Story Lab teaches using fun, FBI, Eyeball Head, update for Apple TV


NZ devs in Berlin release another exciting learning app — ToonSpaghetti Story Lab app for iPad and iPhone is a story making studio for kids 5+. Kids learn language and literacy through multi-media story creation – it’s fun, creative and educational! What sets it apart from other Common Core Curriculum learning apps is that it’s visually stunning, and super creative – kids don’t even know they are learning. It’s free with in-app purchases.  There’s a video preview online, I recommend anyone teaching or with kids check it out.

FBI contacted Apple, received data related to San Bernardino case 3 days after shooting — According to a court filing prepared by Apple, the company first received — and responded to — FBI requests for information related to last year’s deadly shootings in San Bernardino, California, just three days after the attack. An Apple lawyer has warned the US government it’s on the road to ‘limitless’ power in the iPhone encryption fight; Apple’s legal strategy is that software is free speech, and Congress should decide; and Apple’s shareholders are backing Apple.

Polaroid Panorama Eyeball Head spins your iPhone for smooth Panos — Polaroid has introduced a nifty gadget called Panorama Eyeball Head, a motorized mount that will spin your iPhone, camera, Android device or D/SLR camera 360 degrees for smooth and even panoramic shots. It comes with a remote that allows you to control how fast it spins and how far. It’s on Amazon at US$49.99—retail price is US$89.99.

Apple releases security update for the third gen Apple TV — Apple has posted a security update for the third gen Apple TV. In a support doc, the company says “for the protection of our customers, Apple does not disclose, discuss, or confirm security issues until a full investigation has occurred and any necessary patches or releases are available.”

Leap Day, rumour of more Photos power, photo print sizes, dual-screen desktops, excellent iMac hub needs help

TwelveSouth has released another collection of dual-screen desktops, for those who use their Macs with two monitors.
TwelveSouth has released another collection of dual-screen desktops, for those who use their Macs with two monitors.

Apple’s Photos app may restore iPhoto editing features — Happy Leap Day! You won’t get this opportunity for another 4 years so maybe you should do something you don’t normally do … anyhow, Apple is rumoured to be planning big changes in its Photos applications for both OS X 10.12 and iOS, more closely aligning the capabilities of the iPhone and Mac apps while restoring some functionality previously found in iPhoto and lost in the transition to Photos. Key editing features that were axed included brush correction, adjusting the brightness of a selected portion of an image, the ability to flag pictures and EXIF data editing.

How to calculate print size for your photos — A little bit of easy math is all it takes to make sure your prints look their best.

Third collection of dual-screen backgrounds for OS X —
Twelve South has released the third collection of dual-screen backgrounds for the Mac: Sky Lights.
The company partnered with photographer Scott Gordon to capture the San Francisco Bay during the time before sunrise and sunset when the light is perfect for shooting. All the dual-screen backgrounds are complementary.

Excellent iMac hub idea needs help — If you own an iMac, you know it’s hard to reach the USB ports in the back. Enter the ExoHub, which can work without a power adapter. You can connect your iMac to the hub in three steps. Once connected, you have get access to four USB 3.0 ports, one rapid charger, and an SDXC card slots the iMac base sits on it exactly. If you back the project, you can receive an ExoHub and/or a MacBook stand – you get a bargain as well as a great enhancement to your Mac (I did so). Kickstarting is cheaper than retail – for example, they’ll ship you an ExoHub for US$89 instead of its retail shipping price of US$129once the unit goes into production.

Futurology ~ 5D Black Hole, bigger Milky Way, mini satellites, Planet 9, bullied robot, ship laser, low-power wifi, modular smartphone


Five-dimensional Black Hole could ‘break’ General Relativity’ — Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London have successfully simulated a black hole shaped like a very thin ring, which gives rise to a series of ‘bulges’ connected by strings that become thinner over time. Ring-shaped black holes were ‘discovered’ by theoretical physicists in 2002, but this is the first time their dynamics have been successfully simulated using supercomputers. Should this type of black hole form, it would lead to the appearance of a ‘naked singularity’, which would cause the equations behind general relativity to break down.
~ And so we welcome Admiral Scientific Confusion. 

A bigger Milky Way picture — APEX telescope has given us something even more complete: a map of the galaxy that covers four times the area of its previous best.
~ Are cows rejoicing?

