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Tuesday, 04 November 2014


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"But I'm really looking forward to all the chapters about billiards, which was one of the most popular pastimes in America in 1927. I'm sure he couldn't have left that out."

Hmmm, I am currently on page 500 and something of the book, and no mention of billiards thus far... it's a great book by the way.

If you have convenient access to an Apple Store they do a reserve and collect service. If something is in stock when you check you can reserve and go in to pick it up. Got my 128Gb 6+ last week doing exactly that when online times were estimated at 4 weeks. Yes, compared to a 4S it is a clown-sized phone but the screen size and quality is a revelation.

When you get your A7 make sure you set up the custom button assignments well as it will transform your enjoyment of using the camera. Lloyd Chambers has good suggestions on configurations if you are a subscriber to diglloyd.com.

I'm so happy with technology progress. Whenever it seems time to buy a new computer/pad/phone I check the Buyers' guide on Apple Rumours, and decide to wait for the next machine. Extends the interval between purchasing new gear. Wonderful! Enjoy your new Air. Goff

Sorry for the computer choice. On a year time, you will have a much higher fan noise than with a desktop, and boy oh boy, do they get annoying.

You will like the 6+ which is so slim it slides into your pocket as easily as smaller phones. The screen is truly more useable for more things.
The only negative I've found is the it can feel slippery & 'droppy' during one handed typing. Camera is quite good.
For your computer: I just bought a WD 2 TB Thunderbolt RAID.
I have it set up for RAID 0 which utilizes some of Thunderbolt's speed. It's a buss powered marvel,
Re the display, I have a Thunderbolt display, Wish I had bought an NEC PA series wide gamut. If you really want an Apple your old iMac can be used in display mode (AND serve as a backup which tou really should have)
PS beware of Thunderbolt single drive externals, many, inexplicably use 5400rpm drives giving you the cost of Thunderbolt and NONE of the benefits. USB3 is better & cheaper for single drives.

Nevertheless, of you consider updating the phone as well, this should be seriously taken into consideration:

Bryson lost all momentum when he and his buddy gave up the trail when he wrote Appalachian Trail. It was clear that he lost heart from that point onward to the end. It is probably a chore to write a book about failure, especially when the author usually writes with an upbeat and humorous style.

One Summer; America, 1927, on the other hand, is good from start to finish. This one will keep you in very good company during your New York trip.

You're not the only person who disliked "A Walk in the Woods." Many people in the long distance hiking community *hate* that book.

You will regret the size of the 6 Plus. Get the 6.

Enjoy your MacBook Air! My very first Mac was a 13" MacBook Air. I loved it so much that I bought a 15" MacBook Pro with the Retina screen just for foto work. And surprisingly to me, I very quickly adjusted to having no mouse and became trackpad adept. One less thing to keep track of, npi. Never did get around to purchasing an external monitor, but still planning to.

The MacAir is an excellent travel companion and daily workhorse. I would, however, encourage you to get the largest internal flash drive you can because it is a pain to cart around or go fetch an external hard drive just for music/photo plays/displays - even if it is one of those streamlined 2TB Western Digital Passport drives that I buy in pairs for backup. External drives do not dangle well off of slim elegant Macs when trying to move about from room to room, or from city to city. It is ok to pony up a little extra for increased portability I tell myself. "-)


You're not the only person alive who didn't like Bryson's book about the Appalachian Trail. My wife didn't also. She thought it was going to be about nature, which apparently it wasn't, I haven't read it.

Good choice on the computer. My two teenagers have MacBook Airs -- now a couple of years old. They have been bullet-proof. Very portable. Love the SSD.

I've owned a MacBook Air for the past 15 months or so, using it mainly on trips away from home. It's a very nice machine but the lack of a built-in memory-card reader is a serious flaw.

