Zack Apiratitham

How I Framed My Landscape Photo


I have a confession to make. I never actually printed out any of my landscape photos, framed it, and hung it on my wall before. So I embarked on a little project with a goal to do just that.

Picking the Photo

In the collection of landscape photos I took over the years (you can see some of them at the gallery), I was looking to pick out one that's unique and has that, dare I say, fine art quality, worthy of being hung prominently on a wall.1 There were a couple of candidates, but I landed on this one (still a camera-processed JPEG):

IMG 0631 camera raw

This photo was taken back in summer of 2015 in Thailand. To get this shot, I had to get up early enough to be at the trailhead by 4 in the morning, then hike in the dark on a mostly unmarked trail for about 3 miles up to this relatively unknown viewpoint to catch the sunrise. The effort it took to capture this made it so satisfying, and that's part of the reason why I chose this.

Re-processing the Photo

Back when I first took this photo, I already did the post-processing and uploaded it online. Though looking at that photo now 4 years later, I don't really like how I had done it; it felt a bit too cool for my liking. So I took another shot at it, and this time with proper preparation for prints.

1

Printing

After some research, I settled on ordering the print from Mpix. I wanted the highest quality they had to offer so I went with a 10"x20" Giclée print on their matte "Fine Art Photographic" paper. I considered doing 12"x24" but with a mat board and a frame, I figured it would be too large.

Framing

I had absolutely no idea how to even start with this. My initial plan was to just have it framed by Mpix with the print order, but unfortunately it's not very customizable and they can get quite pricey. Researching for some local frame shops revealed that they can also get expensive quick and the turnaround time could be a few weeks. In the end, a couple of guides online convinced me to go with the semi-DIY route. So I ordered the frame kit from Frame Destination.

frame customization

The kit is a custom-sized 14"x24" Black Wood Frame with a 2 1/8" mat board. For the glazing, I picked the acrylic over glass as I wanted to keep this relatively light. It's also more optically pure than glass and shatter resistant.

At the risk of looking super pompous, I signed the print before framing it. I went back and forth on this for a while because, for starters, I don't really have an actual signature and I thought maybe this print isn't of fine art quality enough that it warrants a signature. Plus this project was for my own enjoyment, it's not like I was planning to sell it at an art show or anything. But in the end, after some reading around and stumbling upon this video, I went ahead and signed it. This acid-free Decocolor gold paint marker worked out nicely.

IMG 7114 Of course, even after pages of practice, not only did I not sign it as nicely as I'd like, I also didn't even space it properly from the corner. Oh well...

When it came time to actually put it all together, I would soon learn that I should have taken that B&H guide more seriously — especially around how acrylic can become statically charged — and gotten myself some anti-static gloves or cloths. Being in a small-ish apartment with two cats, I could not believe how much cat hair and dust particles are floating around in the apartment which, to my dismay, all chose to hang out on the acrylic. After frustratingly fiddling around for an hour, feeling utterly defeated trying to get all the cat hair off of the acrylic, the frame was ready to be assembled.

Using this linen hinging tape, I did the T-hinge to mount the print to the foam board, and the foam board to the mat board. Everything had to be in the right order: first the empty frame, then the acrylic, the mat board, the print, and the foam core. Securing all the frame points, then attaching the wire to the frame, and it was completed. Lastly with a basic picture hanging kit, it is now proudly displayed on the wall.

IMG 5583 2

It finally feels finished that this photograph takes up physical space in the world and is no longer just 1s and 0s on a hard drive or in the cloud somewhere to only be double-tapped on and forgotten about after a couple of seconds of being looked at. If you haven't printed out your favorite photos, I highly recommend it.


  1. Obviously a sunrise shot like this isn't by any means unique but I'd say given the location which is relatively unknown to the wider world, it's unique enough for my purpose. ↩︎




WWDC 2019 Wish List


wwdc 2019

We're less than a week away from Apple's most exciting event of the year, WWDC. And these are the things I hope to see announced on Monday, in the order of how much I want them:

Dark Mode for iOS

This one has been in the list the longest for me. And it looks like my wish will finally come true this year.

Mac Pro

Just please, Apple. It's been a long time since we heard anything about this. I was really hoping they would show it off during WWDC 2017, and then still nothing in 2018. Now is the time we see it.

Screen Time for macOS and tvOS

I love Screen Time for iOS and monitor mine often. But I also spend a lot of time on these two other platforms and I would really like to know how I spend them, especially on the Apple TV.

New External Display

They also promised that a new Apple display is in the works. Showing this alongside the new Mac Pro during an event aimed at developers doesn't sound like a bad idea. So far looks like I might be in for a treat.

Apple Card

Apple Card was announced back in March of this year. It was probably the one I was most surprised and impressed by during the event. So I hope to get a date for this so I can apply for one.

Sleep Tracking on Apple Watch

I wear my watch to sleep sometimes, and having a first-party sleep tracker on it would be really nice.

macOS 10.15 "Sequoia"

Okay, it's obvious we're getting macOS 10.15. I'm just putting it here because I think Sequoia is a pretty dang good name for it.




Falcon Heavy Test Flight


On February 6, 2018 at 3:45pm EST, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy lifted off for the first time from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A. Atop the three Falcon 9 boosters—two of which were flight proven1—mounted Elon Musk’s personal midnight cherry Tesla Roadster carrying a dummy passenger “Starman” wearing SpaceX’s spacesuit.

Seeing that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that I live only a mere hour-and-a-half drive away from Cape Canaveral, I went to see it in person. And all I can say is that it was hands down the most breathtaking thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Here are some of the photos I took from about 4.3 miles north of the launch pad at Playalinda Beach.

IMG 2108

IMG 2125

IMG 2131

IMG 2154

I also mounted my phone on top of the camera to capture the video of the launch. Please excuse the shakes from the shutter clicks and the lack of aim since I was trying to stop taking photos and instead taking it all in as this big beautiful rocket flew into space.

