Hundred-Foot LEGO Movie Journey

Today I present for your listening pleasure not one but two movie related podcasts. On this week’s MovieByte, TJ and I discussed The Hundred-Foot Journey: the story of an Indian family that immigrated to rural France, where they start-up an Indian restaurant across the street from a highly rated French establishment. Entertaining competition ensues. Since Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey produced the film, it is definitely worth a review.

And, on this week’s Reel World Theology, Mikey Fissel, Mark Wingerter and I review The LEGO Movie, so far my favorite film of the year. I’m very excited to make my first guest appearance on Fizz’s podcast, which is a casual discussion of the production values and philosophical themes found in movies.

LEGO’s movie has pleasantly thoughtful substance for a world of colorful plastic bricks. If you have put off viewing the film because it is a kids’ movie you should go ahead and give it a chance. It is great for all ages.

The Hatches are Closed

A quick update to Intentional Sensibility that you would probably not have noticed if I wasn’t pointing it out: I’m turning off comments.

Why? Most of my readers aren’t interested in commenting. I respect this behavior, because I’m not inclined to comment on sites I read either, no matter how ‘engaged’ the content makes me feel.

I think the real benefit of a decent site, which I hope mine is offering, is found in the content. Since some of my content is about productivity, I want to consistently support yours. My opinion on the matter is that 99% of web comments and the effort to write them is a waste of our time.

If a comment is really worth writing and reading, it’s just a well performed via the site’s Twitter feed if you want to make it public or emailing me if you would prefer to make it private.

(The title of this post is based on this other one.)

Jad Abumrad’s Creative ‘Gut Churn’

I've listened to about 30 episodes of RadioLab since I heard Merlin Mann recommend it on Back to Work. Jad Abumrad’s podcast (WNYC radio show) is one of the most robust talk shows I’ve heard. The production value is high, the content is king.

The other day, I got curious. I wondered if Jad had spoken for any cool events, like a TED conference. Even better: I came across his talk at the 99U Conference from 2013. His talk is very appropriate for my readers: Embrace the "Gut Churn" of the Creative Process.

I'm in the midst of such a gut churn time frame on the Movieology project—that other podcast and web show I’ve been working on forever. It’s very edifying to hear that Jad wrestled with gut churn like I am, and worked RadioLab through the process to the other side where he now has a very reputable show.

Gut churn is something all mindful creative professionals experience at some point. It comes with our territory for imaginative people. We care deeply about the world and our output in a unique way. We are striving to do something great with our lives. When we think we are hitting on that great thing, the gut churn activates. When we are at the end of our creative rope, the gut churn activates. Does gut churn mean that what we’re creating is necessarily good? No, but if we are on to something good, there will undoubtedly be gut churn as well.

MacStories Newsletter

MacStories offers some great news and reviews of Apple related products. If you’ve bookmarked Federico’s site but haven’t checked out his email newsletter, you are missing out on some good content. It has several unique pieces that you will not find on their site.

There aren’t many emails that are as beneficial as MacStories’, so that’s why I’m compelled to recommend it to you. We all inevitably end up subscribing to newsletters we really don’t want to receive, I know. I have more than I care to consider. I’m not suggesting that you sign up for yet another time-kill. MacStories newsletter has been consistently useful.

You can view or subscribe to MacStories newsletter online here.

MovieByte #105: You a Bad Man, Sir

Movies make the world go round, like Guardians of the Galaxy. This one is still doing well at the box office, as it approaches the $600 million mark worldwide.

TJ and I discussed this and other movie news, then reviewed Pierce Brosnan’s The November Man. Is the actor reliving the glory days? Not exactly. There’s a little bit more to this action flick (based on the novels) that we found worth discussing. Enjoy.

An iTunes App Icon Retrospective

Apple’s designers have been very busy of late. I know that there are usually significant changes in every new OS X release, but Maverick’s leap forward in Yosemite will be the largest one for Mac’s visual design that we have seen in the last ten years.

Nowhere is this dramatic change seen better in Yosemite than in the app icons. Forget everything you knew about them, because each of them is receiving a new face.

