October 16, 2014

“People love Mac mini. It’s a great first Mac or addition to your home network, and the new Mac mini is a nice upgrade packed into an incredibly compact design,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

I think Phil summed it up perfectly—People love the Mac mini. Even though this wasn’t a staggering update, consumers are going to love it.

iMac with Retina 5K display delivers an amazingly immersive user experience. With a resolution of 5120 x 2880, iMac with Retina 5K display has four times more pixels than the standard 27-inch iMac and 67 percent more pixels than a 4K display. Text looks as sharp as it does on a printed page, and you can see more of your high-resolution photos with pixel-for-pixel detail.

I just saw the new iMac in the hands-on area after the event and it is incredible.

Apple today announced that OS X Yosemite, the latest major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is available as a free upgrade for Mac users from the Mac App Store.

I’ve been using Yosemite for a while now and I really like all of the changes, especially the redesigned interface.

Apple today announced that customers can start making payments with the touch of a finger on Monday, October 20, when Apple Pay becomes available in the US.

This could very well be one of Apple’s most significant announcements in years.

Apple today introduced iPad Air 2, the thinnest and most powerful iPad ever. Now just 6.1 mm thin and weighing less than a pound, iPad Air 2 features an improved Retina display for enhanced contrast and richer, more vibrant colors, and better cameras for taking stunning photos and videos. Available in gold, silver and space gray, the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 offer Touch ID so users can unlock their iPad with just the touch of a finger and make purchases easily and securely within apps using Apple Pay.

Great looking devices.

This sound like the premise of a bar trick, but not so.

Why? Because data stored on flash drives has weight. The difference is almost infinitesimally minute, but it is there. The extra weight comes from flash storage storing more data in memory. The transistors in flash memory distinguish between a 1 and a 0 by trapping electrons.

Really love this science. And it was done by this guy, so you know it must be right. This comes from a 2011 New York Times blog post and the example used was a Kindle, but the concept is the same for any memory-based device.

Maurits Martijn, writing for Medium:

In his backpack, Wouter Slotboom, 34, carries around a small black device, slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes, with an antenna on it…Wouter removes his laptop from his backpack, puts the black device on the table, and hides it under a menu. A waitress passes by and we ask for two coffees and the password for the WiFi network. Meanwhile, Wouter switches on his laptop and device, launches some programs, and soon the screen starts to fill with green text lines. It gradually becomes clear that Wouter’s device is connecting to the laptops, smartphones, and tablets of cafe visitors.

On his screen, phrases like “iPhone Joris” and “Simone’s MacBook” start to appear. The device’s antenna is intercepting the signals that are being sent from the laptops, smartphones, and tablets around us.

Part of this is an education problem, teaching people how to be careful. But it’s foolish to think that any public WiFi connection is safe. It’s just far too easy to spoof trusted networks.

More text starts to appear on the screen. We are able to see which WiFi networks the devices were previously connected to. Sometimes the names of the networks are composed of mostly numbers and random letters, making it hard to trace them to a definite location, but more often than not, these WiFi networks give away the place they belong to.

We learn that Joris had previously visited McDonald’s, probably spent his vacation in Spain (lots of Spanish-language network names), and had been kart-racing (he had connected to a network belonging to a well-known local kart-racing center). Martin, another café visitor, had been logged on to the network of Heathrow airport and the American airline Southwest. In Amsterdam, he’s probably staying at the White Tulip Hostel. He had also paid a visit to a coffee shop called The Bulldog.

Recently, Starbucks changed the process by which you access their network. Now, with their Google partnership in place, you must log in to your Google account to access Starbuck’s Google wireless. This means sending out your Google credentials in a public space.

It’s one thing to provide a free WiFi connection, but another to require you to submit important trusted credentials over the public airwaves in order to get in. There are any number of ways for this to go wrong, including Wouter Slotboom’s black box spoofing a Google wireless hot spot, ready to harvest.

I love event days.

October 15, 2014

It’s kind of sad that Apple is the source of the leak.

