February 15, 2019

AdWeek:

Lee Clow—the legendary creative behind such campaigns as “Think Different,” the Energizer bunny and the Taco Bell chihuahua—has retired after 50 years in the business, 30 of which he spent turning Apple into a case study on the effectiveness of creative marketing.

“During his long partnership with Steve [Jobs] and Apple, Lee told powerful visual stories that elevated new technologies with the passion, creativity and ingenuity that define our own humanity,” read a statement from Apple CEO Tim Cook. “He helped Apple carry itself through times of challenge, and his work inspired audiences to look beyond the horizon as an exciting future came into view. Lee’s body of work over five decades hums with cleverness, warmth and enthusiasm—and there is no doubt that it will inspire and motivate generations of ‘Crazy Ones’ still to come.”

Clow isn’t a household name but his influence is felt throughout the advertising world.

LA Times:

That’s right, my friends, I am pleased as punch to announce the authoritative, totally not subjective, incontrovertibly definitive and 100% correct L.A. Times Fast Food French Fry Rankings.

French fries, a.k.a. chips, aka freedom fries, aka 炸薯条, are a delightful treat enjoyed the world over, and they’re a staple of the fast-food meal. And what is fast food, exactly? For the purposes of this survey, I’ve selected chains where there’s an emphasis on speed of service, you’re not waited on at a table, and where there are at least a couple hundred locations, if not more. I ordered medium- or regular-sized fries (when available) and judged them based on the two metrics: (1) taste and (2) texture, which includes fry shape and mouthfeel.

We don’t have the #1 here in Vancouver so I can’t judge but I do agree with the writer that the memory of MacDonald’s fries is often better than the actual fries.

MacRumors:

Right around the time that Apple debuted new Smart Battery cases designed for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, Mophie, a popular accessory maker, also introduced its Juice Pack Access battery cases for the new iPhones.

In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with the Juice Pack Access to compare it to Apple’s Smart Battery Case to see if it’s a better option for those looking to extend their iPhone batteries.

I’m biased because I’ve always been a fan of mophie (and their parent company provides prizes to my podcast) and I have and really like the mophie juice pack. But I’ve never used an Apple battery case.

9to5Mac:

A new study from OpenSignal published today looks into the cellular performance of the most popular iPhones going back to 2013. While there’s nothing too surprising in the findings, it does nail down exactly what average speeds each model sees, how much owners of older iPhones are missing out, how much iPhone cellular speeds have grown over the years, and a few other interesting details.

For those with an iPhone 5s, 6 or 6 Plus, the research shows that those models are capable of roughly half of the cellular speeds that the new iPhone XS and XS Max are.

I knew older iPhones were slower but half speed may be enough to convince my wife to upgrade her iPhone 6 Plus.

AppleInsider:

Looking to push beyond its modest retail efforts so far, Apple rival Samsung is planning to open three full-scale U.S. stores on Feb. 20, the same day it announces the Galaxy S10 and its first foldable phone.

The initial locations include The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles, Roosevelt Field on Long Island in Garden City (N.Y.), and The Galleria in Houston. Visitors will be able to try and buy products ranging from phones to VR glasses and TVs, and — much like Apple stores — get in-person customer support, with walk-in repairs available for mobile devices.

“Poised to challenge”? This is literally the dumbest take possible on this story. I have no problem with Samsung opening its own stores but given their past failures on so many fronts, including retail, how the writer could think that, with three US stores, Samsung could “challenge” Apple is beyond ridiculous.

Ars Technica:

Killing Eve topped the list of our favorite TV shows last year, and we’ve been eagerly awaiting news of a second season. So BBC America gave us a Valentine’s Day gift: the first trailer for season 2, picking up right where the first season left off.

If you haven’t seen this show, do yourself a favor and binge-watch it immediately.

BuzzFeed:

On Thursday, Amazon announced it was abandoning plans to build a headquarters in Queens. The deal had faced major backlash from some New York activists and lawmakers, who slammed the $3 billion in tax incentives offered by the city and contended that the massive tech company moving in could worsen gentrification and the city’s already struggling infrastructure.

