The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years →

May 22, 2015 |

Mike Yost:

2025. You just found that DVD you had in that drawer you couldn’t remember which one it was. Along with 9 old cell phones that no longer will work with today’s new technology. Your 3 inch by 3 inch cube computer no longer has a DVD drive since in 2015 they were totally phased out. Your 3rd grandchild is sitting on your knee and asks to see pictures of their Mom- and all you have to show them is this piece of round plastic that is pretty much worthless. Not to mention dusty and scratched from all those old cellphones moving around every time you opened that drawer. And since Instagram had been merged with another company, and they started charging, you let that go 8 years ago.

It’s scary, I agree. As much as cloud technology and backup software have improved over the years, making actual prints of your photos will always remain the only 100% backwards-compatible format.

It’s also incredibly satisfying to make prints of your own images, to give them physical form. It somehow makes them more real. It makes them endure.

It totally makes them matter more.

Via CJ Chilvers’s excellent email newsletter, which you should already be reading.

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Richard Prince Selling Other People’s Instagram Shots Without Permission for $100K →

May 21, 2015 |

Michael Zhang, writing at Peta Pixel:

Artist Richard Prince is notorious in the art world for taking other people’s work, “appropriating” them as his own with various changes, and then selling them for large amounts of dough. His latest endeavor is once again raising eyebrows: Prince is selling other people’s Instagram photos for up to $100,000 each.

In a gallery exhibition titled “New Portraits,” which ran at the Gagosian Gallery in NYC from September through October 2014, Prince displayed 38 portraits featuring photos taken from his Instagram feeds — other people’s images, and without permission.

It’s things like this that make me wish I had a “Jackass of the Year” award to give away.

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Shawn Blanc on Apple Watch: Just Smart Enough →

May 21, 2015 |

Shawn Blanc:

Apple Watch fits, appropriately, right between a smartphone and a dumb watch. Apple Watch is certainly more feature-rich and “connected” than my analog watches ever were, yet it’s not anywhere near an “iPhone 2.0” type of product.

In other words, Apple Watch is just powerful enough to be useful and fun, but not so powerful that it’s distracting or frustrating.

I still think it’s early to be making predictions about the future of Apple Watch, but I like Shawn’s first impressions and I do hope he’s right in the long term.

Many people keep thinking Apple Watch will become more and more like a mini iPhone in the future, but I actually don’t think that would be desirable at all. Things like cellular networking and more independence from the phone sound great in theory, but I believe the whole point of the Watch is precisely to not become just an iPhone on your wrist.

The right long-term goal for the Watch should not be to move the annoyances from your pocket to your wrist but rather, to do away with them entirely and for that, Apple Watch will need to remain unapologetically “just smart enough”.

There’s nothing wrong with being “just smart enough”, and it’s not just about what’s technologically feasible today vs. a few years from now. The reason for keeping Apple Watch’s feature set limited in relation to the iPhone’s should not be one of technical limitations, but of purpose. Just because technology allows you to create something doesn’t mean that you should, or that it is the right call.

Historically, having devices that were too smart was never a problem, until it became one with the iPhone. Having the Watch follow the same pattern would be a huge mistake if you ask me.

Still, it’s early days. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes, but every day I’m getting more and more excited about the Watch, which is something I hadn’t anticipated. I just hope Apple doesn’t get blinded by their desire to innovate, to the point where they end up ruining what could potentially be one of the greatest products they’ve ever created.

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Apple Watch and continuous computing →

May 21, 2015 |

Ben Thompson:

Indeed, for now I think it likely that one of Apple’s oldest and most cherished skills — it’s ability to make beautiful, desirable objects — will make the Watch exactly what Tim Cook promised: another tentpole product that rivals the Mac, the iPod, the iPad, and even the iPhone. Framed as nothing more than A Watch that Does Stuff — and that you actually don’t mind wearing — Apple will rightly sell enough to kick-start a world that gets just a little bit smarter and little bit better when it knows who and where we are.

