6.23.2020

Tech & Toys: Apple Introduces iOS 14




Smartphones have become such an essential part of our lives, that we’ve almost forgotten what life was like before we had them. You can’t walk down the street anymore without seeing almost every person who passes by, with their faces buried into their phones. They were supposed to help us stay even more connected, but one could easily argue, that they’ve probably had the opposite effect. Either way, they’re here to stay and as life goes on, so do the advancements of tech and updates that we all can look forward to on these devices we so affectionately covet. 


In addition to announcing macOS Big Sur yesterday, Apple also introduced the all-new iOS 14 which overhauls the Home Screen and adds more customizable widgets in addition to upgraded Messages and Maps like its macOS counterpart.


The biggest update to the new iOS 14 is without a doubt the Home Screen redesign. New widgets allow you to customize and adjust the size and information you want displayed. You can also create a Smart Stack of widgets, your phone will use AI to make sure the right widget comes up based on your time, location and activity. Picture-in-Picture is finally offered so that you can continue to watch a video or make a FaceTime call even while using another app.


In addition to the Home Screen tools, App Clips is a new way for users to access the App Store. It is designed so that you can find products or businesses easily like renting a bicycle, finding a coffee shop or filling a parking meter.


Messages also receives the same upgrades that its macOS counterpart does. Users can now pin their favorite conversations to the top of their list and directly reply to someone in a group chat. Memoji is updated with more inclusive and diverse offerings as well. 


Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering had this to say about the new iOS 14:


"iOS 14 transforms the most iconic elements of the iPhone experience, starting with the biggest update we’ve ever made to the Home Screen. With beautifully redesigned widgets on the Home Screen, the App Library that automatically organizes all of your apps, and App Clips that are fast and easy to discover, iPhone becomes even more powerful and easier to use.”


So there you have it. We’ll continue to keep an eye on more news about iOS 14, and update this post should there be any additional details to come. Any opinions on this new update? Drop a line and let us know. 


Chill.

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4.17.2020

Top Shelf: Tesla Robotaxis Ready By 2021?


New York City has always been the taxi-cab capital of the world, if you ask me. It’s where I’m from, so I can share a ton of taxi stories, based on experiences in them since the 80’s. Things have changed a lot since back in the day, when we would actually stand on the corner and try to physically hail cabs. Some drivers would even pull off super dangerous driving moves to jump two or three lanes over just to pick us up and score a quick fare. Those are the yellow cabs. If you’re a true “New Yawkuh”, you know all about the gypsy cabs too. These were unmarked vehicles that were also taxi’s, but that had no meter in them to show you what the price would be for the ride. So you would literally negotiate with the driver on the price, and hope that he didn’t try to clean you out for all of the cash in your pocket. 

In Brooklyn, there used to be something that was widely and famously known as the “dollar van”. This was usually a pretty beat-up looking generic van, that would have a nice amount of people in it (other passengers), who were all heading in the same direction, and had also paid a dollar to ride. You’d stand on the corner or on the curb, and this dusty van would pull up and some random dude would open the door and ask where you were going. If you were going where they were, you gave him a dollar and you were off in this van with a bunch of people that could’ve totally kidnapped you and asked your family for ransom money in exchange for your life.

Things have changed a lot since this was the norm. And now most of us are either relying on Uber or Lyft more, when we’re not all driving. Being able to summon a car from your phone and watch it come to you on a map, is not only super convenient, but a lot safer than catching a cab or dollar van on a street corner. We’ve all gotten so used to riding in share rides or Uber’s and have pretty much strayed away from hailing cabs like we all did way back. It’s become our new way of doing things, and a huge part of how we commute, or travel, in general. 

By way of halting everything we held as normal, our current pandemic has definitely affected car production globally as well, but this hasn’t derailed the ambitions of one Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who has reaffirmed that he still plans to launch a self-driving robotaxi fleet, sometime next year. Most critics have written this off as just another pipe dream, especially given the limited state of self-driving car technology, but we think this would be a pretty interesting concept, if brought to life. And the tech titan is claiming that this is very close to being a reality. Musk has noted that the program could even be ready to launch by the end of this year, should he be able to secure government approval. 

When asked BY CNET, for specifics in regard to development, Tesla responded, “Functionality still looking good for this year,” and that “Regulatory approval is the big unknown.” This would suggest that their autonomous vehicle technology has most likely taken some pretty major steps forward over the last year or so. The company’s current Autopilot suite offers an impressive array of driver assistance options, but it is still lacking actual full self-driving capabilities. This is, at least by SAE International standards. So as it stands, no automaker is currently close to being able to offer what it graded as a “Level 5” autonomy, which states that no driver would be required. Which would be a must for any self-driving taxi. 

But Musk wasn’t done with his robotaxi reveals. It would seem that the company has been thinking about robotaxis for quite some time. That much clear from Model 3’s hardware. Since its inception, the electric vehicle has featured an inactive driver-facing interior-view camera embedded in its rear-view mirror, and now we know why. Stay tuned. We’re all waiting to see how this story develops. 

