Recent Articles By Bryan Chaffin [RSS]

MagNeo on Kickstarter: Magnetic USB-C Adapter for Charging, Data, and Video

· · Cool Stuff Found

I’m all about how Apple ditches legacy technologies. Headphone jack? Haven’t missed it on my iPhone? Floppy disks? LOL. FireWire? OK, I miss that one (or the 5th generation we should have had by now), but I get it. Besides USB-C is pretty nifty. Magsafe, though, is a bit harder to understand. It has saved my MacBook Air uncounted times, and it’s so easy to plug it in. But, MagSafe is gone. So be it. There’ve been a few third party magnetic USB-C adapters, and I saw one on Kickstarter that’s getting some traction. It’s called MagNeo, a magnetic USB-C adapter that allows charging, data, and video, too. That makes it useful for applications beyond charging-only, which may be why it’s already raised $115,000. It’s a two-piece device machined from a solid piece of aluminum. One half goes in your MacBook or MacBook Pro, and the other half goes on the end of the cable you want to use it with. Watch the short video for more. Funding options start at $59 as of this writing.

What Earth Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted

· · Cool Stuff Found

Curious what the planet would look like if all the world’s ice melted? Let’s just say the topic has been on my mind lately. National Geographic did the math, with pictures to help us wrap our heads around it. If all the world’s ice melted—an extreme eventuality that would require thousands of years—sea levels would rise an estimated 216 feet. Unsurprisingly, what we know as “coast” today would become “offshore.” In North America, the Atlantic seaboard is gone, as is Florida. In my novel (set in 2139), the Philly Bay is a thing, but that was based on a model of just 22 meters (72 feet) in sea levels rising. In Nat Geo‘s more extreme model, the Central Valley in California becomes a giant bay. San Diego goes bye, bye, as does a little town in Texas called “Houston.” Nat Geo has detailed maps of all the continents, including the desert formerly known as North Africa, the desert formerly known as Australia, and parts of China that are currently home to some 600 million people. As noted above, this map represents the ultimate extreme of global warming, including melted Antartica ice sheets that have survived previous warming periods. The point, though, is that it’s fascinating to see what it might look like.

What Earth Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted

Get Jim Dalrymple and Bryan Chaffin iMessage Stickers

· · Product News

Bryan Chaffin and Jim Dalrymple as Emojis

OK, get this. Nodconcept made this custom emoji of me for the company’s Facebook emoji app for iOS. They made one for my friend Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, too. Facebook emoji apps are so 2009, but the Emoti emoji are available as an iMessage sticker pack. And—more importantly—Nodconcept told me they added the emojis for me and Jim to that sticker pack.

Kult of Ktulu : Olympic, a Textual Narrative Lovecraftian Video Game

· · Cool Stuff Found

Check out Kult of Ktulu: Olympic. It’s a textual narrative game, but what hit me were the gorgeous graphics backing up the narrative. Players take on the avatar of a young girl named Elena on a ship crossing the Atlantic in the early 20th century. Elena is investigating the Kult in a world built from H.P. Lovecraft imagery. I haven’t played it yet, but it looks lush and delicious. It’s currently in the App Store as a free download with in-app purchases. It’s in Google Play, too, if that’s your poison.

Civilization VI Gets Viking and Poland Expansions, Other Improvements

· · Cool Stuff Found

Civilization Vi got its first expansions Wednesday with the release of the Poland Civilization & Scenario Pack and Vikings Scenario Pack. The Polish pack includes the full Poland civilization, which includes the ability to take over tiles by fortifying their borders. The Poland scenario is a 60-Turn game where you defend Poland, Prague, and Vienna from Teutonic Knights and Ottoman Turks! Sounds awesome. The Viking Scenario includes new City-States with new benefits, and a 100-Turn game where you invade England, take Paris, find Vinland, or raid the Mediterranean. I’m slacking off from work just thinking about it. Each pack is $4.99, and is available through both Steam and the Mac App Store version of the game. Civilization VI itself was released in October for $59.99, and Wednesday’s update includes a variety of bug fixes, balance changes, AI tuning, and a new Earth map (standard size).

Civilization VI Gets Viking and Poland Expansions, Other Improvements

Apple Offers ‘Major Updates’ to Logic Pro X and GarageBand

· · Product News

Logic Pro X 10.3 Interface Screenshot

Apple announced “major updates” to GarageBand for iOS and Logic Pro X on Wednesday (for NAMM), going so far as to issue a press release for the updates. The consumer-oriented GarageBand is getting the Alchemy synthesizer and a new browser for finding and using sounds. Apple’s professional DAW—Logic Pro X—gets support for Touch Bar, Track Alternatives, an updated interface, and other changes. Both updates are free.

