Olympus OM-D E-M10 Quick Thoughts

What with due any time now, Erin and I thought it was about time we got ourselves a proper camera. Since we only have one chance to grab pictures of baby-, we wanted to ensure we did so using a decent camera. I consider this purchase an insurance policy against hearing or saying “Gosh, I wish this picture was clearer” in the future.

After much deliberation, we settled on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Micro Four/Thirds camera — the kit version — and the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 lens. The camera came highly recommended from not only professional reviewers, but also my friend Shawn Blanc.

📷

Having had the camera for a little while now, I’ve noticed a few things I’ve not seen called out obviously elsewhere. Like my iPhone 6 quick impressions, these will be brief.

WiFi

As Shawn discussed in his review, the WiFi connection seems super janky at first, but quickly becomes a very useful feature. The E-M10 does not allow for connections to a network; rather it is designed only for peer-to-peer connections with a phone. Once you’re connected, you can use the Olympus OI.Share app to control the camera, download pictures, or add data to existing pictures.

Having the WiFi connection is actually super handy simply for downloading pictures, as you don’t need a $30 cable to get pictures off the camera while on the go. While not necessarily a common problem, it’s great to have the flexibility.

GPS and EXIF

Part of the reason I settled on the E-M10 is that it supported semi-automated addition of GPS coordinates to the photos it takes. The camera doesn’t have a GPS radio within it, but it can have a WiFi connection to a phone that does.

However, the process was not terribly obvious to me. I had assumed that you would connect the camera to the phone, and then snap away. As it turns out, that’s almost exactly the opposite of the actual procedure.

Instead, the procedure is:

Enable GPS logging switch
  1. Open the OI.Share app.
  2. Turn on GPS logging by turning on the switch at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Take a bunch of pictures.
  4. Connect your phone and the camera via WiFi.
  5. Use the app to add GPS coordinates to the pictures on the camera, using the log you generated in step #3.

As you can see, rather than adding the GPS data as pictures are snapped, you instead add them in bulk when your session is over.

Bokeh

I never realized how much I want to have bokeh in all my pictures until now. Bokeh is, without question, my new favorite thing.


Enabling SMS Relay on OS X & iOS

When I heard about Yosemite back at WWDC, I was overjoyed and then devastated. At first, I was thrilled about Continuity, which would allow my iPhone, iPad, and Mac to work more closely together. I was devastated to find out, however, that Continuity requires Bluetooth Low Energy, which my Mac is too old to have.

Then I saw this tweet:

I cannot effectively describe how excited this made me.

Here’s how you turn on “SMS Relay” with iOS 8.1 and Yosemite:

SMS Relay Confirmation Dialog
SMS Relay Confirmation Dialog
  1. On your iPhone, Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding
  2. On your Mac, open Messages
  3. Back on your iPhone, turn on the Mac you wish to enable
  4. Wait a few seconds for the confirmation message to show up (shown to the right)
  5. Enter the code on your iPhone

I tried it immediately after enabling it, and it worked no problem.

Appearance: White Roof Radio

Last week I stepped out of the tech bubble and slipped back on a pair of comfortable shoes that I hadn’t worn in a while. I recorded a car podcast.

The folks at White Roof Radio, a Mini-themed podcast, asked me to be their guest on this week’s episode. On it, we talk about some of my history with cars, my thoughts about Mini, some industry news, and more.

I had a ton of fun recording with them, and it was a blast to stop thinking tech and start thinking like the car-obsessed guy I’ve always been. If you were at all a fan of Neutral, you’ll probably enjoy this.


Maternity Shots

This past weekend, Erin and I went on our annual pilgrimage to Carter Mountain Orchard to pick apples. This is a tradition Erin and I started 9 years ago when we were living in Charlottesville. Since then, we’ve returned every year without fail, in order to celebrate our year together, and remind ourselves of where things started.

This year, our dear friends the _s came down to visit. Their visit was largely to share in the experience, but also to take a few pictures of in utero, with an actual camera and not a phone, while we still can.

The weather, unfortunately, was awful.

Despite that, Dave took some great pictures both that morning, and the next, at home. I wanted to highlight a couple.

Erin is, as I write this, 36 ½ weeks. It’s crazy how this post seems both so long ago, and also just yesterday. We’re so very, very lucky.

🍎😘🌱 😘🌱

Saddling the Camel

I got a lot of helpful suggestions regarding my post on Camel’s drawbacks. I wanted to highlight them here for both interest’s and posterity’s sake. There tended to be themes around what was recommended, so where possible I lumped responses together. Those that would require a serious rewrite to Camel are not shown.

