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About Nicole Martinelli

Nicole Martinelli Nicole Martinelli heads up Cult of Mac Magazine, our weekly publication available on iTunes. You can find her on Twitter and Google+. If you're doing something new, cool and Apple-related, email her.

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Pump-Hub, an ingenious system that keeps bike tires inflated, is ready to roll again

Kevin Manning of Pump-Hub.

Kevin Manning’s ingenious Pump-Hub system inflates bike tires as you ride. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Sometimes even a great idea falls flat at first. Take Pump-Hub, a self-inflating bike tire gizmo. It was rolling along at trade shows and getting lots of good press before the financial crisis of 2008 sidelined the project.

Now its creator, engineer Kevin Manning, is getting back on track with a new team behind him and plans to expand his original idea — an automatic, adjustable, tire-inflation system housed in the hub of a bike wheel.

For cyclists, the Pump-Hub means no remembering to check the tire pressure or pack a pump, no fiddling around with the valve and then racing to put the cap back on before the air wheezes out and your aching arms have to start all over again. It inflates the tires to the proper pressure while you ride, making a gentle clickety-clack sound reminiscent of spoke cards from childhood days. When the tire hits the designated pressure, the fluttering sounds stop. If you get a flat, just upend your bike and spin the wheel until pressure is restored.

“It’s like how using a Macintosh is easier than using a command-line interface,” Manning says, turning his Gunnar bike upside down on the Embarcadero to show me how the Pump-Hub works. If you really boil down all the technology behind his invention, he adds, the main advantage basically ends up being “it’s easier.”

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How Google’s latest acquisition could kill the Apple rumor mill

CC-licensed via Wikipedia. Thanks Nadkachna.

CC-licensed via Wikipedia. Thanks Nadkachna.

Sooner rather than later, Google will be tracking your every move.

The Mountain View search colossus already knows whether you have the flu or are interested in dropping a few pounds, thanks to its mining of your search data and Gmail missives.

Thanks to Google’s recent bargain buy of tiny satellite company Skybox Imaging — a purchase that cost Google just $500 million, or 1/38 what Facebook shelled out for WhatsApp — by 2016, Google may be able to predict market-moving factors like consumer spending and oil prices.

That means Google might be able to foretell when you’ll be waiting in line for the latest iPhone.

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Taking aim at Apple over chemicals

act-different

Elizabeth O’Connell is waging war on Apple from an iPhone 5C with a cracked screen.

O’Connell, campaigns director for Green America, is part of an 80-strong group of environmental and human rights groups that recently fired off a 17-page letter to Apple’s vice president of environmental affairs Lisa Jackson. At the core of the question are known carcinogens, benzene and n-hexane, the chemicals that make your iPhone screen so shiny.

As former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Jackson, protest organizers say, should know better. The effort is part of Green America’s “Bad Apple” campaign, which features a mock app. At this writing, over 2,000 people have signed up for the “app,” which sends an email to Apple asking to cut the noxious chemicals. Organizers say another 20,000 people have signed a traditional online petition.

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Top iPhone photos show waning app addiction

Kenan Aktulun founded the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA) the same year the smartphone launched, when the idea that taking great pics with a camera phone was still pretty optimistic.

Seven years later, iPhone photography has developed to the point of documenting New York Times war coverage and tops four out of five of the most-used cameras on Flickr.

This year’s IPPA winners cover a suitably broad range of the world (54 photographers from 17 countries) and topics ranging from kids and architecture to landscapes and food.

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Why no one cares about your app and what to do about it

Arnold Kim, of MacRumors, listens as a developer explains her app at the AltConf Journalist Pitch Lab in San Francisco, CA, June 3, 2014. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Tara Zirker shows the StayAtHand travel app to MacRumors’ Arnold Kim during AltConf’s Journalist Pitch Lab. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — You created an app. You think it’s awesome. Your friends say so too. Something nags at you, though: You have zero reviews, your downloads don’t outnumber your Facebook pals, and you need to make rent.

There’s a fancy name for your problem: “discoverability.” Millions of good apps face it, gathering dust between bogus fart apps and Flappy Bird clones.

“It’s hard to make a living in the App Store,” says Michael Yacavone, founder of Individuate, which makes personal-development apps Ace It! and Affirmable.

But there is definitely money to be made in the App Store, to the tune of $15 billion Apple has paid developers so far. Apple recently vowed to improve discoverability by adding an “explore” tab to the App Store, but whether users will search for new and exciting apps remains to be seen. The basic problem remains for most developers: Nearly everyone is ignoring you. Journalists can help, but you have to know how to deal with them.

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This week in Cult of Mac Magazine

June9.41Amazon

Cult of Mac Magazine June 9 Edition, Free on iTunes

Every week, we serve up the best of the Cult of Mac website as a magazine so you can download and read it at your leisure on your iPhone or iPad.

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Was Apple inspired by David Hockney’s Yosemite series?

David Hockney, Yosemite I, © 2013 David Hockney, used with permission de Young Museum.

David Hockney, Yosemite I, © David Hockney, used with permission de Young Museum.

When the Yosemite posters first went up in Moscone Center ahead of  WWDC, a thought lodged in my brain that continued to tumble around all weekend: Apple drew inspiration for the name of the new OS from David Hockney.

It’s not as much of a stretch as it sounds. After all, Hockney recently had a major show at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, where he debuted a series of 12-foot-high tributes to Yosemite National Park made with an iPad. The big, bold, bright works with clear blues and greens were absolute show-stealers.

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This week in Cult of Mac Magazine

June240Amazon

Cult of Mac Magazine June 2 Edition, Free on iTunes

Every week, we serve up the best of the Cult of Mac website as a magazine so you can download and read it at your leisure on your iPhone or iPad.

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Silicon Valley season finale: All about Steve

Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendriks in HBO's Silicon Valley.

Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendriks in HBO’s Silicon Valley.

There’s an ongoing question in hit comedy show Silicon Valley: do you have to be a jerk to succeed? For the entire first season of Mike Judge’s HBO comedy about the new economy gold rush, it’s been Steve vs. Steve 2.0.

Part of what makes the show a resounding success – it’s already confirmed for season two – is how realistic it is. The startup lads at Pied Piper have been under the gun preparing for a big demo: they have a spot at the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield. Yeah, that’s an actual thing. The show is set where TCD takes place, in the barn-like San Francisco Design Center Concourse, and some 400 companies have duked it out in demos that raised over $2.4 billion in funding.

Nota bene: teensy spoilers follow.

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8 things we wish Apple designed

Thanks to its amazing products, Apple already runs your social life, your work life and your downtime. But what if the Cupertino company designed products for the rest of your world? Over the years, there’s been much speculation about the company branching out – especially the Jetsons-like iWatch that will sync all our data and make sure the burrito is at the perfect temp when we get home.

Here are a few items we wish Sir Jony Ive would turn his hand to — because we’d like to take a dip, drop trou, drink and drive with that sweet Apple logo. Maybe just not in that order.

What would you like to see Apple’s design team dream up? Let us know in the comments below.