7 Things This Week, 2021-10-17
A weekly list of things I found interesting, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, often not.
The keycap and bump labels make it easier to identify important keys, or find ports and cables. The opener support includes a pull tab and ring to provide more flexibility for opening a laptop lid or maneuvering a Surface kickstand. Microsoft has created the kit in collaboration with people with disabilities to make sure it covers a wide spectrum of needs.
Go check out the photos of the adaptive kit from Microsoft. It brings a smile to my face that they’re working on problems like these with, and for, people with disabilities. They look so tactile and fun to touch that I wouldn’t mind having them around to fidget with either.
More broadly, directory structure connotes physical placement — the idea that a file stored on a computer is located somewhere on that computer, in a specific and discrete location. That’s a concept that’s always felt obvious to Garland but seems completely alien to her students. “I tend to think an item lives in a particular folder. It lives in one place, and I have to go to that folder to find it,” Garland says. “They see it like one bucket, and everything’s in the bucket.”
It seems like this story swept through the internet a few weeks ago, but I’m just getting to it now. It boggles my mind and makes complete sense that today’s college students don’t have a mental model for files and folders on their devices. They’ve likely been raised largely paperless and using the Google Docs method where every new document gets created in one big bucket and shared only via links. That’s a byproduct of schools turning to Google for their technology infrastructure needs, I guess. I suppose I’m just surprised that they got so far into their education without it becoming a barrier before.
That idea, that a reading app could feel like a personalized haven outside the chaos of feeds and streams and recommendations, is a compelling one for some users. “It’s not something you look at with a compulsion,” said Joe Hootman, an early Matter beta-tester who switched over after years as a power user of Pocket. “It’s something I look forward to as a welcome, interesting pleasure.” Hootman compared other feeds and services to roller coasters, and Matter to “a walk around the neighborhood — if you had a really interesting neighborhood.”
I’ve given Matter a try, and while it gets a lot right, there are still some bits that keep me from loving it. David Pierce does well in this piece explaining its origin and its mission to become a personalized front page for the internet. (Sound familiar?) I’ve written a bit about my internet reading flow, RSS, and the likes, and Matter could be a great contender. I struggle to see why they would need so much startup money and fear how much users will have to pay to make it up in monthly subscription fees — but then again, what do I know about the business side? It feels like we’re on the cusp of big changes, and hopefully advancements, in the internet reading space, and I’m here for it!
We’ve spent the last week in southern Tanzania, exploring this vast natural habitat and capturing all its beauty with the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera. As I watched Apple’s keynote about this year’s iPhone release, I was most excited about the new macro capability, increased telephoto zoom, and Cinematic mode.
The photography and videography left me speechless. Both the quality of these tiny cameras, but also the content are awe-inspiring. It looks like a breathtaking place to explore. I love these kinds of reviews that take iPhone to exotic places to test the cameras. It seems like an excellent excuse to go somewhere cool each year. Austin Mann knocks it out of the park again this time around.
And that’s the power of the language of cinema: transportation. Though it’s far from perfect in this initial iteration, Cinematic Mode gives “normal people” a toolkit to build a doorway into that world in a way that’s far easier and far more accessible than it has been in the past.
It feels like many reviews concluded that Cinematic Mode ‘wasn’t quite there’ and that it would get better over time. All of the examples I’ve seen (and experienced) say otherwise. Cinematic Mode looks like a ton of fun and puts way more video power in my hands than I’ve ever had before.
Photographers aren’t going to be putting down their DSLRs and proper macro lenses in favor of this. For example, I once used a high-end macro lens on a pro DLSR to shoot a series of photos I called London Eyes.
The iPhone macro capability doesn’t offer either the precision or quality required for images like these. (It does, however, let you get every bit as close as a real macro lens.)
But for most macro-style photography, when viewing on iPhones and iPads, the results look fine, and the same is true of viewing at normal web resolutions.
While Ben Lovejoy argues in this piece that macro photography on the new iPhones isn’t ready for professional use, I personally think that the example shots he used beg to differ. They’re incredible. He does say that they’ll pass for their intended purpose, viewing on mobile screens and posting to the internet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some award-winning shots that you’d never know were #ShotOniPhone.
I was in awe of the lengths to which MrBeast will go to make his videos entertaining. Seriously, watch this video and consider the logistics (and money) necessary to pull off a 17-minute video like this. Kudos to him and his team.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed these links, or have something else exciting to share, please drop me a line on Twitter!