AnalogSenses

By ÁLVARO SERRANO

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Predictions roundup before the Apple event

September 09, 2014

Another year, another Apple keynote. This year’s event is particularly interesting for a couple reasons:

  • Apple is widely expected to announce two new iPhones, with 4.7 and 5.5-inch displays.

  • Apple is widely expected to unveil a wearable computing device that everyone is already calling “iWatch”.

As always, industry analysts are singing to the tune of “Apple needs the iWatch to be powered by unicorn blood or else they’re doomed”.

Fortunately, a more sane variety of Apple reporting exists and, as usual, they have also put forth their own predictions for what we’re likely to witness today. Here’s a roundup of some of my favorite ones:

  • John Gruber adds to his already detailed predictions a few weeks ago. Overall, a nice and balanced prediction by John, as usual. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get most of them exactly right.

  • Marco Arment starts with a nice explanation of why bigger iPhones seemed quite ridiculous in 2011 but actually make a lot of sense now, and then he goes completely crazy and predicts a $2999 Retina iMac for this winter. I really wish he gets this one right, despite what it would do to my wallet.

  • Max Child (hat tip to Gruber’s aforelinked piece) makes one of the most interesting propositions I’ve read: that the iWatch could actually turn out to be quite similar to an iPod, in that it could be optimized for playing music and podcasts while people run, only this time wirelessly. It would also integrate with HealthKit and display other biometric and health-related data, opening up a whole new array of possibilities. This makes so much sense that I wonder why it hasn’t been brought up by more people.

  • Federico Viticci has been hinting on Twitter that there are huge updates coming to several very popular iOS apps that take full advantage of iOS 8’s new features. Also, Transmit is coming to iOS. That, in and of itself, is already huge, so it looks like we’re in for a treat.

  • Dan Moren of Macworld also shares their list of predictions, and all the usual suspects are there: new iPhones, iOS 8, OS X Yosemite and, of course, the iWatch. It’s a nice recap if you haven’t been keeping up with the rumors.

  • Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica has similar predictions, all nicely laid out for your reading pleasure. Also, since September has traditionally been Apple’s music event, they hint at other possible music-related announcements from Apple, such as maybe new iPods or anything involving the Beats brand.

  • Josh Lowensohn of The Verge says there are 5 things to expect from Apple’s big event, although in reality he lists quite a few more, so I’m not so sure about that title. Still, good stuff all around.

As for myself, I agree with most of the conservative predictions we’ve seen. I believe we will see two new iPhones at 4.7 and 5.5-inches, and I believe Apple will introduce a wearable computing device that may or may not be called iWatch, because there sure is a heck of a lot of smoke for there not to be a fire.

As for the more outlandish predictions we’ve seen (that this new device will also cure cancer and command alien species at your will, among others), I remain a bit more skeptical.

Whatever it ends up looking like, I expect a typical Apple device: insanely good at a small set of tasks, with the potential to evolve through iteration into something much more capable and powerful.

Luckily, we’re just a few short hours away from finding out. If you’re excited to see what happens, you can watch the keynote live on Apple’s website.

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Giovanni Pinarello dies at the age of 92 →

September 07, 2014 |

John Stevenson:

Giovanni Pinarello, founder of the Italian bicycle manufacturer whose frames have been ridden to Tour de France glory by the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich, has died at the age of 92.

I am deeply saddened by this news. Pinarello was a living legend in the cycling world. My road bicycle is a Pinarello Montello SLX, the same model that Spanish cyclist Pedro Delgado rode to victory in the 1988 edition of the Tour de France.

In this image we can see Delgado and the rest of team Reynolds, including Miguel Indurain, who would go on to win 5 consecutive editions of the Tour from 1991-1995. They are all riding Pinarellos, and would continue to do so for the entirety of Indurain’s career:

Reynolds team during the 1988 edition of the Tour de France

These bicycles will be forever linked to some of the most memorable feats in the history of the sport.

