August 9, 2018

Digital Camera World:

Peaking between 10-12 August this year, the Perseids occur when the nights are reliably warm and the skies are more likely to be clear. In 2018, there’s another bonus, and that’s moonlight – or, specifically, a lack of it. Photographing shooting stars this August, therefore, will be relatively straightforward.

So, are you ready to catch a falling star… or 50?

I’m really hoping the weather holds for us this weekend because I want to teach my son how to capture “shooting stars”. If you have the gear, it’s fairly easy to set up. Then you need a bit of luck to get good shots.

Street musician does masterful Pink Floyd cover in front of Pantheon in Rome

Wonderful performance. Amazing sound from such a small setup. Such a historic setting.

Watch for the cop to enter the picture.

This is a great new Apple Music feature, a weekly mix of 25 songs, culled from the folks you follow on Apple Music.

To find the Friends Mix:

  • On your iPhone, launch the Music app
  • Tap the For You tab
  • In the top row of playlists, tap and drag to the left. The Friends Mix is usually the second Mix.

If you don’t see the Friends Mix on your device, just wait a day or two. On my iPhone, it has come and gone a few times. I expect there is some tweaking going on on the server side and that it will settle in place after a bit.

On a related note, feel free to follow me, happy to follow you back. My Apple Music handle is zzdave. Here’s a link to my profile. To make your own profile link, substitute your Apple Music name for mine.

Searching for a friend? Try tapping the search tab in the Music app and either typing their name (for me, David Mark and not Dave Mark) or their Apple Music handle. Works well.

Rene Ritchie digs into the details of iPhone battery life

I love this video. Rene Ritchie digs into all aspects of iPhone battery life, taking on various myths and habits, laying out the details and truths behind each. Worth your time.

Imagine writing out some personalized instructions on how to use a piece of tech, say, for your mom or dad, instructions that strip away the complexity. Now take a look at the video in the embedded tweet:

This is a terrific use case.

This is a great intro from Benjamin Mayo, laying out the context of this excerpt from the upcoming book Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs, by Ken Kocienda.

This is Ken demoing one of the early iPhone keyboard candidates for Phil Schiller and then Tony Fadell. I found it a compelling read, a first person account from someone who was in the room, at least part of the time, as the new iPhone came into being.

On my must read list. The book ships September 4th. You can pre-order it on Amazon and iBooks.

Good for Verizon customers, but a solid promotional win for Apple Music.

I’m assuming Apple is counting these signups as paid memberships. Question is, how many of these folks will start paying once their 6 free months are up? I think more than a few. Good move on both sides here.

August 8, 2018

Marques Brownlee: The 2019 iPhone X Models

First things first, the appearance here is that someone leaked actual production cases of the soon-to-be-announced new iPhone models. If they are fakes, as opposed to leaks, they are damned good fakes.

Either way, take this video with a big grain of salt.

Fake? Real? History as our guide, we’ll know more in about a month.

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac, does a nice sum up of Apple’s response to official questions from the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

My favorite quote:

The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on collecting vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertisers.

That says it all.

Interesting move. Warner Music Group comment on the sale:

This sale has nothing to do with our view of Spotify’s future. We’re hugely optimistic about the growth of subscription streaming, we know it has only just begun to fulfill its potential for global scale. We fully expect Spotify to continue to play a major role in that growth.

Odd to get out if their confidence is so high. I found the logic confusing. You can read more about the WMG earnings call here.

Robert Safian does a profile on the company and its leadership for Fast Company. Terrific read.

One side note: There are several quotes in the article from Tim Cook that have been making the rounds of the blogisphere. The quotes appear to be reworked from a long form interview Fast Company did with Cook back in February, called Why Apple Is The World’s Most Innovative Company. Also a terrific read.

August 7, 2018

Joe Hill’s Thrills:

That’s it. That’s what we know for sure. Everything else is conjecture. And in all the time since her death not one person has stepped forward to say, “I saw her. I met her a few weeks before she was found. I can tell you her name.”

But what if we’ve all seen her? What if she’s been in front of us for decades and we just never noticed?

Who’s in the mood for a ghost story?

Yeah. Okay.

So let’s talk about “Jaws”.

I followed this story from a link in the Washington Post and it’s fascinating.

Reading teachers across the state, from kindergarten to third grade, will get computer tablets from the state this school year in an effort to track and improve student reading.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced the plan Tuesday morning, holding up an iPad for the media, the governor and other members of North Carolina’s Council of State. Johnson’s office put the statewide pricetag for the devices at about $6 million. It didn’t immediately have a per-unit price to quote.

Congrats to North Carolina teachers. I believe iPads and other technology in the classroom is needed to prepare kids throughout their school lives.

Maniac

Maniac is a new series coming from Netflix, reuniting Emma Stone and Jonah Hill (you have seen SuperBad, right?)

This looks brilliant to me, full of promise, a painting of a future that seems plausible and, perhaps, even likely.

Josh Centers talks through USB Restricted Mode, the politics of opening a backdoor into iOS, and the mechanics of breaking into an iPhone via the Lightning port.

