The Artists in Bavent France

Recently, I participated in Valérie Jardin’s Normandy workshop and had the special opportunity to visit the artists working at the pottery in Bavent, a few miles from our home base in Cabourg.

The artists we very welcoming and open to our visit – it was a special time to be able to see them work and to capture a few portraits of them. Special thanks to each of the artists for being so generous with our group of photographers and to Valérie for enabling us to visit.

For making these images I used my iPhone. Here are a few of my favorites images from the visit.

The Potter
The Painter
The Jewelrymaker

Remembering 9/11

A few years ago on this blog, I wrote about my memories of the 9/11 attack.

This blog – my personal journal – began in its current form in November 2001. Two months before, on September 11, 2001, the world changed. A year later – in 2002 – I blogged about that morning.

I’ll never forget that morning in 2001. Getting up early as I always do, walking to my home office, and visiting Dave Winer’s Scripting News as I usually did – I began to learn what had happened that morning.
A day to remember. Always.

SJL.us – September 11, 2011

This afternoon I took a walk around the pond at a local park nearby. While walking, I listened to a podcast with Garrett Graff, author of the new book “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11“. Michael Morrell interviewed Graff about his book and had him read several passages from it – a very moving experience.

I was struck, in particular, about Graff’s opening comments about the innocence of America that morning. About how we just went about our business – at first. Here’s his voice from the interview transcript:

“I think that one of the things that’s hard to capture but that is captured in an oral history format is both how innocent America was at 8:46 in the morning and how confusing the day was for those who were living it. …

You know, to me the most interesting moment of the day comes between 8:46 in the morning and 9:03, the first crash and the second crash. Because we now know that that first crash was the beginning of the 9/11 plot.

No one knew that on the morning of 9/11. And there’s this incredibly odd moment, those 17 minutes where America sort of looks at that crash and in some ways shrugs and says, “Oh, that’s sort of weird,” like, must be a problem in air traffic control, or maybe the pilot had a heart attack. …

…one of the voices that I tell in the book that I found sort of especially striking was a ferry captain in New York Harbor who saw that first plane crash, continued around the tip of Lower Manhattan, docked his ferry. And every single one of the commuters on board got off and went to work in Lower Manhattan. There wasn’t a single person on that boat who saw that crash and was, like, “You know what? This seems weird. I’m just going to turn around and go home for the day.”

… And that’s actually something hard to capture for the country now, because we have a country now, you saw the video over the summer of the motorcycle backfiring in Times Square and everyone runs for their lives. And, we now default to terrorism or a shooting incident in our society today until proven otherwise. And that was not what America was on 9/11.

And that you see sort of just how innocent America was that morning.


Innocent we were indeed. May we never forget.


Update: Graff has an article on Wired titled Pagers, Pay Phones, and Dialup: How We Communicated on 9/11. Also, see this excerpt from his book on Politico.com titled We May Have to Shoot Down This Aircraft.

Learning about Ultra Wideband

While watching yesterday’s Apple Keynote event, one of the iPhone slides showing some of the enhancements in the new iPhone 11 made mention of “Apple-designed U1” chip. This chip wasn’t mentioned during the keynote – it was only mentioned on that slide.

Turns out that Brian Roemmele was tweeting about this during the event and then went on to post an article on Quora titled “What is the new Apple U1 chip, and why is it important?

His article points out that there’s some text on Apple’s website saying more: “Ultra Wideband technology comes to iPhone” – which describes the U1 chip as enabling spatial awareness in the new iPhone 11 models – “Think GPS at the scale of your living room”. The first practical usage for the feature is for AirDrop sharing of files with someone nearby – “just point your iPhone at theirs and they’ll be first on the list.” Apple goes on: “It’s like adding another sense to iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities.”

Roemmele describes more about this new ultra wideband technology, some of the intellectual property behind it – including several interesting Apple patents – and calls it a “personal radar system.” He goes on to speculate about how this technology could be used, implications for developers, etc. It’s quite an article he’s written!

This ultra wideband is fascinating stuff – I look forward to learning more about this technology and the applications coming that will take more advantage of it!

