MATTEO DALL'OMBRA

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The Martian In Real Life

August 21st, 2015

“The Martian” merges the fictional and factual narratives about Mars, building upon the work NASA and others have done exploring Mars and moving it forward into the 2030s, when NASA astronauts are regularly traveling to Mars and living on the surface to explore. Although the action takes place 20 years in the future, NASA is already developing many of the technologies that appear in the film.

Absolutely fascinating.

 

Whatsapp Web Finally Comes To iOS

August 20th, 2015

The long wait is finally over! Since last night Whatsapp on web is finally compatible with the iPhone and iOS in general.

 

The feature is slowly rolling out to all users with a server side update, so you won’t see any update in the AppStore. Once you get it, you’ll see a new menu item in the settings: Whatsapp Web. From there you can scan the QR code displayed online and sync the devices together. From that menu you can also review all the open sessions and find out with which device you are connected.

 

But the news don’t stop here. It actually gets better. With this new functionality you can now use Whatsapp from your iPad. Simply go to http://web.whatsapp.com from Safari and then use the sharing menu to Request Desktop Site. The page will reload and voila’, the QR will appear in all its glory and you can start using the service.

 

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On a laptop you can enable notifications from within the browser, on the iPad you lose that ability, so you’ll see new message as long as your browser is open. It’s a baby step, but still is better than nothing.

The Food Of A Spy

August 19th, 2015
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Photographer Henry Hargreaves is known for using food to tell a story, and his latest series tells a story about James Bond. Specifically, it tells the story of the globe-trotting agent’s culinary appetites—as distinct from his carnal ones and his bloodthirst. “Dying To Eat” brings to sumptuous visual life the vast array of meals Bond dined on mostly in the book series, which fans could previously only imagine. Interestingly, the meals reveal more about this inscrutable man than most of his films do.

Amazing collection of picture, around a very neat idea. It’s almost like taking a peek behind the curtain of a celebrity.

2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

August 19th, 2015
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The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is an automotive charitable event held each year on the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, considered the most prestigious event of its kind. It is the finale of Monterey Car Week held in August every year.
 
A Concours d’Elegance (French, literally “a competition of elegance”) is an event open to both prewar and postwar collector cars in which they are judged for authenticity, function, history, and style.1

2015 was an amazing edition. Do yourself a favour, go and check out the full gallery at the link above. You’ll be looking at car heaven, thanks to the incredible pictures of photographer Drew Phillips.

 

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Drew Phillips / AOL

 


  1. Definition from Wikipedia 

Apple Pay On Apple Watch Could Reach 95% Adoption Rate

August 18th, 2015

Ben Lovejoy writing for 9to5mac:

A new survey of Apple Watch owners by Wristly found that 80% of those in the US and UK have already used Apple Pay, and suggests that this number could eventually hit 95%. The survey was limited to the two countries where Apple Pay is currently available.

The firm found that only 19% of Watch owners hadn’t yet tried Apple Pay, and of those only a quarter of them either had concerns or saw no benefits, suggesting that the rest were likely to try it at some later point.

I can definitely see how these numbers came to be. Since my bank started supporting Apple Pay, I’ve always used anytime I could. It’s very convenient and fast and it’s easier than picking up your credit/debit card from your wallet.

 

Despite that, I’ve only used my Apple Watch to pay in very few occasions just after the initial roll out. In my day to day experience I’ve found the phone to be more convenient, reliable and quicker1 than the watch.

Unsurprisingly, most Apple Watch owners said they preferred the watch to their iPhone when it came to using Apple Pay, just 9% preferring to use the phone.

Among other inconveniences, the biggest one that has prevented my from reliably using the watch is due to the weird placement of the different point of sales in the shops. Some of them are at a convenient height and easily reachable on the counter, many others are placed such as you need to do some weird twists and turns with your wrists, defeating its ease of use.

 

Looks like this time I’m in the small minority.

 


  1. Especially if you pre-authorize the phone seconds prior the actual transaction. 

Dreaming Of An iPad Hub

August 17th, 2015
ipad mockup

 

First of all, please forgive my poor design capabilities. I’ve tried to put the above mock-up together to help the words that’ll follow1.

