November 29, 2018

Open Culture:

In the interviews and behind the scenes videos here, we learn how Jackson and his team solved the film speed problem to make the old reels look natural, how they created a color palette and removed blurriness and blemishes. Jackson also talks about his own personal stake in the project, imagining what his grandfather endured in the Great War. This connection seems to have spurred him all the more in the effort.

The videos in this piece show the amazing amount of work that went into creating “They Shall Not Grow Old”.

Dominik Wagner:

The new version 5 of SubEthaEdit, the Apple Design Award winning text editor for macOS, is now available free of charge in the App Store and as direct download. The complete source code with history going back 15 years is also available under the MIT License.

This release fills me with great pride and joy. SubEthaEdit always has a special place in my heart. It is where my journey as a developer in the Apple ecosystem started. I owe it the position I am in today. This connection is why I’m taking the time to maintain it again and try to lead it towards a long lasting future. Therefore I think it is worthwhile looking at how everything came together.

SubEthaEdit was the first app I used for collaborative editing back in the very early days of my podcasting career.

The Washington Post:

According to informed sources, Bloomberg has continued reporting the blockbuster story that it broke on Oct. 4, including a very recent round of inquiries from a Bloomberg News/Bloomberg Businessweek investigative reporter. In emails to employees at Apple, Bloomberg’s Ben Elgin has requested “discreet” input on the alleged hack. “My colleagues’ story from last month (Super Micro) has sparked a lot of pushback,” Elgin wrote on Nov. 19 to one Apple employee. “I’ve been asked to join the research effort here to do more digging on this … and I would value hearing your thoughts (whatever they may be) and guidance, as I get my bearings.”

One person who spoke with Elgin told the Erik Wemple Blog that the Bloomberg reporter made clear that he wasn’t part of the reporting team that produced “The Big Hack.” The goal of this effort, Elgin told the potential source, was to get to “ground truth”; if Elgin heard from 10 or so sources that “The Big Hack” was itself a piece of hackery, he would send that message up his chain of command. The potential source told Elgin that the denials of “The Big Hack” were “100 percent right.”

Bloomberg may be just covering their asses on this one or doing actual due diligence on a very damaging story. Regardless, I hope we haven’t heard the end of this.

Apple:

Since its founding by Bono and Bobby Shriver, (RED) has raised more than $600 million to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, $200 million of which has come from its partnership with Apple, the organization’s largest corporate donor.

The Global Fund has helped to radically change access to HIV treatment, and provides 17.5 million people with ARVs — now available from the moment they test positive. As a result, Kenya has seen a 52 percent drop in new HIV infections since 2000. As of last year, just 4.8 percent of all adults were HIV-positive.

What a great story. There’s a long way still to go but (RED) has made a real difference. I support it in my small way whenever I can.

Ars Technica:

Audio device maker Sennheiser has issued a fix for a monumental software blunder that makes it easy for hackers to carry out man-in-the-middle attacks that cryptographically impersonate any big-name website on the Internet. Anyone who has ever used the company’s HeadSetup for Windows or macOS should take action immediately, even if users later uninstalled the app.

If you’ve ever used this software, you should fix/patch it immediately.

Group FaceTime on iPhone – “A Little Company”

Apple:

Group FaceTime makes it easy to get together with up to 32 of your friends all at the same time. Available on iOS 12.1

Oh my God, this is so wrong.

Design Taxi:

Spotify has unveiled its end-of-year ‘Wrapped’ campaign that exposes its users’ quirky behaviors while revealing relatable listening habits. Spotify’s global head of consumer marketing June Sauvaget described the ‘Wrapped’ campaign as a true representation of its proposition to be a “platform for discovery.”

Other fun takeaways from the ‘Wrapped’ campaign include “3,754 Laurel playlists created vs. 1,059 Yanny playlists created” and how people are meditating to a “clam” playlist instead of a calm one.

Some of these playlists are hilarious and just make you want to listen to them.

This is craftsmanship

This is just beautiful work, a two year project by metalsmith Seth Gould, a complex box forged and filed from scratch.

Just watch. All the way to the end.

Fascinating piece by David Barnard that, in part, lays out ways that bad actors game the iOS App Store, making life harder for indie developers to make a living.