The iTunes icon is something to behold. Do you remember when it looked like this? The green musical note and music CD is circa 2000, when iTunes got its start. Because icons were designed for a much lower pixel resolution then, this large version isn’t an original. What you’re viewing is a redesign of the original, as to help you appreciate its detail. The lighting on the musical notes have been altered as well. Below is Apple’s original iTunes icon in its actual design and pixel dimensions.

The original iTunes app icon circa 2000

It is a little disappointing to me now. It belongs to a different time: when our interaction with music was mainly through CDs, yet we kept the cassettes around as backups. The whole of this iTunes icon is skeuomorphic, which isn’t inherently a flaw, but its plastic-feel is less compelling in 2014. Culturally speaking, other materials seem more substantive.

And why the green? I think a whole book could be written about green. Some say it represents growth, the environment, and nature at large. Others think it reminds them of repulsive things, like toxic waste, mold, and anything sickly. Can the green musical notes remind you of the Joker’s green hair?

Who knows why a designer changed the color, but I can imagine why. Green means unusual things to some people in spite of the many positive associations. Blue on the other hand…

This cool, calming, glowing, metallic music button is the icon at present for OS X Mavericks. It represents iTunes for the last who-knows-how-many-years in our memory. It’s the high point of iTunes icon design that depicts something colorful and tangible. The CD was a tangible, so this icon looks like something else that came to represent our music: the play button. This did for us what the discs used to do. It suggests we still experience our music with touchable objects. You want to click this blue icon, like it were a press of a button on the stereo you used to play.

And that’s what the Yosemite icon moves away from. In spirit, iTunes’ late 2014 edition will be abstract: driven by your relationship with music itself and your soul-driven experience with sound.

In stark opposition to the green and blue of the past, we have pink and orange. Seems hot, excited, powerful… Maybe it reminds you of the essence of beauty, like a bright and colorful flower… 

For me, it intimates the music is cranked up to the maximum volume. Can you feel the bass vibrating? Something about it suggests rhythmic pulsing. It’s not something familiar to your fingertips—like a digital disc—because its not skeuomorphic enough. Contrarily, you understand its intent like you would a sign rather than an gadget. It doesn’t say, “Touch me. Press me.” It suggests, ”Listen, and sooth your soul.”

What about the white shapes? There are two that act like four: the outer edge of iTunes’ circle and the two musical notes joined together along the bar. These very simple shapes quickly suggest that iTunes is now easier than ever to enjoy. If you fear some complexity, you won’t find it here. iTunes has nothing to hide. The light and bright represent the opposite of shadows. Your music space is brought to light.

Am I saying that Yosemite’s icon is better? Nothing is perfect, but this icon is moving in the right direction. Our culture wants an icon like that of the new iTunes (version 12). It suits our sensibilities; the goals we share for music experiences.

It will be something else in five years that we can’t anticipate in 2014. Maybe the music notes will be out of style. The bright red and orange gradient will come to remind us of a bad iTunes release in 2017, which Apple won’t want to reinforce. So they’ll change the symbol again. Back to green? Heh, it could happen.

Macworld’s Finest

I will miss the editorialists’ contributions at Macworld. They made the magazine, podcasts, and their site great. I can’t imagine this bodes well for, well, Macworld.

Honestly, I think their great writers will be better off in time. I will be most interested to see what these Apple community rock stars do next. So, “Here’s to the crazy ones.”

New Focus Collection I Backgrounds for the 15" Retina MacBook Pro

I’m pleased to announce that Focus Collection I now includes desktop pictures—wallpapers suitable for your Mac or i-thing—with the proper dimensions of the 15" Retina MacBook Pro display. You can download any of the 9 backgrounds as you like, or download all-of-the-above in any size that suits your device’s resolution.

New additions to Focus Collection I for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be available September 22.

Learn more about the Focus Collection here.

Apple Watches’ Many Form Factors

The Watch is rather unique in its category. Whether you need a watch or not, you will find this one attractive. If you find yourself looking for excuses to get one, Apple has many excuses to offer you. Their watch isn’t just another timepiece for the luxury market. At the moment, it’s one of a kind.

