Technology: What about “Log in with Twitter”?

Via Twitter’s Developer Site:

“Use Log in with Twitter, also known as Sign in with Twitter, to place a button on your site or application which allows Twitter users to enjoy the benefits of a registered user account in as little as one click. This works on websites, iOS, mobile, and desktop applications.”

“Access tokens are not explicitly expired. An access token will be invalidated if a user explicitly revokes an application in the their Twitter account settings, or if Twitter suspends an application. If an application is suspended, there will be a note in the Twitter app dashboard stating that it has been suspended.

“Twitter keeps track of the authorizations, so for users already signed in to twitter.com who have authorized the application, no UI is shown – instead, they are automatically redirected back to the application.”

There are many websites, like this one who use Continue with Twitter / Login with Twitter” I assume that many sites responsibly implemented this and still set a password for the user and a user id but one thing I think most of us have not had to think about is what happens with “sign in with” (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter) go away?

Reducing friction in your app (web or mobile) to get folks to sign up is a good thing but when the service tracking authorizations (tokens) goes away, what then? It’s not the end of the world but it’s why I’ve never used any of these quick sign in cheats and always create an account with my email and password. It takes an extra 30 seconds but not only do I not trust that Sign in with Apple will be around 30 years later, I also don’t like the large tech companies being the gatekeeper to hundreds of 3rd party services. Facebook obviously loves knowing everything you sign up for. These “sign in with” services are not in existence as a public service. They benefit the companies who maintain them.

With the future of Twitter being so uncertain, anyone who has users who joined via a Twitter OAuth handshake may want to make sure they’re ready for that service that holds thousands of tokens to suddenly stop working. I would certainly stop offering their sign in with applet as an option for new users.

Technology: Apple is Ruining Maps.app in Favor of their Maps Services

I wanted to open by saying this critique is not about Apple Maps’ quality as in a slight of the map itself and all of its attributes. This is a product rant. I previously worked at a company supplying map data to Apple so I want to make that clear up front.

via MacRumors:

“Apple Maps users will soon be able to order food or groceries, purchase tickets, make hotel or dinner reservations, view movie showtimes, schedule an appointment, and more directly in the app via participating businesses.”

Apple, via their Business Connect Site:

“We created Business Connect to provide Apple users around the world with the most accurate information for places to eat, shop, travel, and more,” said Apple’s services chief Eddy Cue. “Apple Business Connect gives every business owner the tools they need to connect with customers more directly, and take more control over the way billions of people see and engage with their products and services every day.”

This is a timely announcement because just yesterday, I recorded a video of what I consider a very crappy experience that’s new to this version of iOS available today. The experience of researching a place you’d like to go and then going back to do a different search takes multiple clicks. It’s also not human friendly how you clear the floating tile, nor is it clear what all of these guides are doing and why there are hundreds of them.

Some of my gripes with Maps on iOS 16:

  • Pushing the App Store on me both the jump to install Yelp or apps of the POI like CVS/WalMart/Shell/Subway, etc when I’m just trying to find a place to get fuel for my car
  • If I’m seeing the arrival time to a place (you have to route there to see this), I have to tap 6 times to get back to the search window. Once on the X, then the End Route button then the X on the POI then the X on the search, then the Cancel on the pop up tile. Just to go back and search for something else or browse traffic. It is a lot of tapping when you’re trying to do research on the road of where to eat. This behavior is the same on CarPlay
  • The very slow animations of zooming and panning around the map. They’re slow so the human consuming this content can understand and feel the context. Zoom out, pan right (east) then zoom in. I’m sure there was testing but it’s way too slow when you’re trying to consider a few different options for where you want to get tacos
  • Big City Things, algorithmically deciding what to show me. When I’m panning & zooming without a search, and zoom VERY close in to a strip mall to see the list of businesses, it might show me 1-2 of them. I know there’s a cafe there. If I search cafe, suddenly it shows up (after zooming me out to show all cafes in a 5 mile radius). What I want is the number of the cafe I’m driving past so I click the find me arrow in the app, zoom very close and Apple Maps tells me nothing is there between the salon and bar but I know there is….I’m looking at it! Google Maps shows you everything if you zoom in to maximum zoom but Apple doesn’t
  • Similar issue, searching for cafe it shows you 25 or so in a 5 mile radius. There are easily 100 of them but it’s showing me, seemingly at random the 25 listed on Yelp, I assume?
  • I searched for Hot Chicken on Saturday in a neighborhood in Charlotte. It showed me 10 locations all about 2-10 miles away. I opened Yelp and did a similar search, there was a Dave’s Hot Chicken 1 block from me but that wasn’t showing on Apple Maps
  • Traffic, Apple must think it’s a usability enhancement to not inform me the second I’m on the slowest route. TomTom does this really well. They will actively tell you they found a faster route and it’s never been annoying. It seems to always be when the route is 5 minutes faster as the threshold but on a 12 hour road trip, I’ll get re-routed 2-3 times which I like. Apple rarely offers this option and we’ve done side by side testing on road trips
  • Guides, they are prominently featured on the floating tile where you would search but I truly don’t know why. I’ve tried to use them but I don’t really care what a famous chef likes to eat when she’s in Atlanta. I’m nowhere near Atlanta.

