August 11, 2014

The Verge:

Microsoft is bringing the Mac vs. PC battle back with full force today.

While the company targeted the MacBook Air at the launch of the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft’s latest ads place both devices head-to-head. It’s a style that’s similar to how Microsoft has targeted the iPad and even Siri recently, and one that mimics Apple’s classic ads from the ‘00s. There’s three 30-second spots in total, and each focuses on the touchscreen and pen benefits of the Surface Pro 3 over Apple’s MacBook Air.

As always – don’t read the comments section.

The Conversation:

Researchers have developed a method to produce ammonia simply from air and water. Not only is it more energy efficient than the century-old Haber-Bosch process currently in use all over the world, but it is also greener.

Ammonia – made up of three parts hydrogen and one part nitrogen (or NH3) – has had a momentous impact on society. Without the mass production of this chemical, it is estimated that as many as a third of us won’t be alive. This is because its main use is to make fertilisers, which have helped improve crop yields and sustain a large population.

I had no idea that ammonia production “consumes nearly 2% of the world’s energy supply” but as the article points out, even this process is no where near as efficient as Mother Nature.

August 10, 2014

New York Times:

Steven P. Jobs established Apple University as a way to inculcate employees into Apple’s business culture and educate them about its history, particularly as the company grew and the tech business changed. Courses are not required, only recommended, but getting new employees to enroll is rarely a problem.

Although many companies have such internal programs, sometimes referred to as indoctrination, Apple’s version is a topic of speculation and fascination in the tech world.

As usual, take whatever Brian Chen says with a truckload of salt (he gets several details wrong, as usual) but it’s still an interesting look at a little known aspect of Apple.

Salon:

You don’t know night. Not real night, the way it was experienced pre-electricity; what we lost when we developed the ability to light up the night sky.

That sounds obvious to someone living near Times Square or in Vegas, but those are only extremes in a phenomenon that touches nearly all of us: Two-thirds of the world’s population, and 99 percent of people living in the continental U.S. and Western Europe, no longer experience what we might call true night — one free from the glow of artificial lights.

I’ve been a City Kid my entire life. I still remember the night I was walking outside on my dad’s farm and couldn’t figure out why, with no light around, it was so bright outside – I could see my shadow. I looked up and literally gasped at the sight of the Milky Way – which I had never seen before.

2014 World YoYo Champion, Gentry Stein

I loved playing with a YoYo when I was a kid. Tough to take this “championship” seriously but you have to admire his skill and showmanship. If I tried any of those tricks, I’d end up tied in knots tighter than a pair of handcuffs.

National Geographic:

National Geographic Traveler magazine received more than 18,000 entries from around the globe. With thousands of pictures to review, judges found themselves wandering through stunning ice caves, mysterious desert views, and intriguing scenes from cultures throughout the world. Which photos were selected as the best of the best?

As always, some absolutely incredible shots in this collection.

Here’s one for your bucket list.

Located on the Great Australian Bight in Southern Australia, is the vast, featureless Nullarbor Plain – the world’s largest single piece of limestone, covering an area of 270,000 square km and extending some 1,000 km from the east to the west. The area is so flat that the Trans Australian Railway runs across its surface for about 483 kilometers in a completely straight line. On the surface of the plain there are areas of slight depressions where sparse rainfall has slowly dissolved away some of the limestone. There are also places where underground caves or sinkholes have collapsed to form dents in the surface. But mostly, the plain is horizontally flat and devoid of trees, as its Latin name suggests. The Nullarbor Plain ends abruptly at the spectacular Bunda Cliffs, comprising a 200-kilometer-long precipice curving around the Great Australian Bight.

Follow the link to see the pictures. Words just cannot do this justice.

This is simply genius.

The incredibly important Adobe Illustrator story

Vimeo:

When Adobe Illustrator first shipped in 1987, it was the first software application for a young company that had, until then, focused solely on Adobe PostScript. The new product not only altered Adobe’s course, it changed drawing and graphic design forever.

Watch the Illustrator story unfold, from its beginning as Adobe’s first software product, to its role in the digital publishing revolution, to becoming an essential tool for designers worldwide. Interviews include cofounder John Warnock, his wife Marva, artists and designers Ron Chan, Bert Monroy, Dylan Roscover and Jessica Hische.

