Nathan Fillion's interview with Playboy →

September 29, 2014 |

Continuing with the borderline-creepy coincidences, today I came across this interview, and the moment could not be better. I’m just coming off binge-watching Joss Whedon’s excellent but short-lived TV series, Firefly, and its movie sequel, Serenity:

Is there, and this is a weird thing to say, but is there a trap to being typecast as awesome?

[Laughs] I don’t know. “Typecast as awesome.” Am I? You look at Malcolm Reynolds, that guy was pretty awesome. Not because he was super and unstoppable; he lost all the time. His victories were tiny. And he’ll take ’em. It took very little to make that guy happy. As long as he was sticking it to the right guy, and walking away with being able to walk, he was cool.

As soon as I watched the pilot, Malcolm Reynolds instantly became one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. It’s extremely rare to see a character so well established, so deep-layered and complex, and yet so relatable in every way.

I always liked Fillion well enough, but his incredible performances on Firefly and Serenity have made me appreciate him as an actor on a whole different level. And judging from this interview —as well as numerous others I’ve seen over the years— he seems to be a pretty decent human being, too.

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Jason Snell on the problem with video streaming services →

September 29, 2014 |

The point is, if you’re a Netflix subscriber—or an Amazon Prime customer, for that matter—you are binge-watching in a Barcalounger in a rumpus room built on shifting sands. If your service and the owner of the content can’t come to an agreement, if some competitor swoops in offering more money for exclusive rights, you’re out of luck. The rug can, and will, be pulled out from under you.

He has a point. I have a Spotify subscription and every time I come across an album or a song I like, I buy it so that I can own it forever. As far as video goes, there are currently no streaming video services operating in Spain, but if there was one, I’d probably approach it with the same strategy. I don’t like surprises when it comes to my digital media collection.

I also happen to have a totally redundant and unnecessarily excessive backup strategy for my media files, but that’s a story for another day.

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Ready for rain →

September 29, 2014 |

Lee LeFever:

For me, the pressure is really a feeling of guilt. When the sun is out, I feel guilty about being indoors because a summer day indoors is a summer day wasted. By the end of September, I just want to sit on the couch and watch a movie and not feel guilty about it. I want to wake up without the pressure.

Let the clock tick — I am ready for rain.

Via Ben Brooks.

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iOS 8 does movie quote predictions →

September 29, 2014 |

Today’s xkcd:

iOS 8 Keyboard on xkcd

I’m so happy I got the 4th movie reference, because in what’s an amazing coincidence, yesterday I watched Serenity for the first time ever.

It’s actually kinda creepy how xkcd seems to do that to me every now and then.

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Dealing with confrontation in street photography | The Phoblographer →

September 26, 2014 |

Julius Motal:

Several months back, a reader emailed us about how to avoid confrontation in street photography. Up until that point and beyond, I had successfully photographed without incident. That, however, has changed. I was walking up towards the train when I saw this man with his cat. I knelt down to get a photo on their level and made two images before inching slightly closer to get a tighter frame. He looked up just as I made the shot, and that’s when it all went wrong.

There a few things you should always keep in mind when taking pictures of strangers on the street.

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The art forger who became a national hero →

September 25, 2014 |

But post-World War II, a “Vermeer” painting sold to Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring was traced back to van Meegeren – a painting of such high quality that experts agreed no one could have possibly fabricated it. Accused of plundering for the Germans, the artist was sentenced to death. In an odd twist, van Meegeren was given one last chance to prove his innocence: If he could produce a brilliant forgery before the eyes of court-appointed witnesses, he’d be spared. What ensued would make the man one of the most popular figures in the Netherlands.

This is the story of Han Van Meegeren, the most dramatic forger of the 20th century.

What a fascinating character. I’m a sucker for white-collar crime stories.

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The Incomparable, episode 212: Toy Story →

September 25, 2014 |

These days it seems there are so many great podcasts it’s almost impossible to keep up with all of them. Lately I’m making a conscious effort to discover new shows, and I recently ran into one of the truly great ones: The Incomparable, hosted by Jason Snell.

