February 27, 2017

The New York Times does a nice play-by-play on what exactly went down last night.

If you have not yet seen the flub, here’s the video. Once you read the New York Times story, watch the video again. It will make a lot more sense.

Apple Park: March drone footage

Apple’s new headquarters is looking tantalizingly close to completion. Some lovely footage here. Can’t wait to tour it.

Daniel Eran Dilger, Apple Insider:

In 2010, Steve Jobs introduced the first iPad as a new product category between the smartphone and notebook. It ended up dramatically shifting demand in the PC industry, but sales have since plateaued. Here’s what Apple can do, has done and is doing to build iPad into the Post-PC future of computing.

And:

The reason Apple is now increasingly targeting PCs in its iPad advertising–rather than other tablets–is that there’s little value left in the outside “tablet market” to grab. Not even the second place tablet maker Samsung is doing well in tablets.

Interesting, thoughtful piece. A bit of a long read, but if you are interested in the business side of the iPad and Mac, worth your time.

Jordan Novet, VentureBeat:

When I picked up a pair of Apple’s wireless AirPods a few weeks ago, I thought the included charging case was a clever touch.

But the case wound up being so useful that it spoiled me for Apple’s other wireless earbuds, the BeatsX. After two weeks of testing a pair of BeatsX headphones, I’ve found they also fall short of the AirPods in one make-or-break area: battery life.

And there are other drawbacks, too, The AirPods case, with its satisfying clasp, is an instant Apple design classic, whereas the included BeatsX silicone case doesn’t always completely protect your headphones — sometimes parts of the cable end up sticking out. And it gathers lint. Just look at it.

If you are trying to decide between BeatsX and AirPods, this take is worth reading. The difference between the two carrying cases is just one small piece of a larger puzzle, just a taste of each respective product’s approach to design, but in my opinion, a telling taste.

If nothing else, take a look at the image of the BeatsX case in the linked post, then imagine wrestling a rubbery, springy, coiled BeatsX headset into that case. Compare to the plop, plop of dropping your AirPods into their case. Then add in the take on battery life.

If that matters to you, you’re likely an AirPods customer.

February 26, 2017

Los Angeles Times:

The unique nature of the Academy Awards extends to its carpet: It isn’t even a traditional red.

Instead, the carpet is closer to burgundy and has been for the last 15 years. The exclusive shade — called Academy Red — is supposed to flatter the A-list actors who are photographed and filmed walking on it. It’s a secret color, one whose precise specifications the show’s organizers won’t reveal for fear of copycats.

The secrecy surrounding the carpet illustrates the exacting nature of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the annual awards show. And it’s just one quirk of the custom carpet.

I just learned more than I ever thought I would about the carpet at the Oscars.

MacRumors:

iPhones that have undergone any third-party screen repair now qualify for warranty coverage, as long as the issue being fixed does not relate to the display itself, according to an internal memo distributed by Apple today. MacRumors confirmed the memo’s authenticity with multiple sources.

This is great news for those of you who have had your screens replaced.

The Atlantic:

Fifteen years ago, Tim Pyle was animating spaceships for Invader Zim on Nickelodeon. These days, he illustrates exoplanets orbiting stars in the Milky Way.

This week, Pyle watched from the office he shares with Robert Hurt on the Caltech campus in Pasadena as the internet exploded over their latest artwork. NASA announced on Wednesday the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets around a star called TRAPPIST-1 nearly 40 light-years away, some of which orbit in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist. Pyle and Hurt provided the illustrations that came with the news, artistic renderings of unknowable worlds that only show up in data as tiny blips.

The artist renderings of what these new planets might look like are fascinating.

New York Times:

Communications experts describe “um,” “aah,” “you know” and similar expressions as discourse markers, interjections or verbal pauses.

They often occur when we are trying to think of the next thing we are going to say, Susan Mackey-Kallis, an associate professor at Villanova University who teaches public speaking, said in an email.

When stakes are high or we are nervous — in a job or media interview, or during a speech, presentation or conference call — we tend not to breathe as much and we talk faster, so our words get ahead of our thoughts

With the explosion of podcasting comes an equal explosion of people not trained in public speaking. The funny thing is the fix is easy but hard to do. I used to have a really bad stutter until a family friend explained why I did it and gave me a couple of simple exercises. One was, “Don’t say anything until you know what you’re going to say” and the other was, “just stop talking and think about what to say next”. Now, 99% of the time, I no longer stutter.

