Rich Stroffolino

Just realized the Humane AI pin has strong iPhone 5 vibes.

My kid just won a Kindle Paperwhite from our library. Last time I had one was my 2nd gen kindle. The refresh rate and overall responsiveness is impressive. Although the physical controls on my old one were so much more intuitive. Had to search how to exit a book…

Will Spatial Video Be The Thing?

The spatial video aspects of the Vision Pro have been a big question for me since Apple previewed the headset. John Gruber wrote up the most detailed look at how the feature will work with footage shot on an iPhone, so I was intrigued. But it leaves me thinking how Apple will actually market this.

Now I have no doubt in Apple’s marketing machine. It’s made Titanium a major selling point for the iPhone 15 Pro, so anything is possible. But I think the company may have something of a HomePod problem with the device and spatial video specifically. How do you get people to experience it?

I was never bullish on the HomePod because audio quality is remarkably hard to sell to consumers. Everyone can say their stuff sounds great, and when you’re in Target looking at a speaker or buying online, there’s no way to compare sound quality. Similarly, how do you show the spatial video of the Vision Pro?

Gruber described the fitting process for the headset as significantly refined but still cumbersome:

There are a few steps where you’re presented with a series of dots in a big circle floating in front of you, like the hour indexes on a clock. As you look at each circle, it lights up a bit, and you do the finger tap gesture. It’s the Vision Pro’s way to calibrate that what it thinks you’re looking is what you actually are looking at. Once that calibration step was over — and it took just a minute or two

That’s not the worst and the Wii sold millions of units with a much worse calibration experience. But still, the retail experience needed to get someone to try out spatial video seems steep. That’s non trivial for an extremely expensive device.

I thought at first the iPhone 15 Pro spatial video feature would be significant for the Vision Pro. But I didn’t realize the feature would be limited to landscape video. While I can be a snob and say that’s the only way to shoot video, the reality is vertical has won. It’s the de facto standard. When I’ll shooting with a phone, it’s now weird to shoot landscape. It makes sharing video harder since it will invariably be consumed on a phone.

The idea with special video capture on an iPhone is that you’d create this library of content that you’d get a value add experience when buying a Vision Pro. It solves the content problem. But not when it requires you to shoot in a way that has less utility now.

That being said, the Vision Pro is clearly being positioned as an early adopter device. But I’m curious how Apple pivots the device to a general market. Outside of the high launch price, I’m not sure what’s the feature that grabs people. Apple has overcome this before. The Apple Watch launched without a real use case and then doubled down on health and fitness tracking to great effect.

I guess I don’t see spatial video being the thing that gets people to buy the device. Generally people care much more about convenience than quality. Smartphones decimated the point and shoot camera market not because they were better but because they were supremely convenient. Spatial video (and the Vision Pro in general) seems inherently inconvenient.

Well I’m done with Beeper for messaging. Seeing messages across services failing and not getting any error messages for undelivered messages. I’ll take it if one service occasionally bugs out but suddenly completely unreliable.

What Am I To Make Of The Humane AI Pin

The Humane AI Pin is genuinely weird. I don’t want to diminish it because of that. In fact, it’s incredible rare in the tech gadget space. This seems like something genuinely novel in an age where everything is a glass slab. I am genuinely confused by it because we rarely get to grapple with anything truly unique.

Introducing Humane Ai Pin from Humane, Inc. on Vimeo.

Which is not to say that is seems good. In fact, I’m struggling to see the use case. Because in its current state, it’s an accessory, not a phone replacement. And then at that point, what is it doing better than my phone? The camera will assuredly be worse (video is unavailable at launch is a major red flag). I suspect the battery life will be bad (you don’t ship multiple batteries with a device unless users will need them). It is a worse entertainment device since it cannot do video by its nature and I imagine streaming service support will be lacking at launch.

Those are major issues.

The benefit is you get a device optimized to work with an LLM. Any notably in a space evolving so fast, not any LLM, but rather OpenAI’s GPT-4. Which if I had to pick one, is the one I would pick. But it seems to be betting on a winner in a very quickly moving space. To be fair, so is Microsoft, so it’s probably not that big of an issue.

But effectively the device argues its optimizations to get content in and out of GPT-4 will be worth $700 and a monthly service contract. When you are almost assuredly going to have to already still maintain that same pricing model for a phone. A phone which can also already access these same model through apps, and increasingly voice assistants. And maintain all the advantages I’ve already outlined above.

