The Initial Charge Linked List

 
The Initial Charge Linked List is a frequently updated list of interesting links and commentary. You can subscribe to the Linked List with it’s dedicated RSS feed or you can follow along on the main feed, which includes both Linked List items and the feature articles from this site.
 

The Tools and Toys Guide to Cutting the Cord

My sister and brother-in-law recently canceled their cable subscription. They bought an indoor antenna and a couple of Apple TVs to connect to all of the televisions throughout their house. I helped them pick out a lot of the devices and services that they would use to fuel their media consumption. This guide on Tools and Toys would have been invaluable for them during the lead up to their transition away from cable. If you know anyone that’s cutting the cord — or even thinking about it — send them a link to this guide.

The Wirecutter Picks the Best Minivan

I’m by no means in the market for a minivan, but it’s incredible that The Wirecutter has the resources it takes to actually do automobile comparison reviews.

And speaking of The Wirecutter (and The Sweet Home for that matter), all of a sudden they’re my favorite websites on the internet. I’ve purchased bath towels, winter gloves, and a new shower head based on their recommendations and I couldn’t be happier with any of these purchases. If you’re looking to buy almost anything I’d suggest looking on The Wirecutter and The Sweethome first to see if they’ve published any guides on the product category.

You Can Now GET Apps in the App Store

Jason Snell, writing on Six Colors:

Apple today has apparently done a giant search-and-replace on the App Store to replace the word FREE with the word GET. This is apparently related to an EU ruling that it’s misleading to call apps with in-app purchases “free”.

Maybe the button’s should just be labeled “Download.” I guess they would then have to relabel the buttons for previously downloaded (or purchased) applications, but if I was working for Apple I would do anything to remove “GET” from the App Store.

iMessage Won’t Send or Receive Messages From Phone Number

All of a sudden my fiancé’s iPhone was sending messages from her iCloud email account rather than from her phone number. I tried everything I could find to fix it, but ended up having to restore from backup in order to get iMessage working properly again.

A few days ago her sister’s iPhone was having the same problem and since we live a four hour drive apart from one another I had to try and find a solution that she could easily do herself. I came across this solution by Cammy Harbison on iDigitalTimes:

Turn both iMessage and Facetime off in the Settings Menu. Then in Settings go to General, scroll down to Reset then select “Reset Your Network Settings.” Once everything has reset, make sure you are connected to Wi-fi. Reactivate iMessage and Facetime. You should now be able to select your phone number as an iMessage sending option.

It worked like a charm and now my future-sister-in-law’s iPhone is sending iMessages from her phone number rather than from her iCloud email address. I wish I could have found this solution before pulled the trigger on restoring my fiancé’s iPhone, it would have saved me a ton of time.

Greg Joswiak on Stage at Code/Mobile Conference

Discussing the Apple SIM, iOS 8.0.1, Apple Pay, and more. This is a great interview, I’d suggest watching the whole video.

Overcast 1.1

iPad support, landscape view, and CarPlay support — I’ve never wanted a car with CarPlay more than I do now. Marco Arment did a great job with this update, I just wish I could turn off the landscape view without having to turn on the system-wide rotation lock in control center.

A New Business Model For Slow Fast Slow

Dan Provost of Studio Neat:

Studio Neat is in a unique position. We are not just app developers, we also sell physical products. Products that are meant to work with the apps in a way that enhances both, as is the case with the Glif and Slow Fast Slow or Frameographer. What if we make apps that are free with “ads”, but the ad is simply for our other products? You know, the products that actually make money?

What a clever business model. It’s similar to what I’ve thought bands and musicians should have been doing for years — give the music away and sell merchandise and concert tickets in order to pay the bills.

There’s no shortage of application developers that are willing to give their software away for free, but you’re never going to build best-in-class software unless you charge for it. That is, unless you can subsidize the cost of development with the money you make from another business.

How can other developers compete with you if all of their apps cost the same as yours (free), but you’re the only one actually making enough money to put in the time to make your app great?

Tim Cook Interview at WSJD Live Conference

Discussing Apple Pay, Apple Watch, television, and more.

Deregister and Turn Off iMessage

A handy tool if you ever decide to switch from iOS to another mobile operating system.

‘Put On Your Big Boy Pants’

Kif Leswing, writing for Gigaom:

Even if you’re uninterested in GT Advanced Technologies, there are a number of details about how much power Apple exercises over its suppliers.

