MovieByte #118: Bratty Version of Anakin

This episode of our movie news and reviews podcast, TJ, Fizz, and I review Ridley Scott’s new Exodus: Gods and Kings, which stars Christian Bale and and Joel Edgerton. Sadly, we were all disappointed. Maybe the movie will get better with a director’s cut? Fizz hopes, but TJ thinks it is basically unsalvageable. Wanna know what I thought? Well, listen to the podcast.

Also, under ‘fake follow up’ and side topics discussed: the prospective director of the next Trek film; director of Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn is interviewed by Screen Junkies (the guys behind Honest Trailers); Stephen Colbert’s interview with The Hobbit’s Smaug, and more. Links to everything are in the show notes on MovieByte’s site.

Gods, Kings, and Ridley Scotts

I watched Exodus: Gods and Kings last night. The biblical account is a very powerful story, and I believe historically relevant. Ridley Scott’s is a secular view of the biblical account. Joe Carter wrote for The Gospel Coalition:

After watching Exodus: Gods and Kings you’ll complain about wasting your time and money, so you might as well do it from the comfort of your own living room.

He is suggesting you wait till the movie is available for home entertainment if you plan to see it. He’s right. Many people have and will complain that it is “such a waste.”

I don’t agree with all of Mr. Carter’s points, though. For one, he says this film ignores the source material, and for another, it lacked the director’s brilliant visual style. I think Exodus was actually a great credit to Hollywood’s desire to present an authentic visual representation of Egypt, the Hebrews, and the times and places of the story. And I think that much of this movie has brilliant visuals, not unlike Gladiator.

But at the end of the day, either you care about this film because it is a Ridley Scott film, or you care about it because you are a Christian, or both.[1] I’m in the last of the three groups, and as such, I think this film is a disappointment for Scott’s fans and the Bible’s. Not enough of the source material was followed, and this film lacks the character and nuance of Ridley’s better films.

I just checked the critics’ assessment on Rotten Tomatoes. Not too surprisingly…

While sporadically stirring, and suitably epic in its ambitions, *Exodus: Gods and Kings* can’t quite live up to its classic source material.

But what is a little jarring is that I’m not alone in my opinion. Critics in general gave Exodus 28% and the general audience gives it 40%. That is worse than Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy and Ridley’s Kingdom of Heaven, which I would say are relatable films.


  1. I guess you might be Muslim or a Jew and interested in it for your own set of religious reasons, but I can’t speak to them from experience. Carter points out that the name, Moses, appears more times in the Qur’an than it does in the Old Testament.  ↩

Parallax Behavior and Error

In designing background wallpapers for all the potential screen resolutions that Apple users might encounter, I referenced Apple’s site to find the pixel dimensions of the iPhone 6+ display. What I found on their site was very misleading. If you want to cut together your own custom wallpaper that looks good on the screen in portrait or landscape orientation, it is practically impossible to find the answer at Apple.com.

John Carey of Fifty Foot Shadows has figured out what the ideal pixel dimensions are for custom wallpapers: 2706x2706. This will give you the results you are probably looking for when you turn your 6+ to a landscape orientation while viewing your lock screen or home screen.

As a heads up, there are a great number of custom wallpapers online that are not this ideal size, so they will not appear crisply on your iPhone. I need to update the Focus Collection. Who knows if and when other designers will catch on and update their stock.

Isn’t it great that no one wants what you created last month?

I was running on the treadmill and listening to Dan Benjamin discuss podcasting with Jim Metzendorf. They were knee-deep into the topic of audio compression (here’s the podcast episode). This is excellent material for audio engineers to hear and learn.

And while they were talking, something important occurred to me. There are dozens of available resources that are already available that cover this material. You could get any number of books about recording high quality audio, but here we are at the end of 2014, and what are people listening to? No, what am I listening to?

We are listening to the new take on audio compression on a podcast that was released yesterday.

Why are we paying attention to the new content rather than the old content that has said the same things? The Internet just keeps getting larger. More and more, there is content a click or two away. But is everyone rushing to consume all of it? No. How about the ten other ways we could learn to record and edit good audio that were made in July, 2012? Even when the resources are particularly good, we spend very little time hunting them down, identifying them, and making good use of "the archive", which in this context is all the available content at our disposal.