But I don’t want to say that the device is a surefire flop. I don’t want to be the Windows Mobile guy in 2007 pointing out that the iPhone can’t even do copy-paste. Every piece of coverage about Humane goes on at length about the legacy of their founding team, particularly their deep roots at Apple. Since I haven’t played with it, maybe LLM integration is truly groundbreaking, seamless to the point that I don’t need a phone in my pocket.

But then I think about how does that Pin keep me entertained in a waiting room. Will it track my health information? Do I want to dictate every interaction? I can’t answer those questions.

The thing is, I want this to be a start of more hardware innovation. I don’t want the smartphone to be the terminus of every software innovation. I want weird wearable to find their market until I find one that blows my mind. I just don’t think this one is it… right now.

Always love a good Windows error screen on a ticketing kiosk

A windows boot error screen on a ticketing kiosk

The Instagram share sheet is weirdly the last bird site holdout

Goodnight Sweet Final Cut?

I really hope this isn’t the start of the end for Final Cut on desktop. While I’ve got editor friends that sneer at it for their pro work, it’s been one of the best deals out there for an advanced user. I spent $200 on it back in 2016 and I’ve gotten constant updates, new camera support, and optimizations. All in an editor that’s sufficiently advanced for my needs and worked well across a variety of Apple hardware.

It seems weird that they would kill it on desktop so soon after it launched on iPadOS But then again, the company just made over $2,800 per second in revenue on services in Q4. So maybe it only makes sense to keep investing on it for that platform. Still a sad day for those avoiding subscription encroachment.

Recently I’ve seen more engagement on Threads, even though I post there way less. There may be a lesson there for me :)

I’ve gotten my feeds on BlueSky, Mastodon, and Threads to each have a certain degree of utility, with a lot of crossover. None are a ghost towns anymore.

The New MacBook Is What I Wanted But Not What I Would Buy

When I bought my MacBook Pro 14, I was coming off a Thinkpad. I’d used the USB-C only MacBooks for work, and I definitely loved having a SD card reader and HDMI port on my personal machine. I accepted that I needed to pay the Apple tax to get those features on a “pro” body, even if the performance boost wasn’t strictly needed.

So it’s interesting to see Apple effectively giving me what I would have wanted with the new base model MBP. It’s their consumer grade chip, but the niceties of a great display and the dedicated IO. It’s what I said I wanted. So why do I feel like I still would opt for a M3 Pro version today? I guess because for that money, I would pay a little more for the extra RAM as future proofing.

This edition of the Idaho Times News sounds amazing

Having a multi-platform messaging app like Beeper is wonderful. But it’s main failing is sharing. Randomly doesn’t appear in the share sheet on iOS, doesn’t show in quick contacts, and little things like sharing a Wordle score fails often. Enough to prevent me from recommending it.

I cannot begin to tell you how much “LiveJournal Reuters” delights me. All thanks to Arc’s Boost feature.

Leica adds image verification hardware

Interesting new tech from Leica of all companies! Their latest M11 variant adds in dedicated hardware to produce authenticity certificates for images. The Verge’s Antonio G. Di Benedetto does a good job breaking down what the announcement means in practice.

When activated, the M11-P will embed an encrypted signature into the DNG raw and JPG files containing the artist’s name, the camera make and model, and the photo EXIF data.

He rightly wonders if this tech will come to other camera makers. One item not considered, Leica has its L2 partnership with Panasonic, so I would expect this tech comes from them and will make it’s way to new Panasonic mirrorless bodies with their next refresh.

Of course, this only means something if these certificates are actually effective in an age of mass produced imagery from LLMs. Given how easy it is to remove watermarks from AI-generated images, these types of certificates for captured images might be a good alternative.

Do not name something you want to be successful Pebble.

I love the passive-aggressive move of referring to something as “laudable.” Like I could totally just praise this thing, but instead I’m just going to point it out. Just some lovely repression to the whole thing.

Is there a list of UVC/UAC compliant mirrorless cameras?

For Cyber Security Headlines’ Week in Review show, I’ve been using a prompter and my Fuji X-T30. It’s a super kludgey solution. The camera AF stops tracking in webcam mode. It requires a Fuji plugin, and is inconsistentstent in connecting. I’d use my iPhone with continuity camera, but the lens is too wide and gets the proper in the shot.

So I want to get a mirrorless camera that’s UVC/UAC compliant for an easier connection. The natural upgrade would be the X-S20, but I’m open to changing systems. But I can’t find a list that shows all compatible cameras. The feature is usually buried in product specs, so it’s been a pain to confirm.

