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Archive for April 2017

The Dorkus-Malorkus Edition Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why Do I Hate Talking To My Phone?, by Jake Swearingen, New York Magazine

There’s a social cost in the form of feeling like a dorkus malorkus when you use your phone’s voice assistant in public, and right now, those assistants can’t do enough useful things reliably and consistently to make it worth paying that cost. And because our phones offer another way to do those useful things without speaking — check train times, look up a recipe, caption and share a photo on Instagram — there may never be any inflection point in the future where we start talking to our phones as a primary or even secondary way to do most tasks. [...]

The smartphone suddenly gave you the digital world in your pocket, available at the tap of a finger. The AI home speaker suddenly opened the possibility of talking to your home in a way that felt both futuristic and familiar. But maybe we’re content with just sticking to tapping away on our phones in public, and only speaking to our gadgets in private.

Apple, Tesla Ask California To Change Proposed Self-driving Car Test Policy, by David Shepardson, Reuters

Apple Inc urged California to toughen up its proposed policy on testing self-driving cars, a move that would result in more public data that could help Apple catch up to rivals in the self-driving space by giving it a better window into their strengths and weaknesses.

In a letter made public on Friday, Apple suggested a series of changes to the draft policy that is under development and said it looks forward to working with California and others "so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public."

Stuff

Uber Adds Privacy Info And Easy Account Deletion, by Kate Conger, TechCrunch

Now, the company will let users delete their accounts from within the app, without contacting support. The process is known internally as “Dear John,” and Uber employees said it has taken over a year to design. Once a user opts to delete their account, Uber will retain the data for 30 days. If the user doesn’t change their mind and return to the service, the data is gone for good.

Game Day: Invert, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Puzzle games fit so naturally with mobile devices that it’s no wonder we’ve seen so much innovation in the genre recently. Despite the lack of sync, Invert is one of my favorite puzzle games to debut this year, and another excellent example of a simple and familiar concept expanded in a way that makes it feel fresh and fun. If you’re a puzzle game fan, Invert is a game you shouldn’t miss.

Develop

Twitterrific Update Rejected For Alternative User-Selectable Icons, by Nick Heer, Pixel Envy

I’m glad to hear that this has been resolved in favour of the Iconfactory, but developers shouldn’t need to deal with the confusion and ambiguity that comes from a situation like this. Rules should be clear and applied consistently to all developers regardless of size.

Notes

Apple Confirms It Won't Make Royalty Payments To Qualcomm Until Dispute Settled, Ina Fried, Axios

"We've been trying to reach a licensing agreement with Qualcomm for more than five years but they have refused to negotiate fair terms," Apple told Axios in a statement. "Without an agreed-upon rate to determine how much is owed, we have suspended payments until the correct amount can be determined by the court. As we've said before, Qualcomm's demands are unreasonable and they have been charging higher rates based on our innovation, not their own."

Apple Proves That This Is The Single Greatest Source Of Innovation, by Thomas Koulopoulos, Inc.

While we most often talk about Apple products as the innovation, the real innovation in this case is the one to which most retailers and consumer facing companies pay little attention, the experience. And it's where Apple has always played to its strengths by creating an experience of community, relationships, human-centered design, and the projection of a higher purpose that includes much more than just technology.

The fact is that experience is always the greatest and easiest source of potential innovation--it's the one place where you can deliver near infinite variety; and it's also where you have the opportunity to build the strongest bonds with your customers.

"Sheeple" Is Now In The Dictionary, And Apple Users Are Its Example, by Nick Statt, The Verge

This morning, Merriam-Webster gleefully tweeted a new addition to its online dictionary: “sheeple,” or “people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced.” You might not immediately draw a connection to one particular proclivity over another, but Merriam-Webster takes the liberty of quoting CNN technology columnist Doug Criss.

“Apple's debuted a battery case for the juice-sucking iPhone — an ungainly lumpy case the sheeple will happily shell out $99 for,” the example reads. It’s from a 2015 news roundup Criss published on CNN’s website, which Merriam-Webster seems to point to as a prime example of the popular modern-day use of the term. Sheeple dates back to 1945, according to the dictionary entry, most likely as a derogatory term for helpless followers of consumer trends of the time. Nowadays, however, it’s more likely to poke fun at blind followers of the iPhone maker.

Bottom of the Page

Why can't I take notes on my iPhone at the locked screen?

Sure you can. Just tell Siri.

I don't want to use my voice. I want to type my notes.

You know, when you are driving, you really shouldn't be doing any typing.

I am not driving. I'm in the bus, or in the train. I don't want to talk (loudly) in a public place. That's rude. Or I may be in the lift talking to my boss, and my boss just asked me to do something, and I really want to jot that down real quick before I forget.

~

For a company that emphasis so much about inclusivity, I find it strange that the only way to communicate to Siri remains using your voice for so long.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Technology-In-Schools Edition Friday, April 28, 2017

As Chromebook Sales Soar In Schools, Apple And Microsoft Fight Back, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

For many schools, the dream of a one-device-per-child experience has finally been realized through a consumer technology battle waged by the biggest names in the industry. Over the past decade, Google, Apple and Microsoft have shaped the conversation around technology in schools, but as ever, none are in agreement on a one-size-fits-all approach. One thing all the players seem to agree on is that education is a market well worth pursuing.

In One Sunset Hill Classroom, Kindergartners Are Using Technology To Connect With Kids Across The Globe, by Joanna Hlavacek, Lawrence Journal World

It’s Tuesday afternoon in Nicole Corn’s bright and cheery kindergarten classroom at Sunset Hill Elementary School, where tables of excited students clamor around iPads to check in with their virtual pen pals more than 7,000 miles away in Shanghai, China.

The kids easily access a collaborative learning journal app from their district-issued iPads. A moment later, photos and videos from kindergartners at a Shanghai elementary school flood the screen, much to the delight of Sunset Hill kindergartner Sophia Talley.

Robot Takes Recovering Child To Her Seat In Class, by Carolyn Presutti, VOA

Cloe, 11, is at home, recuperating from leg surgery. For the first month after the operation, a home tutor visited her. But the precocious child grew withdrawn and didn't want to leave her bed. She missed routine. She missed her friends. She missed real school.

[...]

The Anne Arundel County school system in Maryland had a cure. Cloe now attends class virtually through a $3,000 robot. Hers, which she named Clo-Bot, was donated by the local Rotary Club. Since she began using it, the learning hasn't stopped.

Clo-Bot is basically an iPad attached to a pole on wheels. Cloe uses the keyboard on her home computer to remotely control the device, rolling it into and out of the classroom. She speaks through a headset and is heard through the iPad. When the class breaks up into small groups, one classmate holds materials up to the iPad, and Cloe contributes to the project.

Security Matters

Malware Uses Apple Developer Certificate To Infect MacOS And Spy On HTTPS Traffic, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The initial email pretends to be informing the recipient of inconsistencies in their tax return and asks them to download a zip file attachment to their Mac that harbors the malware. Apple's built-in Gatekeeper security feature reportedly fails to recognize it as a threat because of its valid developer certificate, and the malware copies itself to the /Users/Shared/ folder and creates a login item to make itself persistent, even in a rebooted system.

The malware later presents the user with a security message claiming an update is available for the system, for which a password input is required. Following the "update", the malware gains complete control of admin privileges, adjusts the network settings to divert all outgoing connections through a proxy, and installs additional tools that enable it to perform a man-in-the-middle attack on all traffic.

Upcoming From Apple

Check Out The Lexus That Apple's Using To Test Self-Driving Car Technology, by Mark Bergen and Alex Webb, Bloomberg

The white Lexus RX450h SUV emerged from an Apple facility this week and was kitted out with an array of sensors, according to a person who saw the vehicle and provided photos to Bloomberg News. The sensors included Velodyne Lidar Inc.'s top-of-the-range 64-channel lidar, at least two radar and a series of cameras. The sensors appear to be products bought off the shelf from suppliers, rather than custom-made, according to an industry expert who saw the photos. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Musical.ly Syncs Up With Apple Music, by Peter Kafka, Recode

Musical.ly lets its users create and share their own music videos, using snippets of songs. Starting on Friday, Apple Music will be the service that supplies the songs, replacing U.K.-based provider 7digital, according to people familiar with the companies’ plans.

Apple’s extensive licensing deals will allow Musical.ly to expand the number of countries it supports from 30 to 120. And connecting with Musical.ly gives Apple a new marketing venue: The app will promote Apple’s paid service to its own users, and will allow paying Apple Music subscribers to listen to full songs within the app.

Apple Is In Talks To Launch Its Own Venmo, by Jason Del Rey, Recode

The company has recently held discussions with payments industry partners about introducing its own Venmo competitor, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The service would allow iPhone owners to send money digitally to other iPhone owners, these people said.

One source familiar with the plans told Recode they expect the company to announce the new service later this year. Another cautioned that an announcement and launch date may not yet be set.

Stuff

Apple Updates iCloud.com Wallpaper From Static Gradient To Dynamic Blue Bubbles Background, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Today, it’s updated the iCloud.com background from a static blue-yellow seaside gradient to a moving animation that tracks your mouse cursor and mimics the blue Dynamic Wallpaper on iPhone and iPad, which Apple quickly ignored after their introduction in iOS 7.

Doo Adds Task Collaboration, Checklists In Version 2.0, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

Doo maintains its simplicity while growing into a more powerful productivity tool. The inclusion of task collaboration and checklists specifically makes the update a win, and the additions continue to be hits down the line: location reminders, morning and evening hours, and interface customization with font sizes.

Annotable 2.0 Adds Deep Customization Features, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Annotable, an image annotation app from developer Ling Wang, received a major update yesterday. Version 2.0 of the app is all about customization. From the tools that appear when you open the app, to the formatting of text added to an image, Annotable gives you precise control over how you use the app and the look of marked up images making it my hands-down favorite app for image annotations.

‘Vignettes’ Invents A New Game Genre By Enchanting Your Phone, by Julie Muncy, Wired

But if you’re willing to step away from the idea of goal-oriented achievement, Vignettes achieves something almost transcendent. Like its name implies, it feels like a series of short stories about objects, meditations on the secret lives of stuff.

Develop

Flexible Working Is Making Us Work Longer, by Heejung Chung, Quartz

Contrary to what you might expect, those with more control over their work schedule work more than those with less control. In fact, people have a tendency to work more overtime hours once they are allowed to work flexibly, compared to when they were not.

These were the findings of research my colleague Yvonne Lott and I recently carried out, published in the European Sociological Review. We examined data that followed workers across a number of years in Germany to see what happened to the amount of overtime they did once they started having more control over their working hours.

Notes

Secretive And Apparently Delayed, Southeast Asia's First Apple Store To Open In May: Sources, by Craig Dale, CNBC

A source with knowledge of the project told CNBC about problems with a neighbor — the Grand Royal Orchard Singapore hotel. That source said there had been a conflict over logistical and infrastructure issues related to the construction.

"I think it's all gone legal," the source said, without specifying who brought or threatened action against whom. A manager of a retail store close to the site told CNBC she, too, was aware of a conflict. But the source with knowledge of the project said "it has all been resolved and [is] expecting to open in May."

Apple Cuts Off Licensing Payments To Qualcomm As Fight Escalates, by Ian King, Bloomberg

Qualcomm Inc. said Apple Inc. is cutting off licensing payments related to the iPhone until their legal dispute is settled, forcing the chipmaker to lower forecasts it gave just last week.

The announcement escalates the fight between the world’s largest publicly-traded technology company and one of the main suppliers of components to its most important product. The two have traded accusations of lying, making threats and trying to create an illegal monopoly. Their spat involves billions of dollars of technology licensing revenue that, if permanently cut off or reduced, could damage Qualcomm’s main source of profit and help bolster Apple’s margins.

With New Funding, Didi Chuxing, An Uber Rival, Looks Beyond China, by Paul Mozur, New York Times

When Uber pulled out of China last summer, it appeared to be the end of two years of frenzied competition with the local rival Didi Chuxing.

Yet with a new funding round that has brought in $5.5 billion, it seems the Chinese firm wants to take the rivalry global.

The Secret Lives Of Google Raters, by Annalee Newitz, Ars Technica

Who are these raters? They're carefully trained and tested staff who can spend 40 hours per week logged into a system called Raterhub, which is owned and operated by Google. Every day, the raters complete dozens of short but exacting tasks that produce invaluable data about the usefulness of Google's ever-changing algorithms. They contribute significantly to several Google and Android projects, from search and voice recognition to photos and personalization features.

Few people realize how much these raters contribute to the smooth functioning act we call “Googling.” Even Google engineers who work with rater data don't know who these people are. But some raters would now like that to change. That's because, earlier this month, thousands of them received an e-mail that said their hours would be cut in half, partly due to changes in Google's staffing policies.

The Grow-Slowly Edition Thursday, April 27, 2017

Apple Music Goes Hollywood: Inside Jimmy Iovine’s Video Plans, by Lucas Shaw and Alex Webb, Bloomberg

For the moment, he’s mostly focused on music-related video, including a possible sequel to R. Kelly’s rap opera Trapped in the Closet. Iovine has had talks with Warner Bros. Television and is developing another show loosely based on the life of his longtime business partner Dr. Dre. Eventually he plans to go beyond music and has discussed possible ideas with his friend Brian Grazer, producer of Empire and Genius, and director J.J. Abrams. “Apple Music is nowhere near complete in my head,” he says. The service, with more than 20 million subscribers, is the second most popular after Spotify, with more than 50 million premium members.

Sitting on a couch beneath a photo of John Lennon and a letter from rapper Tupac Shakur, Iovine says he’s determined to move deliberately. “We’re gonna grow slowly no matter what,” he says. “I don’t know how to do it fast.” He likens the approach to his founding of Interscope in 1989, which got some attention for Ecuadorean rapper and one-hit wonder Gerardo and went on to become one of the world’s most successful labels.

Curb The Use Of Overseas Tax Havens? Yes! But How?, by Patricia Cohen, New York Times

The broad plan unveiled on Wednesday by Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, shows that the administration is eager to tackle both issues, but the plan does not provide enough detail to judge whether its approach will actually work.

Republicans and Democrats have railed against the accounting acrobatics that American multinationals exploit to avoid paying taxes on foreign earnings. They buy or merge with foreign companies to establish headquarters outside the United States — a practice known as inversion — or relocate their patents and copyrights to places with low tax rates, like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. The arrangement not only deprives the United States of revenue but also increases the tax burden on American businesses that cannot or will not move their profits overseas.

Apple Isn't A Tech Company, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

In reality, Apple's largest risk isn't found in being a design company or not being a technology company. Instead, it's in becoming a tech company. If Apple finds itself moving away from being design-led, the product will be put into jeopardy. This is likely one reason why Cook continues to bet so heavily on design.

Stuff

Apple’s New Clips App Is iMovie For The Social Age, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

Apple has essentially retooled iMovie for the Snapchat age in an attempt to make video editing more accessible, enjoyable and, well, social. At least, that’s the intent. In its current 1.0 state, Clips is a flawed app, though not irretrievably.

How TextExpander Rescued Me From Inbox Hell And Could Save You Too, by Matthew Hughes, The Next Web

Over the course of one Friday evening, I demolished an entire mountain of backlogged email. I mean, I eviscerated it. I don’t want to big myself up, but it was something amazing to see. Kinda like that part in Jerry Maguire where Jerry is writing his manifesto. Just clear, pure, focused energy.

Okay, that does sound a little egotistical, but you get the point. Over the course of one hour, I had responded to a ridiculous 250 emails. That’s a little over four per minute.

This Email App Uses AI To Keep Your Inbox Under Control, by Emily Price, Fast Company

Called Astro, the app essentially offers many of the same features as previous aspiring inbox-zero apps. [...] What makes Astro different is how it creates that priority inbox.

Develop

How I Started Developing On An iPad – Hypatia Software Organization, by Alice Jenkinson, Hypatia Software Organization

There’s a few things that are necessary for developing things on an iPad, one of which is a VPS (virtual private server) to host the development files and tools on.

Notes

How I Saved Nearly $7,000 On Apple Gear This Year, by David Gewirtz, ZDNet

The important thing about making technology purchases, especially when you're looking at six or seven thousand bucks in a year, is carefully analyzing your needs and making fully-aware trade-off decisions.

Amazon Has A New $200 Echo Camera That Will Judge Your Outfit Every Day, by Mike Murphy, Quartz

Thankfully, there’s a button on the side to turn off the camera if you’re not comfortable having an AI-powered camera watching you at all times of the day.

Blockbuster Has Survived In The Most Curious Of Places — Alaska, by Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post

After a long decline, the video rental business declared bankruptcy and its new parent company — Dish Network — began closing all remaining retail locations in 2013. Netflix had won, and Blockbuster was dead. Or so Americans thought.

