Futurology ~ Starlight lasers, Black Hole matter cannon, Ceres, Pluto, faster-than-light, airport land art, memory alloy, wood chips, aging reversed

The surface of Ceres in the most detail shot yet.
The surface of Ceres in the most detail shot yet.

Combing starlight with lasers to find exoplanets — In April 2015, two so-called laser frequency combs were installed at the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) planet-finding instrument of the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. ESO explains what these devices and the spectra they produce are good for.
~ Just don’t get it in the eyes of any alien pilots or there’ll be hell to pay.

Black hole shooting matter into matter — Recently, after piecing together a string of pictures, have we seen what’s really happening. The black hole at the centre of NGC 3862 galaxy has been shooting out massive jets of plasma for a long time. The ejections form bundles like glowing bullets. In the last two decades, the black hole has ejected one ‘bullet’ so fast it has smashed into the back of the previous bullet, causing them both to glow.
~ And don’t annoy this thing with lasers either. 

Ceres’ pockmarked surface — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is getting progressively closer to Ceres, and getting some amazing views — this remarkably detailed shot (main picture, above) shows the dwarf planet’s cratered surface from a distance of only 5100 kms.
The shot, taken by Dawn’s OpNav9 camera on May 23, shows some previously unseen features including secondary craters formed by the re-impact of debris strewn from larger impact sites.
~ But where’s the oasis? I do see a rather large capitol Y near top centre. 

And Pluto gets inspected too — NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 32 million kilometres since it last beamed back images of Pluto. The latest set of photos hint at a complicated and high-contrast surface and includes more evidence in support of the theory that the dwarf planet features a bright polar cap.
~ Much better images to arrive in a few months as it gets closer. 

Four plausible ways to travel faster than light — It’s one of the cardinal laws of physics and the underlying principle of Einstein’s relativity itself: the fact that there’s a universal speed limit to the motion of anything through space and time, the speed of light, or c. Light itself will always move at this speed (as well as certain other phenomena, like the force of gravity), while anything with mass — like all known particles of matter and antimatter — will always move slower than that. But there are real, physical phenomena that do exactly this, while remaining perfectly consistent with relativity.
~ I have a fifth: in your imagination. 

Land art cuts aeroplane noise near Amsterdam — A study conducted by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research found that low frequency and long wavelength jet engine droning noise was significantly reduced after farmers plowed their fields near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in autumn. The furrows’  multiple ridges absorbed sound waves, deflected the sound and muted the noise.
This led to the development of the Buitenschot Land Art Park, a buffer park featuring “land art” has significantly reduced aircraft noise without requiring cuts in the number of allowed flights in and out of the airport.
~ Plus it looks amazing, below. 

The 80-acre green space is the Buitenschot Land Art Park near Schiphol.
The 80-acre green space of the Buitenschot Land Art Park near Schiphol.

New memory alloy springs back into shape even after 10 million bends — Memory alloys that spring back into a pre-defined shape are nothing new, but regular bending means they fatigue and fail within a relatively short time-scale. Now, a team of engineers has developed an alloy that rebounds into shape even after 10 million bends.
~ Disinter Spring Heeled Jack – he gets a new lease of life!

Computer chips made of wood — Researchers in the US and China have developed semiconductor chips made almost entirely made of a wood-derived material. In addition to being biodegradable, the cost of production is much less than conventional semiconductors.
~ I wonder where Cellulose Valley will spring up? 

Human cell raging revered — Professor Jun-Ichi Hayashi of the University of Tsukuba in Japan has discovered the regulation of two genes involved with the production of glycine are partly responsible for some of the characteristics of waging, and he has been able to “flip the switches on a few genes back to their youthful position, effectively reversing the aging process.”
~ I just dream of a younger self when I sleep. It’s much cheaper. 

Five Tip Friday ~ Secure your Mac, and advanced Spotlight searches

Enabling Stealth Mode secures your Mac wifi even more
Enabling Stealth Mode secures your Mac wifi even more

1/ Enable Stealth Mode in Yosemite — Many people take their Mac laptops with them nowadays. If you’re one of those people, connecting your Mac to Wi-Fi networks willy-nilly in cafés etc, you might want to make sure you secure your information so others with less-than-honourable intentions can’t get their mitts on it.
Launch System Preferences and go to Security & Privacy>Firewall. Make sure Firewall is on. If it isn’t, you’ll need to click the lock in the lower left and enter the Mac’s admin password to enable it. When it’s on, then go to Firewall Options>Enable Stealth Mode:Between the Firewall being on and Stealth Mode being enabled, you have done quite a bit to secure your machine.
You’re not 100% protected from hacking, by virtue of being online there is always some risk (at home or not), and if you’re one of those people who leaves all your stuff to go to the restroom then all bets are off.

