My thoughts on the new Apple TV

I finally got a chance to watch the recent Apple keynote where they announced the new iPhones, iPad Pro, a few Apple Watch updates, and more exciting for me, the new Apple TV.

The new iPhone has a few pretty cool features like live photos and 3D Touch. And the iPad Pro looks great, but I have to see and touch it before I can make my mind about it. The watch, well, I’m still not sure where it could fit in my life and I haven’t bought one, so can’t really comment on it yet.

The new Apple TV, on the other hand, looks great and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Way back in 2012 I wrote a short article speculating on what I wanted the next Apple TV to be when there was a lot of talk about Apple building an actual TV set. I wrote:

As cool as an Apple television set could be, I have no need or desire to purchase a new one. I believe the potential is in the experience of watching television, not in the hardware itself.

And then went on to speculate about Apps.

It looks like my wish is coming true with the new Apple TV and it's even better than I thought at the time. The addition of games, the new remote, and Siri have the potential to make watching, and interacting with, TV an extraordinary experience.

The one thing I’m not clear on that I brought up in the article is if independent content producers can create an app to sell their content directly to consumers. For example, shows like TikiBar that were distributed as a video podcast, could now have their own app in Apple TV and sell a subscription (or per show) directly to consumers. They could also add interactive content, links/promos to complementary iOS apps, books, merchandise, even spinoff games.

It seems to me this could be a great way to monetise content by reaching consumers directly and skipping the middle-men. And who knows, if Apple TV grows enough maybe bigger productions could be funded directly by us.

I wonder how many paid subscribers it would take at $20 to $30 a season for a show like Firefly) to be self funded? How awesome would that be?

Happy Towel Day

If you're a fan of Douglas Adams, it wouldn't be weird if you had a towel around your head today. Granted, it would be extremely weird for everyone else, but not for you.

Towel Day is celebrated on 25 May as a tribute to Douglas Adams. He's my favourite author and the person who wrote the words "disturbances in the wash" from where the name of this site came from. You can read the story in the about page.

If you want to learn more about Towel Day, here are a few cool resources:

Computers are still technology — because we are still wrestling with it — it’s still being invented, we’re still trying to work out how it works. There’s a world of game interaction to come that you or I wouldn’t recognise. It’s time for the machines to disappear. The computer’s got to disappear into all of the things we use.
— Douglas Adams on an interview for ABC

Sydney, Australia flyover in Apple Maps

Last night I did a clean install of my Mac and today I opened Apple Maps for the first time in this Mac. It asked my permission to use my location and when I said yes, it identified I was in Sydney and I saw a little button to 'Start Flyover'. I don't remember seeing that before, so I clicked yes.

Wow, I sure do live in a beautiful city.

Watching this 90 second or so flyover made me smile. I liked it so much that I decided to make a video and share it. So there you go, this is Sydney, Australia.

Dave Trott on making fear your friend

Dave Trott on making fear your friend:

Why did Steve Jobs think he had to avert a crisis?

Well precisely because things were looking good.

The previous day, Steve Jobs had seen the new Nokia mobile phone.

No big deal, just another mobile phone: It had the usual range of trivial features.

One of the gimmicks was you could download six tunes onto it.

Not very useful, no one cared.

But something at the back of Steve’s mind nagged away at him.

And he woke up in the middle of the night thinking “If they can download six tunes what happens if they can download sixty tunes? Or six hundred tunes? That’s the end of the iPod – that’s fifty percent of our business gone – It’ll be too late to worry then, we won’t have a company.”

It's a great example and hopfully it'll tempt you to go read the whole thing. I'm a fan of Dave Trott.

The Sweet Setup picks Runkeeper as their favourite running app

If you've been around this site for a while, you'll know I'm a runner. I've had a bit of an obsession with running apps for a while. I regularly try out new ones and while there are a few I use semi-frequently, the one that's stuck through the years is Runkeeper.

I started using Runkeeper back in 2009 (I think), and have used it on every run since 2011. I even signed up for the Elite membership because I like the advanced reports. Also because I want Runkeeper to stick around.

The guys at The Sweet Setup picked Runkeeper as their favourite run tracking app. It's a very thorough article and worth a read.

VSCO Cam introduces Copy + Paste

VSCO Cam is one of my favourite photography apps for iOS. Today they released an update that includes a very welcome new feature: Copy + Paste.

This was, at least for me, the key missing feature in VSCO Cam. I ran into a scenario where I'd spent some time editing a photograph to get it exactly how I wanted it and then to work on the other ones in the same series I'd had to either recreate every single step again (assuming I remembered them) or just give up and only work on one. More often than not I chose to give up. With Copy + Paste, this issue goes away as you can see in the image above. I'm loving it.