I'm late to offer advice but I don't do Apple products. I guess they are good based on the fervor I hear from their fans but I've also heard negative reviews from people who switched to Apple then switched back. What bothers me about Apple is their patriotism. The company is the product of the US but they use all sorts of off-shore pseudo entities to avoid paying taxes to support the country that gave them birth and an ongoing market. That's like accepting your parents support growing up and struggling through early years of adulthood and then turning your back on them when they are old and need something from you.

If you like big phones with big screens take a look at the new Blackberry Passport.

I'm sure you've been told this already, but be sure to skip the 16GB phone and get at least the 64GB model.

Instead of buying a new Cinema Display, have you considered using your iMac in target display mode?

For external storage, you might look into a network attached storage (NAS) box like those from Synology. I'm sure other readers have experience with them and can offer good advice.

Enjoy NYC! Fall is a lovely time of year here.

Bryson is entertaining, but prone to error. Two "clangers" to watch out for in [i]One Summer[/i] are:

(1) He states that the Wesley Everest, who was killed in the IWW (Wobblie) riots at Centralia, Washington, was castrated by the mob before being hung from the bridge. That myth is convincingly debunked in the Wiki article on the victim.

(2) He states that the Holland America liner Veendam plowed through the Norwegian freighter Sagaland, which rapidly sunk. Nobody on the liner was injured. "It was nonetheless a sobering reminder of how dangerous ocean travel can be, for the ships collided in [i]clear weather[/i]." Actually, the collision occurred in dense fog.

Congrats on the new iPhone and Macbook Air.

I *won't* tell you about my new 27" 5K Retina iMac then...though I find that it is so beautiful to look at that I have a hard time tearing myself away from it.

Impressively speedy, too....this puppy is a milestone in desktop computing, IMHO.

Oh, BTW, if you're going to use your new MacBook Air with an Apple 27" Thunderbolt display, if I may, I'd recommend you consider the 27" NEC PA272W-BK-SVII. I know the name is a mouthful, but this display is the same size and resolution as the Apple T-bolt display, but is a *wide-gamut* display covering 99% of the Adobe RGB color space, has a 14-bit LUT and is calibratable, all of which the Apple is not. This display comes with a dedicated X-Rite i1 Display colorimeter and software for very accurately calibrating the display to the target settings of your choice. I know there are other TOP readers who have this display that would agree it's performance as being exceptional. Additionally, It is also "rotatable" and will flip it's orientation into portrait mode, which might be a *really nice* feature when you are editing and writing blog entries for TOP. Best part is that it's currently on a special promo at B&H for $1278, $400 off retail, and only $278 more than the Apple T-bolt display. For that you get a MUCH better display for photography. Just my 2¢.

Mike: since this is to be your main computer, will you be using Lightroom on it? If so, I'd be very interested in learning how it is on a MacBook Air. I'm currently undecided between a basic 13" Retina display MacBook Pro, or the Air.

You certainly have hit two concerns for a lot of us. (1) I’m a computer dependent traveler that is somewhat “cloud averse.” Isn’t there something I can just bring with me? (2) Is there actually a small full frame camera with a great lens that is affordable? Really look forward to your thoughts.

Mike, good luck with your laptop as a desk experiment. Is something I've done in the past and can work very well (is certainly easier than trying to keep your files synced between two devices).

One important thing to do is setup a robust backup solution. Many photographers advocate backing up to a removable drive - which is a good start. However you should always include an off site backing your solution, so if you haven't already done so check out Crashplan from Code42. It's inexpensive and once setup can forget all about it until disaster strikes (which I hope never happens) as it runs continuously backing up any changes. You get an email if a backup hasn't occurred for 3 consecutive days).

I'm not associated with Code42,but I have been using it for many years!

I have an Iphone 6 plus on orders as well. I figured that I use the screen way more than I talk in the thing, so I might as well get something that fits my need. :-)

Mike, I share your opinion on A Walk in the Woods. I didn't like it - I thought that if Bill Bryson was going to write a book about hiking the Appalachian Trail end-to-end, which a few hundred people do every year, he should have taken the trouble to walk the entire Trail. He's funny enough, but it seemed like cheating to me. My two cents.