Squiller says that Apple did not ever really enter into negotiations, warning that GTAT’s managers should “not waste their time” negotiating because Apple does not negotiate with its suppliers. According to GTAT, after the company balked, Apple told GTAT that its terms are standard for other Apple suppliers and that GTAT should “put on your big boy pants and accept the agreement.”

A company the size of Apple has a lot of weight they can throw around while “negotiating” with suppliers.

Dark Dock and App Switcher with Light Menu Bar

Great Terminal hack for Yosemite by Rob Griffiths. When I eventually upgrade my iMac and MacBook Air to Yosemite this will be one of the first changes I make.

(Via Shawn Blanc.)

A Week With the Retina iMac

Great review of the Retina iMac from Shawn Blanc. The review mentions one of the often-discussed struggles that many of us have dealt with — deciding between using a notebook as your primary computer or using a desktop as your primary and having a lower-powered notebook as a secondary computer for travel.

At least for the foreseeable future it seems that the Retina iMac has tipped the scales towards having a desktop as your primary computer. But, I wonder if having a notebook as your secondary computer is actually the way to go this time around. As Shawn notes in his aforelinked review:

Secondly, when I do travel to a conference or drive to a local coffee shop for the day, I mostly prefer to take my iPad. The work I do revolves around reading, writing, and communicating with my team. All of which are things I can do quite easily from my iPad thanks to apps such as Instapaper, Drafts, Poster, Unread, Editorial, Slack, Mail, Basecamp, OmniFocus, Safari, and Pushpin.

I wonder how many users could get away with using a desktop as their primary computer and having an iPad Air 2 as their portable machine. With all the power under the hood of the Air 2 it’s starting to feel like the power users are being held back by the software available on iOS and the mainstream users could easily use an iPad as their secondary machine.

I guess the debate between desktop and notebook computers is just another one of those tick-tock cycles in technology. They’re incredibly interesting to watch as time goes on, as they don’t always play out the same way as they did before. And, this time we could see tablets becoming the go-to secondary computer for many users (with a little help from Apple’s software development team).

Wearing the Microsoft Band

A quick preview of the Microsoft Band by The Verge’s David Pierce. It looks uncomfortable to wear, but there’s definitely tons of technology built into it.

I’m still not convinced that smartwatches will take hold in the mainstream market, but at least everyone is starting to figure out that the fitness features is where they should be spending their time. Little screens aren’t great for apps. But, sensors strapped to your body are very good at gathering data that can be displayed on a device with a bigger screen or used to give you suggestions about how to improve your overall health.

CNET Launching Print Magazine

Who’s actually going to buy this? Readers who are interested in technology are also least likely to be interested in print magazines. I wouldn’t even give it two years, if not for the deep pockets of CBS Interactive behind the new publication.

Omnistat

An iStat Menu-like app for iOS that gives you glance-able hardware statistics in notification center.

I never have the battery percentage indicator in my status bar because I like as little visual clutter as possible. I never need to know what my battery life is until it’s getting low enough to matter, and that’s when I turn the indicator on. I’ve wished that Apple would add this as an option in Settings — only showing battery percentage when the battery is low. Until then, Omnistat gives me easy access to my battery life percentage without having to add visual clutter to the status bar.

Omnistat also includes notification center widgets for CPU, Memory, Storage, and more. The app was developed by Mathieu Bolard and is well worth the $1.99 price tag.

Microsoft Fitness Band Leaked

It’s definitely more fitness band than app platform. The hardware looks nice, but it’s not going to stand out next to the competition from Jawbone and Fitbit. And, I’d venture to guess that the $199 price point doesn’t last. It’s too expensive compared to similar fitness bands and for just $150 you could get the Apple Watch with far more features.

Tim Cook: ‘I’m Proud to Be Gay’

Tim Cook, writing in Businessweek:

We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up.

Fighting for what he believes in and leading by example.

CurrentC Has Been Hacked

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

Within the last 36 hours, MCX says it learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the email addresses of some of its CurrentC pilot program participants and other individuals who had expressed interest in the app.

The group has now notified its merchant partners about the incident and is communicating directly with those individuals whose email addresses were involved, a company spokesperson tells us.

It’s never a good sign when their’s a data leak this early on in a payment system’s life. This is the first example of why CurrentC is destined to fail.

Pixelmator for iPad

This is one of the applications I’m most excited to try out when I purchase a new iPad next month.

