My Photography (40) — Resting Rickshaw Driver, Agra, India, 2014

April 21, 2018 · 12:02

I took this photo on the day we arrived in Agra, a day before we went to see the fantastic Taj Mahal — we caught a taxi at the train station and asked him to take us to our hotel, which was around 1.5 km away from the aforementioned landmark. Unfortunately, the driver had no clue where our hotel was and as it turned out, it wasn’t where Google said it was. We found it half an hour later, not more than 300 metres from the Taj Mahal entrance gate, in an electric-vehicle-only zone. As we walked to check in to the hotel (calling it that is a stretch), I saw a rickshaw driver taking a nap under a tree — he struck my emotions, obviously exhausted from working in the heat of the day.

Shot with Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35 mm f/2D: f/2, 1/4000, ISO 200.


Why You’ve Never Heard of the Six Chinese Men Who Survived the Titanic →

April 21, 2018 · 10:55

Amy B Wang, writing for The Washington Post:

Hundreds of passengers fled in lifeboats. Hundreds more perished, going down with the ship or freezing to death in the icy water. The only one of Titanic’s lifeboats to turn back to the wreckage found body after body — until it discovered a young Chinese man, still alive, clinging to a piece of wood.

That man would be one of six Chinese passengers who survived the Titanic, a little-known fact about the historic disaster that has largely remained untold or distorted, owing to a racially hostile environment toward Chinese people in the West at the turn of the 20th century.

Fascinating read.


Wavelength for Micro.blog →

April 20, 2018 · 12:03

Manton Reece:

We’re rolling out a new hosted plan on Micro.blog to accommodate microcasts. When you upload an audio file to your site — either from the web, Wavelength, or a third-party app — Micro.blog will automatically create a podcast feed for your microblog. Listeners can subscribe directly, or you can add the feed to the Apple Podcast Directory and it will show up in popular apps like Overcast and Castro. Everything can be served from your own domain name, just like a normal microblog. We’ve been using this infrastructure for all the episodes of our weekly Micro Monday microcast.

New hosted microblogs with microcasting support will be $10/month. Microcast audio files will be limited to 20 MB. Existing microblogs hosted on Micro.blog can be upgraded to support microcasting for an additional $5/month.

It’s fascinating watching how fast Manton is innovating and expanding Micro.blog. I have immense respect for him and his project, especially since it focuses on utilizing open technologies. I hope his next logical step will be to offer support for longer podcasts.


Are External GPUs for Macs Viable in macOS 10.13.4? →

April 20, 2018 · 11:05

Samuel Axon, writing for Ars Technica:

We tested an eGPU enclosure with a Thunderbolt 3-equipped MacBook Pro, and found that, in most applications, performance didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, we also found limitations and software support inconsistencies that prevent the Mac eGPU dream from being fully realized at this time.

This is an extremely tempting solution. I imagine my current setup changing from a Hackintosh and MacBook Pro 13” to just a MacBook Pro 13” with a eGPU setup and external monitor. There would be a few caveats: I’d need a 2 TB SSD in the MacBook, at least a 4K monitor, preferably supporting Display P3 (my current 4K Eizo is sRGB), and I’d want one of those new quad-core Core i7s from Intel. They’re already available but Apple hasn’t yet ingested them into the lineup.

That and a reliable keyboard — my MacBook Pro is currently in for service for a new one.


Jason Snell on His iPad Setup →

April 20, 2018 · 10:59

Jason Snell, on Six Colours:

A reader on Twitter suggested I buy this iPad stand on Amazon, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s surprisingly sturdy. The base that approximates the foot of an iMac is metal, not plastic. A hinge lets me pivot the iPad up and down and likewise doesn’t feel cheap. And the clip mechanism—the stand comes with clips for large and small iPads—is strong enough to hold my iPad without any worry of it sliding out. Best of all, the thing rotates, so I can use my iPad in portrait (for more words on the screen) or landscape (for use with Split View) as I see fit […]

I found what I think is the exact same model of stand that Jason is using, but available on Amazon.de in Europe — it’s under a different name though. I will be ordering this stand later today and hope it’s not a cheap knock-off.

