Apple, Google add 45 minutes to commuter-bus run to avoid 280 highway, where the buses' windows keep getting smashed

No one's sure how the windows on commuter buses between San Francisco and Silicon Valley keep getting smashed on a stretch of the 280 -- maybe it's a pellet gun, maybe it's thrown rocks -- but Apple and Google have informed employees who use the service that their commute is about to get 45 minutes longer as they take alternate routes to avoid that highway. Read the rest

At long last, open video formats are triumphing

Apple was the last major holdout on proprietary video codecs, the only major industry player that hadn't signed onto the Alliance for Open Media, home of the AV1 video format, a successor to On2's groundbreaking open formats of the early web years, which led to the company's acquisition by Google in 2010. Read the rest

Federal prosecutors say that Ohio man used MacOS malware that covertly operated cameras and mics and exfiltrated porn searches for 13 years

An indictment in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio's Eastern Division alleges that Phillip R Durachinsky created a strain of MacOS "creepware" called Fruitfly, which was able to covertly operate the cameras and microphones of infected computers as well as capturing and sharing porn searches from the infected machines; the indictment alleges that Durachinsky used the software for 13 years, targeting individuals, schools, and federal agencies including the Department of Energy. Read the rest

One week after release, iPhone X's Face ID reportedly defeated by a $150 mask

The Vietnamese security company Bkav says that a prototype mask costing $150 can reliably defeat Apple's Face ID authentication system. However, the company (which has a good track record for defeating facial recognition systems) has not released technical details for the defeat and says that it was able to accomplish the task "Because... we are the leading cyber security firm ;)." Read the rest

Excellent, plain-language explainer on corporate and 1 percenter tax evasion, with a simple solution

The New York Times has collaborated with Berkeley economics prof Gabriel Zucman to produce an interactive explainer that walks through the baroque tax-evasion strategies deployed by multinationals like Google and Apple, as well as the super-rich, using plain language and explanatory graphics to get past the deliberately eye-glazing tedium of these arrangements, a shield of boringness that has allowed the super-rich to hide $8.7 trillion from tax authorities while taking advantage of national courts, education, roads, police, and health care. Read the rest

Wolfenstein: 30+ years of killing Nazis

I killed them on the Apple ][. I stopped them in 3D. Now we have Nazis in America, both in real life and the latest installment of Wolfenstein. BJ Blazkowicz makes it clear, Nazis gonna die. Read the rest

Why electrical engineers should support the right to repair

Writing in IEEE Spectrum, iFixit's superhero founder Kyle Wiens and Repair.org exective director Gay Gordon-Byrne bring the case for the right to repair (previously) to the engineering community, describing the economic, technical, and environmental benefits of permitting a domestic industry of local, expert technologists to help their neighbors get more out of their gadgets. Read the rest

Jonathan Mann sings a song about the MacBooks' dodgy keyboards

The Outline's Casey Johnson rages at the design of Apple's recent laptop keyboards, where the pursuit of thinness has resulted in keyboards that fail at the sight of a speck of dust, and where the said speck demands complete replacement of the keyboard assembly. Jonathan Mann (previously) turned it into a song!

I’m pressing the space bar I’m pressing the space bar I’m pressing the space bar I’m pressing the space bar And nothing is happening

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Here is Apple's self-driving car prototype

Here are new images of Apple's self-driving car technology (Project Titan) mounted on a Lexus RX350. That gear on the top is a rack of six LIDAR sensors that use lasers to collect spatial data about the vehicle's surroundings.

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This 'wheelchair dance' company asks, 'Where's the disability?'

At the Disability Rights Legal Center fundraiser gala this past weekend in Los Angeles, Apple was presented with DRLC's Business and Technology Award for their accessibility work, and 'Infinite Flow - A Wheelchair Dance Company' was featured as a cause auction recipient for an Apple Watch Series 3, which was designed with a number of accessibility-expanding features. Of particular note are its wheelchair-specific features, VoiceOver for the blind, and the Taptic Engine (haptic feedback for navigation and notification).

What's the connection between Apple Watch and wheelchair dance?

