November 7, 2018

AirPods have long flirted with the top spot on Best Buys’ monthly sales list but this report is the first time they’ve made it all the way to the top.

Why now? Could be the new iPhones, Macs and iPads, combined with the approaching holiday gift-giving season, a bit of a perfect storm.

Number three on that list? Apple’s Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapter. Interesting counterpoint.

November 6, 2018

Live polar bear camera

On the “Polar Bear Tundra Buggy Lodge – North” camera, there is a live (sleeping) polar bear on camera right now (1:30pm PT).

Inside a huge data center filled with Mac minis

MacStadium got big props from Apple at their last event and deservedly so.

2018 Retina MacBook Air review roundup

Along with the lifted embargo on the new iPads, the reviews of the new MacBook Air are rolling in as well.

Daring Fireball – The 2018 Retina MacBook Air

TechCrunch – MacBook Air review

Wired – Review: Apple MacBook Air

The Verge – Apple MacBook Air (2018) review

Six Colors – MacBook Air review: Center of the Mac world?

Laptop magazine – New iPad Pro 2018 12.9-inch Review

USAToday – Review: Apple gives MacBook Air (most) of the love it’s been lacking

12.9-inch iPad Pro review roundup

The embargo has lifted on the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and all the usual suspects have posted. I’ll update the post as I find more. Feel free to let me know which one’s I’ve missed in the comments.

The Verge – The fastest iPad is still an iPad

Wired – Review: iPad Pro (2018)

Engadget – Early signs point to a powerhouse with potential

Mashable – iPad extreme

CNET – iPad Pro (2018) review

Daring Fireball – The 2018 iPad Pros

Techcrunch – The iPad Pro and the power of the Pen(cil)

iMore – iPad Pro (2018) Review

Washington Post – Nope, Apple’s new iPad Pro still isn’t a laptop

The Independent – iPad Pro Review: New Tablet Is The Most Beautiful Apple Has Ever Made

Ars Technica – 2018 iPad Pro review: “What’s a computer?”

MovieWeb:

Perhaps the most famously bad Marvel movie in history is now available to watch in its entirety online. In 1994, a low-budget The Fantastic Four movie was completed, but never released and has existed in infamy ever since. In an era long before the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and even a few years before Blade would help establish Marvel as a brand that could do business at the box office, this cheap monstrosity happened. And now, those brave enough can view it for themselves.

This is the last (hopefully) in a long string of awful Fantastic Four movies.

November 5, 2018

CNET:

SmugMug, trying to strengthen its Flickr site as a community for photo enthusiasts, will limit free members to 1,000 photos and scrap the old policy of a terabyte of storage in an attempt to move toward subscriptions.

The move, accompanied by a 30 percent discount on the $50 annual Flickr pro membership through Nov. 30, is the first big business shift at the photo-sharing site since SmugMug’s acquisition of Flickr from Verizon’s Yahoo earlier this year. And while it’ll mean some members have to decide whether to spend some money or save their photos, it also means Flickr’s interests are directly aligned with those of its members, not those of advertisers, Flickr vice president of product Andrew Stadlen said in a blog post Thursday.

This is a controversial decision but, if it works out the way SmugMug wants it to, it will fundamentally change the kind of site Flickr is and how it is used.

Three year old Freddie Mercury fan belts out Bohemian Rhapsody

This is just impossibly cute. And I’m thinking she learned this from watching Wayne’s World. Why? Cause of the bit at about 1:20 in, in which young Holly Lee proceeds to head-bang, like a boss.

Interesting snippet from this TechCrunch post:

Buried in Apple’s latest range of MacBooks — including the MacBook Pro out earlier this year and the just-announced MacBook Air — is the new T2 security chip, which helps protect the device’s encryption keys, storage, fingerprint data and secure boot features.

Little was known about the chip until today. According to its newest published security guide, the chip comes with a hardware microphone disconnect feature that physically cuts the device’s microphone from the rest of the hardware whenever the lid is closed.

And from the T2 Security Chip Overview itself:

All Mac portables with the Apple T2 Security Chip feature a hardware disconnect that ensures that the microphone is disabled whenever the lid 
 is closed. This disconnect is implemented in hardware alone, and therefore prevents any software, even with root or kernel privileges in macOS, and even the software on the T2 chip, from engaging the microphone when the lid is closed. (The camera is not disconnected in hardware because its field of view 
 is completely obstructed with the lid closed.)

Good to know.

Rene Ritchie interviews Apple’s Sr. Director of Mac Product Marketing Tom Boger

If you watched Apple’s event last week, you’ll know Tom Boger as the person who introduced the new Mac mini.

This is a subset of a longer interview (here’s a link to the longer version, a podcast) that focuses on Apple’s Mac product grid (Steve Jobs famously introduced the Desktop/Portable vs Consumer/Pro grid back in the day) and the MacBook Air’s place in the product line, as well as how Apple decides which parts to make user serviceable.

This is absolutely worth a watch/listen. I found Tom’s explanation of where the MacBook Air fits to be interesting, but it still doesn’t click for me. Listen for yourself. Nice work, Rene.

