Joe Buck’s Idea To Improve Baseball

Baseball ain’t NASCAR but broadcaster Joe Buck has an idea to improve MLB. HardBallTalk:

Specifically to baseball, I would make players more accessible. There is no way networks can be able to talk to NASCAR drivers before they stuff themselves into the driver’s seat of a race car to go over 200 miles per hour while we are all forbidden to talk to the starting pitcher of that night’s game. Old rules die. Someone is “in the well” before they climb on deck? They can be asked what they are trying to do in their next at bat. Cameras in the batting cage during a game would then let us see how a DH is getting ready for a big at bat. Bringing fans into the experience is paramount.

I’d rather they just speed up the average game by an hour.

Corvette Gets Smoked

This would be more interesting if it were a Tesla topping the ‘Vette in a grudge match, but this isn’t exactly apples to apples. Nicole Wakelin on how the Corvette got beat:

The 2015 Corvette Z06 is a supercharged monster with a 6.2-liter V8 engine with 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft or torque at the ready. It has a 0-62 MPH time of 3.1 seconds and will leave a lot of cars choking on its dust.

Watch the video of how fast the McLaren MP4-12C goes by the Corvette.

It looks like someplace sunny and warm with all those palm trees passing by in a blur, but the biggest blur is the Corvette disappearing into the distance behind the McLaren. It’s absolutely no contest as the two line up on the road and it looks like the Corvette driver completely forgets that the car has a gas pedal.

The Corvette is about 1,000 pounds heavier. The McClaren clocks in at about $240,000.

How To Remove The Background From A Photo Or Image On Your Mac

One of the most difficult and time consuming photo or image enhancement problems, at least for me, has been removing a background image (turning it transparent), leaving only the foreground visible. Yes, you can do exactly that in Photoshop and a dozen other Mac photo enhancement or graphic design apps, but it’s a manual process which requires, time, a steady hand, and plenty of trial and error.

Or, you can drop in a shortcut and use an app like Super PhotoCut which speeds up the background removal process to a few simple steps.

The process to remove the background from a photo or image is straightforward. Open the photo, then select the area around the foreground you want to keep in the rectangle tool.

Super PhotoCut

The example screenshot above is perfect. Use the red marker tool to highlight the background you want to remove (or, to apply effects). Use the green marker tool to highlight the foreground you want to keep. The background can also be completely removed from the image leaving only a transparent layer.

Super PhotoCut is a one-trick pony app. It doesn’t do anything else, but what it does usually is faster and easier than in more complex photo enhancement or graphic design apps.

Alright, that said, it’s still a trial and error experience. The foreground and background areas must be marked accurately and that takes patience and a steady hand. Fortunately, feedback is instant as both the original and altered photos are displayed side-by-side, and you can zoom in to highlight even small sections of a photo. Even the red and green brush can be resized to match the photo’s detail.

Super PhotoCut works fine on OS X Yosemite, and should work on older Macs, but I’ve received a blank screen when running on my OS X Mountain Lion review Mac.

WKRP In Cincinnati: Where Are They Now?

Pure link bait with multiple pages and dozens of ads, but if you’re a fan of the original WKRP you’ll find the list from EgoKick interesting.

Official Spoiler Alert:

  • Howard Hesseman – Still acting but not much
  • Gordon Jump – Died in 2003
  • Loni Anderson – Looks good, new lips
  • Tim Reid – Still acting
  • Richard Sanders – Actor turned sreenwriter
  • Frank Bonner – Acted, directed, faded away
  • Gary Sandy – Theatrical acting
  • Jan Smithers – Retired
  • Carol Bruce – Died in 2007
  • Ian Wolfe – Died in 1992

File Shredder: Permanent File Erasing For The Paranoid Mac User

How may ways can you delete files from your Mac? The tried and true method is simple. Drag a file or folder of files or an app to the Trash. Select Empty Trash from the Finder menu and the files are gone. Right? Wrong. The files are still there, still available for anyone with the right Mac utility to find. Alright, how about using Secure Empty Trash instead? That’s better because it writes over the files multiple times, in effect a digital shredding.

Here are a couple of additional options, both called File Shredder.

The first, File Shredder, has three options. A single pass erase, a seven pass erase, and an ultra secure 35 pass erase (takes 35 times as long, too).

File Shredder

File Shredder #1 is simple enough to use, too. Select the type of shredding you want from Preferences. Then, select a file in the Finder, right-click to open the Services menu, and select Secure Shredding.

File Shredder isn’t bad for a couple of bucks.

A few dollars more gets you another file shredder called FileShredder (no space between the two words). This one works much the same way and has similar options, starting at 1-pass shredding, then 7-pass shredding, and finally 35-pass shredding.