I also got a lot of recommendations that I am not interested in. Unsurprisingly, the most popular was “grow up and get a VPS”.

I haven’t decided how I’m going to move forward, but this has definitely given me lots of excellent ideas to think over.


It's Uncomfortable Riding This Camel

As prompted by Brent Simmons’ investigation into alternative blogging engines, I started thinking about some of Camel‘s pain points. This includes both what bothers me, as well as what would bother others. As it often turns out, what bothers me is what bothers others.

One of Camel’s biggest benefits is that it uses the filesystem as its data store. Camel does not use a database; it does not (knowingly) use Dropbox. All the posts in Camel are simply in an expected directory structure within the project. Convention over configuration, you see.

This reliance on the file system, however, is also Camel’s biggest drawback.

There is no native way to upload a new post, say, by way of an iOS device. Since I’m currently hosting this blog on Heroku, I must commit and push a new post using Git in order to see it on the web. That’s not possible using any iOS app I’ve come across, and doesn’t strike me as something terribly enjoyable to code myself.

The obvious and easier answer is to have some sort of API within Camel to accept Markdown file uploads. This, too, runs into a snag. Heroku has an ephemeral filesystem, so even if I can get a file to Heroku, there is no guarantee it will stay there.

Which begs the question, how do I upload a post from iOS?

I see no obvious answer.

This does, however, give me an excuse to start digging into Azure. Perhaps there are options there that aren’t available on Heroku? Perhaps Azure doesn’t have an ephemeral filesystem; can I easily point it to some “external” filesystem that isn’t ephemeral? At a glance, this doesn’t seem to be the case — I see no obvious indication that Azure is any different.

I know Azure has a robust web interface; I’ll have to investigate and see if that interface would be allow me to add or edit posts in a pinch.

Am I missing any other obvious answers? Specifically, ones that don’t require me to rewrite Camel to use a different data store? I know I can go the virtual private server / self-hosted route, but I have zero interest in taking that on. What’s left?

Analog(ue) 8

While I don’t think it necessary to call attention to every Analog(ue) or ATP that is released, I do like to call out when we record particularly great ones. With Analog(ue), that generally means when we have a guest joining us. They really tend to, well, class the place up a bit.

On this week’s Analog(ue), Myke and I were joined by the internet’s own Faith Korpi, of IRL Talk fame. She joins us to talk about her side-side project, how to make an existing audience aware of new work, and why Myke and I really need to exercise more.

Myke and I had a lot of fun with this one. I’d love it if you had a listen.


Appearance: Clockwise 56

This week I was asked by Jason Snell and Dan Moren to guest on their fun, time-limited podcast, Clockwise. On the episode, my co-host Myke Hurley joined me as we discussed Apple Pay, beloved and long-forgotten tech, the iPhone 6+, and Apple’s quality assurance woes of late.

I had a blast; it was both refreshing, but really challenging, to have a time limit for once.

You can also hear some of the fun things that didn’t make the show on the B-Side.

Emoji++

I’ve talked before about how it can be challenging to quickly and effectively use Emoji on the iPhone. It doesn’t help that the stock iOS Emoji keyboard is really kludgey and sorts things in really odd ways.

My dear friend _David Smith has solved this problem. Today he introduced Emoji++ (App Store link). It’s $0.99, and if you’re serious about Emoji like I am, it’s well worth it. You’d be nuts not to, in fact.

The best way to sum up Emoji++ is to show you the GIF that Dave created:

Demo GIF

As with all of _David’s apps, Emoji++ is simple, but hugely effective. Some advantages:

  • Rather than pages, all Emoji are in a single scrolling list. The “jump bar” allows you to jump to the right section immediately, or even swipe vertically between sections.
  • The categories highlighted in the jump bar actually make a lot of sense.
  • The Emoji are larger and much easier to see
  • You can see recently used Emoji easily (as marked by the 🕘 Emoji, naturally)
  • You can long-press to invest in a list of curated favorite Emoji (as marked by the ❤️ Emoji, obviously)
  • There is no request for expanded access

I’ve beta tested Emoji++, and it’s wonderful. If you care even the smallest bit about professional Emoji usage, you should go to the app store right now.

Apple Watch

Jony Ive was recently interviewed by Vogue. This passage, in particular, seemed like a fine summary of the purpose of the Apple watch (emphasis mine):

All of this syncs with your iPhone, making the watch the wrist-bound control tower of your life in tech. Monitor your heart rate or your movement in general. Tap to have Siri take a message, or send a voice reply. Pay for drinks with your wrist (Apple Pay will be, yes, Apple Watch–compatible). With this product, Apple is moving from your desk and your pocket onto your person, your pulse point.