Shared posts

21 May 10:58


by Tom

The consequence of Apple’s approach is that pretty much everything behaves in predictable ways, but you have a very narrow range of devices at a narrow range of prices (and screen sizes), and that severely restricts the addressable market. More people can afford $50 phones than can afford $600 phones. The consequence of the Android approach is that you have a much wide range of devices and prices, and a much larger market, but anything on the bleeding edge doesn’t work predictably at all.

Android fragmentation and the cloud — Benedict Evans

This is presented from a seller’s perspective (“addressable market”), but the other perspective here is that “Android is fragmented” as a complaint looks interestingly close to “poor people should not be allowed smartphones”.

19 Jul 04:49


by Tom

The developer raises up the great sword of technology and brings it down upon the plinth of culture—and the sword shatters. But never mind; we can go back to the forge to make a bigger, better sword for retina displays. And as we craft it we whisper that eternal prayer for the comfort of list-makers: This time will be different.

Doomed to Repeat It — The Message — Medium

25 Jul 17:50


by Tom

What we have now is an enemy of the state that’s just there, passively feeding off everything, working off the fact that all these data plumes are given off – exhaust that’s just exhaled as a matter of course as people go by their lives.

Dan Hon. You can’t go full-on data plume silent-running without opting out of 21st century social life, but give off too much and you’re feeding parasites. I wonder if there’s a compromise between the two, or if the demands of the former mean the latter isn’t escapable..

30 Jul 16:22


by Tom

in the majority of Latin languages, ø sorts as an accented variant of o, meaning that most users would expect ø alongside o. However, a few languages, such as Norwegian and Danish, sort ø as a unique element after z. Sorting “Søren” after “Sylt” in a long list, as would be expected in Norwegian or Danish, will cause problems if the user expects ø as a variant of o.

Alphabetical order explained in a mere 27,817 words. previously

17 Oct 01:39

New iPads and the Apple SIM

by Federico Viticci

A major change in the new iPads that Apple didn't mention on stage today is the Apple SIM, which will come preinstalled on the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. As we mentioned in our overview, the Apple SIM will be initially limited to the US and the UK.

Ina Fried writes:

The cellular-equipped versions of the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 can be bought with a single SIM card that supports multiple carriers, meaning that customers don’t have to decide at the time of purchase which cellular carrier they want. Customers buying previous versions of the iPad were bound to one carrier from the outset, since the SIM card was only compatible with that service.

Over at Quartz, Dan Frommer argues that the Apple SIM could potentially be a big deal on the iPhone and even disrupt the wireless industry:

It’s early, but it’s easy to see how this concept could significantly disrupt the mobile industry if Apple brings it to the iPhone. In many markets—especially the US—most mobile phones are distributed by operators and locked to those networks under multi-year contracts. People rarely switch operators, partially out of habit and satisfaction, but mostly because it’s annoying to do so.

There have always been rumors (see: 2010) of Apple setting itself up as a MVNO to change the way customers “interact” with carriers. It's interesting that Apple has started to experiment with Apple SIM on the iPad and I'm curious to see if and how this will expand worldwide.

∞ Read this on MacStories

17 Oct 02:10

All the new Apple stuff (October 2014)

by Michael Zhao
2014-10-16 11.25.15 (1)

During today’s event, Apple updated pretty much everything they didn’t get to in September. There’s a new iPad Air and iPad mini, a Retina iMac, and a surprise appearance of an updated Mac mini. Apple also announced the launch of Mac OS X Yosemite (which you can download right now) and iOS 8.1 (which launches Monday with support for Apple Pay); we covered those back in June when they were first announced.

What’s new about the new iPads?

For one thing, choosing between mini and Air just got a lot easier. The iPad Air 2 got a bunch of updates and is better than the original Air in every aspect. It’s thinner and lighter than its already-thin-and-light predecessor, and it has a better screen, faster chips, better cameras, Touch ID, and faster wireless (both Wi-Fi and LTE). Oh, and it now comes in gold.

The new iPad mini 3 only got the paint job and Touch ID sensor. Beyond that, it’s the same exact thing as the old iPad mini Retina (seriously, compare the specs side by side), which now sells for $100 less. That makes the mini 3 a pretty bad deal.

With this latest generation of iPads, Apple has made it clear that big tablets are the ones to get. This makes sense given their push for larger phone screens. If phones are larger, there’s less need for a small tablet. 

The iPad Air 2 is thinner and slightly lighter, so it's easier to use one-handed than previous full-sized iPads. Photo by Seamus Bellamy

The iPad Air 2 is thinner and slightly lighter, so it’s easier to use one-handed than previous full-sized iPads. Photo by Seamus Bellamy.

The most immediately obvious change to the iPad Air 2 is its size. A reduction of 1.4 millimeters of thickness and 32 grams of weight doesn’t sound like a lot. After trying them in person, though, the Air 2 is noticeably lighter and thinner in the hand, making it more comfortable to hold than the original. And now the Air is now only 0.2 pounds heavier than the iPad mini. If you like the Air’s larger screen but preferred the mini for its lighter weight and easier one-handed use, the new Air may be more appealing.


The iPad Air 2 (right) has an anti-reflective coating whereas the iPad mini 3 (left) does not. Photo by Dan Frakes.

The iPad Air 2 (right) has an anti-reflective coating whereas the iPad mini 3 (left) does not. Photo by Dan Frakes.

 The key to the new Air’s thinness is a redesigned screen with no air gaps between the layers. Apple claims that this also makes the display sharper. They’ve also added an anti-reflective coating to the glass to make it easier to read. Screen glare has been one of the big criticisms of the iPad for reading and outdoor use, so this is a welcome improvement. The image above shows the same ceiling light reflected off the screens of the iPad mini 3 (left) and iPad Air 2 (right). On the mini, the glare is very bright and completely obscures whatever is on the screen. On the Air, there’s still a glare, but it’s much more muted and you can still see the screen through it. It’s not a matte anti-glare treatment—which usually affects colors and brightness—but rather a more-subtle reduction of reflections.

The camera’s resolution is now 8 megapixels instead of 5 MP and adds burst mode and slo-mo video shooting. That’s similar to the camera on the iPhone 5s, though the pixels on the sensor are a bit smaller than those on the 5s, so low-light performance might not be as good. Still, it’s not bad for a tablet.