2/ Turn off broadcasting — A secondary measure you can take is to disable other broadcasting services. If you have iTunes sharing set up, you might want to turn that off in iTunes>Preferences>Sharing so your computer doesn’t magically appear in someone else’s iTunes. Another service to adjust is AirDrop. Open a new window and click on AirDrop in the sidebar, or switch to the Finder and choose Go>AirDrop. In that window, you can adjust who sees your computer if they too open an AirDrop window. You can adjust this to contacts, or even nobody at all if you’d rather disable it entirely. Now at least while you’re not home you can close some of the most obvious access points to all your information.

3/ Spotlight searches — There are several ways to access Spotlight in the Mac OS Finder. You can open a Finder window and click in the search field at the top, or can press Command-F [my personal fave] to convert any open Finder window into a search window. You can also access the Finder window search after you’ve started a query in the Spotlight menu (useful if you’ve got too many results). Simply scroll down in the results list until you get to the bottom and click Show All in Finder; Spotlight will open a new Finder window showing the results of your search.

4/ Hone your search — The Finder window’s search bar contains several options for tailoring your results. When you start typing search terms, the Finder pops up a menu asking if you want to restrict your search terms to file names only. And you can click on ‘This Mac’ to change the target of your search from the folder you were in when you started searching, to your entire Mac, including (or not) connected hard drives, thumb drives etc.

5/ Add criteria — On the right side of the Finder window’s search bar is a plus-sign button. Click it to display two menus; by default, the first is set to Kind, and the second is set to Any. But there are other options to choose from.
To narrow down your results, start by selecting one of the criteria in the first menu, such as Created Date, Last Opened Date, or Name. Or choose Other to call dozens of other options, including Authors, Audio Bit Rate, Email Addresses, Recipients (people who received a certain file), Layers (names of Photoshop layers), and much more. Click on the check box next to an item if you want it to appear in the first menu for easy access in the future. As you select different options, the second menu changes dynamically so you can set the appropriate parameters (such as dates, numbers, and so on).

There is more on this topic at Macworld.

Google Inbox, Shazam scans, Pixelmator, Pebble Time, Apple Watch, Jawbone sues Fitbit

Pixelmator is now available for iPhone as a universal app (iPhone/iPad)
Pixelmator is now available for iPhone as a universal app (iPhone/iPad)

Google’s Inbox app is now available for all — Anyone with a Gmail or Google Apps account can now try out Inbox. Inbox is an overhaul of Gmail, giving you the ability to snooze, pin, and quickly swipe away emails. Inbox launched about eight months ago, and has been invite-only since then — though recently, Google let in a pilot group of Google Apps users to test it out. Google announced the wider availability and new features at the keynote for its I/O developer conference Thursday.

Shazam’s expansion to visual scanning is all about marketing — Everybody’s favorite music-identifying app, Shazam, is branching out beyond music with a new QR-style scanning feature. Now you can use Shazam to scan movie posters, magazine spreads, postcards, print ads, QR codes, and posters.

Pixelmator for iPhone is a feature-packed mobile image editor — With its first iPhone app offering, Pixelmator stuffs in a dizzying array of photo editing tools normally restricted to more powerful devices like Mac and iPad, including full-featured image adjustment options, a wealth of paint brushes, layer support, effects, a polished design and much more, for NZ$6.49.

Pebble Time Ships, Apple Watch comparisons coming soon — Pebble Time is now shipping, which means we’re about to see head-to-head comparisons with Apple Watch. Pebble introduced its newest smartwatch with a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year that was fully funded in only 20 minutes. With Apple Watch shipping, too, the smartwatch market is heating up

Jawbone sues Fitbit for ‘systematically plundering’ confidential data — Jawbone is suing rival fitness tracker maker Fitbit, accusing the latter of “systematically plundering” corporate secrets by hiring Jawbone workers who smuggled sensitive data before exiting the company.

5K displays, IBM Macs, Mac laptop battery life, TextExpander 5, hidden in Photos


Apple adds 5K support to MacBook Pro as target display mode remains absent for Retina iMac — The new 15-inch MacBook Pro has become the third Apple computer to ship with the ability to drive high-resolution 5K displays, but Apple’s flagship 5K device — the iMac with Retina 5K display — continues to lack the popular target display mode feature.

