Mario Villalobos

Notes

How Autocar Digitized Their Entire Archive

They used iPads. iPads. Matt Prior:

The standard way to digitise pages is using a flatbed scanner, such as those made by Zeutschel. They’re “the most reliable in the world”, says Boswell, “but they’re slow”. Flatbed scanners also don’t treat big bound antique volumes kindly. You have to pick up the entire volume, turn it over, flip a page and lay it back down – and the result is rather better if the spine is broken so the page flattens on the surface.

Autocar has duplicate copies of some old back issues, so treating them badly doesn’t matter so much, but there is a quicker and kinder method, which for these purposes works perfectly well. It just looks a little more basic: it’s a plank of wood with a hole in it, through which one aims the camera of an iPad. Place a volume beneath it, press the button. “Picture quality is on a par with a mid-range SLR camera,” says Boswell. That’s plenty for a magazine captured at close range.

And it’s so much quicker. Boswell’s team consists of four full-time scanners, who have taken from April time until, well, not long before now, to get through the collection. Computers do the rest. Optical character recognition software deciphers the text with “100% accuracy”, which makes the entire collection of issues searchable by keywords, and the picture is cropped and converted to a PDF automatically. Then there’s a quality-control check and, from this point, it’s all cataloguing and labelling issues by date.

Around 2010, I used a cheap flatbed scanner to scan hundreds and hundreds of paper documents I’d accumulated in my life up to that point. Ever since I purchased my iPhone (the iPhone 5 in 2012), I’ve been using these devices to digitize my life. I’m amazed that a major publication like Autocar, a magazine that has been “publish[ing] every week since 1895,” decided to digitize their entire archive using iPads. Add to it that they used “a plank of wood with a hole in it” is even more amazing to me.

It’s little things like this that makes modern life both so mind-boggling cool and scary at the same time. Scary in the sense of how fast the world is moving, how fast technology has progressed in just 10+ years. And again, add the fact that iOS 15 can automatically recognize text in all your photos, and yeah… 🤯

A Picture of Leaves

It’s getting colder. It was down to the teens this morning, and I had to let my car run for a bit to warm up and defrost the windows. This is one of my favorite times of year, this in-between time, this transition from one season to the next.

I took this photo this morning with my iPhone 13 Pro. I was intrigued by the new Macro mode, but I hadn’t really tested it out. When I saw these leaves on my walk, though, I thought, why not? I couldn’t get as close to the leaves as I could with my regular Fuji XF80mm macro lens, but I still like that I have this “mode” on me at all times. It’s nice.

I also shot some ProRes video this morning of the frost on the grass. I shot it because of how the ground seemed to sparkle like diamonds. I’ve yet to review the footage, but I’m excited about all this power at my disposable on a phone. Amazing times, huh?

Game Changer

Hours after I posted Friday’s entry, my friend Joe texted me, “I have something you are wanting.” I was just waking up from a nap, so I looked at his text without really registering what he was saying. After a few moments I realized he was talking about my new MacBook Pro. I immediately got into my car and drove back to work, picked up my package and almost dropped it because I didn’t expect it to be so heavy. I listened to The War on Drugs—so good!—and when I arrived home, I texted the above picture to my friend Ginger.

“Woohoo!!” she replied.

Woohoo, indeed!

I bought the space gray 16" MacBook Pro with the Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine, 64GB unified memory, and 2TB SSD storage. She’s a beast. I’ve never possessed so much power in my life, and I don’t know what to do about it. After a few hours of getting it all setup—clean install FTW—I finally got around to using it, and the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the screen was. After years and years of using an iPad Pro as my main device (starting with the 2016 9.7" iPad Pro, then moving to the 11" one from 2018), I didn’t realize how much the size of a screen matters. It goes without saying, but I can fit so much on this screen. And don’t get me started on the display profiles. There’s so much power and versatility there that I don’t even know where to start.

