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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September 26, 2015

It feels like it was yesterday that I was complaining about the slow rhythm of August, and now, before I even noticed, September is on its way out, summer is but a memory, and we’re heading straight into the holiday season. Boy, time really does fly when you’re busy.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who’s been busy. Let’s take a look at some of the week’s most interesting pieces of writing.

Issue #16: The future of online advertising, new iPhones, living on a quest, and love as a way of life

The ad-blocking controversy continued to unfold this week, so expect some more commentary on it. Other than that, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus launch was probably the highlight of the week, with many people posting their reviews and first impressions these days. And, as ever, there are a couple pieces on photography, adventure, and love.


Ads are dead, long live ads! | Marko Savic →

This is a great, great piece by Marko Savic, probably the best overview of the issues at play in the entire ad-blocking mess that I’ve seen on the Web these days. I particularly like his final take:

Publishers: you can be Uber, or you can be protesting taxi drivers. Programmatic advertising will die a slow death but you don’t have to.

Privacy advocates: now is your chance to build the ad platform you want to see ads from. Vote with your talent.

Well said. The future of online advertising is ours to shape, and whatever the end result, it’s going to be a fascinating journey.

Native ads, a primer for B2B marketers | Marko Savic →

Another great piece by Mr. Savic. If you’re going to go down the native advertising route, you might as well do it right.

The failure of social reviews | Damaso Cebrian →

Short and sweet piece on the shortcomings of user-based ratings systems like Amazon Customer Reviews, for example:

Over time, I’ve lost confidence on this system. Not so much because it can be manipulated, but because it fails in the last five meters. What I mean is, the social review system is unable to show me products I would fall in love with. Films clearly illustrate this point. Go to IMDB, see a rating of 8.4 in a movie and tell me if that is a good predictor that you will love that movie. Likely, you will find it a very good movie. Now, loving it is a different league, and the rating won’t tell you so.

Good enough isn’t good enough anymore. Now we demand greatness, and that’s where the system crumbles. This is a very interesting thought, and I couldn’t agree more.

Most people simply don’t care enough about music to pay for streaming | Kirk McElhearn →

Astute point by Kirk McElhearn:

I think people in the music industry miss something very important. Most people simply don’t care very much about music. They may want to listen to a few of the latest hits, and they will do so on the radio, or with an ad-supported streaming service such as Spotify, or on YouTube. For the most part, these people use music as wallpaper. They are not music fans. The percentage of people who care enough about music to want to pay even $10 a month is clearly very small.

Agreed. Also, the thought of music as wallpaper is spot-on.

6S Plus first impressions | Stephen Hackett →

After switching to a 6 Plus last spring, Stephen Hackett remains firmly in the Plus camp this year.

The iPhone 6S launch | Mike Bates →

Mike took a trip to his local Apple Store to see the new iPhones, and was nice enough to document the experience for the rest of us. Lovely photos and, though it is definitely pink, I actually find myself liking the new rose gold color. I still need to see it in person before making my mind up, though.

Review: Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus go ‘Tick’ | Matthew Panzarino →

Matthew Panzarino’s is probably the best review out there at the moment:

Here’s one thing that I think is important to state: 3D Touch is not the new right-click.

I have a feeling that this is going to be the easy comparison, and the early chatter about it by people who haven’t even tried it is already leaning that way. I can’t stress enough that this is not accurate. Right-click is about adding actions and complexity; a 3D Touch shortcut is about taking away actions and reducing complexity.

I’m among those who made the comparison, and I’m glad to see I was wrong.

Sony Zeiss Alpha E-Mount 35mm (Equivalent) Shootout - Distagon, Biogon, and Two Sonnars Compared | Amin Sabet →

Quite comprehensive comparison between the most popular 35mm lenses available for the Sony E-mount. As I suspected, the 35mm f/1.4 Distagon comes out on top in most cases, but man, that thing is huge.

As a 35mm lover, I have to say, I’m really looking forward to owning one of these lenses in the future. If I had to choose right now, my money would probably go to the Distagon despite the size and weight. I’m a sucker for fast aperture lenses, but it appears there’s really no wrong choice here, which is awesome.

