Category: Tech

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It’s About Time

To celebrate my fifty-ninth birthday earlier this week, I acquired on this fine Friday the 13th the same (but slightly newer) model watch worn by both Cassie and Cole on 12 Monkeys, which wrapped its final season one week ago. Coherency and consistency makes for compelling character-driven, superb storytelling. The actors were well-chosen for their roles; the dynamic among them is believable and compelling.

Too many series shift suddenly to reboot the narrative, between seasons. Common tactic: Jumping months or years ahead, and in process changing characters’ circumstances while leaving viewers feeling like they missed something—as previous plots are tossed aside. Not 12 Monkeys, which fourth season was in almost all ways the most entertaining of all. Jennifer Goines performing P!NK for Der Furher is sure to achieve cult-meme status, when the program reaches the right threshold of fans.

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My Tidal Time Ends

As explained yesterday, Google Store Father’s Day sale specials spurred along my decision to abandon Apple for Pixel devices and supporting services, nothing more. I had contemplated such a move for some time before acting, which brings me to revealing another change: Leaving behind Tidal.

I have subscribed to the high-fi, lossless music streaming service since its rebranded launch under Jay Z (and partners) ownership: April 1, 2015. A few other times I cancelled, mainly because of monthly cost ($19.95), but resubscribed during the billing cycle. Why? I can hear the difference, particularly in vocals, which pulled me back. Every other option makes muddy audio. But I have finally decided to, regrettably, put value before fidelity. 

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OK, Google, I Surrender

They say the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. That sentiment is root of a change in progress: Abandoning Apple for Google, choosing one digital lifestyle over the other—and not for the first time. If you’d ask me on May 30th about giving up the fruit logo company for the search behemoth, the response would have been a chuckle. Yeah, right. But, correcting Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ grammar, in less than 30 days I think differently, which whys this reflection explains.

Like many other decisions, this one didn’t just happen. Like suddenly blossoming Spring, change had been budding for many months, as the cold winter ways of my thinking responded to nurturing warmth and water. I was never really satisfied giving up my Pixel lifestyle—whether Chromebook, smartphone, or tablet—but did so somewhat reluctantly in March 2016 for three simple reasons that today aren’t as important. 

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My Leica M (Typ 262) Adventure Ends

This afternoon, a film student from Los Angeles bought my first digital rangefinder, acquired in early March 2018 as part of the Oberwerth Set. He graduates from the M6 film camera, which he plans to continue using.

His interest in the Leica M (Typ 262) matches the manufacturer’s purpose: Provide an experience with digital benefits that is barebones close to using a Leica film shooter. The M262 is super streamlined, with mostly manual controls, two main menu pages, and no frills. That means no video, no Live View, and no connectivity (Bluetooth or WiFi). The shutter sound is smoothly soft, making the rangefinder more discreet on the street. 

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The Worm in Apple’s App Store

Earlier today, I needed to get Skype onto my iPhone X to receive an overseas call. So I hauled over to the App Store, like any sensible iOS user would do. I was shocked—absolutely floored—to see an advert for Google Duo taking up about half the screen, and appearing above Skype.

You got to ask how many people end up downloading the upper one instead. I don’t often go to the App Store and wonder: How long has been this kind of aggressive placement? Looks like since the recent redesign. 

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Your Behavior Stinks!

A few days ago, BetaNews Managing Editor Wayne Williams emailed asking if I could contribute content after being silent for ages, especially as the site’s 20th anniversary approaches. He doesn’t fathom the potential terror that request will unleash.

I have written a total of two tech stories for BN in 2018—surely to the delight of my many commenter critics. Reason: Joe Wilcox is on a self-imposed writing hiatus as he looks distrustfully at the many so-called innovations that he championed during a 25-year technology reporting career. He is disgusted to see how we have become commodities stored in the pantries kept by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and most every other advert-licking,  AI-snorting, location-tracking, tech purveyor of promises looking to consume us for profit. Burp. 

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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.