Page 2 – The Tech News Debris for the Week of July 4th

What if Apple had stayed with supercomputer tech?

This next item is mentioned here because Apple, just over a decade ago, was very much into supercomputers. Companies were building large supercomputers with Xserves and smaller compute clusters with them as well. But Apple got out of that business and then discontinued the Xserve. One can only wonder what the impact would have been if Apple had elected to maintain its in-house expertise with supercomputers.

NASA supercomputer

Image credit: TechCrunch

There would be implications for product design, artificial intelligence, robotics, medicine, (as IBM has done with Watson) and big data market analysis just to name a few. And so, as inspiration, I’ll point to what one of Apple’s major customers is doing with its own supercomputer technology: “NASA’s newly upgraded Pleiades supercomputer delves into the mysteries of star formation.

Eleven years ago, Apple foresaw that the iPhone, on the drawing boards, would be the next big thing. But what about beyond that? Today, it’s the battle of the Big Tech Company Minds, and the one with the best supercomputer power will have a competitive edge.

And just as race car experience and technology trickle down into excellence in a car company’s regular product line, supercomputer experience also lends itself to building the very best desktop Macs with AI technology. It all ties together.

Next. Here’s an interesting story about what happens when a security expert writes a product review at Amazon. The intent was to alert the readers to a serious problem, but then a company employee begged the expert to remove the review. Or get fired. See: “Security researcher gets threats over Amazon review.

It appears that the review stands, but the fact that the developer even tried what it tried is sobering.

For those who may be wondering what’s in store when (if) Apple goes all digital with the iPhone 7’s audio out, via Lightning, here’s some good speculation about what the future may hold. “Here’s what Apple’s future Lightning headphones will be able to do that normal headphones can’t.

Apple has two different security measures: “Two-step verification” and “Two-factor authentication.” Dan Moren, writing at Six Colors, explains the difference, how they work, and how to upgrade form the former to the latter. “Doing the two-step: Switching to Apple’s two-factor authentication.

I write here about things that affect Apple, even though they are a bit on the periphery. In this case, I am recalling how Apple initially declined to have Netflix available on the Apple TV—until Netflix became too large a force to be reckoned with. Then Apple relented. Now something similar has happened to Comcast. “Cable Shocker: Comcast to Offer Direct Access to Netflix.” In a joint statement, the announced:

Comcast and Netflix have reached an agreement to incorporate Netflix into X1, providing seamless access to the great content offered by both companies. We have much work to do before the service will be available to consumers later this year. We’ll provide more details at that time.”

Home Media Magazine concluded, “The decision is significant considering Comcast’s scope, underscoring the emerging power of, and consumer demand for, streaming video.” Wow. Just wow.

Here’s a nice recap by Jonny Evans on how Apple is making macOS and iOS work better together, not merging them. “mac/wwdc-5-new-ways-apple-s-devices-work-together.html">WWDC: 5 new ways Apple’s devices work together.” I am actually quite pleased with the announced features of macOS Sierra. That is, instead of gobs of new features that de-stabilize the OS, we get needed additions that really do make our lives better. Thanks Apple.

Finally, what does Apple have up its sleeve with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)? This next article looks at what Apple seems to be doing, comments by Tim Cook and patents to decipher what Apple may be thinking. And how it might give the company a post-Apple Watch boost. It’s speculative, but then it’s also fairly solid writing. “AAPL Stock: This Little Device Could Be Huge for Apple Inc.

One of the things to remember about Apple is that many companies develop technology and throw things out to see what sticks. On the other hand, Apple’s consistently excellent product vision and taste lead to the exploitation of technology that leaves us so very pleased and the competition speechless.

The Apple car is years away, and this might Apple’s Next Big Thing in an especially unexpected implementation.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.

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John, you’re dreaming (and listening to far too many rumors). The MacBook Air is the sweet spot for the low end entry level laptop. It is in its prime. Do you really think they’ll ditch this one because it doesn’t have a Retina display? Heck, they’re still selling my 13″ MacBook Pro that I bought in 2013 and was designed in mid-2012. The Mac mini is the server for the rest of us. Sure, the latest model doesn’t come with a quad core anymore and the RAM isn’t upgradeable, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead, just not at the front… Read more »


I agree to keep the Mac Mini. I do not want/need a laptop, I don’t want an iMac as I already have dual 24″ monitors (which may be upgraded to one new 34″ ultra-wide). While I would love a Mac Pro it is way overpowered and priced for my needs. Now if the Mac Pro were brought down a decent chunk under $2K we can talk about dumping the Mini.


I can see the need for certain changes in the product line. MacBook Air and MacBook pros no longer have a significant difference, so may as well revamp the Air line to compete with Chromebooks, which could also include a name change and “MacBook Air” goes bye-bye. OTOH, why get rid of the name? The general public already views the Air as a relatively inexpensive, high quality, entry level portable computer. Redesign it so it can compete with the Chromebook , but keep the name. Maybe add an “e” to indicate it is specifically designed for the education market, like… Read more »


I too want Apple to keep the Mac Mini, or its evolutionary successor. With a Cinema Display with plenty of remaining life, I replaced my 8 year old Mini in late 2014. I still do most of my computer use with a Mac, and the Mac Mini is an inexpensive, efficient way to run the latest macOS. etc. The power is good, and laptop compromises (like keyboard, etc) don’t have to be made. And aren’t Mac Minis still used as servers on the web? With regard to your report of the less expensive iOS controlled light switch, I can envision… Read more »


If anything needs to change, it’s the Mac Pro. Imagine an automaker whose flagship sports car could be competently challenged by their family crossover, in the same model year and for less money. Yeah, ouch.

IMO, for some time now the role of the Macintosh has been to develop apps and content for iOS. Any other use is secondary to that. Just wish Apple would say so directly, instead of letting the entire Mac line sit in limbo like it has.


I agree with Paul. When Apple last updated the mini I immediately went online and purchased the best 2012 model I could find. The Mac Mini was, by far the most flexible desktop ever made!

Paul Goodwin

It’s really too bad they screwed up the Mini. It used to be the most flexible, with expandable memory. There’s less to love about it now.


With Apple, I certainly wouldn’t rule anything out for their future plans. Concentration on mobile is a given; as with all follow-the-money scenarios, we’re definitely going to see them continue to find more innovative ways to integrate multiple devices, such as cloud-based clipboard coming in Sierra. As far as the three mentioned, this is my suggestion/take: MacBook Air: Either eliminated or slightly updated & repackaged as an “eBook Air” to compete against Chrome machines, as mentioned. Mac Mini: While it has unquestionably surpassed its original purpose and doesn’t make much money, it still has value. Hell, it wasn’t that long… Read more »


Apple should keep the Mac mini.
It’s a useful basic Mac for folks what already have a Monitor they like or that connect a Mac mini to a TV and use a bluetooth keyboard/mouse.