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Impractically Obsolescent

Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Dave!Today I went looking for some old, old, very old files that I knew I had backed up on CD somewhere. Turns out they were even older than I thought, because they weren't on CD after all. They were on magneto-optical discs.

This poses a problem, as I have no way of reading them.

Well, I think there's a way... but it's far from an easy way.

It will involve my dragging one of my old computers with a SCSI interface out of storage, wiring up the optical drive, copying the files to a hard disk, then taking apart the computer so I can remove the hard drive and put it in another Mac which has ethernet (but no SCSI). Or something like that. Maybe I've got a SCSI CD burner around somewhere.

My guess is that CDs and DVDs will be next to die off. Just like in Back to the Future...

Back to the Future CDs LDs

At some point Real Soon Now, I need to transfer all my older files to Amazon's online storage. Then it doesn't matter if I can't read CDs or magneto-optical, or ZIP, or JAZ, or SyQuest... all I have to worry about is whether or not I can read the format that the files are in.

Years ago any time a new version of Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign came out, I immediately read in all my older files, then saved them out in the new file format. That way even my oldest files would still be accessible if I ever needed them. But eventually, as the number of files I have archived skyrocketed, this became impractical.

Now I just cross my fingers that new versions of the programs will be backwards compatible enough that I don't have to worry about it.

   

No Promise of Spring

Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Dave!My 7-year-old MacBook Pro is still perfect for my needs. No, it doesn't run as fast as it should considering my crazy workload, but it seems silly to replace it just so I can get things done a little faster. Besides, new MacBook Pros don't have Thunderbolt ports, "regular" USB ports, an HDMI port, or an SD card slot. You know, all those things that "professionals" need in their "pro" laptops to get shit done. New Apple laptops also don't have MagSafe power adapters, which is about as idiotic as it gets considering Apple beat us over the head with what an amazing innovation it was and how it keeps your laptop from being damaged...

Seriously, who the hell is deciding this crap? Tim Cook? Jonathan Ivy? It's as if they think that professional-grade laptops are just big phones with a physical keyboard that should look pretty. Instead of an essential tool that, by its nature, has to be mobile, powerful, and flexible so that it can adapt to work in numerous situation. Like, I dunno, BEING ABLE TO PLUG INTO A PRINTER OR A SCANNER THAT'S MORE THAN TWO YEARS OLD WITHOUT A DAMN ADAPTER!

If I didn't have everything invested in the Apple ecosystem, I would seriously tell them to go fuck themselves and buy a laptop which has the features a professional actually needs to do their job. It's not like MacOS X is vastly superior to Windows any more, so who cares? But, alas...

All that being said, you can understand why it chaps my ass that my old MacBook Pro is failing.

Used to be it would randomly reboot sometimes when I run a demanding app like Photoshop.

In the last couple of months, it's just randomly reboots because it feels like it.

I thought that replacing the hard drive would fix it (hey, it worked for my iMac), but that's not been the case. I think it may actually have something to do with the video memory being bad. Not entirely unexpected for a laptop that's 7-years-old and is worked to death daily, but given that I'm going to have to replace it with a pricey new MacBook Pro that has less features than what I have now (and will likely be of lesser quality*)... I'm more than a little upset.

One more thing to be mad about, I guess.

I just hope that I can get used to the new model and not be plagued with buyer's remorse.

And speaking of buyer's remorse... I read an article on CNN Business this morning: $1.3 trillion and 7,000 finance jobs are leaving Britain because of Brexit. That sounds like a lot. But look at that headline again. Those numbers only cover finance jobs and banking assets. The final tally will be vastly... vastly... higher once all jobs and all industries are considered.

When the measure to leave the E.U. was initially proposed, I thought that there was no way British citizens would ever agree to it. The benefits of staying in far outweighed the negatives. But lying liars duped the populace into voting for something that ended up fucking them over**, and now the consequences will be had. I have no idea what post-Brexit Britain will look like, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be pretty. I sure hope they can recover sooner rather than later, regardless of what ends up happening.

If only everybody would have known what was in store with their "LEAVE" vote. Maybe if they had just watched a video like this one before voting (and, yes, I know the video would have to fall through a time vortex)...

Oh well.

Time waits for no man. Or country. So the world will keep spinning regardless.

   


*Case in point... here's a guy who bought a FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR iMAC which was broken by an APPLE-BRANDED $80 VESA mount, for which he received abysmal support...

Used to be that Apple provided quality for the money. But anymore? Apple crap is just as shitty as everybody else's crap.

**Sound familiar, my fellow Americans?

   

Apple WWDC 2019

Posted on Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Dave!I typed some notes during Apple's streaming presentation of the World Wide Developer's Conference keynote this morning. Since I know absolutely everybody is dying to know my thoughts on things*, this post is for you!

   
• Eco-Unfriendly! And here's Tim Cook to start things off. Right off the bat he's touting how Apple is a sweet ecosystem that marries hardware, software, and services to create an experience unlike any other...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Say what you like about Apple, but it's totally true. The problem is that when one part of their ecosystem sucks, you get a bad experience. This applies to hardware (I fucking hate the MacBook Pro keyboard, and will avoid buying one of their shitty laptops for as long as I can), software (when they aren't abandoning critical in-house software like Aperture, they create fucking garbage like HomeKit), and services (their media streaming is unbelievably shitty and I'm furious that they always blame my internet, when my fiber connection streams flawlessly from everybody else). I used to put up with everything because, hey, at least it was better than Windows, but is that really true anymore?

   
• Apple Arcade! Now Tim is talking about "Apple Arcade"... a new membership service where you get access to a lot of cool and exclusive games. Out of everything announced, I only give a crap about LEGO Brawls, so this is probably not going to be for me...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

   
• Apple TV PLUS! Ugh. I mean, really? Yet another streaming service? I admit that the clip shown from the alternate-history space-race drama For All Mankind looks interesting, but enough for me to pay up a monthly fee? Doubtful. Disney+ is absolutely on my radar because of all the Marvel Studios and Star Wars shows in development, but it would take a heck of a lot for me to buy into Apple's random non-catalog of shows.

   
• Apple TV! Apple TV has one of the shittiest interfaces in tech history. It takes forever to find the stuff you want to watch. Even if you know where to get to it, you still have to scroll and scroll and scroll. Apple added Siri to AppleTV so you can just tell it what you want, but I find it to be flakey and not always accurate. Why would I buy something from iTunes when it's available streaming from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or whatever? I thought that "TV" was supposed to prioritize stuff you already have over stuff you have to pay for, but that hasn't been my experience. But I digress. They've apparently redesigned everything to be less shitty. EXCEPT THEY ARE USING CLIP PREVIEWS LIKE NETFLIX WHICH I FUCKING HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE!!! Fuck this. I hope to God they allow you to turn that shit off.

Ooh! And now Apple is saying that you will be able to use controllers from Xbox One and Playstation to control games on AppleTV! Yay! Except... where is support for my Nintendo Switch Pro controller? Oh well. I don't have time to play many games anyway.

Okay... I love the new underwater 4K screen saver! Reminds me of the serene scene aquarium screen saver I had on my Mac ages ago...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

   
• Apple Watch! Ya know? I'd sure like to have an Apple Watch, but I just know I would never wear it because it's so damn thick. Until they fix that, they can throw all the new "watch faces" at me they want... I'm not biting. Except... ZOMG! A CALCULATOR APP! Just like my old calc digital watch had back in the 80's!

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

The new WatchOS will be able to run apps independently of the companion iPhone app. That seems like a pretty critical feature, but I don't know how they have the memory available for such a thing? This allows you to install apps from the App Store directly on your Apple Watch which, again, seems like a critical feature to have.

I like the idea of how the Apple Watch can help you out by monitoring your health... but I know darn well I would stop using it when I see just how unhealthy my lifestyle is, so that's not a big draw for me. For the ladies there's a menstrual cycle tracker now that will help you to know when your period is coming and when you are most fertile for the baby-making.

   
• iOS 13! Apparently the next version of iOS will focus a lot on speed. Face ID will unlock 30% faster... apps will install faster... apps will launch faster... that kinda thing. Naturally, it's hard not to be happy about that. And I most certainly hope that it launches the camera faster so I don't miss as many time-critical shots like I do now. A more reliable camera that isn't locking up all the time would also be nice.

I'm torn on the new "Dark Mode"... I stopped using it on my Mac because it was wildly inconsistent between apps, sometimes making it impossible to use apps that weren't patched to accommodate it. Perhaps if they did a better job of it for my iPhone I will have better luck? I dunno. It costs nothing to try. And, may I just say, that Apple using Depeche Mode's Black Celebration for their demo is about the best thing I've seen from this keynote so far?

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

I've been using Google's keyboard for a long time now because it supported swipe typing. Problem is, my iPhone is forever reverting back to Apple's keyboard even though I've not asked it to. Now that Apple supports swipe typing, maybe it will be a better experience? I sure hope so. All the new predictive input stuff is nice, but I often find that my iPhone gets it wrong far more often than it guesses correctly. Maybe their new "machine learning engine" will improve this? One can only hope.

   
• Maps! And so... shots fired at Google Maps! But here's the deal. Unless Apple gets into the traffic monitoring game like Google and Google-owned Waze, I'm probably sticking with Waze. Pretty is pretty, but I'll take the better functionality every time...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Meg Frost is up in her cool future-wheelchair to demo Maps. Holy crap is it a beautiful app! I may use it a lot more, but the navigation of Waze will be hard to leave behind...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Apple is doing their OWN version of "street view" and it looks spectacular...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

I'll definitely be using Apple Maps for armchair traveling, but for actual driving? The jury is out.

   
• Security! And here's where Apple takes an even bigger swing at Google... privacy and security. Companies like Google and Facebook track everything you do and monitor all the activity on your phone because they are selling ads. To be effective at selling ads, they need to know who you are and what you do. I don't give much of a crap about this (hey, I'm a blogger, all that stuff is online for anybody to see anyway), but I do like Apple's philosophy of erring on the side of caution. It started with ApplePay, which securely pays for stuff without tying the purchases to a credit card (which is nice), and I absolutely love the convenience of it. And now Apple is moving their privacy mandate into other areas at a system level. I approve.

Location monitoring by your phone could be a very big problem if you don't know it's happening and you're a thief or having an affair or whatever. Apple is putting the kibosh on that by being more proactive about how your location is used and how long an app gets to use it. That's totally swell.

And, as if the shots fired weren't obvious enough, here's Craig Federighi telling the whole world that they are seriously going after Facebook and Google by creating their very own "Sign in with Apple" login service! Sweet!

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

No personal information whatsoever handed over. I think it's pretty obviously that absolutely everybody will switch to Apple's login service the minute it becomes available on sites. I know I sure as hell will be.

Okay, THIS is huge. Apple is coming up with their own privacy email forwarding service! You can immediately establish a temporary email ID... then use or dispose of it for as long as you want! NICE.

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

I've used random forwarding addresses for a very long time, but having to set them up is always such a pain. Now that it's an OS-level feature, it will be so much easier. Kudos, Apple!

Interesting. Apple is adding their own security camera streaming service to their heinously shitty HomeKit home automation bullshit. The privacy features are admittedly compelling, even though I just don't care that much. So people can hack my account and watch me talking to my cats... whoop-dee-do. However... On one hand, I would love to get rid of all my Google NestCam shit and their fucking "NestAware" idiocy for something better. So maybe. Except I hate hate hate shitty HomeKit so much that I just don't think it's a viable option. Maybe one day? I just don't know.

   
• Memoji! While I think the idea of Apple's Animoji and Memoji are cute, they just aren't something I'm interested in using. I tried it a few times just for fun, but the idea of using it day-in and day-out makes zero sense. The novelty wears off far too quickly. Except... NOW THEY'VE ADDED MAKEUP?!? And piercings? AND HATS?!? Ooh! Maybe I will have to use Memoji now that I can add eyeshadow and lipstick!

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Memoji stickers are actually pretty cool. I don't use stickers very often, but I might use something like this.

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

   
• Photos! I take far, far, far more photos on my iPhone than any camera I have ever owned. It's just too convenient and the quality is just too good (and getting better!). The fact that Apple keeps adding cool editing features just gives me even more reason to keep shooting with iPhone. I've always got it with me anyway.

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

And now you can apply effects to video as well as... gasp!... ROTATE VIDEO AS WELL!

The new machine-learning photo management tools are pretty great too. I really should go delete all the duplicates and junk photos I've taken. Could probably cut the number of photos I've got stored in half. Probably more.

   
• AirPods! I like everything about the concept of AirPods... but hate the AirPods themselves. They absolutely 100% do NOT stay in my ears. And given the number of people complaining about losing them, I'm guessing it's a serious problem for everybody. I pretty much only use them when traveling because then it's worth the time to put the silicone tips on them so they actually stay in my ears. My thinking is that this will be the first and last pair of AirPods I buy until Apple starts making them so they fit... and are more sustainable. As it is now, there's nothing you can do except throw them away when the battery fails. Wasteful. Shamefully wasteful for a company that professes to be on the cutting edge of "green sustainability."

Having messages announced through your AirPods would drive me insane and I would most definitely not have that feature turned on. One feature I do like, however, is the AirPod Audio Sharing feature. How cool is that? So long as you both have AirPods, very cool!

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

   
• HomePod! Whatever, dude. Drop the price by half and I might consider purchasing one. Until then? My SONOS system is doing just fine.