The insides have been upgraded too. Apple says the new A8X processor makes graphics up to 2.5 times better, and apps will run faster and more efficiently. The Air 2 has two-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi, so you’ll get faster internet and file transfers if you use it with an ac-capable router like our pick. It also has the same M8 motion coprocessor as the iPhone 6—not that you should use your tablet for fitness tracking. Like the iPads that came before it, the Air 2 should have an impressive 10-hour battery life.

Pricing starts at $500 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. There’s a 64GB model for $600 and 128GB for $700. As with the iPhone, Apple eliminated the 32GB model entirely.

LTE still costs $130 extra, but in a surprising move, the LTE Air 2 comes pre-installed with a SIM card that lets you switch freely between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint without changing SIM cards (Verizon is conspicuously absent). That means you can pick whichever carrier works best for you and just buy data from them as needed. Apple didn’t make a big deal out of this, but it’s actually a pretty big win for customers since you can switch networks without needing to buy a new iPad.

The new iPad mini 3 has the same pricing structure but starts at $400 for the 16GB version. Pre-orders for both start on the 17th and they’ll ship starting late next week.

Should I get one?

If you bought an iPad a while back and find that it’s now gathering dust, buying a new one probably won’t change that. But if you’re using yours less because it’s getting slow and annoying, now’s a good time to upgrade. Touch ID alone will greatly improve your tablet experience. Games will have better graphics, apps will load faster, and of course, everything will be a tiny bit easier to travel with.

However, if you have a perfectly functional iPad that isn’t laggy, you should first consider your use patterns. The improved portability won’t really matter if you’re just watching TV in bed or reading the news on the couch. But if you use the iPad a lot for traveling, you’ll appreciate that the new ones are light enough to operate one-handed. It’s also easy to justify upgrading if you like taking photos with a tablet. The upgraded 8MP camera should be a huge improvement over those of past iPads. We have more advice on this in our full guide.

How about that Retina iMac?

The Retina iMac is as gorgeous as you’d expect from an iMac with a 5120×2880, 14.7-megapixel display. It has the same design as the normal 27-inch iMac, but possesses faster guts and a much more pixel-dense screen. Assuming this Retina display is as accurate out of the box as the MacBook Pro with Retina display was when it came out, this is going to be a real game changer for photographers, who will be able to see photos in near full resolution with near-accurate colors.

It starts at $2,500, which is surprisingly affordable given that Dell plans to sell a 5K monitor for the same price. However, we don’t yet know whether the GPU in the base configuration will be powerful enough to push all those pixels smoothly. Fully maxed out, it’ll set you back $4,400.

It’s available starting today, but the smart money’s on waiting for the reviews and benchmarks to see just how good that display is, and whether the hardware is enough to keep up with it. But if you must have it now, our computer section editor Nathan Edwards has some advice on which configuration to get: “Most people who just need a great computer will probably be fine with the base model GPU with 2 GB of VRAM. Video editors, 3D modelers, and anyone who deals with very high-resolution graphics—basically anyone who relies on a good GPU for work—should get the upgraded GPU with 4 GB of VRAM. Or a Mac Pro.”

Is the new Mac mini worth considering now?

Maybe. The new Mac mini has upgraded processors, storage, graphics, and Thunderbolt 2 ports, and its base model now starts at $500 instead of $600. By the time you’ve added a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, you’re approaching the cost of a MacBook Air or 21-inch iMac. But if you already have a monitor you like and a keyboard/mouse combo that works, it’s not an awful deal for a competent desktop computer. It’s the cheapest way to get a Mac, and the small size makes it a decent candidate for a media center PC or a very small desktop. You could build a desktop with much better specs for the same amount of money, if you have the time and know-how, but that would be much larger and wouldn’t be a Mac.

17 Oct 01:56

Living with multiple myeloma: My cancer is back

by tyfn

Waiting for chemo treatmentMay 2013: Waiting for chemo treatment

This week I had my Hematologist appointment and based on elevated levels of my Beta-2 microglobulin, my cancer is back. For most multiple myeloma patients, their myeloma protein resides in the gamma globulin, for me it is the Beta 2 globulin. My igG number is used to track my cancer levels, which will parallel my Beta 2 number. Right now, my igG level is 14.8, my Beta 2 level is 9.5. Therefore I was in complete remission (no myeloma visible in my blood stream) from November 2013 until July 2014.

I had a good discussion with my Hematologist. Basically if my igG levels spike or if I experience bone pain (a common symptom of multiple myeloma), then we will have to discuss chemo treatment options. Otherwise, we will watch my levels and hopefully they will only go up gradually. I will continue to have blood tests every five months and see my Hematologist every 3 months.

Serum Proteins (Electrophoresis & Immunoglobulins) (g/L)
Date Albumin Beta 2 Globulin Gamma Globulin igG igA igM
Reference Range 34.0-53.0 1.8 – 4.8 5.1 – 15.0 6.7 – 15.2 .70 – 4.00 .40 – 2.30
Oct 46.2 9.5 6.4 14.8 .39 .27
Sept 45.1 6.2 7.1 12.8 .36 .21
July 45.9 4.9 6.9 10.8 .34 .25
June 45.3 4.0 6.6 9.9 .33 .30
May 46.5 3.5 7.3 9.2 .33 .26
Apr 47.9 2.8 7.0 9.2 .28 .23
Mar 48.3 2.8 7.0 8.9 .31 .33
Feb 51.4 2.8 6.4 7.7 .24 .38
Jan 47.6 3.0 6.2 7.5 .17 .33
Nov 45.6 3.5 5.1 7.1 .14 .10

Test Comment: There is a monoclonal band in the beta 2 region. This band was previously identified as IgG lambda.

Hematology Profile
Date WBC Hemoglobin Platelet Count Neutrophils
Reference Range 4.0 – 11.0 135 – 170 150 – 400 2.0 – 8.0
Oct 4.1 139 305 2.1
Sept 3.7 135 241 1.8
July 2.9 133 247 1.4
June 3.4 135 265 1.8
May 3.2 138 294 1.5
Apr 2.3 137 243 0.9
Mar 2.0 135 211 0.8
Feb 2.0 132 208 0.9
Jan 1.9 124 217 0.7
Nov 2.2 118 220 1.1

I had a question about whether multiple myeloma was a chronic disease and about whether the spoonie theory applies. I was told that it is not, which makes sense to me. I don’t have a limited amount of energy each day and my disease is terminal.