At least 10 known Blockbuster stores across the country have managed to stay afloat in the digital age. However, the largest cluster of Blockbuster stores are not on the mainland, but in Alaska, where dark, long winters and expensive WiFi have helped maintain a core group of loyal customers.

The Closed-Loop Edition Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Why Apple Can't Stop Digging Holes, by Adam Minter, Bloomberg

Apple could look to recycle rare earths from products it doesn't make itself; new technologies have made it possible to extract rare earths from old magnets and LED bulbs, for instance. But that would obviously break the closed loop. Other common elements found in Apple technology -- such as tantalum and tungsten, two rare metals used in small quantities -- will be similarly hard to recycle in any cost-effective fashion.

As daunting as the technical challenges are, Apple faces another, more immediate problem: how to get its hands on enough old iPhones and iPads to sustain a true closed loop.

Apple Announces It Has Two Million Final Cut Pro X Users, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Apple said that it hit the milestone some five and a half years after launching version 10 of the professional video editing app. Notably, it said that the pace of adoption was increasing. While the company didn’t provide specific dates, it said that it had taken much less time to grow from 1M to 2M users than it had taken to hit that first million.

Little Flocker Reincarnates As Xfence, A Free Beta From F-Secure, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

When security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski took a job at Apple a few weeks ago, I heard from many people concerned about the future of his macOS app, Little Flocker, a tool that restricts apps and system processes access to files without permission. He was unable to talk details, but recently F-Secure, a leading security developer and analysis company, announced its purchase of Little Flocker, which it’s rebranded as Xfence.

I spoke to Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure, about the changeover and the general current set of risks to Mac users. He said Xfence, which was in release form as Little Flocker, will shift into a free beta mode for the foreseeable future. (Those who paid for a Little Flocker license will get some currently unspecified benefit as future pricing for Xfence and its inclusion in other products isn’t yet set. “Their license will carry through when there’s a paid product,” Sullivan said.)

Stuff

Latest iWork Updates Bring Back Previously-Removed Numbers Features, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Apple released updates to its iWork suite across iOS and macOS today. The changes largely consist of bug fixes and stability improvements, but a couple of notable improvements were made to Numbers.

Giroptic iO Camera Review: A Pricey, But Capable 360-Degree Camera, by Mike Prospero, Tom's Guide

Giroptic, one of the first companies on the market with a 360-degree camera, has put out a second version, the Giroptic iO, which attaches to the Lightning port on an iOS device (the company also makes Android-compatible models). [...] it takes very good photos and videos, though I noticed a few limitations with this pricey camera.

Tweetbot For Mac Updated W/ Direct Message Image Support, New @ Reply Rules, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Keeping up with recent Twitter API changes, Tweetbot for Mac today has been updated with a handful of new features. The update bring the app to version 2.5 and includes features such as @ usernames no longer counting towards the character limit.

Can An App Really Track You After You Delete It?, by Jefferson Graham, USA Today

The app can’t follow you around and know your whereabouts. But app developers can engage in "tagging," leaving behind a unique ID on an iPhone so the developer can recall the apps that were on it and the last Wi-Fi network the phone was logged onto. These marks are used to help a company prove that the phone belonged to an individual, says Joseph Jerome, privacy & data policy counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Develop

Banks Should Let Ancient Programming Language COBOL Die, by Már Másson Maack, The Next Web

Despite the fact that three trillion dollars run through COBOL systems every single day they are mostly maintained by retired programming veterans. There are almost no new COBOL programmers available so as retirees start passing away, then so does the maintenance for software written in the ancient programming language.

Notes

A Trick That Hides Censored Websites Inside Cat Videos, by Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic

A pair of researchers behind a system for avoiding internet censorship wants to deliver banned websites inside of cat videos. Their system uses media from popular, innocuous websites the way a high schooler might use the dust jacket of a textbook to hide the fact that he’s reading a comic book in class. To the overseeing authority—in the classroom, the teacher; on the internet, a government censor—the content being consumed appears acceptable, even when it’s illicit.

The researchers, who work at the University of Waterloo’s cryptography lab, named Slitheen after a race of aliens from Doctor Who who wear the skins of their human victims to blend in. The system uses a technique called decoy routing, which allows users to view blocked sites—like a social-networking site or a news site—while generating a browsing trail that looks exactly as if they were just browsing for shoes or watching silly videos on YouTube.

The Software-Of-The-Store Edition Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Angela Ahrendts Talks Apple Store Makeover, Why Tim Cook Hired Her, by CBS News

In 100 of its biggest stores, like the San Francisco flagship, Apple’s “hardware” update means new screens and spaces for meetings and classes. The Genius Bar, now lined with trees, becomes the Genius Grove. And there’s a more dimensional take on the Genius: new staffers specialized in music and photography called “Creative Pros.”

“Is the idea that the store will have all of these listed classes, teachers, experiences that will be publicly posted that will draw more and more people in?” O’Donnell asked.

“Absolutely,” Ahrendts said. “So we call the software of the store that we are launching the end of May – we call that Today at Apple.”

Uber Used Private API To Access iPhone Serial Number, by Michael Tsai

There definitely seem to be different rules for different developers. Smaller developers get their apps pulled from the store, with an automated e-mail giving a day or week’s notice (or even none). Without proof of wrongdoing, they get slimed in the press and banned from the store even if they write a blog post absolving Apple. But if you’re Uber, you get a one-on-one meeting with Tim Cook, your app stays in the store, and your customers are kept in the dark. Uber probably needs iPhone users more than Apple needs Uber, but this may not be universally true. What would happen if Facebook, which has also been accused of various hijinks, got into a dispute like this with Apple?

Apple Delays Release Of First Original Series 'Carpool Karaoke', by Piya Sinha-Roy, Reuters

Apple, a company known for its precisely coordinated product launches, declined to explain the delays, but said in a statement that "Carpool Karaoke: The Series will premiere on Apple Music later this year." [...] A representative for CBS Television Studios said in an email on Monday: "We're excited about our 'Carpool Karaoke' for Apple Music, and look forward to everyone seeing it later this year."

Stuff

Latest ‘Bug’ Causes iOS To Crash When Certain Control Center Options Selected, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Here’s what you have to do: pull up Control Center, simultaneously select one option from the bottom bar (Alarm Clock, Calculator, or Camera), Night Shift, and AirDrop. You have to use three fingers to tap them all at once and it may take a few times to actually work.

Apple Maps Expands Into Middle East With Traffic For Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple in a recent update to Maps activated Traffic data for two Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, though it appears only major metropolitan areas are supported at this time.

DoBox – The World's First iPad Hub, by Keir Thomas, Mac Kung Fu

Always running out of battery? The DoBox can help with its 5,000mAh battery that can charge any device from its USB-A ports. We tested this by charging an iPad and iPhone and it worked as described.

Running out of storage? You can transfer your pictures and videos to the DoBox’s 30GB of built-in storage – and, of course, this allows pictures and videos to be shared with others who also connect. Sharing files on a micro-SD card and any USB storage device is also possible, of course, by simply attaching them.

Want to create a private Wi-Fi network to share the data, or to create a private network for colleagues at any location? The DoBox can do this. It can also share an existing Wi-Fi connection in this private fashion, or share an Ethernet connection.

Parker Planners Launches iPad App, by Chris Rawle, Silicon Slopes

“Somewhere along the way, we forgot simple UX,” said Parker. “There are thousands of calendar apps but when you look at the UX, you see one person’s interpretation of what effective planning is, what great productivity is. But it doesn’t translate to many people, that’s why there’s so many of them. I try to get out of the way and give you the free space you need to think and manage on your own.”

Notes

Apple Cuts Affiliate Commissions On Apps And In-App Purchases, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Today, Apple announced that it is reducing the commissions it pays on apps and In-App Purchases from 7% to 2.5% effective May 1st. The iTunes Affiliate Program pays a commission from Apple's portion of the sale of apps and other media when a purchase is made with a link that contains the affiliate credentials of a member of the program.

One For The Thumbs, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

So if you’re using a service like Uber (which you probably shouldn’t) that still demands a five-star rating system, it’s time to swallow your inner film critic and embrace the extremes. If four stars is a bad rating, you’re not really using a five-star rating system. There are only two valid ratings: five stars, and one star. Thumbs up and thumbs down. The rest of it is just a relic of the old days when the internet needed to lend itself an air of legitimacy by aping the newspapers and magazines it has now supplanted.

In The Mobile-First Era, Don’t Forget The PC, by Ben Bajarin, TechPinions

Being mobile-first is the right strategy. Prioritize the mobile experience when you know that is the primary way your customers will engage. Just don’t forget your customers also spend many hours per day in front of their PCs and, in some cases, it is wise to think about how best to offer a complimentary PC experience in the hope you can increase your total engagement time with your customers.

The 10-Year Quest To Make Your Phone Do Everything, by David Pierce, Wired

Just for kicks, imagine the alternate universe where the Foleo was a smashing success. You might wake up in the morning, snatch your phone off its charging dock, and plug it into your TV to watch the morning news while you get ready. Once you got to the office, you’d drop it into your workstation, where you’d have a dormant mouse, keyboard, and monitor waiting to be activated. You could throw presentations from your phone onto a TV using the dock on the conference room table. Starbucks might have a dozen docks in every store for aspiring screenwriters. You’d buy one incredible device, with all the power you need, that breathes life into all others.

Even a decade later, which is several eons in tech years, plenty of companies and developers believe in this idea.

Zen Tuesday

Life Advice From The Late Robert M. Pirsig, by Emily Temple, Literary Hub

"You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame."

Bottom of the Page

Usually, after watching a movie or even an episode of a string of movies that just happened to premier on smaller screen (currently watching: Sherlock), I will check out IMDB to read the trivials or the goofs, And, sometimes, even the critics.

And many-a-times, I was disappointed to not find Roger Ebert's name in the list of critics.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Kicked-Out Edition Monday, April 24, 2017

Uber’s C.E.O. Plays With Fire, by Mike Issac, New York Times

For months, Mr. Kalanick had pulled a fast one on Apple by directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple’s engineers. The reason? So Apple would not find out that Uber had secretly been tracking iPhones even after its app had been deleted from the devices, violating Apple’s privacy guidelines.

But Apple was on to the deception, and when Mr. Kalanick arrived at the midafternoon meeting sporting his favorite pair of bright red sneakers and hot-pink socks, Mr. Cook was prepared. “So, I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules,” Mr. Cook said in his calm, Southern tone. Stop the trickery, Mr. Cook then demanded, or Uber’s app would be kicked out of Apple’s App Store.

Uber Responds To Report That It Tracked Users Who Deleted Its App, by Kate Conger, TechCrunch

Uber told TechCrunch that it still uses a form of device fingerprinting in order to detect fraudulent behavior. If a device has been associated with fraud in the past, a new sign-up from that device should raise a red flag, an Uber spokesperson said. Uber suggested that the practice of fingerprinting was modified to comply with Apple’s rules rather than discontinued altogether.

“We absolutely do not track individual users or their location if they’ve deleted the app. As the New York Times story notes towards the very end, this is a typical way to prevent fraudsters from loading Uber onto a stolen phone, putting in a stolen credit card, taking an expensive ride and then wiping the phone—over and over again. Similar techniques are also used for detecting and blocking suspicious logins to protect our users’ accounts. Being able to recognize known bad actors when they try to get back onto our network is an important security measure for both Uber and our users,” an Uber spokesperson said.

On Uber’s ‘Identifying And Tagging’ Of iPhones, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

What Isaac is reporting here doesn’t require any code running on an iPhone other than when the Uber app is itself installed and launched. I’m speculating here, but it could be something like this: [...]

  1. The Uber app is reinstalled on the iPhone. When it launches, it does the fingerprint check and phones home again. Uber now knows this is the same iPhone they’ve seen before, because the fingerprint matches. This is the violation of Apple’s privacy policy.

Stuff

Apple Maps Gets Transit Mode For Paris, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

You’ll find subway, RER and bus lines, and even Transilien lines. Just like in Google Maps, you can look around the map with a new subway layer or you can calculate an itinerary from A to B. If you tap on a station, you can see all the lines leaving this station as well as real time information about the next departures.

Tim Dashwood Joins Apple - All Of His Plugin Products Are Now Free, by fcp.co

Two bits of good news. 3D and VR plugin developer Tim Dashwood has joined Apple. Not only is that good news for FCPX users, he has also made his existing plugin products free.

Notes

How Google Cashes In On The Space Right Under The Search Bar, by Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times

When Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reports earnings this week, the internet giant’s big profits are expected to demonstrate yet again that the billboard space accompanying Google queries is the web’s most valuable real estate for advertisements.

In the 17 years since Google introduced text-based advertising above search results, the company has allocated more space to ads and created new forms of them. The ad creep on Google has pushed “organic” (unpaid) search results farther down the screen, an effect even more pronounced on the smaller displays of smartphones.

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The surprising part to me is not the Uber was doing stuff that broke Apple's rule. The surprising part is that Tim Cook met up with Uber rather than just yanking the app out of the App Store.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Fixing-News Edition Sunday, April 23, 2017

Apple Apologizes To Users For Mistakenly Saying Their Paid iCloud Subscription Was Canceled, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

"You recently received an email incorrectly stating that your iCloud storage plan has been discontinued," the note reads. "Your 50 GB iCloud storage plan is not affected and will continue to renew automatically.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any questions, please contact us."

How Apple Can Fix News, by Adam Ghahramani, VentureBeat

The short answer is “obsessive human curation.”

Copyright & Censorship On Instagram: How Marie Claire Stole My Photo, by James Jollay, Petapixel

I can only assume that Instagram provides certain accounts tools to automatically censor comments. But what part of my comment triggered it to automatically be blocked? I didn’t write anything obscene, offensive, or threatening. Did Marie Claire set up a filter to automatically block any comments critical of them? Who knows.

From my perspective, it seems that Instagram works hard to protect the big companies while using the little guys, companies or not, as the product. The crop from which the big companies can harvest whatever they desire in order to generate more revenue for themselves.

Stuff

Collate Is A Privacy-Focused Evernote-Style Notes App, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

When it comes to notes apps, you have a seemingly endless trail of options, but it's rare to find one that's cross-platform, supports the Evernote-style of rich notes, and works without needing an account somewhere. Collate is just that.

Develop

Stop Guessing Languages Based On IP Address, by C. McKenzie, Medium

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a mechanism for someone to express they have say, fluency in English, are pretty good at Spanish, and know a bit of French?

Accept-Language has been able to do this since the days of GeoCities and Lycos.

Notes

The Great Podcast War Of 2017 Is Here, by Jeff Umbro, Daily Dot

If you’re already a podcast fan, just like TV, your chief concern is discovering new shows. There’s such a vast selection of audio out there that exploring is a paralyzing notion. This process of discovery is what huddles of startup techies are betting on.

We Are Entering The Era Of The Brain Machine Interface, by Steven Levy, Backchannel

So this is getting real. For the last year people have been babbling about the conversational interface. BMI trumps this initiative. This new interface doesn’t require us to even speak. Or look up from our screen.

March For Science

Pictures From The March For Science, by New York Times

Thousands of scientists and their supporters gathered on Saturday to participate in the March for Science in Washington and in hundreds of other cities. These are visual highlights from the gatherings around the world.

See Some Of The Nerdiest Signs From The March For Science, by Jennifer Califas, Time

Thousands of scientists gathered in Washington, D.C., and around the world to celebrate science in light of Trump Administration policies targeting their work — including proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institutes of Health.

And the scientists certainly did not disappoint with their posters. One read "Shrodinger's cat grabs back," alluding to both the thought experiment described as a paradox and the slogan used by Women's March protesters in January.

Here Are The Best Signs From Boston’s March For Science Rally, by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com

In the face of weather as bleak as their opinion of the Trump administration, the area’s advocates for fact-based inquiry were back Saturday afternoon, and more than 1,000 demonstrators descended on the Common, according to The New York Times.

Here Are Some Of The Best Signs From The March For Science In Washington And Around The World, by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post

Providing further evidence that the Earth spins on its axis, the March for Science has already happened in some places, even as the rally-goers are just now showing up in Washington. In Sydney, thousands of people marched, carrying signs with messages such as “Science, not silence” and “Basic science, NOT B.S.!!," according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

We'll post some images and tweets here as people rally in Washington and around the world. A few signs seen so far: “Science cures alternative facts.” “Make America THINK again.” “If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.”

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Obsessive human curation? Is that me?

Well, there's obsessive.

There's curation. (I call it copy-and-paste.)

But then, there's human. Not sure.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Self-Driving Edition Saturday, April 22, 2017

Apple Has Developed A Plan To Train Experts In Self-driving Cars, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

The documents obtained by Business Insider include a "Development Platform Specific Training," as well as details about a autonomous vehicle system called the "Apple Automated System." Among the key training issues are instructions on how to regain manual control of an autonomous car, if necessary. [...]

