Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

Fly Your Name on the Mars 2020 Rover

· · Cool Stuff Found

NASA explains:

Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stenciled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet.

“From now until Sept. 30, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here:

https://go.nasa.gov/Mars2020Pass

Fly Your Name on the Mars 2020 Rover

Are AIs Being Designed to Harm Us?

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AI concept

The question we must always have for the high tech giants is embedded in this essay at the Internet Health Report:

“Are you going to harm humanity and, specifically, historically marginalized populations, or are you going to sort of get your act together and make some significant structural changes to ensure that what you create is safe and not harmful?”

Given the demonstrated proclivity of many high tech companies to, without adult supervision, create technologies that callously  enrich them at our great expense, the above is a great question to ask. Every day. Of every technology.

TMO Background Mode Interview with iCEO of the Electronic Transactions Association Amy Zirkle

· · Background Mode Podcast

Amy Zirkle is the interim CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA). Prior to joining ETA, she spent 17 years working as a Senior Economist focusing on technology matters including mobile payments in the developing world. She holds an S.M. degree from M.I.T. where she served as a Research Associate at the M.I.T. Media Lab as well as the M.I.T. Research Program on Communications Policy.

Amy and I talked about her work at the M.I.T. Media Lab, the early days of electronic payments and their exploding growth today. We also chatted about the new tap & go cards, their security, and how they work. I asked about the CurrentC disaster as well as restaurants and gas stations and how they seem to lag behind modern payment methods. We finished with a discussion of the future of electronic payments.

macOS: New Details on the Music Player in 10.15

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iTunes on a MacBook

Cult of Mac reports:

Some sources previously stated that the [macOS 10.15 Music] app would be made using Marzipan, which lets developers easily port iPad apps to the desktop. But new information reveals that won’t be the case.

In fact,

The Mac’s next-generation Music app will be based on iTunes, not ported over from iOS.

This makes some sense. The legacy macOS iTunes has a lot of Mac-specific code, including iOS device syncing and encrypted backups. But it’s probably also just phase one in the evolution of iTunes/Music on the Mac.

macOS: What is /private/var/db/fpsd/dvp and Why Doesn't it Get Backed Up?

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Carbon Copy Cloner duplicates my startup disk automatically every night at 11:46PM.

Carbon Copy Cloner users recently noticed a warning that ONE file, /private/var/db/fpsd/dvp, isn’t being backed up. Here’s why. (tl;dr. It’s not a problem.) This Apple discussion explains the situation for this user:

Carbon Copy Cloner gives me an error when I finish backing up, saying I can’t copy this file to my backup drive because it didn’t have permissions. What is it, and is it safe to use the backup without this file? When I go to the file in Finder, the folder it’s in doesn’t give me access.

Most Everything to Know About Wi-Fi 6

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Wi-FI 6 is coming. For the geeks, that’s 802.11ax. CNET has a great article that explains it all. But even if you buy a new Wi-Fi 6 router/base station later this year, it won’t speed up your Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) devices, But take heart. Intel’s Ice Lake CPU supports it and so will, likely, the 2019 iPhones.  Read all about Wi-Fi 6 in this excellent overview. Your inner geek will thank you.

Intel's Latest CPU Roadmap and Implications for Macs

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intel cpu

Intel’s struggle to get to a 10 nm production process, its latest CPU roadmap, the new Ice Lake CPUs, and what it all means for the Mac are nicely presented by Jason Cross at Macworld. This is must reading for all Mac users.

On Wednesday [5/8], during an investor presentation, Intel extended its public roadmap through 2020 and gave an update on future products and manufacturing processes. Here’s what that means for the Mac.

 

TMO Background Mode Interview with Science Historian Dr. Matthew Stanley

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Matt Stanley is a teacher and researcher in the history and philosophy of science. He holds degrees in astronomy, religion, physics, and the history of science and is interested in the connections between science and the wider culture. His Ph.D. is from Harvard in the history of science, and he is currently a professor at New York University.

We chatted about how Matt came to be immersed in physics as well as the history of science and religion. He found that a proper modern perpective depends on an understanding of how science evolved throughout history. We also briefly touched on how science and religion don’t really contradict each other. Matt told me about a very interesting class he teaches, his podcast “What the If,” and his new book EINSTEIN’S WAR: How Relativity Conquered the World.

Privacy is a Luxury Item? Think Again

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Electronic spy eye

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says privacy shouldn’t be a luxury item. Responding at Computerworld, Jonny Evans writes:

The crux of Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s argument against firms such as (obviously including but never named) Apple is that his company offers convenience in exchange for personal secrets, makes its services available for free, and has a “profound commitment” to protecting user privacy.

Author Evans lays bare the reality of how Google operates and the shallowness of Pichai’s whines.

Lots of Good Reasons for Apple to Dump the Mac's Intel CPUs

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Ed Hardy at Cult of Mac writes:

It’s past time Macs stopped depending on Intel processors. There’s new evidence to show they’ve outlived their usefulness. A switch to Apple-designed chips will make macOS devices better for a variety of reasons …

It’s an opinion piece, but the author’s opinions are, in my parallel view, well-founded.

TMO Background Mode Special Edition Chat #6 with Kelly Guimont

· · Background Mode Podcast

Kelly Guimont on Background Mode.

Kelly Guimont is a long-time podcaster, Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer, the host of the Mac Observer’s Daily Observations podcast, a tech support guru, and a Founding Volunteer of App Camp for Girls.

Kelly first appeared here in December, 2015 to tell her career story and has returned several times for interesting technical discussions. In this encore special edition, we chat about our favorite TV shows of late. John: Stargate SG-1 (Amazon), Endeavour (Amazon), Electric Dreams (Amazon). Kelly: Daredevil & The Punisher (Netflix), The Goldbergs (ABC), and Westworld (HBO). Join us as we explore together why we like these shows and how, in some cases, our feelings have changed upon repeat viewing.

A Phenomenal Storage Breakthrough

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IBM's Watson supercomputer

The headline is from Gizmodo: “A New Storage Breakthrough Could Squeeze a Library’s Worth of Data Into a Teaspoon of Protein.”

By 2020, researchers estimate that the world’s digital archive will weigh in at around 44 trillion gigabytes. That’s an astounding amount of data that isn’t necessarily being stored in the safest of places. Most storage mediums naturally degrade over time (if they’re not hacked or accidentally destroyed) and even the cloud isn’t as reliable as companies want us to believe. So researchers at Harvard University have turned to some unique chemistry they believe could safely archive the world’s data for millions of years—without requiring any power.