The Apple Maps iOS 16 experience is not good and then there are rumors that Apple Maps will be adding advertisements this year (via AppleInsider) and today’s news that Apple wants businesses to move goods through Maps and presumably all of this will be happening in 2023 with iOS 17.

I’ve been using Apple Maps less and less over the last couple of months. I’m living in a new place (Charlotte, NC) and so I’m relying on Maps more than ever and have began to rely on TomTom Go, TomTom AmiGO and TomTom GO Ride (all in beta) for getting around. They’re three different apps for three different use cases. They all have live traffic, they all use POI databases from multiple vendors and they have zero advertisements or any tomfoolery that makes getting from point A to B difficult.

I’ve been telling my wife that once Apple makes Maps worse than it is today, I’m going to have to uninstall the app and rely on TomTom’s pure navigation apps. I am also using TomTom Maps within BMW’s Connected app which works very well sending map data to the TFT screens on my GS and R18 motorcycles. I also have the Garmin Zumo XT (Powered by HERE Maps) on my GS and 701 for navigation without a cell phone and finally, TomTom is built into my RAM 1500 and Volkswagen Tiguan and offers both good maps and live traffic through the cellular modems built into those vehicles.

This is NOT a Pro-TomTom post or at least that’s not what it was intended to be. Apple does not have a monopoly on how I navigate with my cell phone and there are competitors that are more integrated with pure navigation / maps that aren’t Google (or Google Owned like Waze) which is taking a similar approach to Apple treating its Maps product like an ecosystem where the Maps app does it all.

I don’t like Google doing this and I certainly don’t agree with Apple’s choices here. The Apple Maps app is already a mess and they’re about to make it worse. All I want is to type in an address or POI name and get directions there with some active prediction on traffic which will offer up faster routes if they’re available. TomTom does this and isn’t charging me for it. Apple is moving away from that.

It’s just very disappointing.

Life: The New Year and what’s ahead

Humans try to make a reference or link to something to account for time. We invented calendars and then try to reference an event and the time that’s passed. It reminds me of how folks from USA are always trying to measure things in football fields. I never played football and have never walked on a football field so I guess it’s big or maybe not? Humans are weird this way.

2023 is a year shy of my 20th year after graduating high school and it’s 2 years short of when I started working at Apple and it’s the 21st year since I went to Macworld in SF for the first time and this is the decade in which I’ll turn 40 years old. I feel and act 25. I don’t feel like my age. Sure, I have some injuries from when I was a child that are creeping back in but when I tell Heather that I don’t feel 36, she agrees. I don’t act 36.

I don’t do resolutions but this year is really important. I’ll be saying no to trips, travel, purchases and other opportunities. I’m focused on two things mainly:
First, my wife and her happiness in this new home away from her friends & family
Second, Doing a great job at this new job and I’m so committed to that, I’ve given up a lot of side hustles to make sure I am present and make an impact. I know corporations aren’t usually loyal to their employees but I want to give this position my all and prove to my team that I’m worth promoting.

