“Dark Knight” self-portrait series part one

Back in November of 2015, I ordered a garment called “Knight Hoodie” from an American online shop that sells just this one piece of clothing. I had discovered the product while browsing 9GAG, in a post with the words “want” and “nerdgasm” in the title – my thoughts exactly. Previously, I had acquired an inexpensive black cape from Amazon and had been positively surprised by its quality and sleek appearance. And now, I had a stunning hoodie to match that would eventually start an ongoing self-portrait photography series. Continue reading “Dark Knight” self-portrait series part one

Apple proudly presents: they missed the boat again.

When Tim Cook went quiet after having talked more than enough about the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, I felt a nearly forgotten sensation building up in my stomach. I’m too young to have witnessed Steve Jobs’ keynotes in pixelated live streams, but I’ve watched enough replays of those legendary events to recognize this deliberate pause towards the end of the presentation. Or so I thought, because my excitement for “one more thing…” was ripped to pieces seconds later when Mr. Cook shamelessly missed the opportunity and over-emphatically invited the press representatives to get their fingers dirty on the fancy new Touch Bar.

The amount of anger I felt was unfathomable. The storm of emotion only lasted a few moments, but it was enough to make me whisper WHAT THE FUCK at the TV that I had hooked my iPhone 7 up to. I was sitting on a sofa in the common area of the Stay Inn Lisbon Hostel in the capital of Portugal, and the only thing that prevented me from absolutely losing it were the receptionist and another hostel guest who were unfortunately in the same room. I quietly cursed my good manners and, in my head, drafted a plethora of hateful Tweets to douse the flames that were flickering out of my ears by that moment. I did this while unplugging the Lightning to HDMI Adapter, HDMI cable & Lightning to USB cable plus power brick. This small conglomerate of wires had allowed me to hijack the hostel’s only TV to watch the keynote on a big screen. 

Enough storytelling. This post is called “Apple proudly presents: they missed the boat again”. I feel like this statement might need both explanation and justification, so let’s rewind the clock back to a few days before the event (and before the leaks) and put things in perspective (my perspective, anyways). Apple had sent out its press invites for the long rumored and later-than-expected Mac event. They couldn’t have chosen a bolder tag line: “Hello again”. I was pumped the second I read the words and remembered that Apple had presented the very first iMac using that same catchphrase. That was in May of 1998 and even back then, it was already a reference to an even earlier slogan that had been used to present the first Macintosh all-in-one computer in 1984. “Say hello to Macintosh”, “Hello (again)” and finally “Hello again”. A reference back 18 years and, on a second level, 14 more years into the past. Apple was deliberately using a historic slogan referencing a critical moment in the company’s history from thirty-two years ago. There was only one logical conclusion: something huge was going to be announced and Apple was confident enough to pitch it as on par with their most important breakthroughs before the iPod and the iPhone. 
Fast-forward a bit. It’s keynote day. I had turned off push notifications right after the leaked Touch Bar made its rounds because I didn’t want any more spoilers. I spent the day out of town, riding an e-bike through the beautiful Portuguese countryside, visiting the most western point of continental Europe. I finished the ride just on time to catch the train back to Lisbon and was at the hotel only three minutes past showtime. I started the livestream just as Tim Cook said “Good Morning” and got a round of polite applause from the usual crowd of journalists and employees. I noticed that the applause was significantly quieter than at the iPhone event and it came to my mind that this was the last event to take place at Apples 1 Infinite Loop headquarters. The spaceship was waiting and the high tech settlers were granting a last audience at their old fortress. 

Vaguely quoting Tim Cook from memory: “We love the Mac. […] It’s integral to Apple and everything we do. […] Let me start with a few updates … on MacBook Pro.” Let me start. Updates in plural. I shuddered in excitement and ate half a bag of chocolate cookies while the executives talked about and demoed the Touch Bar. I wasn’t too surprised because of the leak I’d seen floating around, but I still liked the concept and the fact that you can use the trackpad/mouse cursor and the Touch Bar at the same time. It’s truly innovative and the overall design new MacBook Pro is a step in the right direction. But at the same time, I noticed that a few things were amiss. 

1. They had spent a huge amount of time on non-Mac things already.

2. Craig Federighi, usually one of the most entertaining and well-spoken of the bunch, commented along the lines of “I get my David Copperfield moment” as he was removing the black blanket from the MacBooks, though he should really have referenced Steve Jobs’ reveal of the iMac instead.

