NASA Apollo images: exposure & color corrected →

October 08, 2015 |

Fantastic work by Matthew Gore over at Light & Matter. He took some of the recently released images of the Apollo space program and “fixed” them:

Some of the images are already iconic, but the vast majority of them are new to me, and I’ve now spent countless hours enthralled by them. Perhaps it’s the years that I spent processing and gazing at rolls of negatives, but there’s something about looking at a dozen mediocre images… some in focus, some poorly framed, others under-exposed, some with motion blur… that increases the impact and brings home the reality of all of them.

Unfortunately, the scans have not been corrected for color and exposure, so they tend to be flat and tinted. For those of you who like the Instagram-filter look, they’re just fine; it does add a bit of vintage charm. My instinct, though, is to repair them… to try to give them them accurate color and the crispness of a full-tonal range.

The difference an accurate white balance makes is striking; I much prefer the corrected images.

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Microsoft has warmed Vlad Savov’s cold cynical heart with hot new hardware →

October 07, 2015 |

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge:

The very concept of a Microsoft hardware event still feels weird to me. Software constitutes half of Microsoft’s name and most of its DNA, and yet today we were treated to a 110-minute presentation showing off Microsoft’s hardware-engineering acumen. And the whole thing was so breathlessly exciting that it felt more like 110 seconds. The most inspiring, intriguing, and frankly irresistible new hardware today is coming from Microsoft.

No hyperbole here whatsoever. But wait, there’s more:

Having already shown us the software part of its new strategy with Windows 10, Microsoft today completed the equation with delightfully attractive new hardware. It has rekindled my excitement for new devices, at the tail end of a year where innovation seemed to be either lacking or all too predictable. Today, Microsoft surprised, wowed, and delighted. It generated passion where there once was pessimism. Kudos!

I get it, Microsoft’s event was exciting, and the new products they announced look polished and well designed. The Surface Book, in particular, is an interesting take on the tablet/laptop duality, and it may prove to be a very successful product for Microsoft. But really, Savov’s level of excitement in this piece is just too much for me.

I could be wrong, but this feels a heck of a lot like he’s trying very hard to create buzz, rather than being genuinely excited about what he’s seen.

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Disney artists go hands-on with upcoming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil →

October 07, 2015 |

Juli Clover, over at MacRumors:

Disney Story Artist Jeff Ranjo shared a Periscope that demonstrates the iPad Pro in action, and several images of the Disney team’s drawings were shared on Twitter. The Disney team was using a beta version of popular drawing app Procreate, which has been updated to work with the iPad Pro, and an iPad Pro version of Paper by Fiftythree was also shown off.

That was cool to watch, but I’m not sure how representative it is of the iPad Pro’s capabilities in the hands of regular humans. I mean, those guys are so incredibly talented I’m sure they could draw just as well with something as crude as a piece of paper and a simple pencil.

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Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle on the controversy over ‘Steve Jobs’ →

October 07, 2015 |

Great interview with the writer and director of the upcoming movie ‘Steve Jobs’:

Sorkin: Mrs. Jobs, Tim Cook, Bill Campbell—they have not seen the movie and have not read the screenplay. I don’t begrudge Laurene Jobs any of what she’s feeling right now, especially on the anniversary of her husband’s death. From what I’ve read that they’re assuming of what’s in the movie, that it’s a hit job, I think if they do see the movie they’ll be pleasantly surprised. But I can’t emphasize this enough: They haven’t seen the movie.

Boyle: You respect the personal grief. This guy is one of the most important figures in our lives, and these people [tech executives], I’m afraid, they have to be written about. They have to be examined. There will be many, many more films made about them. The world is changing beyond recognition. Apple is pretty good on issues like data and privacy, but we have to examine these people in a big political way or in a personal way, like this film tries to do.

Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve’s wife, recently voiced her concerns about the movie, stating that “any movie based on [Walter Isaacson’s] book could not possibly be accurate”. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

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How focal length affects how you see →

October 06, 2015 |

Interesting thought from John Bosley:

Your choice of focal length will affect what you see. Would you agree with that? What if I also said that your choice of focal length will affect how you see? That’s a whole different story, now isn’t it? Instead of discussing how focal length affects your view when you look into the viewfinder, I want to talk about how focal length can affect how you look at everything around you before you ever even see it in the viewfinder.

He goes on to make an excellent point. Well worth a read.

