How WWI made wristwatches happen →

March 09, 2015 |

And speaking about watches, here’s an amazing story by Linda Rodriguez on how the traditional pocket watch became the wristwatch we know today:

It would take a global war to catapult the wristwatch onto the arms of men the world over. Though the wristwatch wasn’t exactly invented for World War I, it was during this era that it evolved from a useful but fringe piece of military kit to a nearly universal necessity. So why this war? Firstly, the development of the wristwatch was hastened by the style of warfare that soon became symbolic of the First World War: The trenches.

“The problem with the pocket watch is that you have to hold it,” explained Doyle. That wasn’t going to work for the officer at the Western Front – when an officer lead his men “over the top”, leaving the relative safety of the trenches for the pock-marked no man’s land in between and very possible death, he had his gun in one hand and his whistle in the other. “You haven’t got another hand in which to hold your watch.”


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Apple Watch Battery Information →

March 09, 2015 |

Battery life was one of the biggest questions we expected Apple to answer in today’s keynote about Apple Watch. The official figure given by Tim Cook on stage was “about 18 hours”, which is roughly in line with what most people expected. But battery life, of course, will vary heavily depending on your usage pattern. To give us an idea of the kind of battery life we can expect in several common scenarios, Apple has set up an official battery life info page for Apple Watch. The numbers are solid all around, but I found this bit to be particularly interesting/useful:

If your battery gets too low, Apple Watch automatically switches into Power Reserve mode so you can continue to see the time for up to 72 hours. Testing conducted by Apple in March 2015 using preproduction Apple Watch and software with 4 time checks (4 seconds each) per hour. Battery life varies by use, configuration, and many other factors; actual results will vary.

It’s so simple, but I think this will be one of the most useful features in everyday use. Personally, it’s not uncommon for me at all to have my iPhone die on me if I arrive home a little later than usual, not to mention if I go out at night. Apple Watch will be no different in this regard, but it’s good to know that even if your battery dies and you can’t use any of its fancy features, at least your watch will continue to tell the time.

Knowing the exact time you made it home last night is important, if only just so you can feel the appropriate amount of guilt and remorse about it in the morning. It’s the little things.

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Stephen Hackett on the new MacBooks →

March 09, 2015 |

Stephen Hackett has some interesting thoughts on Apple’s brand new — and extremely polarizing — laptop:

The limited I/O is interesting. The trend started with the original MacBook Air has reached its logical conclusion in this machine. Almost everything will require a dongle, and with no hub in sight, this machine could be annoying to live with for the power user. (Oh yeah, there’s no Thunderbolt here.)

The keyboard is all new and ditches Apple’s traditional switch design for something far thinner, meaning the travel on this keyboard is going to be less than what we’ve been used to for several years.

More importantly, the trackpad is all new. Gone is the hardware that allows the glass surface to click. It now stays in place, and uses haptic feedback and force sensors, not unlike the Apple Watch.

I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before Apple or a 3rd-party manufacturer releases a fancy USB-C hub, which will take most of the connectivity issues away.

The lack of a MagSafe port, however, I take issue with, although we don’t even know if MagSafe would actually work with a machine this light. And if it doesn’t work well, then there’s no point in having it at all.

The keyboard is by far the most interesting thing about this laptop. I’m very curious to try it and see how the much shallower keys feel in actual use. I’m a big fan of Apple’s keyboards, but I do not generally enjoy shallow keys, and I find the current Airs — and, to a lesser extent, the Retina Pros — to be somewhat less comfortable to type on than my trusty old non-Retina 13” MacBook Pro. It’s a small difference, but it’s there, and it appears the new MacBooks take a step forward in this regard. A small price to pay for ultimate thinness? We’ll see.

And about the trackpad, I honestly have no concerns about it. Apple’s been making the best trackpads in the world for a few years now, and I trust them to not screw it up this time. I actually use a Magic Trackpad with my iMac and I vastly prefer it to a mouse, especially with OS X’s many touch-optimized features. The fact that they’ve simultaneously incorporated these new trackpads to the 13” MacBook Pro goes a long way towards convincing me that Apple’s feeling confident about this new technology.

All in all, the new MacBook strikes me as perhaps the most interesting laptop Apple has released in a long time. It probably isn’t the right machine for me, at least not as my only or primary Mac, but there are many thing to love here and as a secondary Mac, there’s a great case to be made for it. If you can live with its compromises — and many people undoubtedly can — the dream of a truly mobile laptop is now within grasp.

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Michael Fraser on “shit” →

March 07, 2015 |

This weekend, spring arrived early in Madrid. After a gorgeous, sunny Saturday shooting in the busy streets of this amazing city, nothing better than getting home to this article by Michael Fraser. In it, he openly criticizes Jonathan Auch’s arrogant attitude towards street photography, which he expressed in this Vice article:

I want to make it clear, however, that my beef is not necessarily with Auch’s work, per se. While I personally may find it boring (and, let’s face it, this style has been done to death - first by Gilden himself, and now by every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a Leica and a speedlight over at ‘Hard Core Street Photography’ on Flickr), who am I to begrudge Auch his right to shoot like this? And some of the work is good; even a broken clock is right twice a day.