The crowd, myself included, just couldn’t hold it together when it finally took flight. It was impossible not to get excited. Most of us had looked forward to this for years and waited in the Florida sun for over 7 hours that day.

IMG 0937

IMG 0945

One thing that almost all of launch videos lack is the sound and rumbles. They were remarkably loud and powerful that I could feel it in my body. This video by Destin from the YouTube channel Smarter Every Day conveys it almost perfectly of what the experience was like.

The launch itself is not the only thing that blew my mind. As I have said above, the two side boosters were, in fact, reused and they managed to land them both simultaneously.

And to top it all off, SpaceX live-streamed the fairing deployment directly from space to David Bowie's Life On Mars with the Earth in the background.

starman

Just look at how absolutely preposterous and amazing that is. It gives me a giant smile across my face every time.

I am incredibly excited for what this could bring, not only in SpaceX’s future, but in the future of space exploration as a whole. Like Elon said, “We want a new space race. Space races are exciting.” So I still hope that one day I will get to see humans walk on Mars.


  1. SpaceX’s fancy way of saying “reused”. ↩︎




Starting on a New Mac


I have been rocking my 15" MacBook Pro since 2010 and after nearly 7 years of use, it’s finally time for it to retire1. Unfortunately it’s been plagued with near-constant GPU panics for the last year or so, which makes it almost unbearable to use since it would just crash and restart every so often. I have been extending its lifespan for as long as I could. I upgraded its storage twice, first to a 1TB hard drive and later to an SSD. The RAM was also upgraded to 8GB and both of the fans were replaced.

But a laptop upgrade was long overdue and I couldn't be more excited.

In setting up my new MacBook Pro, I made a checklist of all the applications and settings I need to be able to use it normally:


  1. Not really, since I’ll be using it as a dedicated Plex Media Sever. ↩︎




Saturn V LEGO Build


48 years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed at the Tranquility Base on the surface of the moon, marking the first time in history for the human species to set foot on another celestial body. Here is the time-lapse of myself building the majestic Saturn V LEGO set to commemorate this historic day which took me over 5 hours to complete. Consisting of 1969 pieces, the rocket stands at exactly 1 meter in height making it approximately 1:110 scale to the actual Saturn V rocket.

The time-lapse was taken with my DSLR camera at 5-second intervals. The entire video is made up of over 3,400 images totaling over 30GB of data. Check it out below:




WWDC 2017 Wish List


wwdc17 og 800x420

It's that time of the year again! Among all of Apple annual events, WWDC is probably my favorite. This year is already looking to be quite different since they are moving back to where they began in San Jose, instead of Moscone West in San Francisco which had been there go-to location since 2003.

This week is all about developers, and as a developer myself, I cannot wait to find out what Apple has in store for us in new software capabilities, APIs as well as potential exciting new hardware. So without further ado, here is my wish list for the WWDC 2017 keynote:

iOS 11

Last year, the Photos app was made smarter by machine learning, letting it search for specific objects, detecting faces, and automatically creating photo albums and slideshows with the Memories tab, all without sacrificing user privacy. This year with iOS 11, I expect the app to gain new features to better compete with Google Photos which is getting even better with recent announcements during Google I/O.

There's no doubt that iOS 10's headlining feature was the Messages app, thus I don't think there's going to be much on this for iOS 11. Though, the ability to reply to specific messages and rich text formatting are the top two features I wish Apple would add to iMessage. Telegram has a really good example on the former.

iOS 11 should also bring about more productivity and automation features to allow for more professional tasks on the iPad Pro, as shown in their ads. Since a popular iOS app Workflow was just acquired by Apple in March, I hope this means that they are indeed improving productivity and automation abilities on iOS. If I could only pick one feature in this category, the ability to manage clipboard history would be it. I suggest you check out Federico Viticci's recently published concept video of the direction he thinks Apple should take its iOS platform on the iPad.

Just this past week, there was a report that Apple is working on an AI-specific chip and might unveil it during WWDC. I think it's quite likely given the timeliness of this report. Knowing their philosophy, they would definitely highlight the security and privacy aspects they've achieved that Google or Amazon haven't with their AIs, and hopefully announce an API alongside it. This would also tie in very well with their existing AI efforts for the Photos app and their smart assistant Siri.

SiriKit, in my opinion, is still very limited and missing some really obvious features. An integration with audio library that would enable third-party apps such as Spotify and Overcast to be voice-controlled is on the top of that list. I'm pretty sure that they would add some new domains to allow more developers to integrate their apps with Siri.

Conveniently, this is a perfect segue to the next item on my list…

Siri In A Can

In my WWDC 2016 Predictions, I expected them to announce the Siri Speaker. Let's just call it Apple Home as Mr. Jason Snell cleverly suggested. It has been well over a year since this rumor first surfaced, and so far we still have nothing. I believe they will really do it this year. With Amazon announcing two new Echodevices within two weeks of each other, Google Home gaining some new capabilities, and even Microsoft getting in on this with the Cortana-powered Harman Kardon speaker, Apple really has to be working on something to bring itself into this market. It is definitely not too late.

Though, Siri still needs a lot of improvements if it were to compete with what's currently out there, and I'm sure that Apple certainly has the technical and marketing prowess to blow those out of the water with this Apple Home. Their vision on HomeKit as shown in this video indicates that they are invested in the smart home space, and a device that brings it all together makes a perfect sense. Though knowing Apple, I wouldn't be one bit surprised if this device starts at $299.

Refreshed MacBook Pro

Another recent report says that Apple will refresh the MacBook Pro as well as MacBook Air at WWDC to compete with the recently-announced Microsoft Surface Laptop, and to "win back disappointed loyalists". I doubt that will happen. And even if it does, the reason is definitely not because Apple needs to compete with Microsoft in the laptop market. MacBook Pro's sales number dwarfs that of Microsoft Surface's (or any other company's for that matter). I really don't think Apple cares very much at all about them.