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Europe’s highest court strikes down Safe Harbour data sharing between EU and US →

October 06, 2015 |

Landmark ruling today by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Sebastian Anthony, writing for Ars Technica:

According to an earlier CJEU statement (PDF), “the access enjoyed by the United States intelligence services to the transferred data constitutes an interference with the right to respect for private life and the right to protection of personal data, which are guaranteed by the [Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU].” Another issue, according to the Advocate General, was “the inability of citizens of the EU to be heard on the question of the surveillance and interception of their data in the United States,” which therefore amounts to “an interference with the right of EU citizens to an effective remedy, protected by the Charter.”

Because the CJEU was ruling on an issue in Ireland, the Irish court is expected to make its own judgement shortly. It is likely that the Irish court will side with the CJEU. When that happens, one of two things will need to happen: Facebook, and many other US companies with Irish subsidiaries, will need to keep European data within the EU; or the US will need to provide real privacy protection for EU data when it flows back to the US. As the latter is unlikely due to pressure from the NSA and other intelligence agencies, we suspect most US companies will opt for the former.

I’m glad to see the EU stepping up to protect the privacy of its citizens.

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Tesla Model X: This is it →

October 05, 2015 |

The latest electric car from Tesla is out. Andrew P. Collins, writing for Truck Yeah!:1

Walk toward the car and it will paint you with powerful magic Tesla calls “ultrasonics,” which assess your trajectory, and open the door for you when you want to get in. Sit your butt down, apply brake, and the door will shut without any further input.

How does it avoid slamming into things? Ultrasonics, of course. They constantly sound the area around the car to open doors to the maximum degree possible without inadvertently bumping anything.

I’ve always thought of Teslas as the kind of car James Bond would drive — if they were made in England by Aston Martin, of course.

  1. This piece is from last week. I originally meant to include it in Saturday’s Morning Coffee, but I took it out at the last minute because I felt it didn’t quite match the general tone of the other pieces.

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October 03, 2015

It’s already October, I kid you not, and the Internet keeps finding topics worth arguing about. First it was ad blockers, then speculation over whether demand for the new iPhones has been lower this year, despite Apple’s announcement of record sales numbers over the launch weekend. Go figure.

On the tech front, the week’s highlights were probably the public release of OS X El Capitan, and also the announcement of the new line of Nexus phones from Google. And, of course, there was Tweetbot 4 for iOS, as well.

All in all, there were plenty of things to talk about, keeping the heated-but-largely-inconsequential Internet conversation alive all through the week.

Luckily, as ever, there was also time in the week for more deliberate, more thoughtful pieces.

Let’s get to it.

Issue #17: Angering Apple, ideal workspaces, revisiting comics, and remembering Alex King

This week’s selection tries to shine some light on a few very important and meaningful questions, like: what happens when you piss Apple off? Are ad blockers really unethical? And, of course, the all-important question of the week: how can I stay drunk on a dangerous camping trip?

Essential human knowledge, I tell you.


iFixit app pulled from App Store | Kyle Wiens →

The guys over at iFixit tore down the new Apple TV a few days ago. This was no ordinary teardown, however, as the device was a pre-production unit loaned to them by Apple as part of a development kit. Understandably, this is what happened:

A few days later, we got an email from Apple informing us that we violated their terms and conditions—and the offending developer account had been banned. Unfortunately, iFixit’s app was tied to that same account, so Apple pulled the app as well. Their justification was that we had taken “actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store, B2B Program, or the Program.”

Live and learn.

I think Apple chose to make an example of them in order to prevent these things from happening again in the future. Perhaps it was a bit excessive on Apple’s part — we’re talking about iFixit here, after all, teardowns is what they do — but it’s hard to argue that Apple’s actions were unjustified.

The lesson Apple would like everyone to learn from all this is crystal clear: if you’re a developer and work with any of our platforms, don’t piss us off, or else.

Not very edifying, but it sure as hell will do the trick.

Tweetbot 4 for iOS review | Glenn Fleishman →

Another fantastic review of Tweetbot 4:

Tweetbot better reflects how I use Twitter, keeping categories and kinds of things separate. Most critically, it incorporates a sophisticated set of mute options, which can be used effectively to avoid unfollowing or blocking people or groups during periods of time (or even forever) that you don’t want to have their tweets in your timeline. At $10—$5 during an introductory period—I have a hard time arguing against its value, especially for those who post from more than one Twitter account.

This is what I find most important about 3rd-party Twitter clients: they don’t necessarily offer the entire Twitter experience, maybe not even the best Twitter experience — whatever that is — but the one that better adapts to how you use the service. That’s why there will always be a market for well-designed, well thought-out Twitter clients beyond the official app.