There is a bigger goal which is our intention to return to New Hampshire in 5-10 years. I’ve told everyone that’s the goal. Life can throw curveballs at you but while I love Charlotte, I am missing the great outdoors of New Hampshire. It’s not politics or taxes or anything that’s on the surface and transient. It’s just the space and how much land there is to explore and experience. I’m not missing that so much that I’m going to do anything crazy like give up on this job. I’m going to be here for a while but we’re saving and preparing for a move back. Maybe buy property, renovate a home and get ready for that journey back North.

This year and beyond, it’s why saving money and working hard are so important right now. I’m working toward a much larger goal. That’s not to say we may get back to New Hampshire via a place like California. It won’t be NH to NC to NH…we might hop around a bit before we get back but I think that when I turn 50, I want to be in my dream home up North and settled in to a virtual / remote job up there.

A funny thing happened the last 2 years. I took Heather to San Francisco twice and she really likes it. I don’t think it was love at first sight like I had when I first went there in 2003 and promised myself I’d live there one day (which I did in 2007). But exploring Northern California with her and it’s clear she wants to spend some time there. I would move back for a few years. She knows that and so do all of you but this is more about our home and family and where we spend our years where we are starting to think about retirement. I want to ride my motorcycle all over the west coast and she wants to see everything that area has to offer. Tacos in LA, Disneyland, Monterey, San Diego, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, ride PCH, see Mt. Shasta with her own eyes, go camping in Yosemite, see redwood trees and camp under them, put her feet in Salt Lake and spend a week in Moab among the giant rocks. The best way to do all of that is to either retire with enough money to live out of an RV for a few years and hope our health holds up OR take a job out west and spend our weekends and holidays exploring. I’d like the latter for us.

We finally found a tenant for our lake house in New Hampshire. It’s a young couple like we were when we purchased it. Rent will cover the mortgage and upkeep and I hope to renovate that home one day to make it a proper lake house with dock, deck, landscaped yard and larger windows that overlook the lake. We had it quoted in 2020 and it was going to be about $150,000 to do everything and would add that much in value 1:1. We were living there full time and both working remotely so it just didn’t make sense. I think in a couple of years, we’ll finally do a renovation. The house will almost be paid off by then and we can not rent it for 6 months and do the renovations it needs. I’m glad we found renters. It took 2 months to find good ones. I’m still thankful to this day that Heather nearly forced me to buy that house. She’s full of good ideas.

After going camping on New Year’s Day, I’m heading off tomorrow to do it again, this time in Florida for a weekend at a BMW motorcycle rally. Low will be 29 degrees and it’ll be a very wet and rainy 8 hour ride there then a dry but below freezing ride home on Sunday. Ugh. But I cherish the times I get to sleep under the stars with new friends. I don’t think I’ll camp 30 nights this year like I have every year since 2016 but I’m going to try.

Happy New Year everyone and thanks for reading.

My Own Little Elephant, self-hosting Mastodon – Follow Along

If you really care about your data, you should host it yourself. Despite all of the talk this week about folks liberating their blogging that used to take place on Twitter, everyone just jumped ship over to more servers owned by other people. It’s something that was a little surprising. You’d think that folks who felt burned when services shut down or changed direction wouldn’t just go off and join another free service. Even some podcasters I followed admitted to having 6 Mastodon accounts and 4-5 of them had already shut down in 4 years since joining. Not a good look.

If I’m going to publish, I want to either publish to a box I own / control or pay someone to act as librarian. For example, Flickr is the place where all of my publicly accessible photos are hosted and that’s going on almost 20 years. I’ve paid them $50 a year to keep those images safe but I have local backups and backups on cloud servers I also pay for. Same for my blog. My Twitter archive is great but it’s the only backup of my tweets when Twitter finally dies. 

Mastodon and the server I had joined originally is instance based. Instances come and go. The one I joined, Yesterweb I was going to send them a tip each month to fund operations but I learned that Mastodon will allow you to export a CSV of your posts but you can’t import those posts anywhere else. You can also move servers but all you’re doing is moving your followers, not your posts. I get why this isn’t possible for both administration (content moderation) and server resources but I also think until that gets fleshed out, I’m not entrusting my posts to someone else. I want them to be on a server I pay for. 

For now, I’m using a 3rd party host and paying $4 a month for them to handle all of the updates for me. I hope Mastodon will eventually let me move posts around. I’d like that.