BuzzFeed News went to Long Island City, the neighborhood where Amazon was supposed to move in, to ask its residents, as well as some anti-Amazon protesters, to share their messages to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Obviously, a self-selecting group but the general sentiment seems pretty common.

Task and Purpose:

The Army isn’t on the hunt for any old rifle for it’s Next Generation Squad Weapon program — it’s looking to spark a “revolution in small arms” on par with what the iPhone did to consumer electronics.

“Imagine that Steve Jobs and his engineers were trying to convert the iPod Touch to the first 3G iPhone,” said Army Col. Elliott Caggins, project manager for soldier weapons. “There were a thousand technologies they could have put in the first iPhone but they were looking to mature the platform before they could actually go onto the system.”

I get what they were going for but that’s a really weird way to describe it.

Motherboard:

The acquisition means that Allstate has become one of the most powerful proponents of right to repair legislation in the United States. According to Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, which is pushing for the legislation, the company has already loaned a lobbyist to the effort in New Hampshire.

This is potentially big news for the right to repair movement, which is trying to get laws passed in 15 states this year that would make it easier for independent repair professionals to get repair tools and parts for consumer electronics.

This will pit Allstate against Apple soon enough.

February 14, 2019

The Interactivist:

In 2007 I founded a small company called iRingPro. It was dedicated to providing the world’s most sophisticated ringtones, for adults and professionals. Along with musician and master audio designer Jeff Essex, we set out to create a library of tones that were more elegant, respectful and sophisticated than any other professional ringtones on the market.

But then something tragic happened, Jeff Essex my great friend and co-creator at iRingPro, passed away. Immediately we began donating a portion of the money iRingPro earned to a San Francisco music foundation in Jeff’s name.

But emotions and ideas have a way of taking time to gestate, and it finally occurred to me what Jeff would have wanted to do. Always more concerned with making the world a better place than with money, he’d want to see his work find it’s way into the world in as unfettered a way possible. He would want to inspire a love of music and audio. He would want to make a difference. He’d want the iRingPro ringtones to be free.

What a lovely gesture to make in honour of a friend.

The Dalrymple Report: Apple News, Amazon and stealing Dave’s notes

There are reports this week that Apple is getting close to launching a news service on its platform, allowing users an “all-you-can-eat” type of experience. Also, Amazon purchased Eero, which has all kinds of people upset. And I stole Dave’s notes on a topic which had us both laughing.

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Recode:

Apple says it wants to help save journalism.

All it wants in return is half of all the revenue journalists make when they sell their stuff through a forthcoming new Apple subscription service. So what is Apple thinking now?

Here’s the short answer, which I’ve cobbled together by talking to industry sources: Apple has already signed many publishers to deals where they’ll get 50 percent of the revenue Apple generates through subscriptions to its news service, which is currently called Texture and will be relaunched as a premium version of Apple News this spring.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Everything wrong with wireless chargers

Tech Insider:

Even though most newer phones have wireless charging, one research report from IHS showed that only 29% of people use it. Why hasn’t it taken off?

The future of “wireless” chargers isn’t here yet but the good news is it’s not far off.

In addition to a massive library of raw sound material, Superior Drummer 3 introduces a unique design*, a streamlined workflow and countless features for powerful drum production in your computer. With Superior Drummer 3, you have control and creative power beyond the imaginable. Welcome to the future.

I’ve been a Toontrack user for many years and love their drum software, but this new version is unreal. Check out the many videos on the product page detailing what you can do in Superior Drummer 3—amazing!

New York Times:

Amazon on Thursday canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City after facing an unexpectedly fierce backlash from some lawmakers and unions, who contended that a tech giant did not deserve nearly $3 billion in government incentives.

…The agreement to lure Amazon stirred an intense debate about the use of government incentives to entice wealthy companies, the rising cost of living in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, and the city’s very identity.

Big, surprising news that will have repercussions throughout the company.

