- ‘Ukraine: Why didn’t the U.S. know sooner?’→
Sorry, I thought this was the kind of thing the NSA data collection racket was designed to “know”?❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Soon, Our Robot Coffee Baristas Will Only Brew Certain Brands’→
Later this year, the company will release its “Keurig 2.0” product. It will use a whole new type of K-Cup that affords customers “game-changing functionality” and “excellent quality beverages.” To achieve all this quality and game-changery, the company will also stop supporting “unlicensed pods.”
Won’t be long now before AeroPress models will refuse to brew any beans not purchased from Tonx.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Surveillance by Algorithm’→
Bruce Schneier explaining why collecting data that you don’t look at is still dangerous:
Computer algorithms are intimately tied to people. And when we think of computer algorithms surveilling us or analyzing our personal data, we need to think about the people behind those algorithms. Whether or not anyone actually looks at our data, the very fact that they even could is what makes it surveillance.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘More Thoughts on the Surface Pro 2′→
Let me be clear. If you’re looking for one device that is both a great tablet and great laptop, the Surface Pro 2 is not that device. But I’ve used the Surface Pro 2 plenty as both a tablet and laptop to know that an utopian hybrid is inevitable. It won’t necessarily be built by Microsoft, but this device is coming.
His post is short, but I love how it ends. I’m less convinced we can have one device that is great all around — or even a great tablet/laptop combo, but his conclusion is hard to argue with so go read it.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- The Grandiose Blanc on Tablet Work→
Because, and maybe I’m being grandiose, but I think those who are doing “real work” from their iPhone and iPad, are, in a small way, helping steer the direction of the personal computer.
Interesting thoughts from Shawn on this debate. I linked to just one quote from Mathis’ post (which is what Shawn is responding to), but there’s a lot in that post that I disagree with.
(This is cherry picking, I know.) Mathis’ example of taking notes while on a Skype call is comical. You can do that on the iPad, just switch away from Skype to a note app — you even get the benefit of not seeing the shitty, ad-laden, Skype interface too. Of course, other things I simply cannot do — or only can do within the confines of one app — on the iPad.
My stance on this has remained pretty steady: it doesn’t so much matter which tablet OS you use, as much as it matters what apps are on each of those tablets.
And that’s why I’ll always put my money on iOS. Yes, Windows 8 on Surface Pro 2 can run legacy Windows apps, albeit in a shitty non-touch-UI way. But guess what? So can my iPad, I do it weekly. I just boot up iTap RDP, log into my Windows machine and work in a really annoying fashion — which is pretty close sounding to how it is on the Surface. 1
I’m not saying that my solution is better, just that there is a solution on the iPad. Ultimately, somethings could be much better on iOS, but I’d argue that iOS has less to improve on than Windows 8, or Android has to improve on.
If I were forgoing a laptop, that’s when I might consider something like the Surface, but if I just want something that can stand in for my laptop here and there — iPad all the way.
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- And if you don’t have a Windows machine, Amazon has you covered with their virtual machine program.↩
- ‘The Best Utility Knife’
Doug Mahoney had the unenviable job for The Sweethome to pick “The Best Utility Knife.” I have a huge issue with his pick: it’s a folding utility knife. Yuck.
To be fair, he does state:
To get the full range of use out of the knife and as much safety and portability as possible, we recommend going with the folding style over the retractable. They’re smaller to store, tend to come with belt hooks, and because of the way the folded blade nests in the body, there is a lower chance of their accidentally deploying in your pocket. Retractable knives are nice, but their feature set is more geared toward the professional tradesman.
If that’s your caveat, then you need your headline to read: “Best Household Utility Knife”, anything less is disingenuous and annoying to anyone who actual wants the best utility knife.
Now, you may wonder what my background here is, so let me tell you: my grandfather, and father, own and have run a construction company since he left the military in the early part of the 1970s. I had my first tool belt (not a toy one) when I was 6. From 16 to 23 years of age I worked all school holidays in the field of my father’s construction company. To this day, my office, is inside a construction company office.