FileShredder

Select the file or folder of files. Select Shred or Secure Shred from the right-click menu and the files are toasted.

File recovery is something of an art form so it wouldn’t surprise me that government spooks and hackers have ways to recover shredded files and piece together incriminating evidence, but either version of File Shredder makes their job a bit more difficult.

Super Cheap 4k TVs

Now all we need are some 4k TV shows or movies to watch. Kwame Opam on Vizio’s latest.

After releasing its first lineup of aggressively priced 4K UHD TVs last year, Vizio is doubling down with its newest batch. The company’s new M-series collection of Smart TVs starts at $599 for a 43-inch set and goes all the way up to $3,999 for the top-of-the-line 80-inch set. As with previous collections, this range is cheap through and through, and shows Vizio fighting hard for mainstream consumers as 4K becomes the standard.

There’s little question that 4K is the future, but having something to watch that’s also in 4K would be nice. Then, after that, expect 8K.

3 Secret Features In iOS 8.3

These are not really secrets in the sense than nobody knew about them, and once published they’re no longer secrets, but Gordon Kelly contributes to Forbes and this is what they do.

Launched last week, the update fixed one big issue but caused another and left many unsure whether to update. The good news for those still undecided is there are three hidden gems in iOS 8.3 that may just persuade you to take the plunge.

Pretty much like every update. Ever.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Free Wi-Fi cellular calls (Verizon does not have it)
  • Phantom Flaw fix (never had it)
  • The Spock Emoji (this one is cool)

Free: Restore Safari Browser Sessions On Your Mac

For most Mac users Safari is the browser of choice. My website server logs indicate that about 70-percent of all visitors and readers use Safari. For security reasons I have Safari’s browser history and cookies deleted automatically. That also means Safari browsing sessions get deleted, too.

Here’s a free and easy way to collect and instantly restore multiple browsing sessions to Safari. The convenience is enormous. Simply click an extension and a previous browsing session– complete with multiple website pages in multiple Safari tab windows– appears and the pages load.

The extension is called, appropriately, SafariRestore. It’s free, simple to install and use, and very convenient; especially for Mac users who bounce around from website to website. Download SafariRestore and install as an extension to Safari.

SafariRestore

Then, browse to four or five websites, open in different Safari window tabs. Then click the SafariRestore button in the browser toolbar. The open page has an option to Save Session. Click it. The session is saved. From then on, click that session i n SafariRestore and all those website pages will load automatically.

There’s no real downside to SafariRestore. Free. Easy. Useful.

I use the Cookie app to remove browsing history and website cookies each time Safari (or Chrome and Firefox) is used and Cookie’s settings respect the saved sessions.

SafariRestore lets you collect and save multiple website sessions and open all the webpages in each one with a single click. Nicely done and a big time saver.

Thanks For The ‘Pimp’

Zach Doell on what is not likely to happen when someone steals your car:

Put yourself in this situation for a moment. You’ve bought a brand new car, only to find thieves run off with it in the night. You don’t know where it is, if it’s in 6,000 itty bitty pieces, or if you’ll ever see it again. This was a reality for St. Charles, Missouri woman Becky Schoenig last week after thieves swiped her 2015 Ford Fusion.

Goodbye car, right?

Schoenig never lost faith that she would be reunited with her new Ford, but perhaps even she couldn’t have predicted how it was returned to her. On April Fools’ Day, police recovered the stolen Fusion, which Schoenig describes had been “pimped out,” like something from the TV show Pimp My Ride.

Red wheels and the smell of marijuana.

If I wanted to steal a car I wouldn’t go for a Ford Fusion.

More Tesla For More

Something new from Tesla. A price increase. And more colors. Matthew DeBord:

Tesla is replacing its lowest-priced Model S sedan with a new version, the 70D.

In a statement, the carmaker said the new car would start “at $67,500 after Federal Tax Credit, Model S 70D includes dual motor all-wheel drive technology, an EPA-rated 240 miles of range, and a 0-60 time just north of five seconds.”

The 70D replaces the previous non-all-wheel-drive Model S, which delivered about 208 miles of range on a single charge.

And three new colors. Ocean Blue, Obsidian Black, and Warm Silver. What? No Space Gray? Or, Gold?

The Meaning of ‘American Pie’

Don McClean’s manuscript for the hit record American Pie sold for $1.2-million at auction. What’s the meaning of the song’s lyrics? Jessica Goodman:

Basically, in ‘American Pie’ things are heading in the wrong direction. It is becoming less ideal, less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right, but it is a morality song in a sense. I was around in 1970 and now I am around in 2015 … there is no poetry and very little romance in anything anymore, so it is really like the last phase of ‘American Pie.

