PNY ThinkSafe MacBook Locking System: Perfect for those MacBooks without Kensington lock slots.

Finally, I have a way to lock my 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display to a heavy metal chair, thanks to the PNY ThinkSafe MacBook Locking System(MSRP of US$29.99, generally available for less than $20).

Back when I got my first 13-inch MacBook Air shortly after they arrived on the scene on January 29, 2008, I was thrilled about the design — it was thin, light and quiet. But there was one thing that bothered me — there was no Kensington lock slot on the side or back of the device that I could use my lock with to anchor it to hotel furniture. Since then, my solution has been either to lock the MacBook Air in a hotel safe (that actually worked very well with the 11-inch Air I bought later) or carry it with me everywhere.

Fast-forward to 2013, when my employer bought me a nice 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. While it’s speedier than the Air and has much more capacity and screen real estate, it’s also heavier and thicker, and I really don’t like to carry it around. In keeping with Jony Ive’s seeming dislike for little slots that can be used with locks (the new Mac Pro is missing one as well), the MacBook Pro is also slot-free. I had to find a solution that would work for travel…

One of my cohorts pointed me toward MacLocks, but I had two problems with that solution. First, they were charging $59.99 for the product and second, it required screwing a case to my MacBook Pro. No, I don’t personally own the MBP, so there’s no way I was going to remove screws and then attach a case to it.

The only other solution was the PNY ThinkSafe MacBook Locking System. What it uses in place of the Kensington slot or a case screwed onto the MacBook Pro is a thin, curved, hardened stainless steel band that snakes down into the opening between the keyboard and the screen. There are actually three bands included with the MacBook Locking System — one for MacBook Air, one for MacBook Pro and one for MacBook Pro with Retina display. A small drawstring bag to wrap up the cable, lock and band is included with the system.

Once that metal band is dropped down into the gap, you can close the cover of your laptop without worrying about it scratching the screen or otherwise causing issues. Being the paranoid person that I am, I covered the top of the small tab that sits between the keyboard and screen with a piece of electrical tape just in case it actually contacts the display.

The lock is a typical four-digit combination lock with a small “hook” on one end that grabs a slot in the end of the metal band. Wrap the cable around something heavy and unable to be lifted, snap the hook onto the metal band and spin the combo lock, and you’re ready to leave your Mac in a hotel room unattended.

Sure, I figure that a really dedicated thief could probably just bring a cable cutter and clip the cable, then worry about getting the lock off later with a little liquid nitrogen or something, but at least this keeps the amateurs from committing a crime of opportunity.

Conclusion

Faced with an “unlockable” design, first with the MacBook Air and then with the MacBook Pro, PNY has come up with a locking solution for these thin laptops that works well. My only concern is that the flat metal “top” of the band that’s inserted between the keyboard and display might result in some abrasion of the screen or keyboard, so users may wish to cover the metal with another material like tape.

Source: TUAW.

Apple hired medical expert Michael O’Reilly last summer, not working solely on iWatch.

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Apple hires from both the fitness and medical industries, MobiHealthNews reported that it received a tip that Apple has also hired Dr. Michael O’Reilly. According to his LinkedIn profile, O’Reilly served as Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for nearly five years at a company called Masimo. A video of a product that company created is below:

That company, developed an iPhone-connected pulse monitor called the iSp02. It uses sensors to track pulse and other data and sends the information to an iPhone app. This hire, however, is not really breaking news: sources with knowledge of Apple’s work on the iWatch say that O’Reilly actually joined Apple last August. These people also say that he is not solely focused on the iWatch project; instead he is working on a range of projects.

Source: 9to5Mac.

Makers of ‘Clumsy Ninja’ app acquired by Zynga for $527 million, and other news for January 31.

