The New York Times has a great article on how Pfizer makes it’s vaccine. So many steps…and not a tracker in site.
I’ve been jagged. On Friday I drove out to Milngavie and got my first dose of the Covid vaccine. No waiting, slick process and didn’t even feel the needle. I got the Pfizer vaccine although I’d have no problem getting any version. Science is getting us out of this covid mess and I couldn’t wait to get my jag. Big thanks to the NHS staff and all the helpers – what a difference they are making.
So far the only side effect is I’ve been slightly more tired than normal but I’ve not needed to head to bed or anything. I also had a slight sore head on the afternoon of the jag but a walk and some fresh air soon cleared that…and I get sore heads at the best of time so I’ve no idea if it’s related.
Role on May 21st when my body will have built up more immunity and mid August when I’ll have had the second jag and be as immune as I can be without actually getting covid.
The biggest question though…jag or jab? I’m in the jag camp.
202o was quite the year. Let’s be honest – it sucked. Even at the start of March I didn’t expect to spend more than three quarters of the year working from home but there you go. Also surprising considering how many looked at home working (in my current job/industry at least) as a duvet day or being not as productive…..I’ve never been busier or achieved as much as I’ve done in the last 9 months. And with no whiteboard!
Not that I’m complaining. I consider myself really lucky that I can work effectively from home and carry out my role remotely while reducing covid risk as much as possible. What that did mean was a bit of investment in the home office.
I really need to get a blog post done on the new gaming PC 😎
Despite the pandemic I did focus on 2 things this year that were on the to-do list for 2020. Finally got the bathroom upgraded in January and I’m putting a lot more effort on paying off the mortgage. Other things like photography took a total back seat. Travel restrictions didn’t help in March and April but I lost all my photo mojo. Hopefully next year I’ll get back on the photography saddle.
Also lost the blog bug and with that the weekly updates went into hibernation as so much news was dominated by the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and politics. Found myself needing to switch off more from social media as it was all pretty relentlessly bleak. What I did fall back on was gaming and TV. New consoles helped and also games like Flight Simulator which is really just a world simulator and a pretty fantastic game. As for TV, I enjoyed in amongst everything else:
- Normal People – Apple Music playlist
- Small Axe
- The Mandalorian
- Industry – Apple Music playlist
- Ted Lasso
- The Boys
- Star Trek:Discovery
- I May Destroy You
- Deadwater Fell
Industry is 2020’s version of This Life and the soundtrack for it and Normal People are well worth a listen. Surprise hit (for me anyway) of the year was Ted Lasso. Looked to be a pretty average but it really hit the spot with some feel good comedy which worked well in this miserable 2020.
Thanks to covid I’ve also enjoyed the years best meme played out live on Twitter – Room Rater.
So onwards to 2021. A couple of theme’s/goals but no resolutions and a hope that the year sucks less than 2020 despite the mess the UK is in thanks to Covid, Brexit and an incompetent Westminster government.
It’s new console’s season. First up is Microsoft’s Xbox Series X launched on Nov 10th. I got mine the day after (thanks Amazon!) and so the following are my impressions after a few weeks. So in no particular order:
- The console was really easy to setup. Plugged it in and used the iOS app to setup and transfer settings from the One X. Within a few minutes I was logged in and downloading games.
- Front end is fast but exactly the same as the dash released in October for the One X. Takes away some of the new when it looks and feels the same.
- I had games on an external hard drive ready to transfer so copied a couple over to test the console. Sea of Thieves was much much quicker to load. It was also much smoother – 60fps and in 4K.
- Foran Horizon 4 was a bit more complex as it needed an 80GB update – new textures clearly leads to a download of the whole game? Like Thieves the game loaded more quickly and throughout the game you saw the speed of the Series X SSD. The game now runs at 60fps at 4K and looks really good. Sharp and much better textures…but when you are racing around the countryside some of the improvements are hard to pick out.
- Downloaded Dirt 5 as I wanted to play an actual new game. Certainly a great looker and some nice touches in single player but…pop up in surprising places and the multiplayer is really weak. Hopefully updates will rescue this from mediocracy.
- The Series X is whisper quiet – really impressive. Under load you can hear it slightly but compared to other consoles it’s nothing. However it’s a great room heater…this will be interesting in the summer.
- The internal SSD really does deliver on 2 fronts – quick loading of games and quick resume. The loading isn’t really a surprise if you’ve upgraded your Mac or PC from HDD to SDD but the quick resume is surprisingly good. Across old and new games it only takes a few seconds to resume a game, no loading menus – straight back to where you left off.