It is hard to truly appreciate the impact Adobe had on the world of computing. In the video embedded below, you’ll meet John Warnock, the co-founder of Adobe, and watch as the invention and evolution of PostScript and Adobe Illustrator unfolds.

Absolutely brilliant. [Hat tip to iOS Dev Weekly]

August 9, 2014

Pando Daily:

Using the highly scientific process of…hunting for fancy words in tweeted headlines…Beak allows users to calculate the grade level of their tweets.

Not scientific at all but fun to use for comparison’s sake. I tweet at a level of 7th Grade. Which sounds high to me.

New York Times:

You can sell old iPhones — a lot of Android phones, too — to a number of online companies. Gazelle.com, cashforiphones.com, usell.com and icracked.com are just a few of them. Amazon and eBay are also vibrant marketplaces for used iPhones. I don’t know which one offers the best price or which are the most reputable. I don’t have enough used iPhones to do comparison testing.

But looking at the prices offered for the used iPhone 5s may offer some insight into what phone to buy next if you intend to sell it after a few years of use.

I’ve used Gazelle for several iPhone sales. Not the best price but definitely the easiest and less hassle.

August 8, 2014

TUAW:

In the wake of China’s 6.5 magnitude quake that hit the country over the weekend, Apple is doing its best to help out. As reported by CRIENGLISH, Apple is donating 10 million yuan, or roughly US$1.6 million, to the relief efforts.

You have to feel for the people affected. I’ve been in three very minor earthquakes and they were terrifying. I can’t even imagine what a 6.5 magnitude quake would feel like.

I’ve always been a fan of Jackson, especially the Dinky models. They just feel really good in my hands.

Thanks to The Blueprint for sponsoring The Loop’s RSS feed this week. This week The Blueprint is featuring the IN1 is a multi-tool utility case for your iPhone 5/5s. Like a built-in swiss army knife for your phone. Choose from 8 colors. Get yours for $44.95, ships in 24 – 48 hrs.

IN1-Orange&Pink-240x180

This was more interesting than I thought it would be.

Grubstreet:

Pity the New Yorker who wants to eat an excellent burger for dinner while sitting at a proper table. The city is awash in outstanding burgers, but the simple task of ordering one at prime time feels like it’s become increasingly difficult.

The problem: More top New York chefs limit their burgers by selling them in very small quantities, or only at lunch, or only for the first 30 minutes their restaurant is open, or maybe just to the people sitting at the bar but not in the dining room, or possibly only on Mondays.

What a weird story and, I’m sorry, but “At Porter House, you can get the burger for $19 at lunch, or $26 at night at the bar” means I would never pay that much for a burger, no matter how good New Yorkers said it was.

AgileBits:

We are announcing that, for Mac and iOS users, our updates coming this fall for Apple’s OS X Yosemite and iOS 8—yes, including our awesome new Safari and in-app extension—will be free for current owners.

We’ve put 1Password for desktops on sale for 30 percent off, and 1Password for iPhone and iPad on sale for a whopping 40 percent off (1Password 4 for Android remains free-to-try through August 18!).

Get 1Password for Mac for just $34.99 and 1Password for iOS for just $9.99.

I personally highly recommend 1Password.

I’d love to have one of the EVH guitars. Not a bad price.

Epicurious:

Whether you’re making breakfast in an office or a college dorm room, the only kitchen tools you’ll need are a microwave-safe mug and a fork. From fast scrambled eggs to tomato sauce “baked” eggs, here are five tasty ideas for how to make eggs in a mug in 90 seconds.

I’m not much of a cook (but I do make a pretty tasty pasta sauce), so I’m always on the look out for quick (cause I’m lazy) and easy recipes. This looks like it would fit the bill.

Very sad news for the music industry, but after reportedly suffering a stroke earlier this year, it appears that Malcolm may not recover enough to rejoin the band.

Dan and Jim talk about the Apple/Samsung lawsuit, Twitch.tv and the death of Justin.tv, Russian Hackers, 1Password, Google and Barnes & Noble’s partnership, anonymity online, Wampler pedals, Godsmack, and more.

