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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SPECTRE - Final Trailer →

October 02, 2015 |

The final trailer for the upcoming James Bond movie, SPECTRE, was released today:

Take. My. Money.

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Hackers dump data for 2.3 million Patreon users online →

October 02, 2015 |

Kwame Opam, writing for The Verge:

The data was made available for anyone to download, and Troy Hunt, owner of, was able to extract the information and analyze the information in the file:

So far, the hackers, who identify themselves in a README file in the dump as the #SuperExtremeShitpostingTeam, haven’t expressed any motive for the hack other than doing it for the lulz.

Oh well, as long as it’s for the lulz.

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Federico Viticci reviews Tweetbot 4 →

October 02, 2015 |

Another comprehensive, must-read review by Federico. Tweetbot is quite possibly my favorite iOS app. I’ve stuck with it through thick and thin, even on the iPad, where it hadn’t been updated since iOS 6:

Three years later, that bar’s still there, a bit dusty and lonely, pondering a sad state of affairs. Tweetbot is no longer the champion of Twitter clients for iPad, having skipped an entire generation of iOS design and new Twitter features. Tweetbot for iPad is, effectively, two years behind other apps on iOS, which, due to how things turned out at Twitter, haven’t been able to do much anyway. On the other hand, Twitter for iPad – long ignored by the company – has emerged again with a stretched-up iPhone layout presented in the name of “consistency”. It’s a grim landscape, devoid of the excitement and curiosity that surrounded Twitter clients five years ago.

A grim landscape indeed. Launching Tweetbot on the iPad has admittedly been an exercise in frustration for the past couple of years, but the alternative was no better. Now, we finally get a native iOS 9 version of the app than runs equally well on the iPhone and on the iPad:

There’s a parallel between iOS 9 and Tweetbot 4. Like Apple’s latest iOS, the new Tweetbot brings a series of welcome refinements and smaller feature additions to the iPhone, with a much bigger change on the iPad that redefines the experience on the big screen.

Tapbots fundamentally understands the iPad platform better than Twitter does. Through the second column, popovers, and other interface adjustments, Tweetbot 4 makes the best use of the iPad’s screen since the original Twitter for iPad. And while Tapbots’ latest effort doesn’t have the revolutionary spirit of Loren Brichter’s iPad masterpiece, it shows a willingness to do more than simply adapting what worked for the iPhone.

Tweetbot 4 is, as usual, a paid upgrade. It’s currently on sale for $4.99 for a limited time on the App Store, and those are easily the best 5 bucks you’re likely to spend on software in a good long while.

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Patreon discovers unauthorized access to user database →

October 01, 2015 |

Patreon CEO and co-founder, Jack Conte (emphasis his):

Yesterday I learned that there was unauthorized access to a Patreon database containing user information. Our engineering team has since blocked this access and taken immediate measures to prevent future breaches. I am so sorry to our creators and their patrons for this breach of trust. The Patreon team and I are working especially hard right now to ensure the safety of the community.

There was unauthorized access to registered names, email addresses, posts, and some shipping addresses. Additionally, some billing addresses that were added prior to 2014 were also accessed. We do not store full credit card numbers on our servers and no credit card numbers were compromised. Although accessed, all passwords, social security numbers and tax form information remain safely encrypted with a 2048-bit RSA key. No specific action is required of our users, but as a precaution I recommend that all users update their passwords on Patreon.

I was sent a similar statement via email yesterday.

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MirrorLessons reviews the Sony A7R II - Part 1: Autofocus →

September 29, 2015 |

Great work by Mathieu and Heather over at MirrorLessons, as always. The A7R II’s improved autofocus system is one of the most popular features of the new camera, mostly because it works reasonably well with adapted Canon and Nikon lenses, offering decent AF performance for the first time in an A7-series camera.

Mathieu’s review does a great job of covering all aspects of the A7R II’s AF system with native Sony FE lenses, adapted Sony A-mount lenses, and also adapted Canon EF lenses. The results are impressive, but at the end of the day he still recommends going with native FE lenses whenever possible, with a small asterisk:

For Canon users, things are a little different. It can be an opportunity for them to start using a mirrorless camera alongside their main system, knowing that they can interchange lenses easily. For those interested in switching to the FE system, it is possible to keep some lenses and use them on the Sony camera with good results. There is also the option to keep or buy specific lenses that can’t be found in the native FE catalog and might not appear for a long time.

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