Music

In the beginning (well, my beginning anyway) there were LPs and my parents old 33s. Then cameth cassette tapes and behold the radiant wonder of the CD. Upon this time was a golden age of mixtapes, whereupon one might assemble a cherrypicked selection of tunes (and come on – some may disagree but wouldn’t you say most albums are a few good songs and a bunch of filler?) for thine only pleasure or to pitcheth a bit of woo… (gettest thou to the High Fidelity if you are ill-informed of this most wond’rous art.) More at Kirk’s UI Dev Blog.

Kirk covers a lot of the frustrations of dealing with keeping music in 2019 and I get where he is coming from. It also coincides with a conversation I had with a friend from work, a friend who buys music on CD. Yes, seriously. He buys music on little discs, the like of which people used to buy in the olden days.

It dawned on me that time has moved on to the point that for some of us physical music makes no sense at all. The idea that you should buy music on a physical disc for it to feel real makes sense until you realise this is an illusion. Imagine for instance 400 CDs on shelves- how many of them would get played and even those that do would only come off the shelf very occasionally. They sit there for 99.9% of the time doing nothing apart from taking up space and using the Earths resources to be made in the first place.

Also, my experience with Apple Music is one of discovery to the point that the majority of music I play on a daily basis was unknown to me 2 years ago. Artists like Billie Eilish would have passed me by completely were it not for streaming and I am now more than happy to pay a monthly subscription, presumably for the rest of my life, to have access to all of the music I need. CDs be damned.

Note: the music in the video below is brilliant, the visuals, however, may not suit those of you with a nervous disposition.

Impossible to function without the big five tech giants?

The technophobic tendency to attribute this failure to lack of moral fibre should be resisted. It’s not easy to cut yourself off from a system that links you to friends, family and employer, all of whom expect you to be contactable and sometimes get upset when you’re not. There are powerful network effects in play here against which the individual addict is helpless. And while “just say no” may be a viable strategy in relation to some services (for example, Facebook), it is now a futile one in relation to the networked world generally. We’re long past the point of no return in our connected lives… More here.

I must admit I can’t image not using any of them.

On Death

It’s a brilliant thing he’s doing. His response to the guy who lost his wife is, to borrow a phrase, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. tweeted here.

Nick Cave is a special human being.


They would not be able to enjoy school, friends, their teams, or birthday parties. They’d be watching too closely—how she looked, moved, acted, ate, or didn’t. Marla wanted her daughters to stay children: unburdened, confident that tomorrow would look like yesterday… More here.

Great article. Sad, but inspiring.

Tudor Black Bay GMT thoughts. Too good for me?

A grail watch that is so good it just doesn’t feel right

For many years I have wanted a Tudor Black Bay Heritage. It has always been the watch I look at and consider to be ‘the one’. I cannot explain why, but the cliche of ‘it needs to speak to you’ is 100% true in the case of watches and the invisible emotions that can make you love or hate a watch are completely real.

When I found myself in a position to finally get my grail I made some enquiries with regards to the red Heritage and was advised by my authorised deal that he had none. I was ready to check elsewhere, they are readily available, but he mentioned that he had just received a Black Bay GMT. That made me stop in my tracks.

You see, the GMT is not easy to find at all which is evidenced by this snippet taken from a watch forum discussing the availability in London last August-

So far:

John Lewis Oxford Street – Long Waiting List
Ernest Jones – Cheapside – 70 people waiting
Goldsmiths – Victoria – 200 people waiting
Watches of Switzerland – Regent St – 120 people waiting

Will update information as when I know more…

This has not changed much at all and to this day many people have been waiting for a long time to get their hands on one. So I asked him to keep it aside and I popped into the store the next day. £2,780 later it was mine.

A huge amount of money for a watch, but the picture is much bigger and far deeper when it comes to this particular watch. I shall try to explain why this amount of money makes perfect sense-

1/ It is a Tudor Black Bay. Try to buy a second-hand Black Bay and you will pay close to the original asking price so it is hard to lose money if you keep it in decent condition.

2/ The GMT is scarce and they are regularly changing hands for between £3,000 and £3,500 and in some cases even higher.

3/ The Rolex GMT Master II is £6,850. Yes, it is in some ways a very different watch, but in others the similarities are stark.

4/ It is an asset which holds its price in a way almost all other products fail to do. If troubling times come, I have +£2,500 to sell at any point. Potentially I will have a lot more once a few years have passed.

There was logically no reason to turn down the GMT even though when I sat in the jewellers with it on my wrist I was not overcome. It was not speaking to me as I expected it to.

I bought it anyway.

A strange thing happened over the next few days and especially so on the first wear. I was paranoid of getting any scratch or mark on it, presumably because of points 2 and 3 above, and so I was being extra careful with resting my arm on the desk etc. It took 30 minutes for me to pull out a second watch from my bag and replace this one in a safe place so that it did not gain any mark.

What was more strange, however, was how I felt wearing a watch that is worth approximately £3,000. It felt overwhelming in a small way. I didn’t feel like someone who should be wearing such an expensive watch. It’s not me and I simply did not feel worthy because it felt so out of place on my arm.

I am not a Rolex guy. Never have been and I never will be. There are many reasons for this; the designs feel as though they have been put together for other people to see and not for the wearer to enjoy. The Submariner is wonderful, but now so generic that everyone who gets into watches owns one. When people reach a certain financial position in life that they want to stamp they buy a Rolex. They don’t look for something different, they go for a Rolex because it is the safe choice.