Because this is important, I’m going to ask again: How come we are not making use of all the abundance of content? Maybe the answer goes something like this: Each of us has a finite amount of time. Usually, we divide the time into periods we are awake or asleep. When we are awake, we make time to enjoy some media, or read some web pages. But from day to day, we each only have so much time before it is all gone.

And since we are creatures of habits, one of the first habits we adopt is the one where we want what is new, rather than what has stood the test of time. There are many movies, podcasts, TV shows, books, web sites, and magazines that make great content, but they are two or three years old — or older — so we gloss over them to the new stuff.

This is very sad, when you think about it. The older the original Sherlock Holmes books become, the fewer people are reading them. The older classic Bugs Bunny cartoons become, a lesser number of children enjoy them. And this is not just the case for entertainment. This is also true of educational and practical resources. If the content becomes old, even just a few days old, it can very easily be forgotten.

The good news is that most people do this. Most people born in 2050 will not bother to watch Guardians of the Galaxy, or search the archive of Daring Fireball, or make use of a 2013 iPod Classic. The resources and content that we use today will eventually go by the wayside.

But for some of us, the lifespan of our creative goods seems all too short. That music album you made last season? How many people have heard it? If the answer is, “Maybe a few hundred,” then don’t be embarrassed, surprised, or too disappointed, because you are not a failure. This happens to lots of artists.

And the reason this is a good thing is that it makes way for the new content from content creators, like you. I used to think that this was a bad thing: bad that large amounts of great resources were going away. Artists, teachers, and innovators in every field of culture would like to see their works stand the test of time. If you are a creative type, you know what I’m talking about. You publish a blog with the intent that people will read what you published a year from now. You would like someone many years from now to discover you and appreciate you, so that you have an undying legacy. So, if people out of habit won't make use of your content, then isn’t it tragic that we put so much time into our goods that are basically disposable?

I think now quite differently. I think that it is ultimately beneficial for everyone that content is forgotten.

Content creators still want to create more content. If I want to talk about Star Wars on one of my movie podcasts, I should be able to without wasting people’s time. Two things are in my favor: most people that heard my shows before will not remember what I said about Star Wars on previous podcasts, and most people will not have even heard it in the first place. This means that people exposed to my show now will have reason to enjoy it, and I still have a good reason to create that show where I discuss Star Wars next year, believe it or not.

Content creators have got to create. There is always that itch to write another song, to record another video, and to craft another app. Creative people want all the opportunities afforded them to create. If people stopped using the new stuff because people were spending most of their time enjoying the endless sea of available content that precedes December 12, 2014, then the creators would be in trouble. We would become the disposable entities. Instantly, all of the creative jobs would become unnecessary, because there is already a vast amount of entertainment, tools, and other resources to busy the world’s population for the rest of time.

So it is sad that, one day, there will be a person who is the last person on earth to read your blog post from last Tuesday, but it’s not sad that thousands of people still want what you want to create for them tomorrow. The more important thing is that creative people have something to do in the present and in the future that is fulfilling. If it means that most people will not make use of what you designed last quarter, that is okay. You would rather be a creative person that still has a purpose in the future.

 + IBM

If you had asked me when I was twelve if I saw a future where Apple and IBM worked together to make the next generation of professional mobile tools, I would have laughed you off.

Moustache Twirling

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back is probably the best of the franchise. It is my second favorite of the trilogy (the only trilogy). And finally, TJ Draper and I have reviewed this "holiday classic" on The MovieByte Podcast for your listening pleasure.

We are also joined by Jim Metzendorf, a host of the Nerd Novice podcast. Jim is practically a podcast Jedi master — if people were given such titles — so who better than Jim to review a Episode V with us? No one.

Jabra Revo Wireless Reviews

I’ve used Jabra Revo Wireless headphones since spring, and I like them. These sturdy headphones pair quickly with an iOS device. They have above average sound, for a Bluetooth device, and the frame is just large enough for my head.

Dan Frakes wrote a decent review of the device on Macworld, wherein he covers most all of the bases. Originally, I discovered Revo Wireless on The Wirecutter, which is one of my preferred review sites.

