Haunted Empire review – great title, shame about the contents

Haunted Empire review – great title, shame about the contents | Technology | theguardian.com:

I found the bizarre attribution of meaning to events which didn’t seem to have meaning more and more intrusive. I also found it incongruous to have an American journalist from the WSJ offering her own interpretations; I thought it was an article of faith in that trade to get someone else to express your opinions – just choose carefully so they’re the ones you wanted to express anyway. But hardly any experts are quoted in the whole book; a pity, as they could have provided a narrative framework.

More to the point, didn’t any of Kane’s 200 interviewees or her time on the WSJ team reporting on Apple uncover anything about the tension inside the company about the iPhone 5? It simultaneously changed the screen size and dumped the 30-pin connector it had used since 2003, replacing it with a thinner 8-pin one that was incompatible with hundreds of millions of third-party boom boxes. For third-party developers, it meant rewriting their apps just to fit the iPhone 5 screen, which was longer but not wider. For makers of music players, it meant redesigns and inventory headaches. Would Steve Jobs have done that? Post-Jobs Apple did, with the same lack of compunction with which Jobs used to hand out mandates. Does that mean it’s haunted by the spirit of Jobs (would he had done it)? Or not?

[Clearly… not a fan.]

Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’

Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’:

My complaints are about outright technical inaccuracies, and getting the man’s work wrong. The design process, the resulting products, the centrality of software — Isaacson simply misses the boat.

You could learn more about Steve Jobs’s work by reading Rob Walker’s 2003 New York Times Magazine piece than by reading Isaacson’s book, but even then we’re left wanting for the stories behind any of Apple’s products after the iPod. Isaacson’s book may well be the defining resource for Jobs’s personal life — his childhood, his youth, his eccentricities, cruelty, temper, and emotional outbursts. But as regards Jobs’s work, Isaacson leaves the reader profoundly and tragically misinformed.

[There’s another aspect of all this success. Using UNIX via Next as the basis for OS X was huge in that there was a sudden switch. For years developers looked down their noses at Macs. Whether with good reason ro not I’ll leave aside for now. But there was an explosion of developers buying MacBook Pros (think the titanium era) with OS X. Once they realized that all the favorite tools and utilities, consoles and compilers were there and easily accessible, they all tossed aside their hard to configure (at that time) Linux running on whatever laptop and got Macs. And while the total number might have been small, I feel that the mindshare thing had a significant impact which continues today. If you’re going to talk about Jobs’ work. That mindshare acquisition, which came with Next was huge. Another little known fact. The web was born on a Next computer. The guy who created the web as we know it did it on Next. Not a direct link, but only one degree of separation.]

Source: Daring Fireball

SRAM Red 2012

SRAM Red 2012 – Full Details – BikeRadar:

SRAM have bucked the trend of 11-speed cassettes and electronic shifting for their wholly revamped 2012 Red group, preferring instead to stick with 10 rear cogs and conventional cable actuation. The new 1,739g claimed weight lops about 150g off of what was already a superlight package and major improvements to the brakes, derailleurs and drivetrain provide better stopping power, smoother front shifts and quieter running to accompany the updated ergonomics.

[Outside of the front der, which seems like a nice improvement, I’m impatiently waiting for the hydro stuff.]

[Update: It seems that the front der. is not compatible with the previous shifters. These companies think they’ve created a gravy train by obsoleting designs every few years, but considering the cost of a gruppo in the aftermarket, changes like this just make me feel burned.]

Traveling With the MacBook Air (James nails it)

Traveling With the MacBook Air:

On my way home from the UK last month, I posted about my dream to travel light. As it turns out, I didn’t wait too long to start implementing it. I haven’t picked up an X100—though I have been frequently checking the various camera stores. I have, however, acquired a 13″ MacBook Air and have been using it as my only computer for the last week while on a trip to New York.

My 13″ MacBook Air in flight on CO 1585 from Newark NJ to Portland OR.

As a general-purpose laptop, the new MacBook Air is as awesome as everyone says it is. Lightweight, surprisingly speedy, and gifted with impressive battery life, Apple’s marketing is dead on. It is the perfect everyday laptop for most users. But what about for using it for something more demanding? More to the point, the question you probably have for me is: How well does it work as a laptop for a photographer?

The answer is that as long as you can live with its limitations, it’s a surprisingly decent travel photography laptop. I’ve totally enjoyed it while working on planes and trains and in cafés. It’s done everything I’ve asked it to since I bought it, including working through my photos and posting a few along the way. I even used it for light client work while in New York where I needed to quickly shoot a few dozen images and then deliver a finished photo on the spot.