The developer’s MacBook | Rob Rhine →

If you’ve ever wondered whether the new MacBook is suitable for serious development work, you need to read this:

Not enough power. The Macbook is the least powerful machine in the current Mac line-up. In fact, you’d have to go back a few years to find an Apple laptop of comparable speed. However, processing speed is less important than you think for development. Sure, the Swift compiler can take its time, but if you compare compile time on an average-sized project between the MacBook and a contemporary Apple laptop, you’ll find the difference measurable in seconds. Seconds.

The truth is, most modern hardware is perfectly well equipped for development — especially when paired with current solid state storage. It has been for a while. She’s a fast enough ship.

Negotiations | Matt Gemell →

Fantastic piece on the incorrect assumptions publishers make when arguing against ad blockers:

Advertising as a monetisation method means payment in advance.

Murky, murky waters. If someone tries to sell you a moral argument against ad blockers, pause and step back. They either haven’t thought it through, or there’s a vested interest at work – because advertising in the form it takes on the web simply doesn’t fit into an ethical framing.

It was extremely difficult to pick just one excerpt to quote here. Matt’s entire piece is absolutely spot on, and totally worth your time.

Alex Fucking King | Dave Wiskus →

Alex King, one of the founders or Wordpress, passed away from cancer earlier this week. In this beautiful and moving piece, Dave Wiskus remembers him like only a true friend can.

Remembering Alex King | Adam Tow →

Another great piece from one of Alex’s long-time friends, Adam Tow.

WTF Comics Club reads Watchmen | Jordan West →

WFT Comics Club is a great initiative: a monthly reading group for women, trans, and femme-identified fans in Minneapolis. They’re reading through some of the most iconic comics ever and trying to answer a very important question: would they still be considered must-reads if they were published today?

In their last issue, they tackled Alan Moore’s Watchmen, one of the most critically-acclaimed comics — or, if you want to be a purist, graphic novels — of all time. Surprisingly, their take is that, despite Watchmen’s many merits, it doesn’t quite retain its status as a masterpiece in hindsight:

Watchmen has its merits, and its place in comics history, though perhaps overstated, is certainly well-deserved. Unfortunately, Moore was writing for a place and time that are now as much nostalgia as the comics he was reacting against, and the demographic for whom this book still holds the most appeal is no longer the dominant readership among comics fans. This groundbreaking graphic novel just doesn’t hold up to the sensibilities of readers for whom cynicism is not a selling point and whose superheroes exist as a part of Watchmen’s legacy, not in its shadow.

Watchmen is one of my favorite comic books so, naturally, I vehemently disagreed with their take at first. However, after thinking about it some more I have to say, they’re absolutely right. Of course they are. Watchmen was a very important step forward for comic books back in the 80’s, but the landscape has changed so much since then. Everything that made Watchmen unique back then has been re-hashed so many times by now that any reader who comes to it from scratch today would be hard-pressed to find something particularly groundbreaking about it.

Watchmen is still a great comic book, it’s just not very original anymore, as paradoxical as that may sound. That being said, I would very much recommend reading it today. Historical relevance aside, it’s still a damn fine story.

The misery of a doctor’s first days | Jessica Leigh Hester →

Medical residencies are brutal, and this excellent piece over at The Atlantic shows you why:

Her first week, she worked more than 80 hours on a general-surgery rotation, charting for her attending physician, checking patients’ vital signs, and trying to restart exhausted hearts long after her shifts ended. “There’s no way to get all of our work done in 80 hours,” she says. “Our supervisors can’t make the work go away.” When her pager beeped with a reminder to clock out for the day, she ignored it, she says, while the more senior physicians looked the other way. Like many of her fellow residents, she went entire days without eating. She was so drained that she was halfway out the door one day before remembering that she’d left an IV in a patient’s arm.

Within her first month, she crumbled under the pressure. After she went to visit the hospital counselor—sobbing through the appointment—a few of her fellow residents told her to suck it up. Feeling frazzled and helpless just comes with the first year territory, they said. It’s a rite of passage. In his memoir Intern, the New York cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar describes residency as “brutal, like a kind of hazing.”

What would your ideal workspace look like? | Shawn Blanc →

Last week, Shawn Blanc published this great piece on the importance of our working environment and the effect it can have on our productivity and creativity:

Think to the last time you were deeply focused and concentrating on something enjoyable…

Where were you? What was your posture like? Were you eating or drinking anything? Were you at a desk, on the couch, on the floor, outside? Was there any music or other sounds? Were you alone, or were other people around?

The way you default to concentrating when you are doing something enjoyable can give you some insight into how you may best be able to concentrate when doing all of your work.

Certainly worth considering. Better yet, Shawn’s article prompted some very interesting responses, like this one from Mike Bates, and this one from Josh Ginter. There are plenty of cool ideas for your own workspace in both pieces, so be sure to check them out.

