May 17, 2018

Pick your material, press and hold the spacebar to start the lathe spinning, then click and move the mouse to start cutting.

Have not figured out how to get this to work on my iPhone. Please ping me if you work that out.

But on my Mac? Surprisingly satisfying.

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

The Washington Post says Apple has explored opening a campus for 20,000 employees in Northern Virginia, an area Amazon is also considering for its new campus.

And:

Separately, the Triangle Business Journal says that Apple is considering establishing its new campus in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. Research Triangle Park, a 22 million square foot research park, has become an attractive site for tech companies and is known as North Carolina’s technology hub due to its proximity to NC State, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University.

And:

North Carolina news site WRAL says that its sources believe Apple is close to announcing a deal that could bring up to 10,000 new jobs to North Carolina. Many of those jobs are “high-tech research and development jobs.”

This is me parsing here, but this is from Apple’s original announcement:

The company plans to establish an Apple campus in a new location, which will initially house technical support for customers.

And the WRAL North Carolina article mentions “high-tech research and development jobs.” Is it possible Apple will be pursuing two different campuses? Or will the campus host a blend of high tech R&D as well as tech support?

Regardless, I’d expect some housing speculation in the winning location.

The fascinating history of the “orchestra hit”

This is an amazing walk through history, from Stravinsky all the way to Bruno Mars, all connected by that same sample, known as the orchestra hit. Terrific video, learned a lot, lots of great musical samples, too.

[Via Kottke.org]

YouTube blog:

YouTube Music is a new music streaming service made for music: official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos that you can’t find anywhere else – all simply organized and personalized.

And better search:

YouTube Music search works even if fans don’t know exactly what they’re looking for … we’ll find it if they describe it (try “that hipster song with the whistling”) or give us some lyrics (try “I make money moves”).

And:

While fans can enjoy the new ad-supported version of YouTube Music for free, we’re also launching YouTube Music Premium, a paid membership that gives you background listening, downloads and an ad-free experience for $9.99 a month. If you are a subscriber to Google Play Music, good news, you get a YouTube Music Premium membership as part of your subscription each month.

To me, the branding is confusing, but the access to the tremendous catalog of things you can only find on YouTube is compelling. Will user posted content be included?

For example, will this video of Dave Grohl and his daughter Violet performing Adele’s “When We Were Young” be included in the mix? If so, will uploaders be compensated in the same way as when their videos are watched?

Today is the 7th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (the third Thursday each May).

Apple customized their home page to embrace the occasion and, at the same time, announced that they are teaming up with leading educators for blind and deaf communities across the US to bring accessible coding to their schools.

From the official press release:

Beginning this fall, schools supporting students with vision, hearing or other assistive needs will start teaching the Everyone Can Code curricula for Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language.

And:

“Apple’s mission is to make products as accessible as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We created Everyone Can Code because we believe all students deserve an opportunity to learn the language of technology. We hope to bring Everyone Can Code to even more schools around the world serving students with disabilities.”

May 16, 2018

Twitter is giving developers more time to adjust to its API platform overhaul, which has affected some apps‘ ability to continue operating in the same fashion. The company clarified this morning, along with news of the general availability of its Account Activity API, that it will be delaying the shutdown of some of its legacy APIs by three months’ time. That is, APIs originally slated for a June 19, 2018 shutdown – including Site Streams, User Streams, and legacy Direct Message Endpoints – will now be deprecated on Wednesday, August 16, 2018.

It’s sad that Twitter continues to treat developers so poorly.

VOX:

On Tuesday, Cloe Feldman, a social media influencer and vlogger, posted a seemingly obvious question on her Instagram story, which she then cross-posted to Twitter: “What do you hear? Yanny or Laurel,” accompanied by a recording of a computerized voice that is clearly saying “Laurel.”

Some maniacs, some of whom I work with, swear they hear “Yanny” even though the recording, in the plainest English, says the word “Laurel.” Some even claim to be able to hear both words at once.

