Tonight (midnight between the 31st of July and 1st of August) was the ”Midnight Swim” here in Sundborn, where a bunch of swimmers swim from the damm next to Carl Larsson Gården upstream to the church and then back downstream again. It seems to be an annual thing and I heard about it last year but was too tired to check it out, something I regretted the day after when I saw photos of it and read about it in the paper.
So this year I decided to go regardless of whether I was tired or not and I’m so glad I did. It was really cool to see the lit up buoys (the right word?) that the swimmer dragged with them in the dark, and the speed they managed when they headed back downstream was simply amazing.
Earlier this year (or was it late last year, time blurs) me and Linn watched the new tv series version of Stephen King’s The Stand and we really liked it. It wasn’t the greatest, nor most interesting thing ever made for tv but it was a fun watch. After we finished it I read some reviews and saw that a lot of people, both regular viewers and professional critics, seemed to dislike it and I just couldn’t understand why they where so down on it.
Now that I’ve only got a few hours left of the audiobook of the novel I can sort of see where they are coming from, but I still don’t agree. Yes, if you’ve loved the book for decades then the show is going to leave you feeling it lacks so much. That’s kind of always the case. It’s an adaptation, not an exact word for word retelling with sound and moving images. On the other hand if you, like me, know about the book but haven’t gotten around to reading it the show is great ”fun” and might actually push you to read the book
Stop reading here if you don’t want spoilers.
Thus far in my reading of the book there are even some things that I think the tv show does better, primarily Randall Flagg himself. In the novel he is a sort of a demonic entity from the start whereas in the show he comes of as very human to begin with, almost getting you to like him, while still there being something wrong about him. Alexander Skarsgård is perfectly cast for the roll and his puppy-dog eyes makes it all the more effective when he does do scary things. It’s much more scary with a psychotic human then a demon.
Harold Lauder also comes to mind. The character in the book never gets as interested as he has potential to be and I think Owen Teague’s portrait of him really makes him human. I think there’s much more of an interesting internal conflict in him in the show as compared to the novel, and you end up both hating him, pitying him and also understanding him in the show. In the show you can see how it really was perfectly possible for him to drop his grudges and be ”Hawk” instead, remaking himself as a likable person in Boulder, but that he choses not to.
Worth noting also is the casting of James Marsden as Stu. While not ”better” than the book, it’s simply great casting. Marsden is really the perfect actor to play this almost archetypical character, the redneck with a heart of gold.
I have a feature request for micro.blog. Well, maybe not so much a feature request as an idea, or food for thought and discussion. I think it comes from a similar idea that Dave Winer blogged about a few years ago, like many such ideas seem to do.
The idea of a character limit for what’s being presented in a river of news or a social network timeline is a good one and I think two-hundred and eighty is a reasonable one. Naturally that means that longer posts needs to be truncated. The idea is that instead of truncating it with a link to the original, maybe the truncated version can be folded out when clicked/tapped to present the full post in the context of the river/timeline.
I think I’ve seen people mocking up similar ideas for twitter in the past as well.
I can see how it can become unwieldy for very long posts and/or posts with a lot of media attached to it. Maybe a two stage process where posts gets folded out to up to something like 500 characters and if they are still not visible in full they’ll get truncated with a link. Or maybe it’s a setting per client? Or maybe it’s not such a good idea at all. I’m not sure.
It’s time for me to get a new computer at work this year. We generally use Macs and we get new ones every three years. From 2015 to 2018 I was using a 13″ MacBook Pro, a computer that I truly loved. I had all the ports I needed (as long as I remembered to bring a Thunderbolt to Ethernet dongle) and it was small and light in my backpack.
Twenty-eighteen rolled around and it was time to decide on a new computer. By that time some of my colleagues had gotten the new USB-C/Thunderbolt 3-only laptops in the previous year and results where mixed to say the least. To give some examples, one of my colleagues absolutely loves here 15″. Another one is quite happy. One likes everything except the TouchBar. One likes his computer but has had to have it serviced multiple times do to keyboard issues. Another one has been serviced because of screen problems. Another colleague abandoned the Mac platform entirely. I felt quite strongly that I didn’t want to get into the potential problems of dongles, keyboards and all the other stuff but I did want to stay with the Mac. Fortunately I had one option, the 15″ late 2015 MacBook Pro was still on sale so I decided on that one.
