The New Photos App is an Incomplete Work in Progress

applephotos

Apple released the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 update today, which includes the new Photos app, which will replace my beloved iPhoto as well as Aperture, for photo management on the Mac.  There’s a lot of coverage on the new app, so I’m not going to do a full review- just the conclusion.  I’ve been using the developer preview (on a secondary machine) for a while, and I think it’s a good app and a suitable replacement for photo management on the Mac.

Except for one inexplicable, deal-killing omission.  There is no longer an easy way to edit photos in an external editor.

In iPhoto, it was so, so simple to open photos in an external editor- in my case, the wonderful Pixelmator– edit them, and immediately save them back to iPhoto.  Just a few keyboard clicks, and the edited photo was back in its proper place in your iPhoto album.

The process for doing this in the new Photos app, well, doesn’t exist.  You have to manually export the photo, open it in the external editor, edit it, save it and re-import it into the Photos app.  This is simply unworkable.

In prior instances, Apple has added missing features to new or redesigned apps via updates.  They will need to add back the ability to easily edit in an external editor before the Photos app will be a candidate to manage my photo workflow.

Superstar

GodLovesEverybody

Many of the people who claim to speak for him are full of shit, but Jesus was and is a superstar.  It’s easy to forget that when we’re bombarded with fundamentalist idiots who use religion as a weapon of oppression.  But God is Love, and Jesus loves all of us.

Happy Easter.

That Sound You Hear Isn’t a Sound at All

Panic

Thankfully, I don’t hear bombs exploding in my head, like some who experience Exploding Head Syndrome (more here) do, but I often have some sort of auditory dream that wakes me up.  In fact, I had one this morning.  I “heard” (not for the first or 10th time) a loud, brief, irregular knocking sound, that woke me up.  Sometimes, it’s someone calling for me.  It happens enough that I have learned (because it is statistically impossible that this many loud noises would immediately stop as soon as I “wake up”) that these are not dangerous things.  I don’t wake up particularly startled.  I just wake up, listen to confirm that there’s nothing happening, and then go back to sleep.  Like a lot of people, I also have the occasional hypnic jerk, but those are different, and only seem to happen once in a while when falling asleep.

Based on a little research, it seems that quite a few people have some form of this.

Interestingly, I don’t have any other sleep issues, and only rarely have any trouble falling asleep.

The Rain Ain’t Fussy About Where It Falls

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Yeah, the rain ain’t fussy about where it falls,
It rains on one like it rains on all.
But when it falls brother, it’s gonna rain hard,
When the blues comes calling with its calling card.

Rory GallagherCalling Card

Amazon Cloud Drive: Just a Bit too Good to Be True

amazonclouddrive

I’m a committed and active Amazon customer.  I buy just about everything from Amazon, and I back up my Mac to Amazon Glacier via the powerful (and often overlooked by tech pundits) Arq.  So when I saw that Amazon has upped the ante in the cloud wars by offering unlimited cloud space for $60 a month, I was interested.  I back up many hundreds of gigabytes to Amazon Glacier, and it costs me around $8.00 a month.  $60.00 a year, even plus tax, would be a cost savings.  But the bigger advantage would (or should) be accessibility.  Glacier storage is dirt cheap, but the files are not easy accessible.

I’m not bothered by the lack of a true Mac app for Amazon Cloud.  Sure, there’s an app, but it’s mostly a front end for the web interface.  There’s no sync, selective or otherwise.  But that’s OK, because I don’t think Amazon is trying to fill the exact same need Dropbox does.  Rather, I think Amazon is positioning itself as off-site storage.  A place to put things to get them off your computer and in the cloud, not onto all your computers and the cloud.

There are four things people need to save and store.

Music: There are many good and some free options.  I use Google Play (which just greatly increased the amount of songs you can store from a too small number of 20,000 to a plenty big enough number of 50,000, which makes it feasible for long-time music buyers like me).  iTunes Match is a possibility, and there are others.  Amazon Cloud Drive does a pretty good job with music, but I tried it before, and it lost out to Google.  So there’s nothing new to make me change my plan (and the thought of re-uploading all those songs that I finally got in place and organized in Google Play gives Google a bit of a moat).

Photos: Again, there are a lot of options, but the battle for photos in the cloud is still being fought.  I’m hoping that the best thing about the new, cheap Amazon Cloud Drive will be free or cheaper iCloud space when Apple releases its forthcoming Photos app.  I’d love Apple to solve the photos in the cloud problem, because I manage my photos in iPhoto.  If it doesn’t, Amazon may be the answer.  But as a Prime member, Amazon will already store my photos for free, so I don’t need an Amazon Cloud Drive plan for that.

Miscellaneous files:  Unlike space hogging photo and video libraries, there is a benefit to syncing miscellaneous files, so you can access them and work with them everywhere.  I don’t have a lot of text files and miscellany that I need to offload to the cloud.  Some of it is of a nature that I want to store locally, via Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner.  The stuff I do want access to everywhere (Word files, Pages files, Hazel rules, etc.) is handled very well via iCloud (mostly) and Dropbox (for some stuff).  I don’t see Amazon Cloud Drive as a player in the document storage, sync and access game.

Videos:   OK, here we go.  I have hundreds of videos.  Films I made back in the day. Home movies.  Photo slide shows.  Currently, these make up the bulk of my massive Amazon Glacier repository.  It would be a little cheaper to store them in Amazon Cloud Drive, and they would be easier to access.  All I need to jump in with both feet is the ability to view them from their cloud based home.  But no.

acdk

Is this the end of the world?  No.  Do I understand why Amazon doesn’t want to bear the cost of being my private YouTube?  Sure.  Does this make me rethink my video storage and archival work-flow.  Yep.

It sounded just a little too good to be true.

