Video

Discussing the birth of the iPhone

John Markoff interviews former iPhone engineering team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra and Scott Herz, followed by a second interview with Scott Forstall.

This is a two hour interview, Forstall starts about 1:07 but both hours are well worth listening to. Understand that the technology that these people built changed the world and Forstall had an inkling of the importance of what they were doing but really, none of them had any idea that the iPhone would turn out to be the success it has been.

This isn’t just for Apple fan-people or iPhone geeks, this will be interesting for anyone who wants a behind the scenes look at how these people’s careers took shape and how they ended up on the original iPhone team. The personal anecdotes are fascinating.

I was involved with Apple in the early years of the Macintosh and this felt very much like early interviews with Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, and others on the first Macintosh team. Historic.

This event took place at The Computer Museum and regrettably, the sound and video aren’t great, but it is extremely worthwhile.

Note: Scott Forstall left Apple (was let go) in 2012. Wouldn’t it be ironic (and interesting) if Forstall, like Jobs, came back to Apple later as CEO (or in some other capacity) after going through a personal transformation outside of Apple. Sometimes distance makes for a clearer head.

Sara Berman’s Closet

Sara Berman’s Closet from NewYorker on Vimeo.

This is a brilliant short film about the life of Sara Berman and how her closet ended up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The film is by Bianca Giaever and Elori Kramer for The New Yorker, narrated by Maira Kalman (Sara Berman’s daughter) and written by Alex Kalman and Maira Kalman.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Sound Princess

Many years ago when we were visiting friends in Japan we were leaving a temple and decided to use a public restroom.

I went into the men’s room and used a urinal which looked a bit different from urinals I was used to but no doubt different commercial porcelain casting companies and different cultures make for differences in the shape of things like men’s urinals.

However, I noticed a button on the wall, seemingly independent from the urinal and its plumbing. I had no idea what the button did and I was concerned that pushing it might open a trapdoor in the floor and I’d fall through (joke).

When I met up with my wife and our friend Laurie who, at this point had lived in Japan for over ten years, I asked Laurie what the button was for.

She told me that many years ago Japan underwent a drought and designers had looked for ways to conserve water. One thing they noticed was that, for a variety of reasons, people were flushing before going to the bathroom (not just women which is stated in the video), generally to mask the sound of a fart or other toilet-related sounds. I certainly have noticed people doing this in the US as well: sound masking, men who have trouble peeing hearing running water, cleaning toilet before being near it, etc.

So, clever Japanese designers came up with a solution: digitize the sound of running water and put a button and a speaker at every urinal and toilet, thus saving water and at the same time, allowing people to use the water sound for whatever they needed to.

In the video above, the single button is replaced by a control panel and but the sound button is still there, now called the “privacy button.”

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger cover

This is a brilliant cover of a classic Daft Punk song.

“Neo Magazin Royale is a German satirical late night talk show hosted by Jan Böhmermann, and has one of the biggest bands in late night TV. The 15-piece orchestra is headed by rapper Dendemann, and features a rotating cast of musicians. This amazing cover of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” wasn’t even for the live TV show — it was a band warm up in front of the live audience.”

[via Uncrate]

John Oliver on Net Neutrality (again)

Another brilliant commentary by John Oliver on net neutrality

John Oliver first commented on net neutrality in 2014 here and it was one of the first really popular youTube posts he made.

If you’re confused about what Net neutrality is, browse this: Net neutrality on wikipedia.

The Trump administration has appointed a new chairman for the FCC, Ajit Pai, who is considering changing the rules put in place during the Obama administration to prevent unfair competition on the internet.

Here’s the link John talked about to make logging into the FCC to comment on this easier: http://gofccyourself.com.

[via Steve Splonskowski]

Piliated woodpeckers

Piliated woodpeckers

Click through to Flickr to play this video. I’ll try to embed a copy at some point.

A pair of pileated woodpeckers working on a stump next to our house.

Note: My sister-in-law thinks it’s probably a male-female pair and I now agree. I didn’t see enough difference between them and didn’t know the female had as much red on her head. So, my narration is probably off.

I heard a pileated call that seemed closer then usual, looked out my office window and this is what I saw. Grabbed my iPhone and recorded this through a window. Clipped the initial futzing around and zooming in.

These magnificent birds are very shy. We hear them in the tree-tops behind our house but never see them this close. It’s not unusual for them to work on trees at ground level though; more insects there.

In walking around our place I found three more stumps with recent pileated wood-pecking on them, hopefully they’ll come back.

Primitive Technology: Water powered hammer

Various techniques used to build a water-powered hammer or “monjolo”.

I like the technique he uses to bore the hole in the log and make the trough: hot coal, blow pipe to make it hot, clay to protect the edges and direct the burning.

The key is finding out where the balance point of a log is (might not be the center, logs taper) after gouging out the water-catching trough on the back side.

As the trough fills with water it tips the log and spills the water all at once and the log’s other end falls.

Many different technologies and ideas involved in this brilliant machine. No doubt it took quite a bit of trial and error to get it right.

I’ve seen similar pieces of technology in Japanese gardens (in Japan and in Los Angeles) called Shishi-odoshi.

There are many more of these great videos at the Primitive Technology site and for those who prefer, he has a Primitive Technology YouTube Channel.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Ueli Steck dies on Mt. Everest

Swiss climber Ueli Steck was killed in a fall on Mt. Everest today.

Steck was one of the greatest mountaineers and all-around climber-athletes in the world. He was skilled and experienced enough so that an accident like this would be unlikely for him, however, free solo climbing (climbing alone without a rope) is dangerous, even for someone as skilled as Steck.

I’ve followed Steck’s career for a while, mostly because he’s an interesting guy, and also because those of us who were or still are climbers know what The Eiger North Face is and Steck not only free soloed it, he did it numerous times in under 3 hours. This is an incredible achievement because of the skill and daring involved but also because of the endurance involved. Steck was called “the Swiss machine” for a reason: he had tremendous endurance.

I posted about him here in 2011. Below is the video from that post.