Self-directed little satellites — Nanosatellites, small satellites with sizes ranging from a shoe box to a small suitcase, are popular because they are cheap and can piggyback onto other space missions. NASA is now preparing to launch in orbit around Mars two CubeSats. The satellites should be equipped with autonomous fault correction, something already available in certain drones or autonomous driverless cars, argues Hakan Kayal, a researcher at the University of Würzburg in Germany.
~ ‘CubeSat, please send telemetry for NASA mission.’ ‘Sorry, we’re on a break.’

Cassini directed to search for Planet 9 — Saturn’s Cassini probe is nearing the end of its mission, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer useful. In fact, astronomers have found a totally new purpose for the plucky little space probe and its vast trove of data: searching for the elusive Planet 9.
~ Here’s a clue: look for it after Planet 8. 


Man bullies robot — Boston Dynamics has a new video showing off the latest version of Atlas, the humanoid robot. And it’s pretty incredible: the most striking thing about this new version is the amazing balance Atlas achieves as the bully tries to knock it down.
~ I wouldn’t like to be that bully in a couple of years. Take that, Bono-Hipster-Bully!

High-energy laser mounted and tested on German warship — Rheinmetall and the German armed forces have completed a recent test of their high-energy laser effector on a German warship. During the test, a 10-kilowatt high-energy laser, or HEL, was mounted on a MLG 27 light naval gun. The HEL was then used to track potential targets.
~ Smaller, more powerful drone-like missiles are harder to track. 

Low-power wifi breakthrough — The biggest downside of wifi for most users might be that it can really drain your smartphone or tablet battery, but a research team at the University of Washington has come up with a way to make using the nearly ubiquitous wireless technology in a less taxing way. This information has been released as a PDF.
~ More efficient wifi, oh yeah. 

World’s first modular smartphone — Out before the much anticipated Google Modular Phone Project ARA, is a new phone from Fairphone: the Fairphone 2, claimed to be the the world’s first real modular phone. Fairphone is more than just a phone manufacturer – it’s a social justice movement to raise awareness about conflict minerals in consumer electronics and the wars that the mining of these minerals is fueling in the DR Congo. The Fairphone 2 build consists of 5-inch Full HD LCD screen, Android 5.1 Lollipop, Dual SIM, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Qualcomm quad core processor.
~ Laudable. Shame about the OS. 

Five Tip Friday ~ Live Photos on Mac, iCloud aliases, Mail space, Time Machine Mail retrieval and Spaces

OffLivePh1/  Turning off Live Photos on Mac — If you’ve taken lots of pictures with your iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, but then realise that you had the Live Photos feature on when you didn’t intend it, you have to go through your iPhone and turn each one off individually. But you  can actually edit those pictures en masse on your computer: open Photos on your Mac, then select the images you’d like to remove the Live Photos stuff from. You can, of course (this is a universal Mac thing, it doesn’t just work with images) select multiple items by holding down Command and clicking to select each one if they aren’t right next to each other. If you have a ton of pictures all in a row, however, just click to select the first one, then hold down Shift and click the last one to pick them and all the images in between.
Once you have your selection ready, you’ll right- or Control-click on one of the items and choose Turn Off Live Photo from the contextual menu that pops out to do just that. This option is also available under the Image menu at the top of Photos.
In Photos, all edits are nondestructive, meaning you can repeat the steps above at any point and pick Turn On Live Photo to get that data back.
Once you’re finished, the changes will sync to all of your iCloud-connected devices if you’re using iCloud Photo Library, and you shouldn’t have to look at those darned Live Photos anymore if you don’t want to. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to remove the Live Photos feature from more than one picture at a time on iOS as far as I can tell. I’m really hoping Apple gives us a way to do that soon, but I suppose this is a good stopgap method. [From Mac Observer.]

2/ Making iCloud email aliases — If you buy stuff online , or donate to causes, or register for services, or pretty much do anything that involves giving your email address out, you will start see your (un)fair share of spam. If your address is through Apple’s iCloud service, though, there’s a nifty way to control what you get using ’email aliases’. With these, you can essentially have a disposable address to hand out willy-nilly while concealing your actual address from those who might sell or abuse it.
Visit and log in, then choose the giant Mail icon. Once the Mail service opens, click the gear icon in the lower-left corner then pick Preferences from the pop-up menu.
Under the Accounts tab, you’ll see any aliases you’ve already configured, and you can also add a new one if you haven’t used them all yet (since you can have up to three). Just click on Add an alias and fill in any info that you want to be associated with that new fake address, which leads to your actual iCloud email address.
Click OK and it’s ready to go. From then on, any messages sent to that email will be delivered to your main address. Note, too, that you can either turn off or completely delete an alias at any time by going back to these same preferences, but when you do that, emails sent to that address will bounce. You can’t get a deleted alias back, either, so be careful if you go that route. [Also from Mac Observer.]

