Chris Hannah

The iPhone 15 Pro: Overengineered Buttons for Absolutely No Reason

Tim Hardwick, for MacRumors:

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will use a new ultra-low energy microprocessor allowing certain features like the new capacitive solid-state buttons to remain functional even when the handset is powered off or the battery has run out...

For a while, I've been thinking that the iPhone may be my next phone. I thought they'd refine a few things, and also switch to USB C finally. But the idea of these "new capacitive solid-state buttons" make me think otherwise.

The user ersan191 posted comment on the post, which I think mirrors my thoughts on the recent "improvements" to the iPhone:

Seems like they are running out of things to overengineer at this point.

Engineers Should Write

Ryan Peterman on Engineers needing to write:

The way I worked started to change around when I became a mid-level engineer. I led a small workstream of a few engineers and to get my work done, I was writing more and more without realizing it. Soon writing became a significant part of my work outside of coding. This became even more true when COVID hit since most conversations moved to async chats and word docs.

Almost everything software engineers do requires writing. We need to write when we ask technical questions, comment on code reviews, or create design docs. This is because writing software is collaborative. The better you are at writing, the more effective you will be at building software.

Being a software engineer and a writer, my opinion is likely biased in favour of this opinion. However, I have noticed that as I have progressed in my job, I have found writing to also be much more important. Whether it's writing documentation, reviewing code, planning features, analysing future architecture, or even just helping other engineers. There's a huge benefit to being able to write clearly, and to be able to explain your thoughts to your future self, and others.

I wrote about this last year when I talked about having a culture of writing at work. I won't repeat everything here, but here are the five benefits I said come from a good culture of writing:

Having an Advert on my Blog

I've had a single advert on my blog for quite a few years now, and while it tends to average out to make the blog sustainable—as in it covers the hosting costs—but it's still an advert, and adverts (in my opinion) are ugly.

For some transparency, over the last 12 months, the single advert on my blog has brought in $179.89 which works out just below $15 a month on average. The running costs of this blog are $14.40 a month ($12 plus VAT). I  also have an automatic backup that adds on a few extra dollars, but that's more for my peace of mind than being absolutely necessary.

Here's a detailed breakdown of the last 12 (full) months:

Month Impressions Clicks Earnings
February 2023 5,549 8 $5.97
January 2023 7,342 9 $9.8
December 2022 8,508 11 $13.95
November 2022 11,433 21 $22.86
October 2022 6,718 19 $9.34
September 2022 7,938 12 $13.52
August 2022 6,000 7 $9.95
July 2022 10,074 17 $16.84
June 2022 9,409 23 $17.57
May 2022 11,930 35 $17.13
April 2022 10,657 24 $19.08
March 2022 11,980 18 $23.88

I don't know how much a typical blog brings in via advertising, so I don't know if this is coming from a priviledged position or not. But the whole time I've had an advert on my website, I've wanted to remove it.

As you may have noticed, the design of my blog changes quite regularly. But I tend to always come back to very minimal styling, with an emphasis on the actual words. So the advert, while small, still sticks out.

When I view blogs like Manual Moreale, Craig Mod, Brent Simmons, or Riccardo Mori, it makes me want to slim down the design of mine.

It's not just the advert at the bottom of the page either, I go through these thoughts with all types of parts of my blogs design. Something else I've toyed with removing is the date below the post title. That may seem silly, but it's not typically essential when reading a post on my blog, so should it be there?

I could go on to say the same about the navigation links in the footer, the copyright text, the weird request to "buy me a coffee" if you enjoyed a post, etc.

Ironically, I could go and really minimalise my blog right now, removing everything apart from the title, navigation, title, and post content. But in a few months time, I'd slowly start to add it back.

Note: I have now slightly "minimalised" the design of my blog since writing this. Although as mentioned on Mastodon, there's still further I can go.

I'll Read It

Manual Moreale is a very good advocate for writing a blog, and has offered to help people to start writing by offering them a reader to start them off:

I'll read it. If you decide to start a blog in either English or Italian, I'll read it. I don't care about the topic. Start a blog, write something, send it to me, and I'll read it. And you'll have your first reader. If you add an RSS feed to your blog, I'll add you to my reading list, and I'll keep reading what you post.

I think the internet would be a more interesting place if more people blogged, no matter if it was about a specific subject, personal experiences, or just their thoughts. So I'd like to join in on this, and say, that I too will read it.

If you want another reader for your blog, send it to me, I'll read it.

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive

I've seen Grand Seiko watches before, but I've only ever really thought about them as a dressed-up Seiko. Probably because I'd never actually researched into the unique movement that the watches have.

