Futurology 06 ~ Mars, microbes, Microsoft & Peak Meat

Researchers discovered a microscopic oval object within the Nakhla Mars meteorite, which fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911
Researchers discovered a microscopic oval object within the Nakhla Mars meteorite, which fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911

Astronomers discover a planetary impact outside our own Solar System — In a study published in the latest issue of Science, astronomers led by graduate student Huan Meng, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, announced the discovery of remains of a mammoth planetary collision.
~ Space likes safe drivers too.

Weird microscopic structure found In martian meteorite — Scientists have found a strange structure resembling a microbial cell inside a Martian meteorite, but they’re not claiming that it’s evidence of Red Planet life (pictured above).
~ Interplanetary coincidence is all?

NASA sets a 2018 launch date for the rocket that will take us to mars — Three years after its unveiling, NASA managers have approved the development of the rocket that will carry astronauts into deep space. Called the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy-lift rocket will be the most powerful ever built, and is designed to launch the next generation of space explorers to deep-space worlds well beyond Earth’s moon.
~ I’ve told you before, I’m not going!

NASA will reformat Mars rover from 200 million kilometres away — NASA’s Opportunity rover is still trundling across the surface of Mars, more than 11 years after its 90-day mission began. But its software is getting bogged down, so NASA’s doing a full system backup, memory wipe and reboot. It’s just like your routine computer clean-up, just from the next planet over.
~ Security Update.

Every internet-connected device on a map — This map was made on August 2 by John Matherly, the founder of Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices. Matherly, who calls himself an internet cartographer, collected the data to put it together by sending ping requests to every IP address on the internet, and storing the positive responses. A ping is a network utility that sends an echo-request message (known as a packet) to an IP address — the internet’s version of “hey, are you there?”
~ I can see your device from here.

Microsoft defies court order, will not give emails to US government — Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.
~ Every now and again Microsoft does good things. 

Ebola’s initial outbreak pinpointed — One of the big mysteries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is where the virus came from in the first place — and whether it’s changed in any significant ways. … Researchers have revealed they have sequenced the genomes of Ebola from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who contracted the disease in May and June. Those sequences revealed some 300 mutations specific to this outbreak. Among their findings, the researchers discovered the current viral strains come from a related strain that left Central Africa within the past ten years.
Using genetic sequences from current and previous outbreaks, the researchers mapped out a family tree that puts a common ancestor of the recent West African outbreak some place in Central Africa roughly around 2004.
~ Awesome work. The world salutes you. 

Peak meat — We may be about to hit ‘peak meat’? Globally, meat production has skyrocketed since the ’60s. But though our appetite for meat shows no signs of slowing, our ability to devote huge swaths of land, water, and feed to its production may be hitting its limits.
~ Don’t look at me, I haven’t touched the stuff in 25 years.

Five Tip Friday — Mac Maps, Calendar and your personal Apple support page



1/ Finding locations in Maps —If you are trying to get directions using the Mac’s Maps program, but you don’t know the address, there are a couple of simple ways to do that. First of all, if the place you’re headed to has a landmark icon next to its name, click that to bring up the location’s address and a small selectable ‘i’ you can use to get directions.

2/ Right- or Control-click — If the location you want directions to has no icon to click (if you’re trying to get to an intersection, for example), the secret lies in right- or Control-clicking directly on the spot. Doing that will bring up a handy contextual menu, from which you can drop a pin or open a new window. But best, perhaps, is the ‘Get Directions’ option: pick that, and Maps will automagically take you right to the place you need to go.

3/ Straightening out mangled URLs — If you’ve typed in a URL bar in Safari or tried to edit back to a back slash to move up a level or two, but got it wrong so you get a ‘Page cannot load’ or similar message, the fix is to hit the ESC key (at top left of all Mac keyboards) once. The browser stores the original URL when the page is first loaded, and when you hit ESC, that page’s original URL is returned to the address bar, overwriting any edits

You can easily add multiple URLs to Calendar Events
You can easily add multiple URLs to Calendar Events

4/ Add multiple URLs to Calendar Events — When you create a new event in Calendar, there’s a clickable area titled ‘Add Notes or URL’. Clicking it brings up separate sections for Add Notes and Add URL. Rather than entering the URL into the Add URL section, click on Add Notes. Now start typing or pasting URLs into the Notes section. Don’t worry about ‘http:// ‘at the beginning of the URL, just typing an address like mac-nz.com will turn the URL into a clickable link when you press Return on your keyboard. You’ll see the address turn blue and gain an underline, indicating that it can be clicked, and since you’ve pressed Return, you can proceed to type in or paste subsequent web addresses.

