Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead 2015

The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is one of many Mexican traditions that has captured the imagination of people all over the globe. It's even inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

It's hard to explain if you're not Mexican and haven’t grown up with it.

Many years ago, while at university in Mexico, I took a contemporary art class with a French lecturer. She was really nice and knew her stuff. The class was interesting and engaging and I remember enjoying attending, which didn’t happen often. She'd only been in Mexico for a few months when the Day of the Dead came and I'm not sure what she expected. Surely she’d read about it and seen the beautiful, if eerie, imagery that’s associated with the celebration.

But she clearly wasn’t ready for what happened. Several of my classmates brought her a small skull made of sugar with her name written in the forehead.

This is not only common, but it’s in fact a very nice gesture. Kids love them. It’s basically a huge block of sugar with some more sugary stuff to decorate it. We think it’s funny.

She didn’t think it was funny at all.

She panicked. The next class she didn’t show up. We waited for a while and then all went on our ways. On the following week the head of the department came to the class to explain what had happened. She didn’t understand the skulls and thought we all hated her and wanted her dead! She was so disturbed by it that she decided to quit.

As I said, it’s difficult to explain.

Anyway, I love the short film above and thought it’d be a good time to share it. Enjoy. I hope.

This is when you know Apple screwed up iCloud storage for iOS

This is going to be an interesting conversation. (Sorry Mom if you're reading this).

How the hell do I explain what this message means to someone that's not a geek and couldn't care less about understanding geeky stuff. She just wants her iPhone to work.

We'll iCloud storage plans don't "just work".

And replying to my Mom with a "just subscribe to the US0.99 plan per month" is a stupid idea. First of all, she'll ask why. And rightly so. Which will only open a can of worms if I try to explain what it's doing in the background. She just doesn't care and nor she should. Second, she'll probably be pissed off that she has to pay a monthly fee for something that makes no sense to her and she sees absolutely no need for.

Now, I do see the value and pay for a 50gb plan right now. And I know that once I start to really use Photos I'll upgrade to the 200gb. But I'm a geek and she isn't. She's only using iCloud storage to back up her iPhone even though she doesn't know it.

As it is, iCloud storage is only causing my mom angst. And I'm pretty sure that's the opposite of what Apple wants to cause its users.

A good solution is if I could share my plan with her and take care of it all. I'd be happy to pay for a 1tb plan if I could share it with my family and make these emails go away.

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.