New Yorker profile of Jony Ive

The Shape of Things to Come

Ian Parker of The New Yorker profiles Jony Ive, Apple’s lead designer.

Back in the main room, Ive noted that he’d been watching “Moon Machines,” an old Discovery Channel series about the Apollo program. “There was the realization we needed to develop a spacesuit, but it was hard to even know what the goals should be,” he said. And then he linked the studio’s work to NASA’s: like the Apollo program, the creation of Apple products required “invention after invention after invention that you would never be conscious of, but that was necessary to do something that was new.” It was a tic that I came to recognize: self-promotion driven by fear that one’s self-effacement might be taken too literally. Even as Apple objects strive for effortlessness, there’s clearly a hope that the effort required—the “huge degree of care,” the years of investigations into new materials, the months spent enforcing cutting paths in Asian factories—will be acknowledged.

This is brilliant: that tension between wanting to show off the depth of your design process and caring vs. burying that stuff under a beautifully-simple surface appearance.

I’m again reminded of Robert Pirsig’s epic rant about fixing loose handlebars… Apple needs to slow down: surface appearance vs. underlying form.

[via 9to5 Mac]

Is Netflix about to drop DVDs (again)?

Let me preface this by saying I love Netflix: I love the process, I love the depth of their DVD library, I love their new streaming content, and coupled with AppleTV it’s a great service. When Netflix works right it’s one of the best services out there.

That said, in the past year they’ve been moving toward demoting their DVD service and it looks like they’re working on a way to drop it without causing as much of a stir as they did the last time they tried this (remember Qwikster?).

For a detailed history: Wikipedia: Netflix.

On their web site, the DVD queue is now a separate list and that part of their web site is at

When I called Netflix to report a problem getting DVDs in my queue I first got connected to someone from the streaming end, then I waited with muzak while they transferred me to the DVD end. This seems to point to the idea that they are less concerned with the DVD service than they have been in the past.

When I told Netflix about slow service they pointed to the US Post Office and it may be true that the Post Office is responsible for the slowness but its not responsible for the web site and the support phone tree. Something is going on.

One thing that’s happened in the past year is the US Post Office’s various services have changed, consolidated, and gotten worse. I love the Post Office and use it a lot but it doesn’t take heavy use to see that either they’re being starved by a Congress who won’t adequately fund them, and/or, they’re simply not a well run organization, or most probably, a bit of both.

In the old days (mid year last) the DVD disc turn around for Netflix was almost overnight for me. That has slid to a week or more.

Netflix says they’re working with the Post Office to resolve this but my guess is Reed Hastings (CEO) who tried to dump DVDs before and undid the change because of universal negative user feedback now has the cover to dump DVDs and I think he’s gearing up to do it.

This would be a shame because Netflix does not offer the depth in their streaming service that they do through DVDs. This is partly because the internet is feeling the strain of so much streaming, and partly because distribution agreements don’t allow streaming of all content.

If Netflix is going to offer a service, it ought to work correctly or they should fix it, and if they can’t fix it then drop it. This slowly cutting off the oxygen to the DVD service is a bad idea. Netflix has great content, but in my mind, the process is at least part of their product.

Apple updates Yosemite and iOS 8

For those of you who are Mac OS Yosemite and/or iOS 8 users, the two software updates that Apple posted yesterday seem (to me) to have fixed many if not all of the problems I was having with both my computer and my iPhone 5S and iPad Air 2.

Mac OS X version 10.10.2 is the update and it can be gotten through the App store and software update.

My computer wasn’t re-connecting to my network after sleeping and I was restarting it multiple times a day to remain connected. That problem is gone now; wake from sleep is faster and the network connection is solid.

iOS 8.1.3 seems to have fixed the networking problems I was having with both my iPhone and my iPad and I’m remaining connected to iCloud (so far). I had random disconnects on my iPhone. Time will tell if that got fixed.

I’m delighted that Apple released the Mac OS update given the fact that they sold 74 million iPhones last quarter and the iPhone made up 69% of Apple amazing revenue, it’s a wonder anyone at Apple is paying attention to the Mac anymore but they are and I’m delighted as I’m a Mac user first and foremost, an iOS user second. Of course, no matter how much revenue an Apple device brings in, it should work as well as possible at all times and software updates to get rid of bugs are important. Thank you Apple.

For more on Apple’s fiscal Q1 statement, see this amazing list at 9to5Mac. Wow.

Proximity BBDO work for Carte Noire

Petit chou de café

Carte Noire is a French coffee company and they’ve commissioned some amazing video advertisements that show the making of a variety of high end deserts that go along with their coffee.

These ads are beautifully produced by Proximity BBDO. The photography is incredible, and the sound is too (they use a stretch sound a lot to support the visuals).

