Asphalt Xtreme, Samsung goes glossy black


Asphalt Xtreme trades blacktop for mud and ice, but keeps the raucous fun — Gameloft is back with a fresh take on its racer: Asphalt Xtreme. It actually ditches most of the titular roads and finds you instead whipping through mud and dirt and across ice, sand, and water, plus you’ll use monster trucks, mud buggies, pickup trucks, and rally cars instead of the sportier rides seen in Airborne. It’s just as fast, fun, and attractive, but what about that free-to-play model?

Samsung’s ‘new smartphone innovation: Jet Black — Samsung has an idea for goosing Galaxy S7 smartphone sales: make a jet black model. The glossy black version is reportedly a ‘move to compete with Apple’s latest iPhone colour option’ [I prefer ‘more blatant copying’, myself] in an effort to boost sales following the Galaxy Note 7 explode-a-phone debacle.

MacBook Pro shipments, top management, Apple and Black Friday, Flexihub sharing, LG UltraFine, book video, try first, big fast RAID


New MacBook Pros spur notebook shipment growth for Apple — Apple’s new MacBook Pros have received some negative feedback but the hardware upgrades and new Touch Bar are expected to make them hot sellers. In fact, with the shipment growth, Apple is expected to return as the fourth largest vendor worldwide in the fourth quarter, according to the DigiTimes Research Group.

Apple’s top management largely white and male, but overall workforce trending toward diversity — Apple on Monday quietly released employment diversity statistics current as of July 2016, revealing high level executive and management positions are overwhelmingly filled by white males. It appears progress is being made below the company’s upper echelons, however.

Apple plans Black Friday ‘shopping event’ — Apple has posted a Holiday Gifts webpage that advertises a ‘shopping event’ scheduled for Friday, November 25. Known as Black Friday and the start of the holiday season, the date traditionally sees retailers slash prices. [This is usually worldwide but the last few years has just been a little iTunes gift card with various purchases rather than direct product discounts.]

FlexiHub now allows you to invite other FlexiHub users to access and work with the devices you shared — Distance and location won’t matter! The new version also boasts with improved interface and features optimised network communication for less data traffic usage.

Quick take video review: LG’s UltraFine 4K Display — Apple alongside the release of its new MacBook Pro lineup partnered with display maker LG to develop a pair of complementary UltraFine Displays with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and high-resolution IPS panels. Today, AppleInsider takes a look at the 21.5-inch 4K version.

Designed By Apple in California book in video — Apple’s new coffee table book showing the history of its products in photographs is a beautiful representation of the company’s designs. Most of those products, it turns out, are in  from 512 Pixels’ Stephen Hackett’s personal collections, so he put together a video showing his collection along side Apple’s photos. It’s cool to see the original iPod and iPhone, G4 Cube, iBook, next to their photos. It’s also proof Apple sold at least one set of iPod socks.

What to do when your Mac starts acting up — MacObserver has a handy reminder page of what to try first. Also, here are 11 security basics to remember (slideshow) and 10 sneaky Phishing scams to watch out for.

Apple to open third Paris retail store — Apple will open a new Parisian store on December 3, the third in the heart of the city, reports AppleInsider. It will be located at Marché Saint-Germain, deep into downtown Paris and not far from major landmarks like the Pantheon and Notre-Dame Cathedral, the article adds.

ThunderBay 4 mini now available with massive 10, 20, 30 40TB capacities — OWC has introduced 10, 20, 30, and 40TB SSD models of its ThunderBay 4 mini RAID. The new high-capacity SSD configurations are powered by a SoftRAID engine, which delivers disk-health monitoring, RAID rebuilds, and transfer speeds up to 1,314MB/s via a Thunderbolt 2 connection.

Black Friday online sales


CreativeTech in iBooks — Black Friday pre-Christmas sale on all CreativeTech books until Sunday 27th November.
Prices are across all 51 territories with discounts commensurate to the following in local currencies:
Parcels From Home: The Prisoner of War Parcel Scheme and the New Zealand Red Cross in World War Two, now NZ99¢/Australian-US99¢/UK49p (usually NZ$11.99)
Parcels From Home: Jack’s War by Steve Bolton (historical graphic novel telling the NZ WWII Red Cross Parcel story) now NZ$1.99/Aus-US 99¢/UK49p (usually NZ$17.99)
Parcels From Home: The Prisoner of War Parcel Scheme and the New Zealand Red Cross in World War Two (Trainspotter Edition), now NZ$2.99/Aus-US$1.99/UK99p (usually NZ$17.99)
Friendship, Foes and Feathers: June, Anne and the Great War by Lynda Johansson Nunweek, now NZ99¢/Aus-US99¢/UK49p (usually NZ$7.99)
Four Immeasurable States and What Is Nirvana? Traleg Rinpoche, now NZ99¢/Aus-US99¢/UK49p (usually NZ$9.99)


