January 21, 2021

Two videos from Apple’s original Macintosh rollout

We’re rolling up on the umpteenth anniversary of that day when Steve Jobs pulled the original Macintosh from its case and allowed it to introduce itself.

This video just never gets old. That rollout changed the world. It certainly changed the course of my life.

But there’s another video, one that you might not have seen. This is the corporate video that was rolled out internally, and to authorized dealers/retailers. It’s quite corny, but it is a part of history.

Not exactly sure how this was pulled off, but this is a pretty cool hack. Apparently, this is running via x86 emulation. Just imagine how this would fly if Apple opened up the ability to run the M1 native version of macOS Big Sur on an iPad.

The video is long, mostly because of how slow the process is, so best bet is to scrub through it and look for screen changes. There are major changes at about 3:48, 5:46, and 18:33, just to get you started.

Zac Hall, 9to5Mac:

Ming-Chi Kuo, a reliable supply chain analyst for TF International Securities, predicts a bold new class of MacBook Pros this year with MagSafe charging and I/O ports that won’t require dongles. What Kuo doesn’t forecast is a future for the Touch Bar, the strip of touchscreen panel Apple added to the MacBook Pro in 2016. Love or hate the Touch Bar, that’s a bad thing.

What follows is some fascinating discussion of the Touch Bar, including this bit quoted from John Gruber:

You’ve got this little ARM computer running on your keyboard, and it communicates with the Intel side. One of the things that the iOS device on the Touch Bar doesn’t have is a GPU. So the Intel side does the GPU rendering and has to go back, but it’s all done securely and there’s a whole bunch of electrical engineering going on there and you’d never know it. It’s 60 FPS just like iOS and it’s instantaneous touch.

And:

To me, it’s example number one of whatever else is going on with the Macs, and some of the machines that have gone way too long without being updated, it’s clear that Apple is invested in the Mac. I really think that Touch Bar is proof of it

And back to Zac:

Now the Touch Bar appears to be dead, and the Mac couldn’t be more alive.

I’ve been living on my M1 MacBook Air for some time now, all without a Touch Bar. I don’t miss Touch Bar terribly, but I do miss it.

I suspect if I lived in an app that actually made extensive use of the Touch Bar, I’d miss it even more. But as is, I miss the autocorrect/emoji suggestions, and I miss the video scrub bar (which actually lets you scrub through YouTube ads).

I think the Touch Bar was an interesting concept, and I hope it will continue to appear, in some evolved, more customizable form, in future Macs.

This is a bit of a rabbit hole, but if you are interested in the details, here’s a link to the full Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Report Trump filled out prior to his departure, courtesy of the New York Times.

As to the Mac Pro:

Tim Apple, as Trump once called him, didn’t just give Donald Trump the opportunity to lie about bringing an Apple factory to the United States. He also gave him a $5,999 Mac Pro, according to Donald Trump’s final financial disclosure report today.

The line in question, highlighted in this tweet, says:

Mac Pro Computer, The first created at the Flex Factory in Austin Texas

The gift is valued at $5,999 and as given by Tim Cook.

January 20, 2021

The Apple Car fueling up

I like that they kept the Lightning connector.

[H/T DugMickGee]

Lots of interesting discoveries here, along with the raft of images including X-rays. Don’t miss the X-ray video in Step 4 which is a 360 degree revolving look at the AirPods Max, showing off an amazing number of screws that hold everything together.

Here’s an image showing what’s under the earcups, including the Apple logo and lots of printed detail, like the model number.

And this bit from the conclusions:

The headband detaches from both earcups with a simple poke from a paperclip or SIM card tool—no wires and no fuss.

Could we see completely customizable versions of the AirPods Max in our future, where you can mix and match headbands and earcups, as you like?

New York Times:

Facebook was going to compete with Google for some advertising sales but backed away from the plan after the companies cut a preferential deal, according to court documents.

And:

Facebook never said why it pulled back from its project, but evidence presented in an antitrust lawsuit filed by 10 state attorneys general last month indicates that Google had extended to Facebook, its closest rival for digital advertising dollars, a sweetheart deal to be a partner.

And:

The agreement between Facebook and Google, code-named “Jedi Blue” inside Google, pertains to a growing segment of the online advertising market called programmatic advertising.

And:

In the milliseconds between a user clicking on a link to a web page and the page’s ads loading, bids for available ad space are placed behind the scenes in marketplaces known as exchanges, with the winning bid passed to an ad server.