IBM gives workers choice between Macs or PCs, plans to deploy 50,000 Apple MacBooks — Starting on Thursday, IBM workers will be able to choose between a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or a PC when getting a new or updated workstation, according to a company-wide memo.

Battery life tests: Go all day with Apple’s Mac laptops — Macworld ranks all the Mac laptops by battery life with impressive results

TextExpander 5 and TextExpander touch 3.5 released — Two big updates came from Smile Software on Wednesday, both to “type things for me” app TextExpander. TextExpander for Mac has been upgraded to version 5, and TextExpander touch was updated to version 3.5. Both include improvements to existing features and some new features .

Apple dedefined ‘hidden’ in Photos App for Mac — In Photos for Mac, ‘Hidden’ photos don’t work like many people expect them to. There are many reasons why photos may need to be hidden, so it’s a good idea to take a moment and understand Apple’s idea of ‘hidden’ when it comes to Photos.

MagBytes Newsletter number 64, May 2015

This is a picture of issue 64 – the download link is below.
This is a picture of issue 64 – the download link is below.

Here it is, a month’s worth of news, tips and tricks all in one easy to use PDF which you can file for further use in the iBooks app on Mac or iPad.

This is the download link: >> Issue64May15 <<

(If you’re reading this in an email, you need to go to this link to download the PDF.)

WWDC app updated, Messages bug, Carbo, Android stutters, Kindle app

Carbo, currently on sale, lets you snap handwritten notes on paper, store them, edit them and more.
Carbo, currently on sale, lets you snap handwritten notes on paper, store them, edit them and more.

Apple updates WWDC app for 2015 event, confirms June 8 keynote at 10am US Pacific Time — Apple on Wednesday confirmed the full schedule for the 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference — including the keynote presentation on June 8 — and released version 3.0 of the WWDC iOS app, introducing a new Apple Watch companion. (At WWDC Apple is expected to reveal a number of products, such as iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, a new Apple TV set-top, and a rebranded Beats Music.)

How to prevent the new Messages bug from crashing your iPhone — A bug in iOS 8 turns a string of Unicode characters into a phone-crashing catastrophe. If you receive a message with the characters, either as an iMessage or an SMS text from contacts on other platforms, your iPhone will crash—but only if you open it. If you receive a notification with the message on your lock screen, your phone will either reboot or lock you out of Messages altogether. The bug doesn’t actually generate the message — some prankster with your phone number has to actually send the code to you.

Creaceed Carbo takes analogue notes into a digital future — A new universal iOS app from Creaceed is about to change the way you take notes with digital devices. Carbo (NZ$8.99, launch price currently set at $4.99) is advertised as “handwriting in the digital age”, and that describes in a nutshell what the app accomplishes.

Android stutters while iOS shines during Q1 — Sales of Android smartphones were up in the first quarter but its share of the market fell, while that of iOS grew for the third consecutive quarter.

Kindle app gets new typeface — Amazon has updated the Kindle app for iPhone and iPad with an exclusive font called Bookerly. The font was made available on the Kindle Fire HDX in December, 2014 and has now come to Apple’s devices. Designed for “optimal readability at any screen size,” Amazon notes that Bookerly is available on “most” Kindle books.

OS X malware detection, network issues, ShowStoppers for WWDC, Skype problem, MacKeeper

OS X has built-in malware detection
OS X has built-in malware detection

Checking your Mac for viruses – wait, what? While your Mac can definitely be infected with malware, Apple’s built-in malware detection and file quarantine capabilities are meant to make it less likely that you’ll download and run malicious software.
Apple introduced malware detection to the Mac OS with Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6). This system consists of the quarantine of any app downloaded from the Internet, the use of Code Signing certificates to verify that an app is coming from a legit source, and regular security updates that include databases of known malware targeting the Mac OS. [This is built into your system. You’ll see an alert like the one above if anything goes wrong. I’ve never seen one …]
Apple’s full notes are here.

Yosemite 10.10.4 Beta dumps Discoveryd to fix network issues — Network-related issues cropped up for many Mac users as soon as they installed OS X Yosemite 10.10, and have persisted through every update so far. Rolling back to mDNSResponder most likely means Apple hasn’t been able to find a way to resolve the issues introduced with discoveryd.