Wired:

Unlike traditional video cameras, which capture whatever is happening in front of them, 360 cameras capture everything happening in every direction, offering a full spherical view of the surroundings.

Each of these all-seeing mechanical eyes is different. The best ones are truly omnidirectional—meaning they capture their full surroundings instead of a truncated portion of the scene. The most convenient cameras also produce videos that can be edited and shared with simple software tools and don’t require any laborious stitching or post-processing. For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at the cameras that hit those points: 360 degrees of capture with an easy path to editing and sharing.

With Ar/VR “on the horizon”, more and more 360 video is showing up. If you’d like to start creating your own content, this is a good primer to help you get started. I’ve been using a Ricoh Theta S 360 camera and, while it doesn’t work for every situation, it can create some interesting images and video.

Here’s a 360 photo of my photography group last Saturday.

As always, our group really appreciates the great staff and hospitality at @MahonyAndSons! We had a great time! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Medium:

In the months leading up to the Oscars, we tossed out dozens of ideas for Ellen to try out. The one she liked had her simply tweeting a selfie from the stage, with the audience behind her. On an impulse, during the rehearsals for the show on Saturday afternoon, she spotted the seating card for Meryl Streep, who would be on the aisle in the third row. Ellen rehearsed going down and taking a selfie with Meryl, just as an option.

As it happens, Samsung had paid a lot of money that year to be a sponsor of the Oscars… a LOT of money. Some representatives of Samsung were at the rehearsal, watching Ellen practice this great moment… with her iPhone. They were a little… concerned.

We all know that selfie wasn’t a spontaneous moment so it’s interesting to see how it came about.

Rolling Stone:

On Saturday, Third Man Pressing finally opens for business.

On the Tuesday before opening day, Third Man Pressing is alive with activity. Blackwell is in good spirits because a new hire has told him this is the best job he’s ever had. Machines are whirring; Detroit rock is blasting overhead. Not a single detail is left untouched: from the stacks of lilac-purple vinyl to the red-splashed walls, the prevalence of the bold Third Man color palette is almost dizzying.

We will never again have a format so wonderfully tactile as vinyl. I have nothing to play records on anymore and have no vinyl but I still have a fondness for the physicality of holding a record.

February 24, 2017

Wired:

When text messaging was simple, SMS worked beautifully. You could send 160 characters to anyone with a cellphone, and they’d receive it the same way they would a phone call. In the age of flip phones and nine-key texting, that was all anyone needed. But when texting gave way to group messaging, video calls, and (Sent with Fireworks), the SMS standard just couldn’t keep up anymore.

And so users ran to solutions like WhatsApp, which grew huge audiences on the back of one simple idea: it’s like texting, only better and free. Apple built a huge devoted fanbase for iMessage by adding features right on top of texting. SMS squandered its tremendous inherent advantage—it’s built into your phone, so everyone has it—by steadfastly refusing to evolve. It raises a fascinating hypothetical: if carriers had stopped charging for texts and added in new tech like group chats and stickers, would the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and GroupMe even exist?

It’s hard to overstate how convenient I find iMessage. On the rare occasions I “see the green” when I text someone, it’s really deflating.

Jalopnik:

If you look at the front and rear bumpers on many new cars, you’ll notice little squares and circles about the size of potato chips sitting right there in the plastic bumper covers. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know why they’re there! I’m about to tell you.

I’ve often wondered what those were.

Macintosh, Midi, and Music circa 1988

You don’t have to be a music fan to enjoy this great video from 1988. See how many people you recognize in the video.

Earlier this week I posted about Jeremy Brett being my favorite Sherlock Holmes. I received a lot of great feedback from that, so I thought I’d tell you my other favorite fictional detective, Poirot.

David Suchet is absolutely spectacular in his depiction of Agatha Christie’s famous detective. I have watched these shows over and over again, enjoying them each time.

Nintendo Switch unboxing, initial impressions

If you are into the idea of buying a Nintendo Switch, you’ll want to watch this video, if only to get a sense of the different core accessories that you’ll want to consider, which will add to the $300 price tag.

Mashable:

Brianna Olivas says her rose gold iPhone 7 Plus exploded and began smoking Wednesday morning when her boyfriend grabbed his phone and began recording. The video, which Olivas shared on Twitter later that day, shows smoke pouring out of one side of the phone and the iPhone’s case melting away.