 

So, what are we looking at? Simple, an iPad powered work station. Please allow me to illustrate the concept in all its glory.

 

The original idea came to me because of the horror that my work station instills in me every day. I’m working off a HP laptop, which is big, slow and runs Windows 7 (yeah!). Excluding coding, most of my job is spread across emails, spreadsheets and presentations. Starting from this point, you can easily see how an iPad could easily replace all of this functions out of the box (except for a bit of coding – more on that later).

 

I currently use my iPad side by side my laptop as a way to quickly take notes. I have a stylus and together with Penultimate they form a pretty powerful combination. I also use my iPad to deal with emails. It’s a much more focused machine for that kind of task and I find myself automatically picking up the iPad to read, reply and manage emails, rather than relying on my main machine.

 

From this kind of daily use, I’ve started wondering what could be the next step.

 

The first obvious one is the screen size. I own an iPad Air 2, which is an awesome machine, but even the 9.7″ screen is not enough for me. Every time I’ve connected it to an external monitor, I immediately felt home. The thing is that when you do that, you only get a a bigger iPad screen, but still all the touch input has do be done on the iPad screen itself, so you spend more time looking down rather than up. A bit pointless.

 

So here is my question: what if, when you connect the iPad to an external display, the iPad itself becomes a massive touchpad?

 

Now the mockup above is starting to shape up. Let’s say I’m using the lighting to HDMI connector to go to an Apple Cinema Display (or any other display for that matter). When I connect, the UI goes solely on the external display, while the iPad itself transforms into a massive trackpad and effectively becomes a mouse. Pair this with a bluetooth keyboard (as many of us already do) and voilà: an iPad-powered workstation is born.

 

The power of iOS has always been in the versatility of the software. That was the entire argument about having a software keyboard: a medium that could adapt to the current requirement, rather than being a static and dumb input medium.

 

Here I’m applying the same concept, just on a bigger scale. Let’s go even further. The iPad screen could gets split into two (using the same concept of split screen coming with iOS 9): one half being the trackpad2 and the other half being used for different shortcuts to different iOS functions3.

 

Being on the big screen, you could now make full of use of the new split screen functionality. Instead of being locked into a single app view, you could have the two side by side and really embrace this newly found flexibility4.

 

This is definitely a very edge case scenario of iPad use and I know I’m definitely in the minority. Still, the iPad keeps becoming faster and more powerful but Apple keeps underplaying it, leaving a massive potential untapped.

 

I’m guessing that now you might ask: why don’t you just use the new MacBook and shut the hell up?

 

That’s certainly a good question. My answer would be that the iPad is a much more versatile machine. I could be in workstation mode while in the office, then unplug it at the end of the day and go back to couch mode in the evening.

 

At the end of the day a MacBook is and will always be a laptop. An iPad is and will always be whatever you want it to be. The only limit is your imagination.

 


  1. Yes, I know, the HDMI cable (yes, it’s a cable) is particularly terrible but I couldn’t find anything better than drawing it myself. 
  2. Imagine a future revision of the iPad including Force Touch, the half trackpad could be used for very precise input. 
  3. We could have a button to invoke Siri, one for the app switcher and maybe a couple to quickly switch between favorite apps. 
  4. Of course it would be nice to be able to move content between side-by-side apps, but that’s just crazy talk at this point. 

The First Numbers Are In For Apple Music

August 17th, 2015

Ben Sisario writing for the New York Times:

 

In Apple Music’s first major test, the answer is a qualified yes. Dr. Dre’s album “Compton: A Soundtrack” — a loose tie-in to the film “Straight Outta Compton” — had 25 million streams around the world in its first week, and also sold nearly half a million downloads through Apple’s iTunes store, Apple executives said on Sunday.

 

These numbers are of course great, but I think we also have to consider the major stars alignment that came to be for the release of this album. We are still currently within the free trial period for all the Apple Music users (and there are still questions on user retention when the first bill will come in) and the album was released perfectly timed with the opening of the movie Straight Outta Compton.

 

To me this is a demonstration of the quality of the media machine within Apple, rather than a real test for Apple Music. It would probably be a more realistic test to do another count toward October-November with a new album release and there we’ll be able to see the real power of Apple Music.

