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  • PlayStation Turns 25

    The single largest innovator in the video gaming space just turned 25 year old today. Before the PlayStation came around, controllers were bulky, console felt like outcasts in your entertainment center. Joysticks felt clumsy, games were mainly sold in cartridges. Sony brought a whole new edge to the at-home entertainment system market. From The Verge:

    There’s plenty of credit to award when it comes to video game controller design. Nintendo pioneered the core button layout with the SNES (D-pad on one side, face buttons on the other), and both Nintendo and Sega beat Sony to shipping an analog thumbstick for their consoles. But ultimately, it’s Sony’s innovations and ideas that would go on to become the elemental base of what we think of as a “video game controller.”

    There are two pioneering parts to Sony’s foundation of the modern controller. First is the original PlayStation controller that launched in 1994, which would establish the broad design (elongated palm grips, shoulder buttons, and the D-pad / face button combination). And then there’s the Dual Analog Controller from 1997 (followed by the more well-known DualShock models), which would change 3D games forever by offering a second analog stick: one to control a character and one to look around.

    Check out The Verge’s PlayStation 25th Anniversary Issue here.

  • From Stereogum:

    It’s weird to think that, in the years before the Walkman, there was no way to listen to music privately while out in public. There were ways to bring music with you — on transistor radios, on boom boxes, on car stereos — but they forced you to subject everyone around you to that music, as well. The Walkman freed us up. It allowed us to make music more a part of our lives, to build our own private soundworlds. It was a transformative invention, one of the few that utterly upended the way we listen to music. Soon enough, more and more portable cassette players would hit the market, and the price fortunately dropped. But no matter which company made them, we still used the word “Walkman” to describe them.

    Only looking backward, can we appreciate how far we’ve come. It truly changed how we listened to music. We might not refer to our music players as Walkmans anymore, but in a sense — we still do. A simple progression of design thinking over the years reveals my favorite Bruno Munari’s maxim:

    An arrow can lose its feathers but not its point.

    Bruno Munari, Design as Art.
  • Gear for the Year

    I have long held the belief, simpler is better. This year, is no exception. I don’t pick-up new hardware regularly, however this past year I have several new additions.

    The Everyday Backpack

    First, and foremost — Peak Design’s 20L Everyday Backpack is the greatest backpack to ever grace the Earth. I’m not kidding. It’s a must have for camera enthusiasts, commuters and urban dwellers. The velcro-enabled shelves ensure organization and protection for your gear. Wether you’re carrying camera equipment or not, it’s really handy. I can see this bag having great outdoor use as well. The rucksack inspired flip-top has a custom designed mag-clip. Durable and extremely rugged the clip can expand to give the bag an extra 10L of storage. 10 fucking liters. Insane.

    I don’t have a lot of gripes with this bag. The laptop sleeve is a bit tight (you could fit an iPad as well, there’s a felt partition), but perhaps I’ve just had shitty loose bags my whole life and never had a proper laptop sleeve like this before. All-in-all, it’s a very thoughtfully designed backpack and I don’t foresee myself replacing this for a very long time, as Peak Design offers a Lifetime Warranty on all of their products. Very bold.

    While it’s not for me, it’s worth noting Peak Design’s camera clips are pretty badass. I can see this having great utility on a film or photo set or even while hiking.

    iPhone 7+ and AirPods

    I’m still rocking the iPhone 7+ (for now). It’s a solid iPhone with a decent 12 hour battery life. I may have a go with the iPhone X next year, but I’m pretty satisfied with my iOS device. It’s served well so far, and I want to see how long I can hold onto this one. I’m not in any hurry to have a Qi charging or Face ID enabled iPhone. Great hardware achievements no doubt, but I think I’ll sit on the sidelines for now while the Apple Software team plays catch up.

    That being said, I have to say…AirPods are fucking phenomenal. I can’t believe it took me this long to try out AirPods. I had previously purchased the Beatsx but oh boy were those trash. It may just be me, but it felt like it was just piping everything in mono and the treble always felt way too high, and podcasts sounded horribly muffled. The AirPods however, have a great range, and the noise cancelling is favorable — even on a subway platform. Tapping gestures are the way to go, took me a day to get used to them but oh man —there’s no going back for me. 

    Sony Alpha a6500

    I’ve never really owned a great camera. In the past, I’ve dabbled with GoPro’s, camera rentals and of course, my iPhone. But I’ve never really owned a worthy digital camera. After a great deal of searching, I narrowed my selection down to two contenders: The Fujifilm X-T20, and the Sony Alpha a6500. Two very capable, and very well received cameras. On one hand the X-T20 was very affordable — and on the other huge mass adoption the Sony Alpha line was taking off at the beginning of the 2017. I found the Fujifilm lenses were pretty expensive, and so I ultimately went with the Alpha.

    I’ve been very happy with the stills and video. 4K capable (not stabilized) video could be better, but the stills take the cake. It’s a lightweight companion for any photographer. Mirrorless cameras are taking off, and personally I couldn’t be happier. The battery life has been the most impressive trade-off. Even while recording 4k 60fps video, the battery really lasts. The end of massive, weighty DSLR’s are neigh. A++.

    Bonus: Check out some of my photos here on Unsplash.

    Rangers 57'' Aluminum Tripod

    Tripods are annoying. They’re big. They’re bulky. They’re heavy. Well, the Rangers 57” Tripod changes all that. It’s a great buy. 100% worth it. Even if you use your tripod only a couple times a year — this thing is worth the trouble. Weighing in at only 2.89 lbs. (1.3 kg) with the ballhead attached is crazy.

    Google Home

    I bought this last November, and so far I have to say it’s a cool device. I wouldn’t say it’s immensely useful. But it is a great way to interface with the Chromecast. An audio query to play Ugly Delicious on Netflix is a lot faster than whipping out my iPhone, open Netflix, search, play, and Chromecast to the TV.

    The iOS companion (unassumingly called Google Home) app, it pretty terrible. I’ve sent feedback on the app probably 10 times. You can’t output audio from Chromecast => Google Home which is a damn shame. It should be a two-way street but I guess Chromecast just can’t handle the bandwidth.

    Furthermore, I’m disappointed Google Home doesn’t support Apple Music. You can play Apple Music over bluetooth audio to the speaker, but come on — I want Google Home to have access to the Apple Music API for voice queries. 

    2015 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display

    Still going strong. It’s tough to justify buying a new MacBook when this one just keeps going and going. It’s had some minor graphics bugs when it hasn’t been shut down in weeks, but apart from that it’s been great. 

    I’d also like to point out I bought this gently used on eBay. Never underestimate the power of used computer equipment. I was apprehensive at first, especially since I’m a strong advocate of AppleCare but it’s been the best. I saved nearly $800 buying it used. I cannot recommend eBay enough.