However, this doesn't mean that they should just forget about their MacBook Pro for the next foreseeable future (like the Mac Pro). Quite the contrary, in my opinion. An updated MacBook Pro would certainly make a lot of people very happy, especially myself since I'm writing this very sentence on my mid-2010 15-inch MacBook Pro (that is plagued with occasional GPU panics). I have been holding off on getting a new MacBook Pro due to the current generation having received a mixed response, and I hope that this hypothetical refreshed MacBook Pro would address some of the main criticisms such as the outdated Intel Skylake chip, lack of 32GB RAM option, inconsistent battery life, and the flawed keyboard. All they need to do is to have Phil Schiller say something along the line of "While the new MacBook Pro with the revolutionary Touch Bar was a great hit among our users, we also listen to those of you who say that there are still rooms for improvements. Today we are making our best laptop even better."

New Mac Pro Sneak Peak

In a stunning turn of events, Apple invited a selected group of journalists over to its campus to discuss the future of the Mac Pro back in April. They admitted that their current "trash can" Mac Pro has critical design flaws that have been preventing them from sufficiently updating it, and revealed that they are hard at work on designing the new Mac Pro which will not be ready this year. There is a lot of speculation as to when Apple came to this decision, but all signs seem to point to that this decision was made no longer than 3-6 months prior to the announcement (and quite possibly mere weeks). This means that it's likely that we won't see the new and "completely rethought" Mac Pro until the end of 2018, or even 2019.

This doesn't mean that they have nothing to show during WWDC. I really hope that they have at least the design of this new Mac Pro to show off to developers. It would definitely soften the "Apple doesn't care about professional Mac users anymore" narrative it's been getting lately.

They also revealed that an updated iMac aimed at professionals is coming this year, so I guess this is when they would show off the hardware and announce the release date.

New iPad Pro

This rumor has been around for quite a while, but it seems like they might announce a 10.5-inch iPad Pro at WWDC, which would then ship later in the fall. I'm indifferent to it but like I have said above regarding iPad productivity, and iOS in general, this product would be a perfect device to showcase iOS 11 as well as an indication to what the updated 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro might look like.

macOS 10.13

I honestly cannot think of features that are really needed in the next version of macOS. The current generation of Mac operating system has been around since the turn of the millennium and it is already a feature-complete, fully matured platform. Of course there are small things they can improve here and there such as a system-wide dark mode (please?), but gone are the days of frequent major updates to the OS.

One thing I definitely would count on them to talk about — if not during the keynote then one of the sessions — is the new Apple File System (APFS). It was only last year when they announced that they were developing an entire new file system to replace its now ancient HFS+, and promised to roll this out for all of their platforms in 2017. With the recent iOS 10.3 update, hundreds of millions of iOS users worldwide are already using APFS. macOS Sierra, however, has only gotten a beta version of that. I think the release of macOS 10.13 later this fall is a perfect opportunity for this.

Oh and can we get rid of that antiquated iTunes and come up with something better?

Apple Park

I know this is not an Apple product per se. But, in a way, this is a product by Apple. Its most expensive one in fact. I highly encourage you, dear reader, to check out this excellent article by Steven Levy on Apple Park and what an incredibly ambitious project it is. This will either be at the very beginning or the end of the keynote where Tim Cook tells us more about the campus and how beautiful, innovative, and environmentally-friendly this building is. There's no doubt that this has been distracting a lot of important design talents within the company, including its design chief Jony Ive himself. It makes you wonder if this is what has been causing Apple to release some arguably lackluster products in recent years, doesn't it? Still, this is one hell of a building and I cannot wait to pay a visit one day.

So would all these really fit within the two-hour window? Probably not. I suspect they would spend most of their time going through new features in iOS, watchOS, and macOS and leave little time to announce new products. But all this is just a speculation, we will find out for sure comes June 5th.




An Animal of No Significance


Early human history book illustration 800x545

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari attempts to tell the entire history of humans in a length of a book. He started off around the time when modern humans first appeared, two million or so years ago when we were not that different from apes. In the first chapter, he writes, "The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment than gorillas, fireflies or jellyfish."

Of course Homo sapiens, or "The Wise Man", was not the only human species roaming the earth at the time. There were Homo neanderthalensis in Europe and western Asia, Homo erectus in Asia, Homo soloensis in Java, a dwarf species Homo floresiensis on another Indonesian island, Homo deniosova in Siberia, Homo rudolfensis, and Homo ergaster in East Africa. They were all human beings. Imagine if one or a few of those species survived until today, what would religions, human rights, nations, or laws be like?

Interestingly, all other human species vanished and Sapiens is the only one left. Harari proposed several theories as to why that is the case with one being the competition of resources which turned into violence and genocide. "Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark", Harari writes, "In modern times, a small difference in skin colour, dialect or religion has been enough to prompt one group of Sapiens to set about exterminating another group." So it is safe to assume that our ancient ancestors would not be so friendly towards an entirely different human species. The meeting between Sapiens and Neanderthals and the resulting extinction of the latter could very well be the first and most significant genocide in human history.

Just how then did Sapiens manage to push a stronger species with bigger brains like Neanderthals to extinction? It was just another human species with nothing more special than others. Harari believes that this has to do with its unique language. Around 70,000 years ago, Sapiens experienced a Cognitive Revolution which scientists commonly believe happened due to some accidental genetic mutations that changed certain wirings in the brains. This caused Sapiens to be able to think in an unprecedented level and develop its unique type of language found in no other human species. This did not only enable them to gossip about tribe members or warn them about predators in the area with details beyond a mere ape can, it also allows them to transmit information about things that do not exist at all. Things such as gods, heavens, or nations.