These kinds of things fascinate me. For the record, I hear “Laurel”. Our 12-year-old son hears “Yanny”. But my Australian wife hears “yearly”. Weirdo.

Update from Dave Mark:

This tweet video does a great job of explaining the effect. I found the whole thing super interesting!

Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean played fingerstyle on guitar

This is a brilliant performance. Sounds like there’s some extra acoustic drumming going on in the background but, as far as I can tell, it’s all Alexandr Misko’s fingerwork.

That bassline has been stuck in my brain for days now. Also worth a read, the production notes on the song’s Wikipedia page. Fascinating.

This happens to me periodically, both on iOS and macOS. Lasts through restarts, eventually goes away all on its own. Read all the way to the end (it’s short) for the thing that solved this for Glenn. Tucking that away in my brain for the next time it happens.

From the Mount St Helens Wikipedia page:

Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its major 1980 eruption, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale caused an eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m), leaving a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume.

Someone just found a set of 34 slides, from photos taken on a plane circling the volcano as it erupted. These never-before-published photos are worth a look.

To me, the most amazing thing about this event is how, in the space of a few days, an almost perfectly conical mountain was practically leveled.

[VIDEO] Test run of an in-glass fingerprint sensor

Marques Brownlee shows off an in-glass fingerprint sensor and compares its performance side-by-side with an iPhone 8 and Touch ID.

There’s a lot to love about this video but, for me, the highlight is Marques explaining just how the OLED reflection process works, how it shines the screen at your finger and uses the bounced light to detect your fingerprint.

Beautifully done.

Bloomberg:

Microsoft Corp. is planning to release a line of lower-cost Surface tablets as soon as the second half of 2018, seeking a hit in a market for cheaper devices that Apple Inc. dominates with the iPad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Microsoft has tried this before. The software giant kicked off its consumer-oriented hardware push in 2012 with the launch of the original Surface RT. At the time, it was priced starting at $499. After the tablets didn’t resonate with consumers and product reviewers, Microsoft pivoted to the more-expensive Surface Pro, a line which has gained steam and likely contributed to demand for a pro-oriented iPad, which Apple launched in 2015.

The Surface RT was the first generation Surface and was hamstrung by performance issues. If Microsoft truly is going to build something to rival the 2018 education iPad and its $329 list price, performance has to be better than their first kick at the can.

I own and regularly use the $329 iPad. It is fast, I’ve never noticed a bit of lag with the Apple Pencil, and the screen is excellent. There’s nothing about the $329 iPad that says budget to me. If Microsoft is going to play at that level, they have to offer a similar experience.

I’ve been playing with this news app. An interesting approach, very customizable. If you download it, be sure to tap the “…” icon next to each story for more options.

This is especially valuable in the For You tab, where it lets you select “More stories like this” and “Fewer stories like this”. Helps the app learn your prefs.

Note that the app requests access to your location. Presumably, this is to help customize the local stories feed. But I felt uncomfortable enabling that access. A comment on the times we live in, I think.

May 15, 2018

Today, we use policies, human review processes, and machine learning to help us determine how Tweets are organized and presented in communal places like conversations and search. Now, we’re tackling issues of behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation in those areas by integrating new behavioral signals into how Tweets are presented. By using new tools to address this conduct from a behavioral perspective, we’re able to improve the health of the conversation, and everyone’s experience on Twitter, without waiting for people who use Twitter to report potential issues to us.

I’m glad to see Twitter taking some action on this issue—we’ll have to wait to see how it works out. It’s a shame that a small number of people can have such a huge affect on their experience on the platform.

First things first, from John Carmack’s Wikipedia page:

Carmack was the lead programmer of the id video games Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Rage and their sequels. Carmack is best known for his innovations in 3D graphics, such as his Carmack’s Reverse algorithm for shadow volumes. In August 2013, Carmack took the position of CTO at Oculus VR.

