Life Through the Viewfinder » Tech, Art, and OPINIONS!

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Hello there beautiful!
What is a “real” computer and why is it better than the machine I’m typing on now? This machine has everything I need! I have a full-sized backlit keyboard, a nifty new ForceTouch trackpad—the coolest laptop addition since the Retina display—and a real operating system. It’s stupidly attractive, thinner than a runway model, and lasts all day. It blitzes through 4K YouTube videos, skips along as I bang on the keys in Evernote, and does so in complete silence. What am I missing here? Did I die and come back as a sandy-haired middle-aged man, hanging onto my youth by pretending to be in the technological know? Am I some sort of computer noob that has been “doing it wrong” by not leaving my machine on overnight transcoding Blu-Ray rips in Handbrake? I should be posting Geekbench scores instead of blog posts, shouldn’t I? Ugh, I’m such a dope. Seriously though Internet, why don’t you love the new MacBook? You guys love the iPad, you buy the hell out of iPads (though not as much as you used to) Apple has turned the MacBook into the iPad faster than they could turn the iPad into the MacBook, iPad power users rejoice! *Cue Hall N’ Oates’s “You Make My Dreams”.*

The 2015 MacBook in Gold
I won’t play dumb any longer, I know why you don’t like the new MacBook, your reasoning just doesn’t make any sense to me. Apple have never been afraid to move forward, ruthlessly executing outdated standards and peripherals, from the floppy disk to firewire to disc drive slots. Apple is always toeing the line between ushering the world into the future and alienating their base. The new MacBook, also dubbed the Retina MacBook, might be the most daring example of their desire to leap forward. It is the first fan-less Mac, it’s 13.1mm on it’s thickest end, and only has 1 port. Apple has gone all in on USB Type C, a connector they’re rumored to have led development on, and it does everything. It’s a ballsy design decision. Some tech bloggers have run with this idea that the laptop is too thin to have ports, this is not true. There are thinner computers in the world and they all feature more than 1 port, some even feature full-sized USB ports. Apple isn’t using its thin profile as an excuse for the one port either, they simply don’t think you need more ports and they’re right. If I’m connecting a hard drive to a computer it’s because I’m either editing stills, video, or something similarly hardware intensive. This machine isn’t designed for those tasks, hell the new Photos app gives me the occasional spinning beach ball. This machine is all about email, Safari, Netflix, and word processing. It is powerful enough to do those tasks in its sleep, ask it to do anything more and it just might disintegrate before your very eyes.

Many of us have been waiting for Apple to do a little more with the iPad. The rumor mill has been buzzing about the iPad Pro, a 12.9 inch variant of the tablet, but screen size isn’t what’s holding the iPad back, it’s usability. The OS, which has become a fan favorite for it’s simplicity, has not grown at the same pace as its market share. Not unlike their prolonged entry into the big screen space with phones, Apple has been apprehensive about turning the iPad into a fully fledged productivity device. If Microsoft’s Surface line is an indication of anything, they have been right to be so. The mistake Microsoft made with the Surface is that it made you aware of the platform’s shortcomings. Microsoft did nothing to hide the compromises, instead they tried to convince you that it came with none. The iPad comes with most of the same compromises the Surface does and just as many if you attach a keyboard to it and try to use it the way Microsoft wants you to use a Surface. Mark this down as another win for Apple’s marketing department. Getting things from one app and into another is Apple’s biggest sore spot. Adding attachments to emails on an iPad requires the patience of a swiss watchmaker. Remedial tasks we do with ease on a desktop become 4–5 step processes on iOS that take longer than they should to accomplish. You have to work harder to do less. Samsung has implemented features like side by side multitasking to mitigate productivity issues on their tablets and it does a serviceable job. You can drag text and images from one side of the screen into the other and its intuitiveness rivals that of desktop. You’re limited to two apps and because there is no dock like there is on OSX, jumping between apps isn’t as seamless as needed. iOS has more band aids on it than a preschooler, it’s mired with shortcuts strategically placed throughout the OS to make navigating it less of a chore. iOS 9 is going to have to reinvent the wheel if it wants to turn the iPad into the world’s first productivity tablet.

Unapologetically
But back to the forum posters for a second. Some people have claimed that this machine isn’t a real computer, which is really code word for “Why didn’t Apple just stick a Retina display in the MacBook Air, because that’s what I wanted.” This was the best way for Apple to reinvent the MacBook Air. If you strip the MacBook Air of all it’s ports in an attempt to push for an iCloud only future, you create controversy, and forfeit your ability to steer your product’s narrative. Make no mistake about it, the new MacBook is a shot across the bow of the MacBook Air line. I would not be surprised to see a 14“ variant of this machine next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if that machine had an extra USB-C port. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the MacBook Air ushered into the shadows of the attic in Apple’s home of OSX. The MacBook isn’t for all of us, but it’s for most of us. There’s nothing wrong with that. Apple knows their audience, they know which of their products sell the most units, and this laptop is clearly designed for the masses. The problem is that the niche are usually the loudest and always dominate internet ”discussion“. In this case, the niche have shown an extreme inability to understand that every product isn’t designed to appeal to their needs and that there are other products in the lineup that will. You need horsepower, buy a Retina MacBook Pro—mainly the 15” because the 13“ is questionable. You need more ports, but not as much power? Buy a 13” Air while you still can. You want to do serious photo or video work, look to the 5K iMac or the Mac Pro. Tim Cook’s Apple is an Apple for all, an Apple determined to cover all their bases.