Since then my computer and me has had an on again, off again relationship. I love the fact that I rarely need a dongle to anything. I love that I can plug in both SD cards and USB flash drives whenever I want. And MacSafe keeps being great. However it is was too big for my taste. The 15″ form factor is really not for me. It has even gotten me to the point where I occasionally get out the old 13″ and bring that one in my backpack. Also for the last six months or so I’ve really felt that this machine (the 15″) is letting me down in terms of speed and the fan noise in Zoom meetings is driving me crazy.
So it’s time to get a new one. When the 16″ hit the market last year(?) I thought I new what the future held in stock for me. I hoped for a similar 14″ form factor and that that computer would be the one for me. Now such a computer doesn’t exist. But the M1 laptops exist and they seem very nice. But am I ready to jump on a new technical platform early on? Will Pro Tools, MediaComposer and similar tools work? Will all my x86 terminal tools be available for Apple Silicon? And most importantly, do I feel like I have the time to figure these things out?
Here’s basically my options:
13″ MacBook Air with M1 processor
13″ MacBook Pro with M1 processor
13″ MacBook Pro with 2,0 GHz Intel i5
The basic problem that all three have is that they are USB-C/Thunderbolt only. I would really, really like to have at least an HDMI port and an SD card slot. And now there seems to be some rumours about upcoming Macs that might have that. But to I have the time to wait? Last week I would have said yes, at least wait until after WWDC but yesterday I realised that the most likely reason why my 15″ wobbles on the table is that the battery has started swelling and that seems like something that will kill it sooner rather than later.
With that in mind I probably just need to suck it up and head into the USB-C world. And if I do that the Intel 13″ has a distinct advantage in that it has four ports instead of two. Two seems to be very few. Also the Intel one has a know processor architecture. Every piece of software will probably work just as well as on the old 15″, right? Right?!?!?
Well, maybe not because my 15″ is still on High Sierra.
Let that sink in for a moment.
I still use a laptop on High Sierra.
Why? Simply because when Mojave came out I just couldn’t be bothered with checking whether all the tools that I need to do my work still worked or not. I had one small child and one very small child at home and messing with things that already worked seemed like a terribly idea. And then I stuck with that solution. This computer will remain on High Sierra until it dies. This makes it quite possible that the transition to a new computer will be less that smooth even if it’s still and Intel machine.
So the ports then. Four is indeed more than two. And why settle for two when I can have four? Well…
Based on this, getting a new 13″ Intel machine seems like a very small step up from what I have today, but a small step that still brings the hassle of new ports and an os that means I will have to do a lot of compatibility checking. On the other hand, getting an M1 machine almost doubles my single core performance scores and more that doubles the multi core ones.
So a MacBook Pro 13″ with an M1 then? Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell, if it had four USB ports and the Air only two then the deal would have been sealed. But the port situation is the same for both. And the Air has the added benefit of being fan-less. As I currently hate the fan noise from my computer maybe this is the way to go? Or maybe not having a fan means it’ll throttle the processor way too often resulting in I poor experience in the long term? So that can go either way.
And then there’s the TouchBar, or the lack of a TouchBar. The Air has proper function keys, while retaining TouchID. Even though I’ve only briefly tried the TouchBar on other peoples computers it seems to not be something that I want to have. Potentially cool but as far as I’ve seen there hasn’t been a ”killer app” for it, but there is the risk of accidental input.
It’s a bit anti-climactic but I don’t know for sure which way to go. In writing this text I think I’ve settled on getting a new one as soon as possible, and narrowing the choice down to either the MacBook Pro 13″ or the MacBook Air, both with an M1 processor. Which of those I should go with I still don’t know.
My yearly theme for 2021 will be The Year of Music. The point of this theme is to get me to do more music related things.
Doing that could be as simple as listening to some music during the day. For quite a few years now I haven’t been listening to much music. I often have my AirPods in my ears but most of the time what I’ve been listening to has been a podcast or, more recently, a YouTube video. For the second half of 2020 YouTube has more or less become the background noise of my life. This is something I really want to change.
