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24th October 2018
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From an EU Press Release:

Single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds, will be banned in the EU under plans adopted on Wednesday.

These products, which make up over 70% of marine litter, will be banned from the EU market from 2021, under draft plans approved by Parliament.

MEPs added to this list of plastics banned from the EU market from 2021: products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene.

Another step in the right direction.

23rd October 2018
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Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge:

Essentially, Smart HDR was choosing the wrong base frame for HDR processing when you took a selfie. Instead of choosing a frame with a short shutter speed to freeze motion and preserve detail, it would sometimes choose a frame with longer shutter speed. The front camera also does not have optical image stabilization, so it takes blurrier shots at the same shutter speed as the rear, stabilized camera. The result is a loss of detail that looks like smoothing on the front camera.

I knew it was something to do with Smart HDR, but it’s interesting to know the exact detail of why it was happening. 



Maybe one of the main benefits of computational photography, is that it can be continuously improved, and sent out in regular software updates. It’s intriguing to think what the difference in the camera will be in a years time, compared to how good it is now, even with no hardware change.

17th October 2018
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Eurogamer recently had an interview with two people from Game Freak, the main developers of Pokémon games. Junichi Masuda (executive director and head of game development) and Kensaku Nabana (designer). It’s a really interesting read, especially with all the changes they had to make when adapting the game to a different style of playing.

Two decades on from Pokémon Red and Blue’s arrival here in the west, we’re going back to Kanto once again.

Pokémon Let’s Go have made big changes – some proving more popular than others in the lead up to its release – but there’s still a lingering sense that, with just the first generation of Pokémon available, in the first region, we’ve seen it all before.

A couple of weeks ago, alongside an extended hands-on preview of Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, we talked to Junichi Masuda, executive director and head of game development at Pokémon’s main studio Game Freak, as well as fellow designer Kensaku Nabana, about some of the nitty gritty details fans are always after, including how that whole Meltan reveal came about, HMs, and those perpetual questions of difficulty, open worlds, and the series’ future.

It ends with a answer from Junichi Masuda, which is quite reassuring about their idea of how the main series of Pokémon games will be played:

I know that a lot of people and fans have spent a lot of time hatching eggs, they’ve hatched… a lot of eggs, but we want them to kind of discover new ways to enjoy Pokémon games, you know I’d be really sad to think that for them, Pokémon is hatching eggs, so with this one we’re trying to show them a different side of the game.

Pokémon GO is super popular, and I still play it quite a lot, but I wouldn’t want the main games to be simplified to match. So this is good news!

Read the full interview at Eurogamer.net

15th October 2018
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Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

At its annual Adobe Max conference, Adobe announced plans to bring a complete version of Photoshop to the iPad in 2019.

Photoshop CC for iPad will feature a revamped interface designed specifically for a touch experience, but it will bring the power and functionality people are accustomed to on the desktop.

I’m interested to see how Photoshop will actually work on the iPad. They do say it’s the full version, but will it include the automation that was available on the desktop, and how will it fit into the iOS environment? For example, will it have support for Siri Shortcuts, support for a Photo Editing Extension, and how are the toolbars going to be translated into iOS UI?

Then there’s the price. Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo are both priced at £19.99, Pixelmator is only £1.99, and there are apps like Polarr that are free. I’m guessing they’ll extend their Creative Cloud subscription to include the iOS version, but I think a cheaper solution is needed to be competitive on this platform. £9.98 per month is their cheapest individual plan in the UK, and that will deter a lot of people.

Another recent announcement of theirs, Project Gemini, is something that’s probably more suited to my uses. As that is a lot simpler, and focuses on drawing and illustrating.

12th October 2018
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I just read one the funniest and accurate essays by Peter Welch, which was shared by Sarah Drasner on Twitter:

Every friend I have with a job that involves picking up something heavier than a laptop more than twice a week eventually finds a way to slip something like this into conversation: “Bro, you don’t work hard. I just worked a 4700-hour week digging a tunnel under Mordor with a screwdriver.”

They have a point. Mordor sucks, and it’s certainly more physically taxing to dig a tunnel than poke at a keyboard unless you’re an ant. But, for the sake of the argument, can we agree that stress and insanity are bad things? Awesome. Welcome to programming.

It was published over four years ago (April 27th, 2014), but it’s interesting to see how relevant all the points still are. If you have 10 minutes to spare, then I highly recommend giving this a read.

I’m definitely adding this blog to my RSS reader for future reading.

9th October 2018
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Something no one imagined would be happening in 2018, people are talking about Google+.

As part of “Project Strobe”, Google have been going over third-party develop access to Google accounts and Android device data:

Over the years we’ve received feedback that people want to better understand how to control the data they choose to share with apps on Google+. So as part of Project Strobe, one of our first priorities was to closely review all the APIs associated with Google+.

This review crystallized what we’ve known for a while: that while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.

From this investigation, they found a bug in one of the Google+ People APIs:

Users can grant access to their Profile data, and the public Profile information of their friends, to Google+ apps, via the API.

Basically, the API allowed third-party developers to a lot of your, and your friends information. Including things marked as private.

This sounds pretty bad. And if this was regarding Facebook or Twitter, there would be quite a level of outrage. However, this is Google+, the platform that no one uses.

Which is why I find this statement quite funny:

We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.

So no one took notice of the security flaws, because no one actually used the platform. Including developers.

But because of these security flaws, and the really low usage numbers. Google have decided to start the process of shutting down the platform.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

To give people a full opportunity to transition, we will implement this wind-down over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August. Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data.

My first thought is, when do we see Google’s next idea of a social network? It’s always funny to see what they think can actually complete with the already established platforms.

8th October 2018
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K.Q. Dreger, writing for Audacious Fox:

A lot of software isn’t free. Plenty of people pay to use products. Yet, we call these people users in most of our copy and internal communications. Should we?

What if we tried calling them what they actually are: customers.

I strongly believe everything he says in this article.

I’ve seen many people list reasons why you should refer to customers of your product/service a user, whether it’s a blog post, on Twitter, or even on laptop stickers. I however, prefer the term customer.

The way the word “user” gets thrown about always feels pretty weak, and it just seems like a bit of a nice word. It means you treat them simply as people that use something that you’re offering. But what if they’ve paid you for that thing? Surely they you should grant them a bit of respect and refer to them as why they actually are, a paying customer.

24th September 2018
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Tom White:

This is a year’s worth of images I took of the moon using just my iPhone 7 through a telescope. The first time I tried it I was amazed by the detail and quality of shot that was possible on a phone, so I set about taking pictures at a various stages throughout the lunar cycle.

I was having a look through this collection of photos, and I was impressed with the level of variety. Even if we are tidally locked, and only ever see the same side, there’s quite a bit of detail to look at.

[Top Photo Credit: Tom White]