Hannibal, my current obsession

Hannibal, my current obsession. Network TV has come a LONG way!

 

Television is killing me…

Not literally of course, at least I hope not, but I did watch 26 episodes of HANNIBAL in under 72 hours so television certainly hasn’t been good for my health. TV has sunk me quicker than that ship Jim loves. I’m drowning in procedural crime dramas and fantasy political thrillers. I’m courting relationships from fast-talking, cheap suit-wearing criminal defense attorneys one minute and unnerving, flesh-eating psychiatrists the next. They are all so worthy and oh so demanding, there aren’t enough hours to please them all, at least not when you’re blowing damn near 26 hours on one. What is interesting about my latest binge-fest is that I embarked upon it when I should have been catching up on another incredible show, BETTER CALL SAUL. I’ve only missed 3–4 episodes of BETTER CALL SAUL, catching up would have been an easier feat to accomplish than Herculean Hannibal one I managed, but that reality never reared its head during the act. I had the time to spare and Amazon had episodes to share, I didn’t have to spin up a Hulu subscription or delve into the seedy underground of bittorents to catch up. Now that I’ve finished Hannibal I am tasked, yet again, with catching up on BETTER CALL SAUL, but I can’t be bothered to. In the traditional TV space, once you’re out of the loop, you’re better off waiting for Netflix.

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The Apple Watch arrives next month!

The Apple Watch arrives next month!

The Apple Watch is coming next month! Will you be in line for one? I won’t be. I wanted to be impressed by the Apple Watch, I feel like it was made for me. I’m one of the few people I know in my age group that still wears a wristwatch. I love mechanical watches. They are beautiful, intricate, and extremely personal. As a life long tech nerd I am always searching for ways technology can enhance my daily life or the lives of others. Wearables was set to be the next frontier for tech, but no one has done a great job at showing us how. There is really incredible functionality on display in ResearchKit and props to Apple for making it open source, but I can access most of it on the phone. The narrative that Apple has been in decline post Steve’s death is one I’ve never really got behind. The evidence for such claims was always sketchy and I thought it was a really irresponsible way to paint the company, an overtly negative way to paint the company.

The Apple Watch however represents the first signs of an unsure Apple (the car chatter does too, but you know… rumors). When I look at the Apple Watch I see a “me too” device. This is Apple leaning solely on their brand name and impeccable design and engineering chops to sell us a device it doesn’t seem sure it can convince us we want. Many have lamented the way you interact with the device. I’m not so hung up on that and it seems that after interacting with working models of the device, the people who shouted the loudest about it, aren’t either. It may not be the most intuitive device in Apple’s history, but it’s not rocket science, people will figure it out.

Apps on your wrist! ALL THE APPS ON YOUR WRIST!

Apps on your wrist! ALL THE APPS ON YOUR WRIST!

What I am hung up on is how ordinary it seems from a functionality standpoint. There is nothing the Apple Watch does, outside of a few gimmicky drawing and heartbeat sending gags, that the competition cannot do. Sure it’s better made, but that isn’t enough when the competition hasn’t done a great job convincing people the actual functionality is worth the price of admission. Apple and Google claim they are solving an epidemic present in the smart phone age. People are always pulling their phones out of their pockets to check them. By putting notifications and quick actions on your wrist they lessen the incentive to pull your phone out.

The problem is that’s not the actual problem. The problem, which they don’t want to solve and perhaps can’t solve, is with the *desire* to pull your phone out. It doesn’t take me very long to remove my iPhone 6 from my pocket. Perhaps it is for you crazies who wield that iPhone 6 Plus monstrosity, but not me. I can whip my phone out in about 1.5 seconds. I can swing my wrist to my face in a quarter of that time. Sure that’s an improvement, but now I’m just going to be looking at my wrist like a bozo all day. The best thing Apple has ever done to combat the real problem with smartphones is adding Do Not Disturb to the feature set. The second I go into a meeting or date I stick my phone in Do Not Disturb mode. It’s a fantastic way of focusing your attention on the now.

A luxury smart watch is an oxymoron.

A luxury smart watch is an oxymoron.

