The Apocalypticon ~ Asteroid killers, aliens don’t care, NASA on ice, sinking a carrier, right-wing meme militias, VR holocaust and Olympian f-wit


NASA has been surveying our ice caps …

The ways large asteroids could kill us — Large asteroids definitely present one of the most colourful and chaotic possible apocalypses. Such an impact would cause quite a cinematic conclusion, combining a plague of wind, tsunamis, heat, and other terrors into a horrible death-fest.

Aliens don’t seem to really care about us — Well, nor do our ‘leaders’, but in the largest survey of its kind, astronomers scanned 5600 stars in search of these optical signals — and they found… absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Here’s what that means to SETI and the ongoing hunt for alien intelligence.

NASA on the ice — Tama, a Getty photographer, spent a week last month with a NASA crew during Operation IceBridge, the agency’s campaign to measure changes in the planet’s ice sheets and glaciers. NASA spends 10 weeks each spring in the Arctic and six weeks each fall in the Antarctic when ice levels are the highest. The Arctic crew used a pair of laser altimeters to measure the elevation of the ice, and three radars to measure the snow (one of them can reach 300 feet down to bedrock). Last month, the NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Arctic and Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest point ever in 38 years.

Sinking a US carrier — Sinking an aircraft carrier is difficult, but not impossible. The key is what it’s used for, and who it’s used against. But if you wanted to sink one, here’s what you’d have to do, and what you’d be up against.

Meme armies turning into militias — As political discourse in the US has become more polarized and contentious, so too has its symbology. Pepe the Frog and Expendables posters have given way to images of actual violence that political extremists spread and celebrate: 4chan, trading on a popular videogame meme, refers to Damigo as ‘The Falcon Punch at Berkeley.’ Much of it resembles military propaganda. The meme warriors, it seems, have become a militia.

The urgent power of remembering the holocaust in VR — Pinchas Gutter has returned to Majdanek at least a dozen times, but this trip is his final one to the onetime Nazi concentration camp. His first was one he was 11, when he was taken to Majdanek; now he’s 85 years old, and this is the last time he’ll come here to tell people what the Nazis did to his family. As he rides up to the shuttered camp in the backseat of a chauffeured sedan, he talks about why he’s told his story so many times. His trip to Majdanek, and the horrific experiences he recounts in the camp’s barracks and crematorium, are being preserved with virtual reality thanks to the USC Shoah Foundation.

Olympian f__kwit declares dystopian states like North Korea are the best at avoiding obesity … yes, thanks to mass starvation — James Cracknell is a British athlete and two-time gold medal Olympian. But now he has his sights set on politics. His pet issue? Tackling obesity. But wait until you hear what he believes are model countries for battling the obesity epidemic. [God help us.]

Futurology ~ Life planet, Enceladus life, 3D printed Mars dust, airless tyres, sound dryer, Wozniak future, car-jet, frog flu, Wilma Flintstone


If we could 3D-print tools from Martian dust, it might help colony plans

Another new planet that might favour life — t seems like every week, there’s a new contender for Coolest Planet Where There Are Definitely Aliens. For those of us who want to believe, this is an emotionally exhausting cycle, as we’re built up and let down time and again. At the risk of screwing with our fragile hearts even more, it’s worth mentioning that a recently discovered exoplanet 39 light-years from Earth might actually give the current favourites Proxima b and the TRAPPIST-1 system a run for their money.
~ Not that long ago, we thought Earth was pretty good. 

Life on Enceladus — According to NASA, molecular hydrogen has been found in Enceladus’ subterranean ocean, which bolsters the idea that the icy moon could host extraterrestrial microbes. Despite Enceladus’ frigid exterior, this ocean is thought to be extremely warm at the bottom – roughly 90C.
~ This is exciting because it makes fairly-close-to-us aliens possible. 