[…] I replaced the Mini Tactile Pro with the Matias Laptop Pro, a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard with a silver-and-black style that fits in pretty well with my iPad and its stand. Until I find something better—let’s face it, I appear to be collecting mechanical keyboards—this is my preferred writing environment when I’m away from my desk. At least until my kids come home from school, at which point I have to go back into my office and close the door.

I’ve been tempted to buy a mechanical keyboard for my Hackintosh for a number of years now, but the WASD V2 that I want, with custom keys, is a bit too expensive to ship to Europe from USA. It doesn’t have Bluetooth either, so I couldn’t use it with my iPad Pro. Jason has tempted me to get the Matias, but it’s over 150 GBP to have it shipped to Poland from the UK — I’ll leave it on my wish list for now and continue using my Apple Wireless Keyboard in the meantime.


Tim Cook: “Users Don’t Want iOS to Merge With macOS” →

April 20, 2018 · 10:48

Peter Wells, speaking with Tim Cook:

“I generally use a Mac at work, and I use an iPad at home,” Cook tells me, “And I always use the iPad when I’m travelling. But I use everything and I love everything.”

Later, when I ask about the divide between the Mac and iOS, which seems almost conservative when compared to Microsoft’s convertible Windows 10 strategy, Cook gives an interesting response.

“We don’t believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two … you begin to make trade offs and compromises.

This is nothing new — Tim Cook already made this statement a few years go.

I spent many days working solely with a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 the quickest summary I can come up with would be: it’s a good enough notebook, but a terrible tablet, at least in comparison to the iPad. The one situation I really liked it in, was editing photos in Lightroom, where I could detach the keyboard and focus on using touch. The iPad on the other hand, which I use every single day since it came out in 2010, is a great tablet and not a very good notebook. I guess it all depends where you’re coming from — Windows 10, as a desktop operating system, hasn’t yet evolved to be a great mobile OS1, while iOS is the exact opposite, even though iOS 11 helped a lot in that regard.

We’re currently at these strange crossroads between the past and future, while everyone is trying to figure out how to go forward, but it appears they don’t yet know which turn to take.

  1. It’s not a stellar desktop OS at the moment either — they still haven’t figured out HiDPI.

My Airplay Speakers Have Become Obsolete →

April 18, 2018 · 16:00

Chaim Gartenberg, writing for The Verge:

So, it turns out that I can never change my Wi-Fi network’s name ever again, or my speakers will stop working. That may sound ridiculous, but let me walk you through the series of bad decisions and technological quirks that have brought me here.

This is my biggest worry regarding my HomePod. I wouldn’t be as worried if it had a newer SoC, Bluetooth, and a backup 3.5 mm line-in port.


The Cameras That Shot the Winning Photos of World Press Photo 2018 →

April 17, 2018 · 09:25

Michael Zhang, on PetaPixel:

World Press Photo announced the 2018 winners of its prestigious photojournalism contest last week, and most of the winning photos (97 of 129) were accompanied by details of the cameras they were shot with. This year, Nikon took the lead from Canon.

Quite frankly, I’m more interested in the people who took those photos than the cameras themselves. You don’t rank pots and pans (to the best of my knowledge) when chefs take part in a contest — you interview the people behind the recipes. Realistically, the camera is just a tool and I’m sure the photographers would have gotten as near as indistinguishable results whatever gear they used.


Mapping Apple’s Space Gray Shades →

April 17, 2018 · 00:50

Michael Steeber, writing for 9to5Mac:

Silver aluminum, once the defining look of Apple products, has been met with increasing variety over the last several years by a range of colors and finishes that customers can choose from. One of the earliest and most popular options – space gray – has permeated across almost every product line Apple offers.

Yet, ubiquity has not brought consistency. Each new generation of a product seems to bring with it a slightly different take on space gray. Those with large device collections have noted the discrepancies between shades, and discussions brew online over the term’s exact definition.

