MujuMaps by Adrian Galli

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Cartography has also fascinated me—not just from a details and information standpoint but also a design standpoint. Maps, by necessity, must be highly functional but with some good design, can also be beautiful.

MujuMaps takes the ancient art of cartography and merges it with modern, minimalist design. I’ve had my eye on them for some time and have a few cities I can’t wait to have hanging on my wall.

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Clean and simple and a few color options, prints start at 50 x 70 cm. Check out their site and get your favorite city printed.

MujuMaps

Price: $60

Images courtesy of MujuMaps

Top 5 Pieces of Gear Every Photographer Must Have by Adrian Galli

Sorry, I got you to click. It is a clickbait title but bear with me for a moment.  

I read a lot of technology articles and a lot of them are about photography or cinematic gear. I’m the first to admit I LOVE new gadgets and gear but I also am very pragmatic about what is needed versus what is wanted. I will spend good money for good gear but I'm also a huge fan of doing a lot with less.

A lot of articles about photo gear are all “you need this to be a photographer” or whatever... blah, blah, blah.

So here is my list:

  1. Camera
  2. Lens
  3. Memory card or film
  4. Tripod  
  5. Lens cleaner

That’s it. Don’t be duped by people telling you that your camera is not good enough or your lens is bad or whatever. Go out and shoot. If you said, "Adrian, I have $500 and want to be a photographer," I'd say, "you can get everything above."

  1. Nikon D3100 — $239
  2. Nikon 35mm f1.8g DX— $166
  3. Sandisk 16GB SD Card — $11
  4. Polaroid 42" Travel Tripod — $17
  5. Zeiss Lens Cleaner Kit — $30

A grand total of $463. It may not be superlative gear but you’ll be photographing. And that’s more than can be said about a lot of gear reviewing and blogging clowns. Check out a few examples of photographs taken with the Nikon D3100 and Nikon 35mm DX lens.

Adrian's Life Rule #56: Go out and shoot.

Climate Change at a Glance — NOAA, AXIOS by Adrian Galli

 Chart courtesy of Chris Canipe, AXIOS

Chart courtesy of Chris Canipe, AXIOS

Seven of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2010. Reliable record keeping and measurement of the climate has taken place since 1880. And with our most powerful technologies, satellites, super computers, and more, NOAA and the rest of the scientific world are watching closely.

Sources:

NOAA, June 22, 2018

Chris Canipe, AXIOS, June 21, 2018

New York Times, January 18, 2018

Chirp — Twitter, back on Apple Watch by Adrian Galli

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There has been some publicity that a lot of app developers are pulling their Apple Watch app. This has lead to a lot of hyperbole about the Apple Watch being a failure. I’m not going to get pulled into all that but I think it in worth mentioning that my opinion is most developers are still trying to figure out what their role is in the Apple Watch development arena. Some apps try really hard to be a full replacement to their iOS counterpart and that isn’t really the point. Apple Watch is really designed for quick interactions—ten seconds not ten minutes.

Twitter pulled their app from watchOS some times ago. It was disappointing to lose the watchOS app version for me personally because before as I would get Twitter notifications, I then need to pull out my iPhone. When Twitter had a watchOS app, I could read, favorite, retweet right from my watch. It was pretty slick. It is really what Apple Watch is all about: quick, unobtrusive, yet powerful interactions.

Funny thing is, Twitter is really designed for Apple Watch. With a maximum of 280 characters per tweet, it is perfect for quick reads and quick interactions. If there is more to the tweet, a link for example, then Handoff with another Apple device leads one into the meatier content.

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Will Bishop brought Twitter back to Apple Watch with his Apple Watch-only app. Quick and simple, he built in much of what a Twitter app can do to watchOS. One can view their Timeline, Trending items, Mentions, Messages, List, Likes, one’s profile, and search, with a final menu item for Settings. A Force Touch will bring up the option to tweet and it supports Scribble so hashtags and mentions are easily input. (One can of course use Dictation but imagine some of the more complicated handles may not be recognized well.)

That list makes for an unexpectedly powerful app on one’s wrist. However, Mr. Bishop did a great job of making sure it didn’t get complicated.Clean and simple interface, powerful tools, intuitive and expected user experience, and to give it some polish, haptic feedback and sounds.

