(You're reading all posts by Lewis Wallace) Lewis Wallace is a San Francisco-based writer and editor specializing in technology and culture.
About Lewis Wallace
Was Apple’s livestreamed iPad event really such a big yawn? Search Twitter for “#AppleEvent yawn” or “Apple boring” and you’ll see tweet after tweet bemoaning the boring nature of Thursday’s press conference. It got so tedious for some, there were dozens of photos of napping dogs.
“Most boring Apple event ever,” tweeted one. “Bring back the Chinese translation.”
Maybe some of those folks are being facetious, but there’s a grain of truth in the tweets: Nothing about Thursday’s event, except for maybe Stephen Colbert’s crackup comedy bit with Craig Federighi, was super-compelling on the surface. Many of the specs had been leaked (some even by Apple itself), and the rumor mill proved pretty accurate in the run-up to the presentation.
Still, this was no Phantom Menace. I mean really, what were people expecting? Jetpacks, aliens and electric cars?
This is Apple’s big dilemma right now: How do you top yourself when you make the best products in the world?
ROSEVILLE, California – This is where your electronics go to die.
In a nondescript, 200,000-square-foot warehouse 20 miles northeast of Sacramento, box after box of discarded electronics and parts sit at Sims Recycling Solutions, awaiting their date with the “mega-shredder” at the end of the line. That’s where four rows of 22 hardened-steel blades will rip and grind the metal housings and circuit boards into tiny chunks.
“We recycle almost everything,” said Bill Vasquez, Sims’ vice president of U.S. operations, during Cult of Mac’s recent tour of the facility. He said more than 99 percent of the materials that pass through Sims’ doors gets recycled. “Our focus is to divert everything from landfill as much as possible.”
With Bendgate causing some worrywarts to question the structural integrity of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Consumer Reports set out to answer the question: “How much force does it take for a phone to bend — and not bend back?”
The independent consumer-testing outfit took six smartphones — including both iPhone 6 models and an iPhone 5s — into the lab and subjected them to experiments using an Instron compression testing machine. The results are surprising.
Here’s what they found (along with a video showing Consumer Reports’ torture testing).
The iPhone 6’s sleek design is undeniably sexy, but the big glass display and those sexy curved edges can cause problems if you leave your phone sitting on a smooth surface.
If you’re not careful, you could find your iPhone in pieces on the floor.
You don’t need a new iPhone to enjoy the awesome power of iOS 8. Loaded with new features and built-in apps, Apple’s latest mobile OS is its most powerful yet.
As intuitive as it is, there are plenty of tips and tricks that will help you truly get the most out of iOS 8 — even starting before you pull the trigger on the free upgrade. Just in case you don’t feel like reading all 182 pages of Apple’s official iOS 8 user guide, here’s a roundup of Cult of Mac’s most helpful iOS 8 tips and tricks. (We will update this post as we dive deeper into iOS 8 in coming weeks.)
Apple fans will never revel in the glory of another Stevenote. But an essay that imagines how Steve Jobs would have introduced the Apple Watch just might be the next best thing.
Lesson No. 1: He wouldn’t have called it the “Apple Watch.”
Thousands of angry iPhone users have found an album they weren’t looking for: U2’s Songs of Innocence.
Instead of making the band’s mediocre new album an opt-in freebie, Apple jammed it down the throats of a half-billion iTunes Store customers, enraging some of the company’s most loyal fans. Whether they wanted the album or not, it’s now showing up as “purchased” in individuals’ iTunes libraries on their computers and phones.
When Tim Cook trotted out the Irish rockers for a limp finale to Tuesday’s big Apple Watch announcement, he called giving away the band’s new record “the largest album release of all time” — but now it looks like one of the dumbest.
Dragging U2 onstage to end Apple’s big iPhone 6 event was more than a disappointing denouement to an otherwise solid piece of marketing theater: It was a tacit admission that the recorded music industry is gasping for its last breath.
During his peculiar onstage banter with Bono, Apple CEO Tim Cook called the iTunes-exclusive release of U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, “the largest album release of all time.” He also crowed that dumping the record for free on iTunes’ half-billion users would make music history.
It did, but for all the wrong reasons.
Lust List: August 2014
You know you've found a great piece of gear when you can't wait to tell your friends about it. "Check this out," you gush, eager to share the latest thing you just can't live without. "You've gotta get one of these."
That's what Lust List is all about, and this month we're all abuzz about gear for music, grooming, eating, getting organized and maybe even saving your life.
Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Messenger Bag
I'm a photographer, not a bike messenger. This flashed through my mind when the Snoop Camera Messenger Bag by Timbuk2 arrived at my door. Yes, it is more stylish than the standard, drab canvas bag that usually slings my gear, but the only cool that matters to me is a state of being while trying to meet the demands of editors.
As if it sensed my skepticism, the bag immediately began to show off. I customized the camera compartment and stuffed the bag with a body, lenses, notebooks and my laptop. It felt balanced and comfortable and stayed up on my round right shoulder. Two hours later, I found myself in a downpour at a baseball game. I bagged one camera and continued shooting. But I was distracted because I was in awe of the rainwater beading on the Snoop's nylon exterior and rolling off.
The ump finally called the game and as I sat soaked in my car, I found everything in the bag dry. Always in search of a better bag, the hunt had ended. Comes in three sizes and two color combos: extra small ($129), small ($149) and medium ($169). — David Pierini
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac
Seki Edge Stainless Steel Fingernail Clippers
I'm through with those cheapo nail clippers you get for a buck at the drugstore: They're always rusting, getting dull or, worst of all, slipping out of alignment and chewing up the end of your fingernail. I've always dreaded clipping my nails for these reasons, but for some reason I never thought about upgrading the tool I use for this mundane weekly task.
When I finally got wise, I bought a pair of Seki Edge Stainless Steel Fingernail Clippers ($18 list), a Japanese grooming implement that costs more than your typical throwaway clippers but cuts nails quickly, cleanly and reliably. Buy them for the utility; admire them for their quality craftsmanship, reassuring heft and sleek, Mac-like sheen. It's time to start clipping your nails like a samurai. — Lewis Wallace
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Evernote Notebooks by Moleskine
This might be the best pairing since Batman and Robin: digital organizer Evernote plus classic Moleskin notebooks. Fighting your messy mind and your terrible tendency to carry a torch for paper, the notebooks make it easy to keep yourself together. You can sketch or take notes with the Moleskin, then harness the camera of your iPhone or iPad to log it digitally in Evernote. A cute set of smart stickers help you tag your scribblings so you don't end up with a digital slush pile (the standards are: home, action, travel, and work rejected and approved, but you can also customize them). Also, a three-month premium membership is included with the $29.95 price, putting extras like searchable text from images at your fingertips. Holy agility, Batman! — Nicole Martinelli
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Snark SN-2 All Instrument Tuner
If you don't have a dedicated roadie or one of those robotic tuning guitars, there's no easier way to tune your ax than with a Snark. Just squeeze the thumb-size mount and slide your headstock between the rubberized grips. Then press the little button on the front of the Snark's colorful LCD readout, pluck a string and get your instrument ready to play.
Lightweight and accurate, the Snark SN-2 All Instrument Tuner works with acoustic or electric guitars and basses, mandolins, banjos, whatever. It's perfect for situations like in-studio radio shows, where you don't want to drag around a stompbox tuner or a large amp that might have one built-in tuner. It also boasts pitch calibration, which lets you tune to something besides A-440, and a metronome that I can't complain about because I've never used it. The Snark SN-2 is a great buy at $39 list (and a steal at Amazon's price of $12.99). — Lewis Wallace
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
I was on the hunt for a good AirPlay speaker for months before I came across the Loop by Libratone. The company makes some other great speakers at different prices, but I've been loving my Loop. Its sleek, minimalist design fits in with just about any kind of decor, and the included wall mount is super-useful and easy to install. Pairing is easy enough over AirPlay after the initial setup with the Loop's companion iPhone app. Once you set up, you really don't need to touch the speaker again.
I've been using my Loop in the kitchen while preparing delicacies such as cereal, eggs and macaroni and cheese. The sound is really quite impressive, especially the bass. Pro tip: Place this speaker as close to a wall as possible, because it bounces sound off the surfaces behind it, creating insanely deep bass. It will blow you away the first time you crank up the volume. The only major downside to the Loop is that it's incredibly pricey at $500. It's not an impulse buy by any stretch of the imagination, but if you've been saving up for a nice AirPlay speaker, I definitely recommend the Loop. — Alex Heath
Photo: Alex Heath/Cult of Mac
Standard Horizon HX300 radio
Even when Bay Area waters are calm sailing, there's one piece of tech you always need: a decent VHF radio. Your iPhone and iPad might be handy navigation tools, but nothing beats the ease-of-use and reliability of a waterproof, handheld radio like the Standard Horizon HX300. It repaid the $130 list price during a midnight cruise when the crew threatened mutiny for fear of running aground on the Berkeley Shoal. (Thanks to the radio, the boats ahead guided us to safety.)