MacPhun — Luminar (offer available until December 1st)
Price for Macphun Users: US$49
Price for New Users: US$59
Buy before December 1st to receive the following Black Friday Bonuses:
Africa with Athena Video by Athena Carey ($60 value)
Cameras in the Wild ebook by Contrastly ($29 value)
Making the Image ebook by Dan Bailey ($25 value)
Luminar Presets pack ($25 value)
Aurora HDR 2017 (offer available until December 1st )
Upgrade Price for existing Aurora HDR Pro Owners: US$49
Price for existing Aurora HDR Owners: US$79
Price for New Users: US$89
Buy before December 1st to receive the following Black Friday Bonuses:
The Essentials of Street Photography & The New York Photographer’s Travel Guide by James Maher (US$25 value)
20 Minute Video Training from Trey Ratcliff (US$20 value)
Holiday Preset Pack (US$25 value)

Frankenstein welcomes Christmas, Thanksgiving Challenge


Frankenstein’s monster serenades with iPhone 7 in Apple’s latest holiday ad — Apple once again takes aim at viewers’ heart strings with its annual holiday TV spot, though the 2016 rendition features a lighthearted twist, as Frankenstein’s monster shows his sentimental side. The two-minute-long cinematic ad
 Frankie’s Holiday features the iconic horror monster limping from the mountains into town, drawing gasps from the locals. Frankenstein’s undead creation then screws red and green Christmas-colored lights into where bolts are typically located on his neck.

Apple Watch Users get 5K Challenge for Thanksgiving — Apple Watch owners got a special challenge Monday morning when Apple urged them to walk, run, or wheelchair 3.1 miles, or 5K, on November 24th. That’s the US Thanksgiving holiday, so instead of spending the day binging on turkey, pie, and watching football, Apple is pushing to get people outside and active by offering a special Thanksgiving Day Challenge badge. [Or, eat turkey, pie, watch football and move 5kms.]

Goodbye to AirPort?


Apple dissolves AirPort team — While the company hasn’t said anything publicly, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman (who has a goodtrack record with Apple rumours) reports that Apple’s wireless router division has been disbanded. The engineers who were working on products like the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule have been moved to work on other projects over the past year, according to Gurman.
Apple’s work on routers has been relatively quiet recently. The AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule last received updates in 2013. These routers are strong enough, but you can get better performance and features elsewhere. However, Apple’s software makes setting up AirPort products simple enough for novices, and once configured they run without any need for maintenance. [Nooo! My whole house is AirPorted up the wazoo!]

Here are some alternatives — not all will be available in New Zealand though.


Program for Touch Disease, Swift Playgrounds, HomeKit community

Apple has updated Swift Playgrounds
Apple has updated Swift Playgrounds

Apple launches Multi-Touch repair program for iPhone 6 Plus — Apple has launched a program to repair iPhone 6 Plus devices exhibiting display flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.

Apple upgrades Swift Playgrounds to version 1.1 — Apple has updated Swift Playgrounds, the free iPad app that teaches kids of any age basic coding skills in Swift, to version 1.1. The upgrade — available at the Apple App Store — adds new Learn to Code lessons, support for sound and music.

KB Home unveils first-ever Apple HomeKit-enabled community in San Jose — The Promenade at Communications Hill in San Jose, California will be the first HomeKit-enabled community, featuring built-in Apple-connected smart home connectivity for prospective buyers. By integrating HomeKit during manufacturing, homebuilder KB Home aims to have the most seamless HomeKit support possible. Apple-certified accessories will allow homeowners control of lighting, temperature, door locks and more from an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

13 and 15-inch compared, comparo, teardown of 15, Bulbs ad, attaching 4K monitors

Bare Feat's first graph – shorter is faster.
Bare Feat’s first graph – shorter is faster.

New 15-inch compared to 13 -inch — With the best processor, 16 GB of RAM, 1 TB flash storage, but a different GPU, is the 15-inch with Quad-Core processor and discrete GPU really that much faster? Is it worth the extra money, size and weight?
BareFeat’s test results show that for “21% more, the extra $$$ buys you a bigger screen, an average of 40% faster performance running CPU intensive pro apps, and an average of 110% faster running GPU intensive pro apps.” Sounds pretty compelling. Quad-Core and discrete graphics always wins.

