Category Archives: Apple

The Best Camera – Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park

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This best camera is the one you have with you – as they say – and my iPhone is that camera for me. Here’s an image taken and completely processed on my iPhone 5. The courtyard area outside Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park is normally a busy spot – except when it’s wet and cold during the winter months as it was on this particular morning.

This image was shot as I was heading into breakfast one December morning – and then processed on the iPhone using Nik’s Snapseed and Painteresque. It’s really pretty impressive the kind of photography and post-processing that can now be done one these little sensor-loaded computers that we carry in our pockets.

I’ve got a domain that I haven’t had time to develop – theworldinmypocket.com over on Tumblr – where I want to develop this theme a bit further!

Free Tablets!

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One of my favorite podcasts is Critical Path with Horace Dediu. Horace’s also the guy behind Asymco.com, a great blog about asymmetric competition, Apple, mobile in general, and more. He uses data to drive his analysis into otherwise lightly explored areas. Always a great read and an insightful podcast! He’s got an Asymconf conference coming up in late January at IBM’s Almaden Research Center – I’d be there if I could but I’ll be heading to Havana, Cuba for a photography workshop the week of his conference.

On a recent show, Horace talked about the evolution of tablets and how different companies were pursuing their objectives in the tablet market. At the high end, with classically high profit margins, is Apple with its iPad family. At the other end is Amazon.com and Google who both appear to be willing to settle for much lower margins on their base hardware products.

This discussion made me wonder what the endgame in tablets might be. We’ve got these two examples – Apple at the high end with a tablet (and associated ecosystem) generating lovely margins. At the other end, we’ve got others who are opting to price their tablets close to cost – viewing them as razors and expecting to make their real revenues from how those tablets are used to purchase content.

And then this article showed up a few days back – about how the Financial Times was crossing the threshold – giving away a free Nexus 7 tablet to new US digital or print subscribers. This feels like a slippery slope…

Pushing this discussion to an extreme, might we some day see free tablets from others – provided to us by those who would love to enable us for commerce within their particular ecosystem – and who might benefit from the additional signals such a tablet might provide from our browsing/searching/shopping history? Those signals – spanning across our interests as we read, search, shop, etc. – are valuable, aren’t they?

I’ve been thinking we’re moving into a post-card world with the capabilities our smartphones bring. Might a free tablet strategy fit in sometime soon? Where will mine come from? From Amazon? From Apple? From Google? A card issuer? A card network like Visa or MasterCard or American Express – or PayPal – or someone else? Maybe from my mobile carrier?

What do you think?

Trading my iPad (3rd Generation) for an iPad mini

Since the launch of the iPad (3rd Generation) with that beautiful Retina display earlier this year, mine has been an almost constant companion. At breakfast each morning, it has been my go to machine – with Verizon LTE speeds and the beautiful display. Same for lunch if I’m alone. It’s gone of many airplane flights with me across the country – and has been a real workhorse – replacing my use of my 11-inch Macbook Air much of the time – except at the office where I plug the Air into a larger Cinema Display and use it with the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad.

But, about two weeks ago, I bought a new iPad mini – and just never looked back. In fact, I’ve just sold that big iPad – after becoming very pleased with the even more versatile, small iPad mini form factor. I was even pleasantly surprised by the screen on the mini – a non-Retina version to be sure (as pointed out by many reviewers) but one which still looks great on the smaller mini screen. The feel of the iPad mini reminds me of the feel I had when I first got the 11-inch Air – compared to the 15-inch Macbook Pro that had been my everyday workhorse machine. Small is beautiful!

I noticed that Nick Bilton seems to feel the same way. In a post earlier today on the New York Times Bits blog, Bilton writes “If you’re still on the fence about whether you should buy the iPad Mini, I have a tip for you: you’re on the wrong fence.”

Yep, I agree! These iPad minis are going to start being seen everywhere.

Tracking Life with Day One

Three months ago I had major surgery to deal with an important health issue. A few days before my surgery, I happened to discover an app that sounded like it might be useful for me to use as a journal following my surgery. That app was Day One.

Day OneSince the day of my surgery three months ago, I’ve been using Day One to journal my thoughts every day, noting my progress (or, sometimes, maybe a lack of progress!). Day One is there for me every morning – and it’s been where I’ve captured how I’m feeling, what I’m learning, and more. I mostly write in the morning – but, sometimes, I write later in the day – adding to my morning thoughts based on the events of the day.

Day One has both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Mac versions – and they fully synchronize – so you can write whenever and wherever you are – with the device that’s with you. Day One is one of the best examples I’ve seen of using “the cloud” to make things seamless. It just works.

I’ve never been up to a keeping a daily paper-based journal – but I’ve been enjoying how easy daily journaling is to do so with this app. It looks great – and its cross-platform features just help encourage journaling wherever I am. It’s my version of a Photo 365 project – writing sometime every day about how I feel…and more. A delight – especially now as I’m looking back on three months of my daily notes! And, with the latest update, I can add a photo to each journal entry – just makes me happy!

Thanks to the Day One team for making such a wonderful app! You guys “done good”!

An 11-Inch MacBook Air

A few months ago, I bought an 11-inch MacBook Air. I’ve been totally blown away by this computer – it’s far and away the best Mac I’ve ever had. Here’s my story…

Why this 11-inch MacBook Air? I decided I wanted a “killer” writing machine – something I could just use for writing. This little Mac was going to be it. And, it is!