The HX300 comes with a standard USB charger, cutting down on the kit you need to keep it running; compact and relatively lightweight, it also floats. And, if it goes overboard, a red strobe light will help you scoop it up. — Stefano Maffulli
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The Barbecue Bible
Holy smoke! If you savor the magic that happens when meat cooks over an open flame, The Barbecue Bible should be one of your sacred texts. The book contains 500 recipes, countless tips on grilling techniques and loads of engrossing stories drawn from author Stephen Raichlen's globe-hopping jaunts to the world's barbecue meccas. Classic American fare like steaks and ribs gets plenty of ink, as do the fundamentals behind various types of live-fire cooking, but the real treasures here are the exotic international recipes that will take your next cookout from a polite "Good burgers, man" to "Oh my God, how did you make this?!?"
It's not just red meat, either: You'll find plenty of super-flavorful preparations for vegetables and seafood in this must-have manual, which simply brims with delicious side dishes that will augment the awesome main courses. Instead of potatoes slathered in boring mayo, try serving up a Korean "three hots" salad or spicy Japanese bean sprout salad the next time you fire up the grill. If you are interested in expanding your smoke-filled culinary horizons, this fun-to-read and easy-to-follow book ($22.95 list for paperback) will launch you on many worthwhile journeys. — Lewis Wallace
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Cuisinart PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle
I've been a coffee guy ever since I tried my first mocha back in the heady days of my undergraduate degree (psychology, since you asked) at UCLA. These days I use a basic French press set up to get the best taste out of the coffee I have every morning. While I used to just boil water in an old kettle on the stove, when I found this sweet Cuisinart electric water kettle, I had to have it. I mean, just look at it: sleek lines, bright blue light-up panel and a clever little pedestal that plugs into the wall, letting the kettle itself ride free when you pour the heated water into your cup or coffee press.
The Cuisinart electric kettle I use has a fast-heating 1,500 watts of power with six different temperature options and a Keep Warm setting that will hold your water at a specific temp you set. This all seems ridiculous until you become a tea geek and realize that white tea works best at 185 degrees, oolong tea is best at 190 degrees and green tea tastes best warmed to 175 degrees. It's all very exciting to be able to press a button and get the best tea experience possible, especially when you hit the fancy tea store and buy your tea in little packets that recommend these exact temperatures.
I can't imagine my morning life without my coffee, and my afternoons without a cuppa to keep me rolling. This Cuisinart electric kettle is the best thing in my kitchen, next to the actual coffee and tea itself. — Rob LeFebvre
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers
When I work at home, much of my day is spent sitting at my iMac, listening to music or public radio through iTunes. A couple years ago, I was looking for a small, powered speaker system with a neutral, natural sound for hours of listening. The Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers are stylish and sonically satisfying — they fit the bill beautifully.
B&W has long specialized in high-end audiophile loudspeakers, but the company also offers a line of smaller systems for computers and portable devices. The MM-1s are compact, two-way enclosures, about 7 inches tall by 3.5 inches wide and deep. Black cloth wraps completely around the units, complemented by a brushed-aluminum top and band around the middle. The right speaker houses all the electronics. Thanks to the magic of amplification and advanced digital signal processing, the sound is surprisingly full and rich, despite the small enclosures and the lack of a separate subwoofer. These speakers won't fill an entire house with sound but have a depth of field and overall detail that's rarely heard from desktop computer monitors.
Both USB and mini-phone-jack analog inputs are provided; the USB inputs allow digital sound directly from the computer to speaker, and works with the Mac's own Sound Preference Pane and system volume controls. A small, egg-shaped remote control is included. The black-and-silver styling complements modern Apple aluminum desktops and laptops quite elegantly, with a minimum of desk space required. The MM-1s aren't cheap ($499 on Amazon), but the company's high-end heritage doesn't disappoint. These puppies are well worth the price. — Adam Rosen
Photo courtesy Bowers & Wilkins
A comic book movie about misfit space superheroes might not seem to have much in common with Apple’s long-rumored entry into wearable computing. However, for a handful of reasons, Guardians of the Galaxy is to Marvel Studios what the iWatch is to Apple –- a high-profile release that’s critical to the company’s future success.