3. The amount of time spent talking about the Touch Bar was also alarming, because it meant they were trying to hide the absence of other new features besides the usual hardware spec bump.

I caught myself feeling relieved when Phil Schiller started talking about the MacBook Air. I was still okay when he said they were going to drop the 11″ while keeping the 13″ model untouched. I was reasonably shocked when he announced the “cheaper” model of MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar and I nearly spat out the cookie I was chewing on when he claimed that this new laptop lineup made sense, even though he had obviously excluded the Air from the comparison slide. There was a brief moment of awkward silence when he finished his little summary of the screen sizes and prices and I laughed out loud at the apparent ridiculousness of it all. 

I could add that there is no way to connect your iPhone or any other Lightning gadget to this new MacBook Pro (no Magic Mouse 2 for you!). Or that the website claims that you can enjoy FaceTime calls on your 5K LG (!) monitor even though the camera in the MacBook Pro is still stuck on 720p. I’d rather not even touch on the ridiculous price increase from the previous models and the fact that Apple has waited so long with this upgrade that the Skylake chips they’re using are already nearly outdated by the time these laptops ship.

These details are, individually considered, not reason enough to dismiss this new portable computer as a failure. However, all things considered, even just looking at the laptop lineup that the Cupertino company currently has to offer makes apparent how much they have missed the boat on planning and consistency. Add the fact that no word has been said about even just spec bumps for the aging Mac Pro and Mini lines and the boat with the up-to-date hardware is also long gone. I hope that the reason for my anger becomes evident: it’s not the late, half-hearted upgrades to the MacBook line. There’s no personal or economical issue hidden between the lines – I am a student and just fine with my 2014 Mac Mini and 2016 self-built gaming PC. However, as a small-time Apple connoisseur and collector, I am deeply upset about how blatantly present-day Apple exploited its own history of awesomeness and set everyone up for a historic event that turned out to be quite a disappointment. It is insulting to the Macintosh that Tim Cook claims with a straight face that he deeply cares about the Mac, while at the same time neglecting the majority of the family. 

Header image credit: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

Selfie Stickers Update Version 1.1: Hunting the bugs

It’s a fact that nearly no apps – even seemingly simple ones such as Selfie Stickers – are bug-free when they are first released. Thankfully, it’s possible to release updates that fix these issues and that’s exactly what I’ve done this week. The free update brings my iPhone app Selfie Stickers to version 1.1. Here’s the changelog:

+ Added haptic feedback (iPhone 7 & 7 Plus only)
+ Added preliminary VoiceOver support
+ Added French localization
* Changed the App Store name to “Selfie Stickers for iMessage”
* Fixed a bug that caused new stickers to not appear in the list until the app was re-opened
* Fixed a bug that caused stickers not to be sent due to incorrect scaling
* Fixed missing translations for photo library access
* Miscellaneous fixes and optimizations

As you might have noticed, I have changed the name of the app from “Selfie Stickers for Messages” to “Selfie Stickers for iMessage”. This makes it more obvious that you can only use the app with iMessage and not with other messaging apps. I’ve also added French localization and VoiceOver support as well as a touch of Haptic Feedback (pun intended).

You can head over to the Updates tab of the App Store app to download the update. Alternatively, tap here to download the app for free from the App Store.

My first iPhone app: Selfie Stickers for Messages

Selfie Stickers for Messages App Icon. Shows an emoji of a person who is taking a selfie. Only the right arm and smartphone are visible.After a few weeks of quiet research and development (no pun intended), I have launched my first app on the Apple App Store!

It’s called “Selfie Stickers for Messages”.

Quoting the App Store description:

Add a personal touch to any messages you send or receive with – wait for it – your own face! Selfie Stickers allows you to easily create your own stickers out of your selfies and other photos!

It’s as simple as 1-2-3:
1. Tap to take a selfie or select an existing one from your photo library
2. Crop the image to get the subject centered (a circular mask will be applied afterwards)
3. Done! Peel your facial expression of amazement away and stick it onto any message of your choice. Or tap to send the sticker as a photo for others to re-use!

Are you excited to try the new sticker feature in iOS 10’s Messages app?
Don’t like the existing, pre-built and emotionless stickers?
This app was made for you. It works with any picture you take and with all the photos you already have in your camera roll.

Turn that frown upside-down and send all the facial expressions your selfie camera can capture to your friends today!

