So my old friend Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus made a paperback version of Working Smarter for Mac Users, but he doesn’t want you to buy it. Weird, right? He has his reasons, though, and he made a video (with some cheesy help from yours truly) explaining why. Check it out. And if you haven’t already checked out Working Smarter for Mac Users, you should. I edited this book, and it’s amazeballs. It’s chock full of both Mac productivity tips and Dr. Mac’s techniques for overcoming procrastination. But unlike other productivity systems I’ve read, Bob’s focus is less about “do these things” than it is, “here are different things to try, and here’s how to think about them so you can pick what works for you.” It’s on Amazon ($19.99 Kindle, $29.99 Paperback), iBooks ($19.99), or direct from Bob (where’s a coupon code at the bottom of the page). In the meanwhile, enjoy Bob’s video!
Siri, reciting a snippet of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody after being asked, “Hey, Siri. I see a little silhouetto of a man.” A tip o’ the hat to Guy Serle, who first alerted me to this on Twitter.
Dwayne Johnson is one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, but that didn’t stop him from partnering with Apple on an epic commercial featuring the iPhone voice assistant Siri. The nearly four minute spot takes The Rock and Siri on an epic journey he calls the “biggest, coolest, craziest, dopest, most over the top, funnest” movie ever. The spot is called The Rock X Siri: Dominate the Day and you can watch it on Apple’s YouTube channel now. Ironically, asking Siri to show you the movie only brings up a list of Dwayne Johnson flicks.
If you’re in Santa Fe this weekend maybe you can check out the world premiere of the Santa Fe Opera’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. It’s an opera about the life of Apple’s iconic co-founder and includes key people from his world likeLaurene Powell Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The production has been in development for the past two years and includes top modern opera names like Mason Bates (composer) and Mark Campbell (librettist). The opera opens on Saturday, July 22 at 8:30pm mountain time. You can catch it again on July 26th and several dates in August, too. Tickets are available at the Santa Fe Opera website.
Man, kids today get all the cool toys! Check out the Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder by Radio Flyer. I mean, it looks like Luke’s landspeeder, and it actually goes. It GOES! It’s an electric car, for goodness’s sake! For kids! The gear shift switches between 2mph forward, 5mph forward, or 2mph reverse, and it holds one or two kids with a combined max weight of 130 lbs. The company described the dashboard as “interactive,” too. How fun! Oh, and pricey for a kid’s toy. It’s $499.99, and available in the U.S. More countries are coming.
Zachary and Kelly Weiner are the brilliant minds behind The Holy Bible Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness, and now they’re back with a new book: Science Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness. The book explains every scientific field with only a couple sentences each, and it’s awesomely funny as well as spot-on accurate. It’s a Kickstarter project that’s already reached funding, but there are still a few hours left to sign up for your copy. Some pledge levels include the new book Soonish and their abridged Bible book, too—and they’ll even sign your copies.
Apple Music just pushed out a trailer for Kygo: Stole the Show, a documentary on the life and career of DJ/musician Kygo. If you’re not familiar with Kygo, ask your kids, but the short version is that he’s enormously popular. This documentary is another original movie from Apple Music, and it culminates with a huge show in 2016 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Just like Nintendo is resurrecting the NES Mini and SNES Mini, so too is Atari bringing back its own gaming console. Design-wise, the Ataribox takes design inspiration from the Atari 2600. One model has the familiar black and wood design, while the other has black with red accents. Both have the raised back and ribbing, with glass and wood finishes for the front. The rest of the specs are all modern. The Ataribox will come with an HDMI port, four USB ports, and SD card expansion slots, which may hint that Atari will allow sideloading. More detailed internals haven’t been released yet, but Atari promises to stuff it full of “modern internal specs” to support “current gaming content.” Pricing and release date information haven’t been released either, and Atari says they want to “get this right” before they make any more announcements.
I’ve found a cool HomeKit-compatible device that can turn an ordinary ceiling fan into a smart fan. That’s the one thing missing in my smart home setup right now, my ceiling fan. I can turn my lights on and off with Phillips Hue, but that won’t control those spinning fan blades. Hunter Fans has an accessory that will. The Hunter SIMPLEconnect looks pretty cool and easy to install (if you’ve ever installed your own ceiling fan.) It uses a Bluetooth receiver wired directly into almost any ceiling fan with pull chains. There’s a Bluetooth controller that plugs into an electrical outlet and a remote control for quick adjustments. The final piece in the puzzle is the Hunter SIMPLEconnect app, which you install on your iPhone. Et voilà, you’ll have a smart ceiling fan that you can control straight from your iPhone.