And:

A method called header bidding emerged, in part as a workaround to reduce reliance on Google’s ad platforms. News outlets and other sites could solicit bids from multiple exchanges at once, helping to increase competition and leading to better prices for publishers. By 2016, more than 70 percent of publishers had adopted the technology, according to one estimate.

Seeing a potentially significant loss of business to header bidding, Google developed an alternative called Open Bidding, which supported an alliance of exchanges. While Open Bidding allows other exchanges to simultaneously compete alongside Google, the search company extracts a fee for every winning bid, and competitors say there is less transparency for publishers.

This whole piece is riveting, and highlights the utter lack of transparency in the advertising market. Google called Facebook’s potential adoption of header bidding an “existential threat”. Sound familiar? That’s the same term Facebook used when referring to Apple’s push for transparency in ad tracking. Tiny sympathy violins here.

Losing Alice is a new Apple TV+ series that launches this Friday, January 22nd. Like the series Tehran, which Apple TV launched last year, if you don’t happen to be conversant in the series’ main languages, subtitles will be required.

Personally, I found Tehran brilliantly written, riveting start to finish, and well worth the investment. From what I’ve read, Losing Alice looks to be every bit as well crafted, albeit in a slightly different form of thriller.

Here’s a link to Apple’s official trailer, which is crafted from English-language moments in the series.

And here’s a link to the CANNESERIES trailer, which gives a bit more of a sense of the interweaving of languages.

January 19, 2021

Bare Bones Software, makers of BBEdit, is one of my favorite software companies — in fact, I’ve been using BBEdit for more than 20 years. BBEdit has been updated to version 13.5, and is available in the Mac App Store as a subscription! Same great features. Same user experience. You can subscribe in the Mac App Store or purchase perpetual licenses directly from Bare Bones Software. Also, you can still get great merch, including Classic and Rebus T-shirts, enamel pins, and more in their merch store!

This amazing documentary was broadcast on NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting service. No spoilers, but it is a gorgeous take on Steve Jobs’ passionate connection to Japan.

Typically, I’d embed the video, but NHK has specifically prevented that, so follow the headline link to watch it on YouTube.

[H/T @rwintheiser]

Follow the link, start spamming the keyboard. Such code!

Don’t forget to tap the option key 3 times to gain access.

Glenn Fleishman, Macworld:

In macOS 11.0 Big Sur, Apple added full-blown management and visualization, similar to what appears in iOS and iPadOS. The algorithm generally keeps the laptop charged to about 80 percent of capacity. Charging above 80 percent, and particularly to “full,” can put premature wear on a battery, as lithium-ion batteries run hotter the closer they are to their hardware-derived full charge.

However, one reader noted that their battery was always being charged to 100 percent, and wanted to set it to charge no more than 80 percent as a preventative measure. Owners of new M1-based Apple Silicon laptops have found battery life is so remarkably long that they may feel the same way: why risk wearing out the battery when 80 percent gives them more than a full day off the plug?

When I finally managed to get my M1 MacBook Air down to the point where it hit “charge or die”, I noticed that it only charged up to 80%. Glenn Fleishman’s article laid out the why of this.

Still not clear to me why charging sometimes stops at 80% and sometimes goes all the way to 100%. As Glenn mentions, with this exceptional battery life, 80% is plenty for most days, and an acceptable upper limit if it means an extended lifetime for my battery.

Shot on iPhone: Student films, Behind the Scenes

This short feature from Apple shows off some student films showcased by the Shot on iPhone campaign.

This “Behind the Scenes” is inspirational for folks interested in making their own movies, and continues to explore the possibilities of vertical filmmaking (think portrait mode, vs the traditional landscape mode).

Very interesting, worth watching.

Apple’s latest gallery, showing off the iPhone 12 series camera. Follow the headline link and scroll through these photos. Some beautiful work there.

January 15, 2021

The Dalrymple Report: Dave’s mic, Amazon scams and webcams

You’ll finally hear Dave’s new mic! After a false start last week, Dave worked out the issue and is ready to go. We talked about the start of the hockey season, Amazon scams, and Dave’s favorite webcam.

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January 14, 2021

There’s a lot of gear here, but what grabbed my attention was the look at that new 31.5″ OLED LG display right at the beginning of the video.

LG has been steadily improving their display lineup, with each new generation seemingly custom made with the Mac in mind. Take a look.

OSXDaily:

Have you received audio files or audio messages from any of your contacts on iMessage? If so, you may sometimes want to store them permanently on your iPhone or iPad so that you can listen to them later at your convenience, and save the audio attachment as a file directly. Fortunately, you can do this pretty easily, and we’ll show you how you can manually view and save audio attachments from iPhone and iPad.