Dear Tom,

Either the 13" Retina display MacBook Pro or the Air will have more than sufficient power for running Lightroom.

The question is whether or not you particularly value having a full 24-bit, color-and-tone-accurate display in your laptop. That's the big difference for photographers between the conventional laptop displays and the Retina display.

Matters muchly for some folks, not at all for others.

pax / Ctein

Mike, cell phones are a sore spot with me.

I'm the only person in the world who doesn't own a cell phone. By choice. I refuse to hassled my every waking moment with phone calls or worse, texts.

Have you ever watched someone get a text? It's like a Pavlovian response to stimuli. The moment somebody gets a text message--no matter what else may be going on in the environment--everything stops and that phone must come out. Some magical gestures are made on a glowing screen as that message, whatever or no matter how trivial it may be, must be evaluated and returned in seconds.

On the road I'm scared of and abhor the fool driving next to me with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the damn phone, held next to the windshield, texting away. Never mind that at 75 mph the most pressing concern is typing back "wht r U doinG".

Now I'm supposed to replace my camera with the same all in one device.

It's suggested I watch movies and TV on one, do my shopping, pay my bills and do all my banking as well.

Have you seen those commercials where everyone hovers around a wall outlet, tethered in place because the battery in the phone is low? The phone must never be powered off.

It's strongly suggested my entire blasted life be stored inside this infallible, pivotal machine. Everyone I go, it must be there too. It's all safe and secure.

I take a small measure of enjoyment watching the baffled reactions of anyone when they want my cell phone number or want my contact info to send me text alerts. I don't mean friends--businesses. They want to send me sales ads or coupons or reminders and every bit of it must all be done electronically.

So, in today's posting you've got to have an iPhone 6+. Will you please explain why?

The only difficulty with editing photos on the 13 inch Air using Lightroom or Photoshop is the image size. But when traveling, no big deal. My daughter's basic, 128 gig, bottom of the line 13 inch Air runs Lightroom like a champ. It's the SSD that does it, I think.

On a side note, I've started to fall for Capture One Pro 8 for my EM1 files. Just gives me a really good starting point, and I have to spend less time editing because of it. I think Sony may give you a lite version of it with that A7.

The travelling photographer working hard to keep life simple and easy should carry one camera, one lens and a thin, light, modern high performance computing device. Many have recommended the MacBook Air. My solution is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It is the first portable device (and I've had plenty) with which I am comfortable editing photographs (Phase One Capture One 8, Adobe Photoshop) and video (Adobe Premier Pro). Plenty of power and as much storage as I am willing to pay for.

With a detachable keyboard and adjustable stand, reading books and watching video on the plane is a joy.

And now, back to cameras.

As a photographer, the upgrade from a 13 inch Air to a 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display was astonishing. There is no going back. The only computer that excites me more is the 27 inch iMac with Retina display. For most of us who seldom if ever print, it will be the best we have ever seen our photos.

Bryson's One Summer remains unfinished in this house. We're Brits and unfortunately haven't a clue about baseball, let alone the history of baseball, so after much page flipping, we gave up. The book reads like a pot-boiler, frankly.

@ Robert Taylor: "check out Crashplan from Code42"

I tried the free version. It stored my photos as encrypted files which I wasn't at all happy about. If there was ever a problem with Crashplan I would not be able to get to them. It's unlikely, but the consequences would be terrible. It was also unlikely that my computer's hard drive would stop working, but it did. I very nearly lost every digital photo I had.

I'd caution against the 6+ over the 6 based on my experience with my previous and current phones (I'll leave out models as it is about size). My previous phone screen was 4.7", my new one (only 9 months newer, they are substantially similar other than screen) is 6". The new phone is a *little* fast, and has expandable memory, but every time I pick up the old phone I think to myself 'this is about the perfect size for a phone'.