Geoffrey A Fowler, Washington Post:

If you recently bought a new flagship phone, chances are its battery life is actually worse than an older model.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been performing the same battery test over and over again on 13 phones. With a few notable exceptions, this year’s top models underperformed last year’s. The new iPhone XS died 21 minutes earlier than last year’s iPhone X. Google’s Pixel 3 lasted nearly an hour and a half less than its Pixel 2.

Phone makers tout all sorts of tricks to boost battery life, including more-efficient processors, low-power modes and artificial intelligence to manage app drain. Yet my results, and tests by other reviewers I spoke with, reveal an open secret in the industry: the lithium-ion batteries in smartphones are hitting an inflection point where they simply can’t keep up.

In a nutshell, the case being made here is that battery efficiency is growing very slowly, while screen technology (and other) power draw is growing somewhat faster than that.

Jon Caramanica, New York Times:

Lil Peep died of an accidental drug overdose last November at 21. Afterward, attention turned to his computer. First, it went to London, where the files were backed up by First Access Entertainment, the company that helped guide his career.

Then it went to his mother, Liza Womack. In an interview in her cozy Long Island home, sitting on a nondescript couch that belonged to Peep and was shipped cross-country after his death, she calmly recalled walking into an Apple store, handing the laptop to a clerk, and saying: “My son died. This is him. Take this and put it on a new one.”

Sometime after that, in London, the producer George Astasio and Peep’s longtime musical collaborator Smokeasac finally set out to catalog its contents. What they found were Lil Peep’s complete recordings — some finished, some in fragments; some heard and familiar, many not.

This is an interesting story. Lil Peep was just starting to break out. With his death, what would, and should, become of all his songs and song snippets?

The Verge:

Google and iRobot have announced they’re working together to improve smart home technology using mapping data collected by iRobot’s robot vacuums. The two companies say the aim is to make smart homes “more thoughtful” by leveraging the unique dataset collected by iRobot: maps of customers’ homes.

And:

“Much like assigning smart lights or other smart devices to rooms in the home, the Assistant only learns what names people have given to areas of their homes, so that it can then deploy the iRobot i7+ to that area,” said Google in a statement. “We do not receive any information on the layout of the home or where the areas are, respectively.”

Very interesting read. AI continues its creep inside your home. Though Google says they do not receive the mapping info, I am skeptical that that info won’t eventually find its way outside, even if it’s via the work of hackers.

And if you find yourself asking, who cares about room data? It’s an avenue, a path to a future where all your data is visible to outside agencies, a pinprick in the balloon of privacy.

November 2, 2018

When asked about changing the iPad Pro:

“I think your responsibility actually goes further back than that,” he says. “It starts with the determination not to fall into the trap of just making things different. Because when a product has been highly regarded there is often a desire from people to see it redesigned. I think one of the most important things is that you change something not to make it different but to make it better.”

Yes.

Justin O’Beirne did a fascinating post on the differences between Apple’s old map and the increased detail of the new map. He also compares Apple and Google side-by-side and does a comparison of the included detail.

November 1, 2018

Apple posts quarterly revenue of $62.9 billion

Apple on Thursday posted its fourth quarter earnings, posting revenue of $62.9 billion. Apple CFO, Luca Maestri, said it’s was Apple’s best September quarter ever.

“We’re thrilled to report another record-breaking quarter that caps a tremendous fiscal 2018, the year in which we shipped our 2 billionth iOS device, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the App Store and achieved the strongest revenue and earnings in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Over the past two months, we’ve delivered huge advancements for our customers through new versions of iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac as well as our four operating systems, and we enter the holiday season with our strongest lineup of products and services ever.”

International sales accounted for 61 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

According to the financial statements, Apple sold 46.8 million iPhones in the quarter, up from the 41.3 sold in the year ago quarter. Apple also sold 9.7 million iPads, down from the 11.5 sold a year ago, and 5.3 million Macs, up from the 3.7 million a year ago.

Services also increased 27 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, rising from 7.9 $billion in 2017 to $10 billion in this year’s fourth quarter.

CRT Class Action Canada:

Persons resident in Canada (individuals, businesses and governmental entities) can receive a payment from the settlements if they purchased any of the following products, regardless of the manufacturer or brand, in Canada between March 1, 1995 and November 25, 2007:

CRT televisions

CRT computer monitors

CRTs for inclusion in televisions or computer monitors

You must complete and file a claim form by March 1, 2019.

A lot of my fellow Canadians qualify for this class action. You’re not likely to get a lot of money out of it but every little bit helps. Thanks to Greg for the heads up.

F-16.net:

The Three Rules of Callsigns: 1) If you don’t already have one, you will be assigned one by your “buddies”. 2) You probably won’t like it. 3) If you complain and moan too much about 1. and 2., you’ll get a new nickname you’ll like even less!

So, how do you get a callsign?

Do something stupid or have it fit with your last name. Obvious examples, ‘Crash’ or LT ‘Cheese’ Kraft. Sometimes it’s based on a physical appearance thing like ‘Carrot’. After you’ve earned the respect of your buddies, you’ll get a more ‘heroic’ callsign.