Sponsored by Sifter (Visit 5by5.sifter.me for an extended free trial of the most simple issue tracking tool around) and Squarespace (use code GUITARS for a free trial and 10% off your first purchase).

August 7, 2014

The Atlantic:

For an entire school year Hillsborough, New Jersey, educators undertook an experiment, asking: Is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning?

It’s a question that has been on many minds since 2010, when Apple released the iPad and schools began experimenting with it. The devices came along at a time when many school reformers were advocating to replace textbooks with online curricula and add creative apps to lessons. Some teachers welcomed the shift, which allowed their students to replace old poster-board presentations with narrated screencasts and review teacher-produced video lessons at any time.

Four years later, however, it’s still unclear whether the iPad is the device best suited to the classroom.

It’s an interesting article from the other side of the question. Before you knee jerk react to the headline, read the story. It certainly does make some interesting points.

The Daily Dot:

We hear about distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks all the time. Now, thanks to a new map, we can see how often these attacks occur, who’s getting targeted, and who’s doing the attacks.

The map, called IPViking Live, comes from a company called Norse that specializes in monitoring malicious online activity. The map is not comprehensive; it shows “a small subset” of DDoS attacks aimed at servers that Norse has set up as dummy targets. These “honeypots” collect information about the automated attacks that stream in from countries like China, Thailand, and Russia. Hovering over a location will show you attacks originating from that site.

Mesmerizing. And a little scary.

Super Vancouver:

Taking your $3,000 Canon 5D camera, mounting it on a tripod and waiting until 10:00 pm to film the Celebration of Lights fireworks now seems rather basic compared to the effort put into this clip.

The team behind the Youtube video titled “Sparks: A Honda Celebration of Light Story” took the time to create a story, shoot at multiple Metro Vancouver locations and artfully edit together the video perfectly.

I have lived in Vancouver for many years and have seen a lot of videos – Vancouver is the most beautiful city in North America and gets filmed a lot – and this is, without a doubt, one of the top 5 best I’ve ever seen.

Macworld:

Good backups are essential for every Mac user. Tools such as Apple’s Time Machine, included as part of OS X, make it easy to store multiple versions of every file from your computer on an external drive or an AirPort Time Capsule. And if you want the security of off-site backups without having to physically move drives around, an online backup provider such as CrashPlan is a good option.

But while both these forms of backup serve important purposes, I also recommend maintaining a clone (also known as a bootable duplicate)—a complete, identical copy of your startup volume, stored on an external drive in such a way that you can boot your Mac from it if necessary.

I’ve always recommended multiple backups. Using these apps will make the process relatively easy.

Corey funded the band’s first album through Indiegogo and it turned out great. Here’s a chance to help with the second one and support indie musicians.

I’m not usually impressed by this type of thing, but this is cool.

The Verge:

There are countless tablets available for purchase today, and we’ve surveyed all of the models you might come across in your local electronics store or on Amazon’s virtual shelves. It’s almost a tie for first place, but not quite.

Obviously, this doesn’t surprise anyone at The Loop but take a look at The Verge’s third choice. Their description of the Asus Nexus 7 doesn’t seem to warrant its score.

Chicago Sun-Times:

This past week my husband and I took the Live the Wage challenge in solidarity with hard-working families who are trying to make ends meet on a minimum wage salary. Our allotment was $77 each for the week to cover all food, transportation and other expenses excluding housing, insurance, and support for dependent children (which I don’t have). It didn’t take us long to realize that $7.25 an hour is not enough to live on. We didn’t quite make it.

To anyone who thinks this challenge is just a gimmick, I say “Try it.”

As someone who has lived at this level his entire life, I can vouch for the fact that it ain’t easy.

Gizmodo:

Times Square is one big, busy machine. Powered by American ingenuity and more than a few megawatts of electricity, these six square blocks stay bright 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ve seen Times Square in movies and on TV a million times.

A lot of you have probably seen it in real life, teeming with chaos and glowing with capitalism. But how exactly does all that work? The shops and restaurants are one thing, but what exactly makes Times Square such a functional, perpetual spectacle?

The amount of technology, both digital and analog, involved in putting on the “show” that is Times Square is mind boggling. Even more so in Tokyo’s Ginza District.