Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

The Devil Box Enables Solid Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Expansion

· · Cool Stuff Found

The promise of Thunderbolt has always been to eliminate the need for internal expansion slots. But it wasn’t until Thunderbolt 3 and its 40 Gbps speed that having a second, external, high end graphics card would become a practical reality. For example, if you’d like to augment your new 2016 MacBook Pro with a Radeon RX400 series or an Nvidia Geforce GTX 10, now you can do that with this $379 TB3 expansion box from PowerColor called the Devil Box. Here’s a review to whet your appetite for some serious graphics power.

The Devil Box Enables Solid Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Expansion

Apple’s Multiple OS Family Used to Be a Good Idea

· · Editorial

The new Microsoft Surface family

When all we had was Mac OS X (now macOS), our Mac life was simple on Intel-based Macs. Then came iOS with Cocoa Touch, a derivative of macOS for touch devices using ARM CPUs. That seemed so very sensible in 2010. Then, of course, came tvOS and watchOS which means Apple has even more code bases to maintain. While perhaps only a mild burden, the biggest problem may be the future development of Apple devices. John explains.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with Innovation Fellow for the TechCongress Dr. Chris Soghoian

· · The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Chris Soghoian is an expert on the technology and politics of privacy. Most recently he’s been the Principal Technologist with the ACLU. In 2017, he’s one of three Innovation Fellows for the TechCongress where he’ll assist in federal policymaking. Chris earned his Ph.D. with a research focus on the role internet and telephone companies play in enabling government surveillance, and he’s also known for his work with the FTC and the Do Not Track initiative. Chris started life as a tech geek, and computers were always a part of his life. That led to an undergraduate degree in computer science. Then he interned at Apple and IBM. But a significant event changed his direction in life, and he gained a newfound appreciation for attorneys. Chris makes some interesting observations about today’s assaults on our privacy.

Apple’s Underappreciated Technical Evolution

· · Particle Debris

TextExpander 6.1.3 with MacBook Pro Touch Bar support

Apple periodically comes out with The Next Big Thing. Along the way, however, the company makes incremental changes that also make our lives better. How those many advancements accumulate to positively affect our lives depends on how often we upgrade. Meanwhile, the punctuation of big product events keeps us coming back for more. It’s all in a delicate balance, perceived in our flow of time.

A Periodic Table of Fictional Metals and Alloys

· · Cool Stuff Found

You’ve heard of Duranium, Tritanium and Gold-pressed Latinum, right? These are fictional metals from Star Trek lore. But did you know a Periodic Table of all the elements and alloys mentioned across all fiction has been compiled? It includes all the magical substances from TV, the movies, comics, games, mythology and more.  Of course, there’s no chemistry in this table. Instead, it’s a beautifully presented and organized database. Just click on any item to see its origin. For example, click on Dur to discover that “Duranium makes up the outer hull of Starfleet’s NX-class starships.” This table is just amazing to behold.

A Periodic Table of Fictional Metals and Alloys

Apple’s Product Vision May Be The Cause of Recent Departures

· · Editorial

Vision and roadmap.

There’s been some discussion recently about the father of Swift, Apple’s  Chris Lattner, leaving for Tesla. Why might this be? John Martellaro ponders the connections in his whimsical way and suspects that part of the issue is the Haskell language and Tesla’s interest in secure software. Another element may be that Apple’s product vision is faltering a bit when it comes to inspiring and retaining talent.

Apple Appears Ready to Restructure the iPad Lineup

· · Analysis

iPad Pro with Apple Pencil

A recent report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Quo suggests that Apple appears ready to restructure the iPad Product line.  The goal is, apparently, to clearly correlate increasing size and sophistication with price to make sure customers can update or enter the market at the desired level. Ming-Chi Quo believes sales and ASPs will benefit, but there may be more going on. John explains.

A TMO Giveaway: Win a Copy of the Roddenberry Vault on Blu-ray

· · Contest

Rod Roddenberry, as part of his Background Mode interview with The Mac Observer, has generously provided us with three copies of The Roddenberry Vault on Blu-ray.  We’re going to give away these amazing multi-disc packages to three lucky winners. Read on to see how you can win one for your Star Trek library.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with Producer Rod Roddenberry

· · The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast

Rod Roddenberry

Rod Roddenberry is a media producer. The son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, he’s following in his father’s footsteps. It all started when Steve Jobs gave Gene Roddenberry an original Macintosh in 1984, and the young Rod started experimenting with MacPaint. Ever since then, Rod has been an Apple enthusiast. Today, Rod is carrying on his father’s work as a producer, the chief executive of Roddenberry Entertainment and the founder of the Roddenberry Foundation. And he’s currently working with the CBS All Access Star Trek: Discovery. Rod’s foundation funds small grants focused on early-stage unconventional ideas that can disrupt and serve the greater good for mankind. Rod and I chatted about all this plus his passion for preserving the Earth’s oceans.  We covered a lot of ground in this fascinating interview. You won’t want to miss it.

Education May be in Apple’s DNA, But Not in Apple’s Future

· · Particle Debris

Supercomputers, the internet and Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents are coming into full bloom. The future is evolving quickly away from GUI and touch-based methods to AI and voice control.  The implications for our personal computing experience are immense, and it all starts with the fundamentals of how we educate our children.

Sony Does About-Face – Introduces OLED 4K/UHD TV With Dolby Vision

· · Analysis

Sony XBR-A1E 4K/UHD TV

LAS VEGAS — For a long time, Sony has had an excellent reputation for building great TVs. However, until yesterday, only LG was selling those magnificent OLED 4K/UHD TVs. Now, Sony has joined the fray with its own branded OLED 4K/UHD sets, and they’re amazing. And not only HDR but Dolby Vision to boot. The word is… wow.

The Unspoken Limits of Apple’s iPad Are Strangling its Evolution

· · Editorial

iPad Pro & pencil

Like the original 128K Mac, the iPad was conceived as a closed, simple appliance device needing little maintenance. But the original Mac evolved out of its childhood, flourished, and supplanted the Apple II. Today, the iPad is also being strangled by its early vision and limitations.  To supplant the Mac, the iPad has to become not just its equal but dramatically better. John explains.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with EdTech Specialist Phil Shapiro

· · The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast

Phil Shapiro

Phil Shapiro is an EdTech specialist, a strong supporter of public libraries, children’s education, and the technology of learning. Currently he’s the “public geek” at the Tacoma Park, Maryland public library. The child of a UNICEF employee, Phil originally thought that the law might be a good tool to achieve social change, but not so much as he reached adulthood. Having finished law school, he turned his attention to his real passion, journalism and education as a better means of social change. A chance magazine article inspired him to pursue the synthesis of modern computer technology and learning. That evolved into a life-long career in the development of software for education, teaching teachers about tech, support of school Macs for students and the Virginia MUG. If you’re into EdTech, this is a must episode.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with the Editor of IPWatchdog Gene Quinn

· · The Mac Observer's Background Mode Podcast

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a patent attorney and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Today he lectures, writes and helps aspiring patent attorneys and patent agents prepare themselves to pass the patent bar exam. In college, however, Gene’s interest was engineering. An important meeting with a Rutgers professor changed his life, and he graduated with a E.E. degree. Later, with new interests and confidence, he moved into the law. Gene goes into considerable detail about his career progression, having plans, and keeping options open. His first job after his law degree was in litigation, but soon his engineering experience led him into patent law. This is a powerful story about turning your skills and passion into a career when confronted with challenges. Plus, we talk about PCs in law, his current love for Macs and his experiment with the notorious Zune.