While subtle variations in material, texture, lighting, and even the shape of a product can play tricks on the eyes, every device Apple currently offers or has produced in space gray can be grouped into one of several loosely defined categories. Below, we’ve cataloged and categorized the vast universe of Apple’s recent dark material finishes in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of space gray.

Car manufacturers use a different name for every single shade of grey they offer. I can’t help but think that Apple was very uncreative in their Space Grey endeavor — they had all the words in the world to use and decided “Space” was good enough, despite the shades being completely different between generations and devices.

I would love to understand their reasoning behind this (bad) decision.


Facebook Won’t Disclose What Information It Has Gathered on Non-users →

April 16, 2018 · 12:13

David Ingram, for The Huffington Post:

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday under questioning by U.S. Representative Ben Luján that, for security reasons, Facebook also collects “data of people who have not signed up for Facebook.”

Lawmakers and privacy advocates immediately protested the practice, with many saying Facebook needed to develop a way for non-users to find out what the company knows about them.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Representative Luján, a Democrat, told Zuckerberg, calling for such disclosure, a move that would have unclear effects on the company’s ability to target ads. Zuckerberg did not respond. On Friday Facebook said it had no plans to build such a tool.

While I don’t want Facebook to keep any records about me or my doings online, I do strongly support an open internet, which technically means that I consent to this sort of behaviour. There will always be bad actors in the world and the internet is no different. I can however attempt to block as much of Facebook as possible, by using an appropriate DNS and content blocker or host file.


The Canadian Cheese Cartel →

April 16, 2018 · 12:00

Allen Pike:

It’s so expensive, in fact, that pizza places estimate their daily food cost with a single number: Cheese Cost. My brother used to work at a pizza place here, and the manager only wanted to know two numbers at the end of the day: revenue, and Cheese Cost. Meat? A rounding error. Vegetables? Irrelevant. Show Me The Cheese.

With these cheese prices, you would expect a healthy import market. Except not, because dairy tariffs in Canada are 245.5%. That is to say, if you want to import a $4.99 block of sharp Tillamook Cheddar, it will cost you $17.27 after import taxes. Surprisingly, there ain’t a lot of sharp Tillamook Cheddar here.

I did not realise I would go bankrupt, were I to live in Canada — I love cheddar!

I’m not sure what Allen means when he says that a “block” of Tillamook Cheddar costs $4.99 in USA and $17.27 in Canada, but I assume he means around 200-250 grams. I found a 2 lb (907 g) “baby loaf” on Amazon for $21.75 (around $75 in Canada?!?), which comes out about right.

Preposterous!

For the sake of comparison, I can get 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of Kerrygold Cheddar in Poland for 58.50 PLN (around 17.30 USD).

Allen Pike also felt obliged to point out that…

The Canadian dairy cartel generates substantially less profit than the Mexican drug cartel does.

He made me laugh, so as a thank you I added his RSS feed to my “Must Read” category of feeds.

via Daring Fireball


My Photography (39) — Auschwitz-Birkenau, Memorial and Museum, Oświęcim, Poland, 2005

April 16, 2018 · 11:01

My winter trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp located in Oświęcim, Poland was a spontaneous one. It was also my first visit there and 13 years later I can still remember everything that I felt. Just a few minutes in, I was overcome by the depth of the tragic events that occurred there, as if the people felled on the grounds of the camp were still watching and making sure such events never take place in the world again. It was an acutely sobering experience.

Shot with Canon 10D + EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L: f/8, 1/640 s, ISO 100 @ 70 mm.

View more of my photos from Auschwitz →


Tesla & Nissan Battery Degradation →

April 15, 2018 · 12:17

Fred Lambert, writing for Electrek:

Battery degradation is one of the biggest concerns for electric car owners and potential buyers, but data from Tesla battery packs have been very reassuring so far.

Now the latest data shows less than 10% degradation of the energy capacity after over 160,000 miles on Tesla’s battery packs […]

The data clearly shows that for the first 50,000 miles (100,000 km), most Tesla battery packs will lose about 5% of their capacity, but after the 50,000-mile mark, the capacity levels off and it looks like it could be difficult to make a pack degrade by another 5%.