Zynga has acquired the makers behind the popular Clumsy Ninja app for a reported US$527 million. Clumsy Ninja by NaturalMotion was spotlighted by Apple at the iPhone 5 launch event back in 2012 and released a little more than a year later in November 2013. The game allows users to manipulate a ninja who responds with life-like motion and movement. It has been widely praised for its level of interactive animation and motion capabilities. Announcing the buyout, Zynga CEO Don Mattrick said:

NaturalMotion expands Zynga’s creative pipeline, accelerates our mobile growth, and brings next-generation technology and tools to Zynga that will fast-track our ability to deliver consumers more hit games. Bringing Zynga and NaturalMotion together is a bold step in the right direction at the right time.

Combining NaturalMotion’s strengths with Zynga’s ability to develop breakthrough social features while sustaining live games over time, offers us a huge opportunity to redefine the gaming industry and deliver consumers blockbuster entertainment experiences.

Zynga also laid off 15 percent of its workforce.

In other news:

  • The NFL has announced it is launching a new streaming-video service called NFL Now for mobile devices ahead of the 2014 season. The service will only be available in the US on Verizon due to its partnership with the NFL.
  • In what is sure to annoy users, The New York Times iOS app now limits non-paying subscribers to 10 articles per month. However, quality content means a publication needs to make revenue through subscription fees or ads, or else there will be no article to read, so hopefully more publications will follow the NYT’s example.
  • OWC has announced that it is now selling 32 GB and 64 GB memory upgrade kits for Apple’s new Mac Pro. The 32 GB kit costs US$449 and the 64 GB kit costs $859 — a 10 percent and 31 percent savings over Apple’s prices, respectively.

Source: TUAW.

Secret Compartment Hides Valuables In This Sneaky iPhone Case.

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We’ve seen more than enough iPhone cases with slots for credit cards, ID or cash. But the Push wallet phone case is the first one we’ve seen with a secret compartment that hides those valuables completely out of sight.

A push button (hence the name) on the back of the case pops open a secret compartment with space for three cards or two cards and a few bills.

On the iPhone side, the Push 5/S/C case has just exited Kickstarter, and should be delivering any day now. There’s a plethora of aesthetic skins exists from which to choose, most of which are $39; a faux-wood version and one skinned with a somewhat garish space vista both go for $48 each.

Push case designer Dapperbox has switched to Indiegogo for the Galaxy S4 version of the case, and that campaign has just kicked off; looks like you can still get in at an early-bird $29 for the less-frilly versions of the case, or go all the way up to $48 for the fancy-shmancy designs. If the campaign clears $35,000 — which is half of what it bagged for the iPhone version.

Wallgram Turns Instagram Photos Into iPhone Wallpapers.

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If you’re anything like me, you’ll change your iPhone’s wallpaper on a regular basis to keep things fresh, but finding a good one isn’t always easy. At least that was the case — until Wallgram came along. Wallgram isn’t just another photo bank full of images; it uses Instagram photos uploaded by your friends to create beautiful parallax wallpapers.

The great thing about Wallgram is that its catalog of images is as good as infinite. Not only can you use photos uploaded by you or your friends, but you can also use the “explore” tab to search for people and hashtags.

So if you want a photo of Times Square in New York City, or even a cat painted in latte foam, you can find one — and it won’t be the same photo you might’ve found on Google Images. And with over 50 million photos uploaded to Instagram every day, you’ll never be stuck for a new wallpaper.

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Of course, Instagram photos aren’t big enough to use an iPhone wallpapers without a bit of tweaking, so Wallgram has a nifty way of making them look good on a high-resolution Retina display. Not all images look great, but it’s certainly not difficult to find one that does.

Wallgram is available to download from the App Store now, priced at $1.99. You’ll need an Instagram account to use it.

Report says PayPal wants to be a part of Apple’s upcoming mobile payment system.

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Following reports that Apple has been pondering the idea of mobile payments utilizing the iPhone, iTunes accounts and Touch ID, it has come to light that online payment giant PayPal has been pitching Apple a potential partnership, according to a report from Re/code.