ShowStoppers & MacTech Team Up for DevFocus at WWDC — ShowStoppers assembles great product and app creators, puts them in a room where all the booths are roughly the same size and only allow media as attendees for a 2-to-4 hour event. This results in a massively-efficient opportunity for media-folk to meet with the people marketing and creating products without having to wade through attendees with other agendas. Now DevFocus, a WWDC-centric version of ShowStoppers, is happening Sunday night, June 7th at WWDC.

Skype for Mac update ignores its own audio settings — Skype released an update for their OS X app today, version 7.8.388, that includes a nasty bug: it now ignores whatever audio devices you have selected in Skype>Preferences>Audio/Video. It treats every one of those 3 drop-downs there as though you have selected ‘Same as System.’

Talking of malware: MacKeeper refund ads will run on Facebook as part of class-action lawsuit settlement — A sizeable Internet advertising campaign is planned to alert people to a proposed class-action settlement over MacKeeper, a ‘security program’ for Macs accused of deceptive practices.
MacKeeper’s developer, ZeoBit, was sued in May 2014 in US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Filed on behalf of Pennsylvania resident Holly Yencha, the class-action suit alleges MacKeeper was deceptively marketed and did not fully function as advertised.

new Spotify, Microsoft Cortana is coming, Apple Watch course, brain sharpening

Spotify has a new feature that matches song-beats to your running pace
Spotify has a new feature that matches song-beats to your running pace

Hands-on with the new Spotify: still the streaming service to beat — Spotify took the wraps off its new app at a major New York press event last week that featured appearances from D’Angelo, Questlove, DJ Tiësto, and Broad City stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Streaming music’s dominant player spared no expense to prove that it’s the company to beat.

Cortana comes to iOS and Android as Microsoft builds a bridge to Windows 10 — Microsoft is rolling out a red carpet for iPhone and Android users, giving them a standalone version of Windows Phone’s Cortana digital assistant and some help syncing their data to Windows PCs.

Apple Watch Course: go from newbie to pro building 14 apps — The time has come to make your mark on the Apple Watch app ecosystem. In this full-spectrum training, you’ll get your hands dirty right off the bat coding 14 real-world apps with Swift and WatchKit. The result? You’ll be fully prepared to bring your dream app to life, and take the wearable tech world by a storm. (This is at 87% discount – the course is currently US$25 instead of US$199.)

Apps to keep your brain sharp — Work by scientists and the medical research community has shown that it should be possible for the brain to be ‘trained’ to create new pathways and places for memory and cognition to occur. There are apps for that.

10.10.4, Jony Ive’s new title, Apple hiring spree, TextEdit


Fourth beta of OS X 10.10.4 to developers, public with focus on Photos & Migration — Apple has just issued a new beta of OS X 10.10.4, a forthcoming maintenance and security update for Yosemite, with an identical new build being supplied to both developers and public beta testers. The latest beta of OS X 10.10.4 is available from the Mac App Store for registered developers, and members of the OS X public beta program.
Apple has asked testers to focus on Photos, Migration, and support for Arabic and Hebrew languages when using the software.

Jony Ive’s new job title — Without designer Jony Ive, Apple as the world knows it wouldn’t exist. Macs, iPhones, and iPads certainly wouldn’t be as iconic without Ive’s industrial magic. The Cupertino company has always prized Ive’s skills, but now the former senior VP of design is joining CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri in the C-suite as Apple’s first ever Chief Design Officer.

Apple hiring spree looks to improve iTunes search, discovery, video & more — A large set of Apple job listings posted on Tuesday suggests the company is looking to make major improvements to iTunes, particularly in search and music discovery at the iTunes Store.

Three cool extra things TextEdit can do — There’s a killer app just hanging out there on your hard drive. I know it’s there (it ships with Mac OS), and you have hopefully have already used it. It’s called TextEdit, and it may be one of the most under-appreciated apps on your Mac. Kelly Guimont shows you three things you might not have known this app could do. Perhaps you will see the light. [In my experience, many-to-most Mac users don’t even know they have TextEdit – it’s in your Applications folder – don’t know what it is – it’s a Word Processor, free, already on every Mac – and don’t know that it both opens and writes Microsoft Word files.]

