I can’t wait. Via Kottke:
My first week as a 32-year-old has been pretty intense as far as worldwide politics are concerned. The Greek crisis seems to be nearing its end, after an agreement was reached on a Tsipras proposal to the Eurogroup, which was then passed by the Greek parliament. Whatever happens, Greece’s fate in the Eurozone will be decided in tomorrow’s EU Summit.
However, Tsipras was forced to give up many of his previously non-negotiable items, like cutting pensions and raising taxes. In exchange for those concessions, he did get a far better deal though, so this is another classic political scenario where everyone gets to go home a winner. Unless you’re a member of the opposition, that is.
To me, the greatest loser in this whole affair was, ironically, Germany. They may have gotten what they wanted from the negotiations, but I suspect the deplorable behavior displayed by Angela Merkel throughout this whole deal, exemplified more than anything by her absolute refusal to grant Greece some form of debt relief, will take its toll on the country as a whole sooner or later. Germany may be the de-facto leader of the Eurozone today, but they would do well to remember that what goes around comes around.
Another hotly-debated topic on the Internet this week was, of course, the matter of advertising on the Web and the rise of ad-blocking technology. But more on that later.
And on the thanks-for-playing category, both Ellen Pao and Joshua Topolsky were “invited” out of their jobs as Reddit CEO and Bloomberg Digital Editor, respectively. I know the official story is that Pao resigned voluntarily and Topolsky’s departure was “amicable and mutually agreed upon”, but still. It’s painfully obvious neither of them are happy with the way things unfolded.
In the absence of any other Earth-shattering news over the past seven days, there was plenty of time for writing, which resulted in yet another flood of interesting pieces for this weekend’s roundup. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Issue #6: on Greece, ad-blocking, women in uniforms, the Persian world of ’ta’arof’, and the relationship between calories and weight loss
Lots of interesting pieces were published during these past seven days. From the political turmoil in Europe to the debate about calories, with a brief stop on the green lawns of Wimbledon along the way, this issue of Morning Coffee is sure to entertain all readers. Enjoy.
Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote a fascinating op-ed for The Guardian this morning:
And there’s the rub. After the crisis of 2008/9, Europe didn’t know how to respond. Should it prepare the ground for at least one expulsion (that is, Grexit) to strengthen discipline? Or move to a federation? So far it has done neither, its existentialist angst forever rising. Schäuble is convinced that as things stand, he needs a Grexit to clear the air, one way or another. Suddenly, a permanently unsustainable Greek public debt, without which the risk of Grexit would fade, has acquired a new usefulness for Schauble.
What do I mean by that? Based on months of negotiation, my conviction is that the German finance minister wants Greece to be pushed out of the single currency to put the fear of God into the French and have them accept his model of a disciplinarian eurozone.
Ouch. Think what you will about Varoufakis, but once thing is clear: he does not mince words.
At the heart of the ad-crisis this week was one site: iMore. Shortly after this bomb exploded in their face, Rene Ritchie did an admirable job of taking it on the chin with an honest, open and respectful explanation of why things are the way they are, and more importantly, how they’re planning to fix them. Definitely a good read.
Private I: Firefox and others deal with unwanted trackers, whether ads or malicious | Glenn Fleishman →
In this piece for Macworld, Glenn Fleishman goes over the real implications behind Do Not Track technology. Apparently, despite all major browsers implementing the Do Not Track feature, the advertising industry is under no obligation to honor the setting, which has prompted Firefox to come up with their own, more aggressive way of protecting their users’ privacy. There are lots of useful bits of information here about how tracking technology works and what it means for users, so be sure to check it out.
Eye-opening piece on how Facebook enables — maybe even encourages — users to steal YouTube videos and upload them as native Facebook videos:
To that end, Facebook has built its own video platform and given it a decisive home-field advantage in the News Feed. Share a YouTube video on Facebook, and it will appear in your friends’ feeds as a small, static preview image with a “play” button on it—that is, if it appears in your friends’ News Feeds at all. Those who do see it will be hesitant to click on it, because they know it’s likely to be preceded by an ad. But take that same video and upload it directly to Facebook, and it will appear in your friends’ feeds as a full-size video that starts playing automatically as they scroll past it. (That’s less annoying than it sounds.) Oh, and it will appear in a lot of your friends’ feeds. Anecdotal evidence—and guidance from Facebook itself—suggests native videos perform orders of magnitude better on Facebook than those shared from other platforms.
I hate autoplaying videos on the Web, especially on Facebook. To be honest, this doesn’t surprise me in the least.
When woman is boss: Nikola Tesla on gender equality and how technology will unleash women’s true potential | Maria Popova →
Yesterday was the 159th anniversary of Nikola Tesla’s birthday, and this is yet another fascinating anecdote about one of the smartest men the world has ever seen.
