Posted on September 22nd, 2023
Today I was much like a kid at Christmas given that my new Apple Watch Series 9 and iPhone 15 Pro Max arrived. It happened the morning I was hanging out with my friends, so I was anticipating the transfer from my old phone to be shit-butt city as we went bar-hopping and I was climbing on and off Wi-Fi all afternoon.
Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Unlike last year when I upgraded to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, everything went off without a hitch. Well, almost. There's one teeny tiny problem that's giving me fits, but I'll get to that.
As I mentioned during the keynote, I had zero intention of upgrading my Apple Watch Series 6. There just doesn't seem to be anything worth upgrading for. Well, except having a new battery, since the one in my old watch would no longer last the day if I had the always-on display set to "on." Still. With the display off except for tap-to-wake, I easily made it through the day and it did everything I needed it to do.
What tipped the scales for me was the fact that Series 9 does most all Siri processing locally. Which means that simple requests aren't passing through the cellular radio on my iPhone for a round trip that causes a noticeable delay. And, sure enough, the Apple Watch is really quick with Siri requests, which makes the price of admission worth it for me (once you factor in the $115 that Apple will give me to trade in my old one).
But it turns out this isn't the best part of upgrading.
The display is not just brighter... it's bigger!
It's five o'clock somewhere...
I have to get the little watch since, as you can see, my arms are so thin. The Series 6 is 40mm. The Series 9 (in red) is 41mm. But there's also the fact that the display goes out further to the edges. Everything looks bigger. Very nice.
The double-finger-tap control works as advertised. Everything is very zippy. Fast and smooth. Overall, a good upgrade from where I was. I dunno if this is a worthy upgrade if you've got a Series 8, but for me it was a good choice.
I gave serious consideration to skipping an upgrade for a year so I could own my iPhone 14 Pro Max outright. But ultimately I figured one of the benefits of being in the Apple Upgrade Program is getting the latest and greatest, so I caved. Mostly because I use it more as a camera than a phone and the 5× optical zoom lens plus claims of better night photos swayed me. Along with the fact that iPhones hold their value well... but not so great that I'm leaving loads of money on the table from what I can tell looking at the 13 Pro Max used market.
Camera aside, I honestly don't notice a big difference with the 15. Sure it's a touch lighter, but all the things I like are mostly the same and the one thing I hate (Apple's silicone cases do not stay attached like they used to) is also the same. It's fast. It's capable. It runs all my apps very well. The end. Maybe I'll buy a game that has ray-tracing to see how that looks. Stunning, I'm sure.
Setup was far, far better than the past two years. Pairing my new Apple Watch was seamless. Everything copied over just fine. The only problem I have is that my phone app shows a red badge notification with a "1" in it... even though there's no fucking notifications when I look everywhere in the app. I've restarted three times and shut it down once. No joy. I finally just turned off badge notifications. Hopefully Apple will fix this shit one of these days. UPDATE: Turned off my iPhone for 20 full minutes then restarted. That did the trick.
Other than that, my complaints are A) They don't have a (Product)RED silicone case for it... B) The new Action Button is a cool thing, but it's WAY up on the side, so it's only hand if you're holding your phone horizontally... and you can't customize it for double-click or triple-click, and... C) The blue that I got is pretty much black with a blue cast... in the right light. And it's like... what's the fucking point? You've already got a black phone. So why not make a bright red (Product)RED phone or something that will truly look bold and different? Why do Pro users always get fucked with these boring-ass "premium" color choices? Of course, I'll take these over the fucking PASTELS that the regular iPhone 15's got. Because yikes. Those look like total shit. Maybe I should have gone with Raw Titanium color to have something different? Meh. It doesn't bother me that much. It's just disappointing.
