August 27, 2015

The video below shows a speed test, comparing the brand new Galaxy Note 5 against the just about a year old iPhone 6.

The test takes both phones through a series of app launches and shutdowns, then repeats the series. First time around the track, the Galaxy Note 5 has a slight edge, but the second time through, the iPhone 6 smokes the competition. To save battery life, the Note 5 completely closes each app, so when you return to that app, you have to go through the launch process again, from scratch. Not so sure that’ll end up being a battery saver, Samsung.

Combine this poor design choice with the stylus debacle, and it’s no wonder Samsung is hurting.

Leo Laporte learns about Samsung’s elegant sense of design

This is just so very delicious. News of the amazing Galaxy Note 5 stylus design fail has been making its way around the blogosphere over the last few days. If you haven’t heard, Samsung’s latest and greatest, designed to take on the iPhone 6 (more on that in the follow-up post), was released in the US on August 21st.

One slight problem, though. As you’ll see in the video below, if you insert the stylus wrong way in (and that appears to be pretty easy to do, as Leo demonstrates), the stylus gets stuck, held in place by a mechanism inside the phone. If you remove the stylus by force, you’ll permanently damage the sensor.

August 26, 2015

Now you can expand BIAS FX iPad with five of the most sought-after studio racks based on the LA2A Compressor, PSA-1 Preamp, Manley EQ, Echoplex and Dual Spring Reverb. The new studio racks can be integrated with BIAS Amp models, run into two different signal chains, and share and download on ToneCloud.

I really do like BIAS and use it all the time.

ABC News:

Apple CEO Tim Cook is focusing on an academic revolution that aims to prepare these students for the 21st century.

The tech giant is part of the White House initiative known as ConnectED. The goal of the program is to connect 99 percent of U.S. schools to good technology.

“I think technology has to be a key part [of education] and that’s why we’re here,” Cook said. “Too many times today kids aren’t given the right for a great public education and this isn’t right. It’s not fair.

It’s great when Apple’s goals – selling products – mesh with the common good of better education. But I get a strong sense that Cook would be involved in these kinds of issues whether or not Apple was selling iPads to schools. He’s absolutely right that a good education is the key to many childrens’ future.

Phil Wahba, writing for Fortune:

“Demand for Apple Watch has been so strong in the stores and online,” Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told Wall Street analysts on a conference call. The retailer expects to be selling the device, which hit the market in June, at all of its 1,050 big-box stores by the end of September, he added. Initially, Best Buy had planned to have watches in 300 stores by the holiday season. (It started selling the watches in early August.) Apple did not provide specific sales numbers for the watch in its second-quarter earnings last month, but Best Buy’s comments provide more evidence of the device’s success.

Joly also announced steps that will deepen Best Buy’s relationship with Apple. It is currently updating its Apple shop-in-shops at 740 stores, including new fixtures and more display tables for phones, computers, and tablets. The work is already complete at 350 stores, and will be finished at another 170 in time for the key holiday season. He also said that Best Buy will begin selling AppleCare product service and support this quarter, and will start testing out being an authorized service provider at 50 stores.

According to this Bloomberg article, Best Buy will roll out Apple Watch to 900 stores on September 4th (a week from Friday).

Was this part of the original Apple Watch marketing plan? Or is this a pivot in approach, a reaction to current sales results (whether positive or negative)? This feels like a recent development, a deal cut between Apple and Best Buy as the Apple Watch sales became known data. This story feels very fluid, facts changing as if the strategy is still forming.

In OS X El Capitan, when you shake the cursor (rapidly move the cursor back and forth), the OS will replace the cursor with a much larger version until you stop the shaking. This is really useful if you have a hard to see cursor (like a cross hair cursor, for example) or encounter a software bug that temporarily makes the cursor invisible.

Don’t like the feature? Perhaps you are an avid gamer and find it comes up at an inopportune time? No matter, easy enough to make it disappear. In Terminal, enter this command:

defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences CGDisableCursorLocationMagnification -bool YES

To turn it back on, enter this command:

defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences CGDisableCursorLocationMagnification -bool NO

Terminal is in the Applications / Utilities folder.

Apple Inc. lost a ruling at Germany’s top civil court over a patent for unlocking smartphones with a finger swipe. Judges on Tuesday said that the iPhone maker’s method didn’t reach a level of sophistication needed to award patent protection — backing an earlier patent tribunal ruling in favor of Lenovo Group Ltd.’s Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

“This user-friendly display was already suggested by the state of the art,” the Karlsruhe-based court wrote. “The contested patent thus isn’t based on an invention.”

