Yesterday TAG Heuer announced it's 'smartwatch' the 'Connected'. A great summary of the watch and it's functions can be found on Hodinkee, with a video from Kevin Rose.
TAG Heuer have teamed up with Google Android and Intel because, according to JC Biver, Switzerland doesn't have the facility to produced the 'smart' side of the watch. This is patently untrue as a Swiss smartwatch system already exists and there are plenty of software developers in Switzerland. I think JC's point is there are no players in the operating system field other than Android and iOS, and Apple doesn't licence iOS to third parties. A OS just for watches would be better bet in the long run, much as Android and iOS where developed for phones, neither is ideal on a watch.
So TAG Heuer's Connected is an Android based smartwatch and with that comes the obvious problems that it doesn't work so well with iOS, which I would be willing to bet the vast majority of TAG Heuer's customers use. That and you need to carry a phone while wearing it.
The problems with smartwatches I have are simple. To me a watch is round, this is proven over time. The design is perfect, square watches are not. Computers are better with square or landscape screens. So I see no problem with having a computer on your wrist but it doesn't work as a watch. Neither Android or iOS are good watches, visually or in function, they aren't even on until you somehow interact with them. A watch with a limited set of functions; normal watch function like alarms, stopwatch, chronometer etc, gps, mapping, altimeter, barometer, basic notifications of certain things, the fitness functions. This is more than enough. The likes of Sunnto, Garmin are nearly there already.
What Apple and Google are doing is something else. It's a computer and not a standalone one, it's not a watch. What TAG Heuer have done is closer to a watch and looks much better than the Apple Watch or other Android watches but it's still a long way from ideal.
The Canon 5D has garnered much favour, its popularity with pro photographers was expected but it also sold well to the well healed great and good of the internet. Sony’s latest (well this month) A7 looks to be getting the same attention, although it seems the pro's are still holding off.
Not so good for the likes of Canon, who just posted a loss in their latest financials. Both Canon and Nikon have not embraced the mirrorless camera and they still lag behind on some models with Wifi, GPS, etc. Things taken for granted on a camera phone.
Fujifilm X-T10 & Nikon D610 by Julia Revitt on instagram
Fujifilm have long embraced mirrorless with it's X series and we have one (X-T10) in the family. The size, weight and limited updates to DSLR's have finally given us the push. They are not without problems of course. The software, not just Fujifilms, for Mac or iOS is atrocious in both design and functionality. The original electronic viewfinders had horrible resolution and lag, but the X-T1, X-T10 and both Sony and Leica's latest are very high resolution.
But the latest Sony and Leica have both become as sizeable and weighty as a DSLR. Advantage lost. On comparing the X-T1 and X-T10 the only difference is size. The X-T1 is weather sealed which adds a little to the size but is the same underneath. I can't help thinking it appeals to people with a DSLR and this is one reason both Sony and Leica have gone this direction. Trading in your enormous 5D or D4 for a tiny little camera is less appealing and of course it doesn't look 'pro'. And the megapixels - everyone needs more pixels, bigger files, 'cause instagram right?
When something hits the pro level it immediately fines favour with those who aren't professional but like the implied association. How many internet super stars need weather sealing? Out in the BC backcountry, shooting bears, or shots of the latest gadget on their desk?
Bonus points to who recognises the song title heading.
It has been a considerable amount of time since I shot film in a SLR. We've been shooting on a wide variety of equipment recently so why not film, and black and white at that.
I took a few shots on Ilford B/W on an old Nikon SLR with modern prime lenses. The experience is pleasant enough, no chimping so no distractions and you spend more time composing the shot and less spray and pray, which is all good. The results were less exciting though.
There is a certain pleasant softness to the shots, like so many hipsters aim for with VSCOCam on their phones. But having to scan, which I hate, to allow anyone to see them, and the waste of paper and chemicals is more of a downside than the taking of limitations.
Hedingham hosts Porsche Classics at the Castle and this time celebrated the advent of the Fuhrmann engine and the four cam Porsche Carrera. The later Carrera RS and RSR are some of my favourites though.
Le Shuttle is the car transporting arm of the Eurotunnel group, responsible for the 31 mile long tunnel under the sea channel between England and France. The passenger service opened at the end of 1994 and I have been using it on and off for much of the last 16 years.
For the first half of it's life it was a pleasant change from ferries, which had become scruffy and slow, but for the last few years it is as tired now as the ferry services it disrupted.
In 2014 ET claims to have 51.5% of passanger traffic and 93% customer satisfaction. In 2014 I used the service 4 times and was delayed worst than ever before and I have never been asked about customer satisfaction.