These fictions maybe seem useless for surviving in the wild, but they enabled Sapiens to collaborate and work towards common goals unlike any other species. Sure, wolves, bees or killer whales do cooperate and have their own languages, but they only do so with a small number of closely related members. Believing in the 'common myths' such as the biblical creation story, the divine rights of kings or popular sovereignty gave Sapiens the ability to cooperate with a large number of people which led to our affluent society today.

Modern Sapiens walking the earth now may see certain rituals such as dancing around a campfire during a full moon or praying to a lion god as 'primitive', but our society today functions on the exact same basis. These ideas such as business corporations, financial institutions, nations, democracy, human rights, freedom, gods, and laws only exist in our collective imagination and yet we act as if those things really exist. Lawyers today are just modern sorcerers who tell far more complex and stranger tales.

Without imagined realities or social constructs, the society as we know it would certainly cease to function. If everyone stopped believing in financial institutions, limited liability companies, laws, or governments, the economy would collapse and nations across the globe would fall into chaos. The world we live in today is the result of a successful storytelling effort to convince millions of people across millennia to believe in these common myths. It would be impossible to build great mosques or empires spanning half a continent if we could only talk about things that really exist in the world such as trees, mountains or tigers.

We are all living in dual reality. One is the objective reality of things that we can see, touch, and smell and the other is an imagined one of things that only exist in our minds. As Harari puts it, "As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google."




An Investigation Into Google Photos Compression


Recently, I’ve been hearing lot of praises about Google Photos, especially from Casey Liss of ATP, about how wonderfully accurate its algorithm is at finding images of places, objects or people you want from your photo library. With my iPhone almost running out of storage, mainly because of my photo library, I decided to give Google Photos a shot.

But upon setting up the backup, I was faced with a very hard decision: whether to upload the images in high quality or original quality. With high quality, it offers an unlimited free storage with a reduced file size as long as the photos have the resolution of 16 megapixels or less. This should be enough for everyday images taken with smartphones. With the original option, the photos will be uploaded in full size with no compression. However, it will be limited to how much storage space is available on the Google Drive.

The “reduced file size” part is what I wanted to know more about since I was definitely going to take advantage of that free unlimited storage. However, I was worried that the compression algorithm would be too aggressive at reducing the file size, and thus lowering the image quality below the acceptable level. In order to figure this out, I decided to do a little investigation on how much quality, if at all, was lost by the compression, and if we can see any visual differences between the original and the compressed one.

Before we go any further, I must put forth a disclaimer here that I am by no means an expert when it comes to image compression algorithms. What I'm about to show here is a non-scientific experiment conducted on a cheap, uncalibrated, 1080p monitor using a couple of random photos I took. So please do further research and tests before making your decision on this.

Alright, now back to the show...

To run this experiment, I selected two images: one with the resolution of 20MP taken with my DSLR and the other at 8MP with my iPhone 6.

First, let’s look at the image taken by the DSLR. Since this image has the resolution of 20MP, Google Photos downsized the image to 16MP, so it definitely lost the actual pixel count in the process.

Original at 20MP

20MP

Compressed to 16MP

20MP GP

Now let's take a look at them with a 100% crop and compare them side-by-side.

Singapore sbs Original (left) and compressed (right) side-by-side

Apart from the obvious difference in the resolution, the image quality seems to not have been affected at all.

Singapore Info

If we take a look at the information of the two images, we see that the resolution has been reduced to 16MP and the file takes up only 3.6 megabytes. That's over 75% reduction in file size! I'm really impressed at how high-quality the image still looks after having gone through this aggressive compression.

Now let’s compare the images taken by the iPhone 6’s back camera. Unlike earlier, the image here did not get downsized because the resolution is way below the 16MP limit.

Original at 8MP

IMG_0822 Original

Compressed at 8MP

IMG_0822 Compressed

They look virtually the same to me. Now let's look at them side-by-side at 100% crop:

Original (left) and Google Photos Compressed (right) at 100% zoom side-by-side Original (left) and compressed (right) at 100% crop

Can you notice any differences in the details at all? Because I can’t.

Here is a look at the properties of the two images: iPhone Info

Notice that the resolutions are exactly the same and all the metadata is still intact after being compressed by Google Photos. So the only difference here seems to be the 30% reduction in file size.

This visual inspection reveals that there seems to be no loss in image quality at all. So we have to go a bit deeper to find out what's going on.

Given that the original and compressed image have the same resolution, the reduction in file size has to result in some quality loss or else it would be impossible to make it smaller. So to look for that, I brought the images into Photoshop in order to drill down to the very smallest of details that our mere monkey eyes can’t see.

What I did was to open them in Photoshop on two different layers, one on top of the other.

Screen Shot 2016 07 04 at 12 20 36 PM

Now the trick here is to change the blending mode to “Difference” which will show any differences between the two images. If they are exactly the same, this will result in a completely black image. Here is the resulting image after applying the blending mode:

IMG 0822 Diff 1

If you don't look closely (or if your screen is not at the brightest setting), you won’t see anything other than the complete blackness. But if you really look for it, you will start to see faint outlines of the image. But here is when the histogram becomes handy.

Screen Shot 2016 07 04 at 12 21 37 PM

Let’s take a quick detour and talk about histogram. A histogram is a graph representing pixels of different color range/tones in an image. Now the histogram we see here is a simplified version that only shows the greyscale range from black (left) to white (right). The higher the graph at a given point along the x-axis, the more pixels there are at that specific color/tone.

If the two images are exactly the same, we would only see a single vertical line at the very left of the histogram. That would mean the image is entirely composed of black pixels. Here we can clearly see that there are pixels of other colors as well. This reveals that the two images are in fact different.

To make this clearer to see. I adjusted the histogram level to show only those pixels that are present in the image. Here is the result:

Screen Shot 2016 07 04 at 5 25 10 PM

And there it is! The evidence of quality loss I’ve been looking for. What we see here is called compression artifacts, and to simply put, they are junk that got added to the image from the lossy nature of the JPEG compression. The brighter the pixel, the more different they are.

If we zoom in closer, we can see how nasty these compression artifacts are.