Here’s the tweet, embedded video:

While the dramatic video may bring to mind the now infamous Samsung Galaxy Note7, which was recalled after handsets began bursting into flames, there is no evidence what Olivas experienced is tied to a wider problem.

And:

Olivas says she has since turned the phone over to Apple. Reps have told her they are conducting tests and expect to know more within a week. For its part, an Apple spokesperson says the company is aware of the video. “We are in touch with the customer and looking into it.”

We need safer battery tech. Lots of smart minds are working full-time on this problem.

The Verge:

Last night, developer Victoria Fierce had some harsh words for Vice President Mike Pence. Incensed over the Trump administration’s recent rollback of transgender protections, Fierce let loose on Pence. “Fuck you,” she tweeted. “I gotta piss, and you’re putting me — an American — in danger of assault by your white supremacist brothers.”

Almost immediately, she got the notification. Twitter had detected “potentially abusive activity” on her account, and put her in temporary timeout as a result. For the next 12 hours, only followers could see her tweets — which meant she wouldn’t be able to lobby the Vice President.

Still chewing on the implications here. Victoria’s account was temporarily firewalled (the range of her tweets was limited), not suspended. Not sure I would use the word locked, as The Verge did in their headline. But that nit aside, this is part of Twitter’s new anti-abuse campaign that started rolling out last week.

For the average recipient of abuse, that’s good news: when a troll quote-tweets you with an insult, you simply won’t see it. But the limits are raising new questions in light of the political speech that is often hosted on Twitter. The average person has an expectation that their account will not receive insulting tweets on a regular basis. But what about, say, the president of the United States?

Interesting question, difficult problem to solve.

Michael E. Cohen, TidBITS:

iCloud, however, much like real clouds, is notoriously opaque. It’s hard to see just what you have stored in it. Nonetheless, Apple has made it easy, at least, to fix some truth-related issues in iCloud, and you can do it with a readily accessible tool: a Web browser on any Mac or PC. With it, you can revert to backups of your contacts, calendars, reminders, and shared bookmarks, and even restore files deleted from your iCloud Drive.

If you have an iCloud account, this is worth a walk through, just to get a sense of the available options.

J. D. Biersdorfer, New York Times, points out a variety of ways to do dictation on your iPhone:

Hold down the iPhone’s Home button (or say “Hey Siri” to wake up the software), say “Make a new note,” and then speak your thoughts — reciting the punctuation like “period” or “comma” aloud. The resulting note can be emailed, copied, pasted or shared with a compatible text app.

And:

In Settings, go to General and then to keyboard to find the Dictation option buried at the bottom of the screen. When the setting is enabled, a small microphone appears on the keyboard of text-entering apps like Notes, Google Docs, Microsoft Word for iOS, or Apple’s own Pages word processor.

That setting is off by default. Check it. Good to know where this is.

Of course, you can also use a variety of apps to do dictation. J. D. highlights a few. Good stuff.

Ben Vandermeer:

I was at the Seattle Goodwill outlet recently and noticed the Apple logo on letterhead sticking out from a bin of books, so I started digging. What I found were the 1979-1980 files of Jack MacDonald, manager of system software for the Apple II and /// at the time.

They tell the story of project “SSAFE” or “Software Security from Apples Friends and Enemies.” This was a proposal to bring disk copy protection in-house to sell as a service to outside developers. Inter-office memos, meeting notes and progress reports all give a good idea of what a project life cycle looked like. Different schemes and levels of protection are considered, as well as implementation primarily on the Apple II+ and the upcoming SARA (The Apple ///) and Lisa computers. Randy Wigginton is featured prominently throughout, along with mentions of Woz, distribution lists including “S.Jobs” and many other familiar names.

The documents were all a jumble so I’ve put them in chronological order and scanned the collection.

Pretty interesting collection of documents. Here’s a link to the PDF if you want to browse. You’ll definitely see some famous Apple names in there.

February 23, 2017

For a while now there have been reports of some older iPhone models, namely iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, shutting down unexpectedly. Apple introduced some diagnostics into iOS 10.2 back in December to try and determine what was happening and, with iOS 10.2.1, they’ve rolled out a fix.

Glad to see they figured out what was going on.

In the busy week in the run up to the awards, the director of Timecode, Juanjo Giménez, very kindly answered our questions about the post production process.

