Photo

It has come to this.

Text

I’ve worn contact lenses since 1999, which is a staggering 13 years! But no more. About a week ago I finally treated myself to LASIK corrective laser surgery to fix my nearsightedness.

To those who don’t know, LASIK is a surgical procedure where a flap is cut out of your cornea and folded up, after which the lens is reshaped to correct the vision problem, and then the flap is closed again. The procedure is carried out while you are wide awake and seeing. This may sound very scary, but today it is a very safe procedure and I was never very worried about it. The whole procedure lasts less than half an hour.

At the day of the surgery, they gave me a mild anesthetic to swallow 15 minutes before the procedure, and then kept dripping numbing drops in my eyes as the procedure was carried out.

The procedure itself is carried out by two different lasers, administered from two separate machines. The first laser creates the corneal flap that will be folded away. I was asked to lie down, relax, and look at the green light above me. A suction cup descended from the machine, which eventually attached to my eye. After this, I was told to relax, as my eye could not move relative to the machine. The green light disappeared and the laser started cutting the corneal flap, which took about 15 seconds and was not visible or painful. The same procedure is administered to both eyes.

After this I was led to a second bed where the corrective laser is administered. Again, I was asked to look at the light above me and try to lie still, though the laser does track your eye and will stop if you move. The doctor then folded up the flap that the previous laser created, upon which my vision become a blurry field of light. After this the corrective laser started drawing patterns on my eye, and I could smell a distinctive burning flesh fragrance. This step was very quick, something like 5 seconds per eye.

The flaps were then folded back, at which point my vision returned immediately, and I could instantly tell that my vision had already improved. On the day after the procedure, I already had better than 20/20 vision, and it is likely to improve further as the cornea heals fully. I felt slight discomfort and I was given eye drops to take for a week. 

I am extremely happy I did this procedure. It’s costly, but I couldn’t be more happy with the results. I also find the technology behind it amazing. There is no doubt in my mind that in 20 years a significant portion of all surgery will be done by machines in a similar manner.

Video

Lillyhammer is a new feature TV series produced by Norwegian NRK together with Netflix. It stars Little Steven as “Johnny”, an American mobster who enters a witness protection program, and chooses to move to Lillehammer in Norway to build a new life. Five shows into the first season, I love it.

The story circles around Johnny’s mannerisms and the resulting culture clash with modern Scandinavian culture, including paternity leave, soft mannered Norwegian police and prolific bear hugging. In many ways it reminds me of the Coen brothers’ movie Fargo, with a hefty dose of Sopranos baked in.

And of course, I can’t help but be a bit nostalgic about fair old Scandinavia. The scenery, the light, the culture.

If you have access to Netflix, the entire first season is available right now. Otherwise, I’m sure it’s on a bittorrent tracker near you.

Text

iOS 5 finally brought a decent notifications framework to iOS. About time. It consists of four components: a slide down notifications center, an improved lock screen that shows all notifications since the device was locked, a notifications bar at the top that complements the annoying notifications popup, and a rich settings panel for all apps and their notifications. This all sounds great, and while it is certainly a step in the right direction, I am not very happy with how this all works in practice.

  • Firstly, the notifications panel that slides down from the top is very odd. It contains a permanent interactive weather widget, which is nice, but no other apps seem to make use of this, though the APIs are apparently there. Following this is a list of notifications, but for some reason it seems to be only notifications that appeared while using the phone.
     
  • Secondly we have the new lock screen that shows notifications that appeared while the device was locked. Once you’ve unlocked your device that list is gone and can never be retrieved again because for some reason these notifications are not in the notifications panel.
    You can go straight to an app by sliding its icon across the notification, but insanely enough when there is only one notification, unlocking using the bottom bar still also you to that app! 
     
  • Thirdly, there are now two ways alerts can show up: the awful old school modal popup from iOS of yesteryear, and a banner at the top. The banner seems like a good idea, but the implementation is terrible for two reasons: the banner obscures the navigation bar, and notifications linger for far too long. So this means that when I get an email while I’m in an app, something that happens pretty much all the time, I cannot navigate the app.
     
