February is basically depression month of the year, right? Maybe it’s not, but I hate February. It’s always cold where I live. The days are short. You’re still in the comedown from Christmas, meaning you shouldn’t really shop for anything. And basically everyone you could be envious of takes a vacation to a hot destination.
So basically, I’m in the middle of wishing I was somewhere warm, wanting to shop for anything and everything, and wanting to shoot photos in sunlight.
Because none of those three desires are capable of realities right now, I’ve ventured down the path of re-editing some old photos instead. I love re-editing old photos. Taking your old favourites and giving them new life — it’s just so inspiring for the months ahead. Lightroom’s “Versions” feature makes it super easy to fool around on all your favourite photos from the past.
I’ve used my favourite photographer on the planet, Marcus Lloyd, as recent inspiration. There’s zero chance I can replicate his style. I’m not even sure if he has a “style” — it could well be that his photos are only minimally edited, but in a very particular way. You can find Lloyd’s work on his personal site, Exposure, and Youtube. I especially liked his video on shooting portraits with the Leica Q. His work is stunning and incredible.
Here are a few attempts I’ve made at making a simpler edit at some older favourite or fun photos. Off the top, I’m sure I’ve failed — you can see how Lloyd’s photos are all shot with lots of depth of field. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays around with exposure compensation to ensure he captures for highlights as well. Just a guess though.
I can’t wait for summer to arrive to get outside and try some new ideas. (I would recommend turning off The Newsprint's dark mode to better view the photos above; the dark mode nicely mutes colours to be easier on the eyes at night, but also mutes the best colours in each of these photos. Click the little switch at the very top of the site.)
Twelve South continues to make some of my favourite desk accessories for the Mac. Through purchase and review opportunities, I’ve looked at between 15 and 20 different Twelve South desk accessories over the last 5 years. Most are absolutely fantastic. There are a few duds in there, sure, but most are fantastic.
It’s rare though where I’ve had a chance to look at seemingly competing Twelve South products — the Curve and the Curve Flex. Both serve basically the same purpose. Both are built the same way. Both have the same design language.
They differ of course in the Flex’s height adjustability. Using the included allen wrench, you can loosen the Flex’s hinges and adjust it to better suit your workspace. When you’re done, you can fold the Flex down and stow it in the included travel pouch (though I see literally nobody toting this thing in their carry-on bag).
The original Curve is one-size-fits-all, done and done.
I have a few additional anecdotes though, some of which may be applicable to you and some of which may not be:
The height adjustability of the Curve Flex means the stand can squeeze your MacBook into new places. For me, this actually means I can now fit my MacBook Pro under an overhead shelf built right into my workspace. The ability to move the Curve Flex lower provides just as much utility as the ability to position it higher.
The two-fold design enables the Curve Flex to sit in new places. I have a Grovemade Desk Shelf spanning the working area of my workspace. With a Studio Display on top, there isn’t a ton of space on either side of that shelf to boost up a laptop. But thanks to the two-fold design of the Curve Flex, I can actually position the Curve Flex on the desk and slide it slightly underneath the Grovemade Desk Shelf. If you look at Grovemade’s own laptop stand, they’ve built it in such a way as to slide underneath the Desk Shelf as well. The Curve Flex isn’t as perfectly designed for the Desk Shelf as Grovemade’s own laptop stand, but it works pretty well.
The Curve Flex’s hinges sag over time. If you constantly adjust and readjust the Curve Flex’s height, the weight of the MacBook Pro will eventually cause those hinges to sag. At first, I thought I had a faulty unit. In reality, I hadn’t recognized I needed to tighten the hinges with the included allen wrench. After realization though, this became an annoyance — now, if you want to adjust it at all, it requires using that allen wrench. For a laptop stand designed to be portable (I’m simply looking at the travel pouch included in the package to prove this), needing to use an allen wrench for adjustability each time is a pain in the neck.
The Curve Flex can fold down to little more than an inch-and-a-half thick. If you have small spaces you want to keep the Curve Flex while it’s not in use, the stand folds down nice and thin for easy stowing. I keep mine in the smaller secondary shelf built into the Grovemade Desk Stand. It’s freaky how nicely the Curve Flex fits into this shelf.
The Curve Flex has some impressive rigidity. Once you’ve tightened the hinges, the Curve Flex stays impressively stationary. I’ve used the Curve Flex on a sit-stand desk for the first few months of use and it doesn’t wiggle or rattle at all when raising the desk. In general, the Curve Flex is rock solid.