3D-printed Mars dust — We’ve had a hard time coming up with reasons as to why everyone needs a 3D printer here on Earth, but on Mars the machines could be used to manufacture tools, spare parts, even entire structures, habitats and vehicles, given there’s no hardware stores for astronauts to visit if we eventually send humans on the 54.6 million km journey.
But 3D printers don’t make things out of thin air. so scientists at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering have developed a way to turn extraterrestrial materials, like Lunar and Martian dust, into a 3D printing material.
~ Besides, Mars doesn’t even have thin air. 

Bridgestone’s airless tyres — They use a series of rigid plastic resin spokes (above) to help a wheel keep its shape as it rolls, instead of an inflatable inner tube that can puncture and leak. Military vehicles and ATVs have been some of the first vehicles to adopt the unorthodox design, but Bridgestone will soon be making a version of its airless tyres for use on bicycles.
~ And if they take off, airless-tyred cars could become more fuel efficient too because they don’t change shape. 

Clothes dryers uses sound — Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have developed a dryer that could make doing laundry much quicker. The ultrasonic dryer is expected to be up to five times more energy-efficient than most conventional dryers and able dry a large load of clothes in about half the time. Instead of using heat the way most dryers do, the ultrasonic dryer relies on high-frequency vibrations. Devices called green transducers convert electricity into vibrations, shaking the water from clothes.
~ But will you need ear muffs?

Wozniak on the future — Woz predicted portable laptops back in 1982, and now says that by 2075, we could also see new cities built from scratch in the deserts, with people wearing special suits to protect them from the heat. AI will be ubiquitous in all cities, as consumers interact with smart walls to communicate, and to shop, while home medical devices will allow self-diagnosis and doctor-free prescriptions. Now he projects further ahead …
~ Yeah, Woz, but only for the very rich like you. 

Lilium the Flying Car — You wouldn’t think the Lilium Jet could fly. It looks more like a computer mouse than an aircraft, and its 36 small propellers run on electricity, not jet fuel. But this funky airplane (above) just proved it can take to the sky, and might finally be the flying car we’ve been waiting for. There will be years of flight testing, but the German startup has backing from the European Space Agency and millions in funding.
~ I like it. 

South Indian frog flu cure — From the slimy backs of a South Indian frog comes a new way to blast influenza viruses. A compound in the frog’s mucus, long known to have germ-killing properties, can latch onto flu virus particles and cause them to burst apart, researchers report in Immunity.
~ Let’s hope those Immunity reporters carry on reporting with impunity. 

Wilma Flintstone and the Palaeolithic — Recreations of Palaeolithic people at the museum usually look like the typical pop culture caveman. Famed Otzi the Iceman, for example, has the face of someone who’d be fun to disembowel a moose with, but whose conversation might be just a little gauche. A new facial reconstruction of a Stone Age woman who lived in Thailand roughly 13,600 years presents the pleasant and probably more accurate visage.
~ Certainly pretty good for someone 13,600 years old. 

Five Tip Friday ~ Five for iOS


1/ Print to PDF from any app from iPhone and iPad — This trick relies upon a hidden feature of the Share Sheet. To print from any app, such as Safari, you begin by tapping the Share icon. Next, tap the Print icon from the bottom row of the Share Sheet. Depending on what you’ve enabled, you might have to scroll to the right to find it. Now, to access the PDF view, simply 3D Touch (or pinch together two fingers to zoom out, in no0n-3D Touch devices) in the preview area of the PDF.
With that done, you should be in a PDF view of your document, web page, or whatever. Your next step is to share it. Just tap the Share icon, and choose where you want to send your PDF. You can share it via Messages or Mail, or any other app that supports the Share Sheet extensions.

Another great option is iBooks, if you want to keep all of your PDFs together, but there’s often a Share Sheet icon there to do that directly. But you can even save the PDF file to your iCloud drive or Dropbox.
Saving the web pages you’ve visited to PDF is a great way to keep notes when you’re researching. Other options for where to save those PDF files include Evernote and even the built-in Notes app.