As advertised, follow the sequence. Pretty low discoverability there, but not a widely used feature, I’d suspect.

Oh Samsung

Samsung’s official US mobile Twitter account uses an iPhone to promote today’s Galaxy S21 Unpacked event:

Other folks using Apple gear to promote non-Apple products seems to happen a lot. Reminds me of the year Microsoft sponsored the NFL and gave Surface tablets to all the teams. Then, when the games played out, there were lots of shots of teams using iPads instead.

Any examples of Apple events being promoted on, say, Samsung phones?

William Gallagher, AppleInsider:

In theory, Apple offers the same AppleCare+ insurance for Macs that it does for iPhones, yet the details are so different that it’s harder to determine the value to you.

Once you understand just what AppleCare+ actually offers, and what it costs, then in principle the decision is straightforward.

The value of this post is not so much in answering the headline question, but in walking through the differences between AppleCare+ for Mac and iPhone.

Take a read through, note the costs involved in repairing the various Mac models.

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch, digs through the annual App Annie mobile report. There’s a ton of fascinating trend data in the linked post, worth a scan.

One chart I found particularly interesting was the top social media apps in the US chart (about 1/3 of the way down). Facebook usage grew (pandemic?), but was overtaken by TikTok. 2020 was a huge year for TikTok.

And:

App usage in the U.S. surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours on their mobile device.

This seems a clear trend, exacerbated by the pandemic. I watch live TV for breaking news and sports. Otherwise, it’s on-demand streaming content. Obviously, this is only possible with high bandwidth net access.

Interesting read.

January 13, 2021

If you’ve read about Shortcuts, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the learning curve, here’s a great, simple project, perfect for dipping your toes in the water.

In a nutshell:

  • Fire up the Shortcuts app on your iPhone
  • Tap the Automation tab at the bottom of the screen
  • Tap “Create Personal Automation”
  • Scroll to the bottom and tap “Charger”
  • Make sure “Is Connected” is selected
  • Tap “Next”
  • In the search field that appears (bottom of screen), type “Speak”. The action “Speak Text” should appear. Tap on it.
  • Tap the “Text” area and type some text to speak, like “Charging”
  • Tap “Next”
  • Tap to turn off “Ask Before Running”.
  • Tap “Done”

That’s it. Now plug in your iPhone and it will speak the text. Let the pranks begin!

One last note: To delete the shortcut (on the off chance that the novelty wears off), drag it to the left and tap Delete.

Apple:

Apple today announced a set of major new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. These forward-looking and comprehensive efforts include the Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit; and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. Together, Apple’s REJI commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of color across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders.

Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson:

“Every individual deserves equal access to opportunity regardless of skin color or zip code,” said Jackson. “For too long, communities of color have faced gross injustices and institutional barriers to their pursuit of the American dream, and we are proud to lend our voices and resources to build new engines of opportunity that empower, inspire, and create meaningful change.”

Props to Apple for putting its money where its mouth is. While this is clearly not going to solve racism, it is a targeted use of funds that will help those underrepresented communities on the receiving end. A step in the right direction for sure.

NBC, Washington:

Seventeen Amazon packages have been delivered to Catherine Mayfield’s home in Temple Hills, Maryland, since October. She didn’t order any of them. Some of the packages included cheap items, such as scissors, a foot cushion and an eyebrow trimmer. Others contained pricier items, like a steam iron.

So what’s going on? One likely possibility: Mayfield is a victim of what’s called a “brushing” scam.

And:

Sellers do this to boost their ratings. They make a fake account using a real name and address they can easily find online. The seller buys the product from themselves and sends it to the address.

“In order for you to have a validated purchase so that your rating carries more weight, they actually have to ship something,” said Hamerstone. The seller then writes a fake review and gives themselves five stars.

So when you see those “verified purchaser” labels on Amazon reviews, dig a little deeper. When I buy something on Amazon, I start by looking at the percentage of 1-star reviews. Any percentage above 6% gives me pause, no matter how many 5-star ratings a product has. I read those 1-star ratings. Often there’s a clue there, a red flag that goes beyond, “dead on arrival” (bad units happen with all manufactured goods), something on the order of “this product was shoddily made, and here’s why I say that”.

Unfortunately for those receiving these packages, there’s really nothing they can do about it except to just wait for it to stop. It’s just too much for sites like Amazon to track these sellers down.

And that’s where we differ. Amazon created this process. Surely they could tweak their system so verified purchases are actually “verified”. Make it easy to report unordered packages, then have Amazon note on the product pages that the product has an active brushing scam.

