Recent Articles By Bryan Chaffin [RSS]

Behold the Electro Mechanical Voice Inscriber from the 1950s

· · Cool Stuff Found

Oh my goodness…check out this film about EMVI, the Electro Mechanical Voice Inscriber. This device was invented by a 16 year old kid named Victor Shineman in what looks to be the mid 1950s. Using analog electronic gear, EMVI used a microphone to “convert [spoken] letters into low voltage current. Electrical impulse would type out the spoken letter” on a typewriter. It’s primitive, and it appears to have only done one letter at a time, and maybe even only one letter (“a”). But come on, in the 1950s? Using analog gear? That’s nothing short of magic. This video was shot for the “21st School Science Fair,” put on in New York City by The American Institute of the City of New York. It’s utterly fascinating.

iKlip Grip Pro: Adjustable, Tripod, Selfie Stick, Camera Grip

· · Cool Stuff Found

IK Multimedia announced Tuesday that iKlip Grip Pro has shipped. This clever device serves as a desktop tripod, an above-the-crowd extender (or selfie stick), or a handheld camera grip. It features a pivoting ball-joint attachment for 90 degree angle adjustments and 360 degree rotation. It also comes with a detachable Bluetooth button you can use to trigger your camera app or camera. It will mount a smartphone, GoPro, or DSLR camera, too. I’ve been thinking about tripods recently, and while there are a ton of good ones on the market, this device seems super flexible. I plan on checking it out. It’s US$59.99/€59.99, and it’s available now. The video below offers a solid look at the iKlip Grip Pro.

Apple’s Computing Future Could Be the Reverse ToasterFridge

· · The Back Page

iPhone and MacBook

Jean-Louis Gassée has an excellent piece on the future of desktop and mobile operating systems. It includes some lore—including that time Apple tried to buy a a code dump of BeOS from Palm—and some interesting speculation on the future. Both are well worth your time, and it got me thinking about an old interview of Steve Jobs from the mid-1990s. Think: the Reverse ToasterFridge.

Amazon Go: a Retail Store with No Checkout Lines (Kind of Like Apple)

· · Analysis

Woman shopping at Amazon Go with

Amazon has taken a page from Apple’s book and maybe one-upped it, or at least brought it closer to home. The company announced Amazon Go, a combination retail store and app that allows you to walk in, scan a code, and walk out without doing going through any form of checkout line. Apple’s been doing something similar for years.

New Apple Spot: ‘iPhone 7 – Romeo and Juliet’

· · Cool Stuff Found

“Your movies look like movies on iPhone 7.” That’s the tag line to Apple’s newest commercial, iPhone 7 – Romeo and Juliet. It features a performance from Shakespeare’s play of the same name with children in the starring role. The piece looks like a movie at first, but then you see the kids on a stage and a proud parent filming his daughter (Juliet) with his iPhone 7. It’s touching, It’s cute. I suspect it will tug all the right strings for parents with younger kids. I also think it’s a powerful message that paints a solid picture of how good iPhone 7’s camera is without it being a ‘splainy commercial.

Apple Removes Fashion Executive Paul Deneve from Leadership Site [Update]

· · Analysis

Way Back Machine Archive of Paul Deneve's Apple Bio

Apple quietly removed Paul Deneve from its leadership website. Mr. Deneve came from the fashion world and was Vice President of Special Projects at Apple, where he was known to work on Apple Watch. [Update: Financial Times of London‘s San Francisco reporter Tim Bradshaw tweeted on Saturday that Apple said Paul Deneve remained at Apple, but would now be reporting to COO Jeff Williams, rather than directly to CEO Tim Cook. This makes his removal from the leadership page an issue of chain of command, rather than Mr. Deneve having left Apple. ]

Researchers Bypass iPad and iPhone Activation Lock

· · Cool Stuff Found

Vulnerability Lab has published a video to YouTube (via AppleInsider) demonstrating a method for bypassing the Activation Lock on an iOS device. Researchers discovered a convoluted series of steps one can go through starting with a buffer overflow, and also using a Smart Cover…it’s complicated. The bottom line, though, is that the method would allow someone to bypass the Activation Lock, meaning they could use a device that’s been locked by Find My iPhone. Apple is usually able to patch these bypasses, but this video nicely highlights the ongoing cat and mouse game involved with security. The video is presented in real time, meaning there are long stretches where not much is happening. It’s interesting, though, to see the steps necessary for the exploit and the end result.

How about a Computer Keyboard or Trackpad Made of Wood?

· · Cool Stuff Found

I have no idea how practical these products are, but they’re gorgeous. Check out the Orée Board and Orée Touch Slab, a keyboard and trackpad made from wood. The Board is portable and can connect via USB or Bluetooth. It’s designed to work with macOS and iOS, or Windows and Android. Each is made from a single piece of wood, making individual units unique. The Touch Slab is a multitouch trackpad that can also be used as a numeric keypad. Look closely and you’ll see the keypad outlined on top. It’s Bluetooth only, and works with macOS, and Windows 7 or 8. The Board is priced at US$129, while Touch Slab is $150. I haven’t tested them, but they totally caught my eye.

How about a Computer Keyboard or Trackpad Made of Wood?

Finally: a Self-Driving Car System That’s Open Source and Free

· · Cool Stuff Found

Former iPhone hacker George Hotz has released his company’s self-driving car software and hardware as open source. The software itself is on GitHub, as well as 3D printer plans for housing the smartphone needed to run it. The Verge reported there is only one device that will work—the OnePlus 3—and you’re going to need some specific Honda or Accura models to use it. And really, what could go wrong with a bunch of folks experimenting with unproven autonomous vehicle software? Mr. Hotz has been developing the software and hardware as an after-market conversion kit, which he intended to compete with Tesla’s self-driving system. He abruptly announced he was pulling the product from market after regulators had the temerity to express an interest in it. This week, he announced its release as an open source project, rather than a for-sale product. Again, what could go wrong?

Finally: a Self-Driving Car System That’s Open Source and Free

Canopy, a Case Specifically for Your Apple Magic Keyboard

· · Cool Stuff Found

Check out Canopy from Neat Studio, a case specifically for Apple’s Magic Keyboard. In addition to being a case, it can also serve as a stand that holds your iPad Pro (or other device) up while you’re typing. It has a synthetic canvas cover and a microfiber interior. The strap that holds it shut is leather, and it holds your Magic Keyboard using micro-suction pads. I haven’t tested it out, but if I was going to haul a Magic Keyboard around, putting it in a case makes a lot of sense. Canopy is available for pre-order for $40. The company said it’s trying to deliver before Christmas, but can’t guarantee it.

That Time Apple Patched 3 Zero Day Exploits in Just 10 Days [Update]

· · Editorial

The Spying Eye Waiting in Every Device

Vanity Fair has a great piece about zero day exploits, the black market for selling them (to mostly governments, including repressive regimes), how they’re used to spy, and how the whole thing came to be. The story, which is quite long, is built around a particular piece of sophisticated spyware discovered by a couple of researchers, and Apple’s “engineering feat” that patched against the exploits in just ten days.