I really enjoy listening to music and doing it makes me happy but it’s so easy to get stuck in the hole that is YouTube and podcasts. The podcast part has sort of fixed itself because it feels like I’ve burned out on most podcasts. Now there are a very select few that I actually care about listening to. On the other hand YouTube, as I wrote in the past paragraph, is a growing problem.
And don’t get me wrong, a lot of the stuff I watch on YouTube is great and I really want to keep watching it but every now and then I should turn off the videos and turn on some music instead.
I should probably also commit to listening to more new music, since my interest in whats currently popular has been close to zero for at least ten years now, but I feel like I need to set reasonable goals. So if I do listen to new things, that is good. But if I chose to listen to the same old stuff that I’ve always been listening to, that is also good.
Another way to progress the theme is to play music. I love playing guitar, tinker with synths, recording things and so on but I do it way to infrequently. Especially the recording/producing part has been close to zero for a long time. When I want to record something I would like it to be something that I’ve also written myself but that is something that I need to let go. I haven’t actually finished writing a song for a decade so it’s time to uncouple songwriting from recording an instead record some fun covers or something. I do have a more specific plan here, but that’ll have to wait for another day.
Making things related to (listening och playing) music is also part of the year of music. Working on the πiFi Music Player for instance is absolutely something that furthers the theme.
Setting up my home studio
If I were to calibrate the monitor speakers of my home studio or rerouting cables, setup synths and so on, that would also be compatible with the theme but I need to make sure that I don’t get stuck in preparing for a recording that I never make.
I still have a hard time to reconcile the fact that reading fiction, that was such a large part of my identity as a child and a teen, is something that I do so rarely these days. Part of that is how slowly I get through even books I really love from authors that are among my favourites.
Case in point, William Gibson and his ”Blue Ant Trilogy”. According to my Reading page I read Pattern Recognition in 2013 and now, in august 2020, I finished Zero History. I really like Gibson and this trilogy has been a blast but still it’s taking my seven years to get through.
I wonder how much time I’ve spent browsing timelines and listening to people going on and on about the same things in podcasts during those same seven years.
That being said, this year might be a bit different. As I said, I’ve just finished Pattern Recognition but I’m also half-way through a bunch of books, some audio books some paper/Kindle books. I occasionally actually manages to convince myself to read a bit for pure pleasure. That makes me happy.
TL/DR I finally bought myself an Apple Watch, it arrived a few days ago and I really like it.
There are few, if any, purchasing decisions that I’ve been sweating for as long time as the Apple Watch. I never really felt the need for one but the want for one has been there since its initial release. However I didn’t like the look of the first aluminum ones and I though the steel ones were too expensive. Eventually I got a Pebble Steel for my thirtieth birthday and I really liked that watch and found it useful.
After a few years and the Pebble corporation being ”sunset” it stopped working properly, it’s app started hogging disk space on my phone and so on so I stopped using it and got myself a regular watch.
EDIT: This photo was added after publication of the article.
The idea of getting an Apple Watch has been in the back of my mind more and more these past few years as I think the aluminum ones have gotten better looking. So last year I was quite close to buying one but in the end I decided not to, just to change my mind this summer. The reason (more likely excuse) was that it would be nice to track my activity when I go swimming in the lake.
I knew I wanted to silver aluminum one but I did some waffling about which band to get. In the end I decided to get two, the Alaska Blue Sports Band and the Milanese Loop
The watch bands
I’m surprised about how much I like the Sports Band. I mostly got it because I wanted to wear the watch when swimming and I didn’t want to use the Milanese loop for that but right now the Sports Band is my favorite of the two. It looks got and is comfortable.
The Milanese loop is still eligible for a return to Apple but I think I’ll keep it. I will use it some times and if I return it now I’ll definitely not buy it or something similar again because I will get cheap. So having one is probably better than not having one.
The watch itself
As mentioned above I got the silver aluminum watch and I chose the 40 mm one. I have quite small wrists and I’m not a fan of big watches so this smaller one fits me great.
