How an indie developer earns five figures a month on the App Store →

January 09, 2015 |

Great article by Carlos Ribas, developer of HoursTracker, with plenty of insight and advice into the current realities of the App Store:

My advice: Try a price reduction promotion to see if a lower price yields more revenue. If you can stomach it, let the discounted price stand long enough to get a feel for network effects. Try the opposite — check if increasing the price works better. Re-test previous pricing tests from time to time. What failed before could work beautifully now. Don’t get hung up on what you think the price should be. Do what works, and experiment often.

Via The Loop.

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The Atlantic launches new Photo section →

January 09, 2015 |

Alan Taylor:

I’d like to introduce our readers to The Atlantic’s new Photo section, an expanded home for photography at This new section features not only an updated look, but more variety in formats, wider images for bigger screens, and a design that works well across a range of mobile devices.

As the editor of the Photo section, I’ll continue to publish long-form photo essays nearly every day, as I have for years, in a series we’ll still call In Focus, but I’ll also start publishing shorter posts—often just a single noteworthy image—under a new category we’re calling Burst. I’m really excited to be able to share even more high-quality photography with even more readers.

Great new section, but the full-page popover ads on every page refresh are just heinous.

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Jason Snell on the rumored 12” MacBook Air →

January 09, 2015 |

Jason Snell:

If Gurman’s reports are accurate, this new model pulls the MacBook Air line away from the MacBook Pro. In fact, it returns the MacBook Air to its roots—as a product full of choices that we consider crazy at first, because they’re out of step with conventional computer design, but that will appeal to a target audience that doesn’t actually care about those de rigueur features.

In other words, would Apple release a laptop with no dedicated power cable, ditch a bunch of traditional ports, and funnel every bit of power and wired connectivity through a connector that it has never before used, all in the name of creating a thinner and lighter laptop? Are you kidding? Of course it would.

If you want something like the current MacBook Air but with a Retina screen, you already have it: it’s called the 13” Retina MacBook Pro.

There used to be a time when the 13” MacBook Air and the 13” MacBook Pro were two clearly differentiated products. However, ever since the 13” Retina MacBook Pro was introduced they’ve been awfully close in terms of size, performance and features, to the point where it doesn’t really make sense to keep them both in the lineup. This would be even more glaring if the Air were to gain a Retina screen, as the rumors seem to indicate.

The natural choice for Apple, as Jason points out, is to return the MacBook Air to its roots as a device that sacrifices a few commonplace features in pursuit of the ultimate portability. That’s what the Air was always supposed to be.

The various iterations of the MacBook Air’s design represented what “thin and light” looked like in 2008 and 2010, but what does “ultimate portability” look like in 2015?

It appears we’re about to find out.

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An unbeatable computer program has finally solved two-player limit Texas hold'em poker →

January 09, 2015 |

Arielle Duhaime-Ross, The Verge:

Two-player limit Texas hold’em poker has finally been solved, according to a study published in Science today. Scientists have designed a computer program, named Cepheus, with a strategy for the game that is so close to perfect that statistical analysis shows it can’t be defeated by a human poker player, even if that player competed against the computer for an entire lifetime. This means that no matter how the game starts out, the computer will win or break even in the long run — making it essentially unbeatable.

There goes my gambling career. Oh well.

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Film is the Real Raw format →

January 08, 2015 |

Another gem by Ken Rockwell. It’s been one of those days:

If you want more or less resolution, you’re screwed with a raw file, because you no longer have access to the original image to sample at a different resolution. You can go down in resolution, but you can’t go up.

Most digital shooters are wary of this, knowing that whatever they shoot today in digital may or may not be good enough to sell to tomorrow’s market. Got raw files shot in 2002 on your then state-of-the-art $5,000 Nikon D1H? Enjoy going back to your 2.7 megapixel files! You may as well delete them now.

This may sound silly now that we have 24 megapixel (and up) cameras, but at the rate displays keep getting denser and denser, it wouldn’t surprise me if 20 years from now a 24 megapixel image looked just as silly as a 2.7 megapixel image today.

There’s also the matter of the future readability of current digital RAW files:

Film is the original raw, and holds far more information than any digital file from a camera sensor. Film records the original living, breathing, natural image in tangible form forever. Film images last forever, versus memory cards and hard drives which we rarely are able to read after more than 10 years. Quick: can you read 3-½” floppies or play a VHS tape, right now? Probably not, but you always can look at film.

20 years from now we can re-scan our film and get 2029-level image quality.

Add all these things together, and suddenly film becomes not only an elegant form of photography for a more civilized age, it becomes a more practical one as well.

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Ken Rockwell on how to shoot film →

January 08, 2015 |

This is a fantastic article with pretty much everything you need to know, whether you’re just starting out or attempting to master the craft.

I particularly loved this bit:

Shooting film is easy, fun and inexpensive — exactly like riding a bicycle. Both take practice at first, and once learned, you’ll never forget. Like riding a bike, film is easy to shoot. By comparison, shooting digital is like trying to pilot the Space Shuttle: immensely complex, with a zillion potential ways to make one wrong move that lead to complete disaster, it’s easy to forget the myriad of details without a long checklist, and it’s different every time — or goes obsolete, as has the space shuttle! Film just goes, while the shuttle program was cancelled back in 2011. So much for digital.

I love shooting film, and I’m learning new things every time I pick up the camera and press the shutter release. It’s photography as it’s meant to be.

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Hubble’s High-Definition Panoramic View of the Andromeda Galaxy and the Pillars of Creation →

January 07, 2015 |

Nasa has released the first high-definition view of the Andromeda galaxy as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope:

Hubble’s Panoramic View of Andromeda

Stunning. Click or tap on the image for the full size, which is a must. Via The Loop.

UPDATE: Jason Kottke shares more information about this image, and another equally stunning one. These are the Pillars of Creation:

Pillars of Creation

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” indeed.

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Matt Gemmell’s Heroes and Miracles →

January 07, 2015 |

Wonderful short essay by Matt Gemmell, on whether fictional stories really matter:

For me, stories are empathic projections. They reflect and propagate our hopes and fears. They fuel our desires, and sometimes our ambitions. Most importantly of all, they fire our emotions - they let us feel as deeply as we can. We’re emotional creatures, whose acts are guided by passion much more than reason. It’s vital that we know how to feel.

So well said. I love fiction, and some of the most important lessons in my life I learned from the stories I read as a kid, as a teenager and yes, as an adult. These stories matter to me deeply, personally.

We absolutely need more stories, and more people like Matt, brave enough to tell them. If you want to do your part, here’s how you can help.

I can’t wait to read Matt’s upcoming novel. I don’t know the details or the story, but I know it will matter to many people, including myself.

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How Jason Snell rips DVDs and Blu-rays →

January 07, 2015 |

Excellent and thorough guide by Jason Snell on how to rip DVDs and Blu-ray discs on the Mac. I’ve always wondered about this, because I didn’t know there was a Mac-compatible Blu-ray player out there. Turns out there is at least one, and it’s pretty affordable.

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