Morning Coffee

September 26, 2015

It feels like it was yesterday that I was complaining about the slow rhythm of August, and now, before I even noticed, September is on its way out, summer is but a memory, and we’re heading straight into the holiday season. Boy, time really does fly when you’re busy.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who’s been busy. Let’s take a look at some of the week’s most interesting pieces of writing.

Issue #16: The future of online advertising, new iPhones, living on a quest, and love as a way of life

The ad-blocking controversy continued to unfold this week, so expect some more commentary on it. Other than that, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus launch was probably the highlight of the week, with many people posting their reviews and first impressions these days. And, as ever, there are a couple pieces on photography, adventure, and love.


Ads are dead, long live ads! | Marko Savic →

This is a great, great piece by Marko Savic, probably the best overview of the issues at play in the entire ad-blocking mess that I’ve seen on the Web these days. I particularly like his final take:

Publishers: you can be Uber, or you can be protesting taxi drivers. Programmatic advertising will die a slow death but you don’t have to.

Privacy advocates: now is your chance to build the ad platform you want to see ads from. Vote with your talent.

Well said. The future of online advertising is ours to shape, and whatever the end result, it’s going to be a fascinating journey.

Native ads, a primer for B2B marketers | Marko Savic →

Another great piece by Mr. Savic. If you’re going to go down the native advertising route, you might as well do it right.

The failure of social reviews | Damaso Cebrian →

Short and sweet piece on the shortcomings of user-based ratings systems like Amazon Customer Reviews, for example:

Over time, I’ve lost confidence on this system. Not so much because it can be manipulated, but because it fails in the last five meters. What I mean is, the social review system is unable to show me products I would fall in love with. Films clearly illustrate this point. Go to IMDB, see a rating of 8.4 in a movie and tell me if that is a good predictor that you will love that movie. Likely, you will find it a very good movie. Now, loving it is a different league, and the rating won’t tell you so.

Good enough isn’t good enough anymore. Now we demand greatness, and that’s where the system crumbles. This is a very interesting thought, and I couldn’t agree more.

Most people simply don’t care enough about music to pay for streaming | Kirk McElhearn →

Astute point by Kirk McElhearn:

I think people in the music industry miss something very important. Most people simply don’t care very much about music. They may want to listen to a few of the latest hits, and they will do so on the radio, or with an ad-supported streaming service such as Spotify, or on YouTube. For the most part, these people use music as wallpaper. They are not music fans. The percentage of people who care enough about music to want to pay even $10 a month is clearly very small.

Agreed. Also, the thought of music as wallpaper is spot-on.

6S Plus first impressions | Stephen Hackett →

After switching to a 6 Plus last spring, Stephen Hackett remains firmly in the Plus camp this year.

The iPhone 6S launch | Mike Bates →

Mike took a trip to his local Apple Store to see the new iPhones, and was nice enough to document the experience for the rest of us. Lovely photos and, though it is definitely pink, I actually find myself liking the new rose gold color. I still need to see it in person before making my mind up, though.

Review: Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus go ‘Tick’ | Matthew Panzarino →

Matthew Panzarino’s is probably the best review out there at the moment:

Here’s one thing that I think is important to state: 3D Touch is not the new right-click.

I have a feeling that this is going to be the easy comparison, and the early chatter about it by people who haven’t even tried it is already leaning that way. I can’t stress enough that this is not accurate. Right-click is about adding actions and complexity; a 3D Touch shortcut is about taking away actions and reducing complexity.

I’m among those who made the comparison, and I’m glad to see I was wrong.

Sony Zeiss Alpha E-Mount 35mm (Equivalent) Shootout - Distagon, Biogon, and Two Sonnars Compared | Amin Sabet →

Quite comprehensive comparison between the most popular 35mm lenses available for the Sony E-mount. As I suspected, the 35mm f/1.4 Distagon comes out on top in most cases, but man, that thing is huge.

As a 35mm lover, I have to say, I’m really looking forward to owning one of these lenses in the future. If I had to choose right now, my money would probably go to the Distagon despite the size and weight. I’m a sucker for fast aperture lenses, but it appears there’s really no wrong choice here, which is awesome.