   
• CarPlay! I would be thrilled to have a CarPlay enabled stereo in my auto, because the integration features with my iPhone are just too good. But I am just not in my car often enough to justify the cost. Happy that Apple keeps improving the CarPlay experience though, because maybe one day...

   
• Speech! The new "Neural TTS" (Text To Speech) quality is insane. Once more update and they will probably have something indistinguishable from an actual human! Hell, my iPhone already speaks in a way that's more intelligible and human than our President!

   
• iPad! I may die of un-shock... iPads will no longer be using a forked version of iOS but instead run a custom iPadOS. Given how Apple keeps pushing iPad to encroach on what desktop computers do (and compete with Microsoft's Surface tablet), it was something that pretty much had to happen. And it just makes sense. iPad is more than just a big iPhone. Better split-view... gestures designed for a larger screen... drag and drop... this is all stuff that, frankly, Apple should have had years ago.

One thing that had to happen to make iPad more of a desktop equivalent is to have far better file handling. It looks like Apple realizes this and is working to add more and more functionality. All the features are nice... but nowhere is this new direction more easily understood than by the fact that you can plug a thumb-drive into your iPad now...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

   
• Pencil! I love my first-generation iPad pencil and would dearly love the features of the second-gen... if only my older iPad supported it. Perhaps eventually I will use my iPad a lot more often for my artistic endeavors, so it'll be worth it to invest the money. But that's just not in the cards right now.

   
• Mac! "WE LOVE THE MAC!" Tim Cook exclaims! Which is hard to take seriously when they are putting shitty keyboards on their laptops that render them useless... or just make them impossible to type on. As if you couldn't tell from my numerous posts on the topic, I am fucking livid that Apple has essentially flushed their MacBook line down the toilet thanks to their "butterfly keyboards" that nobody wants.

   
• Cheese! Is it just me... or does Apple's new $6000 MacPro look like a cheese grater? A pretty cheese grater, yes... but a fucking cheese grater...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Would I love to own one? Of course I would. But I just can't justify the absurd cost. Yes, Apple put a lot of work into making the thing worth the price tag, but it's all stuff that's not essential to what I do. Maybe if I start composing music with thousands of instruments or editing 6K video, I'll have a need, but this is just silly. At least it's a vastly more configurable and expandable "Pro" computer than the laughably shitty "trash can" machine they released last time.

   
• Display! The new Apple Pro Display XDR is an absolute steal at $5,000. I sincerely doubt that there is anything out there that can touch it at any price. But, then again, FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A COMPUTER DISPLAY!

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

   
• Catalina! Keeping up with their "Places of California" motif for naming their MacOS releases, we now get Catalina. That should make for some very pretty desktop backdrop photos!

   
• iTunes! At least Apple is self-aware enough to realize what a bloated pile of shit iTunes has become... and can even joke about it. Except... forgive me for not finding it funny that they are only just now addressing the problem when it's been a major hassle for years. And so now iTunes is dead and being replaced with Music... Podcasts... and TV...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

That's all great and stuff... but until the server farm delivering my Apple-purchased media content is made much more stable, reliable, and actually worth a shit, it all means pretty much nothing to me.

   
• Sidecar! Use your iPad as a second screen? Yes please! That could come in SO handy sometimes when I just need a readout that's not covering up what I'm working on!

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

   
• Voice Control! At home, I am talking to my house (through Alexa) all the time. She controls absolutely everything, and I'm so accustomed to it that I don't even think about it any more. "Turn on the television!" and "Turn off the porch light!" and "Lock the door!" and "Show my the Catio Camera!" are just... natural(?)... to me now. But, for whatever reason, I just don't think of talking to my Mac. Maybe as it becomes more and more voice aware, that will change. From what they showed at the keynote, however, this could be a huge help to disabled persons who can't use keyboards or mice.

   
• Find My! Being able to find your devices, even when they are offline? Fantastic. This is the same concept of my "Tile" trackers that I have on my keys, in my backpack and in my wallet. It talks to nearby devices with extremely low power consumption so that you have a much better chance of finding your iPhone, MacBook, iPad, or whatever, that's gone missing.

   
• Locked! You can remotely lock/wipe your iPhone so that it becomes useless if stolen. There's no doubt in my mind that this is curbing theft of these devices. Why risk jail-time if you can't do anything with it? And now that technology is coming to the Mac, which is nice.

   
• Developers! Developers! Developers! The new Catalyst project that allows you to compile iPhone apps for the Mac... plus new advancements with their Swift programming language... plus continuing advancements in allowing easy integration of new technologies like AR (augmented reality)... Apple has (mostly) always made sure that developing for their products is as painless as possible, and it looks like they are serious about making sure that tradition continues. Good on you, Apple!

   
• Reality! And speaking of AR... the new "Reality Composer" sure looks interesting! It can automatically extract people so that rendered objects and move around them! Cool! And the Minecraft demo of how that works is pretty spectacular. This is the future of technology, and it's only a matter of time before we see it around our home... in our car windshields... and on our glasses...

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2019

Right now it's pretty much a technology demo... but you can see where it's all going. Eventually.

   
And that's the end of that, I guess. This keynote seemed a lot more "evolution" over "revolution," but there's some real winners in there that have me more optimistic than I was yesterday as to how much I want to be in bed with Apple any more. Given how pissed off I've been with them lately, that was no easy task. Having to wait until Fall to get at any of it is a bit of a bummer, but that's the way the Apple falls.

   

*Okay, I know practically nobody actually cares what I think, but that's probably the case for most subjects I blog about... why should this be any different?

   

AppleTV Made Worse

Posted on Friday, June 7th, 2019

Dave!I've made no bones about the fact that I am profoundly disappointed with AppleTV. The interface is utter shit, it's horribly unreliable, and all too many times I can't get my purchases to stream on the device (despite the fact that I can stream from every other media content provider with no issues).

Coming very soon is tvOS which will (hopefully) change things for the better.

Or, at the very least, have a far better interface so you're not forced to scroll through hundreds of titles to find what you want.

One of the apps that was supposed to make the AppleTV experience better was AppleTV: The App which is a hub that keeps track of where you're at in all your in-progress series and acts as a gateway to all the other apps by allowing your progress in those to be managed as well. It was a great, idea, in theory. The execution was not so great, however.

Ahead of tvOS, Apple pushed an update to The App. Functionally similar, it has a new look...

AppleTV Interface Review!

You know what else it has?

I might as well get this out of the way... IT HAS SHITTY FUCKING AUTO-PLAY TRAILERS NOW... AND THERE'S NO SETTING TO TURN IT OFF! Just like Netflix. I swear, Apple is intentionally setting out to make people hate them. Who wants to try to find something to watch when you're constantly being inundated with videos playing THAT YOU DON'T FUCKING WANT TO SEE? Remember MySpace pages with their autoplay music that everybody HATED?!? Leave it to Apple to bring it back as video autoplay that NOBODY WANTS. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave over Apple's non-stop parade of stupid shit. Apple makes me regret EVER having purchased anything from iTunes. I hope that TV shows get an equivalent of MoviesAnywhere so I can watched my purchased shows ANYWHERE ELSE. Holy shit what a waste.

An example. Let me take a look at the movies I got going on...

AppleTV Interface Review!

When all of a sudden... BAM! A fucking trailer starts playing while I'm looking at what's available...

AppleTV Interface Review!

Absolutely fucking infuriating. ILET ME FUCKING CHOOSE IF I WANT TO WATCH THE FUCKING TRAILER, YOU ASSHOLES! This is rage-inducing bullshit, and I cannot believe this is what Apple has become.

But let's move on, shall we? All screenshots are taken with my iPhone, so forgive me that they're not so great-looking.

The first thing I notice is that Apple has added a "Free Episodes" section to the main screen. No clue where the episodes are coming from though. Banshee is courtesy of Cinemax. Does that mean that Cinemax is responsible for giving us free episodes? Or is Apple paying a license? What?

AppleTV Interface Review!

In the example of Banshee, above, I already own all four seasons, so if I want to watch the show, it's not "free," it's something I paid for. But maybe Apple knows I own them and that's where they are pulling the "free" from? Oh look... they are also available from Amazon Prime Video, which I also have. Again, I pay for it, so it's not really free, but okay? Maybe they are talking about getting a free trial of Cinemax then? Absolutely no clue...

AppleTV Interface Review!

Interesting to note that they are trying to sell me Banshee when I already own it. What the heck is that about? Maybe when I click through it will refresh and show that I already bought it? Nope...

AppleTV Interface Review!

But surely when I click on a season, AppleTV will know that I bought it, right? Nope...

AppleTV Interface Review!

WTF?!? So I call up the series to verify that I do, in fact, own it. And I do. But AppleTV is fucking brain-dead and doesn't seem to understand that when I bought The Complete Collection of all four seasons, I own all four seasons. If I somehow forgot that I bought the collection, Apple was happy to take my money on individual seasons, thus charging me twice. Wow. So the Apple app which is supposed to keep track of everything for you can't even keep track of the shit you purchased direct from Apple. Sounds about right...

AppleTV Interface Review!

Anyway... back to the free stuff showing up which I have no idea where it's coming from...

Ooh! Look! Another Cinemax favorite... Strike Back! This Richard Armitage series is kinda famous for killing off Richard Armitage in the first episode of the second season. They then brought in a pair of new leads (Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton) to take over the show. And that's them right there in the poster image... FOR SERIES ONE, EPISODE ONE?!??...

AppleTV Interface Review!

They didn't even exist in the first season! The first series was all about Richard Armitage! Maybe it was a mistake on the home screen? Surely they have it correct once you click through? Except... nope... they are calling Season One, Season Two, and completely forgetting that there was actually a season that existed before this one...

AppleTV Interface Review!

And that about sums up the latest revision of AppleTV: The App... everything it's SUPPOSED to be smart about... keeping track of what you're watching... knowing what you own and what services you subscribe to so it can give you the best option for watching what you want to watch... and knowing about the shows it manages so you can do amazing things LIKE START WITH THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE FIRST SEASON OF A SERIES... it fails at completely.

And so I guess I can just go on ignoring The App as I have been since it debuted then. Except... it still might be handy from time to time because finding the stuff I want to watch is inexplicably difficult using the dedicated "Movies" and "Television" apps. If only there was a way to turn off those fucking autoplay previews! Except... nope...

AppleTV Interface Review!

GOOD LORD APPLE IS SHIT AT JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING NOW-A-DAYS! I hope to God that the tvOS 13 update is better than the AppleTV: The App update. Though that's probably hoping for too much given what we've had to suffer through over the past eight years (R.I.P. Steve!).

   
Just so I don't have to end this on a sour note. Let me try to find something positive to say.

Something that appears new to me is that "Cast & Crew" links when you pop into details on the series. As an example, here's the awesome TV series Limitless...

AppleTV Interface Review!

Clicking on Jake McDorman's face shows me other stuff he's been in... without having to call up IMDB. Nice...

AppleTV Interface Review!

Of course God only knows whether or not clicking on any of those will encourage you to buy something you already own... so even my attempt at finding something nice to say is an attempt bound to end in failure.

I simply do not understand how Apple can continue to slide like this. Because surely they realize there's a problem, right? Surely they have people working there who takes a look at their crap during development to let them know when stuff is badly designed or not functioning correctly? RIGHT?!?

I'm beginning to seriously doubt it.

Or maybe they do and people like Jony Ivy and Tim Cook just don't fucking listen to them. That would explain a lot.

Until tvOS 13 then...

   

MacOS X Catalina Beta

Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Dave!And lo did Apple descend from the heavens to reveal unto The Faithful a public beta of the next version of MacOS X, Catalina (which is version v10.15, if you're keeping count). And since I know everybody in Blogography Land is just dying to know what I think of this fairly uneventful release, here you go...

INSTALATION
It was a piece of cake. I logged in to the Public Beta program, registered my Mac, then clicked to install. I keep all my documents in Dropbox, so I didn't need to back up anything. If the install screwed up, all I'd have to do is scrub my machine and install my apps fresh. If you do keep data on your machine, be sure and back it up before installing any major OS release... beta or otherwise. Apple is better than most, but can still royally screw up from time to time (as I've found out the hard way).

FINDER
Apparently services like DropBox are now "more integrated" into the Finder, but I'm not exactly understanding how. Maybe it's something the services have to update their software to support? Though DropBox has gone far beyond just storing files in the cloud, and is now trying to compete with collaboration and project management services like Slack and Basecamp, which is just stupid because that's not what I use DropBox for... so I'm probably dumping it anyway. If there are other changes, I haven't noticed them yet.

DASHBOARD
Gone. Vanished. This is shitty because I actually use Dashboard widgets several times every day. It's just so dang handy to be able to swipe over to a calculator... dictionary/thesaurus... measure conversion... and what-have-you. But no more. I cannot for the life of me understand why something so incredibly useful is being dropped. I don't even know how you can replace the widgets. I'm guessing with a menu bar app, but that's just nuts when my menu bar is already packed full.

APPLE TV
Apple interface design is complete and total shit. And getting worse by the day. I have hundreds of movies. Do you know how insane it is to have to scroll through hundreds of movies to find what you want? Even simple fixes... like being able to press the R key to go to the movies starting with "R"... doesn't even occur to Apple's developers, which is both sad and embarrassing. But, even worse, Apple still has their idiotic and flawed security bullshit fucking up their apps. Any time I set up a new computer (or do a major OS upgrade) I end up having to retype my credentials over and over and over and over and over AND OVER AND FUCKING OVER AGAIN. This time? SIX FUCKING TIMES IN A ROW before it stopped asking...