Sometime I will write about my personal experience with not one but two sets of Revo Wireless, and the slip-up that almost put me with wired headphones.

Huckberry Gift Guides

Huckberry, one of the more refined woodsy clothing companies online, have implemented a clever and enjoyable promotion system. They have sites they sponsor, like The Art of Manliness. Then the writers/makers/spokespeople of those sites’ brands put together their recommendations in a gift guide of Huckberry products. This is in the latest Huckberry e-newsletter:

I often study what I like in a good marketing e-newsletter, and I want to share more of the good design ideas that I discover. This is marketing at some of its best behavior. If you are a fan of any one of these sites, then you are happy to know that Huckberry sponsors them. And since Huckberry and these other sites work so well together, it is more than enjoyable as a loyal customer to see the productive relationship serving the fans so well.

Well, the truth is that The Art of Manliness is the only one of those gift guides that’s not put together by Huckberry. In either case — those by Huckberry and those guides by AoM or some future sponsor colaboration — I like the concept.

You can find lots of Huckberry’s gift guides all in one place here. Strangely, The Art of Manliness’s isn’t listed there, so here you go.

We Go to Bed With the iPad

I’ve been thinking for awhile that the iPhone 6 Plus is an attractive device. Because it’s large, I could use one in some instances that I would watch video content, read a book, or play a game. Some of these I wouldn’t do on the iPhone 5s, or wouldn’t enjoy doing them on the phone as much as my iPad.

The iPad Air is a fun device for leisurely consumption. It’s light enough that reading with it one-handed is no easier or harder than handling some of the hardback books I’ve read, which is to say I’m okay with the weight and bulk of the device.

But the 6 Plus is lighter. It’s handier. It’s sometimes pocketable. The iPad can’t say that. For reasons like these, I’ve wondered when usage statistics would be released that prove everyday users are using their iPads less and their large phones more. Well, that time has come.

CGP Grey shared an article from GetPocket.com. Pocket is a ‘save for later’ app. Based on 2 million article and video views in the app from various devices, they were able to pinpoint how usage of iPhones and iPads has changed.

It used to be that 55% of the time, people read Pocket content with their 5/5s. 44% of the time, people read with their iPad. The model of iPad? Unimportant to this particular study.

At present, now that many of these users are running Pocket on iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, they are seeing an important shift away from the iPad usage time. At present, 80% of the reading is with the 6 Plus over an iPad.

I expected this all along. People may love or hate the new form factors, but what’s interesting is that now, versus before, people have the choice to use a device that suits their tastes. The granularity to which we can pick between features demonstrates that if we could read articles and watch YouTube videos on an iPhone 6 Plus versus an iPad, we would. You’ll use the iPad far less often.

Another detail arose from Pocket’s study:

In fact, the bigger your phone’s screen, the more you’ll read / watch as a whole. We saw that users with both an iPhone and an iPad consumed significantly more content as soon as they upgraded to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Those with the 6 now open 33% more articles and videos inside Pocket than they did with a 5/5S, and those with the 6 Plus open 65% more items than they did with a smaller phone.

(The emphasis is Pocket’s blogger’s — not mine.)

Pocket is one of these apps thats across all the platforms. It’s available on Mac, PC, Android tablets, Android phones, and all Apple mobile devices (let’s not forget the old iPod Touch, eh?). Some of the time, people are using the web interface on their notebook and desktop computers. Sometimes, their web app/site. But as for the people that favor their iOS devices, the divides are clear.

The iPhone 5 and 5s are not as useful for reading and watching content. You may be happy with how it fits into your pocket, but you would read and watch more with a larger device. In fact, not only would you perform these actions more often with the larger phones, but you would actually read and watch more over the course of your regular week. That could be a big deal to the individuals that spend more time reading and watching content on-the-go.

And there is this:

That being said, there remains one place where tablets still hold reign: your nightstand. Regardless of which iPhone they have, users still reach for their iPads around 9pm for some late-night, bedtime reading.