I’ve been following this work for a while (Rose) but wanted to do another post because it relates so closely to what makes great photography great (depth, context).

It would be fun to see a behind the scenes making-of video produced with the same style as these.

Zoom it out, turn it up. Enjoy. And don’t drool on your keyboard.

Tiramisu pistache de café

Millefeuille choco-framboise de café

Espumas de mangue au caviar de café

The software and services Apple needs to fix

The software and services Apple needs to fix

Glenn Fleishman, a long time Apple guru and tech writer has put together a great post following up on Marco Arment’s post that has caused quite a stir in the Apple tech community. He’s asked for comment-reports on bugs not mentioned and he’s getting hundreds. The comments are worth reading too.

I posted about this earlier here and I’m glad that these higher-profile folks are putting these issues on the table.

We have to be careful to not have a double standard in the Apple world: it’s okay to talk about how bad Windows and Android are, not so okay to talk about problems with Mac OS or iOS. The fact that haters will jump on this is immaterial and should never stop us from voicing our opinions about how Apple is doing.

My concern is that we don’t give the haters stuff to chew on by having a double standard about venting criticism because we’re concerned we’re going to give the haters stuff to chew on.

I think in the end, the Foxconn factory “issue” turned into something positive for Apple. Sure, there are some who will use it forever but they’re outliers. Sometimes its best for this stuff to come out and have faith that Cook and Co. will do the right thing: talk about it themselves to take control of the narrative and work to make it better.

My simple-minded view is that it looks like Apple is concerned with surface appearance and needs to put a lot more time into underlying mechanics which aren’t as sexy and are tough to talk about but now that this meme is out there, it would be easy for Apple to use it to their advantage as they make things better.

Adobe Camera RAW supported cameras

I just got a Fuji X100T and in setting it up, I wasn’t sure if my version of Lightroom (5.7 as of this post) would be able to process the RAW files the new Fuji will produce.

A bit of searching led me to this list at the incredibly difficult to use Adobe web site:

Camera Raw plug-in | Supported cameras

The heading that’s meaningful to me is the one on the right: “Minimum Lightroom version required” and it seems the new Fuji X100T is supported, as is the new Panasonic LX100 and Canon G7X neither of which I have but they are popular new cameras.

While there are many aspects of dealing with Adobe that drive me crazy, their tools are first rate and they do update their RAW plug-in quickly enough to support early adopters of new cameras.

Welcome to Union Glacier

Welcome to Union Glacier from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

This most excellent film was made by Temujin Doran who is also the film’s narrator.

Union Glacier is located in the southern Ellsworth Mountains of West Antarctica. This is a documentary about a small team of people who live and work on the glacier during the Antarctic summer.

This is without a doubt one of the best documentaries I’ve seen on YouTube or Vimeo. It’s got everything: great story line, great people, great cinematography, great editing, great narration, great music. This is high art and I hope the likes of Netflix picks it up.

What makes it work for me is the fact that the filmmaker focussed on the day to day details of living in this remote and harsh environment. This may sound weird but it has a bit of a Wes Anderson feel to it. This is not to belittle what the filmmaker has done, but his narration juxtaposed with the harsh environment gives it a lighter feel than it might have had otherwise and this is really works.

I highly recommend watching it full screen on the biggest screen you’ve got and play the sound through something nice. It takes about an hour so take some time and watch it right, you will not regret it.

[via Devour]

Tips for black and white digital photography

PetaPixel has a nice post by Jeff Meyer: 6 Black and White Photography Tips for Monochrome Enthusiasts.

#1 and #2 are things I’m doing now with my Ricoh GR:

1. Shoot RAW + JPEG

I do this now and use the JPEGs as visual templates for processing the RAWs. Occasionally I’ll use a high contrast JPEG as is because I can’t come close to what the GR is doing internally in Lightroom, like these: Needle ice.

2. Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture

This is seemingly obvious and simple but it’s not and it takes a lot of practice. This is why I have the LCD on my Ricoh GR set to either regular black and white or high contrast black and white, even if I’m just shooting a single RAW file. I want the camera to help me find that visual contrast and shapes and the LCD is quite helpful for that.

In time we can learn to see it on our own but early on it’s useful to set the camera up to help.

The other advice in the post is useful as well. It’s a short read, well worth taking the time for.

How shipping containers are made

This is a promotional video done for the Canadian company Big Steel Box who makes, leases and sells shipping containers for a variety of uses: moving and storage and modular construction.

The music isn’t great in this video and there are a few too many “art shots” but you can get a good sense of the process which is the appeal for me.

Shipping containers, also called intermodal containers (ship, truck, train) were developed as part of a larger system called intermodal shipping. The history on the wikipedia page is worth reading, fascinating.

[via The Kid Should See This]