And:

Carmack and Kang married on January 1, 2000 and planned a ceremony in Hawaii. Steve Jobs requested that they postpone the ceremony so Carmack could attend the MacWorld Expo on January 5, 2000. Both declined and made a video instead.

Carmack had a rollercoaster of a relationship with Steve. Follow the headline link and just dive in. I found it a fascinating read.

South China Morning Post:

An alert from his smartwatch prompted 76-year-old Hongkonger Gaston D’Aquino to go to hospital, even though he was feeling fine. It turned out his coronary arteries were almost completely blocked.

And:

“I told the doctor I don’t know why I’m here, but my watch tells me I have an elevated heart rate. He says, ‘Are you feeling anything?’ I said no, I feel fine, I’m feeling all right, nothing’s wrong.”

Hooked up to an electrocardiograph machine – which records the heart’s electrical activity – he learned something was wrong. He was immediately referred to cardiologists.

“I told them about the Apple Watch giving me this reading, and they told me that the watch gives pretty accurate readings,” says D’Aquino. After batteries of tests over the next three days, “they told me that out of the three main coronary arteries, two were completely blocked, and one was 90 per cent blocked.”

Stories like this roll in on a regular basis. To me, this is just a taste of the health benefits that are coming down the pike. Apple’s combination of a massive ecosystem and customer base, along with massive R&D funding give it a distinct advantage in this space.

While people might complain about Siri, they will flock to Apple Watch and the Apple ecosystem if they recognize that the device on their wrist can actually save their life.

iPhone X Portrait Lighting ad: Studio in your pocket

The song is “La Fête Noire” by Flavien Berger.

[VIDEO] Tim Cook on his meeting with Trump

This is a snippet from a longer interview Tim did on Bloomberg’s The David Rubenstein Show. The full interview will be released in June.

This is just cool.

Apple Music continues its #OneNightOnly campaign with free Shawn Mendes concert

Following up on their Dr. Dre event at the O2 Academy Brixton in London back in March, Apple Music announced a free Shawn Mendes concert for this Thursday evening:

The concert will be hosted by Zane Lowe at the Hollywood Ford Theaters in Los Angeles, with a live Q&A to follow.

Serhat Kurt, macReports:

Apple Apple now has 55 vehicles and 83 drivers under its permit to test autonomous vehicles, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said in an emailed response to questions.

And:

Apple has the second highest number of self driving cars after GM Cruise,which as 104 vehicles, as of now.

I find it surprising that Apple has more self-driving vehicles than Waymo. From the Waymo Wikipedia page:

In 2018, the company placed separate orders for “thousands” of hybrid-drive Pacifica minivans and 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric sedans. The vehicles are intended to help launch ride-hailing services in various cities, enough to accommodate hundreds of thousands of riders each day.

That aside, it is interesting to watch Waymo (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet) roll out their vision, while Apple, per tradition, keeps its cards closely held.

May 14, 2018

Yes, that’s right, a shed.

Om Malik:

In my social circles — admittedly a very tech-centric community — it is hard to find anyone who has told me that they love Apple Photos. Usual refrain tends to be – “That’s a mess.” There are no magical aha moments. Photos are Apple and by extension, iPhone’s currency. And yet the software on iPhone and Macs resembles a two-legged dog dragging itself over the rocky ground. Yes, there is assurance that it is not feeding some giant ads-spewing web monster, but by Jove, it isn’t a fun experience, and not magical.

I have more thoughts on Apple Music than photos, but I use the music app much more. When it comes to photos, I use the app to basically store whatever pictures or screenshots I take—that’s it. Om’s comment that Apple Photos wasn’t “magical” rings true to me.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is pleased to announce that it will present its 2018 Environmental Achievement Award to Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Apple’s Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, in recognition of her visionary leadership and outstanding environmental stewardship over a most distinguished career.

According to ELI’s President Scott Fulton, “Lisa has exemplified leadership, innovation, and commitment to sound science and rule of law at each step of her remarkable career. She has been a tireless champion for both sustainability and environmental justice, and has left an enduring mark on both the private sector and the public sector. Her work in greening Apple’s supply chain and in reducing the company’s carbon and natural resource footprint has been exceptional, reflecting the power and reach of business leadership in advancing environmental performance and stewardship.”