Screen Shot 2016 07 04 at 12 26 32 PM

So with all these in mind, I decided that the high quality option will suffice with photos taken by my iPhone camera. Even though we found out that there are quite a lot of compression done to the image, in reality those quality loss just cannot be seen with naked eyes. I figured that I don’t need the highest of quality for these day-to-day photos since I won't be post-processing them anyway, unlike those taken with a DSLR. The 16MP limit won't be a problem either since it's more than large enough for photo album printing or even framing. I would, however, keep images with a resolution higher than 16MP away from it if you want to take the advantage of free unlimited storage. Even if the image quality is visually the same, I don't think it's worth getting your images downsized to only 16MP.




My WWDC 2016 Predictions


wwdc2016

With WWDC 2016 just right around the corner, here are products I think (and hope) we will see during the keynote on Monday:

Change from "OS X" to "macOS"

There have been a lot of rumors (and evidence) regarding the name change of OS X since all of Apple operating systems use the uncapitalized-name-followed-by-‘OS’ convention (i.e. iOS, tvOS, watchOS). So it only makes sense that they would change OS X to macOS (or MacOS) to make their OS lineup's branding style more consistent. We hear people mispronounce OS X as "oh-es-EX" all the times when it is supposed to be "oh-es-TEN.” But we really can’t blame them because who uses Roman numerals on a regular basis anymore?

Now there is a debate going on between macOS and MacOS. Personally, I prefer macOS because it’s just more consistent and MacOS looks like it’s a typo of Mac OS, because that is what they called it before rebranding it to OS X. I understand that they might want to capitalize the word “Mac" for trademark reasons and what not but I’m hoping that they would just go with macOS. It just looks better, in my opinion.

As far as the name for the next version goes, I believe they will continue with the same naming convention after California natural landmarks. So… macOS Half Dome? macOS Red Wood? Or maybe just drop it and go with macOS 11?

New iTunes

iTunes is in a dire need for an overhaul. It has become so dreadful for me to have to use it from time to time. It is too clunky. It tries to do too much in one app. And it doesn’t even work that well. Perhaps, breaking it down into different apps for Apple Music, iOS devices syncing and backing up, and iTunes Store could solve this problem.

Dark Mode

A more universal dark mode that is not only for the menu bar and the dock, but also for apps like Finder or Safari, would be nice. I really wouldn't complain if that's all they add for 10.12.

Siri for Mac

Siri is heavily rumored to be coming to the next version of OS X, which I personally would never use. I really can’t see myself talking to my Mac asking for stuff or launching apps when using Spotlight already lets me launch apps, search for files, do maths or unit conversions very quickly. But who knows, maybe they came up with a really interesting implementation that will make me want to use it.

Siri API

I do hope that Apple would release the Siri API to developers as a part of iOS 10 SDK. I think this would really drive the usage of the feature. For me, the reason why I rarely use Siri is because its lack of support for third-party apps. If they choose to give developers to tools to integrate Siri into their apps, this year’s WWDC would be a perfect stage to do so. It’s been a long time coming. Apple usually loves releasing APIs to developers such as CloudKit, HomeKit or HealthKit, I don’t know what is stopping them from doing the same thing with Siri.

Siri Speaker

By this I mean a speaker with a microphone that sits in your living room and always listens to you. This would be a direct competitor to Amazon Echo and the upcoming Google Home. Honestly, I am a bit skeptical on how well they can improve Siri given the competition. Apple is not a company that is known for their expertise in machine learning unlike Google. I mean, look at how bad the search feature on the App Store is (but then there are also rumors that improvements are coming). Also, their firm stance on customers' privacy and data collection only makes it more difficult for them to improve on such feature that heavily relies on user data. With all that said, I trust that they will find a way to do so without compromising their views on privacy, and hopefully surprise us all.

watchOS 3

I think the watchOS will see quite a significant update since they did not announce a new Apple Watch during their spring event. One single most important thing they need to address with the new watchOS is the load time for the watch apps. These apps take forever to fetch the data, even those not required network connection. With watchOS 3 (or perhaps, Apple Watch 2), I hope that they somehow find a way to let the watch directly fetch data without having to rely on the iPhone to download it first and pass it along to the watch.

Another thing I think they should add is to allow developers to create custom watch faces. We have this smart watch technology, I don’t want to be stuck with the mimicking of a circular mechanical watch face or simple digital time-telling. Since it was shown off to the public almost two years ago, the Apple Watch has not received a new watch face and now it really needs some fresh ones. Of course, these third-party watch faces will have to be approved by Apple just like any other thing but the possibility of some developers coming up with new and clever ways of telling time is a very intriguing prospect.

And one more thing: Maybe it’s time to get rid of that clunky, honeycomb home screen design that makes it an impossible task to look for apps. I just hope that they are not too proud of it to change that.

2014 09 09 13 30 08 1433863440 kKho column width inline

A New MacBook Pro Retina

The last time the MacBook Pro lineup received a significant upgrade was more than two years ago. So it is safe to say that a big upgrade is definitely coming. Though I hope that they would announce it during WWDC, I am not holding my breath for it since WWDC tends to be more about software. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible since they have announced a lot of hardware during WWDC in the past including the retina MacBook Pro itself as well as the Mac Pro. Considering that all of Apple’s third-party developers have to use Macs, it would make perfect sense if they plan to announce one during the keynote.

The new retina MacBook Pro is rumored to feature Intel’s new microarchitecture, Skylake, which improves the performance and reduces power consumption. Now this might be the reason why we will see a change in the form factor with this new model since they can make it thinner while not sacrificing battery life. And we all know how much Apple loves making their products even thinner and lighter. Personally, I would not mind them keeping the same form factor and just increase the battery life instead.

AMD’s upcoming Polaris GPU is also expected to be featured in the high-end 15” retina MacBook Pro. However, the company said the GPU would not be ready until Q4 of this year, so that might be a reason why we won’t see a new MacBook Pro next week.

