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7th January 2019
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Well, that’s the shortened version of the question that asked on Quora:

“Why isn’t bamboo wood a bigger worldwide industry, since it grows so quickly and is so strong? couldn’t it replace lumber and save many trees?”

It’s a question that I’ve often thought myself. You hear regularly about how bamboo is such a superior resource for many things, but I’ve never seen an objective reason why it’s not as widely used.

But in his answer, Raphaël du Sablon came to our aid with some very interesting reasons:

Okay, here is the long answer. Bamboo is the collective name for several dozen genera of grasses, all in the Bambusoideae branch of the “BOP” clade.[1] While most bamboo species are either shrubby or relatively short plants, a couple genera include particularly large species, typically called “timber bamboo” or “giant bamboo.” These are the bamboo of relevance.

Being in the grass family, bamboo is not a tree. Thus, material cut from bamboo stalks is not technically “wood.” Because of its roughly similar properties, however, and for marketing reasons, it often is referred to as a wood.

With that pedantry out of the way, let’s consider the uses of wood, and how bamboo compares. The big ones are fuel, lumber, and paper.

7th January 2019
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Michael Rockwell of Initial Charge:

As some of you may know, I recently started a new job. I’m now a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, helping WordPress.com users build their online business, share their ideas with the world, or do just about anything you could think of with a website. This new change in my life is at least partly to blame for the lack of publishing here on Initial Charge, but now that the holidays are behind us, I should have a bit more time for writing.

I’ve added quite a bit of new tech to my setup over the past few months and have plenty of thoughts and ideas to share about what’s happened in the world of Apple recently. But today, I thought I’d spend a bit of time discussing the new MacBook Air.

I found this to be a really insightful review. By no means am I thinking about getting a MacBook Air in the future. But I’ll forever be interested in how people use their devices for their work.

14th December 2018

Apple have announced some changes to the Artists Pages in Apple Music for iOS:

Apple Music in iOS 12 makes it easier to browse an artist’s catalog and discover new music to play. You’ll find the following changes in the new Artist Pages:

  • Improved Organization: Artist Pages are now better organized to make it easier to find the music you’re looking for, including Essential Albums and a featured release at the top of each artist’s page.
  • Personalized Artist Radio: Every Apple Music artist now has their own radio station. Press ▶︎ at the top of any Artist Page to start listening to music from across an artist’s catalog.

Connect posts from artists are no longer supported.

So Apple Music Connect is no more. Not exactly a big loss in my opinion though.

My opinions are similar to Nick Heer of Pixel Envy:

Aside from Connect, I think Apple Music’s social features have been fairly successful. I check out what the users I follow have been listening to all the time in the For You section, and I like the new Friends Mix added a few months ago. I’ve even noticed a better selection of user-created playlists. I would love to see continued investment and promotion of these more passive social features, rather than another attempt to create a Twitter-but-for-music social network.

I can’t say I regularly check what my friends are listening to, but I too have been finding a lot more user-created playlists. And I’ve noticed that playlists that I have created have been getting more attention from others.

Receiving updates from artists in Apple Music always seemed a bit odd to me, as I never really thought any artists would spend much time creating content for a limited outlet such as Apple Music. Especially as they surely knew it wouldn’t be that popular.

What I do want to see more of though, are social features designed for the listeners. With things like user-curated playlists, and smarter recommendations that take into consideration your interests, your friends, what’s trending in a certain area, etc. I’ve always found Spotify to be much better at this, and discoverability in general. And I’d much prefer Apple to compete on that front, instead of trying to attract Artists to be social on a music platform.

12th December 2018
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James Iles:

Recently, Jamie Zoch (@Yofie) questioned whether search engine DuckDuckGo had acquired the Duck.com domain name from Google.

Search giant Google acquired the Duck.com domain name in 2010 with the acquisition of On2, a video codec company.

Today, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed to me that the Duck.com domain name had been transferred to DuckDuckGo’s possession.

