How Facebook Used a Psychological Trick on Teenagers

· John Martellaro · Link

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

· Andrew Orr · Link

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

· Jeff Gamet · Link

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

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

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

· Andrew Orr · Link

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

· Andrew Orr · Link

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.

Facebook Asks Banks for Your Account Balance, Credit Card Activity

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Facebook in a big pile of money

Facebook wants to offer new services to its users, so it’s asking banks in the United States to share personal account information. That includes account balances and credit card activity, because who better to have access to our personal financial data than Facebook? From the Wall Street Journal:

As part of the proposed deals, Facebook asked banks for information about where its users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger.

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have shown time and again that our personal data is far more valuable than our privacy. At least one bank has already told Facebook “no,” and hopefully the others will, too.

AirVinyl's Leather AirPod Case: $17.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

AirVinyl Leather AirPod Case

We have a deal on AirVinyl’s Leather AirPod Case, a device I reviewed a couple of weeks ago (where I called it, “Outstanding! Get It Now!” It’s a leather case for your AirPods Charging Case made from high-quality, European leather that’s stretched over a rigid plastic frame. It gives your case some style without adding a big footprint in your pocket. It’s $17.99 through our deal.

LEGO Will Make Sustainable Blocks From Sugarcane. But Is it Really Eco Friendly?

· Andrew Orr · Link

On August 1, LEGO launched its first line of sustainable blocks made from sugarcane. LEGO wants to make its production to be sustainable by 2030. The new blocks are made of sugarcane plastic and are shaped like plants. But is that really eco-friendly?

According to the World Wildlife Fund:

Sugarcane is a water-intensive crop that remains in the soil all year long. As one of the world’s thirstiest crops, sugarcane has a significant impact on many environmentally sensitive regions, like the Mekong Delta and the Atlantic Forest.

Sugar mills produce wastewater, emissions and solid waste that impact the environment. The massive quantities of plant matter and sludge washed from mills decompose in freshwater bodies, absorbing all the available oxygen and leading to massive fish kills. In addition, mills release flue gases, soot, ash, ammonia and other substances during processing.

Deep Learning About Deep Learning

· John Martellaro · Link

I, Robot (the movie)

The terms artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and deep learning are often confused or interchanged. Friday’s Particle Debris links to an article by a researcher who explains the differences. With that background in hand, PD looks at some intriguing research in the field, including research robots that beg for their lives.

Apple Books is a Love Letter to Readers

· Andrew Orr · Link

I previously wrote about how Apple Books has greatly improved in iOS 12, and Ryan Christoffel agrees in his own rundown of Apple Books as a love letter to readers.

Apple could have easily taken the look of apps like Music and Podcasts and slapped it on Books, and it would have been fine. The company did nothing of the sort, though; instead, Apple Books offers one of the most drastic departures from existing iOS design norms available on the platform…

Books’ design isn’t entirely foreign to other iOS apps – there are some similarities, such as the abundant use of white space – but overall its differences far outweigh any commonalities. And those differences prove that there’s still plenty of room to expand the accepted design norms on iOS.

TSMC Hit with WannaCry Virus, Shut Down Chip Production

· Jeff Gamet · Link

iPhone and bug

Apple iPhone processor maker TSMC was knocked to its knees over the weekend when the WannaCry computer ransomware virus infected fabrication tools. The virus left the equipment unusable while it was being removed. Bloomberg reports,

TSMC said that 80 percent of the fabrication tools affected by a virus outbreak Friday evening had been restored and that it expects full recovery on Monday. The Taiwanese company said the incident, which comes as it ramps up chipmaking for Apple Inc.’s next iPhones, would delay shipments, without specifying which customers would be affected. Its shares fell more than 1 percent in Taipei.

Odds are TSMC is prioritizing Apple, so we probably won’t see much of an impact on iPhone availability when new models ship this fall. TSMC’s other clients, however, probably won’t fare as well.

Apple Bans Alex Jones Infowars Podcasts from iTunes Store

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Alex Jones podcast listings banned from iTunes Store

Almost all of the podcasts from Alex Jones, the media personality known for his right-wing Infowars platform and conspiracy theories, have been blocked from Apple’s iTunes Store. Apple is citing hate speech as the reason, just like Facebook, YouTube and Spotify when those platforms blocked his content. Apple told Buzzfeed,

Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.

