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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Stolen by Adrian Brandon

Adrian Brandon:

This series is dedicated to the many black people that were robbed of their lives at the hands of the police. In addition to using markers and pencil, I use time as a medium to define how long each portrait is colored in. 1 year of life = 1 minute of color.

Touching project.

/via Andy Baio.

Developed two rolls of film today and completely botched the process. Made some adjustments and somehow the negatives look decent. I have no idea how.

All pop-ups on page visit should be blocked. I don’t care if you’re giving me 100% off, I don’t want to see the pop-up. No, wait, how about only if you’re giving me 100% off is it OK to show me a pop-up. Thanks.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro

I was going to wait a little bit longer before writing my review of this new computer, but Michael Tsai recently published some of his thoughts on it and – after writing a post in response to his experiences I realized it was turning into a bit of a review – so now this post is a review.

If you read Michael’s post you might come away thinking he doesn’t like the computer. I don’t think that’s the case. I just think he is pointing out the things that stuck out to him the most and usually the things we don’t like are the ones we remember more readily.

To cut right to the chase, I really like this computer. It has the potential of surpassing the 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina as my favorite Mac of all time. But I need a bit more time with it before I’ll know that.

The great things about this new computer are the speed and memory, the larger screen, and the sound.

The good things about this computer are Touch ID (makes using things like 1Password so much better), the large trackpad, and the hopefully reliable keyboard.

The bad things are the fact that it is all USB-C and the rather useless Touch Bar (more on this later).

Now, to Michael’s experience.

Michael on Touch ID:

I’ve always had great experiences with Touch ID on iPhones, but the Touch ID key on the MacBook Pro barely works.

I don’t have this experience at all. I’ve added two fingers to Touch ID (since my laptop is on my left at home and on my right at work) and I’ve never once had it error. Yet.

I’d suggest Michael consider re-entering his fingers again (or perhaps adding the same fingers he already has) or consider returning the computer. 50% is just not good enough. Something must be wrong.

Michael on the included power cable:

The included charging cable is gross, sticky, and leaves a film on my hands, like the AirPods Pro.

I have never had this issue with a cable from Apple. It makes me wonder if some people’s natural skin oils or whatever react to Apple’s cables and some do not? This may sound odd but I had a music teacher that couldn’t use brass instruments because brass was allergic to him. The trumpets would have holes in them if he used them.

I do appreciate his links to USB-C cables and chargers that he uses as I will likely buy both of those products through his links for my travel bag.

Michael on the aluminum case:

The bottom front, where you lift the display, still has very sharp corners, which once caught on my hand and drew blood.

I cannot find where he’s speaking about. There is no area of this case that I find “sharp” at all and certainly not one that could draw blood. Unless I threw it at someone! I’d love to poll 10 owners of this laptop to see if anyone else has thought the case was sharp?

Michael on the Touch bar:

The Touch Bar is more annoying than I expected, and I plan not to buy another Mac that includes one.

I don’t know if Michael remembers or not, but 4 years ago we agreed on the Touch bar’s potential. We both felt that it was underwhelming but perhaps, in the future, it’d be useful.

We are now in that future. And the Touch Bar, for me, isn’t particularly useful except in very specific apps. First, I use an external keyboard for about 90% of my computing. Second, the Touch Bar isn’t ingrained in my brain to reach for. I wonder if I learned to type on a keyboard that had a Touch Bar would I find it indispensable? A quick search of YouTube shows a lot of people that get use out of it.

Where I have found the Touch Bar useful though is in Adobe apps. Using Premier for a project yesterday, a few common tasks I have while editing a video were available on the Touch Bar. So I switched to the built-in keyboard for a bit and it really did save me a lot of mousing. Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. are similar. So perhaps for apps that have an enormous number of features and menu items the Touch Bar can really be put to good use. It becomes buttons that replace keyboard shortcuts.

Anyway, I thought it’d be interesting to contrast some of his comments with my experiences. It shows you that two people can buy the same product and have a different time of it.

Lastly, here are a few things that Apple could have done to make this the best Mac of all time (for me). A USB-A port, a card reader, added MagSafe to USB-C, and made the built-in camera just a bit better. That’s about it.

Oh, one last thing. The price. Mine was over $4,000. That is not a trivial amount of money and the most expensive Mac I’ve owned. However, most of my Macs have lasted at least 5 years. I use my Macs for both professional and personal use. Paying far less than $1,000 per year of use for how much I use the computer is a no-brainer. This laptop would be worth it at double the price. Don’t tell Apple that.

Why I used Migration Assistant to move to my new Mac

This isn’t a tutorial. If you’re in need of one and you’ve somehow stumbled onto my blog of jumbled thoughts on a variety of topics, sorry. You’ll need to go back to Google and try again (though, really, you should be using Duck.com).

I recently upgraded to a 16-inch MacBook Pro (review forthcoming) and had the opportunity to use Apple’s built-in process for moving from one Mac, or Windows computer, to a new one – Migration Assistant.