I recently bought a copy of the updated Bryon's Dictionary for Writers and Editors. It is a handy reference addressing usage/style; not definitions. In the first paragraph of the foreward I noticed a typo. I'll paraphrase: "In the past, people use to do such and such". Instead of USED to. Made me feel smart. That doesn't happen often. The only other book of his I've read was At Home, which I enjoyed immensely. Curiously, I am just now finishing a book called Home by Witold Rybczynski which is nearly the same topic but written ~20 years earlier.


I'm surprised you'd choose Marcin Wuu's comment as featured! I've had pretty limited success with mobile photography myself, but there are many people doing good work with phones. You even had a print sale including a mobile photo recently. I think the 'waste of time' comment is very negatuve and goes entirely against the modern spirit of 'use what works for you' and 'most modern cameras are good enough for most needs'. Maybe Marcin only shoots large format?

Dear Bill Pierce,

Portable storage is compact and cheap. If you're minimally competent with a screwdriver, buy a bare 2.25" drive (platter or SSD, as you prefer) and pop it into the cheapest port-powered external case you can find that supports your laptop's faster I/O. If you're not, buy a pre-assembled unit.

Right now I'm looking at a friend's offsite backup drive he placed with me, a 1 TB Toshiba USB, weighs 180 gm with cable, measures 12 x 8 x 1.5 cm. You can get smaller and lighter, if you care.

The strategy for using something like this is this is where your content files go-- the myriad photos you make and edit, your video and music, and so on. It's not your only copy-- at home, you regularly back it up to a desktop drive.

Reserve the hard drive on your laptop for the OS, apps, email, and stuff you're currently working on. You may be able to get by with a 250 GB drive, you definitely won't need more than 500. Go SSD on that drive, fer shure.

You'll need some spare space on the internal drive. You want your scratch spaces (e.g. Photoshop) there. Content you're actively working on should be there. Your favorite music/video should be there (unless you have a separate device, like an iPod or a tablet for entertainment). When you're on a trip, the photographs you make should be offloaded from the camera to there as well as onto the external portable drive, just in case one device or the other gets trashed or lost. So, somewhere between 50 and 100 GB of your internal SSD should be reserved for that.

Still, with a 250 GB drive, that leaves 150-200 GB for the aforementioned necessities OS, apps, etc).

If you're running on a Mac, you can even easily make the external drive a bootable drive, with your repair utilities along with the OS, so that if something bad happens to your laptop's internal drive, you're not dead in the water.

(Yes, you can do this under Windows, but it's trickier to set up right.)

pax / Ctein

I can't say how much I love my MBA (MacBook Air ... not nancy-boy degree from Hah-vahd) -- mine is a 2011 version, so the processor and RAM aren't as muscular as yours will be. I only have the 128GB SSD, so everything that I don't absolutely don't need are stored on network drives. That includes images, non-essential documents, and all media files such as iTunes music, video, etc. Some of these are duplicated on my iCloud account so they are accessible when I'm on the road with the MacBook Air.

Right now I have two USB drives connected to a Time Capsule router - the Time Capsule serves only as a backup drive. The USB drives are available from any device that can access an external drive, including a Windows 7 PC. USB isn't the best network drive configuration, I plan to move to NAS (network attached storage) to improve transfer speed and performance.

Right now I don't feel the need to upgrade the MBA, even for editing image files. When I have the need to process more 4x5 scans, I will need more oompf, and will probably buy a new MBA.

Congratulations on the MacBook Air. Re: smartphones. I've always been an early adaptor and I'm certainly no luddite. But, frankly, my iPhone 4s may be my last smartphone.

The iPhone certainly has done me no wrong but I find myself using it less and less for anything other than phone calls. I text only very occasionally, almost never use my Internet capability and have no problem turning the phone off entirely for extended periods of time. Watch TV or videos while commuting to work on the bus every day? Don't make me laugh. I'd rather sleep. Selfies? Hilarious!

