Myke Hurley and Stephen Hackett launch Relay FM →

August 18, 2014 |

From the about page:

Relay FM is an independent podcast network for people who are creative, curious and maybe even a little obsessive — just like its hosts.

Sounds fantastic. All shows are debuting today, so you have great material to fill up your podcast-listening queue.

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Shooting film with a Leica M6 By Kjetil Andre Dalheim →

August 16, 2014 |

Kjetil Andre Dalheim:

First of all analog is not instant. In today’s society that is almost unheard of, but one of the things I really enjoy. You take the picture, but no LCD to chimp, you wait for the film to be developed, picking the best negatives to go through the scanning process, process in LR/PS and print. All of this really gives you the feeling of creating something. Sitting down and looking at the final print on fine art paper is just lovely. On the other side, seizing a moment and sharing it online instantly with friends and family is something I appreciate to be able to do, so for me both worlds offer something.

As great as digital photography has gotten in the past decade, there’s a romantic side to film photography that many people still miss.

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Ben Brooks on the importance of focus →

August 15, 2014 |

I used to write a productivity blog, and a photography blog too. Those are still topics I know and love, but they aren’t what has captivated _most_ of my attention. As with everyone I get bored. I get bored with reading the same shit on fifteen different websites each day (and I know I always say this), but then I quickly go back to posting that same shit like everyone else. _Because it is easy_.

I think it’s great that Ben is changing things around, trying to recover his passion and energy. I’ve noticed the recent change in focus and style on The Brooks Review, and it’s been clearly for the better. I’ve been guilty of the same mistakes here in the past, but lately I’ve also been making a conscious effort to devote the majority of my time to the things that are truly important to me.

It’s not easy, because sometimes it means parting with the original vision you had of your work. It may require you to broaden your scope and allow yourself to explore new ideas, or it may mean narrowing it down mercilessly and focusing on a given topic with surgical precision. That can be a difficult process, but it’s also extremely natural. Our interests evolve over time, and our work is inevitably a reflection of ourselves. Still, breaking free of the bad habits takes effort, because every day there are a million new things out there demanding your immediate attention. Things that feel urgent, even though they’re really not. It’s hard to keep reminding yourself that most of that stuff is actually noise and that the signal you’re after is often buried deeper, much deeper. It takes time to uncover it. It takes focus.

It’s difficult, but when you manage to focus on what truly matters, it makes the work so much more rewarding. And I’ve found that loving the work is an absolute necessity if you don’t want to end up getting burned-out. That may sound like a platitude, but it’s completely true.

Like Ben, I’m in the middle of a personal quest for focus. I’m determined to find the signal among all the noise, and stick to it. I think I’m on the right path, but there’s still such a long way to go. I really have no idea where I’ll end up.

Which, in a way, is the best thing.

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MirrorLessons reviews the new Panasonic GH4 →

August 14, 2014 |

Looks like an interesting camera:

The Micro Four Thirds system has certainly reached its maturity in the last two years. The new Panasonic Lumix GH4 is the latest example of how advanced the system has become. I feel that this camera in particular is more important than any other MFT camera because it represents a great step not only in terms of stills but also video recording.

I’m not much of a video shooter, but 4K video at 30 fps is quite impressive.

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The Evolution of the Swimsuit | Q Ideas →

August 14, 2014 |

The evolution of the women’s swimsuit is one place where there has been a visible shift away from modesty. In the current world of swimwear, small is often beautiful and less is considered more desirable. But designer and actress Jessica Rey asks, “Who says it has to be itsy bitsy?” Rey argues that within the construct of modesty, there is a freedom—that modesty isnt about covering up whats bad, but about revealing dignity.

I found this to be an excellent, thought-provoking talk.

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The burden of originality

August 13, 2014

There’s a human impulse I’ve always found fascinating. You’ve probably experienced it first-hand because it happens all the time around us, especially on the Internet: you see someone doing an awesome thing and suddenly you get the urge to do awesome things yourself. We call this “being inspired” and for the most part, it’s great. It means more awesome things are being done and how could that not be great?

The problem is, “awesome things” is an awfully abstract concept, and finding your own awesome thing to do is a lot harder than it looks. Sure, you’ve always had that little voice in the back of your head saying that this idea of yours could indeed be awesome, but that’s not enough to get you into “doing” territory. Your lizard brain is trained to avoid situations where you could get hurt, and whenever you consider putting yourself out there you feel completely exposed, as if the whole world is out to get you. So naturally, you do nothing, and the years go by.

Then of course, along comes somebody else who decided not to listen to her lizard brain (or maybe she’s just a little hard of hearing) and does precisely what you wanted to do all along. It turns out, the thing is awesome and you know what? It actually works and people seem to genuinely appreciate it. At this point there are probably two conflicting emotions inside your head. First is the excited impulse to go and finally do the damn thing yourself, now that someone else has removed the uncertainty for you, proving that there’s value in it and that it can work. But then a very different feeling creeps in: now that someone else is doing it, what you hold so dear is no longer truly original, so how can you possibly do it without being perceived as little more than a copycat?