You can follow me or not but the goal is to use Mastodon like I was using Micro.blog, App.net and WithKnown (self hosted) where I post short updates and photos. It’s not meant to augment this blog but to be something entirely different. If you don’t follow, I’ll be adding a link to my Mastodon page on my website under a Micro-Blog link.

My iOS Homescreen – 2023

Another year, another homescreen. As always, I have to thank MG for his timely annual reminder to do this. After almost a decide, I’m surprised that it’s not a habit by now.

There are a lot of changes this year. Except for the top 2 rows. Those are remaining the same. I use every app up there once a day. You’ll see 5-7 things missing or different. Why are some things missing?

Home / Sense are gone because I moved out of the home I own and into a rental and the home I own is no longer important when it comes to having smart home access. My rental forbids modifications like a solar panel, server rack, video doorbell or smart lock and why waste money on a rental so those apps are deprecated.

Deliveries, Halide, 1Password and SnowFlake are gone. The 1st three are just in a folder with SnowFlake removed after Carrot did a great redesign in 2022 and garnered my full weather attention. Deliveries is probably on its way out. They switched to a subscription model and at the same time, FedEx or UPS made it hard for them to do automatic updates to packages. I just don’t trust the app anymore so I’ve stopped using it in favor of dedicated UPS/FedEx apps that I don’t open but keep notifications enabled for. Each service has products that track inbound packages based on my mailing address. It works very well!

Halide I probably won’t use much any more. Apple’s Camera App is GREAT and RAW on the iPhone 14 in the camera app is really good and I use the RAW for a lot. I used it my entire honeymoon and at first glance, there are some photos on Flickr that look like they fit right in next to the images I shot on the Canon 5D. On my 32” display it’s night and day but Apple iPhone 14 + RAW is really compelling.

Motorcycle folder is on the 2nd screen because it’s winter and I’m not doing any long distance road trips.

In its place is a Credit Karma folder which is a bunch of apps I need for work, mostly Google ones. I’m not going to waste virtual ink on my thoughts on Google but that’s what this company uses to get work done and I’m falling in line.

Envoy (work access to our building), LinkedIN (I used this a lot in 2022 and probably should move it to a folder. TomTom Go and GoRide are both beta apps. As Apple Maps becomes more crappy (more on that in a future post and considers adding advertisements, I’m using TomTom’s automotive navigation app more. I’ve always preferred TT’s live traffic product and it integrates well with Apple CarPlay and will never have any ads. That’s HUGE. I was a part of the steering committee while at TomTom for the motorcycle specific app and so I’ve been using it a lot and LOVE it. It’s everything I want for a non-dirt-bike ride. I won’t use it for road trips but I will use it for after work or Saturday jaunts.

That’s the homescreen for 2023. I should demote LinkedIN and I should also start making an effort to fully move on from Apple Maps but I don’t anticipate much more changing in 2023. Thanks MG for the annual reminder!

Photography: Back to Mirrorless – Canon R5

Canon R5

In August of 2015, I shared here that it was time to sell my Olympus E-M1. I owned that camera for almost 2 years after really loving the M43 format on my Olympus PEN E-PL2. It was a great format because the camera was so small, light and unassuming. You could walk around with a 200MM zoom and no one paid you any mind because the small size looked like a tourist rig. I was convinced Full Frame is where I needed to end up after my 2011 India Trip and it just became a matter of financial security that helped me achieve that dream with the 5D Mark III purchase in 2016. 3 years later, in 2019 I sold that camera and purchased a 5D Mark IV. I started to acquire a few lenses and the Mark IV’s biggest advance was built in GPS among a lot of other really great features.

I purchased that 5D Mark IV for a total steal. Due to an online issue, Canon accidentally discounted it to $1500 right after Christmas in 2019. It hasn’t been that low since. Guess what I sold it for last week? $1600. Not bad :)

Just over 3 years later and I’m upgrading again. This time to the Canon R5, their full frame mirrorless camera. Digital SLRs are dead and the EF lens mount is also dead. You can still buy DSLRs and EF lenses but Canon is not making new ones. They’re all in on mirrorless. That’s a good thing because if Canon can bring features that allow them to compete with smartphones, improve connectivity, introduce smart artificial intelligence and do it in a body that pros can use to shoot photos that make them money, they should. The Canon RF mount is the future and it’s quite astonishing. These new cameras and lenses are, on average, 50% smaller than their predecessors. As someone whose travel photography is almost entirely done atop a motorcycle, size matters.