I’m with Andrew Orr on this one: Apple made the right move on this one. Regardless of political views, actively engaging in hate speech is wrong, and when you’re in Jones’ position can entice others into doing the same—or even into taking physical action against other people. And saying Apple, Facebook, or any other company that refuses to host or link to Jones’s content is violating his First Amendment rights is flat-out wrong; the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from curtailing what you can say, not what companies allow on their online services.

Allowing Smartphones in Class Hurts Student Grades

· John Martellaro · Link

Students in ith smartphones.

A recent study, described at Big Think, reveals that students who multi-task with smartphones in class are less able to retain information they’ll need for future exams. From the article. “This finding demonstrates for the first time that the main effect of divided attention in the classroom is not an immediate effect of selection or switching on comprehension but a long-term effect of divided attention on retention,” the researchers wrote.

The Ad-Filled Web Is Now Called the Bullsh*t Web

· Andrew Orr · Link

I first came across this article via Daring Fireball, and it discusses the Bullsh*t Web, a term for the ad-filled web we’re now familiar with.

Take that CNN article, for example. Here’s what it contained when I loaded it:

  • Eleven web fonts, totalling 414 KB
  • Four stylesheets, totalling 315 KB
  • Twenty frames
  • Twenty-nine XML HTTP requests, totalling about 500 KB
  • Approximately one hundred scripts, totaling several megabytes — though it’s hard to pin down the number and actual size because some of the scripts are “beacons” that load after the page is technically finished downloading.

Ads are necessary to keep things free, but the amount of crap that most modern websites are filled with is unnecessary.

Soundfreaq Pocket Kick Bluetooth Speaker: $39.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

Soundfreaq Pocket Kick Bluetooth Speaker

We have a deal on the Soundfreaq Pocket Kick Bluetooth Speaker. As the name suggest, it’s a portable Bluetooth speaker designed to fit in your pocket. The grills are metal, and the company is using custom-engineered drivers in the speakers. It’s $39.99 through our deal.

Tim Cook to Employees: Thanks for the $1 Trillion Market Cap

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Apple CEO Tim Cook during Mac

Apple became the first company with a US$1 trillion market cap on Thursday, and CEO Tim Cook marked the occasion with a memo to employees for helping reach the milestone. Cook called the event a “Significant milestone,” and went on to say products and customers are more important than a number. He said,

Financial returns are simply the result of Apple’s innovation, putting our products and customers first, and always staying true to our values.

It’s true: Without products like the iPhone, and incredibly loyal customers, Apple wouldn’t be where it is today.

Pay What You Want for the Adobe CC A-Z Lifetime Bundle

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

Adobe CC A-Z Lifetime Bundle

We have a new pay-what-you-want deal for you called the Adobe CC A-Z Lifetime Bundle. It features 12 training courses covering all of Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps (Photoshop, After Effects, Premier, Illustrator, InDesign, and topics such as UX/UI design). Pay anything, even a penny, and get Adobe After Effects: The Complete Motion Graphics Course. Beat the average price (currently $13.93), and you get all 12 courses. Beat the current leader’s price, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a Nintendo Super NES Classic.

Thin-bezel iPad with Face ID Hiding in iOS 12 Developer Beta 5

· Jeff Gamet · Link

iOS 12 developer beta 5 showing thin-bezel iPad without a Home button

iOS 12 developer beta 5 pretty much confirms Apple has a thin-bezel iPad without a Home button coming soon. Guilherme Rambo dug through the code and found icons for the new iPad model, along with evidence it’ll also support Face ID. Writing at 9to5Mac he says,

A new asset found in iOS 12 developer beta 5 seemingly confirms a new bezel-less iPad for the fall. The asset is part of the battery usage UI and it shows an iPad with no home button and thinner bezels. It wouldn’t be the first time a tiny glyph found in an OS reveals an unreleased product, last year the rumors about an iPhone with thin bezels were confirmed by the HomePod software leak.

Presumably this is an iPad Pro refresh. Since it’s showing up in iOS 12 beta code now, odds are we’ll see the new model some time this fall. My first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro is suddenly looking a little long in the tooth.

Google: "Don't Be Evil, Unless We Can Make Money"

· Andrew Orr · Link

Google is working with authoritarian China to build a censored version of its search engine, completely sh*tting on its old motto “Don’t Be Evil.” With dollar signs in its eyes, Google (and Apple mind you) can’t resist the siren call of dystopia:

The project – code-named Dragonfly – has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans.

The planned move represents a dramatic shift in Google’s policy on China and will mark the first time in almost a decade that the internet giant has operated its search engine in the country.