Lastly there's USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 which will allow you to transfer much, much faster than Lightning (480 megabytes per second vs. 10 gigabytes per second). If you've got the right cable. And it's about fucking time. Jesus. Apple puts these massive sensors in their cameras and allow shooting RAW, but it takes an eternity to get them off of it because the resulting files are huge. I didn't even bother to shoot RAW, because it can take days to get them all in your computer to actually work on them. I've got USB-C 3.2 cables, so maybe now I will. Thank you to the EU for mandating USB-C on all phones... otherwise Apple would probably stick with obsolete Lightning ports for years longer. The one thing I don't understand it why they didn't just go with Thunderbolt4 (100Gps) compatibility to really make it worthwhile. Guess they're saving that to get you to upgrade in the future? In any event, you can record ProRes 4K 60Hz video directly to an external SSD now, which is pretty special.
First a caveat on that spiffy new 5× lens. It needs good light to function. If you don't got that, it switches back to you main camera. This did not happen with the 3× lens on my old camera. At least not that I recall. This is a pretty big downgrade, if you ask me. It may very well be a deal breaker for some people who would rather have a 3× lens with more flexibility. As for me? I'm greedy. I wish we would have gotten both. Add a fourth lens on the Pro Max to get the best of both worlds! Or, ideally, give us a 3× and a 10×. UPDATE: If you want to force the camera to use the 5× lens in low light, some third party camera apps (like Halide) will let you.
That being said, when you've got some light it's very nice. This was shot in a bar with not great lighting, but look how good it turned out at 5×! Very sharp and the color is beautiful, despite the fact that we're very clearly entering HDR "Deep Fusion" territory here...
That's pretty impressive... but the main lens really looks great...
Interesting that Apple now calls the "Main Camera" the "Wide Camera" and the "Wide Camera the Ultra Wide Camera. Note that the "Wide Camera" has a goodly number of pixels more than the previous generation (but with bigger files, natch)...
Now... I have only had the camera for a tiny amount of time. I will obviously be taking more photos and a closer look at the features and quality sometime soon (especially when it comes to being able to change the focal point after the fact... because in playing around with it, this is a very cool feature). And of course I'll want to look at how well it shoots ProRes video (especially its ability to shoot LOG video that can be color graded easily and pushed in directions you can't get easily otherwise).
But last thing I want to say before I go is how Apple's claim that the new camera has "seven lenses" is not quite the bullshit it seems given that there's only three lenses on the back. The main lens allows you to use "virtual lenses" that crop into the data with common focal lengths (24mm, 28mm, and 35mm). But you still end up with 5712×4284 images, which means that Apple is upscaling or doing some kind of magic to get there. And the result is very good. I did the same thing in Photoshop to compare, and Apple's method always comes out on top. Which means that they must have specialized computational photography routines to come much closer than a mere crop.
Ultimately I don't know that going for the upgrade was the best choice for me. I likely could have gotten along with the 14 Pro Max for another year without issue. But as somebody who likes any improvement Apple will give me on the cameras, the 15 Pro Max will likely make me happier overall.
Until next year.
Posted on July 16th, 2023
We don't need another hero, but we've come close to having one... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Droooooones! Drone light shows are getting more and more interesting, and Cyberdrone is on the cutting edge. And their partnership with Studio Drift which completes architectural ruins and structures is one of the coolest things I've seen...
This is beyond cool. DO THE COLOSSEUM! Oh... wait... they did that...
And La Sagrada Familia...
Epic. These are gorgeous and spectacular.
• Cheesecake! None of my favorite restaurants are chains. They are wonderfully unique locations with carefully curated menus that have options I love. But there is one chain restaurant I do love... Cheesecake Factory (there used to be two, but Johnny Rockets completely trashed their vegetarian burger). The menu is huge, which allows for a lot of variation within my vegetarian diet. Although I usually opt for the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes or the Avocado Egg Rolls, because they are Just That Good. These are destination restaurants for me, and unless there's a favorite in the area, I'll most always opt to eat there. And here is a clever dive into the chain...
If I had one local to me, I would eat there multiple times a week. I can't offer much more of an endorsement than that.