Unless you were involved in the military, I bet the first time most of us heard about callsigns was from the movie Top Gun. We just called them nicknames. I’m lucky – with the last name I have, the only possible nickname/callsign I could have is Kong. Thanks to Scott Jordan for the link.

Chris Cornell, doing a solo acoustic of Black Hole Sun

This was a bit tough for me to watch. Chris Cornell was an immense talent who took his life last year. This is a chance to see him up close, talking about and playing his signature song.

From Reddit, a list of the thinnest Apple devices:

  • iPod Nano 7th gen – 5.4mm thick
  • iPad Pro 2018 – 5.9 mm
  • iPod Touch 5/6th gen – 6.1 mm
  • iPad Air 2 – 6.1 mm
  • iPad Pro 10.5inch 2017 – 6.1 mm
  • iPad mini – 6.1 mm
  • iPhone 6 – 6.9mm (thinnest iphone)

If accurate, this makes the new iPad Pro the second thinnest device Apple has ever made.

Take a look at the FlexPai folding phone product page. This is the first folding phone concept I’ve seen that made me see a path to the future.

If you scroll about 3/4 of the way down the page, you’ll see the phone folded in half (sort of), showing three displays, with an interior and exterior display as well as one for the spine.

The design feels clunky to me, the folded phone too bulky for my pocket, but I can absolutely see the value of a phone thin enough to fit in my pocket that unfolds into a full size tablet. Best of both worlds.

I can’t help but imagine such a device from Apple. Someday.

Jump to the iPad Pro product page and start scrolling. Yup, it’s side-to-side, not up-and-down.

Except right at the end, when it starts scrolling vertically. Odd.

Here’s the link to the iPad Pro Geekbench page. Note that this testing was done with the high end, 1TB model.

  • iPad Pro single core score: 5020
  • iPad Pro multi-core score: 18217

Here’s the link to the MacBook Pro 2018 Geekbench page.

  • MacBook Pro single core score: 5344
  • MacBook Pro multi-core score: 22552

Granted, these comparisons are not apples-to-apples, but still, these iPad Pro results seem impressive. They are both top of their respective line machines and, obviously, the iPad Pro is much less expensive.

If my math is right, the MacBook Pro single-core score is about 6.5% faster than the iPad Pro. That’s not much.

The video of Apple’s Brooklyn Mac/iPad Pro event

I started watching this again, just to see those cool animations at the beginning. I do hope Apple continues down this creative path, even if there’s no direct payoff in the presentation itself.

October 31, 2018

CNN:

Whether you hate tootsie rolls or licorice, the truth is we’ve all received Halloween candy we don’t like. But this year, Reese’s is coming to the rescue with their very own candy exchange machine.

“Reese’s Halloween Candy Converter Machine” was first released to the public on Sunday, October 28, during a Halloween parade in Tarrytown, New York.

This is brilliant.

Laptop Magazine:

From the new 13-inch MacBook Air and super-light 12-inch MacBook to the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with the Touch Bar, Apple’s laptop lineup has never had more variety. But as a shopper, it can be tough to decide which notebook to get.

That’s where we come in. We’ll help you decide which MacBook is worth your money by comparing price, features, performance, battery life and more. Here’s the pros and cons of each model.

There’s a very helpful graphic attached to this post to really give you a good sense of the specs and offerings.

The Verge:

In crafting its most compelling iPad and MacBook Air to date, Apple also created a major headache for people like me. I’m a member of that classic Intel ultrabook demographic whose computing needs are light but constant. You won’t catch me doing 3D modeling or 4K video production on my laptop, but I do a litany of small tasks online, in a word processor, or in Adobe’s Lightroom. I’ve been using a MacBook Pro for two years that does most of what I want, but it really doesn’t last long enough. Now, Apple is offering me the much better battery life I need with the high-quality display I desire, but it’s fragmented the choice. Both the new MacBook Air and new iPad Pro could be the ideal computer for me.

This will be an interesting problem for many of us. I’m in the market for a new device and am torn between these two new offerings. What would push me over the edge to the iPad Pro would be for Adobe to (soon!) announce the full version of Lightroom is available for the iPad Pro, as they announced for Photoshop.

Paint it Black, on a weird guitar/harp hybrid

I’ve heard other songs played on this instrument, but somehow, this guitar-harp hybrid seems made for Paint it Black.

Kyle Wiens, iFixit:

This is the kind of tale that you don’t hear every day. Erik Wooldridge is a Systems Specialist at Morris Hospital near Chicago. During the installation of a new GE Healthcare MRI machine, he started getting calls that cell phones weren’t working. Then, some Apple Watches started glitching.

This is just an incredible read. Don’t want to give anything away, just dig in. Great story, well told.

Rene Ritchie hands-on with the new iPad Pro

Terrific, densely detailed, hands-literally-on look at the new iPad Pro from Rene Ritchie, part of his excellent Vector series. Lots to absorb here, 5 minutes well spent.