Nicole Martinelli, author at Cult of Mac

Was Apple inspired by David Hockney’s Yosemite series?

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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.

Silicon Valley season finale: All about Steve

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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.

8 things we wish Apple designed

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Japanese toilet purveyors Toto have sold 33 million of these unmentionables since 1980. It’s a maximalist minimalist dream: no toilet paper, no toilet brush but a heated seat and cleansing jets. What could Apple improve? Imagine an iPod-like controller to give your user presets for a wash-n-dry. Because Apple could make even dropping trou insanely great.
Apple could pop out some nice designs to make us look chic, yet smart but not too bookish, a la’ Warby Parker above, as we squint into our iPhones or hunch over our MacBook Airs.
Toshiba showed this smart home mirror CES this year, but Apple’s take might advise you to ditch those ratty conference tees for black turtlenecks — or remind you to don the green shirt that brings out your eyes in your preset minimum rotation of three weeks.[
Behold Top Brewer, the sleekest interface between you and your caffeine. It already integrates with your iPhone or iPad, so you can order yourself a shot of courage for that endless meeting. If Apple designed it?  Siri would make your favorite low-foam capp.
Gordon Murray, Formula One race car designer and the man behind wheel of McLaren in the 90s, designed this car for the rest of us. The three-seater iStream has stalled on the drawing board for years, but still gets design circles excited.
You may have an old Mac doubling as your pet bed, but it’s time to upgrade to this simple, sleek version by Glenn Ross at Vurv Design Studio. Apple’s take would definitely include a pet tracker and maybe a sonic “mute” button for the barkers in your abode.
How about taking a dip in this Bauhaus-inspired pool? We’re in! This lap of luxury comes to us via Pitsou Kedem Architects. There’s nothing superfluous. Jony would approve.
We’d all be strumming a different tune if Apple made strings like this Harley Davidson model from Liquid Metal Guitars. Rock on!

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.

12 things we hope get funded on Kickstarter

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This comic book project is set on a horror island of solitude, billed as "Lovecraftian inspired by Japanese folklore."
Barobot holds 12 full-sized bottles and knows 1,000 recipes. So you can tend the party, instead of remembering what’s in a Negroni sbagliato.

For just $12, iCorners give your iPad minimalist protection with tough, clear polycarbonate.

We gave up on T-shirts expressing our inner soul. Until we saw this project from freelance photog George Powell.
Back the blues from Mission Denim and get premium, built-to-last dungarees that will be on heavy rotation in your wardrobe.
Mixed Animals are sort of Mr. Potato Head 2.0. These super softies come with magnetic interchangeable parts. Making your dreams of an elephant demon come true.

We’re already breaking out the popcorn for this movie, an "electric fairytale" that follows a day in the life of street hooker Stereo, lo-fi cowboy Analog and a wordless drifter.

Probably the only redeeming thing about Bad Grandpa was the scene with Bikers Against Child Abuse. This photo project documents the faces behind the organization.

This project combines our love of old maps and urban icons. Starts with Portland, Oregon, with plans to spread from sea to shining sea.

Send photographer Ben Panter to Toronto and he’ll produce some of these cool cyanotype pieces. Kick in just $25 for a print.

Now you can get the grit out with Castor, a line of toothpicks that comes in dueling flavors like Habanero & Honey, Bacon & Maple and Raspberry & Wasabi. Classy.

Love these stylish modular solutions for your ever-changing work space: You can turn these into desk risers, shelves and stools.

As warmer weather hits even San Francisco, we’re pooling our beer money for a robot bartender. And some wasabi-flavored toothpicks. Our ever-expanding crew could use some of these modular Modos bookshelves and stools, too. There are so many things on Kickstarter that we want — jeans, maps, comic books — that we’re sharing our wish list with you.

Even cranky futurist Jaron Lanier supports Kickstarter — it “turns consumers into a priori funders of innovation” and we’re pretty sure that translates into robotic cocktails for everyone.

How FaceTime wrecked a sailor’s dream

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Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple’s video chat feature FaceTime has bridged the miles for families, sparked a ton of romances and probably shattered a few marriages.

This may be the first time it’s ever shipwrecked someone, though.

John Berg was sailing off the coast of Kona, Hawaii when a FaceTime login request started messing with the navigation app on his iPad. Although sailing apps on smartphones and tablets so popular they’re credited with having sunk the market for Garmin products,  imprecise navigation has been a concern.

Joint effort: FBI reaches out to pot-smoking hackers

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Leonardo Di Caprio in J. Edgar.
Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation needs to hire more hackers — and that means changing the rules about how much pot you can smoke on the job.

“I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cybercriminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” FBI Director James B. Comey told the Wall Street Journal.

In the future, your car will tell you to walk instead

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Brandon Nee, an engineer at Automatic, designed an app to get people out of their cars, even though he doesn't have one to get into. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Brendan Nee, an engineer at Automatic Labs, designed an app to get people out of their cars, even though he doesn't have one to get into. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO —  Brendan Nee is a walking contradiction. He’s car guru who doesn’t own one, a 21st-century geek with an 18th-century mustache who has come up with a novel bit of nagware that could help Americans get off their spreading behinds.

An engineer working on “smart car assistant” Automatic, he spends many of his weekends at hackathons and has a coder’s physique to show for it. In January, he won the Clinton Foundation Code4Health Codeathon by developing a working prototype of an app called Walkoff in just a weekend. A few months later, Nee and team rolled out a more polished version that mashes up the data Automatic pulls from cars with info gathered by a Jawbone Up fitness tracker, showing a user how much time they’re spending behind the wheel versus walking.

“Clearly, without an actual car, I’m not the ideal tester,” admits Nee. The closest he comes to owning a set of wheels is a retired public bus dubbed the PlayaPillar that he only rolls out for Burning Man.