Bottom line:

If USB Restricted Mode isn’t causing you any trouble, leave it on. Although it doesn’t offer complete protection against an alert attacker who can get access to your device quickly, it’s not worthless. Once your device has been locked for more than 60 minutes, nothing we know of can crack it.

Wonderful look at Apple’s iOS 12 rewrite of Books from MacStories’ Ryan Christoffel.

A personal note here: I have long purchased my books from Amazon’s Kindle Store, but this read, combined with my short-lived, unsatisfying dive into the Kindle Unlimited program has made me reconsider this habit.

One thing I look forward to, and not mentioned in the article, is the ability to share Apple’s Books with my family using iCloud Family Sharing. As a family, we often share books and we are already on this plan. [Amazon has something similar called Households, but it it is limited to two adults, so your kids will age out over time.] The family plan is a real boon for us. Something to consider.

One note on sharing from Ryan:

One thing Goodreads offers that Apple Books does not is a social component. An Apple Music-style social sharing feature would be a nice fit for Books, but there’s nothing of the sort here.

I love the idea here. I am constantly looking for new read recommendations, especially from friends who share my taste in books. And I see “reading the same book at the same time” as a very social activity, something rife with potential that rarely gets any treatment in the tech universe.

Nice backgrounder on Tim Cook from Emma Sims, Australia’s PC Authority. One highlight:

Under Cook’s stewardship, the firm has increased its donations to charity, something Cook has vowed to do himself; the CEO plans to donate his stock fortune in its entirety (thought to be in the region of $US120 million) to charity.

That’s commitment to one’s beliefs and yet another reason to admire Tim Cook.

[H/T Dman]

Mihir A. Desai, New York Times:

Sure, Apple produces innovative phones and laptops, but look inside its sleek exterior and you’ll find an elegant financial machine that has become the ideal for corporate America. Without investing significantly in hard assets, Apple spins cash and returns it to shareholders at a stunning rate. It’s difficult not to admire.

And:

Six years ago, the company owed no debt and had never undertaken a share buyback or paid dividends. Pressured by a shareholder revolt in 2013, it is now transformed.

And:

Apple has conducted its buybacks responsibly: It bought shares when they were relatively cheap, rewarding the patient shareholder. Other companies have not been so prudent, taking on debt to make ill-timed purchases of expensive shares rather than investing in growth opportunities. In some cases, they have done so simply to push up share prices so that management can meet goals for quarterly earnings or metrics that trigger compensation.

Good read. Apple is truly a remarkable company.

This is a fun read from Jean-Louis Gassée about Apple’s rise to the 13-digit club.

A few bits, just to whet your appetite:

While Apple employees deserve to bask in the market’s recognition of their good work, the thing that really counts is “making a dent in the universe”, as Steve Jobs memorably said. To name but a few, the invention of products such as the Macintosh, the iPod, and the iPhone; the creation of attractive and lucrative platforms for app developers (who deserve their own recognition for helping Apple reach the big T); an unrivaled supply chain management system… These are the things that have propelled Apple, occasional warts included, to the top of the industry.

And:

How did Apple get to $1T with such a poor price-to-earnings ratio (P/E)? As you no doubt already know, P/E is the result of dividing the share price by the earnings per share (EPS). The higher the ratio, the more willing investors are to pay a higher price for today’s shares, assured by the promise of substantially higher earnings (EPS) in the future.

This is where we get into some intriguing comparisons. Microsoft’s P/E is a solid 48 and Alphabet’s hovers around 50…but Apple’s is a meager 17. Caricaturing just a bit: “Apple still trades like a steel mill going out of business.”

Ah, Jean-Louis, always a pleasure making my way through your Monday Notes.

August 6, 2018

Facebook Inc. wants your financial data.

The social-media giant has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking-account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users. [A WSJ subscription is required to read the story].

No. NO!

Chicago Magazine:

In the age of Amazon, few things represent an ethos more diametrically opposed to the “everything store” than the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. Typing “socks” into Amazon’s search bar yields a seemingly infinite number of options. But the Hammacher Schlemmer spring catalog supplement offers only the Best Circulation Enhancing Travel Socks and the Plantar Fasciitis Foot Sleeves, 45 pages apart. There are no algorithmically predicted product placements or targeted suggestions.

The mere existence of Hammacher Schlemmer these days invites some fair, yet pointed, questions. Who’s buying this stuff? immediately pops to mind. As does: How has the company lasted this long? And: What kind of person sees the Wearable Mosquito Net and thinks, I must have this?

I’ve never bought a thing from Hammacher Schlemmer but I’ve always loved the weirdness of their catalogs.

Buzz Feed:

Some of the world’s largest social media and tech companies kicked Alex Jones and his conspiracy-theory driven show, InfoWars, off their platforms on Monday after months of hand-wringing about how to handle a personality who claimed he was delivering news but didn’t deal in facts.

