Ok, I think this poor blog might be done.
Even the word ‘blog’ feels weirdly anachronistic now, and I blame Google and Facebook in about equal measure for accelerating its demise. How dismal is it that authoring and posting a few paragraphs of text suddenly now requires yet another [consolidated, for-profit] ‘platform’ instead of just being on a website with a feed. I think Medium is my least favourite incarnation of the trend, with its pretension to curated quality it’s really just the minimal blog version of the original HuffPo, waiting to be bought by some bigger fish for a billion dollars in a deal which will offer exactly zero remuneration to the authors who generate its content and reputation.
Of course this is not the primary reason I’ve lost the drive to blog… it’s mainly down to a stunning lack of spare time/thoughts.
— Jonathan Shariat (@DesignUXUI) March 13, 2015
After tolerating the iPhoto desktop application for many years, I was really looking forward to its replacement, Photos.app.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that this long awaited piece of the Apple ecosystem would be just a slightly revamped iPhoto, with all the shittiness of the old iPhotos app retained, and a few extra screwups thrown in for good measure.
- Better Facebook integration.
- Better control over image rotation when editing.
- Automatic grouping of photo bursts.
- Moronic inability to distinguish between a photo in a stream and the exact same photo in local library. This is exactly the sort of stuff a user should never have to think about, but instead you get stupid prompts whenever you try to edit a photo direct from a stream.
- When importing photos from an iPhone, you can select ‘delete after import’, but this will only delete photos that have not already been imported automatically via Photostream.
- Photo streams are still woefully crap and slow to load in web pages (the only way to share with non-ios users), videos play badly or not at all, and there is still no way to separate stream subscribers from stream curators.
- If you still have photos on your phone and you want to clear them (maybe because your phone has much less storage than your computer), there is no longer a simple button to do this. You’ll now have to open the Photos app on your phone to empty the camera roll.
- When importing photos from an iPhone, there is often an occasion where some photos have been imported automatically (via Photostream) between the time you connect the phone and the time you go to manually import. In iPhoto, this would cause a moronic dialog box to pop up and ask if you want to import these ‘duplicate’ photos, and that was really annoying. Photos.app has gone one step worse and simply doesn’t ask, but goes ahead and duplicates the photos.
- Shared streams show up in the sidebar (which is of course off by default), and when a stream is viewed the photos are sorted oldest-to-newest. This wouldn’t be so bad, except that each time you return to them the scroll position is reset to the top again, so you will always be looking at the oldest photos in a stream, rather than the newest. This goes against the whole concept of the ‘stream’.
- Sharing a photo to an iCloud stream shows no confirmation, progress or feedback whatsoever, and the photos take a while to show up in the local version of the stream. This means you might assume it failed to share and end up posting the same photo more than once (and more than 30 minutes after correcting such a mistake I am still seeing 4 duplicate photos in a publicly shared photo stream.)
Honestly, I can’t understand how Apple keep fucking this up. The only ‘hard’ thing about a photo management app is the storage itself, everything else should be easy. Recognizing and avoiding duplicates should be EASY. Displaying streams in the correct order should be EASY.
I have been sort of ramping up physical activity since the hospital procedure, and needed a way to track this. I started looking at the horrible world of fitness apps, and thankfully before I invested any serious time into it I was delighted to discover that my iPhone6 had been quietly tracking this without me having to install anything. Love that new motion co-processor!
An amazing year, both exhausting and exciting. Polly is about ready to walk, but can’t really be bothered since she still gets about pretty quick by crawling. She is already able to grab stuff off the kitchen benchtops by standing on tippy toes, and there is a sort of high water mark becoming obvious in the house, as lower shelves and drawers are becoming conspicuously jumbled and emptied of pointy stuff. Basically she wants ALL THE THINGS.
A couple of weeks back I had a CT scan of my heart to check for early signs of coronary artery disease, for purely precautionary reasons. Most people in my shoes would not have bothered with such a test, having not experienced any chest pain, tingling etc, nor would doctors generally recommend a test without some evidence of a problem.
Although I had already had a normal ECG and a stress test appeared to show normal heart function, after some discussion with my cardiologist of my personal risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history) we decided to go ahead and check anyway, just to be sure.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the CT scan revealed a surprise blockage in my LAD (an artery also known rather grimly as the Widow Maker). It appeared quite severe, so last week I checked in to hospital for an angiogram (the gold standard test where they actually feed a catheter into an artery and squirt radioactive dye in).