Next to a tape measure, pencil, and hammer is where the utility knife stands in usefulness — It’s something every construction worker that is worth a damn carries. I know what I am talking about when I talk about utility knives because I used them day in and out for a very long time in very tough conditions. I’ve sliced my hand open a ton with them, and demolished a great many things with the help of them.
These folding utility knives aren’t good for much. Sure, you may think they are safer, they are smaller (when folded), and have a belt clip (really?), but they are worse than a “normal” utility knife in just about every task. 1 They usually are less sturdy, less comfortable in your hand, and far more fiddly to open.
If you are worried about safety, but you still want a really good utility knife, then you buy this Stanley one. I have about six of them, and have had them forever. What’s not great is that if the blade gets gummed up you can’t retract it, and with too much force the blade may retract on its own. What is great is how grippy the handle is, how well they work, and the fact that they are seemingly indestructible. I’ve never had one accidentally open — so I think they are just as safe as those folding ones.
My favorite utility knife? This one for $6. It doesn’t retract, has a flat head screw (the philips ones always strip out) and stores blades. This thing is light, always ready, and even more indestructible than the retractable version. Even if you do destroy it… it was $6.
A lot of people don’t like non-retracting blades, and I get that, but this is the best utility knife you can buy — not those folding pieces of shit. 2❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘FP’s Situation Report: Obama’s big test in Crimea’→
Today's Situation Report from Foreign Policy (daily read for me) has a good run down/synopsis of the mess in Ukraine and how the U.S. could respond. None of it is “good”.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- “If it was normal for people to use their iPads for creative tasks, there would not be newspaper articles about people using their iPads for creative tasks.”∞❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Apple Explains Exactly How Secure iMessage Really Is’→
Basically: Unless Apple is omitting something or there’s some backdoor tucked into their many-layers-deep encryption (which, while unlikely, isn’t inconceivable) they really can’t read your iMessages without a fairly insane amount of effort. Sure, they could theoretically brute force their way past your private key. Or they could scrap the entire system and replace it with something with glaring security holes, and hope no one notices.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Long-Term Hard Graft 2Unfold Review’→
I have a German friend who once said ”Ich hab’ kein Geld für billige Sache“ (I have no money for cheap things), and I think it encapsulates how I feel about having buckled down to make this purchase.
As Wong notes, there aren’t many reviews of this particular bag out there — but it’s one I have long been curious about. He loves the bag, and this is a great review of it.
I don’t think it is my cup of tea, 1 but I will say it seems to be a much better bag than I would have guessed. Wong has lovely pictures, and the patina on the bag after a year of use is perfect. Do read the backpack strap section because — oh my — does that seem cumbersome.
❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- Then again I hate tea.↩
- “The more useful for work these devices become, the further they get from being really good tablets, which means it might take awhile before that perfect all-in-one device arrives.”∞❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- Quick Review: Tap & Dye Wrist Strap
I struggled with finding a wrist strap to use for the X-E2, as my old DSPTCH wrist strap was a tiny bit too small for my wrist/hand. I first put on a trusty Domke neck strap, but there are only a handful of times each year where I would actually want a neck strap on my camera.
I knew I wanted a wrist strap, but there are tons out there. I looked mostly at Gordy straps, as they are very popular, but then I found Tap & Dye and I really love the look of their stuff. I picked one up, and have been using it ever sense.
In brief, here are my thoughts on it:
- It’s rather expensive, but I wouldn’t say overpriced.
- The attachment to the camera looks superb, with good protection and a beefy look.
- The sliding D-ring on the strap functions a lot better than I had anticipated, much better than the DSPTCH strap.
- This is a strap that is just begging to get a little patina on it, but surprisingly it doesn’t patina quickly. I guess that is good, and not bad.
- It’s surprisingly much more comfortable on my wrist than I thought. I think of wrist straps as more a drop-prevention mechanism, than I do a carrying mechanism and that is the best way to use this strap. I don’t find the strap uncomfortable to use by any means.
- The strap really doesn’t pack down well at all. With nylon straps you can really get them out of the way, but this strap is stiff and seemingly always in the way when you want to pack away your camera. The best bet is to loop the strap opening around your lens, but then you have to finagle it off the lens when you want to shoot a picture.
