August 21, 2017

The last total US solar eclipse, in 1979, as reported by Walter Cronkite

Lots to love about this fantastic video. There’s the solar eclipse itself, of course, , but there’s also a chance to see the great Walter Cronkite at work. I love the reference to 2017 as the next total eclipse. Seems impossibly far off.

[Via Kottke.org]

Be safe.

The Guardian:

MPs are expected to gather outside parliament to witness Big Ben’s final bongs at midday on Monday before the chimes are silenced to allow repair work to begin, amid a political furore about the four-year renovation project.

From the Big Ben Wikipedia page:

Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London and is usually extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower as well. The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012; previously, it was known simply as the Clock Tower.

When completed in 1859, it was, says clockmaker Ian Westworth, “the prince of timekeepers: the biggest, most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world.” The tower had its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009, during which celebratory events took place.

A British cultural icon, the tower is one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom and is often in the establishing shot of films set in London.

Hope we hear that famous bong again as soon as possible.

UPDATE: Feedback on the original article ranged from calling it silly (the clock is undergoing maintenance, pure clickbait) all the way to anger (this story is nothing, Brexit is where the focus should be). If you’re interested, here’s a Twitter moments’ peek at the crowds gathering to watch the bell fall silent:

Latest iOS beta offers quick way to force passcode reentry

When you restart your iPhone, you are forced to reenter your passcode to unlock your phone. If your phone is off, this prevents anyone with access to your phone from breaking in.

But with the latest beta (iOS 11 beta 6), Apple added this shortcut:

In a nutshell, if you press the power button 5 times quickly, you are sent to the emergency call screen (as you were in previous incarnations). But in the latest beta, Touch ID will no longer unlock your phone, forcing you to reenter the passcode to regain access.

This is a smart add. You can make this move silently, even with the phone in your pocket.

Bloomberg:

Movie studios are considering whether to ignore the objections of cinema chains and forge ahead with a plan to offer digital rentals of films mere weeks after they appear in theaters, according to people familiar with the matter.

Some of the biggest proponents, including Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures, are pressing on in talks with Apple Inc. and Comcast Corp. on ways to push ahead with the project even without theater chains, the people said.

And:

Deals with potential distributors such as Apple and Comcast could be reached as soon as early next year to sell digital downloads of major films as soon as two weeks after they debut in theaters, the people said.

This seems inevitable, part of the evolution of the content consumption model. Apple is easing into this business on several sides, tweaking their iTunes movie and TV streaming business, as they also build their own content creation business.

I see Apple as the irresistible force here, fueled by the deepest pockets in the biz.

PR Newswire:

Deloitte today announced that Chipotle Mexican Grill has selected Deloitte Digital to help transform its mobile customer experience. Deloitte Digital, the creative digital consultancy within Deloitte Consulting LLP, will redesign Chipotle’s iOS and Android ordering apps as part of Chipotle’s focus on digital ordering and enhancing the customer experience. Chipotle plans to launch the new apps in the fall of 2017, with additional channels by the end of the year.

And:

The redesigned mobile experience will also include enhanced payment options including Apple and Android pay.

Whether or not you are a fan of Chipotle, this is a sign of the continued expansion of Apple Pay. Slow and steady.

August 20, 2017

The New Yorker:

The Voyagers’ scientific mission will end when their plutonium-238 thermoelectric power generators fail, around the year 2030. After that, the two craft will drift endlessly among the stars of our galaxy—unless someone or something encounters them someday. With this prospect in mind, each was fitted with a copy of what has come to be called the Golden Record. Etched in copper, plated with gold, and sealed in aluminum cases, the records are expected to remain intelligible for more than a billion years, making them the longest-lasting objects ever crafted by human hands. We don’t know enough about extraterrestrial life, if it even exists, to state with any confidence whether the records will ever be found. They were a gift, proffered without hope of return.

A fascinating story about a remarkable project.