5/  Apple has a customer-support page built just for you — If you have a Mac, an iPhone and maybe an iPad or two, and you have a problem and you want to find out if something is still under warranty (and what that warranty covers), you can find out all that and more in one place — a place many Apple users have never heard of.
Apple has a standard Support website, but we’re talking about your own Support Profile page. There, you can view a list of all of your Apple products, check their warranty coverage, access troubleshooting resources, and contact Apple’s support team. Here’s how to take advantage of all that. You’ll need to log in to ‘My Support Profile’ (main picture, above) with your Apple ID email address and password.
It pays to log in and make sure all your devices are in here.

Apple Event Sept 9, Bioshock for iOS, ageing Phones, Spaceborn, soccer app

Apple Event invite for 9th September
Apple Event invite for 9th September

Apple Issues Invites for September 9th Media Event — Apple has issued invitations to the press for a media event on September 9th. Titled simply “Wish we could say more,” the invitation features little that anyone will be able parse for hints of what’s coming. Below is the invite received by TMO. [Let the careful analysis of the image and words begin!]

Bioshock, one of the best shooters of all time, hits iOS — The lines are blurring between AAA console and mobile game development. It’s not happening in great volume just yet. Now there’s Bioshock for iOS. It’s NZ$18.99.

Why old iPhones become sluggish over time — Batteries do wear out over time. Apple rates iPhone batteries at 400 full charge cycles before they lose 20 percent of their original capacity. So if you fully discharge and recharge your phone every day, in a little over a year it will only be capable of providing 80 percent of its power, and in a couple years it will probably be down to 50 percent capacity.

Shoot your way through the beautiful void in Spaceborn — Spaceborn is a beautiful, yet challenging shooter set in space. You navigate a spaceship between obstacles, avoiding enemy fire while trying to get as far as possible in each run. There is a lot of trial and error in this shooter as the difficulty vary in each run. Your spaceship shoots at enemies automatically which helps you focus more on the avoiding enemies and obstacles part of the gameplay. Spaceborn is compatible with iOS devices running iOS 5.1 or later and costs NZ$1.29

Soccer coach app — FuteNotes app is intended to be used by local youth soccer coaches or parents assisting the coaches but could also be used by fans who like to track their favourite professional teams. It’s for iPad only at NZ$3.79  [I’m a coach – for me the NZ season ends tomorrow!]

Jobs wins 5th Ave patent, Civ sci-fi game delayed, Twitter opens analytics, 4K NEC, Apple’s first laptop

The first Apple laptop (1989) looks massive by today's standards
The first Apple laptop (1989) looks massive by today’s standards

Apple wins patent for Steve Jobs-designed Fifth Ave glass cube — The iconic Fifth Avenue Apple Store glass cube, which was designed in part by legendary company co-founder Steve Jobs, is now a patented ornamental building design sanctioned by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Civilization: Beyond Earth for Mac has been postponed indefinitely — A source working on the Mac version of Civilization: Beyond Earth for a comment on this story. While they cannot give a hard release date yet they want readers to know that “coming soon” really does mean coming soon. The Mac version won’t be available in October, but expect it to follow close behind.

Twitter opens analytics tools to all users — If you’re curious how many people read your Twitter posts, what type of people follow you, and what they’re interested in, all of that information is now at your fingertips. This week Twitter opened its analytics tools to all of its users for free, and there’s plenty of data to sift through.
You can check out your own stats at Twitter’s analytics site, and unlike other companies that make you pay to detailed information like this, Twitter is offering it for free.

MultiSync EA244UHD review: 4K display’s wide colour gamut ideal for production — The NEC MultiSync EA244UHD is a 24-inch, 4K desktop monitor. Priced around $1350, the EA244UHD may be expensive, but when connected to a new Mac Pro over Mini DisplayPort, its pixel-doubled resolution can provide you the desktop “retina display” experience not available from an Apple display. US$1350 … The EA244UHD was able to run at both native and pixel-doubled resolution at a full 60Hz when connected via DisplayPort to both a late 2013 Mac Pro and a 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro.  [but will Apple release Thunderbolt Retina displays soon? ]

A nostalgic look at the Macintosh Portable, Apple’s first laptop —  Apple’s first laptop and the first consumer laptop to travel into space, was released in 1989. Groundbreaking in its day, the laptop was still a bulky travel companion (main picture), roughly the size of the phone book at four inches at its thickest point.