All of Apple's "concerns" about helping people maintain better security is nothing but bullshit posturing when they have idiotic crap like this happening. Who wants to create passwords that are complex and secure when you'll have to type them so many damn times? Nobody. People are just going to keep creating the same easy-to-type-and-remember, easy-to-hack passwords they always have. So congratulations, Apple. In addition to making life with your computers increasingly more irritating and difficult, you're making them less secure.

MUSIC
The (main) replacement for iTunes is Music which, as the name implies, organizes and plays all your music. Except... not really well... it's mainly designed as a gateway and access point for Apple's streaming service, "Apple Music." Since I don't subscribe to Apple Music and prefer Amazon Prime's "Music Unlimited," that means the primary purpose of the app is lost on me. But... it does organize and play all my "iTunes in the cloud" music, so I guess no harm no foul. It's just a shame that Apple didn't innovate past what I already had in iTunes. The new Music is practically the same.

PODCASTS
I don't listen to a lot of podcasts, but there are a few I do enjoy from time to time. The new "Podcasts" app seems perfectly serviceable (if a little bland), which is nice. Except... when browsing the available podcasts, I found a dumbass racist pile of shit staring at me. WITH NO WAY TO HIDE HIS DISGUSTING FUCKING FACE FROM AVAILABLE PODCASTS...

Seems like hiding podcasts you don't want to see would be a good feature to have.

PHOTOS
I use Photoshop for photo editing, so the new editing tools aren't going to be used very often (if at all). But it is nice to know that they are available. Everything looks similar to the tools on iPhone Photos, so if you are familiar with that, using the Mac Photos is the same. They added some extras for such things as retouching brush, red-eye fixing, noise reduction, and selective color adjustments (which, I'm guessing, are being added to the new iPhone version as well)...

Other than that, they just made things prettier... so to speak. Videos move in preview. The "Day" view tries to logically group and display photos... that kind of thing. Apparently they are using their "machine learning" routines to group photos into events, which is handy for those times you shoot a hundred photos all the same. Photos will now group them...

Except I don't like the way that rectangular photos are sometimes cropped as squares to do this, however, so I'll probably end up in "All Photos" mode, which preserves the original photo's aspect ratio. Another way Apple claims to be using "machine learning" is to better recognize people in your photos. I'm not seeing much of a difference from how it worked previously, however.

SAFARI
Cosmetic upgrades on the start page, which is no less annoying than it's always been. Can't find anything else that's new.

MAIL
Looks to be mainly cosmetic (It does look a little different). But Apple says there are new features to be found. They must be subtle, because I ain't feeling it.

CALENDAR
Seems the exact same. Which is to say it's an underwhelming app that lacks any of the tools required for professional use. If you're just keeping track of birthdays and setting reminders for lunch appointments, you're good. But if you need more functionality, you'll be looking elsewhere.

REMINDERS
Looks prettier, has more functionality, seems smarter. I use a different system entirely, so this is not something I'll make use of.

NOTES
Looks a little different because of the inclusion of a useless "Gallery View" (too small to read anything, can't be enlarged)... but operates basically the same.

SIDECAR
Because I didn't want to buy a new MacBook with Apple's shitty, shitty keyboards... and instead paid good money to have my old 2012 MacBook Pro Retina display repaired when it broke, my Mac is too old to test this feature (which allows you to use an iPad as a second screen). It seems odd that such a simple trick would be forbidden when my MacBook is perfectly capable of driving an external second monitor, but okay. I've read that you can hack old Macs to force them to support Sidecar, but since it's unsupported, glitchy, and slow... I'll just take a pass.

FIND MY
Apple's new "tracking tech" is mostly applicable to devices like iPhone which are mobile, easy to leave behind, and have a GPS. The fact that Apple is delving into creating a global mesh of "lost and found" is a remarkable thing with some pretty great privacy securities baked in. I suppose it's only a matter of time before Apple releases tracking "tags" to put Tile out of business. On a Mac, Find My is just combining "Find My Friends" and "Find My iPhone" into a single app.

SCREEN TIME
I already know that I spend every waking moment in front of a computer. Having Apple tell me this is not helping. Fortunately, you have the option of turning it off.

ACCESSIBILITY
Apple has made great strides in making their devices easier to use with enhanced voice control and other cool stuff. Bravo.

   
And that's about it. Like I said... pretty uneventful. When the biggest change is that you broke a single app into three separate apps, well, it's hard to see the point. But I guess it serves to let people know you haven't forgotten about the computer-side of the business, so I guess it's all good. I just wish Apple was interested in finding something new and exciting to push MacOS X into new territory.

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Bounce This

Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Dave!LOL! LMFAO! ROTFL!

I know it's part of the game to exaggerate your product when it comes to advertising it. Truth in advertising is a myth, and nobody in this day and age expects 100% accuracy. We're lucky to get 50% accuracy. We know better.

Which is why Apple's latest commecial for their AirPods is so dang hilarious...

The idea that anybody could jump around... bounce around... run around... and not have their AirPods fall out almost immediately is extreme levels of funny.

I couldn't get my AirPods to stay in my ears just sitting on the couch. I ended up having to buy some silicone covers with ear hooks so I don't lose them. It's a pain in the ass to have to take the covers off every time I want to charge the things, but it sure beats losing something that costs $150.

My mistake was spending that kind of money in the first place.

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Bullet Sunday 618

Posted on Sunday, June 30th, 2019

Dave!Grey skies are going to clear up... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Hard Rockin'! Life is weird. I'm flipping through channels and see Suicide Squad is on. Not a fan, but I pause when I see Batman chasing Joker and Harley Quinn because they pass by a Hard Rock Cafe. I'm pretty sure it's Toronto (which has since closed) so I Google to find out what's happened to the location. I find an article on CBC talking about it.

I AM INTERVIEWED IN THE ARTICLE...

HRC Nottingham

I vaguely remember somebody calling me, but I gave them a better name to talk to, and thought that was the end of it. Turns out... nope... I'm in the article and didn't even know it.

   
• Angels! And so they're remaking Charlie's Angels, yet again. First there was the original TV show, then the Drew Barrymore films, then the awful TV show revival, and now yet another series of films...

Meh. Maybe. Seems like the main trio is a little low on star-power for a movie. Interesting that there are three actors for Bosley listed at IMDB: Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, and Elizabeth Banks (who also directs).

   
• Break! Okay... I am really liking this new show called Reef Break. I expected to like it just because Poppy Montgomery is the star of the series, but it's interesting and well-written on top of that...

I wish they would have just set it in Hawaii instead of some fictional island. But with Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. already there, maybe they were worried about Hawaii fatigue?

   
• Grand! I like an occasional dip into trashy television, which is why I was intrigued by Grand Hotel... the new ABC show Executive Produced by Eva Longoria...

The first two episodes are pretty decent. Full of mysteries, secrets, and intrigue. The problem is that shows like this usually blow all their best ideas early, then whither away as crappy new ideas are rotated in. I guess we'll see if this one has legs.

   
• Letterman! Tiffany Haddish, whom I fell in love with after seeing her hilarious role on The Last O.G., is on an episode of David Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. She is absolutely fascinating. I had no idea the incredible obstacles she had to overcome to get where she is today... and she's done it all with a humor that is luminous...

Remarkable. I love shows like this.

   
• Design! Jony Ive, the industrial designer who helped Steve Jobs reinvigorate Apple with such gems as the iMac, is leaving the company to start his own design group. Apple claims that Ive will still have Apple as a client, so apparently he will still be a guiding force in the design of Apple's wares. And that sucks. Ive is so focused on making everything pretty and thin now-a-days that he has forgotten that computers need to be functional. The keyboard on Ive's latest MacBooks is fucking garbage. My hope was that Apple would bring in somebody who gives a shit that you can actually use their products. I guess that's not going to happen. At least not yet.

In another interesting move at Apple, they just hired ARM's lead CPU architect, Mike Filippo. The rumor is that Apple is switching from Intel to ARM as soon as next year. Given how well it's worked out when Apple started designing their own chips for iPhones, iPads, AirPods and the like, this is probably a good move.

   
• Green! The Oregon "Cap and Invest" bill that Republicans were hiding from this last week is a bit complex. When I was trying to understand what was happening, all the articles I read said that there would be minimal impact on Oregon businesses, because the money collected would go back into helping the same businesses who are having to buy "energy credits" reduce their energy needs or switch to greener options. So it's designed to be a win-win for everybody. There are questions as to whether that would actually be the case. It's not like the corner coffee shop is going to suddenly face insurmountable increases in energy costs... businesses have to be producing 25,000 metric tons of CO2 for it to affect them... but the smaller businesses supplied by larger businesses would have higher costs passed on to them until the energy needs/supply is balanced. That could be a problem (hopefully only in the short-run). It's not the business-destroying Armageddon-painted scenario Republicans are selling (they get loads of money from the energy lobby, remember), but it's also not the cake-walk Democrats are selling. As with most thing, the story is in-between. The only difference being that the fate of all humanity is on the line here. Green energy is the future. The sooner we embrace that, the less painful it will be.

   
And now... time to draw up plans for a week of fun in the sun. See you next Sunday.

   

Bullet Sunday 622

Posted on Sunday, July 28th, 2019

Dave!The world may be turned up-side-down, but there's at least one thing you can still count on... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Moon! The 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing was July 20th. As a build-up to this amazing event, NASA unleashed a flood of images from their archives. The photos are stunning...

An astronaut descending from the lunar lander on the moon.

An Apollo astronaut on the moon.

The earth as seen from the moon.

The scanned resolution is quite high, so you can zoom in for some great detail...

Closeup of the earth as seen from the moon.

But the real gold here? NASA has also posted some panoramas they've stitched together. They're huge...

Panorama of Apollo astronauts on the moon

Panorama of Apollo astronauts on the moon

To see them in all their glory, you'll need to head over to Flickr. Well worth your time.

   
• Emoji! As I mentioned previously, I question Apple's emoji strategy. Most times what they come up with is beautiful when seen at large sizes... but fall apart at smaller sizes. Which is crazy, because the vast majority of the time emoji are displayed tiny. Google, on the other hand, creates more simple, easily identifiable emoji that read well at small sizes. Their cartoonish style just works SO much better...

Apple's beautifully-detailed emojis for ape and skunk vs. Google's more cartoony take.
   
That's Apple on the left and Google on the right.

With the upcoming emojis for 2019, Apple seems to be shitting the bed. Their emoji for falafel looks like a plate of turds... even at large sizes! Google, on the other hand, has captured the spirit of falafel with their gorgeous, more cartoony take...

But the one that REALLY bothers me? Apple's take on the new waffle emoji...

Arguably, the Apple waffle looks more delicious. But no butter or syrup? Who eats a waffle like that? Google's waffle doesn't look as appetizing, but at least they gave us a little butter! Step it up, Apple!

   
• Hey Boys! And so... Amazon's adaptation of The Boys has been released. It's faithful to the idea of the original comic book series in many ways, has incredible acting by a terrific cast, and is pretty entertaining (assuming you're not opposed to violence and gore)...

An image of The Seven, a super-hero group from the Amazon mini series The Boys

There are some negatives, however. First of all, the editing is weird. Scenes are made confusing by cuts or appear in an order that seems backwards. Second, it ends on a massive cliffhanger (fortunately the show has already been renewed for a second season). And, of course, there have been some massive changes from the comics which I found bothersome. Yeah, I know, that's par for the course, but the changes made were kinda self-defeating. Even so... it's an interesting look at the super-hero genre that might be worth a look if you're into that kind of thing.

   
• Just the Equifax, Ma'am! In case you haven't heard, odds are highly likely that your private information was leaked by Equifax, a consumer credit company. In a hilariously inadequate punishment, they agreed to a direct payout settlement with the FTC for up to $425 million in order for citizens to help clean up the mess they created (when Equifax earns $877 million per quarter... and rising). If you want your part of this absurd slap on the wrist, the FTC has a page for that. But before you go running... you should know that the amount of money they have to pay out is capped. The $125 you think you're applying for is not a guaranteed amount you'll receive. It's the maximum amount you'll receive. If one million people make the request, you'll just get $31. If all 147 million people who were affected make the request, you'll get a whopping 21¢. So when I had to choose between the "$125" and the free credit monitoring, I went with the free credit monitoring. It's pretty much nothing compared to the damage Equifax has done. But I'll take "pretty much nothing" over actually nothing any day. The good news is that I can cancel the $10 a month service I have been using, and that adds up to real money.

UPDATE: Well, that was fast... no more "$125" settlements are offered. Oh yeah, and then there's this from the FTC.

   
• Keyboard Katasrophe! Oh wow. Maybe Apple isn't as stupid as I thought. They're apparently going to finally replace their shitty "butterfly keyboards" with something that (hopefully) won't suck shit through a tube. Except they are pretty damn stupid considering they waited far, far longer than they should have to ditch these crappy, horrendously evil keyboards, didn't they?

   
• Schadenfreude! Mitch McConnell is a festering pile of crap, and I'll take my moments where I can...

