The trailer to Asimov's Foundation sure looks grand

The first trailer to Apple TV+'s series adaption of Isaac Asimov's Foundation is certainly gorgeous eye candy. It remains a mystery how they plan to adapt such an immense and complex space opera, but... fingers (toes and tentacles) remain crossed.

On Quinn's Ideas, he offers his reaction to the trailer and discusses both this series and the forthcoming Dune film.

Here's a decent little backgrounder on Foundation.

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Apple to switch Mac lineup to its own chips

Apple is to phase out Intel CPUs in favor of its own ARM-based chips, it announced yesterday at the WWDC trade show in California.

ARM designs are more energy-efficient and Apple has shown they can deliver performance with recent models of the iPad Pro, which already uses the company's silicon.

The big challenge will be software, reports the BBC. Apple demonstrated popular apps and a new version of its MacOS operating system at the event, but apps made for current hardware will not run natively.

Apple said it had already developed native versions of several of its own apps, including Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro. iPhone and iPad apps will also be able to be run on the computers.

Apple said that Microsoft was working on an optimised version of Office, and Adobe was developing a version of Photoshop.

Other developers should be able to recompile their apps to get a version running "in just a matter of days," said the company's software chief Craig Federighi. He added that old apps would automatically be translated at point of installation to run, although they would not work as well.

I'm eager to see one of these new models. I love how fast, responsive and straightforward my iPad Pro feels, but iPadOS's sandboxed apps make it so difficult to establish a functional file management workflow that I've never been able to use it as a workhorse.

On the other hand, MacOS on new hardware will still be MacOS, won't it? Read the rest

As COVID-19 surges, Apple re-closes 11 stores temporarily in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina

Apple will temporarily close a number of retail stores again in the U.S., as the coronavirus outbreak re-emerges as a significant threat in new areas of the country, reports Bloomberg News. Read the rest

Apple says it's reopening ~100 more stores in U.S. this week, walk-in customers OK in some

Apple says it is planning to reopen more than 100 US retail stores this week, and that because the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, most locations will only offer curbside or storefront service. Read the rest

How to get a refund on an app you don't like

If you purchased a smart phone app that doesn't meet your expectations, Popular Science has a guide for how to get your money back. The first thing to try is contacting Google or Apple and explaining why you want your money back. The last resort is complaining on Twitter. One thing not to do is give the app a one star review before you try to get your money back, or you will lose any leverage you might have.

Similarly, the terms and conditions on iTunes and the Google Play Store also include refund requests, although in the case of Apple’s store terms are rather opaque. You have to log in to the Report a Problem portal, find the app you have an issue with, request a refund selecting what you feel is a valid and appropriate reason, briefly explain why, and hope it gets approved by the inner-bureaucracy.

Google’s policies are a bit clearer, although hedged with ifs and maybes. Within 48 hours of purchasing an app you can request a refund from Google by logging into your Play Store account, going to Order History, selecting Request a Refund on the app you want to return, and explaining why. If you miss that 48-hour window, you have to contact the developers directly.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash Read the rest

How Pong's inventor gave Woz a hack to bring color to the Apple II

In 1977, Steve "Woz" Wozniak used a neat hack to bring color to the Apple II computer. According to IEEE Spectrum, the obscure trick, called NTSC artifact color, "allows digital systems without specialized graphics hardware to produce color images by exploiting quirks in how TVs decode analog video signals." That hack later was employed by the IBM PC, Radio Shack TRS-80, and other early home computers. But how did Woz learn about it? Turns out, videogame legend Al Alcorn, inventor of Pong, turned Woz onto the hack. From IEEE Spectrum:

Stephen Cass: Analog NTSC televisions generate color by looking at the phase of a signal relative to a reference frequency. So how did you come across this color test tool, and how did it work?

Al Alcorn: When I was 13, 14, my neighbor across the street had a television repair shop. I would go down there and at the same time, I had my father sign me up for an RCA correspondence course on radio and television repair. So, by the time I got to Berkeley, I was a journeyman TV repairman and actually paid my way through college through television. In one repair shop, there was a real cheap, sleazy color bar generator [for testing televisions]. And instead of doing color properly by synthesizing the phases and stuff like that, it simply used a crystal that was 3.58 megahertz [the carrier frequency for the color signal] minus 15.750 kilohertz, which was the horizontal scan frequency. So it slipped one phase, 360 degrees, every scan line.

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Apple and Google are working on coronavirus contact-tracing technology for iOS and Android

Google and Apple are working on a joint effort to introduce opt-in Bluetooth-based COVID-19 contact tracing APIs in mid-May for iOS and Android. Read the rest

Why there's a cult market for really old iPods

A growing community of music fans and makers love the old iPods that Apple discontinued years ago. When their devices die or need better batteries or more storage, they send them to people like Manuel Mantecon (aka Pichi) who refurbishes them in his North Carolina bathroom workshop. From OneZero:

Pichi said that he’s not that technical or “geeky” but got into iPod modding after his own iPod Classic’s battery died. He couldn’t find anyone to replace it for an affordable cost and felt like he was getting ripped off, so he figured he could do it himself. “I got my iPod wide open there looking like busted spaghetti with wires poking up everywhere,” he said. “So I just started messing around with it and changed the battery myself..."