Speaking of size, I can fit a Canon R5, a 70-200 RF lens and a 24-70 RF lens in my tank bag that is on my dirt bike. That’s how small this system is compared to DSLRs where it was Camera + 24-70 and just enough room for my wallet. That’s progress! Oh and the new R5 (5D’s replacement body) has over a thousand autofocus points, shoots at 20FPS in full 40 megapixel RAW format, has an electronic view finder that runs at 120FPS, an articulating display that has a touch screen, can shoot 8K video, is full frame and works with every single EF lens and flash I already have via an adapter. The only thing I’m losing with this upgrade is built in GPS for adding EXIF data to every photo, something that has kept me from upgrading for 2 years but rumors say that the next R5 Mark II won’t have GPS either since the GPS connectivity achieved by pairing your smartphone with the camera via Bluetooth is so reliable and auto-connects when the camera turns on, most people feel this is a good enough compromise in favor of battery life on the R5.

About battery life, it’s bad. My Canon 5D…900 shots was no problem and 350 is about average for the R5. But there’s good news to that, on long motorcycle trips, I used to have to carry my Canon 5D battery charger because after 3 days, I’d need to charge the battery. The R5 charges via USB-C so long as your power adapter supports PowerDelivery so now I can forgo the battery pack and just plug in my R5 every night to one of my 20,000 MaH Anker batteries with PD and charge it without removing the battery. That’s pretty swell and 350 shots a day is roughly average. If it isn’t, I can always carry a spare battery.

Another fairly substantial negative on this new RF format is the prices are astronomical! The 50mm F/1.2 EF lens was $1000 in 2016. It’s $2299 in RF format. The 70-200 F/2.8 was $1899 when I bought one in 2018. It’s $2799 now. Essentially, every RF lens is $1000 more than its predecessor. The memory (CFExpress Type B) is twice as expensive as Compact Flash, the batteries are $80 instead of $50 for my 5D and luckily, Canon’s 4-year warranty only went up by $100. I’ve received some questions about Canon’s CarePAK being worth it and if you leave your house with the camera, it is. 

Quick digression but here’s what CarePAK gets you for about $300 on top of your $3800 camera:

  • 4 year warranty (versus 1)
  • Annual inspection & cleaning at Canon in Virginia and they pay shipping both ways
  • Full coverage against accidental damage. I broke my rear screen, I broke some buttons, I wore off some of the lettering, they replaced it no questions asked
  • If you drop your camera down a cliff and can retrieve it, CarePAK will refurbish or replace your camera
  • I’ve mailed my camera in every single year and their inspection & cleaning alone more than pays for the CarePAK but you need to set a calendar reminder so you don’t forget

It’s been mentioned already but I am blown away by now small the R5 body is. It still feels professional but as someone with big hands who actually had a battery grip on his 5D, this thing feels like holding a toy until you start to shoot with it and realize it’s incredibly well built.

About the EF to RF lens conversion. Canon blew this out of the park. They knew professionals would reject a platform where they had to purchase all new lenses. Some pros have $50,000 invested in lenses and flashes. Canon gave us a very low cost ($99) EF to RF adapter and you lose nothing when using this. You aren’t losing stabilization, aperture, focus distance or even speed. You’re getting an EF experience on your new RF with the added advantage that the R5 has in body stabilization which also works with the old EF lenses. 

Why would anyone upgrade if lenses are all $1000 more and the EF lenses have zero compromises? Well, like I said RF lenses are 50% smaller and often much lighter. The RF version of one of my favorite lenses (70-200 f/2.8) is 30% lighter (1.07KG versus 1.48KG) and it’s much shorter. I can tell you even if it wasn’t Canon’s intention that affixing that EF lens + RF adapter to my R5 feels comical. It’s like attaching a huge scope to a little bb-gun. It looks dumb and you feel dumb. I guess it reminds me a lot of when I let a friend who had a Canon Ti of some sort (their entry level $499 DSLR) affix the 70-200 and the lens was 90% of the mass on that tiny SLR.