Why I’m Not Sold on the Apple Watch as a Fitness Device

applewatchfitness

Try as I might- and my love of all things Apple mandates that I try- I just can’t get excited about the Apple Watch.  Granted, I haven’t worn a watch in decades, but I have worn a Fitbit for over two years and track my exercise and sleep patterns daily.  So while I’m not a watch guy, I’m a prime candidate for a better and more powerful fitness tracker, with communication and timekeeping features to come along for the run.  The thing is, based on everything I’ve read, the Apple Watch (at least in the absence of an associated iPhone) doesn’t do much from a fitness tracking perspective that my Fitbit One doesn’t already do.  Sure, it tracks steps and stairs, but it has no independent GPS functionality and, because it is not waterproof, it doesn’t significantly increase the universe of activities I can track.  Let’s take a look at some things the Apple Watch can do all by itself, without relying on a nearby iPhone.

1.  It can tell the time.  Well, that’s great, but I don’t want a traditional watch and if I need to know what time it is, my  Fitbit One can tell me.  As an aside, I can’t remember the last time I was working out, didn’t know what time it was (or close enough), and just had to find out the exact time.  There are clocks, other people, and the sun, everywhere.

2.  It can play some of your music and show you some of your photos.  OK, I’ll admit the music capability is intriguing, especially if it includes podcasts, which comprise 95% of my workout listening.  The thing is, none of this streams.  You have to create some sort of playlist and store it in the 2 GB of space available on your Apple Watch.  Maybe, in theory, that would be awesome.  In actuality (based on my history with iTunes playlists), I might do it once or twice, and then never again.  As far as photos, if I were to list the things I want to look at while working out, my iPhoto library would be at or near the bottom.  And if I were to list the manner in which I want to view photos, on a watch-like size and form factor wouldn’t even make the bottom of the list.  It simply wouldn’t occur to me.

3.  It can track your heartbeat, steps, stairs, and stand-sit ratio.  Granted, my Fitbit One does not (at least as far as I know) have the ability to track my heartbeat or stand-sit ratio, but it tracks steps and stairs just fine.  If the Apple Watch had the ability to record and display my route (e.g.,  independent GPS functionality), that would be an improvement over my current process (my Fitbit can’t do that either, so if I want to I have to use my iPhone).  I suppose it would be nice to monitor my heartbeat, but that single additional feature isn’t going to get me in line to buy one.  I can see data that roughly correlates to my stand-sit ratio via my Fitbit dashboard.  In other words, these are relatively small and incremental gains that don’t seem like enough to warrant a third workout device (along with my Fitbit and iPhone).  Again, if the Apple Watch either allowed me to leave my iPhone at home or completely replicated and improved on the data tracked by my Fitbit, it might be a candidate to replace one or the other during my workouts.  But it doesn’t seem like that’s the case.  Sure, if enough third parties play ball, the Apple Watch will one day allow a lot of health and medical tracking, but that’s not something that affects my actual workouts, and by the time all the players are in place, there will likely be newer Apple Watches and all sorts of other options.  In sum, I can see how the Apple Watch would appeal to people who are really into traditional wristwatches (except, you know, for the obsolescence problem), but I just don’t see how it is going to revolutionize fitness tracking.

4. It can use Apple Pay and Passbook.  This is neat, I guess, but I’m a huge Apple geek and I have used Apple Pay exactly four times: twice in an Apple Store and twice in a Walgreen’s (and Walgreen’s makes you sign something, even when using Apple Pay, which is a huge buzz kill on the entire process).  Nevertheless, I think Apple Pay is the future of mobile payments.  So, if I were willing to bet my right arm on the future, Apple Pay might be the Apple Watch’s quickest route to my wrist.

Rene Ritchie, at the always reliable iMore, has an article today about the Apple Watch as your new fitness trainer.  He makes as compelling a case as can be made that the Apple Watch will evolutionize, if not revolutionize, personal training.  Maybe, but I’m not seeing any giant leaps forward, though I will admit that the potential for the Apple Watch to learn how to track your workouts more accurately over time is intriguing.  Mostly, I see some incremental gains, some sideways leaps, and the allure of Apple.  If  I could swim with an Apple Watch, that would be one thing.  If it could seamlessly manage my music and podcasts, that would at least replicate what my iPhone does now, on a smaller device.  The fact that you can only shower with it seems like a missing feature, as opposed to a benefit.

Having said all this, I am realistic enough to know- and years of Apple experience has taught me- that feelings can change.  It may be that when I see an Apple Watch in person, and put it around my wrist, I’ll conclude I can’t live without one.  A year or two ago I would’ve told you that I will always be primarily a desktop computer user (long live the iMac).  My retina MacBook Pro has since taught me otherwise.

But here’s what I do know.  With the large majority of previous Apple devices, I have counted the days between the event announcing and showcasing the device and the day I could pre-order one.  Alarms clocks were set.  That’s not the case with the Apple Watch.  I’m going to need some convincing.

Goodsongs: The Weight, Nowhere Now

weightnowhere

While browsing around for new music, I came across The Weight’s 2011 record, Nowhere Now. Here’s my quick review.

Artist: The Weight

Title: Nowhere Now

Genre: Alt. Country

Favorite Song:
Dixie – “Don’t say you’re sorry. It’s over. It’s cool.”

Interesting Fact:
One of the most promising groups on the new millennium’s alt-country scene, The Weight was founded by singer and composer Joseph Plunket, a veteran of the Atlanta, GA, punk rock scene who around the turn of the century began writing material that reflected his love of country music.

Review:
I’ve always liked The Weight’s vibe. Rock, with a country influence. Every song on this record isn’t excellent, but there’s plenty here to make it worth a listen.

Rating: ★★★★

Artist Website:
Artist Website

Links:
Spotify
Amazon
iTunes
Google