I’m now in ‘preparing for chemo’ mode. With my last two chemo treatments, I had life altering events , so I may have serious side effects again and I need to be prepared (e.g. financially, physically, mentally, emotionally). During Revlimid, I had a ischemic stroke caused by TTP, a rare blood disorder and spent 12 days in hospital. In 2013, during Velade, my T7 vertebrae collapsed causing intense pain over four weeks.

I expect chemo in the next two years. It is important that I remain stress-free as possible in my life to help keep my levels from spiking.
I view my upcoming chemo as an opportunity to continue to share knowledge about multiple myeloma to others. Whenever my treatment happens, I will document it like in 2013 using photography and social media. I also hope to get going on Cancer Sabbatical, once I can get a laptop.

If anyone has any questions, just ask. Staying positive!

To recap: I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. It is incurable, but treatable. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. It was a challenging year.

I also love photography and use it for personal health and healing. You can view my photos on Pinterest.

Sunset in a UBC ForestSunset in a UBC forest

The post Living with multiple myeloma: My cancer is back appeared first on Fade to Play.

16 Oct 18:03

Sneak Peek at Pixelmator for iPad

by Ausra (Pixelmator Team)

This one is huge. And I mean it. 

We are extremely excited to finally let you know that we’ve been working very hard at a non-stop pace for two years on something that is definitely one of the best apps for the iPad ever. Or, if you will, definitely the best image editing app for the iPad.

Today, we introduce Pixelmator for iPad — a full featured image editing app for the iPad.

Just to tease you a bit more, we won’t show everything as of yet. But there are a few things that we just cannot keep to ourselves:

Pixelmator for iPad is a full featured, layer-based image editor that you can use to create, edit, and enhance your images. It looks amazing. It is a real iOS 8 app. Also, it is so incredibly easy to use. Pixelmator for iPad has a fantastic true-to-life painting engine, incredible color adjustments, retouching tools, gorgeous effects, shapes, typography, selection tools, non-destructive layer styles, and pretty much all of the advanced image editing tools that you will ever need. 

If that’s not enough, well, Pixelmator for iPad can work with Photoshop documents. Of course, it works flawlessly with Pixelmator for Mac via full iCloud support, via Handoff, or whatever else you choose. 

It is definitely a superb app and here is a tiny sneak peek of what it looks like:

Pixelmator for iPad is coming out very soon. It will cost $4.99, and it is going to be awesome. Oh, and by the way, it’s just 1.0 yet. This is only the beginning.

Be the first to know about Pixelmator for iPad release:

Subscribe to all other important Pixelmator news and announcements.
16 Oct 16:44

Mozilla and Telefónica Partner to Simplify Voice and Video Calls on the Web

by Mozilla
Mozilla is extending its relationship with Telefonica by making it easier than ever to communicate on the Web. Telefónica has been an invaluable partner in helping Mozilla develop and bring Firefox OS to market with 12 devices now available in … Continue reading
17 Oct 04:55

Bug Bash on Firefox OS v2.1

by pragmatic

The Firefox OS QA team is holding a Bug Bash on Firefox OS v2.1 next week in multiple timezones around the world. Please join us by contributing as little as 15 minutes of your time. Select a bite-size task through One and Done and earn a badge! Bring your Flame device, flash the latest 2.1 build, and help us provide the best quality ever!

Location and Time

  • Mountain View | Thu Oct 23 2014 from 4 pm to 6 pm PST | Meeting Room: Sanctuary
  • San Francisco | Thu Oct 23 2014 from 4 pm to 6 pm PST | Meeting Room: The Warfield
  • Paris | Thu Oct 23 2014 from 3 pm to 5 pm CEST | Meeting Room: Apero
  • Taipei | Fri Oct 24 2014 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm GMT+8 | Meeting Room: Orange


All contributors will get a General QA Participation badge. Additionally, we’ll give out a B2G badge and stickers for

  1. any blocker bugs found
  2. any bugs knocked off the qa-wanted list

More details can be found here:

Hope to see you around!

Firefox OS QA Team

When: October 23, 2014.

17 Oct 07:00

Apple announces new iPads and Macs

by Roland B

Apple Event Main Pic

“It’s been way too long”

Apple held its October special event yesterday to introduce its line of new iPads and Macs and as usual, it was a more low-key affair than last month’s iPhone 6 launch.

Teasing us with the mysterious strap line “it’s been way too long”, there was intense speculation that besides the expected iPads, there might be a few surprises in store. Perhaps Apple would finally get serious about the living room with a long overdue Apple TV update or refresh the poor old Mac Mini – a diminutive desktop that is adored by Apple fans yet receives almost no media attention.

Unfortunately there weren’t any real surprises at the event, as details of the new iPads were unintentionally leaked (or was it just a cheap publicity stunt?) on Wednesday in new iPad User Guides in the iBooks store. The inclusion of Touch ID on the new iPads was already assumed, but it makes you wonder about this “doubling down” on secrecy. In fact, Apple even alluded to recent leaks with an admittedly funny video skit about tripling down on security.

Here’s a brief rundown of the main news.

Apple's Tim Cook holds the new iPad Air 2

Apple’s Tim Cook holds the new iPad Air 2

Apple’s strongest product lineup ever?

Echoing comments made by Apple’s Eddy Cue earlier this year, CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple’s product lineup is the strongest it’s ever been, designed to work seamlessly together and made possible by the most advanced operating systems on the planet – iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

So what was actually announced?

A new iPad Air 2, an iPad Mini 3, and a new iMac with a “5k” super high-resolution screen.

There was also a welcome update to the Mac Mini, but no Apple TV, and no Retina display MacBook Air.

You can’t have everything I suppose….

iPhone – a record breaking launch

Back to the event itself, and the first 20 minutes covered the stellar launch of the recent iPhone 6, the imminent Apple Pay rollout, and also a brief mention of the Apple Watch.

Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus rollout has been an incredible success. According to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, it’s been the most successful launch ever by a large margin. No sales figures were disclosed – they will instead be revealed when Apple reports its quarterly results next week.

But 10 million iPhone 6 sales on the first weekend and 4 million in China in the first 6 hours confirm it’s been a sellout for the new iPhones, which will be available in China from today and another 36 countries on October 31st.

Apple Pay – launch on Monday

Apple Pay (or  Pay) has received lots of media attention as Apple plans to aggressively roll out its new wireless payments system using the iPhone’s new NFC chip and Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

As “the easy, secure and private way to pay”,  Pay will launch in the U.S. on Monday via an iOS update to version 8.1. Since last month’s special event, Apple has incredibly signed up another 500 U.S. banks to the scheme and dozens more big name retailers. The service is expected to roll out internationally later this year and into next.

Apple Watch

Still on release date for the Apple Watch

Apple watch – still no release date

The Apple watch is, according to Apple “the most personal device we’ve ever created”, and has apparently received a great reception from the tech community, health and fitness sector, and fashion and style industries. This month it features on the cover of Chinese Vogue, worn by Chinese model Liu Wen.

Cook noted that Apple has been working closely with third party developers such as BMW and American Express to create Apple Watch apps. However, the best news for developers is that WatchKit will be available from next month, enabling them to start creating their own unique apps. Unfortunately, there was still no news on the launch date which is still pegged for early 2015. Perhaps the recent bankruptcy of GT Advanced Technologies (Apple’s main sapphire manufacturing partner) will lead to supply screen supply problems…

It remains to be seen how popular  Watch will be, as recent surveys have shown that American teens are not that excited by the prospect of the watch.

iOS 8 and OS X “Yosemite”

Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, took to the stage to provide an update on iOS adoption and its latest Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite (actually OS X version 10.10).

iOS 8 has already been installed on 48% of devices in just 4 weeks, said Federighi. That means that 94% of iDevice users have an OS that has been released or updated in the past year (i.e. combined statistics for both iOS 7 and iOS 8). While iOS 8 adoption has been marginally slower than iOS 7, it’s still an impressive figure when compared with Android.

Apple also took time to highlight Android’s adoption rates. According to Federighi (and validated on the Google Developer website), 54% of Android users are stuck on the older Jelly Bean, while the newest version KitKat took 313 days to achieve just 25% adoption.

“What really sets iOS apart is all the great technologies it puts in the hands of developers” – Craig Federighi, SVP Software Engineering

iOS 8.1 will be available on Monday and, besides the various fixes and updates, will include Apple Pay support, and the return of the Camera Roll. It’s obviously a time of the signs that Apple has listened to its users, who complained vocally that Camera Roll had been removed in iOS 8.

OS X Yosemite gives Macs a facelift

Apple's OS X Yosemite is available for free today

Apple’s OS X Yosemite is available for free today


In terms of OS X, the new version of Apple’s desktop OS will be available for free from today. Adopting a flatter look more in line with iOS, Yosemite includes improvements to the notification centre and more seamless integration with iOS devices – you can even take and receive phone calls and SMS messages right on your Mac.

iPad Air 2 – thinner, faster, lighter…

Tim Cook took highlighted the impact the iPad has had and how it is being used in ways that nobody imagined – perhaps to position the iPad in a more positive light consider that growth in tablets is slowing, and sales are being cannibalised from super sized phablets and smartphones.

“It’s not surprising that we’ve sold more iPads in the first 3 years than any product in our history. 225 million sold around the world.”

Cook also pointed out that the iPad is consistently rated number 1 in customer satisfaction surveys, with the iPad Mini Retina achieving an unbelievable 100% satisfaction in one instance.

Apple iPad Air 2 Phil Schiller

Apple’s Phil Shiller introduces the iPad Air 2


So what was new in the iPad Air 2? As expected – thinner, lighter, faster……

Here’s a brief summary of the main features:

  • A new custom A8X CPU – claimed to be 40% faster than the A7, and 12 x faster than iPad 1
  • 6.1 mm thick (18% thinner than the iPad Air 1)
  • 2.5 x faster GPU (180 x faster than iPad 1)
  • 10 hour battery life
  • M8 motion coprocessor chip (motion, barometer, speed)
  • Anti-reflective screen – 56% less reflective
  • Dual New 8 MP camera with burst mode, time lapse, slo-mo at 120 fps
  • Faster WiFi up to 866 Mbps and 4G up to 150 Mbps
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Available in silver, space grey and gold
  • 16, 64, and 128 GB storage options

The iPad Air 2 is noticeably thinner even than the Air 1. It was shown next to the original 2010 iPad – it’s so thin that two of the new models stacked up are still thinner than the original. But has Apple done enough to update the iPad Air?

It’s a solid upgrade that’s perhaps more incremental than revolutionary, but Apple may have done just enough to maintain sales and tempt users to upgrade.

The iPad Air 2 is available today for pre-order, starting at £399 for the 16 GB version, £479 for 64 GB, and £559 for 128 GB.

Apple iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini 3 received Touch ID but not much else

iPad Mini 3

The new iPad Mini received only minor updates. While gaining the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, little else on the diminutive iPad was updated – even last year’s A7 CPU was retained.

Perhaps Apple is trying to encourage consumers to upsell to the more profitable iPad Air 2, but there are many people who will be disappointed that the Mini didn’t receive a more significant update.

Nevertheless, last year’s model is retained at the new lower price point of £239 for a 16 GB model, and the original (non-Retina) Mini is also being kept alive at the cheaper end of the price bracket, for just £199.

Let’s hope that Apple deems to bestow a better CPU on next year’s iPad Mini…

14.7 million pixels on the new Retina iMac

Perhaps the star of the event, more so than the new iPads, was Apple’s new super high resolution Retina 5K iMac. The iMac is a popular all-on-one desktop that has helped Apple buck the industry trend and achieve 18% year on year growth.

The new 27″ model now sports a gorgeous 5,120 x 2,880 display with 14.7 million pixels, which Apple claims is the world’s highest resolution display. Contrasting this to regular 1080p Full HD, that’s 7 x more pixels and even 67% more pixels than one of the latest (and expensive) 4K TVs can handle.

