The Sunday Edition — 11.19.17

I vowed, from the moment Jaclyn and I found out we were going to be parents, to not bombard everyone we met with “We’re pregnant!”. We’re not the first people to expect a newborn in the history of the world and there’s nothing we’re experiencing that nobody else has experienced before us.

We’re into week 38 now, which means keeping my mouth shut is getting harder than ever. Baby brain hits more than just mom. I admire others who were able to keep it together and stay patient during these last few weeks. I hope a Sunday Edition or two into the future will bring good news.


Three Sunday Editions, three mentions of Star Wars. Eventually I’ll get over my childhood.

This week, Star Wars Battlefront II (PS4/Xbox/PC ) hit stores. I’ve always been a Battlefront fan, but Battlefront attempt #1 was poor. This time around, you don’t have to hook up online to enjoy 90% of the game and you don’t have to download a 25GB patch to play on day one.

The single-player, offline modes are what you’re buying in Battlefront II. I haven’t been disappointed. The campaign is great, albeit a bit short. You play as Iden Versio, commander of Inferno Squad in the days and weeks after the Battle of Endor in Episode VI. The worlds are beautiful. The characters are unique. And the story is intriguing.

The campaign is a bit schizophrenic though — you play about a third of the campaign as regular Star Wars heroes (Luke, Leia, Lando) and the other two thirds as Iden Versio. Iden’s story is good enough on its own to cut out those other heroes.

You’ll want to barge through considering the magnitude of information at the end. I’ll be a bit perplexed if Lucasfilm gave away such a big secret in a video game (Warning: Spoilers be here!), but the secret as it stands right now would be well explained.

Here’s a good review to get you started. Here’s one that’s a little less positive.


Some conversation came up this week regarding the Touch Bar MacBook Pro keyboard and all the fun stuff that comes with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 (perhaps due to Marco Arment’s ode to the 2015 15” MacBook Pro).

There have been three major complaints with the latest MacBook Pros:

  • A shallow, loud keyboard with a new butterfly mechanism that can jam with just a speck of dust.
  • The real-world usefulness of the digital Touch Bar which eliminates the function key row and provides touchable buttons specific to each app.
  • An elimination of legacy ports like USB Type-A, HDMI, and SD card in favour of the new Thunderbolt 3/USB-C standard.

After a year with the 15” Touch Bar MacBook Pro, I’ve gone down each of these complaint roads and largely come out nodding in agreement. My keyboard has jammed two or three times to the point of needing to take it in to be opened up and repaired. I’m tired of having to carry around accessories to ensure connectivity with old storage devices. And I’m tired of having to shop for accessories that are MacBook-Pro-ready and don’t work with other, business-world devices.

I have a particular infatuation for the Touch Bar, though. I use it extensively in all apps. But it sounds like I’m one of the few.

Long story short, Apple’s parade of port changes on its high-end MacBook Pro has me frustrated. The adoption of Thunderbolt 1 and 2 was great, but wasn’t around long enough for the third-party market to adopt and produce low-cost, high-value devices. Instead, everything that natively plugs into the newest MacBook Pros are hard to find, expensive to buy, and full of fine print lingo limiting their capabilities. I hope Apple sticks to its guns with USB-C over the next 5 to 10 years to allow the market to catch up.

And needless to say, I’m looking forward to the arrival of my work laptop, which doesn’t appear to have too many compromises — other than it’s dated design.


This week, some further iPhone X reviews, some comedy, some photography, and a great playlist for finding focus during an 80 hour work week.

A Playlist for Focus

…and a course for focus:

Some Comedy

  • PR to English Translation For Selected Portions of EA's Response to Backlash Over ‘Star Wars Battlefront II’ Microtransactions — Audacious Fox

A Great Variety of Reads

And a Stunning Kettle

As always, thanks for reading. Happy Sunday and all the best in the week ahead.

The Sunday Edition — 11.12.17

Before departing from Kansas City last week, Isaac took me to briefly visit the National World War I Museum. The museum is a touching place, with serene architecture outside and a solemn whisper inside. I won’t have been the first person to visit the National World War I Museum with a camera, so you can head to Flickr to get a better sense of the museum and its surroundings.

