Time for a new beginning... because the first Bullet Sunday of 2015 starts... now...
• Back! Anybody who's a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy knows that it's the year 2015 that Marty travels to in the second film when he follows Doc Brown to do something about his kids. The result is a funky look at what the future has in store... as envisioned by filmmakers in 1989. Though, to be honest, I think they were more concerned with entertainment value than actually attempting to predict what was coming down the pipe in 25 years...
Newsweek interviewed some futurists to take a look at what Back to the Future II got right... and what they got wrong... and the result is worth a read.
• Snoopy! Usually, I'm dead-set against "improving" old animation techniques... especially with a property as beloved as Peanuts, but this looks amazing...
Nothing like what's come before, and yet oddly in-tune with the Peanuts aesthetic. I am hopeful that eventually there's a "making-of" which explains how they're achieving this perfect compromise of old and new.
• Remastered! Back before the original Star Wars hit theaters, Marvel Comics had an adaptation in the works... written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Howard Chaykin. It didn't even hit my radar until I saw Star Wars, at which time I was obsessive about tracking down anything and everything that even mentioned the film. Including Marvel's over-sized movie tie-in. Since it would be years before home video would happen, it was about as good as I could get in re-living the movie. Flash-forward to today, and the adaptation of Star Wars is being remastered for release as a hardcover graphic novel this March. The "remastering" is basically cleaning up the original pages and then recoloring them using today's computerized technology. The original looks something like this (which I've muddied a bit because the paper back then was far from white)...
And here's the new hotness...
Nice. I guess. I mean, the Death Star is no longer day-glo yellow and Darth Vader is no longer day-glo blue which is good. But I think they went a bit too far. The intro panel, for example, doesn't look much like the original Chaykin art... it's all coloring. They even colored over the text panel for crying out loud! While I like the idea of having an updated edition of these comics, I just wish they hadn't gone quite so over-the-top gradient air-brushy with everything. More flat colors and a little more respect for the original linework would have gone a long way towards a better looking updated book.
• Giving! Taylor Swift, who seems to have a genuine appreciation for her fans, decided to celebrate her hugely successful foray into pop music this year by sending presents to some of the people who made it possible...
It's a sweet video, and I would have thought that anybody seeing it would love Taylor just a little bit more. And most people did. Except, of course, her haters, which were quick to point out that the millionaire country/pop star spent a mere couple hundred dollars of her massive fortune on this obvious publicity stunt.
So I'd like to point out that even if you're this cynical, there is one thing you can't deny: Taylor Swift doesn't stop at a couple hundred dollars when it comes to giving back. In fact, she topped the "Most Charitable Celebrities" list for 2014... for the third year in a row. Say what you want about her music or how she interacts with her fans but, when it comes to charity in the world of celebrities, it would seem as though few people are doing more than Taylor Swift.
• Connectivity! When my Mac displayed an incoming call at work, I couldn't find my iPhone so I accepted the call through my Mac. After the call was over I tore my office apart trying to locate my mobile (which was obviously on silent mode) and couldn't find it. Finally I realized that my Mac was connecting to my iPhone out in my car. I parked close enough that Bluetooth could still reach. Wonderful and bizarre at the same time. Which is how new technology should be, but often isn't. Most of the times now it's just frustration. Like trying to get a file from my iPhone to my Mac using "AirDrop" only to find that it only works half the time. Why? FOR THE LOVE OF JOBS, WHY?!? WHY CAN'T IT WORK EVERY TIME? You got me. And, while I should be happy for the times that this stuff "just works," the fact that you can't count on it is enough me make me want to light my Mac on fire.
• Devil! Back when I was at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, I posted photos of insane people on the Zambia side of the Zambezi taking a dip in what's known as "The Devil's Pool"...
Yesterday I was searching YouTube for people who might have actually filmed the event, and was surprised to find all kinds of videos. Here's just two of them...
Given the opportunity, would I partake in this craziness? I really don't know.
And there you have it. Don't forget to use "2015" when you write the date!
Don't let the drone surveillance get you down... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...
• Vaccinate! Classic...
And yet... the measles epidemic rages on. Thanks, Jenny McCarthy!
You're a horrible, horrible person.
• MURICA! Because nothing says "freedom" better than being able to scream "YOU'RE FIRED, FAGGOT!" when you find out that one of your employees is gay, and being 100% within the law... Arkansas has passed an anti-non-discrimination bill SB 202...
I've heard of legislating morality... but legislating immorality? Way to go, Arkansas. There's some terrific things about your state, but this is a fucking embarrassment. Shame on everyone who had a hand in dragging "The Natural State" back to less enlightened times.
• Widow! The hype machine for Avengers: Age of Ultron is really amping up, with individual character posters being released this week. Could not possibly be more excited to see this film come May...
Looks like Black Widow may finally... finally be getting some tech that ups her game. They showed her using a built-in taser in the last Avengers film, but that's a far cry from the "Widow's Bite" blasters she sports in the comics. I certainly hope it comes to pass, because it seems completely illogical that Tony Stark wouldn't give her some advanced weaponry to make her a stronger part of the team.
• Laugh? The Matthew Perry version of The Odd Couple finally debuted and it's far, far worse than I imagined. Mostly because they're using a frickin' laugh track. This idiotic and antiquated method of attempting to make unfunny crap seem hilarious is just pathetic, and only serves to underline how funny something is not to modern audiences...
What kills me is how Matthew Perry can't seem to find a lead role in a vehicle that's worth his talent lately. He was essential viewing in Friends, he was a revelation as Joe Quincy on The West Wing, he was bordering on genius on Studio 60, and he was terrific on The Good Wife... I even liked his movies okay. But when it comes to finding a new show, he's been rolling in shit. Mr. Sunshine was abysmal. Go On was horrific. And now there's this hot mess? Sad. Just sad.
• MARCIA MARCIA MARCIA! Hot on the heels of Snicker's awesome Brady Bunch/Danny Trejo mashup comes this epic art installation...
I love it when companies create ad campaigns you actually want to see. In case you missed the original commercial, here you go...
The teaser ad was equally filled with awesome...
Yep. That's advertising done right, right there.
• Photographic! I used to carry a pocket camera with me everywhere I went to capture those unexpected moments that are begging for a picture to be taken. Then the iPhone 4 came along with its terrific built-in camera, and I started leaving my pocket camera at home more often than not. Why bother when I can get shots like this...
Then the iPhone 5 was released with an even better camera, and suddenly I found myself ditching the pocket camera completely. Now that I've got an iPhone 6 with its amazing camera, I've been doing something I never thought I'd do... go on some of my travels without taking my DSLR with me. It's a mind-boggling prospect, but the shots I can get out of a frickin' camera phone are so good that it's not a much of a sacrifice at all.
This week Apple finally realized what most of us already know... the iPhone is a really good camera. And they've started a nifty ad campaign to let everybody else know it too. They've also added an amazing "World Gallery" to their website...
Shot by Silke W. in Bali, Indonesia
A lot of people are carrying smart phone with them everywhere they go now-a-days. Which means a lot of people have a camera on them all the times. Which means a lot of photo opportunities that were once missed are being captured. It's an amazing time we live in.
And... I'm wrecked. See you next Sunday.