Apple’s environmental efforts are amazing.

BBEdit is one of my most used apps over the last 25 years of my career. It was installed first on any new computer I had over the years because it was so crucial to all the work I did.

Back in the 90s, we built our Web sites from scratch, so we used BBEdit to hand-code everything we needed to get the site up-and-running. We didn’t have a CMS at the time, so BBEdit became the default app for actually posting stories as well. It was an all-purpose tool that became indispensable for us.

We didn’t just use BBEdit for building and maintaining the Website, we also used it as our default word processing tool. Every word written for the stories we posted was done in BBEdit.

Now, as BBEdit celebrates its 25th anniversary, I can still say I am a proud user. Congrats to the crew at Bare Bones Software and thanks for making such a great product.

Download BBEdit now and try it for free!

For many years, Woz has maintained a series of email lists to pass along news stories, technology he finds interesting, favorite jokes, things like that. A few days ago, Woz shared a link to a brilliant article about Hewlett Packard and the HP-35 calculator.

Here’s a link to the HP story. An amazing read. Hard to overstate just how important HP is in the evolution of Silicon Valley and our tech industry.

If nothing else, jump to the end for the bit about Steve Jobs buying the HP property for Apple’s new HQ. More on that later in this post.

The HP article is a gem. But what I found even more interesting was Woz’s comments on the article. With permission, I’ve quoted Woz’s comments in their entirety below.

My favorite bit:

I sold my own HP-65 for a few hundred dollars to start Apple.

Enjoy.

I finished my 3rd year of college in 1972 and took a year off to earn the money to pay for my 4th year myself. My friend Allen Baum interned at HP Labs and Allen told hP about my digital design abilities. I was interviewed and hired as a digital technician/engineer by the calculator lab manager Tom Whitney. I would work for Tom 3 times in my life, including an HP computer division across the street after I declined to move to Corvallis (Alice’s choice was to stay), and also at Apple after we hired Tom as our first lab manager at Apple.

Realize that this HP-35 calculator became the equivalent of the hottest tech products of our times, like the latest iPhone. It was the branding leader for consumer electronic products in this time frame. It was an honor to say that you worked there.

I started a job at HP’s calculator division, APD (Advanced Products Division), in Cupertino. We basically had 2 buildings and even assembled the calculators there. I started by adding some logic and instruction ability to the processor set (2 chips, with the other 3 chips being ROM’s to hold the software that made the calculator work). I wrote programs in Fortran to track every logical node in the chips, printing 0’s and 1’s, to test that my designs would work. HP was impressed with my first job assignment. I was a young engineer (22 years old) with no college degree. HP made me a full-on design engineer at that point. My work turned up in the calculators following the HP-35. That would be the HP-45, HP-65, HP-67 and maybe others. I sold my own HP-65 for a few hundred dollars to start Apple.

Oh, before I started at HP, I actually had bought the precious HP-35 calculator for $395. It cost the equivalent of $5,000 to $10,000 today. How could I afford that, while still in college? The answer is that Jobs and I had made some money selling blue boxes. I sort of owe my success to people who kept me from getting arrested for the blue box activities. It was a close call, but I agree with Steve Jobs that without the blue box we never would have had Apple.

I met and knew and respected and even had good times with the key people mentioned in this article. This included the time in my life where I ran dial-a-joke in my Cupertino apartment.

The comments at the end about location of where Steve Jobs worked are quite wrong. The APD division did move to Corvallis, OR, but not back to Cupertino. Palo Alto is a different location. The property that Apple bought in Cupertino for the ’spaceship’ campus was a different, larger, computer division of HP. But the purchase did include a bit of land just across Pruneridge Avenue, which is where our APD buildings were located. The record about this is not really known, but it’s in one of those 2 buildings where I did most of my computer design and prototyping that became the Apple I and Apple II. I also did a lot of other interesting design work for fun and for outside products there. For the sake of nostalgia, after Apple announced the start of the ‘spaceship’ project, I drove Janet, by memory, to where our APD buildings were and actually recognized them.