Activity on the Apple Watch is optimized for wheelchair users. taking into account different pushing techniques for varying speeds and terrain, Apple Watch tracks daily activity, encourages healthy routines through wheelchair-specific workouts, and prompts users to move with Time to Roll notifications.

(...) With sensors configured to address different surface types, inclines, and transition moments, such as moving from a wheelchair to a seat at a desk, the Apple Watch Series 3 is designed with accessibility in mind and ideal for the variety of dancers in Hamamoto's inclusive classes and performances.

Infinite Flow was founded in 2015 by Marisa Hamamoto, a professional ballroom dancer who became temporarily paralyzed, then later regained the full use of her body.

Her group is America's first professional wheelchair ballroom dance company, and works to encourage others to dance inclusively, with and without physical limitations.

At the DRLC event on the Fox Studios lot, Hamamoto and guest artist Piotr Iwanicki did a live cha cha cha performance. Read the rest

Reimplementing an Apple ][+ on an FPGA

1977's Apple ][+ was the first successful personal computer, inspiring a generation of hackers and makers and coders; famously, it shipped with a schematic that showed how the boards and their components worked together, to allow hobbyists to improve and service their PCs (hardware-hacking legend Bunnie Huang credits these schematics with igniting his interest in electronics and computing). Read the rest

Study measuring IQ of various AI puts Google's at 47.28

Google's AI scored more than twice as high as Apple's Siri in a comparative analysis designed to assess AI threat. Read the rest

Apple makes it harder to track you online, ad industry has an aneurysm

Safari has blocked third-party cookies (used to track your behavior across multiple websites) since 2010, but the ad-tech industry has fired back with a bunch of covert tracking tools that watch you even if you've adopted privacy countermeasures; the latest version of Safari goes one better, deploying machine-learning to selectively block even more tracking technologies, while still preserving useful third-party cookies that help you stay logged in and do useful work across different sites. Read the rest

Feeling down? Soon you'll be able to skip the shrink and ask Siri

Conversations with Siri are about to become a whole lot deeper and likely much more unsettling as users begin seeking personal guidance from the voice assistant.

Apple is preparing Siri to become iPhone customers’ virtual therapist, according to the International Business Times. The tech company is ideally seeking someone with a psychology background and programming capabilities, according to a job posting from April.

“People have serious conversations with Siri,” the description reads. “People talk to Siri about all kinds of things, including when they’re having a stressful day or have something serious on their mind...They turn to Siri in emergencies or when they want guidance on living a healthier life.”

Let’s just hope Siri is better at diagnosing our unresolved childhood issues, than she is at voice recognition.

Image: Jacquelinekato Read the rest

'A $1000 emoji machine.' The best new iPhone X parody video so far.

“When you look at your phone it'll shoot thousands of lasers straight into your pores, then it sucks your soul like Dementor. Thank you for your life juice.” Read the rest

Easter egg: How to make Siri recite every word to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

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iPhone killed tinkering, but only if you want to tinker with iPhone

Most tech-media takes on the iPhone's 10th anniversary are bland and self-congratulatory, but I like Tom Warren's at The Verge. He laments how Apple's pocket computer killed his inner nerd. As a youngster, he'd be constantly tearing down and building computers, even in the sweltering heat of summer. But now...

...All of that tinkering and hacking things ended for me shortly after the iPhone arrived ... When I look at modern PCs, tablets, and phones now I’m surprised at the simplicity of them. Not all of them are perfect, but technology is rapidly turning into something in the background that’s accessible to everyone and doesn’t require hours of configuration. I miss the thrill of hacking away and tinkering, but as I shout to Alexa to turn off my lights at night I can’t help but appreciate just how easy everything is now.

If anything I've had the opposite experience. I hate having to fiddle with technology because I have to if I want it to do something interesting, or simply to work in the first place. But now tinkering is all creation. Experimentation, hacking--all of it is freed from whatever technical needs I have.

Perhaps what people miss is the feeling that tinkering with tech will put them on the cutting edge of performance, will move them into the unequally-distributed future. But the same thing is now diversion, mere art, and that's not what they care about.

It's true, though, that the iPhone made gadgets boring. It's striking, when you look at the products released around that time and for years thereafter, just how astronomically ahead of the game Apple was in 2007. Read the rest

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