Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Om Malik, on his photo journey


I find using a 24mm wide angle lens, a 90 mm medium telephoto, or a 280 mm tele lens akin to using saffron in my rice or black salt in my lentils – flavors that are beautiful in their restraint.

I like reading his perspective on this. Less is definitely more. And constraints breed creativity. It is something I very much subscribe to myself with many things in life. And I’m drawn to some things that focused on constraints such as early Instagram or The White Stripes.

With my own photography, however, I view each tool as a different camera for a different project. I have a few select lenses for my DSLR, I use my Pixel 2 XL profusely, and I also have a DJI Phantom 4 Pro to be my eye in the sky. Some photos I’d never be able to capture using a single lens.

Along the way, whenever I hit a wall, as I do with all my questions, I turned to YouTube for the answers. It is a marvelous school, with easy-to-find tips and tricks galore.

I find YouTube indispensable.

I have been experimenting with editing my older photos with my new workflow and making interpretations of those archival images. But the biggest realization this has produced is that, unless the photos start off on the right foot inside the camera, it is difficult to reach a rewarding final interpretation.

I do this too. It is a fun exercise to see how you’d approach the editing of a photograph long after you’ve taken it. Like Om, I find that I would have shot the photo entirely differently just a few months or a year after I’ve taken it. Just like my palette has changed over the years (first, sweet wine then dry, first lighter beers than more bitter ones, first smokey scotches and now rye bourbons) so has my eye. And that is ok. The older photos aren’t worse or better – they were taken by a different person than I am today.

You can see Om’s photos on his photolog.

Om Malik on Google Photos vs Apple Photos

I’ve finally found some time this morning to read Om Malik’s post on Google Photos vs Apple Photos – a post that has been sitting in my Unmark queue since the day he published it.

Om Malik:

The improvements in Google Photos and lack of magic in Apple Photos sometimes make me wonder if I made the right choice by buying to Apple’s ecosystem and its ideology around software, data, and privacy.

I urge you to read his post. He’s very good at writing (he’s also terribly thoughtful, which I’ve covered here several times). Oh, and the day I met Om in San Francisco in 2007 I took a grainy photo of him on stage using an original iPhone. I wish I wrote posts like he does. But I digress.

Many of you reading this know my history with both Apple Photos and Google Photos (and several other cloud-based photo library services). I have torn these services down to their bare metal and tried to make them work for me. I have uploaded hundreds of gigabytes to both of these services. Multiple times. I’ve paid for both for several years as I’ve attempted to mold them to my liking.

So I know how Om feels when he watches a Google I/O keynote and wishes he was a Google Photos user. And then, subsequently, watching an Apple keynote and ending up wishing I had used Photos instead. This is somewhat akin to technology FOMO – wherein I simply wish I had the best features of every available service.

Currently, my process for storing our family’s photos is about as messy as it has ever been in my adult life. And I hate it. But I’m living with it until I find the mental strength to take yet another swing at making it work. As of today, I’m storing all of our photos within a single Apple Photos Library that exists on Eliza’s iMac. It is also backed up to two external hard drives. One that sits on her desk and one that stays with me in my laptop back. Our library is no longer backed up to the cloud anywhere*.

I told you, I hate it.

I won’t take the time to go into what I would consider the perfect service – but I think I can describe it like this – if Google Photos had a Mac / Windows app that also allowed me to have local copies of the files, that were stored in a simple directory structure, and stored the photo library meta data (like tags, or people, etc) in an open format like a documented JSON file, that’d be the ideal set up. Apple Photos allows some of this but it is so locked into Apple devices that it is no longer usable by me. I’m on Android today and I believe I’ll be on Android at least a few more years. (I love it)

All of this is to say, I feel you Om. And I understand the battle of wanting Apple’s principles of privacy applied to my photos but that I too am a human and I want all of these amazing things that Google Photos affords.

* My Google Pixel 2 saves photos to Google Photos automatically and Eliza’s iPhone X saves photos to iCloud automatically. So at any one point, several thousand photos are in the cloud, but the entire library is no longer stored online.

“What I am reading today” by Om Malik

Remember when I said we need more ways to find good blogs and blog posts? Here’s one… the always excellent Om Malik of GigaOm has a series on his personal blog called “What I am reading today“.

Here are a few of his recent lists.

There are more, seek them out.
/via @om

Om Malik interviews Kickstarter founder Perry Chen

Om Malik sat down with Perry Chen for a really great and in-depth interview about the success of Kickstarter.