Update (9/12/19): Wired has an article titled The Biggest iPhone News Is a Tiny New Chip Inside It with more information about ultra wideband including a link to the original FCC order discussing it.

Today’s Apple Event with the new iPhone 11 Pro

I took about two hours this morning to watch Apple’s keynote event – each September Apple holds one of these primarily to announce the new family of iPhones. They did that today – along with some other interesting things. Below are my notes.

Tim Cook – Good morning! Apple is all about empowering people to do incredible things. Big morning today! Big announcements! So much that he skipped the usual business updates.

Arcade – First game subscription service. Exclusive new games. Over 100. Subscription-based. Arcade tab in the App Store icon. New games every month. Game demonstrations from Konami, Capcom, and Annapurna Interactive. Arcade will be available Sep 19th. Cost $4.99/month for family subscription. 1 month free trial. 

Apple TV+ – Bringing the best original stories from the best creative minds. “Stories to believe in, stories with purpose.” Examples: For All Mankind. Dickinson. The Morning Show. Three trailers released earlier this summer have >100 MM views. Apple TV+ first shows on Nov 1 in the Apple TV app. $4.99/month for family subscription. Starting today – 1 year of Apple TV+ included with new purchase of iPhone, Mac, etc.

iPad – transforming how we learn, work, play. New replacement for the 9.7 inch iPad – new 7th generation iPad. New larger 10.2 inch Retina display. A10 Fusion chip. Smart connector and Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil (first generation) support. 100% recycled aluminum enclosure. $329 starting price. $299 for education. Order today, shipping September 30. 

Apple Watch -Three new health studies coming: Apple Hearing Study, Women’s Health Study, Heart & Movement Study. Use new Apple Research App to enroll in studies – available later this year in US. New Apple Watch Series 5 with always on display. High/low brightness. Built-in compass and updated Maps app. New Compass app shows lat/lon/elevation. International emergency calling in every cellular model. New case finishes – 100% recycled aluminum. Stainless in new colors. Titanium in two finishes. Ceramic – brilliant white. New Nike models. New Hermes models. GPS models start at $399. $499 for cellular. Order starting today. Available Sep 20. Series 3 remains in the line. $199 price for GPS model. 

iPhone 11 – Anodized aluminum/glass on front and back. 6 new colors. 6.1” display. Sound virtualizer with Dolby Atmos. Camera – dual camera system – new 26 mm wide camera. 13 mm ultra wide camera with 120 degree field of view. Updated image pipeline. Semantic rendering. Smart HDR. Portrait mode. Photos of pets. New lighting effect – high key mono. Night mode – automatically turns on. Adaptive bracketing. QuickTake – just hold shutter button to take video. New 12 MP front camera. Added slo mo to front camera. Slofies. New A13 Bionic chip – fastest CPU ever in smartphone. GPU – fastest GPU in a smartphone. Battery life – 1 hour more than iPhone Xr. Faster FaceID. Wifi 6. $699 starting price. 

iPhone 11 Pro – first phone called Pro. Surgical grade stainless steel. Glass, matte textured back. New finishes – midnight green, space grey, silver, new gold. Display comes in two sizes 5.8 and 6.5 inches. Brighter, contrast ratio, etc. Spatial audio sound, Dolby Atmos. Super Retina XDR display. A13 Bionic chip. Battery life – 4 hours more than iPhone Xs. Max up to 5 hours longer. Fast charge 18W charger included. New Pro camera system with three cameras – 26mm/f1.8, 52mm/f2.0, 13mm/f2.4 cameras. Sneak peek coming this fall – using neural engine – Deep Fusion. 9 images shot – 4 images shot before the shutter button. Performs pixel by pixel optimization.  Video – 4K 60 bps XDR video. New Apple U1 chip. New line of cases including clear cases. Starting price at $999, Max at $1099. Preorder starting this Friday at 5 AM Pacific. Shipping on September 20. Keeping iPhone Xr and 8 also in the line. 

Apple Retail – Personalization – with Apple Watch Series 5 – can choose any case and pair with any watch band. Apple Watch Studio – in stores and online. Apple Trade In program for iPhones. On Sep 20, hosting reopening of Apple 5th Avenue Store in NYC. 

