Compare Original Version of Bilbo Getting Ring from Gollum to the Revised Version We Know Today

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The Hobbit

Check out this great side-by-side comparison of the original version of a key scene in The Hobbit to the version we know today. It’s the scene where Bilbo meets Gollum and steals the One Ring in the bowels of the Misty Mountains. Each paragraph of both versions is laid out side by side, with changes highlighted in blue. I’m such a huge Tolkien nerd, and this is intensely cool. Here’s a passage from the introduction:

The following is a side-by-side comparison of the two versions, presented in order to provide insight as to how the smallest of details can affect the overall themes of Tolkien’s work. Of particular interest is the characterization of Gollum, who in the revised version is much more malevolent and treacherous, and yet also more pitiful, echoing the later role that he will play in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Story Behind Sci-Fi Infographic Untold AI

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There’s a sci-fi infographic called Untold AI that examines artificial intelligence, and we now have a behind-the-scenes glimpse from the creator.

Sci-Fi Interfaces is one of those websites the Internet was (originally) built for. It’s a passion project focusing on an incredibly niche subject, created and maintained by someone with real subject matter expertise.

Much of Chris Noessel’s professional work, academic study and enthusiasm for science fiction has come together in the creation of the Untold AI infographic. It’s breathtaking in both its scope, and as a graphic design achievement.

Should Apple Create a Video Platform for Creators?

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In 9to5Mac‘s Reddit-esque Change My View series, Ben Lovejoy writes that Apple should have a video platform for creators.

What I’m proposing is that Apple create a platform for creators of original content. Like YouTube or Vimeo, but with greater control and focus…I’d love to see someone do YouTube properly. Take it back to its roots as a true platform for original content providers. And there are two reasons I think Apple could be the right company to do it.

I can’t decide if I agree or not. I don’t think Apple needs to do everything, and if there’s already a size-able contender like YouTube, it would be hard for Apple’s platform to compete. This is similar to why Apple doesn’t have its own search engine. It might be easier for Apple to just buy Vimeo than create a platform from the ground up.

Why are Powerful Women Still Rare in Google Images?

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So asks Melissa Locker. When you type in the word “CEO” for example, in Google Images, most of the results you see are men. Women “made up only 11% of the CEOs that show up in a Google Image search.”

Granted, Google Image search results are not frozen in time (they change based on things such as the news cycle, for instance), but the lack of women CEOs in these results raises important questions about the lack of representation of women leaders in media, and how that relates to their lack of representation in the real world.

Data Could Someday Fuel Most of the Economy

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Mark Mills writes that Apple is the new Exxon, and data is the new oil. Although I don’t it’s an apt analogy, he did write an interesting paragraph:

Even though we’re still in early days of digitalization of physical domains, data traffic associated with manufacturing, medicine and consumer “things” is already rivaling traffic associated with multimedia (TV, sports, movies, YouTube, etc.).

It’s something to think about. If technologies like 3D printing, robotics, and others become more ubiquitous, we could be living in a future where data fuels the economy, instead of physical goods.

The Flames Bump to the Music with Fireside Audiobox Bluetooth Speaker: $399

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ireside Audiobox Bluetooth Speaker

Check out today’s deal, the Fireside Audiobox Bluetooth Speaker. It’s a Bluetooth speaker with fire. Real fire. It holds a little propane tank with a grill for bringing some flames to your indoor or outdoor listening experience. The fiery bits come with a heat-resistant, tempered glass shield, and the device has an anti-tip-over safety device and leak detection sensor will shut the flow of gas off when necessary. The speaker features a full range, hi-fi driver, and the flames react to the music being played. Check it out in the video.

New MacBook Pro Problems Move from Throttling to Buzzing Speakers

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Touch Bar MacBook Pro with bug

Apple addressed the processor throttling issue in the 2018 Touch Bar MacBook Pro, so now engineers can move on to the next problem: crackling speakers. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch models seem to suffer a problem where buzzing or crackling sounds randomly happen when audio is playing on the laptop’s built-in speakers. From TNW:

It’s unclear at this time what’s causing the issue, although a source familiar with the matter tells TNW the company is aware of the issue, and looking into it. Finding the cause, though, could be troublesome. User reports, so far, are all over the map.

