Pad & Quill launched a new line of leather and wood desk accessories aimed at Apple users. This includes a leather desk pad ($174.95), a leather mouse pad ($49.95), and a Wooden Apple Pencil Holder ($39.95). I like Pad & Quill’s products, and I definitely like leather and wood. This product line jumped out at me—now if I could only have a desk that was neat and tidy enough for such things. Everything is discounted for the introduction at the above-mentioned prices, and there are other products in the series, too.
Andy Hertzfeld from Steve Jobs’s original Macintosh team will be presenting a keynote address at Vintage Computer Festival Southeast 5.0 in Roswell, Georgia. The event takes place on April 29th and 30th, and Mr. Hertzfeld will be speaking on April 29th. This event is dedicated to vintage computers and includes booths, consignments, hands-on activities, exhibits, concessions, and speakers. In addition to Mr. Hertzfeld, Tandy executive Don French will be offering his own keynote presentation. Andy Hertzfeld left Apple in 1984, and in the years since he cofounded Radius (1986), General Magic (1990) and Eazel (via Wikipedia). He also took a lead role in the creation of Google+. Admission for the event is $10 for one day and $15 for two days. Kids 17 and under get in free with a parent or guardian, and students get in free with an ID. The pic below is of Steve Wozniak and Andy Hertzfeld from back in the day.
Alphabet’s driverless car company—Waymo—announced an “Early Rider” program for its driverless cars. The company has invited the general public to apply to be part of the program, saying “We’re searching for early riders in parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. Come join us in making it safer and easier for everyone to get around!” The feel-good video below features a family that participated in small-scale tests, and Waymo said it would accept a “limited number” of additional participants in the expanded program. Alphabet CEO Larry Page has been an enthusiastic pursuer of driverless car technology since before Google, and Waymo’s goal is to launch a ride-hailing service based on its driverless platform. Apple, Didi, Uber, and a variety of other tech companies are all invested in a similar vision. Waymo’s testing in Arizona is a sharp reminder that a driverless future is marching inexorably closer. You can apply at Waymo’s site.
Smart thermostat maker ecobee is teasing its upcoming ecobee4, which is set to debut on May 3rd. The new model is rumored to include a built-in microphone and speaker with Amazon Alexa voice control built-in. ecobee4 will reportedly have a sleeker, yet familiar, design and the separate room sensors are said to be silver instead of white. The company also lowered the ecobee3 price ahead of next week’s announcement from US$249 to $199. That’s a pretty sweet deal for a full-features smart thermostat that’s also HomeKit compatible. If you want to follow along with ecobee’s announcements next Wednesday you’ll need to head over to the company’s Facebook page.
The Slate wrap from Slickwraps crossed my desk a few days ago, and the thing is that it stuck with me. I find it compelling. Attractive. It’s a study in textured blacks, and I do like black cases and covers for my devices (YMMV). Slickwraps has been knocking it out of the part with their wraps lately, too. In any event, the company is calling this a limited edition, and say that it protects from minor scratches and small drops. They have them for iPhones, several Android devices (if that’s your thing), and even a MacBook. The ones for smartphone are priced at US$24.95.
I love Rube Goldberg machines. We’ve seen some very clever ones in recent year, but how many have come with their own narrative theme song and an action adventure story? Enter Biisuke Ball’s Big Adventure Part 2 [via Sploid]. It’s a Rube Goldberg machine where three balls go on a well-timed adventure, complete with the afore-mentioned narrative theme song. It’s in Japanese, but there are subtitles, and the real magic is in the ingenious machine. Enjoy!
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.
Apple is working hard on finishing Apple Park, the so-called spaceship HQ. It’s expected to open in the next several weeks, and new drone footage from YouTuber Duncan Sinfield shows what he called “finishing touches.” There are shots of the trees being planted, inside work through the glorious windows, and more. It’s an excellent look at just how far Apple Park has come since an ailing Steve Jobs pitched it to the Cupertino City Council.
Apple is offering a fantastic US$40 deal on a six-movie bundle featuring The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as The Hobbit trilogy. Called the Middle-Earth Extended Editions 6-Film Collection, the HD movies are all extended editions, which means they have extra scenes and details you couldn’t see in theaters. The Middle Earth bundle includes: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. We don’t know how long this deal will last, so if you’re a Tolkien fan and don’t have the movies yet, take advantage of this deal today.
Google updated its Google Maps app for iOS Monday. Version 4.30’s chief new feature is turn-by-turn directions on the lock screen courtesy of a Directions widget. With that widget, users can arrow through each direction in any active route from the lock screen or the Today view (swipe left on the Home Screen). Users can also send their location via Google Maps through iMessage. Both features give Google Maps a dramatically more integrated experience in iOS, erasing some of the pain points of not being the built-in Maps service for Apple’s mobile operating system. The Directions widget will need to be added to your lock screen, while the location feature is available through iMessage. The update is free, meaning you remain the product.
The collective heartbreak when Carrie Fisher died in December was felt around the world. The Star Wars channel on YouTube has posted a wonderful “Tribute to Carrie Fisher” that is beyond delightful and amazing. It spans the decades of her involvement with Star Wars, including some outtakes, interviews, and scenes from the movies. Enjoy, and remember, if anyone asks: you were chopping onions.
Former Vice President Al Gore and Apple Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson are teaming up for a climate-focused discussion at Apple’s Union Square store in San Francisco on Wednesday, April 19th. The two will talk about climate optimism, Earth Day initiatives, and more. The event is free, but you need to RSVP to attend. Their discussion starts at 7PM pacific time and odds are it’ll fill up quickly. If you want to attend, head over to Apple’s website and RSVP now.
The trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out! And boy, oh boy, but it’s wonderful. The next installment of the Star Wars franchise is expected in March, and this trailer has me champing at the bit. Check it out.
It’s easy to draw, write, and sketch on the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, but it just doesn’t feel the same as when you put a real pen or pencil to paper. It’s slippery, too glossy, and feels like plastic. Furthermore, the Apple Pencil just doesn’t float across the screen the way a good pencil does on high-quality paper. A project on Kickstarter aims to solve that dilemma. The project is PaperLike, and the moniker really fits. The inventor has tried a bunch of different styli and screen protectors, and nothing felt quite right. That’s why he decided to make his own. In addition to making the iPad Pro feel like plastic, the overlay also reduces glare, eliminates fingerprints, and protects your screen from scratches. PaperLike will ship in June 2017, and you can get yours early for 17 Euros.
Smile PDFpen 9 and PDFpen Pro 9 for the Mac are out, and are loaded with more than 100 new features. The new versions improve annotations, and table of contents editing; export to JPG, PNG, 1-bit TIFF, and flattened PDF, plus exporting to several resolutions; can make and open links in other files, and supports forms with calculations; improves font smoothing, and more. PDFpen Pro is my go-to PDF editing app and it’s much easier to use than Adobe Acrobat. PDFpen 9 costs US$74.95 and PDFpen Pro 9 is $124.95. The upgrades for both cost $30 and are free if you purchased after January 1st, 2017. You can download demo versions at the Smile website.
Slickwraps has a new wrap for your iPhone that kicks it beige. Well, plus 6 colors. Whatever, it’s old school, with Apple’s original logo and a beige color harkening back to the Apple ][. They’re versions for iPhone 5S/SE to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, all priced at $19.84. See what they did there? The wrap comes with a front and back piece, each of which adheres to your iPhone and is designed to be removable. I’ve no idea if this is licensed, but I’ve a hunch that if you want one of these wraps you should get it sooner, rather than later. Slickwraps called it a limited run, too. As a huge fan of the original Apple logo, I think these are the bee’s knees.