The App-Store Edition Saturday, June 11, 2016

How The Apple App Store Went From ‘Impossible Thought’ To Job Creator, by Nicholas Deleon, Motherboard

“I remember Steve [Jobs] saying to us, ‘Do you think we can get 50—literally 50—apps to start with when we launch?’” Apple VP of product marketing Greg Joswiak told Motherboard in an interview last week at the company’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. The fact that the App Store ended up launching in July 2008 with more than 10 times that number, Joswiak said, “was probably an omen, if you will, that we had tapped into something pretty big.” [...]

To better understand the worldwide phenomenon—and to find out why the average person should care in the first place—Motherboard spent the past few days, in the lead up to the beginning of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 13, interviewing a number of software developers from all over the world, from a Bay Area team that’s hoping to transform the way women buy bras (ThirdLove) to a Swedish group that’s marrying health and fitness tracking and motivation with attractive design (Lifesum). And while these developers may be located on opposite sides of the planet, a common thread emerged in our conversations: If it weren’t for the rise of digital distribution, putting them on more of an even playing field with software giants like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, they wouldn’t have managed to get off the ground in the first place.

Young Brains

Smartphones Won’t Make Your Kids Dumb. We Think, by Olivia Solon, Quartz

It’s been six years since the launch of the iPad and, with it, the rebirth of tablet computers. The academic research simply hasn’t been able to catch up, which means it’s hard to know the long-term impact on young brains of being exposed to tablets and smartphones.

The concern among some experts is that these devices, if used in particular ways, could be changing children’s brains for the worse–potentially affecting their attention, motor control, language skills and eyesight, especially in under-fives, for whom so much brain development is taking place.

Technology companies and app developers are throwing their marketing prowess at the problem, slapping words like “educational” and “e-learning” on their products, often without any scientific basis. So what are parents to do?

Brisbane School Told Girl, 5, ‘You’re Out If You Don’t Have iPad’, by Natasha Bita, The Australian

A public school that is forcing ­parents to buy iPads for kindergarten kids next year is facing a backlash from families.


Paragon Hard Disk Manager For Mac Offers Recovery, Secure Erase, More, by MacNN

Hard Disk Manager enables highly flexible drive portioning, redistribution of free space as well as system backup and migration that offers a wealth of options not offered in Apple's heavily revised Disk Utility.

Goodbye, Old-School Yahoo Messenger App, by David Murphy, PC Magazine

If you're still using Yahoo's ancient Messenger application—you know, the one you can't even download from Yahoo anymore, but might still be clinging to because you have a fondness for purple user interfaces—then you might want to start finding some alternatives.


What Happens When Anyone Can Code? We’re About To Find Out, by Douglas Rushkoff, Yahoo

I’ve started playing with an iPad app called Ready that lets kids build little games, simple apps, and creative digital projects. It uses a simple drag-and-drop interface to create objects, change their properties, and make them interact with each other or a user. [...]

What WYSIWYG did for document creation, Ready can do for programming. But the effects could go much deeper than saving time.


The Amazing iPhone-sniffing Prison Dogs, by Maurice Chammah, The Marshall Project

The pervasiveness of illegal cell phones in American prisons is consistently described by officials as a security threat, allowing gangs to organize across the walls and prisoners to harass their victims. But some inmates have described the prevalence of cell phones inside as a product of their desperation to maintain contact with family and friends on the outside, since sanctioned phone calls are notoriously expensive.

The dogs can do this because cell phones have a smell. The psychologist Stanley Coren once wrote that he left a collection of cell phone parts in boxes for ten days and opened them to find “a sweet metallic smell that I might fantasize that a newly built robot would have, with perhaps a faint ozone-like overtone.”

Milky Way No Longer Visible To One Third Of Humanity, Light Pollution Atlas Shows, by Nicola Davis, The Guardian

It has inspired astronomers, artists, musicians and poets but the Milky Way could become a distant memory for much of humanity, a new global atlas of light pollution suggests.

The study reveals that 60% of Europeans and almost 80% of North Americans cannot see the glowing band of our galaxy because of the effects of artificial lighting, while it is imperceptible to the entire populations of Singapore, Kuwait and Malta.

The Grand Canyon: Meet The Newest Dark Sky Park, by Sarah Lewin, Space

The glittering night skies above the Grand Canyon will soon gain extra protection from encroaching light — the national park has been designated a provisional International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) and the National Park Service.

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I haven't seen any stars -- except one -- for years, I think.


Thanks for reading.