I couldn’t help but capture a few of my own photos of the exterior design, though.

It was an appropriate introduction to the week ahead. My generation hasn’t seen war like our grandparents or great-grandparents, so we have to make sure we work extra hard to remain grateful for any and all sacrifice prior to our time. You’ll have read this poem a thousand times by now, but Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McRae’s In Flander’s Fields maintains timelessness to this day:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.   Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 


Roy Halladay was the titan of my baseball childhood. His numbers were as good as any Hall of Famer, especially his WAR stats. But more than any stat, Brandon McCarthy’s ode to the person that was Roy Halladay is better than anyone could ever put it:

Roy Halladay was your favorite player’s favorite player.


This week’s movie was War for the Planet of the Apes. The trilogy as a whole is worth watching, with Rise being my favorite and Dawn being my least favourite.

Movies these days have worked toward building more of a character out of the villain, even to the point of pulling on your own heart strings somewhat. Darth Vader’s character was never developed to the extent we see Kylo Ren’s character developing (I know, another Star Wars reference), and we surely haven’t seen much villain development in any Bond movie. I appreciate the time spent on developing villains in modern films — with political polarization taking over conversations of every topic, it’s good to nail down exactly why we’re supposed to cheer for the hero in a film.


This Sunday Edition format could grow into all shapes and sizes. I’ve considered creating a newsletter delivered to inboxes every week. I’ve considered making it a thousand words long (or more) in my quest to make it my own, yet have also considered eliminating my voice entirely. Feel free to drop me a line with any feedback you might.


New Apps and App Updates from the Week

Seriously, that iA Writer 5 update is one of the best app updates from the last few weeks. Another iOS 11 design, sure, but the custom keyboard implementation breaks ground on the App Store.

Some Stunning Photography and Better iPhone X Wallpapers

Great Office Background Music

Wonderful Reads

  • In The Loop: Jony Ive on Apple’s new HQ and the disappearing iPhone — Wallpaper*
  • Monument Valley 2’s surprise launch was a big success — The Verge
  • The 3 Most Important Things I Know About Consumers I Learned From Bartending — Kris Gage
  • Why Apple Should Buy Netflix — Bloomberg
  • Rosenthal: Former teammates remember Roy Halladay as a great player and an even better person — The Athletic
  • Mourning Roy Halladay, a Master Who Craved the Big Moments — The New York Times
  • iPhone X review: Early adopting the future — ArsTechnica
  • iPad Diaries: Working with Drag and Drop – Bear and Gladys — MacStories

A Few Products to Consider

Editor’s Note: Division Baseball is a ball cap brand by a local gentleman. There are many local entrepreneurs, very few of which I’ve ever highlighted. Adam’s work is an exception — I love baseball, baseball caps, and vintage baseball caps. Just want to be transparent on any bias on this one.

The Sunday Edition — 11.05.17

When you go to Kansas City, it’s not about escaping Manitoba Winter or hanging out with great people. Instead, as I learned this week, traveling to Kansas City is all about the food. There’s obviously great barbecue to be had on every street corner, but there’s also great breakfast sandwiches, great coffee, and just as great breakfast sandwiches. It’s a wonder anyone in KC cooks for themselves.


Thor: Ragnarok has hit theatres, and in full force. It’s my favourite Thor movie (like everyone else, I assume), but the film does bring a new worry to the forefront: Was the God of Thunder always this comedic? I always like a good laugh or two, but I kept expecting parody moments in Ragnarok in the moments where prior Thor films maintained the serious tone. It’s a bit Jekyll and Hyde, if you ask me.

I’m most afraid of this level of comedy leaking into Star Wars. The Force Awakens walked the comedy line quite nicely, but any more comedy and Force Awakens wouldn’t have been able to take itself seriously. The Last Jedi will likely be plenty serious. But every time these funny Disney movies smashes the box office, I get a tad more worried.


