Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

The Surface Studio Reviews Have Arrived, and They're Very Positive

· John Martellaro · Link

Microsoft Surface Studio PC

According to CNET, “Microsoft’s ambitious love letter to creative professionals is the touchscreen iMac of your dreams.” That’s the Surface Studio, and the reviews, which are now starting to appear in print, back up the original assessment that this is a beautiful, functional, innovative computer for creative professionals. While not perfect in the first version, it has the capacity to cause these professionals to take Microsoft much more seriously in this market than before.  Page 2 of Particle Debris sizes up this challenge to Apple.

Late Show With Stephen Colbert Pokes Fun at Apple's New Book

· John Martellaro · Cool Stuff Found

Apple new coffee table book: Designed by Apple in California comes in two sizes, 13-inch at US$199 and 16-inch at $299, and both contain some 450 photographs of Apple products that look back over the years. What’s not to like? Still, these days, Apple’s self-conscious celebration of its past does open it up to some playful parody. Watch this glorious send up of the Apple book by the Late Show. All in good fun, of course.

Apple Has the Experience to Make an AR Bombshell Come True

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

Augmented Reality (AR)

From time to time, we get really excited about some new gadget from Google. But then we discover later that there’s long way to go to make it a successful consumer product. On the other hand, Apple is the kind of company that can productize a great new technology. Perhaps the Apple Watch has given Apple new confidence that it can do the same for AR.

Brydge 12.9 Aluminum Keyboard for iPad Pro Exudes Class

· John Martellaro · In-Depth Review

Brydge 12.9 Keyboard for iPad Pro

Apple has waxed enthusiastic about keyboards for the iPad and now offers its own. But the design may not be for everyone. If you’ve been thinking about a sturdy, aluminum keyboard/case for your iPad Pro, one that makes it look (and function) very much like a MacBook, then you’ll want to read John’s review of the Brydge 12.9 model for iPad Pro.

Is the New 15-inch MacBook Pro THAT Much Faster than the 13-inch?

· John Martellaro · Cool Stuff Found

Bare Feats writes: “Both with the best processor, 16 GB of RAM, 1 TB flash storage, but different GPU. Is the 15-inch with Quad-Core processor and discrete GPU really that much faster? Is it worth the extra $$$, size, and weight?” Their test results show that for “21% more, the extra $$$ buys you a bigger screen, an average of 40% faster performance running CPU intensive pro apps, and an average of 110% faster running GPU intensive pro apps.” Quad-Core and discrete graphics always wins. But if you had any doubts, check out these performance tests.

Is the New 15-inch MacBook Pro THAT Much Faster than the 13-inch?

Apple's Tradition of Always Building the Best Doesn't Fit with Current Apple TV

· John Martellaro · Editorial

4th gen Apple TV with Siri

Apple was, it seemed, somewhat late with the 4th generation 1080p Apple TV that shipped in October of 2015. Not delivering at 4K device at that time could be forgiven because High Dynamic Range (HDR) specs hadn’t been formalized during its development. But for the holidays of 2016, most all the 4K/UHD TVs have HDR. The new Roku has HDR. So what is Apple thinking?  John, as always, ponders the situation.

HP Exploits Apple’s Mac Pro Void with New Z2 Mini

· John Martellaro · Analysis

HP Z2 mini

Hewlett-Packard has announced the Z2 Mini, a powerful but compact desktop computer aimed at technical and creative professionals in CAD, finances, OEM and education. With the option for an Intel Xeon quad-core CPU, up to 32 GB of RAM, Linux/Win10 support and a model with support for six displays, the Z2 Mini can meet the needs of many professionals on the desktop who don’t need a high-end Z workstation. Most importantly, it’s part of HP’s concerted effort to exploit a vacuum Apple has created on the desktop.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with Creator & Host of The MacCast Podcast Adam Christianson

· John Martellaro · Background Mode Podcast

Adam Christianson on Background Mode

Adam Christianson is the creator and host of the acclaimed MacCast podcast. Adam is also the very awesome webmaster for The Mac Observer. However, Adam didn’t start out in high tech. At an early age, he wanted to become a cartoonist, inspired by Garfield’s creator Jim Davis. In high school, somewhat wiser, he transitioned to graphic design. Later, Adam attended Cal Poly which has a fabulous art and graphics design program. Early in his career, Adam gained experience in eCommerce and web mastering with Upper Deck, Corp. learning HTML, Perl, CGI forms, Visual BASIC and C#. However, by 2004, he’d discovered that his true love was tech talk and podcasting, and The MacCast was born. Adam was able to use his career skills to follow his dream, and he’s still living it today.

Why Absolutely Secure Encryption is Essential for a Free People

· John Martellaro · Link

Cyber security graphic.

There’s a huge difference between a guaranteed secure communication and one that is feared to be compromised.  In the former, people and governments are truly free to share and negotiate. In the latter, suspicion and fear color all conversations and stymie progress. And it always seems that encryption compromises to catch the bad guys end up being justified against political enemies as well. This article at The Guardian makes the case for absolute privacy, using WhatsApp. It does so in a very direct, compelling way in the context of international diplomacy. It’s all on page 2 of Particle Debris.

