TMO Background Mode Interview with macOS Software Developer Sander Berents

· · Background Mode Podcast

Sander Berents on Background Mode.

Sander Berents has been fascinated by astronomy since childhood when he started using his older brother’s telescope. In his teens, he also became immersed in BASIC and assembly language programming with his TRS-80. Later, he earned an M.S. in astrophysics. His earliest jobs involved computer programming, and nowadays, he’s an independent, professional macOS software developer and the developer of the macOS app called Observatory. Version 1.0 was released in April 2016. We chatted about the development of Observatory, written in Objective-C and C++, which has several important features for astrophotographers: plate solving, image stacking and a digital blink microscope used for discovery. This app can also be used as a non-destructive photo library for astrophotos. Sander chatted about life as a developer and explained a little bit about how astronomers use his app.

Mac mini Getting a Significant Update this Fall

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Mac mini with

Apple’s painfully out of date Mac mini is reportedly getting a long overdue refresh this fall. What’s more, Apple is targeting pro users with the updated Mac. News of a new Mac mini is something of a surprise since it saw only minor improvements four years ago, and its last major changes came back in 2010. Bloomberg broke the news saying,

The computer has been favored because of its lower price, and it’s popular with app developers, those running home media centers, and server farm managers. For this year’s model, Apple is focusing primarily on these pro users, and new storage and processor options are likely to make it more expensive than previous versions.

Insider sources also backed up earlier reports of a MacBook refresh. The new 13-inch model will have a Retina display, and it’s starting to sound more like a MacBook Air replacement. Looks like Apple has a lot of product announcements for us this fall.

SurfSafe Browser Extension Finds Fake News

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It works by storing a unique digital fingerprint for every photo found on these trusted sites. It also saves a signature of every photo you see while you browse with the extension installed.

Dark Sky Just Got Its Biggest Update in Years

· · Cool Stuff Found

Dark Sky was just updated to version 6.0 and it’s the biggest update in years. It has been in development for over a year, incorporating user suggestions and the developers’ own experience gained over the years. On the blog they share that it’s the first major app version build by their new app team: Todd on iOS and Cailee on Android. The iOS app has been completely rewritten to make it more stable and responsive. The biggest change is the unified timeline. Current conditions and various forecasts are available in a single view, so you can find the forecast you need faster. You can also now save weather locations to see the weather in multiple places. App Store: Dark Sky – US$3.99

Dark Sky Just Got Its Biggest Update in Years

Robots are Taking Over the Movie Industry

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Okay, maybe not taking over. However, a robot (or more precisely, an android) will be starring in an upcoming movie called 2nd Born.

The report doesn’t include many specifics on the robot star, other than that it will learn various acting methods and techniques prior to filming. However, Kaye hopes the performance will be enough to earn the bot recognition from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), meaning it could conceivably go up against human actors come awards season.

I hope the film will be a comedy, otherwise a robo-actor might be a bit awkward.

Apple Pulls 25,000 Gambling Apps from China App Store

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Apple China flag

Apple has already pulled VPN apps from its iPhone and iPad App Store in China, and now it’s adding what the country considers gambling and pornography apps to that list. Apple hasn’t said how many apps have been pulled from its store, but reports are saying that number could be 25,000. Apple told the Wall Street Journal,

Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China. We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.

Apple is in a tough position because it has to comply with China’s laws, but doesn’t want to be a government tool. Apple also can’t leave the country because the market is too big to give up, and that’s where most iPhones are made.

Philips Hue Adds Play, Signe Lamps to its Smart Light Lineup

· · Cool Stuff Found

Signify just announced two new additions to its Philips Hue smart light family: Philips Play and Philips Signe. Both are light strip-style lamps that add colored accent light to your rooms by trowing light on the walls. The Play sits on tables or TV stands, and the Signe sits on the floor and are designed to look good in places where the Philips Lightstrip isn’t a good fit. The Play will be available in October for US$69.95, or $129.95 for a two-pack. The Signe will be available in September for $169.99 or $269.99 for a two-pack.

Philips Hue Adds Play, Signe Lamps to its Smart Light Lineup