It could be a hardware problem, or it could be software. Regardless, it seems like Apple’s headaches with the new MacBook Pro models aren’t over yet. And all I got with my 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pro was a defective keyboard design.

PanicSafe Emergency Locator and Car Charger: $49.99

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PanicSafe Emergency Locator and Car Charger

We have a deal on a cool little gadget called the PanicSafe Emergency Locator and Car Charger. It plugs into your auxiliary port (i.e. cigarette lighter) and works as a normal car charger for your devices (including QuickCharge support). But it also can communicate with your iPhone or Android device and send messages to pre-arranged contacts in the case of an accident or if you trigger the panic button. It’s $49.99 through our deal, and there’s no additional subscription fee.

Internet Trolls Have Won. Time to Give Up

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The New York Times writes how internet trolls have won, and there’s not much we can do about it.

Case in point: the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars. For years, the site distributed false information that inspired internet trolls to harass people who were close to victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. This week, after much hemming and hawing about whether to get involved, some giant tech firms banned content from Infowars. (Twitter did not, after determining Infowars had not violated its policies.)

What does that show us? That you as an internet user have little power over content you find offensive or harmful online. It’s the tech companies that hold the cards.

Maybe social networks should have decency laws like broadcasts radio and television do. That will only stop the most vitriolic of trolls, but at least people will be able to visit sites like Twitter without getting a flood of harassing DMs.

Apple: Privacy Hero or Privacy Villain?

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Bloomberg recently came out with a piece about Apple, asking if the company is really the privacy hero we think it is. Short answer: yes, but here’s a quote:

When developers get our information, and that of the acquaintances in our contacts list, it’s theirs to use and move around unseen by Apple. It can be sold to data brokers, shared with political campaigns, or posted on the internet. The new rule forbids that, but Apple does nothing to make it technically difficult for developers to harvest the information.

As we discussed on today’s TDO, my problem is that Ms. Frier tries and fails to compare this to the Cambridge-Analytica scandal. App permissions and developers with data access are entirely different to what Facebook and C/A did. Apple could improve the system to be sure, but there’s only so much companies can do before we realize that we need to be more proactive about these issues ourselves, not reactive.

Comcast Security Flaw Exposed Addresses, Social Security Numbers for 26.5M Customers

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Comcast Xfinity logo with freaked out bug

A design flaw in Comcast’s online payment portal exposed partial home addresses and social security numbers for 26.5 million customers. The flaw displayed the first number and street name for addresses, and the last four digits in social security numbers. Buzzfeed broke the news, and Comcast quickly patched the flaw. Comcast says no one exploited the flaw, and they had it patched within hours of learning about it. Still, the fact that nearly anyone had access to the information is pretty creepy.

Apple: Infowars App Can Stay on App Store

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Alex Jones Infowars

Apple removed the Infowars podcasts from its iTunes listings citing hate speech violations, but is letting the Infowars Official app stay on its iPhone and iPad App Store. Why remove the podcasts, but not the app, since they all offer the same content? Even though the podcasts violate Apple’s guidelines, the app doesn’t. In a statement to Buzzfeed, Apple said,

We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and follow our clear guidelines, ensuring the App Store is a safe marketplace for all. We continue to monitor apps for violations of our guidelines and if we find content that violates our guidelines and is harmful to users we will remove those apps from the store as we have done previously.

The problem here is that Apple’s App Store guidelines aren’t clear on this point, and they’re apparently different than the iTunes Store guidelines for podcasts. It’s confusing for content creators and consumers. Apple is well within its rights to block podcasts and apps for any reason, even if they’re arbitrary. I’d prefer, however, if Apple’s guidelines were clear and consistently enforced.