How to Talk to Extraterrestrials: The Linguist Behind the Movie 'Arrival'

· John Martellaro · Cool Stuff Found

Extraterrestrials arrive. They don’t appear hostile, but the DoD has no idea what they want or how to communicate with them. That’s the premise behind the intelligent, highly praised movie Arrival. Amy Adams plays an expert linguist who’s called upon to assist with communication with the visitors.  In this interview, Dr. Kiki Sanford (who was recently on TMO’s Background Mode), chats with the actual linguist/consultant to the movie, Dr. Jessica Coon, an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at McGill University. You’ll want to see the movie, and this interview sets the stage.

How to Talk to Extraterrestrials: The Linguist Behind the Movie ‘Arrival’

Why Is There So Much Pain Extracting Truth From Apple?

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

Apple Media Invitation

Astonishingly, Apple creates unnecessary problems for itself. Locked in the old era, modern Apple executive thinking continues to focus on drama while excising important elements of its vision. That leads to pain, criticism, and disaffection with Apple.  It wouldn’t be hard to avoid all that these days. John explains.

The Story of Breaking the Sound Barrier, First Time

· John Martellaro · Cool Stuff Found

Until October 14, 1947, no human had piloted an aircraft faster than the speed of sound in level flight. At the time, some believed that it was a true barrier, hence the name, making it technically impossible. Others thought it might be possible, but aerodynamic forces would quickly break up the aircraft. And then, Chuck Yeager proved them wrong in the rocket propelled Bell X-1 on that glorious October day. (Jet engines were not yet powerful enough.) We learned a lot about supersonic flight in the coming years: the “area rule” concept, the advantages of a swept wing, and the all-flying tail. Here’s a very cool story of how it all happened by Popular Mechanics, a reprint from a 40th anniversary article. (Image credit: NASA)

The Story of Breaking the Sound Barrier, First Time

iOS 10: Airplane Mode Doesn't Turn Off All Radios (GPS, NFC)

· John Martellaro · Analysis

Rendering of GPS satellite

With iOS 8.2 and earlier, Airplane mode in iOS would turn off all four radios in an iPhone: Bluetooth, Cellular, GPS and Wi-Fi. Starting in iOS 8.3, that changed with GPS. Plus, starting with iPhone 6, NFC is not disabled either.

Mosh/SSH for iOS Has Arrived

· John Martellaro · Cool Stuff Found

Mosh (Mobile Shell) is a remote terminal shell that goes beyond SSH and can replace it. Mosh allows roaming, supports intermittent connectivity, and provides intelligent local echo and line editing of user keystrokes. It’s an open source project on GitHub, and now it’s available for iOS called Blink (iPhone and iPad). It’s fairly expensive, but designed all out for professional users—with the emphasis on speed. UNIX geeks with iPads rejoice.

Mosh/SSH for iOS Has Arrived

Alyssa Carson, 15, is Ready To Go To Mars

· John Martellaro · Cool Stuff Found

Are you ready to go to Mars? Alyssa Carson, 15, is, She’s just the right age, born into the Mars generation. She’s completely focused and has already started training for the mission. She’s been to every NASA Space Camp, obtained her scuba diving license, is taking college college level courses in high school, and speaks four languages. This video introduces us to a young woman with so much drive and talent, she’ll probably be the first human being to walk on the Red Planet.

TMO Background Mode: Interview with Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford

· John Martellaro · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Kiki Sanford

Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist with a Ph.D from U.C. Davis. She’s a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science podcast and radio show. She grew up in the country, and that ignited her interest in wildlife preservation. Early in her career, she obtained her B.S. degree in conservation biology, a field that covers animals, their environment and how humans impact them. Finding post-doctoral research unappealing, she shifted to her current role as a brilliant science communicator. We chatted about her prior research into the brains of small birds, how they store memories, and how they navigate during migration. We also delved into neuro-gaming as well as the perils of being exposed to sophisticated AI agents. After hearing this show, you’ll want to become a scientist too!

Apple's Hit and Miss Affair with TV

· John Martellaro · Link

4th gen Apple TV with Siri

It almost seems that time has passed Apple by. Back in 2012, the 3rd gen Apple TV with 1080p support was a decent little set-top box. Since then, the TV industry has raced forward. Content providers have developed new delivery modes and strategies, and the broadcast and display technologies have advanced as well. Apple, however, seems to have frittered its time away and failed to advance its vision and its hardware. In fact, Yoni Heisler at BGR makes the case that Apple has no idea what it’s doing. The discussion is on page 3 of Particle Debris.

No Wonder McLaren's Technology Center Caught Apple's Eye

· John Martellaro · Cool Stuff Found

You’ve probably read about the McLaren supercars in car magazines. Or seen them on BBC’s Top Gear. While the cars are amazing, what’s equally amazing is the McLaren Technology Center in Woking, Surrey England which opened in 2004. New Atlas has the story and lots of photos. That reflecting pool warms the building in the winter and cools it in the summer.  We heard rumors that Apple’s car project may have had some talks with McLaren. That building alone is enough to catch anyone’s attention, let alone the car research that goes on inside. It’s perhaps the second coolest building on the planet after Apple’s Campus 2.

No Wonder McLaren’s Technology Center Caught Apple’s Eye

Apple’s Mac Lineup: Judge, Jury and Execution

· John Martellaro · Particle Debris

A woman using Touch Bar on MacBook Pro

This week, there has been a boatload of commentary about Apple’s October 27 “hello again” event. And then Apple SVP Phil Schiller responded in an interview. John takes a look at the most persuasive arguments both for (defendants) and against (prosecutions) of Apple’s approach to the Mac and the event presentation itself. Finally, he offers his verdict.