MagBytes 90 ~news, views, tips and tricks


Yes, I have a full-time regular  job now, but I’m still (so far) managing to get this done. MagBytes 90 looks like this, at left, (that’s a thumbnail picture; the download is from the text link below).

 

Please remember that feedback is always welcome. I like to feel MagBytes is useful to people, and if you can think of any way I can improve MagBytes, I’m all ears.
MagBytes 90 —>>Issue90August17

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Apple’ Emmy for Siri, increase iCloud storage, Teamviewer for iOS


(Image from iPhone Hacks)

Apple just won an Emmy Award for Siri on Apple TV — Apple has won an Emmy award for Siri’s integration with the Apple TV for Contextual Voice Navigation for Discovering and Interacting with TV Content. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the award on Wednesday.
Debuting in 2015, Siri came to the living room when tvOS was launched. The specific award of Contextual Voice Navigation is because Siri helps people quickly find content they want to watch on the Apple TV, like television shows, apps, and movies.

How to increase iCloud Drive storage — Apple’s iCloud Drive lets you securely access all of your documents from your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and even a Windows PC. When you set up iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of storage. You can use that storage space for iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Mail (your @icloud.com email account), and the information from your apps that use iCloud. Read on to see how to add more (by paying, please note) of this storage.

TeamViewer to provide real-time iOS 11 screen sharing — One of the features of the soon-to-be-released iOS 11 is a way to record your screen for sharing video clips with others. TeamViewer, which is a multi-platform screen-sharing service, announced it has used that feature to enable a way for iOS users to share their screens with each other. The company says that the feature will be available as soon as iOS 11 ships – most likely on September 12, 2017 – and it’s currently available in a demo format for devices running the iOS 11 beta.

Last ditch RAM bid, Photolemur, WD’s personal cloud, keyboard replacement, new Docks, Compare Anything, voice-powered writing


Consortium that includes Apple making a ‘last-ditch bid’ for Toshiba’s chip division — Reuters reports that a consortium led by Bain Capital and including Apple has offered a revised last-ditch bid for Toshiba’s chip division that’s worth $18 billion.
Under the new proposal, Bain and Toshiba would both hold 46% each of the unit, Japanese broadcaster NHK reports. The article says that talks between the conglomerate and a Western Digital-led consortium have stalled.

Photolemur is selling at 50% off — The software analyses images for you and improves them, letting you step in if you need. It’s pretty remarkable. This deal takes it from US$50 to US$25.

Western Digital launches internet-connected My Cloud Home & Home Duo drives — Hard drive manufacturer Western Digital has released the My Cloud Home, a network-attached storage (NAS) drive intended to provide both local and remote access to personal files.

Matias seeks to fill void left by Apple with new Wired Aluminium Keyboard — Taking some design cues from Apple’s old keyboard line, Matias has released a new Wired Aluminium Keyboard to accommodate those not looking to replace batteries or charge an input device. The new Wired Aluminum Keyboard comes in silver and space gray. A fixed 99cm (3.25-foot) USB 2.0 cable with a type A connector provides connectivity, with pass-through devices like wired mice able to be connected through the two-port USB 2.0 hub. [This is my favourite keyboard configuration: numeric keypad, never needs recharging, perfect fr Logic and Final Cut and two extra USB ports offers a lot.]
The US layout is available for pre-order for US$59 from Matias, with shipments in late November. Other layouts available include German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swiss, Nordic, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean. Apple’s full-size new wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad retails for NZ$219/US$129 [this replaced Apple’s wonderful and sadly missed wired version in this configuration, which cost less than NZ$100].

New USB-C Docks — Plugable has thrown its hat into the Thunderbolt 3 ring with a pair of new docking stations, and the lower-cost TBT3-UD1-83 appears to be a good option for most at first glance. mBeat has created the Elite USB-C Multi-Function Dock – you can power your MacBook, plug into a wired network, and connect those old USB peripherals as well. Apple World Today currently has the Elite USB-C Multi-Function Dock for US$69, 30% off of the usual price. [This is not available to buy in NZ so you’d have to check it comes with a compatible power supply if you can mail order it.]

Compare Anything 1.0 is new file comparison tool for macOS — B-Eng has introduced Compare Anything 1.0 for macOS. It’s a stand-alone utility designed for comparing files of any type – compare two files and check them for any differences. Files to compare can either be selected via the Finder or by entering directly the path in the corresponding entry line. Specifics of the two files are then listed in a split window with differences are high-lighted.
Compare Anything 1.0 requires macOS 10.10 or later and costs NZ$1.49/US99¢ in the Mac App Store.