Comparing Apple’s Late-2016 13″ & 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar — Having trouble deciding between Apple’s thin-but capable 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and the powerhouse 15-inch MacBook with Touch Bar? AppleInsider breaks down the pros and cons of each variant in this head-to-head comparison video.

Teardown of 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar reveals non-removable SSD, extra trackpad touch controller, more — Repair firm iFixit on Friday completed its dissection of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which boasts upscaled components and extra hardware not found on its smaller 13-inch sibling.

Apple’s MacBook Pro commercial Bulbs — Apple has released a new commercial for MacBook Pro with Touch Bar called Bulbs. The 1 minute, 37 second spot features flashes of some big (and small) inventions using exploding lightbulbs as a metaphor. The  MacBook Pro doesn’t appear until the final 10 seconds, accompanied by the tag line, “Introducing a tool for all the ideas to come.” We’re then shown a finger sliding back and forth on the Touch Bar to scrub through a video of another exploding lightbulb.

How to connect 4K monitors to your Mac, even on some older models without official support — Getting 4K on a relatively recent Mac has some hang-ups, but is still possible – and rewarding! AppleInsider explains the ins and outs of how to do so, even on some computers Apple doesn’t officially support.

Futurology ~ Wolfram and Hawking on space travel, stunning solar eclipse, tube-grown chips, CRISPR genes


Stephen Wolfram devised interstellar travel — The new movie Arrival depicts first contact with aliens. Its producers faced the question of how interstellar spacecraft would actually work, and  turned to futurist Stephen Wolfram, who came up with an answer overnight (via Slashdot).
Wolfram’s theory posited that space is just one of the attributes emerging from a low-level network of nodes, where long-range connections occasionally break out of three-dimensional space altogether.
~ Yep, that’s exactly how I would have done it. If I was a genius who knew anything about this stuff. And we’d better do it, because …

Stephen Hawking says the only way humankind can escape mass extinction in 1000 years is to find another planet — During a speech at Britain’s Oxford University Union, Hawking detailed the history of man’s understanding of the universe and reiterated that the future of humankind lies in space. “We must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” he said. “I don’t think we will survive another 1000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”
~ I don’t think I will last that long either. 

Stunning eclipse captured — A total solar eclipse happens every 18 months, but is only visible from a few places on Earth, and lasts just minutes. Hungarian photographer György Soponyai lets you experience the magic anyway with digitally manipulated time-lapse captures of a total solar eclipse above the sky in remote Svalbard, Norway from start to finish.
~ This was two photos every 15 minutes over 12 hours. 

IBM growing chips in tubes — Tiny, molecular-level structures could, in theory, be used to make chips that are six to ten times faster than today’s silicon-based variety while using far less electricity.A  team of IBM researchers say they’ve made a breakthrough that brings the nano-dreams closer to reality.
~ Watch out for litigation from Pringles. 

CRISPR genes and humans — A team of scientists in China has become the first to treat a human patient with the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique. While the results of the trial are uncertain, it’s a historic milestone that should serve as a serious wakeup call to the rest of the world.
~ This is envisaged as an answer to various cancers. Hurrah to that. 


Five Tip Friday ~ Universal Clipboard, Markup, and Safari tips for Mac


1/ Set up and use Universal Clipboard — The new Universal Clipboard feature in macOS Sierra and iOS 10 allows you to copy content, including text, images, photos and video from one Apple device and paste it in another. For example, you can browse a recipe on your Mac and paste the ingredients right to the grocery list on your iPhone. In theory, all you have to do is make sure all your Mac and iOS devices are on the same Wi-Fi network and that Bluetooth is enabled on your iPhone and/or iPad. Copy on one, choose Paste on the other … but if you can’t make this work (and there can be a lag between the cCopy then the ability to Paste), try signing out of iCloud on all of your devices, and then signing back in.

2/ Use Markup in macOS Sierra Photos — If you’re editing your images within Photos, you can apply filters, remove red-eye, crop things and so on. But macOS Sierra added Markup to Photos, which lets you add text boxes, shapes or drawings to your images.
Select the picture you’d like to annotate, then click the edit button in the toolbar (it looks like a set of sliders). In edit mode, you’ll see a list of tools along the side. Click on Extensions and the Markup option appears. Click this and you can add circles or stars around people, insert text boxes and more.

