Month: October 2016

How Apple could have avoided much of the controversy

Here’s a basic reality: criticizing and second-guessing Apple is a hobby for many of us, and a profession for more than is probably healthy for the Apple ecosystem. That is a basic reality that isn’t going to change any time soon. I long ago got used the the idea that no matter what Apple said or released, the Internet would fall over itself proving how much smarter they were than Apple, only to see Apple make another truckload of money on the product everyone was criticizing. That said, this event’s criticism has been louder and more widespread and angrier than I remember seeing for a long time. I finally had to basically unplug for a while because I found myself getting into the “someone is wrong on the internet” mentality. Writing my piece over the weekend was about as difficult as anything I’ve ever written because there are a lot of legitimate gripe points with Apple right now, but so much of what’s being thrown around is trivial and petty and often outright wrong, or just plain silly. A lot of it boils down to this concept: We demand Apple innovate, but we insist they don’t change anything. No matter what, Apple loses. And as someone who watches this circus from my perch here in the Apple Ecosystem, I have to just recognize that, find the interesting and informed...

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Thoughts on the new MacBook Pros and Apple’s announcements.

Apple finally (drink!) announced the updated MacBook Pro computers and the refreshed laptop line that will carry them forward for the next year or so. As expected, these new computers include Skylake CPUs with support for USB C and the newer, faster, Thunderbolt 3 interfaces and improved monitors with the wide color capabilities. I bought one immediately after the event, and I’ll have it in hand in a couple of weeks. Am I happy with it? Yes. But… There’s a huge amount of criticism of Apple coming out online after this event. And there’s a lot to criticize Apple about, unfortunately, because while they updated these laptops, they didn’t even mention the rest of the Mac product line, and the huge questions about where Apple sees this line going over the next few years weren’t even acknowledged, much less addressed. And I think that’s a big problem. I like the new MacBooks. I think some of the criticism of them is unjustified. I think much of the criticism is misplaced anger at other things Apple is doing (or isn’t). But I think most of the criticism is an indication of larger problems Apple simply hasn’t acknowledged, much less worked to resolve. Things like… Where did the low-end macs go? They became iPads. Apple has never been afraid of cannibalizing a product with another product, and with the new MacBooks,...

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Nailed It

I needed to pick Laurie up from the airport, so I headed that way early and spent a couple of hours at the Radio Road Ponds in Redwood Shores, which are about 20 minutes from SFO. These ponds are about to be drained again, this time semi-permanently, as the water treatment plant is expanding and needs to turn this area back into a true settling basin. They need to start engineering studies of the soil, which requires draining and drying out the area. Ultimately the hope is that some areas to the North will be converted into improved habitat but that’s a few years away at best — but soon, one of the most accessible and best wintering bird photography areas around here will go away, at least for a while. It was nice to spend a bit of time there before that happens. I’m really starting to get comfortable with the Fuji X-T2 as a birding camera, and since Radio Roads is one of the places you can see the local Black Skimmer populations, I was hoping I might get a few shots of them before the habit goes away. So how did I do? I came home with 1100 raw images, and out of that, kept about 80. A large flock of skimmers was hanging out quite close to the road, and while most of the time...

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Working on and supporting a virtual/remote team

A couple of my recent jobs — Palm and Cisco — involved working on teams where most of the members were remote and spread across the country, and in some cases overseas. There are advantages and challenges to remote teams. A huge advantage is that members can live where they want and aren’t chained to desks, giving them more freedom to live their lives as they want — and there’s no commute, which in my case, freed up 90 minutes a day that were otherwise wasted driving, so I could spend more time working. The big challenges to this environment is to keep everyone in good communication, and to build that camaraderie that helps a team work well together. Here are some of the tools and techniques I’ve found that have worked well. The Team sync-up One of the best ways I’ve seen to keep a team in sync is one of the oldest: at Cisco we had a weekly virtual staff meeting where we always did the following: * Updates and basic info from the boss * discussion of upcoming events and milestones * round robin where everyone does a quick update and can raise issues/questions to the group, which generally turned into a later meeting for resolution * A deeper dive into some topic by one of the team members We kept these to one hour, generally...

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Good Enough Defeats Great

It’s been fascinating as an observer watching the disruption and transformation of the camera industry. As a photographer in the middle of it, it hasn’t always been fun. Around 2000 I bought a Canon Powershot pocket camera to take on vacation and the bug hit hard. Digital photography also took away the hassles that caused me to fade away from the hobby in the past: cost of processing and printing, and the time spent in the darkroom (of course, I had no idea at the time I’d replace that with time at the computer but at least it’s not dark and stinky). In 2005 I made the leap and bought my first DLSR, a Canon Rebel XT. I thought I was a pretty good photographer, I saw digital photography as a way to make the leap into being a professional photographer — and out of the high tech industry where I at the time was exceptionally unhappy (since resolved) — and so here I was, figuring out how to break in to the field using these new and interesting tools. Then I looked around me, and I realized there were 20,000 other people all with brand new DLSRs and all believing that they were good photographers and ready to turn pro. That made me realize a massive disruption was starting and I didn’t want to be in the middle...

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