(You're reading all posts by 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.
About Nicole Martinelli
You might not think an Apple laptop is on the same level as a Cartier watch or an all-expenses-paid blowout in Morocco, but some authorities think different.
The laptop was mentioned in an international corruption investigation into whether brokers Tradition Financial Services ponied up big bucks to win the hearts (and the business accounts) of Libyan officials for investments that netted the firm millions.
SAN FRANCISCO — You can buy and sell a lot of things in this boom town, just not public parking spaces. All three parking apps called out by the city attorney for auctioning or selling public spaces have backed off.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera slapped MonkeyParking with a cease-and-desist on June 23 and mentioned that similar apps Sweetch and ParkModo were next in line. Each took a different tack — defiant, conciliatory, quiet — but in the end, all three are on hiatus.
SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a new kind of gold hidden in the hills of this city: A mysterious Twitter account is leading locals on a treasure hunt for Bitcoin.
While judges debate whether Bitcoin is money and crashing economies around the globe fear the virtual currency’s wake, it’s the coin of the realm in certain circles here. If you can handle being a “cyphervegan,” you can basically already live on Bitcoin.
SAN FRANCISCO — Myles Weissleder has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to startup demos.
The former VP of public affairs at Meetup.com presides over SF New Tech, a showcase for disruptive hopefuls that he’s run for more than eight years. Over 750 companies including SkyBox, Twilio, Prezi, Flipboard and Twitter have come to his networking mixer to demo before a live audience in a trendy SOMA club.
In San Francisco’s competitive startup environment, you can demo your game-changing idea (or Pet Rock app) every night of the week, but SF New Tech is one of the longest-running and largest showcases. Wannapreneurs face a few hundred audience members — many of them from influential companies like Apple or venture capital firms like CMEA capital — where the mingling is fueled by drinks and tacos.
During a recent demo night, Cult of Mac sat down with the indefatigable Weissleder, who is as at home on the stage with a mic as he is hobnobbing at the bar, to get his top tips on how not to bomb when you take the stage with your great idea, hoping to find cash and connect with influencers.
The devil is in the details: Tim Cook said that Apple’s commitment to accessibility is so complete that the Cupertino company never looks at the return on investment but considers it “just and right.”
That’s a pretty different picture than the one venerable news org Reuters painted by giving a quick chop to his comments in a piece about blind app users seeking more accessibility from Apple.
Matthew Watkins has brought iPad finger paintings into the real world in more formats than any other artist we know.
His digital artwork has made the leap into the tangible on carpets, cars, plexiglass and the more usual prints, videos, books and live installations at fashion shows and art events. Watkins, who lives in Southern Italy — by way of Manchester, England, and a childhood spent in Toronto — uses his personal peregrinations as a source of inspiration for his ongoing series on imaginary cities, which hovers between utopia and dystopia.
“I’m drawn to urban decay and architectural artifacts,” Watkins says of the works that were on display in a recent exhibit at Verona’s Palazzo Gran Guardia. “I’ve drawn buildings and cities since I was a child. As a teenager I would draw my own imaginary worlds. I still do.”
Summer television used to be all about reruns. If you weren’t addling your brain after day camp on the Brady Bunch (“Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”), you were slouching in a darkened apartment memorizing gags from Seinfeld.
Now, though, there are some fantastic original shows that are keeping us inside when we should be amusing ourselves out-of-doors. Proving that the best part of adulthood may be the discretion to ignore your mom’s advice, even when you know she’s right.
Here are our picks from sci-fi, to crime and drama, including some frothy summer pleasures.
A few even offer free previews on iTunes, so you can dip your toe in before diving in to binge watch.
What’s on your list?
Halt and Catch Fire
In what may be the best new geek drama of the season, Halt and Catch Fire features a pair of mismatched genius underdogs who are under the gun to reverse engineer an IBM PC, way back in the 80s. In case you're wondering, there's less sex and more smart women than Mad Men, but it's still entertaining. Nostalgics will love the references to tech past -- Coleco, Pong, Sony Walkman -- accompanied by an excellent electronica soundtrack.
I Wanna Marry Harry
A regular bloke named Matt who rides to work on a borrowed bike fools 12 American gals into thinking he's Prince Harry. "I think he must be in royalty," one gushes. All are insta-duped and so scary dumb you don't feel sorry for them. Matt realizes that keeping a dozen Yankees entertained is daunting. Ever the gentleman, he calls them "vivacious," then adds "American girls don't have inside voices, apparently" while looking absolutely terrified. And, lied to or not, these would-be prince catchers spent two months in a castle abroad. More than a clever social experiment, I Wanna Marry Harry is a self-esteem boost for viewers.
