Kepler 444 is solar system’s ‘ancient twin’ — Astronomers have found a star system that bears a striking resemblance to our inner solar system. It’s a sun-like star that plays host to a system of five small exoplanets — from the size of Mercury to the size of Venus. But there’s something very alien about this compact ‘solar system’; it formed when the universe was only 20% the age it is now, making it the most ancient star system playing host to terrestrial sized worlds discovered to date. ~ Something alien in space, whatever next?
Fuzzy yellow balls in space — The Milky Way Project asked members of the public to classify the objects in images from the Spitzer Space Telescope. One of the classifiers wondered what the fuzzy yellow balls in the pictures were. The astronomers got together, and now have an answer: They’re an early stage in the formation of stars about 10 to 40 times bigger than our sun. ~ I was happy with the old description.
Mock Mars base fire — The brave men and women living in a (mock) Martian base (in Utah), have met a fiery end. After an (actual) greenhouse fire sent flames soaring up 3m into the air, things got out of hand though, and the greenhouse’s entire middle section was destroyed, forcing them to end the simulation. ~ Presumably, on Mars, with no oxygen, fire would be the least of your worries – at least outside the base.
Scientists make a Möbius strip out of light — It uses two polarised beams of light which are allowed to interfere with each other. They’re bounced off a gold bead, creating a looped polarisation pattern with three or five twists — very similar to a Möbius strip. ~ Strictly, a Möbius strip actually has only one twist.
The first Super Bowl played under LEDs will use 75% less power — It might seem like LED bulbs are only for early-adopters hoping to cut down their monthly Con Ed power bill, but come Sunday, the energy-efficient lighting alternative will take centre stage at one of the greatest spectacles on Earth: the first Super Bowl to be entirely lit by LED bulbs. ~ They also promise more life-like and uniform lighting.
World according to population sizes — Redditor TeaDranks has created a super-interesting cartogram in which the size of each country is apportioned according to its population. Suddenly, the largest countries in the world don’t look so mighty – for example, Russia and Canada. ~ And Japan should look like a super power compared to NZ, even though it’s physically about the same size.
New technique reverses aging by decades in cultured human cells — Scientists from Stanford Medical Center have devised a technique for extending the length of human telomeres. It’s a breakthrough that could eventually result in therapies to treat a host of age-related diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. It could also result in longer, healthier lives. ~ My mother tried pickling with ‘Blenheimers’. Didn’t work.
Early humans may have interbred with Neanderthals 55,000 years ago — It’s widely acknowledged that modern Europeans mated with Neanderthals at some point in the past. We’re just not entirely sure when or where. The recent discovery of an ancient skull in Israel may represent the critical missing link anthropologists have been looking for. ~ Well, I didn’t.
1/ Spotlight does more than search; including converting from US dollars — By clicking on the magnifying glass in the upper-right corner of your screen (or press the keyboard shortcut ‘Command-Spacebar’), you can do conversions of many different types, from currency to cooking. For example, if you type in a dollar amount, Spotlight assumes US dollars but knows where you are and immediately displays the NZ equivalent (above). Or start with the British pound symbol (Shift-3).
2/ Convert more than currency — Some other conversions available are temperature (by typing in something like “85F” or “650K”); weight (“540oz,” “25kg,” or “23 stone”); and measurement (“54yd” or “567mm”). If there’s a specific conversion you’re looking for, you can try typing that in instead (ie 6 yards to centimetres’ or even “6yd to cm”, as this works with either abbreviations or with the typed-out words.
3/ You can merge Calendars — Sometimes you end up with too many calendars,l but you don’t want to lose any events. Assuming you have your Mac backed up, as we’d hate anything to go wrong (or at least that you have your Calendar backed up), Open the Calendar program. From the list on the left, select the calendar you’d like to export the events from to merge together. From the menus at the top, choose File>Export>Export (shown below).
Save the resulting file out somewhere on your Mac. Now, within Calendar, choose File>Import, and then pick the .ics file that you just saved out. A pop-up window will appear, asking you which calendar you’d like to import the events to. Select OK afterward, and you’re done – the events from your exported calendar will merge with whichever one you chose, and then you can safely delete the original calendar by selecting it from the sidebar and pressing Command-Delete.
(In older versions of OS X, this process would duplicate events onto the calendar you imported them to. Under Yosemite with iCloud, however, this now moves the events to the new calendar, so you’ll see them disappear from the original. To make sure you’ve gotten the events where you want them to go, you can deselect all but one calendar from your sidebar and examine them each in turn.)
