Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ dies at 83

New York Times:

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

He was a wonderful actor in many roles but will obviously always be known for the iconic Spock. A very sad loss.

12 of the most famous songs no one’s ever heard


Some of the most mythic songs in history have never before been heard. Music has long played an integral role in literature and myth — forms that imperfectly captured the sounds described. What follows is a list of some of the most compelling songs that no living being has ever heard. These are songs that, without any music, testify to the true power of the art form

When I first read the headline, I thought it was poorly written but upon reading the story I realized they were right – there are many famous “songs” we’ve never actually heard.

Who killed Tony the Tiger?


For almost a century, Kellogg defined the American breakfast: a moment when people would be jolted out of their drowsiness—often with a stupendous serving of sugar.

The sales of 19 of Kellogg’s top 25 cereals eroded last year, according to Consumer Edge Research, a Stamford (Conn.) firm that tracks the food industry. Sales of Frosted Flakes, the company’s No. 1 brand, fell 4.5 percent.

Kellogg executives don’t expect cereal sales to return to growth this year, though they hope to slow the rate of decline and do better in 2016. But some Wall Street analysts say cereal sales may never fully recover. In Battle Creek, so-called Cereal City, that would be the equivalent of the apocalypse.

I haven’t sat down to a bowl of breakfast cereal in more than a decade but my favourite was always Apple Jacks.

FCC votes for net neutrality

Ars Technica:

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers—including cellular carriers—from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

The most controversial part of the FCC’s decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This decision brings Internet service under the same type of regulatory regime faced by wireline telephone service and mobile voice, though the FCC is forbearing from stricter utility-style rules that it could also apply under Title II.

This is a big step but the fight isn’t over yet.

AAPL $750B


(Apple is) in a lot of ways the story of a technology company hanging around, making interesting things, and waiting for the world to actually need what they wanted to build.

But also something to remember: narratives are bullshit. It’s the people who show up and build and keep going who ultimately write the stories that last.

Many don’t remember or know just how bad off Apple was in those days. It’s path has got to be considered the most remarkable story in the history of business.

Canadian DRAM national class action lawsuit

The Money is Mine:

Settlements have been reached in the Canadian DRAM national class actions, totaling over $79 million.

You can get money from the settlements if you bought DRAM or electronic devices containing DRAM between April 1, 1999 and June 30, 2002.

Many of my fellow Candians qualify for this settlement and I’d encourage you to take advantage of it, even if it’s only at the $20 level. Thanks to my friend Greg for the heads up.

Superfish, Komodia, PrivDog vulnerability test

Filippo Valsorda:

Turns out Lenovo preloaded their laptops with adware that will intercept all your secure connections, and allow criminals to do it, too.

After investigating the Lenovo incident we found out that many other softwares – like some Parental Controls or security packages – do things even worse for your security. This test attempts to detect them all.

Send this to all your friends. Quick, simple test.

Oscars 2015: Secrets of the limo drivers


On Oscar night the usually car-clogged streets of Hollywood fall silent because everyone is at a viewing party or, if they’re very lucky, sliding into a dress by Dior or slipping on a tuxedo en route to the big show.

The streets aren’t entirely empty: countless limousines are zipping all over town, then making their way to the Dolby Theatre, more than a dozen blocks surrounding Hollywood Boulevard closed to all other traffic as the purring cars patiently wait to drop off their clients.

Parking’s as difficult as a diva at the best of times in Hollywood, so where do hundreds and hundreds of limos – and their suited and booted chauffeurs – go to wait until they have to pick up again?

I never know whether that would be a cool job or not.

How the photocopier changed the way we worked and played

The Smithsonian:

In 1959, Xerox released the “914”—the first easy-to-use photocopier. The culmination of more than 20 years of experimentation, it was a much cleaner, “dry” process. The copier created an electrostatic image of a document on a rotating metal drum, and used it to transfer toner—ink in a powdered format—to a piece of paper, which would then be sealed in place by heat. It was fast, cranking out a copy in as little as seven seconds. When the first desk-size, 648-pound machines were rolled out to corporate customers—some of whom had to remove doors to install these behemoths—the era of copying began.