Few things can sum up Apple better than going to their website so you can watch the March 2015 Special Event Keynote and having to click on a link which says "Experience the keynote." You may watch a keynote with "lesser" companies... but with Apple, you experience a keynote.
The reason this sums up Apple so perfectly is that, in the end, it IS just a keynote... but Apple brands it as some kind of life-changing "experience" so they can inflate the hype around it. Which is exactly the direction they seem to be going with their products, so at least they're consistent.
So, yeah... on with this keynote thingy...
The show opened with a look at the absolutely stunning flagship Apple Store in West Lake, China...
I mean, holy crap... like so many Apple Stores I've visited, you don't need any hype... this jaw-dropping, magnificent, astounding architectural achievement IS something to be experienced. I hate shopping, but I'll go out of my way to visit an Apple Store... especially one that looks like this. ZOMG! THAT SECOND FLOOR IS DEFYING GRAVITY!
I had to laugh when Tim Cook said "This is the way we like to see our stores" while a photo of it completely packed with people pops up behind him. Apple stores are always packed. At least when you compare them to the shop that Microsoft has undoubtedly plopped down across the aisle at the mall, which is undoubtedly mostly empty.
No doubt, Apple's retail presence is impressive. And so very, very smart. People wander in to see what all the buzz is about... have a killer retail experience... get sucked into the Apple Reality Distortion Field... and end up leaving with an armload of Apple products. I still marvel at all the doomsayers that predicted Apple would fall flat on their face. "If Dell can't do it with their numbers, what chance does Apple have?"
A pretty good one, as it turns out. Apple used retail to build their brand and their customer base (120 million visitors last quarter!). And where is Dell? I rarely hear anything about them any more.
AppleTV is a product I actually like quite well. That being said, it is feeling a bit antiquated compared to the competition. I'm sure Apple is working on that but, in the meanwhile, Apple is lowering the price of the product to $69. Which may sound like a bargain... but you just know it's a precursor to releasing a better/faster/stronger product come the holidays.
The HBO Now announcement was long overdue. Having access to all of their award-winning content whenever you want it pretty special... I just don't know that it's $14.99 special compared to what you get from Netflix. I'll probably subscribe off and on as shows I want to watch arrive... but I can't see paying for it every month.
Never one to pass up an opportunity to plug the money-shot, Tim ran through some impressive numbers, confirming the massive success of iPhone 6 that everybody already suspected. Other than the larger size, which I still struggle with, I'm pretty happy with mine. Apple Pay is frickin' amazing, when you can use it. The camera is mind-boggling for a phone, and I prefer it over the "superior" cameras in their competitor's offering because they just look so much better... but there's still a lot of room for improvement.
All of this is pretty much "meh" until real-world applications I give a crap about start appearing. I love the idea of HomeKit... it's the next step in home automation... but where is it? Where are all the home-kit compatible doohickeys that fulfill the promise of the technology? On it's way, I'm sure. But until I can actually buy it, it means nothing to me.
Using a device you carry with you every day to contribute to medical research seems like a no-brainer. And heeeeeeeere's Apple with HealthKit. If this truly helps with research, then more power to them. Otherwise, more meh. EXCEPT... if anybody needed proof that Apple is working overtime to find new ways to get integrated into your life, TA DAAAAA! Add this to the rumor of Apple developing a car, and you can see how there's nowhere they won't go to inject themselves into every aspect of everything you do.
THE NEW MACBOOK
It's remarkably small and light. It's stunningly beautiful. It's everything you could want in a travel laptop...
And here's Jony Ive gushing over its every feature as only Jony Ive can...
Now... before I get to the part where I say "ZOMFG! I WANT ONE SO BAD!"... a rant...
FUCK ME SIDEWAYS... YET ANOTHER CONNECTOR I HAVE TO INVEST IN?!?
First it was Firewire, which Apple abandoned after pushing the entire industry to adopt it.
Then it was Thunderbolt, which Apple was all excited about for about two minutes... before, apparently, abandoning it for USB-C... which is the only port on the new MacBook, combining power, display, and peripheral connectors in one tiny connector.
Which means I now have to buy an adapter for my Thunderbolt periphreals, even though I just got them? Dick move, Apple. Dick move.
But, yeah... I want one pretty bad. It takes everything I love about my 11-inch MacBook Air and ups the game exponentially.
A nice idea, really. And Apple did it better than anyone who's tried before But, in the end, TOO THICK! TOO THICK! TOO THICK!
Seriously, it's too damn thick. If it were half as thick, I'd be placing my preorder right now. But having a giant dongle stacked on my arm? I just don't know. Some of the features are there... it's Dick Tracy come to life... but until I try one on, I'm just not convinced. Especially when the price of admission starts at $350.00
And yet... if somebody wants to buy me an Apple Watch Edition in gold, by all means, please drop the $10,000 to $17,000... and do so. I'd absolutely wear it from time to time!
When it comes to the Apple Watch features, I'm impressed/not impressed. Some of the interactivity with the iPhone looks truly helpful and worthwhile... the Apple Pay component is fantastic... but all the tactic crap? The "I'm sending you my heartbeat" and such? Who gives a shit? Being able to send a crappy, crude drawing? Might be fun the first two times you do it... but after that? Why?
Tim Cook made a good presentation for how Apple Watch will integrate into your life in meaningful ways... but is it enough? I'll let you know when I've tried one. Until then I remain skeptical yet optimistic to the possibilities.
And leaning towards the "Sport" edition in Space Gray with a Black Sport Band.
Or waiting for Apple Watch 2.0 which is a damn-sight thinner.
Adobe Photoshop 1.0 was released on February 19th, 1990 and I was there.
Lo those 25 years ago.
Well, not at the product launch, but I had a copy of the program after release which I received with a scanner I purchased in the Fall of 1990. I played around with it a few times on a Mac that was at my local library, but I was an Atari computer guy at the time, so it went largely ignored. I didn't really get into Photoshop until I first bought a Mac of my own in the Spring of 1993 (a Quadra 650). Photoshop 2.5 came bundled with a new scanner I purchased shortly thereafter, and I have been using the program ever since.
Almost daily ever since.
With the possible exception of Adobe Illustrator (which I have been using regularly since version 1.7... A.K.A. Illustrator 88), Photoshop is the single most important app in the existence of my universe. It has permeated both my personal and professional life, and I have serious trouble trying to imagine my world without it.
Which is why it's always fun to step back in time to experience Photoshop's humble beginnings. Which I do from time to time, as I have a library of old computers with their original software installed. It's even more fun to watch others give it a try... especially those who were not around at the beginning...
ONLY ONE UNDO?!?
Hah. Those were the days.
Happy 25th Anniversary, Adobe Photoshop!
All the world's troubles getting you down? Well, things are about to turn around... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRRRRRRRL! I don't know what's cooler... that they're resurrecting Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... or that they've tapped some amazing internet personalities for the leads. Daily Grace's Grace Helbig and My Drunk Kitchen's Hannah "Harto" Hart are (apparently) already filming the series...
Oh yeah! For the uninitiated, bask in the glory...
ELECTRA TRICKY! Can't wait.
• Gauntlet! I will never get tired of watching movie heroes being heroes in real life...
Robert Downey Jr.'s awesomeness really knows no bounds.
