The Beyond-The-Mac Edition Thursday, March 30, 2017

Apple Is Pushing iPad Like Never Before, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

The fact that 100M people are still using older iPads demonstrates that the product provides value. Apple is also confident that users will see the significant improvement between the latest iPads and models from five to seven years ago. As for PC users, Apple thinks the iPad Pro line is capable of handling the vast majority of tasks currently given to laptops. Apple looks at the iPad Pro line, which includes Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, as a better solution for consumers than even the Mac. This is quite telling as to management's long-term motivation.

While the iPhone has likely reduced the iPad's long-term sales trajectory, the iPad category is being underestimated. Apple thinks that now is the time to become much more aggressive in selling iPad. Fortunately, we will be able to judge Apple's progress by monitoring quarterly iPad sales. With a dramatic price cut, simpler sales pitch, reduced headwind from iPad mini sales, and a differentiated product line, Apple is confident the iPad will return to growth. A growing iPad business will then make it that much easier for Apple to move beyond the Mac and focus on creating a new breed of personal gadgets that make technology more personal.

Apple’s AI Director: Here’s How To Supercharge Deep Learning, by Will Knight, MIT Tecnology Review

Apple’s director of artificial intelligence, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, believes that the deep neural networks that have produced spectacular results in recent years could be supercharged in coming years by the addition of memory, attention, and general knowledge.

Why Does Apple Object To News About Drone Strikes?, by Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

When Google and Apple are just keeping out porn sites, no one really cares. Even when they're nixing apps that happen to compete with Apple or Google, people mostly shrug. But when they start censoring apps based on their news content, we're in trouble.


Right, About VPNs, by Ben Brooks, The Brooks Review

Having spent some time using VPNs full time, I need to tell you right now: it sucks. Doesn’t matter what service you use, it’s a lessened experience. The connections are choppy at times, slow at others, and never as fast as your internet connection.

That said, there’s only two VPNs I recommend: Cloak, or Private Internet Access (PIA).

Scrivener 2, by Jill Duffy, PC Magazine

Scrivener, now in version 2, is easily one of the best pieces of software for writers because it was built with their needs in mind. Whether you're pounding out pages of references and endnotes for a nonfiction book or slowly crafting characters to set loose in your next novel, Scrivener provides a place to create, edit, and organize all your work, not just manuscript pages.

David Pogue's Search For The World's Best Air-travel App, by David Pogue, Yahoo

Considering how much time, trouble, and money this little app saves travelers, it was beyond forehead-smacking that Expedia killed it off.

Now, FlightTrack was around for eight years. Surely, in that time, something similar has come along? I decided to find out.

iPad Users Get Their Own Version Of Google Calendar, by Steven Musil, CNET

iPad users will now get a full version, meaning they'll no longer have to make do without some features. In addition to keeping track of your upcoming client dinners and Little League games, the app's machine learning will help you schedule meetings by suggesting meeting times and locations based on your co-workers' availability. It will also help you set goals and schedule time into your Calendar to help you achieve them.

Final Draft, by Cade Metz, PC Magazine

Professional screenwriters use Final Draft, and you should too if that's your field. It's one of the best apps for writers in general, and it's the app for screenwriters. Only Final Draft has smart auto-suggestion features for formatting your work to industry standards. It compiles lists of characters and scene locations automatically. A Beat Board feature replicates the old notecard-and-corkboard approach to arranging scenes, and a Story Map helps keep the story on target for pacing and script length.

My Reasons Review, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

My Reasons for iOS and Mac is a productivity app that collects the things that motivate you and reminds you when working on your habit. It’s a tool that may just help me kick my Diet Pepsi habit – and some of your habits, too.


The Biggest Difference Between Coding Today And When I Started In The 80’s, by Andrew Wulf, The Codist

But seriously, the biggest skill back then was invention, creativity, imagination, whatever you would like to call it; unlike today there was no Google, no Stackoverflow, no open source at your fingertips, rarely even someone to email to ask for help. You were basically programming on an island, and anything you needed to figure out or solve, you had to do it yourself. Sometimes you might go to a library and search books and journals, or maybe you could ask someone at a user group or conference, or if you were lucky someone you knew was a programmer. Generally though no matter what you wanted to do it was on your shoulders to come up with it. Even if someone else in the world was solving some similar problem, you probably had no way to know about it.

What you need today is searching, understanding and evaluation. You have access to the world’s smartest (and sometimes dumbest) people. The chances that something you need hasn’t been done elsewhere is rare and the real skill is in finding it, relating it to what you need, deciding if it is useful or adaptable, and if it is of a decent quality.

A Brief History Of Random Numbers, by Carl Tashian, Free Code Camp

“As an instrument for selecting at random, I have found nothing superior to dice,” wrote statistician Francis Galton in an 1890 issue of Nature. “When they are shaken and tossed in a basket, they hurtle so variously against one another and against the ribs of the basket-work that they tumble wildly about, and their positions at the outset afford no perceptible clue to what they will be even after a single good shake and toss.”

How can we generate a uniform sequence of random numbers? The randomness so beautifully and abundantly generated by nature has not always been easy to extract and quantify. The oldest known dice (4-sided) were discovered in a 24th century B.C. tomb in the Middle East. More recently, around 1100 B.C. in China, turtle shells were heated with a poker until they cracked at random, and a fortune teller would interpret the cracks. Centuries after that, I Ching hexagrams for fortunetelling were generated with 49 yarrow stalks laid out on a table and divided several times, with results similar to performing coin tosses.


Chase Had Ads On 400,000 Sites. Then On Just 5,000. Same Results., by Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times

In recent years, advertisers have increasingly shunned buying ads on individual sites in favor of cheaply targeting groups of people across the web based on their browsing habits, a process known as programmatic advertising — enabling, say, a Gerber ad to show up on a local mother’s blog, or a purse in an online shopping cart to follow a person around the internet for weeks. But as the risks around the far reaches of the web have been cast into stark relief, some advertisers are questioning the value of showing up on hundreds of thousands of unknown sites, and wondering whether millions of appearances actually translate into more sales.

This Artist Programmed A Computer To Tell Her What Art To Make, by Adrianne Jeffries, The Outline

Her new project — which also happens to be her master's thesis for the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU — is a culmination of all her work until now. Previously, she programmed computers to output art. Now, she's letting the computer program her. [...]

The project, which He calls The Best Art, uses a computer to generate art ideas which He will interpret and then execute. The first prompt, generated on March 6, said: “Build three photocopied, type-written pages in opposition to trucks.” So He wrote a series of negative sentences about trucks and printed them out. Next the computer asked her to “Design a toilet paper tube that evokes a bent beech wood,” so she cut up a toilet paper tube so it resembled branches.

Her favorite piece of computer-directed art so far was “Make everyone feel lonely,” which she interpreted as a slideshow of stock images of families set to different computer voices saying, “You are alone. You are alone.”

Three Hundred And Seventy-Two Simple Ways To Protect Your Digital Life, by Vernon Chatman, New Yorker

The single most effective way to protect yourself is to change your passwords. All of them. All the time. Commit to changing your passwords so often that you won’t ever actually do it.

Bottom of the Page

I'm now about 12 hours into the Stephen Fry's audiobook of almost-all Sherlock Holmes stories, and I've found that I am no longer listening to Stephen Fry's narration, but rather, Dr Watson's.


Thanks for reading.