November 24, 2016

Fast Company:

It opens in a snow-covered, remote mountain town. A man with a deep, gravelly voice is recording a music box tune on his iPhone. This guy looks familiar, in more ways than one. As he trudges through the snow to pick up a package, it becomes clear it’s the legendary Frankenstein (and Brad Garrett under some pretty heavy make-up) making some mystery preparations. As he makes his way to the town square, it soon becomes apparent Frankenstein is getting up the courage to offer up his own special festive contribution proceedings.

In the end, we get a message of inclusion and hope, topped with the tagline “Open Your Heart to Everyone.” It’s a message not unfamiliar to holiday advertising, but one that hits an especially strong chord amid the post-election uproar. This is the fourth year in a row that Apple has welcomed the Christmas season with a very British-flavored approach to the holidays—one that aims for your heartstrings as much as your wallet.

In one of his first interviews since joining the company late last year, I spoke to Vice President of Marketing Tor Myhren about the strategy behind the new holiday spot.

The pedant in me wants to remind everyone that “Frankenstein” was the creator’s name. The monster didn’t have a name. Don’t worry – I’ll see myself out.

Flight of the starlings

We know a lot of factual information about the starling—its size and voice, where it lives, how it breeds and migrates—but what remains a mystery is how it flies in murmurations, or flocks, without colliding. This short film by Jan van IJken was shot in the Netherlands, and it captures the birds gathering at dusk, just about to start their “performance.” Listen well and you’ll be able to hear how this beautiful phenomenon got its name.

I love watching these videos and would love to see this in person.

9to5Mac:

When the first teardown of Apple’s new 2016 MacBook Pro was published earlier this month, a couple notable changes were spotted related to the machine’s SSD. Components for the SSD are now soldered onto the logic board, which likely allows for some design and thinness enhancements, but hurts overall repairability. On top of not being upgradeable, some speculated that meant that if the logic board fails, your data is gone with it. Not necessarily.

Apple never guarantees that it will be able to recover your data, but it recognizes that having a non-removable SSD makes things more difficult for users, so it’s providing Apple stores and service providers with this tool to help customers.

The non-removable nature of the SSDs in the new MBPs is a huge pain for tinkerers and those who have issues but it’s good Apple is at least looking for ways to make it a bit less so.

flashbak:

This is an example of where the food might actually have tasted just fine (depending on your tastes), but, before the advent of the “food stylist”, things often looked ghastly in their advertisements. We’ve become so accustomed to highly-polished, Photoshopped food presentation, that food in vintage advertising just looks unpalatable.

Here are some adverts from decades past where the food may or may not have tasted fine, but the presentation makes things look downright inedible by today’s standards. Bon appetit!

Caution: Some of these are so awful, it may put you off your Thanksgiving turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Hope your travels are safe, you end up someplace warm, and your day is filled with peace, love, and plenty to eat.

Thanks for your support and for making the Loop a part of your lives.

November 23, 2016

Millennial International: Sponsor a Millennial Today

This is hilarious and sad all at the same time. An entire generation that expects everything to be handed to them.

TidBITS:

If you’ve been feeling as though Apple’s heart isn’t in moving the Mac forward these days, you’re not alone. The new MacBook Pro models have taken widespread criticism, Apple has provided no roadmap for the future of its desktop Macs, and most recently, the company eliminated the position of Product Manager of Automation Technologies, presumably seeing it as unnecessary. High-end creatives have despaired about Apple’s lack of attention to their needs, and the mood among many of the consultants and support professionals at last week’s MacTech Conference was downbeat.

So what could explain Apple’s increasing marginalization of the Mac, particularly in the pro market? The culprit is clearly the iOS platform, and the iPhone in particular. But the reason why it’s happening has more to do with a structural fact about the company that Apple will have to change if the Mac is to get the attention it needs to thrive.

Those of us who “love” our Macs or need them to make a living certainly have trepidation with the seeming lack of direction Apple is showing with the Mac. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom or that the Mac is going away any time soon though.

AppleInsider:

“Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States,” recounted Trump to the New York Times. about the recent call with the Apple CEO. “Instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you’re making your product right here.”

“I think we’ll create the incentives for you, and I think you’re going to do it,” added Trump. “We’re going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you’ll be happy about.”