UPDATE: Check out the site Fakespot. Copy the link to an Amazon product you are looking at and paste it in the Fakespot search field (upper left of the page). Fakespot will tell you all sorts of things about that product and, perhaps, help you avoid buying a dud.

There’s also a Chrome extension, if Chrome is your thing. No Safari extension, sadly. [H/T, Kirk McElhearn]

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

Facebook today is rolling out an update to its Access Your Information tool with the goal of making the tool easier to both use and navigate, as well as better explain how and why that data is used. The new version of the tool has been visually redesigned, and now further breaks down the viewable information across eight categories instead of just two.

Grudging credit to Facebook for sliding towards transparency. But hard to reconcile this move with the bruising fight against Apple advertising transparency efforts. Facebook is clearly for transparency as long as it does not impact their revenue stream.

Side note: Just me, or do you automatically downgrade any information source when it is passed along via a Facebook link?

January 12, 2021

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Apple CEO Tim Cook joined CBS This Morning for an interview today, touching on the events that occurred at the US Capitol last Wednesday.

Notably, CBS This Morning host Gayle King also teased that more of the interview will air tomorrow, as Apple is expected to make a “big announcement” of some sort – but it’s “not a product.”

Big announcement, but not a product. Hmmm. Well I’m hooked.

Kirk McElhearn:

On January 10, 2001, Steve Jobs went on the stage at Macworld Expo in San Francisco and presented a new app that would change the course of Apple. iTunes would become Apple’s most important app, not only because it was the companion of the iPod that would be released later that year, but also because it would become the framework for all of the company’s future online stores.

And:

Jobs explained the process of ripping and burning CDs, since, for many, this was new. He ripped a CD – the B 52s’ Time Capsule – then he imported a folder with 1,000 songs to his library. He then showed how to play music, how to sort the library, how to search for songs, and how to create a playlist; all of these were techniques that were new for most people.

And:

As Jobs said in his presentation, there were a number of programs that could play MP3s, and, on the Mac, there were two main options: SoundJam, sold by Cassady & Greene, and Audion, from Panic. Both of these apps were simple, focusing more on the player aspect, even though they offered features such as playlist creation, ripping CDs, and syncing music to MP3 players.

Apple approached both companies, and eventually purchased SoundJam, along with its three developers (who still work for Apple).

This is a fascinating, detailed look at the history of iTunes, an app that still exists. On Windows.

Interesting that there are lots of people who have never even seen iTunes, came on board after iTunes was split into pieces, have entirely missed this major chapter in Apple’s history.

Follow the headline link, scroll down to the animated GIF. At first glance, it looks completely fake, a smartphone that slowly changes size.

But if you scroll down a bit further, you’ll see an old Apple patent drawing that gives a hint of what’s likely going on here. The screen “shrinks” by rolling up inside the case, the two sides of the case slide together, seemingly all driven by some sort of motor.

Interesting but gimmicky. But worth a look. Can’t imagine this as a successful new smartphone design trend.

Jeff Porten, TidBITS:

Having attended the show roughly 20 times, I can scan several hundred booths in an hour, giving each one a brief opportunity to strike me as novel and worth more time. Compare that to the screenshot below, which appears to be the booth experience this year.

Here’s a link to the exhibitor directory. Unless you know what you are looking for, there’s very little info here, nothing to tease you, arouse your curiosity.

Beyond that, so much of the value of CES is tactile. Whether it’s getting hands-on with a production model that won’t be released until April, seeing a prototype under glass, or just getting a sense of whether a company has their act together—even if it’s just two guys in a garage—nothing beats being there in person.

Wondering if the CES folks thought COVID would pass and they’d actually have an in person show, didn’t have the time to create a truly virtual experience.

That aside, Jeff does follow with some CES items that caught his attention. Take a look.

MacRumors:

The ads have appeared on Apple’s YouTube channel in the UK and some other European countries, and will likely be shared in other regions soon.

Follow the headline link to watch the ads.

Hollywood Reporter:

Andy Samberg and his Palm Springs writer Andy Siara have teamed up with Noah Hawley and Ben Stiller for a untitled sci-fi comedy-drama that has landed at Apple Studios.

Apple finalized the deal over the weekend, picking it up in a competitive situation.

And:

The project also joins the growing list of homegrown projects that Apple Studios is developing and will be part of the Apple Original Films banner. The latter last year released On the Rocks, Greyhound and Wolfwalkers, all of which are part of this year’s awards conversation. This year it will release Joe and Anthony Russo’s drama Cherry and go into production on Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

Andy Samberg will star in the series. Noah Hawley was the show creator behind the series Fargo. Definitely looking forward to this one.