According to the document, Apple drivers must pass seven different tests before they are fully trained. Each safety driver has two practice runs and three trials to pass each test on what appears to be a private course.

Apple Hires Top Google Satellite Executives For New Hardware Team, by Mark Gurman and Mark Bergen, Bloomberg

With the recruits, Apple is bringing into its ranks two experts in the demanding, expensive field of satellite design and operation. At the moment, these endeavors typically fall into two fields: satellites for collecting images and those for communications. [...]

Indeed, Apple may have hired the Google executives for something other than satellite work. It's already trying to use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans. And in 2015, it acquired Aether Industries LLC, which develops near-space technology such as high bandwidth radio transceivers and high-altitude balloons.

Stuff

Blackbox Is The iOS Puzzler You Need To Play, by Tom Twardzik, Pop Dust

Blackbox is a hilariously frustrating, free puzzler that challenges players to use their iPhone in ways they'd never thought of (no, not like that!), all to solve its deviously creative and colorful challenges one at a time. [...] Blackbox, created by evil genius Ryan McLeod, creates its unique experience by avoiding the iPhone's defining feature: it's touchscreen.

One Podcaster's (Fruitless) Quest To Replace Skype, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

But here’s the thing: Everybody I know uses Skype. If I’m going to start the painful process of moving house—of getting everyone I’m on a podcast with to, over the course of many months, upgrade their software and get used to a new way of working—I want to move to something that is vastly superior to what we’re currently using. There is no point in dealing with transition costs—inevitably including many lost minutes as everyone waits for someone to install unfamiliar software and figure out how to use it—to make a lateral move.

Notes

Apple Is Losing Its Shine In China, by Jeremy Hsu, BackChannel

Though the whims of Beijing continue to pose a threat, the popular narrative of Big Government may have overshadowed a more fundamental challenge to Apple’s business. The Cupertino company hasn’t been a victim to regulation so much as a victim of its own failure of imagination.

Why Old Operating Systems Never Really Go Away, by Ernie Smith, Tedium

Operating systems are the cockroaches of the digital revolution. They’re everywhere, hiding in low-level crevices, and most of the time, you don’t really notice when they’re there—except, of course, when they draw attention to themselves. (Cough, cough Windows 8 cough.) But most of those operating systems fade from view—except when they don’t. Case in point: The company Arca Noae claims it’s about to launch a brand-new version of IBM’s coulda-been ‘90s contender, OS/2. Apparently, there are people who still use it! Tonight’s Tedium surveys the landscape of obscure operating systems and highlights the ones that are with us in ways large and small.

Seeking Privacy In A City Of Sensors, by Linda Poon, Citylab

In short, Singapore is a city—and nation—of sensors, barely noticeable to the average citizen. But they know they’re there. It’s all part of the government’s plan to become the world’s first “Smart Nation,” which was kick-started in 2014 with the rollout of 1,000 sensors. In the grand scheme, Singapore wants to build a network of sensors to collect and connect data from all aspects of urban life—not just traffic and infrastructure but also human movement and behavior. All that information, collected across various departments, will then feed into a central platform, accessible to all governmental agencies. The engineers behind it have dubbed the plan “E3A,” for “Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, All the Time.”

Cosplay Saturday

Little Jyn Erso Cosplayer Delivers Death Star Plans To Leia At STAR WARS Celebration, by Amy Ratcliffe, Nerdist

As Harley ran into Leia cosplayers of all variety of ensemble, she handed over the Death Star plans. I don’t know how many Leia cosplayers were moved to tears by this act, but I’d wager it wasn’t a small number.

The Tiny-Shards Edition Friday, April 21, 2017

Apple Forces Recyclers To Shred All iPhones And MacBooks, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

Apple rejects current industry best practices by forcing the recyclers it works with to shred iPhones and MacBooks so they cannot be repaired or reused—instead, they are turned into tiny shards of metal and glass.

"Materials are manually and mechanically disassembled and shredded into commodity-sized fractions of metals, plastics, and glass," John Yeider, Apple's recycling program manager, wrote under a heading called "Takeback Program Report" in a 2013 report to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. "All hard drives are shredded in confetti-sized pieces. The pieces are then sorted into commodities grade materials. After sorting, the materials are sold and used for production stock in new products. No reuse. No parts harvesting. No resale."

Apple Shares New Videos Highlighting Environmental Efforts, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Four new videos were released by Apple this morning, each focusing on a different aspect of the company's environmental efforts. The videos feature different Apple employees who have roles focused on the environment, and they all share a similar artistic style and comedic tone.

Someone At Apple Specializes In Making Fake Human Sweat, by Chris Welch, The Verge

Working for the world’s biggest technology company doesn’t mean your job will always be glamorous.

Apple’s New Danish Data Center Will Supply Heat To Nearby Homes, Fertilizer To Farmers, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Apple’s commitment to environmental sustainability is well established, but the company is going one step further in its new Danish data center. In addition to powering the center entirely from renewable energy, the company is capturing the waste heat generated and feeding it into a district heating system, to warm local homes.

Apple Music, Apple Flicks

Apple Funds New Program To Turn Young Artists Into Pop Stars, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is introducing a program to promote young musicians with a monthlong barrage of videos, playlists and new music, deepening the technology giant’s direct investment in artists through Apple Music.

The first performer to benefit from the Up Next program is 6lack, a 24-year-old Atlanta singer who released his debut album last fall. On Thursday, Apple released a short documentary about 6lack, as well as video of a live recording session taped in Atlanta and an interview on Beats 1, Apple Music’s radio station.

Apple Originals, by Saba Hamedy, Mashable

Apple is undeniably at work on a future in which it produces original movies and TV shows on the level of fellow tech titans Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The evidence can’t be denied: Top Apple brass have been taking meetings with agencies and producers, lurking at film festivals, recruiting key executive talent and lining up major office space in Los Angeles.

It's almost time for Apple's close-up. But that doesn't mean the tech giant is necessarily ready for it.

iProblems

Leaked Document Details Apple Employee Injuries, Hints At Secretive New Products, by William Turton, Gizmodo

It seems some of the incidents listed within this report may hint at new products Apple may be working on. One report on February 21 that included “medical treatment beyond first aid,” involved a prototype unit at Apple’s De Anza office in Cupertino. “After BT4 user study, user advised study lead, that she experienced discomfort in her eye and said she was able to see the laser flash at several points during the study. Study lead referred her to optometrist and secured prototype unit for analysis.” In another report, an employee working at Apple’s Vallco Parkway office in Cupertino reported eye pain on March 2. “Employee reported eye pain after working with new prototype, thought it may be associated with use. He noticed that the security seal on the magenta (outer) case had been broken and had thought the unit may have been tampered with.” A source inside Apple speculated that this injury may have something to do with an augmented reality product Apple may be testing, something like glasses with an overhead display. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he thinks augmented reality will be a pretty big deal.

Stuff

Apple Store Raising Money For World Wildlife Fund With Apple Pay Earth Day Promotion, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple and the World Wildlife Fund are partnering for a special Earth Day promotion at the Apple Store. Starting today, Apple will donate $1 to the World Wildlife Fund for every purchase made in stores with Apple Pay.

After Ice Is A New App That Uses AR To Simulate The Effects Of Climate Change Around The World, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The app works by simulating your location in various future scenarios of global ice melt and sea level rise. The data comes from NASA projections. For instance, it lets you see the NASA-prjected effect of sea level rise in New York City in the 2080s, which is within the lifetime of children alive today.

Review: Mosaic – Simple Window Management For Mac, by Ian Fuchs, MacTrast

Mosaic by Light Pillar Software is a simple Mac utility that allows you quickly resize and reposition apps on your desktop. Using either keyboard shortcuts, drag and drop, or even the Touch Bar, apps can be positioned consistently and conveniently to allow for a great aesthetic or a functional working space.

Develop

Live Photos Can Now Be Embedded On The Web, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Apple's developer site details a new API that makes it possible to embed Live Photos on the web.

Mozilla, Microsoft Rebuilding Their Browsers’ Foundations Without Anyone Noticing, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

One of the common questions I see about the rapid release schedules for the browsers (every six weeks or so for Chrome and Firefox) and even Windows-as-a-Service (Edge has a major update every six months) is, "how can the developers make large scale, high impact changes if they break everything up into small chunks?" Firefox 53, released yesterday, and Edge 15, released as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update, show us how it can be done.

Notes

The 100 Most Influential People: Jean Liu, by Tim Cook, Time

She and her team are succeeding with innovative, big-data algorithms that aim both to improve the efficiency of Didi’s service and to ease the congestion on roadways. By analyzing commuter patterns the way oceanographers track the tides, Didi may help traffic jams go the way of the flip phone.

Apple Meets With Chinese Government Over App Store Oversight Because Of Porn Streamers, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

More information has emerged about the Chinese government demand that Apple crack down on streaming apps, with a new report circulating claiming that porn streamers are the government's major concern.

Build A Better Monster, by Maciej Cegłowski, Idle Words

We built the commercial internet by mastering techniques of persuasion and surveillance that we’ve extended to billions of people, including essentially the entire population of the Western democracies. But admitting that this tool of social control might be conducive to authoritarianism is not something we’re ready to face. After all, we're good people. We like freedom. How could we have built tools that subvert it?

As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

I contend that there are structural reasons to worry about the role of the tech industry in American political life, and that we have only a brief window of time in which to fix this.

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I am near-sighted. I am also far-sighted. I probably have a little night blindness. I, perhaps, do not have color blindness, but who knows. I have trouble reading the little wee bits of texts in those scenes in Sherlock when I watch the series on my little iPhone.

So, I am not looking forward to any VR or AR goggles.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Recycled-Materials Edition Thursday, April 20, 2017

Apple Promises To Stop Mining Minerals To Make iPhones — It Just Isn’t Sure How Yet, by Arielle Duhaime-Ross, Vice

The announcement, part of Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report released Wednesday, will commit the company to making devices entirely from recycled materials such as aluminum, copper, tin, and tungsten. But there’s one hiccup: Apple doesn’t know exactly how it’s going to make that happen.

“We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it,” Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives and a former head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, told VICE News during an exclusive visit to Apple’s environmental testing lab on Monday. “So we’re a little nervous, but we also think it’s really important, because as a sector we believe it’s where technology should be going.”

Apple Vows To Use Only Recycled Materials, But Greenpeace Says iPhones Should Also Last Longer, by Catherine Shu, TechCrunch

For many smartphone users, however, a sticking point is that Apple products, including iPhones, have a reputation for being harder to repair than devices from other manufacturers. Greenpeace called the company out on this issue, saying that “while transitioning to 100 percent recycled materials is critical to reducing the sector’s footprint, it is also fundamental for Apple and other major IT companies to design products that last, are easy to repair and recyclable at the end of life.” [...]

Still, Apple’s promise is a step in the right direction, even if the company still doesn’t know how exactly it will come to fruition. For one thing, it puts onus on competitors to keep up.

A Sci-fi Fan Just Took Home Over $2 Million For Building A Real-life Star Trek Tricorder, by Ariel Schwartz, Yahoo

The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, a $10 million, four-year long competition challenging teams to build their own tricorders, announced its winning teams in early April. The grand prize winner — a team led by Dr. Basil Harris, an emergency room physician, and his brother George Harris, a network engineer — took home $2.6 million to turn their device into a consumer product. They beat more than 300 teams from 38 countries.

The Harris team's tricorder involves a hardware kit that connects to an iPad app to guide users through the diagnostic process. The device can diagnose a variety of common ailments, including anemia, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, sleep apnea, and urinary tract infections.

Stuff

Apple Maps Update For Europe Includes Focus On Electric Vehicles, by Nate Lanxon, Bloomberg

The company has added the locations of the U.K.’s electric vehicle charging stations by incorporating data from Munich-based Cirrantic’s Moovility service, which lists re-juicing points for cars made by Tesla and Nissan, among others.

It has also added public bicycle rental and drop-off points to maps of London, New York and Paris in a catch-up to long-time mobile navigation leader Google, which has listed such stations in multiple countries for some time.

Apple Promoting Earth Day With New Apple Watch Activity Challenge, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

The new Earth Day Challenge encourages Apple Watch users to go outside and complete a 30 minute outdoor exercise to unlock new iMessage stickers and a special achievement.

A Free Mac App To Write ‘Distraction Free’, by Carol Miller, Mac360

Just type. Don’t think. You won’t be bothered by floating tool palettes or distracting toolbars. Just type and while you type focus on what you see on the screen (it will be the same as what you’re typing).

Health App For iPhone Helps Users Find Guilt-free Local Takeout, by FoxNews.com

[T]he app helps guide users in healthy decision making by rating each dish on a given menu with a red, yellow or green mark. The scale works like a stoplight: Red signals the least healthiest dishes, yellow signals those dishes that are moderately healthy, and green signals the healthiest dishes.

Finish The School Year Strong With These 10 Great Study Apps, by Jennifer Allen, Paste Magazine

Studying isn’t just a matter of reading books and websites and remembering what they say. There are various ways to ensure that the knowledge sticks in your head in time for exams or that important essay that’s due soon.

Your iPhone and iPad offers a wealth of options, and we’ve rounded up 10 of the best solutions for making your study time more interesting.

Notes

Tim Cook Accepts Newseum 2017 Free Expression Award, Says Companies Should Have Values, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

"We know that these freedoms require protection," Cook said of First Amendment rights. "Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us. The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They're the ones that need protection the most. It's no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights."

The Life Of An Apple Supplier Is Getting Even Tougher, by Alex Webb, Bloomberg

Cost isn’t the only incentive for Apple to develop its own components. It also helps the company couple its hardware more seamlessly with its software, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri explained at a Feb. 14 conference in San Francisco. “We have better control over timing, over cost, over quality,” he said. [...] In the past five years, Apple doubled research and development spending as a percentage of revenue, an increase CFO Maestri attributed to new product categories and developing more of its own underlying technology, among other factors.

Global Warming Thursday

Cold Snap: Massive Iceberg Just Off Coast Draws Canadians Eager For Close-up, by Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian

A towering iceberg is causing traffic jams in a remote town on Canada’s east coast, as tourists jostle for a glimpse of the mass of ice sitting in shallow water just off Newfoundland.

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Okay, I've stopped using Workflow. Because I can't get the workflows I've created to reliably play music from my Apple Music library.

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Thanks for reading.

The Water-Guns-And-Buckets Edition Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How Photographers Use iPhones To Get Gorgeous Shots Of A Massive Water Festival, by Victoria Ho, Mashable

The Thai new year marks the arrival of spring, but visitors to the country also know it as a weekend-long water fight, as major streets get closed, and people arm up with water guns and buckets.

It's also a terrific opportunity for dramatic shots, as these photographers' iPhone shots show. With the likes of Apple, Samsung and other big smartphone makers putting out waterproof models as a default these days, it's easy to capture the splashes up

The Great iPhone Naming Opportunity Of 2017, by Ken Segall

This is the Great iPhone Naming Opportunity of 2017. As the family of iPhones becomes more diverse, this is the perfect moment to cast off the complexity and give customers an easier choice.

Apple’s recent burst of honesty about the state of the Mac proves that the company can own up to its mistakes. Compared to the ugly Mac situation, re-inventing iPhone naming would be a walk in the park.

iMac's Terrible Code Name Was An In-joke Between Steve Jobs And Phil Schiller, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

“Actually it was a joke between Steve and I,” Schiller tweeted over the weekend. “It started after he said he wanted a name as great as Walkman.”

Apple Music & iCloud Users Receive Unexpected Subscription Discontinuation Alerts, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

A number of Apple Music and iCloud users reported sudden problems with their subscriptions on Wednesday, including cancellations, or an inability to change plans.

Stuff

Apple Makes iMovie, GarageBand, And iWork Apps For Mac And iOS Free For All Users, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Previously, all of these apps were provided for free to customers who purchased a new Mac or iOS device, but now that purchase is not required to get the software.

Google Maps For iOS Now Lets You Retrace Your Steps With Timeline, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

What is Timeline? It’s basically a browser history but for IRL navigation. Google frames it as a great way to look back and find that restaurant you thought was terrific during your most recent vacation, or to find out what day you actually dropped off your dry cleaning (vs. when you’re pretty sure you did).

Original StarCraft Is Finally Free-as-in-beer After Delayed Patch, by Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica

Last month, the game makers at Blizzard announced a remastered, 4K-friendly version of the original StarCraft, set to launch this summer. That announcement also teased a much sooner release of the original StarCraft that would be completely free. After a delay, that free version is finally available to download worldwide.