Jon Stewart smiles as Piece of FUCKING SHIT Mitch McConnell walks by

This is before the vote where the Senate approved legislation to permanently fund care for 9/11 survivors and first responders who suffered health issues. Something PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT MITCH MCCONNELL has been fighting against since day one. Which is business as usual for a GAPING ASSHOLE LIKE MCCONNELL, who is perfectly fine letting our 2020 elections be hacked, has no problem breaking the law if it means he can make money, and wastes no opportunity to forward the agenda of the lobbyist handlers who have bought and paid for his ass. He is the epitome of corruption in government. He is the best ever example for why we need congressional term limits. He is garbage who profits off of the misery he is elected to relieve. I try my best not to hate people. Hate consumes you. Hate destroys you. But I fucking hate Mitch McConnell to such an extremely illogical degree that it doesn't even register as "hate" on my psyche. When this fucker is finally dead and rotting in hell, I plan on celebrating like I won the lottery. Because his death is apparently the only thing that will keep him out of office given how Kentucky keeps sending his heinous ass back to "represent" them. I guess they like getting fucked, and he's happy to keep fucking them. Over and over and over and over since 1984.

   
• Divine Voice! Because I'd like to end on a positive note today... here's a really cool video of Simu Liu telling the story of how he found out that he was cast as Shang-Chi in Marvel's upcoming movie...

I've only seen Liu in a few things... but he's crazy-talented and I'm sure he's going to do a great job.

   
And that's the end of that. See you next Sunday.

   

The Apple Card

Posted on Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Dave!I'm just going to put this out there... I had to think long and hard about getting the "Apple Card" credit card because the bank behind it, Goldman Sachs, is a fucking piece of shit. They have been plagued with scandal and are run by assholes. Why in the hell would Apple pick them to partner with? And why in the hell would I touch anything to do with Goldman Sachs?

Well, it's Apple. And the card has some compelling features I wanted to try out.

And I just wanted to have one of the things. There's no fees and it's laser-etched titanium, for heaven's sake...

Except you can't really do much with it. Apple says it scratches easily and shouldn't be stored in anything leather or denim or it will discolor. YOU MEAN LIKE MY WALLET OR MY POCKET? WTF?!??

Not that it matters. You only get a pitiful 1% cash back when you use the physical card. If you buy something with your card via Apple Pay on your phone, you get 2% back. If you buy anything from Apple or Uber using Apple Pay on your phone, you get 3% back. Which is all so unimpressive. I'd rather use my WorldPerks Card or my Alaska Air Card because I earn airline miles, and that's more valuable to me.

There is a unique Apple benefit for the rewards though. Whatever money you get back is added to your Apple Cash daily... immediately after your payment clears! Nice! Most banks make you wait until the end of the month. Like Amazon. But with the Amazon Card I get a whopping 5% back on Amazon purchases, so I ain't complaining.

Applying for the card is a piece of cake. I did it right from my iPhone Wallet in minutes. Next thing I know, I've got a digital Apple Card that changes colors based on my purchase categories...

So... what did I buy to try it out?

Last night I decided to buy one of the gorgeous prints from The Night Sky. You pick a date, time, and place and they draw a constellation map of the sky at that moment...

I picked the night my mom and I were looking at the Milky Way when we were in Zimbabwe, which is the last trip we took together...

Zimbabwe Night Sky Milky Way

The text from my star map... ACROSS THE MILKY WAY AT DAVISON'S CAMP... TO MOM WITH LOVE FROM DAVID... THE NIGHT SKY... HWANGE NATIONAL PARK, ZIMBABWE... 23th SEPTEMBER 2014... 19.0137 degrees South, 27.3105 degrees East.

To Mom with Love from David was what I wrote in all the souvenir photo books I made for her after our trips, so I thought it was perfect for my print.

The Night Sky accepts Apple Pay via Apple's Safari browser, which means I get 2% cash back on my purchase. With that in mind, I ordered it framed. Sure it doubles the cost, but sometimes you just gotta spend money you don't have for something that will mean the world to you...

If you pay in full at the end of the month then you pay no interest. And here's the weird thing... Apple actually wants you to pay as little interest as possible. When you make a payment they have tools to show you how the amount you pay affects the interest you're charged. That's a very nice feature that seems insane considering every bank on earth is trying their best to gouge you for absurd interest charges.

Apple Card will send you a payment reminder notification, which is great, but I wanted to have my total balance automatically paid from my credit union checking account each month. I am not going back into credit card debt if I can help it. I also don't want to put any more money than I have to into Goldman Sachs' pockets. Fortunately, that's easy to set up...

There are numerous tools on the iPhone app which help you to track your spending, assist you in figuring out where charges come from, report disputes, and get immediate assistance. They also have some smart security features to help minimize credit card theft and fraudulent charges. This is the future of credit cards and I am impressed with what Apple has done here. Very impressed.

The first thing I did when I got the card was click the "message us" link for customer service so I could reject the arbitration clause. Forced arbitration is an abhorrent condition of card ownership which is 100% evil... and obviously comes from the pig-fuckers at Goldman Sachs. I'm surprised that Apple would have a card attached to their name which has forced arbitration, but I guess it's easy enough to get rid of if you know you must get rid of it...

If you want to know how to reject arbitration on your Apple Card... and why you should absolutely do it... here's an article at The Verge for you. And don't forget to do it at your very first opportunity so the scum-sucking bottom-dwellers at Goldman Sachs can't fuck you over more than they have already fucked over this country and everybody in it.

So let's sum things up, shall we?

PROS:

  • Laser-etched titanium, baby!
  • No annual fees, no late fees, and no foreign transaction fees.
  • Really cool budget, finance, and security tools built-in.
  • Seamlessly integrated into iPhone and Apple Wallet.
  • Cash-back rewards paid daily.
  • Easy to apply for within Apple Wallet... approval in minutes.
  • Pay any time or easily set-up recurring payments.
  • Apple promises your data will never be sold (assuming you can trust Goldman Sachs).
  • Full MasterCard benefits, like free ShopRunner 2-Day shipping (where available).

CONS:

  • You're in bed with the detestable fucking bastards at Goldmen Sachs.
  • Pretty titanium card is easily damaged.
  • Only works optimally for merchants accepting Apple Pay
  • Cash-back rewards are pathetically anemic.
  • Forced arbitration as the default.
  • No option for cash advance.
  • No sign-up bonus of any kind.
  • Interest rate APR is not much better than other cards (12.99% to 23.99%).
  • Only available to iPhone users.

Ultimately while I love the idea of having an Apple Card, it likely won't get much use. The best reward you can get is 3%, and that's only with Apple & Uber. Everything else is 2% or a pitiful 1%. This is insane. I can get 5% back if I buy my Apple products from Amazon using my Amazon Card! Another reason I'm likely not going to use it is that I don't want to contribute wealth to the gaping asshole crooks at Goldman Sachs. They are a blight on humanity with their many scandals, and the significant part they played in the financial crisis is rage-inducing. I remain flabbergasted that this is the bank that Apple decided to partner with. It's just so utterly mind-boggling and shitty.

But how cool is laser-etched titanium?

UPDATE: I got a notice that my big $2.40 was deposited. Boy oh boy. Whatever will I spend it on?

APPLE CASH: Your First Daily Cash from Apple Card has arrived!

   

Apple Card Unboxed

Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2019

Dave!As I was catching up with email that I had been ignoring all day, my doorbell rang. I guessed it was UPS with a delivery from Apple since that's all I was expecting.

Sure enough, that's what it was. And since you can't put your Apple Card in leather or denim, I guess I need to go looking for a fucking diaper to wrap it in so I can carry it.

Inside a UPS envelope was a plain brown kraft envelope...

A plain brown kraft envelope.

On the back is a die-cut zipper pull...

A plain brown kraft envelope being opened.

And a pretty white folio with the Apple logo embossed on front was inside...

Inside the plain brown kraft envelope in an Apple-embossed folio.

And there's the card... with a note to activate your card by holding your iPhone up to the folio...

Opening the Apple-embossed folio reveals the Apple card in a holder filled with colors.

The Apple logo is laser-etched into the titanium and is quite pretty. Alas my name is just printed on the front...

Zooming in on the Apple logo on the front of the card which has been lasered into the card... while my name is printed on the front.

On the back is more laser-etched logo goodness for MasterCard and the pig-fuckers at Goldman Sachs...

The MasterCard and Goldman Sachs logos laser etched on the back of the card.

Holding my iPhone up to the folio brought up an animation of the folio being opened to reveal the Apple Card that I just opened...

The MasterCard and Goldman Sachs logos laser etched on the back of the card.

And then an "Activate" button appears...

The iPhone screen showing the Apple Card and a button which says ACTIVATE.

It was all a very nice experience up until this moment. Apple did a shitty, shitty job with the text formatting for the "Your card is ready" confirmation...

The iPhone screen showing that the Apple Card has been activated.

And then you get a request for Apple Card in Apple Wallet to have your location so it can improve your Apple Card experience... or whatever...

The iPhone screen requesting to use my location.

   
And that's that. Now to go looking for that diaper...

UPDATE! I was wondering how the iPhone knows that there's an Apple Card to be activated. I knew it wasn't the card... so is there a chip in the folio? Yup...

The Apple Card folio cut away to reveal a chip inside.
Frame taken from a video by Happy Aujla.

Clever! And so very Apple.

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iPhone 11 Pro, et al.

Posted on Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Dave!AND LO DID TIM COOK DESCEND FROM ON HIGH TO DELIVER A NEW iPHONE TO THE APPLE FAITHFUL FROM THE SANCTITY OF THE APPLE SPACESHIP HEADQUARTERS!

He dropped some other Apple stuff too, but the only thing I really cared about was the iPhone. And the only reason I cared about a new iPhone was the possibility of an improved camera inside of it.

Apple Event screen showing the Apple logo constructed from transparent pastel-colored ribbons.

And here's all the crap Apple talked about, along with my notes...
   

Apple Arcade

I love video games. I've loved video games since video games were invented. Alas, I never have time to actually play them, which means my Nintendo Switch sits mostly unused and any game I buy for my iPhone is never finished. So when Apple announced "Apple Arcade" I was ready to take a big 'ol pass... but then you find out it's just $4.99 a month (a third less than I was expecting) and a part of me is like Hmmmmmm?!? $5 is (on average) what I pay for a single game. Now I can get hundreds of games for that same price? That's a pretty sweet deal. And every one of the games are exclusive to Apple. So who knows? Maybe a couple times a year I'll pay my $5 and play when I can for a month just to see what's up. Sure beats paying $5 for one game that will never be completed. There's a one-month free trial to check it out on September 19th...

XXXXX.
   

Apple TV+

I already pay far more for television every month than I am comfortable with (or can afford). But looking at the cool shows that Apple has lined up for their streaming service is certainly compelling. And, again, I'm more than a little blown away that Apple is only going to charge $4.99 a month given the money and quality of shows they are producing. This will be yet another case of paying for a month of service a couple times a year so I can binge all their content. And then Apple drops the other shoe... any purchase of a new iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV comes with a FREE year of Apple TV+, which is pretty mind-blowing. Apple developed a streaming service not as a monthly revenue model... BUT TO SELL MORE OF THEIR PRODUCTS! No idea if people like me who are a part of the iPhone Upgrade Program will get a free year every time they trade in their old phone for a new phone, but that would be pretty sweet...

XXXXX.
   

iPad

I have a new-ish model of iPad which I purchased to paint with. And I love it for painting. The Apple Pencil is fast, intuitive, and there's all kinds of apps available to unleash your creativity. But what I need an iPad for is drawing, not painting. I want to be able to draw on the thing, and I have a really hard time with that. I just can't seem to get the precision needed for drawing down, and every time I try I end up reaching for a pencil and paper. What I need to do is just sit down for a week and force myself to learn. But I can never find the time so my iPad sits in a drawer. For that reason, iPad news is kind uninteresting to me... but I do tune in, because nothing would make me happier than to use an iPad for travel instead of lugging my laptop everywhere. And if things keep advancing like they have been, we are closer to that becoming a reality than ever before. Would I buy a new 7th Generation iPad if I could afford one in the first place? Probably not. But I still want one, and that's how Apple gets you. The latest model is sublimely fast, capable, and beautiful to look at and draw on. What's not to want?

XXXXX.
   

Apple Watch

The only way that I would ever buy one of these would be if they made it considerably thinner. Because while I would absolutely love to own one... I would likely never wear it. But, again, I want one anyway because Apple makes such a compelling case as to why I can't live without one. The health features alone are pretty spectacular. But now the display is ALWAYS ON which addresses my other major pet peeve about Apple Watch. The fact that they innovated a way to make this happen without sacrificing battery life is insanely great. All the other new stuff in Series 5... like a compass... is cute, but not compelling enough for me to shell out $500.

XXXXX.
   

iPhone

iPhone 11. This is the new entry model iPhone, which I'll just skip right over, since it doesn't have the cameras I am looking for. Faster, better Face ID, better cameras, blah blah blah... it's dope, we get it. The base model starts at $699.

iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. Here we go...

Durability. They claim that the new iPhone Pro models are constructed with the toughest glass ever created for a mobile phone. Will this preclude giving up a protective case? That would be nice, but I'll have to wait until somebody tests that. Since I am on the iPhone Upgrade Program and have to return my iPhone in pristine condition if I don't want to pay a fine to get a new one, I'll probably end up with a case unless the glass is so tough that it's impossible to scratch. Not likely.

Display. Apparently "Super Retina" displays just aren't good enough now. Apple has leapt forward with Super Retina XDR. It's got better contrast, better color gamut, better brightness... all while being 15% more energy efficient.

