DSLRs vs Film vs Smartphones

“Smartphones versus DSLRs versus film: A look at how far we’ve come” at DPReview:

It’s sobering to look back at the old reviews of the cameras that we included. The earliest, the Canon EOS10D was a marvel of 2003. Phil Askey from DPReview described it as “the absolute best in its class, with the best image quality, lowest high sensitivity noise, superb build quality and excellent price.” He described the “Excellent resolution”, the “Noise free ‘silky smooth’ images”, with “very low noise levels even at ISO 1600.” The EOS 10D ran rings around the film that we’d been using for 50 years in terms of clarity and freedom from grain.

Yet it’s comprehensively humbled by modern phones. The iPhone out-shoots it, and the Nokia out-resolves it, all by huge margins.

It seems like cameras are increasingly becoming similar to computers: to do a professional job, DSLRs are still the way to go, but smartphone cameras are now good enough to fill the majority of people’s needs.

On Quoting Other People

Recently, Rands posted a brilliant piece about making, “The Builder’s High”. I wanted to quote and put it here, but before I had time, John Gruber and Marco Arment did that first. It’s interesting to note which part of the writing they decided to quote. Gruber picked this:

The things we’re giving to the future are feeling increasingly unintentional and irrelevant.

While Marco chose this:

Is there a Facebook update that compares to building a thing? No, but I’d argue that 82 Facebook updates, 312 tweets, and all those delicious Instagram updates are giving you the same chemical impression that you’ve accomplished something of value. Whether it’s all the consumption or the sense of feeling busy, these micro-highs will never equal the high when you’ve actually built.

I’ve never really thought about what to choose to quote. In previous posts I mostly just chose what sounded cool. For this Rands piece, for example, I was going to go with this sentence, because of its delightful flow and sonority:

You’re fucking swimming in everyone else’s moments, likes, and tweets and during these moments of consumption you are coming to believe that their brief interestingness to others makes it somehow relevant to you and worth your time.

Noticing how others picked the quote got me thinking. Gruber’s was short and didn’t directly convey what the article was about. But it is intriguing. Marco, on the other hand, picked a paragraph that did a great job showing how consuming social media noises and the act of building did something similar—but ultimately not even close—to our mind. If the goal is to give the reader a summary of an article, Marco did the best job between us three.

I’m not sure what’s the conclusion here. But I sure am going to think more whenever I write these quote posts.

Some Gems on Delegating

John D Cook, “Whether to Delegate”:

You shouldn’t necessarily do things that you’re good at.

(I love it when an article provokes the mind right from the start.)

Managing energy is more important than managing time. Energy is what gets things done, and time is only a crude surrogate for energy. Instead of only looking at what you could earn per hour versus what you could hire someone else for per hour, consider the energy it would take you to do something versus the energy it would free to delegate it.

If something saps your energy and puts you in a bad mood, delegate it even if you have to pay someone more to do it than it would cost you do to yourself. And if something gives you energy, maybe you should do it yourself even if someone else could do it cheaper.

Miles Richardson, “Why Coding is not the Best Use of Your Time”:

I used to code everything myself. “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself,” I used to say. Wrong. If you want something done right, you just need to know how to tell someone to do it.

Now, I turn projects into well-written specs with clear directives. I break them down by tasks, and then group the tasks by specialty. This way, instead of spinning my own wheels 90% researching and learning, and 10% building, I can hand the spec to a specialist who already has the requisite background knowledge.

If you are a generalist, I highly recommend this approach. It will significantly improve your efficiency.

How to Write

When writing something that matters, there are at minimum two steps involved.

The first step is the act of dumping down all thoughts and informations in one place. In this step, the brain needs to be as open as possible to better find connections between ideas. Accordingly, the analytical part of the brain that deals with the correctness of the language and the structure and overall quality of the final product needs to be turned off. The brain needs to explore as far as it can, unhindered from rules.

The second step is sculpting. This is when the analytical part of the brain is allowed to wake up and do its job: shape the language, cut the unnecessary weight, alter the flow, challenge the logic.

OK To Stay Small

Mark Suster:

I want the definition of startup back. To be used by anybody who is willing to take the risk to quit their corporate job and go out and try and build an innovative, disruptive, tech-enabled business that tries to change the way things work in the world.

It’s ok to build a company that stays small, has a few million dollars in revenue and builds careers, bank accounts and enriches client experiences.

Delegating Obsessions


A good chunk of the money I spent on Writer Pro is to pay iA to obsess for me. Go watch the videos. They’ve clearly spent hundreds (thousands?) of hours considering the many aspects of writing and attempting to make the best decisions for me: the writer.

The entire article contains good design advices, and the above excerpt is not even the main point. I just like the idea of delegating obsessions to those with the same mindset. Because while obsessing about something can yield good results and at the same time fulfills some emotional needs, it can be a major drain of time and energy.

How Writer Pro Got its Price Point

Oliver Reichenstein, on Writer Pro’s pricing strategy (emphasis mine):

We experimented with different prices for iA Writer, and we debated all scenarios for Writer Pro, from free with in-app purchases to $200 for each app (iPad, iPhone, and Mac). We thought the ‘free plus in-app purchase’ way had the weakest chance. Competing with venture capital-backed Silicon Valley machine seems suicidal for an independent company. And the free-plus-in-app-purchase sends the wrong message for a premium writing app. Writer Pro is a tool for professionals. If you write, then $20 is nothing. Hold off if you’re just interested in testing cool new apps. If you want a better tool for your work as a writer, Writer Pro is for you.

To those shouting “But Pages is free! That other app costs 1 Dollar! And what about this feature comparison chart?!” all we have to say is: There are writing apps out there from $40 to $200 that have more features. But how many feel as good to write in? How many have the simplicity in workflow, Writer Pro’s syntax tools, or typographic excellence? Writer Pro leads and will continue to lead in innovation, and through it we’ll continue to strive for the best writing experience of any app.

X for Y

Paul Graham:

I deliberately express startup ideas as x for y whenever possible because that’s the most efficient way to describe a startup in a few words. Airbnb, for example, was in its day “eBay for space.”


Here’s a few X for Y things which are likely to succeed:
X for the masses.
X for people who don’t like computeres.
X for people who don’t speak much English.
X in the cloud (way overplayed).
X for free (but good luck getting a low enough cost of customer acquisition!).
X for people who are locked into Y.
X for large businesses (requires connections).
X for businesses which aren’t great at tech (X better be something they really really want).