 

This is not to say that Apple Music is doomed, far from that. I’m a big fan myself of the new system, I’m just trying not to get over excited.

 

Toward the end of the article there is a passage that also confirms how this is more about the big Apple machine:

 

Made in secret by Dr. Dre, one of hip-hop’s most celebrated innovators, it came out on Aug. 7, a week before the release of “Straight Outta Compton,” which tells the story of Dr. Dre’s group N.W.A. and had $56.1 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend.

The album very likely benefited from the promotional push for the film. But for the music industry, it also demonstrated the reach and marketing power of Apple’s system. Dr. Dre, who like Mr. Iovine is now a top consultant to Apple, was working on the album until just days before its release. By keeping its existence closely held within Apple, the company was able to prevent it from leaking online, a fate that damages the release impact of many big albums.

 

Plus it’s interesting how years of hard work to achieve a super level of secrecy are paying off in such an unexpected way.

Fall 2015: What’s New On My TV Watchlist

August 16th, 2015

It’s now mid-august, which means that a brand new TV season is awaiting us just around the corner. Fresh of the disappointment of Season 2 of True Detective, I’m now watching the upcoming schedule with mix hopes.

 

Alongside the usual suspects of The Big Bang Theory, The Flash, Homeland and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (just to name a few of them), there are a numbers of newcomers that will want to challenge those household names for a span of your attention.

 

It’s always difficult to decide what to invest in, speaking of TV shows. In today’s world you know that a show that you like can be abruptly cancelled after just one season, despite good critics and viewership numbers1. This is why every summer I carefully go through my list of shows and I try to find out what else I can add to replace gaps left by others, but also to try and diversify the type of shows. It’s always good to have a good mix of comedy, drama and sci-fi, so as to keep it interesting week after week.

 

So, without further ado, let’s have a look at what’s coming new in my TV watchlist

 

1. Minority Report

 

 

Based on the Spielberg blockbuster with main character Tom Cruise, this tv show will explore the return of one of the Precogs few years after the Prerime programme was stopped. Judging by the trailer above released by FOX, it seems the Precog is still being hunted by his visions which are now incomplete, having to rely of just one instead of three twins, so it has to rely on a cop help to try and prevents future crime to happen.

 

As with all the productions inspired by a massive blockbuster, there is always the risk for it to tank immediately. It don’t see it as becoming a massive thing, so this one goes into the “watch without attachment” list.

 

2. Limitless

 

 

Different show, same concept. CBS is trying its luck on the TV adaptation of the 2011 movie of the same title. Here the ties between movie and TV seems quite strong as we see the narrator of the trailer being Bradley Cooper (the protagonist of the movie).

 

From the pilot trailer the story seems the same. A pill that can literally open your mind way beyond what humans can currently do. Once again, the “superhuman” abilities are then lent to the police in a bid to solve a serious of crimes.

 

This one currently goes in the same category as Minority Report.

 

3. Lucifer

 

 

Looks like FOX is going to have a busy autumn. Lucifer is another premiere on the channel and by the looks of it we are in for a treat! The concept seems simple: the Devil himself comes to L.A. to run a club. A lady gets killed. He starts helping the LAPD solving crimes.

 

I would say that this concept is very similar to Forever, which is great for me. It’s not just the drama and the crimes, but it’s also the witty comedy of a brit, challenging the american paradigm. This one goes into the “watch it closely” list, with potential for future runs.

 

4. Supergirl

 

 

This is the series that has got me the more excited of all. Supergirl, the story of Superman cousin which finally decides to reveal her powers to the world and starts her journey as the savior of the world.

 

Being a big fan of sci-fi and comics, these combines the two and keeps on expanding the DC Comic TV Universe. If it turns out to be like The Flash, this has clearly the potential to become a multi-years household name in the TV industry.

 

Again, this one goes in the “watch it closely” list.

 

Bottom Line

 

Every year there are many TV shows coming and going and I said earlier is very difficult to keep track of all of them, but it’s also difficult to follow them all. This was a very quick selection and I’ll be reporting again at the end of the year, looking back at this article to see full filled its promises and who didn’t.

 


  1. I’m looking at you Forever