March 31, 2020

Jason Robinson:

Alright kids, gather round.

A few of you may remember that my 3yo discovered a door in our ceiling, and has been asking about what’s inside.

Her eyes were wide: “Papa… there’s a DOOR… on our ROOF!!”

I happen to know there is… an OLD RUG up there. Meh.

Secret doors need TREASURE though. So, I went to Claire’s at the mall, and bought the SPARKLIEST little treasure box I could find.

Read this thread for the most wonderful, sweetest, joyful story you’re likely to read today. In these times, we need and love stories even more. This is the story of a little girl and a father’s love and his joy at helping her explore.

The Intercept:

Zoom, the video conferencing service whose use has spiked amid the Covid-19 pandemic, claims to implement end-to-end encryption, widely understood as the most private form of internet communication, protecting conversations from all outside parties. In fact, Zoom is using its own definition of the term, one that lets Zoom itself access unencrypted video and audio from meetings.

But despite this misleading marketing, the service actually does not support end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, at least as the term is commonly understood. Instead it offers what is usually called transport encryption.

So when you have a Zoom meeting, the video and audio content will stay private from anyone spying on your Wi-Fi, but it won’t stay private from the company.

“Everyone” is using Zoom (my wife is on a call as we speak) but no one should trust Zoom. They have shown over and over again they don’t care about user security or privacy and will only “do what’s right” when caught and forced to amend their actions.

This is an area Apple could have absolutely owned with FaceTime and Group FaceTime. But it’s yet another example of Apple creating cool tech and then letting it fall by the wayside.

Dark Sky:

Today we have some important and exciting news to share: Dark Sky has joined Apple.

Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy.

There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone.

Their iOS weather app was always one of the best and most accurate ones I used when I lived in the US. I hope Apple treats it right.

Rob Griffiths:

Yesterday, instead of having a productive afternoon at home, I had the privilege of sitting at the bank for a couple of hours, resolving a problem completely of my own doing: I fell for a phone scammer. My wife and I had to close our accounts—which were in excess of 25 years old—and set up new ones. I then spent hours updating our various bill paying services, Quicken account access, etc.

Do yourself a favor, and don’t be me. I never thought I’d be “that guy” either, as I keep current on scams, look for signs of fishiness on phone calls, etc. Still, they got me, and it was painful—not necessarily in terms of financial loss (we’re out $500 for maybe 60 to 90 days while they investigate), but in terms of time: Time to fix what I did, and even more time spent beating myself up over my stupidity.

Here’s the tl;dr version: Do not ever, as in never ever, give out a verification code over the phone. I know that now. I knew that earlier today. I’ve known that for years. And yet, I did it. What follows is a bit of the nitty-gritty on how I got scammed, what I learned (beyond the above), and some technological things that affected my behavior during the call. Hopefully the sharing of my stupidity will help others avoid the same fate.

What an awful story but I’m glad Griffiths wrote it up. I saw his tweets yesterday and I wondered what was going on. This is a great reminder that any of us can be scammed, no matter how technically proficient or “smart” we think we are.

CNET:

Recall, the French supercar firm filmed a viral video that showed the Bugatti Chiron go from 0-249 mph and back to 0 mph in just 42 seconds. The film quickly became an internet sensation, though Koenigsegg outdid the Chiron’s record in 2019. Nevertheless, there’s a single shot that so many fell in love with: A basic shot that followed the supercar from a launch all the way to 249 mph.

Thanks to a new behind-the-scenes video blog from Al Clark, an automotive film director who helped put the Chiron shoot together, we have an answer. The video, published Monday, has Clark revisit the entire process to provide some informative commentary on the record-breaking shoot.

Well, I must be a right dummy because I have no idea. I mean, how do you film a car going from 0-249 mph and back to 0 mph?

Oh. OK. I’m a dummy.

Zac Hall, 9to5Mac:

9to5Mac exclusively reported earlier this month that iOS 14 and watchOS 7 will include a new SchoolTime mode and kid mode. The latter feature includes the ability for a parent to set up and manage an Apple Watch for a child with a single iPhone.

Here’s a link to that post.

When an Apple Watch is configured in this new kids mode, Apple will treat the Activity rings differently for the first time.

And:

Apple Watch will instead replace the active calories metric for the move ring with a move time. For example, Apple Watch can track a goal of 90 minutes of movement throughout the day instead of 500 active calories burned.

I’ve long wondered (pure speculation on my part) if Apple would ever release an Apple Watch specifically for kids. One with geofencing built in that would notify parents if their child left school, or home. An active notification, rather than the passive use of “Find My”.

And, of course, sold in a smaller size, with kid oriented watch faces and bands.

“This…”

Longtime friend of The Loop Rene Ritchie has launched a new YouTube channel. Of course, go subscribe.

But that aside, check out the announcement video, embedded below. Playing off his “This…is Vector” open, Rene calls on a little help from his friends. Nice.

CNN:

It started its life as “Neue Haas Grotesk,” a boringly descriptive moniker which included the name of its maker (the Haas foundry), its design type (neo-grotesque or realist) and the fact that is was new (or “neue” in German).