I think, we’re able to offer people the ability to overcome that one core roadblock — the funding — and then additionally allow people to build this community and nurture an audience around a project.

I think the great part about the Kickstarter story is that the success of Kickstarter has meant success for more than just the company. It has meant success for every single successfully funded project (well over 20,000 now). It has meant that all of those people associated with those projects have been able to do something that they really wanted to do.

Om Malik on the tech start-up scene in Berlin

Om Malik on the tech start-up scene in Berlin:

The lack of classical German industries means it is a city with fewer jobs than other parts of Germany. It also means the city has lower wages compared to the rest of Germany and much of Europe. The sprawling nature of the city means that Berlin has lots of real estate. And that means low rents – catnip for artists, musicians and yes, the start-up community.

According to his report the tech start-up scene in Berlin is already doing great things, is poised to do even bigger and better things with a little help, and that we should all be watching.

I’m watching Om.

I recommend reading every word of Om’s report on Berlin but, as a matter of convenience, here are some of the companies he mentions; MyGuidie, 6Wunderkinder (who make the excellent Wunderlist), Amen, Gidsy, Pipe, Uberblic Labs, Upcload, Aupeo, Young Internet, SoundCloud, Txtr.

Om on the blogging challenge so far

Om Malik:

The blogging challenge, however has brought a rigor and discipline that was missing for most of the year. Almost three weeks into the challenge, I feel like a slugger in the middle of slump who is finally starting to recover his swing — connecting, but still missing the power. The desire to blog is back, writing longer pieces will come next and perhaps finally I will get the enthusiasm to write a book I eventually want to write!

I’ve never written professionally the way Om has. Sure, I’ve written on blogs that made some ad or sponsorship revenue, but I’ve never considered writing a discipline.

But, blogging for me is more about thinking. Sometimes a post will end up being something that people need or want. But most posts are really written for me. For me to jot down my thoughts on something or, really, for me to come to a conclusion on something.

It happens all the time. I’ll begin writing a post about something and have an opinion one way — only to find out by the time I’m done that I’ve changed my own opinion. That’s why I blog. And this recent challenge has got me thinking clearly again on a lot of things.

Side note: Not all things I write get published. Not by a long shot. So if I start off writing about something with the opinion of X only to convince myself to have they opinion of Y I sometimes end up not publishing it.


Om on writing

Happy Anniversary (sort of) to Om Malik of Gigaom for a decade of blogging. I haven’t shared much about Om on this blog save this experience from Wordcamp 2007 in San Francisco when I wasn’t feeling very well at all (travel often makes me sick).

When lunch break hit, I was hurting pretty badly. So I ended up sitting just outside the Swedish American Hall for a while and finally, while Om and I were speaking outside, Om said: “Go get some rest buddy.” Good advice.

That is Om in a nutshell. Easily one of the nicest and hardest working guys around.

His and Fred Wilson’s post made me try to figure out exactly when I began blogging. My best guess is somewhere in 1997. Unlike Om I haven’t been blogging every single day and I only made my living on blogging for a short period of time in these last 14 or so years. Someday I’ll have to write up my experiences though… it’d be fun.

More about Paperholm

Om Malik did a short email interview with Charles Young of Paperholm; which I linked to just a day or so ago.

WordPress turns 10

I remember the first time I ran WordPress on my local computer. It was amazing. Within a few moments I was up and running with just a bit of PHP that could power hundreds of blog posts.

Before I was using b2 (the name WordPress sort of had before that project became WordPress) I was copying and pasting HTML blocks to simulate what is called blogging today. Then I got frustrated and wrote a quick ASP script to loop through HTML elements. It was terrible. But I thought I was the best programmer on the planet. Then along came WordPress and the entire world seemed to be so full of possibilities. I could use WordPress for blogs, photo galleries, stores, anything, everything. WordPress was the Swiss Army knife of CMSes for the last decade.

After using WordPress for tons of blogs I helped build 9rules using WordPress. They even featured us  Then I helped Viddler build ontop of WordPress’ structure. I also helped Om Malik with GigaOm, and AWN with tens-of-thousands of WordPress-powered blogs using WordPress MU. I’ve attended WordCamps all over the world including Hawaii, San Francisco, and Scranton and you see the same thing at every single one; a community all willing to help one another.

WordPress has and will continue to push publishing on the web forward.

