AnalogSenses

By ÁLVARO SERRANO

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Beginnings

August 27, 2011

By the time you read this, my words will have become a digital stream of ones and zeroes that have somehow found their way to your screen across the Internet. But you must know, they weren’t always like this. In their original form they were not made of pixels and electrons, no. They were carefully formed by precise traces of blue ink, flowing through the tip of my pen onto the first page of a brand new Moleskine notebook. There’s something incredibly refreshing about a new notebook. That first empty page is very special. It represents a clean slate, a sea of possibilities. A new beginning.

Analog Writing

What is it about beginnings that we love so much? It may be the promise of what’s still to come. It may be the hope for better things as they inch closer, slowly but surely finding their way towards us. Each new beginning brings a unique feeling of anticipation that to me is very much like reading a good book.

There’s a part of you, the impulsive part, that wants to know how the story ends. It wants to know it so badly that you can almost feel a small twinge in your fingers, urging you to turn the page before your eyes can reach the bottom. The other part, the rational part, knows of course that this would be wrong. No matter how phenomenal the ending, getting to know it ahead of time will certainly destroy the experience way beyond the point where it could possibly be worth it.

And so, whenever a story is really special, this internal battle between the two sides of your mind is fought in every chapter, every page and every word until the very last one. However, the insightful, patient reader who loves reading every bit as much as he loves a good ending, can find the strength inside him to resist those urges. One page at a time, each one a small victory, he patiently makes his way through every twist and turn, carefully watching how the story unfolds before his eyes. It is this type of reader that is often rewarded in the end.

The same analogy applies to many other things in life. Take cinema, for instance. Would The Usual Suspects have been the same if you had known Kayser Soze’s identity all along? Or take sports. Do you feel the same way when you watch a nerve-wracking game of your favorite team from start to finish, than you do when you only watch a replay of the decisive moment that came at the very end? No, you don’t. Of course you don’t. You need to build up your emotions in order to care. You need to be aware of the context in which things have happened, otherwise you’re missing the best part. It’s not just the destination, it’s the journey that matters.

Everyone is writing and talking about endings these days. The one that we just had, and the next one that will inevitably come. Many are weighing in and predicting that it will come soon. Others, the sane ones, believe that it’s really far away. But all of them are feeling the urge to know exactly how and when it will be. Personally, I have never cared much for endings. I never felt that it was worth it to spend much of my time and energy going on about them, so this week’s news is not something I enjoy thinking about, and certainly not something I would enjoy writing about. Too many of the pieces I’ve read over the last few days feel way too much like eulogies. Rest assured, I won’t be adding to the pile.

Luckily, they say that every ending brings with it a new beginning. It has long been one of my favorite sayings, mostly because it’s very true. And now we find ourselves with an exciting new beginning ahead of us for the first time in fourteen years. This is a historic moment and as such it is a moment to savor. It’s a beginning full of promise, of new and exciting things to come. It is also one of uncertainty and fear for the unknown, just like every good beginning should be.

Whatever happens now, this book is far from over. And when your favorite author says that the best is yet to come, you could do a lot worse than believing him. Especially considering that up until now he was the one with the pen. So I suggest we all forget about the ending for now, find ourselves a nice, comfortable chair and get ready to continue reading because boy, it’s going to be one hell of a story.

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Quote of the Day →

August 25, 2011 |

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

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999), American filmmaker.

Words to live by.

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Thank You, Steve →

August 25, 2011 |

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

Steve Jobs announced earlier today via a press release on Apple.com that he is officially stepping down as CEO of Apple, effective immediately. As expected, Tim Cook has been named as the new CEO by the Board of Directors.

Now, the only thing I have to say about this for now is right there in the title. Everything else is just speculation and will have to wait.

So there it goes,

Thank You, Steve.

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Speaking of Minimal Mac... →

August 19, 2011 |

Speaking of Patrick and Minimal Mac, this is a great piece of advice to all the other companies hoping to compete with the iPad.

Dear Anyone Else Who Thinks They Have A Chance In The iPad Market, You don’t. The iPad is the fire that sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Apple zigged and you guys are still trying to figure out what a zag is.