Here’s a taste:

Find a keyword that drives a decent amount of organic search traffic. Obvious ones are keywords like “weather”, “calculator”, “solitaire”, etc, but those keywords are so competitive, and the rest of the tactics so powerful, you could get away with 2nd tier keyword targets. Now go to App Store Connect and name your app that exact keyword. “Weather” is already taken, and Apple doesn’t allow duplicate app names, so you’ll need to add a symbol. Let’s go with “Weather ◌”.

And:

The App Store search algorithm gives a massive boost for an exact match to what the user searched, and the algorithm ignores symbols, so “Weather ◌” will get a huge search advantage, which will help to drive organic instals of the app.

That one example, the “Weather ◌” app, has more than 9,000 ratings. And the “Calculator'” app has more than 86,000 ratings.

Read the article. There’s just so much more.

CNBC:

Google Fi (formerly known as Project Fi) is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which means that instead of just using one of the “big four” carriers, it automatically jumps between several cellular networks depending on which has better service. Fi hops between Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular, and also favors Wi-Fi whenever possible, including for calls and texts.

And:

It costs $20 for unlimited calling and texting, and $10 per gigabyte of data. Users get money back for whatever data they don’t use, and data usage over 6 GB is free (though Google will throttle speeds after users hit 15 GB). It also has no roaming fees in more than 170 locations.

This something Apple could do? Is there some contractual agreement that prevents this? Interesting development.

Rebecca Keegan, Hollywood Reporter:

In a Viacom earnings call on Nov. 16, Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos described a new, multipicture deal his studio had set — not with a producer or star, but with Netflix.

And:

Movie studios are no longer making films just for themselves, but for the deep-pocketed technology companies that have become Hollywood’s latest conquistadors.

Fascinating article. Makes me wonder if this will be the undoing of the traditional studio model, one where the studios choose the people to make into stars, then feed the distribution system that provides revenue for movie theaters.

Will Netflix, Amazon and, eventually, Apple, be the new movie star makers? Will movie theaters be shut out of this new supply chain, forced to watch as people consume content without them?

From the complaint:

Apple’s computers, including its iMac desktops and MacBook laptops (“Computers”), contain a critical defect that has led to at least two deficiencies in the performance of the Computers (the “Filter Defect”). The components in Apple’s Computers generate a great deal of heat during use, and Apple installed fans and vents to cool them down. But Apple did not install any filters for the vents. As a result of this Filter Defect, the fans suck in dirt and debris that get stuck behind the screen, causing a permanent dark smudging to appear in the corners of the screens. If brought in for repair outside the warranty period (or if Apple refused to honor the warranty), Apple told customers that they must pay upwards of $600 to replace the entire screen. In reality, there is a simple and cheap fix for many of the Computers: the screen can be removed by a suction cup, and then cleaned with a soft rag. Despite the existence of this inexpensive fix, Apple continues to charge non-warranty customers $600 to replace the entire screen.

One part of this is the design decision, a “lack of filters”. But another part is charging $600 to remove and clean a screen. That second part seem egregious, if true.

Looking forward to seeing Apple’s response on this.

November 28, 2018

CNET:

Apple’s iPhone XR has been outselling the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max every day since the cheaper, colorful phone hit the market last month.

Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of product marketing, told CNET in an interview Wednesday that the device has “been our most popular iPhone each and every day since the day it became available.”

Wait. That can’t be true. All the pundits are telling us it’s a flop and that Apple will be out of business by next spring. I don’t know who to believe anymore.

AppleInsider:

If your iPhone 6 or other covered model is running slowly, time is running out to do something about it —at least the time is running out to pay less than full price for the service. Apple has been running a reduced cost battery replacement program in response to customer complaints but this ends on December 31, 2018. Thereafter, replacing any iPhone battery will cost you $79 for models older than the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR instead of the current $29.

The reduced price covers the iPhone 6 and also newer models up to and including the iPhone X and iPhone 8 family. All you have to do is either take your phone to a Genius Bar appointment in an Apple Store or send it in to Apple for repair.

We’ll be taking my wife’s iPhone 6 Plus in before the end of the year. But the “All you have to do…” isn’t very easy for those of us who don’t live near an Apple Store.

Frightening video of hang gliding newbie taking off without connecting his harness

This is just terrifying to watch. He’s hanging on by the strength of his grip, hundreds of feet in the air, knowing that he has to hang on, or he’ll plummet to his death.

Andrew O’Hara, Apple Insider:

There are two primary issues with the port on the new iPad Pro — one that can be at least partially overlooked, and the other is going to be a show-stopper.

