November 21, 2014

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via Jalopnik:

If we take a “generation” of cars to be somewhere in the range of 10-20 years, then I think what we’re seeing today at the Paris Auto Show, and what we’ll be seeing in the next year or so, is the vanguard of the last generation of cars where you can assume, by default, that the cars are intended to be driven by a person.

I wrote on the subject back in July but can agree with the author of this piece. The future of driverless cars is inevitable but luckily, the next 10-20 years will be very exciting. My kids may not care about the car that takes them to and from their 9-5 job (if those are even still a thing in 2030) but I’ll still keep my 2025 Audi S4 in the garage for those fun Sunday drives on roads that still allow driver-controlled automobiles.

November 20, 2014

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I spent 5 days in Poland with one of those in Warsaw and the rest in Łódź. For Americans, you can poorly pronounce the city as wooej. My company has an office here and there were meetings to be had. First of all, Poland is an inexpensive country to visit, not much to do or see if you’re a beer lover but a lot to take in if you have any interest in the 20th century history of Europe specifically World War 1 & 2 and the cold war along with the super power of Communist Russia. Everything about this area feels like you’re back in time. 

Unfortunately, work was 8AM to 7PM almost daily with after work dinners planned so the time I was able to actually go out and photograph was extremely thin. I spent in total 3 hours by myself roaming around and the weather was 35F, I didn’t see the sun at any time as it was low-level overcast, clouds and fog with bursts of rain most of the time.

It reminds me of winter in San Francisco but the sun never comes out. I’ll probably come back but not any time soon so that’s why taking as many photos as I could was so valuable. 

Here are a few of my favorites and as always, the rest are on Flickr.

Łódź - Poland

View from my Hotel room, DoubleTree Hilton. An active nuclear plant in the background

Breakfast in Łódź Poland

Breakfast at the hotel, runny eggs pickles, cottage cheese, salty ham and sausage.

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Bikes are not as common here as in western Europe but still there are dedicated lanes.

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

The Soviet style buildings are literally everywhere. Beautiful but also cold.

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

View of the massive public works project for a city center, train station, bus depot and museums.

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

There are hundreds of abandoned textile factories with overgrowth of vegetation 

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Abandoned mills.

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Exploring - Lodz, Poland

Team Dinner - Lodz, Poland

Team Dinner - Lodz, Poland

Beats, Potato, Mayo and Pickled Herring

Team Dinner - Lodz, Poland

Team Dinner - Lodz, Poland

Making soup with Ham, Pickles, Sauerkraut and other veggies

Team Dinner - Lodz, Poland

Meatballs (made by yours truly), very fatty beef with bread crumbs, picked and various cheeses

Team Dinner - Lodz, Poland

Lodz Poland @ Night

Lodz Poland @ Night

Our team had an outing and found this awesome mural.

Lodz Poland @ Night

Night out in Lodz Poland

Night out in Lodz Poland

Night out in Lodz Poland

Night out in Lodz Poland

Night out in Lodz Poland

Aside from the fact McDonalds is everywhere, you have to really love Fish, Beets, pickled veggies and Pilsener beer to like this country. Most fish is pickled or heavily salted. Fish Pate is everywhere. Most of the sandwiches are very cheap in ingredients with bologna and maybe some cured ham. I enjoyed eating the food but my body did not

It was a fun place to visit. I hope that next time I have a weekend to explore and some more sunshine.

November 19, 2014

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via VanityFair:

But then again my reaction stems from the fact that I am looking at Millenials from the POV of a member of one of the most pessimistic and ironic generations that has ever roamed the earth—Generation X—so when I hear Millenials being so damaged by “cyber-bullying” that it becomes a gateway to suicide—it’s difficult for me to process. And even my boyfriend agrees that Generation Wuss is overly sensitive, especially when dealing with criticism. When Generation Wuss creates something they have so many outlets to display it that it often goes out into the world unfettered, unedited, posted everywhere, and because of this freedom a lot of the content displayed is rushed and kind of shitty and that’s OK—it’s just the nature of the world now—but when Millennials are criticized for this content they seem to collapse into a shame spiral and the person criticizing them is automatically labeled a hater, a contrarian, a troll. 

Very thought provoking piece. if you were born between 1982 and 2004, it’s difficult not to see yourself in at least one of the traits the author outlines and that’s okay. Like every generation that proceeds us, we are blamed for the future problems our world will experience but Im interested to see how the first millennial functions in the White House. Luckily, we have another 15-20 years before that happens.

November 19, 2014

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I’ve taken close to 8,000 photos this year with the Olympus EM-1 since it’s arrival in February. I ordered a few lenses for it which were added to my previous collection of lenses (outlined in this post). 

