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Up Early for Snow in Seattle

After it snowed a few inches overnight, we were up early (thanks to the 8-year-old, very early) to go experience it. The people in this house were awake, too.

The cold weather today made me think of this photo from December when it snowed here in Seattle. It’s sunny and a brisk 31 degrees F outside now, but friends in Portland are digging out of a foot of snow from the last couple of days!

Stay warm.

Puget Sound Sunset

I live in an awfully beautiful place. On the way to my daughter’s piano practice the other day, the light was amazing. I dropped her and my wife off, then headed to Sunset Hill Park, a little grassy overlook that’s aptly named.

I also took this opportunity to set up a 360-degree camera (the 360fly 4K) and capture a short timelapse of the sunset. The sun dropped below the clouds pretty quickly, but the clip still turned out well (especially the little girl to the right flopping around while her mom tried to get a photo). The video below should show up in a 360 viewer: if you’re on a mobile device, turn yourself around to see other angles. You may need to view it in the YouTube app. On a computer, you may need to use a browser such as Chrome.

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For July Fourth, my mom took me, my daughter, and my niece on a new adventure: the city of Dixon’s fireworks show. The parking turned out to be full at Hall Park, but a generous man directing traffic advised us to head down to the Dixon High School parking lot. The school is where the show’s explosives were being launched from, and when we arrived there were plenty of open spaces—and plenty of folks setting off their own firecrackers. I wandered with my camera before the main show started (which was a pretty great display!).

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Independence Day

July 4, 2016 — Leave a comment

Happy Fourth, my friends! This year’s Independence Day seems to carry more weight, largely because it’s an election year (make sure you vote! It’s important), but also because I’ve spent the last eight months being captivated by Hamilton, the Musical and, in turn, the stories of the people who founded the United States. I’m still reading the Chernow biography of Hamilton and am frequently amazed at the parallels between what we see today in politics and leadership and what was happening at the birth of our country.

Have a safe and happy celebration, wherever you are.

(Photo from July 4, 2015 in Seattle.)

My pal Glenn Fleishman writes the Mac 911 column at Macworld, so occasionally when I run into a snag with my Mac or iOS devices, I shoot him a message with possible fodder for future articles. Today, he relays my frustrating attempt to block numbers from “Telemarketer Bastards.”

At some point I read that you could add spammy phone numbers to a single contact and block that contact (hence the entry in my Contacts for Telemarketer Bastards). However, that stopped working. Instead, whenever one of those numbers called my phone, I’d see Telemarketer Bastards as the Caller ID—which made it easy to decline the call and send them to voicemail.

(This is also one of my favorite features of the Apple Watch. I decline calls all the time via the watch without having to pick up the iPhone at all. Because unsolicited calls have become such a problem, I never answer the phone unless it’s a call from someone I know. Even answering a telemarketer call tells them you’re likely to pick up and will lead to more unwanted calls. Telemarketer bastards have ruined calling for everyone.)

But I don’t want even that step, since I’ve already identified those numbers as unwanted calls. Glenn explains that Apple blocks based on individual numbers, not contacts. So, I’ve since just blocked those individual numbers.

But it tickles me that “Telemarketer Bastards” made it into Macworld.

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Well now, this is interesting. PetaPixel spotted a feature in one of the slides during yesterday’s WWDC keynote that reads: “RAW photo editing.” We don’t yet know the details, but if iOS finally supports raw images, that could be a giant leap for mobile photo workflows. Raw is typically where the iPad has thrown a wrench into the works (as I describe in my book and elsewhere).

iOS 10 is available now to developers, with a public beta coming in July. The update will be available for everyone in the fall when we’ll see new iPhone models. I would bet (and the PetaPixel article brings up) that we’ll see some sort of raw capture on the new iPhones and perhaps the iPad, too.

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Late last week I talked to David Sparks and Katie Floyd for the Mac Power Users podcast about iPhone photography. I’ve known David for years in the Mac world and from Macworld Expos past, and follow his great site MacSparky.

David recently took a bold step: sold all of his camera gear and now uses the iPhone 6s Plus as his only camera. In this MPU episode, we talk about how feasible that is, the tradeoffs and advantages, and also focus a lot on how everyone can improve their iPhone photography. It’s a topic we could have discussed for hours—we didn’t even get to photo management, which would be a good followup episode—but I think we covered a lot of ground. Check it out (and subscribe to the podcast) at Mac Power Users #324.