• John Lewis. And then there's real-life heroes. In case you missed it... so worth your time... so worth your time... so worth your time...
This terrific (albeit brief) interview from The Daily Show featured a mind-bogglingly good talk with Representative John Lewis, whose advocacy for civil rights is about as inspiring as anything you will ever find. As if THAT wasn't enough,.. John Stewart mentioned that Rep. Lewis had a couple of graphic novels out which presents his story in comic book form. And they are glorious. Fantastic art. Great story. Well worth your time to track down... and you can even purchase them digitally at Comixology... just $8 for Vol. One! Highest possible recommendation.
• Wonder? Where do I even start. Wonder Woman's new costume has to be one of the ugliest, most disorganized, least elegant, "toss in the kitchen sink" super-hero costumes ever. Just no...
The criticism has always been that Wonder Woman's costume shows too much skin to be taken seriously as a super-hero. Her costume is impractical. So, instead of tastefully updating her look to address these concerns, they just keep slapping more and more shit on her until now she looks like garbage.
And, as if that wasn't horrific enough, I give you the new Superman costume...
If that's what you can call it. More disturbing to me than this joke of a "costume" is that the artist has such a massively skewed idea of anatomy that Superman's legs are so long one has to wonder how he is able to sit in a chair. Who in the hell is running DC these days that total shit like this is seeing the light of day?
• Archie? Next up on the comic book makeover roster...
Now... this one I get. They're trying to shift Archie away from his 1940's comic strip roots and move him into modern comic book times. By creating a more "realistic" version of the character, they're obviously trying to keep the Archie gang relevant in the year 2015. I don't know if this will be a successful reimagining, but they certainly did a good job of it.
• LOL! Yep, this pretty much sums up my impression of the new MacBook... LMFAO! LOL! ROTFL! LTIP!
"That's an extra $79 accessory!"
It's only a matter of time...
• Lively! Murder. Uh huh. Genocide. Right. But is homosexuality worse than kicking a puppy? THAT'S what I want to know. I mean, come on, a little perspective here...
Disgusting. That people still listen to this bigoted piece of shit is just beyond my ability to comprehend. IT'S OVER, YOU STUPID FUCK! YOU LOST! SO JUST GO SIT IN THE CORNER WITH YOUR BIGOTRY AND BE THE PATHETIC LOSER YOU ARE!
Annnnnnd... Bullets, out!
Put on your Easter bonnet... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Egg! Happy Easter!
• Trek! Happy First Contact Day!
• Seder! And... hope you had a happy Passover yesterday!
• Watch! Still not sold on Apple Watch, but have to admit the thought that went into creating it is pretty amazing.
Too thick. Too expensive. For me.
• Like! Yep.
Expectations inside the social media bubble.
• Burberry! When "To Serve and Protect" involves showing up to somebody's house by mistake and shooting their dog, something is very, very wrong...
Errr... more wrong.
• Pat! Jesus.
The fact that people continue to take this dipshit seriously... let alone send him their money... boggles my mind.
And... time for an egg salad sandwich!
I can see Russia from my hotel room... because Bullet Sunday from the great state of Alaska starts... now...
• Double Daylight! "In Anchorage, visitors from more southerly latitudes are often surprised to see the sun set at 11:41 p.m. on the summer solstice, but the actual 'solar time' is 9:41 p.m. This is because at 150° W, Anchorage is a full solar hour behind the legal time zone and observes daylight saving time as well. Some local residents refer to this phenomenon as "double daylight time." — Wikipedia.
Which explains my panic when I awoke after dozing off thinking it was 9:30am instead of 9:30pm and I had slept through two alarms. As I write this now at 10:45pm, there's still daylight out there...
I can't fathom how insane it must be to visit Nome, which is still in the Alaskan time zone with Anchorage, but technically two hours in actual time zones further back. Their sunset is after midnight!
• Rock! The purpose for my Memorial Day weekend excursion is, of course, to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe that opened up last year here in Anchorage. This is Hard Rock No. 166 for me, and (finally) gets me caught up with all the North American properties again...
There's an upstairs with a second stage and bar...
Overall it's a nice property with a great staff and a terrific location... right in the touristy section of town... but the decor is lacking. Memorabilia is stretched a bit thin throughout, and there's a Rock Shop and massive stairwell that's devoid of any artifacts at all...
This is a massive oversight which is unimaginable to longtime Hard Rock fans who remember when the cafes used to be packed with so much stuff that you could spend hours looking around and keep coming back to see stuff you missed. I mean, holy crap... look at this shot of the old Salt Lake City cafe where you can barely see the walls...
That's what a Hard Rock is supposed to look like, and Anchorage falls way short. Putting in the effort to visit a new property is supposed to be an overwhelming experience... but more and more I find myself saying "I traveled all that way... for this?!? I dunno. Maybe they'll eventually add more cool stuff to give Anchorage the Hard Rock it deserves, but right now it's hardly destination-worthy.
• Burger Me! On the plus side, the food was pretty good...
Even if I had to build my own to avoid all the crazy shit that the Hard Rock usually puts on their veggie burgers.
• Market? I was told by my airport shuttle driver that the Anchorage Summer Weekend Market was going on and I should take a look if I had a chance. It was supposed to be open until 6:00, but most everything was torn down by 5:20...
Bummer, I guess.
• Murder! Much like Starbucks locations in Seattle, fur shops in Anchorage are on every street corner...
I'm vehemently anti-fur, but might change my mind if I could walk in a shop and pick up something that was personally slaughtered by Sarah Palin. Like I'm guessing this poor bear was...
By Grabthar's Hammer I will avenge you, bear!
• Drop! Holy shitballs do I wish Apple would get off their fucking asses and get crap fixed that's been broken for ages. Like AirDrop, their miraculous file-sharing technology that's been a steaming pile since day one. When I sent the first photo looking out my hotel window from my iPhone to my Mac, it was no problem. AirDrop found my MacBook immediately. But when I tried to send the next shot (below) 45 minutes later? I just spent 10 minutes trying to get my iPhone to see my Mac, but it absolutely won't do it. And yet... my Mac can see my iPhone just fine? WHAT THE FUCK, APPLE?!?
Why don't you use some of the BILLIONS OF FUCKING DOLLARS that people have paid you because of the promise of things like AirDrop TO FIX ALL THE CRAP THAT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK?! Every time I turn around now-a-days I'm having to deal with Apple's busted shit and I'm just sick of it.
Annnnd... I suppose I should get some sleep seeing as how it's now 11:30pm and the sun is finally going down and all...
And so yesterday was Apple's Word Wide Developers Conference 2015 Keynote.
I was underwhelmed. Mostly because the One Thing I wanted to hear more about was barely touched upon, and what was covered lacked any kind of "wow factor" for me.
I guess what follows here could be consider "spoilers" if you haven't seen it yet, so click here to watch Apple's Keynote if that's important to you.
On with the show...
A video featuring former SNL funnyman Bill Hader playing WWDC's "director" David LeGary opened the event. It was surprisingly funny. Even if you don't care about anything Apple, it's worth watching the start of the keynote just to see the intro.
Tim Cook Welcome.
