The Roast in the Fridge →

May 13, 2014 |

Erika Hall writes an amazing piece over at Medium:

Well into the 21st century, billions of women and girls are still denied the ability to simply live their lives, control their bodies, and pursue their personal ambitions. All too often—that is to say way more than never—blameless life choices result in a death sentence. Even in our affluent “innovative” disembodied internet culture, outspoken women are viciously mocked and threatened in an attempt to silence them.

Via Daring Fireball.

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Move Over, Tennis Elbow; Wrist Injuries Increasingly Plague Stars | NY Times →

April 30, 2014 |

Dr. Richard Berger, an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester:

“This is energy that springs from the legs, up through the spine, down the arm to the forearm and across the wrist to the racket. At some point, either through genetics or the playing style, the structural integrity of any of those structures is exceeded. For any given individual, the force is greater than the structures are capable of withstanding. That’s where the injury comes from.”

Tennis’s evolution in the past decade has moved towards a game where it’s all about overpowering and outlasting the opponent rather than outmaneuvering or outsmarting him. It may be great for spectacle, having gladiatorial-like 5-hour matches every weekend, but unfortunately, this almost-superhuman physicality has its consequences. Something needs to change.

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Heartbleed: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now →

April 11, 2014 |

Heartbleed: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now | Mashable

It hasnt always been clear which sites have been affected. Mashable reached out some of the most popular social, email, banking and commerce sites on the web. We’ve rounded up their responses below.

Comprehensive list, with some big names on in: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Dropbox, etc. Most of them have already been patched, but if you use any of those services (and chances are, you do), you should take a minute to change your password as soon as possible.

Also, it’s a good idea to enable 2-step verification for those sites that support it.

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Panasonic announces new wide angle Leica lens for Micro Four Thirds →

April 09, 2014 |


Panasonic has officially announced the Leica DG Summilux 15mm F1.7 ASPH, a premium fast wideangle prime for Micro Four Thirds cameras. It offers an angle of view equivalent to 30mm on full frame, and features an aperture ring at the front of the barrel. It’s also very small in diameter to match the tiny DMC-GM1 camera, with which it will be offered as a kit. It’ll be available in black or silver from mid-June for $599/£549, with the GM1 kit costing £999.

Better start saving for June.

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Heartbleed: Critical OpenSSL vulnerability if you run servers →

April 09, 2014 |

Marco Ament:

I’ve been assuming that everyone heard about this yesterday, but it’s still news to many, so it’s good to yell about it. If you’re responsible for any servers or VPSes at all, and they run any of the affected versions of OpenSSL, you need to patch them ASAP.

Solid advice from Marco regarding Heartbleed, the OpenSSL security bug that’s been making the rounds lately.

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The broken state of the RAW file format

April 07, 2014

Last Saturday we went to a birthday party at a friend’s house, which was the perfect opportunity to take my new Olympus OM-D E-M10 out for a spin. I took a few dozen pictures and then a few more on Sunday, so by the end of the weekend I decided it was time to process the images on my computer and take a closer look to see if they were any good. I downloaded the RAW files and imported them into Aperture, but all I could see were black squares where the images should be. Apparently, Apple does not yet support the EM-10’s RAW file format in Aperture. Nor does Adobe’s Lightroom, by the way, so as of today, if you want to work with RAW files from the E-M10 on the Mac, unless you use the included Olympus Viewer 3 app, you’re out of luck. I keep asking myself, how can this be?

The EM-10 is clearly a popular camera, and it’s been available for a few months already. I find it quite odd that neither of the two most popular photography applications for the Mac support it yet. This made me wonder about the RAW format itself, and after a few hours of research I have come to believe it is a profoundly broken system, and I wonder why nobody has found a way to solve it yet. I’m sure pro photographers have found a way to work around this, but it’s an issue that every aspiring photographer is going to have to deal with at some point, and it can be really frustrating. Of course I’m by no means an expert, so please take this with a grain of salt.

From the Wikipedia entry:

This industry-wide situation of inconsistent formatting has concerned many photographers who worry that their valuable raw photos may someday become inaccessible, as computer operating systems and software programs become obsolete and abandoned raw formats are dropped from new software. The availability of high-quality open source software which decodes raw image formats, particularly dcraw, has helped to alleviate these concerns. An essay by Michael Reichmann and Juergen Specht stated “here are two solutions – the adoption by the camera industry of A: Public documentation of RAW formats; past, present and future, or, more likely B: Adoption of a universal RAW format”. “Planning for [US] Library of Congress Collections” identifies raw-file formats as “less desirable file formats”, and identifies DNG as a suggested alternative.

The photography industry is now going through a period of great innovation, especially in the mirrorless sector, but it’s also incredibly fragmented. Not only are there different RAW formats for each brand, but for each camera. So the OM-D E-M10 uses a different RAW format than the E-M5 and the PEN E-P5, even though all three cameras share the same sensor. It’s insane. I honestly don’t understand why the biggest players (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Leica, Fujifilm, Panasonic and Olympus to name a few) haven’t already come up with a common, openly specified RAW format.1 I guess it must be because they’re not interested, but I just don’t see any downsides to it, and I certainly don’t understand why they would prefer the current situation, where their customers are left to wait for months until they can fully enjoy all the features of their new cameras.

  1. There have been some efforts to develop an open standard, the most notable of which is the DNG format), but it’s still nowhere near being widely used.

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On self-doubt, photography and the new Olympus OM-D E-M10

April 07, 2014

NOTE: This was originally a longer piece, but I felt the second part had a different tone to it so I decided to break it into two different articles. You can read the other one here.