What’s amazing to me is that this was his first project using Final Cut Pro.

Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit sued Uber Technologies and its autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto in federal court on Thursday over allegations of theft of its confidential sensor technology.

Oh boy.

NPR:

The space capsule that took the first moonwalkers on their historic adventure is getting ready to take off on another trip — its first tour of the United States in more than 40 years.

The Apollo 11 command module is the spacecraft that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins rode in to the moon and back in 1969. To celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of that achievement, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is sending the space capsule to four different museums around the country.

It’s the first time the space capsule, called Columbia, will have left the museum since it opened to the public in 1976.

One of the great museum exhibits in the world is going on tour and you owe it to yourself to go see it if it comes to your area. It will be in Houston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. I was lucky enough to see it in DC at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum but when it comes to Seattle, I’ll definitely make the trip down there to see it again.

New Top Gear trailer

I’ll always have a soft spot for Top Gear but its first season after the Clarkson implosion was not good by any measure. But I also don’t think “The Grand Tour” was a whole lot better. I’m looking forward to seeing this version of Top Gear with the two-thirds new cast.

This morning, Dave posted, “With your iPhone locked, ask Siri, “What’s my name?”. It’s a good reminder people can sometimes find out information about you that you may not want them to know.

But what if you do want them to know?

As a motorcyclist, I’m constantly reminded of the dangers of what I do. Because of the violence of even a minor motorcycle accident, you may not be able to respond to Emergency Medical personnel if you’re ever in an accident. Apple has set up a procedure you can use on your iPhone to assist EMTs with information about you and who to contact in case of an emergency.

By using the Health app on your phone, you can choose what information is available when the Emergency ID procedure is implemented. Unfortunately, as Dave warned in his post, this information is available to anyone who has physical access to your phone. So be aware of what information you are making accessible using this method.

As an aside, I was (unfortunately) able to use this when I had a fairly serious accident four years ago. I wasn’t unconscious but, because of the type of accident, I wasn’t allowed to move for quite some time at the scene. I told the first responders to get my phone out of my pocket and they were able to access various pieces of information about me.

The Washington Post:

A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say.

The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.

This is an amazing discovery and really cool science but when you hear the media describe it as a “nearby” star, note that’s in astronomical terms. Even though it’s “only” 39 light-years away, it will likely be at least a century before humans can even think about traveling to them.

Jake Underwood, MacStories, reviewing Moment, an iOS app that takes video, but only keeps either the last 5 or 10 seconds and never runs out of space:

I set my phone up, pressed record, and after a couple of minutes ended the recording. When I opened Photos, the video was there immediately as a clip of the last 5 seconds I recorded.

First, this is a clever idea. It solves a real problem, that of capturing 5 to 10 seconds of video when space on your iPhone is low.

But to me, this raises another issue. Why is this app necessary? Surely Apple understands how frustrating this is. After all, Google built an entire ad campaign around never running out of space when that critical moment comes.

At the very least, why doesn’t the camera app warn you that space is low when it launches? Even better, why not reserve some emergency space and warn the user when they first dip into that reserve. They can still take that critical picture or video, but then they’ll know enough to delete or offload pictures or videos to make more space.

In the short term, we have solutions like Moment.

Here’s a link to Moment in the App Store.

Wendy Lee, San Francisco Chronicle:

Cupertino is so populated by Apple employees that some people have jokingly called it “Appletino.” Later this year, Apple will open a visitor center, cafe and store to the public at Apple Park, which the city estimates could could draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

In addition to the campus, Apple will continue to have engineers at its buildings on Infinite Loop. Chief executive Tim Cook will move his office to Apple Park.

That last bit has been making the rounds. Seems obvious to me. Where else would Tim Cook keep his office?

More from Wendy:

Apple hasn’t revealed the total cost for the project, but Bloomberg estimated in 2013 that it could be near $5 billion. The design will help the company recruit, and also reflects how Apple is always pushing the envelope on technology, said Mina Chow, a senior lecturer at University of Southern California School of Architecture.

“Corporate headquarters are all about making a statement,” she said. “Even when you had the period of emperors and kings, it’s all about making a statement. Architecture is the identity of a culture. We build what we believe we are.”

And that last bit is the most fascinating to me. We build what we believe we are. And this particular “we” is really Steve Jobs, no?