AppleInsider:

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has released a letter it received from Apple concerning the “Project Titan” self-driving vehicle project’s disengagement rates, with the letter advising how Apple is collecting data on incidents where a driver takes over for the automated driving system, and why the number is so high.

“Apple’s approach to disengagements is conservative, because our system is not yet designed to operate in all conditions and situations,” writes Apple’s senior director of Autonomous Systems Engineering Jamie Waydo. “To support this approach, our public road testing policies require drivers to proactively take manual control of the vehicle any time the system encounters a scenario beyond our currently proven abilities.”

When I first read this story on Tuesday, I thought there might be something more to it. Turns out, Apple’s high number of “disengagements” is because of an overabundance of caution. Not a bad thing.

Reuters:

Software pirates have hijacked technology designed by Apple Inc to distribute hacked versions of Spotify, Angry Birds, Pokemon Go, Minecraft and other popular apps on iPhones, Reuters has found.

Using so-called enterprise developer certificates, these pirate operations are providing modified versions of popular apps to consumers, enabling them to stream music without ads and to circumvent fees and rules in games, depriving Apple and legitimate app makers of revenue.

This is very bad news for Apple. They have long touted the safety and security of the App Store as a plus for consumers.

February 13, 2019

Bloomberg:

It’s all-electric like a Tesla. It’s priced like a Ford Fiesta. It’s one of the oddest-looking vehicles you’ve ever seen — and it may just redefine the commuter car.

Meet the Solo — a one-seater vehicle made by Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corp. that costs $15,500. By December, 5,000 will be zipping around the streets of Los Angeles, with an additional 70,000 to be delivered over the next two years across the West Coast. Electra Meccanica may have a market value of just $140 million, yet it has $2.4 billion in pre-orders. The stock more than tripled in New York Wednesday.

Ignoring the hyperbolic “Canada’s answer…” part of the headline, watch the video and tell me – are you in the target audience for this little car and would you buy it? I certainly wouldn’t but the two-seater roadster looks kinda cool.

CNBC:

Ten years ago this week, Continental Flight 3407 crashed into a house, killing all 49 people aboard and one person on the ground as the plane was arriving in Buffalo, New York. Since then, U.S. airlines have transported about 8 billion passengers without a single fatal crash.

“There’s one dangerous part of the airplane trip, and that’s the drive to the airport,” said John Cox, a retired airline captain and an aviation accident investigator.

I didn’t realize it had been so long ago since the last fatalities. As much as I hate flying, it’s comforting to know that, at least in the US, flying has never been safer.

CBC:

Dave Assman is sticking it to the man by sticking it to the back of his truck.

When Assman (pronounced “Oss-men”) applied for a personalized licence plate, his request was denied. SGI called the name an “unacceptable slogan.”

The Melville, Sask., man has now immortalized his last name on the back of his truck with a large decal that looks like a licence plate.

I could not be prouder to be a Canadian.

Fast Company:

The movies are getting a little more inclusive thanks to a mobile app that syncs them up with sign language interpretation. Actiview is a startup that hopes to make going to the movies as easy as opening up an app for people living with hearing impairment. The service was first introduced with the animated feature Cars 3, as well as for the home release of the criminally underrated Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Now, TheWrap reports that Lionsgate has teamed up with Actiview and deaf advocate Nyle DiMarco (a former Dancing with the Stars contestant and America’s Next Top Model winner) to make the live-action film Wonder compatible with the company’s app.

This is a great example of technology being used to help people do something they can’t do for themselves.

Kottke:

Ard Gelinck photoshops celebrities posing with their younger selves and posts the results on Instagram.

Some of these are really well done. I hate that Tom Selleck is still so handsome.

Swimming with the whale sharks of Isla Mujeres

The Yucatan peninsula is one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world and every year just offshore from Cancun, the largest fish in the ocean aggregates in vast numbers to feed.

This very special aggregation is one of only a handful of such known sites where whale sharks aggregate and it has turned into a valuable ecotourism contribution to the local economy.