Overall though, I am quite happy with the strap, and love the way it looks.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ’→
Spencer Ackerman and James Ball:
Rather than collecting webcam chats in their entirety, the program saved one image every five minutes from the users’ feeds, partly to comply with human rights legislation, and also to avoid overloading GCHQ’s servers. The documents describe these users as “unselected” – intelligence agency parlance for bulk rather than targeted collection.
One document even likened the program’s “bulk access to Yahoo webcam images/events” to a massive digital police mugbook of previously arrested individuals.
In other words: I think it is safe to assume that if you ever “showed” yourself on a webcam, there is a high likely hood that an image of you may be saved on a government server somewhere.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- Boeing’s Black→
The Black (FCC ID H8V-BLK) is an Android phone with a feature for a very specific demographic: it will self-destruct if tampered with.
What’s the over/under on this phone from Boeing have a larger market share than Microsoft’s when it is released?❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Was the iOS SSL Flaw Deliberate?’→
Was this done on purpose? I have no idea. But if I wanted to do something like this on purpose, this is exactly how I would do it.
I hope Apple is doing and internal audit on this, and I hope they come out and tell us what really happened. Yes, this is very much wishful thinking on my part.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘A Closer Look At Blackphone, The Android Smartphone That Simplifies Privacy’→
“Imagine you go to an investment bank for a job interview — what will you think if the person who’s interviewing you knows that you also make the same interview at a competitors’ bank a few streets away?” he said.
“That’s a bit creepy and with this technology… developed [by Kismet creator Mike Kershaw] specially for the Blackphone it takes control of the Wi-Fi chip, it learns where your safe locations are — home and work normally — and when you leave your home.. if you’re not in a safe environment it will switch the Wi-Fi off.”
I’d love to get my hands on this phone to check it out. But the above strikes me as odd, why not automatically flip on the VPN that is bundled, once the phone detects it is not on a “trusted” network? That seems like the smarter move.
I also don’t like that the local data isn’t encrypted by default — yes it is nice to give users options, but why bother on a phone this privacy focused? That seems like an odd choice.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘The Fingerprint Scanner On The Samsung Galaxy S5 Will Be Accessible By Developers’→
It’s not yet clear exactly how Samsung stores and transmits its own fingerprint information to apps and services, but even opening up use of the scanner itself and fingerprint activity to third-party devs already marks a considerable departure from Apple’s approach. Samsung already announced a partnership with PayPal to allow fingerprints to enable payment verification for making purchases, and even that offers a fundamentally different philosophical take on how to use biometric information.
This is very interesting. On the one hand, Samsung has addressed the biggest complaint about Apple’s Touch ID: that developers can’t use it for app security. That’s great and that’s where I hope Apple goes (as I have said before).
On the other hand Samsung seems to be completely ignoring the biggest concern about Touch ID: security. Senator Al Franken wrote Apple concerned about the security of the system, and yet Samsung releases bullet point info that is essentially meaningless and the response has been — well — crickets. This is very bad.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Opt out of Dropbox’s arbitration clause’→
No matter what they do (delete your data, privacy breach, overcharging, whatever), you don’t get to sue. Instead, THEY get to choose the arbitrator according to whatever criteria they want, and thus any dispute is decided by someone they’re paying.
That’s some bullshit. If you can, go for OwnCloud, BitTorrent Sync, or a File Transporter (in that order).(via Khoi Vihn)❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- Amtrak’s Writers’ Residencies→
This is a fascinating idea from Chee and Amtrak — using the service as a residence while you write. I love the idea. 1
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- I could see Patrick Rhone sitting there, quietly writing in his journal, with a soft smirk on his chin.↩
- Slack: The Chat App Your Team Will Want to Use→
Good overview of Slack — I’ve been using it since it came out and man is it great.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- Review: Ona Bowery
I have a serious addiction to bags, but my recent move to Fujifilm cameras necessitated another bag purchase — this time a camera bag. I never found the need for a small camera bag with the GX1 and the OM-D as they stowed well inside the GR1 Field Pocket (and inside my jacket pockets). I really only used one lens with both those cameras.
With the move to Fujifilm, however, I sold off all of my other camera gear, and thus needed a bag to at least have a central repository for my new gear at my home. This became blatantly apparent when I carried all the lenses and accessories piece meal to the hospital for my daughter’s birth.
