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Office

Apple Publishes Mobility Data

Apple published an interesting visualization of data they have on the number of times Apple Maps users looked up directions and how the frequency has changed during the pandemic.

The Mobility Trends Report is not only a great way to show the value of Apple’s aggregate data but also an opportunity for the company to explain it’s privacy policies.

Privacy is a fundamental human right. At Apple, it’s also one of our core values, so Maps doesn’t associate your data with your Apple ID, and Apple doesn’t keep a history of where you’ve been.

This data is generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions in select countries/regions, sub-regions, and cities. Data that is sent from users’ devices to the Maps service is associated with random, rotating identifiers so Apple doesn’t have a profile of your movements and searches. The availability of data in a particular country/region, sub-region, or city is based on a number of factors, including minimum thresholds for direction requests per day.

Apple – Our Commitment to Privacy
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TWTW

The week that was

The jokers at MSCHF are at it again with some kicks that will allow you to walk on holy water. While it’s still up, here’s a link to their crazy promo page.

Ford is bringing the Bronco back and will debut the new model on the July 9th, the birthday of one of its more infamous drivers. (update: Ford thought it best to postpone).

The soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful is going back to production. But how do you maintain distance during those steamy love scenes? Dolls.

Tear gas was used on civilians in over 100 US cities last week.

I used to subscribe to Popular Mechanics magazine. Each issue had helpful tips on how to fix something around the schematics of how something works. This week they had some helpful tips on how to topple a confederate statue.

Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Cream of Wheat are all taking a hard look at updating their branding.

We learned one thing this week. The Swiss take money really fucking seriously.

When you use Reddit as a source, you really need to be careful because someone’s always joking around. Fox News wasn’t careful.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race was held. Virtually. And 63 million watched.

Professional football started up again in Europe but to empty stadiums. Even then, a fan managed to, true to form, to break in and run onto the pitch.

Those scary Boston Dynamics nightmare machines? You can now buy one and take it home with you.

Scientists ran the numbers and came up with the answer. It’s not 42. It is 36.

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email or forward to a friend.

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Current Events

Trump 404

Swap out HRC for your latest opponent.

The 404 page on donaldjtrump.com is a re-work of his one from the last election but instead of trolling Clinton, it’s trolling Biden.

Minor tweaks.

Meanwhile, on joebiden.com, the 404 page is the same error page used during the primaries.

To see the full gallery from all the primary candidates, you can view them here.

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Current Events

For Deadheads Only

When Deadheads try to explain their appreciation for the Grateful Dead, they will probably point you to a concert at Cornell University in 1977, in particular the sequence from Scarlet Begonias to Fire on the Mountain.

YouTuber Michael Palmisano has built up his channel, Guitar Teacher REACTS around the deconstruction of live music jams. To celebrate his 100,000th subscriber, Michael deconstructed Scarlet > Fire from 5/8/77.

I’ve listened to this version many times but following the Guitar Teacher through his hour-long analysis revealed flourishes that I knew all along were there but never fully appreciated or had the vocabulary to explain. From Scarlet’s “mixolidian lick” to Keith’s arpeggiating progressions – he calls out all the shiny bits and holds each one up to the light like its own little gem.

At the transition into Fire at around 21 minutes, Michael breaks down how each musician transitions over “step-by-step” until the band collectively agree it’s time to jump over. Watching him walk you thru the magic, painted in real-time as only a band that plays together, night after night, can do is infectious.

Related:

Listener’s Notes

Live for Live review

Jambase review

If you’re interested in hearing the recording, straight thru, without interruption, here’s a link to the recording.

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TWTW

The week that was

A COVID-19 testing swab factory said that they had to trash all swabs created during President Trump’s visit last week. The president flew to the factory in Maine to celebrate the factory’s increased production and insisted on touring the factory without a mask.

Band-Aid announced it will launch a new line of bandages in a range of different skin tone colors — from beige to dark brown — to  “embrace the beauty of diverse skin.”

Engineers did not take into consideration the wind when designing new pedestrian railings on the Golden Gate Bridge. The barrier emits a high-pitch howl that is carries well across the water and can be heard all across the Bay.

Motortrend magazine is celebrating a rare, mint-condition Honda Civic Si that sold for $50,000.

350,000 people searched for it. Five people died trying. The search is over. The $2 million Forrest Fenn treasure has been found.

James Micioni, a 96-year old New Jersey man, passed away and left to his family a collection of baseball cards that is now known as The Uncle Jimmy Collection. A signed Babe Ruth card is a rare find, Uncle Jimmy had six. This treasure trove of vintage, baseball cards that is the single most incredible find in the history of the hobby. 

After three months of Shelter in Place people are sharing how they’ve been keeping busy. One built the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine and another calculated the distance he walked since putting a treadmill in his home office.

What do you do when your country is overrun by locusts? Ask China to send in their ducks.

Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee, the inventor of the iconic fold-in and the longest working cartoonist in history, retired at 99. His last issue will be one of the last issues of the print magazine.

Photo via @banksy

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email, follow on Facebook, or forward to a friend.

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Current Events

Rube Goldberg

So what did you do during the 2020 shelter in place? Check out this contraption that took two months to build and tune.

Side note: did you know Ruben Goldberg went to UC Berkeley where he studied at the College of Mining and Engineering. His first job was as an engineer with the San Francisco Water and Sewers Department which is where he probably got his ideas for all his crazy inventions.

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TWTW

The week that was

Protestors in Oakland were joined by Brianna Noble, 25, who rode atop her massive gelding, Dapper Dan, fist held high, like a living Valkyrie.

In Portland, protesters were joined by Caesar, the No Drama Llama.

The hacktivist group Anonymous hacked Chicago Police radio frequencies to play NWA’s Fuck tha Police. Apple Music turned off browse on their radio streams and left a single playlist of black music in honor of #blackouttuesday ending with the same NWA song.

The police in Dallas were thwarted from crowdsourcing videos of illegal protest activity when their iWatch service was flooded with fancam videos of K-Pop bands.

Columbus and Cleveland declared racism a public health crisis.

Even the Amish joined in the protests in Minneapolis.

The headline of the week award goes to the AFP which ran with Spain porn star held after man dies in toad venom ritual

Necco Wafers are back after a two-year hiatus. The 174-year old confectionery that got its start with Union troops in the Civil War re-started production with a minor adjustment to the less-popular chocolate flavor to appeal to the modern palate.

In Canada, the re-introduction of Cool-Ranch Doritos made headlines as deprived residents breathed a sigh of relief.

Alfa Romeo is planning on launching an electric SUV in 2022.

TWTW is a weekly collection of bits and pieces I run across each week while looking after things at SmartNews. Feel free to sign-up to get this via email, follow on Facebook, or forward to a friend.

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TWTW

The week that was

Big stories sucked up much of the oxygen this week. Cities are on fire and two guys left earth in a rocket (some say they’re lucky). Other than that, here’s a few stories you may have missed.

In a tragic twist, we learned that George Floyd and Officer Derek Chauvin worked at the same night club in Minneapolis. If only they knew each other, maybe there might have been more empathy.

When the order to shelter in place came down, couples who were dating had to make a quick choice, stay apart or stay together. One couple in NYC has been together in an apartment after just one date, another has been stuck in Costa Rica after just three.

One silver lining resulting from the pandemic? Have you noticed that the volume of robocalls are down?

David Rush from Idaho drank a liter of lemon juice in under 17 seconds setting a new world record (they keep records for this?).

Microsoft decided to downsize the humans doing news curation in their newsroom and give the algorithm more work. Let’s hope it turns out better than it did with Tay, the racist chatbot.

A rare bottle of French Cognac from 1762 sold for almost $150k.

A Canadian man received an expedited delivery of a tube of Brylcreem that he ordered in 2012.

Two men were hired to sneak into a house to fulfill someone’s sexual fantasy, but got the address wrong.

A Texas high school principal drove over 1,500 miles to personally deliver diplomas to each of his graduating students. Closer to home, my daughter’s math teacher from Alameda High made the rounds to personally visit with each of her 100+ students and deliver a gift bag of hand-crafted goods.

Stay safe and take care of your neighbors everyone – see you next week.

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Current Events Home

Julia

First Day of School – 2007

Julia just graduated from high school. It was strangely anti-climactic. She put on her graduation regalia and headed out the door to meet a small group of classmates in Group 11 at the Alameda Theatre where they were ushered in, socially-distanced, and took the stage, one-by-one, to pick up a diploma and say a few words into a camera for a video that will be spliced together for family and friends. No pomp, just circumstance.

The Class of 2020 has been through a series of unique events as they made their way through the public school system here in Alameda. They grew up learning how to adapt.

Her class was the first seriously impacted at the local elementary school as overflow from the lottery system in San Francisco drove parents to the East Bay. In 2007 it was no longer sufficient to say you lived in the neighborhood to send your kids to the local school. For the first time, you had to get in line and spend the night in order to guarantee one of the coveted spots for your child in the kindergarten.

As Julia made her way to Lincoln Middle School, her class ended up being one of the last that took the trip out East to visit Washington DC as part of the Close-Up program. Julia took band where she played violin and was part of the color guard team with the marching band that took a trip to Disneyland where they marched down Main Street.

Julia playing violin

In high school, Julia’s interests turned to sports where she ramped up her passion for soccer. She had been playing club soccer for a couple of years and made the varsity team her freshman year. She also dug into leadership at the school where she served on the Spirit Committee and helped organize several school-wide events including a fund-raiser which raised thousands for families suffering after the fires in Paradise, California. She called the program Pennies for Paradise.

