Bryan Chaffin is the co-founder and Executive Vice President of The Mac Observer. He is also our Editor-in-Chief. He’s been working lately as co-author of a new edition of iPad For Dummies, and so I enlisted him to discuss the future of the iPad.
We chatted about how the iPad has made enormous gains in CPU and graphics power over the last 10 years. But iOS and then iPadOS not so much. In the early days Apple wasn’t quite sure where the iPad would go, and that’s perhaps a factor in its development. We examined how multi-tasking has been implemented, the prospects for larger displays, home screen operations, consumption vs. productivity, the stagnation of sales, and whether there needs to be a new product between the iPad and Mac. Bryan resurrects the notorious concept of the ::gasp:: toaster-fridge. There’s much more.
John Kheit is a New York attorney and a regular contributor to The Mac Observer. We share many common interests, including the 4K/UHD/HDR TV revolution, 8K TV and displays, Wi-Fi/5G technologies and the state of Apple.
In this special edition, I interview John about his new 2019 Mac Pro. I asked John about the configuration he ordered, what substitutions he made (graphics card), his add-on SSD, and whether he bought the Pro Display XDR. John shared lots of technical tidbits: a changed initial order, his total outlay, details of the T2 security chip, the various kinds (layer configurations) of SSDs, his display setup and observations about the cooling system. If you’re planning to purchase a new Mac Pro, this conversation is essential listening.
Charlotte Henry is a London-based technical journalist. A self-described media junkie, she writes about Apple — and now for the Mac Observer as well as our UK Associate Editor. She has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, the Independent on Sunday and CapX. Her new book is: Not Buying It.
In this special episode, Charlotte and I discuss the various streaming TV services: Apple TV+, Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, CBS All Access, Britbox, Peacock, and Quibi. We chat about our favorite shows, our experiences viewing, the pricing, and the prospects of success for the new guys on the block. Charlotte loves The Bold Type (Netflix). John waxes poetic about The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Picard.
Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her eighth appearance on Background Mode. Kiki is a neurophysiologist with a B.S. in conservation biology and a Ph.D. avian neurophysiology from the University of California. She’s a popular science communicator and creator/co-host of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show.
In this episode, we spend the entire first segment discussing the coronavirus. Kiki fills us in on the details you don’t hear about on the nightly news. In segment #2, Kiki tells us the real reason why people under stress get grey hair, how Mars used to have surface water, how the Earth’s sea level is rising faster than expected, and how zebra strips seem to provide good protection against biting insects. As always, Kiki makes science fun and interesting.
Dr. Howard Oakley is currently a developer of Mac software and is the founder of The Eclectic Light Company. Howard started life keenly interested in medicine, attended Oxford, and spent most of his career with the British Royal Navy as a doctor, ascending to the rank of Surgeon Commander. Along the way, he became heavily involved with computers and programming. His first encounter with a Mac SE and MPW hooked him for life.
We chatted about his life and times as a navy physician, his parallel evolution as a Mac developer, his amazing blog, The Eclectic Light Company, his writing for Mac Format, and some of his amazing free software: Aquiline Check, Consolation and SilentKnight, tools he wanted for himself. Howard delves into security issues, like XProtect, in a way that few other developers do.
Kelly Guimont is a long-time podcaster, Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer, the host of the Mac Observer’s Daily Observations podcast, and a tech support guru.
In her 9th appearance, Kelly and I chat about our favorite TV shows and movies of late. We open in segment #1 with a shared favorite: The Mandalorian (Disney+). In segment #2: Kelly: Dr. Who (BBC), The World According to Jeff Goldblum (Disney+). John: Star Trek: Discovery (S2) (CBS), Virgin River (Netflix) and Downton Abbey – the movie (iTunes). Also: some honorable mentions. Join us as we explore together what’s great about these shows.
Josh Centers is the Managing Editor of Tidbits.com and has published many Take Control (TC) books. He’s the author of Take Control of Apple TV and Take Control of Home Automation. He’s been writing the Take Control books for iOS since version 8, and his latest book is Take Control iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.
In his sixth appearance on the show, Josh and I explored what’s in store for Apple in 2020. We started by looking at the iMac Pro and its possible fate. Then we turned to the mythical xMac, and continued with the MacBook Pro line. In part II of the show, we took a look at the HomePod. Is it a dead product? Then we looked at iPhone (2020) 5G wrinkles. We finished by wondering what new thing Apple might do in 2020.
One of my favorite Background Mode podcasts was with TV and movie music composer John Lunn. He’s probably best known for scoring the TV drama Downton Abbey — for which he received two Primetime Emmy awards. His recent work includes the scoring of the feature film Electricity and the hit TV shows: The Grantchester Mysteries, Shetland, and The White Queen—for which he received a Primetime Emmy nomination. Near the end, I played some sound snippets from two of his scores, and John (a Mac user) explained the instruments used. This episode is worth revisiting, especially now that the Downton Abbey movie is available for streaming.
Dr. Andrew Friedman is an astronomer, cosmologist, and data scientist. He’s currently an NSF funded Assistant Research Scientist at the University of California at San Diego Center for Astrophysics & Space Sciences. He is also a Research Affiliate in the MIT Program in Science, Technology and Society. He holds a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Harvard.
We chatted about the apparent, seemingly contrived conflict between science and religion. We explored some of the sources of this conflict and how, with a good perspective, they are not really at odds. We looked at faith, both in science and religion, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, proof of God’s existence, varying views about what God is, approaching the subject with humility, and how the Bible cannot really serve as a science textbook. Join us as we get our theology hats on.
Jeff Gamet the former managing editor of The Mac Observer, a position he held for 13 years. He’s also a book author and noted podcaster. About a year ago, Jeff left TMO to become the Smile TextExpander Evangelist.
