October 14, 2016

Jason Kottke, from an appreciation piece about the excellent show Halt and Catch Fire (there are spoilers in Jason’s post, none in my excerpt):

When I tell people about the first time I saw the Web, I would sheepishly describe it as love at first sight. Logging on that first time, using an early version of NCSA Mosaic with a network login borrowed from my physics advisor, was the only time in my life I have ever seen something so clearly, been sure of anything so completely. It was a like a thunderclap — “the amazing possibility to be able to go anywhere within something that is magnificent and never-ending” — and I just knew this was for me and that it was going to be huge and important. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but the Web is the true love of my life and ever since I’ve been trying to live inside the feeling I had when I first saw it.

This whole post is worth reading, a beautiful, passionate piece of writing.

AUTOPLAY, AUTOPLAY, AUTOPLAY!!! Have I mentioned how much I hate autoplay?

That said, this post was worth it, at least to me.

Glen Fleishman, writing for MacWorld, weighs in with an answer to this question:

I’m confused about what would happen if I turn off iCloud Photo Library on my phone, and not use it on the Cloud. Will my Photos app on the computer still retain all 12,000 of my photos? Do these photos live locally on my hard drive?

I find the various iCloud settings confusing, none more so than those for iCloud Photo Library. This is a good explainer, worth bookmarking, passing along.

Stephen Hackett, writing for 512 Pixels:

Now that the iPhone 7 starts at 32 GB of storage, the constant juggling needed to avoid a full device has been left behind by more users than ever before.

So let’s talk about iCloud storage.


5 GB often isn’t enough to back up an iPhone and an iPad, let alone store years worth of family photos.

Unlike One Drive or even Dropbox, iCloud storage is key to extending and improving the experience of using a Mac or iPhone. Dropbox may be a semi-magical folder that syncs data to other devices, but iCloud is the glue between Apple’s various platforms.

Great post, great point.

There’s Apple, at number one. No big surprise. Google, Coca Cola follow at number 2 and 3. And there’s Samsung at number 7. Wondering what impact, if any, the Galaxy Note 7 debacle will have on the Samsung brand value.

Anthony Bouchard, writing for iDownloadBlog:

To access Emergency SOS, all you need to do is press and hold the side button on your Apple Watch, and you’ll see a new red “SOS” slider at the bottom of the slider list. Sliding this slider initiates a 911 call and fires off text messages to your emergency contacts within seconds.

But there’s more to it than that. Read the article and learn about auto-call and how to set up your emergency contacts.

Read the post (with a grain of salt, as always) and draw your own conclusions.

Two things to read:

I can only imagine how cool this must have been for both sides. If you are unfamiliar with Shigeru Miyamoto, here’s a bit from his Wikipedia Page:

Miyamoto originally joined Nintendo in 1977, when the company was beginning its foray into video games, and starting to abandon the playing cards it had made since 1889. His games have been seen on every Nintendo video game console, with his earliest work appearing on arcade machines in the late 70s. Franchises Miyamoto has helped create include the Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, F-Zero, Pikmin, and Wii series. Noteworthy games within these include Super Mario Bros., one of the most well known video games; Super Mario 64; and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time.

I love that Nintendo changed their mind, allowing one of their biggest franchise characters to migrate to an iOS game. Looking forward to taking Super Mario Run for a spin. And hope that Link and Zelda follow soon after.

October 13, 2016

Well as I live and breathe. Never thought I’d see this day.

Hidden Mac tricks in macOS Sierra

Lots of good customization tips here.

One of many: To launch Siri, press the command key and press and hold the space bar (as opposed to command-space, which brings up Spotlight).

[Via iHeartApple2]

The circles in Apple’s new Apple Music video

This video is a walk through the Apple Music interface, highlighting various features. Feels like it belongs on the official Apple Music page. It’s certainly too long for an ad.

One thing worth noticing are the not-quite-transparent circles that stand in for a finger tap or drag. Watch the video with that in mind. There are a lot of them.

The circles are used both for touches and to highlight sections of the interface. My guess is, these circles are part of some third party screen recording app and were placed there frame-by-frame.

I would love it if Apple would expose the technology that made those circles as part of the QuickTime Player’s iPhone screen recording interface. There are ways to capture touches in a video but, in my opinion, none come close to matching these.

Jeff John Roberts, writing for Fortune:

In trying to make sense of the design patents’ value, the judges repeatedly invoked the body shape of Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle model, noting that consumers will pay extra for a cool-looking car. But they drew back at saying a company, in cases of complex products, should be able to use a patent for exterior appearance to collect for the whole thing.


Justice Stephen Breyer contrasted simple products like wallpaper to cars and smartphones, which are often covered by hundreds or thousands of patents and design decisions.

“For wallpaper, you get the whole thing. A Rolls Royce with the thing on the hood? No, no, no you don’t get profits on the whole car,” said Breyer.

This likens Samsung copying the iPhone look and feel to building a car that looks like the VW Beetle. Interesting point.

Flash? Rings a bell. Something something, malware, blah-blah-blah.