I’m pretty sure Tim Cook doesn’t care about helping Trump in the way he describes. But very few people believe it would ever be possible, incentives or not, to build iPhones stateside. There are too many moving parts in Apple’s supply chain.

CNET:

When I was a kid, one thing I always had trouble wrapping my head around was how fighter pilots with propeller planes would shoot their machine guns through the propeller. I later learned it was all about timing the shots so they wouldn’t interfere with the propeller by syncing up the gun and propeller mechanically. But knowing something is a lot different from seeing it.

This is one of those things that fascinated me as a kid and when I found the solution, I thought it was an utterly brilliant use of technology.

Macworld:

With every release of a new iPhone powered by another cutting-edge processor designed by Apple, the rumbling grows. It’s amplified by the perception that the Mac is being delayed and hamstrung by the moves of the Mac’s chip supplier, Intel. It’s the theory that, one of these days, Apple is going to break from Intel and power its Macs with an Apple-designed processor related to the ones in the iPhone and iPad.

And it’s true, the Mac is no stranger to a processor transition. It’s happened three times in the 32-year life of the Mac, so roughly once a decade.

It could definitely happen. I don’t want to say that it won’t, because Apple’s desire to chart its own course and not be beholden to other companies for key parts of its products is well known. Having proven itself a capable chip designer with the A series, Apple could very well dump Intel and strike out on its own.

But I don’t think Apple will.

I would strongly disagree with my colleague, Mr Snell. I think Apple will eventually do this. But not for at least 5 years.

Information is Beautiful:

Scene-by-scene breakdown of Hollywood films. Explore your favorite “based on a true story” films scene-by-scene, beat-by-beat and test their veracity on a data level.

I love movies but anyone who knows me knows I can be a real PITA when it comes to historical accuracy. This website is a data gold mine for pedantic bastards like me.

November 22, 2016

I see why some people think Designed by Apple in California could be Ive’s goodbye to Apple. But it feels to me like Ive’s heartfelt goodbye to his best friend and colleague, five years gone. I don’t think Jony Ive is going anywhere.

I agree with Gruber on this. Although, I do think Jony is taking a higher level view of design for Apple these days.

According to industry sources on Nov. 21, the Korean tech giant plans to launch a new glossy black version of the flagship smartphone early next month.

Of course they will.

Appleinsider:

Schiller in a brief response to an article published by developer Ben Slaney explained Apple’s decision to use speedy and efficient LPDDR3 memory, of which Intel’s latest processors can handle up to 16GB, was in large part due to battery life concerns.

“The MacBook Pro uses 16GB of very fast LPDDR memory, up to 2133MHz,” Schiller said. “To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.”

The response clarified an error in Slaney’s attempt to explain why MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models maxed out at 16GB of RAM, which claimed the LPDDR3E specification tops out at 1866MHz.

These comments from Schiller point very clearly to Apple’s focus and direction when it comes to their laptops.

Great review of CarPlay from John Vorhees, writing for MacStories. Good and the bad. Interesting that this is one of the few cases where Apple is forced to build a software experience on someone else’s hardware.

Apple debuts Frankie’s Holiday ad with a familiar face

Interesting how distinctive voices can be. The minute Frankie’s groaning singing voice kicked in, I was pretty sure who it was. Great job with the makeup. Wasn’t certain until I verified it with a quick Google search.

From Apple’s Black Friday teaser page:

Friday can’t come soon enough.

Our one-day shopping event will be here before you know it. Come back this Friday to check everyone off your list.

Free two day shipping on all in-stock items ordered by 5p. No mention of time zone there. Fair to assume it’s 5p local time?

Check back Friday morning to see what’s on sale. I’m hoping for a discount on the new Apple Watch.

November 21, 2016

Classic TV History:

TV Guide named it as the fortieth best television episode of all time. On lists of favorite sitcoms, or favorite holiday episodes, it invariably ranks even higher. WKRP in Cincinnati’s seventh episode, “Turkeys Away” begins as a wholesome, almost bland, Thanksgiving show. Around the midpoint, though, the standard-issue sitcom setup – Mr. Carlson (Gordon Jump), orchestrates a secret radio station promotion – takes a spectacularly morbid and off-color left turn, one that sets up punchline after hilarious punchline. The last line of the show (which can be viewed on Hulu, albeit with substantial cuts and music replacement) has become one of the most oft-quoted gags in the history of television.