“The original name sucked,” said Shaw. The name Helvetica, which means “Swiss” in Latin as a homage to its country of origin, was adopted in 1960 to make it easier to sell it abroad.

And:

But it didn’t take long before it became the standard for advertising and corporate branding in the US: “In 1967 it creeps into the design for the Yankee Stadium,” said Shaw, “And by 1968 it’s everywhere in America — it is the typeface.”

And:

In 1984, Steve Jobs puts it in the Macintosh: “This was a key move. If Apple didn’t use it, Helvetica would have remained a designer’s preference, same as Times New Roman. Instead, it becomes the default sans serif when sans serif fonts are becoming popular among the populous and not just avant-garde designers,”

Another key adoption was the New York Subway signage and system map. Interesting bit of history.

Coming to Apple TV+ on Friday, Home Before Dark

This looks like perfect, shelter-in-place family viewing. This particular video, shared by Apple, is an inside look at the show.

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Earlier in March, Apple shuttered many facets of its Apple Park and older Infinite Loop campuses as San Francisco Bay Area officials put in place stay-at-home orders. Later, the company told employees that specific approval is needed to gain access to an office, but identification badges remain functional.

And:

In early March, in a contrast to its normal practices, Apple started allowing engineers to take home early versions of future devices to continue work during the lockdown period. Previously, the company allowed select employees to take home nearly complete devices such as iPhones for real world testing.

And:

Taking home a future product requires the green light from the vice president of an employee’s organization. That list of staff with future devices at their homes also is sometimes reviewed by Apple’s senior vice presidents, the management team run by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.

Fascinating piece. Apple has built a company that revolves around secrecy, but now must allow trust to enter the equation in order to keep moving forward. A tricky and interesting problem.

March 30, 2020

Vancouver’s 7pm Coronavirus workers salute

Bradley Friesen:

Every night at 7pm, Vancouver salutes all those working through the pandemic. Thanks to everyone!

This is happening around the world.

“Some Good News” with John Krasinski

SomeGoodNews:

John Krasinski highlights some good news from around the world, including an interview with Steve Carell to mark the 15th anniversary of The Office, as well as John’s newest hero Coco.

We can all use some good news right now.

PBS:

Have you decided that it’s high time to take a step back and look at the big picture? Is your teenager sick of your attempts to remember history class in your newly-founded home school? Or are you just desperate to watch a story that doesn’t include a certain word that rhymes with Arizona? Whatever your motivation, we’ve got you covered. All of these shows are available to watch right now without a membership. Just click the links and press play. Or better yet, find them in the free PBS Video app for your Roku, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, Fire TV Stick, phone or tablet. Enjoy!

Some of these are a bit old but still good info. Some are also available outside the US.

Official Trailer for Apple TV+ “Trying”

Sweet, touching, funny, British. What more could you want?

A flashy look at the new iPad Pro

A detailed look at the new iPad Pro in action. I love the open of this video. Such great production values. Like butter.

The whole thing is worth watching, but one part I found particularly interesting popped up at about 2:50, where a 4K .mov file is exported to 1080p on both the new iPad Pro and the 2018 model. Amazing results. To me, this shows a splitting point from the old to the new models.

iFixit iPad Pro 2020 teardown, a solid look at those LiDAR dots

Two things to watch for in this iFixit teardown of the new iPad Pro:

  • Replacing the battery is impossibly difficult for a mere mortal
  • Those LiDAR dots are pretty huge

That latter point is not a complaint, just an observation. Jump to about 1:43 and see for yourself.

Compared to the fine mesh of Face ID, LiDAR dots are much larger, with a much wider spread. Makes sense. Face ID is intended for a detailed map of your face, up close, while LiDAR is intended to map, say, the walls of a room, or an arrangement of objects on a table.

Linked post from John Gruber, focused on the definition of the word “cursor”. What we typically think of as a cursor:

  • The icon that moves around on the screen that you control with your mouse or trackpad.
  • The vertical bar that blinks in a text editing field to indicate where typed characters will appear.

Gruber makes the case that we should use these terms, to be more precise:

  • Mouse/trackpad pointer.
  • Insertion point.

Read the piece. Very interesting, solid logic, well researched.

Going a little stir crazy? Follow the headline link and enter the rabbit hole that takes you on your favorite ride at your favorite Disney park. Each video includes a control to look around as you make your way through the ride.

The video quality is just OK, but if you are a fan of Disney, the experience is solid.

Alyson Krueger, New York Times:

“The rink showed up in a big, giant truck,” said David Lemmond, the hotel’s general manager.

Made by Glice, a company based in Lucerne, Switzerland, this rink requires no cold weather, special blades, electricity or water (other than for cleaning). When skating season is over, the panels can be stacked and stored.

Softer than ice when you fall, this new rink tech works well with any ice skate. Glice now has 1800 rinks worldwide. A small rink starts at only $1,200.

I wonder how they’d handle the demands of hockey skates, with their scraping, ice chewing, sideways stops.