Part of me still expected it could turn out to be no big deal, since after all I was experiencing no actual symptoms. But of course the angio confirmed what the CT has implied: a major occlusion, greater than 80%. Standard procedure was followed at this point, which is that a stent was inserted immediately via the same catheter, and expanded to push the artery open at that location.
All this means that even though I felt pretty much fine before (although perhaps a little easily fatigued?) I am now basically enfeebled while I wait for the stent to properly ‘bed in’. Because of the location and form of the blockage, my surgeon elected to use a drug-eluting stent which, although more expensive and high tech, actually carries higher risk of short term problems (namely thrombosis aka clotting) as it takes longer to be incorporated as part of the arterial wall.
Some things I am apparently not able to do safely right now:
- Bend down and pick up my baby daughter
- Run up stairs
- Mow lawn (not that I care about this one)
- Go more than a day without taking blood thinning medication
- Any kind of home maintenance
- Anything that might significantly raise my blood pressure or heart rate
The problem with that last point is that not being able to do certain things is itself a major source of stress and therefore a potential problem. This is probably why depression is so common after heart procedures; you basically look fine, but feel useless, and can’t do anything fun (and of course you’re acutely and persistently aware of your own mortality).
Cue lots of mindful breathing and trying not to focus on things that make me cross (not a good time to be following Australian politics right now). Ideally I’d like to be placed into a deep restful sleep and submerged in a nutrifying gel for a few months while my body fully heals itself, but apparently that treatment won’t be available for at least a few decades.
My Late 2009 model iMac is now late late, having died this morning after almost 5 years of faithful service. First the graphics got flakey, now it won’t even start up. I was going to either sell it cheap, or keep it as a spare/guest computer, but now it looks like it’s just a huge block of aluminium to be cannibalised for parts.
Last week I picked up a 42″ UHD TV for pretty cheap (Hisense 42K320UW, discounted because generally no one interested in a UHD TV is bothering with anything below 55″). It’s packed with functionality like most modern TVs, but of course the UI and remote are unbelievably shit, as I have come to expect from most electronic gear, especially cheapie brands.
Since the Panasonic plasma TV it is intended to replace is still mostly working (although some glitching on HDMI signals) I thought I’d give this one a tryout as a monitor first, replacing my old 2009 iMac which I was only really using as a display for my work laptop anyway.
Using a DisplayPort to HDMI converter (newish one supporting 4K via HDMI 1.4) I can run this TV as a monitor in full native UHD resolution.
- At only $550 this was cheaper than the cheapest 4K monitor I could find.
- 3840 x 2160 resolution!
- Feels excitingly huge!
- Feels uncomfortably huge! 42″ is just too damn big for a desktop monitor.
- HDMI 1.4 only allows UHD resolution up to 30Hz refresh rate, meaning there’s noticeable juddering and lag on cursor movements (the screen itself doesn’t flicker though)
- Unbelievably terrible UI… eg just adjusting brightness means about 5 or 6 clicks through the crappy menu.
- Using it in standard HD mode (1920 x 1080) results in higher refresh (60Hz) but weirdly much greater latency, even in “game mode” with bullshit features turned off. This would actually be a really bad TV for gaming.
So, it’s taken an awful lot longer than originally expected, but I have finally moved in to my new workspace.
This means I no longer share a room with babby, and also that I can’t just step out of my office to snack in the kitchen, so hopefully I will stay a little more focused on my work.
Hard to say if this will actually be the case, as I’ve only just moved in, am still in ‘holiday’ head space, and am still surrounded by piles of clutter.
Bought myself a new camera recently, after an awful lot of vacillating about it (since iPhones are almost always good enough for anything I would want to shoot).
As with so much technology, I find myself simultaneously impressed by the hardware while being annoyed by shitty software and firmware.
- Basically this is a really nice ‘enthusiast’ level camera, and I’ve barely even started to understand most of the functionality, so best just to refer you to DPReview (the place to go if you’re researching cameras to buy).
- It has that classic silver and black look that makes no difference to the photos, but makes it somehow feel more… authentic?
- It has amazing image-stabilisation built in (sensor based, 3-axis), which is rather important for Mr Shaky Hands here.
- I got it for 20% off (or 36% off if you believe the nonsense RRPs that camera manufacturers stick on their product pages)
- I can take extra nice Polly pics now.
