Category: Tech

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Call Me Surprised About SmugMug and Flickr

My preferred, and favorite, photo-sharing site is SmugMug. The family-owned operation is long profitable by defying the Internet’s predominant axiom: Free. SmugMug relies on a solely subscription model, where customers pay, and, as such, doesn’t collect user information for profit nor are there annoying advertisements.

But for the longest time, I haven’t used SmugMug—for what may seem like the strangest of reasons: My art isn’t good enough. The service has matured into a collective of professional photographers, and I don’t feel comfortable keeping my images among theirs (although many of mine remain from the past). I grudgingly use Flickr instead. Instagram isn’t an option, for the same reasons I rebuke parent company, and data-collection whore, Facebook. 

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Rangefinder Revelry

Yesterday, before 10 a.m. PST, UPS delivered a package from Leica Store Miami containing the M (Typ 262) digital camera, Summarit-M 50mm f/2.4 lens, limited-edition Oberwerth bag, and two SD card holders—one black, the other cognac. My main interest is the rangefinder and 50mm glass. The Oberwerth Set, if you can still find it, is entry into the M system for essentially the lens free with cost of the camera. The Miami shop sent the last kit available, at least presently.

With no immediate plans to part with my beloved Leica Q, I will expand my photographic horizons by reducing technology. While the M262 is full frame, the camera also is in many respects no frills. There is no autofocus, live view, wired ports, or wireless connectivity. I’ll be screwing off the bottom plate to remove the storage card to transfer photos to my MacBook Pro. The menu system is two main pages plus one. The M262 is all about manual settings from dials, except ISO, which I typically leave on auto anyway. 

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Thinking About Apple HomePod

HomePod arrived yesterday at 9:40 a.m. PST; thank-you UPS for prompt delivery of my preorder. The device replaces Google Home, which will be dispatched to a new owner (hopefully), via Craigslist or NextDoor. Perhaps Big G’s assistant would have satisfied more if I lived the Google lifestyle like during my Android and Chromebook days. But I walk the Apple Way today, for better or for worse.

My initial reaction: Wow and uh-oh. The wow harkens back to the original iPod, which Apple released in October 2001. The company’s design ethic treated the overall experience as the user interface: Attach FireWire cable to Mac and device, music syncs. iTunes manages music on the Mac; for iPod, a simple scroll-wheel navigates tracks displayed on a small screen. The uncomplicated and understated approach defied the UX of every other MP3 sold by all other manufacturers. HomePod is a defining, roots-return that’s well-deserving of the portion of name in common with its forebear; both share in common emphasis on music listening as primary benefit. 

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You Dunno Where This Cat Lives

Another benefit using Leica Q, or any camera without GPS built-in: Location information isn’t captured with photos, and, as such, cannot easily be made available across the Wild Wild Web (yes, that’s what the WWW really represents). I know, from memory, that the Featured Image was shot somewhere along Adams Ave. in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood. But I can’t exactly recall where.

Perhaps because kitties are so popular on the Internet, nearly four-year-old website “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” uses them to make a privacy point, by showing how pics shared online reveal location. Ah, like your residence! “Hey, Look. That’s Jack’s living room, and there’s Frisky”. 

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Leica Q is an Experience

I am, on a good day, an adequate amateur photographer. My technique isn’t professional, nor do I have an artisan’s astute eye for composition. I am okay in every measurable, meaningful way. But what I lack in skill, I compensate with enthusiasm.

Photography is fun for me—and I am an original digital shooter, going back 20 years. Anyone remember the crappy Sony Mavica that saved photos to floppy disks? I owned one, in the late 1990s. My first camera of consequence was the Canon PowerShot S20, the first commercially available digital compact to top 3 megapixels; I used it to document Steve Jobs introducing Apple Store, in May 2001.

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My Personal Tech Kit 2018

I am a big believer in change, as being beneficial, and I will occassionally switch computing platforms to shake up habits and my digital lifestyle. Watching Google’s advances with Assistant, and anticipating release of a new Pixel Chromebook, I expected to swap out my Apple gear before end of the year. But that isn’t the case. I start 2018 pretty much as I did 2017—looking at that bitten-fruit logo on my major personal devices.

There is the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that I purchased during the last week of November 2016. The other three gadgets released last year and replace like gear: Apple Watch Series 3 LTE (Stainless Steel); iPad Pro 10.5 LTE; iPhone X. Additionally, there is an Apple TV 4K in the living room. 

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iPhone X is a Surprisingly Super Shooter

Approaching rush hour on 805 marks my walk along Adams Ave. above to Pet Me Please, where I learned a valuable lesson. Always call ahead. I used Siri to check normal business hours, but there were none. A sign on the door announced that the shop would be (uncharacteristically) closed today because of the “Lilac wildfire“. Well, frak me. At least I got some good exercise and shot of slowing traffic.

I captured the Featured Image at 3:16 p.m. PST, through a small opening in the overpass bridge chain-link fence, using iPhone X. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/810 sec, 6mm. The image is an auto-generated HDR composite.

Tech reviewers rave about Pixel 2 XL’s photographic charms; they can have Google’s smartphone. I am wholly impressed with Apple’s tenth anniversary handset, which is a suprisingly super shooter compared to my (now discarded) 7 Plus—or any other cellular mobile to find its way into my grubby paws. 

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Artifacts: MacBook Air

In late December 2014, I commanded: “Writers, Own Your Content“, because if you don’t it may some day be gone. They say the Internet never forgets. Oh, but it does, as I so bitterly learned—you shouldn’t need to repeat my mistakes; heed my advice.

For today’s remembrance, I wanted to link to an amazing Apple Store customer service story from 2008. Turns out, it’s gone. I didn’t post to my personal site as I had thought but to the long defunct Apple Watch blog, which Ziff Davis Enterprise evaporated not long following my layoff about a year later. The detailed experiential account was priceless. Now the content is worthless. This should never happen to you. 

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Artifacts: Olympus LS-10 Linear PCM Recorder

The process of moving residences after 10 years is opportunity to assess objects—and their value to keep or part with and what they once meant. Our garage is a treasure trove of memories and missives, like the Olympus LS-10 Linear PCM Recorder, which I ordered from Amazon on June 9, 2010. Strangely, perhaps ironically, the purpose for which I purchased the device made it obsolete.

On Oct. 12, 2017, I pulled the voice recorder from a box, where it was carefully coddled in a protective case. But both batteries had ruptured, and their acid apparently damaged the circuitry. After being cleaned and receiving fresh AAs, the LS-10 stubbornly refused to power up. Strange that it looks so new and ready to use. No more. I shot the Featured Image with Leica Q. Record button is focal point. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, 28mm. 

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I Buried My PixelBook Ambitions at Google Store

I would like to thank Google for saving me thousands of dollars in needless spending. Near the end of today’s gangbuster hardware event, I was ready to order two new Chromebooks and smartphones, one each for me and my wife. But “error 500” pages on the company’s store website and long-lead new product availability dates prompted me to cancel the one order successfully made and to delete the others in process from my shopping cart.

For a company whose product managers droned on this morning about all the reasons why artificial intelligence is so right, Big G got the store selling experience all wrong. I have waited through most of 2017 for a new Google-branded Chrome OS laptop. While hardly a fresh hardware design concept, PixelBook is nevertheless tempting enough to bring me back to the AI and voice-assistant contextual future from the Apple rotting on the overly-obsessed touch-UI tree. I was willing and ready but instead walked away angry.