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Have you read Becoming Steve Jobs, the latest biography of Apple’s late founder? I chatted with Glenn Fleishman, Susie Ochs, and Leah Yamshon for the Macworld Podcast about the book, Steve Jobs, and a few other newsy topics. The book is good; go read it, and listen to the podcast first: Join our ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ book club!

The most important aspect of the Apple Watch isn’t going to be technology, but attention. In my latest Seattle Times column, I look at how a device that’s getting a lot of attention now is going to hopefully demand less of our attention once it’s released on April 24. Read it here: Apple Watch becomes a study on attention.

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Spring brings rain to the Pacific Northwest, and with it, occasional boredom. But if you have an iPhone or iPad, you don’t have to be bored—and I’m not talking about playing Minecraft for hours on end.

In my latest article for Macworld, I offer three fun photo ideas you can do with an iOS device (or a regular camera, but I focused just on iOS for this piece). Read it here: Beat boredom with these fun photo ideas for iPhone and iPad.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume newsletter that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.

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Apple recently made the new Photos for OS X application available as a public beta, which means anyone who signs up for the Apple Beta Software Program can install it. But there’s a catch: you must install the entire OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite beta in order to run the application.

In my latest article for Lynda.com, I offer advice on how to do that smartly (hint: backups and test environments!), so you don’t disrupt your regular work or accidentally lose photos under pre-release software. Read it here: Photos for OS X App: The Smart Way to Install the Public Beta.

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When you’re a freelance writer, it’s easy to get caught up in deadlines and projects and article pitches and finances and taxes and everything else. On Monday I escaped the computer briefly to visit the University of Washington for the second time in as many weeks, because it’s also important to get away from all that, even for just a few hours.

It’s even more important to escape all that with the people in your life, so today Kim and I picked up our daughter early from after-school care and returned to the Quad while the cherry blossoms are still very much in bloom. Given our schedules, it would have been difficult to do it at other times, and I was worried that this weekend our schedules would be too busy, the Quad would be too crowded, or the rain that’s expected over the next few days will whip the blossoms off the trees.

We braved a few faint sprinkles and enjoyed some time outside, cajoling my daughter to pose for photos (I’d say about 40 percent successful) and simply being amid fleeting outdoor beauty.

It does make a difference. It’s easy to forget that in front of a computer screen.

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I’m happy to be writing for Macworld again, starting with a review of the new OmniOutliner 2.3 for iOS. This version now runs on the iPhone as well as the iPad, which means you can view or edit outlines when the inspiration strikes or when you have free time anywhere. It also takes full advantage of The Omni Group’s Omni Sync Server, which I believe is the model for cloud sync. Version 2.3 is free to anyone who owns OmniOutliner 2 for iPad, or costs $29.99 for a new license.

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A sample outline as it appears on an iPhone 6

Cherry Blossoms at the University of Washington

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My wife and I had planned to visit the Quad at the University of Washington over the weekend to see the cherry trees, which are at full blossom right now. Unfortunately, a persistent cold and chilly, rainy weather kept us inside. But I woke up Monday to beautiful sunshine despite a week that’s supposed to be rainy, and knew it was my best chance to go photograph the cherry blossoms at their peak.

I wasn’t disappointed. The trees are gorgeous right now, and the wind and rain on Sunday barely dispersed any of the petals. Although the sky was overcast, it was the best kind of overcast—lightly muting the sun with occasional bursts of sunlight.

Backlit Blossoms

Even with such a perfect picture, I had difficulty deciding what to shoot. Trying to capture the entire scene seemed fruitless, not least because even on a Monday morning the area was getting crowded with students and lots of people there to also photograph and enjoy being around the blossoms. I did try a few things, like a long-exposure (8 seconds) shot of the Quad with a pair of neutral density filters attached (much appreciation to the man at the bottom who didn’t move at all).

Long Exposure Quad

But beyond that, I mostly sought to find interesting patterns or colors, such as the bright green moss that also grows on the cherry trees, the wonderful benches (and particularly how the blossoms form lines underneath where they fall through the bench slats), and of course people doing interesting things. On the latter, I spied the puddle first (gimme reflections!), and was just lucky enough that this woman was posing for a photo with her friends in my line of vision.

Pink and Green Bench and Blossoms Reach

Although I didn’t spend a lot of time at the Quad (lots of other work on my plate right now), I felt pretty mentally tired when I left. Engaging one’s photographic eye is a lot of work, I find, especially when there are so many options for good photos. Still, it was absolutely a few hours well spent.

Quad and Clouds

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Following my appearance last week on Chuck Joiner’s podcast, he invited me back to talk specifically about the Apple Watch (have you heard of it yet?) and my brand-new book Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course.

We had a great conversation that went beyond just what the watch is good for and whether it will be a success.

Watch or listen to it here: Jeff Carlson Gives a Crash Course on Apple Watch.

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In the time since Apple introduced the Apple Watch in September, I’ve fielded two questions many times: “Should I buy one?” and “Which one should I get?”

Now I’m excited to announce that I’ve written a book that helps answer those questions and plenty more: Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course.

But wait, the Apple Watch doesn’t come out until April 24. What magic is this?

Apple watch cc cover shadowIt’s electronic publishing! Currently the book includes 23 pages of information based on everything we know about the watch, including a chapter that looks at competing devices to help you figure out if an Apple Watch is the right choice. I cover the watch’s strengths and weaknesses, how we’re likely to use it in day-to-day life, and the ways we’ll interact with it.

But when you buy the book now, you’re also buying the full, in-depth version that will arrive in May after I’ve had time to actually use the Apple Watch for more than a few minutes.

The ebook costs $10, but this early-edition version is currently 50% off. That’s just $5 for the ebook now as well as the entire future edition, or just 0.05% the cost of the entry-level Apple Watch Edition! And you don’t have to wait until April 24 to get it.

Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course is available as a PDF, an EPUB, and a Mobi file, so you can read it on any device, from Mac to iPad to Kindle.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume newsletter that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.

I joined Michael T. Rose and Chuck Joiner to talk about Monday’s Apple event for the MacVoices podcast, covering the Apple TV, HBO Now, the new MacBook, and, of course, the Apple Watch.

Watch it here: MacVoices #15070: The MacJury Talks Apple Watch, MacBook, Apple TV and HBO Go