Maybe they paid them for the domain, or maybe this was Google doing something nice? Who knows.

Via Hacker News.

28th November 2018
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Ellen Scott, writing for Metro:

Over in Australia lives a very large cow.

Or, if we’re being technically accurate, a very large steer, which is a neutered male.

His name is Knickers.

He is 6 ft 4in tall standing and weighs 1,400kg. That’s actually a tiny bit shorter than the steer that holds the world record for size, Bellino, who lives in Italy, but it is still very, very large.

So large, in fact, that he’s too big to be killed and sold as meat. Meat processors say they just can’t take him as he’s too large for them to deal with.

Holy Cow.

28th November 2018
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A very funny article on OneFootball:

An Irish football club has apologised after falsely reporting a player had died, which prompted the postponement of their own match and a minute’s silence to be held at others.

Ballybrack claimed Fernando Nuno La Fuente had been killed in a road traffic accident and their Leinster Senior League (LSL) clash with Arklow Town on Saturday was suspended as a result.

But it later transpired that the Spanish player was, in fact, still alive and had returned to his homeland.

What an absolute screw up.

12th November 2018
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Michael Steeber, for 9To5Mac:

We take photos to capture moments. A great photo can fill in the blanks of our memory, instantly recalling forgotten details and conversations otherwise lost to time. But has looking at a photo ever raised more questions than it provided answers? Let’s look at reimagining the Photos app to better tell the stories of your memories.

“Why was I wearing a winter coat in May?” “What were we listening to on that road trip?” “Why were you downtown so early on a Sunday morning?” Where our memory fails, technology can assist. Beyond being a great camera, modern iPhones store and can tap into rich libraries of data relevant to our lives. By interpreting this information through the intelligence of iOS, the Photos app could be expanded in two key ways to help weave our memories into vivid stories.

There’s a ton of great suggestions on the types of information that can be extrapolated from photos, and it’s certainly interesting to see how it would look in the UI.

I really like this concept, and it’s certainly something I think Apple could pull off. Even without collecting personal information en mass, as it can be done on the device. And anything that needs to be referenced from somewhere else can be requested completely anonymously, such as the weather or information about a location.

24th October 2018

Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9To5Mac:

It’s not unusual for celebrities paid to promote Android brands to be caught using an iPhone. In many cases, they have been caught out on Twitter – like Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot.

But Samsung appears to take the matter more seriously than most: they are suing their own Russian brand ambassador for using an iPhone X for a massive $1.6M …

Reality TV show host and politician Ksenia Sobchak is the face of Samsung in Russia, and is required by contract to use a Samsung smartphone. But the Mirror reports that she was seen on a television interview using an iPhone X.

I don’t blame them. Who would, given the option, use a Samsung phone 😜.

However, you’d probably either make a better effort to hide it, or just not become a Brand Ambassador.

24th October 2018
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From an EU Press Release:

Single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds, will be banned in the EU under plans adopted on Wednesday.

These products, which make up over 70% of marine litter, will be banned from the EU market from 2021, under draft plans approved by Parliament.

MEPs added to this list of plastics banned from the EU market from 2021: products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene.

Another step in the right direction.

23rd October 2018
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Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

Essentially, Smart HDR was choosing the wrong base frame for HDR processing when you took a selfie. Instead of choosing a frame with a short shutter speed to freeze motion and preserve detail, it would sometimes choose a frame with longer shutter speed. The front camera also does not have optical image stabilization, so it takes blurrier shots at the same shutter speed as the rear, stabilized camera. The result is a loss of detail that looks like smoothing on the front camera.

I knew it was something to do with Smart HDR, but it’s interesting to know the exact detail of why it was happening. 



Maybe one of the main benefits of computational photography, is that it can be continuously improved, and sent out in regular software updates. It’s intriguing to think what the difference in the camera will be in a years time, compared to how good it is now, even with no hardware change.