If you use iCloud Mail, (ie, _ saving space in your account can free up space in iCloud. For other ISPs, it can stop your server filling up.
If you use iCloud Mail, (ie, _ saving space in your account can free up space in iCloud. For other ISPs, it can stop your server filling up.

3/ Getting the sizes of Mailboxes — El Capitan’s version of Mail has done away with the little gear icon which used to let you quickly see how big your mailboxes were. Now you need to right- or Control-click on a mailbox on the left of the Mail window and choose Get Account Info (shown above) from the contextual menu instead. Not every single email host gives you oodles of space, so sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and clean stuff up – but if you’re running Time Machine, as you should be, any emails you delete are retrievable anyway. select the missing email, click Restore and it will appear back in your Mail app n your Mac.

4/ Retrieving emails with Time Machine — Time Machine is a little ‘contextual’ too. when you launch Time Machine, it’s not immediately obvious where your emails are since they’re stored inside the Mail app (sort of), and won’t be evident in a straight Time Machine boot. So here’s the trick: launch Mail. Then launch Time Machine. Now you’re going back through time in Mail only on that right-side timescale slider.

5/ On Mac OS X, change Desktop Spaces with just one key — In OS X, we can have up to 16 desktop ‘Spaces’, all managed by Mission Control. The default way to move between Spaces is with CTRL and, while it’s held down, the right or left arrow key.
To make this a one-keystroke operation, go to System Preferences>Keyboard>Shortcuts>Mission Control. To change the default shortcut, double click its current choice on the right side. A rectangle will light up around it. Then press your desired key (or key combination). The F13 and F14 keys are typically free, and have the advantage of being on the right side of the keyboard, just centimeters away from your right hand. [I use F13 to launch Widgets to check the time in other countries.]


Most used smartphone, huge Flash storage, Apple TV tech talks, London free fares

Image from Apple NZ's iPhone 6s page
Image from Apple NZ’s iPhone 6s page

iPhone 6 is the most used smartphone — Verto Analytics is a single-source, cross-device audience measurement solution provider. It has published its Device Index, which helps device vendors and carriers understand who is buying their devices and how consumers are using their devices, services, solutions, and apps. It shows that Apple’s iPhone 6 is the single most widely used smartphone (with 14% of all iOS/Android smartphone users). Apple is also the favourite in smartphones and tablets (and laptops) in the 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.

New flash chips may result in iOS devices with 256GB of on-board memory — Future iPhones and iPads may sport a lot more on-board memory. Samsung is now mass producing the industry’s first 256GB embedded memory based on the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0 standard, for next-generation high-end mobile devices.

Apple releases Apple TV Tech Talks video series for building better tvOS apps — Apple on Wednesday released to developers a series of videos focusing on Apple TV and its tvOS operating system, offering a detailed look at the underlying SDK, resources and best practices associated with coding for the platform. The talks are online at Apple.

Londoners get the MasterCard Fare Free Mondays for Apple Pay back — For a time last November and December, MasterCard ran a ‘Fare Free Mondays’ promotion in London, England. It’s now back by popular demand, and if you use Apple Pay to touch in and out of the Transport for London network on Mondays between February 29 and March 14, you’ll be reimbursed for your transit expenses paid for with a UK MasterCard.

FBI debacle, Microsoft’s ‘free’ Windows has ads


Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Interview on ABC on the FBI, security etc — ABC has published its interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the topic of the government ordering Apple to create a backdoor into iOS. In the interview, ABC reporter David Muir asks asks a series of questions that seem quite slanted (against Apple’s stance), but Cook lays out one of his most passionate arguments in defense of protecting privacy and security. He also explains (repeatedly) how Apple worked with the FBI on the device to get as much information from it and from iCloud data as possible. Various polls say more support Apple than the FBI (but others say the opposite), a report says Apple is reacting by making iPhones even more secure, and Obama says the administration and FBI must act to restore US government credibility in Apple’s encryption debate.

Users of Microsoft’s ‘free’ Windows 10 find unexpected ads on lock screen — Microsoft recently began running advertisements directly on the lock screens of Windows 10 devices, catching users by surprise with marketing on their PCs and tablets. Microsoft’s “free” Windows 10 operating system is configured by default to display such ads on the lock screen whenever the Redmond, Wash., software company decides to do so.

iPad Pro fix, Asthma app, FBI and the First Amendment, China labour, AppleTV’s new category


Apple fixes unexpected wakeup issue for iPad Pro Smart Keyboard — Apple pushed out an accessory update for the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard on Tuesday that fixes an annoying issue where your iPad would randomly wake up while the keyboard was connected.