Brainiac bad girl Catherine Black has a big problem: she's bipolar and, as she purrs suggestively from a ginger fringe and circles of kohl eyeliner, "non-compliant" with her meds. She's an important neuroscientist who can't seem to decide whether she's Dr Jekyll or Ms. Party Pants, cracking difficult cases then going off the rails to freeform jazz music and sleeping with strangers. Black Box is too campy (and glib about mental illness) to recommend for anything more than a summer fling, but we'll go along for the ride.
Murder in the First
Two cops carrying some serious emotional baggage navigate the streets of San Francisco investigating a murder where all the signs point to an bratty wunderkind entrepreneur. Murder in the First is guilty of some mainstream TV peccadillos -- a tech conference called "tech con" and detectives who live in improbable millionaire digs but carry cheap flip phones -- fortunately the story is intriguing and stretches over the series making it perfect for staycation viewing. Also it's not every show where you get app dating, juice cleanses, code stealing and murder all woven in.
Dominion is pretty much the Touched By An Angel of your worst nightmares. Based on the film Legion, it's set in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas where humans live in cyber gated communities to keep out the winged riff-raff. The plot rotates around a rebellious soldier, his spunky princess and then gets so complicated your cylinders will fire all summer long trying to keep up. Inexplicably, some evil angels are half-nude babes and everyone gets naked in communal showers.
The ghosts of sitcoms past haunt this chick detective kitsch fest starring Jenny Garth and Tori Spelling of 90210 fame. In Mystery Girls, Spelling roars along inhabiting her most unflattering tabloid caricature and Garth tries to shoulder the plot which includes faked death, TMZ, sex tapes and hairbrained schemes to find the baddies. Meta-tastic!
Just when you thought you'd never set sail with a pirate yarn again, John Malcovich as Blackbeard will shanghai your TV set with Crossbones. There's plenty of swashbuckling action, a sexy female pirate (Tracy Ifeachor from Doctor Who) and enough underpinning of medicine and navigational tech to keep you hooked. An unrecognizable OTT Julian Sands adds to the fun.
Who are you calling trashy?
The Apple logo was left visible, for inspiration.
Ashtray or paperclip holder?
All photos: Takara Maru, used with permission.
Fitting right in
All photos: Takara Maru, used with permission.
All photos: Takara Maru, used with permission.
The new Mac Pro, with its sleek cylinder design, has gotten a bad rap. While it’s light-years from the bulky, ugly first-generation Mac Pro and “built for creativity on an epic scale,” this ingenious machine, which Apple sells for between $2,999 and $3,999, looks like a common waste receptacle.
The much-trashed design recently got some love from architect Takara Maru, who carved out a spot on this sleek walnut desk for it. Some might joke that it’s to shield users from the Mac Pro’s looks, but really the aim is to reduce clutter on the desk surface so Maru can focus on home design.
SAN FRANCISCO — When they learned they were next in line for a cease-and-desist letter from the City Attorney, three young entrepreneurs made haste to City Hall to salvage their dream of making circling the block for parking a thing of the past.
Parking app Sweetch lets you alert prospective parkers that you’ll be moving your car. The person leaving the spot gets $4 in credit and the person arriving pays $5. Positioning itself as a community app, Sweetch lets drivers donate the money to local charities. (If you use the Web app version, like we did when we took it for a test drive, the money is only symbolically exchanged. Your credit card details and hard cash are only required for the iOS app.)
“It was really cool that they were open to talking to us — we clarified that we’re not auctioning parking spots or holding them, we’re not anything like MonkeyParking, and they understood that,” Sweetch co-founder Hamza Ouazzani Chahdi told Cult of Mac by phone, adding that they spoke with two deputies at the San Francisco City Attorney’s office for about an hour. City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey confirmed that officials met with Sweetch but didn’t have specifics on whether the cease-and-desist order had been halted as a result of the meeting.
Glenn Jones didn’t set out to build a one-man T-shirt empire. The Aukland, New Zealand-based designer and illustrator started emblazoning tees with his visual witticisms on Threadless in 2004 and then hit the virtual shelves with his own store featuring just six designs in 2008.
He now sells more than 100 designs at Glennz Tees — you may remember his Melting Rubik’s Cube worn by Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory — all of which look as home at South by Southwest as they do at your favorite watering hole.