With my Canon gear, the size alone, meant you needed bags for the gear. I had a special hiking backpack (for sale right now), a Pelican/LowePro serious storage case, and my shooting bag which is the more classic Domke F-4AF Pro.
I still have those bags, but the Domke proved too large. The camera and lenses swim around in the bag, and it is just too big now. So despite all of that, I wanted a smaller bag which better reflected the smaller size of my tools.
I really thought I would just get a smaller Domke, as they hold up really well, but I kept looking to Think Tank and Ona Bags as well.
Ultimately, the Ona Bowery in Field Tan led me to the purchase button.
I was immediately taken aback when I opened up this bag, the fit, finish, and feel of the bag is exquisite. In my opinion it is finished better, and feels better, than Hard Graft bags and at a fraction of the price.
It’s small — though others would say large — but it holds my entire Fujifilm kit just so. This bag is just something special as a bag in general.
The canvas is meant to patina, and comes a bit distressed (I don’t think purposefully). Since owning it the distress keeps coming, and I love every new mark that shows up on it, but one could wax the canvas if bothered.
There are a few really nice touches on this bag that I want to point out:
- The clasp. I am so used to velcro and zippers, that the metal clasp is a refreshing change. It’s silent to use, secures well, and is just all around better to interact with.
- The shoulder strap feels like a smoother seatbelt material. I really love it. It’s smooth, but no so slick that it slides off your shoulder. Really something nice. The DSPTCH straps always slid off my shoulder, but for some reason this strap (though smoother) stays put.
- The trimming on the bag is subtle, but so well done that sometimes I just admire it. I’m trying not to exaggerate, but it really is well trimmed.
Of course, nothing in life is perfect and especially not the accessory pockets on this bag.
At each side of the bag are little pockets to stow stuff. The rear and front pockets are adequate. They don’t secure shut, but they are tight enough that batteries, memory cards, and filters won’t come slipping out.
It’s the end pockets that are the real issue: they are tiny, obstructed by leather trim at the opening, and almost comically useless. I loathe them. They are hard to get anything out of, and not much will fit in them. I’d almost prefer they didn’t exist at all.
The bag is also missing any kind of secured pocket — I’d love to see a zippered pocket on the inside of the flap for storing memory cards, but there isn’t one. In fact aside from the foam padding and interior divider you would be hard pressed to say this is a bag specifically made for cameras. That is both good, and bad.
This is easily the best camera bag I have ever owned, and quality wise one of the best bags I have owned in any category. It isn’t perfect, and it is pricey compared to like sized bags, but I don’t think I could have made a better purchase for a small camera bag.
Something tells me I will have this bag for quite some time.
Buy It and Support the Site❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘Google Lobbying for Legality of Glass Use While Driving’→
Had Google just produced Glass, and harm resulted from misuse outside of their control, it wouldn’t be reasonable to ascribe much blame to them. But to actively fight against clear, valid safety concerns makes them an accomplice — morally, if not legally.
I actually hadn’t thought about what Google was really doing until I read this bit from Marco. When it comes right down to it, there’s little difference between having a cell phone mounted in front of your eye, and Google Glass when you are driving. Both will be equally dangerous — so if you think Google Glass should be allowed, you too should be fine with people texting while they drive.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- The New Must Have Micro Four Thirds Lens
The instant-buy micro four thirds lens has long been the excellent (if dodgy AF) Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens. It’s a pancake lens that is very compact, very sharp, and offers a nice compromise in focal length between 35mm and 50mm. It’s a good lens all around and it is a decent price.
Once you start to get more serious about micro four thirds gear, it always became apparent that you must have the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens. It’s exceedingly sharp, focuses fast, and is
f/1.4. It was always the next lens you bought. It just made sense, and the 50mm focal length is one of the most popular out there. 1
Recently Olympus announced a 25mm f/1.8 lens — something to take on the legendary Panasonic — and just this week these lenses started making their way in to people’s hands.
It’s almost as sharp, focuses quieter, is much smaller, almost as fast (aperture wise), and costs less than the Panasonic 25mm. You get 99% of the way to the Panasonic offering with a bunch of other benefits — that’s impressive.