It is worth mentioning that it is a free app, however, there is a ‘pro’ version which unlocks some of the features above. His pricing method is based on the honor system so one can give a little as $2 for the pro upgrade or up to $5. He includes a ‘tip jar’ for additional support. I’m a big fan of this because it encourages me to give more when I can and give more to the best apps that really deserve it. It is also worth mentioning that Will Bishop is a sixteen year old in Australia and clearly on his way as a great developer. I encourage everyone who downloads Chirp to pay for the 'pro' version because I strongly feel talented, young developers should have the support they need to build an outstanding career.

After using it for a couple week, the only thing on my wishlist is interactive notification support. That may be easier said than done but this app is v1.1 currently (6.25.2018) so who knows what will be coming down the pipeline.

Download: Chirp

Price: Free, $[2, 3, 5]

Fellow Stagg EKG by Adrian Galli

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Only last week I wrote my review musing over the Zero Japan Bee House tea pot I adore so. Despite having owned it for months, I was inspired to write its review because of what was coming to me.

While walking through a William Sonoma, I saw a kettle that really caught my eye. Sleek, black, modern, and minimalist design, it was one of those gut reactions that said, “you need that.” I already had an electric tea kettle. It was cheap, old, and really only did one thing: boiled water. Of course, it did exactly what it was designed to do—I am not faulting it but when making tea, not all are brewed equally.

Black tea, for example, is brewed directly with boiling water. Green and white tea, and some oolong, on the other hand, are brewed at much lower temperatures of 70° to 80° celsius (160-180° ferenhneit). Boiling water to 100°C then letting it cool is tricky without a thermometer.

Fellow is a company making some svelte coffee and tea appliances. The Stagg EKG is an electric kettle with a great design and a programmable base to set one’s temperature needs. Hence, I needed it.

Not only looking amazing, the technical aspects of being able to set one’s temperature is really important. If water is too hot, for coffee or tea, it will diminish the quality of flavor. While many might find that funny, a favorite tea of mine, Gyukuro Jade Dew Green, is very expensive, high quality, and to ruin such a tea is like cooking fillet mignon to well done. At fifty-three dollars a pound, one would be wise to take care of proper brewing.

Sitting nicely on the counter top, the black matte finished metal is quite striking. A pistol-grip handle that never gets hot is well balanced with the kettle itself, whether empty or full. The base for the kettle very nicely and, while plastic, matches the design and finished quite well. It is really the only negative item on my list. I would have loved for it, too, to be metal. The knob to the right both turns on the device and sets one’s temperature—one press to power on, turn to adjust temperature, and press again to power off. The monochrome display opposite the knob give a clear indication of the temperature and state of the device.

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Upon first using it, I boiled water for some black tea. I set the temperature to 100°C and walked away. For a few minutes I didn’t check on it but it soon dawned on me that I had no idea if it was boiling water or not. I returned to check in on the kettle to find it was only at 99°C. I did not time it but at least five minutes had gone by which was sufficient time to boil the .9L of water.

What was going on here? I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t getting me to the a full boil… or was it? It sounded like it was boiling so what the gauge inaccurate? Being a scientist, something dawned on me. Have I ever boiled water in Chicago at 100°C? That’s a funny question to a lot of people. Before I answer, I would like my readers to answer that question. If one is in Chicago, boiling water, will it ever reach 100°C to boil?

The answer is 'no.’ Chicago, to the surprise of many, is at approximately 182 meters above sea level and that is just enough to change the boiling point of water to about 99°C (probably more like 99.5). You likely didn’t expect a science lesson when reading this review but Hexagon isn’t just cool gear! And this is to the credit of the Stagg EKG—the temperature gauge actually seems to be quite good.

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With a beautiful silhouette, black matte finish, temperature controls, and a pretty spot on gauge, this electric kettle has found a home and will be much appreciated. Fellow had a sale so I was able to pick up this lovely device for $126. While it is normally $149, making it five times more than my old one, good things are worth the money and I foresee this Red Dot Design Award 2018 winner to never cause any regrets.

Price: $149