Does Blue Light From Smartphones Cause Blindness?

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Does blue light from smartphones cause blindness? Short answer: No. Headlines claiming that the blue light from our smartphones have been making the rounds. As is usually the case with the media when it comes to science, there’s always greater context (or it’s just downright BS).

The American Academy of Ophthalmology spelled it out recently: No, Blue Light From Your Smartphone Is Not Blinding You. That was in response to a study published this summer that found blue light, plus a chemical naturally found in certain eye cells, could damage cells. The catch: researchers did not use any actual cells from our eyes, because our eyes have defenses against exactly this sort of damage. (They were studying a question unrelated to eye health; the Verge has more on the purpose and meaning of the experiment.)

Teen gets Probation for Hacking into Apple Servers

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hacker breaking in to Apple servers

The Australian teen who was arrested for hacking into Apple’s servers and making off with more than 90 GB of data has been sentenced to eight months probation. The defendant’s attorney said it was all innocent fun because he was just a big Apple fan. The magistrate, however, saw it differently. Bloomberg quotes her:

Your offending is serious. It was sustained, sophisticated, and a successful attack on the security of a major multinational corporation.

The teen’s “fun” took place between June 2015 and November 2016, and again in April 2017. He’s lucky, because had he been charged as an adult he could’ve been facing 10 years in jail.

Sir Jony Ive 2nd Person to Be Awarded Stephen Hawking Fellowship

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Sir Jony Ive accepting a medal for Royal Chancellor.

Sir Jony Ive—Chief Design Officer at Apple—was named as the second recipient of the Professor Hawking Fellowship from Cambridge University. This award is an honorary scholarship developed with Stephen Hawking before his death. It was designed to recognize contributions to both STEM fields and social discourse, according to Varsity (via 9to5Mac). And Sir Jony is expected to deliver an address when accepting the award. From Varsity:

At the announcement, Connor speculated that Ive’s lecture in Michaelmas term would include “reflection on his career, split with a more general reflection on technology and design as a whole”.

YouTube App for iOS Gains HDR Support

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Apple iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max

I’m interested in all things UHD/4K/HDR, so this caught my attention. Previously, YouTube’s iOS app didn’t support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video on Apple’s three OLED iPhones. That means HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Now it does, so here’s link to more details. Note that Apple’s new LCD iPhone, the iPhone XR, will also support HDR video playback, according to Apple’s specs.

Here's How to Spot Fake Apple Products

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There are plenty of fake Apple products out there, including chargers that could damage your device. Phys.org provides some things to look out for.

One of the biggest selling points for counterfeits is their cheap price as an alternative to Apple’s accessories. Good news: There are plenty of legitimate options outside of Apple made by third parties…When in doubt, look out for those “Made for iPhone” or “MFi certified” labels and descriptions to make sure what you’re buying will work as expected.

Kids Already Working Around iOS 12 Screen Time Limitations

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Child play with Apple iPad

Screen Time in iOS 12 sounds like a great way to keep your kids from spending too much time playing on their iPhone or iPad—unless you’re a kid. To that end, kids have already found ways to work around parent-imposed limits. Some are changing the date and time on their devices, and others are more creative. Business Insider reports one parent saying,

Finally today, my son revealed his hack: When he runs out of screen time and his games get locked, he heads to App Store, downloads a previously installed (but later removed) game through the cloud icon, and it works without limitations!

That’s how resourceful a 7-year-old can be. Maybe Apple should start hiring kids for its Screen Time team.

How Much Does it Cost to Charge an iPhone For a Year?

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ZDNet recently did some interesting research. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wanted to know how much it would cost in electricity to charge an iPhone 6 Plus for a year. He chose this model because it has the biggest capacity battery Apple offers in an iPhone. The result will shock you (pun intended).

