I know video games are fun and all but I just discovered the ranger file browser on linux and I’m all set for a while, fun-on-a-computer wise.

There are like a million ways to set timers and if my fantastic-sounding speaker can only set one at a time I’ll be fine.

Micro Monday time. This week, I’d like to suggest you follow @oyam for his thoughtful comments, interesting (slightly nerdy) topics, and lovely photos.

 

Apple HomePod – The Audiophile Perspective + Measurements!

WinterCharm (reddit):

Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

I love how the HomePod sounds, but I have no way to quantify it. I’ll just link to this instead.

About the automatic room correction:

To have this sort of thing be a built in feature of the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) inside the speaker that is, for all intents and purposes omnidirectional, allowing it to adapt to any room, no matter how imperfect, is just beyond impressive. What Apple has managed to do here is so crazy, that If you told me they had chalk, candles, and a pentagram on the floor of their Anechoic chambers, I would believe you. This is witchcraft. I have no other word for it.

And for fun, from the comments (seanheis)

When I heard that Apple was releasing a smart speaker that had been in development for 6 years and could only set one timer at a time…I knew that it had been properly developed by an audiophile.

Chuckle.

 

Also gone: This rice cooker. Superseded by the Instant Pot. I think I may have started a project…Project Gone. 🙂

Rice Cooker. (Crown Graphic, Atomic-X, FF Monobath, f/22 for 3 seconds)

Two Days With the HomePod

Remember that time I wrote that “I don’t think I need a smart speaker“? Well, I bought Apple’s new HomePod anyway. It arrived a couple days ago and I am thrilled with it.

Image result for homepod

A combination of great sound and just-smart-enough control was enough to make me consider shelling out $350 for a HomePod. Early reviews raved about the HomePod’s sound quality, and that clinched it for me.

It may seem self-evident, but the most important aspect of any music speaker is sound quality. It doesn’t matter how “smart” a speaker is if it doesn’t sound good. I’m not talking about the smart device with a speaker you have in your kitchen for setting timers and telling you the weather. I’m talking about a speaker for listening to music. The HomePod is a speaker made for listening to music that also happens to be able to tell you the weather.

I have a few Alexa devices around the house, and I only ever ask them the same handful of questions. “What’s the weather?”, “Set a timer for 15 minutes”, “Remind me to take the trash out at 7:00 PM”.  Siri on the HomePod doesn’t need to be terribly clever to keep up with Alexa in my house.

Even so, I was worried because Siri and I have never gotten along. I gave up using it (her?) on my iPhone long ago, and I’ve found Siri on the Watch to be pretty terrible.

Not so with the HomePod. I can be listening to loud music and casually say “Hey Siri turn it down” in a normal conversational voice from across the room and she always hears me. It’s wild how well it works. Not having to think about or second-guess Siri is new to me and quite a nice surprise.

As for the sound quality, I did a quick side-by-side comparison with a Sonos Play:5 and to my (admittedly non-audiophile) ears, the Play:5 sounds better but the HomePod holds its own. The Sonos packs more of a punch at louder volumes, but the HomePod sounds “bigger” somehow. The HomePod sounds great no matter where I am in the room. Its best sound isn’t limited to any particular sweet spot. I also think it sounds better at lower volumes than the Play:5.

So, even though I didn’t think I wanted a HomePod, I’m very happy to have one. I like it so much that I’m getting another one as soon as I sell the Sonos.

 

 

Bought this fancy juicer the day after watching “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”. Haven’t used it in years. It’s gotta go.

Juicer. (Crown Graphic, Atomic-X, FF Monobath)

Another large format image of something I’m getting rid of.

Pasta maker. (Crown Graphic, Expired Atomic-X, FF Monobath. f/22 for 2 seconds)

Think Before Ranting

The first draft of my earlier rant about images on blog posts used the following screenshot as an example:

Andy sparks header image

The screenshot is of a Medium post by Andy Sparks about his new service, Holloway, (which looks awesome, by the way).

Poking around the Holloway site, I found the About page, on which was the photograph from the Medium post, with the following caption:

A holloway is an old English term for a sunken lane arising from centuries of use.

Whoops. While I still don’t think the image was necessary, it’s certainly not irrelevant. So I guess I’m saying that it’s wise to do at least a modicum of research before complaining about something. I’m glad I changed the post before publishing, but it was a reminder to be careful what I bitch about and how I bitch about it. Also, maybe I should take my own advice about just not ranting at all.

Maybe your blog post doesn’t need that 2000-pixel header image

Allow me a brief rant about the trend of putting ginormous, unnecessary images at the top of every single blog post or article. Here it is:

Please don’t always include ginormous, unnecessary images at the top of every single blog post or article.

That would be great, thanks.

I haven’t read the entire Terms of Service for Medium.com, but I assume there must be a clause that says “You must place an image of at least 1800×1300 pixels above any useful article text, no matter the length of the article itself. The article’s title may, however, be placed above the image.”

Like this:

Totally random example with no offense meant to Tyler Elliot Bettilyon

That is the top of what is otherwise an interesting article about something completely unrelated to the 2000×1333 (1MB) image you see filling up the entire world.

Sure, it’s a cool photo (Kev Soto), but what’s it for? I’m guessing there’s a listicle somewhere (probably on Medium) called “10 Things Every Blogger Must Do To Be Successful!” and item 2 on that list is “Find an image, any image (relevance to the post is unimportant), and slap it right up top for no apparent reason.”

I’m sure it’s been demonstrated that including an “eye-catching graphic” on every post increases “audience engagement” by 47.5% but isn’t it really just a waste of time, bandwidth, and mental well-being?

I’ve been testing Pocket as my “read later” service and here’s what my list looks like:

Not useful article images

Only one of those has an even remotely useful image associated with it. If I squint, those thumbnails look kind of nice, but when actually trying to use the page to find something to read, they’re just distracting noise.

And oh goody! Medium recently hooked up with Unsplash to make adding giant, off-topic images even easier…

But first

I get why people do this, and I don’t expect anyone to stop doing it. I just wish they would.

UPDATE: More (and better) words on this from Hanson O’Haver (The Outline): Not Every Article Needs a Picture