Now the only feature that's missing is to be able to Save your work as a new filter/preset.

Aperture... so long and thanks for all the fish.

I just got the below email from Apple regarding Aperture. Like every other Aperture user out there, I've known about this since it was announced last year. That doesn't make it any less annoying.

I'm disappointed in Apple and upset about this.

Apple has a history of ditching technologies for something they consider better. Remember floppy disks, CD-ROMs, Firewire ports, Adobe Flash, iTools? They even did it with their own operating system when they moved away from OS 9 into OS X. Almost every time, they’ve been right. What came after was better than what we had before.

They did it with Final Cut. But they jumped the gun and shipped the new version to early. We all complained that it was missing features and, for many, the new version just didn’t cut it. Apple realised the mistake and put the previous version up for sale again and acknowledged the problem. They said Final Cut X would get new features soon. Eventually Final Cut X matured and it’s now a great app.

At first, I hoped they wouldn’t make the same mistake with Aperture. Then they announced Photos for Mac and I thought oh no, here we go again. Then I used the beta of Photos for Mac and thought shit, there’s no way this can mature into an app that can replace Aperture.

And that’s where I’m at now. Photos for Mac is pretty and I’m sure my mom will love it. After all, iPhoto is confusing and has only gotten worse over time, so Photos for Mac will be a welcome change.

For Aperture users however, Photos for Mac is both a disappointment and a joke.

What I don’t get is how they thought this was a good idea. It’s one thing to change technologies where the impact is that we have to buy new hardware, but this is messing with peoples photographs.

In moving on from Aperture we will loose data. And that’s just not cool. Shame on Apple for leaving it’s customers in such a predicament.

Apple is wrong this time.

Affinity Photo in Beta

There's been talk of a "Photoshop killer" for ages, but nobody has managed to pull it off.

I think mostly because Photoshop is so many things to so many different people. If you're a photographer, you use and rely on certain features of the application while many others you just ignore or, more often than not, put up with because of the power of the features you do use. Same goes for graphic designers, web designers, illustrators, etc. And that's part of the "problem" with Photoshop. It's become bloated with features for everybody. Not to mention the subscription model.

Pixelmator was heading on the right direction at one point focusing primarily on photographers. Unfortunately it seems in the last couple of versions the new features have been for illustrators/designers or gimmicky Instagram-like filters. It’s an awesome piece of software, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t seem to be the ultimate photographer app (if there can be such a thing).

Acorn is also a great application. It’s just not focused on photographers either.

Affinity Photo seems to want to be that “Photoshop killer” (and I put that in quotes because just writing it makes me cringe, but you get the point). At least going by the video and what I’ve read so far, it looks promising. What’s encouraging is that Serif, the company behind it, already has a vector art and illustration software out there called Affinity Designer, so hopefully there’s no incentive to cram non-photography features into the new app.

I’m downloading the beta now and will give it a go.

FlixelPix ebooks 50% Black Friday Offer

David Cleland from FlixelPix has 2 ebooks that I purchased a while ago and enjoyed. One is about shooting with shallow depth of field, titled Shooting Shallow and the other one (my favourite) is on Long Exposure Photography.

I've mentioned both ebooks here several times because I really like them. And every time they're on offer I like to promote them. This time, to celebrate Black Friday 2014, he's running a 50% off discount on the Photography ebook bundle that includes both.

The deal expires on Saturday 29th November 2014.

To get the 50% discount just use the code 'blackfriday' at checkout.

You can get the Photography ebook bundle here and below is a short description of each. They're worth the price and with the 50% off it's a no brainer.

Shooting Shallow

‘Shooting Shallow’ is a guide to understanding the concept of depth of field. The ebook is a 38 page guide to understanding the application of a shallow Depth of Field.

The aim of the guide is to equip photographers with the skills to maximize their ability to create bokeh rich images but at the same time ensure your subject is as sharp as possible.

Mastering the ability to control the out of focus areas, and create attractive bokeh, puts you in control of your image, and such techniques offer the opportunity for plenty of creative photography.

The book covers : the theory of depth-of-field, ‘Know your equipment : the camera & lens considerations‘ and also ‘the practical application’ of shooting with a shallow depth of field.

The Long Exposure eBook

Long exposure photography is about capturing space and silence, like visually holding your breath; it is about capturing the beauty and calmness of a scene.

The aim of this e-book is to offer an introduction to the process of capturing long exposure photographs. It documents the simple steps I employ each time I embark on a long exposure photo shoot.

The eBook covers everything from the equipment you will need right through to post- production processing in Adobe’s brilliant Lightroom. This guide has been written with the beginner to the long exposure process in mind; however, the enthusiast and professional alike may find something of relevance also.

This ebook also features six long exposure Lightroom Presets.