I happened to swing by the Palo Alto Apple Store one day and it turned out they had the max config of the 11-inch Air in stock – amazingly – so I decided to just go for it. (I suspect Apple’s gotten very smart about stocking their top of line configs in their stores – just for folks like me!)

What’s the max config? Currently, it’s a 1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 with 4 GB RAM and 256 GB Flash storage (instead of a hard disk).

I bought it, brought it home, quickly configured it, installed some essential software and was quickly up and running – quite seamlessly. By the way, today, I mostly live in Chrome – using it for email, calendar, etc. Chrome screams on the Air. For that matter, Safari does too. Most things do – even PowerPoint!

I couldn’t be happier with this little Air. It’s an amazing machine – no spinning beach balls, super fast performance, and a delightfully tiny form factor – and a beautiful display. This is the future – these amazingly fast, Flash-based machines – a great way to “fly”!

But, then, there’s also the new iPad… ;-)

Make It Great

In the car this morning, I listened to the 5by5 special podcast Thank You, Steve Jobs with its series of personal stories and tributes to the man. It’s a wonderful collection of reflections.

As I was listening, I was thinking back to the late 1980′s when, through some random combination of events, I ended up spending about a half hour with Steve Jobs one on one. The scene was a conference room at Steve’s then-new NeXT in Redwood City, down by the big salt pile off Seaport Boulevard. His purpose was to show me NeXTSTEP and how easy it was to develop applications in this new environment. I remember being blown away by the demo – just another one of his amazing performances. I never met him again.

Over the weekend, I came across a link to the Pixar home page and their tribute to Steve Jobs. It brought to mind perhaps the most recurring theme I’ve taken away from this man: Make it great. Or, with emphasis, make it insanely great.

A while back I wrote about “is this the best you can do?” Make it great ensures that it is. Great isn’t perfect – but it’s pretty darn close.

Blogging, Crowdfunding, Kickstarter and The Glif

Yesterday, I attended the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) meeting in San Rafael to hear Joel Friedlander’s presentation about “Author Blogging.” Joel’s an independent book designer who we worked with at Glenbrook to design our book “Payments Systems in the U.S.” – he did an amazing job for us and I highly recommend working with him.

Joel’s blog “The Book Designer” is a wonderful resource for those interested in book design, self publishing and more. You’ll find him on Twitter as @jfbookman. In his presentation, Joel told of his experiences having started blogging just 15 months ago – and doing so has opened up a whole new range of opportunities for him – a great story told with great advice for other authors!

The GlifAs Joel and I were talking, he pulled out his iPhone 4 which had a little device attached to it – something called “The Glif“. The Glif slips over the edge of the iPhone 4 and provides a number of ways you can “stand up” the iPhone. In addition, for us photography nuts, it’s got a tripod socket – so that you can use your iPhone on a tripod. I ordered one immediately – from my iPhone naturally!

Turns out there’s a wonderful story behind the development of this little device. After prototyping their design, the founders, Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost, used KickStarter to raise the initial capital required to launch – and to find an initial market. KickStartr is a great way to publicize interesting projects and raise capital “from the crowd.” If the story is good enough and you reach the project threshold, funding happens – if not, it doesn’t. Simple but powerful idea! The Glif is a great example of KickStartr in action.

A Revolution in My Pocket!

Celebrating in Tahrir Square - by RamyRaoof

There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.

Wow, what a day for Egypt! Watching the events unfolding in Egypt over the last 18 days has been both compelling and seductive.

Thanks mostly to Aljazeera English, I had a seat on the edge of Tahrir Square in Cairo. AJE’s iPhone application brought me live video wherever I was – zooming me into the events in Egypt as they unfolded.

How amazing is all of this? First of all, the source – Aljazeera itself and its on-going presence in Cairo, in spite of the regime’s efforts to shut it down. This source was complemented by the incredible capability I hold in my hand with the iPhone that brings AJE’s video into my life wherever I am.

This feels like a really new world. Video from anywhere on the globe delivered into our hands in real-time. Amazing. Simply amazing.

I can’t imagine how this will influence world events in the years to come. The accelerating pace of change enabled by this technology is breathtaking, exciting and, I must admit, a bit scary. I’m reminded that “Freedom is not free” – but clearly the pace of its evolution is changing fast!

PS: Aljazeera has a campaign: “Demand Aljazeera in the USA” which they hope will result in the cable TV companies adding their content. Presumably they’d receive some sort of compensation from the cable companies? Frankly, I could care less about any of that. While it might be nice to watch AJE on my cable TV, where I really want to watch it is “in my hand”. And they’ve got that covered nicely with their iPhone app!

Photo of “Celebrating in Tahrir Square” by RamyRaoof.

Playing with iPhoto ’11

I recently attended a photography workshop with Derrick Story and seven other photographers that included a late afternoon visit to Safari West, an African wild animal preserve northeast of Santa Rosa. I just fired up the new version of iPhoto ’11 (part of the new Apple iLife ’11 suite) to see how it would work with the post-processed photos that I had already worked on in Lightroom 3.

I was really surprised by the results – especially using the Enhance Photo edit option – which really caused many of these photos to have some very nice additional “pop”. Another treat was quickly throwing them all into a slideshow – using Ken Burns effects and some music that iPhoto selected – and then quickly exporting it to a QuickTime movie – see below – click the play triangle to start:

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It is a bit convoluted getting the exported slideshow movie up to MobileMe – to do that you have to open the exported movie file in QuickTime Player and then use the Share menu to upload it to MobileMe. Heavens knows why iPhoto doesn’t have this capability built-in? And, also why can’t I easily embed the movie in my web page here?