That works for me.

Kitchen Sync And The Power Of App Simplicity

Have you ever wondered why most of Apple’s free applications are rather simple? That leaves the door open for app developers, whether for the Mac or iOS devices, to create improvements, and up the ante with better features, and that adds to the ecosystem. Apple’s main applications have improved through the years, yes, but most remain much as they were. Simple to use, simple to learn. Safari, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, iPhoto.

Here’s the tale of an application for iPad and iPhone which does something remarkable in its plainness. We’ve been looking around for a grocery store shopping list app that is quick and easy to use, inexpensive, and synchronizes data between devices (not shared by iCloud or Dropbox; we maintain separate accounts). What I settled on was a very simple shopping list application called Kitchen Sync. It comes with a long list of household and grocery store items. Add items by touching the + Plus sign. Even add it to a category. Scroll down, find an item, touch it, and the item is added to the list, then the list is synchronized to devices connected to the same account.

Kitchen Sync

The benefit here is obvious. Multiple people (husband and wife, for example) can add items to the shopping list, then delete them once they’re purchased; one by one, or tap Clear to remove all the items. The lists are then synchronized again. The learning curve is next to nothing. You already know how to use it.

Touch an item and it’s instantly added to the shopping list. Swipe to remove it from the list. Press + Plus to add an item to a list or category. Press the iOS Sharing Box to email or text the list. The synchronization between Kitchen Sync on multiple devices is handled in the background, no iCloud or Dropbox required (will sync.

Kitchen Sync

The beauty and power of Kitchen Sync is in the simplicity and ease of use. Most grocery shopping list or list making apps have far more features, but usability is more important. When comparing applications, the battle should not be between users and features, but the peace between user and usability.

Kitchen Sync is a delight to use because it just works for the intended purpose. Can you repurpose Notes or Reminders? Yes, but syncing requires sharing an iCloud account. Most of the other grocery shopping lists are cumbersome to setup and use. Kitchen Sync is instantly usable, quickly syncs lists between devices, and seems to get out of the way when being used. It’s also free, but only 99-cents if you want it to sync lists between devices.

Big Brother Is Watching

The problem with Big Brother is this. There are many big brothers and they’re all doing their level best to watch and record everything we do. If it’s not the government, it’s Google. If it’s not Google, it’s AT&T and Verizon– watching our every online move for their own profit. Daniel B. Kline outlines the crazy and expensive way to opt out.

AT&T’s low-cost Google Fiber alternative comes with a fairly huge “catch”.

On the positive side, “GigaPower” service, which is offered mostly in markets where the company competes with Google, offers very high-speed home fiber-optic Internet service for as low as $70 a month. That’s the same price the search giant charges, and on the surface it seems like a fair deal.

The problem is that this price requires customers to opt in to AT&T’s “Internet Preferences” program, “which gives the company permission to examine each customer’s Web traffic,” according to Ars Technica. This leads to targeted ads appearing when you visit websites, email offers coming to your inbox, and even junk mail sent to your home.

Opting out of the traffic-recording program will cost you a minimum of another $29 a month. Add in AT&T’s phone and television service through GigaPower and you will pay as much as $60 a month in privacy fees to keep AT&T from snooping on you, according to the technology website.

That should tell you how much your privacy is being invaded and how much it’s worth to the invaders.

“No Steak For You!”

Soup Nazi, meet Rick Brattin, Steak Nazi. Matthew Yglesias on a Republican congressman who wants to ban steak and seafood. For poor people.

In the ongoing moral panic over what poor people choose to spend their resources on, Missouri Republican Rick Brattin has introduced a bill to the state legislature that would prevent anyone from using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits “to purchase cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.”

What’s wrong with that? Why should poor people be allowed to eat certain foods?

Human beings are pretty resourceful, and while a cookie ban will certainly annoy lots of poor families and make their lives worse, it’s unlikely to materially impact cookie consumption or improve public health.

What it will do is increase the amount of food stamp fraud, giving politicians more opportunity to complain about food stamp fraud and to cite food stamp fraud as a reason to cut the program.

Sigh.

Boxing, Meet Cellphone

You can’t make up some news. Rodger Sherman:

First off: I didn’t even know boxing shorts had pockets. Considering they’re wearing boxing gloves which definitely cannot fit into pockets, that seems kinda pointless.

Second: Dude, you need fingers to use a cellphone!

Third: Poor Papi Gallo got knocked out. Just not a good night for Marvin.

Watch the video. A cellphone fell out of a boxer’s shorts. While boxing.