This is in relation to HP’s recent announcement that they’re discontinuing operations related to WebOS devices as of Q4 of this year. That is just a nice way of saying that they’re killing the TouchPad, along with the rest of WebOS devices, pretty much effective immediately. Also, they’re looking to move out of the consumer PC business and into the enterprise. When you’re the biggest consumer PC maker in the world by revenue, this is big news. So much for Number One Plus.

But the truth is that this is not only about HP. Most tech companies don’t stand a chance of competing with the iPad, because they still think they’re playing the same old game, when in fact this is a whole different story. Patrick understands this. MG Siegler seems to agree with him. So does Horace Dediu. The rest of the traditional PC makers still seem oblivious to the fact that the game has changed. HP was the only company with the skill and resources necessary to replicate Apple’s model and produce an iPad-caliber product. They gave it their best shot, and they still fell short. Maybe they could have gotten there with time, but if this announcement is anything to go by, I’d say they looked at the future and they didn’t really like their chances.

Apple isn’t winning this war by being better at doing the same thing as the rest of the industry. They didn’t in 2001, they didn’t in 2007, and they’re certainly not doing it now. They’re winning it by doing something entirely different, something unique. Something disruptive.

That’s what Apple is all about. And the rest is just background noise.

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Become a Patron of Minimal Mac →

August 19, 2011 |

I know I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but I wouldn’t forgive myself if I missed it. As of a few days ago, you can become a patron of Minimal Mac, and support the amazing work that Patrick Rhone is doing over there.

In case you don’t know about it, Minimal Mac is a site that explores the concept of “enough” in our relationship with computers and technology in general, with a specific focus on the Mac platform and the rest of the Apple ecosystem. It has been a personal favorite of mine ever since it launched, about two years ago.

The pitch is really interesting as it is, but what I find most compelling about it is the unique feel that Patrick has managed to achieve with the site. You see, Minimal Mac doesn’t pretend to know it all and be a beacon of absolute truth. Instead, it aspires to be a light you can use to hopefully help you find your own particular brand of truth. What works for you may not be what works for Patrick, or for me. And that’s okay. Nobody has all the answers. When it comes to the relationship you choose to have with the technology around you, there is only one guru: you.

And so the search is the same for all of us, Patrick included. And trough his work on Minimal Mac we get a chance to explore these exciting ideas together, and hopefully find the balance that feels just right for us. The combination that is enough.

If, like me, you enjoy this concept, you should consider becoming a patron today. For just $5 a month you can subscribe to Patrick’s personal newsletter, and you will get special access to his work as it evolves in his head. Think of it as your personal little hole in Patrick’s wall, through which you’ll be able to get a peek of his creative process. As a patron you will not only be supporting his efforts, you will also be ensuring the continuity of Minimal Mac, and maybe helping to make it even better.

Of course, the problem in today’s world is that people don’t like to pay for what they can get elsewhere for free. Especially content. It is so devalued by today’s standards that it’s hard to find a compelling reason to justify the expense. But good content is always worth it, and Patrick’s content is as good as it gets. The way I see it is pretty simple. I just ask myself: Do I get $5 worth of value (a pint of beer) out of Patrick’s work every month? If it depended solely on me, would I pay that amount in order to ensure its continuity, support him and allow him to devote as much time to it as he feels comfortable with? The answer in both cases is ridiculously evident: a resounding yes.

Patrick is a terrific writer, and such a nice guy that he even goes out of his way to ease the concerns of the doubtful, making it crystal clear that it’s possible to unsubscribe at any time, no questions asked. But trust me, after a few weeks sharing the road with him, you’ll realize that this was one of the smartest decisions you ever made, and the only doubts you’ll have will be about what you can do to support him even more.

Good luck, my friend.

Onward!

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A peek at Steve Jobs' book jacket →

August 18, 2011 |

a peek at Steve Jobs' book jacket

“The cover,” writes Isaacson in private e-mail, “is the Albert Watson portrait taken for Fortune in 2009. The back is a Norman Seeff portrait of him in the lotus position holding the original Macintosh, which ran in Rolling Stone in January 1984. The title font is Helvetica. It will look as you see it, with no words on the back cover.”