According to industry sources with contacts at both Apple and PayPal, the partnership being pitched would see PayPal “white-label” many of its services to be used in an Apple mobile payment system, which could include fraud detection, back-end infrastructure or even payment processing.

From the report:

Three payments industry executives tell Re/code that eBay-owned PayPal has been pitching Apple on helping the consumer electronics maker bring its long-rumored payments initiative to fruition. These people, who have spoken to contacts at both Apple and PayPal, say that PayPal is essentially willing to white-label parts of its payment service to be used in an Apple mobile payments system — anything from fraud detection to back-end infrastructure, even possibly down to the processing of payments.

“They’re telling them, ‘We’ll do it in the background,” one of these people said. “Basically, it’s just, ‘We want to be a part of this.’”

It is unlikely, however, that Apple would find a need to link up with PayPal at all according to the report’s sources although the possibility could not be ruled out.

It seems Apple is serious about mobile payments. Although nobody yet know what for they will take, the iPhone is likely to be central to the experience with the push towards iBeacon implementation suggesting that NFC will be eschewed completely.

Having Apple take over retail purchases in brick and mortar stores is likely a scary proposition for PayPal. despite dominating online, the eBay-owned payment service has struggled to find traction in the physical stores with its initiatives not proving tremendously successful just yet

New official Paper app aims to turn Facebook into a beautiful, magazine-style experience.

Facebook has made many changes to its newsfeed over the years (each usually generating howls of protest on launch and then viewed as business as usual within a week or two), but the interface on web and iOS app alike has seen only minor tweaks. Popup photos aside, it’s essentially remained a clean but uninspiring scrolling layout.

All this is set to change with the launch of Paper, a new iOS-only app set to launch in the U.S. on 3rd February.

Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and fullscreen, distraction-free layouts. We’ve also made it easier to craft and share beautiful stories of your own …

From the video and microsite demos at least, it appears to be a very slick, appealing and easy to use app, with full-screen photos and videos, Flipboard-style sliding tiles of posts and live previews of your own posts.

  • Everything responds to your touch so you can pick up or thumb through stories with simple, natural movements
  • You can tilt your phone to explore high-resolution panoramic photos from corner to corner, and see faces and other important details up close
  • Fullscreen autoplay videos come to life and bring you deep into the action
  • Beautifully detailed covers make it easy to spot articles from trusted publishers and decide what to read or watch.· Articles unfold in the app and appear fullscreen for a focused reading experience
  • When you’re ready to tell your own story, you know exactly what your post or photo will look like because you see a live preview before you share it

What will be more interesting to see is whether the app will enable Facebook to succeed in its aim of acting as an aggregator of published content. Choose a theme like technology, and get to see the stories being shared by those beyond just your own Facebook friends, and hand-selected by Facebook editors.

Your Paper is made of stories and themed sections, so you can follow your favorite interests. The first section in Paper is your Facebook News Feed, where you’ll enjoy inspiring new designs for photos, videos, and longer written posts. You can customize Paper with a choice of more than a dozen other sections about various themes and topics—from photography and sports to food, science and design. Each section includes a rich mix of content from emerging voices and well-known publications.

Facebook users have historically been resistant to third-party content in their newsfeeds, both advertising and editorial. Facebook is clearly hoping that giving users the ability to choose their own themes, and turning it into a more beautiful experience, will prove the key to changing our minds.

Interestingly, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that the company plans to launch a range of different apps, rather than trying to cram all the functionality into one. In a Bloomberg interview that’s well worth reading, Zuckerberg says that a recent three-day hackathon generated plenty of ideas.

Zuckerberg says about 40 ideas emerged from the event. While he won’t share them, he says as many as half a dozen could be introduced this year under the Creative Labs umbrella and suggests one could be tailored for Facebook Groups, an often overlooked feature of the social network that allows clusters of members to communicate privately.

The Paper app should be available from iTunes on 3rd February for U.S. users. There is as yet no word on when it will roll out to other countries.

Source: 9to5Mac.