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Things to talk, think and laugh about in the area of technology (and sometimes coffee).

This Film Editor Kept Deadpool From Flying Off The Rails

Kevin Wild

Deadpool is a pretty singular character in comics. He’s a mercenary who revels in over-the-top ultra-violence, but he loves chimichangas and breaking the fourth wall for comedic effect. He never shuts up, and being supernaturally self-aware gives him the ability to wink at the audience, letting them know that the rules governing good sense and even good storytelling don’t really apply to him. His ability to playfully subvert convention makes him stand out, but it’s also why a Deadpool movie shouldn’t work — Deadpool the character would love nothing more than to break down the structures that make superhero narratives legible.

Amazingly, the new Deadpool movie does work. That has a great deal to do with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay, but so much of what keeps the film from flying out of control is the editing.

I saw this last night and I found it hilarious.

About Twitter's New Timeline Tweaks

Kevin Wild

Fast Company on some upcoming changes to the Twitter timeline:

Twitter is rolling out a revised version of the timeline that indeed shuffles around some tweets into an order that isn't purely reverse-chronological—but it doesn't blow away the old format in the manner that had some users writing obituaries for the service.

For me (now at least), it won't matter much as I use Tweetbot as my only source of Twitter consumption. For those who use the default apps, Twitter believes this won't affect your opinion of the service:

One of the best things about Twitter is that it's strikingly different from Facebook in most respects that matter. And Facebook's algorithmic curation has never felt the least bit magical. But whatever you think of it, today's rejiggering of tweets is not going to result in a service that feels like a Facebook knockoff. It's still going to be Twitter.

Do they actually know what Twitter is? I'm starting to have doubt.

How WIRED Is Going To Handle Ad Blocking

Kevin Wild

WIRED on why they're restricting access to articles to those who use an ad-blocker:

On an average day, more than 20 percent of the traffic to WIRED.com comes from a reader who is blocking our ads. We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it’s important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going: paying the writers, editors, designers, engineers, and all the other staff that works so hard to create the stories you read and watch here.

We know that there are many reasons for running an ad blocker, from simply wanting a faster, cleaner browsing experience to concerns about security and tracking software. We want to offer you a way to support us while also addressing those concerns.

So, in the coming weeks, we will restrict access to articles on WIRED.com if you are using an ad blocker. There will be two easy options to access that content.

If you still want to access their content without ads, you can opt to pay $1 per week instead.

Roger Goodell’s Unstoppable Football Machine

Kevin Wild

A fantastic feature in The New York Times about the current state of the NFL:

These are days of both great confidence and unease in professional football. As with any empire, there is a sense that for all its riches and popularity, the league is never far from some catastrophic demise. You hear talk of the N.F.L.’s ‘‘existential’’ challenges over player health and safety; the nation’s growing concern over concussions and degenerative brain disease; the drop in youth-football participation; lawsuits, regulatory roadblocks and disruptions to the broadcast model that the league’s modern business has been built on.

And yet, everyone wants a piece of the Shield. Put it on TV, and people will watch; put it on a jersey, they will wear it. The N.F.L.’s total revenue in 2015 ($12.4 billion) is nearly double that of a decade earlier ($6.6 billion). The price of television ads during the Super Bowl has increased by more than 75 percent over the last decade. This year’s conference championship games set yet another viewership record for the league: 53.3 million people watched the A.F.C. game on CBS; 45.7 million watched the N.F.C. game on Fox. Goodell talks constantly about ‘‘growing the pie,’’ finding new revenue streams and ways to make the N.F.L. a ‘‘year-round’’ experience rather than just during fall and winter. He has said he wants the N.F.L. to achieve $25 billion in gross revenue by 2027. No league is as relentless when it comes to growth and making cash for its billionaire cartel. It’s reminiscent of a shark that will die if it doesn’t keep moving and ripping little fish to shreds.

Mysterious 'Error 53' Is Bricking iPhones

Kevin Wild

Christina Warren from Mashable has a good recap of what 'Error 53' is:

Thousands of iPhone users have been left with bricked devices after having their home buttons repaired by non-Apple authorized technicians.

The Guardian on Friday reported on the issue, known as "Error 53" that apparently affects the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus.

The basic problem happens if you get your iPhone's home button repaired anywhere other than an Apple Store or Apple-authorized repair center. If the home button — which includes the Touch ID sensor — is replaced, you run the risk of getting a dreaded "Error 53" on your phone.

What is Error 53? Well, it basically turns your iPhone into a brick. Why? Well it all ties into the Touch ID sensor on your phone.

