Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Canon 5Dsr First Impressions

1/8000' exposure, f1.8, ISO 100, 50mm
I've been using the new Canon 5Dsr for a few days now. I'm quite certain it'll replace my 6D, but I want more time with it to be sure.

The Good
  • 50 megapixels; 8,688 x 5,792 resolution. Great for landscape shots and stuff you want to print big or view in really high res.
  • Mirror lock-out support to minimize/eliminate camera shake. This is awesome for landscape shots.
  • Better bracketing support.
The Bad
  • Canon thought it'd be cute to drop the on-board GPS and WiFi capabilities that the 6D had. I used both of those features all the time. I'm not about to add-on an off-board GPS device (clutter), and I'm trying the Eyefi card for WiFi capability. The card and camera support in-menu enable/disable of the wifi radio on the card, so you can control it as to not deflate battery time of the camera battery.
  • It's really big.
  • It's really heavy.


If I didn't do large format printing of pics, I wouldn't have bothered buying this camera. 50Mp is just huge and you really feel it when transferring pics (using native SD card slots and of course via WiFi) and importing them into your app (e.g. Lightroom). The files are massive, and rendering software really has to work to do its thing w/ the files. That said, I do print things in large format, and I'm super excited to be able to effectively double my capabilities there.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Google Inbox: I Tried

I was in the first wave of Google Inbox users when they started leaking it out into the world. I can't remember when that was, but I've been using Inbox exclusively now for at least a few months. I'm done using it now and am moving back to mail.google.com and native Google gmail apps.

Let me start by saying that of the three application protocols (HTTP, SMTP, IMAP) in the world that actually matter, two of them are email related (the latter two). The lowest common denominator implementations of said email protocols are the only impls that matter, and the same goes for email clients (web or otherwise) implementations. Google knows this, and so I thought they'd get it right with Inbox. However, the vi shortcuts that gmail has leveraged for nearly a decade now, don't work in Inbox. I thought I could get along without them, but, I can't. I can only assume the hardcore email client engineers on the mail teams in Google are revolting against Inbox's high-level email abstraction UI metaphors, and therefore the shortcuts aren't being prioritized in Inbox. I suspect they eventually will (it's just not that hard to build them in), but until then, I'm back on gmail proper clients.

Inbox got a lot of things right.

Inbox got some key things really wrong.
  • Search results presentation. Trying to guess which results are most relevant for me, and presenting those first, has long been a broken approach. Don't do it. Give me chronological results. I know how your search algorithms work... let me drive from there.
  • Search operators. I spent years mastering these, don't take them away from me. You're a search company first and foremost, don't forget that.
  • select/copy. Selecting text in an email and copying it doesn't work on iOS.
  • And the biggie... keyboard shortcuts. Few if any of them work.
  • GUI state refresh. Going in/out of the iOS app causes full GUI state refresh causing me to have to reload searches and find scroll positions again. That's a bug.
For a general email user, I suspect Inbox is pretty sweet. As a power email user that uses the keyboard a _ton_, it's not so good. Let me know when the above list is fixed and I'd happily give Inbox another try; in general I like the new UI.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Running in Tokyo

After a handful of trips to Tokyo, and associated runs, over the past few years I thought I'd share some routes and tips. I've only stayed in the central Roppongi area, so my launches are from hotels there.

  • Hang left. The Japanese drive on the left-side of the street, so, naturally they drift and hang on the left side of sidewalks/paths. You'll obviously figure this out fast as you collide with everyone as you run on the wrong, right-side for a few minutes.
  • As with any big city, commuting hours are a nightmare to weave through pedestrian traffic, so run off-hours; you'll be up before the crack of dawn anyway.
  • When you're crossing a street, look the opposite way you normally would (again, they drive on the left so everything's inverted).
  • Even if the coast is clear, wait for the walking signal to turn green before you cross. Crossing streets out of order is severely frowned upon. Order reigns supreme and you'll be that jerk Westerner who disregards everyone else if you go with your instinct to just cross the street because there are no cars (yes, even at 5am when no-one but the guards/police are floating around).
  • The Imperial Palace is a beautiful ~10k from Roppongi. Here's a recent Strava GPS trace of one of my runs around it. Lots of runners on this route; very popular.
  • The Akasaka Palace is another gorgeous route. It's shorter (about half of Imperial), and includes a couple of hills. Not as popular as Imperial, but still a fair number of runners.
Run on.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Apple Watch Review

I just spent a week with the Apple Watch. I thought it was going to be the answer to my sports activity tracking needs, however it’s not. Surprisingly though I’ve found a ton of value in it in ways I didn’t anticipate.

The Good

Wearing the following on my wrist has been nice…

  • the time. dragging your phone out of your pocket a zillion times a day to check the time sucks. looking at your wrist for that info is a convenient blast of functionality from the past.
  • text notifications. getting inbound text notifications on your wrist means you’re not dragging your phone our of your pocket a zillion times a day.
  • email notifications. getting inbound email notifications, of emails you care about, on your wrist means you’re not dragging your phone out of your pocket a zillion times a day.
  • “the crown.” the crown felt like a useless gimmick for the fist few days, but now it’s a really nice refinement on scrolling. I’m a big kinesthetic feedback person, so physical buttons/dials matter to me.
  • ordering up an Uber from your wrist is magic.
  • using Apple Pay from your wrist is double magic!
  • Siri works incredibly well for composing text messages.
  • the heart rate monitor seems to work pretty well, but it’s clearly a step backward in terms of frequency/preciseness if you’re used to a chest strap.
  • it does “activity tracking” just fine. the issue I have with it is in heavier duty “sports activity tracking.”
  • as you’d expect it’s a high quality piece of design/construction.

The Bad

  • too many spinning “beach balls” when loading third-party apps.
  • it’s really just a remote control for your iphone. as such, you have to have your phone within range of it in order to do anything.
  • currently, third party apps can’t use the sensors on the watch, so watch apps like Strava’s, again, are really just start/stop buttons for the on-phone app. I had visions of ditching my chest strap heart rate monitor, and my phone during sport activities, but it’s clear I’m going to have my phone on my workouts for the foreseeable future. I also quickly realized that I don’t want to wear the thing on my wrist that gets covered in sweat and goop from a 3 hour mountain bike ride, on my wrist to a nice dinner a few hours later. fundamentally there may be a gap between devices you use for heavy workouts, and otherwise just hanging around.
  • no on-board GPS. it relies on the location services of your iPhone for this.
  • I cross my arms a fair amount and the watch has trouble understanding the difference between that motion, and just raising the watch for viewing. this leads to inadvertent app usage/running.

I’m hooked; not for the reasons I expected though. All the little nervous twitching we do with our iPhones these days is being nicely distilled into a smaller piece of hardware that’s more readily accessible on your wrist. I feel like a more efficient Pavlovian dog when I have the watch on.