Personally, I'd always prefer a mechanical movement over a battery-based Quartz movement. Especially if I'm spending a decent amount of money on a watch.

However, I wasn't aware that the Grand Seiko Spring Drive was it's own unique movement. In simplistic terms, it's a combination of a mechanical and Quartz movement. However, to say it's a hybrid approach is probably not giving it the credit it deserves.

Teddy Baldassarre has made a great video that really shows the beauty of the Spring Drive movement:

A mechanical watch movement, with the accuracy of a Quartz movement? I'm starting to think that I will eventually end up owning one of these.

Edinburgh Photos February 2023

I took a small trip to Edinburgh early last week, and I decided to play around with a new lens I bought recently. I'm pretty happy with a few of the photos, although I've definitely learned a lot more about my camera and the new lens.

To cut to the chase, the camera I used was a Fujifilm X-T100, and the lens is a fully manual Meike 25mm 1.8. Getting used to the manual focus took a while, although I do appreciate a softer focus, so it never needed to be perfect.

Here are the photos I liked most from the trip:

📷 Chinatown, London.

Fujifilm X-T100 | XC35mmF2

Some Thoughts on Smartphone Photography and the Rise of Good Photos Over Great Photos

I'm having a bit of a photography-obsessed afternoon today, and while I was researching people's opinions on using old cameras/phones for photography, I came across a video focussing on using an iPhone 7 to do street photography.

If I'm honest, I don't think the video review itself was very useful, or at least it wasn't what I was looking for. It seemed to focus on the raw camera qualities of the phone, being able to take super fast photos, and taking a really small crop and still being able to have it printed, rather than what kind of photos the camera produced. But it did make me think about what I appreciate about photography, so that's something.

There was one quote from the video that stood out to me though, although probably for different reasons than intended:

In Apple's quest to make every photo a good photo, sadly no photo becomes a great photo.

While I don't think it's particularly true that you can't take great photos on iPhones, or that this is a result of Apple's goal to improve its camera. I do think that in general, too much focus is put on taking a good photo, rather than creating a great photo.

When you watch reviews of cameras online, they spend the time talking about the fastest shutter speed, resolution, aperture, and battery life, but very rarely the characteristics of the photos that they produce. Maybe it's because I see photography as an art form, rather than an act of documenting the world. It could also be that this just is what modern photography is nowadays.

When I think about what a great photo is, it's never the level of detail in the image, or that every face is clearly lit. I care more about the feel of the photo and the mood that was captured. Maybe that's why I stray towards old cameras/phones, 35mm film, and "retro" camera apps.

There's definitely something about harsh shadows and a bit of grain that I appreciate, but I think it goes deeper than that. Film photos feel more like real life to me. Whereas I get the feeling that camera manufacturers (inc. Apple) want to remove the messy human element and create photos that are technically good but have no feeling to them.

I guess this somewhat relates to what Marques Brownlee said in his recent videos about the iPhone camera, where the emphasis was being placed on making every photo good, but in some cases, the photos felt unnatural, the sky was a little off, or the shadow from a face was removed. There's even a thing called the "Netflix Look" which is the accusation that everything on Netflix looks the same.

With the right skill and tools, you can take amazing photos on the iPhone, but it certainly feels like the rise of the smartphone and its emphasis on computational photography has led to a kind of photography gentrification.

Maybe the reason behind people becoming more interested in old phones, film cameras, and retro-camera filters, isn't just because of some TikTok trend. Maybe it's because they realised that there's more to photography than the generic smartphone sensor and post-processing effects.

Create a 9-Patch Border with Broider

Pretty cool little tool by Max Bittker to make 9-patch borders in CSS. Reminds me very much of the pixel art in GameBoy games. If you notice a new border anywhere on my website soon, you know where it's from.

Comparing Every iPhone Camera

MacAddress have just released a video where they go through the effort of testing every iPhone camera*, so they could see how it has evolved over the many years. It's pretty amazing to see what the cameras are capable of now compared to the original iPhone. (Although I'd still like to see a little less processing on current iPhones).

One thing they quickly rushed over in the video was that the 3GS is apparently gaining some popularity due to the style of photos that the 3MP camera produces.

PetaPixel published an article "TikTokers are Obsessing Over the iPhone 3GS Camera from 2009" which is also a fascinating read. After looking at the comparisons in that piece, I have to admit, photos taken on the 3GS do have a nice retro/film/nostalgic look to them, that I definitely find pleasing. I think I may have an old 3GS somewhere in my house, so I might need to experiment with that at some point.

*For reasons they explain in the video, this didn't include an iPhone 3G or 5.