AnalogSenses

By ÁLVARO SERRANO

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The reviews of the iPhones 6 are out

September 17, 2014

With less than 48 hours to go until the new iPhones go on sale (in a few countries, at least), the first reviews are coming out. Here’s a roundup of the most interesting ones:

  • John Gruber has some nice things to say about both iPhones. Highlights include: the differences in size, the display on the iPhone 6 Plus, and the special operation mode for one-handed use. Good stuff, as ever. I particularly agree with John on the user profile each iPhone is optimized for. It just sucks that, like John, I fit right in the middle of both camps.

  • Jim Dalrymple thinks the iPhone 6 is a tremendous upgrade that is sure to satisfy everyone. And the iPhone 6 Plus is BIG. Other than that, no significant differences between both models in day-to-day use.

  • Jason Snell, in what is probably his last product review for Macworld, says that the iPhone 6 Plus could work well for people who don’t plan to buy an iPad and would use the iPhone as their only computing device. Be sure to also check his new blog for additional commentary.

  • The Verge has split the review in two articles: one for the iPhone 6 and another for the iPhone 6 Plus. Great photography in both articles, and they praise the iPhone 6 Plus’s camera as “the best smartphone camera I’ve ever used”. It is the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, though, that gets the better overall score in their points-based test.

  • Re/code has also split the review in two parts. Walt Mossberg reviews the 4.7-inch model, which he considers to be the natural successor to the iPhone 5S, and Lauren Goode reviews the iPhone 6 Plus.

Those are the usual suspects. This year is arguably harder than ever to choose between the new models, so if you’re still undecided about which one to get, be sure to read through, there’s good stuff in there.

For what it’s worth, though, the general consensus seems to be: when in doubt, go with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 Plus is apparently best suited for those people who already know they want it.

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Catharsis

September 15, 2014

It’s a word that gets thrown out there a lot, but what does it mean? From the New Oxford American Dictionary:

Catharsis

The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

In other words, healing. Moving on.

It sounds simple, but it’s probably the hardest thing a human being can ever experience. No one can teach you how to do it, and no one except yourself can convince you that it’s even possible.

If you’re at all like me, you’re used to having a say in the outcome of things. In your arrogance, you’ve spent your entire life teaching yourself that there’s no unsolvable problem. That it all comes down to finding the right way out.

Except sometimes, there’s no way out. Sometimes, things really are out of your control, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Sometimes, shit does indeed happen.

There may come a day, and I hope it doesn’t, but there may come a day when life smacks you in the head with absolute impunity, making you feel helpless, laughably small. Pitted against the universe with only your fragile ego to defend you. And in that moment a sudden realization will strike: deep down you’ll know —you’ll know— that you can try your best, you can give it all you’ve got, and you’ll still fail.

For the first time in your life, you’ll get to experience the absolute fear of knowing that your best shot will not be enough. And then nothing will ever be the same.

Today I listened to episode 5 of Analog(ue), the excellent podcast hosted by Casey Liss and Myke Hurley. In it they were joined by Stephen Hackett, co-founder of Relay FM and author of 512 Pixels. In this very special episode they talked about what it feels like to go through some extremely difficult, life-altering moments, and how choosing to share their story (or not) helped them find some much-needed catharsis.

Stephen talked about how soul-crushing it was for him to face the fact that his 6-month-old baby had brain cancer. Casey talked about how difficult it was for him and his wife Erin to get pregnant, and how painful it was to keep trying for years with no success and not even a guarantee that it would one day happen. Both Casey and Stephen had written about it on their sites before, and they explained how the act of putting it out there helped them deal with their overwhelming emotions. Myke talked about his reluctancy to share his intimate feelings with the outside world, and how he usually doesn’t find comfort in the act of sharing. And yet, he found the courage to talk about his grandfather passing away not two weeks ago, and having to attend his funeral.

It was a genuine, honest show full of powerful moments, and you should definitely listen to it. Analog(ue) is quickly becoming one of my favorite podcasts, and it’s in no small part for the authenticity that Casey and Myke bring to the table every single week.

It’s also helping me a great deal in overcoming my own personal struggles. Like Myke, I’m a fairly private person and I don’t usually share my feelings, except with but a handful of my closest friends and family members. The version of myself that’s talking to you now, through these written words, is more open and straightforward than I will ever be. In a way, you could get to know me better by reading this site than you would by being a real-world friend or acquaintance of mine.

I realize there’s something odd about that. I don’t want to say it’s wrong, but that’s exactly what part of me feels like when talking about this stuff. I don’t know why I’m like that. It’s certainly not on purpose, but there’s something inherently cathartic about writing, something that’s much harder for me to achieve by talking. I don’t feel comfortable at all sharing my inner thoughts with those around me, except under very controlled circumstances, and this is one of them.

I like to think I know myself better than most people do. I’m intimately aware of my own emotions, and I don’t hide from them. I usually have a clarity of thinking that helps me navigate my own life without doubt, or regret. I’m not one to dwell on the past, either.