Wrise for macOS makes reading and writing accessible for more people — AssistiveWare’s Wrise 1.0 for macOS is a text-to-speech-powered word processor designed to make reading and writing accessible for most people thanks to its highlighting, zoom and EasyReading mode.
The latest version (1.3.1) includes several bug fixes, including issues with speech aping after every tag. Wrise is customizable and can be used to read selected text aloud in any Mac application. You can personalize your reading experience by selecting your preferred voice, adjusting its speech rate and even fine-tuning the pronunciation of words. What’s more, the app allows import of a variety of document types including PDF, Word (doc/docx), plain texts and RTF and with the intuitive formatting features texts are easily edited and styled.
Wrise 1.0 can be used with Text to Speech voices in many different languages, but the user interface is currently only available in English. The application requires macOS 10.9 or higher and is exclusively at the Mac App Store for NZ$89.99/US$59.99.

Accenture and Apple, Beddit support moves to Apple, free up iPhone storage, Google tries fighting ARKit, Elgato expansion, Wechat in China


Apple gets further toehold in big business with iOS-focused Accenture enterprise partnership — Apple and business services company Accenture are teaming up to enhance business software offerings, and to ease migrations away from legacy technologies to modern iOS implementations. Accenture will create a dedicated iOS practice within Accenture Digital Studios in select locations around the world. Experts from Apple will be co-located with this team. Working together, the two companies will launch a new set of tools and services that help enterprise clients transform how they engage with customers using iPhone and iPad. The experts will include visual and experience designers, programmers, data architects and scientists, and hardware and software designers. Accenture has more than 411,000 people serving clients in over 120 countries.
For more information regarding the Apple and Accenture partnership, please visit accenture.com/nz/apple or apple.com/nz/business/partners/.

Apple now handling Beddit customer support — Apple has taken over customer support for sleep tracking hardware and software company Beddit, which Apple purchased in May as part of ongoing efforts to build out its health services team. As part of the change in support policy, customers seeking technical help from the official Beddit website are now instructed to contact Apple via the Contact Apple Support webpage. [Beddit is an app that wakes you up to tell you when you fall asleep. LOL, I’m just kidding.]

Free up iPhone and iPad storage by offloading unused apps in iOS 11 — Apple’s iOS 11 is introducing a new feature that is capable of freeing up iPhone and iPad storage by deleting apps, but keeping your data & document files, and AppleInsider takes a look at the addition, which you can see in this video.

Google tries to fight wide ARKit compatibility with its own augmented reality initiative ARCore — Google has announced it’s own augmented reality initiative called ARCore —but serious limitations on what versions of Android can be used and a very narrow list of compatible hardware will be tough hurdles to overcome. [So maybe is should be called ARCrap.]

Elgato outs five new Apple HomeKit-ready accessories including door lock & smoke detector — Elgato has revealed five upcoming accessories in its HomeKit-compatible Eve line, in some cases branching into new smarthome categories such as door locks and smoke detection.

Apple is now accepting Wechat Pay in China — Apple is now accepting Wechat Pay for payments made in its Apple App Store and iTunes in China after it previously accepted Alibaba’s Alipay as a mobile payment option. This will likely drive up the tech giant’s revenues in the country from in-store and music spending, reports China Money Network.

Cook on governance, 18-core Intel Xeon, Upthere bought, Wallpaper wizard


MacPaw’s Wallpaper Wizard 2 is a curated set of HD desktop pictures for Mac

Apple CEO Tim Cook says tech, business has ‘moral responsibility’ to contribute to society — During his trip to Austin, Tex., to announce a planned expansion to Apple’s Swift curriculum, company CEO Tim Cook sat down with The New York Times to discuss how he, and other American business leaders, have been prompted to take positions on contentious social issues in light of a “less functional” government [my italics].
In his short interview, Cook alluded to a vacuum left by political discord at the highest levels of government.

New 18-core Intel Xeon W processors likely to be used in Apple’s iMac Pro — Intel has revealed its new collection of Xeon processors aimed at workstations, with the Xeon W range boasting 48 PCIe 3.0 lanes and up to 18 cores on a single chip, making the new processor line prime candidates for use in the upcoming iMac Pro due in December.

Cloud startup founded by former Apple executives acquired by Western Digital — Western Digital on Monday announced the acquisition of Upthere, an app-based cloud services startup founded by a three-man team including former Apple SVP of Mac Software Engineering Bertrand Serlet.
The asset acquisition follows a successful $77 million venture capital funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers last year. Western Digital declined to disclose the purchase price in an announcement on Monday.
Designed as a platform agnostic cloud storage solution, Upthere provides users direct access to their files, videos, documents and other media without moving relying on locally stored assets. While the system looks and acts like products marketed by competitors Dropbox and Box, all file actions are accomplished in the cloud.