The supermoon eclipse… fail | Jordan Steele →

If that last photo is what failing looks like, I’d like to fail more often.

How to stay drunk on a dangerous camping trip | Marissa A. Ross →

Fun — and practical — piece by Marissa A. Ross:

Ignore winesplaining.

These backpacking trips attract a lot of old white people that love going on and on about Burgundy, because if you don’t know a handful of mid-range producers that some random guy from Michigan has in his cellar, you don’t know anything about wine. Do not share your wine with these people. Much like dogs, you should never reward old white people for their bad behavior.

Bring whiskey.

Because you’re in the wilderness. It’s against the law not to have whiskey.

Sounds like sensible advice to me. Via Coudal Partners.


This week was pretty good, both personally and professionally. It’s Saturday morning as I type this, and yesterday I wrapped up my first professional photography assignment. I’m super excited to share more about it, but I probably shouldn’t just yet. For now, suffice it to say it’s been a great experience and I’m very much looking forward to the next one.

Relatedly, a few weeks ago I finally decided to use the bulk of my Amazon affiliate income and purchased the Sony FE 70-200 f/4 G OSS lens for my Sony A7 II.1

After a couple of excruciating weeks waiting for the lens to arrive, I finally got it on Thursday, just in time to use it on the final two shootings for the project.

Having just used the lens for a grand total of two days, I have to say I’m impressed. Build quality-wise, this thing is amazing. It feels like a solid piece of metal in the hand, and the included hood and removable tripod collar make it very easy to use the lens out there in the real world under a wide range of conditions.

There was a light drizzle at times during one of the shoots, but since the lens is weather sealed, I never needed to worry about it and I could just carry on with the shoot as normal. That’s what high-end gear is for, to provide peace of mind when conditions are tricky. In that sense, I couldn’t be happier with this lens.2

Upon reviewing the images for the project, I was very, very satisfied with the results I got from the lens. Of course, there was room for improvement here and there, but for a first outing, I really can’t complain about anything. Whatever minor mistakes occurred were clearly due to my own inexperience, not shortcomings of the lens itself.

Besides the images for the project, I also managed to grab a few shots for my own use during the session, some of which I can share here with you now.

Not too shabby, is it?

I still need to put it through a few more serious sessions before being able to give a real, meaningful take on it, but judging from what I’ve seen so far, this thing handles like a dream in the field. It’s solid as a rock, focuses quickly and accurately, and its ergonomics on the A7 II are great, despite being considerably larger and heavier than any other lens I’ve ever used.

Time will tell if it becomes one of my go-to lenses, but so far I have to say things are off to a wonderful start.

The week is almost over, and now there’s just the rest of the weekend to enjoy, relax, and recharge our batteries. We’re entertaining a visit from a good friend and former roommate of mine, and I’m really looking forward to spending some time with him after not having seen each other for a while. He used to say that recovery is a fundamental part of training, and I couldn’t agree more.

On that note, the remainder of the weekend will probably be spent in interesting conversation, reminiscing about times past with a good drink in hand. After all, that’s what autumn is for.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

  1. I’d like to thank all of you, dear readers, who have used my Amazon affiliate links over the past year, because if not for your generosity, I wouldn’t have been able to buy this lens. You have my gratitude, and I promise to put it to good use.

  2. The lens is rated as dust and moisture resistant, so I still wouldn’t take it out under heavy rain. Then again, I probably wouldn’t want to be shooting under heavy rain myself, so there’s that.

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ZY Optics Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95 for Micro Four Thirds review →

October 02, 2015 |

Micro Four Thirds users finally have an affordable f/0.95 prime lens and, judging by this great review over at MirrorLessons, it punches well above its weight:

The good news is that, at close range, the lens is already quite sharp at the centre at f/0.95 and continues to grow sharper up until f/2.8 where it reaches its peak performance. The lens remains reasonably sharp up until f/8, at which point diffraction starts to set in. Corner sharpness is quite poor at all apertures except f/8, f/11 and f/16 but this is less of a concern for close-up work where out-of-focus edges can actually contribute to the artistic look of an image.

Of course, that’s not to say it is without imperfections. Extreme lens design comes at a cost, and in this case, flare and chromatic aberration seem to be two of the most severe flaws of the lens. That said, if you require the speed and you can live with some of these flaws, this appears to be quite the bargain.

The only real alternatives are the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 and the SLR Magic 25mm T0.95 HyperPrime Cine II lenses, both of which are beasts, comparatively, and cost over twice as much as the Mitakon.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Voigtlander primes, but even I have to admit that at less than half the price, the Mitakon is probably the better buy for most people.

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