If you still have Flash on your machine, grab the update.

Head on over to the new Giphy channel and check out the new GIFs. Roll over a GIF to see it in action, click on the GIF to get to a share page. Hey, it’s Elvis and Nixon!

Mike Wuerthele, writing for Apple Insider:

Purgeable space is data on the drive that Sierra has determined is superfluous, and not necessary to be stored on the drive. Examples are files in the trash, videos that have already been watched, music downloaded from Apple Music (but not rips from CD), and other data synchronized with iCloud.

In a nutshell, if you run out of space, purgeable space is the set of files that are backed up in the cloud and can be safely deleted. This post takes you through the basics of enabling this feature and doing the initial setup. If you are running macOS Sierra, it’s worth a read.

Carolina Milanesi, writing for Tech.pinions, on buying a new vehicle with CarPlay installed:

Having CarPlay made me rediscover Maps and features like where I parked my car, the suggested travel time to home or school or the office, suggestions based on routine or calendar information — all pleasant surprises that showed me what I had been missing out. It also showed me how, by fully embracing the ecosystem, you receive greater benefits. Having the direction clearly displayed on the large car screen was better and, while there is still a little bit of uneasiness about not using Google Maps, I have now switched over. Maps on Apple Watch just completes the car experience as the device gently taps you as you need to make the turn. It is probably the best example I have seen thus far of devices working together to deliver an enhanced experience vs. one device taking over the other.

I have heard this same opinion from a number of people. I’ve long used Apple Maps combined with my Apple Watch for directions and it works well for me. But it is obvious to me that having the turn-by-turn directions on my vehicle’s built in screen would be a significant step up from my current setup.

I also find that Bluetooth is a bit finicky in certain situations. Built in CarPlay would eliminate those times when Siri can’t seem to hear me, or when turn-by-turn directions sometimes turn on my music when Siri calls out a turn.

I get the sense that CarPlay has very quietly become one of the Apple ecosystem’s shining lights. I know one thing. CarPlay has become a must-have feature in the next car I buy.

October 12, 2016

This is very cool.

So why does Siri seem so dumb? Why are its talents so limited? Why does it stumble so often? When was the last time Siri delighted you with a satisfying and surprising answer or action?

For me, at least, and for many people I know, it’s been years. Siri’s huge promise has been shrunk to just making voice calls and sending messages to contacts, and maybe getting the weather, using voice commands. Some users find it a reliable way to set timers, alarms, notes and reminders, or to find restaurants. But many of these tasks could be done with the crude, pre-Siri voice-command features on the iPhone and other phones, albeit in a more clumsy way.

There are many times when I disagree with Walt on his tech opinions, but I’ve had my own issues with Siri not being able to give me answers to seemingly easy questions. I’ve asked Siri about sports scores or upcoming games and, in some cases, the answers are completely off the rails. I still try once in a while, but most times, I just don’t bother.

But I suspect that people don’t ask those questions because, after trying a time or two and getting no answers or wrong answers, they just give up on Siri.

This is another good point. I can use Siri accurately to set a timer and play some music. Most other things, I just type the question into Google. Recently when I press the Siri button on my iPhone, it immediately says “Sorry, I’m not sure what you said,” while I’m still speaking. Again, I just type my question into Google.


Apple’s iOS 10 is now used more than any other version of the operating system. More than half of iOS devices have already upgraded to the latest software, according to new numbers from Apple.

The update is now installed on 54% of devices, according to stats posted on Apple’s developer site. Last year’s iOS 9 accounts for 38% of devices while just 8% of devices are running iOS 8 or earlier.

These numbers are a little below estimates from third parties like analytics firm Mixpanel, which pegs iOS 10 adoption at around 67%. But Apple’s numbers, which rely on App Store visits, are likely more accurate.

“Likely” more accurate?

Danny MacAskill’s “Wee Day Out”

I have no idea who Danny MacAskill is but he sure as hell can ride a bike.


When Apple destroys your old device, plenty of perfectly functional computer processing chips and cameras that could live on — whether in refurbished phones, toy pianos, hobby drones, or smart appliances — get melted down. Screens that could have replaced cracked ones, lending a few years of life to an older phone, are pulverized, and the trace amounts of the minerals that make them work are lost as so much dust.

What’s more, all the energy that went into mining, refining, manufacturing, shipping, and assembling those materials evaporates.

The article makes an interesting point that many of us, even if we do recycle, recycle too quickly.

You’ll need to open this site on your phone. Fold a plane, throw it. Don’t throw your phone!

Great interview. Jimmy speaks from the heart. One quote in particular struck me:

I met [Apple executives] Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue in 2003. I realized, okay, the future of music is going to be intertwined with distribution through technology companies. It just looked like that to me, and I realized how far behind I personally was. So I set out to really understand. So I worked with those guys for about two years, and I said to Steve, “I’d like to do headphones with Apple with [Dr.] Dre,” about two or three years later. He said, “Do it yourself, you can do it.” So I tried it myself.

Made me hungry for more detail on how this merger evolved.

Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge:

Amazon’s long-rumored on-demand music streaming service is now available. The company is launching its new service as Amazon Music Unlimited, a on-demand competitor to the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. Amazon has done a number of things to differentiate Music Unlimited from its competitors, but the most notable one is its price: the service will be available to Amazon Prime members for $7.99 per month or $79 per year, which is cheaper than the premium options from Spotify or Apple Music. In addition, owners of one of Amazon’s voice-controlled Echo devices will be able to get the service for just $3.99 per month.

Key to me:

And while the Echo-only plan is limited to only one device (you cannot use it on your phone, PC, tablet, or even more than one Echo device), it still offers the same content library, recommendations, and other features that the full service provides.

This means, with the Echo-only plan, there’s no way to take this music on the road with me, either by car, plane, on my bike or for a run.

I find it interesting that folks who buy into the Echo-ecosystem can get a discount, but one with some significant omissions.

Federico Viticci:

After nearly two years spent using a 5.5-inch iPhone, I’m accustomed to not having a compact phone anymore. The iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus have reshaped my iPhone experience for a simple reason: they give me more of the most important device in my life.

Thus, I was a little skeptical – even surprised – when Apple gave me a gold 256 GB iPhone 7 review unit (with a leather case) two weeks ago. I didn’t think I would be able to enjoy a smaller iPhone, but, despite my initial resistance, I set up a fresh install of iOS 10 and used the iPhone 7 exclusively for two weeks.

I’m glad I did. While I’m still pining for a 7 Plus, using the iPhone 7 showed me that there’s more to this year’s iPhones than the lack of a headphone jack.

In many ways, the iPhone 7 feels like a portable computer from the future – only in a tangible, practical way that is here with us today.

If you are on the fence about the iPhone 7, read Federico’s take. It’s a deep, thoughtful dive into the iPhone 7, as well as the wonderfully efficient pairing process between the iOS 10-powered iPhone and the new Beats Solo3 headphones:

  • Turn them on;
  • Bring them close to your iPhone;
  • Tap ‘Connect’ on a dialog that appears, and you’re paired.

That’s it.

All of Bluetooth should be this simple. Nice job, Federico!

Yeah, not sure I buy the explosion-proof part. But Samsung has gone to great lengths to try to bring their devices home without further incident. The kits include a thermally-insulated box and safety gloves (“some individuals might be sensitive to the ceramic fiber paper lining the Recovery Box”).

Interestingly, the box itself is marked as “forbidden for transport by aircraft”. Looks like a long boat ride is in store for these returnees. Also interestingly, the UK’s Royal Mail has taken their own stand and won’t ship the Galaxy Note 7.

New York Times:

When several Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones spontaneously exploded in August, the South Korean company went into overdrive. It urged hundreds of employees to quickly diagnose the problem.

None were able to get a phone to explode.

Next step?

Samsung, which announced a recall of the Note 7 devices in September, decided to continue shipping new Galaxy Note 7s containing batteries from a different supplier.

As we now know, that approach did not work.

Reports soon surfaced that some of the replacement devices were blowing up too. Company engineers went back to the drawing board, according to a person briefed on the test process who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the internal workings were confidential. As of this week, Samsung’s testers were still unable to reproduce the explosions.

This is a serious blow to Samsung. Trust is everything to a brand.

An editorial in South Korea’s largest newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, said: “You cannot really calculate the loss of consumer trust in money.”

Just so.

October 11, 2016

Before the Supreme Court, the issue at stake was not whether Samsung infringed on the patents, but instead how much the Korean company should pay based on a law that allows a patent owner to receive a competitor’s “total profit.” Should that profit be for the entire value of the smartphone, as an appeals court ruled, or only for profits attributable to the copied design?

Samsung designed their phones to completely copy Apple’s iPhone, from top to bottom. They need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Planet Earth II trailer

The first Planet Earth was a incredible visual feast. The trailer for the sequel looks just as amazing.

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Ezrin gave the band members specific instructions: Learn and play 10 folk songs, then start writing, beginning with a folk song. Mr. McConnell’s effort, “Things People Do,” not only made the final cut, but the version included is his demo. Phish made multiple versions of the song before agreeing that nothing topped the original low-fi version, recorded on Mr. McConnell’s iPhone, sitting atop a Wurlitzer piano in his living room.

Cool. To paraphrase an aphorism, sometimes the best recording device is the one you have with you.

BBC News:

To find context ahead of Tuesday’s showdown between Apple and Samsung in the US Supreme Court, you need to go back over a century to a row over some rather attractive carpets.

It’s 1885, and John and James Dobson stand accused of nicking designs from other carpet makers and selling them off as their own.

A couple of companies, Hartford Carpet and Bigelow Carpet, were so incensed they took the Dobsons all the way to the highest court in the land.

The firms were quite right to be upset, the Supreme Court agreed, but then it got more complicated. The court hit a stumbling block over the amount of money the firms deserved in damages.

Read on for the details. Interesting.

[H/T Satyajeet Vishwakarma]