I couldn’t put this on my bucket list fast enough after watching this video.

CNBC:

The SEC Wednesday charged a former Apple executive with insider trading.

Gene Levoff, senior director of corporate law and corporate secretary until September, “traded on material nonpublic information about Apple’s earnings three times during 2015 and 2016,” according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.

Of all the people at Apple who should know better, you’d think the guy who sent out emails that said, “Remember, trading is not permitted, whether or not in an open trading window, if you possess or have access to material information that has not been disclosed publicly.” At least, you’d hope he’d be smarter about it.

Ars Technica:

Late Tuesday night, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent their final data uplink to the Opportunity rover on Mars.

Opportunity would finally be declared dead on Sol 5352, as in five thousand, three hundred, and fifty-two days on Mars. NASA is expected to make it official at 2pm ET Wednesday, when NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the chief of the agency’s science division, Thomas Zurbuchen, convene a news conference.

Someday, humans will arrive on Mars and find Opportunity and its fellow wanderer Spirit. I hope we have a fitting tribute to these little robots.

Inside China’s future factory

It’s amazing how fast Shenzhen has gone from the proverbial “sleepy little fishing village” to a high tech city of 13 million people and the “factory to the world”.

Amazon buys Eero — Why people are SO ANGRY

Rene Ritchie breaks down the “Amazon buys Eero” story, digs in to all sides. Terrific job here.

John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed:

Apple has settled on a date for its first big product announcement of 2019. Sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company plans to hold a special event on March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater on its Apple Park campus. Headlining the gathering: that subscription news service that has been all over the news today. Unlikely to make an appearance: next-generation AirPods, or that rumored new iPad Mini.

Well this should be interesting.

A story from a Reddit user who brought their bent iPad Pro back to the Apple Store and asked for a replacement.

The story itself is interesting, and a useful guide if you get a bent iPad Pro from Apple and want to get it replaced.

But the comments that follow the story are also worth reading, comments from ex-Apple employees weighing in with their experiences over time, discussing what they were allowed to do for their customers.

The ability of an Apple Store employee to bend the rules to keep their customers happy is, to me, an incredibly important part of the Apple Store culture.

The Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc.’s plan to create a subscription service for news is running into resistance from major publishers over the tech giant’s proposed financial terms, according to people familiar with the situation, complicating an initiative that is part of the company’s efforts to offset slowing iPhone sales.

In its pitch to some news organizations, the Cupertino, Calif., company has said it would keep about half of the subscription revenue from the service, the people said. The service, described by industry executives as a “Netflix for news,” would allow users to read an unlimited amount of content from participating publishers for a monthly fee. It is expected to launch later this year as a paid tier of the Apple News app, the people said.

Me being picky, but I hate the tag “Netflix for news”. Movies have a long shelf life. The Netflix model works there. Music has a long shelf life. The Apple Music model works there.

News? The word “new” is right in there. Old news is like stale bread. Netflix works, in large part, because of the huge well of older content. New stuff is what draws you in, perhaps, but the older stuff keeps you engaged.

More from the story:

The New York Times and the Washington Post are among the major outlets that so far haven’t agreed to license their content to the service, in part because of concerns over the proposed terms, which haven’t been previously disclosed, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Part of the problem might be this:

Another concern for some publishers is that they likely wouldn’t get access to subscriber data, including credit-card information and email addresses, the people said. Credit-card information and email addresses are crucial for news organizations that seek to build their own customer databases and market their products to readers.

And this from The Verge’s Apple’s new deal for journalism should send publishers running (note that the URL ends with “LOL”):

Publishers, meanwhile, may need to hire new employees to manage the partnership, build the necessary product integrations, and address customer service issues. At a time when the industry is already laying off hundreds of journalists, asking them to build out their partnership and product teams in exchange for a potential revenue increase in the single digits appears laughable on its face.

I can’t imagine that this deal is going to work, at least not as is. Me? I’m going to keep my subscriptions to the new sources I value. I like sending my money directly to the organizations paying the reporters.