I’ve upgraded from one Mac to another (at my best count) 6 different times. Once I used Migration Assistant. All other times I didn’t. Since I only seem to buy new Macs twice a decade on average, I figure these moments are a good opportunity to start with a clean slate on my computer.

Doing so is not very easy. Though, I will say, moving from one computer to another is easier than it has ever been thanks to password managers, cloud services and storage, and a variety of other reasons. I remember in the 90s it taking about 3 or 4 days to feel as though you were back up and running. Then in the 2000s it would take me about a full long day or two. Most recently, without Migration Assistant, it would take me a full day. This latest move took me about 2 hours.

The reason I decided not to start from scratch was that I didn’t want to lose my current productivity level. Though I’m usually up and running within a few days, I feel somewhat hamstrung for at least a few weeks. Each time I open an app it requires new permissions, or whenever I pick up an old development project – with its myriad of dependencies – I have to relearn what I need to get it to run*.

So, fearing that I would lose momentum I decided to try Migration Assistant. My plan was to use it to migrate from my 13-inch MacBook Pro to the new 16-inch MacBook Pro and be up and running in the same day with every single app, preference, setting, dependency, file, password, and even session. My fear this time was if Migration Assistant did a terrible job at this, I’d have to format the computer and start over from scratch.

I’m happy to report though, that it went pretty smoothly. There were one or two apps that simply wouldn’t open (Visual Studio Code being one that comes to mind). So I simply trashed the app and reinstalled and it worked. I don’t know if it had to do with Migration Assistant or another issue but that was a simple enough fix.

Other than this one hiccup, I didn’t skip a beat. I never once went back to the old Mac and ended up formatting it the same afternoon that I received the new one. And with the added horsepower of this new Mac I feel even more empowered than I did prior to the move.

I do, however, have two suggestions to anyone using Migration Assistant… Do not use WiFi to make the transfer. I don’t even know why it is an option. I have a modern wireless set up in my home – it is very, very fast for most things – yet Migration Assistant simply would not work over WiFi. From what I could tell, the process would have taken multiple days. It seems impossible. So my only guess is that it simply doesn’t work. Apple should remove it.

If you cannot directly connect your two Macs because you do not have the right cables, consider recovering from a Time Machine backup using Migration Assistant (like I did). It only took about 90 minutes. To do this, you just need to make sure you back up your old computer right before making the jump.

I hope this new Mac lasts 5 years or so (unless the rumored switch to ARM is simply too enticing to wait). When I do switch to a new Mac, though, I won’t hesitate to try Migration Assistant again.

* This too has been dramatically improved with things like package managers and Docker.

Taking another social media break

Jake Dahn:

In many ways it feels like the more “information” I consume, the more burnt out I become.

And:

Ideas feel different, though. When I consume a new idea, I fall into a natural optimism where I can’t help but be motivated to remix the idea into something new.

Please read his entire post for the context of these statements because they are not entirely related to what I’m about to write.

When the pandemic hit we immediately instituted some rules for taking in information. We limited ourselves to just 30-minutes of news per day so that we were informed but yet not overwhelmed. After a few weeks, we began to skip days and most weekends since much of the information being shared by news outlets and authorities were mostly the same day-to-day.

I believe this helped us a lot.

Lately, though, I find myself consuming more citizen journalism via social networks than in recent memory. Like Jake, I can feel it drain on me in a variety of ways. I can see my capability for long form reading, focus, and deep thought lessen the more tiny bits of information, video clips, etc. that I take in. Consuming social media has always had that effect on me which is why I’ve taken extended breaks.

Jake’s post is a good reminder for me to take care of myself by limiting the amount of time I take in this type of information. I believe it is important to be informed but it is also important to be cognizant of your own mental health.

To that end, I’m taking another social media break. I’m unsure how long. Likely until I feel a bit better and I notice my mind settle and my ability to focus return a bit. I’ll still write here (in fact, that may increase as a result of this break).

I also have an idea of how to separate my subscriptions in NetNewsWire to allow me to still read some of my favorite web sites and publications (which provide me with inspiration) without getting too much news or short form bits.

PHP turns 25

PHP turns 25.

I’ve said that I agree that PHP is pretty bad. However, I still use it regularly, it has allowed me to make some incredible things, and made me a ton of money over those 25 years.

/via Michael Tsai.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro should have come with a card reader and perhaps a USB-A slot. There is plenty of room and what Pro in 2020 doesn’t need both of those things regularly? Other than this complaint… well, you’ll just have to wait for the review.

Over the weekend, Emulsive published my guest post in their 5 frames series. Subscribers to my blog will recognize the photos.

Question for 1Password users… When I generate a new password I always get two entries in 1P. One generically named www.whatever.com and one named the service after I log in. Am I the only one? Am I doing something wrong?

Make RSS more visible

Marcus Herrmann:

Personal website owners – what do you think about collecting all of the feeds you are producing in one way or the other on a /feeds page? You can put your blog feed there, but also RSS generated from your Twitter account (via RSS Box), Mastodon updates, or even the starred items of the feeds you consume (if you happen to use Feedbin).