The more popular modifications are relatively simple: updates like adding more storage or battery life, or installing firmware that allows for customization of the user interface or downloading games outside of Apple’s ecosystem. Few iPod modders are injecting the music players with wild features or stark new aesthetics...

They want to play an old game. Return to a better digital sound. Or just to preserve a time when your playback device didn’t also store thousands of unread work emails, a million pings from the group chat, hourly spam risk calls, and targeted ads.

"Classic iPod Hackers Say There’s No Better Way to Listen to Music" by Melanie Ehrenkranz (OneZero)

image credit: Chris Harrison (CC BY-SA 2.0) Read the rest

Apple deleted files that I owned without telling me. It was inevitable, but I'm still pissed.

I've been using iTunes Match since the service launched in 2011, and it's been nothing but great until now. At the time, I had a personal laptop and a work computer, along with an iPhone that maybe held 16 gigs. The fact that I could just upload my extensive music library up to Apple's servers and stream or download any of my songs onto any of those devices at any time was a game changer. I'm one of those people who still likes to buy music whenever possible (maybe it's karmic, and I'm hoping someone buys my music some time, too), so I've continued to use the service, downloading my preferred albums at any given to listen to on-the-go instead of dipping into my data plan.

Honestly, the only quirk I discovered with the service was a blessing in disguise. iTunes Match will upload any of your music, but if matches something that already exists in their library, they'll let you download the corresponding high-resolution audio files. I had a lot of shitty CD-rips from high school that were suddenly returned to their high-quality glory, and freed of those obnoxious data squelches on the high end.

That is, until the other day. When I had a hankering to listen to "I Don't Want To Be An Asshole Anymore" by the Menzingers. 'Cause it's great song!

Except it wasn't there. In fact, the entire album was missing from my library. I own the entire Menzingers discography — purchased music! — and Rented World was now completely gone. Read the rest

Auction of early Apple memorabilia owned by the company's original product design engineer

Jerrold C. Manock, Apple employee #246, is auctioning off his personal collection of Apple memorabilia and historical items. Manock started at Apple in 1979 and led the industrial design of the Apple II and the first Macintosh among other products. Along with Manock's offerings like the Steve Jobs-signed contract for the Apple II project, a 1983 Mac 128k with an "in appreciation" plaque, and Apple beach towels, the auction includes other people's items like a working Apple-1. Online bidding is March 5 to 12.

Apple memorabilia auction (RR Auction)

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Sales of Apple Watches eclipse watch sales of entire Swiss watch industry

Sales of Swiss watches are declining, and sales of Apple watches are rising steeply. This must be a surprise to the makers of Swiss luxury watches, who lifted their imperious snouts in disdain at the cough-drop shaped Apple Watch when it first came out. From Enrique Dans's piece in Forbes, titled, How Apple Killed The Swiss Watch Industry:

In 2015, the year the Apple Watch was launched, LVMH watch division president and Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver said the Swiss industry was not afraid of Apple’s new product, because it could not be repaired in a thousand years or eighty years, nor inherited by children, nor would it ever become a status symbol. As is always the case when disruption occurs in an industry, traditional competitors are not able to see the threat, and continue to try to analyze it according to the variables that were important yesterday.

Dans writes, "As soon as you start using the Apple Watch, you realize one thing is clear: the rest of your watch collection will live on in a drawer from now on."

Photo by Chris Abney on Unsplash Read the rest

China virus outbreak may impact Apple iPhone if China extends Foxconn factory halt

Coronavirus, which WHO declared a global health emergency, threatens to disrupt Chinese manufacturing

The deadly virus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China continues to spread and claim lives around the world. At this time, still, the vast majority of infected patients and deaths are in mainland China, Hubei province.

The epidemic is also impacting business, finance, and technology production in China.

Apple's iPhone production relies in part on a Foxconn factory that has been shut down by the Chinese government.

If the halt is extended, Reuters reports today, this could impact iPhone production, availability, and sales. Read the rest

Why I won't buy an Ipad: ten years later

Ten years ago, Apple released the Ipad. I was in a hotel room in Seattle, jetlagged and awake at 4AM while my wife and daughter slept. Read the rest

If you are a Mac user, here's how to avoid the most common kind of malware

Mac users are getting hit with Shlayer, a malware that installs an “Any Search” bar on their computer, reports Lifehacker. Read the rest

Google spent ~$150 million on US lobbying over last decade, followed by Facebook at ~$81M, Amazon almost $80M: Federal filings

'Federal disclosures filed late Tuesday reveal Amazon and Facebook each spent roughly $17 million to battle back Washington in 2019'

Trump and Apple's Tim Cook to meet at Davos

Impeached phony president and utter turd of a man Donald Trump will attend a breakfast meeting on Wednesday at Davos with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Reuters reports. Read the rest

When FBI complained, Apple dumped plans for encrypted iPhone backups: Report

No encrypted iCloud backups for you, citizen!

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