Besides the display, the iMac’s internals were also beefed up – £1,999 now gets you a faster CPU, an AMD Radeon GPU and Apple’s hybrid “Fusion Drive” that can be configured up to 3 TB.

Apple iMac Retina 5K

Apple’s new iMac with Retina 5k display ups the ante for high-res all-in-ones

The iMac is an important product for Apple, not least because it’s used by professionals for photo and video editing and contributes enormously to the “Halo Effect” that helps drive sales of Apple’s other products.

It’s disappointing that the smaller 21.5″ iMac didn’t receive the same cutting edge display, but as the technology becomes cheaper, it’s something that we’ll no doubt see in the future.

Apple Mac Mini

Apple’s Mac Mini received a welcome spec bump

Mac Mini update surprise

One of the products most loved by Apple fans is the tiny Mac Mini, which is sold as a compact desktop machine sans keyboard, monitor and mouse.

If you’ve ever read any Apple forums, you’ll be aware that the faithful have been crying out for an update for a long time.

Thankfully, Apple did update the machine, albeit with a moderate spec bump starting from £399. Nevertheless, it was a much needed update that’s brought the tiny machine up to date with more capable hardware.

13 Oct 22:49

Twitter Favorites: [dwiskus] Productivity tool experts remind me of audiophiles. There comes a point where you’re listening to your stereo and missing the music.

Dave Wiskus @dwiskus
Productivity tool experts remind me of audiophiles. There comes a point where you’re listening to your stereo and missing the music.
17 Oct 05:42

Instapaper Liked: Vancouver Archipelago

Perched at the western edge of the Fraser Sea, the Vancouver Archipelago holds what remains of a great western city. This is the fifth in a series of extreme…
17 Oct 12:35

Android 5.0 Lollipop comes with its own ‘Messenger’ app

by Rajesh Pandey
If you’d look closely at the Nexus 6 screenshots on its official listing page from Google, you will notice an icon for a new Messaging app on the homescreen.  Continue reading →
17 Oct 14:48

Mozillians of the world, unite!

by davidwboswell

When i got involved with Mozilla in 1999, it was clear that something big was going on. The site had a distinctly “Workers of the world, unite!” feel to it. It caught my attention and made me interested to find out more.


The language on the site had the same revolutionary feel as the design. One of the pages talked about Why Mozilla Matters and it was an impassioned rallying cry for people to get involved with the audacious thing Mozilla was trying to do.

“The project is terribly important for the state of open-source software. [...] And it’s going to be an uphill battle. [...] A successful project could be the lever that moves a dozen previously immobile stones. [...] Maximize the opportunity here or you’ll be kicking yourself for years to come.”

With some minor tweaks, these words are still true today. One change: we call the project just Mozilla now instead of Our mission today is also broader than creating software, we also educate people about the web, advocate to keep the Internet open and more.

Another change is that our competition has adopted many of the tactics of working in the open that we pioneered. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have their own open source communities today. So how can we compete with companies that are bigger than us and are borrowing our playbook?

We do something radical and audicious. We build a new playbook. We become pioneers for 21st century participation. We tap into the passion, skills and expertise of people around the world better than anyone else. We build the community that will give Mozilla the long-term impact that Mitchell spoke about at the Summit.


Mozilla just launched the Open Standard site and one of the first articles posted is “Struggle For An Open Internet Grows“. This shows how the challenges of today are not the same challenges we faced 16 years ago, so we need to do new things in new ways to advance our mission.

If the open Internet is blocked or shut down in places, let’s build communities on the ground that turn it back on. If laws threaten the web, let’s make that a public conversation. If we need to innovate to be relevant in the coming Internet of Things, let’s do that.

Building the community that can do this is work we need to start on. What doesn’t serve our community any more? What do we need to do that we aren’t? What works that needs to get scaled up? Mozillians of the world, unite and help answer these questions.

17 Oct 13:46

"There’s an interesting thing about ancient China, because if you read through the history, almost..."

“There’s an interesting thing about ancient China, because if you read through the history, almost every single major invention of the world was invented in China first, and sometimes it took hundred of years for each to either it to make it’s way to Western Europe or to be reinvented in Western Europe. That includes paper, printing, steel, gunpowder, the compass, rudder, suspension bridges, etc. It’s almost everything, and for a long time China led the world in civilization because it was able to make these things long before anyone else. But there was one invention that China did not invent, and it would turn out to be the most important invention, and that was the invention of the scientific method.

There’s still a question about why China didn’t invent that, which was invented in the West. Because of that one invention, the West suddenly had a method for inventing new things and finding new things that was so superior that it just blew past all the great inventions of China and invented so many more things because of the power of this one invention. And that invention—the scientific method—is not a single thing. It’s actually a process with many ingredients, and the scientific method itself has actually been changing. In the very beginning it was very simple, a couple of processes like a controlled experiment, having a control, being able to repeat things, having to have a proof. We tend to think of the scientific method as sort of a whole—as fixed in time with a certain character. But lots of things that we assume or we now associate with the scientific method were only invented recently, some of them only as recently as 50 years ago—things like a double blind experiment or the invention of the placebo or random sampling were all incredibly recent additions to the scientific method. In 50 years from now the scientific method will have changed more than it has in the past 400 years just as everything else has.

So the scientific method is still changing over time. It’s an invention that we’re still evolving and refining. It’s a technology. It’s a process technology, but it’s probably the most important process and technology that we have, but that is still undergoing evolution refinement and advancement and we are adding new things to this invention. We’re adding things like a triple blind experiment or multiple authors or quantified self where you have experiment of N equals one. We’re doing things like saving negative results and transmitting those. There’s many, many things happening with the scientific method itself—as a technology—that we’re also improving over time, and that will affect all the other technologies that we make.”