I have my subscribe page. Which sort of lends to the purpose Marcus describes. However, it didn’t specifically promote RSS itself, and it wasn’t found at the /feeds URL. Now it does and is.

I won’t be adding any additional network activity to it.

/via Jeremy Keith.

The last few mornings I’ve been toying with making a web UI for my photo script (and extending it into a full photo library management tool). I’ve hit a roadblock working with files using a web app. Not sure I want to write a Mac app this summer. I’m disappointed.

Perhaps I’ll pick the best ideas I had and extend the CLI. And maybe, just maybe I’d pick this project up in the winter and write a Mac app.

This Obsidian app is really very good. It may replace Simplenote for me.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is very fast.

After six weeks, my PHP script for moving my photos into their proper locations (local, backup hard drive, and One Drive) is working well. I’m considering building a simple web interface for it. See also.

Chris Coleman has a blog

Chris Coleman:

Eventually I ran out of steam, life changed a bit, and the vacuum that this site filled in my day was filled by other things. I was 23 when I started this site. I’m 41 now. A lot has happened in 18 years, but somehow it doesn’t feel like a long time has passed.

Also, hot on the heels of my previously published post about blogging’s heyday, comes this quote from Chris:

Running a blog was different in those days. Everyone benefited from the fact that the internet was a much smaller place. Real social media was still a few years away, and dominance by the big players was even further out. People I had never heard of would add my site to the sidebar of their sites. I would usually not reciprocate, but it was nice to be recognized, and it made it possible to build an audience of regulars.

He understands the old days are gone. And the future starts now.

These are the bad times, but good things are happening.

Welcome back Chris.

I too miss the old days of blogging but they are never coming back

TTTThis:

When you search for blogs now on you see things like ‘Top 100 Blogs.’ ‘How to Make a Successful Blog.’ ‘Most Powerful 50 Blogs.’ But what you really want is 10,000 unsuccessful blogs.

Much of the linked piece is likely to be taken as hyperbole but it is mostly true-ish. It is true that it is harder to find smaller blogs via Google these days. And even truer that you no longer stumble across blogs. Unless, of course, you browse something like Micro.blog and follow link after link after link to find stuff. But even then, it is a lot of work.

It reminds me of Brent Simmons wishing there was a blog search engine. There really should be because Micro.blog doesn’t even seem to be trying to fill that role.

I’ve written about blogging’s past, present, and future so many times I’ve lost count. So I don’t have too much to add that I haven’t already written; save this.

Back when blogging started the internet was smaller. So the blogosphere felt bigger. While today, the internet is much much larger. So the active blogosphere – while likely relatively the same size as it was in 2003-2007 – simply feels a lot smaller. I suppose it depends on how you keep count. Social networks now feel so much bigger in both scale and impact. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great blogs being created every single day.

It sort of reminds me of music genres. Classical, Punk, Hip-hop. Each have had their time. It doesn’t mean that they no longer exist. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t new material being made every day in each genre. But, they’ve had their time and their impact. And each gets replaced by something different. Something new.

I’m no longer waiting for the good old days of blogging to come back. I think that was a feeling that simply can no longer be replicated.

/via Colin Walker.

Follow-up on using Spotify for podcasts: They have a very long way to go before they are on par with even the most basic podcast apps. This leads me to believe they will have a standalone, free, podcasting app by year end.

New 16-inch MacBook Pro is en route. Suddenly current 13-inch MacBook Pro feels more sluggish than a few days ago. Does it know?

Unmark version 2020.1 has officially rolled into master today. This is a huge milestone with tons of new features and improvements. It has been running on Unmark.it for months and purrs like a kitten. Unmark is still my favorite app I use every single day.

After less than a day on Spotify for podcasts, I can say the desktop experience is not very good but the mobile one is OK. They have a lot of work to do to catch up to the status quo in the podcast player space.

I’d like to shoot a photo for an album cover.

I see people handing out book recommendations. Fun! Here are mine. I’m going to spend some time looking through all of yours.

I’ve long been a fan of Spotify. I don’t think it is arguable that it is better than all other streaming music services at recommending and surfacing music based on your habits. With Joe Rogan moving to Spotify, I’m going to test it podcast listening for a few weeks. Normally I use Pocket Casts on all platforms.

Now that my new day job has settled into a groove, and I’ve been able to complete a few paid gigs, I’ve updated my hire page to reflect that I have some availability.

Jeremy asks what our favorite photo is. Very hard question. But I’d have to choose Disfarmer #41383.

Nick Carver is giving away 2 seats to his online light metering for film photography course for those that may not be able to afford it.

Starting to feel stir-crazy. I need a new photography project to keep my mind off of being stuck at home.

Another “modern web” annoyance; visit a site, start reading the text, and it bounces around while you’re reading for about 60 seconds while all of the ads and autoplay videos load. I’m going back to books.

Exposed root – April 2020

If you walk through the same forest for months and months – you begin to notice the details you’d normally miss. Also on Flickr, Instagram.