- I really like the design of the Series X. I have it standing next to the TV rather than underneath on it’s side. Yes it’s big…until you stand a PS5 next to it which makes it look svelte.
- I also loved the packaging from Microsoft. Easy open stickers, a premium box and it added to the new console experience. However I’ll never see that box again until I replace/sell it.
- The controller has seen little change. A share/capture button and a slight sculpting here and there. It was always preferred over the DualShock but I use an Elite now so nothing really lost….but Microsoft played safe with the controller and it’s now behind the Sony counterpart.
- I’ve had no lock-ups or crashes but I did get a strange load once where it booted in 640×480. It said my TV didn’t support anything higher too…which was weird as I’m using a new LG CX Oled which supports all the new consoles features. No matter what I did I couldn’t get it to work…until I switched it to a different HDMI port and all was well. Swapped back and again all was well so I’ll put it down to a weird HDMI handshaking issue.
- Back to the dash – again it feels like Microsoft have played safe compared to PS5. There’s nothing much new in the dash, just a tweak to how games and apps are listed. PS5 has a concept of shortcuts which is an interesting way of getting to game content more quickly.
- Much has been made of the power of the Series X but some of the initial third party games have seen stutter and frame drops. Rumours of tooling getting to dev’s late and a rush to meet console release but I’ve seen none of it as the TV I have has VRR – Variable Refresh Rate – which masks/hides the issues. I wonder how many dev’s are going to assume that users have VRR as standard going forward?
- In low power mode (console’s off but will do updates and downloads) the fan is always on. You can’t hear it until you put your ear to the console but put your hand over the top of the console and you’ll feel a constant cool flow of air. Wonder if the noise will increase over time due to dust/wear?
- New first party games are an issue. Halo being put back to Fall 2021 has meant there is little new from Microsoft on the Series X. However Game Pass is such good value for money that there is plenty to play on the console including Destiny 2 which has just been updated for the Series X.
- Old games really do fly though – Halo 5 is silky smooth and I’m loving diving back into multiplayer.
Overall I’m really happy with the Series X. Hardware, power and design are all top notch and easily beat the old console. However stock seems to be an issue and as there’s no must play Series X game I’d say wait for stock levels to get better and don’t pay over the odds for it. When you do pick one up though you’ll be rewarded with a cracking console, a Game Pass stocked with games and a pretty full looking first party games list coming out over the next 2 years. However those first party games really need to deliver and show there’s more outside of Forza, Halo and Gears of War.
I’ve had the iPhone X for just under 3 years. At the time Apple said it was the future of the iPhone and looking back they were right. It aged really well and is still fast, the screen is great with no burn in and the only area it’s started to lag is in the camera. But I’d planned for a while that 2020 was an upgrade year, mostly due to the incremental nature in phone changes and also that an iPhone Pro is a four figure purchase.
So last Friday I picked up an iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue and since then I’ve given it a good kicking…here’s my one week thoughts on the new device.
Since the iPad Pro came out in 2018 I’ve wanted an iPhone with a similar design. I’ve always considered the iPhone 4 and 5 as classics and high points of iPhone design over the last 10 years. The iPhone 12 Pro references the 4 and 5 in adopting the iPad Pro industrial design. Squared stainless steel edges, glass back and a great range of colours.
I went for the Pacific Blue – it looks gorgeous in the flesh and for me is one of the best designed phones from Apple in years. The frosted back also doesn’t pick up fingerprints like previous years models.
The screen is also slightly bigger than last years Pro’s at 6.1”. However thanks to the design and the ever narrowing bezels its not too much bigger in the hand than the iPhone X. The screen itself is HDR, looks great and is also featuring the strongest finish yet – Ceramic Shield glass. Hopefully I’ll never find out if it is stronger but if it reduce screen smashes then great.
While I love the design the stainless steel band is a finger print magnet. It’s also quite slippy but with the squared off edges I find it pretty easy to hold case less if that’s how you want to role. If I’m honest I prefer the look of the iPhone 12 aluminium band over the stainless steel but much prefer the 12 Pro’s frosted back….you can’t win them all.
Apple spent a long time in their
advert keynote talking about 5G, 5G, 5G, 5G, Verizon, 5G, 5G, Verizon. I’m with EE in the UK so wasn’t sure what to expect. I only upgraded my contract in the last couple of days and results in my parts of Glasgow are mixed.
Outdoors I’m seeing much better download and upload speeds but worse pings. Indoors is much worse. So much for the speed upgrade! Cellular speeds are affected by so many factors though so will need to spend a bit of time understanding if it makes any difference in practice and also how the 5G rollout across the UK matures over time. At the moment though it’s unclear as to what benefit 5G is really delivering although my new contract has more data for less. Win!