Kevin Kelly

17 Oct 14:18

Engineering at Mozilla – Building Firefox with Georg Fritzsche

by Robert "Bob" Reyes
The Mozilla Philippines Community (MozillaPH) welcomes Georg Fritzsche to the Mozilla Community Space Manila (MozSpaceMNL) on the evening of Tue 18 Nov 2014. Georg is a Platform Engineer working on Firefox Desktop. He will talk about the Firefox engineering process as well as his recent projects and experiences working on Firefox. If you are interested in attending this event, kindly secure your FREE ticket. Strictly RSVP only. Maraming salamat po! Online Ticketing for Engineering at Mozilla – Building Firefox with… Read the rest
17 Oct 15:27

Let’s play the TransLink No-Win Game

by pricetags

From Business in Vancouver: “Developers step up to pay for transit stations

The economic benefits of being linked to rapid transit are so important that Metro Vancouver developers are paying millions of dollars to upgrade old stations and even help pay for new stations.

  • At the Marine Gateway station, for instance, developer PCI Group paid $2.5 million for access and safety improvements to the existing Canada Line station …
  • In Richmond, residential developers Polygon Homes, Concord Pacific and Pinnacle Properties agreed to a levy of $7,800 per housing unit they build nearby to pay for the $25 million Capstan Village, a new stop on the Canada Line. …
  • In Coquitlam, a unique funding arrangement between the province, the city of Coquitlam, Morguard Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns Coquitlam Centre Mall, and residential developers was used to cover the $28 million cost of an extra stop, the Lincoln Station, on the Evergreen Line, which completes in 2016. …
  • A new Canada Line transit station has been roughed in at Cambie and 57th in Vancouver, and it is expected that private developers will be paying to build it. …


Is this:

(a) Another reason why housing is unaffordable in Vancouver.

(b) Another example of Vancouver as a massive real-estate play for the benefit of developers.

(c) Why our rapid-transit lines will be impossibly overcrowded.

(d) _____________________________________

17 Oct 16:03

After watching Gruber's fascinating speech at XOXO, I wonder why don't you consider going full time blogging on your own like he did, so you can maybe write more and focus on what you what?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… I obviously thought about that in the past, but I chose to take my career in a different direction. And honestly, I could not be happier with my choice. 

That said, I always wish I could find more time to write. And I keep trying to come up with ways to “get back into it” — but it’s honestly hard when you have another full time job.

But I won’t give up. I’ll get to a good place from a writing perspective again eventually. I just need more time :)

17 Oct 16:45

“All cities are mad, but the madness is gallant”

by pricetags

From Gladys We, who lurks on MetaFilter:


Planned cities are not a new idea (Palmanova, Italy, 1593). From Washington, D.C. (1791), to CanberraAustralia (1911), to Brasilia, Brazil (1957), planned cities have long been an urban dream (from space), perhaps most frequently applied to national capitals. But they don’t always work out as planned.

In North America, some argue that everything settled after the 1871 Dominion Lands Act in Canada or the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 in the US counts as “planned” because it was platted before the settlers arrived.

BroughtonNS (perhaps Canada’s first planned town; current population 24), 
New Haven, CT (the US’s first planned town (1638)),



ChicagoIL, the Burnham Plan and PullmanChicago;


Perhaps consider:
Mexico City, Mexico, which has turned its city planning muscle to green planning
Guadalajara, Mexico, which has an original colonial town plan, a 1950s revamp, and an ongoing reworking

Elsewhere in the world planned cities are often schemes of vainglorious dictators:
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Astana, Kazakhstan
KolmanskopNamibia (abandoned diamond town)
Planned Al-Noor City to build a bridge over the Red Sea

Or they may be very ancient:
4500-year-old planned city in Karachi, India?
Catalhoyuk, Turkey: 9000 years old? 10,000 years old? Really old.

Original article here.


Admit it: Had you ever heard of Broughton, Nova Scotia, before?

And for sheer lunacy:

17 Oct 16:32

Perfect for Price Tags: Architecture and Cycling

by pricetags

This comes from The Guardian (thanks to Penny Coupland for the link):.

Architecture for bikes – in pictures

From Calgary’s space-age Peace bridge to Eindhoven’s floating roundabout and the Copenhagen apartments with a cycle path straight up to the 10th floor, Gavin Blyth’s Velo City highlights some of the world’s best cycling infrastructure..

 A few shots from the book:

Arch 1

Peace Bridge, Calgary


Arch 2

 Arganzuela bridge, Madrid

17 Oct 18:21

Nexus Player now available to pre-order for $109 CDN

by Daniel Bader

Google’s first Android TV product, the Nexus Player, is now available to pre-order from the Play Store.

For $109, a merciful $10 premium over the US version, the Nexus Player attaches to one’s TV or AV receiver and acts as an independent conduit to Google content and Android-based services.

A bunch of app developers have already modified their code for the big screen, including Songza, Netflix, Plex and many others. Users interact with the box with voice or the included remote control, and Android gamers can purchase the optional gamepad ($44.99) to bring compatible titles to the television.

The Nexus Player also acts as a Google Cast conduit, so users can cast content from compatible apps, like Rdio, Netflix and others, to the TV directly.

The set-top box ships in 3-4 weeks from Google’s warehouse.

SourcePlay Store
17 Oct 18:40

Nexus 9 and Nexus Player go up for pre-order on Google Play

by Rajesh Pandey
Beside releasing the final Android 5.0 SDK and updated Developer preview images, Google has also put up the Nexus Player and Nexus 9 for pre-order on Google Play.  Continue reading →
17 Oct 19:30

Panel: Photography and the City – Nov 1

by pricetags
17 Oct 19:20

A Look at the New Mac mini

by Federico Viticci

Brian Stucki of Macminicolo:

For home users, the increased Graphics will be a very welcomed upgrade. In a data center, that will be useful for those who process a lot of images and will likely help when screen sharing. (Speaking of screen sharing, these HDMI adapters have been very useful. I’ll be interested to see if they’re still needed for the 2014 Mac mini.)

We've been running MacStories on Macminicolo for two years now – one of the best decisions we ever made. Once properly configured, the Mac mini can be a little beast of a machine – I was so happy with our setup at Macminicolo, I now use a second Mac mini just to automate tasks remotely. And with yesterday's refresh, it looks like I may have a serious candidate for my next Mac.