• PLAY BALL! I missed when Rocco Baldelli brought his daughter to a press conference and she decided to help...
• Crap Appliances! And my six-year-old dishwasher continues to fall apart. Now it's the adjustable top-rack rollers that have rotted through because they use cheap plastic (I replaced the lower wheels already). What I find hilarious is that I'm told to "Use only genuine Whirlpool replacement parts." Are you kidding me? WHAT THE FUCK FOR?!? SO I CAN HAVE CHEAP-ASS FUCKING PLASTIC AGAIN? SO THEY CAN DETERIORATE IN FIVE YEARS AGAIN? FUCK YOU. I'm buying third-party replacements with METAL FUCKING AXELS so they might last a while. These companies making their products purposely fall apart so you buy replacement parts that will fall apart DISGUST me. Can you imagine selling appliances that fall apart in a few years back in the 70's or even the 80's? You'd be crucified. But now this is our "normal."
• Unbanned! The fact that this is even necessary to say puts the horrific state of society in vivid relief...
Beyond heartbreaking. For him and all of us.
• MiniCoke! AS GOD IS MY WITNESS... I WILL NEVER BE WITHOUT COKE ZERO FOR A ZOOM CALL EVER AGAIN BECAUSE I FORGOT TO GRAB A CAN BEFORE LOGGING IN! MINI COKE FRIDGE UNDER MY DESK! And look... there's room for cheese sticks!
Okay... it doesn't keep my Coke Zero quite as cold as I would like, but it's JUST cold enough. The problem with this thing is that it is not quiet. It's actually pretty noisy. Which means I can't keep it under my desk as I originally planned. It would keep me awake since my bedroom is directly next door. Instead I have it in my office... where it's still kinda noisy. So I dunno what I'm going to do with it. It has a cigarette lighter cord, so I could have cold drinks on the road, which is an option. Or maybe I'll run a cord into the office closet? I'll have to figure that out.
• FounDUHtion! Why did I watch the first episode of the second season when I knew it would be shit? Good Lord I fucking hate Foundation. What a load of overly-complicated and overly-dramatic dreck. "Harry always said that the entire galaxy can pivot around the actions of a single individual"... EXCEPT THE ENTIRE FUCKING POINT OF THE "FOUNDATION" BOOKS IS THAT THIS ISN'T THE CASE! THAT'S HOW PSYCHOHISTORY FUCKING WORKS! And it's when Harry couldn't predict the coming of one very unique individual that the story got really interesting. But here the collective of humanity is ignored so that we can focus on these "single individuals." God. The sheer number of ridiculous shenanigans they dream up in order to have the same characters continue to exist over hundreds of years is beyond idiotic. Let's make one be clones! Let's put others in hibernation! Let's make another a consciousness construct! Let's make another one a computer dream! FUCK!!! And here's a deep dive into it all that is beautifully on-point...
For the thousandth time I wonder why the fuck they bothered to buy the rights for Foundation if they had absolutely zero intention of adapting Foundation. Just do your own sci-fi story and leave Foundation alone so that somebody can make an ACTUAL FUCKING ADAPTION!
Now I'm going Beyond Tunderdome and washing clothes and cleaning house so I'm ready to go to work in the morning.
Posted on May 12th, 2023
So... Disney+ is yet another streaming service that doesn't get it. They are merging their service with Hulu and removing content (along with providing less new content). And raising prices.
I signed up for Marvel and Start Wars content. Period. I don't watch anything else on their service. So the less content they have of these properties... and the less new content they add of them... the less there is for me to watch and the less reason I have to stay subscribed month-after-month. Adding Hulu crap doesn't compensate for WHAT YOU TOLD ME I WOULD BE GETTING WHEN I SIGNED UP. Another season of Handmaid's Tale (or whatever) does not interest me. And it really doesn't make up for a price increase and less content for me to watch. These streaming services are trying to be all things to all people and failing badly at it. Stick to your niche: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. I'll pay for that. All your other content should be a separate service that has to succeed or fail on its own. Don't expect me to subsidize it, because I won't.