2/ Use the Remote app to control your iTunes library in macOS Sierra with your iDevice — If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch you can use the Apple Remote app — free from the Apple App Store — to control your Mac’s iTunes library from a distance.
First, pair the app with the iTunes library (or libraries) you want to control. Your device and your computer must be on the same wireless network.
If you have Remote 2.0 (or later) and Home Sharing is turned on, you can set Remote to pair automatically with any of the iTunes libraries on your Home Sharing network. You can also pair Remote directly with iTunes libraries that aren’t in your Home Sharing network. To pair the Remote with an iTunes library: Tap Remote on your device’s Home screen.
Tap Add an iTunes Library.
A 4-digit code appears.
Open iTunes on your computer and click the Remote button .
Type the 4-digit code in the iTunes window.
iTunes pairs the library on your computer with the Remote app on your device.
Pair Remote with your Home Sharing network.
To use Remote 2.0 (or later) with Home Sharing, every iTunes library you want to control must have Home Sharing turned on.
Tap Remote on your device’s Home screen.
Tap Settings.
Tap to turn Home Sharing on.
Type your Apple ID and password, and tap Done.
Tap the iTunes library or Apple TV you want to control.

3/ Use Home Sharing to import items from another iTunes library — You can use Home Sharing to import items from up to five iTunes libraries on other computers on your home network? You can (assuming you have an Apple ID).
When you use your Mac on your Home Sharing network to download an item from the iTunes Store, you can have the item download automatically to other computers on your Home Sharing network.
Turn on Home Sharing. Choose File > Home Sharing > Turn On Home Sharing.
Type in your Apple ID and password, and click Turn On Home Sharing.
If you don’t have an Apple ID, click “Don’t have an Apple ID?” and follow the onscreen instructions.
To import items from other libraries using Home Sharing, choose a computer on your Home Sharing network from the Library pop-up menu. The library loads and a list of categories appears.
Choose a category (Music, for example). In the Show menu at the bottom of the iTunes window, choose “Items not in my library.” Select the items you want to import, and click Import.
To automatically import new iTunes Stores purchases from another computer, choose a computer on your Home Sharing network from the Library pop-up menu. Choose a category (Music, for example).
Click Settings at the bottom of the window. In the window that appears, select “Automatically transfer new purchases from Library Name.” Select the types of items you want to import. Click OK.
To turn off Home Sharing, on each computer, choose File > Home Sharing > Turn Off Home Sharing. If a shared computer doesn’t appear when Home Sharing is on, turn Home Sharing off, and then turn it on again.

4/ Disable homescreen rotation on Apple’s Plus-series iPhones — By default, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, 6s Plus, and 7 Plus add an auto-rotating home screen to iOS, rearranging icons and the dock whenever a device is tilted sideways.
Aside from the Control Center orientation lock, here’s an indirect way of achieving the same result:
Within the Settings app, tap on Display & Brightness, then on “View” under the Display Zoomcategory towards the very bottom. Nominally this option just makes it easier to browse and tap on icons. As a consequence of using it, however, the home screen will no longer rotate.
To make the switch, tap on ‘Zoomed,’ then on ‘Set.’ Technically an iPhone has to reset to apply the change, but unlike a normal reboot this should only take several seconds.
That’s it — to reverse course, go back to the Display Zoom menu and select ‘Standard’ instead. The above method works in iOS 9 and 10.
Note that at least some apps, like Apple Messages, will continue to rotate their own interfaces even with Display Zoom on, and there may be no way of disabling this within an app’s settings. [From AppleInsider.]

5/ Using 3D Touch — If you have iPhone 6s or later, you may not be using 3D Touch, a more pressured press on the screen that releases a wealth of extra possibilities, for example when you are typing:
The first time you 3D Touch anywhere on the keyboard, you can start dragging the cursor around to place it in a specific spot. It’s a great way to get exact placement without fidgeting with your finger.
But, if you don’t lift your finger after that first 3D Touch and do it again, you’ll select the adjacent full word. 3D Touch one more time without lifting, and you’ll select the entire sentence surrounding the cursor. These extra actions take a little practice, but they’re darn handy once you get them down. [Here are a whole lot more handy 3D Touch features, from the Mac Observer.]

