Some of My Best #ShotoniPhone Photos From 2018

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Shot on iPhone

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what the iPhone can do, if you put your photographic mind to it.

I’m by no means a professional iPhone photographer, nor do I have a chance at winning Apple’s #shotoniphone campaign. There are some impressive works of art shot with the iPhone’s ever-improving camera, and the bar continues to get higher every year.

I admit to being a relative non-believer in the iPhone camera. I never publish iPhone photos, mostly for two reasons: I am horrible with the 28mm focal length and I generally haven’t liked the result of any edits I’ve made. I don’t like the in-camera processing, have very little use for the overall colour and look of iPhone photos, and find shooting with the iPhone an ergonomic nightmare (especially the larger XS Max).

For the sake of experiment, I jumped into Darkroom for iPhone and iPad to see if I could make something — anything — shot with my iPhone look reasonably good.

These are the results. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t amazing. And they look a lot like the photos shot with the Fuji back in September.

Coming out of the experiment, I think I’m going to give the iPhone camera another shot. My goal is to be more mindful of what I’m shooting with the iPhone, rather than use the iPhone for simple snapshots. And more than anything, I think I’m going to start sharing iPhone photos — I always vowed I’d only share photos shot with a real camera.

Well, the camera on the back iPhone is very, very real.

Just took me a while to realize it.

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When to Put Money Into a Savings Account Rather Than an Investment Account

Thursday, January 17, 2019

This blog post sort of sell’s Wealthsimple’s “Smart Savings” account, but I still think the premise is sound. (In case you want to open a Wealthsimple account, here’s my referral link.)

In short, use a savings account to store your emergency fund and any cash you’ll need in the next three years. Absolutely perfect, sound rule of thumb.

Creating an emergency fund is tough and can take many years. Whether it takes 1 year or 10 years, the fallback confidence it provides is invaluable.

Something that’s worked really well for Jaclyn and I: We keep our emergency fund at a separate financial institution from our regular operating account and we don’t have a debit card to access the cash.

We physically have to go to the branch to withdraw the cash.

This extra step has been a great “barrier to entry” and really inhibits our ability to access the cash.

You could take it a step further and require dual signatures in order to withdraw cash, or you could keep the cash in a cash-only tax free savings account which requires 24 hours to withdraw funds.

Either way, the steps are simple:

  1. Create an emergency fund.
  2. Save it in a savings account and not in an investment account.
  3. Make it really hard to withdraw the cash.

I Used All the Best Stuff for a Week and It Nearly Broke Me

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I have no use for Vox generally, but this fun article by Rebecca Jennings is worth pointing out. Jennings:

The premise was this: I would surround myself with the products whose entire raison d’être was being the best. The stuff that claimed it was “the only one you’ll ever need,” or “the last one you’ll ever have to buy.” These are companies that set out with the intention of disrupting entire retail categories through direct-to-consumer business models or millions of dollars in venture capital funding or flashy ads on public transportation (or all three), and who together have created an entirely new retail environment in which everything ends up looking exactly the same.

I’m going to take Jennings’ word on this: all these “best” products aren’t going to change your life or make your life noticeably better. I really like our Casper bed, but aside from the money saved, I fully believe a range of other mattresses would leave us with the same sleep quality.

I think it’s a given: experiences are worth your dollars more than any individual product.

But some products are better than others, and I think there are qualitative factors that are both difficult to measure and difficult to pinpoint in this conversation.

I think shoes are a great product to point at. You can spend $100 on a pair of dress shoes and have them in tatters after 20 or 30 wearings. Spend $250-$300 and you’ll be able to wear that pair of shoes for years — I just replaced the insoles of a pair of Boss shoes I bought 3 years ago, polished everything up, replaced the laces, and I felt like I was wearing a new pair of shoes. This doesn’t mention the ergonomic impact of wearing a well-made pair of shoes.

There are also factors like confidence, polish, impression, and more that impact your quality of life. You will notice the difference between a $600 sport coat and a $200 sport coat. And if not properly fitted, one will leave you with a headache at the end of the day and the other could leave you with a new acquaintance because of your dapper style.

I may be comparing apples to oranges — Jennings is clearly testing millennial-targeted products within a specific set of parameters.

But stuff can improve your life. Picking the right stuff and spending the right amount of money is what matters.

Variety’s Review of “Wonder”

Friday, January 11, 2019

Owen Glieberman:

Wonder” is a movie that belongs in their company. It’s a very tasteful heart-tugger — a drama of disarmingly level-headed empathy that glides along with wit, assurance, and grace, and has something touching and resonant to say about the current climate of American bullying. At the same time, the film never upsets the apple cart of conventionality. “Wonder” is an honest feel-good movie, but it lacks the pricklier edges of art.

