Monument Valley Moving from the iPad to Movie Screens

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Monument Valley game on iPad

Monument Valley is a popular game on the iPad thanks to its beautiful graphics and clever puzzles. Now it’s going to be a movie, too. Paramount Pictures is developing a movie based on Monument Valley, and it’s sequel Monument Valley 2. Deadline says,

Paramount Pictures and Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road Pictures have set Patrick Osborne to develop to direct Monument Valley, hoping to launch a live action/CG hybrid family franchise based on the Ustwo Games’ international mobile game phenomenon. Osborne won the Best Animated Short Film Oscar for Feast and is currently directing Nimona for Fox and Blue Sky. The mobile game and its sequel take place in a surreal, Escher-esque landscape, where established laws of space and time do not apply. The film will send contemporary live-action characters into the game’s extraordinary, mind-bending world.

I love the Monument Valley games and the idea of a movie set in that world sounds intriguing. Still, I’d rather see the movie focus on the game characters instead of tossing real people into their world.

Amazon Would Like to Acquire Landmark Movie Theaters

· John Martellaro · Link

Will Amazon get into theater business?

At first blush, this looks like a weird idea. Maybe a dumb idea. But on further inspection, this move by Amazon has all kinds of advantages. A Bloomberg article explains all, including the previous U.S. law that has banned film studios from having ownership in the movie theater industry, the so-called “Paramount Decree.”  Things in this market are very likely to change. Does Apple have to play this game too?

GOOSE VPN 1-Year Subscription: $14.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

GOOSE VPN on a MacBook

We have a deal on a one year subscription to GOOSE VPN. The service includes 59 servers around the world, plus simultaneous use on an unlimited number of devices. Platforms supported include Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android. It’s $14.99 through us, and there are also three year and five year subscriptions.

The NSA Continues to Violate American Rights

· Andrew Orr · Link

The National Security Agency continues to violate American rights when it comes to internet privacy.

The government attempts to defend this spying by pointing out that its “targets” are foreigners located abroad. But this is no defense at all. Americans regularly communicate with individuals overseas, and the government uses PRISM surveillance to collect and sift through many of these private communications. The government has even admitted that one of the purposes of Section 702 is to spy on Americans’ international communications without a warrant.

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

The Untold Story of Cyberattack NotPetya

· Andrew Orr · Link

So far NotPetya has been the worst cyberattack in history, and now we’ve got the untold story behind it.

On a normal day, these servers push out routine updates—bug fixes, security patches, new features—to a piece of accounting software called M.E.Doc, which is more or less Ukraine’s equivalent of TurboTax or Quicken. It’s used by nearly anyone who files taxes or does business in the country.

But for a moment in 2017, those machines served as ground zero for the most devastating cyberattack since the invention of the internet—an attack that began, at least, as an assault on one nation by another.

Psst! *whispers* That nation was Russia.

The Very Clever Pictar Smartphone Camera Grip (Plus): $92.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

Pictar Smartphone Camera Grip (Plus)

Check out the Pictar Smartphone Camera Grip (Plus), a device I would have linked to in a Cool Stuff Found article if we didn’t have a deal for it. It’s a camera grip that fits most iPhones, and it does that in a very clever way. Rather than matching physical buttons or even using a wireless connection for camera controls, this device emits high frequency sounds you can’t hear, but that the free companion app can. That allows you to control all manner of camera settings on your iPhone while using very little power. And you can 15% on the Pictar Smartphone Camera Grip (Plus) through us and get it for $92.99.

Advertising is Obsolete. Let's Kill It With Fire

· Andrew Orr · Link

Advertising is obsolete, so let’s kill it with fire. Ramsi Woodcock of the University of Kentucky writes that if the only justification for advertising is that it informs, then it’s obsolete now.

Imagine a world wiped clean of advertising of all kinds…Would you still be able to find all the information you could ever want about products in this alternative world? Of course you would. Your friends, family and the host of complete strangers you follow on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and half a dozen other sites would continue to bombard you with information about their lives, including all the products they are using.

That argument make sense to me. However, he continues to write that advertising has another use: manipulation.

Apple Lands Rights to 'Losing Earth' Climate Change Series

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Planet Earth

Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change is an epic New York Times Magazine article, and now it’s going to be an Apple television series. Apple bought the rights to the 30,000 word article. The series is produced by Anonymous Content, and the article’s author, Nathaniel Rich, will be involved. From the New York Times:

The “Losing Earth” article recounted how, from 1979 to 1989, a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians tried to save the world from the ravages of climate change before it was too late. The article was produced with the support of the Pulitzer Center and was based on more than 18 months of reporting and over 100 interviews.

Climate change is a big topic, and rightly so. It’s good to see Apple interested in more than just entertainment shows for its original TV content lineup.

Competitors Eating Away at Amazon Echo Lead. Except Apple

· John Martellaro · Link

Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo, Google Home smart speakers

In this report from Statista, the market share, over time, of smart speakers is plotted. The Amazon Echo (family) still has the lead, but share has dropped dramatically over the last year. From 76% to 41%. Competitors are catching up. All except Apple, that is. One wonders if that concerns Apple. Or do Apple executives dream of sour grapes instead of a real fight?