The App That Holds iOS Back

Bradley Chambers on Mobile Safari:

Last week, I had to upload 2 PDF files to a WordPress powered website. This is something that iOS should be able to handle. I should be able to save the PDFs from my email to iCloud Drive. Mobile Safari should then let me upload those files into a browser upload window.

I don’t remember an instance in which I wished I could upload or download files on my iPhone or iPad. But, I can imagine it feeling pretty back breaking if that’s something you do often. Until Apple decides it’s a feature worth pursuing, users who are so inclined are stuck using kludgy workarounds in order to get the job done.

(Via Six Colors.)

AT&T Locking Apple Interchangeable SIMs

I hope this doesn’t last long before customer outcry forces them to do the right thing.

OS X Yosemite Tips and Tricks

I wasn’t aware that you could record screencasts of your iOS device with QuickTime on Yosemite. And, what great attention to detail that QuickTime automatically cleans up the iOS status bar to show full battery, signal strength, and a predictable time of 9:41 AM.

On iOS’s Continually Growing ‘Other’

Kevin Hamm:

Many people have had problems updating their iOS device to iOS 8 because they don’t have enough space. The weird thing is that many of us have plenty of space, except there’s a mysterious padding of yellow marked “Other” that is, well, unknown[…] I figured it was time to do some research. So, in pictures, here’s what I found.

I imagine Apple has to be working on a fix for this problem. I know too many people who are constantly running out of space on their iPhones and I’d love for that continual annoyance to finally go away for good.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Not For Me

Patrick Rhone reminds us that we don’t always have to upgrade our tools immediately — sometimes it’s better to learn more about the software and devices that we already have rather than worry about upgrading to the latest version. And, sometimes the newset version just isn’t for you.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve spent less time worrying about what’s coming next and more time enjoying what I have now. I’m less concerned about spending another year with the iPhone 5s than I would have been in the past, my 2011 MacBook Air does everything that it needs to, and I can wait a few months before upgrading to Yosemite. And, that’s just fine. The updates will still be there when I’m ready for them and I’d be a much better person if I could always remember that.

Tim Cook’s Letter to Employees Following Q4 Earnings Report

I hope Tim Cook understands that everything isn’t going as smoothly as the company’s quarterly results would indicate. Apple hasn’t exactly had the best software releases over the past year and everyone knows it. Every developer in Cupertino should be diligently working to get their software products up to the standards that us Apple customers have come to expect.

Known NFC Spoofing Techniques Unlikely to Work with Apple Pay

John Brandon, writing for Macworld:

Still, even if a hacker could snag your transaction data as it passes from your iPhone to the terminal, they’d get a single-use token with nothing to identify you by name. Connecting that to the credit cards stored securely by Apple might not be impossible, but the experts we spoke to agree that it’s a lot harder than just stealing some credit card numbers.

If you’re concerned about security it looks like Apple Pay is exactly the service you should be using.

How to Set Up Apple Pay

With today’s release of iOS 8.1, Apple Pay is now available to anyone using an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. This video gives a quick rundown of how to set up Apple Pay on your device.

Apple Updates Mac mini

I’ve been a huge fan of the Mac mini since I purchased one a few years ago to use as a media server. That little box does everything — ripping DVDs and converting to them MPEG-4, recording over-the-air television with an Elgato EyeTV, sharing media to all of my Apple TVs and macs, storing all of my photos and media library, the list goes on and on.

I think the biggest new feature for the updated Mac mini is the lower price point. The introductory price of the mini had been $599 for the past few years, but Apple has finally dropped it back down to a more reasonable price point of $499.

There are some drawback with this update, though. The Mac mini server version is no longer available, the RAM is no longer user-upgradable, and replacing the hard drive now voids your warranty. I don’t think the lack of “server” options will be a big deal at all, it wasn’t very popular, but limiting your ability to upgrade the RAM and hard drive is a bit of a let down.

It’ll be important that you purchase a Mac mini with the RAM and hard drive you need when you make the initial purchase. I’ve done a few RAM and hard drive upgrades to macs in the past and it was a great way to get some extra longevity out of a machine. Now, I wouldn’t suggest it unless you really know what you’re doing.

Overall I think this is a great update, though. Faster processors and graphics, an extra Thunderbolt port, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a lower introductory price makes for a compelling upgrade from the previous model. I think if you’re looking for a mac to use as a home server or looking to convince a friend or family member to switch from Windows, this is a great machine for the job.