A13 Bionic Chip. Apple's line of chips has been fine-tuned specifically for doing exactly what Apple wants their phones to do and nothing more or less. There's no wasted energy going anywhere because Apple designs them that way. This makes them crazy-powerful all while drawing less power from the battery. Nowhere is this more evident than with Apple's dedication to "machine learning" via their "Neural Engine." This is a special set of routines that can analyze massive amounts of data and provide tools to use that data in intelligent ways. Feed it a bunch of images of an object to define an object, for example, and you can ask it to look for the object in new images with very little coding. That's pretty basic scenario, and creative programmers are able to do much, much more. This is a case of Apple providing killer tools so developers can come up with killer apps.

Battery. I don't use my phone a lot, so the battery has barely drained when I charge it each night. Even when I travel and am using my phone constantly, it still lasts me all day. I rarely ever run out of battery (which used to happen all the time with earlier iPhone models). Even so... the new Pro has up to 4 hours more battery life... the new Pro Max has up to 5 hours more battery life. And they are including a more powerful charger, so you can charge your phone quicker as well (assuming you still want to use a cord... ugh!). It was expected that Apple would introduce "reverse wireless charging" so you can use your iPhone battery to charge another phone... or your Apple Watch... or your AirPods... or whatever. This was introduced in the previous version of the Samsung Galaxy phones, but didn't happen this time for the iPhone. Maybe next year.

Haptic Touch. As rumored, Apple has eliminated 3D Touch from its displays, which allowed a "deep touch" to perform different functions from a "touch." This is a real shame, because 3D Touch is a frickin' amazing feature (no wonder it wasn't even mentioned at the event!). So now instead of a display that's pressure-sensitive, we instead get "Haptic Touch" which relies on the length of a touch instead of the hardness of a touch to deliver different functions. This is most decidedly not the same thing, even though Apple is essentially selling it that way. I'm sure it will just be a learning adjustment. But it's weird that Apple would be removing features like this. I guess it makes for cheaper displays... but how is that a consolation in a phone that starts at $1000?!?

Lightning Again. The dream was that Apple finally move to USB C for the cable hookup. They didn't. It's still a Lightning connector, which means you have to continue to pack stupid Lightning cables with you everywhere. I rarely use a cable at home thanks to wireless charging, but I use it all the time when I travel, which is why this sucks.

Sound. Dolby Atmos on a phone is an absurd claim... probably more "Dolby-Atmos-like," but I don't doubt that the spatial sound abilities are much improved.

Camera. I use my iPhone as a camera more than anything else. By a ridiculous margin. To me, it's not a phone at all... it's a camera which happens to be able to use the internet and make phone calls. When I travel now-a-days, I rarely take my actual camera with me. My iPhone is enough. And with each new version that Apple unleashes, my "professional camera" is less necessary. I haven't needed to buy a new mobile phone in years. But I do so anyway because I want a better camera.

Night Mode. Apple has always had pretty good low light capabilities. But with the advent of mobile phones like the Google Pixel with its amazing "night sight," Apple's efforts are downright pitiful. But now they've addressed this shortcoming in a big way to add far better low light photography to the iPhone. This is a pretty big deal...

XXXXX.
   

Lens Trio. Saying that the iPhone Pro has "three lenses" is actually wrong. It has three cameras, each with a different lens. A 12MP 26mm f/1.8 Wide Camera, a 12MP 52mm f/2.0 Telephoto Camera, and a 12MP 13mm f/2.4 Ultra-Wide Camera...

XXXXX.

Note that we haven't gotten an increase from 12MP in a while now. This is probably smart given the massive storage space needed, but they really need to get to at least 16MP real soon for those who want it... maybe even giving just one of the lenses 24MP or something. Anyway... it's the ultra-wide that's important here...

XXXXX.

Most any time I've taken scenic photos I end up having to take panoramas, which are great but problematic. Far better if I can take a wide photo in one shot, which is going to be much more likely now.

Deep Fusion. And here's where things get interesting! Deep Fusion is a technology which uses the iPhone's machine learning to to build fantastic detail out of multiple shots... automatically. Every time you initiate the shutter, iPhone takes nine photos (four of them happen before you even touch the shutter). It then analyzes every pixel of all the images and builds a finished image which combines the best pixels from each... in less than a second. The demo image is phenomenal, and has me totally sold...

XXXXX.
   

Video. All three cameras can shoot in 4K. New editing tools allow for adjusting attributes like brightness. That's impressive. But it's Mickey Mouse stuff when you consider what it can actually do with these cameras. To demonstrate that, Apple had the CTO from FiLMiC show off the next version of their app which takes full advantage of the fact that the iPhone Pro can record from MULTIPLE CAMERAS AT THE SAME TIME!

XXXXX.

So you can have coverage at the wide and telephoto levels in the same shot. And you can use the selfie cam as one of those cameras.... Which means you can record both sides of a talking heads conversations in one go...

XXXXX.

Insanity. But in the best possible way.

5G. Ain't got it. Which is a bit of a dangerous game to play. As the 5G rollout gains momentum, having a phone with the option of connecting to it seems like something you want to have in a $1000 phone for future-proofing. But Apple, of course, doesn't want to future-proof. They want you to keep buying new phones to get those sweet new features.

Price. No increased retail on the Pro. Still $1000 for the "regular" sized one... which seems absurd, even when considering all it can do. I don't have $1000 to throw around, so I will be upgrading from my current iPhone with the iPhone Upgrade Program I bought into last year...

XXXXX.
   

Artistry. Apple gave some of the new iPhone Pro phones to professional photographers and let them loose. Using the new tech, they created some amazing images...

XXXXX.
   

XXXXX.
   

XXXXX.
   

And that's all she wrote.

My iPhone Upgrade Program renewal date isn't until the 20th, and I'm too cheap for an early buy-out, so I'm fine waiting until then (which, coincidentally, is the actual release date). Of course by that time the waiting list queue for backorders will likely have me getting my new iPhone 11 Pro in October, so I won't get to try out the awesome new camera(s) until then.

Think of all the cat photos I'll be missing out on.

   

FlyPad

Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Dave!This is the first post I’ve written entirely on my iPad. Thanks to iPadOS 13 (which was released today) and other apps stepping up their game, it’s actually a realistic option for me now.

Not that it’s easy, mind you.

It’s time consuming and clunky.

Take getting an image to appear in this post, for example. First I have to open the image in Adobe Lightroom for iPad so I can adjust it a bit. THEN I have to save it to my iPad so I can open it in Image Resize, because Lightroom DOESN’T ALLOW YOU TO FUCKING SPECIFY PIXEL DIMENSIONS WHEN YOU CROP A PHOTO. Once I crop it To 1200 × 800, I then have to save it to FTPManager Pro so I can upload it to my blog. It sounds simpler than it actually is. And it doesn’t end there. I then have to open up my WordPress admin panel to write the actual post. But since I want to use images where I put them instead of where WordPress wants them, I have to copy and paste code from old entries into new entries.

Like these photos of Jenny going after a fly in the window this morning...

Jenny stretching her neck up to look at a fly in the window.

Jenny stretching up the window under the window blinds to find a fly.

She’s adorable, I know.

Eventually (hopefully) one of these days it will be a more streamlined process to edit and upload images and write posts. I’m guessing it took me three times longer to post this on my iPad than it would have on my MacBook Pro. With practice, perhaps I could get it down to twice the time? I dunno. Right now I’m just happy I can do it. An iPad is a lot easier to lug around than a laptop.

   

Bullet Sunday 631

Posted on Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Dave!Snow may have arrived but the internets are toasty warm, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• THE END? Years ago I told myself I'd stop blogging after 5,000 posts. Earlier this week I thought to look and see how close I am to that. I've posted 6,124 posts. And so... I guess I'm stopping at 10,000 then. You're welcome!

   
• Spidey! So maybe Sony isn't filled with buckets of dumbass after all. It was announced earlier this week that Marvel and Sony have come to an agreement for another Spider-Man film to be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given how FREAKIN' AMAZING a job Marvel has done with the character, AT LAST!, I'm unapologetically enthusiastic...

Tom Holland as Spider-Man

Apparently the deal may include bringing more Spider-Man-based characters than just Spider-Man. A part of me wonders if that's a good thing. But if anybody can figure out how to make it work, that would be Marvel.

   
• Stumptown! And... just like that, I have a new favorite show. Cobie is absolutely 100% bad-ass in every frame of Stumptown and I love it. You can watch the first episode on the ABC app for free without an account. I suggest you do...

Based on the comic book of the same name, it's remarkably faithful while changing enough to make darn good television. And, as if that wasn't good enough, it features a cast with Jake Johnson! Michael Ealy! Tantoo Cardinal! Camryn Manheim! They pulled out all the stops in casting this show. Top shelf all around!

   
• Flerfer Dumbassery! "IF THE EARTH IS ROUND AND SPINNING AT 1000mph, THEN WHY DON'T I GO FLYING OFF WHEN I JUMP UP IN THE AIR?!? THE EARTH MUST BE FLAT IF WE CAN JUMP UP AND DOWN WITHOUT MOVING!!!" — GAAAAAAAHHHH!!! IT'S SCIENCE, BITCH!

Literally EVERY SINGLE THING that dumbass flat earthers come up with as a reason that globe-earth cannot exist can be refuted with science. Not that that's going to stop anything. Dumbassery is contagious.

   
• Assholes! NEWSFLASH: Every word Ajit Pai says about Net Neutrality is a lie, including "and" and "the." — Well no shit! Ajit Pai only cares about the Telco lobbyist dicks he has been sucking. He's never given a crap about American consumers. Not even a tiny pebble shit. It's assholes like this who should be strung up and shot for selling out the country. Just like the rest of President Trump's administration of assholes.

   
• TV! I hate to say it, but here it goes... APPLE'S TV APP FOR MaCOS X IS A STEAMING PILE OF SHIT AND I AM FUCKING EMBARRASSED FOR THE ENTIRE COMPANY FOR RELEASING IT! It's comically inept, buggy, and stupid... and once again has me regretting that I ever bought into Apple's media ecosystem. First of all, it's a crappy experience. You never know what's clickable because the cursor never changes. And when something is clickable, you don't know if your click is registered because the button state doesn't change and there's no feedback whatsoever. This means that you end up clicking again and again and again because you don't know if anything is happening. And the app is so fucking slow that it takes forever to acknowledge when something does happen. Apple essentially developed the modern home computer interface. And they are destroying their legacy with this bullshit. And it just gets worse. Have tons of purchases in your library? Hope you like scrolling! There is NO FUCKING SHORTCUT to get to what you need to be! Want to watch those Magnum P.I.? episodes you purchased? Typing "M" to get there does NOTHING! Just scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll.

Second of all, it's hard to search for the stuff you want to buy. You type in the search box and often times get random shit for an explicit search term. Then, assuming you do all kinds of acrobatics and manage to navigate to what you want, actually buying something is a joke. It's all a bunch of clicking and clicking and clicking because you have no fucking idea if you actually bought it or not because there's no acknowledgement until an email receipt arrives. AND THEN once you finally manage to buy something, IT DOESN'T SHOW UP IN YOUR LIBRARY UNTIL YOU QUIT THE APP AND START IT UP AGAIN?!? Oh... and when you DO quit and restart? It doesn't remember where you were, so you have to navigate back there again.

This is insanity, and I cannot fucking believe that Apple actually let this shit go out of beta. Assuming they even bothered to beta test it at all. I never thought I'd be longing for the original iTunes to come back, but here we are. Fuck you, Apple.

   
See You Next Sunday!

   

iPhone 11 Pro

Posted on Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Dave!Look, I'm just going to say it... if you've got an iPhone X or XS, then the only reason to upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro is for the camera update, which is significant. Everything else is hardly a revolutionary step up... and, in one case, Apple even takes a step backwards.

And so, I'll just run through everything quickly before getting to the camera, which is why we're all here isn't it?

PRICE
Still $1000 for the 64GB iPhone 11 Pro. It's too much. But that's the price you pay for tech like this. I can barely fill up 2/3 of the smallest memory configuration, so 64GB is plenty for me. If you use tons of apps and store a bunch of movies and stuff in local memory then you'll want more... and pay more. There's the bigger iPhone 11 Pro Max, which wouldn't fit in my pocket (or my budget) so I took a pass. The good news is that my monthly payment in Apple's iPhone upgrade program is unchanged.

PRETTY
Make no mistake, this phone is gorgeous. The new frosted glass back has a nice matte feel (assuming you don't put it in a case) and the overall design is elegant, polished, and feels solid. I went for the new "Forest Green" color, because it's just so pretty. In most light, it looks more grey than green to me, but it picks up the light enough to give a hint of green that looks great. Alas, when paired with my Project (Red) case, the back is covered up, but you can still see a hint of the color in the camera cut-out. Maybe a clear case is a better way to go? But then you lose the matte glass, so I'm good.

STRONG
There's all kinds of videos showing the durability of the iPhone 11 Pro. They are impressively tough. But since I'm on the iPhone Upgrade Program (the only way I can afford these things) and I have to return the phone in pristine condition, I can't risk it. I've got a screen protector and case on at all times.

BATTERY
Apparently I should get (on average) 4 hours more battery life over my old XS. I guess that's awesome, but I barely used much battery on my old phone. Maybe when I travel or use maps for driving, but I'm not going to complain about having more time with my iPhone before charging. And speaking of charging... you get a nice 18 watt charger to fill the battery faster, which is a big improvement over the tiny 5 watt charger we used to get. Alas, Apple is still married to its Lightning connector for charging, but the end of the cable which plugs into the power adapter is USB-C. Go figure. Most of the time I'm using wireless charging so it's not a big issue for me.

