All posts in Apple

Highland Village Apple Store – Details Part 4 – Underground Swimming Pool?


One of the mysteries that had Apple watchers guessing during construction of the Highland Village Apple store was the whereabouts of the back-of-the-store area. With such an open air design, where would the offices, break rooms, product storage and restrooms be located?

Rumors flew about a secret underground chamber. As one reader observed during the initial excavation:

I saw an excavation that was far deeper than needed for a typical strip center foundation. … [The excavators] were at full extension which would suggest a foundation 15’ below grade. Sounds like a basement to me.

Another reader responded to the contrary.

In the real estate industry, we call basements in Houston “underground swimming pools”.

The clues to the real backstage location were visible all the time, but only made themselves clear over time. It is easy to be misdirected by all the activity on the construction site, but keen observation revealed a change happing over the next door neighbor. The window above Sprinkles, the cupcake shop, disappeared over a few months. Coincidental renovations?

Back in December I postulated that this would become the backstage area. Construction documents filed City of Houston later revealed that Apple had taken about 3,500 sq. ft. of space above two adjacent stores. The extra deep excavation turns out to be a 7-ft.-tall tunnel for access to the store’s electrical and display systems. A few days from now the store will open and all this will seem obvious. That’s why I am hurrying to post this tonight 🙂

Special thanks to Apple watchers Gus Allen and Jeff Peoples for use of photos.

Highland Village Apple Store – Details Part 3 – The Reflective Roof


At first I was a bit disapointed finding that the Highland Village Apple Store roof would not be transparent. Having survived many hot Houston summers, I can appreciate the necessity. But still, why go with glass if you want opaque? Here’s why.

When I caught a glimpse of the ceiling a few months ago, I thought it looked odd but I could not place why. The photo at the right shows the underside of the center ceiling panels. I shot it one night when winds were high, blowing the black tarps about. The interior of the store was brightly lit, but the ceiling seemed overly reflective for what I thought, at the time, to be clear glass.

We now know that most of the ceiling will be opaque and after reviewing some of my older photos tonight I believe it is more than just a concession to Texas weather. Check out the night time shot to the right. It’s a dark photo without much detail, but notice how the roof shines so brightly that you can see it’s glow even through the black tarps.

Adding the light grey opaque layers in the glass roof panels make them more reflective than transparent glass. They bounce that interior lighting back like a lighthouse mirror, causing the ceiling to shine like a beacon in the night. This will create a much more impressive display at night than a clear roof ever could.

Highland Village Apple Store – Details Part 2 – The Opaque Glass Ceiling


The panels of an Apple store glass roof are a 9-layer cake of delicious 21st century glass technology, 15 feet long by 8 feet wide and gently curved.

The new Houston store, opening in Highland Village this Friday, features two types of panel and a slightly different approach to glass ceilings than the topper on the NYC Upper West Side store that inspired it.

The 28 center panels feature four layers of “Low-Iron Fully Toughened” glass, an air cavity, a couple of “SGP Interlayers” and two layers of 100% opaque white frit. The Fritting process involves screen printing ceramic frit paint onto the glass and fusing it onto the surface during the heat strengthening process. The result is a tough decorative glass. The opaque frit layers are white on top and light grey on the underside.

The 26 perimeter panels have a 50% opaque grit filter layer. This combination of opaque and semi-opaque panels, along with the clear glass front and back walls, should let in plenty of light without making customers feel like ants under a magnifying glass during the hot Texas summers.

More about the Highland Village Apple Store.

Apple drawings by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Highland Village Apple Store – Details Part 1


Almost all of the drawings, observations and guesses previously made on this blog regarding the Highland Village Apple store have been confirmed, according to documents filed by Apple with the city of Houston. Here is an update on previous reports, along with some interesting new details.

The 9,000+ square foot Highland Village store will feature a gently curving glass roof, supported on either side by faux stone slabs (slate veneer over steel structure.) The store is clearly cut from the cloth of the rumored next-generation design seen in recent architectural renderings of yet-to-be constructed California stores.

The ceiling consists of 54 custom fabricated, quadruple layered glass panels. Unlike the clear glass ceiling of the NYC Upper West Side store, the main area of the Houston roof is completely opaque, creating a much needed barrier to battle against the Texas sun, with 26 semi-transparent panels around the edges.

More info and construction drawings…

MacVoices TV –, Beckinfield and MPTV


This episode of MacVoices TV features an interview from the show floor at Macworld|iWorld 2012 about Theatrics and Beckinfield, the online sci-fi video series. Show host Chuck Joiner says it is “One of the more intriguing conversations we had at Macworld.”

“Tracy Evans explains how it all works to put you, me, anyone into the series as a character, their Tech Talk with special guest Jonathan Frakes and what part he plays in this, and why it could be the future of television.”

