Review

Deliveries — Package Tracking on your Apple Devices by Adrian Galli

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Some of the best apps are apps that make every day things a little simpler. One of my favorite apps to help with little tasks is Deliveries. It does one thing and does it really well. It tracks packages.

From FedEx to USPS, Royal Mail and DHL, grab a tracking number and one will receive notifications on Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Deliveries shows locations, delivery estimates, days to arrival and more. Add a name to the delivery should there be more than one coming from the same courier.

Made by JuneCloud, they are a small developer out fo Detroit making only a few apps but all really well designed. Not only do they help one track their packages, they also make a simple and classy notes app called Notefile.

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Today Deliveries users received an update making this app even more useful: Siri Shortcuts. Simply say to Siri, “Show me my deliveries,” and a quick view of what deliveries are available show up.

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Some other nifty features of Deliveries are the ability for it to add the estimated delivery date to one’s calendar. It will show up as an all day even so even when one’s eyes aren’t on the app or Notification Center, Calendar will still keep one updated.

Deliveries is available on all iOS, macOS, and watchOS devices, tracking a package can be done from desktop to pocket to wrist and it syncs via iCloud.

It is one of my favorite things to see the Deliveries complication on my Apple Watch watchface with the days until a delivery—with a single tap, I get all the same information as on iPhone or iPad.

Additionally. If more information is needed, Deliveries is pulling data from the couriers’ website and one can quickly jump to the detailed information.

It is a five dollar app but totally worth it. The new Siri features really make it a quick and easy app to work with and the interface remains one of my favorite.

Tip: If one copies a tracking number from an e-mail or website, upon opening Deliveries on iOS, a “quick entry” notification pops up for speedy input.

Deliveries from JuneCloud

iOS: $5
macOS: $5

K&F Concept Lens Adapters by Adrian Galli

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I run several camera systems at the same time... crazy I know. Most systems are very similar and very capable. My Nikon system is really my high end professional gear—big, powerful, strong ecosystem. My Olympus gear (Micro Four Thirds) is small, great for travel, some wonderful lenses, and impressive innovation. Finally, I also have a FujiFilm X-T20 and a clue of lenses—Fuji is making some of the best camera and lenses around these days and also the only affordable medium format cameras on the planet.

I can get into more details about why these systems are all in my camera bag but one of the reasons I have my Fuji system is for using adapted lenses.

There is a common fallacy that “old lenses” are not functional for digital cameras. It is an unexpected and untrue statement but I assume it is for two reasons: camera companies want you to buy the newest gear and a lot of people believe that old is bad and new is better.

I can’t speak for the camera companies but they are in the business of selling equipment so it seems likely they wouldn’t dissuade someone from believing that their old film lenses from the 1960’s aren’t good. Fact is, normal and telephoto lens optics haven’t really change much. Mostly is is some technology like image stabilization and various lens coatings. Wide-angle lenses have come a long way—Nikon is probably the front running in this area but in past, wide-angle lenses weren’t so hot. Otherwise, lenses from decades ago frequently have some very wonderful and unique qualities that aren’t found in many lenses today because, you know, sharpness is everything according to so many photographers.

I’ve been fortunate to find and play with some absolutely incredible old lenses from long before I was even born but the problem is, these lenses have mounts that are all but extinct. Or, like my Nikon 50mm ƒ1.8 E-series, does use Nikon’s F-mount and still work on my Nikon cameras but it is also a great lens to mount on my Olympus or Fuji cameras—it is worth using on any camera.

FujiFilm X-T20 with K&F Concept Nikon F to Fuji X mount adapter, Nikkor 50mm ƒ1.8 E-Series

FujiFilm X-T20 with K&F Concept Nikon F to Fuji X mount adapter, Nikkor 50mm ƒ1.8 E-Series

Lens adapters can be very expensive—$99+ in many cases. However, I was searching around on eBay for a few deals on said adapter when I stumbled on K&F Concepts.

These adapters are usually around $25 and are really well made. All metal construction, these adapters come is a protective case, and K&F have adapters for just about every mount imaginable. From Nikon F to Fuji X mount to Exakta to Micro Four Thirds, all of my fun “vintage lense” have new life on my cameras.

Nikon F mount to Fuji X mount

Nikon F mount to Fuji X mount

Nikon G (F Mount) to Micro Four Thirds

Nikon G (F Mount) to Micro Four Thirds

Nikon G (F mount) to Fuji X Mount

Nikon G (F mount) to Fuji X Mount

It is important to note that adapted lenses do not communicate with the camera; one will not have any meta data such as aperture, focal length, and the like. Some lenses, Nikon G-type for example, do not have aperture ring and therefore specific adapters with an aperture ring are needed.