The article mentions a wage freeze during the economic downturn of the early 1970’s, around 1973 to be precise. Most companies were laying off 10% of their workers. That meant that the newest, youngest employees were on the street without a job. HP did something different. They cut our work and salaries by 10%. We got one day off every 2 weeks, a Friday. I used those 3-day weekends to drive up to Oregon and visit Jobs and a girlfriend at Reed College in Portland. I always admired HP for this approach. It’s a bit of socialism but it’s like we’re all family in the company and we take care of each other.

This is just such a fun read, “claim chowder” (to borrow from John Gruber) at its best:

The geeks have all bought one and many have got theirs unlocked. The Nike wearing Soho crowd have splurged the cash. The wannabes and the I-must-have-that crowd have weighed in, swapped networks and got their devices. But that’s it. There’s a ton of people all sitting staring at the iPhone and — SADLY — (this is the bit that’s winding me up), turning their backs and walking away. I could name you 20 people, right now, that I know personally, who WOULD have an iPhone if they were marketed at a more reasonable price — 100 pounds maximum — and were unlocked to work on any network. But those 20 people won’t. They’re staying exactly where they are, back in the old world. Or, actually, back in the real world.

Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC (and, er, the Google offering) are safe. The iPhone, on the current trajectory, will only ever be a number 4 or number 5 device.

To be fair, Ewan MacLeod was not alone in that opinion. Steve Jobs saw what no one else could see. He knew. And he made it happen.

And Ewan clearly got on board, as evidenced by this tweet from last week:

[Via Eric Jackson via Aaron Block]

Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge:

If you use two-factor authentication to secure your accounts, you’re probably used to this process: type in your password, wait for a text messaged code to arrive, memorize the code, and then type it back into the login prompt. It’s a bit of a pain.

Absolutely. Happens a lot. And this describes the process pretty well. Android has a fix:

In the new update, Messages will detect if you’re receiving a two-factor authentication code. When it does, it’ll add an option to the notification to copy the code, saving a step.

This is a step in the right direction. When a two-factor text is received, a copy button appears at the same time. Tap it, then paste it into the prompt.

It’d be nice to see this in iOS. But even better, it’d be nice to avoid the codes in the first place. The purpose of the codes is to prove that you have access to a verifying device. The codes themselves exist purely to give you a way to “move” the verification from the second device back to the original.

But iOS already does such an excellent job communicating between devices. I can copy on my iPhone, paste on my Mac, for example. And if the code is coming in on the same device that made the request, well that’s even easier.

What I’m suggesting is that Apple/Google work to create a verification service that eliminates all the friction. If I request a code on my Mac, popup a verification text message on my iPhone and, worst case, just make me tap “Yep” on an alert to verify the code, or “Nope” to let them know I didn’t make the request.

No reason for me to copy/paste or type in a number. Tap “Yep” and I’m in. Let the verification handshake happen in the background. Any reason this can’t be done?

Apple ad blends everyone from Season 1 of Carpool Karaoke

At first blush, this ad looks like it was filmed in a super stretch limo. But of course, that’d be logistically impossible. To me, this blending of scenes from each episode of Carpool Karaoke’s first season is seamless and impressive.

Worth watching the ad, just to see if you can spot any clues on how this was all pulled together.

Kif Leswing, Business Insider:

Even if you don’t know who Mark Ulriksen is, you’ve probably seen his work.

His “gracefully awkward” art has graced several magazine covers, including a widely praised New Yorker cover featuring Martin Luther King kneeling with Colin Kaepernick from earlier this year.

Here’s a link to that cover.

Ulriksen is a self professed “technological illiterate”. Fascinating to watch him discover the world of digital brushes, texture, splatter, etc., all courtesy of his new iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Procreate.