Spoiler Alert. If you’re not caught up with Orange is the New Black, you may want to skip this one. Much has been written about the poor way TV shows generally depict rape — most notably, Game of Thrones. As a society, we can’t afford to become desensitized about such a cruel act, which is why sometimes we need to endure the real horror behind it. Kudos to the show’s makers for not shying away from this.
Another eye-opening piece by an anonymous NYPD officer. I don’t want to spoil this one, so I won’t quote any excerpts here. Just go read it.
This sounds vaguely familiar:
In the world of ta’arof, the Persian art of etiquette, people fight over who pays the bill, seem to refuse payments for a purchase, pretend they don’t want something to eat when they’re starving. In a culture that emphasizes deference, ta’arof is a verbal dance that circles around respect.
We Spaniards are very similar when it comes to social etiquette. We often insist on paying for a meal, or a round of drinks, particularly when there are foreigners among us. If you have friends in Spain, you could go out for dinner and drinks and come back home three hours later, drunk and completely stuffed, all without having been given a single chance to pay for anything. This cultural heritage has deep roots, and is shared across many different nations. It’s simply in our blood. If you don’t believe me, come to Spain and see for yourself.
In this super-harsh — but pretty spot-on — criticism of Nick Kyrgios following his elimination at Wimbledon, Oliver Brown makes a good case that fame and recognition in sports need to be backed up by results on the court, and Kyrgios so far has failed to live up to the hype. The young Australian player shows promise, no doubt, but truly great players let their racquets do the talking.
Tomorrow, Roger Federer will contest an unprecedented 10th Wimbledon final in his quest to win an also unprecedented 8th title at the All England Club. Yesterday, Federer dispatched World No. 3 Andy Murray in straight sets, in one of the finest displays of tennis Wimbledon has seen in years.
Whatever happens tomorrow vs World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the legend of Roger Federer keeps getting bigger.
Conor makes a great point that, when it comes to fitness and weight loss, counting calories is not everything and in fact, we may be looking at the problem the wrong way. I very much agree with most of Conor’s post, I just have one small remark about this:
So, how does one reduce fat accumulation if calories aren’t the answer? It turns out that there is but one way for fat to be deposited in your body: the hormone insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas when (and only when) carbohydrates enter the bloodstream (unless, of course, you are diabetic, but that’s another conversation.)
He’s right about the way insulin works, but clearly there’s another way for the body to accumulate fat: by eating fat. That said, this doesn’t take away from the point he was making, which is that we typically get fat when we consume excessive amounts of carbohydrates that trigger an excessive release of insulin into the bloodstream.
All in all, Conor’s piece was excellent and his reasoning solid. I also agree that counting calories tends to create habits designed to achieve short-term goals that are not sustainable in the long run. Instead, we should look at the bigger picture and make lifestyle choices that will pay off in the long term by resulting in longer, healthier lives.
Another great review over at Tools & Toys. I’ve always been curious about the Fuji X100 series of cameras. They’re not only small and inconspicuous, but they appeal to the romantic side of photography, which is something I deeply enjoy. This amazing review by Marius Masalar makes a great case for the Fuji X100T as a tool for people that aren’t interested in owing the latest and greatest gear, but in taking better photographs. It’s hard to argue with that.
As you’ve seen, this has been another great week for writing on the Web. With pieces like these, your weekend reading needs should be well taken care of.
I’ve been busy, too, if I may say so. Earlier in the week, I published a lengthy article about working with models in photography that, at over 5,000 words long, is perhaps the longest piece I’ve ever published on Analog Senses. The article is intended as a sort of practical guide for those who are interested in working with models but don’t quite know how to approach the issue for the first time. I’ve received some great feedback on this piece, which is why I haven’t ruled out the possibility of publishing a revised version of the article, perhaps as an ebook. We’ll see how it goes but so far, it’s an interesting thought.
Other than that, I’m currently working on my next lens review for Tools & Toys, which should see the light of day on Tuesday. This is one of the first lenses to acquire legendary status in the Micro Four Thirds system: the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4.
I’ve owned this amazing lens for over a year now, and it’s given me some of my favorite shots since then, some of which you’ll hopefully see on Tuesday.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and, of course, thank you for reading.
Kirk Koenigsbauer, writing on Microsoft’s Office blog:
Office 365 subscribers can get the newest version of Office for Mac today. All you need is an Office 365 subscription (Office 365 Home, Personal, Business, Business Premium, E3 or ProPlus), which includes the rights and access to use Office applications on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android devices, along with additional value in OneDrive and Skype.
Non-subscribers will have to wait until September to be able to purchase a standalone version of Microsoft’s productivity suite.