Mr. Cook was his usual enthusiastic, entertaining self as he welcomed everybody to The Most Important Developer Conference on Earth. His most entertaining bit was when he brought up the Great Baseball Ransom Note. Last week Cleveland Indians' Brandon Moss hit the 100th home run of his career. The ball ended up landing in the Indian's dugout, which meant it was time for Brandon's teammates to write up a ransom note listing their demands in exchange for the ball. Interestingly enough, everybody's demands ended up being Apple products... iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, Apple watches, and the like...
Tim Cook was amused enough by this to have Apple pick up the tab for the demands, meaning Brandon gets his ball at no charge. Pretty sweet!
Mac OS X El Capitan
Craig Federighi, who has the best hair in tech, started things off by introducing us to the next version of Mac OS X, El Capitan...
Definitely evolutionary instead of revolutionary, El Cap's new features are kind of middle of the road. The new "Split View" feature which allows you to automatically size and position windows in the Finder has been something I've been doing with Moom for ages. OS X Search with "Spotlight" is already a loser to me because it's cluttered with too much shit that gets in the way of me actually finding stuff on my Mac. Well, guess what El Cap does for Spotlight? ADD EVEN MORE SHIT TO GET IN THE WAY! Yay! Craig touted more full-screen app features, but didn't mention THE ONE FUCKING THING THAT FULL-SCREEN APPS NEED... a way of permanently turning on the menu bar so you have access to critical information such as BATTERY LIFE REMAINING and THE TIME OF DAY without having to unhide the menu bar first. Lame! There are some nice new features in mail... but all I care about is if Mail has been made more reliable. Because right now Mail is utter shit, and adding more features doesn't fix shit. Note has been improved, but all I care about is whether or not Notes will sync properly now, which it hasn't done in ages. Safari is getting pinned tabs now, which is nice... but I'd sacrifice this nifty feature for better compatibility in a heartbeat. Maps is getting tansit directions at long last. And, lastly, Apple announced that Metal, their iOS graphics technology which is hugely powerful and efficient is coming to OS X. Oh happy day.
Siri is getting more better smarter, which is nice. Apple's getting more serious about publishing with their News app, which has me interested in seeing if it can be applied to THRICE Fiction. The Notes app is getting more powerful, which seems a little pointless considering that third-party apps have this space fairly well filled. Maps is getting improvements (including public transportation planning in some cities), which should be a no-brainer, but Apple has been dragging their heels for some reason. Wallet is replacing Passbook to better reflect where Apple is going with the app... the centerpiece being Apple Pay, which is the greatest thing since sliced bread, so that makes me happy.And, lastly, the iPad is getting multitasking, which is pretty smart considering Windows Surface has been eating Apple's lunch on this since they launched. The best news of all, however, is that iOS9 will run on every iPhone and iPad that iOS8 did, so nobody is getting left behind this time around.
The biggest news of the day did not end up being what I thought it would be... Apple hung that on their new streaming music service... Apple Music. It really isn't much different than Spotify or any other service, except that it looks better and appears to navigate easier. Apple is trying to up the ante by rolling in some features from their now-deceased Ping service in Connect, which allows artists to keep their fans up to date with what's going on. And then there's the new worldwide net-radio "experience" Beats 1, which seems insane to me... too many people have too many different musical tastes, so how can you plan a WORLDWIDE station that appeals to everyone? MTV (back when they actually played music) had to break up into pieces and have localized channels in different parts of the world... even that didn't work. Personally, none of this stuff appeals to me. I like to own the music I love. If I buy a digital track, it's mine to play forever. With streaming services, the music stops when the money runs out. Stop paying, stop playing. But, hey, Apple Music is going to have a free three-month trial, so who knows.
The main thing I was looking forward to at this conference was big news about Apple's HomeKit home automation technology which is (apparently) going to revolve around AppleTV. It was announced a year ago and has basically gone nowhere, so now was the time, right? All the WWDC propaganda had the AppleTV shape and the words "The Epicenter of Change" plastered on it, so what other conclusion could be drawn except finally HomeKit was getting its due?
And yet it didn't happen.
Maybe they were never planning on it. Maybe something changed. Maybe it wasn't ready. Who knows.
All I know is that nobody is better at shitting on Apple technologies than Apple themselves. Yes, new devices are being released for HomeKit. Yes, Apple took a whole minute of the WWDC keynote to tell us that HomeKit will be adding support for more than just lights and locks. But that's it. All that teasing for nothing.
And I just don't get it.
The longer Apple waits to stake their claim in the exploding home automation market, the less impact they're going to have. They need to be out there now!
I never thought I'd be saying this, but Apple needs to break apart as a company. Sure it's great to have everything under one roof, but when you can't focus enough to get shit done, maybe it's not the best fit. The slow death of HomeKit before its even released is a big wakeup call.
But oh well.
Maybe Apple will get their shit together and do a HomeKit "Special Event" by the end of the year and prove me wrong.
Otherwise, why did they even bother coming up with it?
The biggest drawback of watching Apple's latest wankfest of all the "insanely great" technologies they've got coming down the pipe is me sitting in front of the computer screaming "WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING FIX THE SHIT THAT'S BROKEN BEFORE ADDING MORE PROBLEMS FOR YOUR USERS?"
Because more and more, Apple's myriad of bugs and busted shit in OS X is giving me Microsoft Windows flashbacks. What's worse is that Apple seems to have little interest in fixing stuff. No response in the forums. No fixes in the updates. No acknowledgement of anything wrong, despite many, many users reporting the same problems.
Take for instance iTunes.
The program is utter crap. It has been for years. I could go on for ages about how stupid it is that you can't stream movies you buy, but are forced to download them. I could rage for days on how utterly insane it is that the iTunes Store doesn't let you know which movies you're already bought. Or how your movie purchases never show up in the "My Movies" tab unless you've downloaded all of them. It's just such a steaming load of bullshit. Yet it's been going on for years. And Apple doesn't care. And the way you can tell they don't care is that they never fix this moronic crap. But what's worse than helpful features being omitted are the legions of bugs that make using iTunes such a horrendous experience.
iTunes Match is FOREVER fucking up. Every damn time I fire up iTunes expecting to be able to play the music I purchased "in the cloud," iTunes just sits there spinning it's wheels. It doesn't matter which computer I'm on. It doesn't matter if I disabled all virus protection. It doesn't matter if I clear caches. It doesn't matter if I try all the idiotic work-arounds people come up with. It doesn't even matter where I'm at around the world. Sometimes, after 20 minutes or so, it will tell you there's a problem and tell you to logout and login again... which does work... but should I have to do that every fucking time I start iTunes? It's become almost automatic for me now, which is fucking bananas. Because, of course, if you logout you end up having to re-start Match which takes ages to get going again.
And I can't tell you how many times a day I have problems with iCloud. I'm consistently and constantly seeing this on my screen...
This is so stupid on so many levels. First of all, my Macs are all password protected. If I've got them password protected, nobody is accessing them but me... so why in the hell is iCloud logging me out? Even if I were to accept that this is a valid security concern, "periodically" to Apple means SEVERAL FUCKING TIMES A DAY. I have to login to iCloud to use iTunes. I have to login to iCloud to use iMessage. I have to login to iCloud to FaceTime. I have to login to iCloud to scratch my nuts. Once a month would be fine. But I am sick to fucking death of this CONSTANT need to have me login over and over and over and over AND OVER again. Shit... if I logout of iTunes to try and access my Match music, I'm forced to login to iCloud THREE GODDAMN TIMES before the nonsense stops. That alone causes me to go ballistic. Add in all the other times I have to deal with this shit and I'm in thermonuclear meltdown over Apple idiocy daily.
