Inside Liam, Apple’s super-secret, 29-armed recycling robot

Samantha Murphy Kelly, writing for Mashable:

Liam completes an iPhone disassembly process every 11 seconds, with dozens running through the system at all times. About 350 units are turned around each hour, equivalent to 1.2 million iPhones each year.

Apple wouldn’t say when Liam started its work, but emphasized the project is still in the research and development stages.

You can see Liam at work in the youtube video at the top of this post.

How One Developer Broke Node, Babel, and Thousands of Projects

Chris Williams:

A couple of hours ago, Azer Koçulu unpublished more than 250 of his modules from NPM, which is a popular package manager used by JavaScript projects to install dependencies.

Koçulu yanked his source code because, we’re told, one of the modules was called Kik and that apparently attracted the attention of lawyers representing the instant-messaging app of the same name.

[…]

Unfortunately, one of those dependencies was left-pad. The code is below. It pads out the lefthand-side of strings with zeroes or spaces. And thousands of projects including Node and Babel relied on it.

Azer Koçulu ( via Erik Aybar ):

When I started coding Kik, didn’t know there is a company with same name. And I didn’t want to let a company force me to change the name of it. After I refused them, they reached NPM’s support emphasizing their lawyer power in every single e-mail CC’ing me.

[…]

I’m apologize from you if your stuff just got broken due to this. You can either point your dependency to repo directly (azer/dependency) or if you volunteer to take ownership of any module in my Github, I’ll happily transfer the ownership

Code 8 – a film from Robbie & Stephen Amell launches on Indiegogo

Acting cousins Stephen (from Arrow) & Robbie (Flash, Tomorrow People, X-files) Amell just launched their 10 minute short film titled Code 8 and they also launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to make it into a feature film.

The movie puts us in a near future that has 4% of the population endowed with powers of some sort. Due to this and the skewed poverty line, the police have militarized, equipping robots and drones to help them keep the peace. The short film is fantastic and definitely worth a look.

They’ve got an interesting line up between the two of them, Sung Kang (Fast & Furious movies), Aaron Abrams (Hannibal, Blindspot), Chad Donella (Scandal), and Alfred Rubin Thompson (Club Dead).

I really liked the 10 minute short film, and am rooting for the feature film to get made.

Apple And The FBI: The Latest Development And What It Means

Alina Selyukh, writing for NPR, lays out a series of questions about the latest development in Apple vs FBI.

The FBI may have found a new way to crack into the locked iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters — a method that doesn’t require Apple’s help.

This is a major new development in the increasingly heated debate between the tech giant and the government, which has argued that Apple should be compelled to write new special software that would override some security features.

That was the only way, investigators previously had said, that they could crack the phone’s passcode without jeopardizing its contents.

Tim Cook: FBI fight is about a responsibility to help you protect your data

Tim Cook took today’s Apple event as a chance to strike back at government demands that the company break security measures on a phone used in the San Bernardino attack. “We built the iPhone for you, our customers,” Cook told the crowd. “We need to decide, as a nation, how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy.”

“We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government,” he continued, “but we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and your privacy.”

iPhone SE announced: iPhone 6S specs, iPhone 5S size

Apple has just announced the iPhone SE, a new 4-inch smartphone that offers a smaller and cheaper option to the company’s flagship iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. It’s like a mix between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 generations of devices, taking the size and design of one and the latest specs and capabilities of the other. Apple calls the iPhone SE “the most powerful 4-inch smartphone ever.”

At the heart of the iPhone SE is the 64-bit Apple A9 processor together with the embedded M9 motion co-processor, the same as the iPhone 6S. That means it can play games just as brilliantly as Apple’s current flagship, plus it supports hands-free “Hey Siri” prompting. The camera is also carried over from the 6S, it’s the same 12-megapixel iSight camera with a dual-tone flash and the ability to shoot Live Photos and 4K video.

New iPad Pro announced: $599, 9.7-inch display, weighs less than one pound

Apple has just announced a new iPad Pro, a smaller version of its iPad Pro tablet released last year. The new iPad Pro has a 9.7-inch display and weighs less than one pound. The new Pro is the same size as the iPad Air 2, which Apple says is the most popular size of iPad use.

The display on the new iPad Pro is said to be 25 percent brighter and 40 percent less reflective than the iPad Air 2’s screen, and Apple claims that it has the lowest reflectivity of any tablet screen. Apple also claims that the 9.7-inch display is the brightest tablet screen on the market. It also features a new technology called “True Tone Display”, which measures the color temperature of ambient light and adjusts the display to match. The Pro also takes advantage of iOS 9.3’s new blue-light reduction feature for late-night use.