If you had any doubts that Microsoft is trying to drive their customers to the subscription-based model of Office as hard as they can, this should put them to rest once and for all.
In Apple’s officially sanctioned terminology:
Vintage products are those that have not been manufactured for more than five and less than seven years ago.
That means my beloved Early-2008, 24” iMac is now officially a vintage Mac. Alas, it also means it’s no longer serviced by Apple. Can’t win them all, I guess.
In all seriousness, this iMac is unkillable. Almost 8 years after I bought it, it continues to be my main Mac, and thanks to the SSD upgrade I installed last year, it actually performs better than it ever did.
I have no need for a new desktop Mac, but with Apple eliminating support for my iMac, my last lifeline has now been officially removed. Which kind of sucks, even if it’s entirely understandable — this thing used to have a 500GB internal spinning hard disk, for crying out loud.
I’m a big fan of DIY repairs, but everything has its limits. I’m afraid next time something goes wrong with my iMac, it will finally die for good. After everything it’s endured, it will be a well-deserved rest.
Via Stephen Hackett.
After several months in public beta, Affinity Photo has reached public release and is now available for purchase on the Mac App Store with a special 20% discount until July 23rd.
Affinity Photo is a new photo-editing app for the Mac by the creators of the 2015 Apple Design Award winner app, Affinity Designer. Though it provides a complete solution for editing photos in one application, it’s clearly intended more as a competitor to Adobe Photoshop than to Lightroom.
I’ve only taken a brief look at it so far, but there appears to be plenty to love about Affinity Photo. Ostensibly aimed at professional users, I’d say it strikes a nice balance somewhere between the simplicity of Pixelmator and the power of Photoshop, and it’s sure to win the hearts of many photo enthusiasts around the world.
I still don’t know if it will be a suitable replacement for Lightroom / Photoshop for me, but then again, my needs are far from mainstream. Not many people use their photo-editing app to do color negative film processing these days, so I can definitely understand the omission.
That said, this may be a great opportunity to learn how to process my negative film scans by manually inverting each individual color channel, as opposed to relying on a Photoshop plugin like ColorPerfect.
Then, of course, there’s the small detail that, being a native Mac app built from the ground up with modern technology, there’s a pretty good chance Affinity Photo will run laps around Lightroom and Photoshop in the performance department. And though it’s still working like a champ, my aging iMac clearly needs all the help it can get at this point.
In any case, I’ll be putting Affinity Photo through its paces shortly, so be sure to stay tuned for a more in-depth take on it.
Matt Gemmell’s new book is out today. It’s called Writing in Markdown, and it’s the first in a new series of short books by publisher Five Simple Steps. The series is called Fast Reads, and the idea is to create short, informative and densely packed books that are easy to read in one sitting and provide a comprehensive overview on any given topic. In Matt’s own words:
I write every article on this site (and my articles for publication elsewhere, in magazines and online) in Markdown. All my notes are in Markdown files. My weekly members-only newsletters begin life as Markdown files. I even think in that format.
It was fitting, then, that I was offered the opportunity to write a Fast Read – the first in the series, no less – about using Markdown. I gladly accepted, and I’m pleased to announce that the book is now available.
It’s called Writing in Markdown, it’s about 5,000 words long, and you can read it cover-to-cover in around twenty minutes. It costs £2.50 (or $3.80, or €3.50), and it’s available now.
Like Matt, I do most of my writing in Markdown, including all of my writing here on Analog Senses, plus my regular collaborations in other sites like Tools & Toys.
I really enjoy the simplicity of the Markdown format, but I especially appreciate its power. Being able to write in a readable format that can be converted to HTML in a straightforward, no-nonsense way is a huge benefit in my work. If your work — or play — involves writing for the Web at all, you could probably benefit a great deal from using Markdown.
Brett Howse, writing for AnandTech:
The 850 Pro retails for $1000, and the 850 EVO retails for $800. Although not inexpensive by any means, and still much more than the $75 of a spinning disk, the prices are right around double the 1TB models in the lineup so there is not any extra premium to get the larger models at this time.
$800 is a lot of money, but if you need an SSD, they’re worth every penny.
Massive news over at starwars.com:
The screenplay is written by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan. The story focuses on how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley.
No word on casting yet, though. I just hope they know what they’re doing. Via Kottke.
Vlad Savov, over at The Verge:
An Instagram spokesperson tells us that the company started “gradually rolling out 1080 across iOS and Android” last week, meaning that most people should already be seeing the higher-resolution images in the mobile app. Alas, Instagram on the desktop remains a second-class citizen, as Instagram says that “right now we are focused on mobile, with no plans to share on web.”
I don’t mean to brag, but I totally called this one.
Via Mike Bates.