Thanks Matt.
Thanks to the entire community.
Thank you for WordPress.

A different perspective on Digg

Om Malik has a different way to look at the success and failure of Digg:

If the yardstick of success is making money for the founders, employees and the investors, then Digg will go down in the annals of web history as a colossal failure. However, if your yardstick of success is defined by a company or a product being a change agent and an instigator, then Digg was a smashing success.

Om was on the beach when the news broke making his piece later than most every other blog or news outlet. I think that made for a much better, more well rounded, and reasonable article than most of the other articles I’d read.

Is Surface Microsoft’s next chapter?

Yesterday I wrote:

I think Microsoft should focus and invest in making this their flagship product…

Joshua Topolsky of The Verge on Microsoft’s “shift” with the Surface:

That’s a big shift, and it’s an important one. The announcement of the Surface shows that Microsoft is ready to make a break with its history — a history of hardware partnerships which relied on companies like Dell, HP, or Acer to actually bring its products to market.

I’m really hopeful that Surface is a true competitor to the iPad. Competition is good for everyone – especially the consumer. The 45-minute keynote – although very distilled and way, way too over-rehearsed – really did give you a good demonstration that Surface could actually be quite good. Quite valuable. And extremelyversatile. Yes, perhaps even moreversatilethan the iPad.

And, yes, Microsoft could be going solely after the Enterprise market – the business class – with Surface. Though in the keynote Ballmer did repeat, a few times, that people like “to consume”, “to play”, with devices like this.

But, as my friend Om Malik reminded me on Instagram, we haven’t yet used the Surface. No one really has. Microsoft has come out and made a magnificient demonstration of a product that they have no idea how much to charge for, have little idea of when it will be available, and will not allow anyone to touch. I, forever being an optimist, have to keep something in perspective – This is Microsoft. This is Microsoft. This is Microsoft.

WordCamp 2007 – Day one

The first day of WordCamp 2007 sucked. But only for me. I ended up getting really, really sick in the early afternoon and had to go back to where I am staying for rest. What started out as a headache earlier in the day quickly progressed into just feeling horrible!

The Skyline

Fantastic weather!

However, the entire first morning was pretty good, panel wise. The first panel on Podcasting was a cross between telling novices what a Podcast is and an advertisment for PodPress, a WordPress plugin to help the Podcaster. Not that PodPress isn’t worth its own session (it seems to be a pretty large project), but it seems that people wanted less milk and more meat and potatoes.

The session on Blogging vs. Journalism with John C. Dvorak and Om Malik (iPhone photo here) was an enjoyable discussion that involved the audience a lot more than I thought they would. Kudos to Om and John for involving everyone as much as they did while keeping the topic at the forefront. I’m hoping to get a short interview with Om Malik today.

When lunch break hit, I was hurting pretty badly. So I ended up sitting just outside the Swedish American Hall for a while and finally, while Om and I were speaking outside, Om said: “Go get some rest buddy.”. Good advice.

I hope today goes much better, I’m looking forward to getting into the more developer side of things today and hopefully I can get some content up on the WordCamp tag on Viddler today.

Dean Allen

I did not know Dean Allen. But you couldn’t have been a blogger in the early 2000s without coming across, and admiring and swooning over, Textism – Dean’s blog. I was no exception. In fact, I was still subscribed to Textism’s RSS feed until I heard the news. Likely a 15 or so year old subscription.

There have been some lovely things written about Dean that I’ve read over the last 24-hours.

Along with hundreds of tweets. I’m sure there will be more.

I read every word of these posts. It is nice that these people have their own blogs where they can post more than just a pithy remembrance, but something that can truly reflect their feelings going through this loss.

What Dean’s passing reminds me of is how much I miss really great personal blogs. But it seems like they are coming back stronger than ever. I really hope they are.

Instagram hits 300M, gives 5 new filters, then deletes millions of accounts. All on purpose.

This is just me shooting from the hip here, but follow me through the last few days of Instagram news to see if, perhaps, they might have done all of this on purpose.

On December 10th Instagram announces they hit 300M accounts and also said this:

We’ve been deactivating spammy accounts from Instagram on an ongoing basis to improve your experience. As part of this effort, we will be deleting these accounts forever, so they will no longer be included in follower counts. This means that some of you will see a change in your follower count.

Deactivating is not deleting. Deactivating is turning the account off in some way. My guess is that deactivated accounts still were counted in the 300M Instagram accounts. But I do not know for sure.