Another big rumor floating around is the OLED display panel that will be replacing the row of function keys. At first, I was not so sure how this will work since we rarely look down to our keyboards anyway when we type, and to have a touch surface instead of physical keys might not work as well either. However, this recent concept rendering by Martin Hajek made me think that this might actually be a really cool feature. But we'll just have to wait and see.

27292118240 c4897c6c02 b Credit: Martin Hajek

Swift 3.0

According to Swift.org, Swift 3.0 is expected to be released “sometime in late 2016” so I believe it’s possible that we would see some sort of a preview for that. This is a developer conference after all. But since Swift become open-source last year, the announcement would not be that exciting given that we already know what new features of the language are. However, if they choose to have maybe a slide or two for Swift, they would probably only highlight a few important features and changes such as the Swift Package Manager that will also be available for Linux and Darwin, Swift Core Libraries, more imported Objective-C APIs, and some refinements to the language including the removal of ++ and -- operators, and C-style for-loops.




ทำไมเราถึงควรไปสร้างอาณานิคมบนดาวอังคาร


21236949258 b9b916f54f k

การพัฒนาเทคโนโลยีอวกาศเป็นสิ่งที่สำคัญสำหรับเผ่าพันธุ์มนุษย์เรามาก ถึงแม้ว่าดูระยะสั้นมันไม่เห็นจะมีประโยชน์อะไรเลย จริงที่ว่าในโลกนี้ยังมีเรื่องปัญหาปากท้อง ก่อการร้าย หรือโรคภัยไข้เจ็บอีกเยอะที่คนควรจะสนใจและแก้ปัญหามัน (ตอนนี้ก็มีคนใส่ใจไปทำพวกนี้เยอะแยะอย่าง Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation หรือ World Food Programme) แต่นี่มันเป็นเรื่องของระยะยาวและต้องมองมันในภาพใหญ่จริงๆ รู้สึกเสียดายที่คนไม่ค่อยให้ความสำคัญกับมัน

ถ้าย้อนกลับไปดูในประวัติของโลกนี้ ตั้งแต่เริ่มมีสิ่งมีชีวิตมา มันมีเหตุการสูญพันธุ์ครั้งใหญ่ (mass extinction) มาประมาณ 5 ครั้ง ตอนล่าสุดคืออุกกาบาตพุ่งเข้าชนโลกในยุคไดโนเสาร์ (จริงๆเป็นอุกาบาตขนาดเล็กมาก ถ้าเปรียบขนาดโลกเท่ากับตึก 3 ชั้น อุกกาบาตที่ทำให้ไดโนเสาร์สูญพันธ์ุทั่วโลกมันมีขนาดเท่าลูกถั่วเม็ดนึง) ถ้าเราดูเหตุการสูญพันธ์ุตั้งแต่เริ่มแรกเราจะเห็นเป็นแนวโน้มว่าอีกไม่นานคงจะเกิดขึ้นอีก1

1062px Extinction intensity1 600x416 Credit: waitbutwhy.com

ที่จริงมีสิ่งอันตรายมากมายที่สามารถทำให้สัตว์โลกสูญพันธ์ุแบบทันทีทันใดได้ ไม่ว่าจะเป็นอุกาบาต, supernova, solar super flare, หลุมดำที่หลุดมา, โรคระบาด (epidemic) แบบที่ไม่ได้มีแฮปปี้เอ็นดิ้งเหมือนในหนัง Hollywood, หรือ superintelligence ซึ่งสิ่งพวกนี้มันเป็นภัยที่เกินเอื้อมมือมนุษย์เราแน่นอน เราเข้าไปแทรกแซงอะไรมากไม่ได้ โดยเฉพาะภัยจากอวกาศ

ถ้ารู้อย่างนี้เราก็ควรจะเตรียมตัวไว้หรือเปล่า?

ลองดูวิธีคิดที่ทำให้นึกภาพง่ายๆนะ...

เปรียบว่าโลกนี้เป็นคอมพิวเตอร์และสัตว์โลกรวมถึงมนุษย์เราเป็นข้อมูลต่างๆในฮาร์ดไดรฟ์ (เทียบว่าเวลาหนึ่งเดือนในเรื่องนี้เท่ากับเวลาจริง 50 ล้านปี) ตั้งแต่ที่เราซื้อคอมพ์เรามาตอนเดือนพฤษภาคมปีที่แล้วฮาร์ดไดรฟ์มันพัง (crash) ไปแล้ว 5 รอบ ในเดือน สิงหาคม, กันยายน, ธันวาคม, มกราคม, และเมษายน พอรีบูตกลับมาข้อมูลหายไปประมาณ 70% ทุกครั้ง ยกเว้นตอนเดือนมกราคม ที่ข้อมูลหายไป 95%

แล้วตอนนี้คือปลายเดือนพฤษภาคมปีปัจจุบัน เอกสารชื่อ HomoSapiens.docx เพิ่งถูกสร้างเมื่อประมาณ 2 ชั่วโมงที่แล้ว คิดดู เรามีฮาร์ดไดรฟ์ที่เต็มไปด้วยข้อมูลสำคัญมากๆพวกนี้ แล้วจากการที่เราเคยใช้งานคอมพิวเตอร์เรา เรารู้ว่าทุกๆ 2-3 เดือน ข้อมูล (i.e. สัตว์โลกทั้งหมด) จะหายไปประมาณ 70% โดยครั้งสุดท้ายที่มันพัง (i.e. การสูญพันธุ์ครั้งใหญ่) คือตอนเมื่อเดือนกว่าๆที่แล้ว

เราควรจะทำอะไรหละ?