This makes sense, even if it’s a little sad. The iPad has such great potential, but it’s not in our pockets like the phone will be throughout the day. Then at night, we don’t carry the phone in our PJs. It’ sitting on the nightstand charging, while we tap on the iPad in bed.

If you want to learn more from the study, be sure to read Kait’s article on the Pocket blog.

The Winds of Change

Tis the season to be reengineering. Many podcasts are switching networks, going independent, or moving to other networks. Jason Snell is the latest to move The Incomparable. He had some good observations in his Six Colors post about the sea changes.

Dan Benjamin, on the latest Grit podcast, said that no matter the changes that are introduced to the medium and networks, all podcasters should seek new listeners. That’s what it’s all ultimately about. This is one thing the latest changes will induce. They will find new audiences in the near future or in good time.

While others are just starting their podcasts in 2014. It seems likely the majority of those will fail for a lack of established listeners and sponsor support. It is such a wild west moment for podcasting, and the frontier is filling up.

We’re All Off About Push Notifications

I’ve been a long-term fan of limiting Notification Center and pop-up push notifications. With the Lock Screen, I’m more liberal. I will allow for updates from the App Store, OmniFocus, and even a few photo and game apps. But all in all, the notifications aren’t allowed to pop up. Those alerts are always interrupting something else that I was previously trying to accomplish.

Owen Williams on The Next Web started thinking this through, and just now, like many of you, came to the conclusion he should cut back the pushed notices for his own benefit:

Apple makes it incredibly easy to get push notifications on your phone. One button and you’ve got constant gratification forever. I think it’s time we started treating that “do you want to allow push notifications” request as sacred. That request is far more important than we ever give it credit.

Owen isn’t going far enough with the idea. Everything I do with my phone is sacred, somehow. It’s eating up my time, so I want to be sure that I kill that time doing something I actually want to do. All of my mobile time is sacred.

And, personally, I have a hard time calling push notifications “instant gratification” under any circumstance. Am I getting old? Or is that normal for the rest of you? I’m gratified by the apps and their utility, not by the alerts.

When you install a new app, the first thing it’ll do is ask you to allow push notifications even though you have no idea what to expect! We just met! Why are app makers making such a big request, like it’s no big deal? How will I know what you are going to send me?

That depends on what you’re paying attention to. When you install an app, you aren’t prompted to activate notifications. You are asked to “Don’t Allow” or “OK” the notifications. That is to say, you are given the option between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to push notifications for every app before you use it. iOS doesn’t have a bias in favor of notifications. It presumes you would like to make the difficult choices for yourself, like whether or not you want notifications on an app-by-app basis.

But for many users, the choice is a tough one they aren’t prepared to respond to. It’s the same reason we have difficulty responding to the notifications themselves. When asked to pay attention to a pop-up message on our phone, it’s jarring.

Our limited cognitive ability doesn’t usually stretch out wide enough to respond to the alert intelligently while we’re in the middle of writing e-mails or checking the weather. We don’t have the capacity to think about two choices simultaneously that are completely unrelated. You don’t have the ability to write to Jen and choose whether you want to read updates to Monument Valley at the same time.

iPads come and they go, but some stay around longer.

This is the time of year that I take stock of all the devices and accessories around the house that I no longer want to keep. I have enough keyboards, cases, and spare cables to sell on eBay and make a few bucks for Christmas shopping.

I’ve sold three iPhone cases, two sets of speakers, an Apple AirPort Express, and that’s only a third of the lot. There are a few more goodies to go. I’m considering the sell of my iMac (circa 2000), the late eighties Apple keyboard, and even the Power Macintosh G3.[1]

And I had plans to sell my first generation iPad mini. In the early winter of 2013, I purchased it from Apple.com. I had it engraved on the back with “I fight for the users.” I loved that device.

But it didn’t last me a whole year. The first time I dropped it, my iPad mini landed diagonally on the top-right aluminum corner. It shattered the glass very unexpectedly. I was miffed. That was the first iPad I really wanted to keep around, and with the most innocent of accidents, it went from ‘awesome’ to ‘this is everything that bothers me about technology.’