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Translate Final Cut Pro 7 to FCPX with 7toX


Philip Hodgetts says he agrees with Apple in that translating projects from FCP 7 to 10 “cannot be done with perfect fidelity.” But it did not stop he and fellow software wizard Dr. Gregory Clarke from coming as close as currently possible with 7toX for Final Cut Pro. Phillip showed off the softwares capabilities in a comprehensive demo at a recent Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group. Video after the break.

One nice bonus of the software is that it even translates FCP 7 tracks! Not into actual FCPX tracks, but into Role metadata so at least you have them for reference or any necessary manipulation.

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Instruments for Finger Drummers – Part 1


Be it nervous habit or creative outlet, finger drumming on desktops, steering wheels and just about anything within reach is a pastime we can all relate to. Wouldn’t it be great to harness that nervous energy and translate it into to something actually musical?

Several approaches to this have recently surfaced, from free open source software to expensive offerings from consumer electronics behemoths. Finding ones way through this labyrinth of choices can be challenging, so as I explore a solution to add to my guitar system, I will share what I find out over the next few weeks in this series of articles.

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Andy Ihnatko on Beckinfield


Andy Ihnatko, technology columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, joined the cast of Beckinfield today portraying the Dean of Beckinfield State University (BSU) Dr. David Forrester. Andy’s first appearance, shot live on the main stage at Macworld|iWorld 2012, shows his character speaking in the main hall of BSU as he addressed the “students, esteemed faculty members and members of the media.”

Andy is in good company for his premier video, appearing with Jonathan Frakes, who plays the character of Dylan Marks, and Michael Town, the winner of the Ultimate Online Audition Contest. Careful observers may even spot Theatrics co-founders Biff Van Cleve, Bob Gebert and myself in the video.

We look forward to more of Andy’s appearances and to following the adventures of Dean Forrester.

Mashable covers Theatrics


Mashable wrote a nice piece on and Beckinfield following our presentation at Macworld|iWorld last week. Here is an excerpt:

The make-believe town of Beckinfield is the setting for the Mad Libs-style show of the same name, which uses crowd-sourced amateur actors from all over the world who create the show’s story by posting videos.

Writers outline the plot and email a “town happenings” newsletter to actors each week. Each actor tells a small piece of the story in their video, adding their own flair. Related segments are linked together to create a kind of webisode that will be unique to every viewer depending on which videos they watch.

Read out the full article and the comments at

The Main Stage at Macworld – Almost


It’s the day before Macworld opens to the public. The activity at Moscone Center is frantic as hundreds of people assemble the small city within a building that is Macworld|iWorld. The photo above shows the current stage of the main stage. In just a few hours this will transform to a beautiful 1,200 seat theater.

My Beckinfield Character Followed Me to San Francisco


When you become a resident of Beckinfield (the world’s first Mass Participation web series) your character is always with you, and so is Beckinfield. Even if you are traveling, you can always find a room, a nondescript wall or an outdoor location that can pass for your beloved home town and keep those videos coming in without skipping a beat.

The inverse is also true. Beckinfielders may be small town hicks, but they do get occasionally get out and see the world. It can be a fun challenge to work your storyline around a trip you’re taking. And just like Beckinfield, it doesn’t have to be a real location. Headed to Florida? Find a beach and a palm tree and make everyone in Beckinfield jealous when you video in from Bali.

I am traveling to the Macworld|iWorld 2012 conference this week in San Francisco. I intend to make Beckinfield videos in airports, hotel rooms, San Fran streets, and the convention center. The fun part is I haven’t any idea where this may take my character yet. I have a basic premiss about Dylan Marks (Jonathan Frakes) asking me to help him with a trade show booth, but beyond that my plan is to have no plan at all. The audience wil find out what happens right along with Tag Z.

I used the two videos below to set up the premiss:

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Andy Ihnatko to Join Theatrics on the Main Stage at Macworld


Late breaking news. Andy Ihnatko will be joining Jonathan Frakes, Bob Gebert and myself on the main stage at Macworld|iWorld 2012., creators of Beckinfield,  has been invited to speak at the Film Event of this years Macworld|iWorld conference. In addition to the presentation, we will be shooting a special episode of Beckinfield with Mr. Frakes. That episode will now also include a special appearance by America’s Most Beloved Tech Journalist, Andy Ihnatko.

Mr Ihnatko, technology journalist for the Chicago Sun-Times, is well known in the Macintosh community from his frequent appearances on podcasts such as MacBreak Weekly, This Week in Tech and his latest creation The Ihnatko Almanac.

In the increasingly special episode of Beckinfield, Mr. Ihnatko will play the part of Dr. David Forrester, Dean of Beckinfield State College. The Fr. Forester is introducing Dylan Marks (played by Jonathan Frakes) at a press conference being held on his campus. Attendees at Macworld will watch as the main stage is transformed into  a college presentation room, and even be involved in shooting the episode by playing the parts of residents of the town of Beckinfield.

It is a real thrill to be working with both Mr. Frakes and Mr. Ihnatko on the project.