The Highest-Level Edition Thursday, December 12, 2019

Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro – First Impressions, by Vincent Laforet's Blog

For tech geeks, this is the equivalent of punching the accelerator of a top of the line sports car. It’s brought a smile to my face more than once – due to both it’s speed, and also the ability to work on, an in turn see one’s work at the very highest level of detail.

Scrubbing through ultra-high resolution footage can be so painless that it almost feels like you’re getting away with something. It’s made me a bit giddy more than once.

The Thermodynamics Behind The The Mac Pro, The Hypercar Of Computers, by Alexander George, Popular Mechanics

Most high-grade PCs and displays cool things off with big fans or pump-driven water systems. But if you’ve used a Mac in the past decade, near-silent operation is a non-negotiable requirement for Apple laptops. That means Apple engineers have to find creative ways to exploit the laws of thermodynamics.


Amazon And Apple Will Be Our Doctors In The Future, Says Tech Guru Peter Diamandis, by Ruth Reader, Fast Company

Diamandis believes the involvement of home health devices has the potential to lower costs by shifting care away from hospitals, where expenses can be much higher. This is the general idea behind telemedicine, but Diamandis thinks that big consumer tech companies will play a big role in driving that vision. He also thinks that these companies, which have mastered using personal data to anticipate user behavior, can use personal health data to make predictions about a person’s long-term health prospects and advise them accordingly.

Diamandis posits that the more information is available about you—your genetic makeup, your health history, what you ate for breakfast, the bacteria in your bowel movement, how you slept last night, what kind of sound you’re exposed to every day—the better artificial intelligence will be at spotting your potential for illness and suggesting care before the problem becomes intractable. This approach might shift the medical establishment from a structure that treats disease once it’s wreaking havoc in your body to one that prevents the disease from striking in the first place. “It is literally hundreds if not thousands of times cheaper to do that,” he says.

How Apple News Editors Quietly Influence UK's Election Reading, by Jim Waterson, The Guardian

Journalists who work for Apple News have scrubbed the company’s name from their social media accounts, a move that reduces the risk of them being accused of bias but adds to the lack of transparency around their decisions.

People at British media organisations who deal with Apple News say the editors have a welcome reputation for promoting exclusives and high-quality news featuring original reporting in their “top stories” section. If the Apple News editors like what they see, their backing can deliver enormous numbers of readers – which gives these editors a power akin to an old-school newspaper boss choosing a front-page story.

Silicon Valley Is Listening To Your Most Intimate Moments, by Austin Carr, Bloomberg

By 2019, after Apple brought Siri to products such as its wireless headphones and HomePod speaker, it was processing 15 billion voice commands a month; 0.2% of 15 billion is still 30 million potential flukes a month, or 360 million a year. The risks of inadvertent recording grew along with the use cases, says Mike Bastian, a former principal research scientist on the Siri team who left Apple earlier this year. He cites the Apple Watch’s “raise to speak” feature, which automatically activates Siri when it detects a wearer’s wrist being lifted, as especially dicey. “There was a high false positive rate,” he says.


Apple AirPods Pro Review: The ‘Hearable’ At Its Best, by Brian X. Chen, New York Times

While there are bulkier headphones on the market that do a better job at noise-canceling, the AirPods Pro are adequate in most situations, and their compact size make them more convenient. They are a major improvement; I hesitate to recommend older versions because the new model is far superior.

Listen Up: These New Hearing Aid Apps Go Way Beyond Helping You Hear Better, by Randy Rieland, MarketWatch

The truth is that hearing aids have changed dramatically in recent years, reimagined through the digital technology that has transformed so many of the devices of our daily lives. They have not only become more discreet, but also are adding functions far beyond helping us hear better.

One of the biggest advances in hearing aids is their ability to use wireless Bluetooth technology to directly stream audio from other devices. No more annoying, whistling feedback. Instead, live sound from a TV, laptop or tablet is transmitted to a hearing aid through an app downloaded on your smartphone. Usually, it’s an app tied to the specific hearing aid model. Because you control the volume through your phone, you can turn it up without actually making the TV louder in the room.

TechTool Pro 12, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

The update also includes an option to install a driver that provides access to the SMART Data available on USB drives.


Apple Neighbors Get Rare Chance To Explore ‘Spaceship’ Campus, by Marisa Kendall, San Jose Mercury News

But by opening its campus for a limited time this weekend, Apple is fulfilling a promise it made years ago, Sinks said. During a 2013 joint meeting of the council and planning commission, while Apple and the city were hashing out plans for the new campus, Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s vice president of global real estate and development at the time, suggested the audience would one day get the chance to see the campus for themselves.

Apple Used The DMCA To Take Down A Tweet Containing An iPhone Encryption Key, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Vice

Apple confirmed that it sent the original DMCA takedown request. The company said that it retracted the request but Twitter had already complied with it and had taken the tweet down. Apple then asked Twitter to put the tweet back online.

A Google Engineer Thought He'd Have To Stop Coding Because Of A Health Condition That Makes It Incredibly Painful To Type. Now, He Programs With His Voice And Helps Others Learn To Do It, Too., by Rosalie Chan, Business Insider

Today, Stout works as an engineer on the accessibility team to help users more easily use Google's products. For example, Stout is working on features that help people use their voice to navigate apps in a natural way. And on the side, Stout writes a blog called Hands-Free Coding, where he writes about how to to make voice coding work.

"I solved my problems, and now it's time to go help other people who are where I was," Stout told Business Insider. "I got these comments on this blog from people saying it had saved their careers. If this is what a weekend project in the space of accessibility can do, what would happen if I can devote my full-time job to accessibility?"

As products like Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri catch on with consumers, providing a convenient, hands-free way to hear the latest sports scores or order groceries, Stout's experience shows the potential for voice-based computing to improve lives in more fundamental ways. Stout's work creating his own voice-based system saved his career and could open the door to even broader innovations to help people overcome physical limitations.

The Price Of Free, by Amanda Mull, The Atlantic

Etsy and Miceli share the same goal: to induce shoppers to buy from Etsy instead of ordering mass-produced goods from the uncountable conventional retailers that would also like to ship you a pair of feather earrings. Now she and the platform are in conflict because of how those other retailers—especially Amazon—have warped our idea of what it means to shop online. There’s scarcely tastier bait for American shoppers than free shipping, and it’s been transformed from an occasional incentive into something that closely resembles a consumer requirement. But shipping isn’t free for the people who send packages, and an insatiable demand for this perk might be the thing that breaks mom-and-pop retail for good.