∞ Read this on MacStories

17 Oct 19:41

Retina iMac Questions Answered

by Federico Viticci

There's a lot to consider about Apple's new iMac with Retina 5K Display. Marco Arment has a comparison of the new iMac vs. the Mac Pro (on paper) – here's what he writes about 4K and 5K displays:

This difference is much bigger than it sounds. It’s the same, proportionally, as the difference between typical 21- to 24-inch and 27- to 30-inch monitors: “4K” computer monitors have 8.3 megapixels, while “5K” has 14.7 megapixels. Without software scaling to simulate higher density, the “right” size for a 4K monitor tops out at 24 inches, while a 5K monitor looks right at 27 to 30 inches.

It’s a huge difference.

Make sure to read the entire post as he makes some solid points with interesting technical observations.

Christina Bonnington also published a great FAQ on the new iMac at Wired, and I liked her explanation of why 5K is actually useful:

For most of us, a 5K display is just an extravagance, a high-end computing machine with specs that make our friends’ jaws drop. But for professionals in some industries, such a high pixel density is quite important.

For example, 5K resolution is great for those working on 4K content. “You can view all of the images at their true native 4K resolution, which is very important, and then have a fair amount of leftover screen space all around it for controls, icons, and even a generous 3.2-inch high text area at the bottom for commands and text input,” Displaymate’s Ray Soneira told WIRED. This actually ends up being better and more efficient than using a second monitor because you can keep your eyes on the images while working on them, instead of having to glance off to the side.

IHS Technology’s Rhoda Alexander points out that in addition to those in graphics-related fields like CAD and CG, healthcare imaging (like radiology) also has need for displays with a very high resolution.

∞ Read this on MacStories

17 Oct 19:39

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [62]

This week we’ve been celebrating our successes from Cycle 1 of the Badge Alliance Working Groups, taking a look at all the great things we’ve accomplished together over the past six months.

Check out this blog post on the BA blog for an in-depth look at the community’s achievements. You can also see an infographic overview of Cycle 1.

Here’s what else happened this week:

  • In the UK, the Duke of York announced the winners of the youth-focused digital enterprise iDEA award - and Digital Me’s Tim and Lucy were snapped at Buckingham Palace during the event!

Got an idea? #IAmIn Are you? @digitalme_ @lucydme @triches #openbadges

— iDEA (@idea_award) October 15, 2014

Thank you to everyone in our community who has helped us move the badging work forward this year with the Badge Alliance Working Groups - we are so proud to be working within such a dedicated network.

Give yourselves a big high-five for everything you’ve accomplished!

17 Oct 21:36

What is the busiest bus route in North America?

by pricetags

A quick Google, and you might think it’s Vancouver’s 99 B-Line:


Busiest 1


NAA closer read, and you can see that there’s a qualification:

As of 2010, the route was the busiest bus route in Canada and the United States,[2] with a 2011 average weekday ridership of 54,350 passengers.[1]

It depends, then, on what you consider “North America.”  Technically, it includes all 23 independent states as far south as Colombia – which means, of course, that Mexico is part of North America.

In which case …

560PX-~1In July 2005, the Metrobus corridor (in Mexico City) began operation on Insurgentes Avenue. It was the first BRT corridor in the city, extending over 20 kilometers (12.4 miles), with central stations. The number of passengers has rapidly increased since then from 250,000 daily in 2005 to 270,000 in 2007, an annual increase of approximately 10%.

In 2008, the corridor was extended nine kilometers (about 5.5 miles) to the south, and by the end of the year, the Line 2 in the Eje 4 Sur began operating twenty kilometers (12.4 miles) from east to west.

In 2009 the demand of the system grew to 480,000 daily passengers. In 2011 with the construction of the Line 3 in the Eje 1 Poniente, Metrobus increased 17 kilometers (10.5 miles), consolidating 67 km (41.6 miles), and 710,000 trips per day.


Maybe Darren Davis of Auckland Transport (who alerted us to these facts) can tell us what the daily volume of the Insurgentes line by itself is today – but one thing for sure: if the B-Line is going to be the busiest bus route in North America, it will need a few hundred thousand more passengers per day.  Even if it feels like it already has.

16 Oct 02:12

‘What The Hell, Facebook?’ Probe Reveals News Feed Surprises

by Paul Scicchitano
Mark Zuckerberg Credit: Flickr /  DonkeyHotey

(Editor’s Note: Facebook originally declined to respond to our reporter’s request for an interview. After publication of the story, Facebook contacted The Open Standard with concerns, and we’ve entered responses and clarifications in the story, in italic. Additionally, responding to a reader comment, we’ve clarified at the end of the story how the news feed algorithm is turned on and off.)

If you’ve been wondering why your uncle or high school crush dropped off your Facebook news feed, brace yourself for a rude awakening — or, as one subject in a recent study put it, “what the hell, Facebook?”

Facebook’s so-called “emotional contagion” experiment may have grabbed the summer headlines and a blizzard of public condemnation when researchers claimed to have successfully manipulated the moods of unsuspecting users. But others say most users may be more shocked to learn their news feeds are routinely manipulated by the social media giant.

The news feed is the constantly updating list of stories in the middle of your Facebook homepage. A little-known algorithm decides from what friends you do and don’t receive updates.

“The majority of people that we interviewed didn’t realize there was a Facebook algorithm,” Harvard researcher Christian Sandvig told The Open Standard. So, if your jaw just hit the floor, take heart. You can always “like” more of your friends’ posts to counter the algorithm to a degree.

But that won’t solve the problem. Some posts don’t lend themselves to a “like,” such as something unpleasant. How could anyone “like” the U.S.-led bombing of ISIS, the Ferguson shooting death of Michael Brown or the suicide of comedian Robin Williams?

Interests not served

“It’s not big brother exactly,” acknowledged Sandvig, who is an associate professor at the University of Michigan in addition to serving as a faculty associate of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “The news feed algorithm is basically not serving our interests.”

Content recommendations and ad placements based on algorithms sometimes have unintended consequences – and not just on Facebook, but in the search results returned by Google and Amazon. The difference is that these sites don’t shape our online social experience as much as Facebook.

“The majority of people that we interviewed didn’t realize there was a Facebook algorithm,” said Harvard researcher Christian Sandvig. But most users already can toggle between “top stories” and “most recent”

“Let’s say you had a baby and you really wanted people to know that you had a baby. You definitely would get more play if you had a link in there to say Bud Light, because Anheuser-Busch is one of Facebook’s advertisers,” Sandvig asserted.