4/ Swap files between user accounts — Some people have several ‘User Accounts’ set up on their Macs. That means several people (a couple, kids etc) can use the same Mac but keep their files separate, since you have to sign in to each account to see them. But how, if you don’t know each other’s passwords? Apple provides a Shared folder inside the Mac’s Users folder (found at the root level of the startup drive).
The Shared folder’s permissions are Read & Write, across the board. Anyone can put (or copy, by Option-dragging) a file into here, and any other user can see and open it. This saves all that messing about with USB drives.
5/ Hide others — Often, you have so many things open, you can get a bit confused as to what you’re working on or even looking at. I love this simple command combo that hides everything except the ‘frontmost’ app – in other words, the app that’s running and using resources immediately, which you can see by looking at the app name next to the Apple menu at top left of your screen. This is it: Command-Option-H. In other words, while you are holding down Command and Option together, which I can do with my left thumb, press the H key. Instant clarity. This doesn’t quit anything else, it just removes them from view.
Apple hits Samsung at home — Apple is getting closer to matching Samsung Electronics on its home turf, as it has done with other East Asian rivals.
Apple had a record-high 20% of the South Korean smartphone market in the last quarter of 2014, up from 11% a year earlier, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung’s mobile profits plunged 64.2% after Apple’s iPhone 6 devastates premium Galaxy sales. Apple and Samsung are now tied for the title of world’s largest smartphone maker.
More Android-to-iPhone switchers coming from international markets — Apple revealed this week that the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus attracted more Android users than ever before. But new data suggests that the rate of Android switchers in the US was steady last quarter, implying it’s international users who are making the jump to iPhone in record numbers. [Does this represent iPhone success or Android failure?]
Microsoft Outlook debuts as free download for iPhone, iPad — Microsoft on Thursday released its long-awaited Outlook client for iOS, giving both iPhone and iPad owners the ability to access a unified view of email calendar, contacts, and attachments.
Mac Pro Vault stuffs 48 top-of-the-line Macs into one cabinet — A data centre cabinet from CyberLynk offers a staggering amount of raw Apple computing power.
CyberLynk plans to have Mac Pro cabinets roll out to its second data centre in Phoenix by mid-2015.
Apple’s R&D spending shoots up 42% year-over-year, hit new $1.9B record in Q1 — Apple does not appear to be resting on its laurels despite record sales of its iPhone and Mac, as the company spent nearly $2 billion on research and development in the first fiscal quarter of 2015, an increase of more than 40% over the year-ago figure.
iTunes Connect issues creating havoc for developers — Twitter is all atwitter this morning with developers who were logging into iTunes Connect – the gateway used to make apps available for sale – and seeing someone else’s login information. iTunes Connect is now showing a “temporarily unavailable” banner during login attempts.
Apple remembers Remote Desktop exists, releases Yosemite update — Apple released Apple Remote Desktop 3.8 on Wednesday, the first update for the remote Mac administration app in more than a year. The update improved OS X Yosemite compatibility, refreshed the user interface and more.
Here it is folks, longer than usual with more tips and more new products, to make up for the lack of a December issue (I was travelling). Download the MagBytes number 60 issue FROM THIS LINK>>MagBytes_60 (2.4MB PDF).
Right-click (or hold down the Control key while you click) the blue link above to choose Download Linked File to get this onto your Mac, otherwise the link will just load into a window in your browser (ie, in Safari, Firefox or Chrome).
Apple shipped one billionth iOS device in Q1, expects continued iPhone momentum — During its quarterly conference call on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the company had sold its one billionth iOS device in the December quarter, a device that will be kept at Cupertino for posterity. It was a space-gray 64GB iPhone 6 Plus.
Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3, reduces storage required for updates — Apple has just released iOS 8.1.3, and update that most notably reduces the amount of storage required to install an update. In the past year, a number of users were upset to find they could not install over-the-air (OTA) updates on their iPhones and iPads because of the amount of space required. [If they’d plugged the devices into Macs or PCs and run the update via iTunes they would have been fine.]
The update also includes various bug fixes. iOS 8.1.3 was not seeded through Apple’s developer program.
Apple Watch starts shipping in April, Tim Cook confirms — We knew it was coming sometime this spring, but now we have a more narrow timeframe: Apple Watch starts shipping in April, Tim Cook said.
Apple sells record number of iPhones in blockbuster holiday quarter — Record revenue from iPhone and Mac sales helped Apple bring in $74.6 billion in revenue last quarter, up from $57.6 billion a year earlier. iPhone sales totalled 74.5 million units and only 13% of those were already iPhone owners!
