Tuesday, 24 Jun 2014

Microsoft continues Android push with Nokia X2 handset  

The Verge:

Microsoft isn’t giving up on its Android smartphones. After acquiring Nokia’s phone business in April, Microsoft is introducing a new Nokia X2 handset today.

Interesting Microsoft’s first product release after finalising the acquisition of Nokia is a new Android phone.

Microsoft will be hoping that this second-generation X2 will be another way to feed consumers into buying Windows Phones, and get smartphone users hooked on its range of cloud-based applications and services.

Not quite the Windows Everywhere Utopia Steve Ballmer had in mind, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Saturday, 21 Jun 2014

Water  

A great video by photographer/filmmaker Morgan Maassen.

I love the underwater wave shots towards the end.

Pixel Winch  

Pixel Winch is a neat little screen measuring tool by Ricci Adams. I came across it a few days ago after reading this article by Craig Hockenberry.

Currently in beta as a free download for OS X, it’s worth checking out (if screen measurement tools are your thing).

Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014

6 Years Ago  

Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) tweeted this picture earlier today:

I'm still amazed at how rapidly mobile technology has advanced these last few years, those phones look positively dated.

Update: That photo reminds me a lot of this piece Marco Arment wrote a few years back.

Japanese Manhole covers  

Flickr user S.Morita has a beautiful Flickr album containing photographs of almost 700 Japanese manhole covers.

I had no idea Japan was home to arguably the world's best looking manhole covers. Bonus points for geotagging every photo to help other manhole cover photographers discover these gems.

Saturday, 14 Jun 2014

The Commander Thinks Aloud  

Speaking of Columbia, my favourite Long Winters song, The Commander Thinks Aloud, is about the Columbia disaster. I never get tired of this song, John Roderick's vocals, lyrics and song writing capture the moment perfectly.

Check out some of his acoustic versions too - in some ways, better than the original.

Update (July 2018): I’ve recently re-listened to this song and its still an all time favourite. I’d forgotten though, about the story behind the drum track played by Matt Chamberlain which is fascinating. I first heard it on the Song Exploder podcast, listen below – the story about the drum track starts at the 8:40 mark.

“And he managed to, not just introduce swing into it, but make this piano part, which, on its own is very square and, and on top of the beat. And he played to it, and introduced swing to it, played a little bit behind and a little bit with this tremendous sort of breath and energy. And watching it all happen was a revelation to me as a musician, I understood how much I had to learn.

“So what Matt did, he came in, he set up his drums and he had one microphone, that he pulled out of a bag, he set up himself. And we all just were watching him, you know, like you would watch a black panther that came into your kitchen, like ‘what’s it going to do?'”

How the Matt records his drums is incredible, John Roderick’s story telling makes the whole podcast well worth listening to.

Revisiting Challenger (and Columbia)  

A really interesting New York Times "Retro Report" on the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters.

I remember when both happened, so disappointing to see how much of it was the fault of bad leadership and management.

Only Apple  

John Gruber at Daring Fireball has written a great piece on the “New Apple” under Tim Cook.

“Only Apple” has been Tim Cook’s closing mantra for the last few Apple keynotes.

Is this true, though? Is Apple the only company that can do this? I think it’s inarguable that they’re the only company that is doing it, but Cook is saying they’re the only company that can.

I’ve been thinking about this for two weeks. Who else is even a maybe? I’d say it’s a short list: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Samsung. And I’d divide that short list into halves — the close maybes (Microsoft and Google) and the not-so-close maybes (Amazon and Samsung).

Worth a read, as usual Gruber nails it with some astute observations on some of the subtle and not-so-subtle changes in Apple since Tim Cook took charge.

Thursday, 5 Jun 2014

Andy Ihnatko on Swift  

Andy Ihnatko talking about Swift on the MacBreak Weekly podcast (around the 1:16:30 mark):

But it really does make the tent a lot bigger, I think now that Apple kind of stopped boasting about the number of apps that are available for it, they really want to foster the sort of apps they want to put in a commercial. Because that’s where the strength of the App Store is, these apps that are beautiful, they are pretty, even though they do just one thing they do something spectacular that you wish you had thought of because it is such an elegant solution to a real world problem – and when you have a programming language that’s not as intimidating as Objective-C, that means that you’re tapping into the creativity of a much larger range of developers out there.

I hope he’s right. I think he’s spot on when it comes to opening the app store up to a much larger range of developers, but I’m not convinced that the improved simplicity of the Swift language and the expected increase in developers will necessarily result in a noticeable improvement in the standard of apps sold in the App Store. It may well have the opposite effect.