DISPLAY
Still has the annoying notch at the top. That being said, the fidelity of the display is stunning. I mean, the old display was beautiful and all, but this is next level stuff. If you download a high quality movie at full resolution, you are in for a treat. The image simply does not fall apart and the color and brightness is phenomenal. Photos look as amazing as you'd think they would. Everything about the display is as good as it gets and worthy of Apple's flagship iPhone.

SOUND
Apparently the iPhone is now rocking Dolby Atmos sound, which is cute when you consider it's still pumping it through two tiny little speakers. To be honest I can't tell much improvement, but I thought the old sound was pretty great for a phone already.

3D TOUCH
Here's the thing about 3D Touch. It's gone. Apple removed it. This is surprising from the standpoint that newer phones should have more features, not less. It's not surprising from the standpoint that Apple rarely promoted or took advantage of the feature. I've read on a few sites that removing 3D Touch helps contribute to better battery life. That (along with the newer, larger battery and more efficient A13 chip) is probably true. But I really, really miss it. I am slowly getting used to Apple's replacement... "Haptic Touch"... which is essentially just a long-pause as opposed to a harder pause... which isn't terrible. But it's not the same. At all.

FASTER
And speaking of that new A13 chip... Apple claims it's up to 20% faster than the previous generation A12. I have no reason to doubt this, but I really don't notice it. My previous phone was plenty fast and day-to-day speed improvements (if they exist) don't really register for me. That being said, the speed boost is undoubtedly crucial to improvements behind the scenes, like the new camera's jaw-dropping abilities. And so... thanks, I guess.

PHOTOGRAPHY
It's not hyperbole to say that the camera in the iPhone 11 Pro is a quantum-leap improvement over the iPhone XS. It's a bit less of an improvement over the camera in the Google Pixel 3 (which I have limited experience with, but really liked) and the camera in the Samsung Galaxy S10 (which I got to use for three months and was underwhelmed with). Regardless, Apple's latest camera in the iPhone 11 Pro is (currently) unmatched. It's an artful symphony of hardware advancements and incredibly smart and clever software which pushes it ahead in (most) all areas. Which is where I'm at now.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA
While other cameras are pushing 16 megapixels (and higher!), Apple seems content to stick with 12 megapixels. This is understandable on many levels... primary of which is that they take less storage space. But it's also questionable if we really need more than 12 megapixels on a phone. It's plenty of resolution to print a fairly large hardcopy photo, and way more than enough resolution to look at on a phone screen. Where higher resolution comes in handy is when you want to crop into a photo. THEN it's kinda a big deal. And yet... ideally you'd just want a longer (telephoto) lens so I dunno. Would I like more? Sure. Do I need more? Probably not.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA LENSES
The iPhone 11 Pro has cameras lenses (not including selfie cam), as follows...

A photo of the camera array on the back of the new iPhone 11 Pro.

They're all good and have great optical quality. And, thanks to Apple's fantastic Camera App, you zoom between them without even realizing it. You just compose your shot and iPhone picks the correct camera/lens as you zoom in or out. The big news here is the Ultra Wide Angle Camera, which adds a lot of image area. So much area that I have to hold my camera in a new way because my fingers are in the frame if I hold it like I used to. Just look at this comparison... starting with the telephoto...

Seattle skyline as seen from Alki Point across the water.

And here's the wide angle...

Seattle skyline as seen from Alki Point across the water.

And here's the ultra-wide angle...

Seattle skyline as seen from Alki Point across the water.

Granted, where you'll most likely be using the ultra-wide is not shooting things that are far away, it's shooting things closer to you...

Inside the Seattle Public Library.

In which case it's a very big deal...

Inside the Seattle Public Library.

Alas, the Ultra-Wide Angle doesn't have image stabilization and can't use Night Mode (see below), so there are some limitations there, but boy is it a handy thing to have. I find myself using it far more than I thought I would, and quickly realized how critical it is not just for travel, but for everyday use.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA NIGHT MODE
The iPhone 11 has decent apertures for its three cameras, which allow you to get pretty spectacular shots without any long exposure trickery...

A shot of kayakers paddling in Elliot Bay at sundown while a bird watched from the top of a pole.

The Ultra-Wide Camera is f/2.4 which is darn good and allows for gorgeous shots as well...

A wide shot of two posts out in the waters of Elliot Bay at sundown.

Color fidelity is epic...

A beautiful shot of the Ray's Boathouse neon sign glowing while intense colors of sundown light up the sky behind it.

There are limits of course. Once things get too dark, everything can be lost in the shadows. This is nice for artistic purposes, but not what we want most of the time...

A photo of my catio encloser at night. The sky is glowing with a deep blue hue, illuminated by the moon, and a yellow light serenely glows inside the catio.

So what happens when there's not enough light for a shot? Glad you asked!

Google's Pixel 3 had a revolutionary "Night Sight" feature which I was extremely jealous of. I was so jealous that I borrowed one from a friend so I could try it out for a day. My iPhone had decent low-light ability, but it was nothing like what I got from the Pixel 3. Night becomes day and it was an incredible thing. Apple being Apple, they've taken the ball and ran with it. iPhone 11 Pro has automatic "Night Mode" which kicks in without you having to do a thing. It's essentially a long exposure which is assisted by image stabilization and some nifty software processing. The results are pretty amazing.

Here's my back yard with Night Mode turned off...

A photo of my back yard, though you can't see it because it's dark out.

And here it is with Night Mode on automatic which, of course, is activated given that it's pitch black out...

A photo of my back yard with far more detail visible, thanks to Night Mode.

Now, before you think "hey, that's still pretty dark," keep in mind that this is what I got straight out of the camera. I can still go in and make adjustments...

A photo of my back yard... which now looks like it was shot in the early evening instead of in near total darkness.

This level of color fidelity and detail would be impossible with any iPhone prior to this one. It looks like early evening instead of the middle of the night! What's surprising is how often Night Mode gets applied. I thought shooting through a bright window in darkness would fail to trigger Night Mode because the subject in the center is illuminated, but it was triggered anyway...

A photo of my cat Jenny who is staring at me intently through a window.

Curious to know why I needed Night Mode for such a shot, I turned it off and shot again...

A photo of my cat Jenny who is staring at me intently through a window, but this time everything is much darker.

Welp, I guess that's why. I'm getting a much, much better shot with a longer exposure. This is Apple's remarkable "machine learning" at work. Diagnosing shots so you don't have to. I dare say that even the most amateur photographer is going to be able to get pretty amazing shots with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro thanks to Apple helping them out behind the scenes.

"Night Mode" is not magic, however. It's a long exposure. And while image stabilization and camera processing will help keep static scenes in focus, you're fresh out of luck if the subject is in motion. A long exposure of motion is just going to make a blur out of it all. And be careful... the telephoto lens does not support night mode. If you zoom in further than 1× the resulting photo will be shot with the standard wide angle camera and be digitally zoomed.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA APP
Apple's new camera app is pretty great. It's still got an "automatic" mode which will even out the lighting and correct the color tone... usually in a way that's better than what you have without it... but it's the new manual controls they've added to the list which makes the new app so compelling...

  • Exposure
  • Brilliance
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Contrast
  • Brightness
  • Black Point
  • Saturation
  • Vibrance
  • Warmth
  • Tint
  • Sharpness
  • Definition
  • Noise Reduction
  • Vignette

And of course all those tools are "live," so even if you don't know what they mean, you can still play around and see what they do. Sharpness and Noise Reduction have been a long time coming, and I'm particularly impressed with how well Sharpness works. It feels like it's more of an "Unsharp Mask," which provides superior results. The Noise Reduction, however, is pretty basic. It's more of a "LET'S BLUR OUT THE NOISE!" tool than anything else. Here's a shot with no noise reduction applied. It may be tough to see here, but there's quite a bit of noise in this image because I turned Night Mode off. You'll just have to trust me, as you will still see the blurry mess that Noise Reduction makes...

My cat Jenny sitting in front of a television with noise all over her.

Here's 50% noise reduction...

My cat Jenny sitting in front of a television with noise a little blurred.

Not bad, but you can see that edge definition is being lost. To see what's really happening you have to turn up Noise Reduction to 100% like this...

My cat Jenny sitting in front of a television, but she's blurred.

Is the noise gone? Sure! But your image is so blurry that even sharpening can't save it. Professional noise reduction tools you can purchase for Photoshop try to eliminate noise while leaving detail. They do a much better job than this, and they do it by not aggressively removing every speck of noise... but finding a way to figure out where noise can be reduced without rendering the image a blur. Since this is Apple's first attempt at the tool, I'm going to give them a pass here... because that they even tried is a good thing... but I sure hope they work on improving it for next time.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA VIDEO
I don't shoot a lot of video (which is probably why I can get away with the 64GB model phone), but what little I've shot with iPhone 11 Pro is pretty great. Especially using the Ultra-Wide camera. As if the new lens wasn't enough to make videographers start drooling, you can now edit video in ways you couldn't before... like actually being able to crop it. No idea why this took so long, but editing 4K video in realtime is no small feat, so I guess it was worth the wait. Especially since I can now make adjustments and apply filters in the editor... without having to wait for the results to render. That's pretty crazy.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA SELFIES
I don't do selfies much. But the new front-facing camera got an upgrade to 12 megapixels and does a better job of getting great-looking shots. The "big new feature" for the selfie-cam is the "slofie" which is a slow-motion video capture. Whee.

PHOTOGRAPHY: DEEP FUSION
Later this year, Apple will push out a camera update which includes "Deep Fusion," a technology which uses machine learning to assemble the best parts of multiple photos shot in rapid succession to pull out detail and color like never before, as demonstrated at Apple's keynote last month...

It's kinda a "smart HDR" technique which uses pixel shifting to enhance detail (I talk about HDR here). Naturally I can't wait to give it a shot. Or a hundred shots.

CONCLUSION
The iPhone 11 Pro is pretty much the iPhone I've been waiting for... and not for the phone part... it's for the camera part. No, it's not going to take the place of my DSLR camera, but it is so vastly improved for photography that I will likely be using my DSLR much less than I already do. This new model is just so incredibly capable of getting fantastic shots that I don't need to be lugging around a big heavy camera everywhere. And it has me wondering what iPhone 12 will bring to the table. Probably more incredible camera features that I can't live without. =sigh= I really would like to be able to skip a year of upgrading... but this was definitely not that year. I will likely be posting more photos as I explore the iPhone 11 Pro's capabilities more, so you've been warned.

   

New New Orleans

Posted on Monday, October 7th, 2019

Dave! New Orleans is my favorite American city...

...to visit. I don’t think I could ever live here, because the heat and humidity would do me in. I dunno. Maybe I could eventually get used to it, but I do not handle sweating non-stop very well.

Yesterday on the plane I tried to count up how many times I’ve been to The Big Easy. My first trip was in 1983 for a DECA convention when I was between my junior and senior year in high school. It was my first trip outside of the state by myself. And I mean really by myself, because my chaperoning teacher couldn’t make the trip. New Orleans is probably not the best place to be 17 years old and totally unsupervised, but I lived to tell the tale. And here I am on my 11th... or maybe 12th or 13th... trip to New Orleans. It’s hard for me to remember all the trips I took before I started a record of my travels at Blogography (yet another reason to keep blogging, I suppose).

Dinner last night was at Coop’s Place...

The sign for Coop’s Place which features an Alligator drinking a glass of wine and licking his lips.

This is one of those dining establishments which makes me feel sorry for people eating here who don’t know what to expect. The food is excellent, but everything else is a bit rough around the edges...

The bar at Coop’s Place, which looks pretty much like every other dive bar you’ve ever seen.

You’ll be eating your veggie burger when all of a sudden a group will ask their server if they can split the check. Then you’ve got the server screaming “HEY! DO WE SPLIT CHECKS HERE?” And everybody in the establishment will then scream out “FUCK NO!” or just “NO!” If they’re being nice about it. And you can expect the same treatment any time you ask for anything special or even think about hassling the staff. They are simply not here for it. Which is part of the fun, I guess. I was here to eat, drink too much, and watch The Saints game on Coop’s battered old CRT television...

Looking up at the old television which has The Saints football game on. Everything is a bit grunge-looking.

Every time I eat here, I am shocked that I don’t end up with some kind of food poisoning from eating mayonnaise that’s not refrigerated and has been sitting out in a warm bar all day, but I never have...

A bar top with four kids of hot sauce and other condiments, including a bottle of generic mayonnaise.

My veggie burger at Coop’s Place... looking delicious next to some HEAVILY seasoned fries.

I ate and drank too much considering I had to work this morning, but that didn’t stop me from walking down Bourbon Street as I made my way back to my hotel...

The madness of Bourbon Street at night... people acting crazy and having fun under the neon lights from the signage.

The glowing neon sign for Willie’s Pizza with a glowing Willie’s Chicken sign behind it.

A woman about to fall on her drunk ass as she embraces the madness of Bourbon Street at night.

The madness of Bourbon Street at night... people acting crazy and having fun under the neon lights from the signage.

The Hard Rock Cafe New Orleans, all aglow in neon lights as people walk by.

I then worked on my presentation materials until I fell asleep around midnight.

And today it was a brand new day. I had set my iPhone to wake me at 6:30am so I had time for breakfast before work. I was surprised that the alarm actually woke me until I realized I am still on Pacific Time, so it’s 4:30am to me. Oh well. It was a glorious morning out, so I decided to take a stroll before eating. Jackson Square was beautiful as always...