As the rolling stock gets older and ET increases traffic year on year, there are more and more delays or 're timed' as ET calls them. You can tell how the company thinks if it can't even admit something as simple as a delay and has to re brand it.
This summers problems haven't helped but even if you ignore them, the service has not improved. Nothing has changed since the service has been introduced, other than the constant sms and emails telling you to arrive on time for your departure, even though they are the ones causing the delays.
The last trip we were delayed on the way out, even though we arrived on time for our departure, causing us to be on the road an extra 2 hours to avoid Operation Stack. On the way back we arrived early, and were offered a departure 30 mins before our scheduled one. We took it and then they delayed us until after are original booked time. We sat in the heat in the car after being told to proceed to boarding. The shuttle itself was hot as hell, at least 36 degrees, and on arrival the divider doors wouldn't opened so we say for another 10 mins.
This is not uncommon, in fact we've had similar service on all our shuttles over the past 3 years. Last year we sat in the car for 4 hours after being told to proceeed to boarding. You can never get any refund for delays or problems.
Until ET addresses the user experience and not the shareholders returns we will be looking at the ferries again.
My dad used to love driving. He taught me to drive and although I spent a lot of time on 2 wheels the attraction of 4 has become stronger over time.
Towards the end he wasn’t such a fan, things have changed drastically on the roads in the last 50 years and none of it for the better. The majority of driving these days is on congested urban roads or on motorways, and that has little appeal or challenge.
The rise of the driverless car (needs a better name) doesn’t inspire me. They are obviously designed to avoid accidents and so you could easily bully your way through queues of them as they would move out of your way, but by that point insurance companies will no doubt be penalising anyone driving themselves.
These cars are for people who don’t want to drive themselves, but also don’t want to take a taxi or bus ? People obviously like their independence but aren’t you losing a the main part with this technology - the driving? I understand not everyone loves driving and they just want to get somewhere and this removes the driving part, but then you are paying a hell of a lot for a taxi.
Driverless cars will all be using to same system to avoid accidents, traffic, whilst obeying the rules, so you will end up in a queue of similar vehicles but at least you can legally take a selfie or check Facebook.
I’m no fan of commuting by car, thankfully I don’t have to, but I do drive long distances across Europe. There are still great drives to be had. There are still great cars to drive, although for how much longer I don’t know.
My ultimate drive would be across the alps in a Porsche 911. It’s a journey I’ve done a few times but always in an underpowered car with a full load. The 911 is an iconic design, so good you can recognise it in the original.
You have to get in the car and drive it, there is no other way to understand it - Errolson Hugh
Acronym founder Errolson Hugh made a video with Porsche some time ago that sums up the 911 experience better than I can here.
There is still time to enjoy such a car, to love driving again, I just need to think of a Kickstarter campaign that would get me in one.
Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Unlike the majority of podcasts I've listened to, Serial tells one true story over the course of an entire 12 episode series.
Serial is the story of the murder of Hae Min Lee, an American student and the arrest and conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Initially I was reluctant to download the podcast not being a fan of true crime and the general poor production qualities of podcasts, but after previewing a few minutes of one of the episodes, this was obviously very different.
I had listened to an episode of This American Life some time ago but generally most of the podcasts I occasionally listen to are weekly design or tech related and generally not that great. Serial is magnitudes better than most podcasts. High production values, its own soundtrack, and no ad interruptions. Sarah Koenig is a great narrator for her own investigations and I think this is it's main selling point. In an age of celebrity glamour and ad soaked content, designed for people with short attention spans, Serial avoids all the pitfalls.
The episodes range between 30 and 60 mins breaking down the varies stages of the case and Koenig skillfully looks at all sides without playing one over the other. In this day and age, this type of journalism seems very rare. It's an enthralling story, well paced and well made and never too long. Leaves you wanting more like all good series. It's never distasteful or overblown like most crime reporting seems to be.
This podcast brings the quality of audio books to the podcast medium and with further series planned, let's hope more of the same follows.
An unusual photography book from Curves magazines' Stefan Bogner, it features a visual record of many road passes of the European Alps. These ribbons of tarmac traverse some of the most beautiful scenery in the Alps and have themselves become part of that landscape. Taken from a drivers perspective in many cases, these are fascinating looks at the alps when not covered in snow.
Featuring many classics alpine passes such as as the Gotthard Pass connecting north and south Switzerland, the Stelvio in Italy and Col du Galibier in France. A beautiful hardcover coffee table book with 224 pages containing 152 color photos, 3 black and white and a few paragraphs of text, in German.