App for using your iPhone as a Hotspot, Thunderbolt Docks

Thunderbolt Docks
Thunderbolt Docks

App for tethered Macs — Ever since it was possible to tether a computer to a cell modem (ie, use your iPhone as a Hotspot), it’s also been possible to blow through one’s monthly or service-plan limit and either run out of mobile data, be throttled to a trickle, or face expensive overage fees. TripMode is the first easy-to-use OS X utility to help with that problem. It could do more, but for US$8 (or US$5 – NZ$6.99 currently, as it’s on sale), it does plenty.
When installed, TripMode appears in your system menu bar and monitors for network changes in Yosemite. Whenever you join a new Wi-Fi network or connect to a Personal Hotspot, TripMode activates and blocks all system-level and application network usage. The utility was built as an access whitelist, so all network usage is blocked until you allow it. There’s a free 7-day trial, too.

Thunderbolt 2 Docks — One great way to expand port options on a Mac laptop, well beyond a simple USB hub, is a Dock. Macworld rounds up what’s available (some of these are available in New Zealand). Essentially, the basic functionality of the docks is the same as before: You plug in your display, hard drives, printer, ethernet, headphones, USB devices, and whatever else into the dock, then you connect the dock to your laptop via a single Thunderbolt 2 connection. When you want to take your laptop, you only need to unplug a single cable. When you return to your desk, all you have to do is connect one cable. [I have the first Belkin one.]

5C shotgun, Maps in China, Microsoft OneNote, IBM, Home Automation, two iOS games


Apple’s iPhone 5c helps man survive shotgun blast to the chest — A 25-year-old British man who was shot in the chest with a shotgun during a confrontation outside of his home survived the event, thanks in part to his green iPhone 5c, which absorbed much of the impact. [Other coloured 5Cs probably work too – but I don’t think this is one of Apple’s selling points for iPhone.]

Apple Maps in China offer a sneak peek at what’s in store for Maps in iOS 9 — Apple has gobbled up mapping market share on iOS (and the Mac) since introducing its own alternative to Google Maps back in 2012, despite lacking a variety of key features. Hints at how Apple Maps may soon improve are coming from China, where Apple Maps has accurate transit lines and station depictions.

Five ways OneNote is better than Apple’s Notes app — The iPad is a convenient note-taking tool for the classroom and boardroom alike. And while Apple’s own Notes app is more than equipped to handle any text you can throw at it, it lacks any breakthrough features to keep you coming back. The last company Jason Cipriani ever expected to boast about having a better iOS app than Apple is Microsoft, but that’s exactly what I’m about to do. Microsoft’s OneNote app is vastly better than the Notes app that comes installed on your iPhone and iPad.

Three easy ways to begin with Home Automation — Kelly Guimont can get you started.

Apple, IBM roll Apple Watch support into three MobileFirst apps — As part of an ongoing enterprise solutions partnership, Apple and IBM on Thursday announced Apple Watch support for three MobileFirst apps serving the healthcare, public safety and energy industries.

Two iOS games of note — Dead Man’s Draw (universal, free with in-app purchases) is a push-your-luck card game with an enjoyable pirate theme and Does Not Commute turns a time-shifted traffic jam into fun.

13-inch MacBook Pro review, Skylake CPUs, Regent Street Apple Store, San Francisco

Apple may be about to change its Mac and iOS display font to its own San Francisco, which is used on Apple Watch
Apple may be about to change its Mac and iOS display font to its own San Francisco, which is used on Apple Watch

Macworld’s review of the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro — The 13-inch MacBook Air changes are relatively minor, but its standing in Apple’s lineup is what changed the most. While the MacBook Air is still an ultra portable laptop, there’s a newfound emphasis on its value – the four recently-refreshed models make up the affordable end of Apple’s laptop lineup.

Intel may be prepping next-gen Skylake chips for August debut, may curtail Broadwell sales — Chip giant Intel is reportedly targeting August of this year for the initial rollout of its next-generation Skylake microarchitecture, a timeline that likely means Apple’s high-end Macs will skip the oft-delayed Broadwell line.

Regent Street Apple Store to undergo major renovations for more light, street visibility — Apple is planning a major renovation of its flagship Regent Street store in London, one which will radically impact the interior and exterior appearance of the building.

Do you need to care if Apple changes its system font? — 9to5Mac has reported that Apple may switch out the system font used in OS X and iOS from Helvetica Neue to San Francisco, the font it developed in-house for the Apple Watch. And that has half the Apple community bellowing denunciations that this is a stupid idea, and half yelling that OS X 10.11 and iOS 9 (when the switch is rumoured to happen) can’t come soon enough. [Can’t wait – I really dislike boring, personality-free, grossly-overused Helvetica.]
If you want it now, this link tells you how.