As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that one of the Sony E-mount system’s greatest strengths is precisely the thing that used to bother me the most about the Micro Four Thirds system: there’s an incredible wealth of excellent 35mm lenses in all shapes, speeds and price points for the Sony system, something the MFT system can’t even begin to touch.

Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Review | Nasim Mansurov →

Sigma made quite a bit of noise recently, when they announced their new 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art lens. This is the fastest Full Frame zoom lens ever built, putting Sigma in the lead then it comes to spec-based bragging rights. As for performance, the lens appears to do extremely well, and it’s even sharper than some of Nikon’s prime lenses in the same range:

Sigma surely has been on a roll, making one superb lens after another. When the 24-35mm f/2 was initially announced, I was a bit skeptical about the release, as the lens seemed to be too big, too heavy and too limited in focal length coverage when compared to some of the other zoom lenses. Since it is rare to see a zoom lens outperform a prime, my assumption was that we were looking at yet another zoom lens that would not necessarily shine optically. However, after testing the lens and comparing it to Nikon’s three excellent prime lenses, I realized that I was wrong – the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 is not just an ordinary wide angle zoom, it actually has the optical characteristics of prime lenses not just in terms of maximum aperture, but also in terms of optical performance. As you can see from the previous page, the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art turned out to be sharper than Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G, 28mm f/1.8G and 35mm f/1.8G at equivalent apertures. Seeing a zoom outperform one prime is already a huge achievement and here we have one lens that can pretty much replace three. Now that’s groundbreaking!

Even so, its massive size and short zoom range make this lens a rather niche product. And then there’s also Sigma’s own 24mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 Art prime lenses to consider, of course.

For what it’s worth, I suspect that, due to the limited zoom range, most people will be better off buying the two primes instead of this zoom. I know I would, but of course your mileage may vary. In any case, it appears Sigma continues to deliver amazing glass, and that can only be good news.

Honey Sun | Mila Stepanova →

Gorgeous photo-shoot over at We The People. Absolutely love the colors.

All you need is love, seriously | David Cain →

David Cain, doing what he does best:

Some genuinely useful ideas are at risk of being dismissed because of their popularity among New Age quacks. I spent a fair bit of Making Things Clear reiterating that meditation is not a religious or mystical activity, despite its conflation with Eastern mystics and Western kooks. I’m sure many people have dismissed it solely because of that association.

One of these suspicious-by-association concepts is the idea that love is an effective response to nearly every problem. “All you need is love” is a bit glib, as are all slogans, but I don’t think it’s very far from the truth. Almost any situation can be improved with the clear-minded application of love.

Well worth your time, as ever.

Quest | Alastair Humphreys →

Great excerpt from Alastair Humphrey’s book, There Are Other Rivers:

Time races on and I want to fill it with purpose. I want to keep the fire in my belly burning and to fall into bed each night satisfied that I have used my day well. This is why the feeling of being on a quest is an important aspect of my walk. Each day I am working hard towards an objective. That it is a relatively distant one can be demoralising, though it makes the eventual attainment more rewarding. A little time alone, afraid or forlorn is a worthwhile price to pay for feeling stronger, smarter and more alive.

Seeing it as a quest is perhaps grandiloquent. But the essence is the same whether it is a small journey like mine or the Odyssey. I’m taking a difficult journey and facing obstacles and doubt, in search of a goal. It ticks all the boxes of a quest.

It does, indeed.


These last two pieces are an ideal way to close this week’s issue on a high note.

If you’ll excuse me, the afterword will have to be somewhat brief this time around. You see, it’s my girlfriend’s birthday, and today my time belongs to her.

We had a wonderful dinner with some close friends last night to celebrate, and then we went dancing. It seems like ages since we last did that, and I had tons of fun. Best of all, she did, too. Mission accomplished.

Today celebrations will be calmer, but hopefully in equally good spirits. I’m incredibly fortunate to have her beside me, and not a single day goes by when I don’t realize that.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for reading.