Happy 5th Birthday, iPad — Five years ago Steve Jobs stood on the stage of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to introduce Apple’s latest offering to the masses; the iPad. Launching on April 3 of that year in six configurations: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB with 3G or Wi-Fi internet. Some people weren’t immediately sold [I wasn’t.]. The numbers spoke for themselves; in just its first year 14.8 million iPads were sold by Apple. It was just the beginning for the tablet that would revolutionise the market – but now iPad sales are declining.
Pzizz, now free and on the iPad, helps you get to sleep — Pzizz is an app designed to help you get in a good power nap or get to sleep. It uses a combination of a soothing voice with binaural tones to help you get to sleep.
Apple TV 7.0.3 Squashes 16 security vulnerabilities — Apple released Apple TV 7.0.3 Tuesday. Apple hasn’t yet released patch notes for the update, but the company did send out security patch notes. Apple TV 7.0.3 squashes 16 security bugs (listed at that link), including several that could allow bad people to take over your device.
You download the update through your Apple TV Settings.
Wall Street ‘shocked’ by Apple’s staggering quarter, prompting analysts to raise estimates — Apple’s stunning first quarter of fiscal 2015 blew virtually every prediction out of the water, and left Wall Street analysts rushing to increase their price targets on Wednesday as the stock jumped higher. Here are ‘6 things you need to know‘ about the figures. [Wall Street is only shocked because its analysts are so useless, surely?]
Yosemite 10.10.2 is here — For Yosemite users, 10.10.2 might finally fix the sluggish Wi-Fi issues that 10.10.1 also promised to fix, but didn’t. Updating to 10.10.2 will also improve iCloud Drive and VoiceOver, and keep Spotlight from grabbing remote email content in search when you specifically told it not to.
YouTube puts another nail in Flash’s coffin with HTML5 on the desktop — YouTube put another nail if Flash’s coffin this week with the announcement it is dropping Adobe’s media format as the default for videos in favour of HTML5 on computers. The change means Flash-based content will be available at even fewer places online, pushing the format farther into obscurity. Apple even started blocking unmatched Flash on Macs recently. [Flash just had still more vulnerabilities – you can see why Apple has been backing away from Flash for years already.]
Back in blue — Starting February 2nd, customers walking into an Apple Store may notice something a little different as employees are expected to wear newly designed crew neck or polo shirts in a familiar shade of blue, but with repositioned and resized white Apple logos.
Apple Watch to go on sale in March, claims analyst — The Apple Watch will go on sale in March, and though component shortages may be an issue, about 5 million of the devices are likely to be sold in the first quarter, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo. [Considering everyone else has been saying the same thing for months, how does this qualify as ‘analysis’?]
iFixit gives you thousands of repair manuals in your pocket — The iFixit app (free) is a handy little app that gives your Do-It-Yourself repairs a big boost. This app comes from the teardown experts at iFixit, who delight in exploring the inner secrets of your favorite tech (or not-so-techie) hardware. The iFixit app helps you repair just about anything from toilets to garage door openers, cameras, cars, and of course, PCs and Macs.
Twitter launches two much-needed new tools for video shoots and group chats — The network is rolling out group direct messaging and the ability to shoot and share videos within its iOS and Android apps after teasing both features for months.
Alfred Remote is here and it’s interesting — Alfred Remote LogoAlfred Remote (US$5) is here, it’s really well-designed, easy to use… but why?
Location-sharing Waldo takes different approach to Swarm — With a slightly different approach to sharing location, Waldo emphasises a mixture of both location and photo sharing that’s more direct with friends than merely broadcasting where you are. The social networking app is free for iPhone, requiring iOS 7.0 or later.
Samsung to take on apple pay with cleverly named Samsung Pay — Samsung put on its innovation cap and came up with a plan to take on Apple’s Apple Pay mobile payment platform with its own ‘Samsung Pay’. The creatively named service will reportedly debut during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the beginning of March.
New Vivaldi browser aims to win over power users — There’s a new browser aiming to win the hearts and minds of power users. Called Vivaldi, the Chromium-based browser comes from a team led by Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder and former CEO of Opera Software. Vivaldi is available now as a technical preview for Windows, Mac, and Linux. [I’m still 99% happy with Safari, myself.]
Apple’s Photos beta for iCloud.com gets new image viewing and sharing options — Apple added a few new features to Photos beta in a recent update to its iCloud.com hub, bringing manual image zoom controls and email sharing capabilities to the iOS-connected Web app.
Promised some time in early 2015, “Photos for OS X” will supposedly merge the best features of Apple’s iPhoto and Aperture apps. The company halted further development of its consumer and professional image editing programs last summer, noting the upcoming Photos app will bake in unique features from both including image search, editing, effects, and plugins.