Develop

The Case For Being Grumpy At Work, by Meredith Bennett-Smith, Quartz

In 2017, there’s no reason for us to grin and bear it. For one thing, researchers from Munich’s Technische Universitaet have found that women were less likely to be promoted to management positions if they appeared too cheerful. (Welcome to another great example of the catch-22s that women face in the workplace everyday.) And research has also shown that a pessimistic outlook can lead to higher productivity, fewer mistakes, and better communication skills. In other words: Grumpy workers of the world, unite.

The Art Of Writing One-Sentence Product Descriptions, by Dave Bailey

The format of both descriptions is the same: “You do X and Y happens.” X is the input and Y is the output. This input-output pair matches our intuition about how software works. Simplifying the product as a straightforward input and desirable output creates the sense that it’s an ingenious idea.

Facebook and Uber have thousands of features, yet Mark and Travis elevate a single feature above the others, making the product easy to understand, easy to remember, and, most importantly, easy to talk about.

Notes

Beijing Cyber Regulators To Summon Apple Over Live Streaming: Xinhua, by Matthew Miller and Catherine Cadell, Reuters

Beijing Internet regulators in China's capital plan to summon Apple Inc to urge the American firm to tighten its checks on software applications available in its Apple Store, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

That Time A Customer Reported An Error In The Map Used By Flight Simulator, by Raymond Chen, The Old New Thing

The Flight Simulator team went back to the geographers and asked them to re-check their information. The geographers re-checked their maps, looked at the internationally-recognized border between the two countries, searched for any information that would suggest that there was an active border dispute between the two countries, but they couldn't find anything that would indicate that the map included in Flight Simulator was incorrect.

The product team called the customer back to get some more information. "As far as we can tell, the map in Flight Simulator respects the current internationally-recognized border. It is in agreement with the XYZ Treaty and is consistent with United Nations map number 31415. Can you tell us what specifically is wrong with the map?"

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Has anybody started coding a new Workflow-like iOS app?

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Thanks for reading.

The Tiny-Cameras Edition Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Remote Guides Linked By App Will Aid A Visually Impaired Marathoner, by Shelby Grebbin, Boston Globe

The Aira smartphone application is paired with tiny cameras mounted on wearable devices such as Google Glass or Vuzix. When the app is opened, Aira agents can access the blind user’s visual dashboard, which enables the remote agents to see and hear what the user is experiencing in real time. From there, Aira’s nationwide network of about 25 agents can guide users through a variety of activities through direct oral communication.

The Future Of iPhones

Apple Readies iPhone Overhaul For Smartphone's 10th Anniversary, by Mark Gurman and Min Jeong Lee, Bloomberg

Apple is preparing three iPhones for launch as soon as this fall, including upgraded versions of the current two iPhone models and a new top-of-the-line handset with an overhauled look, according to people familiar with the matter. For the redesigned phone, Apple is testing a new type of screen, curved glass and stainless steel materials, and more advanced cameras, the people said. Those anxiously awaiting the redesigned iPhone, however, may have to wait because supply constraints could mean the device isn't readily available until one or two months after the typical fall introduction. [...]

For the premium model, Apple is testing a screen that covers almost the entire front of the device, according to people familiar with the matter. That results in a display slightly larger than that of the iPhone 7 Plus but an overall size closer to the iPhone 7, the people said. Apple is also aiming to reduce the overall size of the handset by integrating the home button into the screen itself via software in a similar manner to Samsung's S8, the people said.

Switching To An iPhone SE, by Michael Tsai

There seems to be plenty of demand for the iPhone SE, so my hope is that in the future Apple will treat it as more than a budget model. I’d like to see it updated yearly with the latest processor and camera. There’s no need for a new case design. The current shape and finish still look and feel great.

Stuff

Google Maps For iOS Adds iMessage App For Location Sharing, New ‘Directions’ Widget, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

First off, Google Maps today gains support for a new Directions widget. This, Google touts, allows you to access your directions anywhere in iOS from the Today View. [...] Secondly, today’s update adds Google Maps integration with iMessage. With the new iMessage app, you can instantly send your location to someone, allowing them to quickly find directions and travel times.

Logitech Announces The HomeKit-compatible POP Smart Button, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

What's nice about this is that the user -- or a user's family member or guest -- doesn't need to have an iPhone or iPad at hand. With a touch of a POP Smart Button, any HomeKit-compatible accessory or scene can be turned on or off. The POP Smart Button is also compatible with other devices from Philips Hue, LIFX, August, Sonos, Harmony, Lutron, Insteon and Belkin WeMo.

Notes

Appeals Court Revives Apple’s Patented “Rubber Banding” Tech Because Of One Small Tweak, by Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Federal Circuit judges who considered the matter, though, said the Board improperly looked at all types of "rubberbanding." The judges gave weight to Apple's point that the earlier Lira patent "teaches that the screen should 'snap' to the next region of content" and achieved "the opposite effect from rubberbanding." Because the board should have limited its definition of rubberbanding to "sliding content backwards," the judges revived claims 2, 9, and 16 of the patent, remanding it for further consideration.

Although this is just one piece of the seemingly never-ending Apple v. Samsung conflict, it is a significant one—the '915 patent was one of a few non-design patents that Apple won significant damages for.

The Flickr Explore Page Is Still Really Amazing, by Matt Haughey, 15 Minutes In The Morning

Countless waves of social apps have eclipsed Flickr itself, and even though I don’t really post there much anymore or browse my friend lists (mostly because they’ve all gone inactive, like me), about once or twice a month I drop into the Flickr Explore page to gaze at what I would describe as an entire year’s worth of epic shots from National Geographic, generated each day, automatically by algorithms.

Podcast Tuesday

A 6-year-old’s Science Podcast: Devoted Listeners, Top Researchers, And The Occasional Burp, by Andrew Joseph, Stat

n his podcast, Nate Butkus has talked radiation with a US government scientist, evolution with a Harvard researcher, and, most recently, genome-editing with MIT’s Kevin Esvelt. But ask him his favorite moment from the 28 episodes so far, and it has to be when he belched during a taping.

So it goes when the podcast host is 6 years old.

Bottom of the Page

You know what, Apple, instead of asking me whether I want to install the OS update now, or remind me tomorrow, maybe you should also give me a third option: remind me during the weekend when I am more free to tinker with the MacBook? Thank you.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Did-It-All Edition Monday, April 17, 2017

The Guy Who Produced Kendrick Lamar’s Best New Track Did It All On His iPhone, by David Pierce, Wired

A few minutes after Steve Lacy arrived at a dingy, weed-clouded recording studio in Burbank, the 18-year-old musician flopped down in a plush leather chair in the control room. Vince, one of the studio’s proprietors, came in to show Lacy how the mixing boards and monitors worked. Lacy didn’t care; he was just in it for the chair. He picked up his new black-and-white Rickenbacker guitar, then reached into his Herschel backpack and yanked out a mess of cables. Out of the mess emerged his iRig, an interface adapter that connects his guitar directly into his iPhone 6. He shoved it into the Lightning port and began tuning his instrument, staring at the GarageBand pitch meter through the cracks on the screen of his phone.

Guitar ready, Lacy relocated into the studio. He usually works in the vocal booth, where he’ll light candles and hang for hours, but since I had a cameraman with me he agreed to sit somewhere a little more visually appealing—and bigger. Lacy, wearing jean shorts and a plaid khaki shirt underneath an unzipped blue hoodie, sat on a drum throne in the center of the studio and re-assumed his previous pose: right leg crossed over left, Beats headphones on his ears, iPhone perched precariously on his bare knee (he swears this isn’t how he cracked the screen) and connected to the guitar in his lap. Then he went to work, kind of. He’d never call it work. He doesn’t even call it recording, or songwriting, or producing. He calls it “making beats.”

Why Can’t All My Chargers Just Charge All My Stuff?, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Except for the fact that USB-C is still a maddeningly confusing standard. Your laptop’s USB-C charger will charge your phone, but not the other way around. That “Fast Charge 3.0 compatible” brick you bought on the cheap from Amazon works with some of your stuff, but not others. Or when you try to juice up your Switch from your MacBook Pro, it turns out your laptop is actually draining your console instead.

Classical Macs

I Built A Mini LEGO Macintosh Classic With E‑ink Display, by Jannis Hermanns, Ars Technica

Long story short: I built a Wi-Fi enabled LEGO Macintosh Classic running Docker on a Raspberry Pi Zero with an e‑paper display. Docker deployments via resin.io. Read on for more details of how I built it.

Emulate The Golden Age Of The Macintosh Thanks To The Internet Archive, by Rhett Jones, Gizmodo

Along with its duties of maintaining copies of important news, literature, scientific information, and old MySpace pages, the Internet Archive also loves to create emulations for you to fiddle with inside your browser. Today, the lovable non-profit organization has made it easy for you to relive the glory years of the early Macintosh like it’s 1985 all over again.

Stuff

Slack, An Upstart In Messaging, Now Faces Giant Tech Rivals, by Katie Benner, New York Times

The battle between Slack and its competitors is essentially a fight over who will make the next piece of workplace software that no one can live without. Many businesses, large and small, depend on Excel from Microsoft, Photoshop from Adobe and Gmail from Google.

Slack wants to be in that pantheon — as the place where people collaborate and hang out online, the world’s virtual conference room and water cooler.

How To Turn Your Mac Into A Digital Video Recorder For Over-the-air TV, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

What each of the DVRs offers is a program guide; the ability to record at will or via schedules, including recurring programs; and access to your recorded programs from within a network. Some offer Internet-based remote access, live TV viewing, and native apps for iOS and Apple TV as well as other platforms.

eyeTV is in commercial release. The other three I cover are in testing, so we aren’t ready to review them until they’re in release form as a server or service. Instead, I’ll provide a feature overview.

Face App Helps To Spot Rare Diseases, by Mark Bridge, The Australian

Doctors are using a smartphone app that can scan photos for the facial characteristics of more than 2,000 genetic syndromes within seconds. [...]

Its deep-learning algorithm analyses the shape of the face and position of the eyes, ears, nose and lips, comparing the data with a reference database to list any genetic conditions that could fit the measurements. In many cases the genes responsible give patients a distinctive look.

Trying To Plan Fun Things For Kids To Do? The Yuggler App Makes It Less Of A Struggle, by Jen Leo, Los Angeles Times

Parents, need an extra hand entertaining the kids? With your Yuggler app you can build a list of fun things to do at your destination that puts the kids’ interests first.

Develop

Are Software Developers Miserable?, by Michael Byrne, Motherboard

So, no, programmers aren't miserable at all. "This does not mean that software developers are happy to the point that there is no need to intervene on their unhappiness," Graziotin and co. conclude. "On the contrary, we have shown that unhappiness is present, caused by various factors and some of them could easily be prevented. Our observations and other studies show that unhappiness has a negative effect both for developers personally and on development outcomes."

Notes

Instant Recall, by Casey Newton, The Verge

But two years after it launched, a platform that aspired to build a more stable path forward for journalism appears to be declining in relevance. At the same time that Instant Articles were being designed, Facebook was beginning work on the projects that would ultimately undermine it. Starting in 2015, the company's algorithms began favoring video over other content types, diminishing the reach of Instant Articles in the feed. The following year, Facebook's News Feed deprioritized article links in favor of posts from friends and family. The arrival this month of ephemeral stories on top of the News Feed further de-emphasized the links on which many publishers have come to depend.

In discussions with Facebook executives, former employees, publishers, and industry observers, a portrait emerges of a product that never lived up to the expectations of the social media giant, or media companies. After scrambling to rebuild their workflows around Instant Articles, large publishers were left with a system that failed to grow audiences or revenues. Facebook says the adoption of Instant Articles is growing quickly, and that upcoming changes to the platform will lure back some of the major media companies that have abandoned it. But given Facebook’s other priorities, the future of Instant Articles is less certain than ever.

The Adding-Voices Edition Sunday, April 16, 2017

Technology Brings History To Life: App Enables People To Listen As They Walk The Stations Of The Cross, by Joan Kern, Lancaster Online

While listening to the Apple conference speaker, it occurred to Anderson that St. Thomas’ Stations of the Cross could be shared with the blind and visually impaired by simply adding braille to the signs that identify the stations and adding voices to the app, “Stations at St. Thomas.”

Last month, his ideas became reality. New signs now hang beside the stations that include braille, and the app, which he created (for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch only), includes full audio for meditations from the Episcopal “Book of Occasional Services.”

Apple Vs Google Vs Microsoft: Who Will Get To The Future Of PCs First?, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

You can spend the next few months and years watching genuine competition between companies motivated to make the best possible products. And even better, those products will be available at prices that used to mean "crap" but will soon mean "why would I spend twice as much?" And if the web and app developers keep supporting all three, you won't have to compromise a ton by opting for any one of them.

Let's break down exactly what Google, Apple, and Microsoft have in store for this battle.

Stuff

What Free Mental Health Apps Should I Know About?, by Sam Dylan Finch, Wear Your Voice

For me, in addition to therapy and medication, I’ve relied on mental health apps to keep it together. Yep, my iPhone is what keeps me sane, and I would quickly lose my marbles without it. Whether you’re in crisis or just looking for a quick tuneup, apps can be a surprisingly great way to manage your mental health and regulate your mood.

Almost every day, I use three different apps to help keep me on track. I’m excited to share them with you now – and even more excited to let you know that every single one of them is free. It’s worth checking out and sharing them with literally everyone (your BFF, your grandma, your angry boss, etc) — because who wouldn’t benefit from a little self-care?

Tomates Time Management Is A Super Customizable Pomodoro Timer For Mac, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

A true Pomodoro timer really doesn’t need to be anything more than a short countdown clock, but for anyone who wants a little more, Tomates also works as a lightweight work tracking system.

The Apps To Use If You Want To Keep Your Messages Private, by Kurt Wagner, Recode

What products should you be using to enhance your privacy? We took a look at more than a dozen consumer messaging services to give you a better idea.

Star Trek Sunday

Redshirts Aren't Likeliest To Die — And Other 'Star Trek' Math Lessons, by Sarah Lewin, Space.com

"'Star Trek' is very famous today, and it predicted a lot of technology and included a lot of science fiction ideas: futuristic technology such as warp speed, going faster than light, transporters that teleport you from one place to another and green alien space babes," Grime said. "And all of those things have been discussed in great detail in the past by scientists, by nerds — especially the green alien space babes — to which I say, Boring!"

"'Star Trek' is a science fiction show, but there's no such thing as maths fiction," he added. "Surely, any maths that appears in the show should be on firmer ground, right?"

Bottom of the Page

As someone who is accustomed to the 'fact' that a larger-screen thing cost more than a similar-but-smaller-screen thing, it just doesn't feel right for an iPad to be so much more cheaper than an iPhone.

Yes, I know they are definitely apples-to-oranges comparison, but, hey, isn't an iPad just a large iPhone? :-)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Full-Ceramic Edition Saturday, April 15, 2017

Apple Watch And The Story Of Ceramics, by Jon Edwards, iMore

Given the influence of the watch industry on the company's industrial design, it seems fitting that Apple's exploration of a new class of materials, beyond plastic, aluminum, and other metals, would begin with the Apple Watch. That new class of material being ceramic.

Ceramic has been in the Apple Watch line from day one. It debuted first as the back cover for the steel Apple Watch and gold Apple Watch Editions, housing the heart rate sensors while simultaneously providing a durable, passive surface through which the watch could be charged inductively. Two years later, with the announcement of Series 2, the Apple Watch Edition went full ceramic.

Sierra’s Log Is Now Locked Away From Normal Users, by The Electric Light Company

Apple has not apparently documented this anywhere, but it has changed access to Sierra’s new log with the 10.12.4 update. When logged in as a normal – as opposed to admin – user, the entire contents of the logs are now inaccessible.

Apple Now Upgrading iPad 4th Gen Replacements To Newer iPad Air 2 As Stock Dwindles, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Customers in need of a whole unit replacement for their fourth generation iPad may now receive a newer and more capable iPad Air 2 as a substitute from Apple Stores and authorized service providers. Apple is implementing the new policy, allowing its repair staff to ship an iPad Air 2 for a unit replacement when stock of the aging and now discontinued 4th gen iPad isn’t available.

Stuff

Final Cut Pro And iMovie For Mac Updated With New Improvements, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple has released new updates for both Final Cut Pro and iMovie for macOS through the Mac App Store. iMovie version 10.1.5 for macOS includes a few bug fixes and improvements while Final Cut Pro’s update is a bit more detailed.

Apple Shares Three Special Shot On iPhone Ads To Celebrate Children’s Day In Turkey, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has posted three new Shot on iPhone ads to its Apple Turkey YouTube channel. The fifteen-second spots are special in that all three videos have been taken by 11-year old children using an iPhone 7. The clips include quirky uses of perspective and slow-mo to create some clever sequences.