I love the feeling you get when you discover something really awesome —and popular!— that you had no idea even existed. At episode 212, The Incomparable is a veteran show and it features some of the very best podcasters on a regular basis. In this episode alone, you get to listen to Andy Ihnatko, John Siracusa, Merlin Mann, Steve Lutz, David J. Loehr and, of course, Mr. Jason Snell himself.

And that’s not even the best part. They’re going to do a sweep of all the Pixar movies, and they’re starting with Toy Story.

If there’s a better way to get introduced to a new podcast, I can’t think of it.

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In-app browsers considered harmful →

September 25, 2014 |

Craig Hockenberry:

How many apps on your iPhone or iPad have a built-in browser?

Would it surprise you to know that every one of those apps could eavesdrop on your typing? Even when it’s in a secure login screen with a password field?

I’m willing to bet that most iOS users have absolutely no idea of the difference between opening a link in Mobile Safari vs. opening the same link in an in-app browser. And they shouldn’t have to.

Unfortunately, in-app browsers are ultimately in control of 3rd-party developers, and there are plenty of ways they can grab your personal information without you —or Apple— even noticing.

The fact that Apple is now rejecting apps that try to do things the right way is troubling. Twiterrific has always authenticated users the proper way: by redirecting them to Mobile Safari, where the user enters their credentials in a secure environment that’s completely opaque to the 3rd-party app. Twitter then generates and sends an authentication token back to the app, which is used to perform the login. The whole process is effectively like trying to go to a club and asking an in-house friend to put your name on the guest list. The bouncer does not need to know how you got your name on the list, just that it is on the list.

Now, however, Apple is requiring 3rd-party apps to authenticate users using a WebKit view within the app itself. With this new workflow users gain in convenience, but they lose terribly in security. 3rd-party apps could suddenly become glorified bouncers that demand to know everything about you before they grant you access to the club. And with so many apps and services out there attempting to profit from our personal information, the one thing we don’t need is more glorified bouncers.

The takeaway point is perfectly laid out by Hockenberry:

Another goal of this essay is to increase user awareness of the potential dangers of using an in-app browser. You should never enter any private information while you’re using an app that’s not Safari.

An in-app browser is a great tool for quickly viewing web content, especially for things like links in Twitterrific’s timeline. But you should always open a link in Safari if you have any concern that your information might be collected. Safari is the only app on iOS that comes with Apple’s guarantee of security.

This is another privacy-related mess just waiting to happen. I don’t see how Apple can continue to enforce this behavior without significantly overhauling the way in-app browsers work. I’m not even sure a solution within this model is technically feasible. The only clear way out is going back to the previous, slightly more inconvenient but significantly more secure workflow; the current situation is simply untenable.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 review | The Newsprint →

September 24, 2014 |

Josh Ginter:

The first characteristic my wife and I were looking for was the ability to take a camera wherever without feeling like we were carrying an anchor around our necks. I purchased a Nikon D5100 and Nikkor 18-200mm travel lens a couple years back and we abhorred having to carry that camera around. Cameras have to be readily available when inspiration strikes and, if your camera is sitting on the shelf in the hotel room, it’s not going to do a very good job.

This is a fantastic review. I also own an E-M10 and can’t recommend it enough. For a small and light, but high-quality system, the E-M10 is hard to beat.

I only have two comments, regarding how I personally use the camera:

  • Unlike Josh, I don’t use the accessory grip, and never felt like I was missing out on any extra ergonomics. Then again, I have fairly small hands.

  • The supplied neck strap is not particularly great, but I always use it and couldn’t imagine not having it. I will probably upgrade to a fancier one soon, but for now I think it’s adequate.

A camera is a very personal item, and different people will of course have different preferences. Luckily, the E-M10 offers plenty of options to customize the experience, so you can always adapt it to suit your particular needs.

Which is to say, Josh’s review is pretty much spot on, and you can’t go wrong with the E-M10. Great work.

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