Wallpaper Wizard 2 makes it easy to use HD wallpapers on your Mac — MacPaw recently acquired Wallpaper Wiza and has released an updated version of the app. It’s developed to give your Mac’s display changing, fresh looks from a curated collection of hand-picked HD photos.
Wallpaper Wizard 2 makes it easy to find good-looking screen images from a huge (25,000) collection of handpicked wallpapers and backgrounds. Categories include animals, nature, textures, architecture, places, people, objects, food, city, vehicles, sports, monochrome, flowers, and art. You can spend hours playing around with the various backgrounds.
Wallpaper Wizard is available at the Mac App Store for NZ$14.99/US$9.99 with an additional US$4.99 in-app purchase of multi-display support. Wallpaper Wizard 2 is also available via Setapp, the US$9.99 Mac app monthly subscription service.

Tuesday Talk ~ iPhone ate


Looks like September 12th will be the date Apple launches its ‘completely new’ iPhone. That means it won’t be new tech in an existing case, but an all-new case as well. And that’s not an official, Apple-announced date, either, it’s just the ‘widely tipped’ date. Apple may also usher in this new device in its new campus, Apple Park, the huge round facility it’s been building over the last couple of years in Cupertino.
As I’ve mentioned before, papers all over the world, including to its discredit the New Zealand Herald, have been publishing articles as if the iPhone 8 already exists and they already know what’s in it. Neither have been even remotely true. Along with lists of its guessed-at ‘features’ have been the usual naysayers predicting its failure. These commentators have been doing this for decades now, before every imminent Apple launch.
Clearly they haven’t been learning from their own failures.
Perhaps I’m being harsh on the Herald, which is essentially just a republisher these days anyway, with almost no journalists to draw on – how’s that working out for you? Anyway, some even otherwise reputable Apple commentary sites have been indulging in this stupidity, and presumably for the same reason: for web traffic and readership.

Meanwhile, Samsung has launched its Galaxy 8. Samsung has made some pretty hot phones for sure, and indeed its hereditary CEO has been in hot water himself and is now facing jail time. The Note 8 has a large ‘Infinity Display’ (edge-to-edge) along with Samsung’s first dual camera module [which Apple introduced with iPhone 7+), an improved S Pen, and features like iris scanning, facial recognition, and wireless charging. The Galaxy 8 uses a Snapdragon 835 CPU, currently the most powerful chip available to Android devices. It’s produced using 10-nanometer manufacturing, which means its tiny transistors are placed ever so slightly closer together. iPhone 7 uses 14-nanometre; iPhone 8 will most likely have 10-nanometer. But despite fewer cores and slower clock speeds, iPhones have been outpacing its fastest Android-powered rivals in benchmarks and speed tests for years thanks to Apple being able to refine and integrate every single component in its devices. Actually, when you think about it, Samsung should be able to do this too … Anyway, if you can handle the Android flurry of overlapping operating systems available, it looks like an advanced and excellent smartphone, although its getting towards tablet-size.

Where will Apple go with iPhone 8? We’ll soon see. In the near future, I don’t see the operating systems merging. iOS started as a mobile version of macOS and they have largely been developed separately, but increasingly they’re borrowing features from each other. Until the systems merge, you won’t be able to run an iPad app on a Mac and vice versa – you’ll still have to acquire companion versions of the same app for either platform. Apart from one interface using screen-touch and the other using input (trackpads, mice etc), the real barrier to all this is simply capacity: CPU power and storage.
Those barriers are being lowered almost daily.

September 12th? NYPD regretting Microsoft Phone investment, ARKit developing fast


Apple said to unveil ‘iPhone 8,’ ‘iPhone 7s’ and more at Sept. 12 event — Apple’s highly anticipated product unveiling is reportedly set to take place in just a few weeks, on Tuesday, September 12 (according, first, the The Wall Street Journal), when the company is expected to introduce the all-new iPhone 8 and other products. In addition to a new premium ‘iPhone 8’ with [very probably] an edge-to-edge OLED display, Apple is also expected to unveil an iPhone 7s lineup to serve as a successor to the iPhone 7.
An ‘iPhone 8’ [no one knows what it will be called yet] is expected to come in extremely limited quantities and carry a high price tag, thanks to an array of new technologies including the border-less display and new facial recognition technology.