And then there's the matter of data costs. Americans pay far too much for data compared to other countries and regions. I just can't justify it any longer myself. In fact, most of my data use is for the updating of apps that I rarely use. I simply don't need or want a smartphone any longer.

Of course, one needs a cell phone of some kind. All of those pay phones that I would have used 20 or 30 years ago in the event of an emergency or vehicle breakdown simply aren't there anymore. But the wireless carriers are offering crappier and crappier non-smartphones as time passes - an all-too-obvious tactic to get one to buy a smartphone.

I'd rather use the money I waste on data each month to save up for a new camera or trip to the U.S. Grand Prix - or even to just enjoy a fine dinner out locally. YMMV.

I like my 6+ !

1. Adorama has that 27" NEC on special now for $899.

2. I have a late 2009 i7 iMac, and just extended it's life with two 8gb chips going from 8 to 20 gigs of ram. Now it does not choke when taking a D800E raw from Lightroom to Photoshop. New OS (Yosemite) and more ram just like new, only better.

Just one more thing, I have a 64gb 4s and prefer the smaller phone, might wait for the 6minus to come out.

I've mentioned it before, but your new computer deserves a TwelveSouth BookArc stand. It really is the best way to turn a laptop into a desktop, maintaining plenty of desk space and managing cables to make the changeover a cinch (I'd just recommend a second charger/power adapter so you can leave one at the desk).

But if you aren't convinced of the BookArc's value, please do be sure to close your MacBook Air when using the Cinema Display. It requires a setting to be changed in system preferences, but it will be crucial when working with photos. The graphics capabilities of the Air get crippled when driving two displays, and you just don't need the Air's 13" display in addition to the 27" display. Congrats on the new system!

LR works on my Air and it's from 2011.
Works with huge files from the Leica S2 with no problem as long as I store LR files on an external bus powered portable drive.
So, good choice. Glad Scott at TechWise came through for you.

For your "walk in the woods" the iPhone6+ will be perfect for photos and TOP. Start from your back yard.

@ Roger Bradbury "It was also unlikely that my computer's hard drive would stop working". No, it was certain that your hard drive would stop working! If you are not backed up it will stop sooner rather than later ;(

If you can stretch another couple of hundred dollars, perhaps a Thunderbolt dock might be what you need. That should get you everything connected with a single cable.

Congrats on the new purchase! Speaking of the "bad boy", I fondly remember that design period of Apple computers (not only for the renaissance that it sparked), but because they really looked so damned friendly. Something that you wanted to use, not lusted over as an object.

Whatever happened to computers that look friendly? The new OS X and iPhones (especially the 5C) have taken a turn in a slightly friendlier aesthetic, but in general Apple hardware stills looks minimal, cleancut, industrial. There's an opportunity somewhere in there I think (and probably this idea applies to cameras too, especially compact cameras).


Man, sometimes I envy Apple users. It is kinda cute when they go all "oohhh" and "ahhh" with features new to their hardware/OS that the rest of the world has used, went accostumed, and got bored to death for the last two or three years. It is like the fuzzy warm feeling that we got opening the Xmas gifts when we were young and innocents...

Bryson's One Summer is a wonderful read, it's kind of a collection of essays or short stores mildly tied together. You'll enjoy it, I'm sure.

Cell phone / mobile phone years are presumably somewhere between dog years and the lifespan of a may-fly?

I put a 4.56 rear end in mine to go with the nitrous and two four barrel carbs. The screen's a little greasy but it does 141 mph and 9.995 seconds in the quarter mile.

Mike, I think you're going to enjoy your Macbook Air. I've been using one for some time, got one for my wife, and they're great travel computers. I run Lightroom with no problems, using external drives simply for extra capacity and for backup.

Not impressed of the iphone6+ camera or its IS/VR thing. Okish. Good luck. Not into iMac Air but memory is always key to the OS operation. If you can, get more.

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