The Pepsi icon. Rotary has tried to copy it, but failed in a big way. As have many other brands..

For all of the greatness of Rolex, and there is much, the designs feel as though they are aimed at people at least a generation ahead of me and maybe more. Look at the GMT Master II and compare it to the Black Bay GMT- the Master II comes over as far too decorative whereas the Bay feels somehow younger and cooler.

Anyway, I digress. I wore the Black Bay GMT the next day and it managed to get more wrist time than in the previous 24 hours, and the sense of ‘not good enough to wear it’ started to dissipate. But then another feeling clouded my thoughts. The red and blue bezel, which is made up of two perfectly matched subtle colours, pops in the subtlest of ways. It is not noticeable most of the time, but now and again I appreciate the colour scheme used on GMT. The white snowflake hands work perfectly with the grey(?) dial and the GMT hand of course makes sense in red. However, the sense of silver, red and blue all together can come over as too cautious. It is hard to put into words, but it is perfectly possible that I am truly smitten with the Black Bay Heritage and the gold hands and markers. It will sound silly to those of you who don’t have an interest in watches, but when you see something that fits the way you are, it is hard to move to the opposite.

The lack of a date window on the Heritage helps a lot as does the full red bezel and the gold of course, and it is these little things that make it feel special to me. It makes it feel just more special than the GMT. I cannot of course criticise the GMT for this because it is a true tool watch with a brilliantly intuitive movement and it makes no apologies for that. It should be perfect for me because it ticks every box, but the Heritage feels just a little more perfect.

Overall though I am left with the feeling that a £3,000 watch is too much for me. Do I not feel worthy to wear an expensive watch? Does it feel like a risk carrying something like this with me every day? I don’t know, but it makes me feel uncomfortable and somewhat guilty deep down. It feels arrogant and unnecessary which is bizarre because I have always wanted a watch like this. My iPhone cost £1,000 and I don’t have any guilt about carrying that around so why is a watch a problem?

I don’t know why it is, but I suspect that I will end up wearing a £300 Seiko again and will continue to ‘look up’ to watches like the Black Bay GMT. Something about not being able to attain an object makes it seem more special to me than when I have it on my wrist, and it is kind of a disappointing feeling.

If you have no such worries, however, get this watch. It is wonderful and probably the best value watch on the market today when compared to its peers.

There are new features and there are real features

I have found that I am using almost none of the latest iOS features that Apple has released. If they need any kind of effort on my part I am discovering that I am not even touching them. If they are implemented in such a way that they are obvious and are just there they seem to get regular use. It’s all in the implementation and the invisibility of how a feature creeps into my life.

Memoji

I think I have used Memoji twice on the first day the feature was released. At no point since have I needed it or felt inclined to send one.

Screen Time

Looked at the first weekly report and never looked since. It’s a nice idea, but the reality is that most of us think we do not have a problem with our screen time and I am one of them, no matter how extreme the numbers are.

Photos places search etc

Still haven’t searched for anything by location or a keyword and completely forgot it was there for a long time.

Portrait Mode

I do like Portrait Mode in the right lighting, but I have used it three times since its release.

Shortcuts

Not once have I used a shortcut after downloading it for more than one time.

Measure app

Was opened once out of curiosity, now sits somewhere in a folder. I don’t even know which folder.

Do Not Disturb (new options)

These are obvious and come in handy every single day.

Grouped notifications

This feature makes notifications much easier to view and manage. Obvious, in your face and a huge improvement.

The above are from iOS 12 and only two get use because they are somewhat unavoidable. The rest are fluff that sound good in the keynote.

Apple is great at building features that become part of our daily lives and it is getting more difficult to come up with genuinely useful new tools. I just hope that the company can find a way to do it more in the future.

A broken system

The problem of free work is getting worse as the UK’s freelance army grows. The number of self-employed people in the UK has increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, according to the ONS, contributing the most to employment growth since the financial crisis. Yet self-employed workers earn on average £240 a week, compared to £400 by those in full-time work… More here.

One small aspect of many things that are wrong in the UK at this time. The issue of rich stealing from poor is a growing one that only seems to be escalating.

What He Left Behind

We studied each other, silent. His eyes were a deep smoky blue, the darkness of them promising the stained glass brown they would become. He stared back at me, unblinking and somber. He never cried about being born — it just wasn’t that upsetting to him. I realized somewhere, deep in a place without words, that this child needed me in a different way than his older brother. I will always be on your side, I promised him… More here.

Incredible.

I Fought Apple and Won

I continued the conversation with the store duty manager and she said the best she can do is take 25% off the replacement handset price of AUD$800 (or close to it). I was not about to pay an additional $600 for my phone after paying $1600 for it not too long ago.

She gave me a few other options but the outcome of those would most likely be no replacement due to liquid damage.

I was completely honest with her and said “I understand this isn’t you making the policy, but I feel misled and like there is a bit of false advertising going on here. You can’t just make a statement and then choose not to cover it under warranty” she apologised again and I said that’s fine, I understand it’s not her. I told her I would be filing a complaint with NSW Fair Trading (consumer protection department in my state) because of the misleading statements made by Apple. She said that’s good and she hopes I get the outcome I want… More here.

Apple does come over very stringent with regards to policy when it comes to repair, but you can fight and you may win. I found this out when my wife’s Apple Watch was replaced for free.


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