Once I had Lightroom all setup, I started going through some photos with the Photography (P3-D65) profile set, and I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was for me to apply my edits on them. The color accuracy is unreal, and I feel like it’ll take me weeks or months before I truly realize how incredible this technology is and will be toward my workflow. Thankfully, years ago, I purchased both Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, two apps I’ve been so eager to really use and master but never quite could because I never had a machine powerful enough or comfortable enough to use to take advantage of them. Now that I do, I don’t even know where to start.

And that’s kinda the story with this machine. It’s so fast, so powerful, so unreal that I have to forget everything I thought I knew about computers and start over. Can I have 3 instances of Nova open plus Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, each with dozens of tabs open plus Lightroom and Photoshop and Photos plus Mail and Things and BBEdit and Github and Calendar and Music and Screens 4 and Reeder 5 and whatever else app I want? Sure, why not, and I don’t feel like I’m reaching the limits of this machine. That’s the crazy part.

Will I ever push this machine to its limits? I don’t even think that’s the right question. I think the question is, what can I create with this machine? And the answer to that is, whatever I want. And that’s a level of freedom I’ve never experienced before.

This machine is a game changer for me, and I can’t wait to see where I can go with it.

The Problem Is Us

M.G. Siegler:

The problem with Facebook isn’t actually Facebook. It’s us. It’s human beings. The problem is that Facebook created the greatest tool ever to connect those human beings. And it has led to a world in which the local lunatic is now the global lunatic.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past few days, and I think what I’ve come up with is that there are two sides to extremism. There’s the obvious kind—the hateful and violent kind we’ve all been witness to the past half decade or so—but there’s also the not so obvious kind, the extreme kindness that feels transactional to me.

I’ve been feeling this a lot during the past decade I’ve lived in Montana, where the phrase “small town values” is worn like an unearned badge of honor, but I’ve also felt it lingering in the background in some online communities that I’ve dipped in and out of over the years. Don’t get me wrong, kind people are great, and we need more of them, but when someone online is kind to you and you don’t return the favor? Forget about it, man. That “kind” person or community kinda sorta turns on you because you broke this unwritten rule of automatic kindness that you didn’t follow.

Community is great, and we all need our clans, but an internet community? I think that’s the problem, and we as humans weren’t meant for something so big and complex.

I Paid Off My Student Loan Today

Like when I paid off my car loan back in June, I really don’t know how to feel. Part of me, of course, is happy that I’m done with this debt—my last debt—but the other part of me is ho-hum about it because this is something I’ve been planning and building toward for the past few years. And now I’ve done it.

I’m debt free.

What do I do now?

With This Website I Can Figure Out Who I Want to Be

Robin Rendle:

I can be whoever I want and no-one can tell me otherwise. I can be funny or dark, a romantic or a raging goth. I can be a typographer, a web designer, a poet. Tomorrow? My accent can change, the colors revert, typefaces flipped inside out; I can change everything about this website and reimagine who I am. Edit the bad or worrisome or downright embarrassing stuff out, throw away the unsavory stuff, until I’m only showing you me at my very best.

So what you see here isn’t me.

In a bit over 200 words, Robin articulates something I’ve been feeling lately. I’m constantly changing, constantly rethinking my behavior, my thoughts, my likes and dislikes, my mindset and view of the world.

I’ve slowed on my blogging because I want to redesign my website again but oh my god I don’t have the time for that right now, but gosh dangit I want to so much. All I’ve been doing the past month is working on my school’s website redesign, and I’ve learned so much. Not just about web development, but about design and typography and even my own aesthetic and sensibilities.

Every time I read something a new, whether it’s from a book or from the web, I add it to my mental library of facts and ideas and opinions, and I let it do its thing up there. If it improves something I thought I knew, then great! If it contradicts with something I thought to be true, that’s great, too! We humans are very good at holding contradictory thoughts in our heads at the same time. If it makes me angry, then it makes me angry, and if it makes me happy, it makes me happy.

I don’t get those stubborn types of people who feel it’s a weakness to change your mind. Why live your life like that? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just an American thing? More reason to travel the world!