It is in part because I’m convinced I already know the answers that I’m reluctant to ask the questions. I’m wrong, of course. Terribly wrong, I know that —see? I did it again—. However, I can’t help it. It’s just how my mind works.

Until it doesn’t.

Until I, too, find out that there are some things out there I can’t control, and some questions I don’t know the answers to.

Six months ago my life was a lot simpler than it is today. Back then I used to work as a researcher and software developer at the bioengineering and telemedicine research group in Technical University of Madrid. I was 30 years old, healthy, good at my job and everything seemed fine. It was in April, when the results of some routine blood tests came back, that I found out I have type-1 diabetes. That means my body can’t regulate my blood sugar levels on its own, and I’ll need to inject myself with insulin 4 times a day for the rest of my life to survive.

It could have been a devastating discovery —and it certainly wasn’t easy—, but luckily it didn’t come as a total surprise. It hardly could, considering that both my father and my older brother have been living with the same condition for years. There was always a chance that it could one day happen to me too, and I’ve been preparing for it for years.

The fact that I have diabetes is not a secret. I’ve never tried to hide it, and I’ve even mentioned it here before, albeit only in passing. But the truth is, I’ve never really talked about it with anyone. Today I’ve already shared more than ever before and like Myke, I’m not having a particularly fun time writing about it. I only do it because I know there are many people like me out there, and perhaps reading about my experience can help alleviate some of their own frustration.

To me, finding out I had diabetes was a particularly ironic thing to discover, because the majority of the work I had done at the time was related to the use of technology for the prevention and management of, you guessed it, diabetes. The universe does have a sense of humor sometimes.

At least I already knew most of what I needed to do, and I could look at my situation with some small measure of objectivity. There are far worse things to have, as far as chronic autoimmune diseases go. Diabetes is quite manageable, and with proper care and a healthy lifestyle I can expect to live a long, normal life without many issues.

But boy, does it suck.

It sucks because suddenly, at 31, I’m no longer healthy and I will never be healthy again. No more crazy trips with friends, no more being able to do whatever I want without planning ahead. No more freedom. This is the kind of realization I was talking about earlier, the kind that knocks you out when you least expect it.1

Strangely, it’s also been kind of a relief. After years of worrying about it, it finally happened. I could finally focus on putting it behind me, and try to move on. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but what choice did I really have?

As it turned out, not much of a choice at all, so I did the only thing that I could: I slowly learned to control my diet, regularly check my blood sugar levels, count carbs and adapt my exercise regime to make it compatible with my condition. It was mostly a trial-and-error procedure, but thankfully I didn’t have any major scares, and it took me very little time to get the hang of it. Pretty soon things were back to normal, or at least as normal as they could get. Very quickly, I started feeling much better, too. I was stronger, had more energy throughout the day and slept much better at night. It seems crazy now, but after months of progressive degeneration, my body had actually forgotten what being healthy feels like.

All of this happened between April and May, but this is only one half of the story. The other half began at the end of July when, in what I can only describe as impeccable timing, I was laid off.2 Yet another major area of my life was spiraling out of control.

That could have been a serious setback but, for some reason, it wasn’t. Not really. If there’s one good thing about being diagnosed with a chronic disease it’s that it puts everything else in perspective. Still, it was time to make some hard decisions.

I’ve never been interested in doing corporate work (which is the main reason I was working for a public university in the first place), and I always pictured myself in the future as a self-employed creative professional. And so, after some serious thinking and soul-searching, I’ve decided to invest in myself. I’d been considering it for quite some time, toying with the idea, but I never had the courage to actually go for it. Abandoning the security of a monthly paycheck is a pretty hard thing to do, and I always found an acceptable excuse to put it off until the time was right.

That time is now.

As of a couple of months ago, I’m no longer employed in the traditional sense of the term. I’m working harder than I ever have, only this time I’m doing it for me first. It’s an incredible feeling, and I’m loving every minute of it.

You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m not quite ready to share much more about my plans, at least for now. Suffice it to say that Analog Senses is an essential piece of the puzzle, and that a sizable chunk of my efforts will be geared towards growing it and building it into a profitable business. If you’ve been a reader of this site for some time, you may have noticed that the frequency —and hopefully, the quality— of my writing has increased in the past couple of months. It is my hope that things will continue to get better around here in the upcoming weeks and months. These are really exciting times in my life, and I’d love to have you along for the ride.

I’m aware that there are a million things out there I can’t control, and I’ve made my peace with that. These days I often remember this great quote by Stanley Kubrick:

However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

I am deeply, absolutely terrified, but I’m also determined, and I know what I have to do. However long the odds, there’s still a chance it just may work. And that’s a chance worth fighting for.

As ever, thank you for reading.


  1. I’m exaggerating, of course. People with diabetes have climbed Mount Everest and gone to space, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind when they tell you you have it.