I think Ben’s right on the money here. The entire piece is full of clever, insightful analysis, as usual.

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Spotify Connect lets you decide which device plays your music and which one controls it →

May 21, 2015 |

This is admittedly an old-ish feature — apparently it’s been around for over a year — but I had no idea it existed. Spotify Connect lets you play your music on any of your devices, and control it from any other device. The way it works is really simple: from any device you’re using to interact with the app, you get to choose which one of your other devices will actually play your music.

And it does work, like a charm. As a matter of fact, I’m using it right now to play the new Thelonious Monk collection between my iMac and my iPad. The iMac controls playback and the iPad, which is plugged into my home’s HiFi sound system, plays the music. And unlike AirPlay, I can still play all kinds of other sounds locally on my iMac.

That by itself is pretty cool, but the best part is that I found out about it completely by chance — or, rather, by clever design. Spotify allows you to play your music on only one device at a time, and I was already playing music on my iMac. When I launched the Spotify app on my iPad to switch devices, I was greeted by a dialog offering me to continue playing the iMac’s music. I just touched yes and my music immediately started playing on the iPad, right from where the iMac left off. No lag, no buffering delay, nothing. It really couldn’t have been any simpler.

This is what great software design is all about. New features should not only be easy to use, they should be easy to discover. In this case, I did everything in my power not to discover Spotify Connect — by not reading anything about the app and not playing around with the interface after every update — and the feature still ended up making itself known to me. That’s great design, and it is awesome.

It has also saved me quite a bit of money, by the way. For the past few weeks I’d been this close to buying an AirPort Express just so that I could stream music from my iMac to my stereo, but now I don’t think I’ll be needing it.

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The Best of Thelonious Monk →

May 21, 2015 |

Richard Brody, writing at The New Yorker:

A treasure chest of jazz is being rereleased this week: “The Complete Riverside Recordings” of Thelonious Monk, a fifteen-disk set of his recording sessions, in the studio and live, for that seminal label. Spanning the period between 1955 and 1961, it’s the core of his recorded legacy. The set contains the disks of his that I return to most often, and it shows off a wide range of his art. For me, it’s the most essential trove of Monk’s recordings that exists. Most of the recordings in the set are available separately, as the albums on which they were originally released, but having them together in chronological order tells a musical story that is as much about Monk as it is about the musical times.

The entire collection is available on Spotify, and I’ve been listening to it all day. What an awesome discovery.

After just a few hours with it, I am so buying this. I could get the MP3 edition, but that would defeat the purpose. Call me old fashioned, but this is a set to be enjoyed in physical form. I only wish the vinyl edition had been rereleased as well.

If you’re as crazy about this sort of thing as I am, Amazon has the 15 CD Box Set in stock right now. I’d hurry if I were you, because they’re going to go fast.

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Josh Ginter visits Vancouver →

May 20, 2015 |

Josh Ginter spent May Long Weekend in Vancouver, and he’s created a stunning photo-story to tell us all about it:

It didn’t take long for Jaclyn and I to realize how much we love the city of Vancouver. The city is clean, new, temperate, considerate, and immaculate. Vancouver has an entirely different personality, an entirely different character than New York City or Paris or Rome. There is nothing old about Vancouver. It’s a city willing to embrace the ever-evolving way of human life, both as a cosmopolitan city and as a habitat for millions of people.

Sounds like my kind of place, and Josh’s gorgeous photography has made me all the more eager to visit.

As a side note, I really love travel photo-stories like this one, and I’d love to see it become a more extended practice on the Internet. Not only are they entertaining, informative and a fantastic creative exercise, they actually push you get out and take more photos every day and when all is said and done, they are an amazing way to remember every trip.

Creating stories like these may just be the excuse many of us need to travel more often and take our cameras with us for the ride, which is a huge win by itself in my book.