Apple moved first, striking the entire library for five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcasts apps. After that, platforms that have come under far more scrutiny for hosting Jones and his content — Facebook and YouTube — quickly followed suit after long and tortured deliberations. Spotify also did the same.

This will be an understandably controversial move that won’t hurt Jones in the long run.

Sir Patrick Stewart revealing he’s returning to Star Trek

The news broke a few days ago that Sir Patrick Stewart was bringing Captain Jean-Luc Picard back to life in a new Star Trek series (details here).

I’m a big fan of SirPatStew, thrilled to see him continue this journey. Check out the video below for that moment when he revealed the news to some of his biggest fans.

Before you read on, take a look at that headline. Turns out, it’s a play on words and a reference to Tim Cook. The article is from 2008 and offers the conjecture that the then relatively unknown Tim Cook might be a replacement in the event Steve was forced to step down.

The most influential promoter of Steve Jobs’ indispensability, of course, is Steve Jobs. But another person who is very much with that program is the one executive who has actually filled in for Jobs as CEO. That would be Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer and its interim chief executive for two months in 2004, when Jobs was recovering from cancer surgery.

“Come on, replace Steve? No. He’s irreplaceable,” Cook said recently, according to a person who knows him well. “That’s something people have to get over. I see Steve there with gray hair in his 70s, long after I’m retired.”

Came across this on Reddit this morning, found it a compelling read, especially in trillion dollar retrospect.

Jack Nicas, New York Times:

For decades, the district south of downtown and alongside San Francisco Bay here was known as either Rincon Hill, South Beach or South of Market. This spring, it was suddenly rebranded on Google Maps to a name few had heard: the East Cut.

The peculiar moniker immediately spread digitally, from hotel sites to dating apps to Uber, which all use Google’s map data. The name soon spilled over into the physical world, too. Real-estate listings beckoned prospective tenants to the East Cut. And news organizations referred to the vicinity by that term.

And:

The swift rebranding of the roughly 170-year-old district is just one example of how Google Maps has now become the primary arbiter of place names. With decisions made by a few Google cartographers, the identity of a city, town or neighborhood can be reshaped, illustrating the outsize influence that Silicon Valley increasingly has in the real world.

And:

Yet how Google arrives at its names in maps is often mysterious. The company declined to detail how some place names came about, though some appear to have resulted from mistakes by researchers, rebrandings by real estate agents — or just outright fiction.

I find this amazing. The way I read this, the Google Maps team has the power to come up with new neighborhood names and make them official, all without consult.

Why is Google doing this? Is this an experiment in localized branding? Simple mistakes? As always, follow the money.

Terrific read, with contributions from core players such as Andy Hertzfeld, Woz, John Sculley, Tony Fadell, and many more.

Bloomberg:

In Bengaluru’s busy Madiwala neighborhood, a Poorvika Mobile World shop is plastered with posters for Samsung and Xiaomi and filled with inexpensive phones from brands like China’s Oppo and Vivo. Off to one side is a forlorn display stand with the iPhone 6, 6s, and X, the latter sitting upside down. Despite a zero-interest payment plan and cash-back incentives, Apple Inc. is lucky if the iPhones account for 25 of the 1,000 smartphones the store sells each month, says manager Nagaraja B.C., who goes by one name. “The average budget of a shopper is about 10,000 rupees,” he says, roughly $150. The iPhone SE, the cheapest Apple model, costs almost twice that. For $100, shoppers can get a Xiaomi Redmi 5A with a bigger battery, better camera, and greater storage capacity.

And:

For years, Indian consumers have complained that Siri can’t process their requests in local languages, they have no access to Apple Pay, and Apple Maps can’t give them turn-by-turn directions or identify points of interest.

Apple has long been the high-priced spread, with a focus on tapping the moneyed crowd. The first quote above implies that the pricey iPhone is not a financial match for this particular market. The second quote seems more a result of that mismatch.

Once Apple figures out how to build product that fits this market, once they see the potential revenue here, Apple will no doubt apply their resources to solve the localization problem.

I love the title, well said, though that’s just a small part of a large, complex picture.

Two highlights:

“Steve Jobs created a loyalty with users that is unparalleled in the consumer technology world. What Tim Cook has done, he’s built a loyalty with shareholders,” Sculley said on “Squawk on the Street.”

And:

Whereas Jobs cultivated customer loyalty, based on incredible products, Cook used the Apple reputation to build a “brilliant business model,” Sculley said, adding that instead of inventing the best, new technology, Cook buys back stocks, hordes cash, and gives out dividends.

Read the article, watch the video.

August 4, 2018

Go into the Story:

100+ scripts made available by studios and production companies. Here are active studio and production company links to download scripts from the last 8 years. Since these links come and go, I would strongly recommend downloading them now.

I love reading movie scripts and there are a bunch here, including for the “Steve Jobs” movie, you can download as PDFs.

August 3, 2018

The Dalrymple Report: Dave Mark’s new MacBook Pro

Dave and I had a lot of fun today as we talked about his new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. We also took a look at Mac sales and iCloud storage limits.

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