So what are the limitations of the Air? One is the lack of a discrete GPU. This affects applications that can take advantage of it, like Aperture. In my experience so far, it’s most noticeable when importing a big set of photographs and waiting for the initial churn of preview generation to finish. Also, judicious use of Preview mode is called for when browsing photos. If you’re using Lightroom or other applications which only hit the CPU, however, you won’t miss out on the acceleration you didn’t have to begin with.

Another limitation is the speed at which you can get data on and off the MacBook Air. Without using a Thunderbolt display or a huge Promise Pegasus disk array, the current choices are USB 2.0 or WiFi. This means a bit of patience is required whenever you’re making big data transfers, such as to push a big set of photos from the laptop to desktop once you get home after a trip. This limitation should ease as more Thunderbolt options arrive—I really would like a Thunderbolt port expander with Gigabit Ethernet and FireWire on it—but that will take time. For now, it’s a bottleneck that has to be dealt with.

The bottom line is that if you need a single computer for your photography and it has to be a laptop, you really should be looking at the 15″ MacBook Pro. The quad-core CPU, the discrete and fast GPU, the ability to use 8GB of RAM, and the external port options are all extremely useful on a primary photography workstation. On the other hand, if you have an iMac or Mac Pro where you do the bulk of your photo processing, the MacBook Air serves as a great lightweight companion to take on the road. And for all those non-photographic things you do while traveling—email, web browsing, writing—the Air is a shining star that’s a joy to use.

Posted by
James Duncan Davidson.

[I have nothing to add. He’s right on the money. Photography is not a main use, but if you insert almost any other processor intensive task, it applies. The Air is a great general purpose machine that is good enough to squeak by on “Pro” tasks, but you’ll need a MBP for day in day out work… at least until companies start churning out Thunderbolt based extenders.]
Source: James Duncan Davidson

TRP’s CX9 v-brakes


They’re designed for use with road levers and so pull the correct amount of cable, and they work gloriously well. Shuddering is a thing of the past and they’re powerful and smooth. As TRP says: “The CX9’s linear pull design is compatible with most lever types and provides huge amounts of stopping power.” I’d have to agree with the second part, and they work just fine with SRAM Force levers. They’re a great improvement over canti’s and about $100.00US.


This year’s favorite things

In the tech category, Rails 2.3, Redis, and the Engine Yard Cloud. offerings have got to top the list of things that improved our ability to deliver products and simplified solutions for us. Github also tops my list of services that have become a way of life. The tech world spins quickly though. Curious to see what’s next. In all cases though, it’s not the tech or the code but the people. All these projects or companies have seriously dedicated people working on them. *That* is what makes these things go. Rock on people.

Quoc Pham fixed shoes
Rapha scarf, Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover
Outlier Black Empire Tee
Stormy Kromer shirt
Rapha Lightweight Softshell
Panache Cycling Houndtooth socks
Outlier hoodie
dogfishhead 90 minute IPA
jeff jones silver headbadge
hed ardennes
king cages ti water bottle cages
harriman local loop
Chris King ISO Hubs
Starting line with Team Fatty at the Livestrong Challenge Philly
Fall riding rocks
Mad Alchemy Mango Love
Taza Chocolate Mexicana helping the dev team persevere
Laying down some fresh tracks in the snow

There might be a few more… time will tell.

New FTC Guidelines Governing Blogs Featuring Products

New FTC Guidelines Governing Blogs Featuring Products:

We thought you should know that the Federal Trade Commission just published new guidelines about – among other things – blogs that feature product endorsements.

That sure caught my attention.

The Guides, which have been around since 1980, have been freshened up to “specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

Then I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

See, there’s a seedy underbelly to media where some journalists – crappy, amoral journalists for sure (there are many names for these people: swag hags, freebie queens, whores, shills) – but still journalists, who too enthusiastically accept gifts (like bikes and components), giveaways, expensive meals, all-expenses-paid trips and the like in exchange for editorial coverage. If you’re a keen reader, you can probably already spot this perversion, aptly called “advertorial.” So far it has flown silently under the radar because the FTC has no authority to regulate speech unless it’s specifically commercial speech.

The new guidelines surfaced due to a recent spate of bloggers trumpeting the virtues of a product that they were either given or were paid to endorse.

[Just to be clear… anything I write about is something that either I purchased or a friend purchased and I’ve used. The exception that comes to mind is stuff donated to QuietlyHelping.org but I will include in the context of the piece that it was donated. I’ll happily except stuff for review, as I already do with books, and occasionally other stuff, but if it appears here, you will know when I was given something. Otherwise you can safely assume I hauled out my wallet.]
Source: Speedgoat Blog