เราควรจะทำสำรองข้อมูล (back up) ไว้ใน external hard drive โดยเฉพาะไฟล์ HomoSapiens.docx

โครงการอวกาศต่างๆอย่าง NASA, ESA หรือโดยเฉพาะบริษัทเอกชน SpaceX นี่แหละที่จะเป็นตัวช่วย back up สายพันธุ์เราโดยการที่วางแผนจะเอามนุษย์ไปตั้งหลักปักฐาน สร้างอาณานิคมที่ดาวอังคาร (แล้วดาวอื่นๆอีกต่อไปในอนาคต) จริงอยู่ว่าดาวอังคารไม่ได้ปลอดภัยหรืออยู่อาศัยง่ายกว่าเลย (เรื่องความเป็นไปได้นี้ยังต้องทำวิจัยและคิดเทคโนโลยีใหม่ๆอีกเยอะ)

เค้ามีคิดที่จะส่งไปรอบละ 100-200 คน พอผ่านไปซัก 4-5 ทศวรรษ เทคโนโลยีเดินทางอวกาศจะดีขึ้นทำให้ส่งไปได้รอบละมากคนขึ้น และทำให้ตั๋วค่าไปถูกลง และหวังว่าอาณานิคมเล็กๆ จะกลายเป็นเมืองใหญ่ที่มีคนอยู่ซักล้านคน เต็มไปด้วยสิ่งอำนวยความสะดวกและสถานบันเทิงต่างๆเหมือนโลกเรา

เท่านั้นเราก็ได้ทำ backup ของสายพันธุ์มนุษย์เราอย่างเสร็จสมบูรณ์ กลายเป็นสายพันธุ์ต่างดาวเคราะห์ (interplanetary species). นั่นแหละคือ “ก้าวกระโดดที่ยิ่งใหญ่ของมนุษยชาติ” (giant leap for mankind) ที่ Neil Armstrong เคยพูดถึงอย่าแท้จริง ถ้าโลกโดนอะไรขึ้นมา มนุษย์เรายังคงมีดำรงอยู่ต่อไป

1412161797318 wps 12 article 2238944 163A07800 1 ในอนาคตเราอาจจะอยู่อาศัยบนดาวอังคารแบบนี้ก็เป็นได้

ถ้าจะถามว่าจะมีเหรอคนที่บ้าจะยอมทิ้งโลก ทิ้งบ้าน ทิ้งครอบครัวเพื่อที่จะไปอยู่ดาวอังคาร มีอยู่แล้ว ดูตอนปี ค.ศ. 1605 คนยุโยปที่เริ่มย้ายไปก่อตั้งอาณานิคมที่ทวิปอเมริกา (New World) มีน้อยคนมาก มีแต่พวกบ้าๆ ที่กล้าทิ้งบ้านเกิดตัวเอง ขายบ้านขายของเพื่อที่จะไปเริ่มต้นชีวิตใหม่ที่ Jamestown หรือ Plymouth คนกลุ่มแรกที่จะไปดาวอังคารก็จะเป็นเหมือนกันนี่แหละ

ตอนแรกอาจจะไปอยู่ซัก 2 ปีก่อน1 แล้วคนเหล่านั้นก็จะกลับมาทำให้คนบนโลกรู้ว่าจริงๆแล้วการไปดาวอังคารไม่ใช่เป็นตั๋วขาไปอย่างเดียว เราก็เดินทางกลับได้

คนบนโลกจะเห็นบางคนกลับมากลายเป็นคนดังเพราะความกล้าหาญของเค้า บางคนอาจจะเขียนหนังสือยอดขายอันดับหนึ่ง บางคนอาจจะทำเป็น YouTube, รายการทีวี หรือภาพยนตร์ — คนก็เริ่มอยากจะไปมากขึ้น

คนบนโลกจะเห็นรูปถ่ายสวยๆจากการไปเดินขึ้นภูเขาที่สูงที่สุดในระบบสุริยะ (Olympus Mons) ที่ทำให้ Mount Everest เป็นเหมือนกับเขาขนาบน้ำ หรือแคนย่อน Valles Marinaris ที่ทำให้ Grand Cayon กลายเป็นเหมือนคลองแห้ง — คนก็อยากจะไปมากขึ้น

คนบนโลกก็จะรู้ว่ากระโดดลงจากเหวสูง 6-7 เมตรลงมาได้โดยที่ไม่บาดเจ็บอะไรเลย และเห็นคลิป YouTube ของพวกกีฬาผาดโผนใหม่ๆที่เล่นได้โดยเฉพาะบนดาวอังคาร เพราะมีแรงโน้มถ่วงแค่เท่ากับ 38% ของโลก — คนก็อยากจะไปมากขึ้น

อีกอย่าง อาจจะมีระบอบการปกครองแบบใหม่ที่ทันสมัยมากขึ้น ที่ไม่มีรัฐบาลปกครองเลยก็เป็นได้ ทุกคนสามารถโหวตเรื่องต่างๆได้โดยตรง ทำให้บรรลุฉันทามติ (achieve consensus) ได้ง่ายขึ้น

แต่ก็แน่นอนอยู่แล้วว่าไม่ใช่ทุกคนจะมีปัญญาไปกลับได้ง่ายๆ ยังไงก็อาจจะต้องขายบ้านขายของเพื่อที่จะได้ไป เหมือนตอนที่คนเริ่มไปอยู่ที่อเมริกา แต่เรื่องพวกนี้จะทำให้คนตื่นตัวมากขึ้น เพราะมันมีความแปลกใหม่อยู่เยอะ แล้วคนก็อยากจะไปเป็นคนแรกที่ทำอะไรบนดาวอังคาร เช่น เปิดร้านส้มตำร้านแรก สนามฟุตบอลแห่งแรก เป็นคนแรกที่พิชิตยอดเขา Olympus Mons หรือเป็นคนแรกที่นำยางพาราไปขายตามที่ท่านนายกฯเคยกล่าวไว้

photo 2016 05 25 13 09 55

ส่วนเรื่องค่าตั๋วไปดาวอังคารมันแพงแน่นอน ก็เลยมีบริษัทที่พยายามทำให้การบินอวกาศถูกลง ตอนนี้แพงมากเพราะจรวจใช้ได้แค่ครั้งเดียวแล้วถูกโยนทิ้งหมด เขาเลยพยายามหาวิธีนำจรวจที่ใช้แล้วกลับมาใช้ใหม่เพื่อที่จะช่วยลดต้นทุน (cost-per-launch) นึกดูว่าตอนเราบินจากกระบี่ไปกรุงเทพฯ เรานั่งเครื่องบินลำใหม่เอี่ยม พอถึงแล้วสายการบินโยนมันทิ้งทุกไฟล์ท แล้วมาสร้างลำใหม่สำหรับแต่ละไฟล์ท ค่าตั๋วมันคงจะแพงมากๆ