3/ Reopen recently used tabs in Safari — Launch Safari for Mac and in the Mac’s menu bar for Safari, and the obvious way is to click History. From the list of options with the History menu item, slide down to select Recently Closed. Hovering over this menu item produces a new contextual menu that shows all recently-closed Safari tabs. Select the item that you wish to reopen and click on it. You probably – hopefully! – knew that, but there’s a faster way to do it:

4/ Reopen recently used tabs in Safari (2) —To the right hand side of any open tab in Safari there is a Plus(+) icon. Clicking this opens a new Safari tab window. However, if you right-click (or hold down the Control key on your keyboard and normal-click) on the Plus(+) icon, a new menu appears that shows all recently-closed tabs. Select one to launch it.

5/ Turn Flash off for sites except for some — Flash sucks – it’s a resource hog, can allow malware in and it’s generally unpopular for good reason. So let’s take control of it. First, open any sites where you know you still need to use Flash (which allows those little web animations to play.) There are alternatives to Flash, and many sites including YouTube, have switched to the much better, higher resolution and faster HTML5. But if you’re stuck with needing some sites that still use Flash, read on.
On your Mac, open Preferences>Security>Plug-in Settings… and choose Adobe Flash Player. Set ‘When visiting other websites’ to Off to cause all other servers to send you HTML 5 instead (this is faster, more secure) content when available. But you can choose from among your open sites to give them permission to use the Flash plug-in and Safari will remember your choice for your next visit.

iPhone call logs, new CarPlays, US-made iPhones, Watch sleep app

Bodymatter has made an automatic sleep-tracking app
Bodymatter has made an automatic sleep-tracking app

Apple automatically uploading iPhone call logs to iCloud, reckons forensics firm — Any iPhone user with iCloud Drive enabled is having their call logs automatically uploaded to Apple servers —without their consent, and whether or not they have backups enabled, a Russian security firm said on Thursday. [Hands up who trusts Russian ‘forensics firms’.]
Apple has released a statement about this:
 “We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices. Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ data. That’s why we give our customers the ability to keep their data private. Device data is encrypted with a user’s passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user’s Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication.”

Audi, Kia & Genesis announce new vehicles ready for Apple’s CarPlay — Several automakers have announced new CarPlay-ready vehicles in anticipation of this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, among them Kia, and luxury brands Audi and Genesis. [Genesis?! Never heard of it. It’s a US company, apparently.]

Foxconn reportedly studying the possibility of making iPhones in the US — Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn Technology Group, has been studying the possibility of moving iPhone production to the US, according to Japanese website Nikkei Asian Review. [Trump that.]

Sleep Watch by Bodymatter — This the first and only sleep monitoring app for Apple Watch that lets users collect their sleep statistics without the need to open apps at bedtime or upon rising. The app automatically detects and monitors estimated sleep time, awake time, sleeping heart rate and sleep quality while allowing  users to manually adjust their results to more accurately track their patterns. Sleep Watch for Apple Watch and iPhone is  available now for download from the App Store for NZ$7.49/US$4.99.

Pointless grilles, Touch Bar screenshots, Luminar shipping, Hour of Code, Microsoft Visual Studio


Pointless speaker grilles — If you have a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, don’t think putting your ears closer to the speaker grilles will make it sound louder, as the grilles are just for show: they don’t  align with the internal speakers, and the Touch Bar is too difficult to remove.

Screenshots of the Touch Bar on Apple’s new MacBook Pro — The Touch Bar input strip on new MacBook Pro models is itself a Retina Display, but it doesn’t show up as a display in System Report. That’s prompted Apple to create specialised support in its Grab app to enable capture of screenshots of the Touch Bar’s current status.

Luminar is now shipping — Macphun has also launched a comprehensive comparison chart between Luminar, Lightroom, and Aperture.

Apple announces free Hour of Code workshops between Dec. 5 & 11 — Apple on Thursday opened up registrations for its free 2016 Hour of Code workshops, which will take place between December 5 and 11 at Apple Stores worldwide. [New Zealand doesn’t have any Apple-owned Stores, but if you’re elsewhere …]

Microsoft releases preview edition of Visual Studio for Mac — Microsoft has released the anticipated Visual Studio for Mac, bringing over one of its signature Windows development tools.

App Store purge, Androids sending info to China

purgeApple App Store purge underway to clear out outdated, abandoned, misbehaving apps — Earlier this year, Apple said it planned to clean up the Apple App Store by removing outdated, abandoned apps, including those that no longer meet current guidelines or don’t function as intended. The purge is underway, according to new data from Sensor Tower.