Soundfreaq Double Spot Bluetooth Speaker: $79.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

Soundfreq Double Spot Bluetooth Speaker

We have a deal for you today on the Soundfreaq Double Spot Bluetooth Speaker. This portable Bluetooth speaker lasts up to 6 hours on one charge, and it also has a USB port for charging your mobile devices. It has on-board controls and three tone presets, flat, warm, and bright. You can get this device through our deal for $79.99.

Are Thousand Dollar Smartphones the New Normal?

· Andrew Orr · Link

Vlad Savov writes that thousand dollar smartphones are the new normal.

Three or four years ago, anyone proposing a four-figure price for a phone would have been laughed out of their boardroom meeting. Two years ago, if I’d told you Apple would be successfully selling a phone with a notch in its screen but no headphone jack, at a price of $999, you’d have shaken your head and accused me of wilder wishful thinking than Gene Munster’s Apple TV pipe dream.

This is a nonsensical argument. Smartphones have been around US$1000 for years now. Including tax my iPhone 7 Plus bill was around US$950. I bought it unlocked, and it wasn’t subsidized through a carrier like Vlad has gotten used to. Nothing has changed except the way carriers have split up the cost on contracts.

Apple is a Beacon in a Silicon Valley of the Dead

· Andrew Orr · Link

Writing for Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky writes that Apple is “the perfect tech company for this day and age, an example to the rest of Silicon Valley.”

Because this is a time when Amazon is pushing innovations that don’t solve any real-world problems but may create some… This is a time when Google is trying to subvert new privacy regulations to turn them against content producers. A time when Facebook, blasted by media and regulators for ignoring people’s privacy concerns, starts a dating service which will collect people’s most intimate data.

Apple certainly has had its share of issues. But they are issues related to its products, not societal issues. We don’t have to worry any time soon about Apple creating mass surveillance facial recognition systems, advertising systems that belittle media and treat people like products, or secretly track them.

Canada's Police Chiefs Want Easy Personal Data Access with US

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Canada police want easier personal data sharing with US

The ongoing push for easier access to our personal data isn’t limited to law enforcement in the United States. Police chiefs in Canada are pressuring their government to strike a deal with the US government to share data from cloud service and mobile devices for investigations without requiring the current procedures they see as inefficient. Canada’s lawmakers, however, aren’t ready to rush in. CTV News says,

But the government and the federal privacy commissioner say more consultation and study are needed to ensure appropriate protection of personal information before taking such a step.

That’s reassuring. The idea that a government isn’t willing to rush to remove personal privacy protections is refreshing. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if that attitude stands.

Governments Slowly Exerting Control Over Internet

· John Martellaro · Link

Global internet

Whether it’s changing the rules to benefit big business or exerting control over content, governments more and more are seeking to control the internet. It’s all on page 2 of Particle Debris.

Mac mini Getting a Significant Update this Fall

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Mac mini with

Apple’s painfully out of date Mac mini is reportedly getting a long overdue refresh this fall. What’s more, Apple is targeting pro users with the updated Mac. News of a new Mac mini is something of a surprise since it saw only minor improvements four years ago, and its last major changes came back in 2010. Bloomberg broke the news saying,

The computer has been favored because of its lower price, and it’s popular with app developers, those running home media centers, and server farm managers. For this year’s model, Apple is focusing primarily on these pro users, and new storage and processor options are likely to make it more expensive than previous versions.

Insider sources also backed up earlier reports of a MacBook refresh. The new 13-inch model will have a Retina display, and it’s starting to sound more like a MacBook Air replacement. Looks like Apple has a lot of product announcements for us this fall.

Robots are Taking Over the Movie Industry

· Andrew Orr · Link

Okay, maybe not taking over. However, a robot (or more precisely, an android) will be starring in an upcoming movie called 2nd Born.

The report doesn’t include many specifics on the robot star, other than that it will learn various acting methods and techniques prior to filming. However, Kaye hopes the performance will be enough to earn the bot recognition from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), meaning it could conceivably go up against human actors come awards season.

I hope the film will be a comedy, otherwise a robo-actor might be a bit awkward.

Apple Pulls 25,000 Gambling Apps from China App Store

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Apple China flag

Apple has already pulled VPN apps from its iPhone and iPad App Store in China, and now it’s adding what the country considers gambling and pornography apps to that list. Apple hasn’t said how many apps have been pulled from its store, but reports are saying that number could be 25,000. Apple told the Wall Street Journal,

Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China. We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.

Apple is in a tough position because it has to comply with China’s laws, but doesn’t want to be a government tool. Apple also can’t leave the country because the market is too big to give up, and that’s where most iPhones are made.

PanicSafe Emergency Locator & Car Charger

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

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 $59.99 through our deal, and there’s no additional subscription fee.

How to See the Hidden Categories of Netflix

· John Martellaro · Link

Looking for movies on Netflix just about baseball? Deep sea horror movies? Martial arts movies? Mashable has posted a nifty article about how to access the master list of several hundred specific categories that may be more to your liking than the default ones displayed. Check it out.

Science Confirms Women’s Pockets are too Small

· Andrew Orr · Link

woman with iPhone in pocket

If you’re a woman you’re probably familiar with the tiny pockets of your clothing. Science has now confirmed what we already know: women’s pockets are too damn small.

“If you’re thinking ‘But men are bigger than women,’ then sure, on average that’s true,” the site adds. “But here we measured 80 pairs of jeans that all boasted a 32 inch waistband, meaning that these jeans were all made to fit the same size person.”