Or more accurately, the explosion of copying began. Xerox expected customers would make about 2,000 copies a month—but users easily made 10,000 a month, and some as many as 100,000. Before the 914 machine, Americans made 20 million copies a year, but by 1966 Xerox had boosted the total to 14 billion.

We don’t give much thought to the copier many of us have daily access to but this article makes a good argument for the ways it changed the world and asks if 3D printing might do the same.

The last of the typewriter men


As the 19th century teetered into the 20th, the clank of typewriter keys went from solo to symphony. They were the weapon of choice for professional writers, the business elite, people with things to say and the need to say them quickly. They unintentionally provided a passageway for women to tread into workplaces from which they had long been banished, and greatly expedited the rate at which human thought could be translated into ink. An 1867 issue of Scientific American marveled at the “machine by which it is assumed that man may print his thoughts twice as fast as he can write them.”

Using a typewriter at times feels more like playing piano than jotting down notes, a percussive exercise in expressing thought that is both tortuous and rewarding.

Great story about a dying technology and the men who still service it. While I am nostalgic about typewriters and love their look and feel, there’s no way I’d ever want to go back to using one on a daily basis.

Apple’s newest store boasts 50-foot glass walls and a free-floating second floor


The Hangzhou store’s ceilings are almost 50 feet high, with no columns to be found. The façade of glass panels reaches from floor to ceiling without interruption, meaning Foster + Partners had to push well beyond their previous feats in glass manufacturing to get 11 seamless panes.

I’ve seen a lot of pics of this new store and it is an absolutely stunning architectural achievement.

Dreams from my digital darkroom: reflections on 25 years of Photoshop


Twenty-five years ago today, a software application called Photoshop arrived, promising photographers and graphic designers a new realm of digital possibilities. But my brother John Knoll and I didn’t realize at the time just how broadly influential our little piece of software would become.

When I began writing the code back in graduate school instead of focusing on my PhD at the University of Michigan, I had no idea what it would become or how it would be used.

Photoshop might be the most complicated software application I’ve ever used. It’s an amazing tool.

25 truly terrifying pictures of the snow in Eastern Canada right now


The snow in Boston may have been bad, but wait until you see what’s going on in Canada.

The amazing amount of snow in my and The Loop’s Publisher’s home province and other areas of Eastern Canada is reminiscent of what I remember seeing frequently as a kid. When you’re young, this amount of snow is magical. Thanks to Nicole Dalrymple for the link!

What the hell do sound mixers do?


When you leave a movie theater, you’re probably not thinking, “Man, the sound in that movie was mixed perfectly.”

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’re bad at watching movies. The sound mix in a movie – the combination of the dialogue, soundtrack and sound effects – is designed to be unobtrusive. As one sound mixer put it to me, as soon as the audience notices something slightly off in the mix, “you’ve lost them.”

I love this behind the scenes stuff, especially about subjects most of us have heard of but have no clue what actually happens.

“My Own Life”: Oliver Sacks on learning he has terminal cancer

The new York Times:

A month ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

Beautifully written but no less heartbreaking.

DiskWarrior 5 review: The most essential drive maintenance and repair tool gets even better


DiskWarrior does one thing, and does it well: it optimizes and repairs disk directories, which contain the information that tells your Mac where files are stored on the disks attached to it. If directories become corrupted, you can lose files. While your data may still be on a disk, the Mac is no longer capable of finding it. DiskWarrior works both as preventive medicine—to fix errors before they become serious—and to correct more serious errors and help recover files when things get really bad.

I am no longer a professional Mac Consultant but, when I was, DiskWarrior was an indispensable tool. I still highly recommend it.