I love the cover design. Simple, elegant and effective. Just enough. And the pictures they chose are perfect. I know I’m in line to get one the day it goes on sale (November 21, 2011).

Via MG Siegler.

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With Google, There Will Be Bad Blood →

August 08, 2011 |

TechCrunch:

But why? Why is Google now a villain to many in the industry? I don’t believe it’s because they’re evil, I believe it simply relates to the Plainview quote. Increasingly, Google is trying to do everything. And they have the arrogance to think that they can. And it’s pissing people off.

MG Siegler at his best. Google may be biting more than they can chew, and no company is invincible. Besides, you gotta love how he picks the images and headlines for his articles.

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Quote of the Day →

August 08, 2011 |

The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910), in Christian Science.

__US humorist, novelist, short story author, & wit.

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Packing Light and Going Fast

July 30, 2011

For the past few months, I have been following Pack Light. Go Fast. with great enthusiasm. It’s a blog about the art of packing light and traveling with just the essentials, so you can worry less about what you’re carrying and focus on enjoying your trip instead. The advantages are many: you can move faster through security in airports, you don’t need to check in any luggage (which can save you quite some money), and if you’re carrying only one bag, you can keep everything with you at all times so you don’t need to worry about leaving something behind… you get the idea.

If this sounds like something you’d like to try, you should spend some time browsing through the archives. The work that Uri is doing over there is phenomenal, and there is some solid advice for everyone.

Personally, I like to pack light when preparing for an upcoming trip. I always try to take as few items as possible to avoid checking any bags if I have to catch a plane. In Europe we often fly with low-cost airlines, which are great, but have very restrictive policies in place when it comes to baggage fees. In most cases you’re only allowed to carry one bag with you onboard, and if you want to check anything it usually comes at a steep price per bag. It is in part thanks to these airlines that I’ve gotten better at packing light over the years.

Right now I’m in my home town, Plasencia, visiting my parents. Since it’s August and most people are on vacation, I decided to take a couple days off work to be with them. Besides, next Tuesday is my town’s official holiday and I didn’t want to miss it. It’s a great chance to catch up with some old friends and have a nice day. I also wanted to bring some nice clothes in case we went out for dinner or something like that. In the end I was able to pack everything using only my backpack. I didn’t want to bring a trolley (which is considerably bigger) because I knew I would have to go straight from work to the train station, and I’d have to walk quite a bit through the city and take the Metro to get there. If you’ve ever moved across a big city like Madrid with a trolley, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s a pain.

I’m also lucky because I keep some of my clothes at my parents’, so that I don’t need to bring everything with me every time. However, this time around I brought everything I’ll use, with the only exception of a pair of dress shoes. Everything else was conveniently packed as you can see in the images below.

Everything for 5 days away

Here’s the checklist:

1 pair of shorts 1 pair of pants 3 T-shirts 2 dress shirts 4 pairs of underwear 4 pairs of socks Swimsuit 1 pair of flip-flops for the pool 1 pair of flip-flops to wear on the street Toiletries bag Apple Wireless Keyboard iPad 2 Amazon Kindle Glasses Belt Keys iPad charger and cable

Ready to go.

And here’s everything packed up in my 25-liter Nike Hayward Medium backpack (which has sadly been discontinued). There’s actually plenty of room left. I could have easily fit another pair of jeans, an extra pair of shoes and even my MacBook Pro, but by bringing only the essentials, my backpack feels lighter, and I can go faster. As you can see, carrying only one bag means you can move better, and you have less things to worry about. It feels great.

After seeing so many great examples of people using the GORUCK rucks, I’m eager to get one and see for myself. My current backpack is similar to the GR1 in size, so I guess I’ll go for the GR2 following Uri’s advice. This way I’m covered for both short and long trips, and I can forget about trolleys for good.

For more details, you can browse through the whole set of images on Flickr.

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