The Curve Flex is a perfect iPad stand for Stage Manager and external displays. You can see my photos above showcasing exactly how the Curve Flex perfectly slides underneath the Grovemade Desk Shelf and provides a perfect stand for using the iPad with an external display, keyboard and mouse. The height of the stand ensures you can still tap the iPad if you need and the rigidity of the stand ensures you can write on the iPad with the Apple Pencil. This has increasingly become my favourite way to work when I’m at home.
And how is this a comparison to the original Curve?
The Curve doesn’t have height adjustment capabilities, though the singular option is a reasonable height for many different desk setups.
The Curve’s design is sort of U-shaped, meaning it won’t be able to fit under other accessories the same way the Cure Flex can.
The Curve is also rigid, but it isn’t nearly as sturdy as the Curve Flex. You can press on either Curve arm and bend or flex it downward. There’s no flexing the Curve Flex.
The added height adjustability in the Curve Flex adds $20 to the purchase price over the original Curve. To me, that $20 might be the easiest $20 you could spend on Twelve South’s store. You have every capability provided by the original Curve in the newer Curve Flex, plus height adjustability, a foldable design that gets out of the way or fits into new spaces, and a significantly sturdier experience with fewer wobbles and rattles.
The Twelve South Curve Flex may well be my end-game laptop stand. If I were to move into a new office or redesign my home office, the Curve Flex would be on that desk.
The Ultra’s new design means new room for new things, and Apple opted for new hardware buttons.
You can see it better in photos than I can write in a description. Buttons on the Watch’s right side (when worn as Apple intended, though you are software-allowed to wear the Watch upside down with the Digital Crown on the left side of the Watch) have been raised out and “protected” in a titanium housing. The Digital Crown is larger and turns inside this housing.
I don’t know if the titanium housing was created to improve mishap button presses in Series watches or if this is a style-first idea. I quite like the way the titanium housing sticks out to the side though — it kind of reminds me of the now-trendy Oris watch you see Aaron Boone wearing on the bench at Yankee games. Asymmetry seems to be a thing.
Pressing the buttons inside that housing is different than I remember the Series 4 Apple Watch I last had. The dock button clicks with perfection (and brings up the dock, which is a far cry better than the preferred contacts list it used to bring up way back when). But the Digital Crown button is a bit mushy. It spins wonderfully, to be sure. But actually clicking it provides less feedback than I’d like.
Another quick anecdote: We have a salt water spa in the backyard, in which I always bring the Watch Ultra. The Ultra measures water temperature, which has been really nice to have over my course of Watch Ultra ownership given an expectant wife and two young children. The water temperature always differs slightly between the gauge on the tub and the Watch; usually the Watch shows a degree (Fahrenheit) warmer. Interesting.
I’ll often venture into that salt water tub in the later evening and jump into bed shortly thereafter. If I don’t properly dry off the Digital Crown, I’ll notice it to be a little crusty in the morning once the salt has dried around the Crown.
On the far side is the new kid in town: the Action Button. It does a few new things, most of which will go unused by the majority of Ultra owners. The major ones you’ll want to pay attention to are the ability to fire a shortcut using the Action Button and, if you are a swimmer, perhaps you’ll opt to set your Action Button to the “Dive” functionality.
First, Shortcuts: Depending on the number of times you need to run a shortcut each day, there’s a good chance the Action Button can make quick work of it. For the first little while, I opted to set my Action Button to a “Toggle Focus” shortcut, which basically put all my devices into Do Not Disturb mode. Press once to turn on Do Not Disturb. Press again to turn off Do Not Disturb.
I found I only did this a few times a day, however.
So since then, I’ve opted for the “Dive” functionality given the salt water tub in the backyard. I assume the Watch has enough defensive mechanisms to ensure water doesn’t get inside even without the “Water Mode” turned on, but I’m not taking any chances. Plus, the fact the Ultra-exclusive Dive app provides water temperature is just a bonus.
I probably use the Action Button four or five times a day with this functionality. I like it. I don’t love it. I hope Apple provides more functionality options for the Action Button in the future.
If I could offer a solution to the Action Button now after a few months of use, it’d be to use the button to pull down Notification Center. As it is right now, you have to swipe with a bare finger from the top of the Watch, scroll with the Digital Crown, and then either flick up or click the Digital Crown to get rid of Notification Center. With all the cold weather we’re having, how nice would it be to hit the Action Button to bring down your notifications, scroll them with the crown, press another button to expand a notification and read the whole notification, and then press the Action Button to hide Notification Center once more? Maybe I’m the only guy on the planet who would find this useful, but I think I’d prefer to use the Action Button this way over any current option Apple provides.