Asthma Health study powered by ResearchKit expands to UK, Ireland — One of the first apps powered by Apple’s ResearchKit was Asthma Health, providing a way for asthma sufferers to track their symptom patterns and triggers. The results of the study, which is run by Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, will be used to develop better and more customized treatments for the respiratory ailment. Now the study has expanded outside of the United States, with the app now available for download and use in Ireland and the UK.

Apple: judge infringed on our 1st Amendment rights — In Apple’s battle with the FBI and the Department of Justice about unlocking (or not) a shooter’s iPhone, the Cupertino, California-based company will argue that the judge in the matter overreached in her use of an obscure law and infringed on the company’s 1st Amendment rights, reports The LA Times.

China Labor Watch reckons the Apple supplier, Pegatron, overworks employees — Workers at the Shanghai, China operation of Pegatron work more than the maximum 60 hours a week stipulated by Apple because their wages require them to work more to make ends meet, a labor group said in a report by China Labor Watch (CLW), a labor rights watchdog and advocacy organization. Pegatron is an electronics manufacturing company that develops mainly computing, communications and consumer electronics to branded vendors, including Apple.

tvOS App Store gains ‘Not on this Apple TV’ category — Avid app buyers now have an easier way to identify purchased apps that are available for their Apple TV but which have not yet been downloaded to that device, as Apple has added an iOS-like ‘Not on this Apple TV’ category to the App Store.

Jobs would have been 61, Facebook ’emoti-likes’, Malaysian investment discussions, Mac Siri?


Jobs would have been 61 — Had he not passed away on October 5, 2011 of pancreatic cancer and respiratory arrest, Apple co-founder, NeXT founder, and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs would have been 61 years old yesterday (NZ time)  – today in the US). Apple Insider has a page celebrating the pioneers who came before him.

Facebook adds emotions to the Like button — Facebook’s Like button sometimes makes users look unfeeling or uncaring, particularly if someone is relaying sad news (Steve Jobs would have been 61 today … like!?). You want to show your support, but feel that pressing the Like button might be saying that you’re happy that someone lost their job or their best friend. Now, clicking or tapping the button now produces a range of emotions — like, love, laughing, shock or surprise, sadness or anger. The anger icon is sure to get a workout during elections …

Malaysian prime minister met with Apple execs to discuss investment in the region — Apple’s pushing hard to expand into a number of markets, and governments often ask for something in return – investment in their countries. Recently, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak made a trip to Silicon Valley to talk with tech company executives and he visited with Apple COO Jeff Williams and VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson at the Cupertino campus on February 18. [More cheap, well-educated labour, Apple?]

Rumour says the next major upgrade of OS X will finally add Siri support — 9to5Mac reports that the next major release of the Mac operating system, probably to be dubbed OS X 10.12, will add support for Siri, Apple’s ‘personal digital assistant’ that was introduced for iDevices at  iOS 5. This next full OS will probably be introduced at WWDC in June.

Android devices fail more, more Betas, Apple fuels wearables, Apple TV boost


Android devices fail at a higher rate than iOS equipment — Blancco Technology Group released its State of Mobile Device Performance and Health trend report for the fourth quarter of 2015 (ending 12/31/15), and the results pretty much show what iOS owners already know — iOS devices don’t fail very often. The most interesting finding? Most of the time, failures aren’t hardware related – 85% of device failures came from Android devices, and it’s not just because there are more of them in the wild. The information is based on failure rate – not total failures – and iOS devices had much fewer (the remaining 15%) issues. The majority of failures (27%) were devices made by Samsung, 21% Lenovo, and 18% from Motorola and the other manufacturers making up the remainder.

Incoming! Apple releases  watchOS 2.2, tvOS 9.2, and iOS 9.3 — Apple has been releasing developer betas of OS X El Capitan, watchOS, tvOS, and iOS on Mondays about two weeks apart and then following up two days later with public betas. Today brought watchOS 2.2, tvOS 9.2, and iOS 9.3 (and beta 4 of OS X El Capitan 10.11.4) to registered developers, so we can expect the public beta versions to drop on Wednesday.