PDFpen 9 Improves Markup, Tables Of Contents, And More, by Michael E. Cohen, TidBITS

According to the company, the new apps share over 100 usability improvements, including additional annotation capabilities, more export options, line numbering, and a hand tool with magnification features. In addition, PDFpenPro has beefed up its Table of Contents creating and editing tool and added the capability to perform horizontal OCR on Japanese, Chinese, and Korean PDFs.

Like Twitter But Hate The Trolls? Try Mastodon, by Margaret Rhodes, Wired

Mastodon has created a diverse yet welcoming online environment by doing exactly what Twitter won’t: letting its community make the rules. The platform consists of various user-created networks, called instances, each of which determines its own laws. One instance could ban sexist jokes and Nazi logos, while another might practice radically free speech.

Develop

Visual Studio For Mac Update Takes Inspiration From Windows, by Pedro Hernandez, eWeek

Visual Studio for Mac also supports Fastlane, an open source continuous integration tool for testing and publishing apps, streamlining the certificate-signing and profile-provisioning processes involved in publishing iOS apps. Finally, it integrates with the accessibility components in macOS, a first step in making the IDE fully accessible, said de Icaza.

Notes

Apple Gets Permit To Test Self-Driving Cars In California, by Vindu Goel, New York Times

On Friday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles granted Apple an official test permit that the agency said would allow the company to test autonomous driving technology in three 2015 Lexus RX 450h luxury hybrid sport utility vehicles. The permit authorizes six drivers to take control of the vehicles when necessary.

Apple has been coy about its self-driving car project, known internally as Project Titan. The iPhone maker has not officially acknowledged the existence of the project, which appeared to be adrift last year. The company laid off dozens of people in the fall and brought in one of its top troubleshooters, Bob Mansfield, to reinvigorate the effort.

The Bizarre Digital Book You Must Destroy Before Sharing, by Liz Stinson, Wired

It’s an admittedly perplexing project. Why destroy a book’s prose to the point of it being unreadable? It comes down to examining ownership. Making a mark on the book and then passing it on is one way to keep track of who it’s belonged to at any given time. Kim Hansen of Impossible compares it to etching your child’s height on your kitchen wall. “It shows you have been there,” he says. More than anything, A Universe Explodes is a philosophical exploration of what happens when owning relies less on buying an object and more on interacting with an object.

If You Don’t Want To Know What This Article Is About, Please Look Away Now, by Rory Smith, New York Times

Every Saturday night, about 10:20 p.m., Kate Silverton, the anchor for the BBC’s 10 o’clock news — the marquee news program of Britain’s national broadcaster, watched by more than four million people — hands over from the corporation’s home in London to a studio in Salford, where the BBC’s sports arm is based.

One of four sports presenters sits waiting. A cheery welcome and short introduction follow. And then, every week, without fail, comes that warning. It is such an intrinsic part of the broadcast, and has been for so long, that it is not far short of a national ritual, one of those few sentences a whole country knows by heart.

“If you don’t want to know the scores,” the announcer intones, “please look away now.”

The ... Edition Friday, April 14, 2017

Apple Drops The iTunes Name From Its Podcasts App, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

Apple has officially dropped the iTunes branding from its Podcasts app. It’s small change, and one that arrived with little fanfare from the company, outside of a few tweets from the department’s marketing head. But it certainly streamlines the offering a bit, keeping it in line with Apple Music and separating it out (in name at least) from the more legacy iTunes line.

Is This The Beginning Of The End For iTunes?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Looking at the larger picture, though, I have to assume that this is one part of a long, inexorable de-branding of iTunes. It proved to be a brand that was capable of having all sorts of non-tune-related things stuffed inside of it, but it was always an awkward fit and at some point it needed to be addressed.

What The Death Of 32-bit iOS Could Mean For Apple’s Hardware And Software, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

Among many other things, iOS 10.3 makes it clear that the end of the road is near for 32-bit iOS apps. This has been coming for a while—all apps and updates submitted for App Store approval since mid-2015 have needed to include 64-bit support, and Apple has been pledging to purge the App Store of abandonware since last fall. Pretty soon, Apple will simply go one step further and make it so that older 32-bit code simply can’t run on iDevices.

Notes

Siri Is Dying. Long Live Susan Bennett., by Eric Johnson, Typeform

She’s been in the hands of over 100 million people. Perhaps she’s slept on your nightstand. She may have even drunk-dialed your ex.

And guess what: Susan Bennett, the original voice of Apple’s Siri, never saw it coming.

How do you become the most popular voice of the most successful tech company in the world–without your knowledge?

Transbay Transit Center Rooftop Turning Into 5.4-acre City Park, by J.K. Dineen, San Franciso Chronicle

Buying trees is a surprisingly cutthroat business. And it was especially challenging to locate desirable specimens because Apple had been buying trees for its new Cupertino headquarters. When Greenspan and Trollip found a tree they fancied they would “tag it” with a locking yellow tag, to be sure they got it. Eventually all the tagged trees were moved to a nursery in Sunol, where the transbay project team leased 4 acres.

Bottom of the Page

Stuff happens. Hence, this bare-bone edition. See you again tomorrow.

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Thanks for reading.

The Holy-Grail Edition Thursday, April 13, 2017

Apple Has A Secret Team Working On The Holy Grail For Treating Diabetes, by Christina Farr, CNBC

Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers to work at a nondescript office in Palo Alto, miles from corporate headquarters. They are part of a super secret initiative, initially envisioned by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, to develop sensors that can non-invasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Such a breakthrough would be a "holy grail" for life sciences. Many life sciences companies have tried and failed, as it's highly challenging to track glucose levels accurately without piercing the skin.

This Is How Inaccessible Tech Was For Blind People 20 Years Ago, by Yvette Tan, Mashable

The task of reading a printed document, for instance, had to be scanned in to the computer and analysed with OCR (optical character recognition) software — a tedious process. [...] "I had a talking GPS system before but it was around $1000, and you needed to bring it into the supplier to get it updated regularly," Woodbridge explains.

Today, all of that is replaced by his iPhone.

Protect and Restore

Theft And Loss Recovery For iOS Users, by Fraser Speirs

Fortunately, the bag was stolen on the final day of the trip and not the first, otherwise we would have had serious problems throughout the holiday. This is another post for another time, but it's kind of shocking how crippling the loss of a phone is.

Certainly, the loss of the devices themselves is not trivial but the bigger concerns are (a) how to protect the data that is on those devices or accessible through them and (b) how to get back into my accounts and data in order to continue my trip.

Not The Future Of Computing

The Mac Is Turning Into Apple's Achilles' Heel, by Neil Cybart, Above Avalon

The Mac has become a major headache for Apple, and management is on the verge on going down the Mac rabbit hole, funneling an increasing amount of resources and attention into a product category that doesn't represent the future of personal computing. The risk is that Apple will be stuck with a $25B legacy business and corresponding user base that will threaten the company's increasingly ambitious product strategy.

[...]

Apple disclosed a few facts about its pro Mac users as measured by pro software usage. The data contains clues as to where Apple's product strategy may be headed. According to Apple, 70% of the Mac user base does not use pro software and would not classify as pro users. This is another way of saying that the iPad Pro could do quite well serving the needs of 70M Mac users. Meanwhile, the other 30% of the Mac user base wants and needs the power and flexibility that Apple has historically had trouble selling.

Apple will likely position the Mac as a computing platform for legacy pro users while iOS will be targeted to everyone else.

Packing The Laptop, by David Sparks

The real problem is that we all have this list of things that are either impossible or a lot more difficult on the iPad than they are on the Mac. When deciding whether you are going to use a iPad for 10 minutes or a five day trip, we still have to go through the same calculus.

Growing Number Of 15″ MacBook Pro Users Report ‘Popping’ Sound Coming From Their Laptop, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Users explain that the sound is a popping similar to that of when you “slowly squeeze a plastic bottle.” While some users explain that there doesn’t appear to be a rhyme or reason as to when the popping sound occurs, other say that it seems to happen during more intensive tasks like gaming and video streaming, especially when the MacBook Pro’s fans start to kick in.

The 'Nothing' Action

Workflow Automation App Has No ‘Further Updates Planned’ Following Apple Acquisition, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

According to an email reply a user received from Workflow support, there are no ‘further updates planned’ for the automation app although they will continue to maintain its existing functionality — presumably with occasional bug fix releases.

Stuff

Clips Review: Creative Fun Amidst Idiosyncrasies, by Dan Moren, Six Colors

Clips is a clever app, but at times it’s also a bit of a head-scratcher.

Now You Can Fly Selfie Drones Inside Apple Stores, by Kelly McSweeney, ZDNet

[Y]ou can try one right inside an Apple store. Zero Zero Robots announced that its autonomous camera drone, the Hover Camera Passport, is now available exclusively on Apple.com and in Apple stores in several countries.

Notes

Watch: A Maker Shows Us How He Made His Own iPhone From Parts, by Carla Sinclair, Boing Boing

Here's a fascinating video made by a programmer from the US who decided to make an iPhone 6S practically from scratch. After thinking about this project for 9 months, he "dove in with both feet." He traveled to Shenzhen, China and went shopping in the bustling back alley markets of Huaqiangbei to find all of the many parts, having to return numerous times to exchange pieces that didn't work or to get even more parts.

Google, Burger King Feud Over Control Of The Google Assistant, by Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica

Before the ad was disabled, the Google Assistant would verbally read a list of ingredients from Wikipedia. Of course the internet immediately took to Wikipedia to vandalize the burger's entry page, with some edits claiming it contained "toenails" or "cyanide."

Bottom of the Page

This morning when I was buying my usual cup of coffee (or as we locals call it here in Singapore: kopi), I overheard this particular sentence in the conversation between two staff: Today's water not as wet, right?

I still have no idea what that sentence meant, and I regret not asking there and then.

~

Thanks for reading.

The New-And-Simple Edition Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nunavut Docs Turn To iPad App To Deal With Territory's Hearing Loss 'Crisis', by Meagan Deuling, CBC

A new, simple technology is allowing Iqaluit doctors to better diagnose ear infections and hearing loss — an issue that affects children in Nunavut at a rate far higher than the rest of Canada.

Pediatrician Holden Sheffield has been working at the Qiqiktani General Hospital in Iqaluit since last summer. In November, he started using an iPad outfitted with the app "ShoeBox," which was designed to test children for hearing loss.

The Way People Tilt Their Smartphone 'Can Give Away Passwords And Pins', by BBC

The researchers found that everything you do - from clicking, scrolling and holding to tapping - led to people holding their phone in a unique way.

So on a known webpage, the team was able to work out which part of the page the user was clicking on, and what they were typing, by the way it was tilted.

Undercover In An iPhone Factory: What It’s Really Like To Work In A Chinese Mega-factory, According To A Student Who Spent Six Weeks There, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

Imagine going to work at 7:30pm every night and spending the next twelve hours, including meals and breaks, inside a factory where your only job is to insert a single screw into the back of smartphone, repeating the task over and over and over again. [...] That’s the routine that Dejian Zeng experienced when he spent six weeks working at an iPhone factory near Shanghai, China last summer. And it’s similar to what hundreds of thousands of workers in China and other emerging economies experience every day and night as they assemble the gadgets that power the digital economy.

Unlike many of those workers, Zeng did not need to do the job to earn a living. He’s a grad student at NYU and he worked at the factory, owned by contract manufacturing giant Pegatron, for his summer project.

Stuff

How To Keep Your iMessages From Popping Up On Other Devices, by Arielle Pardes, Wired

Thanks to Apple’s push to streamline its iCloud services, iMessages have a weird way of popping up across all devices: on the lock screen of your iPad, on your Macbook Pro, on the computer you use at work. At best, your conversations are always available to you on all of your screens. At worst, it can be downright humiliating: Nothing says “HR violation” quite like a graphic text message materializing in the corner while you’re screensharing with a coworker. So, for those times you want to limit the ubiquity of your private communications, here are four simple steps to contain them to one personal device: your phone.

Comparing Five Travel Management Apps, by Mike Matthews, TidBITS

In short, there’s probably an app in this group with features that will best fit your needs. We can’t cover every nuance in this article, but let’s take a look at some of the more interesting features.

Chrome Browser Gains 'Scroll Anchoring' To Prevent Annoying Web Page Jumps, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

The idea behind progressive loading is to allow users to begin consuming web content immediately before the page has fully loaded, but the offscreen loading of pictures and so on can cause unexpected page jumps and push down what's already on screen, making for a frustrating experience, especially on mobile devices. Google's answer to this problem is something called Scroll Anchoring.

How To Make An iPhone Game When You Can’t Code, by Tim Brookes, MakeUseOf

Many of us have dreamed of creating our own games. Most of us lack the skills to create anything from scratch. Even with some of the best Swift learning resources at your side, you might not have the spare time to learn a new language.

So, when MakeUseOf’s Creative Director Azamat Bohed announced he’d created and published a simple iOS game without any coding skills, we decided we had to learn more.

App Recreates The Original Stonehenge Experience, by Reuters and Daily Mail

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield conducted mathematical acoustic analysis of Stonehenge's archaeological plan. When digitally reconstructed (pictured), the stones' original placing revealed surprising sound properties

A 'virtual tour' of Stonehenge called the Soundgate is being released as an app that transports people back to various eras in Stonehenge's history.

Using a smartphone or tablet, and with a pair of headphones, users can move around the digitally reconstructed stone circle while listening to the changing acoustics.

Gorillaz Debut Augmented Reality App To Go Along With Their Album Listening Party, by Audrey O'Brien, Next Reality

The Gorillaz have launched a new app in promotion for their new album Humanz that allows you to "[s]tep inside the hallowed halls of the Gorillaz house" through the power of augmented reality.

Mother Goose Club App Out Now On iOS To Bring Preschool To The World, by Aldrin Calimlim, AppAdvice

All content in the app is aimed at promoting early literacy, mathematical proficiency, language skills, and more among preschoolers.

Develop

Apple Updates TestFlight With Improved Testing Options, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Developers can now create different builds of an app to be distributed to different groups of testers. These changes will make A/B testing of apps possible for the first time, so developers can gauge feedback from different groups who are testing different versions of the same app.

Notes

This Is The Mindfulness App Apple Doesn’t Want You To Have, by Drake Baer, Thrive Global

Ramsay Brown, whose company Dopamine Labs created the app, told 60 Minutes on Sunday that Space was rejected from the store in January. The reason: A rep from the Apple Store Review reportedly said that “any app designed to help people use their phones less is unacceptable for distribution in the App Store.” [...] Whenever you open that app, you’re presented with a twelve second pause, and the app asks you to breathe.

Inside Blue Apron’s Meal Kit Machine, by Jing Cao, Bloomberg

Attracting and keeping customers is Blue Apron's foremost challenge. It's not easy persuading people to pay $240 to $560 a month for a service that saves time shopping when there are still faster, cheaper ways to get fed. Plus, to keep existing customers happy, Blue Apron must continually improve its offerings with new recipes and more customization. The bigger Blue Apron gets, the harder it becomes to maintain quality, and the more things can go wrong. Subscribers are always one or two bad experiences—a late arrival, the wrong food, wilted parsley—from canceling.

"If we're even a day late, that's a really terrible experience for the customer to not be able to cook dinner that night," says Chief Technology Officer Ilia Papas. "If you're buying a toothbrush, and it shows up a day late, you're not going to stop your relationship with that business. But with us, trust is a big part of it."

VR Was The 'Next Big Thing' 20 Years Ago. What's Different Now?, by Alyssa OUrselr, Motherboard

Perhaps it's just because enthusiasm is a prerequisite for technological progress, but sometimes the tech world can get ahead of itself, hyping up a new technology a bit too soon. The current hype around virtual reality, for instance, sounds awfully similar to hype we heard twenty years ago, which turned out to be either a head fake or a failure, depending on how harsh you want to be.

Photography Wednesday

The New Yorker Cover That’s Being Replicated By Women Surgeons Across The World, by Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes, New Yorker

The New Yorker’s Health, Medicine & the Body Issue this year featured the animated cover “Operating Theatre,” by the French artist Malika Favre. The illustration, done in cool shades of blue, shows four female members of a surgical team gazing down over a patient on an operating table, their eyes bright above matching white surgical masks. Favre told us that she designed the scene with the patient’s perspective in mind. “I tried to capture that feeling of people watching you lose consciousness,” she said. But, after the magazine was released, the cover took on a life of its own when Susan Pitt, an endocrine surgeon at the University of Wisconsin, issued a challenge to her fellow female surgeons: to replicate the image in real life, bringing visibility to the women and other minority groups working in a traditionally white, male-dominated field. Hundreds of surgeons across the world responded to the challenge, taking photographs and sharing them online with the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon.