  2. Along with many others, due to massive cuts in the university’s funding.

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Why travel makes you grow | Raptitude →

September 15, 2014 |

David Cain:

When you wake up staring at an unfamiliar ceiling, with unfamiliar sounds in the background, and no routines to lean on, the day has a lot more question marks, and they demand conscious thinking and decisionmaking.

(…)

Most of all, you become more conscious of who you are and how you live, because both are reflected back to you constantly when you’re temporarily unable to be who you’re used to being, and to do what you’re used to doing.

There is much truth in this essay. Traveling on your own to a foreign country is a fantastic way to get to know yourself better than you ever thought was possible. I’ve done it twice: back in 2005 when I moved to Finland for a year as an Erasmus exchange student, and then again in 2011, when I took a 3-week trip across Brazil. These were two of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I believe that the fact that I was on my own was an key part of it all: it forced me to figure things out by myself, be more open and put myself out there in a way that I normally don’t, and it was fantastic.

These experiences can provide clarity and perspective at a time when we need them the most, and that’s something we ought to always keep in mind.

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 now available in silver →

September 15, 2014 |

Damn. That is a fine-looking camera. The only thing I didn’t love about the E-M1 was the fact that it didn’t come in silver, and now it finally does.

The E-M1 is way more camera than I need, but if I were in the market for a top-shelf mirrorless camera, this one would certainly top my list of candidates.

Disclaimer: the above is an Amazon affiliate link. If you follow it and then buy anything from Amazon you’ll be supporting my work and contributing to keep the lights on around here. Thanks!

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Why archaeologists hate Indiana Jones →

September 14, 2014 |

Erik Vance:

“That first scene, where he’s in the temple and he’s replacing that statue with a bag of sand – that’s what looters do,” Canuto says, grinning. “[The temple builders] are using these amazing mechanisms of engineering and all he wants to do is steal the stupid gold statue.”

What a fascinating read. Via Kottke.

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The watch punt →

September 14, 2014 |

Marco Arment:

Apple didn’t find a way around the laws of physics. They didn’t somehow unveil a revolutionary battery or screen technology that the world had never seen before. They punted again. In the absence of any better alternative approaches, they just did what they could with today’s technology.

The number of times Apple has caught everyone by surprise by unveiling something truly revolutionary is strikingly small. I can think of the original Macintosh and the original iPhone, and that’s basically it. We shouldn’t keep expecting them to do the impossible, and then fault them for not keeping up with our own unrealistic expectations.

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Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki | The Newsprint →

September 12, 2014 |

If you think there’s no way in the world you could ever be interested in reading a review of an ink bottle, you’re probably not alone.

Fortunately, Josh Ginter easily proves you —and me— wrong in his excellent review of the popular Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki, a truly beautiful shade of blue wrapped in an unbelievably gorgeous package.

So much so, in fact, that I’m finding myself increasingly curious to try a piston-filler fountain pen just to have an excuse to get one of those awesome bottles of ink.

On a side note, I love how Josh keeps changing the header image on The Newsprint with each new article. It’s a fantastic way to keep the site looking fresh, and it instantly lets readers know that there’s new, awesome content waiting to be read. I think it’s a really cool design feature and I wish it was more broadly used throughout the Internet.

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A watch guy's thoughts on the Apple Watch | Hodinkee →

September 11, 2014 |

Excellent take on the Apple watch by Benjamin Clymer:

But what makes the millions of us that would never trade a Rolex in for an Apple is the emotion brought about by our watches – the fact that they are so timeless, so lasting, so personal. Nothing digital, no matter if Jony Ive (or Marc Newson) designed it, could ever replace that, if for no other reason than sheer life-cycle limitations. My watches will last for generations, this Apple Watch will last for five years, if we’re lucky. On an emotional level, you can’t compare them, and that is why I don’t believe many serious watch lovers (who, again, would normally be racing to spend their cash on an Apple release) will go for this. It’s directly competing for the same real estate, where as if we had seen a bracelet of some kind announced yesterday, those early adapters, myself included, would be begging Apple to take their pre-pre-pre-order (truth be told, I’ll obviously be buying one, but you know what I’m saying).

That’s exactly how I feel about the Apple Watch, although of course Clymer puts it so much more eloquently. Great, great article.

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Most of Macworld staff laid off →

September 10, 2014 |

Jason Snell:

Then another leadership shift occurred, the sixth in 24 months. The new bosses were actually my old bosses, and they knew exactly how I was feeling about my job and the prospect of going through more painful changes. To their great credit, they allowed us to end our relationship amicably. I thank them for their support and their generosity. They even asked me to write a final front-of-the-book column in the November issue of Macworld.

Unfortunately, many of my colleagues lost their jobs today. If there’s anything I can do to help them, I will. I have had time to plan for this day, but they haven’t. You probably know some of them. Please join with me in giving them sympathy and support.

Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. Macworld has been the reference publication for all things Apple for as long as I can remember. It will be extremely strange to see most of them go.

Really sad news. Jason Snell will be joining Relay FM, so we’ll get to hear more of him in the coming weeks.

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