And:

The biggest criticism of the case was the requirement of having a full back cover that added unnecessary bulk and weight on an otherwise slim device. I’d have preferred a two-piece design that allows for a removable keyboard with an optional back cover.

As it stands, you are stuck with both a keyboard and a back cover, or neither. If you wanted to remove the keyboard but keep the back, sorry, that’s too bad.

And:

Second is the poor adoption we’ve seen from outside companies, which the shift will not help. Apple touted at launch that third-parties could make use of the port, and they even reiterated strong support with products in the pipeline just last year. Now that the port has completely moved, anything in the works based on the previous port location is dead-on-arrival.

Tough investment for a peripheral company to deal with a complete redesign of a hardware interface. Not just moving a port/connector, but completely changing the way it works.

And I’d add to this issue the problem of putting any sort of case over the Apple Pencil magnet/charger. You have to find a way to convey that functionality with your case, no easy task. And, given the likelihood that Apple is not done innovating here, it may be some time before the functionality of these ports stabilize.

Wholesale change is tough business for a peripheral maker.

Grammy winning producer teaches audio engineer how to mix using iPad

Yesterday, we posted a video interview of top music producer Henny Tha Bizness and top audio engineer Ken Lewis talking about the value of using an iPad to produce music.

This video (embedded below) goes a bit deeper, actually showing the iPad screen as Henny teaches Ken the basics.

Lots to love here, but my favorite is watching their heads bob in unison as soon as the music kicks in.

Commercial food photography tricks

When I was a kid, my dad would take me to a product photography studio in Manhattan to watch them do their trickery. Fascinated me then, fascinates me now.

If this interests you, head over to YouTube and search for “commercial food photography tricks”. Lots of videos showing off the tricks of the trade.

[H/T the thematically thin Not Jony Ive]

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

When you go through the normal trade-in process on the trade-in site, Apple offers $150, but if you use the trade-in option during the checkout process of purchasing a new iPhone XR or XS, the bonus trade-in credit is displayed.

See the chart in the article for specifics. Nothing you need to do to get this bonus trade-in money, but if you are considering whether to sell your old phone or trade it in, this will help with the math.

Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed:

At its peak, 3ve involved about 1.7 million PCs infected with malware, an array of servers that could generate mountains of fake traffic with bots, roughly 5,000 counterfeit websites created to impersonate legitimate web publishers, and over 60,000 accounts with digital advertising companies to help fraudsters receive ad placements and get paid. The indictment also alleges the fraudsters created their own advertising networks to help facilitate the fraud.

And:

It’s rare for perpetrators of ad fraud schemes to face criminal charges or serious consequences. That’s one reason why ad fraud is on pace to be eclipsed only by the illicit drug trade in terms of annual revenue.

And:

After just a few months, the once-small botnet began to grow quickly. Google and White Ops investigators said they realized this was more than a simple botnet when it began to evade efforts to filter and contain its traffic. Each time they tried to implement measures to filter the traffic out of advertising systems, the ad fraudsters would adapt.

Fascinating story.

Michael Tsai gathered some thoughtful takes on the App Store antitrust case.

Reminder, this is all about “standing”. That is, does an App Store consumer have the right (the standing) to sue Apple under antitrust statutes.

November 27, 2018

Jason Kottke:

This is probably the craziest and most unlikely table tennis shot you will ever see. Just watch. The guy who pulls it off is Christopher Chen from the Trondheim Table Tennis Club in Norway. I haven’t watched ESPN in years so I don’t know if “getting on SportsCenter” is as big a deal as it used to be, but if so, this should get on SportsCenter.

This is hilarious.

Vox:

I’m not sure how many times I’ve personally heard the words “J.D. Power and Associates,” but it’s definitely often enough that I’ve accepted it as a part of my reality that needs no further explanation. The phrase is a permanent fixture of late-night TV, when car commercials boom through your speakers at inexplicably loud volumes. You’ve heard it in ads for Chevys, Lexuses, and Fords.

J.D. Power is a marketing firm best known for its automotive research; it collects consumer responses for a variety of surveys (asking drivers about the reliability of their car’s transmission or the comfort of the passenger seat or performance of the navigation system) and then awards car models rankings based on those surveys. But how helpful those surveys are to car designers and car consumers is up for debate.

J.D. Power is ubiquitous in car advertising and marketing but do you know the history of the firm?