There’s very little difference between the 11 and 12 Pro…but for me moving from the iPhone X there is significant difference in the camera’s. There’s an extra lens, the telephoto and the sensors and lens themselves are much improved.
Pixel peeking on similar photos show quite the upgrade. Apple also look to be adding more pop to their photo’s. None of the photos here have been edited – straight out the phone. The ultra wide also performs far better than I expected. The following shots are from the same position with each of the lens.
Night mode is also…amazing. I know this is old news for 11 owners but the difference is massive over the X. So little noise in a night mode photo and it defies belief in the few times I’ve tried it so far. As well as taking cracking photos the 12 allows you to record in Dolby Vision HDR. Looks great on the iPhone and on screens that support HDR and feels like another important future proofing feature in this phone.
Final new features is Lidar. I’ve not noticed a difference when taking photos but it’s pretty amazing that you can 3D scan an object or room with your phone with ease. My only niggle – I’d have loved the improved camera features in the iPhone 12 Pro Max to have featured in the iPhone 12 Pro. Looks a significant step up but we’ll know for sure in a couple of weeks.
This iPhone flies. I’m coming from a few generations back and an A11 but apps are just so much snappier than the iPhone X. I’m also finding that apps remain loaded in memory far more than what I was seeing with the X recently. There’s more RAM in the iPhone 12 Pro at 6GB but noticed more with iOS 14 that apps would need to restart more quickly than I’d seen in the past.
Speakers – considerably louder and clearer than the iPhone X. Not sure if its better than the 11 Pro but it was a nice surprise.
Case – usually pick up the Apple Leather case but that isn’t available. Picked up the synthetic case and pretty disappointed with it. Total fluff magnet, and it has a lip all the way around the screen unlike the leather which is lipless at the bottom. It’s also £50 probably due to the MagSafe additions…but when you put the phone in the case it knows its a blue case. Mmm.
MagSafe – I’m staying away from MagSafe. The wireless charging takes twice as long and costs more and the magnet strength is pretty weak.
No plug/EarPods – The size of the box is pretty surprising at first. Small and you can see the difference the plug makes. While Apple can tout greener credentials its money that’s driving this decision. I picked up an Anker power supply and cable – cheaper and better than what Apple sells.
Migration process – usually pretty painless, this year my apps, data and settings migrated over without passwords so I had a lot of setting up to do.
Pick up – due to ordering taking longer than expected delivery had slipped by a couple of weeks so I opted for in store pickup. Kudos to Apple Braehead for a safe and quick in store experience.
It’s only a week but I’m loving the iPhone 12 Pro. The design is a step up on previous models and the increased performance and features compared to my old iPhone X are significant. I really do love the design language of the iPhones and iPads from Apple right now.
However there isn’t much to choose between the iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro – a telephoto lens, 6GB vs 4GB, different finishes and the capacity – the 12 starts at 64GB vs the Pro at 128GB. So while I heartily recommend the iPhone 12 Pro, look carefully at what you really use the phone for as there isn’t much to choose between phones right now from Apple. And if you value the camera over everything else the iPhone 12 Pro Max is probably for you. For me I value my pockets and usability over the camera so the 12 Pro was the one for me.
July 13th 1995. The day I graduated from Glasgow University. Only just popped in my head a few minutes ago. Seems so long ago, yet still fresh. To mark the occasion, some graduation pics!
Great times….and still in touch with so many from those days. Greyer, wrinklier but not so sure on the wiser.
Good to see Scotland unlocking….tomorrow is start of week 15 of WFH for me and I can see me having occasional days back in the office. Traffic is getting busier too. Be interesting to see where the mask discussion goes. Mandatory from tomorrow on public transport but the ask to wear them in shops is largely ignored. Would say around 10-20% are wearing masks in the shops in Glasgow…needs to be higher. What I’m looking forward to is a week off work even with the lockdown restrictions in place. Need a rest.
How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance
Black Life’s Matter and many other organisations rely on social media but Google Doc’s is a surprisingly effective tool.
They Used Smartphone Cameras to Record Police Brutality—and Change History
Another modern day tool that’s a game changer is your mobile phone camera. What a weapon.
Birdman of Central Park
One video from the last few weeks that stuck with me was of the woman reporting a black man for hassling her…when all he had asked was to put her dog on a lead. This article explains more on the two people involved.
Sarah Cooper – owning Trump
Marcus Rashford owns the Government
An unlikely campaigner, 22 year old Marcus Rashford has not only raised millions for disadvantaged kids but forced the Tories into a U-turn this week to provide school meals for kids during the holidays. Brilliant.