Riposa in pace, signore Pinarello.

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Christina Warren hacks her own iCloud account →

September 05, 2014 |

Some serious reporting by Christina Warren:

For just $200, and a little bit of luck, I was able to successfully crack my own iCloud password and use EPPB to download my entire iCloud backup from my iPhone. For $400, I could have successfully pulled in my iCloud data without a password and with less than 60 seconds of access to a Mac or Windows computer where I was logged into iCloud.

It looks like iCloud backups are far more vulnerable to attack from experienced hackers than we thought.

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mattgemmell.com turns 10 →

September 05, 2014 |

Today marks a decade since I started writing here at mattgemmell.com. I’d like to thank you for reading my words throughout the years.

Huge congratulations to Matt. I’m sure the next ten years will be even better.

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The impracticality of nice

September 04, 2014

I love bicycles.

I believe it’s one of the most remarkable inventions in human history and if I can, I ride one every day. I don’t mean in a sporty, lycra-clad kind of way, but as a normal person wearing everyday clothes. The bicycle is my usual means of transportation in Madrid.

Bicycles thrive in the city, where the average trip is often just a couple km long. In that scenario it is usually, by far, the most convenient way to move from point A to point B,1 without having to worry about things like finding a parking spot. It also happens to be really good for your health.

Up until 2011 I had been using the same bicycle since I was 15 years old: an old Kona Lava Dome from 1998. I love it. I’ve used the heck out of it for over 10 years and it’s never let me down. It’s still in pretty good shape, considering the abuse it has endured over the years. However, riding a mountain bike in the city, especially one like Madrid, is not ideal, so after a couple years of daily use I decided it was time for a change.2

I also appreciate nice things. That’s why I’m a Mac and iOS user, among other things. I value attention to detail and I recognize great design when I see it. When someone sweats the details, it shows. And I like that.

When it comes to sweating the details in the bicycle world, there’s a name that’s in a class of its own: Bianchi. They’re the oldest bicycle manufacturer in the world. They’ve been making bicycles since 1885, almost 130 years ago, and they’re a fundamental part of the history of the bicycle.

It should then come as no surprise that when I decided to buy my first nice bicycle, I chose a Bianchi:

It’s a beautiful Bianchi Pista Steel from 2011, and it was the first bicycle I ever bought for myself. Today I own four different bicycles, but the Bianchi remains the only one I have purchased new from a local bike store. It’s gorgeous.3

The craftsmanship and attention to detail are evident anywhere you look. In the time that I’ve had it, I’ve replaced and upgraded many of its components, but its essence remains intact: that beautiful piece of chrome-finished steel with Bianchi decals on it. The frame is the true soul of a bicycle, and mine’s is a stunner.

Riding it is also one hell of an experience. Fixed-gear bicycles are so much fun. I hadn’t enjoyed myself so much on a bike since I was 10 years old. I feel very fortunate to own this bicycle, because it is exactly the one I wanted.

However, in the past 12 months, I have barely touched it. It’s been mostly sitting on its rack at home, begging to be used. And it makes me sad.

Why?

The problem with nice things is that they tend to get noticed more than we’d like, and my Bianchi is not an exception. It gets looks and comments from strangers on a regular basis. Most of them are compliments, with the occasional bit of skepticism thrown in for good measure.4 I like it when a stranger feels curious about my bike, but all that attention means the idea of leaving it locked on the streets makes me extremely uneasy.

For a while, I managed. I resorted to pretty much the only thing I could do: I would take the bike with me anywhere I went, even if it was a place were bicycles are normally not allowed. I have taken it inside clothing stores, banks… you name it. Even restaurants. It certainly made for some interesting conversations with the security personnel sometimes.

After a while though, I got tired of arguing. Laziness started to creep in, and I realized it wasn’t worth it to keep fighting about the bike all the time, instead of doing whatever I was supposed to be doing. I just wanted to get my stuff done with as little fuss as possible, and in that regard, my bike wasn’t helping.