The iPhone X is out and in far greater supply form than most expected. Here are a few of my favourite reviews so far. The whole blogger issue where regular reviewers didn’t receive a review unit until 24 hours before the launch was entirely overblown, completely petulant, and roll-your-eyes worthy. The iPhone X is an entirely new phone with an entirely new future — it likely befits an entirely different review roll-out.

I haven’t put my hands on an iPhone X yet, but my initial thoughts are:

  • I’m going to be jealous of the power of the front facing camera (particularly Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting).
  • OLED screens (despite poor lighting when viewed at irregular angles and apparent image retention) appear to be the real deal. Those true blacks look awesome.
  • I’m so glad I have the bigger keyboard on the 8 Plus.

I’m looking forward to seeing more personal and anecdotal reviews come out over the next few weeks. If the X continues to sell well through the holiday season, AAPL’s 15% share price growth over the last 6 weeks is going to continue to steam ahead.


Slightly different format this week. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

New Apps I’m Using This Week

New Music I Discovered This Week

Great Views and Reads From The Week

Office Gear I Want To Buy

  • Jarvis Electric Adjustable Height Standing Desk (Frame Only) — Amazon
  • Dell Ultra HD 24-inch 4K Monitor P2415Q — Amazon

Happy Sunday. All the best in the week ahead.

The Sunday Edition — 10.29.17

I haven’t been too particularly quiet about my discontent with the Sony α7 II. I live with a range of frustrations for the sole benefit of using Sony’s dynamic range. Be it the single SD card slot, the unbelievably frustrating AF focus point selection method, poor low-light autofocus, poor battery life, and a plethora of other bugs, I’ve vowed for about a year now that I’d be upgrading to Sony’s third-generation camera in a heartbeat.

That third-generation α7 still isn’t here, though. Sony pumped out cameras every few weeks for a timeframe in 2015-2016, but upgrades in the general α7 lineup are nearing rarity.

The little wrinkle in my upgrade plans was simply if Sony released a new and improved α7R III that fixed the issues I have with the α7 II.

This week, they did just that.

The α7R III is one of those releases that makes me proud to own Sony kit. Sony appears to be listening to customers — the α7R III fixes such a wide-range of complaints, it’s hard to find things to complain about anymore.

Dual SD card slots, dramatically improved battery life, a focus selector joystick, improved responsiveness, improved durability, faster autofocus, burst modes up to 10FPS… this camera has it all. And somehow, it comes in at the same launch price the α7R II came out at a few years ago. Which still isn’t cheap, but a price I’d consider fair.

Impressive.

I’ll be looking for the change in my couch cushions to save up for this camera.


I’m a little heavy on the photography side this week, but that’s appropriate. Enjoy the links below with your favourite cup of coffee in hand.

Happy Sunday and all the best in the week ahead.

The Sunday Edition — 10.22.17

Short and sweet today.

Hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend. Grab some coffee and your reading device of choice and enjoy.

Happy Sunday and all the best in the week ahead.

Adobe Launches All New Lightroom CC

Adobe launched a major update to Lightroom yesterday, making things that much more interesting in the cloud photography space. While the current Adobe Lightroom CC (now known as Lightroom Classic CC) received a slew of updates, the major announcement was the cloud-based Lightroom CC.

Michael Zhang on Lightroom CC for PetaPixel:

Lightroom CC features the same power as Photoshop and Lightroom but a new streamlined user interface that allows for powerful editing of full-resolution photos on desktop, mobile, and the Web. Changes made through Lightroom CC on one device are automatically synced to all devices.

“Same power” is not entirely accurate, as Mark Galer points out:

If, however, you are an existing Lightroom user who is comfortable using the broad range of tools and features in the Develop module you may miss the following:

  • Histories
  • Info Overlay with cropped dimensions
  • PhotoMerge
  • Shadow and Highlight clipping warnings
  • Snapshots
  • Soft Proofing
  • Split Toning
  • Tone Curve Adjustments
  • Virtual Copies

Lightroom CC definitely feels a bit dumbed-down, making it perfect for a Mac/iPad/iPhone/web photo editor.

