Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

Book: Thus Spoke the Plant by Monica Gagliano

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Thus Spoke the Plant by Monica Gagliano is what she calls a “phytobiography.” She tells a story of her journey into the frontiers of plant science, and how it changed her life. The book is a little too New Agey for my taste though, and I had thought there would be more science. Instead it reads like an example of neopagan literature, with plant spirits, shamans, and drug-induced vision quests. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that, it just surprised me to read it from a scientist. Nevertheless, Ms. Gagliano has certainly made strides in her field and is changing how we think of plants.

Book: Thus Spoke the Plant by Monica Gagliano

Tips and Tricks for Civilization VI

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Jen Karner has some great tips and tricks for Civilization VI. Although her article specifically mentions the Nintendo Switch, these tips work for any platform.

I’ve been playing Civilization VI since it launched on PC in 2016, and with more than 700 hours logged I’ve got strong feelings on just about every kind of start, civilization and play style. During that time I’ve beaten the game a handful of times with Culture and Science victories and have restarted the game more times than I want to count — seriously.

The best tip on there is to play to your civilization’s strengths. Each civilization gives you a unique bonus, and you should take advantage of that.

Spreaker Studio Adds Siri Shortcuts to App

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Spreaker Studio has added Siri Shortcuts to its app. The Spreaker Studio app transforms mobile devices into fully-equipped audio studios, offers anyone an easy way to broadcast from live events, share original music, create an audio blog or podcast series and connect with the world over shared passions. In addition to the ability to pre-record podcasts or broadcast live, users can add music and sound effects, interact with audiences via live chatbot and share across Facebook and Twitter. With the capabilities of iOS 12, Spreaker Studio now supports creation of user-generated commands and includes two ready-to-use shortcuts for hands-free podcast creation: “Record Audio,” which triggers capture, and “Broadcast Live,” which triggers simultaneous capture and publication of content. Users also benefit from the pairing of Siri Suggestions and Shortcuts in iOS 12, which enables Siri to learn users’ frequent in-app actions to predict and proactively prompt them in the future. App Store: Spreaker Studio – Free

Spreaker Studio Adds Siri Shortcuts to App

How to Edit HEIC Photos Without Data Loss

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William Gallagher has a good article on how to edit HEIC photos without data loss. HEIC is now the default format for photos taken by iPhones.

When it was just that Facebook and the rest weren’t supporting HEIC, we thought time would sort that out. Now that Apple itself is still automatically converting HEIC to JPEG in emails, we’re wondering what the point is. We’d just like it to be possible to set up a Siri Shortcut so that we could tell our iPhones “no, no, we meant JPEG” and have it switch back and forth.

You can manage these settings in Settings > Camera > Formats. Choosing High Efficiency will mean your iPhone shoots in HEIC. Choosing Most Compatible means your iPhone shoots in JPG.

VSCO X November Film: Introducing Fuji Velvia 50

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VSCO X is a membership program for the photography app VSCO. It’s a yearly subscription that offers members exclusive film emulation presets. Members also have access to the entire library of 130+ presets. The membership costs US$19.99/year.

Since Kodachrome, no film has attracted as loyal a following as Fujifilm’s Velvia 50. With its high contrast and richly saturated colors, Fuji Velvia 50 quickly became the go-to film for landscape photographers. A slight magenta cast and warm color palette make Velvia 50 especially suited for autumn, desert, and sunset scenes.

The Mac Observer has a full list of Film X presets that are updated every month.

VSCO X November Film: Introducing Fuji Velvia 50

Latest Data Breach: SMS Text Database Exposed

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A server belonging to Voxox (formerly Telcentris) in San Diego was exposed because the server wasn’t protected with a password. Security researcher Sébastien Kaul discovered that it was an SMS text database containing “tens of millions of text messages, including password reset links, two-factor codes, shipping notifications and more.”

Each record was meticulously tagged and detailed, including the recipient’s cell phone number, the message, the Voxox customer who sent the message and the shortcode they used.

If you’re dumb or negligent enough to not secure a password containing other peoples’ sensitive data, you should not be in whatever industry you’re in. I hope Senator Ron Wyden’s bill gets passed.

Sign Up For Apple Rewards Barclaycard, Get Gift Cards

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Apple and Barclays are teaming up to offer a special promotion. If you sign up for an Apple Rewards Barclaycard Visa, you’ll get two US$25 Apple Store Gift Cards or App Store Gift Cards.

The Barclaycard Visa with Apple Rewards allows cardholders to rack up points when using the card to purchase products at Apple locations. The card rewards users with 3 points for every $1 spent at Apple, 2 points for every $1 spent at restaurants, and 1 point for every $1 spent on other purchases.

More details can be found on Apple’s financing page.

You Can Now Buy an Unlocked iPhone XR

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Apple customers can now buy an unlocked iPhone XR. This means that it’s not tied to a specific carrier so you can use your current SIM card. If you have a prepaid carrier, this is the model you’ll want.

SIM-free iPhone XR models are compatible with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and other carriers. The iPhone XR starts at US$749 for 64 GB models available in white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and (PRODUCT)RED. Higher-capacity models are available for US$799 (128 GB) and US$899 (256 GB).

New Version of Apple Watch Charger Out

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There’s a new version of the Apple Watch charger. The model number is MU9F2AM/A and has been added to the online Apple Store.

There are no design tweaks to the dock, which suggests that the new model includes unspecified internal updates. It is not known why Apple has introduced a revamped version, but the changes are likely to be minor.

You can pick up the new charger for US$79. The device is available for delivery starting on Friday, November 16, and should be in retail stores soon.

Rich People Worried iPhone Not Making Them Enough Money

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A couple of iPhone suppliers—Hon Hai and AMS AG—have said they probably won’t make as much money as they thought, and Wall Street is panicking.

The accumulation of warning signs has prompted analyst revisions in the past week. Guggenheim on Wednesday said the company’s recent reliance on rising average selling prices was “no longer enough” to boost growth at a time unit sales show signs of slowing. Shares in Japan Display Inc., one of the quartet that reduced its sales outlook, slid 9.5% Thursday.

I’m certainly no economic expert, but I’m pretty sure the fact that Apple is a stable company now is a good thing. Apple anticipated this years ago and is expanding their sources of revenue. Meanwhile, somewhere on Wall Street little Tommy won’t be getting a Maserati for Christmas.