Mashable:

Apple aired the finale of its first original series this week. If you missed it, don’t stress.

It’s just a pretty undramatic, very-edited reality show about dozens of entrepreneurs, people who were trying to make careers off a business based around an app.

Not unlike Shark Tank, viewers learn a little about what it takes to build an app-based company and raise venture capital. But unlike Shark Tank, it’s really not that thrilling.

That’s OK, though. For Apple, the whole ordeal can be seen as a success.

I couldn’t/didn’t watch all ten episodes. If you did, what did you think? Would you watch another full season of the show?

August 19, 2017

Mashable:

Prepare for some seriously epic Sunday brunches, because the PancakeBot makes it possible to essentially 3D print your own pancake designs at the touch of a button. The proprietary batter dispensing system will draw your customized pancake perfectly every time.

This is utterly insane and stupid and I want one so bad.

August 18, 2017

Last week, I met Louis and we walked down a memory lane, talking about our publishing lives, disappointments and emotional challenges of breaking up with something you create. We pondered about the state of the media, the emergence of President Trump and why we need to be optimistic about the future.

Such a great interview. It’s like we’re listening in on two friends sitting down for a chat.

Getting the most out of your iPad Pro is as easy as it looks. Just watch and learn.

Great idea for Apple to put out these videos showing people how to get the most out of the iPad Pro and the upcoming iOS 11.

The Dalrymple Report: iPhone photography with guest Shawn King

This week I chat with Shawn King about photography and how people can take better pictures using their iPhone.

Brought to by:

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Starting Point Photography

Thanks to BlackPods for sponsoring The Loop this week. At BlackPods, we’ve developed a proprietary coating system specifically for Apple’s AirPods. Our three-phase finishing procedure utilizes the latest in solvent-based painting technology to yield a luxurious finish that exceeds U.S. Military specifications. Every pair of customized AirPods we produce is hand-finished by a team of skilled artisans. Whether you purchase them through us or send yours in, each pair of AirPods is subjected to a rigorous visual and quality inspection.

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Use promo code THELOOP at checkout for $20 off anything in our store.

National Geographic:

Many cultures thought solar and lunar eclipses occurred when the celestial bodies were consumed by supernatural forces, like the fire dogs of Korea, the sky-wolves of the Vikings, or the disembodied head of a Hindu demon.

This year, sky-watchers are gearing up for the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental U.S. since 1979. Take a look through these photos of historic eclipses from around the world (including the one that made Albert Einstein famous).

There are some great photos here, some of which you’ll recognize.

Wired:

Potassium hydroxide is being mixed with water heated to 150°C. A biochemical reaction is taking place and the flesh is melting off the bones. Over the course of up to four hours, the strong alkaline base causes everything but the skeleton to break down to the original components that built it: sugar, salt, peptides and amino acids; DNA unzips into its nucleobases, cytosine, guanine, adenine, thymine. The body becomes fertiliser and soap, a sterile watery liquid that looks like weak tea. The liquid shoots through a pipe into a holding tank in the opposite corner of the room where it will cool down, be brought down to an acceptable pH for the water treatment plant, and be released down the drain.

Fisher says I can step outside if it all gets too much, but it’s not actually that terrible. The human body, liquefied, smells like steamed clams.

This, Fisher explains, is the future of death.

Unless you have a religious belief against it, is there really a need to have your remains put in a specific spot in the ground? I read a while back about burying people under trees, allowing their remains to fertilize and nourish the tree. I’d love to be buried under an apple tree in Nova Scotia.

August 17, 2017

As part of his new role, the legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist is currently developing new products with three of Gibson’s guitar brands, Gibson Custom, Gibson and Epiphone. Details of the new products will be announced beginning later this month.

Cheers, Slash.