Former Apple Engineer Claims Tim Cook Made Apple Boring

· · Cool Stuff Found

The Apple Crystal Ball

Former Apple engineer Bob Burrough has been arguing that CEO Tim Cook has made Apple boring. In a combination of tweet storm and an interview with CNBC stemming from said tweetstorm, the engineer said Mr. Cook has eliminated conflict within Apple, sapping its vitality in the process. Mr. Burrough argued that Steve Jobs ruled with ever-shifting chaos, where product triumphed over hierarchy. Under Tim Cook, he said, Apple is siloed, smooth, and essentially complacent. Former Apple wunderkind Tony Fadell coincidentally tweeted just last week that Steve Jobs did not manage through conflict, and others have taken issue with Mr. Burrough, too. The reality is that any one person’s perspective never tells the whole tale, but his opinions make for an interesting read. You can see the whole tweetstorm in this tweet and in the CNBC story.

The Telegraph Slams EU’s Campaign Against Apple and Ireland Taxation

· · Analysis

The Daily Telegraph of London published a scathing condemnation of the European Union’s accusation that Ireland is giving Apple illegal state aid. The editorial breaks down the case against Ireland and Apple, characterizing the legal principles to be in violation of the EU’s own principles. Bryan Chaffin explains the whats and whos.

For #&%@’s Sake, Make Your Passwords Stronger

· · Quick Tip

Cyber Security

Hey, guess what? Your passwords probably suck. Most of our passwords suck, as shown in an analysis of 10 million passwords released in security breaches from 2016. Bryan Chaffin has some basic tips for improving your password security, and stern words for those who slack on this!

Samson QH4 Headphone Amp: 4 Headphones for Desktop Recording

· · Cool Stuff Found

Samson announced Monday the QH4 4-Channel Headphone Amplifier. It’s built to support four headphones at the same time, each with its own volume control. Desktop musicians and bands recording in a practice space or a garage should check it out because it offers a compact way for four musicians to monitor themselves. It also has a master volume and can flip between stereo and mono. It’s powered by an included power supply, and has two 1/4” balanced and one stereo 1/8” unbalanced input. The QH4 is priced at $69.99 and is available now.

Samson QH4 Headphone Amp: 4 Headphones for Desktop Recording

The Mother of All Demos on Video

· · Cool Stuff Found

You may have heard of the Mother of All Demos, especially if you’ve studied, or even read up on, computing history. But have you seen it? There is a video of this legendary event (via Reviewed.com), and I personally find it fascinating. Here’s why this is a thing. The demo was given by Doug Engelbart in 1968, when punch cards were how you interfaced with a computer. But in this demo, the world was shown (list via Wikipedia) windows, hypertext, graphics, efficient navigation and command input, video conferencing word processing, dynamic file linking, revision control, a collaborative real-time editor, and the computer mouse. The freaking computer mouse! None of these things existed outside the circle of people involved in the demo. It was huge. No, it was enormous. And many of the people in the demo went on to be involved in the Xerox PARC, which played a major role inspiring Jef Raskin and Steve Jobs for the Mac. The Mother of All Demos resonated through tech culture for decades, and it took decades to make most of that list above mainstream. If you like tech history, you should book some time to watch this. And if you do, think about the context of the times and be amazed. One last note, the typed story at the beginning explains how the movie itself was made.

Apple’s ‘Practically Magic’ Commercials Take Dancing Stroll with AirPods

· · Cool Stuff Found

Apple has new spots out with the tagline “practically magic.” The spots focus on a young dancer taking a Stroll through a city scape using AirPods to enjoy “Down” by Marian Hill. There are four spots in the series, the longer one below and three short ones. Two of the short ones focus on Siri and Pairing, while the third one is called Notes, and uses AirPods to represent notes on a staff. Stroll takes a whimsical look at the power of music by showing the dancer defy gravity. I think the imagery is compelling and the message simple and straightforward. Check it out.

ROME: Total War – Barbarian Invasion Coming to iPad in March

· · Cool Stuff Found

Feral Interactive announced Friday that ROME: Total War – Barbarian Invasion would be coming to iPad in March! This was originally an expansion for ROME: Total War on Mac and PC—Feral ported that game to iPad late last year. I’ve played ROME: Total War on iPad, and it’s an amazing conversion to a touch interface. Feral and its developers did a remarkable job. Barbarian Invasion was a terrific expansion of the original game, too, and I can’t wait for the iPad launch to suck ever more hours out of my life. 😂 Barbarian Invasion is set three centuries after the campaigns of the original game, and players can play either a barbarian commander out to bring Rome down, or a Roman general defending the empire. The game will be exclusively in the App Store in March at £3.99/US$4.99/€4.99.

ROME: Total War – Barbarian Invasion Coming to iPad in March

Chris Lattner Refutes Claim He Left Apple Over ‘Openness’

· · Analysis

Chris Lattner

Chris Lattner, Apple’s outgoing head of developer tools, has refuted claims published by BusinessInsider that he left the company because of Apple’s focus on secrecy and closed systems. Mr. Lattner left Apple, where he was credited with heading development of Swift, for Tesla, where he will be working on self-driving cars.