Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

Tidbits Managing Editor Josh Centers (#5) - TMO Background Mode Interview

· · Background Mode Podcast

Josh Centers on Background Mode.

Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of and has published many Take Control (TC) books. He’s the author of Take Control of Apple TV and Take Control of Home Automation. He’s been writing the Take Control books for iOS since version 8, and his latest book is Take Control of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.

In his fifth appearance on the show, Josh and I explored his latest article (Aug. 30) at Tidbits that explores a controversial user interface issue in iOS 13. Josh is blunt about Apple’s questionable use of the ellipsis. We then took a 30,000 ft. view of the current disarray in the area of IoT, home automation and security. As an aside, Josh and I hypothesize about a new Apple product. We finished with a discussion of what sets iPadOS 13 apart from iOS 13.

Prepare Your iPhone for Hurricane Conditions

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Apple Maps redesign coming with iOS 12

USA Today has a list of excellent tips on how to prepare your smartphone for disaster conditions.

If you’re preparing for a hurricane, your survival plan should include your smartphone. But you’ll want to do a few things in advance to make sure it will work, and actually be helpful in an emergency. And it’s a good time to remember: you won’t be able to rely on your mobile device for everything.

The author’s checklist is impeccable.

Astronomer Dr. Clay Sherrod (#2) - TMO Background Mode Interview

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Clay Sherrod on Background Mode

Dr. Clay Sherrod’s astronomical studies began, soon after his Ph.D. work, in 1970 with the Arkansas Sky, Inc., his private non-profit and educational research and educational program. Although now retired, the work, publications and outreach from him via the Arkansas Sky Observatory ranks among the top in private non-profit facilities.

In his second appearance on the show, Clay and I talked about his latest book which covers the entire spectrum of the change in the Earth’s climate. We noted that climate science has deep roots into the planet’s history and is based on the scientific method. Not everyone speaks the language of science, and so it’s important to identify authoritative sources that can be trusted. We tried to cover as many aspects as we could to deliver a broad picture of the perils facing the Earth.

The Origins of Unix - Now 50 Years Old

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Apple UNIX

ars technica has posted at terrific story by Richard Jensen on the origins of the Unix operating system back in the late 1960s.

Maybe its pervasiveness has long obscured its origins. But Unix, the operating system that in one derivative or another powers nearly all smartphones sold worldwide, was born 50 years ago from the failure of an ambitious project that involved titans like Bell Labs, GE, and MIT.

A derivative of the original Unix OS, in the family tree of BSD, is the basis for macOS, iOS, and is even running in your Apple Watch.

It's Almost Crunch Time. R.I.P. Python 2

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Python featured image.

TechRepublic writes:

With just four months to go until support ends for Python 2, there are still some developers and projects that haven’t made the switch to Python 3….

The pressure to make the move is growing, with the Python 2 interpreter and bundled libraries due to cease receiving bug fixes from January 1st 2020.

This article describes the impact of the Jan 1st cutoff and steps to take for a successful migration to Python 3.

For more information about scripting language support in macOS Catalina, see: “macOS 10.15 Catalina Deprecates UNIX Scripting Languages.

Archaeologist Dr. Sarah Parcak - TMO Background Mode Interview

· · Background Mode Podcast

Sarah Parcak on Background Mode.

Dr. Sarah Parcak is an archaeologist, anthropologist, Egyptologist, and remote sensing expert who has used satellite imaging to identify potential archaeological sites in Egypt, Rome, and elsewhere. She’s written the first textbook in the field of satellite archaeology, called Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology. She holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge University in Egyptian Archaeology and is currently at the Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham.

Sarah told me how she became fascinated by Egyptology at an early age. And, yes, she was influenced by Indiana Jones. In college, inspired by her father’s aerial photogrammetry work, she took a remote sensing class, and that gave her the idea years later, to use NASA satellite photos to identify prospective archaeological sites. These satellite photos can also reveal signs of looting. Sarah described how climate change and poor funding is adversely affecting the science of archaeology.

If There Really is an iPhone 'Pro' Coming, Just How Will it be so?

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Once you name a product “Pro,” you have a lot of explaining to do. At 9to5Mac, Ben Lovejoy explains, referring to a previous post.

Just the idea of a ‘Pro’ iPhone is a little annoying.

Don’t misunderstand me. Modern iPhones are amazing devices. There was a time when such a powerful and flexible pocket computer would have stretched the credibility of science fiction stories, yet we now take them totally for granted.

And they are sometimes used for professional purposes. There are, for example, all those ‘Shot on iPhone’ movies and ads. But let’s not kid ourselves about those. The reasons for shooting on iPhone have little to do with it being a ‘pro’ device.

And Now For the Downside of the Apple Card

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Apple Card

There have been some rave reviews of the Apple Card. But, in the end, it’s a credit card with the usual, attendant downsides. Michael Simon at Macworld brings us back to earth.

While the Apple Card might be filled with the delightful little details that we’ve come to expect from Apple—beautiful spending trackers, an animated digital card that reflects light as if you were holding it, privacy and security at the forefront—at its core, Apple Card is still a credit card backed by a bank that will charge you interest if you don’t pay on time….

With Apple Card, Apple may be selling you something that could end up costing you way more than an iPhone—or a Mac Pro for that matter.

A Frank and Thorough Assessment of the Apple Card

· · TMO Deals

Raymond Wong at Mashable has put the Apple Card through its paces: application process, convenience, UI, benefits, cash back, APR, payments, security and iPhone lock-in. If you’re on the fence about this new credit card, author Wong has every detail covered.

The Bottom Line: Apple Card is a credit card experience unlike any other, but it’ll tempt you to stick with Apple devices and services.

Good stuff here. Detailed and systematic.

YouTube's Original Content May be Reacting to 'Subscription Fatigue'

· · TMO Deals

Either YouTube’s original content managers are reacting to consumer ‘subscription fatigue’ or they’ve somehow learned of Apple’s (possible) plans for its Apple TV+ service to be free to Apple hardware customers. Or Disney’s recent announcements have taken the wind out of their sails. (sales?) PC Magazine writes:

YouTube’s original series, movies, and live events will be available for free starting Sept. 24. Here’s the catch: non-paying viewers will see ads when watching this content, and “only select episodes may be available for streaming [for free] at any time,” YouTube said.

The TV original content subscription war is heating up.

Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford (#7) - TMO Background Mode Interview

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Kiki Sanford on Background Mode

Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her seventh appearance on Background Mode. Kiki is a neurophysiologist with a B.S. in conservation biology and a Ph.D. avian neurophysiology from the University of California. She’s a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show.

In this episode, we chat about Elon Musk’s Neuralink, Tardigrades on the Earth’s moon, how Dark Matter may have actually preceded the Big Bang, how older parents tend to have children with fewer behavior problems, the latest findings from the exoplanet hunter, TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and, finally, how climate change is affecting the size of some birds. Dr. Kiki is always a delight to listen to and learn from.