Who the fuck is in charge of fixing busted shit? ANYBODY?
But that's old news.
The latest boatload of crap coming out of Cupertino? This...
I click "Always Allow" of course.
But Apple must not know what the fuck "ALWAYS" means, because I keep getting this damn dialog box popping up all the time. Sometimes at random. Always when clearing my browser history. Does Apple give a shit? Of course not! NO response to those sick and tired of having to deal with whatever the fuck "PluginProcess" is. No patch to fix the problem. No acknowledgement a problem even exists, because if it goes unacknowledged, the problem isn't real to Apple! It's all in your imagination!
Apple used to have a motto of "It just works."
That hasn't been true in fucking ages.
Macintosh isn't superior to Windows any more. Sure it looks better and is more logical but, in the grand scheme of things, it's not better.
If you're not going to aspire to be better than your competition, just fucking close it down and concentrate on your iPhone or iPad or Apple Watch or Apple Music or whatever the fuck is your flavor of the moment. Anything less is just wasting everybody's damn time.
Well, gee, where do I start.
In summary: Apple Music is a poorly-executed, bug-ridden, embarrassing pile of crap that is sadly typical of the utter shit that permeates anything to do with iTunes. If you've already got Spotify, there is nothing to see here. I'd argue that Apple's execution of a streaming music service is actually worse than Spotify in just about every sense. After the three-month free trial is over, I'll be dumping Apple Music like the steaming turd it is.
Shall we begin?
I have no clue as to what's happening at Apple these days. More and more they just can't seem to get their shit together. Apple Music is just one more failure in a series of failures, and it's getting tiring.
I shouldn't have to work so hard to be an Apple fan.
I honestly thought that yesterday's struggle with my new travel portable hard drive's reversed USB 3 port would be the worst thing that happened before I leave for my work trip on Monday.
I was wrong.
So very, very wrong.
Last night before leaving work I compiled all my work file folders into a new folder hierarchy so it would be easier to copy what I need for work on the road. Instead of having to sync dozens of folders, I would now only need to sync one. Pretty sweet, right?
Yeah. Not so much.
Before leaving I set ChronoSync to copy my new "master folder" to my new up-side-down portable drive.
This morning I come back to work only to find that ChronoSync reported a total transfer time of 2 seconds with zero files copied.
Turns out my new "master folder" was completely empty. All my files from the past two decades were nowhere to be found. Thinking that Mac OS X was just playing silly buggers with the "visibility" of my files, I ran Disk Warrior, which usually fixes things right up.
That didn't work so I ran Disk Warrior in "scavenger" mode.
That didn't work so I used the directory backup in TechTool Pro to see if I could recover my files.
That didn't work so I fired up Data Rescue 4 to see if that might work.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing Nothing. Nothing worked. For reasons completely unknown, all my files had been completely wiped from the drive with no option for recovery. And for the life of me, I have no idea why. The free space on my drive is huge because the files are truly missing. No diagnostic will reveal any clue as to what's gone wrong. It's as if everything I've ever worked on never existed.
As if that weren't bad enough, I've been particularly lax in keeping up with my local backups. My most current drive copy is five months old.
I'd be contemplating sticking my head in the over right now if not for the fact that I have everything continuously backed up into the Cloud with a service called BackBlaze. For $189, they'll ship me a new hard drive filled with all my missing files. I started using BackBlaze when Apple's Time Machine backups kept getting corrupted, and thank heavens.
So... no harm no foul... I guess.
One thing's for sure, I need a better local backup strategy.
=sigh= Something new to worry about.
The file restore from my cloud backup after my catastrophic drive failure is taking much, much long than I had anticipated... or hoped. I started the restore July 25th and they're telling me they're not even half-way done collecting the files.
Needless to say, this makes everything I do take far longer than it should.
Partly because I haven't yet received the afore-mentioned backup yet and have to request files to be downloaded from the cloud multiple times for each project I'm working on.
But mostly because those older file on local backup I DO have available are trapped on Apple's "Time Machine" technology.
I used to really love Apple's approach to backup but, now that I am forced to use it for something other than an occasional "oops" moment, it's just so horribly bad. The goofy "space vortex" interface is absolute shit for serious recovery. I finally abandoned it and started restoring directly from the Time Machine file bundle, but this has its problems as well. So many times I get an "ALIAS BROKEN" error and can't even get at the original file. Even worse, every time I get the error, the Finder snaps my search window closed... so instead of choosing an alternative file to restore, I have to start my search all over from the beginning. Like I said... bad.
So... once I get up and running again, Time Machine will be completely abandoned in favor of a more traiditional technology that actually... well, you know... works.
Another September, another Apple Event.
This time there were few surprises, as Apple rumor sites have had the skinny on what's coming for months. Actually, with the exception of the Apple Pencil, I don't think there were any surprises. But we'll get to that in a bit.
Okay. I'm just going to come right out and say it... I want one of these things so very, very bad.
I've been jonesing for a graphics tablet with display for the longest time. Problem is they are incredibly expensive, and the stylus lag coupled with the thick glass above the display on more affordable models is a total boner-killer for me. But here comes Apple with a new "Apple Pencil" that apparently eliminates lag and is coupled with Apple's laminated display which minimizes the amount of glass between you and what you're drawing...
And, oh yeah... it's still an iPad, so it can do everything an iPad can already do on top of being a kick-ass graphics tablet display. Giving you a much bigger bang for your buck than purchasing a graphics tablet display alone.
And about that price...
$799 for a 32GB model (pretty useless if you're doing serious work)
$949 for a 128GB model (more realistic, but I was hoping for at least 256GB)
Add a $99 Apple Pencil and you're over $1000 for the model you want. Which hurts. But that's roughly what a Wacom Cintiq 13" HD Touch runs, and it can only do one thing (though, admittedly, it does it very well). So, assuming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil end up being as good as they look, APPLE! TAKE MY MONEY!
Guess we'll find out come November.
All things considered, a worthy Apple Event.
My favorite part of the show was closing it out with a great live performance by OneRepublic. My second-favorite was the news that Apple now has an Android app for transitioning from an Android phone to an iPhone. Classic!
As a Certified Apple Whore, I never feel more alive than when Apple releases something new that I want.
And so... I've been using Mac OS X "El Capitan" Public Beta for a full day now.
Not terribly impressed. Some things I've observed in the past 16 hours...
A lot of things I'd liked fixed/changed, to be sure. But the biggest is my laptop fan going off and on all day long. It just sucks to have to listen to it all the time when I rarely had to with previous OS X versions. If this is the cost for speed bumps I barely notice, then no thanks. Hopefully Apple is on the case.
UPDATE: After futzing around with the CPU monitor, I think that it's Mail that's the culprit. Even when running in the background, it's pegged at 138%+ CPU usage. Quitting Mail lets my laptop run much, much cooler. Guess I might be needing to find a new app for email.