The Artificial-MasterPrints Edition Tuesday, April 11, 2017

That Fingerprint Sensor On Your Phone Is Not As Safe As You Think, by Vindu Goel, New York Times

New findings published Monday by researchers at New York University and Michigan State University suggest that smartphones can easily be fooled by fake fingerprints digitally composed of many common features found in human prints. In computer simulations, the researchers from the universities were able to develop a set of artificial “MasterPrints” that could match real prints similar to those used by phones as much as 65 percent of the time.

The researchers did not test their approach with real phones, and other security experts said the match rate would be significantly lower in real-life conditions. Still, the findings raise troubling questions about the effectiveness of fingerprint security on smartphones.

Qualcomm Countersues Apple, Says iPhone Wouldn't Be Possible Without Its Technologies, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Qualcomm, which earlier called Apple's lawsuit "baseless," accused Apple of failing to engage in good faith negotiations for a license to its 3G and 4G standard essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

The chipmaker accused Apple of breaching its licensing agreements, making false statements, and encouraging regulatory attacks on its business in multiple countries. Qualcomm also said Apple has deliberately "chose not to utilize the full performance" of its LTE modem in its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Apple Sues Swatch Over 'Tick Different' Marketing Campaign, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple has filed a complaint in a Swiss court over the use of the slogan "Tick Different" in a Swatch marketing campaign, arguing that the watchmaker is unfairly referencing the Californian company's successful 1990s "Think Different" ad campaign for its own gain. [...]

Swatch CEO Nick Hayek has reportedly rejected the allegation that it is capitalizing on Apple branding. Hayek claimed that the "Tick Different" slogan has its origins in an 80s Swatch campaign that used the phrase "Always different, always new", and says that any similarity with Apple is purely coincidental.

Stuff

Apple’s AirPods Make Me Feel Like An Alien, by Tom Warren, The Verge

I tried a pair during a recent work trip and I was surprised at how easy they linked to the iPhone despite the lack of wires. And the battery charging case is just clever. Untangling headphones is a headache, and feeding them through your jacket or having the tugged out of your ears can be frustrating. All of these first-world problems are solved with the AirPods, but at a weird expense. As this is new technology, most people haven’t seen a pair of AirPods where I live, let alone tried them. I receive puzzled looks on a daily basis, and I’m fairly sure most people think I’m wearing some wild earrings or making some kind of statement by cutting the wires of the iconic Apple EarPods.

Not a single person has asked me about the AirPods, presumably because they think I’m listening to music, but I’ve exchanged wry smirks with fellow commuters who know I look stupid. I probably feel how the first mobile phone users felt walking around with a cordless phone for the first time. It’s an unusual thing to see, and humans love staring at and new or or unusual things. I haven't seen anyone else using AirPods in London during my travels, but when I saw someone using them in Barcelona I totally understood why people stare: they look odd without wires.

Can An App Teach You How To Be A Better Singer?, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Singing is hard. But like anything else, practice helps — whether you’re a professionally trained vocalist or just want to sound less pitchy for your next karaoke outing. Besides, traditional vocal coaches are an expensive investment if you’re not planning on a career that’s musical in nature.

Vanido is a new app that might be able to help, claiming to be a “personal singing coach” by offering personalized daily exercises to improve both your voice and your ability to recognize notes.

Notes

The Walt Mossberg Brand, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

Mossberg was Steve Jobs’ favorite columnist — and Mossberg a frequent admirer of Apple’s products — because both had the same vision: bringing these geeky, impenetrable, and rather ugly boxes of wires and chips and disks called personal computers to normal people, convinced said computers could, if only made accessible, fundamentally transform a user’s life.

Bottom of the Page

Travel-adapters are on my mind lately, because our family had just gotten an electric appliance from a different part of the world. And also one of our family member is also planning on traveling soon. Which means I sincerely agree with the idea that everything -- everything -- should be powered or charged via USB-C.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Stationary-Vehicles Edition Monday, April 10, 2017

How Not To Create Traffic Jams, Pollution And Urban Sprawl, by The Economist

And then, unfortunately, there’s the car park. For 14,000 workers, Apple is building almost 11,000 parking spaces. Many cars will be tucked under the main building, but most will cram into two enormous garages to the south. Tot up all the parking spaces and the lanes and ramps that will allow cars to reach them, and it is clear that Apple is allocating a vast area to stationary vehicles. In all, the new headquarters will contain 318,000 square metres of offices and laboratories. The car parks will occupy 325,000 square metres.

Apple is building 11,000 parking spaces not because it wants to but because Cupertino, the suburban city where the new headquarters is located, demands it. Cupertino has a requirement for every building. A developer who wants to put up a block of flats, for example, must provide two parking spaces per apartment, one of which must be covered. For a fast-food restaurant, the city demands one space for every three seats; for a bowling alley, seven spaces per lane plus one for every worker. Cupertino’s neighbours have similar rules. With such a surfeit of parking, most of it free, it is little wonder that most people get around Silicon Valley by car, or that the area has such appalling traffic jams.

NVIDIA To Release Pascal Drivers For macOS, by Ryan Smith, Anandtech

The fact of the matter is that neither of these groups is very big relative to the much bigger Mac user base – who wants to do real professional work on an unsupported video card setup? – but they are vocal, and they do need increasingly powerful video cards, like the rest of the PC market. But more to the point, given Apple’s announcement that they’re going to eventually fix the Mac Pro’s GPU woes, but not for at least another year, this is a chance for NVIDIA to take a low-risk pot shot at Apple for their dGPU follies. At a minimum, it’s a nice gesture to Mac users (whom tend to spend big on hardware), and perhaps, it makes for the start of a grassroots campaign to get an NVIDIA GPU in the next iMac or Mac Pro. And while only NVIDIA knows for sure if they planned this before this week’s Mac Pro announcement or they just got lucky, it comes across as a clever move by the company.

Stuff

Apple Clips (For iPhone), by Michael Muchmore, PC Magazine

You may be wondering: Why did Apple publish Clips, a fun video editing and sharing app? That seems more like the domain of Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. But Apple has the video software technology, thanks to its excellent iMovie and Final Cut Pro applications, so why not? The flexible, capable Clips app offers a unique combination of video effects, and it really is fun to use.

RetriCAM: A Fun iOS Camera App With Real-time Filters, by Aaron Lee, Apple World Today

The app lets you apply more than 50 different filters in real time when you're taking pics.

Notes

Dropping Imagination Technologies Gives Us A Rare Look At How Ruthless Apple Can Be, by Sam Shead, Business Insider

Some analysts are speculating that Apple could swoop in on Imagination now that its valuation has fallen off a cliff and acquire it for half the amount that it would have paid a week ago. [...]

But acquiring Imagination after sinking the company's stock would attract criticism and a lot of bad PR for Apple, which would be especially unwelcome now that the European Union is scrutinising the company's every move in Europe.

No EU Country Has Claimed On €13bn Apple Tax, by Colm Kelpie, Irish Independent

"I can say that I have not been given any official indications from any country that they intend to seek further tax for their own country as a result of the commission's decision," Mr Noonan said in a response to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Tommy Broughan. [...]

The money is due to be put into an escrow account, which would be established via a commercial contract with Apple. But the deadline for that was early January and the money has still not been deposited.

Satirical News Show ‘China Uncensored’ Censored By Apple In Hong Kong And Taiwan, by Oiwan Lam, Global Voices

In the letter to Cook, Chappell stressed that while he is aware of the restrictions in China, the management of Apple's Hong Kong and Taiwan app stores should be different.

Bottom of the Page

I sure hope that one day, self-driving cars will be the only vehicles allowed on the roads and highways. Each car should be extremely small -- just the seats and nothing else. Think chairs, with walls. In fact, maybe all cars should be single-seaters. If you really want to talk to spouse, who is in the next car, you'll just facetime each other. The two cars should be smart enough to travel close enough so that you can just use bluetooth to communicate with each other.

If you happen to be transporting a lot of stuff -- say, luggages to the airport -- you'll just summon another self-driving taxi-car that is just big enough to transport your stuff.

~

Bascially, Wall-E on earth.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Best-Implementation-Model Edition Sunday, April 9, 2017

Garden City Teachers Turning To Technology, by Josh Harbour, The Garden City Telegram

As Jennie Wilson Elementary School first-grade teacher Amy Golay sees it, the possibilities are endless when it comes to ways to utilize an iPad in a classroom.

Golay is one of nine teachers in Garden City USD 457 schools who are participating in one of the seven K-8 technology pilot programs in the district.

Layne Schiffelbein, USD 457 instructional technology coordinator, said the district has been looking for ways to integrate technology in K-8. At the beginning of the spring 2017 semester, the pilot programs were implemented in various classrooms in schools throughout the district to determine the best implementation model.

Speed-reading Apps: Can You Really Read A Novel In Your Lunch Hour?, by Tim Adams, The Guardian

Ronald Carver, a professor of education and psychology at the University of Missouri, proved in a landmark study of “brainiacs” in 1985 that, even for very practised speed readers, attempting to read above 600 words a minute meant that comprehension of any text fell below 75%, and went down dramatically as the reading speed increased beyond that. There is some evidence to show that we can, however, develop the ability to “fillet” a book quite quickly if we use adaptive techniques. In another study of the various techniques of “skimming”, two researchers at the University of Bath showed that skimmers who were most successful at extracting and retaining meaning were able to focus on critical sections of an argument and to jump forward as soon as the “rate at which they are gaining new information drops below a threshold”. They were particularly alive to bullshit or repetition.

Much of the buzz of our so-called digital overload comes from those latter growth industries. It has been argued that the subconscious mind can process 20,000,000 bits of information per second; but of those, the conscious mind holds on to only about 40 bits at any moment. Rather than trying to read more quickly we might be better advised to read more selectively. A lot of our lives can be scanned and scrolled and skipped, but reading remains a more immersive kind of act, dependent on detail. As Woody Allen observed: “I took a course in speed reading and was able to read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It’s about Russia.”

Stuff

How I Added Four Hours Of Battery Life To My Smartphone Every Day For Free, by Jennifer Jolly, USA Today

It was time to kick things up to the next level. I enlisted experts like Scotty Loveless, a former Apple Genius and iOS tech who told me this would not be another, “turn off every useful feature of iOS posts…” because those “really grind my gears.” Finally, someone speaking my language!

With that said, here’s how I finally beat the worst of my battery battles — and now you can, too.

Notes

The Real Price Of Being An Apple Supplier, by Tim Bradshaw, AFR

Yet Apple's obsessive secrecy, coupled with the extreme demands it makes of its manufacturers and the competition to join their ranks, means its suppliers dare not put a foot wrong. Apple's patronage is a blessing when everything is going well but it can quickly become a curse. The consequences of a break-up can be devastating, as London-listed chip designer Imagination Technologies discovered this week.

[...]

"The best thing is to do the deal with Apple anyway," says Mr Munster. "Even though you are probably going to get throttled in the end, you will have three years of great times you probably would never have had if you hadn't done it."

The Return-To-Home Edition Saturday, April 8, 2017

The iPhone 7 Has Arbitrary Software Locks That Prevent Repair, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

In the iPhone 7, both Touch ID and return-to-home functionality are locked by software if you replace the button. Locking down Touch ID makes at least some sense from a security perspective, but locking return-to-home functionality seems like an arbitrary and vindictive move against independent repair businesses and consumers. Apple did not respond to a request for comment about the issue.

It should be noted that the new home button is a "solid state" part, but it is still separate component that can be removed and moved to another phone without damaging it.

Damaging Your Phone, Accidentally On Purpose, by Phyllis Korkki, New York Times

When a new model is available, according to recent research, people who have iPhones tend to become more careless with the phones they already own. [...]

“Consumers act more recklessly with their current products when in the presence of appealing, though not yet attained, product upgrades (not just mere replacements),” according to a paper to to be published in The Journal of Marketing Research that was written in part by Silvia Bellezza, an assistant marketing professor at Columbia Business School.

I’m Not Texting. I’m Taking Notes., by Jonah Stillman, New York Times

I thought I was being diligent, yet they thought I was being rude. I even thought I was being efficient by quickly looking up something online and not missing a beat, and they thought I was playing video games. Clearly, my generation cannot assume the older generations know how we use technology.

Rather than allow others to see our phones as a distraction, we have work to do to prove that our phones are vital tools that we need to get the job done.

Stuff

Apple iPad (2017), by Henry T. Casey, Laptop Magazine

With its epic battery life, speedy performance and brilliant display, the 2017 iPad is the best tablet for the money and one of the best tablets overall. It may be a tad heftier than the competition, and it doesn't break new ground, but people who want a long-lasting, large-screen slate with plenty of pop won't find a better value.

How Apple's Night Shift Compares To F.lux, by Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker

Even with all of the different settings tweaks you can do, f.lux has a much more noticeable impact because it does more than just apply a warmer filter; it changes the overall amount of light alongside the color.

Why F.lux Is Better Than Night Shift On Mac (For Now), by Lory Gil, iMore

If you like how simplified Night Shift is, you're going to prefer it to f.lux, which has a lot more features but might be a little overwhelming to someone that just wants to add a pleasant warm hue to their screen before bedtime. Not everyone needs f.lux, but if, like me, you do want more customization and need even deeper blue light filtering late at night, Night Shift just doesn't hold a candle to f.lux.

Notes

Are We Witnessing The Beginning Of The End For Free Music Streaming?, by Andrew Flanagan, NPR

Now, the writing is on the wall for music fans — if you want to hear what you want to hear when you want to hear it in the friction-free and anywhere-access way you've become accustomed, the time is fast-approaching when you will be required to pay up.

Spotify's deal with Universal (as well as contracts with Warner Music and Sony Music which are still under negotiation) is not the only thing threatening Spotify's free tier. One month ago in Washington, D.C. a byzantine and little-known process, overseen by a panel of three judges named the Copyright Royalty Board, began to determine the rates that Spotify and its competitors will pay not to recording artists or labels but songwriters and music publishers.

Lorne Michaels On His New Strategy To Make Verizon, Apple Ads Part Of ‘SNL’ Experience, by Brian Steinberg, Variety

Viewers who stick around during the ads either during the April 8th or the April 15th broadcast of NBC’s late-night institution will glimpse a spot for Verizon written by “Weekend Update” anchor Colin Jost and featuring cast member Kenan Thompson. The bespoke pitch is part of an ongoing effort by NBC and Lorne Michaels’ hardworking crew of satirists to make the show more compelling to watch live, rather than catching up via clips next morning.

[...]

Apple has struck a deal with NBC to have “Saturday Night Live” create commercial content slated to appear in a few weeks’ time. The show’s work for the large consumer-electronics company will look different than its Verizon efforts, according to two people familiar with the situation. Apple did not respond to queries seeking comment.

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Five-star rating systems are good for classifying things for personal usage, because only the person assigning the stars knows what it means for each number of stars assigned.

A thumbs-up-thumbs-down system is good for classifying things for aggregation and recommendation, because (almost) everyone's thumbs-up and thumbs-down mean the same thing.

~

I've spent a lot of time assigning stars to each song in my iTunes library, so that I could have all sorts of smart playlists.

Of course, now I don't even bother putting my songs into the iTunes iCloud Library Thingy, and just do a pure Apple Music streaming (with offline downloads) experience.

~

There is a podcast app that allows users to assign ten different levels of priorities to each individual podcast. I think at one point, I used up to 4 different priorities to arrange my podcast queue.

Currently, my podcast queue has only 2 levels: podcasts that I want to listen immediately next, and podcasts that get queued up normally.

~

I've never intentially assigned any star ratings on Netflix. Yes, I've accidentally tapped on the stars when finished watching an episode. That probably skewed the resulting recommendations from Netflix.

I've never assigned any likes or dislikes to songs in Apple Music either. Apple probably has to figure out how to recommend albums and playlists through my other implicit actions.

~

A movie only gets the "two thumbs up" trademarked recommendation when both Siskel and Ebert agree that you should go watch the movie, so yeah, I agree one can only give a thumb-up even though one has two thumbs.

~

I miss Roger Ebert. Especially after watching movies that Mr Ebert did not review.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Shoot-String-Share Edition Friday, April 7, 2017

Apple Launches Clips Video App For iPhone And iPad, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Apple has released a new app for iPhone and iPad, the previously announced video tool Clips.

Apple describes Clips as an app "for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more." Essentially it's a stripped-down version of a video editor like iMovie, optimized to make edits fast and user-friendly on mobile. Its key focus is allowing you to shoot seconds-long clips and string them together into a video worth sharing.

Apple’s Clips App Is iMovie For The Next Generation, by Lauren Goode, The Verge

Considering that Apple plans to include a Help section in the app when it goes live, I’m guessing I’m not the only person who has given early feedback that [Live Title is] the most confusing part of the app. It’s a cool concept, but I really hope Apple considers seriously simplifying this.

