(You're reading all posts by David Pierini)

About David Pierini

David Pierini David Pierini joins the Cult of Mac team from the newspaper world, where he was a writer and long-time photographer. Considered a luddite by most of his friends, they did not believe him when he broke the news that he would be writing for a technology website. He is fascinated by human nature and would love to cultivate stories about the people driving the tech bus. Reach out to him at david@cultofmac.com.

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‘Satellite selfies’ are a thing now

Employees from Israel Aerospace Industries gathered for a group photo taken by one of its satellites. Photo: IAI satellite EROS B

Employees from Israel Aerospace Industries gathered for a group photo taken by one of its satellites. Photo: IAI satellite EROS B

If a selfie stick can’t help you get everyone in your group photo, use a satellite.

Of course you would have to build, own and launch your own, which was no problem for Israel Aerospace Industries, whose employees this week gathered for what they called a “space selfie” shot by one of its satellites passing over head.

IAI employees arranged themselves to form the company acronym and looked up for the minute its EROS B satellite was scheduled for a flyby. While the letters are sharp, there are no discernible “cheese” smiles in the black and white photo.

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Glitter bomb service will bomb, broker warns

An illustration for the website shipyourenemiesglitter.com depicts the anger that ensues when opening an envelop full of glitter sent by a prankster.

An illustration for the website shipyourenemiesglitter.com depicts the anger that ensues when opening an envelop full of glitter sent by a prankster.

Like glitter itself, the story on shipyourenemiesglitter.com just won’t go away.

But eventually it will and that could mean trouble for the undisclosed buyer of the website that promises to mail glitter bombs to enemies, according to a London-based broker who specializes in online businesses.

In a post published today by FE International headlined How to Waste $85k Buying Glitter, Thomas Smale predicts the buyer won’t make his money back. If Smale is wrong, he will willing pour a bucket of glitter over himself.

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Super Bowl ad reunites Today Show hosts to be baffled again by technology

Today Show hosts Katie Couric and Bryan Gumbel try to understand the Internet during a 1994 segment. Photo: Today Show/YouTube

Today Show hosts Katie Couric and Bryan Gumbel try to understand the Internet during a 1994 segment. Photo: Today Show/YouTube

Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric are together again and still clueless about technology.

The former Today Show hosts were reunited not on a morning show couch but in BMW’s i3 electric car for a Super Bowl ad that has them reliving a 1994 segment when they could not explain the Internet. The commercial, in just three days on YouTube, has more than 4.6 million views.

“What is the Internet anyway,” Gumbel asks. “Do you write to it like mail?” Gumbel was admitting he did not quite know how to tease a story that would have more information on the NBC website. “That little mark – a – with the ring around it.” A colleague offers the answer “at” with Gumbel saying, “That’s what I said. Katie said she thought it was ‘about.’ “

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Will flying cars ever get off the ground?

The Curtiss Autoplane in 1917 is considered the first flying car. It hopped but never got far off the ground.

The Curtiss Autoplane in 1917 is considered the first flying car. It hopped but never got far off the ground.

The first airplane was in flight for 12 seconds and flew 120 feet. But it was enough to send imaginations airborne.

Will flying cars ever get off the ground?  Not long after Kitty Hawk, aviators were trying to figure out how to fly a car.

Glenn Curtiss was the first with the Autoplane in 1917. It had a triwing, looked like a Model T and hopped. Before he could actually get its wheels off the ground, World War I broke out and Curtiss diverted his energy toward building aircraft for the U.S. Army.

While we have figured out how to put people in space, we’re still tinkering with a future that has yet to arrive. If you’re waiting for George Jetson’s future, consider that the car his family flew around in was a 2062 model.

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Mysterious dwarf planet gets NASA and space geeks buzzing

An illustration of Dawn reaching the dwarf planet Ceres. Illustration: NASA

An artist’s concept shows Dawn reaching the dwarf planet Ceres. Illustration: NASA

The dwarf planet named after the Roman goddess of motherly relationships will soon have a new friend. And scientists and space-exploration geeks here on Earth can’t wait for that friend, the space probe Dawn, to start dishing.

Dawn, launched in 2007 to visit two bodies within the asteroid belt past Mars, is scheduled to enter an orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres on March 6. Ceres is the largest mass in the asteroid belt and has an icy mantle that may harbor an internal ocean of water under its surface. Talk of water on a planetary body always leads to questions of life.