 

SearchAds to include New Zealand, Augmented Reality glasses interface


New Zealand will get SearchAds on ANZAC Day

Apple to expand Search Ads to three international markets, debuts new management tools — Apple on Wednesday announced Search Ads will arrive in three new countries on April 25 (our ANZAC Day), the service’s first expansion since a launch in September, and introduced a few ad management tools to streamline the process for developers.
Search Ads allow developers to purchase promotional ads that show up in iOS App Store searches. Available on devices running iOS 10, the feature uses special algorithms to ensure promoted apps relate to consumer queries, thus boosting app discoverability. Apple’s upcoming expansion delivers the service to users in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

Apple’s Augmented Reality plans may include iPhone 8 Smart Connector for special glasses — Apple’s iPhone 8 will reportedly include an iPad Pro-like smart connector that may be the link up for augmented reality and virtual reality headsets. The report is tenuous, but the idea that Apple is ready to introduce its augmented reality platform this fall is interesting. [You know what? Apple’s future devices might include anything.]

Xeon iMacs, 100% green, Earth Day, Chinese porn concerns, Setapp search


Why Apple will be using Xeon CPUs in this fall’s ‘pro’ iMac — Recently, we learned that Apple may be seriously considering the use of a Xeon CPU in its so-called ‘server-grade’ iMac planned for later this year. There are good technical reasons why the use of the Xeon has entered the discussion in what has traditionally been considered a consumer iMac, in contrast to the Mac Pro which has had Xeons all along.

Apple promises future products to be made from 100% recycled materials — Apple is on the cusp of launching a new initiative, pledging to use 100% recycled materials in a closed supply loop for fabrication of its devices, but how Apple intends to do so isn’t clear: “We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it,” Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson, told VICE News in an interview.

Apple publishes new Earth Day videos explaining company’s environmental efforts — Apple has published a set of new videos commemorating Earth Day that explain clean energy technologies, Apple’s own environmental protection efforts, and feature Apple employees and executives narrating and explaining the concepts behind the programs. Apple has also installed special signage into Stores.

Apple meets with Chinese government over App Store oversight because of porn streamers — More information has emerged about the Chinese government demand that Apple crack down on streaming apps, with a new report circulating claiming that porn streamers are the government’s major concern.

Macpaw’s Setapp adds an inbuilt app search and discovery tool — Setapp, Macpaw’s app subscription service, has launched a user interface enhancement: an inbuilt app search and discovery tool. In response to the top requested feature by current customers, it offers quick access to the collection of all the apps in a single window by introducing an in-built App Discovery tool.

Which iPad? Always Online, Chinese streaming, Wunderlist replacement, Note 8 copies iPhone 7


(Image from Apple Inc)

Which 9.7″ iPad is right for you? In the market for a new 9.7-inch tablet? Having trouble deciding between the all-new 2017 iPad and the older but more powerful iPad Pro? AppleInsider breaks down the pros and cons of each model in this video comparison.

AlwaysOnline adds 14 countries to iPad Apple SIM plans, cuts prices — On Wednesday, AlwaysOnline Wireless, one of several data carriers serving iPads equipped with an Apple SIM, announced its expansion to 14 more countries, as well as broad price cuts to attract users. The new regions are Armenia, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jordan, Morocco, and Uruguay. Overall, AlwaysOnline now has a presence in 88 markets. [New Zealand was already supported.]

Chinese regulators want to talk to Apple about live streaming titles on the App Store — Beijing’s Internet regulators plans to summon Apple and urge the tech giant to tighten up checks on software applications available in the Apple Store, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The report noted that officers with the law enforcement team met with company reps about the examination of live stream apps.