MagBytes — Yes, the free Mac NZ PDF newsletter comes out this Thursday afternoon. It’s a bumper issue with loads of tips. Check under the Mac NZ MagBytes Newsletter link at the top to find out more.
Loads of iPhone 6 cases are hitting the New Zealand market. Since I’m not the kind of person to drop a grand on a phone that can then slip out of my hands, I was curious to see what was available.
Apple laid done the gauntlet in a way by launching its own brand of very useful silicon or leather iPhone 6 and 6+ cases that protect, add grip and best of all, offer very little extra bulk to these slinky smartphones. I like these a lot. So what else is out there? A lot. Luckily. While Apple sticks to simple, elegant, slimline cases that offer some protection, they don’t guard your screen beyond offering a raised edge so that when you lay an iPhone face-down, the glass is a millimetre or so above actual contact with a flat surface. You can get a lot more protection than this, but the downsides might well be bulk, and perhaps aesthetics that are more open to question.
Belkin TPU — The closest (of those I looked at) to Apple’s aesthetic is Belkin’s snap-on TPU and Polycarbonate Grip Case (main picture, above). This has a nice feel, with a textured matte surface and, rather than cutaways à la Apple, flexible buttons over the iPhone 6 volume and sleep buttons, and openings for the mute and Lightning and earbud ports. What’s Great — Slimline, non-slip, attractive But — No protection for the glass (which goes for most of these – you could still fit a plastic or armour-glass cover to the screen) Belkin Grip, RRP $24.99, available in Blacktop, Sorbet (a pinkish-crimson) and Purple.
iLuv Peanuts case — Also slimline and snap-on over the back, this case is not grippy, since it’s made of a harder material. Also, it’s not exactly ‘executive’ in styling thanks to the Peanuts cartoon graphics – in this case Linus playing the piano and Snoopy. This is shaped more like an Apple case with cutaways, although I’m not sure why there’s a cutaway along the top as well, unless it’s to make it easier to snap on and off (it is easy). What’s great — Shulz fans rejoice! Quirky fun. Easy to take on and off. But — Quirky fun? Not quite as much protection as the Belkin, and slightly slippery still. iLuv Snoopy hardshell case, RRP $29.95, available in base colours of blue, grey, black and brown and with a range of cartoons.
Speck Candyshell + faceplate — Another snap-in rigid case, this adds more bulk than the two mentioned above. The result is more protection, especially since this Speck comes with a plastic cover that applies to the screen. It’s a bit slippy for my liking, but it does have a rugged, reassuringly protective feel to it thanks to its dual-layer design, and the corners the iPhone sits in are cushioned. What’s Great — Definitely feels like protection, and it’s certified to meet or exceed the military MIL-STD-810G drop-test standards. But — I prefer toughened glass screen protectors. They’ve saved my bacon in the past and they don’t scratch or bubble. An iPhone 6 is not quite a slimline iPhone any more with this case on it, but I might be persuaded by a red-and-black version. Speck Candyshell + faceplate, RRP $49.95, available in six colours.
iLuv Regatta dual-layer case — These hardshell cases a more at the life-styly end of the spectrum, coming in a range of bright colours and with a cutaway fro all the usual plus the Apple logo on the back, to make sure people realise which tech company you’re supporting. The colours are: black, white with pink inserts, pink with green inserts, yellow with purple, turquoise with scarlet, purple with turquoise and blue with yellow. Yes, at least five of these seven are Statements. These have buttons to match the iPhone 6 buttons and cutouts for ports, camera and flash. They’re made of a glossy material but they don’t feel super-slippery, and once again present raised edges around the screen. Unlike the others, which are all Asian-made but designed in California, these are designed in New York. What’s Great — The dual layer thing means you can use the inner soft case without the hard back, but it also means you can mix-and-match outers and liners and if you have a couple. Two layers, soft and hard, offers good protection. But — Too garish for me, and I’d prefer non-slip. Mated, the cases are thick making a lot of material around the ports (quite hard to use the mute button). iLuv Regatta dual-layer case, RRP $24.95, in seven colour combinations.
iLuv Vyneer ‘dual material protection case’ — These iLuvs are slimmer, semi-transparent hard-shells. While they are pretty slim, the lip around the screen protrudes almost too far, and has a pronounced edge that catches on your fingertips. The cases come in black with a smoke back panel, or pink/pink or turquoise/turquoise. The non-transparent frame is TPU, with cutaways for the switches and ports. What’s Great — You can see your iPhone 6. But — Those raised edges could do with a chamfer. iLuv Vyneer, RRP $24.95, available in one of three colours.
