Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

In The Persistence of Chaos, Buy Six Notorious Computer Viruses For $1 Million

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A computer infested with six of the word’s most infamous viruses is being sold as an art piece called ‘The Persistence of Chaos.’ The auction has topped US$1 million.

Bidding for a laptop infected with six of the world’s most famous computer viruses—WannaCry, BlackEnergy, ILOVEYOU, MyDoom, SoBig and DarkTequila—has topped more than $1.1 million at auction. The art project, titled “The Persistence of Chaos,” is a collaboration between Chinese internet artist Guo O Dong, and Deep Instinct, a cybersecurity firm based in New York. Those six viruses have caused billions of dollars in damage worldwide.

Spansive Launches Multi-Phone Wireless Charger Called Source

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Spansive is launching a wireless charger that can charge multiple devices, no alignment needed. Basically, it’s everything that Apple promised with AirPower. Source uses software-defined induction to shape magnetic fields and create the first wireless charging solution that allows every member of the family, regardless of their phone case, to easily charge their devices simultaneously without an unsightly mess of tangled wires. There are thousands of phone cases, all of them unique in their own way — some thin, some thick, some with accessories like PopSockets. To date, the majority of wireless charging pads have only worked with a limited range of phone cases and required exact alignment to charge. Placed in shared locations such as kitchens, living rooms, offices, or bedrooms, Source serves as a central hub for a family’s unique array of devices and helps provide a reminder to put devices down for meals and bedtime. Source is available for US$189.

Spansive Launches Multi-Phone Wireless Charger Called Source

Play Date is a Handheld Game Console With a Hand Crank

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Panic has made iOS and Mac software for over 20 years, like Coda, Transmit, and Prompt. They’re also the creators of the popular Firewatch game. Now they’ve decided to get into hardware with Play Date. To summarize it, Play Date is a black and white Gameboy with a hand crank and a game subscription. There aren’t a lot of details yet, but it sounds like the hand crank acts as a controller, rather than as a way to power the device. The console will cost US$149, ship in early 2020, and come with 12 games as part of “Season One” that will be included.

The games will be delivered over-the-air, once a week for 12 weeks, and they’ll be a surprise: when the new game light flashes, you’ll never know what you’re about to play. Panic recruited some of the world’s best game designers — some well known; others under the radar — to make games exclusively for our system.”

Play Date is a Handheld Game Console With a Hand Crank

Add Lens Flares, Rain, Fog, and More to Photos With Lens Distortions

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For the past three years, Lens Distortions has been part of my photography toolkit. It’s an app that provides you with ways to spruce up your images. You can add lens flares, fake rain, fake fog, fake snow, sparkle effects, and more to your photos. Adding stuff like that can feel like cheating, but if done sparingly and subtly, it can enhance. As the app description puts it: Frame your subject with elegant glass textures. Punctuate your shots with natural sunlight and lens flares. Create atmospheric depth with genuine rain or fog. Lens Distortion gives you the highest quality ingredients to craft the look you want. All of the overlays are created by optically-capturing real-world elements. They are displayed in gallery view, which allows you to see all the filters side-by-side and select the best one for your image. You can easily make an effect stand out for a bold look or blend in for just the right amount of subtle complexity. Sometimes the best effects are ones no one knows you added… Lens Distortions signature effects are hiding in plain sight in the images of many of today’s top photographers. The company also provides desktop tools as well. App Store: Free (Offers In-App Purchases)

Add Lens Flares, Rain, Fog, and More to Photos With Lens Distortions

League of Legends Coming to iOS, Unlikely in 2019

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Popular game League of Legends is coming to iOS and Android, but it’s unlikely it will appear in 2019.

One of the sources said Tencent and Riot have been working on a mobile version of “League of Legends” for more than a year, although a separate source said it was unlikely to be launched in 2019.

The sources declined to be identified as details of the project were confidential. A spokesman for Tencent declined to comment. Representatives for Riot did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vignette App Lets You Update Your Contact Photos Privately

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Vignette app allows you to change all those ugly grey circles with initials into actual photographs. By searching Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Gravatar—no login required—Vignette will attempt to pair your contacts with their profile pictures on social media. After amassing all these images, using Vignette’s easy to use interface, you can select which avatar you’d like to use, or none at all. Once you’re all set, Vignette will write those updates to your contacts database on your phone. That means in Messages, Phone, and all of your other apps, you see beautiful images instead of ugly initials. Vignette is free to try, but in order to save the updates to your contact list, you will need to buy the one-time in-app purchase. Vignette app runs entirely on your phone; your contacts stay on your device and are never transmitted *anywhere*. Privacy is a critical factor to Vignette; your trust is important and will not be squandered. App Store: Free (Offers In-App Purchases)

Vignette App Lets You Update Your Contact Photos Privately

UN Report Says Making Siri Voice Female by Default is Sexist

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A report from the United Nations says that making virtual assistants like Siri have female voices by default is sexist.

As voice-powered technology reaches into communities that do not currently subscribe to Western gender stereotypes, including indigenous communities, the feminization of digital assistants may help gender biases to take hold and spread. Because Alexa, Cortana, Google Home and Siri are all female exclusively or female by default in most markets, women assume the role of digital attendant…

I think it’s a fair point.

Apple AR Hiring Increases to 33 Positions Since Last Year

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Last May Apple had one AR job position open. It gradually increased to five by the end of 2018. Now, Apple AR hiring has increased to 33 open positions.

The hiring upswing is a clear sign that the Cupertino tech giant is looking to make AR a major part of its mobile iOS devices moving forward…Of the current 33 openings, the extreme majority — 30 — are located at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

New Backlight Service Program Addresses ‘Flexgate’ Problem

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MacBook Pro (2018)

Some 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro displays suffered problems with the backlight, and Apple will repair them under a new Backlight Service Program.

Apple will repair affected devices, which includes machines sold between October 2016 and February 2018, for free. Eligible models are listed below:

  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

No other MacBook Pro models are included in the repair program at this time.

2018 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air Added to Keyboard Service Program

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The new 8-core MacBook Pro brings with it an updated version of the butterfly keyboard. Additionally, the 2018 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are being added to Apple’s Keyboard Service Program.

Apple has updated its official Keyboard Service Program support page with the 2018 and 2019 MacBooks. If you’ve been having issues with your 2018 MacBook Pro or MacBook Air keyboard or any MacBook notebook with a butterfly keyboard, get in touch with Apple Support to get the repair process started. Keep in mind you’ll likely be without your machine for a least a day, if not longer.