As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that one of the Sony E-mount system’s greatest strengths is precisely the thing that used to bother me the most about the Micro Four Thirds system: there’s an incredible wealth of excellent 35mm lenses in all shapes, speeds and price points for the Sony system, something the MFT system can’t even begin to touch.

Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Review | Nasim Mansurov →

Sigma made quite a bit of noise recently, when they announced their new 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art lens. This is the fastest Full Frame zoom lens ever built, putting Sigma in the lead then it comes to spec-based bragging rights. As for performance, the lens appears to do extremely well, and it’s even sharper than some of Nikon’s prime lenses in the same range:

Sigma surely has been on a roll, making one superb lens after another. When the 24-35mm f/2 was initially announced, I was a bit skeptical about the release, as the lens seemed to be too big, too heavy and too limited in focal length coverage when compared to some of the other zoom lenses. Since it is rare to see a zoom lens outperform a prime, my assumption was that we were looking at yet another zoom lens that would not necessarily shine optically. However, after testing the lens and comparing it to Nikon’s three excellent prime lenses, I realized that I was wrong – the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 is not just an ordinary wide angle zoom, it actually has the optical characteristics of prime lenses not just in terms of maximum aperture, but also in terms of optical performance. As you can see from the previous page, the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art turned out to be sharper than Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G, 28mm f/1.8G and 35mm f/1.8G at equivalent apertures. Seeing a zoom outperform one prime is already a huge achievement and here we have one lens that can pretty much replace three. Now that’s groundbreaking!

Even so, its massive size and short zoom range make this lens a rather niche product. And then there’s also Sigma’s own 24mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 Art prime lenses to consider, of course.

For what it’s worth, I suspect that, due to the limited zoom range, most people will be better off buying the two primes instead of this zoom. I know I would, but of course your mileage may vary. In any case, it appears Sigma continues to deliver amazing glass, and that can only be good news.

Honey Sun | Mila Stepanova →

Gorgeous photo-shoot over at We The People. Absolutely love the colors.

All you need is love, seriously | David Cain →

David Cain, doing what he does best:

Some genuinely useful ideas are at risk of being dismissed because of their popularity among New Age quacks. I spent a fair bit of Making Things Clear reiterating that meditation is not a religious or mystical activity, despite its conflation with Eastern mystics and Western kooks. I’m sure many people have dismissed it solely because of that association.

One of these suspicious-by-association concepts is the idea that love is an effective response to nearly every problem. “All you need is love” is a bit glib, as are all slogans, but I don’t think it’s very far from the truth. Almost any situation can be improved with the clear-minded application of love.

Well worth your time, as ever.

Quest | Alastair Humphreys →

Great excerpt from Alastair Humphrey’s book, There Are Other Rivers:

Time races on and I want to fill it with purpose. I want to keep the fire in my belly burning and to fall into bed each night satisfied that I have used my day well. This is why the feeling of being on a quest is an important aspect of my walk. Each day I am working hard towards an objective. That it is a relatively distant one can be demoralising, though it makes the eventual attainment more rewarding. A little time alone, afraid or forlorn is a worthwhile price to pay for feeling stronger, smarter and more alive.

Seeing it as a quest is perhaps grandiloquent. But the essence is the same whether it is a small journey like mine or the Odyssey. I’m taking a difficult journey and facing obstacles and doubt, in search of a goal. It ticks all the boxes of a quest.

It does, indeed.


These last two pieces are an ideal way to close this week’s issue on a high note.

If you’ll excuse me, the afterword will have to be somewhat brief this time around. You see, it’s my girlfriend’s birthday, and today my time belongs to her.

We had a wonderful dinner with some close friends last night to celebrate, and then we went dancing. It seems like ages since we last did that, and I had tons of fun. Best of all, she did, too. Mission accomplished.

Today celebrations will be calmer, but hopefully in equally good spirits. I’m incredibly fortunate to have her beside me, and not a single day goes by when I don’t realize that.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for reading.

