August 26, 2016

Earlier this month, the university announced it would sue the Kernel over requests for documents involving the investigation of James Harwood, an associate professor of entomology accused of sexual assault and harassment in an investigation spanning seven months, after three years’ worth of allegations, according to the Kernel.

Respect to the student newspaper.

Spotify has been retaliating against musicians who introduce new material exclusively on rival Apple Music by making their songs harder to find, according to people familiar with the strategy. Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won’t be able to get their tracks on featured playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people, who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world’s largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn’t alter search rankings.

I hate that musicians are the ones caught in the middle of this Apple, Spotify fight, but you had to see something was going to happen. Apple is targeting Spotify, and they are fighting back.

From the just-released report by China Labor Watch:

Pegatron is one of Apple’s major suppliers, employing almost one hundred thousand workers3 in Mainland China. Working conditions are terrible, and workers are subject to terrible treatment. Currently, Apple’s profits are declining, and the effects of this decline have been passed on to suppliers. To mitigate the impact, Pegatron has taken some covert measures to exploit workers. This report is based on interviews with Pegatron workers and a comparative study of 2015 copies of paystubs collected in 2015 and 2016. Through our investigation, we have found that Pegatron has taken some surreptitious measures to pass Apple’s audits. In addition, we discovered that Pegatron’s working conditions have worsened in 2016 compared to 2015.

And:

Excessive and illegal overtime work is still prevalent in Pegatron. Pegatron claimed that their ID check system could effectively control workers’ overtime hours, but this system did not have any effect in the departments where more overtime was needed. It is merely a tool for public relations. Paystub records reveal that the highest amount of overtime hours put in by a worker was recorded in March, which was a worker with 109 overtime hours. The worker was found to have put in a total of 293 hours of work in March.

And:

Pegatron has recruited many student interns, who had overtime work amounting to 80 hours per month on average. This is roughly the same amount as full-time employees. However, the Chinese law forbids companies from asking interns to work overtime.

And:

Workers are exposed to potential occupational injuries without proper protection. For example, in departments that have noise and the use of lasers, the factory does not provide them with protection equipment.

There is a lot more.

This should not happen when you sit on your Apple TV remote

First things first, here’s a picture, the result of sitting on my Apple TV remote:

BrokenRemote

The remote was laying at the back of a chair, positioned at an unfortunate angle. One sit-down later, and kablooey, you can see the results. The plastic shattered, the remote bent, and the glass shattered to powder. Pretty amazing, actually.

I went to the Apple Store site to look into a replacement. $79. Wow. But I get it, there’s a lot that goes into the remote.

Looking further, I checked out the reviews. One and a half stars, based on 118 reviews. As you read the reviews, you can see that I am not alone here. Just one example:

Well, now they’re making television remotes out of fine china. Our’s bounced off the couch and hit the (hard) floor. Completely shattered. Just think of the irony…Apple goes on about how this remote is perfect for gaming, and then they make it out of a freaking wine glass.

My 2 cents, Apple should work on making a more durable remote. In the meantime, I will be making do with the Remote app on my iPhone and feeling a little disappointed.

UPDATE: Comments were accidentally turned off for this post. Completely unintentional. They are back on now.

Thanks to Pad and Quill for sponsoring The Loop’s RSS feed this week.

Pad and Quill has partnered with The Loop to offer you a chance to win a $700 Back to Work giveaway. One winner will receive a Luxury Briefcase, Leather Ipad pro case, Woodline case for the Iphone, and a Classic leather band for the Apple Watch.” Sign up for your chance to win!

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Can’t believe this sound comes out of a frog.

The sound this frog makes is meant to scare off predators. This makes me laugh, every time I hear it.

From the interview, starting when EVH was a kid:

When I first started playing guitar, I was at the local music store, which wasn’t even a music store, it was kind of like a Radio Shack that also sold musical instruments, it was called Lafayette Music.

I fell in love with this hollowbody 12-string because of the neck, and the first thing I did was I took six strings off, because it was a 12-string, and I didn’t want 12! They didn’t have what I wanted in the store, so it had already started there!

And:

I saved the money from delivering papers for two and a half to three years, and bought my first real guitar, which was a ’68 Goldtop Les Paul with single-coil P-90 pickups.

So what do I do? I take the chisel to it right away! Because I wanted a humbucking pickup! But in Pasadena, there were no Les Pauls with a humbucker in them. There was one store in northern Pasadena – a Les Paul came in and they called me right away ‘Hey, we’ve got a Les Paul!’ I walk in and I go, ‘Ah, shit! It ain’t the kind Clapton plays!’ It didn’t have humbuckers.

So, of course, I hunted down a humbucker, took a chisel and made the hole bigger and crammed it in there. I was lucky enough to solder it back properly, then I painted it black and added binding. I did all kinds of crazy shit to it.

So much more. This is a great read.