Lots of changes in the latest update:

  • Support for OS X Yosemite, including a Notification Center widget for quick calculations simply click on the display to switch to the main app, even mid-calculation.

  • Handoff support, between PCalc running on iOS 8 and Yosemite – continue your calculation on any device. The full state of the calculator, including the tape, is sent over.

  • Support for custom button layouts created with the iOS version. Full editing on the Mac will come in the next release.

  • Visual improvements, to match the new look of Yosemite, and unify with the iOS release.

  • A new dark calculator theme, “Backlight”.

  • All the core calculation code improvements from PCalc 3.3.2 on iOS, including better operator precedence support.

8 Elite Mac Apps + 25 Comprehensive OS X & Web Development Courses

There are some nice apps here for $30.

TidBITS:

Hundreds of millions of customers use Apple products. I don’t know what the iCloud numbers are, but we are talking about a company that just sold 10 million iPhones in a weekend. Security complexity increases exponentially as fringe situations encompass millions of users. With Apple operating on that scale, the rules change.

Apple thus faces one of the most complex security challenges in society, and faces it at a scale only a handful of companies need to consider.

Users want security but few are willing to be inconvenienced by it. That puts Apple and other companies between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

This will impact a lot of companies, Google being a bit of a poster child here.

The government is phasing out what is known as the “double Irish” provision. It allows corporations with operations in Ireland to make royalty payments for intellectual property to a separate Irish-registered subsidiary. That subsidiary, though incorporated in Ireland, typically has its home in a country that has no corporate income tax.

Take Google. Its Dublin headquarters are its main hub outside the United States, employing more than 2,500 people. A Dublin-based subsidiary for Google generates revenue, mostly from online advertising, and then pays it in royalties to a separate Google unit that is registered in Ireland but is resident in Bermuda for tax purposes.

It’s important to note that the elimination of the “double Irish” provision will not, by itself, change the tax rates negotiated by companies like Apple. That’s a separate issue.

Mike Wehner of TUAW took the Moto 360 for a spin. The upshot is this:

My experience over the past week has taught me a lot about the future of smartwatches, the importance of intuitive software on a tiny device, and all the ways Apple could make just about every other smartwatch — including my new Moto 360 — look like a joke.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that the phone, the watch and the software that drive the Moto 360 are made by 3 different companies.

It starts with the software. Syncing the Moto 360 to Android Wear on my smartphone was needlessly complicated. At one point I was told via pop-up notification to uninstall Android Wear, update Google Search, then reinstall Android Wear, in order to get it to work properly. My phone was telling me I had to delete software that was built specifically for it, in order to get it to function as intended. I have to admit that I laughed.

This workflow fragmentation is never going to be solved completely. This is a huge advantage for Apple.

U2 responds to pushback about their massive iTunes album release

U2 put together a video responding to fan questions. One fan brought up the album that was automatically added to everyone’s library, wanted or not:

Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to peoples playlists ever again? It’s really rude.

Bono sighed, then said:

Oops, um, I’m sorry about that…This beautiful idea. Might’ve gotten carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing. Drop of megalomania. Touch of generosity. Dash of self promotion. And deep fear that these songs, that we’ve poured our lives into the last few years, mightn’t be heard. There’s a lot of noise out there. I guess we, us, we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it.

On the video embedded below, the question starts at about 2:18.

October 14, 2014

The all new Apogee Ensemble is the first Thunderbolt 2 audio interface to offer superior sound quality, the lowest latency performance and the most comprehensive studio functionality all in one box. Ensemble includes 8 Advanced Stepped Gain™ mic preamps, monitor controller functionality including talkback, front panel Guitar I/O, two headphone outputs and digital connectivity for a total of 30 x 34 I/O. Blending acclaimed innovations, groundbreaking new features and an effortless user interface, Ensemble empowers you to capture inspiration when creative lightning strikes.

What a great looking interface. This thing is a beast.

Foo Fighters do “War Pigs”

Much respect.

