Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

TMO Background Mode: Interview with Astrophysicist Dr. Christine Corbett Moran

· · Background Mode Podcast

Christine Corbett Moran

Dr. Christine C. Moran is an astrophysicist who specializes in computational astrophysics, high performance computing and big data visualization. She’s interested in the gravitational force, which she’s described as the most beautiful and mysterious of all of nature’s fundamental forces. In her undergraduate life, she studied both physics and philosophy, great background for her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Zurich. Along the way, she’s also worked for, notably, SpaceX and the M.I.T. Media Lab. She’s also a Mac user and iOS app developer. We talked about her interest in gravity, computation, and hobbies: flying and martial arts (Kung Fu). Also, in November, 2016, she returned from the South Pole (radio) telescope where she did research on the Cosmic Microwave Background. Come take a cosmic journey with John and Christine as she tells her story.

How to Stop Your New TV From Spying On You

· · Particle Debris

Eye Spy on Your TV

Recently, Vizio agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission and the state of New Jersey a total of US$2.2M to settle a complaint that it spied on its TV customers. It’s an unexpected and sorry state of affairs when a new, beautiful, expensive 4K/UHD TV is also reporting on your viewing habits. John offers some advice on how to put a stop to that spying.

How do We Assess Our Beliefs About Apple?

· · Analysis

Black hole absorbing a star

Apple is a real company, producing real products and there are quantifiable facts about the company. How well we create a picture of Apple as a company depends on how we assess the reliability of our understanding. That means looking at certain facts with keen understanding and, more importantly, updating our estimations based on new facts. John, as you might expect, gets into physics and Bayesian logic. But don’t worry. It’s a fun ride.

Renogy: Solar Panel, Hefty Battery, Lots of Ports in a Small Suitcase

· · Cool Stuff Found

This new product caught my eye because its so darn cool. Consider: a replaceable Li-ion 16 amp-hour battery in a nifty suitcase (16 x 12 x 4 inches), 13 lbs, with 2 x 10 watt solar panels built into the lid that can charge it in about six hours. Outputs include 110 volts AC, 2 x 12 volts DC and 4 x USB (6 amps). You can also charge it from your car or AC power. The battery packs enough energy to charge an iPad Air six times, an iPhone 32 times or a small notebook five times (40 W-h). Perfect for the camper, and it’s now available, under $600.00.

Renogy: Solar Panel, Hefty Battery, Lots of Ports in a Small Suitcase

You Can Never Be Too Thin. Unless You’re a MacBook Pro

· · Link

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

MacBook Pros have been getting thinner and thinner. From an aesthetic, handling, weight and evolutionary standpoint, thinner is better. However, when does an unhealthy obsession with thinness interfere with great engineering? Is a MacBook Pro that’s too thin get in the way of features, performance and adequate ports? Would two extra millimeters of thickness enhance battery life enough to make the pro customer smile with enthusiasm?  When does the obsession stop? John elaborates on page 2 of Particle Debris.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with with Tech Community Facilitator Jonathan Bernstein

· · Background Mode Podcast

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is an attorney. He’s an Apple product expert. He’s worked for the Federal Election Commission. He’s on the board of directors of the legendary Washington, D.C. Apple Pi Users Group. He’s involved with the Silver Spring, Maryland Citizens Advisory Board where he’s active in facilitating communication between citizens and local government. Oh, my. After Jonathan told me a little bit about his background, being the son of a rabbi father and pediatrician mother, it soon became clear where his roots of public service originated. Out of law school, he clerked for a judge in the U.S. Claims Court, and that eventually connected him to the FEC. We chatted about Jonathan’s unique gift for bringing people together utilizing technology. He’ll inspire you with collaboration methods you never realized were possible.