I understand the security concerns of an unauthorized 3rd-party Touch ID sensor, but is there not a better way to handle this? Maybe just by disabling Touch ID on the iPhone?

Mossberg: Apple’s apps need work

Kevin Wild

Whether it’s the operating systems or the core apps, a major aspect of what makes both users and reviewers value Apple products is software that melds power, reliability, and ease of use. “It just works!” was a favorite Steve Jobs phrase.

In the last couple of years, however, I’ve noticed a gradual degradation in the quality and reliability of Apple’s core apps, on both the mobile iOS operating system and its Mac OS X platform. It’s almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products, while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars.

Let me be clear: most of the time, in most scenarios, I find the core Apple apps work well enough, sometimes delightfully well. Otherwise, I couldn’t recommend the hardware. I love iMessage, the new Notes, Apple Pay, Touch ID, Safari, AirPlay, and more. And it isn’t as though the core apps made by competitors are generally fabulous.

But the exceptions are increasing. And I hold Apple to its own, higher, often-proclaimed standard, based on all those “It just works” claims and the oft-repeated contention by Mr. Jobs and his successor, Tim Cook, that Apple is in business to make “great products.” Apple’s advantage is that it designs and builds software together, so if the software isn't excellent, it does the superlative hardware a disservice.

Walt calls out some apps in particular (Mail, iTunes, Photos and iCloud). I completely agree with most of the article - while some of Apple's apps are fantastic, others are downright buggy (iTunes in particular).

MacRumors Report On The Upcoming iPhone 7

Kevin Wild

Eric Slivka from MacRumors reporting on the upcoming iPhone 7:

Apple's iPhone 7 isn't expected to launch until the usual September timeframe, but we're starting to get our first hints of what we might be able to expect for the new device. According to a source who has provided reliable information in the past, the iPhone 7 body will appear very similar to the design used for the iPhone 6 and 6s, with two significant exceptions.

The first involves the rear camera, which protrudes slightly on the iPhone 6 and 6s. On the iPhone 7, the camera is said to sit flush with the rear casing, enabled by a thinner camera module. Recent rumors have indicated Apple is considering equipping the iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-lens rear camera, but the smaller iPhone 7 is expected to include a more traditional camera.

I miss the days of a flat phone which didn't rock back-and-forth when laying on my desk (so it's good to see Apple is potentially getting rid of the protruding camera lens in the new design).

The other interesting part of this report is the iPhone 7 Plus exclusively getting the dual-lens rear camera. I prefer the larger screen anyways, but this news is bound to annoy some users who would rather have the smaller display of the iPhone 7.

Apple Plans March 15 Event

Kevin Wild

Buzzfeed reporting on the upcoming Apple event:

Sources in position to know tell BuzzFeed News the company has chosen March 15 as the date it will show off a handful of new products.

Among the devices Apple plans to unveil are the next generation version of the iPad Air and a new smaller iPhone. Approximately the same size as the iPhone 5s, this smaller iPhone will feature a 4-inch display and a faster chip. Also on board: Support for Apple Pay, the company’s mobile payment service. A selection of new Apple Watch bands is also expected.

Sources say the event will be a smaller affair than Apple’s last one, which was held at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Presumably that means it will occur at Apple’s Town Hall in Cupertino, the company’s preferred location for announcements like these.

This date appears to be the consensus as TechCrunch and 9to5Mac are reporting the same.

Elon Musk Cancelled Customers Order For A Tesla X

Kevin Wild

Stewart Alsop complained that the Tesla X event started 30 minutes late and said Elon Musk should be ashamed of himself. Musk went ahead and cancelled his $130,000 Tesla order.

Dear Elon Musk: Thank you for reaching out to me. I heard from our phone conversation that you feel that my post, “Dear @ElonMusk: You should be ashamed of yourself”, was a personal attack on you. I also hear that you are not comfortable having me own a Tesla car and have cancelled my order for a Tesla Model X.

Hilarious. One of the many reasons why I love Elon Musk.

Alphabet Passes Apple as World's Most Valuable Company

Kevin Wild

Google reported profit and sales that topped estimates, lifted by robust sales of online ads and tighter cost controls, putting parent Alphabet Inc. on track to overtake Apple Inc. as the world’s most valuable company.

The results, reported for the first time under a new structure that separates Google’s main search and advertising operations from riskier investments, show that fourth-quarter revenue, excluding sales passed on to partners, rose 19 percent to $17.3 billion.

It officially hasn't happened yet, but looking at after-hours trading this will be a story tomorrow.

