The Babel Fish might become a reality!

I was about 13 when I first read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I remember thinking it was so different from anything I'd read before and I loved everything about it. It was the first time I laughed out loud while reading a book. It also made me think. I felt like I knew the characters and was right there with them through their adventures.

But what I really wish I'd had was a Babel Fish.

Well, it looks like technology is getting there. Waverly Labs is developing an earpiece that can translate called Pilot. They explain it like this:

At the convergence of wearable technology + machine translation, the Pilot is the world’s first smart earpiece which translates between users speaking different languages.

This promo video is fun. I want one.

ON1 Effects 10 FREE!

For a few years now, I've been using ON1 products for my photography. The latest version of their entire collection of apps, ON1 Photo 10, is now a key part of my workflow. The full version includes Browse, Effects, Resize, Portrait, Enhance, and Layers.

But this week, the team at ON1 decided to release a free version of ON1 Effects 10 packed with features. The free version includes a good selection of the effects of the full version.

Here's what they say:

ON1 Effects 10 FREE includes a select number of stackable effects (filters, presets, borders, and textures) from the full version of ON1 Effects 10. In all, over a hundred photo effects are included.

Two of the most popular ON1 filter categories have been added in the latest release. These are the Dynamic Contrast Filter and the HDR Look Filter. New preset categories for Color Grading, Faded and Matte Looks, and Haze Reducing are also available.

Effects 10 FREE includes the ON1 Perfect Brush technology. The edge detection in the Perfect Brush allows users to brush their effect(s) on specific areas of a photo.

The masking tools allow users to selectively mask or paint in effects on parts of photos. Add any effect to or remove it from a specific part of a photo with a simple brush stroke. The set of masking tools are easy to use and perfect for local adjustments, such as brightness, contrast, and detail.

The Filter Stack allows users to combine different effects to create and customize their own looks. Each effect can be applied to its own layer users can adjust and fine-tune.

ON1’s Perfect B&W module is also integrated into Effects 10 FREE, which lets users apply the included filters—including the popular Dynamic Contrast effect—to monochrome photos.

That last one is the killer for me and I can't believe they include it in the free version. ON1’s Perfect B&W module is incredible. If your work includes black and white photography you definitely need to check it out. Highly recommended.

You can get ON1 Effects 10 FREE from here.

Best TV shows of 2015 (link)

Gabe Weatherhead published a list of his favourite TV shows of 2015. I haven’t watched any of them yet, but several are on my list. I tend to stick to one show at a time.

One comment he made that I find interesting is:

Maybe I'm abnormal, but it's really thrilling that Netflix and Amazon are both making some of the best television around. I haven't cared what was playing on the big three for quite a long time. Unfortunately it's also getting harder to avoid subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime for anyone that's interested in the future of television.

I feel the same way. Ever since I got Netflix, which wasn’t that long ago since it hadn’t officially launched in Australia until recently, I haven’t had the desire to find content elsewhere aside from a couple of shows (e.g. GOT). There’s just so much content in Netflix and the original series I’ve watched have been pretty good for the most part, with a few excellent ones.

Other than at hotel rooms, I haven’t watched live TV in over a year. The few times I’ve turned the hotel TV on it just makes me angry. Most of the content is idiotic crap broken up by way too much, embarrassingly bad advertising. Cable, at least in Australia, is just as bad. Crap content filled with ads. And you have to pay for that?

Fortunately, Netflix has streaming figured out to the point that it works well from an old iPad on hotel Wi-Fi, so there’s no need to watch crap TV anymore.

Personally, I’m also thrilled that Netflix (can’t get Amazon Prime in Australia) is producing so much great content. I have no issues paying the subscription if it gives me the best shows with no advertising. It’s a great business model.

To contribute to Gabe’s list, here are my favourite shows of 2015 in Netflix:

  • Narcos: Season 1 is based in the story of Pablo Escobar. Most of it takes place in Colombia and it’s in Spanish, which makes it feel very authentic. The actors are native speakers and do a great job. It reminded me of Breaking Bad a bit.

  • Sense8: Written and produced by the Wachowski brothers and J. Michael Straczynski. It’s a weird one about eight people with completely different and separate lives that become linked and can see, feel, do, and experience each other. I bet this one is a love it or hate it one. I thought it was brilliant.

  • Peaky Blinders: I only started watching this one last week and based on the first 3 episodes I think it’ll be a good one.

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.

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.