- It gives me something to hide behind at social events where I don’t know many people.
- Doesn’t charge from USB, so you have to actually pop the battery out and stick it in its own custom charger. Can’t believe this is still a thing.
- On a related note: NO EXTERNAL POWER OPTION. Again, could have been solved by using USB power.
- Host only Wifi. One of the cool features becoming standard with digital cameras is Wifi, which sounds great (in the picture above I am actually taking the photo remotely, using my iPhone to control the new camera), but there’s a major pain about the way Olympus (and others?) implement wireless connectivity; namely that it’s host only, ie: your camera becomes a wifi hotspot and you connect to it with your phone. See the problem here? In order to connect to the camera you first have to disconnect from any regular wifi, thereby losing internet access (at least if you’re using iOS). In typical tech journo fashion, this article neglects to point out this limitation, while going on to praise…
- OI.Share – the app for controlling the camera remotely is probably the ugliest, flakiest app I currently have installed on my iPhone.
- Olympus Viewer 3 – probably the ugliest, least intuitive application I have installed on my iMac.
As posts here get a little sparse, I’m switching to the Disqus comment system, mainly because it means you can sign in with your preferred network and track replies etc more easily. Disqus seems to be pretty ubiquitous lately, to the point where if you want to have a reasonably functional comment and threading system which people will actually use, it’s either this or Facebook.
Note that all past comments have been imported into the new system, but currently show up with generic avatars. If you have commented here in the past (with a valid email) please consider doing a ‘merge’ as described on this page. If you do so your avatar (and name if you choose something different) will be updated in all the old threads and you will be able to track upvotes, replies etc.
It’s really not that tricky, you just need to sign in with the same email and then choose to “Merge” the comments attributed to that email address. Another benefit of doing so is that you get to edit or delete your own comments.
Hey, did you hear they’re going to make invisible planes soon? How cool eh? Just like Wonder Woman’s stupid jet. Here’s an incredibly convincing picture from an equally convincing article:
You see it’s apparently totally possible because it’s not actually invisible, it’s just magic technology projecting the scenery on the interior of the plane. Brilliant!
Except actually stupid!
The reason this is a stupid idea is not because it is expensive, unnecessary and unnerving, but because it simply can’t be done, and anyone who suggests it can obviously has not sought the opinion of anyone who has a clue about optics or aircraft. After checking the comments on this article, I realised that no one had really pointed this out, so I decided to do so.
The problem with saying something smart on the internet, is that some people are so used to everyone else being wrong, that they often don’t think about it much before assuming they know better.
Sturla Molden, he gets it. But then there’s this th3r0n guy. I mean, he has numbers in his name so he must be some kind of nerd genius right? Not about this he’s not. I am somewhat annoyed at his poorly reasoned dismissal of my criticism, and so feel it’s now extra important that people understand just how stupid the ‘project exterior onto interior’ idea is. It’s like, REALLY stupid, and yet no one seems to understand this!
I attempted to add a reply to further clarify the issue, but it turns out this is one of those terrible comment systems that only tells you the thread is closed AFTER you have entered your comment and clicked POST.
And so, because I have to record it somewhere or I will go mad, here is my [attempted] reply to the incorrect correction, further elaborating on my original, actually correct criticism:
I don’t know what led you to make this assertion, but it is not correct.
Imagine sitting in your seat, enjoying what seems to be an amazing panoramic view. You look to your right, at the horizon projected on the wall beside you. Place your finger on the wall so it’s touching the horizon. Now realise that a person standing up should see the horizon at their eye level, but instead will be looking down at the level of your finger. The distortion for all the other viewers in the cabin would be ridiculously bad.
Another example, imaging you are sitting towards the back of the plane, heading east, and you see a beautiful full moon rising. From where you are sitting it is superimposed over an exit door near the front. Hold your thumb up and you can obscure it. Now imagine what the person next to the exit door sees. An entire wall of bright shiny (distorted) moon blasting at them.
If I seem a little pedantic and/or smug, then fine, I don’t care. This is an area in which I have earned that right. I know the rules about projection and parallax and occlusion.
You know how words on a t-shirt are flipped in a mirror, but only left-right and never up-down? I KNOW WHY THAT IS.
How the moon seems bigger on the horizon? I CAN EXPLAIN THAT.
How the eyes on a well painted portrait seem to follow your around the room? TOO EASY!