Apple has three types: a basic model, the Apple Watch Sport, and the Apple Watch Edition. Each have unique hardware specs yet achieve the same affect. These watches are fitness trackers, feature apps, come in a form factor that’s large and small (ideal for children and adults, or women and men), have the best-of-the-best watch displays and reflect a deeper level of Apple engineering we haven’t seen before.

In the coming months, we should expect Apple competitors to play catch-up. They will boast similar features and let pundits argue in their favor. They will say “Apple didn’t create anything special” and “Us too, but our’s is special.” Apple’s community right now—today—know the truth. Apple has created another first that others had the opportunity to create but haven’t. Apple played the part of the innovator yet again.

Yes, I know there are other smart watches, and we all predicted what Apple would offer. But let’s get real. Apple’s are way better. The competition hasn’t captured the heartbeat of customers. Apple’s does this and much more.

That said, at this very moment, I’m looking down at my Philip Stein watch very contentedly. I have the right watch for me. It tells time and has copper in the back that produces the same electrical frequency that my body runs on. In this way, I like to keep the wearables simple. I’m comfortable. My watch is only a watch.

Or, rather, my other watch does everything else that my wrist watch doesn’t. It’s called the iPhone 5s. So yes, I already have an Apple watch. This amazing pocket watch that Apple released in 2013 tells time, has all of the apps, features iOS 7 (and soon to be iOS 8), makes phone calls, has a built-in iPod (so to speak) and best of all, the iPhone 5s includes a four-inch Retina display. That’s plenty for me.

Many people have noted that their smart phone is their preferred way to track time. It feels natural to those that use an iPhone because they check notifications with it several times a day. I'm among these people. If we are compelled to take action, the iPhone offers us several ways to respond to notifications and the time. Heck, the iPhone has a Clock app that does everything the Watch can, and its the world’s greatest phone at the same time.

Yes, the Apple watch can do some things better than the iPhone or an iPod might. It’s always a turn of the wrist away. You are less apt to drop your iPhone getting it in and out of your pocket to check your notifications. The new device is better at tracking some of your physical fitness habits. Hey, maybe Siri will understand you better from the watch. But other than that, the phone outperforms the watch in every other conceivable way. (It bends over backwards to include apps, yet all of them are highly limited by the screen’s real estate.)

Sounds like I'm criticizing the watch now, but I’m not. It’s a powerful device. However, I need to point out that even a great device with loads of potential, such as the Watch, has a context and an ideal use case. It’s not a [fill in the blank] killer. It doesn’t even replace the iPod shuffle.

If you’d rather spend less time on a phone altogether, you might save money with an iPod Touch and Watch (if you’re alright with the iPod’s older hardware). That would give you wrist and pocket access to tell the time, the insane amount of access to notifications, your music… Yeah, you could live on the cutting edge without the iPhone. If the one’s battery dies, the other is your backup.

Heck, you could just complain that Apple didn’t make the watch of your dreams, because it doesn’t pump blood through your heart for you—the lazy geek that you are. You could stick to your iPhone 4s a little longer. Oh, or how about you upgrade to the iPhone 6? Or iPhone 6 Plus? And now that the iPhone 6 is almost available, the 5s might be cheaper. You want one of those instead? Apple wouldn’t mind.

Whatever the case may be, Apple will make money from any one of their watches’ many form factors. They all tell time, give you apps that plug you into the Apple product and service ecosystem, and just about guarantee that you will want another Apple product in the future if you get started now.

The Unannounced

Here's what Apple didn’t present today:

  • New Beats/Apple joint products
  • Updates to any iPods
  • Updates to any iPads
  • An update to EarPods (wireless or other)

Who am I kidding? Did I think they might? Yes. The devices we saw today are cool and noteworthy, but listening to music and podcasts on EarPods connected to an iPhone is growing old. The watch? From what we saw, there’s no reason to believe it streams your music. It will control playback on your other iDevice, but not carry your library and stream it to wireless earphones or earbuds, like I thought it might.

They still had a lot to showcase. Apple filled up an hour and forty-five minutes of time to properly spotlight the iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, and the Watch. Am I disappointed? No, because Apple is focused and iterative. Even while we chew on Apple’s product announcements, somewhere at Apple headquarters there are developers hard at work on the products we didn’t see. I trust that when they are ready for market they will come.