Lightroom CC for Mac retains the ability to import custom, third-party presets — an absolute must-have for my simple workflow — but those third-party presets still don’t transfer into the iPad or iPhone apps. If (or presumably when) those presets become syncable across devices, I will be able to move almost 99% of my work to an iPad. With all the keyboard issues on the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, the sooner I can move to the iPad, the better.

Adobe also announced a plethora of subscription plans.

  • Lightroom CC Plan ($10/month): includes Lightroom CC and 1TB cloud storage.
  • Photography Plan ($10/month): includes Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop CC, and 20GB cloud storage.
  • Photography Plan with 1TB Cloud Storage ($20/month): includes Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop CC, and 1TB cloud storage.

For now, I’m sticking with the “Photography Plan”, as my internet connection isn’t speedy enough to upload an entire photo library.

More importantly, I’m hesitant to go all-in on Lightroom CC on its own. There are a wide range of features not ported over to the new app — namely the tone curve — and, admittedly, old habits die hard. I’ve decided to keep Lightroom Classic CC around and start a new library in Lightroom CC to give it a try. Plus, there’s the added benefit of the spiffy new Lightroom logo on iPhone and iPad.

A few friends in the Candid Slack room have commented on a wide range of bugs in Lightroom Classic CC, making this update a bit more cumbersome for some users. I didn’t experience the same issues, but it won’t take long for Adobe to lose the trust of sturdy professionals willing to pay for a sturdy product.

Ulysses 12 for iOS 11

If this is what subscription pricing gets you, I’m not going to complain. Drag and Drop support, Swipe Actions, Library Focus, and an adoption of the new iOS 11 design all make for a brimming update.

Unfortunately, the iPad app specifically has been buggy for me this evening, crashing at least three times. It’s not the end of the world and I’m willing to be patient.

Again, we continue to see app developers adopting Apple’s bold, typographic design language in iOS 11. I personally love the decision and find myself tending toward apps which adopt the new design cues. Things, Ulysses, and Dropped, to name a few, all feel like part of a bigger family.

Cardhop for Mac

Yours truly discussing Flexibits’ new contacts app over on The Sweet Setup blog:

Cardhop doesn’t so much manage contacts, although it can do that if needed. Instead, Cardhop focuses on quickly interacting with your contacts. With just a few keystrokes and without touching the mouse/trackpad, you can go from surfing the web to emailing a contact in the blink of an eye.

Cardhop is an extremely well done app and quickly changed the general communication workflow I tend to follow:

  1. Finding the app needed to send your communication.
  2. Finding your recipient inside the app.
  3. Forming and sending your communication.

Everyone will approach a contact management app in their own way. Between the 3 or 4 hats I wear on a daily basis, I probably send between 300 and 400 iMessages, emails, Slack messages, Basecamp messages, or tweets in any given day. If Cardhop helps cut time out of steps 1 and 2 by using a quick keyboard shortcut, I can save considerable time communicating using the app. As of right now, Slack and Basecamp aren’t supported, but I have no doubt they’ll come along in a future update.

Long story short, Cardhop is a must-have for me. Plus, that icon.

Fortunately, it’s 25% off and down to $14.99 for launch.

Marius Masalar’s Kenya & Tanzania Travelogue

My pal Marius went on a 3+ week hiatus to Kenya, Tanzania, and all the areas in between. This is a long view and read, but well worth your time — particularly for Marius’ photography (he’s a pretty solid writer too, though — I can’t sell him short).

Although he doesn’t explicitly say which kit he used during the trip, our conversations and an upcoming podcast have revealed he used Micro Four Thirds kit for all his work. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II and 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO and 42.5mm Nocticron all provide some serious photographic kick.

Don’t miss his photo set on 500px either. I’m going to order some prints for our baby room. Namely, that header image of the mama elephant and its little kiddo.

The Sunday Edition — 10.15.17

Life happens in short spurts. The rest of the time is spent preparing for the next big event. At least that’s my theory.