The Wall Street Journal estimates 12 million watches were sold in its first year, compared to 6 million iPhone sales in its first year. That sounds pretty successful, but what does it mean for the next couple of years? (For the record, I think 12 million is a pretty good indicator that the watch isn’t a “flop,” which is the current sentiment in most media.)

Macworld has just published an opinion piece I wrote, arguing that a better comparison is the iPad, not the iPhone, when looking at longer-term performance. Read it here: Look to the iPad for Apple Watch comparisons.

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Over at Macworld, Jared Newman writes about the findings of DisplayMate Technologies regarding the 9.7-inch iPad’s color accuracy, which is “virtually indistinguishable from perfect.”

Soneira was especially impressed with the new iPad Pro’s color accuracy. While the 12.9-inch iPad Pro got edged out by Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 last year in terms of noticeable color differences, the smaller iPad Pro has retaken the throne. “It is visually indistinguishable from perfect, and is very likely considerably better than any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV that you have,” Soneira wrote.

They also noted that the screen reflectance is the best of any iPad or smartphone.

I’m excited to announce that Take Control Books has just published my update to Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course. Version 1.2 is now fully updated to cover watchOS 2 and the various improvements rolled into the watch’s operating system (see below).

Although the book required a fairly substantial refresh, we’re offering it as a free update for current owners: click the Ebook Extras button on the cover to view the title on the Web and download the updated version in the column at left.

If you don’t yet own it, the book is just $10. When you buy it, you get PDF, EPUB, and Mobi (Kindle) versions so you can read it on any electronic device you own.

Watch cc sample1 
Watch cc sample2

And here’s a little behind-the-scenes fun: When we published the 1.0 version of the book, the Apple Watch had only been announced, which meant I had to use screenshots from Apple’s Web site and from video of the introduction event in sections of the book. Because of that, Apple rejected the title when we submitted it to the iBooks Store. In this new edition, I’ve removed all of those images and recreated new ones in their places, such as the photos in the example pages above. There’s nothing like convincing your wonderful but very sleepy wife to pretend she’s going out for a jog at 11:00 PM and turn your living room into an impromptu photo studio.

I hope you enjoy this update. I wear my Apple Watch every day and find it extremely useful, and I’m eager to share my enthusiasm.

Here’s what’s new in version 1.2 (from the book):

The Apple Watch has received its first major software update, watchOS 2, with improvements in many areas. I’ve updated the book to include new information:

  • Native apps: Under watchOS 2, developers can write apps that run natively on the watch itself, which in some (but not all) cases translates to faster load times and additional features.
  • Look ahead: You can now see the future as you turn the Digital Crown and view the complications on your watch face. I talk about this in Look Ahead with Time Travel.
  • New faces: Choose from a selection of time-lapse animations or use your own photos as the backdrop. See Personalize the Apple Watch Face.
  • Wake up: Your watch can now behave more like a bedside clock with Nightstand Mode.
  • Digital Touch colors: Send your digital touch drawings using multiple colors in Connect with Friends Using Digital Touch.
  • More friends: You can now have more than one screen of friends available through the Friends button. I describe how to add friends, and move friends from screen to screen in Edit the Friends Screen.
  • Transit on the map: If you happen to be in a city that Apple provides public transportation directions for, you can overlay that transit information over the Map app. See Viewing a Transit Overlay.
  • Foiling thieves: A new feature in watchOS 2, Activation Lock, allows you to disable your watch if, for instance, it has been stolen, making it impossible for anyone to use it unless they know your Apple ID credentials. To find out how this works, read Before the Watch Is Lost or Stolen.
  • Face time: In addition to having the screen remain on for 15 seconds after you raise your wrist, you can now specify that the screen remain active for 75 seconds. This will use more battery, but may make your watch more fun to use, especially if you often demo it. For configuration steps, read Wake Screen on Wrist Raise. Also see Stay Awake Longer.
  • Wallet: The Passbook app is now called Wallet. It still works in the same way, making it convenient to show any barcoded ticket or loyalty card from your wrist. It’s convenient to pay for coffee, get in to a movie or concert, or board a plane with a quick scan of your wrist. See Use Apple Pay and Wallet.
  • Editorial adjustments: Now that the Apple Watch is readily available, I’ve removed the chapter about competing watches. However, the information about activity trackers is now in Exercise with the Apple Watch. I’ve also split the former, lengthy “Communicate with Friends” chapter into two shorter chapters, Communicate with Friends and Communicate Using Mail.

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