IDC: Apple Watch helps fuel strong growth in the wearable market — The worldwide wearable device market took a big step forward in the fourth quarter of 2015 (4Q15), fueled by the growing popularity of fitness trackers and the Apple Watch.

Fourth gen Apple TV adds more channels to universal search and Siri search — Apple has added Watch ABC, the Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD. to the fourth generation Apple TV’s universal search and Siri search.

Apple vs FBI, Pomodoro time, rebuilding Mailboxes, boosting WiFi, ExoHub adds easy-reach ports to iMacs


Americans are conflicted over the Apple-FBI standoff — As Apple and the FBI square off over whether the feds should get access to the iPhone of a shooter who killed 14 people in the San Bernardino terror attack, Americans are uneasy about whether the tech company should be required to help the FBI unlock the phone and distrustful of how law enforcement would handle personal information on their devices. Fight for the Future is organising rallies to show support for Apple in its battle with the FBI and DOJ; the FBI’s ‘one-off’ argument is starting to crumble with more cases piling up; the FBI Director has offered a ‘disingenuous and hypocritical‘ Open Letter to counter Apple; and Bill Gates says he doesn’t back the FBI in the case against Apple, but encourages more discussion.

Pomodoro Time for OS X is useful for anyone looking to chart and optimise time for executing tasks — XwaveSoft’s Pomodoro Time 1.0 for Mac OS X is a handy tool that provides a mix of timeboxing, timed rest stops, task management, a goal completion list, and customized productivity analysis.

OS X: rebuilding Mailboxes (and why you might want to) — OS X’s Mail program has a built-in way to help resolve issues with garbled messages or with emails not appearing when you search for them. This option is available under the Mailbox menu — it’s at the bottom, labeled ‘Rebuild.’ Melissa Holt explains why you might benefit from this.

How to boost your Wi-Fi signal without any tricks — The higher-frequency flavor of Wi-Fi used by 802.11n and 802.11ac can have higher power output and further range by picking the right channel.

ExoExohub Kickstarter promises to add more useful ports to iMacs — If you own an iMac, you know that it’s hard to reach the USB ports. ExoHub has been designed to work seamlessly with your iMac (which sits on it, left)  to make your workspace more functional without compromising style. The ExoHub is compatible with all iMac 3.0 USB ports and can work without a power adapter. But if you believe, you have to put some money in.

Apple FAQ on hacking request, Chinese devs abusing app testing

Image — the FBI's home page
Image — the FBI’s home page

Apple posts FAQ on FBI hacking request — Apple published a new open letter on Monday detailing questions and answers related to its very public stance in its fight to avoid creating a hackable version of the iPhone operating system for the FBI. The short version is that creating a hackable iOS is a bad idea and sets a very dangerous precedent. Tim Cook maintains ‘Let’s talk about privacy, not strip it away.’ “The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true,” Cook said in the open letter. “Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices.”

Chinese devs abuse free Apple app-testing certs to install pirated apps — A Chinese iOS application recently found on Apple’s official store contained hidden features that allow users to install pirated apps on non-jailbroken devices. Its creators took advantage of a relatively new feature that lets iOS developers obtain free code-signing certificates for limited app deployment and testing.
The number of malware programs for iOS has been very low until now, primarily because of Apple’s strict control of its ecosystem. Devices that have not been jailbroken — having their security restrictions removed — only allow apps obtained from the official App Store, after they’ve been reviewed and approved by Apple.

Safari Extensions, IBM brings Swift to the cloud, Cook’s car hints


How to install Safari extensions on a Mac — Safari for Mac OS X supports extensions that add functionality to the web browser. Extensions can show helpful information about a webpage, display news headlines, help you use your favorite services, change the appearance of webpages, and more.
The Safari Extensions Gallery lets you conveniently browse extensions and install them with a single click. It’s the safest place to download Safari extensions, because all extensions in the Gallery are reviewed, signed, and hosted by Apple. And all extensions that you install from the gallery update automatically.

IBM brings Apple’s Swift to the cloud, simplifying enterprise app development — Thanks to new tools from IBM, developers will be able to write and run applications entirely in the cloud using Apple’s Swift programming language.

Cook hints at Apple car, stops short of confirming — Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t ready to confirm longstanding rumours that the company is designing a car, but he didn’t exactly deny it, either, in an interview with Fortune. “Part of exploring technologies and picking the right one is becoming so familiar with it you can see ways that it can be used,” he added. “And for us, we’ve never been about being first. We’ve been about being best.” [My italics: a lot of commentators just don’t get this about Apple.]