Jaclyn and I have spent the last week prepping our home for the arrival of our little one. Jac painted the baby room, I put together furniture we bought from a friend of a friend, and together we purchased a car seat. After 7-1/2 months, it felt like we had waited long enough.

As we drove home from our car seat purchase, Jaclyn made a comment about how she wanted the big delivery day to be private,

“I don’t want everyone rushing in right away. For just five minutes, I want it to be just the three of us.”

Just the three of us.

When she said that, it occurred to me that I hadn’t fully come to terms with how much our lives are going to change. Our home now has a room for a third person in it — a person who won’t be a just a visitor. They’ll have their own room, their own clothes, their own sleep schedules and personalities, all within the little bubble I call “Josh and Jaclyn’s Life”. I suspect at first they’ll feel like an intruder.

Or maybe they’ll be a natural fit — a cog in the wheel we knew was always missing.

There are things we are experiencing now that you can’t understand unless you go through the experience. You can’t learn how attached you become to the little one growing in mom’s tummy until you go through it. And especially not by reading it on a blog or in a book.

But for the first time in my life, I feel prepared for the short spurt of life coming my way. Whether I am prepared is a different story.


This week’s Sunday Edition brings a range of photography, tech, baseball, and financial links — as though those are the only things I read about. Brew a cup of coffee and enjoy.

  • The impossible dream of USB-C — Marco.org
  • SpaceX’s Big F&*%ing Rocket – The Full Story — Wait But Why
  • 25 Giants of Rhetoric — Florian Mueck
  • The incredible view passengers on a plane never see — Prima
  • Starting today, anyone who publishes something on Medium can paywall it — NiemanLab
  • iPhone Photography 101: 12 Tips On Improving Your Photos — Depositphotos
  • Apple iPhone 8 Camera Review — Cody Priebe
  • Aaron Judge Was Amazing. Aaron Judge Was A Bum. Now He’s Amazing Again. — FiveThirtyEight Sports
  • UI Design for iPhone X: Top Elements and the Notch — Max Rudberg
  • The Difference Between Open-Minded and Close-Minded People — Farnam Street Blog
  • When life changing money, isn’t... — Wil Reynolds

Happy Sunday. All the best in the week ahead.

Rebecca Lily Artist Feature: Christopher Michel

A quick biography of the photographer you need to see:

Chris Michel is an accomplished photojournalist. His collection includes photographs from extreme locations like the North & South Poles, Everest, Papua New Guinea, DR Congo and at the edge of space (aboard a U-2 Spy Plane). He’s also had the opportunity to photograph a variety of global leaders, including the 14th Dalai Lama. His work is prolific and his photographs have been used by National Geographic, the Smithsonian, the New York Times, the BBC, Outside Magazine, and others. His photos have been seen millions of times and have appeared on the covers of many newspapers & magazines. His “Flying Emperor” photograph was the 2nd place finisher in the 2014 Wikipedia Picture of the Year.

Seriously, click the link and enjoy the stunning photography. Chris’ photography is simply out of this world.

1980s San Francisco Cab Life in the Days Before Uber

Pete Brook for Timeline.com:

These candid photographs by Portland-based photographer Bill Washburn were captured from the dash of his taxi when he worked as a San Francisco cabbie in the early 1980s. Not just a fascinating study of people, these images are also a portal to Fog City before the tech booms and busts—before Uber and Lyft, and before self-driving cars.

Could this be considered the invention of the selfie?

Rethinking Apple’s Reminders App

Tim Nahumck:

What I have often found is that the idea of downloading a separate app bothers people. Sure, they’ll have a few dozen free apps – camera and photo editing apps, several social media apps, a bunch of couponing apps – but heaven forbid they get a paid productivity app involved in the mix. The mental friction of having a separate app to manage their lives can be difficult to get over. This is usually the point where I suggest simply using Reminders: it’s basic enough to get the job done, it’s a part of the OS, and they don’t have to pay to try it out. But the app isn’t where it needs to be.