Before I knew what was happening, my wife gifted to me an iPad Air. Rather than restore the iPad mini, I put it inside one of those OtterBox cases that were built to survive a volcanic eruption. Then I gave it to the kids. It held together and they never noticed the shattered glass. The integrated screen protector worked like a charm, holding the glass together and avoiding bodily injury.

Then, this past summer, my father-in-law handed down his iPad 3. It became the new ‘iPad for kids.’ The iPad mini had seen enough action, or so I thought.

Flash-forward to the eBay sells of present day.

I took the device to a local Smartfone repair shop. They have been helpful on more than one occasion. Being the purest that I am, I would’ve been happier to take the misshapen iPad to an Apple Store, but the nearest one is an hour and a half away.[2] If all you want to do is replace the screen to resell it, the smart thing to do is to go to Smartfone.

They said they would replace the screen for $130. That’s a competitive price. Others online would replace it for $119, but that doesn’t include shipping and my time waiting.

After Smartfone replaced the crackled display, I came home and wrote this product description:

Why sell: This is my very awesome, very loved, iPad Mini. My wife surprised me with an iPad Air as a gift, so I have no need to hold onto this device.

Engraving: I originally order it from Apple.com new. On the back is engraved “I fight for the users,” which is a Tron: Legacy’ movie quote. It’s practically the perfect geek reference for any movie buff.

Condition: The one corner of the back of the aluminum has a minor scuff. There are very minor scratches along the right-side chamfered edge. Besides that, it’s in very decent condition. Looks very good.

Photos are coming.

Everything was falling into place. With the right snapshots from my iPhone edited in Photoshop, my product would be irresistible. I hoped to collect $140 to $195, if I were very lucky.

At supper, I showed the device to my wife. “See what I had fixed? I’m thinking to sell it.”

Unexpectedly, she had a look of anticipation and eagerness in her gaze. There was an inaudible yearning. Like magnetism, something was pulling at the iPad mini in my hands.

“… I was thinking, that is, unless you can see a reason…”

She looked at me a little more hopeful.

“… Or if you are interested, I’d be glad to give it to you. It’s in good condition.”

And with that, my iPad mini became my wife’s. She was thrilled, surprisingly. She said she wanted to give me my Christmas present early, as well. She sincerely thought I was gifting it to her — as in, she thought it was my primary Christmas gift to her. Very early.[3]

Hardly! If someone gifted me their old iPad mini, with dings along the side and a scuff on the top-right corner, I would feel insulted. For my wife, on the other hand, it was the coolest thing that happened to her in November 2014. How was it possible that our feelings about the iPad mini were so different? Could we honestly be thinking about the same device: a first gen. iPad mini? No better than an iPad 2?

I didn’t expect it to play out like this. I thought she wouldn’t be interested. She previously had an iPad a little over a year ago. After a year with it, she lost interest in carrying it. After a few months of collecting dust, we came to the conclusion we should do something else with hers. I guess we sold it on eBay in early 2013. Since then, she’d not expressed any interest in an iPad.

She has a great MacBook Pro. She carries a young iPhone 5s. It just hadn’t occurred to me that she would like an iPad. In general, rumor has it that everyday people are losing interest in the iPad. No? Oh, maybe that is just a rumor, or the statistic is largely exaggerated.

So, I was reminded of a very important truth today: you never know. Your family members’ use cases will probably not match your own. You may not even know which devices would better serve your family unless you simply offer it to them. I knew this somewhere in the back of my mind, but it hadn’t occurred to me how relevant it was in my present situation.

Christmas came early for my better half. (just kidding!) eBay will have to wait another year before it sees my old iPad mini.


  1. I’ve considered selling them for years. Haven’t convinced myself yet that I don’t want to show them to the kids when they’re older.  ↩

  2. Even if Apple would replace it at a good price, considering the rest of the lifespan for a first generation iPad mini, it just wasn’t worth the trip. The iPad might have another year’s worth of relatively satisfactory usage.  ↩

  3. She has a hard time not giving me Christmas and birthday presents way ahead of schedule.  ↩

The Typist’s Phone and His Pants

I’m genuinely beginning to take interest in the iPhone 6 Plus. People that have given it a try don’t hate it. I expected some real-world-experience-generating backlash. In reality, the people that have not given it a try seem the most opposed to the large form factor. And those that have tried it are seeing that the phone is attractive, for one reason or another.