A tiny Lego Mac called Byte Edition v3.0 is being sold online by PowerPig. It features a mouse, keyboard, and the iconic “hello” screen display. You can even open it up to reveal interior details like a detailed logic board, drive assembly, and analog board. The dimensions are (Computer): 3.62″ tall x 3.15″ wide x 2.83″ deep (92 mm x 80 mm x 72 mm). For being a small toy, there is a whopping 322 parts in total. You might need to grab a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass before you build it. Go to the PowerPig website and preorder it for US$78.50. It’s expected to start shipping on July 27 and you can only have one shipment per order.
The default Desktop image, or wallpaper, has changed with every macOS major update. Mac OS X 10, as it was known back in the day, included a blue Desktop background with sweeping arcs. in 10.5 that became an aurora space cloud sort of thing, and in macOS 10.10 we started seeing mountains. All of those images are cool, and now you can use them as your desktop wallpaper in 5K resolution thanks to Stephen Hackett at 512 Pixels. He has all of Apple’s default Mac desktop pictures at high resolution ready to download and they all look great. Even if you’re happy with the desktop wallpaper you’re already using it’s cool to see these all together.
Solar power farms come in all sizes and shapes. But for the one in Datong, China, the designers decided to have a little fun. The China Merchants New Energy Group designed it in the form of a giant panda bear covering 248 acres. It’s operational and already producing 50 megawatts of electrical power. Now, the question is: can it be clearly seen from orbit?
Disruptor Beam launched a new gameplay trailer for The Walking Dead: March to War, a strategic multiplayer war game coming to iOS and Android, According to the company, it takes place “just before Volume 20 of [The Walking Dead] comics, All Out War.” Players will build up their bases, recruit survivors, and fight against other factions. It looks great, too! There’s more gameplay info in the company’s blog post.
Maps gives us a taste of augmented reality in iOS 11 beta. Okay, Apple hasn’t made its ARKit technology fully available yet. Still, that can’t stop Cupertino from including the technology in the latest beta of iOS 11. To see it, you need only do a Flyover in one of the supported cities. Interestingly, not all of the listed cities are still available for Flyover – Akron, Ohio was not, but Cleveland, Ohio was. When you tap Flyover, you’ll enjoy an AR-fueled view. You’ll love flying over the buildings like a superhero as you walk around panning and tilting your iPhone camera. It’s definitely worthy of the name “Cool Stuff Found.” Watch it in action below, and be sure to look at our coverage of other ARKit demonstrations available. Tip o’ the hat to Leon Nisenfeld, a MGG listener and follower on Facebook, for cluing us into this find.
I’m a sucker for nice leather, especially for my Apple devices. There’s a company called Woolnut making nice MacBook sleeves. I haven’t tested them yet, but Jeff Gamet and I have a couple of them on the way, and I’m looking forward to it. They make different sleeves for MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro (including with Touch Bar), starting at €68 (US$78). Sleeves are made from full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather, and the interior of the sleeve is wool. They also make leather wallet cases for iPhone.
I know it’s coming. I know it’s unavoidable. But that doesn’t keep me from being terrified of this inevitable future when fake things are indistinguishable from reality. Adobe has its VoCo technology in testing—and that’s scary enough, but now University of Washington researchers have demonstrated the ability to to match speech to a generated video. In the demonstration video, they used real speech from former president Barack Obama and matched it to artificially generated video of him speaking those same words. It’s easy to see this tech being used to match falsified speech to falsified video. And while there are some aspects of UW’s artificially generated video that look fake, this is a demonstration, not a finished product. Within a few years, the ability to perfectly fake video and speech together will be available on our smartphones. The end result will be an ever-greater cynicism towards never believing anything you see. It’s inevitable, scary, and the technology is impressive as all heck. It will also be a huge test of democracy. Not only can
someone anyone be made to say something they didn’t, anyone could also deny saying something they really did say, claiming to be the victim of this technology. The Atlantic has a good story with a lot more information on the university project.