I’ll say a few words on the gold Apple Watch Edition model. It’s a joke. The problem with calling the Apple Watch a luxury item is that it’s value is not tied to its creation or timelessness, but its functionality. Its functionality is the same regardless of which model you buy and it’s also sure to be iterated on yearly. It’s not some heirloom item. It’s not handcrafted by some old bloke in Switzerland who spent thousands of hours putting 495+ screws in the right spot. It isn’t riddled with gold or diamonds or really exclusive. It’s a bunch of chips in a fancy case and it will be a bunch of old chips in a slightly older fancy case next year. You don’t get to call yourself a luxury watch by dipping your semiconductors in gold and charging $9,000 more for it. The pricing overall for the Apple Watch isn’t tremendously egregious, but it is problematic. It is the most expensive non-essential accessory in the world of tech. You can easily spend $1,000 dollars, which is more than the most expensive iPad, for a device that doesn’t do half as much. It’s a bit of an arrogant proposition. The Apple Watch is only a little bit more than Google Glass was. It’s not as obnoxious because it doesn’t live on your face. It also doesn’t incite fear into the paranoid about you snapping pictures of them. But it solves a similar issue, just not the important one, and that’s kind of a shame.

Here’s a hands on video courtesy of the best tech site in the world, The Verge.

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David, meet Goliath

Photography is currently undergoing it’s third renaissance in the last two decades. The 1st brought us digital cameras and immediacy to the photography world. The second came via the smartphone, granting hundreds of millions of people to ability to play photographer at any moment in time. Today’s renaissance on the surface is not as bold, but for some perhaps just as important. Mirrorless cameras are not just smaller and lighter verisons of the cameras we already have, they’re smarter, faster, sociable, and in many ways lens agnostic. My main camera is a Nikon D800, has been for almost three years now. It packs an incredible Sony sensor, which until it’s succcessor the D810 produced the best image quality in the DSLR space. The problem I have with my D800 is it’s fat. Not only is it fat, but it’s fat and dumb. My D800 doesn’t feature things like built in Wi-Fi or GPS. It doesn’t sync to an app on my phone that allows me to operate it remotely. It doesn’t have one of those spiffy new EVFs either. It can’t fire silently like a GH4 or Sony A7s. It certainly doesn’t have IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) like the A7II. It’s just a tank. A highly effective tank, but a tank nonetheless. In a market now swarming with Teslas, rolling around in a tank can be frustrating. You would think that when you own a $3,000 camera and numerous multi-thousand dollar lenses you would want to shoot everything on them, but that’s rarely the reality. Lugging a D800 around for hours at a time is a neck workout the likes of which would exhaust even a top athlete. Camera manufactures don’t make things any easier by shipping their products with the worst camera straps in existence, coarse, thin, hard-edged loupes that just meet the requirements. As capable as an iPhone is it is no replacement for a full frame camera, but thanks to Sony and many others, you can now fit a DSLR-quality image maker in your coat pocket. View full post »

KITTY! Ang Lee

KITTY! Ang Lee’s Life of Pi

The cinema was everything growing up. I practically lived there. It seemed like every week there was something interesting to go see. I want to stress the word interesting, because not all of it was good, but most of it gave you reason enough to go. Hell, even when the trailers weren’t so good we would go, because why not? $8 bucks is all you needed, double it if you wanted popcorn and soda, but only suckas bought treats from AMC. I gave everything a shot back then because it was just so cheap. I saw more bad movies than good ones, but it didn’t matter, until it did.

The 1st time I second guessed seeing a movie I was in college. My wallet wasn’t exactly stacked, but I wasn’t starving. I was making use of my artistic abilities, scraping some pennies together. I wasn’t about that Ramen diet life. It was awards season 2012 and I jetted to the cinema to catch Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. I remember sliding up to one of the spiffy new (at the time) self serve kiosks and zipping through the UI only to come to a grinding halt at the end. $17.50?! You cats charging $17.50 to see Life of Pi? At Kips Bay?! Kips Bay wasn’t a DUMP, but it wasn’t Lincoln Sq IMAX. At the latter prices had ballooned to $21.50 for 3D affairs. I felt a little guilty at first. Life of Pi was a great film, but I threw it in this “less than” category. I didn’t think twice about paying $20 bucks to see Avatar in IMAX 3D in 09’ but for some reason Life of Pi’s $17.50 struck me as egregious. Combine this with being hoodwinked by IMAX’s new digital theaters and my love affair with cinema was dwindling. Now that I had to think about the cost of the ticket, I was going to be real choosy about which films I went to see.  View full post »

  • YourBoyScott - I saw the master projected and was amazed..so, then I went out of my way to see Interstellar projected… They did a terrible job in the booth and it looked like shit and I officially lost my faith in that. My favorite pastime is huddling over my laptop in the dark with headphones. I did however get 10 free Regal/UA movie passes for xmas…. So I can at least get a few big ones in without feeling guilty if the movie doesnt blow my socks off (ex: american sniper)ReplyCancel