Latest MagBytes available now (issue 56)


MagBytes 56Mac — Click the link below to download the PDF (above is just an image of the front page). View it in your browser or right-click (or hold down the Control key and normal-click) the link below to download the PDF to your Mac

iPad — Open the link below, tap the area along the top (which I coloured blue in the PDF) and you get the option ‘Open in iBooks’ if you’d like to add it to your iBooks library.


Cook’s iPad speed bump, Minnesota iPads, Instagram, Hyperlapse, Likes, and ‘the new iPhone 6’

Hot dog! It's iPhone 6
Hot dog! It’s iPhone 6

Tim Cook calls slumping iPad sales a ‘speed bump’ — Though Apple’s earnings results last quarter were exceptional, tech observers couldn’t help but notice that iPad sales only came in at 13.3 million units, a 9.2% decrease from the same quarter a year ago. What’s more, iPad sales during the March quarter were also down year over year, by about 19% to be exact.
Tim Cook, though, remains thoroughly optimistic about the iPad and its future prospects.

Minnesota plans to roll out 40,000 iPads for students — Apple’s deal with the LA Unified School District may have fallen through due to a variety of factors, but Minnesota’s St Paul School District remains committed to deploying 40,000 iPads to students as soon as possible. The district will supply Apple’s tablets to 37 schools by January 2015, which will conclude the first phase of the rollout. The remaining schools will be targeted for iPads in the following school year, until all 61 locations are equipped.

Hyperlapse by Instagram creates time lapse magic — Instagram has unleashed yet another amazing tool for capturing your world in photos and video.
The free Hyperlapse app from Instagram adds motion to the mix — time lapse motion. And it you’re into Instagram, Likes lets you save the pictures

YouTube Find: Is this the new iPhone 6? Doldo411 of Second City Network introduces us to the iPhone 6 in what he claims is the biggest leak in Apple history. Will you be line-waiting for this one next month? [Main picture, above. And yes, this is humour.]

LaCie 48TB, HD space, Dropbox Pro to 1TB, Parallels Desktop 10

LaCie 8big Rack is designed to fit into a standard 1U rack space
LaCie 8big Rack is designed to fit into a standard 1U rack space

LaCie unveils 48TB Thunderbolt 2 drive — French external drive maker LaCie showed off its new rack-mount Thunderbolt 2 drive in a 48 terabyte configuration. LaCie says the 8big Rack is the fastest Thunderbolt 2 drive available, boasting transfer speeds up to 1330 megabytes per second. It comes equipped with eight six-terabyte Seagate hard drives spinning at 7200 rotations per minute that the company promises will deliver better throughput and simpler setup than competing fibre channel products.
The drive is available now from LaCie for US$4,999.99 in the 48-terabyte configuration or US$2,799.99 and US$1,699.99 for 24-terabyte and 12-terabyte models, respectively.

How to free up space on a packed hard drive — Christopher Breen on Macworld explains how to seek out large files to free up space: “In the Finder just press Command-F and in the resulting Searching “This Mac” window, choose to view your files in a list. Click on the Kind pop-up menu and choose Other. In the sheet that appear enter “size” in the Search field, enable the In Menu option that appears next to the File Size option, and click OK.”

Dropbox Pro changes increase storage to 1TB at the same price — Dropbox users with a Dropbox Pro account paid US$99.99 a year for a rather paltry 100 GB of storage. That sounds like a lot until you begin using Dropbox to back up all of your RAW photo files, videos, and every selfie you’ve ever snapped from your iPhone. Well, worry no further – if you’re a Dropbox Pro user, you’ll soon find that your storage has magically increased tenfold – it’s now a full terabyte.

Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac represents more mobile efficiency, more ease of use — Parallels Desktop 10 for the Mac is now shipping. Parallels D10 has added some excellent features that make the new version compelling and the upgrade price worthwhile.