Macworld Expo goes on hiatus

Very sad news today for the Mac community:

“We are announcing today that Macworld/iWorld is going on hiatus, and will not be taking place as planned in 2015. Our MacIT event, the world’s premiere event for deploying Apple in the enterprise, will continue next year with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

I remember back in 1994 as one of the original members of MacCentral that one of our main goals was to attend a Macworld Expo. I grew up in my profession writing about all the great products released at the expos over the years. This is a sad day.

Since 1985, Macworld events have brought together a community to celebrate the incredible innovations that Apple has brought into the world, shining a spotlight on the developers who add value to the user’s experience in infinite ways. As Apple products and the related ecosystem have changed, so has the marketplace, and we are proud to have played a part in that evolution. Literally thousands of companies and hundreds of products have come to market at Macworld, and countless professional relationships have been forged. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Apple community for allowing us to host these events and be a part of the incredible story that is the Apple market.

We are committed via our MacIT event to bringing together the product developers innovating with enterprise iOS and OS X based solutions, and the growing legion of professionals empowering their organizations through these tools. We are exploring exciting new partnerships, venues and delivery opportunities through which MacIT can continue to serve this market, and we look forward to announcing our plans for this event within the next few months.”

Much respect to Paul Kent for keeping the doors open as long as he did.

Ana Yang gazillion bubble show

This is mesmerizing.

John Kirk for Tech.pinions:

Samsung has reported a 60% fall in quarterly profits. Just three years ago, Samsung rose from seemingly nowhere to dominate the global smartphone market. Today, Samsung is being pressured from above and below as Apple steals away its premium customers and Xiomi and others steal away customers from the low-end.

Why did Samsung fail? In a word, commoditization.

Pundits have predicted, correctly, that hardware would inevitably become commoditized. This, they proclaimed with confidence, would cause Apple’s prices to fall while Samsung, with its good-enough and better-than-good-enough hardware and its lower prices, would usurp Apple’s market share, relegating Apple to niche status. Ironically, commoditization DOES apply to Samsung — the favorite of the Priests of Market Share — but it DOES NOT apply to their favorite whipping boy, Apple. Why? Differentiation.

Read the whole thing. I love the way this pulls everything together.

In the US, there are any number of situations where you hand someone your credit card and it disappears from view. A drive through at McDonald’s is a perfect example. You drive up to the pay window, hand the cashier your card, it disappears from view, then comes back to you with a receipt. If you go to a higher end restaurant, you’ll get the check, lay your credit card on top, and watch your card disappear to be processed.

Apple Pay is changing that game. Now, when you roll up to the drive through, the cashier will hand you the portable NFC reader, you’ll tap your phone or Apple Watch, hear the confirmation beep, then hand it back. No credit card, no signing, no pin code.

iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus heading for 36 more countries and territories

From Apple’s press release:

Apple’s Fastest-Ever iPhone Rollout Includes India, Mexico, South Korea & Thailand

Apple® today announced that iPhone® 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the biggest advancements in iPhone history, will arrive in 36 additional countries and territories across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa by the end of October. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in a total of 69 countries and territories by the end of the month and are on track to be available in more than 115 countries by the end of the year, making this the fastest iPhone rollout ever.

Here’s the details:

• Friday, October 17: China, India and Monaco
• Thursday, October 23: Israel
• Friday, October 24: Czech Republic, French West Indies, Greenland, Malta, Poland, Reunion Island and South Africa
• Thursday, October 30: Bahrain and Kuwait
• Friday, October 31: Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Guam, Hungary, Iceland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macau, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, South Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Thailand

Voracious reader? If so, this may change things for you.

Most libraries (at least in the United States) use Overdrive as their ebook library solution. From what I can tell it’s usually tied into a library network like the Minuteman Library Network. Your library will own ebooks. However, unlike the Amazon Prime Lending Library (we’ll be visiting Amazon again by the time we’re done), people can only check out as many copies of an ebook as your library owns. So, if your library only has one electronic copy of the new John Sandford book, only one person can check out the book at a time. What is nice, though, is you can place a hold on a title and it will automatically be checked out to you when it’s available.