And so, last year I decided to try a different approach and I bought another bicycle. A beater bike, as they say. They’re the polar opposite of nice bikes: the kind of bikes no one would bother to steal, but even if someone did, you wouldn’t really care that much.

If you take your time, it’s pretty easy to find an old bicycle in reasonably good condition for very little money. After a few weeks looking I eventually found a great candidate: a classic hybrid Peugeot Eton 21 from 1990. It was in pretty good shape and I bought it for about $80.5 That’s almost 20 times cheaper than my Bianchi. And you know what? It may be the best purchase I’ve ever made.

Sure, it’s no head-turner: it’s old, the frame is rusty in places and it has a certain utilitarian look to it, but that’s precisely the point. It blends right in. So much so, in fact, that last week I forgot to remove my LED lights and left them on the bike over the weekend and when I came back, after a full 72 hours on the street, the lights were still there. Nobody had even looked at the bike twice. That’s peace of mind that money can’t buy.

Thanks to this bike, I have discovered the pleasures of stress-free riding. I don’t care if it gets chipped, or stolen. I even leave it out on the street at night. Not having to carry a bike on the elevator every time I leave the house is another huge plus. Anytime I want to use it, it’s right there, waiting for me. It’s truly become the most convenient means of urban transportation I’ve ever used.

Besides, since I don’t need to worry about aesthetics, I can put big, fat tires on it, fenders and a huge rack to help me carry my bags. Now it’s the bike that carries the heavy weight instead of my back, and it’s awesome. I get wherever I’m going without breaking a sweat, lock it up in 15 seconds and off I go. As far as convenience goes, it’s pretty hard to beat.

The more I keep using it, the more I realize that this is exactly what an urban bicycle should be. Functional, discrete. Bombproof. I love it.

But then I look back at the Bianchi and, once again, I feel sad. Sad because even though I love nice things, I realize that sometimes, nice is not the best choice. Sometimes ugly is the answer.

It’s a lesson I’m still struggling to assimilate, but I’m making progress. I don’t think I’m quite ready to sell the Bianchi though. I still ride it occasionally, and enjoy it immensely. It is a wonderful piece of engineering and craftsmanship and, as someone who loves bicycles, it represents an ideal; the embodiment of my passion for these mechanical marvels.

We all have some guilty pleasures, and this is mine. Owning a nice bicycle makes me happy, even if it’s not particularly useful, or practical.

Ugly certainly has its moments, but that doesn’t mean that we have to forever let go of nice.

Fortunately, as far as bicycles are concerned, there’s always Rule No. 12.


  1. This is what worldwide bicycle ambassador Michael Colville-Andersen very logically calls “A-to-B-ism”.

  2. For obvious sentimental reasons, I hesitate to call it an upgrade.

  3. There’s something special about restoring an old object and giving it new life. That’s why I always prefer restoring old bicycles as opposed to buying new ones, with the Bianchi as the sole exception.

  4. “How can you ride a bike without gears?”, is a frequent favorite of mine.

  5. You should always ask for proof of ownership when dealing with used items on the Internet. Otherwise you risk ending up with a stolen bike. If no proof of ownership exists, my advice is to pass on it. Or at the very least, use this sample contract. It’s a good way to protect yourself against any possible theft claims that could come your way in the future.

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Olympus Drops Worldwide Warranty Policy for its New Camera and Accessories | The Phoblographer →

September 04, 2014 |

Speaking of Olympus:

Don’t go doing anything too dangerous with that new Pen E-PL7 as the company has just announced it will stop adding worldwide warranty support for its new digital cameras and accessories. While every piece of Olympus camera equipment has come with a worldwide warranty card since April 2014, now these globetrotting service packages will be reserved for a smaller set of products.

If you were thinking of buying a new Olympus camera or lens overseas to save money, you may want to reconsider.

At least worldwide warranties for equipment purchased before September 2014 will still be honored.

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