As soon as I got home, i started seeing just what it would cost me to convert to RF. I’ll have to pace myself because to replace every lens would be a 5-year plan spending about $2K a year to make it possible…a bit less if I sell my current lenses at the same time for example my 70-200 goes for about $1500 and I can buy the new one for $2200 used. I know for a fact that if I am taking a big cross-country trip, replacing my 24-70 and 70-200 are at the top of my list because fitting the camera + those 2 lenses in a tank bag sounds like heaven. I never get to go on motorcycle trips with my 70-200 due to its size. Now I can put it in my tank bag!

I sold my Canon 5D for $1600 and this new camera cost me $2950 (Sale + Refurb + Upgrade pricing) and I’ll have another $200 coming back to me from a credit card perk so $2750 and with what I sold the 5D for, that puts me at an upgrade cost of $1150. Not bad!

There is another Canon R5 coming likely this year. But this has been my process for a long time with cameras. It’s odd for me to buy the outgoing model but as a non-professional, this strategy has worked really well for me. Buy a camera that’s 3 years old and in 3 years, sell it and buy the next one that’s already 3 years old. I should apply this same logic to cars and computers but for some reason, those just feel different.

Anyway, new camera and I’m super stoked!

Linked: Stammy on Mastodon

Via Paul Stamatiou:

I’m hoping that the recent interest in Mastodon will get people to start thinking more about taking control of their data and online identity. Mastodon has a great shot at recreating that feeling of community that personal blogs used to have. It can be your own space.

This is a great post as usual. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Paul who’s blog is updated 3-4 times a year always with posts worth leaning back and not only learning something but changing how I think about a certain technology. Always inspiring. 

I am only quoting this bit at the end because I’m worried Mastodon will suffer a similar fate as many other services. Yes Mastodon is a protocol versus a platform. That’s a good thing but when a server or group of servers go truly mainstream, there’s a possibility of greed wielding its head. Aggregation theory will kick in and we’ll slowly re-create Twitter even if that aggregator is just one of many federated servers. The South Park Episode about WalMart comes to mind. They burn down WalMart only to build up another store to be just as big then burn that one down again. Humans are lazy and aggregating is just what we do. 

I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and run my own Mastodon instance. I like that people can follow me (like they do the RSS feed I publish here) but owning your IP also means owning your box on the internet. 

The realization that my Mastodon posts can’t move with me between servers is even more scary. Why would I devote years of my life posting to someone’s instance and lose all of my posts when that instance closes down since I can’t migrate posts out? That’s a serious flaw and flies in the face of data portability efforts many advocates have been working for.

Here’s the relevant bit from Mastodon’s documentation:

Requesting an archive of your posts and media can be done once every 7 days, and can be downloaded in ActivityPub JSON format. Mastodon currently does not support importing posts or media due to technical limitations, but your archive can be viewed by any software that understands how to parse ActivityPub documents.

The only way to remove this issue is to host my own version on my box which I’m working on. This is going to keep happening to us. As long as there are people on the Internet who aren’t tech-savvy, aggregation and laziness are going to continue prevailing. 

Technology: I won’t buy the first Apple Headset

Some great details were shared today by Macrumors that really gave concrete examples of what the very first Apple VR/AR headset (not sure which one it will be yet) might have as far as features and a rumored $3,000 price.

It’s an exciting proposition but I’m not ready for what Apple is going to give us no matter how compelling that initial demo is and that’s for a few different reasons.

I believe this tool will be driven largely by how much it helps me communicate with others and I’m thinking most likely, work and for the first 3 years after its introduction, I don’t see my work using this as a way to communicate. We’re all returning back to the office, we’re all meeting face to face and those that are in other parts of the world will be able to talk to me in one of our conference rooms equipped with video & audio integration that makes it feel like they’re in the same room.

My family is not really big on FaceTime yet and neither am I so we’ll have to get there (past today’s reality of phone calls) before I foresee a goggle need for us.

