Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

TMO Background Mode Interview with macOS Software Developer Sander Berents

· · Background Mode Podcast

Sander Berents on Background Mode.

Sander Berents has been fascinated by astronomy since childhood when he started using his older brother’s telescope. In his teens, he also became immersed in BASIC and assembly language programming with his TRS-80. Later, he earned an M.S. in astrophysics. His earliest jobs involved computer programming, and nowadays, he’s an independent, professional macOS software developer and the developer of the macOS app called Observatory. Version 1.0 was released in April 2016. We chatted about the development of Observatory, written in Objective-C and C++, which has several important features for astrophotographers: plate solving, image stacking and a digital blink microscope used for discovery. This app can also be used as a non-destructive photo library for astrophotos. Sander chatted about life as a developer and explained a little bit about how astronomers use his app.

How to See the Hidden Categories of Netflix

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Looking for movies on Netflix just about baseball? Deep sea horror movies? Martial arts movies? Mashable has posted a nifty article about how to access the master list of several hundred specific categories that may be more to your liking than the default ones displayed. Check it out.

Moto P30 Indistinguishable From iPhone X. Seriously?

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Moto P30 next to iPhone X

Okay, it’s part of the Asian culture to copy popular products. This has been happening in the car industry for decades. But this Moto P30 just about duplicates the iPhone X design. But come on. Really? Seriously? This is over the top. (Image credit: BBC News.)

Kids Can Drown While Parents Immersed in Smartphone

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Kids in swimming pool

The article’s opening paragraph puts it bluntly. “The world’s largest lifeguard organization claims there’s a direct link between child drownings and the smartphones parents hold in their hands.” Parents know that kids under 4 must be watched like a hawk, especially around water. Or do they?

Found: Sony Patent For Contact Lens That Can Record Video

· · Cool Stuff Found

This is from 2016, but I just found it. It’s an article at Futurism about a Sony patent for a contact lens than can record video. Think Google Glass, but imperceptible to strangers. Unless the stranger is a Terminator.  I don’t recall seeing anything about this since, and, of course, a patent is always easier than profitable mass production. But it does suggest enormous possibilities. I’ll keep an eye on this technology.

Found: Sony Patent For Contact Lens That Can Record Video

Astronomers Have Discovered a Massive Rogue Planet

· · Cool Stuff Found

A rogue planet is a planet that’s not in orbit around any star. It’s by itself, in orbit around the galactic center.  It may have formed around a star and perhaps some severe gravitational perturbation ejected it into the space between stars. In any case, only a few are known.  In this discovery, a very large one was detected via its radio emissions. Fascinating.

Astronomers Have Discovered a Massive Rogue Planet

TMO Background Mode Interview with Host of The Carson Podcast Mark Malkoff

· · Background Mode Podcast

Mark Malkoff on Background Mode

Mark Malkoff is a comedian, filmaker, and the host of The Carson Podcast in which he talks with guests about legendary talk show host Johnny Carson. His guests include stand-up comics who debuted on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, individuals who worked on the show, and entertainers who were influenced by Carson. I chatted with Mark about his early jobs on various TV shows, sketch comedy, and video projects. As a comedian, he’d always been fascinated by Johnny Carson. It was Peter Jones (PBS) who encouraged Mark to do a podcast all about Carson’s Tonight Show. Mark told me about how he lines up guests and how he prepares. In 180+ podcasts, Mark has learned a lot about Mr. Carson’s personal life and the details of show’s production. Mark enthusiastically shares it all.

How Facebook Used a Psychological Trick on Teenagers

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Teenagers with smartphone

This article demonstrates many things. 1) Teenagers spend too much time on Facebook. 2) They are subject to psychological manipulation. 3) Those who create channels into teenage minds will do anything to make money. 4) Few realize this is happening. And 5) If Facebook can do this to youngsters, so can others with more unpleasant motives.

Deep Learning About Deep Learning

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I, Robot (the movie)

The terms artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and deep learning are often confused or interchanged. Friday’s Particle Debris links to an article by a researcher who explains the differences. With that background in hand, PD looks at some intriguing research in the field, including research robots that beg for their lives.

TMO Background Mode Interview with NightCap Camera Developer Chris Wood

· · Background Mode Podcast

Chris Wood on Background Mode.

Chris Wood is the developer of the iOS photography app called NightCap Camera, an app that specializes in low-light photography, be it terrestrial or astronomical. Chris told me the story about his technial evolution as a developer, coming out of a M.S. degree and the IT, database and network world. It was the allure of the original iPhone’s graphics that whetted his appetite for programming in Objective-C . His big break came with the iPad 2 which had a fairly strong graphics processor (for its time). That led to the development of the acclaimed iPad app called Camera Boost. Later, the experience Chris gained led to the NightCap app and its descendant NightCap Camera. Chris and I chatted about the evolution and capabilities of this excellent app that even novice photographers should own.

Allowing Smartphones in Class Hurts Student Grades

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Students in class with smartphones.

A recent study, described at Big Think, reveals that students who multi-task with smartphones in class are less able to retain information they’ll need for future exams. From the article. “This finding demonstrates for the first time that the main effect of divided attention in the classroom is not an immediate effect of selection or switching on comprehension but a long-term effect of divided attention on retention,” the researchers wrote.