  • Finally, the settings are a mess. I have something like 30 apps that all use the notification center, and they all come with their own preferences for how to display notifications. There is no general setting for how I want the notifications to show up, so I have to go through every single app and change the settings.

The new notifications system is obviously vastly superior to that in previous iOS, but it’s far from good. I hope iOS 6 brings significant changes once more, but I wouldn’t count on this. Apple is a stubborn company, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they think the notifications system is just about perfect.

Link

I don't get the Lytro

The Lytro camera is getting a lot of buzz lateloy. From a technology perspective, it is pretty awesome. It captures the entire depth-of-field, from zero to infinite, and lets you pick point of focus after the fact. Yes, you can choose where the focal point is, and how tight the focus is. This sounds a lot like holography to me, though I don’t know if the technologies are related. It is pretty awesome.

But I don’t get the use case. Every half-serious photographer out there knows that controlling depth-of-field is the key to taking awesome shots. Well, either that, or my latest obsession, HDR, where DoF is not so important. And serious photographers fiddle around with aperture, and take enough shots to make sure they get the tight DoF they want. Either that, or, they spend some time in Photoshop making it happen after the fact.

And every casual snap shot user I know is super happy taking infinite depth-of-field photos, where most everything is in focus, like any modern fix focus camera will give you. No casual snapper will do any post processing, which is what Lytro requires in every case.

So who is this camera for?

Link

Longest valid Starbucks order

At Starbucks the other day I wondered what the longest meaningful, non-repeating, valid order description would be. Of course, someone asked the same question over at Quora, where a responder suggests 

Ristretto 5-Shot Grande 1-Pump Sugar Free Cinnamon Dolce , Whole Milk,Extra Hot, Light Foam, Stirred, Upside Down, Double Cup, Extra Whip, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha

I feel I want to dig into this a bit more. Step one: get a copy of the entire Starbucks menu…

Text

I am getting increasingly convinced that Nokia will indeed sell its smartphone business to Microsoft before too long. This makes a lot of sense for both companies. Microsoft arguably needs their own hardware, and Nokia’s core business is in mid and low tier phones.

But I think there is more to this. We have heard rumors that Nokia are working on a Qt powered replacement for the aging Series 40 platform, apparently called Meltemi. What I think Nokia will do here is aggressively develop their mid tier phones to ship with large screens and beautiful touch driven UIs. QML makes this a very real proposition.

In effect Meltemi would become what MeeGo was supposed to be, but probably on cheaper hardware, which is where the market is going. So effectively they are offloading their old and crusty smartphone division and building a new one from scratch. This could be the coup of the decade.

Therefore it is interesting to read that Samsung are considering merging Bada into Tizen (yes, these brands are all awful). I see no future in Bada at all, it is roughly equivalent to Series 40. What I’m not sure of here is what Samsung’s strategy is. Either they are going 100% Android, which feels risky to me, or they have something else up their sleeves. Are they buying RIM to get hold of QNX?

As always in this industry, interesting times ahead!

Photo

For Your Ears Only is my latest, and final Symbian app, which adds automatic pause on headphone disconnect to old Symbian^1 phones. It came out of a forum discussion we had while I was working at Symbian, where I hacked up a working solution. I finally got around to polishing it (with the help of Alfutka, as always) and put it in the Nokia Store. It has 3 downloads so far!

I’ll be phasing out my Symbian work entirely in 2012.

Photo

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. This is one (or actually 3) of the 800 shots I took last Saturday.

Text

My Apple developer account is coming up for renewal, so I tried to pay online, but was refused since I apparently have a British account, which can not be paid from the US. So I email them and ask to have my account transferred.

And this is what they write back:

Thank you for contacting Apple Developer Support regarding updating the address for your Apple Developer account.

In order to complete your request, we ask that you please fax us ONE of the following documents:

1) A photocopy of your government issued identification showing the address change

2) A change of address document record which would have been filed with your local postal service

The fax number for submission of this information is (877)838-1382. When faxing this information to Apple, please include your Apple Developer Program Enrollment ID

Fax? Seriously, Apple?