What the tech world doesn’t understand about fashion


It’s pure arrogance for Silicon Valley to imagine that it can make wearables cool by hiring a few fashion people, putting the product on a runway, or throwing money at “collaborations” with brands. This is a new game they’re trying to play, one with different rules. The rollout of the Apple Watch would look much different if it were orchestrated by a brand like Chanel. Instead of being released at $350, it would hit stores with a price tag in the thousands. Consumers would clamor to get their hands on one, only to be stymied by limited runs, which would further stoke desire. Only after a few years of artificial scarcity would it enjoy wider release.

I have the fashion sense of a hobo so I have no idea if this piece is an accurate portrayal or not but it is an interesting take on the subject.

February 15th is “National Flag of Canada Day”!

On February 15, 1965, our national flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. Canada was just two years away from centennial celebrations when the maple leaf flag was made official by Royal Proclamation. In 1996, February 15 was declared National Flag of Canada Day and has been observed every year since.

February 15, 2015, will mark the 50th anniversary of the National Flag of Canada. This special Flag Day is the perfect opportunity to learn more about how our flag was created and what it means to us.

I love my country and I’m very proud of our flag and what it stands for. Thanks to John Kordyback for the link.

Apple doesn’t want to compete — it wants to own the record business


You didn’t have to look too far to spot the action at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala on Feb. 7. Ground zero was table 108, where Apple CEO Tim Cook, senior vp Internet software and services Eddy Cue, iTunes vp Robert Kondrk and Beats co-founder and title-less Apple executive Jimmy Iovine were seated alongside former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi. After a shout-out from the party’s host (Davis called Cook a “special human”), music execs lined up single file for an audience with the Apple contingent — not to mention selfies and overshares about their first Macs.

Headline hyperbole aside, Apple is definitely making behind the scenes moves with the music industry. It will be very exciting to see what they come up with.

International Verify Your Backups Day


Ss those of us who have had to rely on our backups in the past know, the act of backing up is only the first small step in the full equation — it’s being able to restore that really matters.

Take a few minutes to identify some critical files and see if you can restore them successfully from your backups. If a bootable backup is part of your backup strategy, make sure you can actually boot from it.

Adam has mentioned this every Friday the 13th and it’s a good thing to remember – all the backups in the world are useless if you can’t restore your data from them.

Product distortion field

Six Colors:

I believe Apple is truly a company that is always looking at the big picture, I really do. The iPhone and iPad and Mac all work together, using iTunes and iCloud and even Apple Pay as infrastructure, in a harmonious way. But at the same time, it’s hard not to look at the size of Apple’s iPhone business and wonder how the success of the iPhone affects Apple’s decision-making.

I’ve often made the same point. I don’t think Apple is truly ignoring the the other aspects of their business but the iPhone is definitely the 800 lb gorilla.

CoeLux: artificial sunlight that’s real enough to trick your camera and brain


An Italian company called CoeLux has developed a new light source that recreates the look of sunlight through a skylight so well that it can trick both human brains and cameras.

The scientists who invented the light figured out how to use a thin coating of nanoparticles to accurately simulate sunlight through Earth’s atmosphere and the effect known as Rayleigh scattering. It’s not just the color temperature thats the same — the quality of the light feels the same as well.

This is just mindbogglingly cool. I have lived in basement apartments most of my life so I know the practical application of this in living spaces could be profound. I especially like the concept of “earthscrapers”.

Apple promoting “great games with no in-app purchases” on App Store front page


Apple has started promoting games that don’t have any In-App Purchases on the front page of the App Store. Currently featured in the UK App Store and likely expanding to the U.S. store later today as part of the App Store’s weekly refresh, the section is called ‘Pay Once & Play’ and it showcases “great games” that don’t require users to pay for extra content through IAPs.

Great to see Apple promoting these games. Go out and buy one or two.