Just this weekend, I was discussing productivity apps with my brother-in-law. He mentioned he thought he’d benefit from a dedicated task management app and geeky Josh jumped into action. I did my best to describe David Allen’s GTD methodology and the best apps on the App Store for the cause.

The conversation flowed until he saw the price of Things, Omnifocus, and 2Do. (Don’t judge — the price of apps is a very real barrier to entry for many (most?) people. I don’t understand the thought process personally, but it’d be just as ignorant to label my brother-in-law as cheap because he won’t buy a $20 iPhone app.) As hard as I tried to make the argument that task management apps pay for themselves, that price barrier deterred the purchase.

For those people, Tim Nahumck’s re-imagination of Apple’s stock Reminders app would be a home run. From the great use of iOS 11’s design language and the surprising power buried deeper in Tim’s idea, I believe an improved Reminders app would have a greater impact on more people than further improvements in iMessage, Notes, Mail, or Music.

(Via MacStories.net.)

Mist in the Pacific Northwest on Rucksack Magazine

Stunning, dark, gloomy, and moody photos here. Great work by Adam Firman.

I discovered Rucksack Magazine just last week, after someone retweeted the magazine’s first volume launch. “The Winter Issue” celebrates the longest, coldest season of the year:

Our first volume of Rucksack Magazine is a celebration of Winter. Winter is a season habitually thought of as dark, miserable and impossibly long. Reimagining what the season can look like, we have drawn out the true meaning of winter and what it means to be experienced from a different perspective. In this volume we attempt to summit mountains Shasta and Suilven, explore the reality of a long Canadian winter and learn about the 'Arctic Surfers' braving the bitter Icelandic waves. We interview artist Mya Kerner and photographer Jan Keller, publish photo essays showcasing Lapland's iconic landscapes and collaborate with Unsplash to publish a beautiful collection of winter themed images.

There’s clearly a lot of inspiration being pulled from Cereal Magazine here. But if Rucksack can find its own unique qualities, this magazine is sure to be a good stuffer for your bookshelf.

Viewfinder App: Discover New or Classic Photo Spots

Neat to-be-built app, which needs 500 signups before development will begin. Weird way to seek interest in the app. But as long as it gets built, I’m happy.

Aside from hotels and flights, there are two major aspects of planning Jac and I undertake for every trip: food and photo spots. There are a bajillion food and restaurant apps available, but very few photo spot apps (at least that I’m aware of).

If built, Viewfinder will have its own little niche all to itself.

The Sunday Edition — 10.08.17

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm up in Melfort, Saskatchewan visiting family this Thanksgiving weekend. We travelled here last year for Thanksgiving and I remember there being so much snow on the fields that farmers had to leave their crops under the snow until the fields were cultivated in the spring.

An entire year's worth of hard work, gone.

Farmers will have had crop insurance to help cushion the blow, but no amount of insurance dollars would make up for that hollow feeling of having wasted your time.

In that sense, Thanksgiving came at an inopportune time for some farmers in this region. I felt for them last year. And I hope this season has yielded better results (there's no snow on the ground this year, fortunately).

To all those hands who break their backs to produce the food we buy in grocery markets, thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my home to yours.

Portraits of the Presidents Cup with the iPhone 8 Plus

I’ve felt a bit lukewarm on the iPhone 8 Plus’ new Portrait Lighting features: warm on studio and contour light, cold on the stage light and stage light mono. Like my testing, some of these portraits taken of Presidents Cup participants look a bit… off.

But when the iPhone hits, it hits. Just look at the photos of Jason Day and Jordan Spieth — any casual viewer would think these portraits were shot with high-end lighting systems.

I did the double take.

Square’s Tap-and-Pay Credit Card Reader Comes to Canada

Canada was quick to adopt chip-and-PIN debit and credit cards (I’ve had a chip-and-PIN debit card since I was 13 years old), but our secure system has been too secure for many of the best American payment innovations.

Square’s tap-and-pay debit and credit card reader has officially been developed for the Canadian market. I can all but guarantee Square’s new reader will be used heavily at the office this upcoming tax season.