MacID Review

Kevin Wild

I’d have a hard time guessing how many times I log in and out of my Mac in an average day. At the office, most times I will log out of my Mac when I go to the washroom or grab a snack. Often I forget, leaving my Mac unprotected.

mac-id

Whether it be the library, Starbucks, or just an open-concept office, leaving your Mac unlocked and unattended is a risk. Having your Mac stolen is one thing, but your personal information is something insurance can’t replace.

MacID aims to fix this nuisance by pairing your iPhone and Apple Watch to your Mac. Once you install and setup MacID, walking away from your Mac will automatically log you out of your user account. Walking back to your Mac will generate a push notification on your iPhone/Apple Watch. With your iPhone, you'll have to authenticate with Touch ID before your Mac will unlock. If you have an Apple Watch, you'll only need to tap 'Unlock.'

How does it work? Quite simple actually. Upon installing the companion app on your Mac, you’ll be asked to enter your user account password. Once you do, MacID will save it for quick access. Next, install MacID on your iPhone (and therefore, your Apple Watch, if you have one) and the proximity unlock/lock will activate.

mac-id-2

The Mac companion app allows you to specify the size of your ‘geo-fence’ - the area - which walking out of, will cause your Mac to lock. You can even enable ‘proximity-wake’ which will turn on your Mac display once you’re in it’s vicinity.

MacID is the type of app the Apple Watch was designed for. Once you’ve had the chance to install and setup it up, you’ll wonder why Apple didn’t built this into WatchOS. 

I've now gotten used to the auto-locking (and unlocking) of my Mac with MacID and I’d struggle to go on with out it. MacID is available on the App Store for $3.99 and the companion Mac app is available here. Give it a shot, you'll love the extra security for your Mac.

Windows Phone Is Dead

Kevin Wild

With Lumia sales on the decline and Microsoft's plan to not produce a large amount of handsets, it's clear we're witnessing the end of Windows Phone. Rumors suggest Microsoft is developing a Surface Phone, but it has to make it to the market first. Windows Phone has long been in decline and its app situation is only getting worse. With a lack of hardware, lack of sales, and less than 2 percent market share, it's time to call it: Windows Phone is dead.

Doesn't something have to be alive in order to die?

The Case Against Control Center

Kevin Wild

With iOS 5, Apple introduced Notification Center, the pull-down shade that houses missed notifications and messages all in one place.

With iOS 7, Apple added Today, a section of Notification Center that users can fill with first- and third-party widgets, as well as Control Center, a quick way to get at commonly-used utilities with a flick up from the bottom of the display.

I don’t think this has aged very well, unfortunately, and it’s mostly Control Center’s fault. In addition to it being confusing to have a hidden panel at the top of the screen, having one at the bottom too is a lot to handle for some users. But there’s a bigger problem in my mind: Control Center just does way too many things.

I agree with Stephen on a few points, particularly in regards to improving Control Center by making it more customizable.

Bloomberg: Apple Developing Wireless-Charged iPhone

Kevin Wild

Apple is exploring cutting-edge technologies that would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than the charging mats used with current smartphones, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. The iPhone maker is looking to overcome technical barriers including loss of power over distance with a decision on implementing the technology still being assessed, they said.

Remember what I said yesterday about battery innovation? This would be innovation.

On iPhone Thinness

Kevin Wild

Over the past nine years, Apple has established a predictable release cycle for the iPhone. Every second year they release an iPhone with a new hardware design. Every alternating year they release an ’S’ upgrade with improvements to the core technology and a couple new features. It’s pretty much a given this Fall, Apple will release a new iPhone with somewhat redesigned hardware.

Almost every time Apple redesigns the iPhone - they make it thinner - often by removing ports and making it more power efficient (thus able to run off of a smaller battery). 

iphone-6

And every time, people complain (and still end up buying it).

‘I don’t want a thinner iPhone.’

‘I like the current thickness.’

‘Instead of making it thinner, put a bigger battery inside.’

These are some of the common complaints. While I can see the reason behind these comments, I truthfully believe these people don’t actually know what they want.

As is so often done, I’m going to quote Henry Ford. I know most of you already know the quote I’m about to insert, but I’m going to do it anyways:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford

If this is true, and people don’t know what they want, who does?

Well, Apple tries to guess. That’s their job as a seller of a product. They create things they think people will want. And ultimately, they don’t know if they will. What they do know is that technology products are like a shark, as in, if they don’t keep moving, they will sink and (eventually) die.

Let’s imagine a scenario where Apple listens to this group and makes the next iPhone the same width, or even a little thicker. Predictably, the battery life would be fantastic. 