Hacker breaks down 26 hacking scenes from movies & TV

Wired:

Hacker and security researcher Samy Kamkar takes a look at a variety of hacking scenes from popular media and examines their authenticity.

This is a lot of fun to watch and interesting how the depictions of hacking have changed and in some cases, gotten more realistic.

Meet Knickers, Australia’s biggest steer!

Wow. 194cm is 76.4 inches. This cow is 6’4″ tall. That’s incredible.

As my friend Jared Earle said on Twitter, “In awe at the size of this cow. Absolute unit.”

DriveSavers, the worldwide leader in data recovery, eDiscovery and digital forensic solutions, today announced it is utilizing new proprietary technology to recover data from password-locked smart devices with any length passcode. The first-of-its-kind service is being offered exclusively to consumers who have forgotten device passwords, been locked out after too many incorrect attempts, and for those who need access to data stored on the device of a deceased family member.

Other companies offer a similar service only to law enforcement. DriveSavers is the first to offer a Passcode Lockout Data Recovery service to consumers. The DriveSavers service is not available for law enforcement and requires proof of ownership prior to unlocking a device.

According to its web site, they have a 100 percent success rate. DriveSavers is one of the most reputable companies I’ve ever dealt with, so this very interesting news.

iOS and the hassle of dropping your WiFi as you move away from your house

This tweet from Mike Rundle struck a nerve:

This happens to me all the time. I’m in an app that’s attached to my home WiFi and I walk (or drive, as a passenger) away from my house. As I move further from my house, the signal gets progressively weaker and whatever app I’m in just hangs, stuck waiting for a reply from my home WiFi that’s never coming.

If you follow down the Twitter thread, you’ll see this response:

I’ve been using Shortcuts for that. Shortcut that drops wifi, calculates time to destination (Home), texts wife the ETA and then re-enables wifi (after x amount of seconds).

While I do applaud this effort, this feels like a kluge to me, a hack that should just not be necessary.

My preference? Set a threshold that automatically drops WiFi when my signal drops and I am getting further away from my WiFi router. The key is the word “automatically”.

This could be a setting, since this might not be an issue for everyone. But given the enthusiastic response to the Shortcut, it’s certainly an issue worth addressing.

UPDATE: Some time ago, Apple added the setting Cellular > Wi-Fi Assist (scroll down below that long list under CELLULAR DATA) that someone suggested might help with this, though I believe the intent was to help with poor WiFi, not specific to this problem. As it turns out, this is on for me. Does not make a difference.

Merrit Kennedy, NPR:

At a press conference, Kinam Kim, president and CEO of the company’s Device Solutions Division, gave a low bow as part of the apology.

“Beloved colleagues and families have suffered for a long time, but Samsung Electronics failed to take care of the matter earlier,” Kim said, according to Yonhap News Agency. “Samsung Electronics also did not fully and completely manage potential health risks at our chip and liquid-crystal display production lines.”

And:

One of the instigators of the push was Hwang Sang-gi, whose daughter Yu-mi contracted leukemia and died after working at a Samsung factory.

“No apology would be enough when considering the deception and humiliation we experienced (from Samsung) over the past 11 years, the pain of suffering from occupational diseases, the pain of losing loved ones,” Hwang said at the news conference, according to The Associated Press. But he added that he views the apology as a vow to improve safety conditions.

Damn.

Nice find from Cult of Mac’s Charlie Sorrel. The video below is an interview with Grammy award-winning music producer Henny Tha Bizness and is his take on the iPad’s place in professional music production.

The whole video is interesting but, at the very least, jump to 6:28 into the video when Henny asks producer Ken Lewis about his take on using an iPad rather than a Mac.

Insightful take on the switch from analog (knobs and sliders) to a mouse interface, and back to analog (knobs and sliders that you touch directly). It’s all about feel.

Yesterday, we posted about the Apple, App Store antitrust case that just went before the Supreme Court. A few more details and useful links:

  • This case is about the ability of an App Store customer to sue Apple for antitrust violations. This case is not deciding whether or not Apple has violated any antitrust laws but, rather, whether a previously dismissed case against Apple can go forward in a lower court.

  • Here’s a link to a transcript of yesterday’s hearing. It’s actually pretty interesting to follow along as the Supreme Court justices apply their legal minds to the mechanics of the App Store.

  • If you are interested in following the case, bookmark this Oyez page. It has a nice summary of the case, some useful links and, if you check in periodically, displays the status of the case.