Creating Invisible Home Screen Icons

Neat trick by David Smith showing how to create invisible home screen icons using Safari’s Add to Home Screen feature. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up using this when I eventually (and begrudgingly) upgrade to a 4.7-inch iPhone next year.

Buy an iPad mini 2 While You Still Can

As it turns out, the iPad mini 3 has the same internals of an iPad mini 2 — with the only extra features being Touch ID and the option of getting one in gold. If you were interested in buying a 7.9-inch iPad, I’d follow Chris Welch’s advice and get a iPad mini 2 while you still can. Especially if you can still find one with more than 16GB of storage (like in the refurbished section of Apple’s online store).

Jonathan Ive in Conversation with Graydon Carter

The full interview from Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit.

John Siracusa’s Review of OS X Yosemite

I’ve never made it all the way through a John Siricusa OS X review. I’m not sure I ever will — due to a lack of free time not because I don’t enjoy reading them. If you’re interested in all of the nitty-gritty details of Apple’s latest OS, this is the first place I’d look.

Apple Releases OS X Yosemite

As Apple announced on stage at the event yesterday, Yosemite is now available on the App Store as a free upgrade to users of Mavericks and Mountain Lion. I’ve been using Yosemite on my secondary Mac for the past few months and it’s a solid release with a lot of welcomed changes and improvements.

If you plan on upgrading today I’d suggest making a fresh backup before hitting the update button. I’d personally recommend SuperDuper! for these types of situations, but a Time Machine backup should suffice.

I plan on waiting a month or two before upgrading, though. Yosemite has been very stable on the 2008 iMac I’ve been running it on. But, I’d rather wait for Apple to fix the bugs that everyone else finds than be one of the users finding them. As Aaron Mahnke astutely put it on Twitter:

Yesterday, Apple announced that I will be installing Yosemite on January 16, 2015.

I’m not sure I’ll wait quite that long, but Aaron has the right idea. I’ll probably end up upgrading during the last week of December when my day job slows down a bit.

Apple WatchKit to be Available Next Month

Developers will be able to start building applications for Apple Watch months before the device is available to the public. I think this is a necessity — I don’t think the Watch is enough as is to justify the $349 price tag. But, the addition of third-party apps will give the Watch new and interesting features to help customers justify the price of admission.

John Gruber, Speaking at XOXO Festival

I was excited to hear that John spoke at XOXO Fest in Portland last month. It was a great talk with a lot of interesting information about how he turned Daring Fireball into his full time gig.

This is what makes me want to keep writing.

Macworld/iWorld Conference on Hiatus

From IDG World Expo’s statement, as published by Macworld:

We are announcing today that Macworld/iWorld is going on hiatus, and will not be taking place as planned in 2015. Our MacIT event, the world’s premiere event for deploying Apple in the enterprise, will continue next year with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

I would guess that by “on hiatus” they mean “over.”

The writing’s been on the wall since Apple announced their last year at Macworld Expo in 2009. Everyone knew that this would happen eventually — I’m surprised that they’ve made it this long.

Dropbox Wasn’t Hacked

Anton Mityagin writing on The Dropbox Blog:

Recent news articles claiming that Dropbox was hacked aren’t true. Your stuff is safe. The usernames and passwords referenced in these articles were stolen from unrelated services, not Dropbox. Attackers then used these stolen credentials to try to log in to sites across the internet, including Dropbox. We have measures in place to detect suspicious login activity and we automatically reset passwords when it happens.

It’s always a bad idea to reuse passwords across multiple services. This is a great example of why you shouldn’t do that.

Apple to Live Stream October 16 Event

Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch this one live. But, the  stream can be viewed on Apple’s site at the aforelinked page. It will also be available to on the Apple TV through Apple’s live events app.

Jony Ive on Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs

Talking on stage with Graydon Carter at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit. The one at the end about caring how others perceive you I found to be very thought provoking.

Twitter Sues Justice Department

I’m very happy to see that Twitter is fighting the federal government for their right to publish warrant canaries. I wish they weren’t the only company doing so. But, I’m glad that someone is fighting for their freedom of speech.

Apple Removing Bose Audio Products From Retail Stores

Kelly Hodgkins writing for MacRumors:

Apple is preparing to remove all Bose audio products, both demo and sellable, from its retail environment, according to a reliable source who spoke to MacRumors. The inventory change will begin early next week, with instructions for removal being sent to employees in the coming days.

The reasons behind this removal were not disclosed, but it is very likely tied to to Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats Electronics.

