Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

A Fantasy Conversation: Bezos and Cook Chat About Amazon Echo

· · Particle Debris

Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos.

Two very interesting things happened this week. First, we heard that Apple may be making its own Siri-powered Echo-like device, to be announced at WWDC. Later in the week, we heard that Amazon will now bring its video app, Prime Video to the Apple TV. Mere coincidence? John, just for fun, imagines a recent, fictional conversation between Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook.

Why Apple is Letting iPad Sales Drift Downward

· · Editorial

iPad Pro & pencil

Apple has watched the iPad sales numbers drift downward since 2013. Apple has smart executives. The only conclusion John can draw is that in 2013 and again 2015 Apple embarked on an aggressive, multi-phase program to breathe new life into the iPad. It’s just taking some engineering time, and so during each quarterly Earnings Report, CEO Tim Cook just has to roll with the punches until it’s done. John makes his case for a big surprise in store.

Microsoft Launches a New Assault on Apple: Surface Laptop

· · News

Microsoft Surface Laptop

On May 2nd, Microsoft presented its latest product in the Surface family, the Surface Laptop. This is a pure laptop, in the style of Apple’s MacBook line, and has a 13.5-inch display. Notable is the low weight, 2256 x 1504 display, fabric keyboard, four available colors, Windows 10 S and a claimed 14 hour battery life.

How to Distinguish Phony Apple News From the Real Stuff

· · Link

Drone footage shows nearly complete main building at Apple Park campus

Nowadays, it’s a real challenge to find fact-based news and solid analysis about many things, including tech companies like Apple. There are so many voices. Does a lurid article title correlate well to solid research and historical insight? Probably not. Just exactly how does one go about identifying valuable, accurate analysis when it comes to Apple? Those who have learned the ropes know that a specific, experienced author is more important than an article title, and this week, one of those special authors, Daniel Eran Dilger, proves why that’s so. It’s on Page 2 of Particle Debris.

TMO Background Mode Interview with The Mac Observer Co-founder Dave Hamilton

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dave Hamilton

Dave Hamilton is the co-founder, publisher and president of The Mac Observer. He’s also the co-founder of BackBeat Media. And he’s the co-host of the legendary Mac Geek Gab Podcast. Dave’s interest in computers goes back to his high school days and his family’s Apple IIc. As Dave describes it, his talent evolved from “getting into a pickle,” so he had to learn himself how to fix things. At the University of Connecticut, he studied computer engineering, but also discovered his talent and passion for music. “Everything good that’s happened in my life, I can trace back to music,” he said. And that includes The Mac Observer because that’s how he met Bryan Chaffin. Dave The Nerd tells the fascinating story of the creation of this publication with his customary boundless energy.

Apple is Converting Mac Pro From a Fad to a Monster Graphics Platform

· · Editorial

Capt. Picard and Lt. Cmdr Data.

In 2008, the venerable cheese grater Mac Pro was designed for Apple customers who needed high end performance and expandability. In 2013, Apple shifted gears and saw the Mac Pro as an iconic desktop system with great performance if one shared the company’s vision for both industrial design and OpenCL. Now, it appears that Apple sees the Mac Pro as a platform that will support its future initiatives. Can Apple hold to that pattern? That abiding faith in high end computation and visualization? A new trademark filing suggests Apple now sees the light.

How Can Amazon Echo Look Possibly Succeed? It's Easy

· · Analysis

Decision making.

At first glance, the technically and logically minded person would wonder why Amazon thinks that an AI like Alexa, within the new Echo Look, peering into your bedroom and making clothing recommendations would be a hit product. But then one has to understand the psychology of the product. At that point, all becomes clear.

Emergence of Robots Will, Remarkably, Force a Change in iPad Design

· · Editorial

Apple using internal magnets to attach Apple Pencil 2 to iPad Pro

The iPad was developed, in the Macintosh era of maturity, as a simpler alternaive for content consumption. It nicely eliminated the headaches of PC complexity and security concerns. Today, things are radically different, and the need to be able to create content and generate personal revenue is much more pressing than when the iPad was first conceived nearly a decade ago.