We need some disruption in the patent process. It’s too complex, too stifling to innovation, too unfriendly to the garage inventor.

August 25, 2015

Macworld:

iTunes gets a lot of criticism, including a lot that I dish out, and much of this criticism is justified. iTunes has lots of problems syncing iOS devices, iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library are confusing, and the interface, particularly in iTunes 12, is confusing.

To be fair, though, iTunes does get a lot right. You can condemn it for many problems, but it’s good to sometimes take a step back and give it credit for the features that work so well that you hardly pay attention to them. I’ve picked ten things that iTunes does right.

McElhearn has a good point. After all the complaining many, myself included, do about it, there are many things it does very well.

Rolling Stone:

He had one last chance to make it real. Or at least that’s how the story goes. With 1975′s Born to Run, a 25-year-old Bruce Springsteen felt like his very life was on the line, which is probably why he drove himself — and the E Street Band — to the brink of breakdown over the tortured months of its creation.

In November 2005, a couple of hours before going onstage for a show on his solo Devils and Dust tour, Springsteen called Rolling Stone to talk about making Born to Run. On the 40th anniversary of the album’s release, here is the full transcript of that conversation, published for the first time.

I’ve never been the Springsteen fanatic my friend Sly is but I certainly appreciate just how amazing this album was, and still is, 40 years later.

Documentary Heaven:

“Some people can not believe that a magician can fool them in such a way that they can’t figure it out, but magicians can and magicians do. Swindlers do, conmen do, all the time, they’re not magicians but rather are fakes. They are lying to us, they are deceiving us. It’s okay to fool people as long as you’re doing that to teach them a lesson which will better their knowledge of how the real world works. No matter how smart or how well educated you are, you can be deceived.”

These are the words of James “The Amazing” Randi, a world-renowned enemy of deception and in this feature film we get a first hand glimpse into his legacy of exposing psychics, faith healers, and con-artists with quasi-religious fervor.

I saw this documentary when it first came out and it is a fascinating story about how James Randi (a fellow Canadian!) became “amazing”. His life story is incredible.

Drivers are steering clear of some new technology in cars, according to a survey released Tuesday, raising questions about whether car makers are moving too quickly to incorporate sophisticated technology.

This surprised me a lot when I first read it. Then I saw the numbers:

But the 2015 Drive Report from market research company JD Power found that 20 percent of new car owners had still not used approximately half of the technology features available in their vehicles after three months of purchase – the period after which drivers are less likely to adopt new features, researchers say.

Another way to say it is that 80 percent of drivers are using the technology. It makes sense that some tech systems in cars are not being used either because of the drivers age (older people may not like the technology) or because they are using a smartphone with similar technology. It seems the headline was written before the story in this case.

Marketwatch:

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook’s decision to give a rare midquarter update on the company’s performance in a private email to CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday may have violated federal disclosure rules, lawyers said Monday.

“Obviously I can’t predict the future, but our performance so far this quarter is reassuring,” Cook wrote.

However, the private disclosure, which was tweeted by CNBC reporter Carl Quintanilla and read on air at CNBC, may have violated the Securities and Exchange Commission’s fair-disclosure regulation, white-collar lawyers told MarketWatch. The rule, deemed murky and often contested by companies, addresses how publicly traded companies disclose material nonpublic information to certain individuals or entities.

When I first heard of this email, I thought this might happen. I’m sure Cook’s intentions were pure but this is something the SEC will at least have a little chat with him about but will likely result in little more than a “Bad CEO! No cookie for you!” warning.

Chasing Delicious:

Have you ever stood in the pasta aisle at the grocery store and thought to yourself, “why are there so many damn pasta shapes?” If so, you’re not alone. But before I answer that question (hint: the answer is sauce – spoiler alert), let’s look at where pasta came from, and what makes up pasta.

It wasn’t until I started dating a native Italian that I found out not all pasta is created equally. Pastas have good reasons to be the shape they are.

Logic Pro 10.2 gives you even more power to create electronic music with Alchemy, a next-generation synthesizer. Alchemy works hand in hand with all the beat-making and music-production features introduced in Logic Pro 10.1 to create all types of music, including EDM and Hip Hop.