With a year at his new job under his belt, I asked Jeff about his accomplishments, challenges, and ongoing change in perspective being an evangelist for a major software company. We chatted about being deep on macOS, the TextExpander transition to macOS Catalina, the change being heavily involved in Apple developer relations and the change in work habits, especially being no longer immersed in every Apple product and service. We also chatted about his new 16-inch MacBook Pro at some length. Jeff was as he always is: charming and warm.
Charlotte Henry is a London-based technical journalist. A self described media junkie, she writes about Apple – and now for the Mac Observer as well as our UK Associate Editor. She has also written for City A.M. (London’s daily business tabloid,) Computer Business Review, the Independent on Sunday and CapX. Her new book is: Not Buying It.
In this special holiday edition of BGM, Charlotte and I chat about our favorite Christmas movies and what makes them so great for us. There are also some honorable mentions. We finish with a diagnosis of Apple TV+ The Morning Show.
Bryan Chaffin and John Martellaro join host Kelly Guimont to discuss sending location data to Apple (or not), and John’s new Background Mode.
Gregory Zuckerman is a Special Writer at The Wall Street Journal, a 23-year veteran of the paper and a three-time winner of the Gerald Loeb award—the highest honor in business journalism. At the Journal, Greg writes about big financial firms, personalities and trades, as well as hedge funds, the energy revolution and more. Greg is the author of The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched a Quant Revolution, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.
Greg told me the surprising tale about how he got started covering business issues and how he finally landed at the WSJ. He told me how he develops his contacts and works with them to develop breaking stories. We talked about his award winning work and what kind of effort that takes. We finished with his latest book describing how Jim Simons and his team of physicist-analysts changed investing forever—and got rich in the process.
John has had some very notable, interesting, even spectacular guests on his Background Mode Podcast recently. Here’s a recap.
Dr. Dan Hooper is a Senior Scientist and the Head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. He is also a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin.
Dan told me about how his early aspirations as a youth were actually in music. It wasn’t until he took a class as an undergraduate in Relativity that the astrophysics bug bit him. Hard. Dan explained how he landed a post-doc position at Oxford and how he was later hired at Fermilab. Later, we chatted about his interest in the interface between particle physics and cosmology, Dark Matter and what neutrinos can tell us about the early universe. We finished with an overview of his new astrophysics book that explores the mysteries of the origin of the universe.
David Sobotta joined Apple in 1984. His career there lasted until July 2004. During that time David went from being an entry-level sales representative based in Halifax, Nova Scotia covering Atlantic Canada to the Reston, Virginia, based director of Apple’s federal sales group. He has gained an intimate knowledge of Apple, its culture and the leadership of Steve Jobs.
David tells a story that started with the Apple II, learning the technology, going to work for a mini computer shop in Canada, growing the business so much that he got to know the Apple rep and then the serious attention of Apple. David evolved through business and then education, working with resellers, and eventually rose to the position of Apple Director of Federal Sales. We also chatted about Apple’s brief foray into selling supercomputers in 2004.
Mike Elgan writes a popular weekly column for Computerworld, contributes news analysis pieces for Fast Company and SecurityIntelligence and also writes special features, columns, and think pieces for a variety of publications.
Mike tells a career story that started in newspaper publishing with QuarkXPress. Soon, he realized that what he loved was not covering local politics but rather the technology of the Mac, networking and printing. That launched his career writing about computer tech. In the 2nd segment we chatted about some of our favorite topics: dealing with information overload, Apple’s amazing U1 chip, Augmented Reality glasses replacing iPhones, and cars that sense driver emotions. Mike has an amazing vision of our tech future. Join us.
Kelly Guimont is a long-time podcaster, Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer, the host of the Mac Observer’s Daily Observations podcast, a tech support guru, and a Founding Volunteer of App Camp for Girls.
Kelly first appeared here in December, 2015 to tell her career story and has returned many times for interesting discussions. In her 8th appearance, we chat about our favorite TV shows of late. Kelly: Fleabag (Amazon), The Politician (Netflix), and Billions (Showtime). John: Madam Secretary (CBS), Toy Story 4 (Pixar) and Victoria S3 (PBS). Join us as we explore together what’s great about these shows.
Bhavin Asher is a technologist and entrepreneur. After graduating college with a computer science degree, he went to work for IBM. Later, Bhavin transitioned to a position at Deloitte as a CRM Strategy Consultant. Deloitte provided a learning environment to understand how successful businesses leverage technology to scale and grow. Most recently, he was a Director and Solutions Architect at Salesforce. Today, Bhavin is the founder and CEO of GRUBBRR.
Bhavin tells a career story that well prepared him to launch his own business. GRUBBRR is a full-service kiosk order and sales system for, to name a few, restaurants, fast-casual restaurants, cafes, bars, coffee shops, and bakeries. If you’ve ever waited an eternity for your food order or check, you’ll want to hear how GRUBBRR has re-engineered the whole process for the digital age—including great GUI displays, AI and Apple Watch support. Welcome to tomorrow.
Don Melton is probably best known as the person who started the Safari and WebKit projects at Apple and his rise to Apple Engineering Director of Internet Technologies. These days he’s an aspiring writer, podcaster and recovering programmer.
Don walks us through his early career starting with his aspiration to become a comic strip or comic book artist. His artistic talent led to a newspaper job which led to information graphics which led to work with Macs. His tinkering with the Mac revealed that he had a special talent for programming, and that ultimately led to his job at Netscape developing the Navigator browser. Later, a relationship with Andy Hertzfeld and Bud Tribble led to his job at Apple in 2001, chartered by Scott Forstall, to write a web browser. Don tells a fascinating story about the development of Safari for Mac OS X and the race to replace Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.