’True all-day battery life’ - the iPhone commercials would say.

‘Finally’ - the group of users would say exhaustedly.

This would be terrible for two reasons:

1.) If Apple determined that the right course of iPhone innovation is not to make it thinner, but instead to keep it the same width, they could conceivably keep this approach for the iPhone 8, and so on. While this may not seem like the worst thing, imagine if TV manufacturers had decided that a shallower tube television was ‘thin enough.’

The plasma TV hanging on your wall wouldn’t exist. 

2.) Innovating in battery technology is not just making the battery bigger. It has been well-documented that battery innovation has become stagnant. Making batteries more efficient and providing more ways to keep them charged is forward progress in portable power.

I’m not against the current size of the iPhone, nor do I think it’s too thick or too thin. I believe that in order for innovation to push forward, changes have to happen and in doing so force other changes to occur.

Apple will continue to make all their devices thinner with each iteration, battery technology will continue to improve, and eventually we will own a device we could’ve never imagined 10 years prior. That’s what a technology company is supposed to do - innovate. That’s why so many of us love Apple and their products, because they aren’t afraid to make sacrifices to bring the future to life.

PS: Don’t get me started on the headphone jack, or lack there of (I’m fine with if there isn't one in the next iPhone).


Twitter Has Become Secret-Handshake Software

Kevin Wild

To potential new users, it's a real challenge to learn all of Twitter's often arcane little features. And even for people who have been using the service multiple times daily for years, like me, it can be tricky to decide when to use which feature and in which situation. For instance, new users might be confused about what a retweet is, or the difference between that and a "quote tweet" (where you say more about something you're reposting). And they surely might not understand the need to place a period before the handle of a user, when that handle is at the very start of a tweet you compose, yet not elsewhere in the tweet.

I think the beauty of Twitter is that it doesn't appeal to everyone, unlike Facebook. Users who understand it, love it. 

Twitter doesn't seem to recognize this and continues to try and complete with Facebook, adding complexity to a simple service. With every new feature, it's becoming more difficult to use and gaining new users has become troublesome.

The 2015 Panic Report

Kevin Wild

Panic, the developer behind apps such as Transmit and Coda, reporting on the past year and the struggles they faced with iOS revenue:

I brought this up last year and we still haven’t licked it. We had a change of heart — well, an experimental change of heart — and reduced the price of our iOS apps in 2015 to normalize them at $9.99 or less, thinking that was the upper limit and/or sweet spot for iOS app pricing. But it didn’t have a meaningful impact on sales. More and more I’m beginning to think we simply made the wrong type of apps for iOS — we made professional tools that aren’t really “in demand” on that platform — and that price isn’t our problem, but interest is.

So, once again, we will investigate raising our iOS app prices in 2016, with two hopes: that the awesome customers that love and need these apps understand the incredible amount of work that goes into them and that these people are also willing to pay more for a quality professional app (whereas, say, the casual gamer would not).

Panic is also set to release Firewatch, a game for PS4, Windows and Mac in two weeks time - and I couldn't be more excited to play it.

Tim Cook on Apple's Q1 2016 Results

Kevin Wild

Tim Cook on Apple's recording-breaking Q1 numbers:

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you very much for joining us. Today, we're reporting Apple's strongest financial results ever. We generated all-time record quarterly revenue of 75.9 billion dollars in the December quarter, in line with our expectations, and have 2 percent over last year's blockbuster results.

This is a huge accomplishment for our company, especially given the turbulent world around us. In constant currency, our growth rate would have been 8 percent. Our record revenue and continued strong operating performance also led to an all-time record quarterly net income of 18.4 billion dollars. We sold 74.8 million iPhones in the December quarter, an all-time high. To put that volume into perspective, it's an average of over 34,000 iPhones an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 13 straight weeks. It's almost 50 percent more than our Q1 volume just two years ago, and more than four times our volume five years ago.

While these results are fantastic, the big news today from an investment perspective is the year-over-year predicted revenue for Q2:

We see that Q2 is the toughest compare. We believe it’s the toughest compare because the year-ago quarter also had catchup in it from Q1; if you recall, we were heavily supply-constrained throughout the whole of Q1, and so some of that demand moved into Q2. Plus, we’re in an environment now that is dramatically different from a macroeconomic point of view than last Q2: from a currency point of view, from the level at which we’ve had to adjust pricing in several of these markets, and sort of the overall melees in virtually every country in the world. It’s really all of those factors that play in there, and it’s difficult to sort out how much is due to which one.