It can be even worse. What if you had no original idea to begin with? What if you didn’t know you loved something until you saw it for the first time? What if seeing what someone else did is enough to finally spur you into action, even if it’s just to try your hand at the same thing? Is it fundamentally wrong to say “I want to do that, too”? Does it diminish the value of what you could accomplish? Would it be better if everybody just stopped trying? These are great mysteries.

There are many theories out there that try to address the issue. Some say that everything’s fair game because there’s nothing truly original out there anyway, while others are quick to condemn such actions. I’m going to go ahead and say that at the end of the day, what matters most is that you do something instead of just thinking about doing it. Even if it’s by following someone else’s lead, the very fact that you got started doing something potentially great has merit. It has to have it. Clearly we all want to be as original as we possibly can, but how realistic is that? If fear of being unoriginal is keeping you from doing what you love, I say you’re looking at it the wrong way. At some point you just have to focus on your own work and pay less attention to what others are doing (or saying). Sure, you probably won’t come up with anything revolutionary right out of the gate, but if you keep at it in the end your voice will come through and the work will become truly yours.1

Think about that, for a second. If everyone got discouraged at the first sign of trouble, there would only be one instance of everything. Microsoft never would have created Windows because what was the point when the Macintosh was already there?2 Google wouldn’t even exist today, because Yahoo! was dominating search long before Google Search came into the scene. Apple never would have created the iPod because the market was already flooded with a bazillion different MP3 players at the time. None of those products were truly original and yet, they ended up taking the world by storm and leaving their predecessors far behind. And guess what: that’s just how competition works. It breeds diversity. It’s how we move forward, how we get better. In the end, the best products tend to succeed, even if they weren’t there first. And we’re all better off for it.

If there’s a lesson in here I believe it’s this: be respectful of the creations of others, but don’t let that respect keep you from doing what you love. It’s a lesson I’m struggling to apply myself, I admit. My lizard brain keeps shouting at me that the work I’m doing here is really nothing special, but you know what? I’ve decided I’m not going to listen to it any more. Sometimes I feel discouraged, but I refuse to give up. It won’t be easy, but I’m determined to pull through and I hope you do, too, because I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do next.

One thing I know, though. It’s going to be awesome.

  1. To be clear, I’m not talking about shamelessly ripping off other people’s work. Nor am I saying that you shouldn’t acknowledge the source of your inspiration. In fact, quite the contrary. I’m a firm believer in respecting your heroes and praising their hard work. Credit must be given where credit is due, it’s as simple as that.

  2. You could argue that Microsoft actually did in fact shamelessly rip off the Macintosh’s Graphical User Interface, but for all their similarities, both operating systems are profoundly different interpretations of the same idea. At the same time, you could argue that Windows forced the Mac OS to get better, and now we’re once again seeing it happen the other way around.

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Guy English On Opinionated Software →

August 13, 2014 |

Being opinionated and shipping the truest form of your vision of software doesn’t assure success. I understand the amount of heart, soul, concentration and perseverance it takes to ship a piece of software that really makes you proud and hits all of the marks you’d set for yourself and your team. It can be a really great piece of software. That doesn’t mean it deserves to be a hit.

Smart words. The debate over whether it’s still possible for indie developers to thrive in today’s App Store is fascinating to read.

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Ben Brooks On Hacking →

August 12, 2014 |

The point of all this is that you should never be afraid to hack away at things. I still hack away at the CSS on this site, and while the site is live I save the change and see what happens. Maybe the entire site dies because of that, or maybe it doesn’t — I don’t care. I don’t care because I am working at learning and those few minutes of a broken site won’t really matter to anyone in the long run, but it _will_ help me immensely.

Ben’s right on the money here. Which reminds me, there’s a bit of Wordpress hacking I need to do on this site myself.1

  1. I’m not entirely happy with how the link-formatted posts are being handled by the Wordpress engine. Right now, I need to manually add an “external-link” tag to the title of each post in order for it to be styled appropriately. I’m trying to find a way to automate the process, so that it’s easier for me to publish these posts.

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Jean-Louis Gassée asks for better App Store curation in an open letter to Tim Cook →

August 12, 2014 |

Jean-Louis Gassée, on this week’s Monday Note:

With one million titles and no human guides, the Apple App Store has become incomprehensible for mere mortals. A simple solution exists: curation by humans instead of algorithms.

I couldn’t agree more. Human curation and an editorial selection of apps are becoming indispensable in today’s extremely crowded App Store. If Apple wants high-quality apps to thrive and independent developers to keep making great apps, this is the way forward.

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