There’s really no point to this post, and that’s okay. I needed to write things down to see what happened, and I liked what happened. So let’s go and post this thing.

The Easiest Way to Host Your Website

Earlier this year, I moved my site from Micro.blog to Cloudflare Pages, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made when it came to this site. Sure, I had to learn Hugo, some HTML, and a whole lot of CSS, but when is learning ever a bad thing? I wanted full control of my site without any handholding, and that transition helped me achieve all my goals.

If you want to do the same, I suggest watching this recent video by Coder Coder. She runs through starting your own Github repository, how to connect Cloudflare Pages to it, and how to start pushing your code online. Knowing how to run my own website has been one of the best skills I’ve ever learned, and I hope more and more people learn how, too.

And this can all be done for free. No recurring memberships, no condescending handholding, just pure freedom. The way the web should be.

Los Angeles School District Mandates COVID Vaccines for Students 12 and Older

Ivana Saric, Axios:

The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education approved a measure Thursday mandating eligible students in the nation’s second-biggest school district to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It’s the first major school district to require vaccines for students — a move that may set a precedent for school districts across the country to follow.

[…]

What they’re saying: “The science is clear – vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said in the press release. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and requiring eligible students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community.” 

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about the coronavirus since Axios stopped tracking active cases back in June, but that is not to be. We’re three weeks into our current school year and already we’ve had multiple cases of COVID-19 spreading throughout our student body and faculty. Because I live in a Republican-controlled state, all the important choices are being left up to the parents to make. We don’t have any mask mandates, we don’t have any quarantine mandates, we don’t have anything we can do to make our school safe. Masks are optional; quarantines for close-contacts are optional; vaccinations are optional.

In my experience, when we leave choices up to the masses, the masses will choose to protect themselves first. We are selfish. We care more about our rights than yours. This is America in the 21st century and it’s goddamn heartbreaking. In our school, because our leaders aren’t leading, our parents are having to make choices they don’t want to make. They want their children to be safe, but they also don’t want them to be bullied because they’re wearing masks when others aren’t or because they chose to stay home during the football game instead of going out there to play with their team. People would rather play a game and risk infecting so many others than doing the right thing and cancelling these events for the sake of the community.

I’m so glad President Biden has mandated COVID vaccines for all federal workers, and that the Los Angeles school district has done the same for their students. The country needs to follow their leads and control this godforsaken virus.

Moving Fast and Breaking Things

As I’ve been redesigning my school’s website and learning more about web development, design, and Hugo, I’ve been applying what I’ve learned to my site. Unfortunately, in an attempt to clean up some code and simplify some things, I broke some things and inadvertently posted a draft of a post I’ve been procrastinating on for a few weeks. Those subscribed to my RSS feed might’ve seen it in their feed reader. If you did, please know it was just a draft and all it had were notes and some code samples. I’m still working on it! I think it’s going to be a really cool post and a useful one for people. If you didn’t see it, then nothing to see here, please move along!

Apple’s Next Event

Jay Peters, The Verge:

Apple’s next big fall event will take place on Tuesday, September 14th at 1PM ET, the company announced. The event, which carries the tagline “California streaming,” will be another virtual event broadcast from Apple Park.

[…]

New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros equipped with the company’s custom-designed chips and an SD card slot are also rumored to be on the way.

The one device I’ve been craving for the past year or so has been a new 16-inch MacBook Pro. I’ve outgrown my 11-inch iPad Pro from 2018, a device I thought would be my primary device for years to come. I’ve edited and managed all the photos I’ve posted to this blog on it and written every entry on it, but I’ve run Hugo and written the code for this site on my Mac mini that’s sitting on my desk at home. I want something powerful and portable to do all my work on, including things I only dabble on at the moment, like filmmaking and web design, and a new MacBook Pro would do it.

If Apple announces this device, then you best believe they’re getting all my money, and I can’t wait to give it to them.

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