Apple Watch 487 — Numbers, lists and speculations

Californian smartphones need kill switches from next year
Californian smartphones need kill switches from next year

Lists galore — In the lead-up to an Apple announcement (there’s an ‘Event’ September 9th) all the Apple following sites tend to resort to lists. Macworld in particular – I’m not saying this is bad, they’re usually really interesting: best apps for preschoolers, uni students, best features of he forthcoming iOS 8 for businesses …

Los Angeles drops iPads for schools — Meanwhile, life goes on. In what must be a shock for Apple, Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy has suspended future use of a contract with Apple. This happened Monday 25th August. The deal was to provide iPads to all students in the the United States’ second-largest school system but scrutiny of the US$1-billion-plus effort had been mounting.
The contract had been approved just over a year ago. The terms meant Apple was expected to provide iPads with Pearson as the subcontractor. School board members were made to understand that the initial US$30-million contract was expected to expand to about US$500 million as the project rolled out over the following year. An additional US$500 million would be used to expand internet access and other infrastructure issues at schools.
The two main reasons Apple is now not in the pipeline is a deemed unsuitability of iPads in this environment (new electronic state tests were hard to read on iPad screens due to their size), but much more disturbingly, Deasy’s process looked, to critics, as if it had been skewed to favour Apple from the start. I’ll follow this with interest.

Californian kill switches — Meanwhile, California has passed a law mandating smartphone kill switches.
That means that smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen.
The demand is the result of a new law, signed into effect on Monday, that applies to all smartphones manufactured after July 1, 2015 sold in the state. The inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the US – and around the world.
Apple had, of course, already responded to this request by adding a feature called Activation Lock into its iOS 7 operating system. This already meets all requirements of California’s kill switch law except one: it doesn’t come enabled in new phones out of the box. That’s all that will have to change.

iOS 7 dominates iDevice users — With iOS 8 on the horizon, 91% of Apple users made the switch to iOS 7. This is very impressive, especially when you compare it to the Android world: there are currently five different versions of Android each holding 10% or higher shares of that market.
That means Google’s Android is more fragmented than ever, with three different versions of the platform representing two-thirds of all devices. This makes it hard for developers – which system to develop and test for? And it’s hard for consumers: which apps work on your particular system?
So on the one hand, Android users get the ‘freedom’ to play around with all these different system, while on the other, us iOS users are ‘trapped’ into a system most of us are using, which has a rock-solid testing and deployment process. I’m biased, of course, but it’s pretty obvious to me which one is preferable.

Windows 8 was no dragon slayer for Microsoft — Apple followers have been chortling over the almost constant reports for other tech analysts that Apple has messed up, about to die, missed the boat etc. Of course, all these things might be true, at least one day, but the style of reporting certainly shows a strong pattern. Some put Apple down by championing competitors in the strongest of terms as, finally, real ‘Apple beaters’.

An example is Zach Epstein. He postulated that Microsoft’s Windows 8 would be the Mac and iPad killer all rolled into one. In the Boy Genius Report in 2011, he wrote “Apple paved the way but Microsoft will get there first with Windows 8. A tablet that can be as fluid and user friendly as the iPad but as capable as a Windows laptop. A tablet that can boot in under 10 seconds and fire up a full-scale version of Adobe Dreamweaver a few moments later. A tablet that can be slipped into a dock to instantly become a fully capable touch-enabled laptop computer. This is Microsoft’s vision with Windows 8, and this is what it will deliver.”
Deliver? The same site’s Brad Reed now writes “Why did Windows 8 fail? … We know from well-connected Microsoft reporters and even directly from Microsoft employees that Microsoft knows it stumbled badly with Windows 8. Indeed, the Windows 8 brand has become so toxic that the company’s employees have reportedly dubbed it ‘the new Vista’.” Ouch.

HealthKit attracts medicos … and insurers — Meanwhile, it looks more and more like anything like a so-far imaginary Apple ‘iWatch’ will have a lot to do with medical and other sensory devices. And that’s the real impetus behind Apple’s June launch of HealthKit, which adds APIs and other services to a range of medical sensor makers and their related apps. Do you really want to monitor many aspects of your own body? I don’t – but I might one day. It certainly suits those trying to improve their fitness, but even more so, those with medical conditions … because conceivably this data could be shared with medical practitioners. They could get alerts when your heart rate of blood pressure go up, for example. They’ll call and say ‘Stop watching the rugby!’ Hah. Anyway, insurers seem to be getting into the concept too – these implications are discussed in a Mac Observer podcast.