You Download the App and it Doesn’t Work
WWDC tomorrow and while there’s rumours of ARM Mac’s and significant iOS changes to come the news this week has been dominated by Apple’s App Store and how it’s doubling down on service revenue and insisting that apps must allow Apple to take 30% of revenue. What worked 13 years ago is no longer the case. Hopefully Apple will see sense and change it’s stance…before legislation forces it.
Glasgow tenements are fantastic. This story of how neighbours got together to reclaim a back garden is brilliant and shows another side of what lockdown has done – brought people together in times of need.
Story behind the Sad Banger
Drive & Listen
If you need some background entertainment while you work you could do worse than try Drive & Listen. Quite addictive.
Black Lives Matter. It’s such a simple and obvious statement, yet I’ve seen countless people criticising and jumping on the all lives matter bandwagon. Most have British flags in their twitter profile or profess a love of Brexit. This cartoon from scarecrowbar nails why Black Lives Matter is such an important statement that will not be silenced.
I’ve looked on in shock at the violence in America this week. Video after video of police attacking blacks in general, or attacking anyone protesting. So far the violence isn’t working. Protests are rising and spreading across the world. Not sure if it’s weeks of lockdown but this feels like a tipping point has finally been reached. But why should I comment? What do I know? I read this tweet about being black and working in the UK and was almost in tears.
Here are a few words I wrote about what it’s like being black and working in the UK television industry: pic.twitter.com/l05MFHsToL— Richie (@RichieOnTV) June 5, 2020
I’ve never suffered from this prejudice but I’m in no doubt that others around me are racist and that in general we live in a racist and unjust society. I’ve seen and heard it at work. At times I’ve taken action but as I write this I know I could and should have done more. I’m part of the problem. So what now?
The biggest for me is Educate. This thread from Lisa-Marie Ferla has some really useful ways for people to educate themselves. I’ve already signed up for the course on British history. Time also has a list of books on anti-racism that I will start to read through.
Edward Colston statue pulled down by BLM protesters in Bristol. Colston was a 17th century slave trader who has numerous landmarks named after him in Bristol. #BlackLivesMattters #blmbristol #ukprotests pic.twitter.com/JEwk3qKJx2— Jack Grey (@_jackgrey) June 7, 2020
However it’s clear that action is taking place. A statue of Colston was ripped down today in Bristol. He was a slave trader and you have to question why that action has caused so much upset around the UK. Is a slave trader someone that should be looked up to via a statue? Maybe 100 years ago when society was very different but not now. We’ve seen similar shouts to rename streets in Glasgow as it like Bristol and other UK cities grew thanks to the slave trade. Activists placed alternate names across Glasgow on streets named after slave trade owners. There’s also a petition gaining wide support – please sign it.
On the first day in months that there wasn’t a death from Coronavirus in Scotland I thought this may be a more positive post than recent but that will have to wait for another day.
Finally, if you are reading this and disagree then please read A Letter to my White Friends. Don’t be silent.
I’ve now spent the last 10 weeks working from home. I’ve been really productive but do have to watch a couple of things. There are little breaks in my day at the moment. Back to back meetings/calls and no gaps. You miss the walking between meetings, talking to others. It’s full on, one topic to the next. The other thing to watch is tiredness. Feeling more and more tired as the week goes on and that’s despite a daily walk to try and recharge. Still, I’m one of the lucky ones so shouldn’t complain.
As the UK starts to unlock I can now see unfolding in front of me why Sturgeon said weeks ago that when to unlock and how will be really difficult. Scotland’s leaders have been far more clear and effective from what I can see. That doesn’t let them off the hook as care homes, testing, PPE and late lockdowns are all their responsibility too. However the mess unravelling in London and Johnsons defence of Dominic Cummings seem like idiocy after what the UK has been through, all summed up in this now deleted tweet.
How the world views Britain
While the politicians try to kid us that Britains Covid-19 response has been world beating it’s easy to find alternative views. The New Yorker calls it right – a disaster.
Patients Don’t Die Alone
This Buzzfeed article provides comfort to so many that their parents, family or friends are not dying on their own.
The Joy of Sets
Thanks BBC for another great set of video conferencing backdrops. Something for everyone here.
Is this the best font ever? Scunthorpe Sans blocks any use of profanities…apart from Scunthorpe. Brilliant.
Mad Max:Fury Road
Fury Road is still an amazing watch. This article brings together many of the cast and crew who talk through just how difficult it was to make.