The trend line currently suggests that the average battery pack could cycle through over 300,000 km (186,000) before coming close to 90% capacity […]

Meanwhile, Nissan has issues with the Leaf:

A recent study shows that with the original 24 kWh pack loses about 20% of their capacity over 5 years and Nissan’s more recent 30 kWh battery pack loses capacity more quickly than the older pack […]

The next few years will be interesting for car buyers. We haven’t had to worry about engines as much so far — they’re more or less reliable enough and don’t lose much power over the years — but battery packs directly influence the usability of an electric car. I privately wanted a Leaf as a city car, but if its pack degrades as quickly as the study above shows, then I will have to reconsider it as an option.


End-to-End Encryption Does Not Prevent Facebook From Accessing WhatsApp Chats →

April 13, 2018 · 11:49

Gregorio Zanon, posting on Medium:

Facebook could potentially access your WhatApp chats. In fact, it could easily acces your entire chat history and every single attachment. Now, I am not saying it does and have no evidence it did. But after Android users have recently been finding out that their call history and SMS data had been collected by Facebook, I believe it is important to go over the means by which Facebook is already in a position to collect our WhatsApp data, from any iPhone running iOS 8 and above.

In case you did not know about this for some reason…


Aleksandr Kogan Collected Facebook Users’ Direct Messages →

April 13, 2018 · 11:45

Alex Hern and Carole Cadwalladr, writing for The Guardian:

Aleksandr Kogan collected direct messages sent to and from Facebook users who installed his This Is Your Digital Life app, the Guardian can reveal. It follows Facebook’s admission that the company “may” have handed over the direct messages of some users to the Cambridge Analytica contractor without their express permission. The revelation is the most severe breach of privacy yet in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

This just gets better and better. I wonder what else we don’t know yet.

For the record, I deleted my Facebook account on March 22, a day after my last post on the subject.


The Graphing Calculator Story →

April 11, 2018 · 15:03

Ron Avitzur:

I used to be a contractor for Apple, working on a secret project. Unfortunately, the computer we were building never saw the light of day. The project was so plagued by politics and ego that when the engineers requested technical oversight, our manager hired a psychologist instead. In August 1993, the project was canceled. A year of my work evaporated, my contract ended, and I was unemployed.

I was frustrated by all the wasted effort, so I decided to uncancel my small part of the project. I had been paid to do a job, and I wanted to finish it. My electronic badge still opened Apple’s doors, so I just kept showing up.

I cannot imagine this would be possible today, which is sad in some ways. Ron’s dedication is truly admirable and I can’t help but wonder how many other stories like this one are out there, waiting to be told.


April 11, 2018 · 10:59

I’m sitting with my 2016 MacBook Pro Escape on my lap, connected to its charger, really missing MagSafe. I have not yet tripped over the cord, but it has been close a few times now. All I can do is fondly remember how many times MagSafe saved my 2014 MacBook Pro.


What It’s Like To See 100 Million Colors →

April 10, 2018 · 15:03

Alexa Tsoulis-Reay, for New York magazine:

Tetrachromats can see colors that most people cannot — up to 100 million, estimates suggest, which is 100 times that of the average human. Most people have three cells, or receptors, in their retinas, but tetrachomats have a fourth receptor, which may be what allows for their heightened color perception. They are usually female, and it’s estimated that about 12 percent of women carry the gene for this fourth receptor. Carrying the gene doesn’t guarantee that you’ll wind up with heightened color vision, but those who both have the gene and who are immersed in a wide range of colors from a very young age appear to be more likely to develop the ability. Researchers are still in the very early stages in their understanding of this condition, so there aren’t any hard numbers on how often it manifests itself.

This article about Concetta Antico is not only fascinating, it is also extremely inspiring. What I found most amazing, is how well Concetta describes the colours that she is able to see — it must be fascinating to see everything around us the way she can. My first thought was that I am blind in comparison to her — just read her description of the colour of grass:

Let’s take mowed grass. Someone who doesn’t have this genetic variation might see bright green, maybe lights or darks in it. I see pinks, reds, oranges, gold in the blades and the tips, and gray-blues and violets and dark greens, browns and emeralds and viridians, limes and many more colors — hundreds of other colors in grass. It’s fascinating and mesmerizing.

