Computers Are Dumb »

James Vincent at The Verge:

There are tens of thousands of genes in the human genome: minuscule twists of DNA and RNA that combine to express all of the traits and characteristics that make each of us unique. Each gene is given a name and alphanumeric code, known as a symbol, which scientists use to coordinate research. But over the past year or so, some 27 human genes have been renamed, all because Microsoft Excel kept misreading their symbols as dates.

The problem isn’t as unexpected as it first sounds. Excel is a behemoth in the spreadsheet world and is regularly used by scientists to track their work and even conduct clinical trials. But its default settings were designed with more mundane applications in mind, so when a user inputs a gene’s alphanumeric symbol into a spreadsheet, like MARCH1 — short for “Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1” — Excel converts that into a date: 1-Mar.

Connected #306: Big Shoes to Phil »

This week on Connected:

It’s been a busy start to August: Myke has LEGO on the way, Phil Schiller has a new job, the 27-inch iMac has been refreshed, and there are details out about third-party mail and browser apps being able to be set as default. The guys also talk through the new betas and their future Mac setups.

On Connected Pro, Federico is caught up on the news, including what’s going on with Samsung, TikTok and Instagram. Also: everyone has thoughts about tweets and Stephen had go to the bank.

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Phil Schiller Named Apple Fellow »

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that Phil Schiller will become an Apple Fellow, continuing a storied career that began at Apple in 1987. In this role, which reports to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Schiller will continue to lead the App Store and Apple Events. Greg (Joz) Joswiak, a longtime leader within the Product Marketing organization, will join the executive team as senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

While I can’t help but think his oversight of the App Store and the company’s events won’t last for long, I think the marketing group is in good hands with Joz. I’ve always enjoyed his presentation style and he’s been at the company for two decades.

Papa Phil

Schiller himself has had quite a career with Apple. Again, from the press release:

Schiller has helped guide Apple’s products as well as its marketing for 30 years. He most recently led the effort to plan and execute Apple’s first-ever virtual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event, notable both for its innovative software and hardware announcements as well as its creative and much-praised execution, set a new standard for what virtual events can achieve in the era of COVID-19.

“It has been a dream come true for me to work at Apple, on so many products I love, with all of these great friends — Steve, Tim, and so many more,” said Schiller. “I first started at Apple when I was 27, this year I turned 60 and it is time for some planned changes in my life. I’ll keep working here as long as they will have me, I bleed six colors, but I also want to make some time in the years ahead for my family, friends, and a few personal projects I care deeply about.”

Apple Updates and Modernizes the iMac »

Today, Apple has updated the iMac. While the design remains the same, it’s a meaningful update here in the twilight of the Intel era.

iMac with 5K Retina display

Here’s Apple:

“Now more than ever, our customers are relying on the Mac. And many of them need the most powerful and capable iMac we’ve ever made,” said Tom Boger, Apple’s senior director of Mac and iPad Product Marketing. “With blazing performance, double the memory, SSDs across the line with quadruple the storage, an even more stunning Retina 5K display, a better camera, higher fidelity speakers, and studio-quality mics, the 27-inch iMac is loaded with new features at the same price. It’s the ultimate desktop, to work, create, and communicate.”

While the case is the same, Apple has brought the Pro Display XDR’s nano-texture option to the iMac for the first time. Like on the XDR, it will set you back a pretty penny: $500 to be exact.

In more reasonable news, the iMac now supports TrueTone. Above the display is a 1080p webcam, an upgrade from the previous models.

On the spec end of things, the 27-inch iMac now uses 10th-gen Intel CPUs across the board, and includes faster AMD GPUs, providing twice the video memory as in previous models.

In addition to that, the new machine can be ordered with 10 Gigabit Ethernet and up to 128 GB of RAM.

If it sounds like the iMac is creeping up toward the iMac Pro, it’s because it is. Here’s a bit from Jason Snell’s report:

Last year’s iMacs already pushed up against the performance of the iMac Pro, and these will undoubtedly beat it—especially that 10-core model. In an acknowledgement of this, Apple has rejiggered the iMac Pro line, dropping the old base eight-core model and moving the 10-core model to the base price. So now the iMac line ends at 10 cores and the iMac Pro line begins there.

On the storage front, Apple was quick to note the inclusion of SSDs in all standard configurations of the 5K iMac, and that’s true, but the base models come with a measly 256 GB of storage.1 This may be a roadblock for some users, so the Fusion Drive is still an option on the 21.5-inch models.

Speaking of that other iMac, it didn’t get much love today past the storage story.

The 21.5-inch iMac is still using older 7th- and 8th-gen Intel processors, but every base model comes equipped with SSDs. That’s about it in terms of updates for the smaller of the two models. The $1,099 model even still comes with a 1920×1080 display.

  1. This also means Apple’s T2 security chip is present on the new iMacs, a first for the line. And just because I couldn’t find a good place for it, the new iMacs include a fancy new microphone system, but still come with the previous set of speakers, which were already pretty dang good. 

Kbase Article of the Week: Using .AVI Files in iDVD »

Apple Support:

The .AVI (Audio Video Interleave) file format is a container format which may contain audio and video codecs (compression formats) not supported by QuickTime and therefore not supported in iDVD.

In some cases, you may encounter issues with audio or video when adding .AVI assets to an iDVD project, or when attempting to burn a DVD or create a disc image from that project.

Jason Snell Launches “20 Macs for 2020” »

This morning, my buddy Jason Snell is launching a new project: “20 Macs for 2020,” in which he is covering what he thinks are the most notable Macs. The list will include good, weird and even bad computers.

He’s kicking off the list with the Power Mac G5.

In addition to a new post every Monday, 20 Macs for 2020 also lives as a podcast on Relay FM. On each episode, Snell talks to a group of Mac watchers and enthusiasts about the machine in question.

(Members of Upgrade or Six Colors get access to new episodes before the general public.)

In addition to that, Jason and I are co-hosting a video series on the 512 Pixels YouTube channel, where we’re talking about and showing off the hardware featured in the list:

I am really excited to be involved with this project, and I think everyone is going to really enjoy it.

Sponsor: Loopback from Rogue Amoeba »

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Loopback UI

Enhance the sound of your mic on Zoom calls, or pipe in music and sound effects. Podcasters can combine a mic with audio sources like or our own soundboard app Farrago, so remote guests all hear the same thing. Gamers can record gameplay videos with both game audio and commentary. With an easy-to-understand wire-based interface, Loopback gives you all the power of a high-end studio mixing board, right inside your computer!

I use Loopback all the time for custom audio stuff on my Mac, and it really does seem like magic. The folks at Rogue Amoeba are wizards when it comes to this stuff.

Download the free trial of Loopback to take a test drive! Through August 15th, 512 Pixels readers can save $20 with coupon code 512LB.