Saturday, 17 Sep 2016

A real world review of the iPhone 7  

A great review of the new iPhone 7 and 7 plus by Matthew Panzerino of TechCrunch. Bonus points for using the word “fart” in the opening sentence.

If you’ve read one of my reviews before then you’ll know I do things a bit differently than other tech writers. For one, I use the phones as normal. I don’t torture test them or run dozens of artificial benchmarks unless they provide an interesting window into advancements in performance that are going to make a real difference to you.

Frankly, with platforms like iOS, where the hardware is a near constant, developers are going to be producing software that utilizes exactly what resources Apple makes available to them — no more and no less. So wasting time on a bunch of random numbers (higher is better! lower is better!) doesn’t really serve the audience most of the time because everything should run well.

Well worth reading if you’re even remotely interested in the new iPhones.

Wednesday, 14 Sep 2016

Beautiful landscapes  

Thanks to Colossal I’ve discovered a great photographer, Lorenzo Montezemolo. Check out his Flickr feed for some really amazing photos, I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes saying to myself “just one more…”.

low winter sun | vagnsstaðir, iceland

e n c ø r e | hamnøy, norway

t r u s t | san francisco, california

Saturday, 3 Sep 2016

Go to jail, go directly to jail...  

A small county in Indiana sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. This New York Times article looks at how prison populations are declining in most populous areas in the USA but are booming in mostly white, conservative rural areas.

If Mr. Gaddis had been caught 20 miles to the east, in Cincinnati, he would have received a maximum of six months in prison, court records show. In San Francisco or Brooklyn, he would probably have received drug treatment or probation, lawyers say.

But Mr. Gaddis lived in Dearborn County, Ind., which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison.

They obviously didn’t get the memo that the war on drugs was lost.

Via NextDraft

Friday, 2 Sep 2016

SpaceX Rocket Explosion  

Earlier today a SpaceX rocket exploded on its launchpad destroying the rocket and a Facebook satellite, luckily no-one was hurt.
Despite the launch being a complete failure, they did manage to get some pretty impressive footage of the explosion.
Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016

Contact?  

A Russian radio telescope, the RATAN-600 telescope in Zelenchukskayap (try saying that 5 times quickly), picked up a strong “spike” in signals coming from a sun like star some 95 light years from Earth. Apparently this was in May 2015 but they seem to have forgotten to tell the rest of the international scientific community – maybe they didn’t think it was very important?

The signal’s strength indicates that if it in fact came from a isotropic beacon, the power source would have to be built by a Kardashev Type II civilization. (The Kardashev scale is used to determine the progress of a civilization’s technological development by measuring how much energy was used to transmit an interstellar message.) An ‘Isotropic’ beacon means a communication source emitting a signal with equal power in all directions while promoting signal strength throughout travel.

I wonder how many geeks are busy re-installing their Seti@Home screensavers that were so popular in the early 2000’s.

Via NextDraft

Random thought: If the Kardashev scale measures a civilization’s technological development, would a scale that measures a civilization’s regression be called the Kardashian scale?

Thursday, 25 Aug 2016

The JFK Airport Shooting that never happened  

I somehow missed this story the other day, perhaps because it was caused by an event that never happened. David Wallace-Wells from New York Magazine, tells the story of how someone in the crowd at JFK Airport apparently mistook the sound of people cheering and clapping Usain Bolt’s 100 meter final for gunfire. In the security paranoid environment of an airport it didn’t take much to start a mass panic.

The applause sounded like gunfire, somehow, or to someone; really, it only takes one. According to some reports, one woman screamed that she saw a gun. The cascading effect was easier to figure: When people started running, a man I met later on the tarmac said, they plowed through the metal poles strung throughout the terminal to organize lines, and the metal clacking on the tile floors sounded like gunfire. Because the clacking was caused by the crowd, wherever you were and however far you’d run already, it was always right around you.

Hundreds of passengers take cover behind their baggage.

The airport was evacuated, planes were delayed, even emergency chutes were deployed on some, passengers ran onto the tarmac, it was pandemonium. Interestingly, the airport security appeared to be mostly ineffective in controlling the situation with reports of the security guards being just as panicked and confused as the passengers.

Guards were rushing back and forth, themselves panicked, and each time any one of them made a sudden movement, the rest of us seemed to swell up, too, and surge forward for the door. Guards and passengers kept screaming at each other; if the security had been armed, a shooting wouldn’t have just been possible but likely.

What a frightening situation, so glad it turned out to be a false alarm.

Via One Foot Tsunami.

Monday, 15 Aug 2016

Usain Bolt is still No. 1  

As the king of sprinting and the biggest global star at the Rio Games, Usain Bolt of Jamaica held aloft his index finger, signaling that he was No. 1, during introductions Sunday night as a smitten crowd chanted his name.

Then Bolt proved it again, winning the 100 meters in 9.81 seconds, a coronation that secured his place as the greatest sprinter of all time. He is the only man or woman to win the Olympic 100 three times, which he accomplished at three consecutive Games.

Usain Bolt wins Olympic gold in the 100 metres

Such a great ambassador for such a beautiful country – moments like this remind me of how proud I am of my Jamaican heritage.

No Fear  

A great article on Alex Honnold, the man considered to be the world’s greatest free-solo climber (no ropes or protective gear) and how he manages to climb without giving in to the natural instinct of fear.

Alex Honnold in 2008 on the

Recently a group of scientists took MRI scans of Honnold’s brain while he viewed images intended to stimulate the amygdala, the part of the brain that is related to our fear response. What they found was that Honnold’s amygdala was largely inactive due to repeated exposure to and suppression of his sense of fear.

One by one, acts that had seemed outrageous to him began to seem not so crazy: soloing moves in which he hangs only by his fingers, for example, with his feet swinging in the open air, or, as he did in June on a notorious route called The Complete Scream, climbing ropeless up a pitch that he had never ascended before. In 12 years of free solos, Honnold has broken holds, had his feet slip, gotten off-route into unknown terrain, been surprised by animals like birds and ants, or just suffered “that fraying at the edges, you know, where you’ve just been up in the void too long.” But because he managed to deal with these problems, he gradually dampened his anxieties about them.

This is an interesting read about a remarkable person, especially the fact he was willing to be a guinea pig for these scientists to gain a better understanding of how our brains process and retain information.

Via NextDraft.

UPDATE: The first 30 seconds of this video is a perfect example of why people are curious about his lack of fear.

Thursday, 11 Aug 2016

Australia's GPS Navigation is Wrong  

If you’re in Australia, you might have noticed a strange consistency in this imprecision—specifically, that everything is about 1.5 meters (just under 5 feet) off the mark.

No wonder I keep getting lost.

Tuesday, 26 Jul 2016

Yahoo 1996 - 2016  

Yahoo has announced a $4.7 billion sale to Verizon ending a twenty year roller coaster ride of highs and (mostly) lows. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting timeline highlighting key moments of those twenty years.

Funny to think they rejected a $44.6 billion bid from Microsoft back in 2008, I think Microsoft dodged a bullet.