So, they decided to start deleting Instagram accounts only after announcing they’ve hit 300M users.

Then, a few days later — just before deleting all of these accounts — they wave their hand in front of your face by releasing five new filters and a few nice features.

Everyone loves new features. Then, boom — they get an amazing valuation by Citi of $35B. Zuckerberg is smiling somewhere with that kind of valuation. Showing his ~$1B buyout to be nothing short of magic.

Riding high they begin actually deleting accounts. How many? Om Malik, on his personal blog:

Instagram, today cleaned up its proverbial act and shut down spam and bots, which resulted in a lot of people losing a substantial portion of their followers. Justin Bieber, for instance lost nearly 15 percent of his followers.

Biebs has over 20,000,000 followers on Instagram. Conservatively that’d mean he lost 3,000,000 followers when Instagram did their big delete.

I don’t know, and I don’t really care, but I’m guessing this string of news was very, very well planned out and that it will be a long time before we here about a new user milestone from Instagram.

The first month of Things I Saw This Week, the magazine, and onto Year 1.

Four weeks ago I decided to follow in Om Malik and Heather Armstrong’s shoes and create a digest of some of the more interesting things I saw throughout the week. After four consecutive weeks of creating these posts, and really having a great time putting them together, I plan to complete as least 52 of these posts.

I collate these lists based on what I see on Twitter, what I come across in my feed subscriptions, and what I read by just generally bouncing around the web. But how I save these links isn’t as enjoyable to me as having them to look back at later. I’m starting to see trends, and starting to notice what people are most interested in (based on click-throughs), and I think I am already getting better at describing my feelings for why I’m linking to each link.

Here are the first four weeks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.  I urge you to take a look through each week.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of this year goes and looking back at all of them to see what I can learn. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Update September 2016: I never made it to 52! But I’m going to try again. I’ve removed links to the Flipboard magazine as I won’t be maintaining that. Please look at the what-i-saw tag instead.

What I saw this week #1: August 23, 2013

Inspired by Om Malik’s What I’m Reading Today and Heather B. Armstrong’s Stuff I Found While Looking Around comes my own series of posts; What I saw this week.


Video: CarChat with Don Dethlefsen of The WerkShop about the 1970 BMW 3.0si Estate Wagon – If I ever have the resources to restore an old classic car (and I hope to restore an early 60s Lotus Elite some day) I think I now know who to call. /via Jason Fried.

Chris Coleman finds Sand People in Star Wars – Episode IV – I always thought the same thing that Chris Coleman did… “What is Luke talking about?” Until I saw the widescreen version of Star Wars years later.

Hank Bought a Bus – For his Masters Final Project Hank bought a bus and converted it into a tiny living space. Awesome. Follow along.

Soylent: What Happened When I Stopped Eating for Two Weeks – Shane Snow publishes an in-depth and personal look at drinking nothing but soylent for two weeks on Tim Ferris’ blog. – Digg is now sending a daily email digest of the best stuff featured on for that day. Unlike so many other email digests I’ve found the first few weeks of this new feature of to be quite enjoyable. Perhaps you will too.

The Best Thing I Ever Created by Jeremy Keith – Shutterstock has a new series on their blog and in this installment Jeremy Keith talks about the inception and evolution of

Video: Ugmonk by Jeff Sheldon – A great video showing off the Ugmonk brand. /via Kyle Ruane.

Video: Siskel and Ebert interview Lucas, Spielberg, and Scorcese in 1990 – I was 9 years old when this interview aired on television. It is fascinating.

Podcast: Allan Branch on leaving LessConf to focus on LessAccounting – My friend Allan Branch was interviewed on episode 40 of Product People. He’s a good dude.

Photo: Times Square, New York City, in 1903 – /via Yaron Schoen.

Steve Ballmer’s Memo to MSFT employees – He’s retiring within a year. Long overdue. Who will be next? Jon Rubinstein might be a good fit.

POP – A menubar app for Mac that shows you the most popular links from your Twitter feed.

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano almost drowns during space walk – This is pretty incredible. /via The Loop.

NBA to install SportVU cameras for every team – These cameras record the movement of all players and refererees several times per second. Teams can then use that data to build models after such as how Toronto did. Wicked. /via Shadoe Huard.

Chineasy, Building Blocks – As a genius way to learn Chinese, check out these building blocks.