I will be trying this, just as soon as I finish the 17 books in my queue.

October 13, 2014

Rick Smolan’s Inside Tracks

I got a copy of Rick Smolan’s smartphone-enhanced book late last week and had a chance to try it out. As you would expect from a photographer of Rick’s experience, the photos are simply amazing. The story also pulls you in, certainly more than what I expected.

What was really cool is that after downloading the app, I was able to just point my iPhone at a picture and a movie explaining that photo would show up on my iPhone. It added so much to the experience.

I love the book. You can help fund the project and read the background story at National Geographic.

It’s amazing to think that CSS has been around so long.

Voted BEST in Show at the Audio Engineering Convention in Los Angeles last week!

genelec

With a compact footprint and outstanding acoustic performance, the 8351 Acoustically Coaxial SAM System marks a bold step forward in active monitoring featuring major advances in audio driver technology integrated into a sophisticated enclosure design

Genelec, the leader in active monitoring technology for over 35 years, offers the revolutionary new 8351 three-way Smart Active Monitor (SAM), developed in response to the need for increasing audio perfection for near-field recording and mix environments. Offering unique size and technological innovations, the 8351 breaks new ground in electro-acoustic engineering, as the mechanical, acoustical and signal-processing designs are linked closely together. The result is a system that is completely unique in the professional monitoring industry and represents a bold step forward for the active monitoring pioneer.

The 8351 borrows its size attribute from Genelec’s acclaimed 8050, the 8351 has a particularly compact footprint for a three-way monitor. The center of the 8351’s enclosure features the Minimum Diffraction Co-axial midrange/tweeter driver. This breakthrough in coaxial driver design provides extremely accurate imaging and improved sound quality, with crystal clear accuracy, both on and off-axis, vertically as well as horizontally. Aesthetically striking is the absence of any visible woofers, which are concealed beneath the Directivity Control Waveguide (DCW). The areas on the perimeter of the DCW are the acoustic openings for the proprietary Genelec-designed Acoustically Concealed Woofers (ACW™).

It’s this arrangement, the Co-axial midrange / tweeter in combination with the innovative bass drivers, together form a three-way co-axial enclosure with large continuous Directivity Control Waveguide (DCW) across the entire front. The extremely smooth frequency response and dispersion pattern lead to outstanding clarity and definition of the audio signal.

Genelec knows that smaller environments can cause significant problems with regards to the room performance, but SAM (Smart Active Monitoring) technology takes all that can be good about a monitor by itself and integrates it further into the listening environment. SAM technology creates a computer controlled, flexible network of monitors and makes them as a fully aligned system with regards to level, timing and room response equalization – all done automatically – as well being configurable by the end user. Like all active monitors in the Genelec SAM range, the 8351 is capable of automatically adapting to acoustical environments to offer an indispensable tool for sound professionals in broadcasting, post production, music studios and remote recording environments.

The 8351 is a remarkable achievement in electro-acoustic design by a group of engineers who remain committed day after day to delivering performance-based solutions for the professional audio market.

For more information, please visit Genelec.

Horace Dediu

Samsung’s operating model seems to be to invest as a ‘fast follower’ filling in the market after it’s established while leveraging capital intensive components synergies… If the modus operandi does not change then their turnaround will depend on the creation of new opportunities/categories.

I honestly don’t see an opportunity for Samsung to create new product categories. I think they’ve proven that’s not its strength.

This was actually pretty interesting, not only to see what held people up from updating right away, but also how misinformation and rumors affects an individual’s views of features in the operating system.

The Autocomplete Song

Heh. The words to this song were written by an iPhone, using autocomplete. It’s actually pretty catchy.

Superman was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in 1933. They sold the copyright to Superman to Detective Comics (which became DC Comics) back in 1938 for $130 and other considerations.

In 1978, copyright law was changed to allow copyright owners to revert their copyrights back after 35 years. Siegel and Shuster’s families traveled a long legal road in an attempt to do just that. But that road just ended last week, when the Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal.

This is a complex and fascinating story.