On average, during an overnight charge, the iPhone consumed an average of 19.2 Wh. According to figures published by the US Energy Information Administration for January 2016, the average cost per kWh in the US was $0.12. Remember that 1 kWh equals 1,000 Wh. So, take our average of 19.2 Wh per day, multiplying that by 365 days, we get 7 kWh, which works out at $0.84 a year. So if you guess under a dollar, well done.

That’s right, it costs less than a dollar for an entire year. The more you know!

The Complete iOS 12 and Swift Developer Course: $10.99

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The Complete iOS 12 & Swift Developer Course

We have a deal for developers called the Complete iOS 12 and Swift Developer Course. It includes more than 40 hours of training led by Rob Percival. You’ll cover Swift 4 and Xcode 12, build your own apps, work with ARKit, and a lot more. Check out the details in the deal listing. This course is $10.99 through us.

The Origins of macOS: Steve Jobs and NeXTSTEP

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It’s easy to forget where and when macOS had its earliest origins.  Its tumultuous path had its earliest start with Steve Jobs at NeXT. “NeXTStep was developed primarily by Avie Tevanian. The coder previously worked on the Mach microkernel, a supercharged version of UNIX, at Carnegie Mellon University. Jobs convinced Tevanian to join NeXT instead of taking what, in the short term, would have been a far more lucrative job at Microsoft.” This is a nifty, concise history of how it all started.

Cloudflare Works to Make the Web More Private With ESNI

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Cloudflare is implementing a feature that encrypts your Server Name Indication (SNI). The new technology will be called ESNI.

But, today, as HTTPS covers nearly 80% of all web traffic, the fact that SNI leaks every site you go to online to your ISP and anyone else listening on the line has become a glaring privacy hole. Knowing what sites you visit can build a very accurate picture of who you are, creating both privacy and security risks.

This is a big change. Basically it will stop ISPs, rogue apps, and advertising companies from collecting and selling your browsing history. ESNI will hide the identities of the websites you visit.

MacSentry VPN 2-Year Subscription: $29

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MacSentry VPN

We’ve got a deal on a 2-year subscription to MacSentry VPN. This service is based in Belize, i.e. not in an “Enemy of the Internet” or “14 Eyes” country. It features AES-256 to 4096 bit handshake encryption, unlimited bandwidth, and you can use it on up to five devices, including Android, Windows, and Linux. The 2-year subscription is $29 through our deal.

How Apple Engineered the iPhone XS Battery

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The iPhone XS battery, as well as that of the iPhone XS Max, are composed of two different lithium-ion cells formed in the shape of an L (in the phone, not your forehead).

By having one big battery instead of two conjoined, you can ditch a little bit of packaging and eliminate the small gap between them, maximizing your capacity. Picture two small train cars in a row. Next to those, put another car that’s as long as both small cars combined. You can fit more into the single, because you’re eliminating two walls and some in-between space. The same principle applies.

We all tease Apple about all of its products getting thinner, but it takes incredible feats of engineering to actually do that. Featured image credit goes to iFixit.

Apple, Salesforce Partnership has Marriott Putting HomePod in Hotel Rooms

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HomePod on a shelf too close to the wall

Apple’s partnership with Salesforce could turn in to a big boost for HomePod sales. Marriott plans to use software that comes from the team up with HomePods in hotel rooms so customers can use their voice to change the room temperature, order food, and more. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said,

At Salesforce’s annual customer conference this week, Marriott International will demonstrate a new system that uses Salesforce and Apple tools so that hotel guests can turn up the heat, order a sandwich or hail a ride using Siri with an Apple HomePod in their hotel room. And at the next Marriot the guest stays at, Siri will remember the guest’s preferences—even their favorite sandwich.

That sounds like an opportunity for a lot of HomePod exposure and a nice way to boost user familiarity. I wonder if Marriott customers will feel comfortable with a HomePod in their room, or if they’ll worry about privacy.