NYPD handcuffed by investment in Microsoft’s Windows Phone, now switching to Apple’s iPhone — The New York Police Department must replace some 36,000 smartphones running Microsoft’s defunct Windows Phone platform, and plans to provide its officers with replacement iPhones by the end of the year.
The 36,000 phones were purchased as part of a $160 million program intended to help modernize New York City’s police force with new technology. Officers were equipped with Nokia Lumia 830 and Lumia 640XL smartphones.

Latest demos with iOS 11 ARKit show plated food, 3D sculpting with Apple Pencil — Two new ARKit demonstrations by developers are showing the rapid advancement of what is possible with the new technology, with one showing food on a plate prior to ordering, and the other illustrating sculpting and painting with the iPad for use in other AR applications.

Only a B+, JetDrive, Star Wars theme, CADintosh


Apple receives a B+ in latest RESCUECOM Computer Reliability Report but still beats most other PC makers — RESCUECOM has released its 2017 back-to-school Computer Reliability Report, which compares the brand market share of computer makers with their repair share, based on the number of computer repair calls received per brand, to create an overall reliability score. The report includes desktops, laptops and tablets.
The Reliability Report only gave Apple B+ as a reliability grade. Two companies received “A+” grades: Amazon (which makes the Fire tablet) and RCA (which makes budget tablets and smartphones).
However, Apple came out ahead of Samsung (B) and all companies that also make desktops and laptops. IBM/Lenovo received a C-, Dell a D+, Microsoft and Acer a D-, Asus an F, and HP, an F.

Transcend JetDrive 820 PCI-E SSD line announced for 2013 and newer MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Pro — Flash and memory company Transcend has announced the JetDrive 820 PCI Express PCIe Generation 3.0 solid-state drive for certain Mac models – but in some cases it will be slower than the stock drive in the machine.

Apple to host ILM artists, hold Star Wars-themed Today at Apple workshops this week — In celebration of Force Friday II, Apple this week will host a number of Star Wars-themed Today at Apple events at retail stores across the world, including special computer graphics tutorials featuring Industrial Light and Magic artists. Announced through the Today at Apple website, Apple’s Force Friday II sessions include workshops on iPad video creation, drone programming for kids, CG art and more. [Of course, there are no Apple-owned Apple Stores in New Zealand – the closest are in Australia.]

CADintosh for macOS a solid tool for technical, mechanical, and architectural drawings — Lemke Software’s CADintosh is a 2D CAD program for macOS (10.5 or later) provides a helpful selection of tools to develop technical, mechanical, and architectural drawings. Designed especially for technical draftsmen and designers, it packs extensive pen options and the ability to export the visible drawing as DXF.

Control WeMo switches from your Mac — Belkin’s WeMo switches and lights are great for turning your house or apartment into a smart home, assuming you’re cool with always using your iPhone to make the magic happen. Luckily Mac Observer found an easy way to let your Mac take control of your WeMo gear. WSwitch fits the bill nicely and was so easy to set up, it’s a surprise Belkin didn’t already make this app. It’s available on the Mac App Store and costs NZ$7.49/US$4.99. [Some WeMo devices, at least, are available in New Zealand from outlets like Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming and Bunnings.]

Ridiculous driving lawsuit thrown out, Swift curriculum, disabling Watch passcode


(Image from GenStock)

Court throws out lawsuit blaming lack of texting ‘lock-out’ technology in iPhone caused car accident — A Californian judge has thrown out the suit brought against Apple by the father of a college student killed in a road accident by a texting driver, one where it was claimed Apple had failed to incorporate technology into the iPhone that would prevent it from working while the user is driving. [Because if you text on a phone while driving, you’re a bloody idiot, and it’s not the manufacturers’ fault. And I still see this all the time, even last night with the woman driving behind me to Auckland Airport.]

Apple’s Swift curriculum coming to over 30 community colleges, select high schools — Apple on Friday said that over 30 US community college systems will offer its App Development with Swift curriculum during the 2017-2018 school year, expanding on the original six that Apple announced in May.

How to disable the passcode on an Apple Watch — In the event that you no longer want to use the passcode on your Apple Watch, it’s easy to disable it. On the smartwatch, go to Settings app → Passcode → Disable Passcode and (read the rest at Apple World Today).

AI award, DriveScope, Thunderbolt 3 card reader, TimeCache, PDFpen 9.1, goodbye Iranian apps, Flat Icon Lab


Jumsoft has released Flat Icon Lab with over 260 designs in a background-less PNG format. All icons are easily adjustable

Apple’s first AI research paper wins prestigious machine learning award — Apple’s first publicly issued academic paper, research focussing on computer vision systems published in December, recently won a Best Paper Award at the 2017 Conference on Computer Vision & Pattern Recognition, one of the most sought after prizes in the field.