China’s new OS — Finally, you may have heard that China has been deleting Apple devices from government agencies. Since Chinese tech companies haven’t developed their own operating systems that can compete with OS X, iOS, Windows, or Android, billions of dollars flow out of China, and Chinese security services feel like it exposes the country to espionage from the US National Security Agency (NSA).

So China is trying to develop it’s own OS based on Linux, which is ironic in itself. This is also discussed on the Mac Observer.

At the end of the day, I do recall that the Apple world remains an interesting hotbed of news, information and rumours.

LA drops iPad order, iTunes Festival, iOS 8 for business, rice and iPhone rescue, Windows and iPhone, Google apps,

iTune sFestival added to Apple TV
iTune sFestival added to Apple TV

Los Angeles doesn’t want $500 million worth of iPads now — A US$1 billion plan to give every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District an iPad, while beefing up the district’s internet capabilities and other infrastructure, is now dead, according to the LA Times. The deal would have started with a US$30 million purchase of tablets from Apple, which would have grown to roughly $500 million worth of iPads as the program expanded.
The reason for the change is twofold: First, the district decided iPads weren’t ideal for purpose, and second, and most damning, was a disclosure by LA Unified’s Superintendent John Deasy that revealed an uncomfortably close relationship between Deasy, his staff, and the companies that would have benefited the most from the deal – Apple.

Apple adds Showtime Anytime, iTunes Festival channels to Apple TV — Apple has added two new channel options to its set-top streamer, bringing on-demand Showtime Anytime from the cable network as well as a dedicated channel for the upcoming iTunes Festival in London. The band deadmau5  will open the Festival, and Mary J Blige, Tony Bennett and others have been added to the bill.

The top iOS 8 features for business users — You can always tell when the tech world is waiting for an important Apple announcement – loads of lists appear.
Apple’s iOS 8 is set to bring several new features, including its HealthKit and HomeKit platforms, to the iPhone and iPad. Many of the advances are consumer-oriented and focused on creating a seamless experience across iOS devices and Macs running the forthcoming OS X Yosemite.

How not to use rice to save your iPhone — Rice can indeed dry out your iDevice if it ends up taking an unexpected tumble into a pool, pond, or – tech gods forbid – toilet. That being said, this is not the way to do it. Leave your device off for as long as possible, and certainly until you’re confident there is no more moisture left inside the device.

Researchers: iPhones, iPads connected to Windows PCs are at risk — Attackers could compromise iPads and iPhones on a large scale through the infected computers that make up botnets, researchers say.

Google bolsters iOS productivity suite with Slides, updates to Docs and Sheets — Google has released presentation app Slides alongside updates to existing iOS apps Docs and Sheets, offering a free Web-connected alternative to similar productivity suites from Microsoft and Apple.

Teach organic gardening to kids — Get those green thumbs ready with Gro Garden (NZ$3.79, universal), an educational app that helps budding explorers discover organic gardening in a creative and competitive way. Did you ever trick your kids into eating their veggies by sneaking the ingredients into some yummy home-baked cookies and brownies?

Best educational apps for primary schoolers — It’s that time of the year again when parents, teachers and students start thinking about heading back to school. If you have an iOS device, you can supplement your child’s education and stimulate them to get involved with quality educational iOS apps. Here are some of the best titles for children in the middle school-aged group.

Yosemite Dashboard, Horace Dediu on what’s to come, FilePlane


Yosemite's Widgets move to Notifications
Yosemite’s Widgets move to Notifications

Can’t wait for OS X Yosemite? Disable Mavericks’ Dashboard — OS X Yosemite is coming soon, and it moves the widgets from the Dashboard, which will be no more, to the Notification Centre (pictured left). But if you can’t wait to get rid of it in Mavericks, here’s how to do it.

Interview With Horace Dediu: What To Expect When Apple’s Expecting — Forbes’ Eric Jackson asked Dediu to answer a few questions about what he’s expecting from the new product announcements and more questions about Apple’s current strategic trajectory.
An example answer is “New iPhone(s), new iPads, new iPods, new Apple TV. Possible new Macs as well. iWatch is very likely though not sure on timing. I expect everything to run iOS except the Mac.”

FilePane review: Expand the power of drag-and-drop on Macs — FilePane  can be a true timesaver thanks to its quick access to various helpful actions via a handy and inventive drag-and-drop approach. It’s an app that works not only with files on your desktop or within Finder windows, but also images and text on websites and in documents. It’s NZ$6.49.