Looking at St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square which looks a slight creamy yellow in the morning light.

Zooming in with iPhone 11 Pro’s telephoto lens to see the creamy morning light reflecting off St. Louis Cathedral...

Looking at the cathedral of Jackson Square which looks a slight creamy yellow in the morning light.

And here’s using the amazing wide-angle lens...

Looking at the cathedral of Jackson Square which looks a slight creamy yellow in the morning light.

That wide angle lens is just so nice when shooting in a city. Here are some comparisons between what I can capture without it vs. with it...

An artillery canon monument from the standard camera lens.

An artillery canon monument in wide angle.

Cafe du Monde from the standard camera lens.

Cafe du Monde in wide angle.

Interesting to note that new wide angle lens has prompted apple to add planar adjustments to the editor in Photos. It’s very cool, assuming you have enough image to work with. Not so cool if you don’t...

The Apple Photos editor showing a distorted view of St. Peter’s Cathedral due to the wide angle lens.

Unfortunately I don’t have enough image for my desired crop, so the top of the church is cut off.

That could be fixed by switching to a square or vertical crop, however, so still... pretty darn cool.

After 20 minutes of exploring my New Orleans morning, I headed to Restaurant Stanley for my second-favorite Bananas Foster French Toast in the city, which was phenomenal, as expected...

Bananas Foster French Toast with a scoop of ice cream and some banana chips on top.

Alas, then it was time to head to work. But I got to walk down Bourbon Street on my way back, which is a very different scene in the daylight hours...

Bourbon Street in the daylight... looking abandoned and freshly-cleaned.

But it’s nice to see some of the amazing signage there in good light...

A sign for the Olde NOLA Cookery... with a crab chef and fishing boat plus the words AUTHENTIC NEW ORLEANS CUISINE underneath.

Then it was time for work.

And now I’m waiting on two work meet-ups this afternoon before this trip is officially a wrap!

See you on the West Coast next time, sports fans!

   

Old New Orleans

Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Dave!Having been to The Crescent City many times, I know how crucial it is to pack minimum 2 changes of socks and underwear and 3 changes of shirt every day. When the heat and humidity makes you sweat like I do, anything less is just being irresponsible.

Work yesterday ran me pretty ragged and I had been eating all day long, so my ambitions for dinner were low. I made my run to Cafe du Monde and that was all I needed...

Beignets... square donuts caked with way too much powdered sugar.

When I sat down to eat, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that something was wrong. Something had changed. After a minute I realized that the painting “It seemed like an ordinary day, until I had coffee with Jesus at the Cafe du Monde” which had been hanging on the green-stripes wall was missing. Just a blank spot there now...

Inside the Cafe du Monde where there is indeed a blank spot where the painting used to hang.

I’ve blogged about the painting and how much I like it two or three times now...

A painting of Jesus standing in front of St. Louis Cathedral while people are at the Cafe du Monde.

I asked at the counter and all they would say was that it had “been moved to a new location.” I hope that’s the case, because I will be sorely disappointed if some religious zealot asshole complained and they had to take it down.

Then I just wandered so I could take a few photos with my iPhone 11 Pro to see how it handles things when the light is fading. And to play around with that magnificent wide-angle lens, of course...

A photo of a beautiful New Orleans building with wrought iron railings and massive ferns hanging on the balconies.

This time a wide-angle photo of a beautiful New Orleans building with wrought iron railings and massive ferns hanging on the balconies... with people in the street in front of and around it.

St. Louis Cathedral at dusk.

A wide-angle shot of St. Louis Cathedral at dusk as seen through Jackson Square with its beautifully manicured lawn and greenery. A statue of Jackson on a horse is in the middle of the park.

A beautiful gold-covered statue of Joan of Arc, which was a gift to New Orleans from the people of France. A French flag can be seen on a pole behind it.

Statue of a woman in brass sitting on the edge of a fountain with a painting of New Orleans behind it.

St. Louis Cathedral at dusk sitting behind Jackson Square with beautiful green lawns and a statue of Jackson on a horse in the middle.

Another shot of St. Louis Cathedral at dusk with a lovely green glow on the sides of the building.

An old cement building with a pointed roof which has been converted to a bar (of course) and it awash in a neon glow.

A yellow building with a spooky purple glow coming from the balcony where a skeleton monster is peeking out and there’s a spider in a giant web hanging over.

Alas, I’m old now, so I was headed to my hotel just before 9:00. I was past my limit of sweating for the day and didn’t feel like drinking my way into a coma. Sure it was an early night, but I got a great sleep in, so it’s all good.

This morning was spent in bed working. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to enjoy my air conditioned hotel room until they kicked me out. I am on my last pair of underwear and socks, so going out and having nothing to change into after sweating through my clothes was the last thing I wanted to do (you are welcome, people on the plane sitting next to me).

With three hours to kill, I decided to have a leisurely lunch at Attiki. They have a fantastic falafel wrap, which sounded all kinds of amazeballs. Then I couldn’t resist one last stop at Cafe du Monde for dessert...

Beignets at Cafe du Monde, covered in entirely too much powdered sugar.

This time I had a guest...

A pigeon scrounging around the floor of the Cafe du Monde looking for something to eat, I’m guessing.

A pigeon scrounging around the floor of the Cafe du Monde looking for something to eat, I’m guessing.

After second lunch, I stopped by the Hemmerling Gallery to ask about the painting that used to hang in the Cafe du Monde (which I mentioned above). They told me his painting was moved across the street to a general store owned by Cafe du Monde. They also told me that the painting was inspired from when Bill was sitting at the Cafe du Monde drinking a coffee and a man sat down at his table who looked like Jesus. This scared him, so he got up and moved to another table, finished his coffee, and left. As he was walking away, he started feeling bad about the way he had acted, so he went back to apologize. But the man was gone. As he was walking through the square, he saw the man again sitting on a park bench. He sat down and tapped the man on his shoulder and asked him if people tell him he looks like Jesus. When the man turned around, he had the most beautiful face Bill had ever seen. He went to his preacher and said he thought he met Jesus at the Café du Monde... then painted it.

So I walked back to the store and, here it is. So sad they moved it from its rightful place at Cafe du Monde! Mystery solved though...

The Bill Hemmerling painting about seeing Jesus at the Cafe du Monde.

And now I am waiting for my shuttle to the airport for my flight home. Hopefully we land in Seattle early, because I’ve still got a long drive ahead of me after the flight.

And there are cats at home waiting for me.

   

Just Another Thursday Morning…

Posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Dave!As usual when I return from a trip, my cats have been taking turns glomming all over me. Poor Jake acts like I've been gone for years, and will sleep on my bed for two or three nights before things get back to whatever passes for "normal" in my house.

Though at some point in the middle of the night, he left me long enough to go downstairs and grab Mufasa and Moose the Mule and bring them upstairs. I went to take a photo of them when I woke up this morning and was surprised that iPhone decided to use the flash instead of Night Mode. The flash washes everything out, so I turned it off and Night Mode kicked in, giving much better results. Apple needs to work on this. Maybe the camera should know how to cut back on flash and create some kind of “Half Night Mode” for cases like this? Just a little flash on top of Night Mode would have cut down on grain, but preserved color fidelity and detail. Oh well. Until that day, I’ll just keep the flash turned off. It just seems to ruin things...

Mufasa the toy lion and Moose the Mule toy mule on the floor of my bedroom... taken with iPhone flash and is all washed out.

Mufasa the toy lion and Moose the Mule toy mule on the floor of my bedroom... taken with iPhone in Night Mode and looking all gorgeous.

I don't know what's going on with my cats and their toys. When I got home from work yesterday, I walked in the door to this...

Mufasa the toy lion laying on the floor with a long, long stream of packing pillows strug out behind him.

I don't know what chain of events led up to it. Maybe Jake did Jenny wrong, so she took Mufasa away from him and was going to ship him back to Africa? Silly cats.

Yesterday I made potato salad (again) and it was the first thing I thought of for breakfast when the cats' feeding alarm went off...

A beautiful scoop of my homemade potato salad with paprika on top sitting in a bowl and ready to be eaten.

As I was taking my tater salad back to bed so I could go through my email and get some work done, I noticed that my thermostat was glaring at me. Apparently it's time to turn on the whole-home humidifier...

The display on my smart thermostat telling me that the indoor humidity is only 24%.

I would have turned it on right then, but all my woodworking tools are piled in front of it, so I guess that will have to wait until the weekend.

When I managed to get back up to my work, my laptop let me know that the final version of MacOS X "Catalina" dropped while I was in New Orleans (I've been running the betas since they were first released)...

My MacBook Pro telling me that it's downloading the final version of MacOS X Catalina.

There goes my morning productivity. Fortunately Jenny came up after her breakfast and kept me company while I waited...

Jenny laying next to me as I wait for my laptop to finish updating its operating system.

As usual with Apple, first there's a time to download screen... followed with a time to install screen... followed with a time to update screen. Which not only made it so I couldn't get any work done, it make it so I was late to the office. Yay.

Just another Thursday morning.

   

Bullet Sunday 633

Posted on Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Dave!I've been catching up with preparing my home for winter this weekend, but I had to make time for blogging, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Compare. I am putting this video here because I just can't believe it exists. Arun Maini (who has a great YouTube Channel) compared all the iPhones ever made for quality and features, plus showed and unboxing of each as well...

One of the most shocking parts of this video is the end where he compares the cameras. I maintain that the camera in the new iPhone 11 Pro may be the best camera I've ever owned. No, it can't really compare my Sony DSLR... but, in some ways, it actually eclipses it. First of all, it fits in my pocket and is with me at all times. Second of all, it has capabilities you could only get from a device with a massively powerful computer in it... like Night Mode and the forthcoming Deep Fusion. Aside from all that, it's just capable of taking amazing, amazing photos.

Of course the biggest shock is the benchmark escalation...

All the iPhone models lined up with their benchmark scores overlayed... starting with the original with a score of 710 all the way up to the iPhone 11 Pro with a score of 699,988!

I mean... wow. As an aside here, I've owned the following: 2G (The Original), 3G, 4, 5, 6, 7, X, XS, and 11 Pro...

All my iPhone boxes lined up on a table... with the exception of iPhone 7.

I kept all the boxes (except I can't find the box for 7). I think the only actual phone I kept was the 5 (it's in the shadows up there in the corner) because I loved the look of it so much (the 4 is a close second). I also have a 2G Original around here somewhere. The other phones I donated because the trade-in value is always worth less to me than helping somebody out... or, as of the iPhone X, I returned it to Apple as part of their iPhone Upgrade Program.

   
• Vieux Carré. They are building a Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans at the Northeastern corner of The French Quarter. I was staying just around the corner from the construction site, and walked by while I was there to check things out. Unfortunately I couldn't see much... and, even more unfortunately, there was a horrific accident which has left two workers dead and one still missing...

As the push to get things done ever cheaper and faster escalates, worker safety seems to be pushed aside. I sincerely hope that's not the case here.

   
• GROUCH. I do not care how many accolades that the Joker movie gets... I have zero interest in seeing it. The "real" Joker was a career criminal who was driven insane when he dropped in a vat of chemicals. The key takeaway being that he was always a criminal. In this new movie, Joker becomes a criminal due to mental illness, and I'm not here for it. The film is a completely unnecessary revision that simply doesn't interest me. Maybe one day when it's free on HBO or whatever, I'll give it a try out of boredom... but I'm not rushing to the theater to see it. Last night on SNL, there was a parody for Oscar the Grouch which brilliantly captures how I view Joker...

Perfect. THIS IS PERFECT!

   
• Three. It came out a short while back that Kevin Smith had finally manages to get Jeff Anderson onboard for Clerks 3. He had written a script ages ago, but Jeff didn't want to do it. Apparently after some discussion, Smith decided to write an all new script inspired by his heart attack that Anderson could get onboard with. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic...

Kevin Smith has made some of the favorite films. He kinda lost me when he took a detour into Cop Out, Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hosers... but the idea of getting another Jay & Silent Bob movie this month followed by another Clerks? Too good to be true.

   
• Vileness. You will be absolutely amazed what Portuguese street artist, Vile, can do with cans of spray paint...

Tom Holland in his Spider-Man costume.

Check out the story over at My Modern Met for more of his mind-blowing graffiti art.

   
• Apple and TV. I absolutely loathe the way Apple handles the video media they peddle. They charge more money than any other provider to sell you something you are forced to watch with their shitty, shitty apps. AppleTV is a grotesque mockery of interface design that barely works. The iPhone and iPad apps are missing so many critical features (LIKE SORTING YOUR HUNDREDS OF PURCHASES) that they're a heinous burden to use. And now there's the TV app for my Mac that came with their new Catalina MacOS. It is the very definition of crap. I never thought I'd be longing to go back to iTunes, but at least it was functional. The TV app is fucking garbage. They regularly send you to places that have no content... THEN DON'T GIVE YOU A FUCKING "BACK" BUTTON TO GO BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE!

And just try searching for stuff you want to buy. I dare you. I double dare you. I am so fucking embarrassed for Apple that I feel like vomiting. And if Steve Jobs were alive today he'd probably burn the company to the ground. After he strangles all the dumbasses who thought that "butterfly" keyboards in MacBooks was a good idea.

   
• Stellar. Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is a movie that I didn't like at first but, as time went on and I gave it another chance, I came to appreciate it as pretty good sci-fi. The high-concept science behind it is fascinating. Yes, the way that Nolan tried to inject "humanity" into it was a kludge, but it's still an entertaining story. And while I found everything pretty straightforward (despite some glaring plot holes), I found this cool (spoiler-filled) graphic which explains the time shifts in a great way...