No, what gets me supremely annoyed about this article, and about Auch in general, is crap like this:

I think most street photography today is shit

What kind of bullshit click-bait is that? Really, Jonathan? You think Rinzi Ruiz is shit? You think Trent Parke is shit? Chris Weeks? Matt Stuart? I could go on and on.

Tell us what you really think, Michael.

I pretty much agree with every word Michael wrote in this piece but best of all, I just discovered four new amazing street photographers. Solid gold.

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Belly of the Beast: street photography in Sydney, Australia →

March 05, 2015 |

Stunning documentary on street photographer Markus Andersen by Rob Norton:

Markus Andersen doggedly pursues not merely cool images but great images. Sydney, Australia is his canvas - he calls it the belly of the beast. His art practice encompasses documentary, street and conceptual bodies of work using analogue 35mm, 120 film and the iPhone as his capture mediums.This video shows the thinking behind the artist’s work, which has been exhibited in New York, Paris, Istanbul, Toronto, Sydney and the United Kingdom.

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Sony releases new FE-mount lenses for A7 series cameras →

March 05, 2015 |

The Sony A7 series just got a whole lot more interesting. Sony has released a few more native lenses for their full frame mirrorless cameras, including an affordable 28mm f/2 Sony lens and a mouth-watering Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 lens which, according to Steve Huff, is the best 35mm lens he’s ever shot with.

I’ve always liked the A7 series but up until now, I’d never really considered them a viable choice for me. That was in no small part for the lack of a truly outstanding 35mm lens for the system, which is the single biggest complaint I still have about Micro Four Thirds. With this release, Sony scores a huge win in my book. Next time I’m in the market for a serious camera, I’ll make sure I take a good long look at them, because this changes everything.

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The Escalating Scale of Drunkenness →

March 05, 2015 |

Ryan D’Agostino, Esquire Magazine:

Empirically, there is no better number of drinks than three. Three drinks shoves you right up to the blurry border between you and drunkenness, a line in the sand that’s been washed over by a wave — you can still see it, but barely. It’s a thrilling place to be. You’re flying, feeling it, maybe spitting out the wrong word every now and then, maybe calling your sister for no reason, but you could still operate a forklift if you really had to. You can still hit the dartboard. One fewer and you’re drinking responsibly; one more and you’re walking on your knees and suggesting everybody go for karaoke.

Sounds like a solid approach to me. Via Mark Bylok.

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The allure of smoke →

March 04, 2015 |

Matt Gemmell:

It damages us, and we’re better off without it; the debate has long since concluded. But it’s also evocative, and beautiful.

Tobacco smoke is the smell of a fading age, drawn in darker colours and more elegant lines.

Agreed, so very much. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life and yet, somehow, there’s something about the imagery of smoking I’ve always found deeply fascinating.

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Humans suck at everything that’s important →

March 04, 2015 |

David Cain:

Essentially, this higher territory is what we call morality, and I think we tend to greatly overestimate how good we are at it. We’re a species who, as I point out frequently, can barely uphold our New Year’s commitments to ourselves, yet we seem to expect everyone else to be more or less upstanding and incorruptible. Why am I so frequently appalled by how thoughtlessly other people park their cars, when I don’t think twice about spending thirty dollars on beer instead of feeding the starving?

Food for thought.

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The depressing rise of Squiggletecture →

March 03, 2015 |

Mikael Colville-Andersen takes the NEP Bridge competition to the woodshed:

What is up with these squiggles?! It’s perfectly fine to think out of the box. Not much gets accomplished if you don’t. But there is a clear, and perhaps, disturbing trend which I have hereby dubbed Squiggletecture. There is an alarming number of renderings that have discarded straight lines.

What is a bridge? Isn’t it just a vital mobility link from one side of a body of water to another? Isn’t that really the baseline for every decent bridge in history? Look at a map of Paris or any other city with bridges. They are straight. From one shore to the other. Providing no-nonsense A to B for the people using it. Only then do differences in design and aesthetics come into play.

Look at the selection of designs, above. A2Bism had a cement block chained to its feet and it was thrown into the river. It’s sleeping with the fishes.

I’ve long been a skeptic of modern architectural design. Every time an architect starts thinking outside the box, I tremble in fear. Some of these bridge designs are so unbelievably awful that they even cross the line into technical incompetence:

The ramps. Seriously. Look at all those squiggletecture ramps. Round and round we go, slowly descending to the river bank like a flower petal on a summer breeze. Not exactly what any human in a city wants, now is it? Then look at some of those sharp turns on the bicycle ramps. Best Practice for grade and curves on bicycle infrastructure has been around for almost a century. Would it have hurt to spend a little while on Google? Or on a bicycle? Unbelievable.

Unbelievable, indeed.

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