Tim Cook – exciting morning! Arcade, Apple TV+, new iPad 10.2 inch, new Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro. “Thanks to everyone at Apple for doing the best work of their lives.”


What to do? Being such a photography buff, the new iPhone 11 Pro camera system looks very exciting to me! It’s amazing to me how the smartphone cameras are evolving with new capabilities and overtaking the existing camera industry (see Om’s post). I expect I’ll be upgrading from my iPhone Xs Max to the new iPhone 11 Pro later this fall.

More: A video replay of the event is also available. Also, John Voorhees at MacStories has put together a useful post with the release dates for OS Updates, New iPhones, and Apple Watch.

The Aviva Yacht in San Francisco

The Aviva in San Francisco

Last Friday my friend Doug Kaye and I were out on one of our regular San Francisco photowalks – this time walking from the Ferry Building towards Pier 39. We had fun along the way outside the Exploratorium – watching these dogs strictly obey their dog walker – and some other street scenes.

Dogs at Attention – San Francisco’s Embarcadero

As we walked beyond the Exploratorium we came across this BIG yacht – the Aviva – docked at Pier 17 along the Embarcadero. According to Wikipedia, it’s 223 feet long (!) and owned by Bahama-based British businessman Joe Lewis.

It was interesting to find the yacht here – during the period that the Bahama’s were suffering under the onslaught of Hurricane Dorian last week. But perhaps it being here had something to do with the opening of Chase Center?

Here’s another, more artistic/painterly treatment of the Aviva:

The Aviva

Touring an Amazon Fulfillment Center (OAK4)

Scott Loftesness visiting OAK4

A few days ago I signed up for a tour of one of the nearby Amazon Fulfillment Centers – OAK4 – located in Tracy, California. I was pleasantly surprised to find availability for a tour almost immediately – didn’t have to wait for availability. You can check availability of a tour near you on this page. You can also read more information about what you’ll see on a Fulfillment Center tour.

I was one of about ten people taking the tour. We met in the lobby of OAK4 and were greeted by a team of four Amazon associates who led us on the tour of the facility. They escorted us to a large briefing room where we learned more about the process flow of goods through the Center and got outfitted with headphones and a wireless receiver so that we could hear the voice of the tour leader as she took us through the white noise of the Center. I’m wearing mine in the phone above!

I particularly enjoyed seeing the “stow” process – where incoming goods are randomly placed into bins on pods that robots move around the facility. In my picture, you can see the pods in the background – yellow stacks powered underneath by Kiva robots that whisk the pods around from place to place. Fascinating to watch the movement in action!

Anyway, back to my fascination with “stow” – because it’s a random process. Here’s Amazon’s description:

Instead of storing items as a retail store would—electronics on one aisle, books on another—all of the inventory at Amazon fulfillment centers is stowed randomly. Yellow, tiered “pods” stack bins full of unrelated items, all of them tracked by computers. This counterintuitive method actually makes it easier for associates to quickly pick and pack a wide variety of products.

The “stowers” job is a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Up comes a pod of bins delivered by a robot. The stower has a table of boxes filled with all manner of different items – selects one of the items and finds a place to stow it in one of the bins. The computer tracks this item placement so it knows where each and every item is located – in which bin in which pod. When a order arrives, the pod is delivered by the robot to the “picker” who retrieves the item and places it into a tote that will contain all of the items for that particular order. From there, the tote moves on to be packed into a box, labelled and sent off for shipment.

It’s amazing to see all of this operating at such massive scale. If you have an opportunity to visit one of the twenty or so Amazon Fulfillment Centers near you that offer tours, I highly recommend taking the tour. It’s fascinating! Thanks especially to the team at OAK4 for taking our group on such a great tour!

Curvy

Last Friday my friends Doug Kaye, Steve Disenhof and I spent some time at the recently re-opened Salesforce Park in San Francisco. This park is above the Transit Center on the roof – elevators at either end bring you up to this roof top level.