One of my favorite feelings is the sense of accomplishment that results from overcoming a personal challenge. When you pit yourself against something way out of your comfort zone you come out the other end changed. Improved. I love that sensation; it tickles just the right areas of my nerdy brain. A good example of that is photography. I’ve always found it profoundly interesting, but to me it was a bit like magic: fascinating and mesmerizing, yet obscure and impenetrable at the same time. I have a few photographer friends, and every time we met at a party I would listen to them talk about photography and their gear in such a passionate way that I couldn’t help but be amazed at their words, even though I understood very little of what they were saying.

I’ve always been intimidated by photography. For some reason I felt the barrier to entry was just too high for me and I would need to invest huge amounts of time and attention to learn my way in. As a result, over the years there were probably a million wonderful pictures I didn’t take. My Erasmus year in Finland. A week-long trip to New-York with my brother back in 2011, on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. The month-long trip to Australia I took with my girlfriend a couple years ago. The 21 days I spent in Brazil with my good friend Daniel. These and many other special moments in my life that were committed only to my memory.

It’s not that I don’t have any pictures to remember those moments. Sure, some of my friends had nice cameras, and I also took a few pics with whatever phone I had at the time. They’re mostly OK to look at, but that’s not the problem. It’s the pictures I didn’t take that haunt me. The opportunities that went right by me because I was too afraid or discouraged to try and take them. This self-doubt has crippled my memories and it has made me depend on other people’s pictures to remember. Now when I look at those photos, part of me feels like I’m remembering someone else’s life instead of my own. To me, the thought and care that goes into composing a picture is as big a part of the magic as the picture itself: Photography is an active, creative process and if you’re missing that part then you’re only seeing half the story. It’s taken me quite a few years and a little help from my friends to finally realize that I’m not OK with that.

Shawn Blanc has been very forthcoming lately about his ongoing love affair with photography. His recent series of articles about his own experience was great to read, and it was the small push I needed to get me started. We’re always less scared to try something new when we’re not alone.

So I was determined, but were to begin? I decided I didn’t want to rush into things: first of all I would do my research, learn about basic technique, different camera types and so on until I felt confident I could make an informed decision. Then and only then would I spend any real money on buying my first camera. It seemed like a good plan, but when you’re trying to learn about something on the Internet, the only thing worse than finding no information about it is finding way too much information about it. Part of what makes photography so intimidating is that there’s an endless ocean of resources available: online courses, photography-for-dummies books, ultimate guides to photography and so on. For someone looking to dip their toe in for the first time, those certainly are some scary-looking waters.

Luckily, after some research I found what many people consider to be the best introductory book for the aspiring photographer: Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure.1 I read it cover to cover in a couple days, and it was a revelatory experience. Many of the myths I had feared for so long were quickly and definitively busted within the first few pages, and it only got better and better from there. I cannot recommend it enough.

With that out of the way, it was time to get my hands dirty and actually buy a camera. Which, of course, is easier said than done. This could be an article by itself, since these days there are so many great options that it really takes a lot of digging to find out what works best for you. Fortunately my requirements were fairly specific:

1 - The camera should be as small and light as possible without compromising on image quality. 2 - It should be affordable: I should be able to buy the camera body and at least a nice prime lens for under $1000. 3 - There should be a good enough selection of lenses, wherein I define “good” as being high-quality enough that they will not limit my creativity, and affordable enough that they won’t break my bank. 4 - It must have enough features to allow me to grow into it, but not too many bells and whistles that I’ll end up never using. Since this is about learning, a fully manual mode is a must.

With this in mind and after doing some reading, I quickly started leaning towards mirrorless cameras, and specifically towards the Micro Four Thirds format.2 A couple weeks ago I ended up buying a brand-new [Olympus OM-D E-M10](<a href=), following Shawn’s recommendation. I’ve been taking it out and trying my hand at it, and so far I’m very pleased. I got the kit with the new 14-42mm EZ lens and I must say it’s a nice lens, but after trying the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens and the Olympus 45mm f1.8, there really is a noticeable difference between them. The prime lenses are so much faster than the kit lens; they really make it a lot easier to hand-hold the camera and capture great images without the aid of a tripod or flash, not to mention the much nicer bokeh and the incredible sharpness they provide, even when wide open.

The E-M10 is a fantastic camera (easily the best I’ve ever owned) and I’m already taking pretty good images with it, which is very encouraging. I’m still mostly getting to know my way around it and trying some of the exercises from the book, but already there’s a satisfying feeling whenever my prediction for how a composition will turn out is confirmed by the actual image. It still feels like magic but now, I know how the trick is done.

New toy ^_^

  1. All links in this article are Amazon Affiliate Links. Use them to buy anything and I’ll get a small kickback from Amazon. Thanks!

  2. There’s plenty of information online about all the different mirrorless formats and their respective virtues and shortcomings so, again, this was what worked better for me. Your mileage may vary.

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Shawn Blanc's sweet Mac setup →

April 02, 2014 |

Great article and a very sweet setup indeed. I just have one comment regarding this:

AirFoil: In part so I can stream Rdio to my Apple TV-connected stereo, but also so I can manually adjust the EQ for Rdio, even when just listening on my computer.

AirFoil is not needed to stream system-wide audio to the Apple TV. OS X can do this natively over AirPlay by holding the Option key, then clicking on the Sound icon in the Menu bar and setting the preferred audio output (in this case, to Apple TV). See here for more details.

However, you’d still need to use AirFoil (or any other system-wide EQ app for the Mac) to manually adjust the EQ, since AirPlay doesn’t currently support that feature.

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Own your words →

March 25, 2014 |

Matt Gemmell:

I do have an issue with giving away your words just because it’s easy to do so. By default, your words should be yours, and that means more than being attributed: it also means gathering them together in your own publication, controlled by you, that serves as a place for your own voice to be heard above and instead of all others.


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