[H/T Pavan Rajam]

Bloomberg:

Apple is already at work on a major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display by removing the Home button, according to a person familiar with the matter.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

The sense I get from the article is that this is the follow-on to the iPhone said to be announced next month.

Interesting to watch Mark Gurman ply his trade for Bloomberg.

Nasa’s Mars site:

Mars needs YOU! In the future, Mars will need all kinds of explorers, farmers, surveyors, teachers . . . but most of all YOU! Join us on the Journey to Mars as we explore with robots and send humans there one day. Download a Mars poster that speaks to you. Be an explorer!

And:

Night owls welcome! If you lived on Mars’ moon Phobos, you’d have an office with a view, mining for resources with Mars in the night sky. Settlers below on Mars would see Phobos rise and set not once, but twice in one day!

This is some compelling prose, feels like part of a beloved sci-fi set. The accompanying posters were originally developed for the Kennedy Space Flight Center’s visitors complex. Now they can be yours, free.

Update your iOS 9.x devices now

If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to update all your iOS 9 devices to iOS 9.3.5. If you have an iOS 10 beta installed, best to keep up with the latest betas, but this message is really for folks running iOS 9.x or earlier.

Why the press to update?

From the Lookout security blog:

Citizen Lab (Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto) and Lookout have uncovered an active threat using three critical iOS zero-day vulnerabilities that, when exploited, form an attack chain that subverts even Apple’s strong security environment. We call these vulnerabilities “Trident.” Our two organizations have worked directly with Apple’s security team, which was very responsive and immediately fixed all three Trident iOS vulnerabilities in its 9.3.5 patch.

Update your iPhones and iPads, then make sure your family and friends know about this. Please pass this along.

August 25, 2016

Frightening.

Google:

We went there so you can too.Follow rangers on a journey to places most people never go. Experience the sights, sounds, and adventures of Kenai Fjords, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon, and Dry Tortugas in stunning 360° video.

The teaser video above is gorgeous but take some time to go to the full videos. Utterly spectacular and in honor of this month’s 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service.

If you like to know exactly what Apple did to improve security in the latest update, you can read this update on the company’s Web site.

Alicia Keys, Bastille, Britney Spears, Calvin Harris, Chance the Rapper, Elton John, Michael Bublé, OneRepublic, Robbie Williams and The 1975.

Those are the headliners for the festival. Elton John!

Important to note that in order to watch the festival, you will need to sign-up for Apple Music. That wasn’t a requirement in the past. Seems like just another way to boost subscriptions, but it’s a numbers game these days.

Verge:

Microsoft has released a big update for its Word Flow keyboard on the iPhone this week. The biggest addition is a new search interface that lets you find GIFs, emoji, images, contacts, and anything from Bing search results without leaving the keyboard. Microsoft’s GIF search feature copies the animated pictures into your clipboard, allowing you to paste them in. Word Flow will even pick out GIFs from words you type, so if you say “deal with it” in a message you’ll get a GIF icon that brings up the relevant image.

Interesting to see the keyboard as a point of search competition between Google and Bing.

A final tour of NYC’s “Original Apple Store”

The doors closed for good yesterday. Terrific video by Gizmodo, sad to see this day come.

MacRumors:

An Apple collector who was selling his vintage Apple software collection on eBay received a surprise earlier this month when Apple itself bought out much of his software inventory for its software archives (via MacGeneration).

According to seller “Marcoguy,” he made several listings of various Apple CDs and received a message from someone asking to buy a dozen discs. When he went to ship the package, he noticed it was going to 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, Apple’s corporate address. Upon asking the buyer about the purchase, he was told that Apple maintains a lab at its headquarters containing archived materials. “We were missing some of the disks that you placed on eBay,” wrote the buyer.

Fascinating.

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc., seeking to capitalize on the popularity of social networks, is developing a video sharing and editing application and is testing new related features for its iPhone and iPad operating systems.

The early plans are part of a newly directed focus to integrate social networking applications within Apple’s mobile products and are a response to the success of social media-focused companies such as Facebook Inc. and Snapchat Inc., according to people familiar with Apple’s strategy. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

And:

Now Apple is starting to develop a video sharing app that allows users to record video, apply filters and drawings to the media — much like Snapchat does — and send it to contacts or via existing social networks such as Twitter Inc., according to the people familiar with its development. The software is currently being designed to be used mostly with one hand and with the intention that video could be shot, edited, and uploaded in less than 1 minute, the people said. At least one of the prototype designs for the app would shoot video in an Instagram-like square shape, one of the people said.

It’s easy to be skeptical when you read Apple and social in the same sentence. Brings back memories of Ping and Connect and the potential of what could have been. But photo and video have long been in Apple’s sweet spot. Getting social right is tough, a bit like catching lightning in a bottle.

No matter, if and when this emerges from the secret lab, sign me up.

Love Xcode? Now you can drive one.

[H/T Adrian Kosmaczewski]

Emojipedia:

Unicode this month released a draft update to TR-51, or in human terms, the document that describes what’s-what’s what in emoji standards.