One of the fun things to see at the park is a fountain (you can just see the holes for the nozzles in the white ring above) that’s triggered when a bus comes through the Transit Center below. There’s a glass wall behind the fountain that makes for some fun reflections. That’s a reflection of Steve walking in the upper right corner (with the hat!).

With this image, I tweaked it a bit in Lightroom, Photoshop and Topaz Simplify to give it a more painterly effect in black and white. The original image – shot with my iPhone Xs Max – is below:

A Few Links for Labor Day

Here are a few links to articles and podcasts that I found interesting this Labor Day morning and over the past few days:

  • Malcolm Gladwell and Timor Kuran. A few days ago someone mentioned The Portal podcast hosted by Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) and, in particular, the episode with Duke University professor Timor Kuran (@timurkuran). Their discussion about Kuran’s theory of preference falsification was fascinating – especially about how things in society can “cascade”. A day or two later I happened to watch this New Yorker video (April 2018) with David Remnick and Malcolm Gladwell (@gladwell) during which Gladwell highlights perhaps his favorite New Yorker article titled Thresholds of Violence (October 2015) – about how school shootings have caught on in America. In that article, Gladwell talks about Stanford professor Mark Granovetter‘s famous 1978 paper about how riots happen – in particular how “a riot is a case of destructive violence that involves a great number of otherwise quite normal people who would not usually be disposed to violence.” He asks the question: “But what if the way to explain the school-shooting epidemic is to go back and use the Granovetterian model—to think of it as a slow-motion, ever- evolving riot, in which each new participant’s action makes sense in reaction to and in combination with those who came before?” The connection between Kuran’s false preferences and Granovetter’s threshold models of collective behavior was striking to me. I highly recommend both the Gladwell video and the Weinstein/Kuran discussion on the podcast – fascinating stuff with profound implications for our time.
  • Podcast: Land of the Giants – by Jason Del Rey. A few fascinating episodes exploring the success of Amazon.com. Highly recommended!
  • Podcast: The Moment with Brian Koppelman and his interview with author Ben Mezrich (author most recently of Bitcoin Billionaires which I also really enjoyed reading – see my highlights here).
  • Photography (YouTube): Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera Challenge – Sean Tucker – The challenge provides a photographer with a minimalist cheapie camera – and follows him shooting with it. Good fun!
  • Travel: The Insider’s Guide to Santa Fe – from Outside magazine and Tourism Santa Fe. One of my favorite small cities and the home of Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.

Demons hate fresh air!…

While driving to the post office this morning to drop off a photography book that I sold, I was listening to the latest edition of Len Edgerly’s Kindle Chronicles and his discussion with his longtime friend Bryan Person.

At one point, Len mentioned how he uses Austin Kleon’s latest book Keep Going as a trigger for morning journaling – and how one chapter in particular, highlighted the benefits of just taking a walk and getting away from “our devices!”


From Austin’s blog:

Here’s Linn Ullmann, in an interview with Vogue, on her father Ingmar Bergman:

My father was a very disciplined and punctual man; it was a prerequisite for his creativity. There was a time for everything: for work, for talk, for solitude, for rest. No matter what time you get out of bed, go for a walk and then work, he’d say, because the demons hate it when you get out of bed, demons hate fresh air. So when I make up excuses not to work, I hear his voice in my head: Get up, get out, go to your work.


This notion, for me, is one of the things I enjoy about street photography. While it’s fun to take some pictures, chase the interesting light, find exciting “stages” and backgrounds and great people, a big component of my enjoyment is just getting out, walking, and enjoying the fresh air and the scene. My friend Doug Kaye and I have talked about on our walks – how great it is just to get out of the house, into the city, and getting some exercise – both physically and for our minds.

At the moment, I’m just back from a walk at our local neighborhood park. It’s a lovely warm (but not too warm) Saturday afternoon and there were several couples out walking as well, a group taking portraits with the pond/fountain in the background, a couple chatting seriously while sitting on one of the picnic tables, etc. I often take my AirPods along on these walks to listen to a podcast – but today I didn’t. I wanted to just be in the moment, alone with my thoughts, without any other audio stimulation. It was great! Twenty minutes yielded just over a mile of walking – and the fresh air certainly helped chase the demons away.