 

There are a few annoyances discovered after so much intimage use with a camera like this that you rarely pick up in a review. Without a lot of planning or notes, I’m documenting a few here and I believe most of these can be fixed via software updates. In fact, some of these issues were supposedly already fixed but are recurring almost daily.

 


 

The biggest annoyance comes with the AF (auto-focus) system. It is an issue with every single M43 lens. Scenario:

  1. Turn on camera
  2. Hold shutter half-way down
  3. …no auto-focus
  4. Take photo, no preview is shown of the photo (despite having 2 second previews enabled)
  5. Disable and re-enable AF, still no auto focus and then power cycle camera 3 times and eventually it works. 

This issue occurrs once per day and usually I’m getting shots as I see them with no time to spare. 

 

Second is a problem ocurring a few times which is an error on screen that my SD card is “Write Protected”. I usually confirm it’s not and the only fix is to enter the camera’s menu and format the card which of course leads to a deletion of photos so without a laptop present, I’m unable to save the photos already taken. I heard this is due to turning the camera off while wrting photos to the card. The EM-1 will remain on with off switch toggled while writing the SD card so it looks like a serious bug that needs to be resolved. This has only happened 4 times this year.

 

The Battery grip & using both batteries installed. I have the menu setting confirmed to use both of the batteries that are installed (one in the body and one in the battery grip). However, after a few hours of shooting, my camera reads low battery and turns off. I remove the battery grip and it shows full bars again. Basically, it’s using the grip battery and not the one in the battery. Not a big deal because the grip is mostly for comfort, not for long-life (I’d just carry 2 batteries if I didn’t want the extra grip). It’s just a minor annoyance.

 

UI Lattency and sluggishness. Boot time varies almost daily and changing settings on the fly rarely feel smooth and reliable. This should have been tweaked quite a bit for a product nearing 18 months old but it’s not and Olympus really needs to step it up and make the interface much faster.

 

Another note on Auto Focus. Yes, I can select the AF Point that I’d like to focus on or switch to manual focus but you’d assume AF would work fairly well nearly all of the time. Canon and Nikon nail this down very well. The EM-1 rarely focuses on faces and even when doing the classic…point directly at subject to focus then move to the right (for rule of thirds). Most often, it focuses on something not in the center and I have to delay my subject’s smile or pose to try AF a few more times before finally giving up and choosing the focus point via the D-pad. It takes a lot of time and I imagine if this was a sport photography situation, I’d miss a ton of opportunities for shots.

 

The camera takes fantastic photos and it’s very comfortable. The glass so far is high quality (from Olympus and Panasonic) but it seems that mostly it’s Olympus software that really needs a lot of work. If they can work out these bugs, the camera will be a joy to use. Fortunately, it’s only in high-stress situations that these problems cause an issue. If I’m out with a group taking many photographs and changing settings every minute, it counts quite a bit an failure rate seems to go up exponentially. Either way, it shouldn’t matter what situation I’m in. The camera should just work reliably all of the time. AF issues would make more sense if I was using non-standard lenses but these are Olympus made M43 lenses on an Olympus M43 body…in fact, this is the flagship Olympus M43 body. It should behave like one.

 

Imagine if Canon’s 1Dx had these issues. It would be catstrophic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 17, 2014

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via Six Colors:

But what have I learned? A lot. Some of these things may be obvious, and some may be slightly corny platitudes. But I hope a few will be useful to you. I’m far from an expert on this stuff, even after all these years, so I hope documenting my mindset when writing here might at least serve as a good reference for myself in the future.

and

I love video streaming services. I subscribe to more of them than I probably should, considering that I am now technically a gentleman of leisure. But the constant disappearing of content sours the entire experience.

Fully agreed. I own everything I want to watch. I rented a movie last night for the first time in a few years. I did subscribe to Netflix DVD (Blu-Ray) service 2 months ago and am very happy with it. Netflix HD streaming, 1080P purchases via iTunes and pirated content never compare to the crisp beauty of physical media in the form of Blu-Ray. My only complaint with Blu-Ray media is that I can’t skip the theatrical previews.

I’ve had friends come to my house to watch shows that I own and are stored on my NAS that were recently removed from Netflix before they were done with the series. I often joke about being the community Blockbuster when the cloud finally gets locked down after Zombie Apocalypse strikes.

Until i can pay $100 a month for every movie, TV show and album every produced (even indies), I won’t be switching over from owning content. Glad I’m not alone.

November 17, 2014

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For the past 4 years, I’ve been to Belgium twice a year. It’s a wonderful country to visit. The amount of photos I take drops every time I visit but there was still a lot to capture.

