Karelia checked off a big to-do from its task list on Wednesday with the release of Hit List 2.0 for the iPhone. The update for the task manager app gained sync support with its Mac counterpart, plus it has a new way for organizing your to-dos with its Today and Upcoming lists. Hit List supports tasks with subtasks, tags and lists for organizing projects, repeating tasks, batch task editing, and more, all in an easy to use interface designed to take advantage of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus's bigger screens. You can pick up Hit List 2.0 at Apple's iTunes-based App Store at its introductory US$9.99 price.
Basketball and volleyball players rejoice. There's a new tracker just for you that monitors how you jump. The tracker, called VERT, monitors how high you jump, your jump rate, and tracks other jumping-related data, too. VERT sends the information wirelessly to your iPhone or smartwatch, and there's a companion app for coaches who want to monitor players in real time. VERT is priced at US$124.99, and the basic companion app is a free download at Apple's iTunes-based App Store. The app for coaches costs $99.99 and includes the ability to monitor for potential injuries before they happen.
Planck's constant is one of the fundamental constants in the universe. For example, it defines the relationship between the energy of, say, a photon and its frequency. It's widely used in the mathematics of Quantum Mechanics. Recently, using just a Lego kit and some other equipment, including a laser, Leon Chao at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, showed how to make this measurement. This is for real, and it works because the experimental technique simply requires a well crafted balance. It's all written up in the M.I.T. Technology Review. You could actually do the experiment yourself because the costs of parts is only about US$500. Very cool.
What do you get when you cross The Hobbit with The Office (the original UK version, not the US one)? A brilliantly wonderful SNL sketch starring Martin Freeman as a morph between Bilbo Baggins and Tim Canterbury. Tim, by the way, was the role Martin played in The Office. SNL did a great job of recreating the Ricky Gervais version of the series, and Martin had no problem at all slipping back into the role of Tim with a perfect splash of Bilbo thrown in. Bonus: Gollum as Gareth, and Orcs and elves as office mates.
Apple has produced a wonderful and powerful commercial called "The Song" embedded below the fold. It features a young woman who discovers photographs of her grandmother along with a 45 record the grandmother made to send to her boyfriend/husband. On the 45 record, the grandmother sings an a capella love song, and the young woman uses her iPad to put a guitar line to it along with backing vocals to make it a duet. Apple's tagline accompanying the commercial says, "With a Mac, iPhone or iPad you have the power to create thoughtful, emotional gifts and memories that transcend time. It could be a movie, a homemade card or a song that brings two generations closer together." I think this is a great ad that's as powerful as last year's "Misunderstood" spot.
YouTube has posted a retrospective for 2014 called YouTube Rewind: Turn Down for 2014. Professionally filmed and produced, the video features mainstream celebrities like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmle, Chris Hardwycke, Chris Hardwick, Conan O'Brien, and Big Bird. But it also includes many folks who have become celebrities through YouTube itself, including The Fine Brothers, Kid President, Corridor Digital, iJustine, Freddie Wong, AmazingPhil, Grace Helbig, Enjoy Phoenix, Epic Rap Battles, and many more. The music is mostly a mashup of Pharrell's "Happy" and various other songs that have been popular on YouTube, and it was put together by DJ Earworm. It's a great video. It's funny, clever, well-made, and entertaining.
Maelstrom 3. Think Asteroids for the Mac. The old Mac. Mac OS. Pre-OS X. It's free, and lots and lots of Mac users wasted many a person-year playing it, but the thing is that it still works on OS X today. Maelstrom 3.0.6 fires up just fine on OS X 10.10.1 Yosemite in all its 640 x 480 glory, as noted by TMO member paikinho and shown in the accompanying screenshot. Note that it's not signed—if you have your System Preferences > Security & Privacy settings are set to allow apps downloaded from the "Mac App Store" or "Mac App Store and Identified Developers," Yosemite will squawk. You can launch it by changing those preferences (which I am not advising you to do), or by trying to launch it and then giving it individual permission in the Security and Privacy settings.
The Siri User Guide has posted a killer guide that will help you better control Siri when you're dictating. For instance, when you're dictating to Siri, saying "all caps" in the middle of your spiel will cause the next word to be in all-caps while leaving out the actual command. So, saying "I all caps love summer" will result in "I LOVE summer." There are 59 entires in the Siri Dictation Guide, and it's very handy. Check it out.
The folks at fournova Software GmbH have published An Illustrated History of Mac OS X. This a wonderful and whimsical collection of images that incapsulates each version of OS X from Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah to OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Each one incorporates a cat (or other element, in the case of Mavericks and Yosemite) to represent the OS, but each one also includes other reference points that represent the major changes in that version of the OS. Looking at them was an excellent reminder of when things happened, like Safari in Panther and Intel in Tiger. The screen grab below is for Snow Leopard. There's a written description accompanying each image to fill in any gaps. For those keeping score at home, fournova makes Tower, a git client for version control in OS X.
Apple posted a new commercial to its YouTube channel Sunday called "iPad Air 2 - Change" (embedded in full below). The spot highlights people doing and making things in new ways, all powered by their iPad Air 2. In the description, Apple said, "Change is in the Air. From the studio to the classroom, the field to the garage, iPad Air 2 is helping people discover new and better ways to do the things they love. Imagine what you’ll do with it." It features "Who Needs You" by The Orwells off of Disgraceland.
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