happened to slip out of his mouth.

Good to see both Ars Technica pushing back against this kind of corporate bullying and IMAX’s apology after they realize how badly they screwed up.

This Father’s Day, “Tell Them Now”

As someone with an extremely complicated relationship with his three dads, this video had me in tears thinking about all the things I wish I could have said to them and all the things I wish I could have heard them say.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Corbis charges hefty fees for freely available public domain photos

Petapixel:

If you come across any photograph published in the US before 1923, you’re free to use it for whatever purpose you’d like, with or without permission, and with or without attribution. Why? Because its copyright has expired and it’s public domain.

Strangely enough, sometimes free public domain photos get sold as stock photos, and those who don’t know any better may pay large sums to use something they could have used for free.

Don’t get conned by Corbis or anyone else trying to sell you imagery that is in the public domain.

Red Bull barnstorming

Red Bull:

Leader Paul Bonhomme and Wingman Steve Jones have been flying together for 17 years, and needed every ounce of that experience to pull off this amazing feat of aviation.

The Red Bull Matadors pilots hurtled straight through a hangar at Llanbedr Airfield, north Wales, at a speed of 160 knots (185mph), just one metre off the ground.

Brings new meaning to the words, “sphincter tightening”. Amazing skill and courage of these two guys. “If we get it wrong, we hit a building”. Indeed.

The Hello Project

Spencer Wynn

The Hello Project was born of a love of story telling and curiosity.

All too often people pass one another, head down and only interacting with their mobile devices. This is an attempt to use the power of social media to reconnect people in the oldest way possible …

by saying Hello.

This is sort of the Canadian version of the famous New York city project and it brings home a thought I’ve always had – most of us have stories to tell but no one to tell them to.

I love the idea of street photography but am often too reserved and shy (too Canadian) to approach people. I think this way of doing it will inspire me to try my own photographic experiment along these lines.

The increasing scarcity of Helium

Priceonomics:

As helium supplies start to dwindle, the prices have already started to rise, and party balloons are taking a back-seat to the more serious applications. A hundred years down the line, a party balloon might be about as precious as a gold ring.

Despite the fact that science has known about the impending helium scarcity for decades, it’s only made the news in the past five years. Why that is has a lot to do with helium’s complicated political history in the United States.

What a fascinating story about an element most of us give no thought to unless we are sucking it in to make funny voices.

LensProToGo’s stolen gear serial numbers

LensProToGo:

As many of you may have heard, LensProToGo suffered a break-in at our Concord, MA location over the weekend of June 13-14 totaling just shy of $600,000 worth of gear stolen. We’ve taken a full inventory and this is the list of items that was taken. While this list is quite large, it does represent only a portion of our inventory, so we’re still able to handle customer orders with virtually no effect.

Please take a look at this list and be wary of any used camera items for sale in the coming months. Always ask to see serial numbers before purchasing.

The nice folks at LensProToGo (who I’ve rented from often) need your help. As with any purchase, always check the serial numbers and, if you are a photographer, be on the look out for “special deals” on eBay, Craigslist and other places on lenses. As you can see by the list, LensProToGo got ripped for a lot of lenses that will soon start showing up for sale.

Police search for 3 men in death of 18-year-old trying to retrieve his phone

CBC:

Cook had left his smartphone in a taxi and traced it electronically to an address on Highbury Avenue.

When he and a relative went to the address, he was confronted by three men in a car, London police Const. Ken Steeves told CBC News.

After a discussion about the phone, the men started to drive away and Cook dove onto the hood of the car. He was shot soon afterward.

We hear “heartwarming” stories of people tracking down their iPhones, confronting the bad guys, and getting them back all the time. Here’s the flip side. Please don’t do this. I promise your phone isn’t worth your life. Contact your local police if you’ve lost your phone and can track it to a specific location.

The 2015 iPhone Photography Award Winners

iPhone Photography Award:

From intimate, thought-provoking moments to stunning, captivating scenes, this year’s iPhone Photography Award winners are nothing short of impressive.

The three Photographers of the Year Awards go to Michal Koralewski of Poland, David Craik of the United Kingdom and Yvonne Lu of the United States. Their photographs take full advantage of the iPhone to quietly capture their subjects without disturbing the atmosphere.

Always amazing to see what photographers can do with the iPhone. Inspires me to want to shoot more with it.

Here’s what happens to your $10 after you pay for a month of Apple Music

Re/code:

Here are the real numbers, according to Robert Kondrk, the Apple executive who negotiates music deals along with media boss Eddy Cue: In the U.S., Apple will pay music owners 71.5 percent of Apple Music’s subscription revenue. Outside the U.S., the number will fluctuate, but will average around 73 percent, he told Re/code in an interview. Executives at labels Apple is working with confirmed the figures.

Those totals include payments to the people who own the sound recordings Apple Music will play, as well as the people who own the publishing rights to songs’ underlying compositions. That doesn’t mean the money will necessarily go to the musicians who recorded or wrote the songs, since their payouts are governed by often-byzantine contracts with music labels and publishers.

No surprises here as the 70+% is pretty standard. What I’m curious to know is how much will those “basement musicians” Apple mentioned get? Apple talks of unsigned artists being able to get their music listened to on the service. If those artists get 70% of the revenue, it might generate significant money for them.