Lots of big changes in the new version. I haven’t seen any of it in action yet though.

The Washington Post:

There’s one food, though, that has almost nothing going for it. It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate.

Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources.

I’ve always hated most salads. I knew it was a waste of chewing. While I love a good Greek Salad, any salad that consists mainly of variations on lettuce is unpalatable to me. This article helps justify my non-eating of that useless rabbit food.

Petapixel:

Back in July, Cafe Art handed out 100 Fujifilm disposable cameras to homeless people in London, connected them to photography training with the Royal Photographic Society, and asked them to shoot photos with the theme “My London.”

80 of the cameras were returned, and over 2,500 photos were developed. 20 photos were then chosen by a selection panel consisting of representatives from Fujifilm, Amateur Photographer, The London Photo Festival, Christie’s and Homeless Link. Those photos were then presented to the public, which submitted over 2,400 votes earlier this month to select the images for an upcoming calendar.

Here are the 12 photos that made the cut.

There are some lovely photos included. My only quibble is the Cafe Art site doesn’t explain how the photos were edited and by whom.

55% of Apple Music subscribers will buy the service

New data published by Wristly on Tuesday shows that 55% of people currently subscribed to Apple Music will purchase the service once their trial expires. However, the conversion rate could get even better for Apple.

“A 55% conversion rate would already be a big win for Apple, but if we additionally consider that a portion of the “undecided” will also convert to a paid subscription, then the total conversion rate from trial to purchase could rise as high as 65%-70% — which would be an astounding result!,” wrote Bernard Desarnauts, co-founder of Wristly.

The report also notes that 17% of people surveyed are not interested in streaming services at all, and 11% are satisfied with a competing product, like Spotify. A total of 71% of the people survey started a free trial of Apple Music.

Apple said earlier this month that Apple Music has 11 million trial members, which isn’t a bad number for a new service, but there is quite a bit of room for growth, given the amount of iOS devices out there.

I see what you did there!

Looking forward to this movie. In this post, you’ll meet Michael Stuhlbarg, who played Andy Hertzfeld (not sure why they insisted on putting a ‘t’ at the end of his name.) and hear his thoughts on the structure of the movie and the rehearsal process. Despite the poor reviews for the source material (Isaacson’s biography), I can’t help but think that Sorkin will rise to the occasion.

Interesting that the movie is built in three parts, each dedicated to a rollout of a specific Apple product. I’d have to assume those products would be the iMac, iPod, and iPhone, no? [Edit: Apparently, the sequence is Mac, NeXT, iMac]

Jean-Louis Gassée, writing for Monday Note, offers praises to solo programmers from long ago, leading up to this heaping praise for Acorn:

Newer than Preview but no less ambitious, we have Gus Mueller’s Acorn, an “Image Editor for Humans”, now in version 5 at the Mac App Store. To get an idea of the breadth and depth of the app, scan the documentation on the company’s web site. In addition to “straight” tech doc, there’s an FAQ, pointers to the Acorn communities, and a wealth of video tutorials for beginners, intermediate, and advanced users. (Mueller calls his Everett, WA company a mom and pop shop because his spouse Kristin does the documentation when she isn’t working as a Physical Therapist.)

On my iMac, Acorn 5 is a mere 24.6 Mbytes. Compare this, fairly or not, to apps that weigh in at 1.5 Gbytes or more (Microsoft Word, Excel…), or Pages at 478 Mbytes.

Well done.

When worlds collide.

This is a truly epic post from Pitchfork. It digs into the history of music valuations and explores the conflicts that emerge when trying to pin a value on something created as art. A fantastic read.

Hard to pick a favorite bit, but this one is solid:

In 2012, Jana Hunter of Baltimore dream-pop explorers Lower Dens wrote on her Tumblr: “Music shouldn’t be free. It shouldn’t even be cheap.” When I spoke with her earlier this year, she was a bit sheepish about what she called the “capitalist” presentation of those remarks. She told me, “What I meant to say is we are living in a society where everything is valued, and, within that context, why is music a thing that we have decided we shouldn’t be paying for?” Still, she continued to have pointed views about the music economy.

“What makes it so frustrating for musicians is that if you really try to center your life around making something creatively, then this becomes a huge distraction and it comes into direct conflict with what you’re trying to do,” she said, referring to the complexity of the business side in the time of streaming. “It derails you creatively.”