Nolans new film gets another trailer that tries to explain what’s going on. More surprising…still aiming for cinema release later this year.
The Miracle Sudoku
Shared widely so you may have seen this but if not then settle down for an enthralling 25 minutes of Sudoku. Best watch this week.
When Apple announced 2020’s iPad Pro’s I had zero interest in upgrading from my 2018 model but I really wanted the Magic Keyboard. So it was with some relief after reading the blurb about the new keyboard that it also worked with my 2018 model. It was due out May but ended up launching in April. Instant purchase even though it cost £349. For a keyboard.
The one niggle I had was the lack of any mention of weight on the Apple website. Apple is really good at listing weight spec’s and shouting from the rooftops about thinness and lightness…unless it wants to keep something hidden.
When the keyboard finally arrived I was surprised at the small packaging. I opened the box, took out the keyboard, ripped of the packaging and my first reaction was…this is pretty heavy. Heavier than iPad Pro heavy. Uncomfortably heavy. Mmmm. I then opened the keyboard and the hinge mechanism felt stiff and awkward. Mmmm. Not the best of starts and one of the few products I’ve bought where my immediate thoughts were this is getting returned.
I then snapped on the iPad Pro and I do mean snap. The magnets really grip the iPad in place. Opening and closing the keyboard with the iPad Pro attached was initially awkward. Unlike most devices of the last 20 years, the weight is in the top and not the bottom. Usually you lift open a light screen in a laptop. The iPad weighs more than just a screen and is thicker so it feels counter intuitive. However after a couple of days it feels fine and you get used to finding out the convenient ways of opening and closing the keyboard.
Those initial impressions were just over three weeks ago so I’ve had plenty time to pull together some thoughts. First, the positives:
- The keyboard is great. A real step up from the Smart Keyboard folio, the keys have proper travel and are also backlit. Far more comfortable to use for extended periods. The base is rock solid too and doesn’t flex at all when typing no matter the surface it’s on. Didn’t realise how much I missed backlit keys until I got this keyboard.
- The trackpad although small is a great addition to the iPad. Coupled with the new cursor support it makes text editing far easier and app’s as they add support take on a new feel. Only time I notice the size is vertical scrolling. One oddity is that the trackpad is a return to a physical click rather than the haptics in the Magic Trackpad. I also found it better to visit Settings > General > Trackpad and increase the tracking speed.
- The trackpad supports a nice range of gestures that are well worth getting to know to help with usability day to day.
- Love the floating iPad Pro. The viewing angle is the same as the Smart Keyboard folio…and I think I’d have liked another 5 degrees or so to tilt it back but I’m being picky. Now that I’ve got used to top being heavier, it’s easy to use and the hinge is super strong and doesn’t flex.
- One aspect of the Magic Keyboard is you can’t fold the keyboard around the back of the iPad so I’m taking the iPad off the case more often than not. Never did that with the folio…and it makes for a more comfortable reading/relaxing device that way too.
- Taking the iPad off the keyboard can be done with one hand like most have said but I usually hold the keyboard and pull off the iPad. The magnets are really strong and the photo below shows just how many are being used to snap the iPad into place. There’s also a lot of engineering in the keyboard and hinge mechanism.
There are however a few con’s to this new design that are worth considering.
- For sketching there’s no perfect angle. Would have liked somehow to get an angle of around 170 so you can sketch with a bit of weight behind it but unless you turn the whole keyboard over….which looks ridiculous…then there’s no real solution. Maybe v2 in a couple of years time will address this.
- The USB-C while useful charges at a slower rate than if you plug directly into the iPad which is a shame. It also is a charging port only – no accessory support which is a bummer.
- It does make the overall iPad Pro a lot heavier – up there with laptop sizes so you may want to think through what you really want from a mobile device before going down the iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard route.
- At £349 it still feels really expensive. Even £249 would feel expensive.
Should you buy one?
If you do any typing on the iPad Pro then yes pick one up despite the price. If you want the iPad to be more laptop like then it’s another yes. However the combined price would get you a cracking laptop so it really comes down to what you do day to day with your laptop or iPad and whether the Magic Keyboard add’s value.
The Magic Keyboard has really improved the way I use the iPad Pro. I could argue thats its transformational. The keyboard and trackpad coupled with the software changes in iPadOS to add cursor support really do add another dimension to the iPad. Cursor support has only been around for a few month but it feels so natural in iOS and so well integrated it feels like its always been there. The keyboard looks and feels great, which it really should for the price, and if you are making use of your iPad for an hour or two a day I’m sure you’ll like the Magic Keyboard as much as I do.