26405462060 81f8289687 k ภาพจำลองจรวด Falcon Heavy ที่จะนำออกมาใช้ปลายปี 2016 และสำหรับส่งยานอวกาศไปดาวอังคารในอีกไม่กี่ปีข้างหน้า Credit: SpaceX

แน่นอนอยู่แล้วว่าสำหรับคนทั่วไปฟัง(อ่าน)ดูคงจะหัวเราะเยาะว่ามันเป็นเรื่องแค่ในนิยาย sci-fi, เพ้อฝัน, ไร้สาระ, ไม่มีทางเป็นไปได้, "บ้าหรือเปล่า มันไม่เกี่ยวกับเรา" แต่ลองนึกภาพดูว่าถ้าเราบอกคนสมัย 30-40 ปีก่อน ว่าในอนาคต เราจะสามารถคุยเห็นหน้ากับคนอีกฝั่งนึงของโลกได้โดยใช้แผ่นสี่เหลี่ยมในฝ่ามือแผ่นนึง เค้าก็คงจะหัวเราะเยาะเราเหมือนกัน เข้าใจว่ามองดูตอนนี้อาจจะเป็นเรื่องที่เป็นไปไม่ได้ แต่ถ้าเราไม่กล้าคิดจะทำสิ่งที่เป็นไปไม่ได้ Christopher Columbus คงจะไม่ได้ล่องเรือข้ามมหาสมุทรมาพบโลกใหม่ (New World), พี่น้องไรต์ (the Wright brothers) คงจะไม่ได้สร้างเครื่องบินลำแรก หรือสหรัฐอเมริกาคงจะไม่ได้ส่งคนไปเดินบนดวงจันทร์ คืออย่างที่กล่าวไว้ เรื่องนี้มันเป็นปัญหาระยะยาว มันอาจไม่ได้กระทบกับเราหรือลูกๆหลานๆหรือเหลนๆเราด้วยซ้ำ จะให้คนทุกคนมาสนใจก็คงจะเป็นไปไม่ได้ แต่ยังไงเราก็ควรที่จะมองเรื่องนี้ในมุมของเผ่าพันธุ์มนุษย์ทั้งหมด รวมถึงรุ่นต่อๆมาในอนาคต ไม่ใช่แค่ภายในช่วงชีวิตเราทุกๆครั้งที่เห็นรัฐบาลประเทศต่างๆหรือนักวิชาการออกมาบอกว่า...

เห้ย อย่าไปสนใจเรื่องโครงการอวกาศหรือไปสร้างอาณานิคมอยู่ดาวอังคารเลย เรามีปัญหาอีกตั้งเยอะแยะบนโลกเราที่เราต้องจัดการกับมัน

มันเหมือนกับพวกเขาบอกว่า...

เดี๋ยวเราค่อยดูแลสุขภาพทีหลัง ตอนนี้เราต้องทำงานผ่อนบ้านผ่อนรถให้หมดก่อน

คือยังไงมันก็ต้องมีเรื่องสำคัญที่ต้องเข้าไปดูแลก่อนอยู่แล้ว แต่ถ้ามัวแต่ไปใส่ใจเรื่องด่วนๆพวกนี้จนลืมคำนึงถึงเรื่องที่สำคัญในภาพใหญ่ ก็จะทำให้ความเสี่ยงต่อการอยู่รอดของมนุษย์ (existential risk) ยิ่งสูงขึ้นไปอีก

เท่าๆที่เรารู้ โลกอาจจะเป็นดาวเคราะห์ดวงเดียวที่มีสิ่งมีชีวิตอยู่ในจักรวาลนี้ก็เป็นได้ คิดดูมันน่าเศร้านะที่ว่าดาวเคราะห์สีฟ้าลูกเล็กๆลูกนึงกลางอวกาศที่กว้างขวาง ไม่มีทางเลยที่ใครจะมาเจอได้โดยบังเอิญ ที่อุตส่าห์ได้โอกาศมีสิ่งมีชีวิตอยู่อาศัย โดยเฉพาะสิ่งมีชีวิตที่มีสติสัมปชัญญะ (consciousness) จะหายไปได้แค่ในพริบตา เหมือนชะตากรรมไดโนเสาร์และสัตว์พันธุ์อื่นๆสมัยก่อน

แล้วเราคิดว่ามนุษย์เรามันต่างกับสัตว์อื่นๆยังไงที่จะเป็นข้อยกเว้นจากการสูญพันธุ์ครั้งใหญ่กระทันหันที่หนีไม่พ้นนี้ได้...


อ้างอิงบางส่วนจาก waitbutwhy.com


  1. นักวิทยาศาสตร์หลายคนคิดว่าจริงๆแล้วตอนนี้เรากำลังอยู่ในช่วงเวลานั้นเลย สัตว์โลกหลายพันธ์ุตอนนี้กำลังจะสูญพันธ์ุและก็สูญพันธ์ุไปเยอะแล้วเพราะกิจกรรมของมนุษย์เรานี่แหละ ↩︎

  2. เพื่อรอให้ดาวอังคารกับโลกอยู่ในตำแหน่งที่เหมาะสมสำหรับการเดินทางกลับ ↩︎