Monitoring software on some US Android phones sent text messages, location info to China — Pre-installed software on some Android phones from a developer contracted to develop the software for an undisclosed Chinese manufacturer sends the contents of text messages composed on the device, in addition to other user metadata, to a server in China.

Teardown, 808 doc, Visual Studio, 5TB portable, Trump and US-built, Twitter trolls, Mac Pro void, Apple pix, VR sometime, decent Color Picker


13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar teardown shows difficult to repair computer — The first full tear-down of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has concluded, with confirmation of a non-removable SSD, and as expected the computer has little possibility of user repairability.
The interior layout differs from the 13-inch MacBook Pro with function keys beyond just the SSD being surface mounted, repair guide depot iFixit noted. The Touch Bar model features a physically smaller battery rated at 49.2 Watt-hours versus the 54.5 Watt-hours in the function key model, a pair of fans, a double-ended heat-sink, and lower speakers that have no relation to the purely cosmetic speaker grills in the new unit. And heres the odd fact that Apple’s MacBook Pro Touch Bar currently lets users scrub through YouTube ads, and here’s everything you need to know about USB-C & Thunderbolt 3 on Apple’s new MacBook Pro.

Apple Music nabs exclusive streaming rights to star-studded ‘808’ documentary — Apple has secured exclusive first access rights to 808, a documentary film chronicling the impact the Roland TR-808 programmable drum machine had, and continues to have despite its discontinuation 33 years ago, on the music making world.

New Visual Studio is here, and for Mac — Visual Studio ’15’ gets a real name, and Microsoft bestowed the VS brand on Xamarin Studio. After a set of leaks from MSDN Magazine on Monday, the company officially confirmed Wednesday morning that it’s bestowing the Visual Studio brand on Xamarin Studio, a C# development environment for the Mac that Microsoft acquired earlier this year.

Seagate 5TB portable drive — Seagate is rolling out a device built for on-the-go folks with an insatiable thirst for more space. Later in November, you’ll be able to pick-up a Seagate Backup Plus Portable drive with a whopping five terabytes of storage capacity – enough to store about 1000 high-definition movies, or 20 AAA PC games.

What Apple would have to do to comply with Donald Trump’s American-built mandate — President-elect Donald Trump has pushed a protectionist proposal that could to force Apple “to build their damn computers and things in this country.” It’s a suggestion that has been outright dismissed by most observers —but should it be? [And you thought Apple gear was already unaffordable …]

Twitter beefs up its mute tools and abuse policies to help you proactively silence trolls — Twitter is bulking up its tools to combat online hate and harassment. In recent months, critics have called out Twitter for not doing enough to stop online abuse. Now Twitter is fighting back against the growing impression that social the network is becoming far too vitriolic.

HP exploits Apple’s Mac Pro void with new Z2 Mini — Hewlett-Packard has announced the Z2 Mini, a powerful but compact desktop computer aimed at technical and creative professionals in CAD, finances, OEM and education. With the option for an Intel Xeon quad-core E3-1200v5 (or CORE i3/i5/i7), up to 32 GB of RAM, Linux and Windows 10 support and a model with support for six displays, the Z2 Mini can meet the needs of many professionals on the desktop who don’t need the highest performing Z workstation. Most importantly, it’s HP’s concerted effort to exploit a vacuum Apple has created on the desktop.

Look at pictures of Apple products instead of buying Apple’s US$300 Photo Book — Apple has released Designed by Apple in California, book that chronicles the last 20 years of Apple’s triumphs in product design and innovation. Or scroll through this post of great looking Apple products through the ages right here in your browser for free

VR coming to the Mac ‘in a few months’ — Windows is the dominant computing platform for VR gaming right now. However, Valve will encourage wider operating system support by bringing a SteamVR beta to macOS and Linux systems “in the next few months,” according to a Hexus report. [Don’t rush, then.]

Developers and designers finally get the Color Picker they need with Drop — Your Mac has a built-in color picker, but it doesn’t feel like it was cerated with coders and designers in mind. Tapity’s coding team thought that was unfortunate, so they whipped up Drop — a colour picker that fits the bill for both coders and designers.
Drop lets you sample and save on-screen colours as Hex, RGB, Swift or Objective C values for mobile and desktop formats. You can save color values to Drop’s built-in palette, copy them to the clipboard, and create colors without first sampling them. It also lets you store color swatches on the new Retina MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar for easy access.
Drop is currently available for 50% off at NZ$5.99/US$3.99 on Apple’s Mac App Store.