Ceres has long been a curiosity to astronomers and space observers, and its status — is it an asteroid? a dwarf planet? — has been hotly debated ever since its discovery in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi.

Never mind all that. What’s that white spot?

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Star Trek phaser will boldly fetch big bucks at auction

A phaser prop from the original Star Trek series will be auctioned off next month. Photo: Propworx

A phaser prop from the original Star Trek series will be auctioned off next month. Photo: Propworx

A rare phaser pistol from the original Star Trek television series is “set to stun” when it goes on the auction block next month in Los Angeles.

It is made of fiberglass and one of only two known phasers to have survived the 1960s television series, which starred William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as the leaders of the starship Enterprise.

The phaser could fetch more than $60,000, according to the website Luxurylaunches.com when it hits the block Feb. 21 during a Star Trek auction by Propworx.

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New Yorker illustrator plays with his art on Instagram

From Abstract Sunday, an Instagram Feed by the illustrator Christoph Niemann. Illustration by Christoph Niemann

From Abstract Sunday, an Instagram feed by illustrator Christoph Niemann. Illustration: Christoph Niemann

Artists don’t always explain themselves well.

Even acclaimed illustrator Christoph Niemann, who can articulate the mysteries of creativity better than many, doesn’t always understand the moment when the head, heart and eyes merge with skills and gifts to produce a brilliant piece. It’s like trying to put into words the act of breathing.

But every Sunday, we can behold the headwaters of his creative flow.

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31 years ago today, Apple won the Super Bowl

The Big Brother-like leader in the Super Bowl commercial that introduced the world to the Apple Macintosh computer. Photo: Apple/YouTube

The Big Brother-like leader in the Super Bowl commercial that introduced the world to the Apple Macintosh computer. Photo: Apple/YouTube

During the third quarter, a referee blew the whistle to signal a timeout. What happened next, signaled the beginning of a sizemic shift in our lives.

But if you left the couch for beer and snacks at that moment of the 1984 Super Bowl, you may have missed the first run of a commercial that made more history than the game itself (sorry Oakland Raiders, 38-9 winners over the Washington Redskins).

On this date 31 years ago, Apple aired a commercial introducing the world to the first MacIntosh personal computer. It was the feature of Today in Media History on the Poynter Institute website.

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How a grandma with a bum hip sparked a shopping revolution

Jane and Ned Snowball shopping online in 1984. Photo: Courtesy of the Aldrich Archive

Jane and Ned Snowball shopping online in 1984. Photo courtesy Aldrich Archive

A 72-year-old grandmother with a broken hip started the revolution with a television remote in her hand. She pointed it at the screen in her living room in 1984 and bought eggs, cornflakes and margarine.

How a grandma with a bum hip sparked a shopping revolution Jane Snowball of Gateshead, England, spent a few pounds and became the first online shopper. In 2013, online shopping generated more than $1.2 trillion worldwide (with the promise of higher figures when 2014 numbers are reported).

Snowball did not use the computer as we know it. She used a device called Videotex, which merged media and business information systems and made them available to “outside correspondents.” She pressed a button on the remote with a phone icon and was able to connect to her local Tesco supermarket with a telephone number. The store received her list and delivered the items to her door.

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Blind get sight on demand with new iPhone app

A blind person gets assistance from a sighted volunteer to check the expiration date on milk. Photo: Be My Eyes

A blind person gets assistance from a sighted volunteer to check the expiration date on milk. Photo: Be My Eyes

Karen Koch Rasmussen navigates life just fine without sight. Developing systems to identify the tangibles in life come to her naturally, from how to stock her canned goods to labeling her music collection so she can listen to which ever genre strikes her.

She even has a strategy for when there’s a glitch in her systems, like when a canned item goes in the wrong place. If she grabs tomatoes instead of beans, she may adjust her recipe and roll with the inconvenience.

So when an iPhone app to assist the blind came into her life, thus offering a solution to those occasional challenges, Rasmussen, 26, didn’t quite know how to use a set of eyes that were easily at her disposal.

“I’ve been blind since birth so you learn to get along without seeing,” said Rasmussen, a graduate student in political science in Aarhus, Denmark. “I’m not use to having the opportunity so I would forget there is a solution.”

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