Also worth scanning for: Charts showing the average price of a single from 1974-2014, as well as the average price of an album over that same period, all adjusted to 2015 dollars (so you can compare apples to apples). Think those prices have risen over the years? Fallen? Take a guess before you peek.

August 24, 2015

Andy Ihnatko:

Before I begin what’s going to be a multi-part, in-depth Apple Watch review, I thought it’d be valuable to write down all of the fundamental observations that I believe to be true of all wearables, as of August 2015.

In his usual long-winded but wonderfully entertaining style, Andy Ihnatko makes some great points of what smartwatches need in order for them to be successful.

Everyone posts “A week with [insert device here],” but Lee Peterson spent a week without the Apple Watch and missed it. I’ve become dependent on my watch now and wouldn’t want to go a week or a day without it.

Apple:

Apple has determined that, in a small percentage of iPhone 6 Plus devices, the iSight camera has a component that may fail causing your photos to look blurry. The affected units fall into a limited serial number range and were sold primarily between September 2014 and January 2015.

If your iPhone 6 Plus is producing blurry photos and falls into the eligible serial number range, Apple will replace your device’s iSight camera, free of charge.

If you have an iPhone 6 Plus, it doesn’t hurt to enter you serial number to check to make sure your iPhone isn’t on the list of affected phones. If it isn’t and you’re still taking blurry photos, you might want to take a photography class.

Apple Inc’s China business experienced “strong growth” in July and August, Chief Executive Tim Cook told CNBC on Monday, seeking to assuage investor concerns over the company’s prospects in a market considered critical for its growth.

IPhone activations in China had accelerated over the past few weeks and the App Store in China had its best performance of the year over the past two weeks, Cook told CNBC in an emailed response to questions about Apple’s business in China.

Considering everything that’s been happening in the stock market, it was important that Cook did this. Apple has consistently bucked the trend in selling its products and this appears to be no different.

BBC:

Some words refer to things Americans don’t seem to have: toque for a kind of fitted knitted hat; poutine, Nanaimo bars, and butter tarts for three of Canada’s great culinary gifts to the world if the world would but accept them; Caesar for a bloody Mary made with clamato juice (tomato plus clam).

These Canadianisms stand as evidence of the difference between Canadian and American culture. It is very important for Canadians to maintain that difference, even if people from Vancouver sound more like people from San Francisco than people from San Francisco sound like people from San Antonio.

Until I moved to the US, I had no idea that Butter Tarts were Canadian. If you get a chance, try them. They are delicious.

The Next Web:

The next version of iOS comes with a major new feature called ‘content blockers’ which will allow users to install apps that block trackers, advertisements and other unwanted content for the first time.

Much has been written about the impending threat of ad blocking on iOS — it’s the first time blocking mobile advertisements en masse will be possible and publishers may face an existential threat to their revenue streams.

I spent the weekend with my new found family in Ontario and surfing my usual web sites on iOS was a torturous process. Most of the time, I was on 3G or – gasp! – Edge and some popular web pages would take several minutes to load enough to be readable. It’s going to be interesting how this whole ad blocking things shakes out but, if the examples included in the story are any indication, it’s going to be great for users in some ways.

August 22, 2015

Laso Schaller’s Insane 193 foot (59 Meter) Cliff Jump

From the YouTube page:

Remember the first time standing on a high-dive at your local pool? It was a little terrifying, right? Maybe 10 feet high? Imagine what it would be like to stand on a platform nearly 59 meters high, taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and perched on a cliff above a tiny natural pool of water. Yeah…no thanks. But don’t worry, Laso Schaller’s POV of the jump is enough to make your stomach flip. Take a look at the man’s world record cliff jump, and prepare yourself for one of the gnarliest POV shots ever.

The whole thing was great to watch, but that POV shot at the end was thrilling. Full screen this puppy. [Via Laughing Squid]

Here’s a palette cleanser from that last post. From the MIT Technology Review:

The process requires molten lithium carbonate, with another compound, lithium oxide, dissolved in it. The lithium oxide combines with carbon dioxide in the air, forming more lithium carbonate. When voltage is applied across two electrodes immersed in the molten carbonate, the resulting reaction produces oxygen, carbon—which deposits on one of the electrodes—and lithium oxide, which can be used to capture more carbon dioxide and start the process again.

If this proves cost-effective, this could be the start of an effective campaign to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.