Qualcomm Says Apple Stole Trade Secrets, Gave them to Intel

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Apple suing Qualcomm over patent royalty payments

Apple and Qualcomm’s ongoing legal battle just took an interesting turn. Qualcomm is now accusing Apple of stealing its LTE modem-related trade secrets and giving the information to Intel. Axios quotes from the legal filing:

Although discovery is ongoing, it is clear that Apple’s conduct went far beyond simply breaching the contract originally sued on. Indeed, it is now apparent Apple engaged in a years-long campaign of false promises, stealth and subterfuge designed to steal Qualcomm’s confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of improving the performance of lower-quality modem chipsets, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Qualcomm’s Apple-based business.

That’s a pretty serious allegation, and one that could be a major headache for Apple if it proves to be true. It’s no secret Apple was tired of relying exclusively on Qualcomm for iPhone modem chips and felt it was paying too much in patent royalties. Their case is scheduled for trial next spring, and it’s looking like it’ll be filled with drama.

A Migration Guide for macOS Server Users

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macOS Mojave on MacBook Pro

Apple has modified macOS Server, and with Mojave upon us, it’s good to know about the changes Apple has implemented. Here’s a link to the Apple Migration Guide. From the intro: “macOS Server is changing to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network. As a result, some changes are coming in how Server works. Beginning in the spring of 2018, several services will be hidden on new installations of an update to macOS Server. Then in the fall of 2018, new installations and upgrades of macOS Server will require you to migrate most services to other software.”

NOVA True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds: $49

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NOVA True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

We have a deal on a pair of NOVA True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds. They support Bluetooth 4.1 and come with a charging case. And, you can use that charging case to charge your other devices in a pinch. You can get them for $49 through our deal.

What the Heck is an Artificial Neural Network?

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What is an artificial neural network? They power many technologies such as Apple’s A12 Bionic chip, but what are they? Forbes breaks it down.

Artificial neural networks use different layers of mathematical processing to make sense of the information it’s fed. Typically, an artificial neural network has anywhere from dozens to millions of artificial neurons—called units—arranged in a series of layers. The input layer receives various forms of information from the outside world. This is the data that the network aims to process or learn about.

What I find especially fascinating is how much of a black box an ANN is. This means that while it can figure out a mathematical function, studying its structure won’t tell you what function it’s trying to figure out.

Eric Schmidt Warns the Internet Will Split Apart in 2028

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Former Google chief Eric Scmidt predicts that by 2028 the internet will split into two separate webs: A Chinese version and an American version.

If you think of China as like ‘Oh yeah, they’re good with the Internet,’ you’re missing the point. Globalization means that they get to play too. I think you’re going to see fantastic leadership in products and services from China. There’s a real danger that along with those products and services comes a different leadership regime from government, with censorship, controls, etc.

There’s basically already a separate Chinese internet behind the Great Firewall of China. But the prediction here is that through the country’s Belt and Road Initiative, other countries might follow China’s example. And Google is helping.

Apple Rejects Violence, Sex, Politics in Video Platform

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News over the weekend report that Apple rejects violence, sex, and politics in the company’s video platform.

The result is an approach out of step with the triumphs of the video-streaming era. Other platforms, such as HBO and Amazon.com Inc., have made their mark in original content with edgier programming that often wins critical acclaim.

And other platforms are free to do so. I personally don’t see a problem with this, and it should come as no surprise since Apple has always positioned itself as family-friendly. It may not explicitly call itself such, but it is. And that’s fine. If I want sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, I can find it on Netflix.

Remembering Charles W. Moore

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I am not so pleased to report that a venerable, distinguished member of the technical journalist community has left us: Charles W. Moore. The link below has the story of his work, achievements and battle with illness. I am, however, pleased to say that I had the honor of working with him at Applelinks as well as MacOpinion [both now defunct] in the late 1990s. I remember Charles as an exceptionally hard worker and an incredible champion of all things Apple. He always amazed me. And he continued to do amazing work after that. He will be missed. [Photo credit: Elizabeth Sheppard.]