Aside from the display, the new iPad Pro is very similar to the larger model: it’s powered by the A9X processor and has a similar four-speaker system. Apple says it’s twice as loud as the Air 2. Apple is selling a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard for the down-sized Pro, and the new tablet is compatible with the Pencil stylus introduced last year. Other accessories include a new Lightning-powered SD card reader and USB camera adapter.

An interesting replacement for the iPad Air 2…

Stand to work if you like, but don’t brag about the benefits

NPR:

Too much sitting increases heart failure risk and disability risk, and shortens life expectancy, studies have found. But according to an analysis published Wednesday of 20 of the best studies done so far, there’s little evidence that workplace interventions like the sit-stand desk or even the flashier pedaling or treadmill desks will help you burn lots more calories, or prevent or reverse the harm of sitting for hours on end.

“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” says Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

I actually have a standing desk from Oristand that I’m about to write a review on, and I like it but I’ve also personally always found standing desks to be one of those things that were just “too good to be true”.

As it turns out, I may be partially right. That does not mean you shouldn’t stand, or at least, not sit for 10 hours a day but it seems the health benefits have been overblown.

I’ve found that I do like to sit for part of the day, and stand for part of the day but it’s nice to be able to switch back and forth, and yes, there are desks that can raise and lower, but the Oristand also lets me quickly tuck it away and use my desk as a desk when I don’t feel like standing too.

The moral of the story is: If a standing desk is comfortable for you, then you should definitely use it. But if someone finds a regular desk easier to work with, then let them use that to do their work.

How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?

Marc Rayman, director and chief engineer for NASA’s Dawn mission, explaining why NASA uses 3.141592653589793 (“only” 15 decimal places) for its most accurate calculations:

Earlier this week, we received this question from a fan on Facebook who wondered how many decimals of the mathematical constant pi (π) NASA-JPL scientists and engineers use when making calculations:

Does JPL only use 3.14 for its pi calculations? Or do you use more decimals like say: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360

[…]

The most distant spacecraft from Earth is Voyager 1. It is about 12.5 billion miles away. Let’s say we have a circle with a radius of exactly that size (or 25 billion miles in diameter) and we want to calculate the circumference, which is pi times the radius times 2.

Using pi rounded to the 15th decimal, as I gave above, that comes out to a little more than 78 billion miles. We don’t need to be concerned here with exactly what the value is (you can multiply it out if you like) but rather what the error in the value is by not using more digits of pi. In other words, by cutting pi off at the 15th decimal point, we would calculate a circumference for that circle that is very slightly off.

It turns out that our calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle would be wrong by 1.5 inches. Think about that. We have a circle more than 78 billion miles around, and our calculation of that distance would be off by perhaps less than the length of your little finger.

Apple to Build out Own Cloud Infrastructure

Mark Bergen, reporting for Recode on reports that Apple is shifting some of its cloud infrastructure from AWS to Google:

In its bid to raise its name in cloud computing services, Google nabbed a big-name customer: Apple. The iPhone maker recently started storing portions of its iCloud and services data with Google’s cloud platform, according to sources familiar with the deal.

It’s a win for Google, which is gunning for larger companies as cloud customers. But it might be short-lived, as it looks like Apple is also simultaneously building out its own system to bring data stored on its millions of devices in house.

Currently, much of Apple’s iCloud luggage sits with Amazon Web Services, the leading cloud provider by a long mile, and also with Microsoft’s Azure. CRN, the publication which first reported the news, claims that Apple is trimming its reliance on AWS by turning to Google. At minimum, Apple would seem to be adding Google to the mix.

[…]

Then there’s Apple’s next step. Morgan Stanley, in a note last month, laid out the tea leaves: Apple has announced three data centers opening soon and spent an estimated $1 billion last year on AWS. It’s a logical move for Apple if it wants more independence from its tech rivals. And it’s one Apple should make to store the growing media libraries from its mobile, TV and TBD products.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple already has a team working on this; it’s known internally as “McQueen,” as in Steve. It’s unclear if that project will materialize or when. But a source tells Re/code that the codename refers to Apple’s intent, sometime in the next few years, to break its reliance on all three outside cloud providers in favor of its own soup-to-nuts infrastructure.

The move to their own data centers falls in line with Tim Cook’s longtime refrain:

“We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make.”

It is interesting that Apple uses all three major cloud providers now, but it does give each one the edge to say both: Apple iCloud is hosted here, but not to be able to say they are the primary iCloud hosting provider.