Apple's Next Mac Pro Will Require a Change in Design Philosophy

· · Link

2013 Mac Pro.

Apple’s design philosophy for consumer Macs has been that of simplicity, indeed minimalism. Approachable and beautiful. But even the 2008-2012 Mac Pro, designed in the Steve Jobs era, understood the needs of technical and creative professionals. Now that Apple has had time to digest what went wrong with the 2013 Mac Pro, it’s time, according to Marco Arment, to change the design thinking from that of “no!” to that of “yes!”  Versatility should rule. It’s all on page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris.

TMO Background Mode Interview with The Verge Senior Editor Lauren Goode

· · Background Mode Podcast

Lauren Goode is both a Senior Editor at The Verge and the co-host of the podcast Too Embarrassed to Ask. Lauren didn’t start out as a technical person. In high school, she was into competitive basketball and volleyball. But the seeds were evident as she became an expert with a camcorder. Her interest in basketball and English led her to Clark University. There, she developed her passion for writing and soon after she was working in media via cable TV. That’s where her passion for video technology flourished. Later, at the WSJ and AllThingsD Walt Mossberg was her mentor. Today, Lauren writes for The Verge, and we discussed her specialties: wearables, smartphones and apps, and laptop technology. Recently, she’s become involved with an interesting new series about cars, “Screen Drive,” that you’ll very much enjoy.

This Coating is So Black, it Messes With Your Mind [Video]

· · Cool Stuff Found

Here’s the blurb from Mashable: “In 2014, researchers in the UK created the darkest material in the world known as ‘Vantablack.’ Now, they’ve created a spray-on version. Vantablack is so dark that it distorts the shape and form of the objects on which it’s painted.” Absorbing 99.965 percent of visible light, this coating reflects so little, it creates new optical illusions, disguises shapes, and tricks the human eye. You’ve never seen nothing like this. Wile E. Coyote helps with the demonstration.

This Coating is So Black, it Messes With Your Mind [Video]

Why Apple Will Be Using Xeon CPUs in This Fall's "Pro" iMac

· · Analysis

Intel's Xeon logo.

Recently, we learned that Apple may be seriously considering the use of a Xeon CPU in its so-called “server-grade” iMac planned for later this year. There are good technical reasons why the use of the Xeon has entered the discussion in what has traditionally been considered a consumer iMac—in contrast to the Mac Pro which has had Xeons all along. John explains.

Technical Evolution Can Leave Companies Behind That Caused it

· · Link

Technical Evolution

Companies have to be careful about grand projects that don’t serve as a foundation, change rapidly, and sometimes incur legal difficulties. This week’s Particle Debris looks at how Google Book Search foundered from a lack of commitment and legal troubles, VRML morphed into purer VR, the strained evolution of tvOS, cute robots putting laborers out of work, the rapid evolution of self-driving cars, and how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plans to keep his company from a slow, painful demise. These are examples of how technical evolution can double back on the very companies that spawn it.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Computerworld Apple Holic Jonny Evans

· · Background Mode Podcast

Jonny Evans of Background Mode

Jonny Evans is a self-admitted Apple Holic who lives in the UK and writes terrific analysis of Apple for Computerworld. He has a lot to say, and so he also has his own blog called Apple Must. Jonny is one of the most insightful technical journalists to cover Apple. His articles are always compelling and well researched. Amazingly, Jonny started off as road crew for rock & rolls bands. Pretty soon he was organizing and promoting events. The leaflets got more and more sophisticated, and that led him to realize his passion for writing. One day, a writing job opening at Macworld UK appeared, and he landed the gig. In the second segment we covered everything Apple, and Jonny’s informed perspectives really came out. You’ll want to hear what he has to say.

Apple's iPad Fights For the Education Market

· · Particle Debris

Apple using internal magnets to attach Apple Pencil 2 to iPad Pro

The education market is very price sensitive. Three players are in a pitched battle for the right-priced personal computer: Apple (iOS), Google (Chrome OS + Android), and Microsoft (Windows 10 Cloud). These OSes and their implementation on hardware, plus the right kind of marketing and staying power, could determine which company seizes the hearts and minds of schools and students.

Why Apple Should Eventually Build Family Service Robots

· · Editorial

Bluefrogrobotics Buddy

Several things have become clear regarding AIs in our lives. There is little regulation. AIs can be manipulated in clever ways. Small devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo have very indirect business models so that they can be priced for the middle class, but have hidden drawbacks. John wonders where all this will lead with family service robots if Apple doesn’t step in and do it right.