Wall Street Journal:

Government officials across the U.S. are using location data from millions of cellphones in a bid to better understand the movements of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic and how they may be affecting the spread of the disease.

The federal government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local governments have started to receive analyses about the presence and movement of people in certain areas of geographic interest drawn from cellphone data, people familiar with the matter said. The data comes from the mobile advertising industry rather than cellphone carriers.

The data—which is stripped of identifying information like the name of a phone’s owner—could help officials learn how coronavirus is spreading around the country and help blunt its advance. It shows which retail establishments, parks and other public spaces are still drawing crowds that could risk accelerating the transmission of the virus, according to people familiar with the matter. In one such case, researchers found that New Yorkers were congregating in large numbers in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and handed that information over to local authorities, one person said. Warning notices have been posted at parks in New York City, but they haven’t been closed.

It would be better if this data collection were more out in the open and less murky. We have to be wary of giving up liberties in search of security.

March 29, 2020

Ars Technica:

Until this week, the Open Library only allowed people to “check out” as many copies as the library owned. If you wanted to read a book but all copies were already checked out by other patrons, you had to join a waiting list for that book—just like you would at a physical library.

Of course, such restrictions are artificial when you’re distributing digital files. Earlier this week, with libraries closing around the world, the Internet Archive announced a major change: it is temporarily getting rid of these waiting lists.

“The library system, because of our national emergency, is coming to aid those that are forced to learn at home,” said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. The Internet Archive says the program will ensure students are able to get access to books they need to continue their studies from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

It’s an amazing resource—one that will provide a lot of value to people stuck at home due to the coronavirus. But as a copyright nerd, I also couldn’t help wondering: is this legal?

When I first saw the story, I thought they must have missed the “un” in “copyrighted.” But the Archive has lots of books that are still in print and copyrighted. So it’s probably not legal but no one wants to get into the fight.

Ars Technica:

Good news for those looking for fresh TV fare while sheltering in place: the third season of Killing Eve, the Emmy Award-winning spy thriller series starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, is coming to TV two weeks early.

“We know how adored this series is and we know how keen people are for great content right now,” Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, said in a statement. “This season of Killing Eve digs deep psychologically, and with actors like Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, and Fiona Shaw, the results are nothing short of astonishing. We literally couldn’t wait for fans to see it.”

There are few shows I look forward to more than Killing Eve. I can’t wait for April 12th. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, you’re in for a binge-watching treat.

IEEE Spectrum:

Rather than fight to repair my wounded device, I did what Big Tech and other manufacturers increasingly want owners to do. I threw it away. Today repair remains an option, one that makers want to monopolize or eliminate.

The big threat to devices today isn’t failure, but rather “creative destruction,” or the new advent of new and improved stuff. Who needs to think about repairs when we are dazzled by the latest “upgrade.”

Not everyone opposes convenience, so the Repair movement might regret choosing to advocate for a “right” to repair rather than an “option.”

In general, I agree with the idea of the right to repair – not that I would ever attempt it on my own electronics – but this article does a great job of describing some of my discomfort with the “movement.”

March 28, 2020

Rapper’s Delight – Brian Williams feat Lester Holt

This has been around a while but I’m not a fan of Jimmy Fallon so I hadn’t seen it until it popped up on my Facebook feed. First of all, it’s an amazing editing job. Secondly, watching Brian Williams, in all his dead seriousness “rapping” is equally amazing. After you watch this, check out his reaction on Fallon’s show.

Jon Lefkovitz:

This feature-length documentary, viewed and enjoyed by legendary film editor and sound designer Walter Murch himself (“The Conversation”, “Apocalypse Now”), was culled by Jon Lefkovitz from over 50 hours of Murch’s lectures, interviews, and commentaries.

I interviewed Murch many years ago at a Macworld Expo and he was a fascinating guy to talk to.

British drivers swearing

There’s just something about the British accent that makes curse words so much more enjoyable. Plus, they have words we don’t use in most of the English speaking world like “wanker” and “knob end” that just sound great.

March 27, 2020

Monument Valley 2 free on the App Store for a little while

Very kind move by the developers. Great game.

Location data of phones on a Florida beach during Spring Break

The company that posted the information, Tectonix GEO, seems to think this demonstration was a good thing. But it shows just how much information can be gleaned from our phones. It also points out just how dangerously irresponsible it was to keep the beaches open for Spring Break.

512Pixels:

Every major version of Mac OS X macOS has come with a new default wallpaper. As you can see, I have collected them all here.

While great in their day, the early wallpapers are now quite small in the world of 5K displays.

I only really started to care about the wallpapers in Mavericks. Nowadays, I don’t even see them, preferring to use the Irvue app for multiple, changing desktop wallpapers.

Apple:

This tool can help you understand what to do next about COVID-19. Let’s all look out for each other by knowing our status, trying not to infect others, and reserving care for those in need. This site was developed in partnership with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The site will also have an app to download. There’s not a lot here that isn’t already known but it might be a good resource to have some of this information handy.