There is a personal use case I can think of such as gaming but also augmenting how I plan out my day or plan a route, using Siri and Handoff to make using the goggles at my Mac or iPad a more rich experience but I’m incredibly anxious at wearing headphones without transparency active because of a fear of being stabbed in the back by an intruder. Seriously. I don’t even use headphones when I’m hiking or working outside. I like to hear the world around me and I especially wouldn’t wear them in my house so the rumors that the goggles work best with AirPods is fine but I’ll be doing it with transparency turned on.

Other than the adoption rate concerns and how useful this will be for my work life, finally there is the Apple Version One issue. I can’t think of any 1st gen apple device that gave me as much happiness as the 2nd gen. The first iPod and its faulty click wheel and lack of FireWire port cover. The first iPhone without any 3rd party apps and no way to record video. there’s the 1st Apple Watch which was slow, underpowered and had features that were really not necessary and eventually removed entirely like the heartbeat function sharing. The 1st HomePod was expensive, cancelled and I’m on my 3rd one after these continue to die on me. The first iTV in 2008 was just front row with a hard drive and I can really continue on and on. I continue to buy the 1st of many devices. Oh yes, AirPods, the Pro model is significantly better and I should have waited for that instead of buying the first generation but now I’m rambling. My point is, Gen 1 is for early adopters and you are a beta tester so much that in most cases, the 1st gen resale value drops off a cliff when the 2nd version ships.

If the headset ends up being over $2,000, I’ll wait for the 3rd generation. If the headset is $999, I’ll buy the 2nd generation. The 1st generation will be great but I need to force myself to wait because I know the 2nd and 3rd versions are going to be awesome and finally have both the features, battery life, price and user adoption numbers oh and the software from 3rd parties needed to be fantastic. I’ll wait for those. The 4th generation iPhone, 3rd generation AppleWatch, AirPods Pro, HomePod Mini, AppleTV 3rd gen, iPod Nano, iPad 3rd gen….these were when the product really became great and everyone started buying them. I should start with Apple’s headset of being in that camp. Being an early adopter is expensive and I’ve learned in my old age that no one really cares you have the new thing.

Fun story about the Apple Watch Ultra on my wrist. I’ve had a lot of people ask me if the ultra is worth $800. Truthfully, yes and that’s because since the 1st Apple Watch, I’ve always bought the Space Black Stainless Steel or Titanium model which was always $600-$800 and I bought one almost every year. So for me, the Ultra is an awesome upgrade from my Series 7 Titanium but I sound like a jerk when I put it this way so I always say YEP but I need to keep in mind most people get the basic Apple Watch and see the Ultra as 2.5X the price of the cheapest model. In that view, it’s really hard to tell them this model is 2.5X better.

So I think a bit of self control will probably make me enjoy Apple’s VR headset more and I look forward to seeing what all of the developers build with it in that first 24 months.

Linked: “Revisiting 2011 Funky Buddha Passionfruit Berliner Was a Harrowing Experience”

via DDB:

This was one of like 50 bottles so at least we know this is a contained incident most people won’t endure. I paid $100 for this vial of pool chemicals to step on my cubes. The swallow is Southwest customer service and no vouchers are provided. You can feel the sides of your tongue contract and your tastebuds become ridged and embossed as it sucks the saliva out of every opening.

I’ve never had pure citric acid but this has to be approaching that meyer lemon event horizon.

We live in a privileged beer landscape now where even better beers can be overlooked. It’s important to reflect upon these lactic sleep paralysis demons from the past, to move beyond the florida snake oil, to seek absolution in drinkability.

I’m pretty blown away that Alex was able to find one of these over a decade later. It was pretty good when nearly fresh but a 10 year old Berliner, ugh.

Here’s a photo I took in 2012 with my Olympus E-PL2 mirrorless. Looks like DDB’s photo skills are almost caught up (JK)

Berliner Raspberry  The Funky Buddha

Berliner Raspberry  The Funky Buddha

Vinyl: Transatlanticism

My emo phase never ended. I remember distinctly a first date I went on in high school with Courtney who I had a huge crush on but we were also great friends. Courtney and I went to Outback Steakhouse and I was really into emo at the time and I guess there was a combination of teenage angst and just general anxiety / depression that I haven’t had to grapple with for the last 12-13 years but I was feeling it back then. Driving to her parents’ house after the date, I chose to sing along to some of my favorite songs. I’m not a singer and she quickly realized that.The date ended with me singing along to some ‘screamo’ on the way home. She surely thought I was insane and possibly unhinged. We did not go out again. I look back at it and cringe but I was 16. No big deal.