Despite that, making Clips is easy, especially if you ignore Live Titles. I’ve made Clips videos of my cat (of course), a bowl of pho, a recent vacation, and California-esque things I’ve done in a single day. The comic filter is cool, and it renders the effect on photos and videos as you’re capturing them, not after the fact. Individually, the features are reminiscent of the features in other apps — sepia-toned filters, location and time stamps — but combined, it all feels distinctly Apple. Example: one of the text overlays is a familiar blue iMessage bubble.

Apple's New Video-editing App Clips Is Great. I Don't Know Why It Was Made, by Henry Cooke, Stuff

My issue is that I don't know why I would open it up if I wasn't reviewing it. Most of the video I shoot on my phone goes straight into a messaging app like Snapchat, Messenger, or increasingly Instagram. While you can export video from Clips into any of these apps (easily with Messenger or Instagram, awkwardly with Snapchat), they all have video recorders built into them already. They may have far fewer features but they also require far less steps.

Which brings us back to the "why does this exist" question. The live titles makes you think for vlogging - but professional YouTubers require way more advanced features than this, and amateurs are generally trying to compensate and use professional software too.

Apple’s Clips App Is Social Video Editing That’s Simple To A Fault, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

Clips does offer a super simple way to pull together videos and images into a single cohesive package you can fire off across a slew of media accounts (and most importantly, for Apple, Messages), leveraging the company’s existing editing software in the process.

Between the package, the press material and the sort of supplementary stickers and emojis Clips features, it’s pretty clear the company is aimed firmly at Snapchat and Instagram’s largely millennial user base. For Apple, it’s a way of showcasing the company’s focus on camera hardware and editing software, while potentially breaking users out of existing social ecosystems, in favor of its proprietary offerings.

Security Matters

Here's Where The Apple Accounts Hackers Are Threatening To Wipe Came From, by Troy Hunt

The list of Apple accounts is not hundreds of millions, it is instead less than 53k and it's compromised predominantly of accounts from the Evony data breach and a small handful of others.

Now, that's not to say there's no risk at hand here, but rather that the risk is no different to the one we're faced after every data breach: a bunch of people have reused their passwords and they're now going to have other accounts pwned as a result. But that's a very different story to the headlines of "hundreds of millions of Apple accounts will be reset and iPhones wiped". It's nowhere near as bad 53k either because a significant chunk of those people won't have reused their passwords. Of those that have, many my no longer even be valid for Apple services and indeed Zack found that when he reached out to people listed in the sample data. But here's something even more significant - Apple has the sample set I've been analysing which puts them well and truly one step in front of TCF. That doesn't necessarily mean they're going to lock accounts out or force password resets, but it does mean they can associate a much high risk rating to these accounts and protect them in other ways. Plus of course there's a small portion of those who will have multi-factor authentication enabled so even a correct password will be useless. Think off all these factors as a funnel which gradually decreases the usefulness of the accounts such that only a tiny fraction of the alleged haul is actually of any use whatsoever.

Does Fill Them All, So Pretty Well

Review: Apple’s $329 iPad Is For People Who Have Never Upgraded Their Tablet, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

So one of the $329 iPad’s goals was to replace the aging iPad Air 2 for all of those audiences. Its second goal was to entice the tens of millions of people who bought one of the first four iPad generations or the first iPad Mini to buy an iPad again. Most of those tablets don’t even run iOS 10, and the one that does run iOS 10 lacks support for all of the iPad’s multitasking features and a bunch of other stuff.

But there's also a third goal Apple didn't talk with me about, the elephant in the room any time Apple does anything with the iPad: we’re now entering our third straight year of sales decline, both in terms of units sold and in revenue earned. The iPad Pro showed some signs of helping with the problem last year, but none of the iPads Apple has put out since 2014 has halted the product's downward slide.

This unassuming iPad has a lot of roles to fill. The good news is that it does fill them all, and it does so pretty well. The bad news is that it doesn’t speak very well about any of the extra stuff the iPad Pro brings to the table, particularly the 9.7-inch model.

Apple iPad (2017) Review: No Alarms And No Surprises, by Chris Velazco, Engadget

There is a time for innovation, and this wasn't it. This time, Apple was just trying to build the best iPad it could for the masses. In that respect, it did a great job, even if the result isn't as exciting as everyone hoped.

I feel for people who wanted something a little sleeker or more powerful: They have no other choice than to pay up for the Pro line. For everyone else, though — people who have never had iPads or people stuck with really old ones — this thing is a tempting buy that won't let you down.

Crafting the Future

Why Pro Matters, by Sebastiaan de With, Medium

The same kind of huge leaps are happening in gaming and game development; a powerful modern GPU is a requirement for working on and using VR and AR, one area Apple is said to be working on. Demand and interest in 3D work, for design, game and software development, and video is bigger than ever and growing exponentially.

Without a truly top-tier workstation, Apple will miss out on a huge segment of digital creatives that can craft the future of human-machine interaction — something way beyond tapping a piece of glass. It would lack a Mac workstation with the raw computing power to prototype VR and AR interactions, build game worlds, simulate complex models and render the effects of tomorrow’s great feature films all the while offering those same creatives a platform to create for its own mobile devices.

Transcript: Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi And John Ternus On The State Of Apple’s Pro Macs, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

You have already read the news. But we thought we would also use this opportunity to share a transcript of the interview with Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing; Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering; John Ternus, Vice President of Hardware Engineering. Bill Evans from Apple PR was also in attendance.

Stuff

Adobe Updates Illustrator CC And InDesign CC With New Features, by AppleInsider

Illustrator CC takes a cue from users by incorporating a number of highly requested features like straightforward image cropping, a function previously accomplished by offloading documents to other apps.

Develop

The Twitter API Platform’s Future, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Although it may be some time before we see today's announcements bring specific benefits to third-party apps, Twitter has had a rocky relationship with developers in the past, and today's announcement is a sign of commitment to its API platform and developers.

Notes

Tim Cook Discusses Diversity, Inclusion With Students, by Corey Williams, ThePlainsman.com

Cook spoke about how Apple Inc. – the world's largest information technology company – benefits from inclusion.

“We believe you can only create a great product with a diverse team,” Cook said. “And I’m talking about the large definition of diversity. One of the reasons Apple products work really great – I hope you think they work really great – is that the people working on them are not only engineers and computer scientists, but artists and musicians.

It’s this intersection of the liberal arts and humanities with technology that makes products that are magical.”

The Future Of Driverless Cars Is A Bus, by Nicole Kobie, The Outline

Better buses and trams might not be as sexy as a Tesla that takes over the wheel or a driverless Uber, but it solves one heck of a lot more problems.

Lifehack Friday

I Tried 'Ten Life Hacks That Will Change Your Life' To See If They Actually Did, by Oobah Butler, Vice

I've always hated life-hack listicles. And by that, I mean I once read one in 2012, and I didn't like it. But once you've read one, you've read them all: the same ancient photos of some phone chargers slotted into a paperclip, rehashed when it's been a low-yielding week on the content farm.

Mind you, I could probably benefit from paying some attention. With my lack of storage, my lack of most common household appliances, and my lack of any products to help me stay on top of my multiple loose phone chargers—I recognize these issues but don't have the time, imagination, or money to do anything about them.

So maybe—just maybe—following the life hackers' advice could be the answer I've been looking for all along?

The iMessage-Sentimentalist Edition Thursday, April 6, 2017

I'm An iMessage Sentimentalist Running Out Of Storage, by Rachel Thompson, Mashable

There's only one thing standing between me and a tonne of free space on my iPhone: my entire iMessage history. But, try as I might, I cannot bring myself to delete a single message. I'm an iMessage sentimentalist and it's becoming a problem. [...]

My iMessages are a treasure trove of digital love letters from former boyfriends and casual no-labels lovers. My feelings for each and every one of these people have long since evaporated, but I cannot, and will not, bring myself to erase the messages that passed between us.

The Disposable Society And My MacBook Pro, by Michael Rosenblum, Huffington Post

Vintage is the term that Apple uses for any piece of technology that they have sold you that is more than 5 years old. I wasn’t asking for a warrantee free repair. I was prepared to pay. But they don’t even have the spare parts. They don’t stock them. They don’t fix them. They suggested I go on eBay and see if I could find some spare parts and fix it myself. When I told them that didn’t sound like a great idea, they said they would be happy to dispose of the laptop for me - and sell me one of their brand spanking new MacBook Pros.

Apparently this is Apple standard policy. After 5 years, anything they have sold you before that is, in their minds, dead.

Very Private, or Not

In VPNs, Security-Minded Web Surfers Find An Imperfect Shield, by Brian X. Chen, New York Times

But while VPNs are worth considering, they are an incomplete and flawed solution. For one thing, they often slow down internet speeds significantly. Some apps and services may also stop working properly when you are connected to a virtual network.

Still, VPNs are among several tools for better protecting your digital privacy. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons, based on tests of VPN services and interviews with security experts.

Phony VPN Services Are Cashing In On America's War On Privacy, by Nicholas Deleon, Motherboard

Don't look now, but online scammers are already hard at work taking advantage of newly signed legislation that allows Internet Service Providers to sell your online privacy, including your web browser history, to the highest bidder without your consent.

Meanwhile, In Down Under

ACCC Takes Apple To Court Over Alleged Consumer Law Breaches, by Lucia Stein, ABC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Apple after an investigation into "error 53", which saw iPads or iPhones disabled after users downloaded an Apple IOS update.

The ACCC alleges Apple represented to consumers with faulty products that they were not entitled to a free remedy if their Apple device had previously been repaired by an unauthorised third party repairer.

Apple Asked To Pay Hundreds Of Millions In Back Taxes In Australia In Wide-reaching Probe, by Roger Fingas, AppleInsider

Apple is reportedly one of seven multinationals the Australian Taxation Office has asked to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes, accusing the corporations of using tactics like "debt dumping" and moving profits offshore to avoid obligations.

Stuff

Microsoft Launches ‘Who’s In,’ A Social Event Planning App For iMessage, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Now the company is giving social another shot with a new iMessage app called “Who’s In,” aimed at helping friends plan events and other outings, like movie dates, dinners out, visits to nearby attractions, and more.

The app, which just launched today on the iMessage App Store, does not have an iPhone or iPad version at this time – it can only be accessed via iMessage.

SimCity: Complete Edition Review: Be Mayor And Build Your City From The Ground Up, by Chris Barylick, Macworld

You’re really going to have to build a new grammar school, add some residential housing and take care of that giant monster that just demolished City Hall this week. So goes life within SimCity: Complete Edition, the latest version of SimCity, which arrives complete with additional expansion packs such as the Cities of Tomorrow, Amusement Park, and Heroes and Villains expansion sets.

New Pebble Update Allows Watches To Keep Working Once Online Servers Go Dark, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Pebble released an update this week that decouples the smartwatches from their dependency on cloud services, meaning that whenever Pebble’s servers do shut down, users will still be able to side load apps and new firmware to their smartwatches.

Notes

The Cheese Grater Mac Pro, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

As we learned this week, the 2013 trash can Mac Pro is going to … well … the trash can. Apple has promised a new “modular” Mac Pro for sometime after 2017.

In the light of this news, I thought it would be interesting to look back a model, to the “cheese grater” Mac Pros Apple sold from 2006 until 2013.

This Tiny Lego Macintosh Is The Beautiful Lovechild Of A Raspberry Pi And E-paper Display, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

But programmer Jannis Hermanns has taken things a step further with a functional (ish) classic Macintosh built out of Lego, a Raspberry Pi Zero, and an e‑paper display. While it doesn’t quite run MacOS, the little Lego computer does run software called Docker, which can do things like work as a clock or display images on the e-paper screen.

Playing Roguelikes When You Can’t See, by Kent Sutherland, Rock Paper Shotgun

For most of us, traditional roguelikes are intrinsically inaccessible. They’re notoriously difficult, their design is complicated and often opaque, they can have more hotkeys than there are keys on the keyboard, and their ASCII-based visuals mean that it’s often unclear what’s happening on the screen. It’s these exact qualities, however, that ironically make roguelikes accessible and even appealing to blind or low-sight players.

Haiku Thursday

A Forgotten Desk Drawer Hid A Poetic Pop Culture Gem, by Shin Yu Pai, Atlas Obscura

There was nothing remarkable about the faux colonial escritoire, or writing desk, made from pressed wood and veneer, that Patrick Lyon bought in 2002 during a furniture purge at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. But several years later, during a move, he noticed some seemingly fragmentary scribbles in red ink on the underside of one of its drawers. They were short poetic fragments, some signed clearly, others cryptically: MICHAEL STIPE, G. Lee PHILLIPS, J. McK. “95”, t.g.

Bottom of the Page

How much investment will Apple need to put in to do a VPN service that is truly great (meaning: not slow), and how much will Apple charge?

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SimCity is a game that I truly want to love, but I typically gave up after a few days each time I try it again.

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Thanks for reading.

The Sore-Thumb Edition Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Mac Pro Lives: Apple Promises New Gear, by Chuq Von Rospach

I think we can all be annoyed that Apple seemingly lost track of the mac market and that these products weren’t in the pipeline all along, but in reality, mistakes happen, and these mistakes are notable mostly because Apple makes so few major mistakes — so this sticks out like a sore thumb. What really matters to me is that Apple recognized it, figured out how to fix it, owned up to it, told us about that, and is now moving forward in a direction I think solves the problem. Maybe not soon enough for some, but hardware takes time…. And that’s better than never.

[...]

I am impressed Apple was willing to do this, and I’m impressed with the decisions they made. Now, all they need to do is follow through with the products I know they’re capable of. It’s never easy to say ‘I Screwed up’, so much appreciation for the fact that they did.

Rethinking Apple, by And Now It's All This

That the trash can Mac Pro design was a mistake was widely accepted in the Mac community from pretty early on. I suspect it sold well in the early days because there was a lot of pent-up demand for a new Pro, but Apple must have known long ago that it was a kind of a dud. There’s no shame in that; innovations are sometimes misdirected. It’s Apple’s slow response that’s disturbing.

And it’s slow in two ways. First, accepting the mistake and moving to fix it has taken about two years (I’m giving them a pass on the Pro’s first year). Second, it’ll be at least a year until the new design is ready for sale. This is a very long lead time for a mature product, especially when you’ve just admitted that your current version sucks.

Apple Warns iCloud Users Some Disabled Services Were Accidentally Re-enabled In iOS 10.3, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today sent out emails to a small number of iCloud users, warning them that a bug in iOS 10.3 may have caused some iCloud services that had been disabled to be mistakenly re-enabled.

The email asks iCloud users to revisit their iCloud settings to make sure to turn off any service that might have been turned on through the iOS 10.3 update.

The Great Laptop Stagnation, by M.G. Sielger, 500ish Words

The issue, as I see it, is the same reason why I thought the MacBook might be the last laptop I ever buy. We’re simply at the end of laptop innovation.

Believe me, I know this is a very dangerous thing to say in any field of technology. I run the risk of Phil Schiller getting up on stage and doing a “can’t innovate anymore, my ass” while unveiling a new, sleek device.

But I just don’t see it. The way forward is the iPad (and tablets in general) eating the laptop. This is still blasphemy to some folks, which is funny. This will happen eventually. Everything dies.

Stuff

Apple iPad (2017) Review: The Best Feature Is The Price, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

But really, don't let the stuff you hear out there in Apple Land bother you. Investors and tech writers are wondering what Apple is Going To Do now that we know that nobody upgrades their iPads to new models every couple years. In the real world, people just use their iPads until they don't work and then they get new iPads. And what Apple is Going To Do is what it just did: just make a good iPad and sell it at a reasonable price.

Get one if you need one, but don't stress that you're missing out if you don't. Because it's an iPad.

Apple Music For Android Gets First Major Update With iOS 10-style Redesign, Lyrics, by Abner Li, 9to5Mac

Apple Music for Android has received a huge revamp today to match the release of iOS 10 for iPhone and iPad last September. That redesign is now making its way to the streaming service’s Android app. The interface is nearly identical with features like iOS 10-specific features including lyrics and an improved Library available on Android for the first time.

OmniGroup Releases OmniOutliner 5, $10 Essentials Edition And Pro Upgrade, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

OmniGroup on Wednesday released OmniOutliner 5, which it is calling the biggest update to the outlining app ever. Available in both a $10 Essentials edition (replacing Standard) and an improved Pro version, the changes to the former are said to focus on simplicity for the newcomer, while the latter brings extra features for the power user.

Ulysses 2.8 Update Brings Touch ID Text Library Support, New Filter Options, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Beyond the new access protection, the update enhances Ulysses' document management features, like groups and filters. Filters can now be used to narrow down the library content based on negative criteria. In other words, users can search for texts that don't contain a specific word, phrase or keyword.

