Category: Gear

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You’re So Vane

Late afternoon today, I took a purposeful walk around the neighborhood carrying Leica M10 with Macro-Elmar-M 1:4/90 attached. I had hoped to shoot the first portraits from the lens for my “Cats of University Heights” series. I met no felines, sadly, but some of their prey tickled my fancy around the property at Cleveland and Madison.

I captured the Featured Image  and its companion at 5:03 p.m. PDT. Vitals for the first: f/11, ISO 200, 1/180 sec, 90mm. The other is same except for 1/250 sec shutter speed. I cropped both, but only really edited the second—seeking to make the birds more lit than silhouette, so to speak. 

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My Last Trip to the Apple Store Genius Bar

Yesterday, the local Apple Store emailed that my wife’s former 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar was ready. We picked up the laptop hours later. If you haven’t heard about specks of debris causing MBP keyboard failure, I can confirm from our experience that such problem occurs. In mid-June 2018, Apple initiated a free repair program, which we used last week with surprisingly positive results.

I purchased the custom-configured MBP in mid-November 2016, and right out of the box the spacebar occasionally skipped. The malfunctioning worsened over time, and, coincidentally (or not), reached crisis a few days after Apple admitted to problems with the Butterfly keyboard. The spacebar became stiff to touch, requiring considerable pressure to push, sometimes working but more often not

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Quick Update: My Apple to Google Switch

Doubt disturbed my commitment to give up the Apple Way for the Google lifestyle two months ago (yesterday). Preparing to pack up my wife’s 64GB white iPhone X, I was taken aback by how pretty it was. She kept the thing in a case, which protected from damage but also obscured beauty. For fleeting seconds, I wondered why switch. Product design that generates joy is another benefit—and one transcending any, and every, feature.

But the moment passed, and I boxed up Anne’s smartphone along with my 256GB black iPhone X. Google gave great trade-in values, which dispatched the hassle of reselling the devices on Craigslist. Eight weeks later, writing this post on Pixelbook i7, I don’t regret the decision. Confession: The transition isn’t quite complete, but we’re getting there. 

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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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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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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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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 occasionally 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.