Oh well. I'll just subscribe once or twice a year to watch whatever new Marvel and Star Wars content I want to see.
Hopefully without ads because there's only so many millions of times I can handle watching commercials for The Vestiaire Collective.
I've had all the camera brands... Canon to Nikon to Olympus to Panasonic to Fuji to whatever. Despite the shitty menus on the camera, my hands-down favorite is from Sony. No joke... Sony Electronics makes the best cameras I've ever used, and I've gone around the world with them.
BUT THEIR SOFTWARE FOR EVEN THE MOST BASIC FUNCTIONS... LIKE TETHERED SHOOTING... IS THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING WORST. They NEVER work. EVER. I have never once been able to get ANYTHING working with Sony tethered shooting for more than two minutes.
This morning I've been trying again for an hour.
NOPE! How in the hell do you fuck up something so simple THIS badly?
PC Remote is ON...
Remote Control is ON...
The camera knows it's plugged into a computer...
But of course the software on my camera doesn't recognize any of it. Thank God I'm mostly done with SLR cameras. The iPhone camera is good enough for 98% of what I need, and those photos I can actually get to on my computer.
Posted on April 12th, 2023
I have been following Adobe Photoshop's efforts in "Neural Filters" for a while now. As you'd expect, they keep getting better and better.
Some... like remapping colors are interesting, but I don't see much use for them for me.
But there are two which have really caught my interest, and that would be "Restore Old Photo" and "Colorize." They show some incredible promise right now and will only keep getting better as AI models and sample data get better.
Take this shot of my grandmother helping baby me eat watermelon...
First I restored the photo, which added clarity, sharpness, and balance... then I colorized it. The result isn't perfect (watermelon is red), but it's utterly remarkable when you consider that absolutely no work was involved! This happened with a click.
The filter can do more than just clarify and sharpen in a smart way, it can also do things like remove scratches and fingerprints with just a click. In this photo of me and my dad, there's a nasty fingerprint in the upper-left corner. Now, I can remove this easily, but it will take some time. But if I don't have any time, I can just run a filter on it. Neural filters don't remove it completely, but it's a very good start. I would spend a heck of a lot less time getting rid of what's left after the filter was run than doing it all from scratch...
Colorization is really hit-or-miss. Sometimes the color assignment seems to be random. Fleshtones always fare the best, but other things are inconsistent and strange. In the photo above, you get objects changing color in different places...
This colorized photo of me in my awesome first car didn't do well at all. My car's grill is pink. The car behind me is half grey and half pink. My family named it the "Grey Ghost" but it's not quite that here...
So colorization isn't always something you'd want to do, but just look at how great the above photo looks when it is restored in black-and-white. The clarity is jaw-dropping. Just look at how it pulls detail out of the hair that wasn't really there...
Here are some other examples of colorization gone wrong...
But every once in a while you hit paydirt. Look at this photo of my grandparents with my mom and her brother. This took one click... ONE CLICK...
It's not just Black & White photos that can benefit. Color photos can be restored as well, and the result is no less striking. It sharpens without weird artifacts and smooths skin without making it look plastic...
Even color photos can be colorized. It doesn't always work very well, but sometimes you get lucky and have better results than if you used "regular" filters (like auto-levels or auto-tone or auto-color). Here's me eating chocolate pudding as a kid that's been restored then colorized...
You can't really see it, but the sharpening and restoration is stunning...
Neural filters and AI are already putting a lot of power in the hands of non-professionals. And will be putting a lot of professionals out of work as time marches on. There was a time that I made a lot of pocket money doing photo touch-up in my spare time. I don't even know if that would be possible today.
For better or worse.
