The Beauty-And-Refinement Edition Monday, October 24, 2016

Still Ticking: The Improbable Survival Of The Luxury Watch Business, by Simon Garfield, The Guardian

But the watch has always been a computer; the difference now is what it computes. A dial that once etched out our lives in hours and minutes, its accuracy dependent on our capacity to set it in motion and wind it, may now keep us connected with the rest of the earth, via GPS and overnight wireless charging. Yet the remarkable thing is not the emergence of texts and emails on the wrists – that was always going to come at some point – but how robust the traditional and mechanical wristwatch has proven itself alongside the new technologies. Alongside the absurd complications of the fattest new timepiece comes something we are evidently keen to hang on to – a belief that beauty and refinement are ends in themselves, and that the workbench of the skilled engineer is still revered more than the production line. A beautiful ticking timepiece gives us something back – transporting us, perhaps, to an imagined time when time was still our friend.

Apple's Health App Now Tracks Sexual Activity, And That's A Big Opportunity, by Lux Alptraum, Motherboard

Apple has long viewed sex as something taboo—and when it comes to porn and sexual entertainment, that probably won’t change anytime soon. But the latest iteration of Health is a step in the right direction.

And while it could certainly benefit from a bit of expansion—recognition of the possibility of multiple partners, a more nuanced reflection of what “protection” might mean for different users, ability to indicate a partner’s gender, just for starters—it’s still a huge step forward from a historically-sex-unfriendly company. Much as we try to deny it, sexuality is a fundamental and important part of human life. It’s wonderful to see Apple finally allowing it to be truly integrated into our tech as well.

The iPod Is Now 15 Years Old, by Jordan Novet, VentureBeat

Today, the iPod still has a presence in Apple’s online and physical stores, along with Macs, MacBooks, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, iPads, and, of course, iPhones. In the recently opened Apple Union Square store in San Francisco, a few iPods are on display for testing out certain speakers, below shelves of Beats headphones. [...]

At Apple, the underlying iTunes is still going, and a big part of the company’s current strategy is the Apple Music streaming service. Increasingly, instead of downloading songs to a portable device, people are simply streaming them. While iPod financial figures are missing from today’s Apple earnings statements, you can now find information about the growing Services business, which includes Apple Music, among other things. In its most recent quarter, Services brought Apple $5.97 billion in revenue.

Does Advertising Ruin Everything?, by Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Harvesting was perhaps the original U.S. industrial activity. Economic growth relied on the reliable conversion of plants and animals into salable products, like cotton and beef. But the 21st century’s most successful industrialists, like Facebook and Google, harvest another commodity as abundant as wheat or crude oil. In the new industry, the fields are media and entertainment, the harvesters are advertisers, and the crop is attention.

In his new book, The Attention Merchants, the Columbia University professor and writer Tim Wu traces the history of the advertising business from its origins in the 19th century to the modern phenomenon of ad-blocking software on websites.

Elegant Physics (And Some Down And Dirty Linux Tricks) Threaten Android Phones, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

The vulnerability, identified by researchers in the VUSec Lab at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, targets a phone’s dynamic random access memory using an attack called Rowhammer. Although the attack is well-known within the cybersecurity community, this is the first time anyone’s used it on a mobile device. It’s troubling because the so-called DRAMMER attack potentially places all data on an Android phone at risk. [...]

This research looks at Android rather than iOS because Google’s operating system is based on Linux, which the researchers are intimately familiar with. But they say it would, in theory, be possible to replicate the attack in an iPhone with additional research.


Apple Sponsoring Annual Fashion Met Gala For Second Year Running, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple's continuing support for the gig outlines its deepening ties with the fashion industry, with the company's timepieces turning up on the wrists of celebrities and in glitzy magazines, Apple stores taking a page out of Burberry's fashion playbook thanks to Apple retail head Angela Ahrendts, and even audio accessories like Beats headphones becoming fashion statements.

iOS Just Got A Paper On Nuclear Physics Accepted At A Scientific Conference, by Christoph Bartneck

Since I have practically no knowledge of Nuclear Physics I resorted to iOS auto-complete function to help me writing the paper. I started a sentence with “Atomic” or “Nuclear” and then randomly hit the auto-complete suggestions.

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I've always been an iPod mini/nano kind of person. The 'full-sized' iPod was too expensive for me, and I really don't need that much disk-space since I mostly listen to audiobooks and podcasts -- content that doesn't demand keeping a large portable library to bring around.

I do miss the portability of an iPod nano. I wish there is a small device with the form factor of a small iPod running something akin to watchOS. I don't like to wear a watch (anymore); I'm probably more of a pocketwatch kinda person.


Thanks for reading.