Then, there are those that strongly approve of the 6 Plus. For your reading enjoyment, here is what Yuvi Zalkow thinks of the phone’s writing capabilities. I’m taking note.

How do our pants have anything to do with this? Well, the bulk in ones pants seems like the biggest complaint I’ve heard against the Plus. Seems kinda silly, don’t you think?

Marvel App

Marvel App (MarvelApp.com) is an idea that we designers should really back up. The service/tools give us a tremendous amount of power and flexibility.

Build mobile or web prototypes which include sophisticated gestures and links in a matter of minutes. And simulate a full-featured site or app in a variety of other clever ways using Marvel.

It hooks up with your Dropbox account. Adobe files you have there are accessed by Marvel online. Beautiful interface… Everything about Marvel App checks out.

And thankfully, they have a decent membership structure. Like Dropbox and other services, you can use a free account with limited features. Go pro, and you have…

  • Unlimited Projects
  • Awesome Support
  • Create teams and collaborate
  • Download your prototypes
  • Password protect prototypes
  • Remove Marvel branding

… for $6.40 a month. Brilliant.

What I’m Listening To

I’ve changed about half of the shows I frequently listen to in the last season. The new additions are promising. The shows that are newer to me I’ve marked with an asterisk.

I listen while driving, cooking, cleaning, exercising, and shopping. Sometimes I skip an episode that disinterests me. At one time or other, just about all of the shows have disappointed me once and have been skipped. There just isn’t such a thing as a perfect podcast.

But for all the thousands of listening hours (yes, I believe by now that I’ve listened to thousands) they are by far and away the best medium for digesting content. I prefer podcasts over articles and the like. I have more time for them, because I can multi-task while I listen. It’s just about the only way I can handle multi-tasking.


*99% Invisible
Only heard about this podcast two months ago. It’s really entertaining for listeners interested in the arts and design. Listen

Accidental Tech Podcast
Most people assume that if you are fascinated with Apple geek culture, you will enjoy this show. In all honesty, I don't enjoy the content as much as I enjoy listening to the three guys: Marco, Casey, and John. They're the right mix of intelligent, quirky, and frank. Listen

*Analog(ue)
Myke and Casey have casual conversations as friends. They explore the meaning of their feelings, specifically the the feelings that concern their tech lifestyle choices. Listen

*Anxious Machine
Robert McGinley Myers is smart. I’ve read his blog and enjoyed his videos for some time. He covers topics like anxiety, technology, and “scary things.” All his things are thought-through and content-rich. Listen

*The Art of Manliness
I know what you might be thinking, and it’s probably not why I’m giving this show a try. Brett McKay is making great creative content. As well as he puts the interviews together for his show, I can’t resist tuning in. Some episodes I’ve skipped; when I wasn’t interested in the topics. Listen

Back to Work
I like my weekly dose of Merlin Mann (and Dan Benjamin). Listen

Clockwise
Four tech topics in 30 minutes. I listen for the snarky humor, mostly. Listen

Connected
And more snarky humor… only with different people. Stephen, Myke, and Federico talk about their use cases from the heart, but with a critical eye. And yet, they seem interested in making the world a better place — not just listing likes and dislikes for the sake of making yet another tech podcast. Listen

*The Critical Path
Just started listening to this one. It’s very dry, but incredibly informative. If I can stomach the analytics and the numbers, I might learn something. Listen

Debug
These developers always have interesting professional anecdotes to tell. Listen

*Dorm Room Tycoon
I recently heard about this one for the first time. The idea is it’s interviews with “the world’s most influential innovators.” Gave it a listen yesterday, and it. Was. Impressive. I thought I would be disappointed. I was not. Listen

Grit
Earlier this year, Quit helped me in a real way. The topics were timely, as I was beginning my exodus from the full-time job I’d held for seven years. Quit/Grit helped me stay sane in uncharted career adventures. Listen

Inquisitive
CMD+Space is one of the reasons I listen to podcasts in the first place. Not very long ago, it was rebooted as Inquisitive. I give most every episode a listen — since the beginning of the series to the present. It’s about work, tech, culture, lifestyle, business ventures, workflows… all the good stuff. Listen