Despite now being 36, I still love Emo. I went to an emo only festival back in August. Dashboard, Taking back Sunday, Get Up Kids, Thrice. It was awesome. 12 hours of emo music. I was with my people.

My love of emo started with LiveJournal. A few of us outcasts found solace in LJ. We all didn’t hang out much in school but we all followed each others’ LJ posts. I posted every day and this was around 2001-2003 and the LJ lived separately from my main tech blog. A dozen or so of us in the same high school class would post and tag each other and comment on posts. It was as you expected, angsty ‘the world sucks’ kind of posts and we all supported each other in the comments. It was nice to know that what I was feeling then wasn’t unique. I had others in the same head space.

A LiveJournal feature was to add what you’re listening to. You could just simply write out where you were listening to while writing the post. Nice feature and I guess maybe tag the song or artist on MySpace? I can’t remember exactly. There were some LiveJournal integrations with Last.FM.

Bree, one of my most prolific internet friends who shared history class with me was an emo fan. Through her, I discovered artists I still listen to today. If I could look her up and thank her, I would. Bree would post her thoughts on the day, her apologies to no one and her gripes with humanity….the worldview of a 16 year old. She was always listening to Taking Back Sunday, Bright Eyes, Dashboard, Death Cab, AFI and sometimes, Nirvana.

My first emo discovery was Dashboard Confessional and I played their music on repeat. Previously, I was listening to Pearl Jam, Biggie and Guns N’ Roses. OutKast was always playing on my iPod and it was nice to discover music for me that my parents didn’t know about and the lyrics were poetry versus, what I thought, was lyrics set to music. I felt, for these artists, the poem came first and music second.

The album I really fell in love with in 2003 was Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism. This was not their debut album but it was the one that found critical acclaim and the song Passenger Seat would only help to boost or amplify my melancholy mood which would help me blog and write.

——

This album will have celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2023 and it had been about 5 years since I gave it a full listen. Over the last 12 months, I’ve listened to it a handful of times but I’m flying to JFK and decided to play Transatlanticism in its entirety on a good seat of headphones.

The album has aged very gracefully. I feel strongly and without bias that any young person who doesn’t need a lot of bass or production value could listen to this album’s best tracks and find peace, happiness and maybe even a mirror of their identity and emotions. The record holds up incredibly well and it’s a very good combination of self reflection and hopeless optimism seen through the lens of a young person who is trying to figure themselves out as the world spins around them.

Lightness flows well with solid ambient tones, great lyrics and a mornin awakening, Title and Registration, the classic is a journey of reflection, Tiny Vessels a young person’s anthem especially in a broken childhood. Transatlanticism, a dreamy melodic tune that goes on for 10 minutes with lyrics scattered around the journey then Passenger Seat, We Looked Like Giants and A Lack of Color which should be an EP unto themselves. They’re linked and symbiotic in their imagery and the hopeless romantic love expressed in the lyrics and the melody. If you want a good 8 minute break-up cry, these 3 will do it for you.

It’s a scary and lonely thought to imagine that I’m listening to an album again that I first listened to 20 years ago and while the angst, anxiety, depression and emotions that I felt as a teenager causing me to bond with the album for life have faded, I’m able to, as a well adjusted adult, enjoy the music for the art it is. A play through of Transatlanticism is not a journey in nostalgia but it’s an appreciation for great music, lyrics and also how far I’ve come as an adult. I sometimes look up tickets and consider going to a Death Cab show. Heck, I went to a Bright Eyes show this year and had a great time in addition to the other Emo festival I attended but I don’t attend to act-out and wallow in sadness. I’m there to enjoy the art and sing-along.

Out of every album that I identified with and that grew with me as a teenager, this Death Cab album is the best one. It took 20 years to come around to that reality. I still listen to all of these bands but this album. This is my favorite in that genre. I’ll probably be listening to it when I’m 70.