Apple has lost the functional high ground →

January 05, 2015 |

Marco Arment:

The problem seems to be quite simple: they’re doing too much, with unrealistic deadlines.

We don’t need major OS releases every year. We don’t need each OS release to have a huge list of new features. We need our computers, phones, and tablets to work well first so we can enjoy new features released at a healthy, gradual, sustainable pace.

This article deftly puts into words the general feeling of uncertainty we’re starting to see in the Apple community regarding the rapidly-declining quality of Apple’s software.

See also Guy English’s take on Marco’s article:

Marco is right but perhaps his framing is too narrow. This simply isn’t an issue that developers grouse about and move on from. This is something that, at least in my experience, has been affecting customers who have otherwise loved their Apple devices.

When these perceptions reach beyond the developer community and start affecting regular users, you know you have a serious problem.

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The Verge reviews the Sony A7 Mk II →

January 05, 2015 |

Nice review overall, but I think they’re being unnecessarily harsh on the A7 II, especially on the matter of lenses — or lack thereof:

But many of the original A7’s faults remain: native lens options are still woefully limited and expensive (Sony offers a paltry seven, and a number of those overlap with each other), image quality at higher ISOs is not as good as other cameras, the autofocus system still lags behind, and battery life is still short. Though Sony improved many things with the A7 II, if you didn’t like last year’s camera, you’re not likely going to be satisfied with this year’s.

And also:

Sports photographers, portrait photographers, studio photographers, or anyone that just wants a lot of lenses to choose from are still better served by a DSLR than Sony’s A7 lineup.

I find it funny that they would choose that particular aspect to criticize, because in my mind lens selection is precisely one of the strongest selling points of the A7 system. There may not be many native offerings yet, but the few lenses available are all excellent, and it’s the only camera system in the world that’s compatible with all full-frame DSLR and rangefinder lenses out there — with the use of adapters, of course. So if your work requires you to shoot with many different lenses, how exactly would you be better served by a DSLR?

Via Josh Ginter.

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Use your online backup as cloud storage →

January 02, 2015 |

Clever tip by Jason Snell:

Both Backblaze and CrashPlan offer iOS apps, as well, letting you access all your backed-up files from your mobile devices. So if you forgot an important presentation or document on your computer, and you couldn’t connect to that device remotely, you could still open a copy from your backups.

I’ve sometimes done this with Dropbox, where you can access any file ever stored on the service in the last 30 days — at least. It’s a nice feature to have but unlike Dropbox, both CrashPlan and Backblaze’s systems are designed with bulk data exports in mind, that is, to allow you to download a compressed copy of all your data. Access to individual files is also granted, but it’s clearly not what the system was designed for, and therefore I wouldn’t recommend relying on it on a regular basis.

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The basics of manual image exposure in eight minutes →

January 02, 2015 |

The Phoblographer:

Every photographer has to start somewhere; and when it comes to shooting photos every instructor will tell you to shoot in manual mode. The reason for this is because it gives you the most creative control. When combining this control with your creative ideas, you’ll be able to actually get the photo idea from your head into pixels from the camera.

I’m a huge believer in manual exposure - even in manual focusing. Besides my Olympus OM-D E-M10, I shoot with a Canon AE-1 Program, an old-school analog SLR. The AE-1 Program was one of the first autoexposure Canon SLR’s, but I much prefer to shoot it in manual mode. It’s a very different, much more deliberate form of photography that forces you to actually think before you do anything, and I love it.

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The dominant life form in the Universe will be superintelligent robots →

January 02, 2015 |

Maddie Stone, writing for Motherboard:

If and when we finally encounter aliens, they probably won’t look like little green men, or spiny insectoids. It’s likely they won’t be biological creatures at all, but rather, advanced robots that outstrip our intelligence in every conceivable way. While scores of philosophers, scientists and futurists have prophesied the rise of artificial intelligence and the impending singularity, most have restricted their predictions to Earth. Fewer thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction, that is—have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons.

I could read these stories for hours on end. Via Kottke.

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Andrew Womack’s Top Albums of 2014 →

December 31, 2014 |

Andrew Womack:

A cardinal sin of music writing—sandwiched between sloth and envy—is enthusiasm. Either by venturing into superlatives (your critical balance is at stake) or by describing the music: a sure path into a minefield of over-modified prose.

Yet when listening to the music we love, as writers or readers, enthusiasm and description become our primal communication. We are caught up in the moment, taken aloft by the rhythm and melody, so where can we express it? In the only place where reputations are thankfully disposable and honesty reigns brutally supreme: YouTube comments.

YouTube commenters as music critics. This is priceless. Via Coudal.

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Skyscrapers in Busan →

December 31, 2014 |

Alice Yoo, My Modern Met:

Photographers have become enamored with the location. At night when the huge skyscrapers shine their lights, they cast surreal reflections on the surrounding water. Many photographers have created beautiful composites that show crystal clear reflections of its stunning skyline. They give the photos a futuristic feel. Others simply capture the beauty of the night.

I love these images. Via Coudal.

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Steve Huff reviews the new Sony A7 Mk II →

December 31, 2014 |

Fantastically in-depth review, as always:

When you hold this camera you instantly know you have something of great quality here, even more than the $1698 that it costs. It feels like a $2500-$3k body and no matter what anyone tells you, it is SMALLER than ANY DSLR and quite a bit smaller than even the Nikon Df. It’s not quite DSLR sized, and the way I love to shoot it is with small rangefinder lenses. BTW, Manual focus is a breeze (as already hinted) with the large EVF (same EVF from the previous A7 series).

I have long held Steve’s opinion in high esteem, and he seems to love the new A7 Mk II — with just a minor complaint about battery life.

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Breathe life into an old Mac →

December 31, 2014 |

Excellent guest post by Joe Caiati at 512 Pixels:

Depending on the year it was purchased or whether you configured it with top-tier specs, your once-current Mac’s performance may be less than desirable and at this point you could be facing those tough questions.

Luckily, older Macs are more flexible with hardware upgrades and coupled with third-party software, you can unlock features that Apple doesn’t support on older models. Here is how to get the most life out of an aging Mac.

Sometimes it’s not worth it to completely replace an aging Mac. A well-thought upgrade instead can save you quite a bit of money.

If after reading the article you feel like attempting to replace your old iMac’s hard drive with an SSD, I documented the process a few months ago. My advice? Go for it. It’s easier than it looks and makes a huge difference.

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