Micromat launches Drive Scope for macOS — Micromat has announced a new macOS drive utility called Drive Scope. The software utilizes Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (also known as S.M.A.R.T.) – which is built into most hard drives – to report on the health of internal and external hard drives connected to Macs. The program requires Mac OS 10.8.5 or above and is available here. It costs US$19.99 for a single-user license and US$133.99 for a business pack (for 10 users).

Sonnet launches dual-slot SxS Pro Card Reader — Sonnet Technologies that launched the SxS Pro Card Reader, the second in a new family of professional media readers that feature a 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 interface.  It will be available August 28 at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of US$399. The Sonnet reader employs dual card slots to take advantage of the 2750 MB/s bandwidth Thunderbolt 3 offers. Sonnet’s latest Pro Card Reader, the industry’s first SxS card reader with Thunderbolt 3, can ingest files simultaneously from two cards at their maximum speeds, and is also compatible with SD and XQD media cards when used with Sonnet SDHC Adapters and Sony XQD ExpressCardAdapters, respectively.

TimeCache for macOS is on your side — Time is not always true, but with TimeCache, a Mac only tool from PandaWare, we can at least keep track of it. With TimeCache, now updated to version 9.0, it’s designed for professionals who bill clients for their time and expenses. You can keep track of estimates, timed or manual entries, retainer billing, customisable invoices and reports, printing options, and flexible data entry options. It also offers tracking of all a user’s computer activity and the ability to save fine-grained details with time and expense entries.

Hands on with PDFpen 9.1 for macOS adds more tools for editing and exporting — Users get improved controls, and can decide what other people see in the latest version of the PDF manipulation and markup tool.
The basic PDFpen 9.1 costs NZ$109.99/US$74.99 in the Mac App Store. PDFpenPro 9.1 adds interactive forms, editing text within PDFs and the ability to edit a Table of Contents for US$124.99. Both versions are also available direct from the developer. [I still find Apple’s free Preview app, already on every Mac, does everything with PDFs that I need, but if you want to go further, this is more powerful and usable than Adobe Acrobat.]

Apple has removed several Iranian apps from international Apple App Stores — The move is in line with US sanctions against the country, reports The New York Times. Apple has no official presence in the country. Because of American sanctions against Iran, iPhones are not legally available for sale there, and there’s no Iranian version of the Apple App Store.

Jumsoft releases Flat Icons Lab for macOS — Jumsoft has introduced Flat Icons Lab 1.0, a multipurpose productivity assistant app for macOS that features nearly 300 original icon designs presented across 13 categories.
Flat Icons Lab offers icons in a high-resolution PNG format, so they’re usable with the tools available on any Mac right out of the box. What’s more, they’re adaptable across many forms of media: presentations, documents, print, websites and more.
Flat Icons Lab requires macOS10.11 or later. Available as a standalone product, it’s offered at the introductory price of NZ$14.99/US$9.99 and is available at the Mac App Store in the Graphics & Design category. It’s also available as a new product pack for the owners of Jumsoft’s Toolbox for Keynote and Toolbox for iWork.

The Apocalypticon ~ Nazis. Trump. Putin. Germany. Sexist machines. Fish wars. Accuweather fixes dodgy app.


Nazis. We’ve recently seen the ugliest face of white nationalism in the United States. In both its structural and personal forms, racism shouldn’t surprise anyone (unfortunately).
As political scientist David Karpf has argued, these violations must be met with penalties or the norms fade away. However, just to underline US presidential hypocrisy on this kind of thing, President Trump just pardoned controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted for disobeying a judge’s order to stop detaining people illegally, seemingly because he was popular! But even if you knew that virulent hate groups existed, they’re fringe enough that most have never spoken to their members. If people engage with them, can they be recruited back into humanity?

Lamar wall cloud with very large hail falling. Taken on chase of this extreme storm near Lamar in Colorado, Denver, North America, USA. (At least Accuweather has nixed its app’s secret tracking behaviour.)

Trump’s equivocation has even managed to put off the Russians. The Kremlin had long played along with President Trump’s extreme rhetoric while he lionized Vladimir Putin – meanwhile cultivating the American right’s faith-based, family-oriented, anti-immigrant agenda. But Trump’s failure to instinctively condemn Charlottesville’s swastika-toting marchers seems to have crossed a bright red line for them. Defeating Hitler’s Germany as 27 million Soviet citizens died is a key pillar of Russian national pride; recently the Russian media has expressed dismay over the president’s equivocation. Relations had already soured – now, indulging the ghosts of fascism may forever taint Moscow’s formerly favourite US leader.