On Wednesday, Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it had disabled Apple Pay support for a handful of websites that sold sweaters with Nazi logos, T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “White Pride,” and a bumper sticker showing a car plowing into stick figure demonstrators. Following Saturday’s Charlottesville demonstrations, where one woman was killed by a car driven by a white nationalist, the iPhone-maker blocked three white nationalist sites from using Apple Pay.

Good.

Uber Technologies Inc on Thursday won a victory in its effort to keep unhappy customers from suing in court, persuading a federal appeals court to send a Connecticut passenger’s price-fixing case against the ride-service company into arbitration.

Meyer accused Uber and Kalanick of conspiring with drivers, whose earnings are shared with Uber, to charge “surge pricing” fares during peak demand periods.

It’s supply and demand. If he didn’t read the agreement when he signed up, that’s on him, not Uber. People will sue for any reason.

iDownloadBlog:

Say hello to macOS High Sierra, Apple’s newest operating system update for Macs. Whether you’re on an iMac or one of the Touch Bar-outfitted MacBook Pro models, there is a lot to love in this latest release of Apple’s desktop operating system.

This possibly may be the biggest macOS update to date, though not all of it is visible on the surface. We are going to take a look at some of the biggest changes, leaving the rest to our accompanying list and a hands-on video walkthrough.

There are several features I’m really looking forward to. Do you have a favourite?

BuzzFeed:

On Wednesday evening Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to all global employees condemning racism and bigotry as well as President Trump’s response to the tragedy in Charlottesville, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“Hate is a cancer,” Cook wrote to employees, noting that Apple must be “unequivocal” about fighting and denouncing bigotry in all forms.

I don’t usually care what most CEOs have to say about social issues but Tim Cook is not shy about wading in to some of these issues.

Harpers:

From the jury selection process that took place over three days in June for the trial of Martin Shkreli, an investor and hedge fund founder who is facing eight counts of securities and wire fraud. In 2015, when Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company raised the price of its drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent. In 2016, Shkreli was widely criticized for defending the 400 percent increase in the price of EpiPen, an emergency allergy injection sold by Mylan. More than two hundred potential jurors were excused from the trial. Judge Kiyo Matsumoto presided. Benjamin Brafman is a lawyer representing Shkreli.

I guarantee this will be the funniest thing you read about Martin Shkreli all year. Thanks to my friend John Welch for the link.

August 16, 2017

The Street:

Apple Stores turn out to be very good neighbors, and have become the new mall anchor store, a role once held by department stores, because they draw lots of foot traffic, which also benefits the smaller stores.

The presence of an Apple Store in a mall also increases the value of a mall and allows mall owners to raise square-footage rates for other tenants.

While it’s not all sunshine and lollipops for fellow tenants, an Apple store in a mall at least gives those retailers a fighting chance to capture some of the dollars those customers are bringing to the mall. I’d be curious to know if, like the prime spots near Apple during Macworld Expos, whether mall owners charge more for stores the closer they are to Apple.

BoingBoing:

Helen Keller became deaf, blind and mute at the age of 19 months old due to an illness. Later in life, she remarkably learned to speak.

Absolutely amazing. We all know about Helen Keller but these are the first videos I’ve seen of her and her method of communication. Seeing her speak is even more remarkable.

Mental Floss:

In essentially a one-woman play, Karen Black portrays a character hoping to impress her anthropologist boyfriend by gifting him with an African “Zuni fetish doll,” a fearsome-looking warrior cast in wood and grasping a spear. Alone in her apartment, Black finds that the doll is more spirited than your typical toy. As he hacks and slashes at her feet and hides behind furniture, it’s not quite clear whether Black will conquer her tiny terror, go mad, or both.

I saw this as a kid and, to this day, the thought of that little doll still creeps me out. Literally, the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on TV.

Rene Ritchie, iMore:

Apple hasn’t even announced Face ID, the rumored facial identity scanner that would join or replace Touch ID, the fingerprint identity scanner, on the next generation of iPhones 8, but already we’re seeing a great deal of concern and even fear over how it will and won’t work.