Notice the different between the general Nikon F adapter and the Nikon G adapter. The scalloped metal ring controls the aperture lever for G-type Nikkor lenses. It is important to also note, the aperture ring does not have actually click stops to certify what aperture one is using but there is some feedback from the ring (clicks) to know it is functioning. Using these adapters ensures one will get comfortable with both manual focus and manual controls as a whole.

Sadly, as it stands, the E-type (not E-series) Nikkor lenses are not supported at all because only a Nikon camera can control the electronic [E] aperture. The good news, those are very new lenses. Nikon only makes a few. But since these adapters are really about working with older, vintage, or specialty lenses, it should not pose a problem.

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I can’t recommend these more. For $25ish, one can get a bunch of these for the price of one Metabones adapter. They are low enough cost to allow one to collect all sorts of old lenses and enjoy the artistic elements of lense that are essentially extinct.

An old photography adage: You date the camera but marry the lens.

Keep those old lenses around and put them to good use with these simple and great adapters.

K&F Concepts

Price: $25

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]

Ray-Ban Aviator Flash Lenses — Gold, Green Flash by Adrian Galli

The problem is… I only have sunglasses I love so these too are a favorite pair. The green lenses remind me of the Emerald Coast, white sand beaches, and a cool breeze off the Gulf of Mexico while the hot sun beaming down on a summer day in July. Greens and Blues tend to be my favorite colors as is. I’ve actually had these for years and they are so cool.

I had never spent nearly $200 on a pair of sunglasses before but I had to have them and my favorite pair of Fossil sunglasses had gotten both scratched and the nose piece had fallen off never to be found. Time to upgrade.

The clerk at the Sunglass Hut was insistent. “You’ll take good care of these. You’ll have them forever because you invested extra money in them.” And he was right. Not only were they more expensive than their Fossil counterparts, they were better made. Glass lenses, more durable frames, a better warranty, and infinitely cooler. So I handed over my Amex and said, “let’s do it.”

Well, that ended well. Now I only spend a bunch of money on sunglasses. It’s a trap! But a good one. My motto is to spend good money on good things because they will likely last longer and, generally, are better. As a favorite TV judge always says, “lo barato sale caro.” The cheap comes out expensive.

My Fossil sunglasses did look cool but they were plastic lenses and cheaper frames. Not knocking them either. Until these Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses came along, they were my favorite pair. To be clear, if you’re looking to NOT spend a couple hundred dollars on sunglasses, I’d whole heartedly recommend Fossil.

But here I am with my Green Flash lenses and no regrets about spending the money.

The lenses are not only cool AF, they reproduce color well and have limited flare/glare in direct sunlight. Light weight, no pinching of the nose or squeezing at the temples, and easy to keep clean. They look good, feel good, and work well. Aces.

At $178, it is a bunch to spend but as the Sunglass Hut clerk said to me, I think once you have a pair like this (or more expensive), you’ll find you’ll take great care of them. These are now four years old and look as good as the day I bought them. Durability is key for something that is in you bag, in a pocket, cold weather, warm weather, sand, wind, water, etc. They’ve held up superbly.

Ray-Ban Aviator Flash Lenses comes a eleven colors so if the green isn’t for you, check out the Yellow Flash, another fave, red, blue, lilac, mirror (these are on my acquisition list too), and more.

Price: $178

Light My Fire — Spork Classic by Adrian Galli

Never would I have expected to, one, write a review about a spork, nor, two, expect a spork to win design awards. But years ago this did in fact all happen.

Sweden is known for many things including their culture of design. One Swedish designer, Joachim Nordwall, designed a fork-spoon-knife combination both excellent is design and excellent in function. On one end, a spoon, and the other end, a fork-knife combination. Simple yet effective.

Coming in a variety of colors, one can pick the spork that fits their personality best—I own several of this fantastic utensil. I keep one in pretty much every bag or backpack I use frequently. I do my best to not waste plastic utensils, straws, bag, lids, etc. when eating out so carrying one of these is not only a tribute to a favorite design but also helps save some trash from going into the environments.

One might find it a little silly that this utensil has reached a level whereby it gets entire articles written about it but sometimes it is the little things in life that are fun.

The first time someone sees one of these sporks they tend to either chuckle or be rather curious—or chuckle to cover their curiosity. But once they see it close up, everyone loves it.

It makes a fun little gift for friends and family. I gave one to a longtime friend and colleague after receiving some ribbing for using mine during a lunch break at work. She now uses hers probably more than I use mine. But that is also what is kind of fun and exciting about the Light My Fire Spork Original. It somehow has the ability through its simplicity and design to inspire people to use it.

I definitely vote it a recommended item for your everyday carry list (EDC) but don’t be fooled by the knock-off versions. The real deal if made exclusively by Light My Fire of Sweden.

BPA free, dishwasher safe, extremely durable, lightweight (9g), safe for non stick cookware, heat-resistant.

Price: $3