Chill.
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3.26.2020

Classic Music: Vinyl Versus Everything



Tajai from Souls of Mischief (you should know who they are), famously said on the group’s classic track “’93 Til Infinity”, “Sometimes it gets a little hectic out there’, in speaking to his native East Oakland. One could surely assert that that same sentiment could apply to the entire world now, as well. We’re surely dealing with some unprecedented circumstances these days, and it would be pretty easy for us all to complain and whine about how limited we are now, in dealing with self-isolation and social distancing, due to the current pandemic. But rather than harp on the negative and focus on that end of the spectrum, we’ve decided to take more of a grateful approach to where these conditions have placed us. Home.

And the cool thing about being home all day, (apart from binging reruns of The Honeymooners), is that we finally have the time now to invest in the things we really love and enjoy. And that could be anything from our families, more exercise, meditation, hobbies, reading, writing, etc. But this post is all about music

This site was started with the intent of championing music and its rich history and how that’s influenced us so much and has enriched our lives in such great ways. In times of uncertainty, as well as good times, and when we just want to relax and zone out, it’s more than likely that most of us tend to lean on music for that escape. It’s the warm fuzzy scarf on the chilly day, or the ice-cold bottle of water after running a full-court of basketball during the summer. Music is the friend that will always have your back, no matter what mood you’re in. It will never leave you. So it’s only right that we show some appreciation to what’s always been in the background of our best moments and still acts as the soundtrack of our lives. The music. 

Over the past few years, I’ve really started in rebuilding my vinyl collection. I’m old enough to remember what it was like to buy an album on cassette. Running home excited, and not being able to wait to rip the plastic off, so I could read the liner notes and study everything in them. Our affinity for cassettes (homemade and retail) shifted to CD’s in the years to come. And we would lose our minds for those too. Carrying 25-30 discs at a time in CD caddies and changing albums in and out of a Sony Discman while casually walking down the street with our friends, was a daily occurrence. I can’t say we expected the digital boom that was to come, which is evidenced by how many hundreds of physical media, such as cassettes and CD’s, ended up in boxes after we all adjusted to the new mp3 craze that would swoop in and change not only how we listened to music, but also the actual music industry itself, forever. 

So I decided to get back to the essence, in a way. I wanted music and the acquirement of music to feel the way it did way back in the day. I loved being able to throw a million songs on an iPod and have every piece of music I owned in one place, but there was always something missing. A feeling. My appreciation for what music always felt like, was starting to dim. So after buying a new turntable and going back out to dig for vinyl, slowly but surely, that addiction to music and the heavy appreciation for collecting it, started to creep back in. My spot was Good Records in NYC. I started hitting them up a couple times a week for whatever classic album I could find and I’d be in there for 3-4 hours digging through crates searching for all things Hip Hop, Rock, Jazz, Funk & R&B, that I’ve always wanted and needed on vinyl. The more I went there, the more the itch intensified. So I started checking out other record shops across the country, even Barnes & Noble. Then there was Discogs and eBay for my online searches, and of course, ol’ reliable, Amazon. 

As time went on, my shelves started to get tighter and tighter, to the point where I had to get new shelves to store all of the vinyl that I had been buying. But with all these records coming in and getting delivered every other day, I started to notice a change. My love for music and what it’s always meant to me, was back to its zenith. Being able to actually hold an album and study the cover, scan the gatefold credits or go over the list of band members on a classic jazz album, all of these things are what made me so deeply connected to music as a kid. And getting back into collecting physical media, has sparked that love again, in a way that’s pretty hard to explain. I know it’s become trendy to buy vinyl now, and I have no problem with the newcomers. Music is a platform that welcomes all, and I think it’s great when I see vinyl newbies in the shops digging for something good. We’re really all one big family. 

Back at home, I upgraded my turntable to the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB, last year, up from the LP-60. It’s been a dream and a steal at the price it goes for, in relation to how high quality it is and performs. I constantly re-sleeve my records with fresh sleeves and organize them by genre and artist. That way, I can pull from the shelves quickly and know where everything is. It’s a rather expensive habit, but it can also be a messy one, if you’re not meticulously organized. With the USB version of my turntable, I can also buy older vinyl to sample from and run the signal right into my Mac, to use for beats later, if I choose to. I can also convert those songs into files to have on my phone, if I can’t find them on Spotify or own them already. The move back into collecting again, really has refreshed my love for something I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid, and it’s also connected me with other vinyl-addicts who share that same love for the forgotten medium that we all left behind the minute cassettes popped up on the scene. So this post is kind of a love letter to vinyl and also an apology as well, for us forgetting where we came from. It feels good to be reunited. 

There’s nothing better than getting lost in music and just sinking into a really dope album. That’s why we’re going to start a new vinyl appreciation label on here for posts, where we’ll have classics albums on vinyl that everyone should check out or own. We’ll document digging trips and highlight great finds, our favorite sellers, other collectors, and also promote our favorite record shops, and speak about the joy of both digging in the crates, but also collecting vinyl and the benefits of doing so. 

With that said, we’re excited to bring this new look to the site and we hope that you’ll enjoy it or even share your adventures with vinyl or digging with us. Stay safe out there and throw some good music on!


Chill.
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