Hazelwatch. So, Nic’s reading out a book of dinosaurs to Hazel:


Hazel: “I don’t know Leptoceratops. It’s like Triceratops.”


Typing this text into an app called Ommwriter. An interesting way to work.

I’ve never given full screen writing applications much thought, but it really does help to remove the distractions of a modern computer. Maybe the iPad, in that it will only show one application at once, will work the same way. Right now, if I can monitor Twitter or Safari’s Top Sites when I have ten seconds free between thoughts, distraction is but a click away.

There’s a variety of sounds I can choose for key clicks, which seems odd at first. Don’t I want to avoid distractions here? Well, nicely enough, the key click sounds actually seem to focus you on the words you’re typing.

As well as the key clicks, it plays soothing music all the time. Meditative, gentle music. I suspect that’s probably part of the appeal, and I should probably just find some meditative music to play in iTunes if this is truly helpful.

Really not liking the underscore for typing, though. That seems a throwback, a long, long way back. Zardax on a CAT Apple II clone way back. And it’s getting in my way.

A nice idea. Worth a look if you need to write and the world is interrupting you.

Why Digital Killed Analogue

I really like the idea of 365 ways to say goodbye. Take a Polaroid photo with the last of your expired instamatic film, one a day for a year. The photos are nice too. But it’s just nostalgia.

A common opinion I hear about books when the iPad (or a Kindle) comes up in conversation: “I like the feel/smell/weight/look of real books, I’ll never give them up.” I heard the same thing about film from a traditional photographer, upgrading his massive developing machine as digital cameras really ramped up in the early 2000s. And I have a friend who likes analog film so much she bought a Holga.

The thing is, digital makes a compromise up-front. You don’t try to capture everything you see, you capture at a certain resolution with certain limitations, compress it a bit and store it. You can’t lose any quality if you don’t change the file, you can back it up as many times as you like, and it will be easy to modify it, re-use it in other projects, and transfer to multiple devices.

Film is not infinite resolution. Analog captures to the ability of the material — which is often not as good as you might think. I’ve got many rolls of film shot on an old SLR which look worse, from a resolution/dynamic range point of view, than the shots we took with a 2MP camera..

Analog can’t be copied with 100% accuracy. It can’t be properly backed up. It can’t be transferred to other devices without making a digital copy — in which case, why not capture it digitally in the first place?

Analog is expensive. If you told a kid today that they could only shoot up to 36 shots at a time, couldn’t review what you’d shot to see if they came out, and had to pay $1/shot(ish) and wait from an hour to a day to get printed photos that had to be scanned to go online, they’d laugh.

Yes, the best motion picture film can capture more shadow detail than the best HD DSLRs — check the Zacuto Shootout for proof. But the cost of film and developing is wholly prohibitive for anyone on their own and for many clients. The editing/grading workflow will involve scanning it to a digital file anyway.

So, my strong recommendation, for all mediums, capture digitally, on the best equipment your budget allows. (A Canon EOS 550D is a great choice for a DSLR.)

If you want the analog look, apply a filter.

Finally, if you’re one of the people who prefers a “real” book to an electronic version, pretend you just had a kid. She’s never going to have the same kind of nostalgia for the new printed book as you do. She will want to make space in her home for a bookshelf, she will love having every book she’s ever read with her, all the time, she’ll like the free access to every book in the public domain, she’ll like being able to change the size/colour/whatever of the text and have it read aloud, she’ll like the full colour, the searchability, the instant dictionary definitions of any word in any book, the ability to read niche books from anyone that wouldn’t be published in today’s system, the ability to buy books older than a year that can’t be found in shops, to enjoy video or animation as part of a magazine.

I can’t express it any better than John Siracusa on Ars Technica, comparing the physical book to the horseless carriage (p3):

I’m sure plenty of people swore they would never ride in or operate a “horseless carriage”—and they never did! And then they died.

So, by all means, don’t read books on your iPad. But your kids will, and one day you’ll die. Happy reading!