Julia played defense all four years

Alameda High School went through a number of physical upgrades while she attended. Seismic fences surrounded the old school building as the structure was deemed unsound. Over the four years Julia was there, major improvements were made and by her senior year, they finished with the classic structure you see in the photo below.

Julia in front of the newly renovated AHS – 2020
Julia was interviewed on the local radio station this morning.

She took an interest in Psychology to the point where she convinced enough classmates to join her and put together an AP Psychology course. This interest served to focus her college search which brought her to Clark University which is known for its Psychology Department.

So Julia starts at Clark University in Massachusetts next year. Izumi and I sat in on a Q&A session and learned a little about the school’s plans to get started in the Fall. They will do everything they can to get everyone together for in-person instruction but are also planning on an extended Winter Break (Nov 20 – Feb 15) during which courses will be taught remotely should there be a second outbreak of the Coronavirus.

Izumi and I have been touched with the school’s inclusive approach. Their admissions package included not only the usual information and schwag for Julia but also a nice letter from the president, welcoming us to the community.

Clark University welcome letter

I think she’ll be in good hands. Congratulations Julia, I’m so excited to see what you do next!

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Skipper

My great-grandfather, Erlon H. Parker, flew bi-planes for the United States in World War I. As a Memorial Day project, I decided to pull on a few threads to see what else I could find about the man known in my family as “Skipper.”

The photo up top is Skipper in the cockpit of a biplane. Back then, planes were wood-framed and covered with canvas. When they first started flying they didn’t know how to synchronize machine guns with the prop so there was a danger of shooting the propeller off. Until they could work out the synchronization, the solution was too wrap the prop with bands of steel. Randomly ricocheted bullets was the solution which gives you an idea of how they did things in the early days.

Before that pilots went up with pistols which sounds quaintly like the Wild West. Other options included deploying a grappling hook on the end of some rope and try and cross your enemy’s path and tear up the their plane like some Afghan fighting kite.

This is what my great-grandfather signed up for.

Erlon Parker’s Italian pilot’s license (the Italian official misspelled his name and got the wrong state)

Once the United States entered the war, the Army and Navy raced each other to see which service would get to Europe first. The Navy implemented a recruiting program to enlist men for aviation duty. 100 men were chosen, two from each state. Skipper, signing up from Maine, joined as a member of 1st Naval Aeronautic Detachment in Pensacola, Florida which eventually was winnowed down to 20 enlisted pilots.

On a family Zoom call, I learned that the fledgling unit left for Europe before any uniforms could be designed and made for them. Once they landed in France, (fun fact, they sailed to Europe on the USS Jupiter, the first aircraft carrier in the US Navy) they were instructed to go to a tailor and get a uniform made for themselves. Apparently everyone interpreted what a uniform of a naval airman should look like so the resulting uniforms were not very, um, uniform.

The group needed instruction as they had little practice flying. The French pilots agreed to train them but, because of the language barrier, they had to be creative.

From Origins of Naval Patrol Aviation, 1911 – 1920s

One can only imagine how dodgy these early planes were. Nicknamed “flying eggcrates” there wasn’t much holding them together. These early engines were not very reliable some only good for 4-hours flying time. There was no radio so each plane went up with a carrier pigeon which was used to send home coordinates for a search party should they go down. There were also other uses for homing pigeons.

Skipper had other uses for pigeons (clipped from his obituary)

Skipper flew seaplanes (“flying boats”) that patrolled out over the ocean looking for enemy ships and submarines. They mostly would go out on reconnaissance but they also had some light bombs (basically hand grenades) that they could pitch over the side if they wanted to cause trouble.

HS-1 Seaplane

I also learned from Skipper’s obituary that his squadron was credited with sinking two German submarines but that all he ever shot down were, “two seagulls.”

After the war, Skipper joined a fellow war pilot, Eddy Rickenbacker, as one of the first commercial pilots with Eastern Airlines where he flew the Ford Tri-motor “Tin Goose” on the route between Newark, NJ and Washington, DC. Captain Pete Parker, as he became known, became the Chief pilot with Eastern and flew the first flight out of North Beach, Long Island which is now known as La Guardia.

The Eastern Airlines Tin Goose

I have seen Captain Parker’s flight log at my parent’s house which records regular flights between Newark and Havana on a DC-3 back in the 1930’s. My great-grandmother used to tell of the time when they were passengers on a DC-3 going through choppy air. Everyone was getting ill from getting bounced around so Skipper asked his wife to excuse him and went up to the cockpit and politely asked if he could take over for a bit. The plane soon smoothed itself out to the delight of everyone on-board.

This photo was taken in 1940, I think this was a DC-3

Skipper died before I was born but his stories and spirit last be on in my family. He is also the reason my middle name is Parker. I thank him for his service and hope you enjoyed this little celebration of his amazing life.