It's not that I get upset because somebody texted the wrong number...
...it's because they don't have an iPhone, so I have to pay texting charges to let them know.
Damn green bubbles!
Since the beginning of the home computer revolution, I have used thousands of programs (apps, for the kids out there). Some have been good, some have been bad, some have been amazing. But, in all that time, only one of them can be crowned "Worst Software of All Time."
And it's Apple's iTunes.
No joke... iTunes is the single biggest pile of shit I have ever encountered.
It started as a music player called SoundJam back in 1998, and I was a huge fan. When it came to playing your digital music collection, it was easily the best solution out there. Apple knew this too, which is why they bought out the program and self-branded it iTunes to fit with the whole "i-esthetic" they had going on at the time. And, for a while there, all was good. Apple changed a few things and made it look a prettier, but it was still the SoundJam I enjoyed.
But then everything changed. No longer merely a music player and cataloger, iTunes quickly became Apple's "hub" for digital media thanks to the release of the iPod. It wasn't too bad at first... sometimes I had a hell of a time syncing my music but, for the most part it worked well. It was also around that time we got handy additional features, like "Smart Playlists," that were a welcome additions to the program.
The honeymoon wouldn't last.
As more and more "features" (aka "crap") were added to iTunes, it grew into a massive pile of bloatware that was complicated, confusing, and bug-ridden. iTunes wasn't exclusively for playing music any more, it was a storefront for the iTunes Music Store. Movies and TV shows were added. And ringtones. And podcasts. And apps. And internet radio. And books. Very quickly iTunes was suffering an identity crisis, and Apple struggled (and failed badly) to come up with a user interface that made sense across all the shit it was supposed to be managing.
Then, just when you thought it couldn't possibly get worse, Apple Music was crammed into the mix.
And suddenly I was longing for the days that iTunes was merely complicated, confusing, and bug-ridden. Apple's streaming music solution, which I could give a fuck about, further pushed iTunes into utter ruin. The program is so fucked up now that you don't use it... you tolerate it. And even that's too much to ask sometimes.
Take for instance video streaming.
I have been ranting for years about how fucking stupid it is that Apple forces you to download your movie and television purchases so you can watch them. Never mind that every other digital content provider on earth allows streaming video, Apple did not unless you wanted to watch on an AppleTV. But, surprise surprise, video streaming was added along with Apple Music. No more being forced to clutter valuable hard drive space with a download when you want to watch The Matrix for the hundredth time... now you just start playing.
Except when you can't. Which is often.
I can't tell you how many times I've tried to watch a movie only to have it stutter, drop out, go out of sync, or even crash. This evening I wanted to watch Edge of Tomorrow and found it impossible. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Stutter. Stutter. Stutter. At first I wanted to blame my internet connection. But streaming from Netflix was fine. Streaming from Amazon was fine. Streaming from YouTube was fine. It's just Apple's piece of shit service that doesn't fucking work. So I have to wait 20 minutes for the movie to download before I can watch it. Used to be you could watch a movie while it's downloading, but the stuttering was worse than when I tried streaming. It's absolute bullshit that Apple has BILLIONS of dollars at their disposal and can't get this shit figured out when literally everybody else has.
And what about music?
Apple added a subscription service called iTunes Match back in 2011 which allows you to put your music in "the cloud" so it's accessible anywhere. And not just your music purchased from Apple... all your music, no matter where it came from. And it was too good to be true. All that music I ripped from my CDs at a low bitrate because I didn't want it taking up hard disk space? Well, if Apple sells it, they automatically match it and upgrade the file to the best quality they have available. And since it's in the cloud, it's taking up -zero- megabytes on your drive! Brilliant!
Except when it isn't. Which is often.
The biggest problem is not really Apple's fault. If a music publisher all of a sudden decides to withdraw their music from iTunes, you lose it. This goes for every last song you purchase from Apple. Unless you've downloaded a backup it's gone. And since this scenario is in the licensing agreement you sign off on, you have no recourse. So... always have a backup of your music. This is critical.
While the concept of iTunes Match is good, it's not utopia. Sometimes music you own won't match for some reason... even though Apple sells the song. Other times Apple will match the wrong tracks. I bought The Beatles collection in mono... the way it was meant to be heard. Apple matched everything to the stereo version. And of course there's no way to fix this in the system. Annoying, but not a deal breaker.
Other problems arise when the iTunes service is down. Or Apple's streaming servers are overloaded and streaming badly. Unless you have local copies of your music (defeating the whole purpose of the cloud), all your music is inaccessible. That should be a deal breaker.
And it gets worse. iTunes is such a massive pile of crap that sometimes you can't access your music even when Apple's streaming service is working flawlessly. I have 30 "albums" by Depeche Mode. When viewing my library as "Songs," everything not purchase through iTunes disappears (even if you have "SHOW ALL MY MUSIC" checked). Change to "Artists" view and suddenly they're back. The program is so hideously complex that little problems like this are everywhere.
Topped off by the fact that iTunes is FOREVER asking you to type in your fucking password. Most of the time for no damn reason.
It's to the point now where I regret having purchased any of my digital content from Apple. Especially movies and TV shows. Far better to have purchased my digital content from a company that actually gives a flying fuck about providing a workable solution to their customers.
And Apple is absolutely not that company.
Probably isn't going to be any time soon.
As a Certified Apple Whore, I was pretty much obligated to purchase the new version of Apple TV. Could not be helped, really. Is it worth the money for the upgrade? Let's find out...
The original Apple TV was a hot mess of a product. Dubbed "iTV" it had a hard drive for local storage, but I don't know that it ever used it because the unit required you to stream video from a computer. Eventually it was upgraded with additional functionality (namely, you could buy media from the iTunes Store) but it was such a klutzy product that I never really used it.
Then came the second generation. This Apple TV was a fraction of the size of iTV, jet-black in color, and much more capable. With no local hard drive, your only option was to stream content, which is pretty much what it was meant to do all along. This implementation was a huge improvement, but still pretty crappy. The menu GUI is awful. It always seemed under-powered, and dropouts or full-on crashes were common. Apple upgraded bits and pieces for the third generation model which, I'm guessing, helped with more reliable streaming... but I never bothered because it was pretty much the same damn thing.
And here we are at Generation Four...
The new unit looks much the same as the previous version, but is noticeably taller. Everything else about it, however, is a very different animal.
First of all, I had the crap shocked out of me when I plugged in the new unit to my television and had the television automatically turn on and change the input to Apple TV. This is thanks to HDMI-CEC which is an extension to the HDMI cable standard that allows you to control HDMI devices in a smarter way.
If you have a television, a cable box, and a stereo receiver, you end up juggling three remote controls just to watch the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory. Yes, many remotes now-a-days can be programmed to control multiple devices, but that'e exactly how it happens... you are controlling three different devices separately. With HDMI-CEC, however, you don't. Assuming all your components are CEC capable, they talk to each other and control each other. Turn the volume up on your TV and it will pass the info to your stereo receiver. Change channels on your TV and it will pass the info to your cable box. And so on. The system isn't without its hiccups, but it's a fantastic technology in theory (and mostly in practice).
The upshot of all this? Your CEC-capable TV automatically switches inputs when you turn on your Apple TV and you can control television volume with the Apple TV remote. Nice.