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On bias, dishonesty, and native advertising

September 24, 2015

Earlier today I read the final article in a great series on content blocking and advertising by Ben Brooks. I highly recommend reading the four previous articles in the series, as Ben shared many interesting thoughts and ideas that not many people consider in the whole ad-blocking debate.

In this piece, Ben focuses on native ads, and why they may not be the solution the Web needs:

They erode trust in readership. They cause people to question objectivity. They force people struggling to make money into impossible decisions between affording the next month’s hosting bill and losing the trust of their readers.

I have yet to meet a single blogger who had anything but good intentions when stuck in these situations, but by saying that native ads are the way forward we are deciding that there is no such thing as subconscious influence. And I can assure that for even someone like me who has zero ads on this site — it is hard to make sure that I am completely objective on everything that I do. So the best I can do is point out bias as I see it.

He makes an excellent point. I was perhaps overly optimistic when I wrote about native advertising in last week’s Morning Coffee; clearly there are issues with native advertising, the most critical of which is probably the inherent bias it creates in publishers.

That said, I believe there’s a subtle difference between being biased and being dishonest. Bias is not inherently bad, nor a result of advertising, but something that’s always present. Granted, advertising can definitely make it worse, but it’s also a disclaimer in and of itself.

Readers should always question objectivity when reading anything, not just ad-laden websites. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that sites without an obvious business model are even more suspicious of being biased or, rather, dishonest. By seeing ads, you instantly know where the money — or at least some of it — is coming from.

Take Analog Senses, for example. There are no ads, native or otherwise, and there are no memberships or subscriptions available for readers to support the site — yet. The only reasons I’ve been able to keep the lights on around here for the past year are my Amazon affiliate income — which, thankfully, more than pays for the site’s hosting costs — and the fact that I do some freelance writing and some part-time iOS development work on the side.

Does that make me free of bias? No way. I’m quite opinionated on many, many things, and that makes me inherently biased.

To give a few examples, I love Apple, and I love the iPhone. And while that by itself doesn’t seem harmful, I know that Android would have to be at least an order of magnitude better than iOS before I even consider switching. That’s my bias talking right there. Also, I’m not a huge fan of Google’s privacy-invading tactics, so when the company announces a superb photo-managing app like Google Photos, I remain skeptical, perhaps unjustly so, despite the product being clearly well-designed, polished and useful.

Those are only two examples of my bias, but of course there are more, and some of them I’m not even aware of. Do I want Amazon to do well so that they can continue to improve their Associates program? Absolutely. Just like John Gruber is massively biased when it comes to Apple doing well, whether he takes money from them directly or not.1

Now, is that dishonest? I hope not, but perhaps it is. Clearly I stand to make some profit whenever I include Amazon affiliate links in my articles, so you could question, and rightly so, if every single link I’ve ever included was always absolutely relevant and necessary, or if I was just trying to make an extra buck or two.

The truth is, as a general rule I try to use those links only when something is relevant to the topic at hand, but I’m also quite liberal with them and don’t have a strict affiliate-linking policy in place, so it’s entirely possible that some of those links may not have been entirely necessary. Whether that makes me dishonest, I guess it’s for my readers to decide.

And that is the greater point. We as publishers have an obligation to not be dishonest,2 but as readers we also have a responsibility to think critically and not just accept everything that’s spoon-fed to us on the Web, whether it’s disguised as an ad or not.

Native advertising is definitely not the silver bullet to end the Web’s problems, but I believe that, when done the right way — that is, by publicly and clearly identifying bias — it can be profitable without being dishonest, which is an acceptable middle ground to me as a reader.

  1. In fact, in the past Gruber has taken sponsorship money from Microsoft, of all companies. Talk about a potential trust-eroding conflict.

  2. To that end, I have updated the “About” page to include a disclaimer about the use of Amazon Affiliate links on this site. I’ve also added a disclaimer to the site’s footer as well. In the past I used to include these disclaimers only in articles that used those links, but I got lazy some time ago and stopped doing it entirely. Hopefully this goes some of the way towards remedying that.

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