Apple Applies for Patent: Wearable Apple Watch Battery

· · Cool Stuff Found

Depending on usage and the watchOS version, most Apple Watch users find themselves routinely charging their watch every night out of caution or necessity. But what if one is camping and has no access to electrical power? Or otherwise unable to charge the Apple Watch as expected. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an interchangeable Apple Watch band that could provide backup power? A good collection of bands means one could wear the AW all the time, says our Bryan Chaffin, and that means opportunity for sleep tracking, says our Jeff Gamet. Patently Apple (thanks guys) has the story. This would be great news if Apple pursues it.

Apple Applies for Patent: Wearable Apple Watch Battery

Tim Cook: The iPhone Hasn't Reached Tech Maturity, Has Room to Grow

· · Analysis

iPhone7 lineup - tops

Some observers have suggested that the smartphone is at the end of its technical life. They say it’s time to move on to the Next Big Thing. During Apple’s Q1 2017 Earnings Report, an analyst asked Tim Cook about the future of the iPhone. Has it reached technical maturity? Will we continue to see new features? Here’s how Tim Cook responded. Plus John’s analysis.

Apple's Tortoise Races Amazon's Hare for Home Automation Dominance

· · Link

Home automation

Apple has chosen to take a steady, if slow, approach to home automation focusing on licensing, security, and no high-profile, fixed device like Amazon’s Echo & Dot. As a result, Reuters author Stephen Nellis observes: “Still, it’s not clear whether Apple’s elaborate but slow-to-develop system will have enough advantages to overcome Amazon’s widening lead.” The discussion starts on page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with Science Journalist and Author Maryn McKenna

· · Background Mode Podcast

Maryn McKenna is a science journalist and author. Her undergraduate degree was in 16th century theater and 20th century poetry. That led to a small theater company, but after a few years, she realized that a paying job would be a very good idea. When Maryn realized she really wanted to be a writer, she was off to graduate school and journalism. After graduation, she discovered that the only jobs in journalism were business related. That led to a career in investigative journalism and eventually, she landed with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the CDC. In time, Maryn became an expert on bioterrorism, the over use of antibiotics with both humans and animals, superbugs, food policy and the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. (Yes, that’s real.) Her stories, at times, were scary, so brace yourself.

How Can We Tell if Our Love for Apple is Logical or Biased?

· · Particle Debris

Apple is our most favored company for perfectly good reasons. Or so we think. And yet there are people who despise the company. How can both attitudes be right?  The reason for this duality may depend on a particular kind of thinking called cognitive bias. John Martellaro explains. Or, at least, he thinks he’s explaining.

Apple's Solar Power Plants Igniting U.S. Clean Energy Economy

· · Analysis

A solar power farm.

Apple is very much into solar power. The company has made a commitment to clean energy and has been building many solar power plants both in the U.S. and China. John looked into Apple’s efforts with solar energy and its new and notable installations. The physicist in him puts what Apple is doing in perspective.

When Should a Robot just Say "No!"

· · Link

I, Robot (the movie)

Should there be occasions when advanced AI’s, especially robots or androids, refuse a command by a human being?  Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (mostly) dictate the rules, assuming the robot has been programmed with that in mind.  However, there are nuances worth further discussion, and they depend some very sophisticated, nuanced thinking (and predictions) by the robot. It’s all on page 2 of Particle Debris.

 

TMO Background Mode: Interview with 9News/KUSA TV Anchor/Reporter Kyle Clark

· · Background Mode Podcast

Kyle Clark

Kyle Clark is a 9News TV news anchor and reporter in Denver. His parents were both teachers and, early on, inspired him to learn and then explain to others. When Kyle was in grade school, his father gave him an Apple IIGS and encouraged him to learn about it. By and by, Kyle learned to use computers not as a pastime but as a tool. He majored in journalism and politics as an undergraduate, and, later, work at a small radio station convinced him he wanted to be in broadcasting. Today, in addition to being a Channel 9 news anchor, he’s launched a 30 minute news analysis show called Next. His show brings understanding, context, and a sense of community to the news. Listen in to hear how he convinced his station to embrace his successful, Next idea.

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