Posted on February 19th, 2023
Spring is finally in the air and the bullets are flyin'... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Faux! I have put the "news" in FOX "News" in quotations because anybody who's paying attention knows that it's neither fair nor balanced and is sure the fuck not actual news. It's 1000% propaganda that's mostly exaggerations and outright lies. And now we know that the people actually at FOX "News" know that they are pushing lies. A bunch of internal texts have been uncovered that prove it. This will come as no shock to anybody outside the FOX "News" bubble... but it should be a surprise to those inside of it. Except it likely won't matter, because lies that fit their narrative are better than facts and truth. Which is actually true for everyone and everything.
• Down Under! Do yourself a favor and go look at the winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year awards. Because holy crap...
Winner: Fade by J. Gregory Sherman (United States)
It's incredible how absolutely mind-bending some of these shots are. Well worth your valuable time.
• Oranges! There's a TikTok channel devoted to golden monkeys eating. That's it. That's all it is. But it's fantastic. I mean, come on... JUST LOOK AT THIS (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
But don't take my word for it... go take a look!
• Healing! I seriously, seriously for the love of God hope that we can normalize psychedelics as treatment for trauma. It has been proven time and again that it is astoundingly effective in providing relief to those who are hurting. John Oliver really breaks it down in a way that everybody can understand. Well worth your valuable time...
It's not a magic bullet, obviously, but more research and testing needs to happen. Especially for our veterans.
• Licorice Pizza! Magical...
It's amazing that all this works. But oh so cool that it does.
• Twain Train! I was watching the best talk show ever to exist, The Graham Norton Show where it was revealed that Shania Twain has a train named after her in Switzerland. It's called Shania Train, which is epic...
This rivals the great names that they give snowplows!
• God Rod! Derek Muller's Veritasium channel is always entertaining. But some of his videos are just wildly worth watching, and he released a doozy last month. If you've got 20 minutes to kill, this is worth a watch...
It makes you wonder how many crazy, untested ideas actually gets funded with our tax dollars.
Until next time, true believers!
Posted on June 1st, 2022
I took photos of the lunar eclipse that happened a few weeks back. Nothing terribly interesting came of it. More of a "rust moon" than a "blood moon," my fully-eclipsed images are far less exciting than the stuff other people posted. So I put my camera away and called it good.
This morning I needed to take some photos and went to erase the eclipse files. But then I saw that as the eclipse was ending the photos got kinda cool, culminating with this one...
Maybe I should play around with my camera settings a bit more next time there's a lunar eclipse. Assuming I'm even alive when the next one happens.
UPDATE: Oh wait... November 22 of this year? These things are not as rare as I thought they were! Of course in November the odds of an eclipse being totally eclipsed by clouds are astronomical where I live.
So to speak.
Posted on October 31st, 2021
Time warp time is here! Which means time is fleeting, but madness takes its toll... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Glue! Ha! This morning I noticed that even though my trip to Maui was over a month ago, my PRE-CLEAR wristband is still hanging on!
Alaska Airlines uses some good glue on these things!
• NEWSLINE: Intel CEO: My job is to win Apple back Good luck with that. The Apple M1 family of chips have jaw-dropping performance with ridiculously low battery drain (see chart in the comments). I can't fathom how Intel could ever get the kind of integration between hardware and software that Apple is able to achieve in-house. But, hey, if they can do it... PLEASE GET ON THAT! Performance and better life better than the M1 would be a nice thing to have!
• Instant Memories! Another couple photos for the box! Are there any other INSTAX photo whores out there?
I have hundreds of the things and I want to do something with them. I first started when I got an INSTAX camera in Japan decades ago for an art project. I never really used it for photography... I would use it to make crummy little prints of my digital photos! I would display the photo on a computer screen and take a picture of it. The quality was so bad that you couldn't really tell, and I loved that. It's cool how they are bad. Eventually I switched to the INSTAX printers when they came out. And every time I go on a trip or meet up with somebody or anything, I make INSTAX Polaroids of a photo or two and toss it in a box. I have them dating back to 2000... so it's 20 years of memories. Maybe a giant collage or something? That would be kinda nifty! A couple years ago I started writing on them, then went back and wrote on all of them with dates so other people could understand them. Now I love them more than ever. Gotta figure out a way to display them.