This draft is for Unicode Emoji Version 4.0: an update to Unicode’s emoji documentation which can be released outside of the annual Unicode Standard release schedule.

Five notable additions:

  • Gendered Emojis
  • New Professional Emojis
  • New Flags
  • Emoji Upgrades to Non-Emoji Characters
  • Additional Skin Tone Support

Read the original post for full details.

Terrific tweet-storm. Incredibly galling. Makes me wonder what’s lurking in the cavernous depths of my Mac.

Wired:

Google is in the midst of rolling out its newest mobile operating system, Android N, and with it comes a new logo. And it looks maybe a little … familiar? The N that folds over itself like a piece of ribbon? Graphic design trends—like all trends, really—come and go. And right now designers can’t get enough of these 3-D visual identities. Look around and you’ll begin to notice colorful, angular graphics that wrap around and fold over themselves like materials from a craft store.

Follow the link, scroll through the sequence of logos. There’s definitely a trend emerging here.

August 24, 2016

Orcas hunting seal, seal jumps in boat

We were out with the family looking for whales and a pod of 12 transient killer whales were chasing the seal. It ripped towards the boat in a desperate escape and scrambled on the deck. It fell off three times in panic and finally stayed on until the whales gave up after about 30-45 minutes. Most intense epic experience ever.

He thinks it was intense for him and his passengers. Imagine how that poor little seal felt.

The Washington Post:

A new book called “New Deal Photography. USA 1935-1943“ (Taschen, 2016) brings together a comprehensive survey of the work done by the FSA, including that more rarely seen color work. From street scenes to pictures of field laborers and train yards, these images show us what the United States looked like in a bygone era, one rife with economic struggle. Here are a few of the incredible images produced by photographers Marion Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, John Vachon, Fenno Jacobs and Russell Lee.

We’ve all seen these kinds of images in black and white but the color photos are just as interesting. What’s even more interesting to me is the comparisons to small towns I’ve ridden through in the US South. You still see these kinds of buildings and signage.

Ars Technica:

Airlander 10’s second test flight, which took place this morning, ended with the giant airship nosediving into the ground. The cockpit was damaged, but Hybrid Air Vehicles says the crew members are “safe and well.”

HAV told Ars that the flight lasted for 100 minutes and that it “completed all the planned tasks.” HAV said the incident was not an unplanned dealtitudinal craft-terrafirma conflict, but rather “a heavy landing” as the craft returned to Cardington Airfield.

Hard to describe this giant, ungainly looking aircraft’s end of flight as a crash. More like a bouncy castle coming to earth too rapidly.

This is a feature I’m really looking forward to using. I haven’t slept well in many years, so it will be interesting to me to try to get on a schedule and track my patterns. Using the fitness rings and other health features in Apple Watch and iPhone have worked really good for me, so I’m confident this will help me too.

Backchannel:

This story of Siri’s transformation, revealed for the first time here, might raise an eyebrow in much of the artificial intelligence world. Not that neural nets improved the system — of course they would do that — but that Apple was so quietly adept at doing it. Until recently, when Apple’s hiring in the AI field has stepped up and the company has made a few high-profile acquisitions, observers have viewed Apple as a laggard in what is shaping up as the most heated competition in the industry: the race to best use those powerful AI tools.

While other companies do their innovation in public, Apple has always been very good at making things behind the scenes and only releasing them when they are ready for the general public to use.

New York Times:

The words are stenciled on the front of the Apple Store, a glass box sandwiched between a nondescript Thai restaurant and a CVS pharmacy in downtown Palo Alto: “This store runs on 100 percent renewable energy.”

If Apple’s plans play out, it will be able to make that claim not only for its operations throughout California but also beyond, as the company aims to meet its growing needs for electricity with green sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

And:

The motives may be economic as much as they are environmental. As a wholesaler, Apple could reduce the cost of its electricity load, which reached 831 million kilowatt-hours in the last fiscal year — enough to power about 76,000 homes for a year. But like a growing number of corporations, Apple is intent on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production — one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

If Apple can run all its operations, all of them, on 100 percent renewable energy, that would set the bar for all other companies. If one of the largest companies in the world can do this, you should do all you can to reach this level as well.

CBS Denver:

Jeannine Sedlacek has battled with rheumatoid arthritis since she was an infant. Getting around can take a lot of effort, especially her trips to the library just so she can access the internet.

“The only way I can get around is by bus,” she said.

You can imagine how happy she was to hear about a new pilot program launched by Denver Public Library, which offers free, unlimited high-speed internet to patrons through certain Wi-Fi hotspots.

The hotspots can be checked out like a book for up to three weeks.

I love this idea.

In a nutshell, ask Siri a question on your Mac, then tap the plus sign (upper right corner of the results) to add those results to Notification Center. They’ll stick around until you delete them (tap the x in the upper right corner).

Great tip.