Damn you Netflix – Death in Paradise

Trying to avoid opening the work laptop yesterday, I was browsing Netflix, and one of their recommendations just popped under my remote. Death in Paradise, a BBC detective show.

The premise is somewhat weak, the pilot showed a police officer in Sainte Marie (Martinique in the Carribean) was killed with some unusual circumstances. An inspector from Scotland Yard is sent over to solve the case.

So you are on an island in paradise, with a classic British person (full suit, tie, etc).

Now I am frickin’ hooked. Catchy themes, always with a twist, and enough humor and interplay between the cast. Fun.

The stiff english gentleman, the island girl detective, two worlds collide. Makes me want to sell everything and move to Martinique.

Now I have three seasons to watch.

Thanks Obama.

Specialized Invades Santa Teresa Park

Today I did a mountain bike ride in my local park. As I was wending my way around the park, I noticed something odd. I passed an amazing amount of cyclocross bikes on the trail.

Trust me, if someone is off road, doing some serious dirt riding with drop bars, it is a a cyclocross bike. I mention this, as I see maybe one a year. Tops.

Today, I saw at least 6 in about 5 miles of trail riding. About 1/2 way through my ride I rode past a huge tent, with Specialized emblazoned all over the side. I asked one of the people with a black Specialized T-shirt on (who was carrying some beer) what this was all about.

A closed event, hosted by Specialized for their dealers to become familiar with the 2016 series of bikes. There were stations to setup suspension, to adjust bikes, tons of food, and probably 200 bicycles.

Cool place to do it. Santa Teresa park has a pretty wide variety of trails. From tight technical single track, wide open fire roads, some gnarly rocky downhills, and even some good roads to ride on for those inclined to try the road bikes.

I was totes jelly.

Apple Photos – it sucks big tool

Like many Apple users, when I bought a digital camera in 2003, I naturally gravitated to using the bundled iPhoto. It worked well, and my original camera, a Canon Sureshot 2.1 megapixel camera, integrated with it well. We took a couple of international vacations, and iPhoto was a useful tool for managing the photos.

Of course, I upgraded from that original digital camera to a DSLR, and started shooting in RAW format. iPhoto worked well until 2008 or so, but at about 40,000 images it really started to collapse under the weight of managing the photos.

At that time, I bought a copy of Apple’s professional photo organization tool, Aperture. In its second version, it was quite good. It picked up the old iPhoto libraries and albums, it worked well. Its organization capabilities were vastly superior, and it worked well for me. Additionally, it had some great tool for minor processing of the images, fixing blemishes (i.e. sensor dirt on my EOS-20D), and filters/adjustments. Not quite Photoshop, but for a duffer like me, it was very useful.

Fast forward to 2012, and the beginning of merging with the iPhone/iOS world. The version 3 upgrade brought this thing called the Photostream. Captured by your iPhone, it created an “album” of your off the cuff photos. It was good in concept, but in practice it really sucked. Suddenly my library was cluttered with all these “Photostream 201x October (or whatever month)”. The first few months, it was OK, but 3 years later, I can assure you it sucks to have these small automatically created albums. I can’t find shit, nothing is organized, and in general it is a disaster.

In 2014, Apple announced that Aperture was going the way of the Dodo, and never will be improved, or even updated for new OS versions. Boo. I took that as a trigger to look for a replacement, focusing on Adobe Lightroom.

Fast forward to today, and Apple has completely deprecated Aperture. You are forced to move to Photos, their new iCloud linked solution.

So, being the good Apple acolyte, I made the transition.

The good:

  • The photostream is dead. Thank fucking God, someone at Apple put a bullet in that feature.
  • All your photos are online, and sync’d with all your devices/computers. You have the option to have reduced resolution images on your devices, instead of 12megabyte RAW images. So I have my entire collection on my iPhone, and it doesn’t swamp my storage.
  • Editing the metadata is a bit streamlined. But the truth is, I am not ever going to go back and manage my 60K images one by one. Not gonna happen, regardless of how streamlined it is.

The Bad:

  • You pretty much need to buy additional iCloud storage. So now I have paid storage on Dropbox, Google Drive, and now iCloud. A wee bit of overkill.
  • It doesn’t do anything with all the fucking “Photostream” albums. That homeless abortion is still crawling up your leg. There is money to be made for some entrepreneur to create an app that will coalesce these albums, and allow you to deadhead through them, categorizing and sorting. So that people like me can stop obsessing about this cluster fuck.
  • It has these giant buckets called “iPhoto Events”. That is where it dumps all the iPhoto albums you defined. So you are constantly navigating among lame folders. Yes, I could re-arrange them, but I have hundreds. What a pain.
  • Much of the image modification/tweaking you could do under Aperture is gone. Simple controls, optimized for internet/social media sharing. Lame. Tres lame. I would even say completely, full retard.

Alas, my main photo organization tool will be Adobe Lightroom. It is just a better workflow. Fortunately, Adobe realizes that a lot of serious amateurs and pros who used Aperture will be switching, and have built into the latest version(s) of Lightroom the ability to go import all the Aperture libraries.

I can understand why Apple did this. The pro applications aren’t major drivers for them, and convergence between the iOS devices and the OS-X devices makes for a better experience.

Fortunately, we have some options.

Getting there – Weight loss in progress

The diet is continuing well, and apart from two visitors this week, with a couple truly egregious cheater meals, I made some progress.

The statistics so far:

  • 3 weeks (started July 3)
  • down 11.6 #’s (that is a 4.54% loss)
  • Exercise is trending up – both walks at lunch during the week (2.4 ish miles), and cycling on weekends, is feeling better.

So far, I have adjusted to smaller portions, eating less, and feeling satisfied. I have worked on eating better, more fruits and vegetables, and less meats.

If you care, you can track me at Strava to see my workouts.

It isn’t as easy as it was before I turned 40, but the basics work. Exercise more, eat less, eat better balanced, drink less alcohol.

My goal?  To get to less than 200#’s. If I get there, I will build a new road bike.

Got Called a Hipster

In a discussion on slashdot about the Apple Watch, where the consensus was that it was a product looking for a solution, and that there weren’t any compelling applications for it.

The comment that I offered as a valid use case was as a remote display of the exercise statistics while cycling. When I ride, I wear a heart rate monitor, have a speed and cadence sensor, and use my iPhone to track my statistics. I mentioned that I leave my phone in the jersey back pocket, where I have to stop and fish it out to see my progress. While there is a remote that mounts to the bar, many cyclists report that it sucks. So a watch is a good option.

I mentioned that I was considering buying an Apple watch for this purpose. (note to Babs: I am not buying one, just considering it.)

The attacks were swift, and brutal. I was called a hipster. People couldn’t understand that a cycling jersey has pouch like pockets in the back for things like tubes, powerbars, spares, etc.

The fact that I have two bikes was another point of attack. Apparently, neck-beards living in their mother’s basement can’t understand why a good road bike and mountain bike would be desirable to have.

I clearly am concerned about my image, as that is the only reason why I have an iPhone (over a vastly superior Android phone), and would consider spending $350 for a watch.

Yeah, that describes me to a T.  NOT.

For the record, I have two good bikes. Not great bikes. I ride semi seriously (60+ miles a week), but being a heart attack survivor, it is important to monitor my heart rate, and power output.

I am not a hipster, I mean, I can’t stand to listen to Arcade Fire, I don’t eat macrobiotic burritos, and I don’t have a goatee.