I also decided to go with the cellular version, something I’ve always cheaped out on for my iPads. With the iPads I’ve never really regretted that cheapness since I never, I mean never, carry and iPad with me outside of a place with WiFi without also carrying my iPhone and tethering has always worked perfectly for me. For the watch I wanted to try and see if I decided to leave the phone behind for walks and other potential, though still not actual, exercise. So far I haven’t been able to get the cellular working because of some problem with my carrier that I need to go to a store to sorts of and I just haven’t had the time yet.
The watch-faces and complications
I’ve heard CGP Grey and Marco Arment among others complain about the various watch-faces. So far I don’t agree with them. I do think third-party watch-faces should be a thing, and if that isn’t a thing there should be far more watch-faces by Apple, but the current ones works for me right now.
So far I haven’t really decided on a particular favorite. Instead I have a few that I circle between during the day for various contexts.
First of, there the Simple watch face with a petroleum blue second hand. This is my night time watch. So far I wear the watch at night as well to track my sleep so I think it’s nice to have a fairly clean-looking watch-face for nighttime viewing.
The main one here is Sleep++ by _David Smith. I’m a big fan of David and his work and curiosity about his watch apps are part of the reason why I wanted one. I put the Sleep++ complication there on this face to make sure I activate sleep tracking each night but I gotta say that the automatic tracking works very well as well, so maybe I don’t really need it there. Still, it’s nice to have the crescent moon there as a visual cue that this is the night watch-face and that I’m supposed to sleep when I see it.
I imagine this will be my main work watch-face, the one I turn to on a working day after I’ve woken up and will use until work is done for the day. In that context I love how many complications I can, and have, fill it with, though it does make it quite busy which.
The main complication here is the topmost ”multi function” one that is hosting OmniFocus. This way I can always see what I should be doing next and it’s a great feeling to check off a lot of items and then see the Done text appear, indicating that there’s nothing more I need to do.
However, I would like it even better if I could chose different OmniFocus perspectives for the watch complication and the watch widget. Right now those need to be the same. It’s in no way a big complaint but OmniFocus is this wonderful power tool of choice and settings, so it would be great if this particular thing could be a setting as well.
As for the outer complications, they are (again clockwise from top left)
Pedometer++ is another great tool by David Smith. It was the first app I got for my iPhone 5S that made use of the ”motion co-processor” and the main reason why I’ve worn my iPhone as much as possible ever since. I just love to track my step amount and I think Pedometer++ is a nice app to do it with. On the watch it works equally well and so far I’m more interested in just my steps rather than my ”exercise” and ”standing” so I prefer this one to the Apple Activity Rings.1
Yr is a weather app from Norwegian National(?) weather service. I’ve used their phone app for ages and I find their forecasts better that the Apple ones.
Home is for controlling the IKEA Trådfri lights in my house. If I work at the office that is not going to be very useful but when working from home it’s nice to have quick access to the various lighting scenarios.
Then there’s the inner complications. A time complication from Watchsmith, yet another awesome David Smith creation. It’s an app whose sole purpose is to provide useful and highly customizable complications for the watch. Very geeky, truly amazing!
Then there’s a date complication and finally the Overcast one. Overcast is my podcast player of choice and having quick access to it is great. I’m not 100% sold on the dark mode icon on the watch but I haven’t bothered checking out whether I can change it or not.
Finally there’s the Infographic Modular face which I use as my free time watch-face, or awake but with with nothing particular to do watch-face.
I like the digital time on this one for precision telling of the time and in combination with the fuzzy time beneath it it’s great. The fuzzy time is another Watchsmith complication.
On the bottom there are three complications (left to right):
All of these feature on watch-faces mentioned above, so look there for more information.
The complication next to the digital time is the battery indicator. This one will probably be changed to something else soon. I find I don’t really care that much about the battery. Maybe it will be replaced by the activity rings, but that would than make the Pedometer++ one fairly redundant so it would need to be changed as well. Or maybe I’ll change the battery to the weather.
There will be lots of fiddling over the summer and hopefully a few blog posts about it
That being said, filling the activity rings has proven to be far more addictive that I though. ↩