Category Archives: Starred Articles

Starred a post: Prehistoric Egyptian jewelry made from a meteorite, say researchers


Researchers have discovered than an ancient Egyptian bead was made out of iron taken from a meteorite. In a paper published in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, they write that the piece of jewelry dates back to roughly 3,300 BC. It was one of nine such artifacts found in 1911 — at a cemetery roughly 70 kilometers south of Cairo — and its origin has been a point of contention for some time. Its very existence seemed to contradict the known record of iron smelting in the region, which hasn’t been seen until thousands of years later during the sixth century BC. A meteorite would have made sense as an alternate origin — and analysis in 1928 revealed that the iron in the beads had a high amount of nickel, a finding consistent with…

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via The Verge – All Posts

Starred a post: How to prevent an astronaut bloodbath on Mars


Sometime within the next two decades, a select cadre of men and women will likely embark on a trailblazing adventure: the first manned mission to Mars. Several private organizations, including Dutch nonprofit Mars One and space tourist Dennis Tito’s Inspiration Mars, have already announced plans to send people to the red planet. And NASA is preparing for its own massive undertaking, in the hopes of getting astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.

Pulling off a successful mission will require profound feats of technology and science. Among them? Figuring out how to prevent astronauts confined to a cramped, isolated capsule for several years from coming to blows. “When a bad day happens, it isn’t so easy to address in space,” says Douglas Vakoch,…

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via The Verge – All Posts

Starred a post: Random House moves into games with ‘Black Crown,’ a dark, messy work of interactive fiction


Black Crown is a strange blend of interactive fiction and a classic choose-your-own-adventure novel. It’s also incredibly disturbing: Your character will regularly undergo bizarre tests dictated by a shadowy corporation, which will have you dealing with everything from mutilated pigs to a constantly changing outfit. In the world of Black Crown, reality is in flux, so you never quite know who or what to trust. This all makes for a thoroughly enjoyable mystery, at least early on, and additional story elements will roll out over time to keep you reading. It’s also a game that comes from an unusually traditional source: book publisher Random House UK.

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via The Verge – All Posts

Starred a post: Briefs

Longtime readers should remember Briefs, which creator Rob Rhyne unveiled back at the C4[3] conference in 2009. It was Rhyne’s vision for a modern, simple, prototyping/UI mockup tool for mobile app designers, and it caught my eye immediately.

And then it entered App Store limbo.

It took a few years and some significant rethinking of the concept, but as of a few weeks ago, Briefs is out. I love this story, not just because Briefs is a terrific app (actually, a few apps — a viewer for iOS, and a developer tool for the Mac), but because this app ever seeing the light of day was the result of such dogged determination. Many people would have given up at some point. Rhyne did not.

via Daring Fireball

Starred a post: Digging in on the Church of Market Share

This whole article from Jay Yarow is weak. He disparages John Kirk’s widely-cited Techpinions piece on Android market share, but addresses none of Kirk’s actual arguments. Underlying the entirety of Yarow’s piece is Church of Market Share dogma: higher market share is always better, just because. But here’s a paragraph I actually agree with:

Based on these quotes, the goal for Apple shouldn’t be to be the
company with the most money in the bank. It should be to make the
best products in the world, and get them in as many hands as

That’s exactly what Apple is doing. No one, or at least no one with a clue, is arguing that making the most money should be Apple’s goal. (Nor is anyone arguing that market share is irrelevant; the argument is whether market share alone is of primary importance.) Apple’s profits are the result of having achieved their goal: making the best products and getting them into the hands of the most people. The and there is very important. In simple terms, iOS is what you get when you try to make the best products and maximize the number of people who use them; Android devices are what you get when you try to maximize the number of people who use them.

Apple has so much money right now that it basically doesn’t know
what to do with it. A company that is defined by brilliant,
world-changing ideas has decided the best use for its $145 billion
in cash is a rather pedestrian stock buyback and dividend to

This reiterates my belief that Yarow is digging in to defend Business Insider’s years-long campaign of click-bait sensational anti-Apple-ism. (“iPhone Dead in the Water” — April 2011.) For one thing, what is “pedestrian” about the company’s stock buyback and dividend plans? More importantly, does Yarow really believe that Apple isn’t spending enormous sums of money on initiatives — billions of dollars per quarter — that will drive future products and services? (See Horace Dediu’s third question today.) If he’s not aware of this, he’s not competent to cover Apple for a business publication; if he is aware, then the above is a blatantly dishonest attempt to mislead.

The truth is that focusing on market share as the primary metric is the only way to paint the iPhone as anything other than a roaring success.

via Daring Fireball

Starred a post: The organic geometry of Tom Beddard’s Fabergé Fractals


Tom Beddard is a UK-based artist with a fractal fascination. Among his most fascinating works is a set called Fabergé Fractals — a collection of mesmerizing 3D structures created from computer modeling software. As Architizer reports, Beddard created his models using iterative formulas, with the output of one iteration serving as the input for the next. The result is a collection of fractal structures that are equal parts organic and geometric in their intricacy.

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via The Verge – All Posts

Starred a post: Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Joe Nocera on Tim Cook

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

But what will be remembered about Nocera’s latest Apple column is
that he called Tim Cook a liar — accusing him of telling, under
oath, a “whopper” and a “flat-out lie.” Nocera implies, but
doesn’t actually say, that he makes those charges after watching
Cook’s testimony.

I watched Cook’s testimony — twice. I find it hard to believe
that Nocera saw any of it. And having read the documents and news
articles he cites, I believe that on the points with which he has
factual disagreements with Cook, he’s provably wrong.


Update: More dissection of Nocera’s claims from Yoni Heisler at TUAW.

via Daring Fireball