David Carr, New York Times critic and champion of media, dies at 58

New York Times:

David Carr, a writer who wriggled away from the demon of drug addiction to become an unlikely name-brand media columnist at The New York Times, and the star of a documentary about the newspaper, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 58.

An incredible loss for journalism and writing. I devoured everything he wrote, not because I agreed with everything he said but because he wrote so damn well. He will be sorely missed.

SkyMall will fly again

Scott Jordan:

While I am playing much of our strategy close to the (SCOTTe)vest – and keeping a few aces in my pockets (since I am Pocket Man) – I just have to tease some of our favorite developments in our bid to rescue SkyMall.

More than just a catalog. Sure, it looks like a catalog. But SkyMall has always been entertainment first, and shopping second. That’s the secret sauce that made it so compelling. While the “social sharing” of SkyMall’s content was limited to just exposing your travelling companion yet another outrageous product, the content was always entertaining.

We will dial up that entertainment aspect of SkyMall by embracing it as a source of creative content.

I’m a big fan of SCOTTeVEST and, while this seems like an insane waste of money, I hope they pull it off.

How The New York Times works

Popular Mechanics:

The paper on which tonight’s edition is being printed arrived, as it does each week, from four different paper mills—two in Quebec, one in Ontario, and one in Tennessee—where it was packaged into rolls large enough to serve as the business end of a steamroller: 2,200 pounds each and fifty inches in diameter. Eighteen-wheelers carried them to a Times storage facility in the Bronx, where more trucks took twenty rolls each from there to the plant in Queens, where manned forklifts deposited each one in a four-story warehouse that can hold 2,231 just like it.

For all of its problems and issues, The New York Times is still my favourite paper and this is a really interesting story about how it ends up in physical form.

Anki Overdrive: race AI-powered toy cars on courses you build yourself

The Wall Street Journal:

Anki Overdrive is the latest proof that videogames are coming to real life. The tiny AI-powered cars, which surprised robotics and slot-car fans alike when they first hit the market in 2013, will get new customizable tracks—plus hotter designs and abilities—when they arrive this fall.

But this second generation swaps out the simple roll-out mat tracks that the first cars drove on for a set of modular tracks that you can lay out any way you want. The new tracks are made up of plastic pieces that magnetically snap together. You can even create terrain—bridges, banked turns and dead-end cliffs.

I had the original track and, while interesting, it quickly lost our interest because of the track limits. This new setup looks fantastic.

What is this ‘Carrier Settings Update’ on my iPhone, iPad?


Oh God, what is this?That’s the first thought you might have when a notification appears on your iPhone or iPad prompting you to download a “Carrier Settings Update.”If you’re like me, you’ll shrug and tap the Update button (YOLO!). But others might be a little more wary, and want to know what the update is for and whether it’s safe to download before taking any action.Unfortunately, getting answers to these questions is much harder than it should be.

I had this happen while setting up a friend’s phone yesterday. Finding info on what it is was frustratingly difficult.

The case for buying a Powerball ticket

The New York Times:

if you’re going to ever think about buying lottery tickets, a moment like this — when the Powerball jackpot has reached remarkable highs — is the best possible time.

The biggest and most generally applicable reason buying lottery tickets is a non-terrible idea is this: It is fun to imagine one’s future after arriving at vast wealth.

I’ve always loved the Fran Leibowitz line of, “Your odds of winning the lottery are the same whether you play it or not.”

40 brilliant idioms that simply can’t be translated literally


It’s a piece of cake. You can’t put lipstick on a pig. Why add fuel to the fire? Idioms are those phrases that mean more than the sum of their words. As our Open Translation Project volunteers translate TED Talks into 105 languages, they’re often challenged to translate English idioms into their language. Which made us wonder: what are their favorite idioms in their own tongue?

Many of these are even more nonsensical in English. My favourite is, “You sing like an elephant farted in your ear!” Hat tip to Lori Taber.