Responding after the story’s publication, Facebook spokesperson Michael Kirkland said via email, “That is not true. Organic News Feed ranking is not impacted at all by ads. We try to show people the things they will find the most interesting based on what and who they interact with, not who spends money on Facebook.”

The casual user also doesn’t always know when their post is used to sell a product or service.

“Most people have a hard time seeing the difference between the sponsored posts, especially the ones at the top of the feed, unless they’re really looking carefully,” Sandvig observed. “When it’s pointed out to them, users don’t like it at all, but the way Facebook is designed it’s pretty hard to notice because it happens on your friend’s feed, not your feed.”

Facebook’s Kirkland said, “your posts are no longer used in ads.”

‘What the hell, Facebook?’

Karrie G. Karahalios, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, said only 37.5 percent of more than 40 diverse participants in the recent study undertaken by her and Sandvig understood that posts were being filtered in — or out — of news feeds by Facebook’s proprietary news feed algorithm.

Some Facebook users took the news harder than others. “What the hell Facebook,” opined one, while another canceled their account on the spot, as study participants viewed side-by-side comparisons of their curated and non-curated news feeds.

In all, 62.5 percent of study participants were not aware that Facebook was picking and choosing the posts they would see in their news feeds, in some cases based on advertising.

Karahalios tells The Open Standard that even computer science majors were dumbfounded, something that affected her more than Facebook’s contagion study.

Contagion experiment

Karahalios was referring to the study conducted by a Facebook executive and two Cornell University researchers, who acknowledged manipulating the “emotional content” of 689,003 Facebook news feeds to see if they could change the mood of some segment of unwitting subjects.

In layman’s terms, they wanted to see if they could arbitrarily make people happy or sad. After analyzing more than three million posts containing more than 122 million words, researchers concluded that it was possible to change someone’s mood.

Of course Facebook is no stranger to privacy concerns. “You might have heard the rumors going around about the Messenger app,” the organization acknowledged recently. “Some have claimed that the app is always using your phone’s camera and microphone to see and hear what you’re doing. These reports aren’t true, and many have been corrected.”

Facebook did not respond to a query from The Open Standard.

App distribution planned

Researchers Sandvig and Karahalios plan to distribute an app that will allow a much wider swath of users to receive an unfiltered Facebook news feed. Even without the app, most users have the ability to toggle between “top stories” or “most recent.” All users receive advertisements.

Advice for casual users

So should casual Facebook users “like” everything they come across?

Not necessarily, said Sandvig. The solution may involve a combination of more education about algorithms, government intervention in some cases or even the emergence of information clearinghouses along the lines of Consumer Reports for the Internet.

After participating in the study, participants overwhelmingly reported changing their Facebook habits, according to Sandvig, who adds some participants are now more assertive in teaching Facebook what they “like.” Researchers also said that other subjects experimented with switching their news feed between “top stories” – algorithm on – to “most recent” – algorithm off.


16 Oct 21:23

As Cars Grow Smarter, Automakers Face a Rising Threat

by Kevin Zawacki
General Motors' crash-avoidance system. Credit: GM Media Archives

Shortly after President George W. Bush appointed Richard Clarke special cybersecurity advisor in 2001, the cyber czar delivered a memorable quip.

“If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, then you will be hacked,” he said. “What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.”

Now, as the Internet muscles its way into watches, cars and other devices, industries once thought far-removed from the web are staffing up to boost cybersecurity and avoid fulfilling Clarke’s prophecy. In one particular industry — the automotive realm — cybersecurity has become paramount.

“A car today can be considered a computer on wheels,” Yoni Heilbronn, a spokesman with Argus Cyber Security, told The Open Standard. Argus is an Israeli-based company specializing in automotive cybersecurity.

“Your regular sedan can have a minimum of 60 computer components — the more advanced have 150 or more,” Heilbronn continued. “Each and every one of these computer components is potentially hackable.”

Through Bluetooth, tire pressure monitoring systems or SIM cards, hackers can gain access remotely to swipe a driver’s data or eavesdrop on conversations, Heilbronn said. There are more grievous threats, too — like car theft or car ransom.

Craig Smith is an automotive security researcher with I Am The Cavalry, a U.S.-based organization that focuses on the intersection of cybersecurity and public safety. Smith notes hackers presently have the ability to wrestle physical control of a car from the driver. In an open letter to automotive CEOs, Smith and others at I Am The Cavalry urge leadership to work in tandem with security researchers; the group is also circulating a petition.

Changes from within

Marking the automotive industry’s efforts to thwart hackers is General Motors’ (GM) September hire of Jeffrey Massimilla, who will serve as the company’s new chief vehicle cybersecurity officer.

“[It’s] a brand new role for GM,” Jennifer Ecclestone, a spokeswoman for the automobile giant, told The Open Standard. “Data security issues are complex and ever-evolving. GM and OnStar [a GM subsidiary] are actively working to address these issues.”

Ecclestone noted GM’s cyber security efforts will coalesce under the newly-arranged Vehicle and Vehicle Services Cybersecurity organization, with Massimilla at the helm. This team will work both internally and with outside experts to “reduce the risks associated with cybersecurity threats,” Ecclestone said.

Earlier this year, GM’s OnStar brand introduced in-vehicle 4G LTE, which provides Wi-Fi and allows equipped automobiles to interface with drivers’ personal electronics.

At Tesla Motors — the electric car company helmed by billionaire Elon Musk — vehicle software is updated remotely over-the-air.

These “Internet of cars” technologies boosts drivers’ productivity, Heilbronn said, but at a price.

“All its added benefit bears risk,” he said.

According to Tesla spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson, the company works with security researchers to “identify and address potential vulnerabilities.” Tesla also tapped accomplished hacker Kristin Paget earlier this year to assist with security.

The increasing affinity between the web and autos has also spurred a campaign from the federal government. Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging private automakers to beef up security.

“Safety is NHTSA’s top priority, and cybersecurity is an important area of concern for the agency in our efforts to improve the safety of motor vehicles,” officials said. The agency is currently asking the automobile industry to form an Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), a platform to address potential threats.