Gent Belgium @ Night

Gent Belgium @ Night

Cantillon Framboise Lambik, Sausage, Celery Salt and Cheese

Breakfast at my apartment in Gent Belgium

Breakfast at my apartment in Gent Belgium

Trains of Belgium

Trains of Belgium

At Cantillon, Brussels Belgium

Belgian Stew

Belgian Stew with Salad and Frite

Beer Tasting in Gent Belgium

Beer Tasting in Gent Belgium

At a beer tasting in Gent

Beer Tasting in Gent Belgium

Beer Tasting in Gent Belgium

My Car Rental for the week - Thanks Hertz

After a year of bi-weekly rentals with Hertz, I reserved the cheapest car they had in Brussels but they gave me this instead.

Took the Range Rover Mudding in a Beat Farm

We went to West Flanders and drove around in a beat field. The car was pretty filthy

St. Sixtusabdij - Westvleteren Belgium

St. Sixtusabdij - Westvleteren Belgium

The #1 Beer in the world in a Beer-Float

Het Oude Schooltje - Struise Brouwers @ The Old School

Het Oude Schooltje - Struise Brouwers @ The Old School

De Veehandel - Antwerpen

Steak dinner with Frite, Endives and great beer.

’t Antwaerps Bierhuyske

In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst

Great trip and only 5 days but I’ll be back next year. That much is certain.

November 17, 2014

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via Sum of Us:

Starbucks doesn’t think you have the right to know what’s in your coffee. So it’s teamed up with Monsanto to sue the small U.S. state of Vermont to stop you from finding out.

Hiding behind the shadowy “Grocery Manufacturers Association”, Starbucks is supporting a lawsuit that’s aiming to block a landmark law that requires genetically-modified ingredients be labeled. Amazingly, it claims that the law is an assault on corporations’ right to free speech. Even a local Vermont company, Green Mountain Coffee, has joined in.

Starbucks’ News / PR:

 

Starbucks is not a part of any lawsuit pertaining to GMO labeling nor have we provided funding for any campaign. And Starbucks is not aligned with Monsanto to stop food labeling or block Vermont State law.

 

The petition claiming that Starbucks is part of this litigation is completely false and we have asked the petitioners to correct their description of our position. 

 

Starbucks has not taken a position on the issue of GMO labeling. As a company with stores and a product presence in every state, we prefer a national solution.

Corporate statements like this aren’t always 100% accurate but let’s wait to see what comes of this now that Starbucks has fired back to say they’re not involved. I’d prefer they support the state of Vermont and others and fight Monsanto but at least they’re not supporting it.

 

Neil Young and others appear to be wrong. Let’s see how this unfolds.

 

November 14, 2014

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via Anil Dash:

But what have I learned? A lot. Some of these things may be obvious, and some may be slightly corny platitudes. But I hope a few will be useful to you. I’m far from an expert on this stuff, even after all these years, so I hope documenting my mindset when writing here might at least serve as a good reference for myself in the future.

If you write every day, read this. Making these lessons a part of your being as a blogger won’t make you a great blogger but it will certainly save you a ton of headache and grief.

Notice the word “monetize” is no where to be found in Anil’s post. It’s not that monetizing a blog is impossible, it’s that the challenges rarely outweigh the benefits. I’d have to bring in a considerable amount of money from writing to outweigh what my day job pays. I’d rather write when I have time and feel inspired than feel like I need to post something every day.

November 13, 2014

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…or phrased better, they have no idea what they’re doing over there. I can’t tell if this is just a minor blip in “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” or if Twitter is trying really hard to show investors, “we have many outlets ideas to bring in cash” but what it looks like from an outsider is, “we have no idea what we’re doing”

See my post last week and now…

Twitter Will Onboard Users With “Instant Timeline”, Inject Top Tweets From “While You Were Away” via Gizmodo

and

Next year, Twitter will let you record, edit, and share videos within the service.

this is Twitter’s new description of their company that started as an SMS service for people to follow what their friends were doing:

Reach the largest daily audience in the world by connecting everyone to their world via our information sharing and distribution platform products and be one of the top revenue generating Internet companies in the world.

I can’t wait to join Twitter again.

November 12, 2014

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via Matt Gemmell:

I’ve never owned anything that made me feel more productive.

With these two machines, I’ve managed to find the one-socket office. Any power socket, anywhere, is all I need. That’s a liberating truth.

I remember that feeling when I unboxed my 11” MacBook Air. While I’ve gone back to the 15” MacBook Pro, I do miss traveling with the 11” model. It’s enough computer for almost anyone and of all of the “setup” blog posts from my favorite bloggers, this is the best one. If there’s ever a MacBook Air with quad-core chips, retina display and a dedicated GPU, I’d switch back in an instant.