Setting up Apple TV couldn't be easier if you have a modern iOS device. You just wave your iPhone (or whatever) over your Apple TV when it asks and your Apple ID and iTunes account info is transferred automatically over Bluetooth. Pretty spiffy, right?
Unless your WiFi router is set up to restrict access via specific MAC addresses like mine. Usually, this is an easy fix... you just look at a sticker on the peripheral you want to grant access to your wireless network, type it into your router's "allowed" table, and you're golden. Except Apple doesn't put this information on their precious Apple TV. Which would be fine because you can get the MAC address from the Apple TV's system menu. EXCEPT YOU CAN'T ACCESS THIS MENU UNTIL THE APPLE TV IS SET UP. BUT YOU CAN'T SET UP THE APPLE TV UNTIL YOU HAVE INTERNET ACCESS! This is categorically stupid. I had to disable access control on my router to set up Apple TV so I could get the MAC address to set up access control. HELPFUL HINT TO APPLE: put the fucking MAC address on the damn Apple TV next time... like you used to do.
It's during this setup that you get exposed to Apple's new remote control. It's plastic and metal, not awesome solid aluminum tooling like previous generations, but it has a nifty "swipe pad" at the top. This allows you to swipe to select menu items and, more importantly, swipe to enter keyboard data like user id and password. While definitely a better option than having to click click click to pick letters off an on-screen keyboard, it's not perfect. I had no problem swiping left to right, for example, but rarely am I able to swipe up and down and get it to register the first time. Annoying. But only half as annoying as the fact that I couldn't get the iPhone Apple Remote App to work with the latest Apple TV.
Okay... so you've set up your Apple TV. Now what? Well, the first thing you'll notice is that Apple has a minimal number of "stations" showing... whereas the previous generation had a shitload of them... whether you wanted them or not. Don't use Hulu? TOUGH SHIT! HERE IT IS! But the latest Apple TV nicely avoids the unnecessary clutter by turning all the "stations" into apps. Want to look at YouTube videos? Grab the app. Want to view NetFlix content? Grab the app. But that's not all... apps are for more than just "stations"... you can download full-blown actual apps, like games, and run them right on your television. This is a pretty powerful upgrade, and I wonder how many people will drop gaming consoles if the content for Apple TV really takes off.
And speaking of upgrades... Heeeeere's Siri!
Using voice commands with Apple TV is pretty great. Click the "listen" button and tell the thing what you want. "Show me John Goodman movies" works exactly as expected. Better than expected, actually, because Siri searches not just the iTunes Store, but your apps as well! And here's where Apple TV really shines... it gives precedence to cheaper options first. If the movie you want to watch is available on your Netflix subscription AND on the iTunes Store... the Netflix option is first up because you've already paid for it. That's a pretty bold move for Apple, since most companies would put their own product ahead of everybody else.
Siri is most welcome to Apple TV because the interface, while less cluttered, is still pretty shitty to navigate... even with Apple's new swipe remote. The problem is that there's no API for Siri, so most apps can't use that feature. YouTube, for example, would benefit greatly from Siri interaction... except it can't. Not yet anyway. Another problem with Siri is that Apple TV Siri is limited to only Apple TV functionality. Unlike iPhone Siri, which can answer questions or do internet searches, for example. HomeKit functionality, surprise surprise, is missing.
AirPlay is, not surprisingly, fully supported. which means you can stream content from your iPhone or computer (assuming they have that capability).
All Apple TVs comes with a spacious 2 GB of memory, but there are two models when it comes to the amount of storage (via flash memory)... 32GB or 64GB. I have no plans for downloading a ton of apps, so 32GB was the choice for me.
When it comes to hardware features, the fourth generation Apple TV comes up short compared to older versions. First of all, it's HDMI only... including for sound, because Apple TV no longer has an optical audio out jack. In addition, the only service port is the USB-C port. Luckily, a USB-C to USB cable is included in case you don't have one. There's an ethernet jack, which is nice if your WiFi isn't reliable, but kind of a waste otherwise.
Performance is much improved in the latest iteration of the product thanks to the Apple A8 chip upgrade. Menus are smoother (and prettier)... streaming feels more reliable... and response time is better.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with my new Apple TV. Well worth the price of admission... especially if you have a lot of content purchased from the iTunes Store. I wish that it was smarter about voice interaction though. Having to press the button on the remote to activate Siri seems old-fashioned when you've got devices like Amazon's Alexa that's always listening. Furthermore, Siri should be a hell of a lot smarter. Right now it's a drastically dumb-downed version from what I'm used to on my iPhone, which makes no sense. I mean, come on... at least give Siri access to my music library! Also lacking in the "no sense" department? No support for 4K video(!) and no iPhone remote support.
Maybe next time.
Which I'm guessing will be 2017. A little late to the party.
After declaring Apple's iTunes the worst piece of software I have ever used in the entire history of computing, Apple Mail seems to be working overtime to make me rethink my decision.
Mail is just awful. It's a flakey, bug-ridden pile of crap that keeps getting worse and worse. As if that wasn't enough, Apple keep stripping features from the program that could help. First they took away the ability to choose which SMTP server you want to use for outgoing email on the fly. This means you can't force Mail to use a different server when it's shitty SMTP handling fails unless you change your account information.
Then today I noticed that Apple also stripped the ability to stop a process in the Activity Monitor. So now when Mail gets stuck downloading emails from an IMAP server... which happens all the fucking time... there is literally nothing you can do to solve the problem except quit Mail, use webmail to try and figure out which email that Mail is having trouble with, delete said email, restart Mail, then keep repeating the process over and over and over and over and over and over again until you are finally rid of the email causing the problem. If you can ever figure it out at all.
Oh how I fucking hate... HATE... shitty Apple Mail.
Yet, if you're wanting to sync accounts and have interoperability with you iPhone and iPad, "shitty" is what you're forced to use.
Apple has billions upon billions of dollars. Why in the bloody hell can't they invest a little of that money to get this crap fixed? Too easy? Or they just don't give a flying fuck because they've got billions of dollars?
Either way, I don't think it's too much to ask that Apple's email program isn't fucking bullshit.
Drop it like it's hot, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Aziz. One of my favorite comedians to come along in ages is Aziz Ansari. If you aren't watching his new show Master of None on Netflix, you are totally missing out. Recently Aziz was interviewed by The New York Times and it is well worth a read.
Apple iPad Pro available in a few days.
Apple Pencil for iPad Pro available in 3 to 4 weeks.
Return Period for iPad is 2 weeks.
Huh. Guess I'm waiting 3 to 4 weeks to order my iPad Pro, since the only reason I want one is for the Pencil... and making sure I like the pencil is the only reason I'm actually getting one.
• Review. A nice look at the latest issue of Thrice Fiction by New Pages is right here!
A lot of hard work goes into every issue, and it's always nice when we're appreciated for it. If you want to take a look at everybody's favorite fiction magazine for FREE, here's your link!
• Interrupted. This Vine of a man telling a woman to put down her book during a Trump ralley is the best thing I've seen all week...
She is having none of it! Interesting to note that the book she's reading is Claudia Rankine's Citizen, which could be said to be addressing just this kind of thing!
