Category: Apple

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The Cats of University Heights: Gypsy

On this date five years ago, the series started with a kitty nicknamed Scruffy—seen once and never again. A few months earlier, surgery in both eyes recovered my vision, remarkably also making it better than anytime earlier my life. Adjusting to a new way of seeing and also wanting to improve my photography skills, I chose cats as objects for my camera (and smartphone).

But I expected the project to be short-lived. As stated on Oct. 17, 2016: “I begin a new series that ends when the photos are all used”, thinking something like 30 days at most, given the pics already taken and the few additional to follow—because in a community dominated by dogs surely few cats could be found. Obviously, I was gravely mistaken; happily, if you prefer.

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Pumpkin Mountain

The iPhone 13 Pro camera system surprisingly satisfies—more than any other smartphone to bless my grubby fingers. I am loving the ultra-wide (13mm) and telephoto (77mm) lenses, along with RAW capture capabilities. Shots are sharper than I would ever expect from a device with relatively small sensor and which primary function is not photography.

All combined, the 13 Pro is creative fun—and that’s from my only surface skimming the sea of benefits. The Featured Image is example, with distortion from the ultra-wide lens adding character to an otherwise mundane scene. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/122 sec, 13mm; 1:01 p.m. PDT, yesterday.

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Cluck, Cluck

When my wife and I walk past the home of Daniel Tiger, we sometimes hear chickens—could be along the side of the building or perhaps the backyard. Today, we saw one of them pecking about the frontage. I pulled out iPhone 13 Pro for some fast shots—and, of course, the bird repeatedly turned back-to as I clicked the electronic shutter.

The Featured Image is one two usable head-in-view portraits. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/122 sec, 77mm; 9:46 a.m. PDT. The telephoto range of the third lens is a welcome change over earlier models’ 52mm. Before going out, in camera settings, I flipped the switch enabling Apple ProRAW, expecting that would be the format for today’s captures. Nope. Unbeknownst to me, the user must tap RAW on the touchscreen to truly turn on the feature. Frak.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jewel

The cruelty to the kitty backlog of still-to-be-published profiles: We skip to the front of the queue a tabby observed today—on Alabama, making this fine feline the seventy-fifth seen on the street since the series started five years ago this month.

Honey and Phil both live (if they still do) nearby where I passed by the tiger-stripe on my way to the Smart and Final (shopping for frozen tri-colored peppers, but none were available). I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 4:06 p.m. PDT.

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Where Lightning Strikes

Last night’s thunderstorms brought 524 “cloud-to-ground lightning” strikes throughout San Diego County for the “24 hours ending at 7 a.m. [PDT] today”, according to the National Weather Service. I saw evidence of one on Louisiana Street between Meade and Monroe, not far from where live Angelo and Huck—both of which were profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series. According to the closest-living neighbor, the strike, which sent portion of a palm tree to blaze, occurred around 8 p.m. Not long later, fire crews extinguished the flames.

The Featured Image is the unbecoming first photo from iPhone 13 Pro, which arrived from Apple on Sept. 24, 2021. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 25, 1/2597 sec, 77mm; 10:24 a.m., today. Scaring and some charing is visible below the frond top. The device’s telephoto lens proved its worth.

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Beats Me Why the Price Increased

Around the same day that I ordered iPhone 13 Proone for my wife and another for me—my sister called and the audio quality was crystal clear. For months she struggled to find a satisfactory Bluetooth headset, with little luck. She tried a different approach: Look on Apple Store, from which she bought Beats Flex for $49.99. Sis spends lots of time on the phone, computer, and video chats; she does software support for a non-profit. Outgoing audio quality matters. People need to hear her clearly.

I had already planned to buy something. While I carry my smartphones bareback, calling no longer would be device to ear starting with the 13 Pro. I can’t imagine that holding a 5G radio to my head is healthy behavior. My sister and I typically walk and talk during her hour lunch break; that’s too long 5G proximity to my brain. If the Beats Flex worked so well for her, surely they could for me. So on Sept. 22, 2021, I ordered a set from Apple Store and picked them up the next day from the Fashion Valley location.

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His and Hers

Not so long ago, I swapped smartphones every few months. Various models and underlying platforms from different manufacturers demanded testing and review. But the pace of innovation has slowed, the overall market reached the “good enough” threshold, and I don’t write about tech on a daily basis. Hence, my wife and I have each carried iPhone XS since June 2019. That is until today, when we migrated to the 13 Pro.

The Featured Image is, appropriately, the last photo I will ever shoot with the XS. The 1TB Silver on the left is mine; the 512GB Sierra Blue on the right is Annie’s. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/122 sec, 26mm; 1:02 p.m. PDT.

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I Don’t Miss Apple Watch

This evening, I turned on Apple Watch Series 5 for the purpose of making the Featured Image—captured using Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 800, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 6:22 p.m. PDT. I hadn’t touched the gadget since putting it in a drawer after taking it off for the last time, on May 31, 2021. The next day, I returned to wearing a mechanical watch—mainly the Luminox Automatic Sport Timer 0921.

I thought that perhaps I might miss the thing, but three months later not the least. Putting aside Apple Watch is a liberating experience. The device constantly distracts, which disrupts short-term memory. Still relevant enough, 11 years later, my missive “Internet Attention Deficit Disorder” is worth a look, on the topic of distraction. Even better, consider book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Just my luck: I bought a digital edition in June 2010; the book was revised last year; and a free update isn’t available.

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The Last Days of Apple Watch

Today I put aside the Apple Watch Series 5 (cellular) purchased in September 2019. I long considered taking such action but hesitated, knowing that if (or when) wearing stopped there would be an unrecoverable break in the activity tracked and logged in the Fitness app. Criminally egotistical as it may be, I relished the consistent achievement of my exercise, calorie, and movement goals. That’s the problem: the smartwatch provided little other meaningful benefits, and I long ago adopted a daily routine that needed no tracking to maintain.

I realized that the wrist computer had come to give me a little dopamine kick—or something like it—that obsessed Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok users get from checking their posts for comments, likes, and other reactions. A glance would reveal my pulse, which typically is in the low fifties when I’m not active; that made me feel good. Then there was Pavlovian-like preoccupation with starting (and ending) activities like walking in the Fitness app. What’s the outside air temperature? Twist the wrist. Who sent that text message? Twist again. “What are my active calories?” Twist and tap.

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Say Hello to My iPad Pro M1

The month ends with a new tablet—11-inch iPad Pro M1, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage, WiFi + cellular—purchased yesterday online, picked up today at Apple Store. I chose the silver variant simply because it was in stock. My wife inherits the previous generation model—same screen size, storage, and wireless—that I acquired nearly 14 months ago. That one replaces her 9.7-inch iPad Pro (256GB WiFi) released in 2016 and bought in November of that year.

Given my concerns about the economy, inflation, and supply chain problems, the Wilcox household is upgrading computing hardware a little sooner than would be typical; Apple’s new M1 chip makes the timing marginally good for future-proofing.

For Annie’s birthday, last week I replaced her 2018 model MacBook Air with the 2021-release 13.3-inch MacBook Pro M1 (16GB RAM, 1TB SSD). The laptop is more powerful than she needs, but we could share in a pinch and I expect the loaded config to retain higher resale value should we want, or need, to sell before the next expected upgrade—when the AppleCare+ warranty expires in three years.