Maroo Woodland, Executive and CL — This is a whole different style of case. These looks more ‘executive’, with material inlays to look like wood, vinyl, leather etc. They don’t pretend to be slim; they are substantial. These are also what I’d call ‘statement cases’ but it’s an entirely different statement to the iLuv Regatta. The outsides are hard and strong, the insides are cushioned. Once out of the packs, they are slimmer than they appear in their sales packs.
Thanks to the inlay strips on the backs of these cases and yet remarkably slim designs, they’re good to the hand and very useful cases, with direct cutaways for all ports and controls. What’s Great — Slim, useful and smart. They feel great to the hand; slightly more organic. But — Maybe not as protective as some. Maroo Woodland, Executive and CL, $RRP$39.99. The CL is cream and caramel leather, the Executive is synthetic ‘tobacco leather’ and ballistic nylon, and the Woodland (in my example, ‘Willow’) is synthetic black leather with a woollen felt inlay.
Maroo Woodland, Executive and CL Wallet Cases — The other Maroo cases are full-on wallet replacements. Some people will love being able to bundle their cards and ID with one pack that includes and iPhone. You can keep money in them too. What’s Great — Enough variations to suit almost any taste. But — Bulky, and you have to open the case to use an iPhone as a camera or the iPhone’s buttons. Maroo Woodland, Executive and CL Wallet Cases in various colour/texture combinations, RRP $69.99. (Maroo cases are available from Harvey Normans.)
Casemate Caliber — Another entry into the executive protection category comes from this company based in Atlanta. The Genuine G10 Composite is a two-part case you separate to get your iPhone into. It offers a rugged-looking textured surface made from ‘ballistic’ G10 for the back and, with the dull-green bezel snapped to the black backplate, it’s a little bulky compared to the slimline offerings, with positive-feeling buttons. It’s all a bit hard to the touch; a little architectural.
What’s Great — Strangely business-like case with a very definite feel. But — Not very forgiving to the touch, with little cushioning for the phone or your hand. Casemate Caliber, RRP $55.
Casemate Naked Tough — This one’s as transparent as the emperor’s new clothes, but has metal buttons that press the metal iPhone buttons. The transparent back is supposed to be scratch-proof and the bezel (it’s another snap-together) is slightly more giving to the touch. In this case, you snap the bezel to the iPhone then those together fit into the clear back. What’s Great — Everyone gets to see you have an iPhone 6. Nice positive buttons. But — Everyone gets to see you have an iPhone 6. There’s an unfortunate ridge running all round where the two parts meet – this catches on my fingertips. Casemate Naked Tough, RRP $35, available in clear or a tinted smoke/black. (Casemate cases are available from Dick Smith, JB HIFI, Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman.)
tech21 Classic Shell — This is a shock-proof shell made from something called D30, and it’s designed in Eel Pie Island, England, of all places! The tech part is called ‘impactology’, I kidney pie you not. This case has a matte interior that mates against the iPhone backplate and a glossy outer surface, which is semi-transparent on the back. My example had warm brown inserts in the rim to add a little character. The iPhone just snaps in (the shell is flexible) and while it’s quite thick compared to most case I’ve looked at, it has a nice positive hand-feel. I reckon with the right screen protector, you’d feel pretty confident with this.
The case uses D3O, which (in the company’s words) is a smart, shock absorbing ‘dilatant’ material which flows freely as a liquid in its raw state. Under the force of impact, the molecules lock together, allowing the material to absorb and dissipate damaging energy. It also offers abrasion resistance. What’s Great — Probably the most protective. Less slippery than many. But — Bulky. tech21 Classic Shell, RRP $44.95, available with different rim colours and in clear, smoke, pink and blue. (Available from JB HIFI and Noel Leeming.)
Conclusion — I looked at nearly 20 different cases, all told. My fave at the end was the Maroo Woodland, as it’s simple, attractive, very slimline yet has a very nice feel thanks to the touch of felt in the back panel and the slightly textured surface of the faux leather. In this respect, for me it just beats out the also-very-nice Apple (actual) leather iPhone 6 case. Teamed with a tempered glass screen protector, the Woodland is the one I would buy, but all the others are good cases adding precious protection, with different looks and feels, to your iPhone 6.
If you’re looking for a case, see what your friends have and look at as many as you can. Is it non slip? Will it still slide OK into your pocket? Try and find a shop that will let you take your time. Feel is important – since you grab your iPhone from a pocket, desk or bag, sometimes without looking at all, I reckon hand-feel is worth consideration, and you don’t want to be wrestling with it when all you want to do is quickly answer a call or take a photo.