Cinestill, Trademarks, and Quality Reporting

In the analog photography world, there’s been a growing rumor mill around efforts by Cinestill to enforce it’s trademarks for its 800T film. If this is a totally foreign world to you, essentially Cinestill made a name for itself selling Kodak cinema film in still photography formats. Anyone could spool Kodak film into canisters before, but Cinestill differentiated with a process to remove a backing that otherwise prevents it from being developed in typical color chemistry.

All the discourse around this fundamentally misunderstood what a trademark is and what legal recourse CInestill could do with it. Luckily Jeremy Gray of PetaPixel actually did reporting on this. He looked into claims from the company CatLABS, got comment from Cinestill and people supposedly impacted by their actions, and provided context for how trademarks actually work (he spoke to lawyers)! It provides level headed stuff like this:

However, the very fact that the trademark application was originally rejected and then approved following additional explanation does not serve to undercut the legitimacy of the trademark itself. No trademark is inherently less legitimate just because it required the filer to provide additional explanation in order to be granted the trademark.

This probably won’t stop people from being mad at Cinestill. I’m fine with people voting with the dollar. But I’m grateful to still get quality reporting in a field as niche as film photography. It can be very insular and lead to a mob mentality on forums with very little regard to facts.

For the CISO Series, I get to brainstorm ideas for podcast titles. I was told by David Spark in no uncertain terms these titles will never be used. I share them here because I love them so.

Schroedinger’s Cryptography Horse Barn

Will Post-Quantum Cryptography Leave Cybersecurity in a Superposition?

Upgraded to macOS Sonoma and my machine didn’t launch Magnet on reboot. Made me realize how unfriendly macOS window management is by default, especially on multiple monitors.

I’ve said I’m a single-issue phone buyer and the new Pixel’s are now viable. Seven years of updates, not just security updates, may surpass Apple’s iPhone commitments. I really hope this keeps pushing the rest of the Android ecosystem. My kid will be a teenager when this is out of support. GULP.

GPU Driver Exploit On Flagship Android Devices

Driver exploits like this make me hesitant to move back to Android. Given, this seems like a very limited exploit. But this is a situation where researchers know a flaw is being exploited. They released a patch before going public with it. But as a users, I have no way to apply it until it goes through an OEM. Pixel devices and Chromebooks are already patched, but lots of popular phones from big OEMs are still waiting:

Devices believed to use the affected chips include the Google Pixel 7, Samsung S20 and S21, Motorola Edge 40, OnePlus Nord 2, Asus ROG Phone 6, Redmi Note 11, 12, Honor 70 Pro, RealMe GT, Xiaomi 12 Pro, Oppo Find X5 Pro, and Reno 8 Pro and some phones from Mediatek.

Again, I’m not saying it is a trivial process to apply these driver updates. But as a consumer, I don’t care, I want my device to get the latest security updates. The current Android ecosystem is getting better at shortening this window, but there’s still a big gap.

I subscribed to get the Sunday NYT at home because I’m becoming an old man and the Plain Dealer is just the sports page and the penny saver ads anymore. It’s a pleasant anachronism.

My son discovered the movie Cars which means I am now listening to non-zero amounts of Rascal Flatts.

Does the Raspberry Pi 5 Lose the Plot?

There’s a new Raspberry Pi out! And it finally adds PCIExpress connectivity, the biggest bottleneck of all the old boards. This will give it much better I/O for storage and Ethernet. It has a more powerful processor and it can do more things, yay! What’s not to like?

Well it now starts at $60, which goes up to $80 for an 8GB version. It’s only a $5 increase from the RPI4, but something about that crosses a threshold. The Raspberry Pi was an awesome device because its cost was almost incidental. You could get a board for a project or a mini PC for peanuts.

Plus if you want to use that new I/O, add an M2 drive, you need an add-on board at extra expense. Also hearing that the RPi5 gets noticeably warm in casual use. Again, a case or heat sink can be had for $5, but it’s another expense.

Now the “affordability” of the Rapsberry Pi line has been an academic point for the last few years. Supply chain woes left them almost always out of stock, with resellers charging a high markup. Luckily this should be resolved with a partnership announced with Sony this summer.

I’m torn on the RPi5. As an upgrade, it offers a wishlist of improvements. It’s not just a spec bump, the I/O additions change what you can do with it. And I didn’t even mention multi 4K display support! But it seems further away from the Pi’s original appeal of a dirt cheap SoC that can decode HD video. I’ll probably still get one.