Mac Power Users
David and Katie are the reasons I wanted to host a podcast of my own. They are an example to us all! They produce some of the most informative information for advanced Apple geeks. I love their labor of love. Listen

RadioLab
This WNYC radio show that doubles as a podcast is the most well produced, but the content is hit or miss. Jad and Robert pick topics that pertain to science, culture, and the great unknown from week-to-week and try to make sense of them through the art of storytelling. Usually entertaining and informative, but sometimes under-baked or misinformation, if you ask me. Listen

Reel World Theology
My friend, Fizz, and his wide array of guests discuss movies from week-to-week in light of their impact on and reflection of culture. Great minds think alike. Fizz’s mind burns bright (uh, whatever that means...). Listen

*Serial
An old co-worker and friend said, “You’ve got to listen to this,” so I am. So far, so good, but its one of those podcast I wish I had listened to from the very beginning. You shouldn’t miss one episode if you’re going to give it a listen. Listen

The Talk Show with John Gruber
Confession: I don’t have many graphic T-shirts. I have one for Daring Fireball, and I’ve considered purchasing another that I can wear while the other one is in the wash. Listen

Tech Douchebags
This show is different. The conceit just works. The Twelve Steps are uncannily reflective of… admittedly, well, my own… ahemListen

*Upgrade
Jason Snell is like the "fun size" version of Macworld. Only, Macworld is practically dead to me, but Jason is not. Six Colors, Jason, Myke… I love their show. One of these days they’ll even review the Kindle Voyage. Listen

*Vector
Just subscribed to this one. Going to give it a first-time listen today. Listen

The Weekly Briefly
Shawn is one of those creatives that while very unassuming and laid back (like some say I am) he accomplishes much and inspires his listeners in the, well, details. His is a motivational devotional for creatives, as it were. Listen

You Are Not So Smart
I listen to David McRaney because he’s clever, intelligent, and full of heart — reasons that I like several of the other podcasters. But David’s is unique, in that he views culture through a lens of academia and modern psychology. I don’t always agree with the views held by psychologists at large, but David’s show is great fun to digest. Listen


If I had more time, I would listen to more shows. As it stands, I’m usually about a week behind the current episode crop — that’s just the way it happens from week-to-week with my routines.

And I’ve got shows to produce of my own! MovieByte is 111 episodes old and going strong (that’s insane) and I’m still in the process of rebooting Movieology, which will be seeing a soft launch in a few days. Check out the new site, which is full of archive content. Lots more is on the way.

Going Keyboardless

I started using the iPad when the first generation was available. As an early adopter I loved its versatility. No, it wasn’t an outright MacBook replacement, but in a pinch, I could type with the iPad.

I used the cramped on-screen keyboard so much that eventually it didn’t feel cramped anymore. My large hands grew accustom to the landscape orientation of the keyboard. The portrait view worked while thumb typing. Some people found that neither of these orientations worked well for them, as they couldn’t get comfortable and see past the constraints. If they could’ve only seen the added abilities it brought to iOS… but sadly, most people do not.

For these people, there was Bluetooth support. External keyboards have always been optional for the iPad. Pick up an Apple wireless keyboard, for instance, and you can pair it to the iPad. Third party wireless bluetooth keyboards in general work for the iPad. These days, some of the third party models are actually sexy, like this one.

There are limitations, of course. Most specialty keys on the board (like the function keys) don’t/didn’t work. If you think about it, you could do worse. Who uses the top row and side keys all that much? The iPad with a full-size wireless keyboard is a doable typing setup, even without a host of keyboard shortcuts.

Since the first generation, I used every new model iPad besides the fourth generation, which was largely similar to the third. Month-in-and-month-out, I found myself typing with the Apple Bluetooth keyboard or the on-screen board. It was doable in many situations that worked in my use cases. It encouraged me to write more, even. I was motivated in part by the uniqueness of the writing experience. For another part, I actually got good writing done with the iPad that I didn’t need the Mac for.