Our entire family was sick this past weekend (by sick, I mean I didn’t get off the couch for 16 hours on Sunday), so we watched a bunch of critically-acclaimed films. “Wonder” was first on the list.

What caught our attention, first and foremost, was Wonder’s realness.

By no means can I claim experience as a classroom teacher, but I did spend six months student teaching before deciding the career path wasn’t for me. So many of the dynamics in Wonder tugged at those same heartstrings from my time in the classroom.

I’m not even sure young Julian understands what he’s doing in the film. He’s simply maintaining his coolness and his perch at the top of the hill. Yet, from our parental couch cushions, seeing the heavy damage the young bully is doing to both little Auggie and other bystanders is immediately evident.

It’s easy to leave Wonder with a scornful outlook on today’s young bullies in school. And it’s even easier to claim innocence, both for ourselves when we were in school as kids, and for our own children currently.

What makes me sorely afraid is how many of us — and by “us”, I mean all parents, everywhere — are more like Julian’s parents than we think. The actions of Julian’s parents are astoundingly awful in the film. Despicable. Jaw-dropping.

But what’s truly despicable is how normal those actions are in real life. Again, I’m not speaking from direct experience here, but I do believe this is tangentially related, my time as a hockey official and administrator has brought these types of actions out in the open, front and center. I’ve had phone calls from parents insisting it wasn’t their child’s fault they broke someone’s arm on the ice, it was the referee’s fault for not calling a penalty in the prior game. “How can you expect my son not to protect himself?” they’d say, after witnessing their son slash an opposing player in the head.

To this end, Wonder is one of the most realistic films I’ve seen in recent memory. I applaud Chbosky’s ability to spread our viewership around the circle, gaining insight into the lives not just of Auggie, but of those closest to him. And I applaud Chbosky’s keen ability to maintain the sharp edge of reality and exaggeration.

This film is a masterpiece and well worth your time.

Apple Begins Charging Sales Tax in Canada on iTunes Purchases and Apple Music Subscriptions

Monday, January 07, 2019

Key words here: iTunes purchases.

When I read this, my initial reaction was “But Apple already charges tax on iTunes purchases.”

Wrong.

iTunes, like actual music you buy off the iTunes Store, has never had GST/HST or provincial tax. All App Store purchases have had the correct GST/HST and provincial taxes applied for quite some time, but not iTunes purchases. It was always weird that Apple Music subscriptions had no tax charged, while an app subscription like, say, Bear Notes, had GST and PST (in Manitoba). Now it will all be unified.

As Rene Ritchie notes, it’s all about residency.

It’s absolutely baffling to me that we’re only seeing tax applied to Apple Music subscriptions now, considering the onslaught of tax legislation introduced over the last four years. These types of subscriptions seem like extremely low hanging fruit for a government in need to of tax dollars. I recognize it was a decision made by Apple that requires these excise taxes to be collected, but my surprise comes from a government not willing to legislate a tax on these types of products.

I imagine it’s only a matter of time before someone points the finger at Netflix in Canada.

The Four Sport Coats of a Well-Rounded Wardrobe

Thursday, January 03, 2019

In my early new year blogging phase, I’ve vowed to delve further into one of my latest obsessions: men’s fashion. Not Nose-in-the-Air sort of fashion. Just how to dress properly for the occasion.

I admit though, my experience in this arena is embarrassingly little. I figured I’d embark on the path and document my research along the way.

For my usual contexts and occasions, it seemed the most fitting first rabbit hole to jump into was sport coats. As the folks at the Art of Manliness put it:

Few garments in a wardrobe can transform a man like a handsome sports jacket. Slipping it on over a dress shirt instantly changes how strangers perceive you. It can provide the right balance of professionalism in an environment where a suit would be overkill, and depending on the fabric and style can adapt itself to multiple situations.

I’ve bought a few sport jackets this year, using the linked article as my guide for the first four to purchase. I went about it in a different order than the article recommends, but it’s amazing how many occasions are covered by the four sport coat styles recommended.

Since then, I’ve found some well-designed and very reasonably priced sport coats made here in Canada. My next purchase will almost certainly be from Spier & Mackay in Toronto, as the quality of fabrics for the price look to be a great combination for building out a collection.

If you need to build out your professional wardrobe, or just want to look dapper on a more regular basis, be sure to grab at least one of the recommended sport jackets in this article.