• Kermie, NO! OH MY GAWD...
@jeremyolenski It’s a puppet thing (pt 2). #themuppets #kermitthefrog #kermitparody #lucky #NissanShowUp ♬ original sound - Gonna Tell My Kids
I laughed way too hard at this. Way too hard.
• Artistry! And even harder at this...
@mark_kacy but why tho 😂.......#naijaanime #naijaanimation ♬ original sound - Grassy_boi
And that's all there is, Halloween fans.
Posted on August 30th, 2021
My blog is dead.
It was hugged to death by a Reddit post talking about Lake Powell's water level being so low that junk which is usually underwater is now fully exposed. Like a boat that sank. A comment on the Reddit post had a link to a Blogography post where I had a photo of the same boat 15 years ago...
And since I pay for the cheapest web hosting available, I don't have the bandwidth available to deal with such a massive amount traffic. Which means my blog just kind of shut down under the pressure of it all. Somebody had to post a link to the page cache on the Internet Wayback Machine.
In an attempt to (maybe?) head off such a thing in the future, I installed a plugin called "Simply Static" which is supposed to help by generating static pages so WordPress doesn't have to generate it every time it's requested. Not sure how it works since WordPress still gets the request and has to reroute it to the correct page via the plugin, but I guess it's worth a shot.
Heaven only knows that a resource as critical as Blogography should stay running at all costs.
On the bright side, getting the "Reddit Hug of Death" did get me an opportunity to upload a higher resolution shot that looks much better, so I guess there's that.
UPDATE: I couldn't get my Simply Static site to work properly, so I ended up reinstalling WP Super Cache. Maybe it will work this time around? I had to remove it a couple years ago because videos wouldn't play. Maybe that's been fixed.
Posted on August 3rd, 2021
So there I was going through some of my old photos looking for a shot that I wanted to use in a Photoshop project. It was an image of Akihabara, Tokyo from the late 1990's that I wanted to combine with a shot of Seoul from the early 2000's that would be overlaid on a photo I took in Prague from 2010. I found all the photos, but combining them was no easy task. The Tokyo shot was scanned from film. The Seoul shot was from a low-resolution hobby-camera. And the shot of Prague was a high-res pro-camera.
The solution is to bring them all down to the lowest common denominator. The Seoul shot gets some grain added. The Prague shot gets a lot of grain added. That way they won't look out of place when combined with the Tokyo shot.
This got me thinking about how often society has to bring itself down to the lowest common denominator. It happens all the time, everywhere, always. Just think of what we could accomplish if we didn't have to do that?
This pandemic has brought this all into vivid relief for me.
Posted on July 28th, 2021
It's currently 15 minutes until midnight. I have precious little time to get a blog entry in for the day... and nothing to blog about.
Just now ehen I was looking through my iPhone photos to see if I could remember something blogable that happened today, I saw this photo taken earlier this evening at 10:11pm...
What is this?
Where was I at 10:11pm?
This has to be in my house, but I'll be darned if I know which part of my house it is.
I actually walked around room to room, holding up my iPhone to see if I could figure it out. My best guess is that this is my upstairs bathroom and that rectangular hole in the upper-right is my skylight. But what would I be doing with my camera app running in the bathroom?
AM I FILMING PORN IN MY BATHROOM WHILE SLEEPWALKING NOW?
Wait... I am a sleepwalker?
Wait... I fell asleep at 10:11pm and didn't know it?
I suppose if money starts rolling in from an OnlyFans account (which I also would have had to set up while sleepwalking) then I'll know for sure.
I'll be darn disappointed if I'm sleep-sexting my homemade sleepwalking porn to people for free.