Germany, though, reckons it cannot end up with a Trump. Seven decades after World War II, a leader like President Donald Trump would have almost no chance of political success in Berlin thanks to the unique historical, political, social and cultural stories of the United States and Germany and the tumultuous path they have taken over the last century.
~ Seems like a hell of a price to pay to get to that conclusion – can America do it without world war and a Holocaust? But it’s a good question:
“Why does the US, the political, moral and military leader of the Western world since the end of World War II, now have a dangerous laughing stock, a man who has isolated his country, as its president? Why does Germany, a former pariah, now enjoy a more positive political standing than ever before?”
“There will be time for reflection. Hopefully there will be time to rebuild. But now it’s simply time to be ashamed.” [My italics.] So tweeted Republican Garrett Johnson after Trump won the Republican presidential ticket, but soon after he was attempting to get tech experts into Trump’s administration teams. But tech practitioners have been abandoning Trump, and the administration’s tech team remains largely empty. The Office of Science and Technology, for example,  employs just 40 people, down from roughly 130 under Obama.

Machine learning failures because they learned from humans. Ironic or what? Two prominent research-image collections – including one supported by Microsoft and Facebook – display a predictable gender bias in their depiction of activities such as cooking and sports. Images of shopping and washing are linked to women, for example, while coaching and shooting are tied to men. Machine-learning software trained on the datasets didn’t just mirror those biases, it amplified them.
~ So our pure machines are now sexist. Nice one, tech nerds. Maybe it would be better if men simply weren’t allowed to vote

Fish wars coming — Battles over politics and ideologies may be supplanted by fights over resources as nations struggle for economic and food security. These new conflicts have actually already begun – over fish.
In 1996, Canada and Spain almost went to war over the Greenland turbot. Canada seized Spanish vessels it felt were fishing illegally, but Spain did not have the same interpretation of the law and sent gunboats to escort its ships. In 1999, a US Coast Guard cutter intercepted a Russian trawler fishing in the US exclusive economic zone. The lone cutter was promptly surrounded by 19 Russian trawlers. Fortunately, the Russian Border Guard and the Coast Guard drew on an existing relationship and were able to defuse the situation… Japan protested when 230 fishing vessels were escorted by seven China Coast Guard ships in the waters of the disputed Senkaku Islands. Incidents in the South China Sea between the Indonesian Navy and Chinese fishing vessels and China Coast Guard have escalated to arrests, ramming, and warning shots leading experts to suggest only navies and use of force can stop the IUU fishing.

Finally, some good news — Responding to privacy concerns (as reported last week on Mac NZ), AccuWeather is out with a new version of its iOS app that removes a controversial data sharing behavior. Earlier this week, security researcher Will Strafach called attention to the practice in a post and users took to Twitter to announce their intention to dump the app in droves. “AccuWeather’s app employed a Software Development Kit (SDK) from a third party vendor (Reveal Mobile) that inadvertently allowed Wi-Fi router data to be transmitted to this third-party vendor,” the company wrote in a statement accompanying the app update. “Once we became aware of this situation we took immediate action to verify the operation and quickly disabled the SDK from the IOS app. Our next step was to update the IOS app and remove Reveal Mobile completely.”

Futurology ~ Interstellar unlock, diamonds on Uranus, Aussie probe, Musk spacesuit, tiny Mercedes, China fast train, ‘clean’ meat, DNA encryption, ancient wine, Babylonian trigonometry


The Space-X program has a new space flight suit, unveiled by Elon Musk

Odd interstellar observation could unlock Dark Matter mystery — An international team of astronomers found a series of strange shapes in data coming off of distant sources of radio waves. They hypothesise that the dips come from some mysterious sources passing in front of the light, maybe black holes or the centres of clusters of stars. If their hypothesis is correct, they think they may have found a new way to probe those sources – sources with masses difficult to observe by other means.
~ Blips and dips taking on huge importance. 

Diamonds on Neptune and Uranus — Researchers using the Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford have demonstrated in the lab, with one of the brightest sources of X-rays on the planet, that the depths of these ice giants are perfect for the formation of diamonds.
~ Ooh, I know, let’s have a space war over the rights to them!

Probe still talks to Australia — For the 40 years since NASA launched the two Voyager space probes on their mission to explore the outer planets of our Solar System, Australia has been helping the US space agency keep track of the probes at every step of their epic journey.
CSIRO operates NASA’s tracking station in Canberra, a set of four radio telescopes (dishes) known as the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC).
Four decades on and the Australian tracking station is now the only one with the right equipment and position to be able to communicate with both of the probes as they continue to push back the boundaries of deep space exploration.
~ I’m amazed Australia even lets any signals in, myself. Shouldn’t they be quarantined in a concentration camp for a few years first? And only released, if they survive, when they’re lives have been completely ruined?