Microsoft debuts Wunderlist replacement To-Do on iPhone, Mac & iPad coming soon — Microsoft on Wednesday released the first edition of To-Do, an app that will eventually replace the popular multi-platform title Wunderlist, which it acquired back in 2015.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 to feature dual camera array ala iPhone 7 Plus — Looking to recover from last year’s exploding Note 7 fiasco, Samsung is expected to launch its first ever dual camera handset in the Note 8 later this year, according to a report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. [I find this ‘flattery’ most insincere.]

 

Best photo monitor, Free Expression, LaCie USB-C, new Prince song, Sonnet with Thunderbolt 3, Alien news, PhotoSweeper


LG UltraFine 5k named ‘Best Photo Monitor’ in 2017 TIPA Awards — The 27-inch LG UltraFineTM 5K display from LG Electronics has had its problems, but it’s been named this year’s Best Photo Monitor by the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA).

Tim Cook accepts Newseum 2017 Free Expression Award, says companies should have values [so taxpaying appears not to be a ‘value’] — Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the Newseum in Washington, DC on Tuesday to accept the institute’s 2017 Free Expression Award, for which the tech mogul was honored in the Free Speech category. AppleInsider was there live, and offers highlights from the event.

LaCie announces 2big Thunderbolt 3 RAID dock, compatible with Apple’s MacBook Pro with Touch Bar — Available this summer in capacities of 12, 16 or 20 terabytes, LaCie’s forthcoming 2big professional 2-bay RAID storage solution features high-speed Thunderbolt 3 connectivity is set to take advantage of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3, the external storage will boast transfer rates of 440MB/s, allowing users to transfer one hour of 4K footage in just one minute. Apple’s late 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models feature USB-C connectors compatible with Thunderbolt 3 accessories.

New Prince song ‘Deliverance’ arrives on Apple Music & iTunes, full album release in jeopardy — Apple Music may be about to see the release of a posthumous album from Prince, with the first track now available to Apple Music subscribers – but a lawsuit filed by the estate against the sound engineer responsible for the album challenges control of the tracks.

Sonnet’s Echo Express III-D, Echo Express III-R are now available with Thunderbolt 3 — Sonnet Technologies has announced its US$899 Echo Express III-D (desktop) and $999 Echo Express III-R (rackmount) Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express (PCIe) three-slot expansion chassis are now shipping with full support for Thunderbolt 3.

Alien News is a new Reddit news reader for macOS — Mach Software Design has introduced Alien News 1.0 for macOS, a news reader app. Built from the ground up for tab and Touch Bar support, Alien News provides unlimited windows and Reddit accounts.
Users can search with a single click, leave comments, view their private messages, view saved articles, even view recent user activity and more. If you have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, top news stories will automatically scroll across the Touch Bar, mimicking the scrolling headlines on television news programs. Alien News requires macOS 10.12 or higher and a Reddit account. It’s free and available worldwide at the Mac App Store.

PhotoSweeper is a fine companion to the Mac’s Photos app — PhotoSweeper, an NZ$14.99/US$9.99 photo finder for macOS 10.10 and higher. It works with Photos and Adobe Lightroom and helps you find and eliminate duplicate or similar images. Photos are compared regardless of their sizes or formats and are grouped by similarity. PhotoSweeper works quickly and efficiently, and is a great tool for taming your photo library and retrieving always-valuable disk space.

iWork apps become free, Condé Nast shoot, iPhone thief ‘found’, new fiery Samsung, Logitech HomeKit POP, Pornhub app


Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, GarageBand now all free for  iOS and macOS users — Apple is removing the price tag from its Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie and GarageBand apps and making ’em all free for macOS and iOS users.
Previously, all of these apps were available at no charge only for folks who bought a new Mac or iOS device. Now you can download ’em for free at the Mac App Store and Apple App Store even if you don’t have the latest hardware. [By coincidence, I needed Keynote on an older iPad at work but didn’t add it because it would have cost me NZ$14.95 just two days ago.]