But in the spring, my career path took a turn for the better. I have been working from home. Not too long ago, I was able to become a full-time independent graphic designer, which is a great scenario for my professional lifestyle. I like to work in solitude. There are times that I miss the company of office personnel, but it can never compete with the productivity and clarity of working solo.

Working solo in my home office introduced new workflows. For instance, I can setup my MacBook on virtually any desk, counter, or table and it’s a reasonable workstation. I can roam throughout the house with the MacBook and use it in ways that I couldn’t when I worked five days a week at the office. This means that I have found fewer scenarios that I would use my iPad. The iPad truly became a consumptive device. I haven’t found a reason to type with mine except at church in Sunday school. My MacBook Pro is a great notebook that works wherever I want to get work done, and the built-in keyboard makes it the ultimate — and mostly convenient — writing device.

The iPad + external keyboard takes more effort. If I’m going somewhere to use it, I have to carry at least two parts: the iPad and the separate keyboard. If I want them in a bag, then that bag needs to be large enough for the two devices plus who-knows-what-else, like power cords and maybe even the MacBook as my backup tool. And that means… As you can see, typing with an iPad is a slippery spiral into more and more complexities. You spend more time thinking about what you’ll need to do it, and less time thinking about what you write.

Or, you could just write the old fashioned way: with your notebook computer. Then you wouldn’t have to think about so many components.


To end my critique of iPad typing, I want to observe what Ben Brooks mentioned in his iPad typing piece. “There are also ergonomic concerns over typing on an iPad — mostly that it is too low and you end up looking downwards at the device.” He’s very right. Docks and stands for the iPad place it on a flat surface well-below the recommended position you want to be viewing. My head craned downward gets sore in fifteen minutes or so. The iPad typing setup — with an external keyboard and stand for the screen — might look nifty for a college kid, but it’s so bad for your posture that no one should type like this regularly.

And, like Ben, the solutions to the problems have escaped me. “I’ve yet to solve any of this. I’ve heard rumors of people trying to install the bluetooth module into a custom case, and I’ve thought about 3D printing my own iPad stand that houses it, but that’s all far too time consuming for what time I have.”

Ben is addressing a mechanical keyboard he likes paired with his iPad, and how he would utilize it more efficiently. In all scenarios, an external iPad keyboard introduces some stopgap. We don’t know how to effectively eliminate the added difficulties.

Even if I used an iPad stand that brought it up to eye level, it would introduce new difficulties. Who wants to tote the stand around? It would most likely be left at one workstation. This would tie down the iPad to that work station, if I wanted to write. And that’s not cool, because one of the primary draws to the iPad is its portability. You solve the one problem and takeaway one of its better characteristics in the process. If I want to get writing done on the iPad, I would like the solution to be sufficient anytime in anyplace.

What all this means is that I’ve reconsidered my stance on the iPad in the last few months. I was a strong advocate for the iPad over the years: saying you should consider it a real tool for work and pleasure. You still should, but the limitations of the iPad are more opaque to me now than before. In the context of working at home, I have less reason to pick up the iPad. The MacBook truly is a power tool, when compared to the pad.

My iPad Air is still a high quality device. I’m just not inclined to type with it that much anymore. Gone are the days that I want to fiddle with the external components. My hobbies include what’s made possible with the a large screen, tap-computing, and iOS — going keyboardless.

8 New Monument Valley Levels

My favorite iOS game — preferably played on the iPad — is getting eight new levels next Thursday. In the meantime, there is a fun promotional video to watch. The developers of the game describe various considerations they have faced creating Monument Valley.

Angry Birds’ popularity has been blown way out of proportion. It has earned bookoos, and it’s highly commercialized. The bigger Angry Bird’s became, the less relevant it became. For app development and the future of iOS gaming, games like Angry Birds made their mark but they didn’t mature with the platform. It was relegated to the mainstream — for people that would download the game because they heard of it, but only to play two or three levels then lose interest.

I have faith that Monument Valley will not turn out like that.

(Via Dot Info)

Rare Steve Jobs Photos

Little has been seen of Steve’s life between 1986 and 1996. Here’s a small collection of candids.

I’ve seen other photos circulated dozens of times. At this point, historical moments that we haven’t previously been exploited are few and far between.