New Camera – Olympus OM-D Mark II

I’ve been wanting to learn more about photography and up till now, I’ve been iPhone camera only. For most of my needs, the iPhone works good enough but I wanted to go a step further and invest some time learning the skills behind taking great photos.

For my birthday I got a new mirrorless camera an Olympus OM-D Mark II and from all the reviews it takes great photos in auto mode but has the full manual options so you can go crazy if you want too.

As this is basically my first real camera when it arrived I assumed it would just work. Stick in the battery and start taking pictures, just like my phone. I was surprised to learn it needed a memory card and even more surprised the manual didn’t really mention that as a requirement. If I would have known I would have purchased that at the same time so I would have everything I need. Instead, I made a quick trip to the local Best Buy and overpaid for that convenience.

I will admit I’m spoiled by my iPhone. When you get a new one and unbox it, everything you need is there. Not having something is extremely frustrating. It’s like a kid opening a birthday present with batteries not included. Mark your product up $10 and include a cheap memory card.

I also purchased an intro to photography book so I could start learning how to shoot in manual mode and this is where my next frustration came in. It starts talking about important things you need to understand like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc. Then I consult the camera manual to find out where these settings are, but the manual is terrible and now I’m searching Youtube for how to change the ISO. I’m not really understanding how a cellphone that can do much more can be so much more intuitive.

Anyway, the auto setting with the default lens shoots some great photos to my untrained eye and I really like this camera.

Kaweco Al Sport Fountain Pen and Midori Notebook
Kaweco Al Sport Fountain Pen and Midori Notebook
Clock
Old Clock

 

Now to spend hours learning how to use it with auto mode turned off. Wish me luck!

Operator Mono with Ligatures

Have you wished Operator Mono had ligatures similar to Fira Code? If so, here is a utility named Operator Mono Ligatures that will generate new OpenType fonts for Operator Mono that includes ligatures.

Just be warned you do need the Operator Mono font first and it does cost around $200:

NOTE: Because Operator Mono is not a free font, you must have the original font files. This utility will merge the ligature definitions into a copy of the original font. The new font family is named Operator Mono Lig so you can install it side-by-side with the original font.

Personally I’ve not been a huge fan of ligatures and my main reason for liking Operator Mono is the italics, but I know many like them and they do look pretty neat in this VS Code screenshot:

vsoperatormono

If you want to try it visit the Github repo and install the Python utility to create the new font.

Closing those Apple Watch Rings

 

With the Apple Watch, I was struggling to close my rings especially the standing. It seemed like nothing I did would cause it to close in those last 10 minutes after the warning came. So like all modern people, I went to Twitter to share my frustration.

Ben Sampson replied with a few tips that have been tremendously helpful to me:

  • Standing = arm down
  • Exercise = minutes when your heart rate is over 100
  • Move = general moving of watch and heart rate

By having your arm just hanging down it’s made closing that ring way more consistent.

The Revenge of Analog

The Revenge of Analog by David Sax is a book I picked up for two reasons, I thought the cover was awesome, and I’ve been on an analog kick this year. I’ve switched to real books, using pen and paper, and even subscribing to magazines instead of reading online. So I thought this book would be right up my alley.

The book is broken down into two parts, the Revenge of analog things and the revenge of analog ideas. Inside the first part talks about vinyl records, paper (moleskin), Film, and board games. Then part two switch to print, retail, work, and school.

I was disappointed in this book because it felt like a history lesson and then just information about companies inside the industry. For example, the revenge of paper chapter was almost entirely about Moleskine. However, I did enjoy the introduction and the epilogue that had a story and interviews with kids at a camp that doesn’t allow electronics.

Overall I give this book two out of five stars, and it just didn’t relate to me the way I thought it would.

The Amazon Three Stars Rule

The Washington Post has a story on how merchants are using Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews and this reminded me of the three-star review rule to save time and hassle.

It works like this. Find a product you are interested in buying, scroll down to the customer reviews and select three stars to filter the view so it only shows those reviews.

The advantage of this method is it removes all the paid reviews, removes the people that are always overly positive, and gives you a much smaller number to read through. Here is an example of the first product I found while writing this post:

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 7.53.05 AM.png

Just by spending a few minutes going through the list it’s pretty easy to see two important things. The paper is apparently really good, but the perforation is bad. If tearing out pages is something important to me then I know this notebook would be one to get. On the other hand, if I want to keep all the pages together and keep my notebook for many years, I should probably keep looking.

The next time you are buying something on Amazon give this method a try!

I did not come up with this method and found it on someone’s blog a few years ago and I can’t seem to find the source from a quick web search. If and when I find it I’ll credit them, and if you know who first coined this idea let me know in the comments. 

Hacking the CAN-SPAM Act for fun

The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted back in 2003 and one of the provisions is that you must include a physical address in your email newsletter:

A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present. PO Box addresses are acceptable in compliance with 16 C.F.R. 316.2(p) and if the email is sent by a third party, the legitimate physical address of the entity, whose products or services are promoted through the email should be visible.

What I’ve started doing is when I get a newsletter I enjoy I’ll write a snail mail letter in response to it, much I like I did in this humorous post for responding to a Tweet.

So far I’ve only done it a handful of times but in almost every single case it gets a response and that’s because it’s unique and people really do enjoy getting real letters in the mail. Plus it’s fun! Now that I’ve shared my secret don’t everyone start doing it or it’ll lose the novelty.  🙂

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

The War of Art

Every time I ready to ship something I get tons of apprehension and the feeling of a fraud and a failure. It’s brutal and it seems to happen every single launch.

During this time I’m reminded of the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and if you’ve ever experienced I’d recommend getting yourself a copy.

Stan Berenstein, co-creator of The Berenstein Bears sums up the book perfectly in this quote:

“A marvelous help for anybody who has ever encountered the resistance of a blank page, an empty canvas or an unyielding musical scale.”

The book was originally written for writers but it works for any creative profession.