The complex timeline of the movie Interstellar showing all the characters and their journey through the film.
Click image to embiggen.

Of course I ended up watching the movie again last night just to follow along. I like it even better the third time through.

   
See you next Sunday, buckaroos.

   

Bullet Sunday 636: Apple TV+ Edition

Posted on Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Dave!Worried you don't have time to watch all those new Apple TV shows? Well worry no more, because an all new Very Special Apple TV+ Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Who Dis? And lo did Apple decree that some of their billions of dollars shall be put aside to create their own media, and it was done. And lo did Apple then decree that all new iPhone purchasers would get a year of Apple TV+ for free, and it was done. And since I had a bunch of work to tackle all day yesterday, I just let Apple TV+ shows run while I was working. There are hits and misses, but most of it is just a "why?" situation. There's nothing so revolutionary here that Apple just had to step up with a pile of money to make sure they were seen. It's pretty much just more of the same.

   
The Morning Show. The opening shot of the first episode of this show is Mark Duplass answering his iPhone. The next shot is Steve Carell answering his iPhone. The next is Jennifer Aniston ignoring a call on her iPhone. Reese Witherspoon is too busy putting on eyeliner for me to see her phone, but the guy in back of her in the car has an iPhone. While not unrealistic that absolutely everybody on earth would all own iPhones, it does seem like a ridiculous abundance of product placement and left me wondering if the show was going to revolve around Apple products instead of stories and actors. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. But it was still jarring to see Apple absolutely everywhere when the real world doesn't work like that. And "the real world" is what they're trying to give us: When the co-host of a popular morning news show is fired for sexual misconduct, personal politics and interpersonal relationships are put to the test...

It may be only three episodes so far, but like this show. I like it quite a lot. It's deliciously twisty and appropriately ruthless without being overly-complex, stifling, or boring. The acting talent is impeccable. It's rumored that Aniston and Witherspoon are making TWO MILLION DOLLARS PER EPISODE. This seems wildly excessive. But when they make millions upon millions for movies, that's what it's going to cost to get that kind of talent on your TV show. I'm not saying they're necessarily worth that in the context of The Morning Show, but I will say that they elevate things to a level you probably wouldn't have gotten from many others. And don't discount Steve Carell... his character is equal parts horrifying and charisma, and he's great. Everybody is. That's what $15 million an episode gets you.

   
See. "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Or is he? Let's assume that I can put aside the complete lapse of logic which permeates this show. Let's further assume that I can overlook the ableist aspects of the concept behind the show. And let's finally assume that I can dismiss the obvious idea that Apple wanted their own Game of Thrones for launch, and See (featuring Khal Drago!) is that show. Assuming all that... and you can... I still couldn't get into this post-apocalyptic show about what happens when most of the population of earth is wiped out, those two million remaining are blinded, centuries afterwards everybody thinks that sight is a myth which is heresy to speak of, and evolution has brought us to a time when some are being born with the ability to... see...

Each episode costs $15 million. The same as being spent on The Morning Show. And yet... for the life of me I cannot figure out where all that money is going. It's just inconceivable to me that I'm looking at $15 million per installment. Maybe if $10 million an episode was going to Alfre Woodard that would explain things. I dunno. What I do know is that I was bored bored bored by the goofy lameness of it all. High concept needs to have high entertainment value. This just... doesn't. From bizarre crap like the queen's unorthodox method of "praying" to the whole "betrayal among us" trope being the entire crux of future hurdles... it's just so tired. I don't hate the show, I just don't know if I will make time to watch future episodes. Maybe if I'm bored and there's nothing else on?

   
For All Mankind. This terrific alternate-history series is just so... pretty. Not just because of the money put into making it look great... but because nothing puts all of humanity into such vivid perspective as our quest to reach the stars. Yes, things start slowing down after the first episode, but it's still pretty good stuff.

I had read nothing about the series, ignored all the "first look" videos, and had no idea what the show was about until I watched. At the time I was anticipating Apple TV+ costing $12.95 a month, so why invest the time in something I won't see? Because of this, the extended opening which defines the entire series took me completely by surprise. In a good way. Hopefully nobody has spoiled it for you, because surprises this finely crafted don't come along that often! For this reason, I am NOT including the advertisement video here. It spoils everything! I'm hopeful this is headed somewhere interesting.

   
Snoopy in Space. I actually liked the computer-rendered Peanuts movie. I found it beautifully rendered and fully faithful to both the comic strip and the animated specials. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Apple's first effort with the property was to be traditionally-animated. Though, from the looks of things, it's not so traditional. It's too fine and too clean and definitely looks digitally drawn. Not a good look...

But the real importance here would be the story. How does it live up to what Charles Shultz created? It doesn't. The plot is that Snoopy dreams of being an astronaut and breaks into NASA's astronaut training program so he can go into space. Since the Peanuts universe doesn't have adults you can understand, there's an absurd and annoyingly emotional computer standing in. What follows is mundane explorations into NASA, the ISS, the moon, and Mars. And it's so awful.

As a lover of the original Peanuts strips... a liker of the original Peanuts television specials... this show fell completely flat for me. It's like they took popular Peanuts elements that people would recognize and jammed them together into a NASA-sponsored docu-series. There's no real charm or genuine humor here and the story is both horrible and boring. Especially if you love Peanuts, in which case it's just insulting.

   
Dickinson. Needless to say, a teen angst reinvention of Emily Dickinson's early life was not going to be my cup of tea. I don't give two shits about that kind of CW crap. And yet... I was genuinely curious to see where Apple would go with this. I'm a fan of Dickinson's poetry and writings, and their nature is ripe for interpreting her life...

Alas, what we got was a complete mess. It's a period piece injected with thumping modern music and familiar modern tropes, but not in a necessarily edgy, interesting, or clever way. Characters use phrases like "I'm pretty psyched about it!" and "Totally!" and "This is bullshit!" which is somehow supposed to be funny or something. What actually was funny was seeing Wiz Khalifa pop up as Death with his magical coach pulled by ghostly fire horses and Jane Krakowski gliding through her every scene as if she's a Jenna Maroney parody of Emily's mom. Everything else fails to hold together. One minute Emily is baking bread for her father as an apology for getting caught sitting in at an all-male lecture on volcanoes at Amherst... the next she's getting fingered by her brother's fiancé as some words from her poem I have never seen "Volcanoes" appear on screen and images of bread baking in a hot oven pop up. It's like they didn't even try. Just one silly, contrived situation after another ("Let's have an opium party so I can hallucinate dancing with a giant talking bee!"). I made it through four episodes... fast forwarded through the last half of the fifth... then skipped to the ninth and tenth just to be done with it. I'm sure there are people who will love this, but it's sure not me.

   
The Elephant Queen. If you've ever seen the show Meerkat Manor which documents the life of meerkats struggling to survive their cruel world, The Elephant Queen will feel a bit familiar. This documentary follows Athena, an African elephant trying to save her heard once they are forced to leave their old watering hole in search of a new one...

Beautiful to look at and nicely narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, this is a wonderful but somewhat superficial film. Sure there's tragedy and death along the way. But no mention of poachers despite that being a serious threat and always topical... I mean, come on, even Disney World managed to add poaching into their Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Animal Kingdom. If there's a negative here, it would be the unnecessary addition of comical sound effects and some clueless music queues. Even so, it's a compelling film that's worth your valuable time.

   
• More to Come... Though Apple doesn't have much content, they seem intent of keeping it coming. Up next are a show by M. Night Shyamalan... a show by Rob McElhennrey and Charlie Day... a show with Octavia Spencer... a show with Chris Evans... more Amazing Stories... more Time Bandits... and, of particularly interest to me, a new series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels. Among others. Odds are, they're going to be fairly watchable given the amount of money and talent Apple is dumping on them. We shall see.

   
And... not a bad start. The only complete misfire was Snoopy (what were they thinking?) and even that might have appeal to some. Whether or not I'll pay $5 a month to keep it going a year from now will entirely depend on what's playing at that time. Another series for The Morning Show would be enough for me to pay a couple months, but I'm guessing Apple will have a lot more in store than just that.

   

Bullet Sunday 637

Posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2019

Dave!Hallmark Channel Christmas is in full swing this Sunday, but I'm making time for blogging anyway, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• OctoCup. I don’t know whether to be happy... or bust out crying because of how we’re destroying this planet with our filth...

Probably both. Poor creatures of earth. Fuck the climate change debate... clean up the planet because we have a moral reponsibility to do so. Humans are not the only thing living here.

   
• Madalorian. By and large, I've been disappointed with the post-Star Wars offerings. The prequel trilogy was utter crap. The sequel trilogy is lacking. Solo was okay, but not a homerun. And while I did love Rogue One for being the most Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back, it had serious story issues. The final movie in the trilogy of trilogies, Rise of Skywalker arrives in December and looks like it will be a delicious special-effects spectacle. But what I'm really forward to? Jon Favre and Pedro Pascal's The Mandalorian coming to Disney+ on Tuesday...

Boy does that look good. Firmly set in the Star Wars Universe, but giving us something new outside of what the past films are mired in. I sure hope it lives up to the hype.

   
• AT&T Nickel Diming. Upgrading my iPhone through the Apple Upgrade Program was a mess. Worthy of an entire blog post when I have time to document the horror I went through with Apple. Turns out that the fun was just beginning because when I got my AT&T bill, there was a $30 upgrade fee on it. Even though AT&T didn't do a damn thing. The process of activating and transferring my phone was entirely automated and done by me! This is just another case of AT&T squeezing money out of their customers by nickel-and-diming them to death. When I called AT&T to ask them what in the hell they did to merit a $30 charge, their answer was... all the carriers do it. Which may be true. But AT&T costs considerably more than other carriers. And so... time to investigate a possible change. Free HBO that's a massive pain-in-the-ass to activate via AT&T's pitiful AT&T TV Now service (formerly DirecTV Now) is not worth it. Not by a damn sight. And they're dishonest assholes who still charge you full price, even when they are blacking out channels and not paying for them.

   
• Rank. Step One of getting rid of our fatally-flawed and totally shitty two-party system stranglehold is adopting ranked-choice voting. And... oh my.. here is something interesting.

   
• Padded. I have been attempting to use the new Adobe Photoshop on iPad. Except, despite it's name, it is NOT Adobe Photoshop. Not even remotely close to Photoshop. Of course I knew that there were going to be sacrifices (especially in the beginning), but this pathetic effort is so feature anemic as to be laughable. For one thing... no resizing or crop tools. I mean, sure there's a "crop tool" but you can't set a dimension. Your only choice is to "lock current ratio." THAT'S IT! Need a certain size? Fuck you. Need a certain resolution? Fuck you. Need a certain ratio? Fuck you. And... oh yeah... the crop tool doesn't snap to edges! What a fucking joke. It's not like I'm upset because I can't use all my filters and am demanding that every possible obscure feature from the desktop Photoshop be added... but holy fucking shit! CROPPING IS A BASIC FEATURE! IT'S NOT EVEN A BASIC FEATURE... IT'S LIKE THE MOST RUDIMENTARY FUNCTION OF AN IMAGE EDITING PROGRAM THERE IS! Pathetic. Can't believe we waited a whole YEAR for this?

   
• Wavy. Boy does this bring back memories of crossing The Drake Passage! I always wondered how they managed to cook on rough seas!

There were two times in crossing that dishes were thrown from our tables. Thrown. Which is why the expedition company I went with have to replace half the dishes every season.

   
• Punch Away. WE LITERALLY FOUGHT A WAR AGAINST THEM!

Hopefully. Hopefully.

   
And now... back to our regularly-scheduled Christmastime programming...

   

Apple MacBook Pro 16

Posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Dave!I have been enjoying Disney+ far more than I thought I would. So many movies from my childhood are just a click away and it's been great. That Darn Cat, Flight of the Navigator, Blackbeard's Ghost, The Cat From Outer Space, and of course the Herbie the Love Bug movies. It's amazing how good these movies were. That Darn Cat is shockingly smart, funny, and entertaining. They just don't make films like this any more.

In other good news... Apple has finally gotten off their asses, listened to the many complaints of their customers, and released a MacBook without their shitty, shitty, SHITTY "butterfly" keyboards. I haven't tried one yet, but the early reports are good.

I sure as hell hope so.

Because, at this point, I don't give a crap about anything but the keyboard. Well... maybe the display. But Apple has always had the most beautiful displays, so whatever. Everything else? Whatever. I don't care how it sounds, or how fast it's gotten, or if it has a stupid "TouchBar," or if it has "Touch ID." ALL I WANT TO DO IS BE ABLE TO WORK AND TO BE ABLE TO WORK I NEED TO BE ABLE TO FUCKING TYPE!

My current laptop is nearly eight years old and I've used it to death. It's constantly in use every day of the week. It has died and been repaired three times. The fan is starting to go and I can't find replacement parts for it. And yet I've kept hanging onto it because of Apple's shitty "butterfly" keyboards are impossible for me to type on. It's plenty fast and capable and I'd gladly keep using it if it weren't constantly dying.

Hopefully now, at long last, I have another option.

Enter the new 16-inch MacBook Pro...

The specs are impressive, as you'd expect.

Since the reviews of the keyboard are so good, I'll definitely take a look. And probably end up ordering one.

Hopefully my current laptop will hang on long enough for it to arrive. As I've been typing this, my fan has been howling again.

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