This post is from a few years ago but, in honor of the upcoming US Thanksgiving Day festivities, I thought some of you might want to read this oral history of one of the funniest TV episodes of all time.

This is very cool. I need one of these.

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Craig Federighi’s response to an email from a 9to5mac reader concerned about the elimination of Sal Soghoian’s position at Apple:

We have every intent to continue our support for the great automation technologies in macOS!

Thanks for being an Apple customer!

— craig

That should alleviate some concerns in the AppleScript and Automator communities.

Some terrific, vibrant pictures.

[H/T John Kordyback]

Kirk McElhearn, Macworld:

I was chagrined to learn that Sal Soghoian, who was Apple’s Product Manager of Automation Technologies, was let go for “business reasons.” Mr. Soghoian had been with Apple for nearly 20 years, and was the keeper of the flame for technologies such as AppleScript, Automator, and more.

And:

It’s not clear whether the termination of Mr. Soghoian means the demise of AppleScript altogether, and particularly in iTunes, but many developers, iTunes users, and others are concerned by this decision.

You see, it’s all about freedom. Freedom to do things we want that Apple doesn’t think we need to be able to do. Freedom to explore. Freedom to discover new ways to link applications, to interact with files, to create our own solutions. We can’t expect apps to cater to all our whims, and tools like AppleScript and Automator allow us to go a step further and discover ways to do things that Apple never even considered.

Nice job by Kirk, passionately capturing the essence of the value of AppleScript and Automator. Technologies like AppleScript and Automator expose just enough of the wiring to allow pros and hobbyists alike to build out their own infrastructure, make their Apple products more powerful than they were when they came out of their boxes.

Apple’s official support page with details on what Macs are compatible with 4K displays, 5K displays, and Ultra HD TVs, the cables required, and a variety of warnings that are well worth reading.

Bookmark and pass this along.

Peter Cohen takes a look back at the origins of the hard drive. Pretty incredible how far we’ve come. Oh, and never, never, never read the bio at the bottom of the page.

Apple Music ad: Drake vs. Bench Press

New Apple Music ad, this one a callback to Taylor vs. Treadmill.

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple hasn’t refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn’t currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans.

And:

Exiting the router business could make Apple’s product ecosystem less sticky. Some features of the AirPort routers, including wireless music playback, require an Apple device like an iPhone or Mac computer. If the company no longer sells wireless routers, some may have a reason to use other phones and PCs.

Not sure I agree with that last point. Somehow I don’t see someone switching out of the Apple ecosystem because of their router.

Combine this program cancellation with the news about Sal Soghoian’s position being eliminated, and it sounds like Apple is doing some beginning of the fiscal year house cleaning.

Apple repair programs for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 Plus

From the Apple support page for the iPhone 6s unexpected shutdown problem:

Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down. This is not a safety issue and only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between September and October 2015.

If you have experienced this issue, please visit an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider and have your device’s serial number checked to confirm eligibility for a battery replacement, free of charge.

And from the Apple support page for the Multi-Touch repair program for the iPhone 6 Plus:

Apple has determined that some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit display flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.

If your iPhone 6 Plus is exhibiting the symptoms noted above, is in working order, and the screen is not cracked or broken, Apple will repair your device for a service price of $149.

Curious how they verify the “dropped multiple times on a hard surface” issue. There a sensor for that?

November 20, 2016

512 Pixels:

Apple’s new coffee table book “Designed by Apple in California” features many products the company has produced over the last 20 years. Most of what it is in the book is a part of my collection. Here are the actual products alongside the book.

Brilliant.

The New York Times:

For a host of reasons, Apple is unlikely to produce iPhones in the United States. But opening a smartphone factory in this country is not the only way to provide solid employment for working-class Americans who lack college degrees.

Apple’s overall contribution to the American economy is significant. Beyond the 80,000 people it directly employs in the United States, it says 69 supplier facilities in 33 states manufacture parts that go into its products. Hundreds of thousands of software developers also write apps for iPhones and iPads.

Apple has a greater effect on the American economy than many people realize.