Conde Nast uses Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus to shoot covers for Bon Appetit, Traveler [sic] — Publisher Conde Nast is continuing to use the powerful camera of the iPhone 7 Plus to its advantage in important areas of its publications, with two magazines using photographs generated by Apple-produced smartphone for their cover shots.

Apple’s Find my iPhone fingers a phone finagler — Over 100 attendees of the Coachella music festival in Southern California this weekend were separated from their mobile devices by a pickpocket working the crowds. Fortunately, Apple’s Find My iPhone feature saved the day by helping locate the pilfered phones, allegedly nabbed by Reinaldo De Jesus Henao of New York. Astute iPhone users ended up saving the day, not just for their fellow iOS users but also the Android victims at the event.

Teardown finds Samsung Galaxy S8+ battery ‘virtually identical’ to fire-prone Note 7 — Samsung is apparently confident that a rash of fires with its Note 7 phablet were caused by manufacturing errors, and not design or parts, as it has adopted many of the same features, down to one of the same battery manufacturers, with the ‘new’ Galaxy S8+.

Logitech announces the HomeKit-compatible POP Smart Button — Logitech has announced a new version of its POP Home Switch that works to turn HomeKit accessories or scenes on or off with the push of a button. The new POP Smart Button (US$59.95) and POP Add-on Smart Button (US$39.95) will be available at Apple stores and Apple.com stores (no date set yet) exclusively at launch, with expansion to other retailers at a later date.

Pornhub launches TrickPics for iOS, an AR photo filter for censoring nude selfies — Though its listing on the App Store is decidedly vague, a new app dubbed TrickPics is actually the creation of pornography streaming site Pornhub, allowing users to censor nude photographs on their iPhone with augmented reality [woa, who’d a thunk?!].

iMac rumours, Mac camera security, Trash IT!


(Images from Apple’s iMac page)

Rumour reckons new iMacs will include a server-grade version, due in the second half of 2017 — Apple is expected [it’s a rumour, so that’s too strong a word, and what’s the point of a great screen on a server?] to begin production of two new iMacs in May for an official launch in the second half of the year, according to DigiTimes, quoting unnamed “sources from Taiwan-based supply chain makers,” who add that a server-grade iMac for the high-end sector is also in the works.

How to turn your Mac’s built-in webcam off — This is a bit complicated and requires Terminal, or you could just stick a plaster over it like Mark Zuckerberg does, or use OverSight which alerts you if someone is trying to take over your camera, or even buy a utility like ProtectStar, but before splashing out US$30, are you convinced anything can take over your built-in camera? And if so, that they want to watch you?

Trash IT! is a handy utility for forcing the macOS Trash to empty — Trash It! is a little app for macOS 10.7 or later that force-empties your Trash. It supports drag and drop. It’s useful if you have files or folders in the Trash with permissions set incorrectly, locked Trash items, want to delete a stuck item, or to trash items from other partitions. If you drop files or folders onto the Trash It! icon, it will delete them. If you double-click on it, it cleans out your Trash.

Apple’s GPU, tvOS rumour


A new tvOS might get picture in picture

One Apple GPU, one giant leap in graphics for iPhone 8 — Apple is building its own GPU architecture, but why? Rather than being motivated by simple cost savings, evidence points to the timing of a significant technical leap forward that could be as big of an advance as iOS was ten years ago. An Apple GPU could be designed to serve specific use cases Imagination Technology, which currently serves Apple’s iOS GPU needs, doesn’t have any reason to address.

Rumour claims Apple TV to get multi-user support, picture-in-picture with ‘tvOS 11’ — With tvOS 11, likely to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the Apple TV will allegedly gain a pair of demanded features from the company’s other platforms. Multi-user support will tailor onscreen content to the active profile/Apple ID, Israeli site The Verifier said on Sunday, citing a “reliable source.” People should not only see their personal Apple Music, iCloud, and iTunes content, but also their own apps.

Apple Mac, iPhone & iPad news for New Zealanders

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