She can also tell when someone is sick by just looking at the colour(s) of their skin.


Colour: From Hexcodes to Eyeballs →

April 10, 2018 · 14:50

Jamie Wong, on his Zero Wind blog:

Why do we perceive background-color: #9B51E0 as this particular purple?

This is one of those questions where I thought I’d known the answer for a long time, but as I inspected my understanding, I realized there were pretty significant gaps.

Through an exploration of electromagnetic radiation, optical biology, colorimetry, and display hardware, I hope to start filling in some of these gaps. If you want to skip ahead, here’s the lay of the land we’ll be covering […]

This is a fantastic and informative journey through light and colour — I found myself nodding along to the things I knew and being surprised by the rest. Do set aside at least 15 minutes to get through the whole piece without interruptions.

(via @khron)


MyFitnessPal Hacked →

April 10, 2018 · 00:42

From their FAQ:

On March 25, 2018, we became aware that during February of this year an unauthorized party acquired data associated with MyFitnessPal user accounts […]

The affected information included usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords – the majority with the hashing function called bcrypt used to secure passwords.

The affected data did not include government-issued identifiers (such as Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers) because we don’t collect that information from users. Payment card data was not affected because it is collected and processed separately.

I still have an account over there which I don’t use. Time to get rid of it.


My Photography (37) — The City of Bodrum, Turkey, 2017

April 9, 2018 · 16:58

This photo was taken from the Castle of Bodrum, which has a fantastic view of the city, marina, and bay from its walls. Unfortunately, it closes early, so sunset shots are out of the question at the time of year this was taken (September, 2017). If you’re ever in Bodrum, make sure to spend a few hours touring the castle.

Shot with Sony A7R II + FE 28 mm f/2: f/8, 1/200 s, ISO 100.


iPhone 8 (PRODUCT)RED Announced and Goes on Sale Tomorrow →

April 9, 2018 · 16:42

Apple PR:

Apple today announced iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition, the new generation of iPhone in a stunning red finish. Both phones sport a beautiful glass enclosure, now in red, with a matching aluminum band and a sleek black front. The special edition (PRODUCT)RED iPhone will be available to order online in select countries and regions tomorrow and in stores beginning Friday, April 13.

It dropped today, as the rumours predicted. I am however surprised Apple listened to last year’s criticism concerning the white front — they went black this year — and quite shocked they didn’t release the iPhone X in red guise. I’m sure the latter would have spiked sales if it looked as good as the 8, and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t have, but I am a little relieved — I would have wanted to swap out my white X for that beauty.


All of Apple’s OSes Should Get Comprehensive Instruction Manuals

April 9, 2018 · 11:24

This is but one example of the hundreds, if not thousands, of hidden features inside iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Siri. There are so many of these right now, that I don’t know a single person who would be aware of all of them. I read one of my own tips, which I published a few years ago, and was amazed that something like that was possible, and that I did not remember it1.

P.S. If you’re on macOS and don’t know the following keyboard shortcuts, make sure to memorise them — they’re really useful:

  1. I have since forgotten it again.

Solo: A Star Wars Story Official Trailer

April 9, 2018 · 09:00

Han Solo is Harrison Ford. Harrison Ford is Han Solo. He is the character of the original Star Wars trilogy. I watched and rewatched the movies because of him and for him. I might have shed a tear or ten when he died in The Force Awakens. I truly hope this newest Star Wars Story doesn’t ruin him for me and I’m half-tempted to not watch it at all.


WWDC on a Budget →

April 5, 2018 · 16:44

Joe Cieplinski, on his blog:

I know conferences can be expensive, and everyone has to judge for themselves what “affordable” means. But I’ve seen a lot of people lately say that they simply can’t do WWDC anymore because it’s “way too expensive” and I wanted to address that.

He has a slew of simple and seemingly obvious, but very useful tips — a must read if you’re planning to go in the future, because it’s a bit late to take into account for WWDC 2018.