• Jessica This looks epic... and very faithful to the comic book. If Jessica Jones is even half as good as Daredevil, we're in for a treat...
One. More. Week.
And now is the time on Blogography where we dance!
If you take away one thing from Home Automation Week (now in Part Nine of Seven Parts!) it should be to avoid Apple's HomeKit home automation platform like the plague. It's no secret that I think it's utter crap in its current form, and the fact that automation companies aren't really flocking to the platform is a sure sign of "too little too late."
Yes, I love the idea of controlling my home with Siri, but Amazon Echo is probably more convenient for that anyway. Yes I love Apple's dedication to privacy and security, but what does it matter if you don't have all the automation options available that you might want? Yes, I love the idea of having absolutely everything tied to a single system instead of being in pieces but, again, it's only nirvana if you actually have all the pieces you need for that one system.
But the biggest reason to completely avoid HomeKit is not what's missing... it's about how what's there doesn't fucking work.
My Schlage Sense door locks are HomeKit compatible. But I never use any of the HomeKit features. Siri is just too fucking slow at unlocking doors to have her do it. I'd rather use a key or punch a code. But even worse than that? HomeKit's remote access features DO. NOT. WORK. My locks are supposed to use my 4th Generation Apple TV to communicate with the outside world, but they don't.
If I'm at work and want to know if I remembered to lock my front door? I'm supposed to be able to ask Siri. Siri asks my AppleTV back home. AppleTV then asks my lock. But unless I'm within Bluetooth range, this is all I see...
Maybe my front door isn't close enough to my AppleTV and doesn't have the range to report what's going on? Possibly. So I check my back door, which is two feet away from my AppleTV...
Nope! And it doesn't matter how many times I reset my AppleTV or login and logout of my iCloud account. NOTHING I have tried has gotten remote access to HomeKit to work for my locks.
My Ecobee3 thermostat? Also HomeKit compatible. Surprisingly, it can be accessed remotely via Siri voice control. Probably because it isn't having to go through my AppleTV and has full WiFi-enabled control via its app. Funny thing is? I'd rather use the app. Again, Siri is a little slow to act... and often gets my Ecobee3 requests wrong for some reason.
So... lesson learned.
If you're going to get something that's HomeKit compatible, be sure that it has its own remote access app that doesn't attempt to route crap through your AppleTV... because, for me at least, it ain't happening.
Which means as much as I love my Schlage locks, if I had known then what I know now, I would have picked a different non-HomeKit solution that actually works remotely as intended. As it is now, the status of my door locks is always unknown unless me and my phone is standing next to them. Pretty useless.
Maybe one day Apple will fix the AppleTV hub remote-access problem. Maybe one day Siri won't be so damn slow to do anything. Maybe one day HomeKit won't be a pile of shit. Maybe. One day.
In the meanwhile, I reiterate... do not be blinded by the Apple Reality Distortion Field when it comes to making decision about home automation. At every turn I've found that the non-HomeKit solutions which can be paired with reliable in-app remote access and a link to Amazon Echo are far, far superior to stuff that's tied to Apple's home automation platform. Yes, having to go through multiple apps and having no unifying system can take a little extra effort at times, but it's not at all a deal-breaker. If you're organized, it's not even that big of a deal. If you have Amazon Echo, I'd argue you're actually better off than using Siri.
I guess not even Apple can hit a home run every time.
But HomeKit isn't even a base hit.
This morning before heading off to work I decided to dust off my entertainment center. It's a futile endeavor with two cats, because everything will go back to being covered in hair within seconds. As I was dodging in and out of the many crevasses with my Swiffer duster, I made my way to the fancy Blu-Ray player I had bought and couldn't recall the last time I used it. Probably to watch one of those rare movies I love that never made its way to digital.
This is more than a little depressing because the thing was top-of-the-line back in the day and cost me a small fortune. At the time it seemed like a wise investment because it could play both 3D and 4K Blu-ray discs. Little did I know that 3D would be a stupid feature because the special glasses eat batteries like crazy... and all the discs are glitchy.* As for 4K? Apple started releasing most new movies in 4K digitally (no Blu-Ray required) within months of my hooking up the player.
And so the pricey but useless piece of tech just sits there collecting more dust and hair until I want to watch Undercover Blues or True Lies or The Abyss or Strange Days again. WHICH JUST HAPPEN TO BE FOUR OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME...
The rumor mill has been going on for years that James Cameron is working on bringing True Lies and The Abyss to Blu-Ray and (hopefully) digital. I have no idea what the holdup is with Kathryn Bigelow & James Cameron releasing Strange Days (which is oddly more relevant now than it was when it was released 20 years ago). And then there's Undercover Blues. This movie is 100% awesome, and it seems impossible that nobody has released it digitally since it actually has a Blu-Ray release (albeit not a great one).
So many television shows and movies that have been lost to time. It seems... weird... somehow, that everything released within the past 25 years isn't out there for digital purchase. Though I should count myself lucky. At least these movies have DVD releases. Entirely too many of my favorite television shows (like Jeremy Piven's Cupid and Alan Ball's Oh Grow Up!) do not.
Which has me wondering how long it will be before they won't be making DVD/Blu-Ray players any more. These things always seem to happen sooner than you think.
*Seriously, I have yet to find a 3D Blu-Ray which will play properly all the way through. Their quality is for shit.
Back in September I went through my mom's recipes with the intent of throwing them all away. I ended up keeping seven of them... which was five more than I had anticipated. Most recipes are either meat-based entrées or sugar-based desserts, neither of which I eat.
What I wanted to find was her Applesauce & Walnut Bread and Spanish Rice recipes. What I actually found was these...
The apple pie is one of the few recipes that I have experience making with the originator. My grandmother let me help her make her signature dessert numerous times. Everybody who tasted it fell in love with it. I tried to encourage her to enter it into an apple pie contest, but she never would. So one year I tricked her into making me a pie "for a bake sale" and entered it into a contest for her.
She won first prize, as I knew she would.
Making a seriously good apple pie is more of an art than the science of following a recipe because the apples are always different. Sometimes they are sweeter... sometimes they are more tart... sometimes they are small... sometimes they are big. And sometimes the variety of apple you want isn't available so you have to use something entirely different and make it work. My grandmother always tasted the apples before deciding how she wanted to proceed. Sometimes she uses extra sugar, sometimes less. Sometimes she added lemon juice. Sometimes she altered the spices too. Decades of making apple pies taught her just what she needed to do to get a consistently amazing pie. And she tasted and re-tasted every step of the way.
In order to develop the skills my grandmother had, I would have to make a pie a week for five years. Maybe even a decade. It's a lot of trial and error, and she's not here to offer advice on dealing with the crazy-huge number of variables.
Which is why I haven't made a single pie since she stopped baking them.
I thought I might give it a try after she passed, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it. And every apple pie I've ever eaten that's not hers falls short by comparison, so I stopped eating apple pie.
What I eat instead? Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers...
These things are better than they have a right to be. And, since they are frozen, I can cook up just one as a treat when I have some room for carbs available. Easy and delicious.
But one of these days... one of these days... I will make my grandmother's apple pie again. Or try to.
Because "Pepperidge Farm Remembers," but so do I. And what I remember is how amazing my grandmother's apple pies were.