The Fast And Easy Way To Add Color Tints To An Image Or Photo On Your Mac

Every now and again I come upon a unique Mac app, a utility which is instantly identified as useful, valuable, and clever. For any Mac user who needs to apply tinting to a graphic image, design, or photo, it’s easily done. With the right application. Photoshop does tinting beautifully but comes with a stiff price and a stiff learning curve. Anything else?

Image Tinter is a Mac app that just does one thing to justify the $1.99 price tag. It has simple tools that make it drop dead easy to apply a tint color to any image. Simply drag and drop an image (graphic design, photo, vector icons, shapes, whatever) onto Image Tinter, select the Tint Image Color, adjust the opacity with a slider bar, click to export. That’s it.

Image Tinter

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to adjust or add tint to a graphic element which required firing up Photoshop or Fireworks (may it rest in peace) and fiddled for half an hour to get it just right. Image Tinter does it in seconds.

Drag. Drop. Click. Slide.

More Image Tinter

Favorite tint colors can be saved in the Favorites section. It even changes the color of graphic icons and the opacity slider creates a semi-transparent tint for special effects.

And, yes, Image Tinter works great on color images, too.

Even More Image Tinter

There’s not much to not like here. It’s fast, simple, elegant, and it works. There are no complicated granular controls, though. Just select a color, adjust the opacity as needed, export.

The Mercedes Truck

What’s special about this story is not so much the Mercedes truck (which looks like a Mercedes), but who the company needs to make it happen. Ben Zhang:

Mercedes-Benz announced last week that it’s planning to build a pickup truck. The news was stunning, given that the pickup segment is ultra-competitive.
But Mercedes likely isn’t going it alone. According to the Wall Street Journal’s William Boston, the company is in talks with Nissan to use the “framework” of the company’s Navara mid-size pickup as the basis for its truck.

That’s right, it’s a Mercedes by way of Japan.

Sources also told the Journal that the Germans are in talks to use Nissan’s factories to produce the pickup.

What would a Mercedes pickup truck look like?

Mercedes Pickup

Think Titan with a Mercedes grill.

Ants In Space

Jospeh Stromberg with a story and a GIF on what happens to ants in space.

The formal experiment was a test of whether the ants could coordinate to search their environment, as they do on Earth. At the start, they were housed in a small corner of their plastic box, but over the course of a few minutes, astronauts removed barriers from it, allowing them to access new territory.

A comparison group of ant colonies on Earth were able to spread out and survey the entire environment within five minutes. Because of the difficulties of microgravity, the space ants weren’t able to cover all the territory within the same time period, but they still managed to spread out and see most of it.

Wherever they are, the ants manage to get around. So, why not gather all the earth’s cockroaches and send them into space as an experiment to see if they can find their way home.

Similar By Design

I’ve often wondered how auto manufacturers prevent similar designs from other makers. On the other hand, if imitation is the best form of flattery, Bentley design chief Luc Donckerwolke should be pleased that Ford’s new Lincoln Continental looks so much like his design. From Reuters:

This behaviour is not respectable. Building a copy like this is giving a bad name to the car design world.

Ford’s spokesperson:

The Lincoln Continental is clearly a Lincoln, we’re very proud of it

Ford stopped making the last Continental in 2002. Bentley has used the Continental name since 1984.

How To Zap Those Pesky Safari Pop-Up Tech Support Ads

Online advertising is what most of us would call ‘a necessary evil.’ Advertising is what lowers the cost of television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and surfing the web. Without advertising to pay the bills, everything on that list would cost more.

Yet, here we are moving rapidly into the 21st century and advertising scams have proliferated; a noxious disease which damages everyone connected to the internet. Three times in the past week I’ve browsed to a site that ran an unscrupulous ‘tech support pop-up‘ advertisement. Chances are good you’ve seen such ads or experienced one yourself while browsing various sites.

In this case, the ad pops up with a window that claims your computer has been infected with a virus, and gives you a number to call for assistance. Normally, I would simply close the pop-up ad and move on, but this one is so bad there’s almost no way to close the bouncing pop-up window which often locks up Safari.

How can you fix it? ScamZapper. It’s free and it does only one thing. It stops those annoying pop-up ads before you get annoyed.

Here’s one of the pop-up add scams that ScamZapper zaps.

ScamZapper - Alert

If you’ve experienced any pop-ad scams that are similar you know how annoying it can be. On once occasion I was able to time Command-Q to quit Safari. On two occasions I had to Force Quit Safari and remove the history manually to prevent the pop-up from showing up again.

What ScamZapper does is monitor specific domains tied to the pop-up ads and prevent them from loading in Safari. The database of domains is updated often, too. An auto-update to the ScamZapper extension would be a big help. Still, ScamZapper is free and it works.