The Best Apple Watch App For Tracking Sleep, by Joe Caiati, The Sweet Setup

AutoSleep’s combination of convenience, accuracy, and analytics set itself apart from competitors. With minimal effort, you can get meaningful data on your sleeping habits after an initial well done on-boarding.

Microsoft Launches Sprinkles, A Silly Camera App Powered By Machine Learning, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

The gist with Sprinkles, clearly aimed at a teen audience, is to offer a variety of traditional photo decorating tools like stickers, emoji and captions, but leverages Microsoft’s machine learning and A.I. capabilities to do things like detect faces, determine the photo subject’s age and emotion, figure out your celebrity look-a-like, suggest captions, and more.

Develop

Knowing When To Quit Is As Important As Having Grit, by Susan David, Quartz

While the passion part of grit is important, it’s only healthy when you are managing the passion, rather than letting it manage you. Passion that becomes an obsession to the point of obscuring other important life activities is not going to help you thrive. You can persevere—working like a dog at a project or task, and possibly even deriving a sense of accomplishment from it—but if all that effort and determination is not in service of your life’s goals, then it’s just not serving you.

Notes

Why I’m Giving Up On The iPad Pro, by Anthony Caruana, Lifehacker

Where the iPad lets me down is when working offline. The iPad I’m using has cellular comms which means it works really well for everything as long as I have access to WiFi or 3G/4G/LTE.

But it’s a real pain in the butt when I’m working offline.

[...]

I understand this isn’t an issue with iOS or the iPad but getting developers to change their apps isn’t easy.

Pizza Wednesday

How A Jokey Quest To Find McDonald's Pizza Became A Very Real Obsession, by Cara Giaimo, Atlas Obscura

Brian Thompson’s new podcast starts straightforwardly enough. “Welcome to Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s?,” he intones at the beginning of the first episode, “a podcast where I ask the question, ‘Whatever happened to the pizza at McDonald’s?’” After introducing himself, he cuts (or slices) directly to the chase: “Let’s call McDonald’s and see whatever happened to their pizza.”

[...]

Thirty-four unlikely episodes later, Thompson has chased his titular question through complicated corporate dial-up menus, across gulfs of conflicting information, and finally all the way to Pomeroy, Ohio, one of only two locations in the United States that still has a pizza oven fired up. (The other is in West Virginia.) He has spoken to McDonald’s representatives in various states and on three continents, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “The actual investigation is now kind of a real thing, and is branching out in all kinds of interesting ways,” he says.

Bottom of the Page

Now that Apple done back-to-back discontinuation of both the design of the first-generation Mac Pro (cheese grater) and the second-generation Mac Pro (trash can), should anybody buy into Apple's design of the third-generation Mac Pro? Or, if one still buy into the macOS ecosystem, perhaps one should consider that even for professional Macintosh machines, one need to replace the entire the machine every few years, instead of upgrading the internals every few years?

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It certainly seems to me that every time when I am very hungry while commuting back home after work, someone will inevitably bring KFC fried chicken onto the bus that I'm in...

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Thanks for reading.

The Cmd-Z Edition Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Mac Pro Lives, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them. [...]

These next-gen Mac Pros and pro displays will not ship until next year. In the meantime, Apple is today releasing meager speed-bump updates to the existing Mac Pros. The $2999 model goes from 4 Xeon CPU cores to 6, and from dual AMD G300 GPUs to dual G500 GPUs. The $3999 model goes from 6 CPU cores to 8, and from dual D500 GPUs to dual D800 GPUs. Nothing else is changing, including the ports. No USB-C, no Thunderbolt 3 (and so no support for the LG UltraFine 5K display).

Apple Pushes The Reset Button On The Mac Pro, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Specifically, as mentioned a bit above, it was the unique triangular design of the Mac Pro’s thermal core that proved to be the limiting factor. Because it was designed to carry roughly balanced loads of heat on all three sides, it just wasn’t equipped to take on the task of supporting the now incredibly popular single massively powerful GPU configuration.

Simply put, it wasn’t built for one of the three sides of the triangle to get super hot.

[...]

“The Mac has an important, long future at Apple, that Apple cares deeply about the Mac, we have every intention to keep going and investing in the Mac,” says Schiller in his most focused pitch about whether Apple cares about the Mac any more, especially in the face of the success of the iPhone and iPad.

“And if we’ve had a pause in upgrades and updates on that, we’re sorry for that — what happened with the Mac Pro, and we’re going to come out with something great to replace it. And that’s our intention,” he says, in as clear a mea culpa as I can ever remember from Apple.

Mac Pro Is Getting A Major redesign…Next Year, by Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

While we’ll have to wait until 2018 for the Mac Pro rebirth (“Want to do something great…that will take longer than this year to do,” said Schiller), iMac fans can expect a significant update this year, including some new configurations designed specifically for Pro users who already fans of the all-in-one design.

One thing no one should expect on the next iMac or Apple’s upcoming Pro Display, though, is a touchscreen.

Updates And Bugs

iOS 10.3.1 Includes Bug Fixes And Improves The Security Of Your iPhone Or iPad, by Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica

The release notes don't specify what it fixes that wasn't addressed in the wide-ranging iOS 10.3 update released just a week ago, but we do know that this new update includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad. Specifically, according to the more detailed notes on Apple's security page, 10.3.1 addresses a buffer overflow that could be exploited to execute code on your phone or tablet's Wi-Fi chip.

PDF Problems Continue In 10.12.4, But Primarily Affect Developers, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

Nonetheless, users continue to have problems, particularly with large or encrypted PDFs in Preview and other apps that rely on PDFKit for their PDF-related functionality. Nothing seems to be as severe as the OCR text layer deletion bug that 10.12.3 fixed, but if you experience trouble with Preview, try a different app.

Stuff

Apple Reimbursing Customers Who Recently Purchased Now-Acquired App Workflow, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today began sending out emails to customers who purchased popular automation app Workflow in the last few weeks, letting them know that they'll be receiving a refund for the purchase price of the app.

iPad (5th Generation) Review: The Best Value In Tablets Today, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

Would I buy the iPad (5th Generation) — henceforth iPad 5 for efficiency — or recommend it to anyone like me? Not unless there was an urgent need for an extra, cheap tablet to keep in a camper or for car trips.

But would I recommend it for parents, grandparents, kids, or non-tech nerds who just want an inexpensive internet or app device with a big enough screen, easy enough interface, to buy for the first time or upgrade after a long time?

That's the question that needs answering, especially for people who still haven't gotten into computing or online, or have held onto previous generation iPads long enough that they're starting to need a replacement.

Sway Review: Meditation Through Movement, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

The premise is that through movement and the ambient sounds and music being pumped into your headphones from Sway, you’ll be able to focus on the relaxed activity and calm your mind. With six different “levels,” Sway attempts to push you toward significant mindfulness habits by requiring you to accomplish a daily goal before unlocking the next level. If you miss a day, Sway will bump you back a level, so you have to complete it again.

Audiobus 3.0, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Audiobus launched a major version 3.0 today and it comes with some deep changes. The MIDI routing system has been rewritten with support for Apple's Audio Unit Extensions, a built-in mixer, superior preset management, and a new feature that can launch audio apps in the background.

Twigo, A Surprisingly Good Calling App, by Appolicious

While calls between Twigo app users are free, calls and texts to other landline numbers are also possible but come at a cost which is typically lower than that of competing carriers.

Turn Your Face Into An Emoji With Memoji From Facetune, by Aldrin Calimlim, AppAdvice

With Memoji, your face turns into an emoji — that is, it’s animated à la Snapchat’s face filters, in comical imitation of the expression associated with your chosen emoji.

Develop

Life Without Interface Builder, by Zeplin

I’ve listed a ton of reasons why it would be a good idea to stop using Interface Builder but don’t get me wrong, there are use cases where it makes sense as well. Even though we miss it occasionally, we are currently happier without it.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and see if this fits your workflow as well!

Notes

Learning This 1 Thing Helped Me Understand Apple's Strategy, by Tim Bajarin, Time

When Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007, Phil Schiller, now the company’s senior vice president of marketing, showed me the original device. He turned it off, put it on the table and asked me what I saw. I replied that it was a block of metal with a glass screen. His reply? “It’s a piece of glass for Apple to deliver its exciting new software.”

[...]

So Apple’s playbook is actually pretty predictable: Hardware devices serve as a blank canvas for Apple to deliver its user interface, apps and services, which are the company’s true crown jewels. If there’s any mystery in the strategy, it’s only in the kinds of blank canvas it decides to make.

Computer Moves, by Andrew Blevins, Real Life

So I can’t help feeling that applying concepts like humiliation and shame to the act of losing to an algorithm is to engage in a weird sort of anthropomorphism: We imagine that we engage the computers as equals, that we actually care what they think of us when we lose. But it’s also to ascribe their unique brand of stupidity to ourselves, as if we too had only one definition of success.

It isn’t my intention to romanticize dependence on computers. I’ll admit I find it ugly and a little depressing that today’s chess masters must, like just about everyone else, spend their time hunched in front of screens. But I also find something liberating in the fact that by consistently beating us at our own game, computers have given us permission to lose at it.

A Year After Firewatch, by Colin Campbell, Polygon

With sales of more than a million copies, developer Campo Santo is now working on its next project: unannounced as yet. I sat down with writer Sean Vanaman to talk about the direction he wants to go in next, and how he feels about Firewatch one year after its launch.

One thing that becomes clear in the interview is that Vanaman likes to talk. The first thing he's happy to make absolutely clear is that there will be no new Firewatch game, although a movie is in the works. "Firewatch is done. I'm going on the record and saying Firewatch is done. Henry and Delilah will not be characters in a future Campo Santo game. I can say that without a shadow of a doubt. I think."

Debate Rages Over Controversial Copyright Standard For The Web, by Matt Reynolds, New Scientist

But security researchers are worried that using EME as standard could introduce hidden security flaws into browsers. Tampering with DRM systems is illegal under US and EU copyright law, so the concern is that researchers will not be able to properly check browsers for bugs.

“This is really bad security,” says Harry Halpin at the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation. Instead of encouraging people to report security flaws so that they can be patched, standardising EME means every mainstream browser will include elements that independent researchers can’t inspect.

Bottom of the Page

Instead of slightly updating the Mac Pro, why can't the stop-gap measures also include updating the first-generation 2012 Mac Pro with modern internals too? I wonder when Apple uses the word 'modular' to describe the upcoming Mac Pro, how different is the meaning of 'modular' when compared to the first-generation Mac Pro.

Or is there some edict in Apple that says that there shall only be one and only one design for the pro line, and one design for the adorable line?

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Thanks for reading.

The Stop-Imgination Edition Monday, April 3, 2017

Apple U-turn Sends Imagination Technologies Shares Into Freefall, by Julia Kollewe, The Guardian

Shares in UK chip designer Imagination Technologies slumped nearly 70% after it said Apple, its largest customer, would stop using its graphics technology in the iPhone and other new products.

This is a major blow to the British company, which relies on Apple for half its revenues. It warned that the US tech giant risked infringing its intellectual property rights.

The iPad Turnaround Is Coming, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

There’s more to this than an indisputable technical advantage. As hoped for in this space, it’s part of a shift that partially explains Cook’s fervor for the iPad: iOS, not macOS, will be the software engine of Apple’s future. Mac fans, I’m one of them, might disagree with Apple’s strategy, but here it is in plain view.

This leads us to an easy guess for future iPad Pros. We’re likely to see linear hardware and software improvements (keyboard, screen, stylus, more independent windows…), plus others we can’t think of immersed, as we often are, in derivative thought. All will make the Pros more pro: Powerful enough of take business away from the Mac (and Windows PCs). I like my MacBook, but can see an iPad Pro on my lap and desk in a not-too-distant future.

Stuff

How Apple Watch Series 2 Became The Perfect Smartwatch For Me, by Pranay Parab, NDTV

Somehow, Apple has managed to find the sweet spot between fitness and “smart” features with the Watch Series 2. Whether I’m working or working out, the Apple Watch Series 2 has become a constant companion - not just the smartwatch I want, but the one I need.

Notes

What Writing A Letter To Steve Jobs Taught Me About Apple's Incredible Customer Service, by Matthew Hughes, The Next Web

Even though it was plainly clear from my original letter I was an irritating, idiot teen, I was treated with respect.

Since then, I’ve always had a healthy admiration for Apple’s customer-centric approach.

Bottom of the Page

Anytime you want to use the phrase "begs the question", just repeat this statement to yourself: "I'm probably using this wrong." Then abandon any desire to use the phrase "begs the question."

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Thanks for reading.

The New-Campus Edition Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Complete Story Behind Apple's Futuristic New Campus, 'Apple Park', by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

Apple employees will begin moving into a new campus in Cupertino, California this month. [...]

Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs once said that the new campus was "a shot at building the best office building in the world."

It will house 13,000 employees on over 2.8 million square feet of office space. Apple employees will enjoy fruit trees, a massive fitness center, and a workspace that's been carefully overseen by Jony Ive, Apple's chief design officer.

America’s Unhealthy Obsession With Multitasking Is Driving Its Biggest New Reading Trend, by Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz

Audiobooks are a way for people who were once big readers to keep up with their youthful curiosity. As they find themselves with less leisure time than they had in college, the gym and the car become opportunities to be stimulated. “I used to read a lot, and probably stopped when I went to law school,” says Jamie Brooks, a lawyer based in New York City. Now she listens to an audiobook a week, on average three hours a day, on the train to work and before bed.

Siri Knows It's April Fools' Day, by Olivia B. Waxman, Time

Apple anticipated that iPhone users may try to mess with Siri, its voice-command feature for the mobile device, on April Fools' Day.

So when users ask Siri "What are you doing today?", they will likely get a variety of responses including "Just bein' a fool. A fool for your requests."

Comcast, AT&T, And Verizon Say You Shouldn’t Worry About Gutting Of Internet Privacy Rules, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon published blog posts this morning responding to the backlash they’ve been receiving since Congress voted to revoke a strong set of internet privacy rules that would have prevented internet providers from using or sharing their customers’ web browsing history without permission. The companies take different approaches when responding, but the takeaway from all three is that they think customers should stop worrying.

Bottom of the Page

Why can't I create my own smart playlist that includes songs from Apple Music's playlists out in the cloud?

Why can't I sort albums by date added to my music library?

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Thanks for reading.

The Acceptance-Month Edition Saturday, April 1, 2017

Apple Highlights Autism Acceptance Month Through App Store, Retail Field Trips, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and Apple plans to mark the occasion in several ways, including a dedicated section in the App Store and retail field trips.

A Quick Guide To Backing Up Your Critical Data, by J. D. Biersdorfer and Kelly Couturier, New York Times

It’s World Backup Day, which is another way of saying it’s a good time to safeguard your digital photos, videos, documents and emails by creating second copies, or backups, of them and storing them somewhere secure.

As headlines about hacking and cybertheft remind us daily, our personal devices are vulnerable. The good news is that setting up a system to keep your files backed up automatically is easy. Spending a little time today could save you a lot of trouble in the future.

On The Increasing Difficulty Of Launching Some Apps, by Rob Griffiths

Mac OS X 10.7 and earlier: Launch whatever app you want, the OS doesn’t care.

Mac OS X 10.7.5: Gatekeeper appears, but is a benign master, defaulting to allowing apps from anywhere. You can still install and run anything without any intervention from the OS.

Stuff

Apple Releases New Colorful Apple Watch Ad, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

It’s a colorful, cheerful clip that wants to turn the Apple Watch into a pop culture symbol. And it focuses on the fitness features of the Apple Watch, proving that Apple thinks about the device as an activity tracking device first and foremost.

Photo Editing As One With Luminar, by Jeff Carlson, TidBITS

Luminar strikes that delicate balance of including most everything you want in a photo editor without being overwhelming. It’s a powerful app that can also be picked up pretty easily by photographers looking for more than Photos offers without committing too (and paying for) the full capabilities of Photoshop.

Notes

Watch A Near-pristine Apple I Boot Up And Run A Program, by Jason Kottke

Glenn and Shannon Dellimore own at least two original Apple I computers built in 1976 by Steve Wozniak, Dan Kottke, and Steve Jobs. The couple recently purchased one of the computers at auction for $365,000 and then lent it to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for an exhibition. The hand-built machine is in such good condition that they were able to boot it up and run a simple program.

The Revolution Of Drone-carried Sensors, by GIM International

The world of professional unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) is changing. It is a matter of ‘survival of the fittest’ in terms of the hardware aspect: UAV manufacturers. The interest is now visibly shifting towards payloads and software to capture, visualise and process the data; UAVs are the apparatus, but it’s the sensors and software that really count.