Future.dj Pro Music Mixer: $19

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Future.dj Pro Music Mixer

We have a deal on Future.dj Pro, a software music mixer for the Mac and Windows. It features three vertical waveforms per deck for aligning your beats, and you can use up to 8 inputs and outputs. There is a comprehensive list of features in the deal listing, as well as a tutorial video that gives you a good idea of this software works. It’s $19 through our deal.

How Facebook Used a Psychological Trick on Teenagers

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Teenagers with smartphone

This article demonstrates many things. 1) Teenagers spend too much time on Facebook. 2) They are subject to psychological manipulation. 3) Those who create channels into teenage minds will do anything to make money. 4) Few realize this is happening. And 5) If Facebook can do this to youngsters, so can others with more unpleasant motives.

Book By Ex-Apple Employee Talks About iPhone Keyboard

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Ken Kocienda worked at Apple from 2001 to 2016. He wrote a book called Creative Selection that talks about Apple’s design process and more from an insider’s perspective, including the iPhone keyboard.

Scott didn’t clue me in on the politics in play between him and Phil or why he had scheduled the demo. I imagined that Scott was eager to show off the results of the keyboard derby, which must have been a topic for discussion up at the executive level. In any case, my job was to prepare my demo so it worked as it did for the demo derby, so that’s what I did.

You can preorder the book, called Creative Selection, on Apple Books for US$14.99.

Apple Lands Min Jin Lee's Pachinko for TV Series

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee coming to Apple television lineup

Apple’s latest addition to its original television lineup is a series based on Min Jin Lee’s best selling book Pachinko. The book chronicles the lives of a Korean that immigrated to the U.S., and Apple signed it into what Hollywood Reporter calls “a sizable script-to-series commitment.” HR adds,

Soo Hugh (who oversaw on season one of AMC’s The Terror) will pen the script for Apple as well as executive produce and serve as showrunner on the likely series. Pachinko hails from Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res, which is behind Apple’s upcoming Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston morning show drama and was the tech giant’s entry into the scripted space. Author Lee will also be credited as an executive producer on the Apple take.

I love how Apple is bringing diversity to its original TV show programming and is turning its back on the old-school white male-dominated television world.

ProtonVPN Plus Subscriptions with Swiss Legal Protections

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ProtonVPN Plus

We have a deal on ProtonVPN Plus, a VPN based in Switzerland, complete with Swiss legal protections. The service uses AES-256 encryption to protect your data, and it supports Mac, Android, Windows, and Linux. iOS support is available through the OpenVPN Connect app. A two year subscription is $79.99 through us, 66% off retail. A one year subscription is also available.

The Science of Plant Intelligence Emerges

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Plant biology is an interest of mine, and recent scientific research suggests that plants could have a basic form of intelligence, with memory and learning capabilities. Monica Gagliano talked with Forbes about her research on plant intelligence:

If Gagliano’s interpretation of the data is correct, the scientific community may have to reckon with intelligent organisms independent of the traditional brain and nervous system model. If her interpretation of the data is correct, we may be in the early stages of waking up to a world long-populated by considerably more intelligent, sentient beings than previously acknowledged. It would be a major paradigm shift.

Ms. Gagliano has a book coming out later this year, called Thus Spoke the Plant.

Silicon Valley Created an Ethical Guide

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An ethical guide was recently created by think tank Institute of the Future and the Tech and Society Solutions Lab. The guide—called Ethical OS—aims to serve as a bridge between researchers who study tech’s societal impact, and the companies that impact society.

The first section outlines 14 near-future scenarios, based on contemporary anxieties in the tech world that could threaten companies in the future. What happens, for example, if a company like Facebook purchases a major bank and becomes a social credit provider? What happens if facial-recognition technology becomes a mainstream tool, spawning a new category of apps that integrates the tech into activities like dating and shopping? Teams are encouraged to talk through each scenario, connect them back to the platforms or products they’re developing, and discuss strategies to prepare for these possible futures.

In my opinion, it should be a requirement for business majors to take ethical classes, if they already don’t. Starting a company in a garage with no knowledge of societal quandaries doesn’t cut it anymore.