Stay tuned for more features as I continue to enhance Selfie Stickers.

You can find it on the App Store for free:

Download Selfie Stickers for Messages on the Apple App Store

It was a fun challenge and a refreshing departure from StarGame development and I hope you enjoy it as well. StarGame is also coming to the App Store pretty soon, so stay tuned for that!

DIYing a 3D Printer – Part One: Taking apart a HP Deskjet 6540

When my mum randomly decided to throw out everything we had in the basement, I saved our old HP Deskjet 6540 from going to the recycling center. I decided to take it apart to see what components are inside and which of them could potentially be used to construct a 3D printer. Video below:

What do you think about the idea of converting a 2D printer to a 3D printer? And how do you like my experiment with background music? Please tell me in the comments or on Twitter!

Quick thoughts on the Impossible Black and Red Duochrome film for Polaroid 600 cameras

This limited edition film behaves exactly like the B&W 2.0 film – but it develops in black and red, resulting in interesting and eye-catching images if you choose the right subject. This is also the downside of this film’s unique chemistry: not everything that looks good in B&W does in B&R. I’ve found that subjects that already contain the color red in parts of the image work well. What is also a small drawback is that it was only available with a black frame.

This is one of the example images on the Impossible Project Online Shop. It shows a Polaroid 600-type picture with a black frame. In the top half of the picture, you can see two circular vents in the wall of a building. The wall ends in the ground In the center of the picture. In the bottom half of the picture, you can see the ground in front of the wall. There is a canal lid in the ground. Due to the perspective and the composition of the image, the two round and the oval objects look roughly like two eyes and a mouth, forming a smiley.
One of the example images on the Impossible Project Online Shop. (c) Impossible Project

Unfortunately the film is currently sold out. You can however still check out the store page here, so there’s a chance it’ll be restocked eventually.

The Windows 10 Upgrade Debacle (Problems and Comedy!)

Here’s me trying to update my gaming PC from Windows 8.1 to 10! Problems arise when the Microsoft Windows 10 Update App decides my brand new AMD RX 480 GPU isn’t compatible with the “new” operating system. Yep.

(warning: occasional cursing has not been censored!)

Continue reading The Windows 10 Upgrade Debacle (Problems and Comedy!)

(UPDATED June 25) A detailed look at the Impossible I-1 camera

UPDATE: You can now watch a recording of the Impossible I-1 camera keynote on Vimeo (embedded below). I have also added many interesting details about the camera to this post, including detailed specifications that were just posted on the I-1 website.

Bloomberg Design Conference 2016: Oskar Smolokowski from Impossible on Vimeo.

Sections (roughly): 00:00 to 10:00 (about Impossible and why they made the camera), 10:40 (first look at the camera), 13:30 (flash), 15:00 (app), 17:00 (example photos taken with the I-1), 17:20 to end (live demo).

As you have probably already heard, Impossible unveiled their IP-1 I-1 camera at the Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference on April 11th. I promised you to write a post after the announcement to cover all the details that were unveiled. Here we are, 12 days later, and it’s not like I forgot to write or something. The problem is that there‘s was not much to report until now: Impossible annoyingly chose to postpone any info outside of some basic points of interest until May 10th, when the camera goes on sale. Luckily, the BW keynote video is now public, meaning I was able to add tons of info to the post. Enjoy!

As expected, the camera looks a lot like the ugly child of a Polaroid Land Camera 1000, an Impossible Instant Lab and a rotary phone:

I-1 parody
(images sourced from etsy, photojojo, gporetro, terapeak, fenix/soldiersystems)

Yeah, I was kidding. Not: Continue reading (UPDATED June 25) A detailed look at the Impossible I-1 camera

Analyzing the upcoming Impossible instant camera

As you know, I have a passion for instant photography and the cameras connected to it. I have personally tried nearly every format of Polaroid films that has existed (except the pocket, 500 and 80-type films) and played with cameras from most formats. Impossible has been teasing their upcoming instant camera on Twitter for a few days:

Also, ICYMI, Impossible now has a new website, located at impossible-project.com. This is what it looks like: big teaser image of i-type camera That’s right, the first thing you’ll see on their website is a giant teaser for their camera that is “coming soon…”. Coming tomorrow actually, so it’s about time to get excited and get the rumor-mill going! Continue reading Analyzing the upcoming Impossible instant camera

C like creative.