Musk’s new spacesuit — Elon Musk’s new Space-X spacesuit is white, in contrast to the very blue spacesuits unveiled by Boeing in January. These are not, strictly speaking, “space suits.” More properly they are they are flight suits designed to be worn during the ride to space and back again on the ride back down to Earth. They have a limited time in which they can operate in a full vacuum and are not intended for spacewalks. 
~ Wonder if it smells a bit musky inside. 

Big power from tiny Mercedes engine — The forthcoming Mercedes ‘hypercar’  Project One gets most of its oomph from a turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 engine. That may seem minuscule for this sort of use case, but this machine is a close cousin to the one that powered the car Lewis Hamilton drove to an F1 championship in 2015. Changes have to do with how, and how high, the engine revs.
~ Only oligarchs need get excited, and then you’ll be driving it at 10% of it’s potential anyway. Haha, sucks to be you.

China relaunches world’s fastest train — Seven pairs of bullet trains will be operating under the name Fuxing, meaning rejuvenation, according to the South China Morning Post. The trains will once again run at 350kph, with a maximum speed of 400kph (248 mph).
Following a fatal crash in 2011, the high speed train service reduced its upper limit from its then-record holding 350 km/h (217 miles/hour) to 250-300 km/h (155-186 miles/hour). It is reported the train service will use monitoring systems to automatically slow the trains in case of emergency. The Beijing-Shanghai line will begin operating on 21st September and will shorten the nearly 1319km (820 mile) journey by one hour, to four hours thirty minutes. Nearly 600 million people use this route each year, providing a reported $1 billion in profits . The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei route begins operation now.
~ Wonder how the ticket price stacks up to air travel? It’s much less polluting, of course.  

Laptop batteries running homes — DIY Powerwall builders from around the world are harvesting old laptop batteries and turning them into powerful batteries capable of supplying energy to their entire homes. “It’s the future. It’s clean, simple, efficient and powerful,” Jehu Garcia, one of the most popular powerwall builders, told me. He and people like him are deciding for themselves what the future of alternative energy will look like, instead of waiting for technology companies to shape it for them.
~ Yep, it’s all green and clean … and then they die and you need to get rid of them. 

Gates and Branson fund ‘clean’ meat — A large global agricultural company has joined Bill Gates and Richard Branson to invest in a nascent technology to make meat from self-producing animal cells. Memphis Meats produces beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without raising and slaughtering livestock or poultry, and raised $17 million from investors including Cargill, Gates and billionaire Richard Branson, according to a statement Tuesday on the San Francisco-based startup’s website.
~ Fake cow, chicken and yuck.

Protect your DNA with encryption — Bejerano and Boneh published a paper in Science about a cryptographic ‘genome cloaking’ method. The scientists were able to do things like identify responsible mutations in groups of patients with rare diseases and compare groups of patients at two medical centres to find shared mutations associated with shared symptoms, all while keeping 97% of each participant’s unique genetic information completely hidden. They accomplished this by converting variations in each genome into a linear series of values. That allowed them to conduct any analyses they needed while only revealing genes relevant to that particular investigation.
~ Honestly, though, you’re just not that important. There are billions of you. Literally.

Italians have been tanking up on wine for ages and ages — In a study published in Microchemical Journal, researchers describe their big find of a jar dating back to the early 4th millennium BCE. After chemically testing the piece of pottery, the team found traces of tartaric acid, which is one of the main acids in wine. Its salts – called tartrates – were also found in the jug.
~ Six thousand years of boozing, wow!

Babylonians may have invented trigonometry — The Plimpton 322 tablet, discovered in the early 1900s in what is now Iraq, has long divided mathematicians confused by its columns and rows of numbers. But researchers from the University of New South Wales now say the 3700-year-old broken clay tablet is a trigonometric table. That would mean the Babylonians were 1000 years ahead of the Greeks, who are credited with creating trig.
~ So generations of school students have been cursing the wrong people. 

Five Tip Friday ~ Connection problems and how to resolve them


I have Gigabit Fibre, via Vodafone, and it can be really quick, at least outside peak times, but I just wish it was more reliable. Damn me it it doesn’t drop out at least once a day, if not more. Actually, my Vodafone connection has always done this, and it’s a pain in the you-know-what, although things are usually resolved with a modem restart, for some reason. I have called Vodafone many, many times but 1/ it can take forever to get a human to talk to, and 2/ the problem has never been fixed, although I’ve been through several modems over several years. Anyway, here are some tips to get you back online.