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The new MacBook is Apple fixing the past

May 20, 2015

Last night, Marco Arment published a great piece on why he’s not very enthusiastic about the MacBook “One” after using it:

The MacBook just looks and feels like the obvious, no-brainer choice for a small Mac. That’s why people buy it. That’s why I bought it. I loved it before I bought it. I love looking at it and picking it up.

I just hate using it.

I hate typing on it, I hate the trackpad, it’s slower than I expected, the screen is noticeably blurry from non-native scaling to get reasonable screen space, and I don’t even find it very comfortable to use in my lap because it’s too small.

I hate returning things, but I’m returning this.

His take on the device was very interesting to read. Marco is definitely not your typical Apple customer, but it goes to show that with the new MacBook, as with any technology purchase, your mileage may vary.

In recent years, many Apple products have become substantially harder to understand without any actual hands-on experience. That is in no small part because in that time, Apple’s design goals have slowly but steadily shifted towards creating more personal, more intimate devices. When you stray away from the specs path, it ceases to be a numbers game and becomes an emotional purchase, based entirely on personal preference instead of performance or any other quantifiable metrics.

Apple products have always had an emotional, personal side to them that makes them appealing beyond their spec-sheets, but usually the two sides had been close to being in perfect balance.1 However, for a while now we’ve been seeing that balance shifting towards the emotional side. No other Apple product makes that shift more apparent than the new MacBook, not even the Apple Watch.2

The iPhone has gotten thinner and lighter every year and so has the iPad, but both devices have also gotten faster and more capable with each new generation. The MacBook represents the opposite side of this trend: a device that’s gotten slower and less capable as it’s gotten thinner and lighter. In that way, its only real precedent is the original 2008 MacBook Air.

Unlike the 2008 Air though, the new MacBook not only compromises in terms of performance, but also in areas that are not traditionally evaluated by specs, and that is perhaps a bit more worrying. Features like the keyboard and trackpad, which are inherently defined by how they feel. The fact that the new keyboard has near unanimously been considered worse than its predecessor is a sign that Apple may have taken things a bit too far with the new MacBook.

This shift may end up being a long-term trend, or it may be just a tick — a mere sign that Apple is experimenting to find a new balance — to be inevitably followed by a tock. There is ample room for Apple to improve or even radically change the new MacBook, much like they did with the original MacBook Air.

But if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t bet on it.

The original 2008 Air represented an ambitious bet that ultimately proved unsuccessful: it arrived ahead of its time, before the technology was available to support its vision. It was a terribly compromised machine in many non-trivial ways, and the 2010 redesign was not just a new generation, it was Apple backtracking and refocusing the device as a general-purpose computer for everyone. In fact, the redesigned Air went on to become arguably the least compromised laptop in the lineup for the majority of consumers.3

This time around though, the technology is there, if only just so. That makes me think the MacBook will continue to adhere to its current design philosophy, at least for the foreseeable future. This is not Apple trying something new after all, this is Apple doubling-down on the vision that drove them to create the original MacBook Air. Seven years later, they’re finally ready to get it right.

Are we?

  1. With only a few exceptions along the way, the most notable among which is the original 2008 MacBook Air. But more on that later.

  2. If only because we have no design precedent for it. Apple Watch is a product created entirely within the new Apple, free from all past restrictions and preconceptions. The MacBook, on the other hand, is showing the way forward for other existing Apple products to follow.

  3. It achieved almost the perfect balance of performance and portability and became the most popular model in the lineup. For most people, it was the one to get until the arrival of the Retina MacBook Pros.

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Dan Moren’s essential travel tech →

May 20, 2015 |

Dan Moren, writing at Six Colors:

On the one hand, as this is a mostly a leisure trip, I want to pack light. The goal is not to be head down in technology most of the time, but to enjoy my trip. That means almost certainly foregoing my MacBook. But at the same time, we can’t wholly escape tech these days—nor should we, given how handy it can be when traveling. So here’s a rundown of what I’m probably taking along.

I’m a sucker for these articles. Dan’s piece includes very sound recommendations on what to take with you, and what to leave behind.

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