I previously told people to get the 20mm f/1.7 to start out with on micro four thirds because it got you a really great, but small lens — but no more because from here on out I strongly feel that you should get the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 to start out with. The focal length is better, the build is better, the AF is better, and it is likely sharper.
The biggest downside to the Olympus lens (and any of their lenses, save the 75mm) is that it is not that great looking. 2 The Panasonic 25mm looks much better — much more professional — but one of the great things about the Olympus is the small size. It doesn’t look bad, but it certainly doesn’t look bad ass either.
I’d wager to bet this lens becomes very popular.
Support the Site
I only get income two ways: from memberships, and from affiliate links, so your help with either is what keeps this site going.
Buying the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 from these links will directly support the site.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- The Lunar Powerplant→
The construction of the luna ring would more than likely take place in multiple phases, possibly through 2 generations. The first step is to set up an infrastructure to get the materials needed for the project into space which would include a space port that could robotically build ships in low Earth orbit.
It sounds so crazy futuristic, but at the same time it’s pretty amazing that something like this hasn’t been attempted.
Sounds better than heating stuff up as hot as the Sun… On Earth.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations’→
The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.
They are using the same tactics that both make the web great, and make it so fragile. That this level of deception is taking place can and will pull more and more things people read online into question. That, overall, is very bad for the web.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- The New TextSecure: Privacy Beyond SMS→
Since I am posting about a lot of secure messaging systems, TextSecure has a new version out (I’m not sure if it is out for iOS yet), but this feature looks great:
The new TextSecure also introduces support for private group chat. Users can now create groups with a title and avatar icon, add their friends, join or leave groups, and exchange messages/media, all with the same end-to-end encryption properties pairwise TextSecure chats provide.
In fact, TextSecure is probably the most robust and full featured. Glad there are so many options.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- “As an entrepreneur making decisions for your company, always go back to your first principles of what’s important to you and why you started in the first place.”∞❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- $200,000 to the hacker who can break Telegram→
I guess Telegram might be more secure than their silly App Store description would lead one to believe.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- Secure Messaging
I mentioned Threema in another post and talked about how there is a lot to do with key exchange that can make such apps insecure. In reading more about Threema in their FAQ, it appears that the app servers can either facilitate the key exchange or it can be done in person via QR codes.
Key exchange is going to be that part of any end to end encryption system. iMessage most certainly holds the keys and are thus subject to court orders, it appears Threema doesn’t hold the keys.
That alone doesn’t make it secure, as they note that they must know who to send the message to. Even though those logs are being stored, there is nothing stopping someone from forcing them to log that data and turn it over (which is what PRISM tracks), but this is where their location comes into play, and I’m not sure the Swiss laws on this stuff.
At the end of the day you have to decide who you are trying to protect your data from.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘iPod mini’→
Andrew Kim on the iPod mini:
This is it. The greatest thing mankind has ever made.
Great read, this is the one iPod I never owned.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘
- ‘The problem with WhatsApp’s privacy boasts: They’re not true’→
Yasha Levine takes Whatsapp's security claims to task:
WhatsApp might have played fast and loose with the security of its hundreds of millions of users up to now, but that’s about to change. After all, if there’s one company WhatsApp users can trust to safeguard their privacy, surely that company is… uh… Facebook.
I don't think I will ever get the appeal of Whatsapp, but man does it have a shit privacy record. It does seem though that users are paying attention to security in some way. Over the past week an app called Telegram Messenger has passed Whatsapp in the free rankings, and it boasts better security than Whatsapp.
Humorously, under 'security', the app just assures you it is secure. So, yeah.
On the paid side an app called Threema has been sliding up the charts. For $1.99 it claims to offer true end to end encryption on messaging, but to be fair Apple's native iMessage offers end to end encryption too. The big question is where, who, and how the encryption keys are stored. For its part Threema is based in Switzerland, who knows if that helps anything.
It's encouraging that users seems to be paying attention to more secure messaging platforms, but crazy that so many large news outlets billed Whatsapp as secure, ignoring the evidence to the contrary.❘ ❙ ❚ ❙ ❘