And:

One of the biggest areas of fear, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding a potential Face ID facial identity scanner is that it will make it easier to law enforcement and government agencies to gain access to our devices.

Rene digs into the concern itself (someone could grab my phone and point it at my face to unlock it) and explores the validity of that worry.

A solid read, all the way through. Rene is a smart cookie.

Personally, I see Face ID and Touch ID as roughly equivalent in terms of someone using me to break into my phone. Add to that, Apple has not yet announced such a product. I’d prefer to save my worry for something a bit more tangible.

Accidentally Famous: The story behind the original voice of Siri

This is from a Ted Talk Susan Bennett gave last year.

One particular nugget (about 1:17 in):

One of the original engineers was from Norway. His name was Dag Kittlaus. He was responsible for naming Siri. In Norwegian, the name Siri means “beautiful woman who guides you to victory”.

Fascinating to see Susan Bennett tell these origin stories. My sense, from the iOS 11 beta, it that Siri is moving toward a more generic, machine generated voice. Yet, in the latest commercials (with The Rock), Susan appears to do all the Siri voice work.

It’ll be interesting to see how all this will play out. Will Susan be “classic Siri”?

Motherboard:

During its initial printing run, International Data Group printed just 7,500 copies of DOS for Dummies.

And:

By 1993, the series had sold 1.3 million copies on its own. Now there are 1,950 individual books in the series, covering a whole lot of things that have nothing to do with computing, and the books have sold upwards of 300 million titles.

And:

Recently, I bought a book—quaint, I know—and I’m probably the only person to have purchased this book or anything like it in more than 20 years.

It’s a reference book, the kind that you can still pick up at Barnes and Noble today. But it’s best described as what you’d get if you combined a phone book, a Matthew Lesko free money guide, and the internet.

That book is really the crux of the article. A fascinating look back at a time before Google, when the Internet was but a toddler.

Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner on Carpool Karaoke

Fan of Game of Thrones? Then this edition of Carpool Karaoke is for you. Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) join the carpool and surprise some fans.

I am looking forward to this one. Karaoke is coming.

Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) has set a budget of roughly $1 billion to procure and produce original content over the next year, according to people familiar with the matter–a sign of how serious the iPhone maker is about making a splash in Hollywood.

Combined with the company’s marketing clout and global reach, that immediately makes Apple a considerable competitor in a crowded market where new media players and traditional media companies are vying to acquire original shows. The figure is about half what Time Warner Inc.’s HBO spent on content last year and on par with estimates of what Amazon.com spent in 2013, the year after it announced its move into original programming.

And:

Programming costs can range from more than $2 million an episode for a comedy to more than $5 million for a drama. An episode of some high-end shows such as “Game of Thrones” can cost more than $10 million to produce.

The back-to-back success of the original shows “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” is credited with building Netflix’s business. At the time they were released the company’s annual budget for original and acquired programming was about $2 billion; this year it is expected to spend more than $6 billion.

Personally, I would not judge Apple’s chances here based on shows like Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. That would be like judging a developer on the apps they write as they learn how to program.

Key to Apple’s success will be setting aside enough cash (which they appear more than willing to do) and ability to bring on board the right mix of people, people with experience and craft. With the hire of Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and the addition of Matt Cherniss to oversee development, Apple has the start of a significant original programming effort.

Deadline:

In one of their first major moves since joining Apple as heads of worldwide video programming, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht have brought in Matt Cherniss to oversee development.

As a reminder, Van Amburg and Erlicht were hired away from Sony, where they shepherded hits like The Crown, Breaking Bad, and The Black List through production.

Cherniss, a respected veteran network development executive, had been in demand since he recently stepped down as president and general manager of WGN America and Tribune Studios.

Cherniss will be a lieutenant to Amburg and Erlicht. Apple is building a formidable team here. Now all they need is money.