1/ Is it your internet connection or your wifi? My Apple TV is connected via wifi to stream iTunes and Netflix onto the TV in my lounge. Inevitably around 8pm, when seemingly everyone else in New Zealand is doing the same thing (heavy internet load), connection gets flaky. The easiest way to tell whether it’s the wifi zone in my house that’s down or the entire internet (my connection to it, anyway) is to whip out my iPhone, drag upwards from below the bottom of the screen (nay he Home button) to launch the Control Center, and tap Airplane Mode. This disables every connection into and out of the iPhone: cellular, Bluetooth and WiFi. But the great thing about this feature is that once it’s initiated, you can turn Bluetooth and WiFi on separately.
[Bonus tip: this is how you avoid Roaming Charges when you are overseas. You can stop your iPhone or iPad trying to find local cellphone networks, hence plus charging you for roaming, while still enjoying local public or hotel/airport/private WiFi, or a Bluetooth connection within, say, a car, by using Airplane Mode and turning on the two other services independently – in the picture, you can see Airplane Mode is activated as there’s a plane icon at the very top left of the screen, and the Airplane Mode button is orange, but also that the WiFi button is on, as it’s blue.]
Anyway, back to my lounge. with Airplane Mode on and WiFi on, if a page loads in Safari, I know it’s loading over my WiFi network and not over cellular, which is off, so any problems with the Apple TV are with the Apple TV itself rather than my bigger internet connection.

2/ Turn your modem off — This is also known as a Hard Reset. Most internet modems have a button on the back for power. Our it off. Count slowly to 5. Turn it back on. wait about 2 minutes and check if things are connecting. In most cases, this fixes my problem. [NB, ISPs like Vodafone in New Zealand hate you turning off the Optical Link modem, which, if you have fibre, your Modem is connected to, since it’s beyond their jurisdiction.]

3/ Test for Packet Loss — Packet loss is one type of connection issue. It can happen if you have a weak Wi-Fi signal or bad Ethernet cable, but it can also happen if your ISP’s connection is flaky. The tool ping is available from the Terminal of every build of macOS and OS X (and MacOS X before that!). To test your connection, open up the Terminal (it’s in the Utilities folder within your Applications folder), type in ‘ping http://www.apple.com’ (without the single quotes) and press enter.
This command sends requests to http://www.apple.com and looks for replies from the same. By default these should happen once per second. You’ll see the display show them as they happen, and they should be consistent. The icmp_seq field should increment sequentially, and the time should be about the same (within 15ms). After 20 or 30 seconds of this, press Control-C to stop the output and get a summary. Packet loss should read 0.0%. If there is any packet loss or a wide variation in response time, that can be an indication that yo
u have a connection problem.
Here’s the trick: it’s possible this test might identify packet loss within your home so, if you do see packet loss, be sure to repeat the test with a Mac that is Ethernet-connected to your router. If that test shows packet loss, then you likely have an ISP problem. Similarly, if the Ethernet-connected Mac shows no packet loss but your Wi-Fi connected Mac at the other end of the house does, then you might need to beef up your Wi-Fi connection with a new router.

4/ Test the Ping inside your own local network — Now that you know how to use ping, you can also use it inside your network. Open up a Terminal window again and type ‘ping’ (without the ingle quotes) followed by the IP address of your router (open System Preferences, tap the Network tab, highlight your network connection – it’s typically the one at the top of the list – and click TCP/IP. If you’re on a Wi-Fi connection, click the Advanced… button and then TCP/IP. In that screen you should see your Router address which always looks something like 192.168.76.1.
By looking at the TCP/IP section of the Network prefpane, you can find your router address.
The same analysis as above applies. If you see any packet loss or wide variations in response time, you almost certainly have a Wi-Fi issue because these ping tests are only happening locally between your Mac and your router, not using the internet. [From the Mac Observer.[

5/ Enter the world of surreality — That’s right, call your provider. Once again, than goodness, your iPhone can help out as it has speakerphone. Call your ISP’s free number (Vodafone is 777, from cellphones). Launch the Phone app, tap the number on the keypad, tap the speaker icon at top right, and at least you can put your phone down and keep doing things until someone answers.
And the surreality? The other day I got a call from a  Vodafone Service Representative. “We have noticed you have made several calls to our help desk. How would you rate our service?”
“Pleasant and helpful, but the problem has never been resolved.”
“That’s good to hear, is there anything else we can help you with?”
“What? I said the problem has never been resolved.”
“Great! If you’d like to call my supervisor (supplies number) and tell her I’ve done a good job, that would be really nice.”
“What? Like I said …” Click… (Disconnection tone.) Gah!