It’s the Storage Space, Stupid

John Gruber on the slow adoption of iOS 8:

But it’s very clear that I was wrong about what the primary factor is. The simple answer was staring me right in the face. It’s all about the over-the-air update requiring 5 GB of free storage space, and many people not having that much free space, and not knowing how or simply not wanting to deal with it.

My girlfriend owns a 16GB iPhone 5s and I don’t think she would have ever updated to iOS 8 if I hadn’t done it for her. It’s not because she doesn’t know how to manage her storage, it’s just too much of a hassle to make room for some software enhancements that probably wouldn’t be missed if she never used them.

Apple needs to find a way to shrink the size of major iOS upgrades even further or they need to stop selling iPhones with such puny storage capacities. If they don’t, then Apple’s days of bragging about iOS adoption rates will soon be over.

‘It’s been way too long.’

Apple has invited the press to an event on October 16 that will be held at Apple’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino, CA.

It’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing new iPads, Yosemite, and possibly even the rumored Retina iMac. I find the tagline for the event and the rainbow Apple logo to be intriguing. As someone who’s “only” been following Apple for the past eight years, I associate Apple’s use of rainbows with iPods. And, it’s certainly been quite a while since we’ve seen an overhaul of the iPod lineup.

The New Tools & Toys

Shawn Blanc:

With this new design, we are aiming to become more than just a cool stuff site. Our new, longer-form articles will center around the values of mindfulness, intentionality, knowing your tools (and your toys), and appreciation for quality.

I’ve been reading Tools & Toys since its inception in 2011 and I’m excited to see all the changes taking place. I can’t wait to read all of the long-form reviews, gear guides, and interviews that they’ll be publishing in the future.

Apple’s Sapphire Crystal Supplier Files for Bankruptcy

Who would have expected that one of Apple’s suppliers would be filing for bankruptcy?

Hewlett-Packard Announces Plans to Split into Two Companies

Quentin Hardy writing for The New York Times:

The company, considered a foundational institution of Silicon Valley, said in a news release that it intended to divide itself into a company aimed at business technology, including computer servers and data storage equipment, software and services, and a company that sells personal computers and printers.

Both companies will be publicly traded. The business-oriented company will be called Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, while the PC company will be called HP Inc. and will retain the company’s current logo.

Microsoft’s Culture of Baggage

Michael Mulvey:

In the same way that there’s an underlying culture keeping Apple on track well after Steve Jobs has died, so too does Microsoft have an underlying culture holding them back from making great software that doesn’t have a ton of baggage.

I stopped using Windows when I purchased my first mac in 2006. Since then Microsoft hasn’t released anything that could convince me to switch back, and that’s a serious problem.

Windows 10 could be the beginning of a new Microsoft that has a better understanding of what its users actually want in their software. But, I have to see a lot more than a mediocre update to their OS and a new CEO. If Microsoft is ever going to make truly great software again, it’ll take major cultural changes in everyone from the CEO all the way down to the rank and file.

LG is Working on a webOS Smartwatch

I’ve never used webOS for more than a few minutes at a time — typically when I’d stop at a Verizon kiosk in my local mall. I always hoped it would find some success somewhere, but I’m not sure it’s best suited for a smartwach. Especially considering that Apple is poised to crush the market sometime early next year.

And, this is coming from someone who would love to be proven wrong about it.

‘Little Things That Improve the Way I Work on a Mac’

Wise words from Shawn Blanc on working smarter:

When we notice that there’s something we do repeatedly, step back for a moment to see if there’s a way to automate that task. And if there is something we do that annoys us, step back for a moment and question if that task is truly necessary — or if it can be delegated to someone or something.

This is something I should always have in the back of my mind while working. I don’t automate or delegate very often and I’m sure there’s a lot I could do to get things done more efficiently.

Ariel Adams on the Apple Watch

A great piece on the Apple Watch by Ariel Adams. I found this bit interesting regarding how the Watch is actually managed:

Apple Watch users will install an Apple Watch app on their iPhone, which will be used to download apps onto the watch as well as likely manage Apple Watch settings. A user’s iPhone is also used to help with computational demands. Apple cleverly pushes a lot of processor needs to the phone in order to preserve Apple Watch battery life.

I’m curious to see how long the Apple Watch will require an iPhone. And when that day eventually comes, how will we manage our Apple Watch? Will there be an application for OS X or Windows that will allow us to change settings and install apps without needing an iPhone? Or, could Apple build a web interface that would allow you to change settings and install apps on the Watch using any device with a web browser?